Politicians lack accountability: make them pay for legal costs
March 17, 2014 00:00
Our politicians lack accountability. For example, Yingluck argued that she is not bound to follow some court verdicts, or some Pheu Thai MPs allegedly gave their ID cards to their colleague to vote on their behalf.
Since “justice delayed is justice denied” (William Gladstone), we can promote accountability by our elected leaders between polls by making the impeachment process quicker, while retaining its credibility.
Now, petition organisers must collect the required 20,000 signatures first, then due process demands that the signatures be verified, for example by the Interior Ministry. But the ministry has every incentive to delay the process if, say, the premier is at risk.
I propose that the organisers bring, say, 500 Thais to any district office, and have them sign the petition in front of the district chief, who will verify each signature. Signatories will pay a nominal fee to compensate the district for its time.
The petition will then be posted on the Interior Ministry’s website and anybody wishing to sign it can go to any district office nationwide, sign it, have the district staff verify his signature, and pay a nominal fee, such as Bt20, for the verification. The Interior Ministry will keep a running total of the signatures. This way, verification will be quick, credible and not cost the government anything.
Another question is who will be held accountable. On the Bt2 trillion infrastructure bill, some ministers say Parliament is accountable, since they voted to pass the unconstitutional bill. Before an MP votes in favour of a bill, he should be certain that it does not violate the constitution, and, in any case, he should be held responsible for his actions.
So, let’s impeach all those who voted in favour of an unconstitutional bill – including those who illegally had others vote for them, going through due process of law – and let those found guilty pay the state for all costs of the byelections, plus the audited expenses of their opponents who ran in the last election and who may wish to run again, plus treble damages as a deterrent.
Let’s have a government that’s answerable to the people at all times, not just at elections.