Accumulating legal cases compound political impasse

opinion February 10, 2014 00:00

By The Nation

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Thailand needs the warring sides to come together but every legal case deepens the rift

Everyone knows that Thailand is politically cursed. Just how badly may be unfathomable, though. When personal conflicts create a major impasse, or when personality clashes destroy key foundations, it’s extremely hard to move forward. The country’s poor political climate has been compounded by legal cases which are accumulating left, right and centre.
The battle of ideologies in this case is just a charade. It is a power play between two powerful sides, and one of them may be worse or trickier than the other. 
It’s doubtful the warmongers will stick to what they proclaim to stand for when there is little left to gain, but hatred between divided Thais will remain for a very long time. 
Another casualty of the war is the country’s already lacklustre fight against corruption, which has become too politicised to really get off the ground.
The accumulation of legal cases is one more key concern. It and the political showdown are feeding off each other. 
The longer the crisis drags on, the more cases come into existence and the harder it will be rebuild national harmony. If national reconciliation is still possible, that is.
Legal cases include those relating to Thaksin; the death of red shirts during the occupation and clear-out of Ratchaprasong; the Central World fire; cases against Abhisit Vejjajiva, Suthep Thaugsuban and the red shirt leaders; the Constitutional Court’s rulings against charter changes; and the death of Ramkhamhaeng University students.
Others include the murder of anti-government leader Suthin Taratin; the police officer who allegedly fired at protesters; the rice-pledging scheme; and the legal trouble faced by parliamentary backers of the amnesty bill. The list goes on and on.
With so many cases, how can Thailand find peace? 
The controversial amnesty bill sought to wipe them all out, but critics say that would have also meant “whitewashing” some corrupt politicians. 
Would we have forgiven and forgotten for peace’s sake, or would we have given corruption a big boost? We are stuck. The dilemma is daunting.
Worse still, attempts to “reset” or “restart” or “restore” have had the opposite effect. The national divide is running so deep nothing can ever be deemed fair, just or neutral anymore. 
We might still be able to straighten the messed-up ball of string bit by bit, but that would require enormous patience, open mindedness and understanding. Many will say that’s too much to ask.
More legal cases are to come. The government, before and after it assumed “caretaker” status, threw legal charges against Suthep and his key assistants. 
The anti-government camp does not recognise the charges, and has countered by formulating charges of its own against various government figures. We have lost count and nobody seems to care now who is charged with what.
Perhaps we should care a little. Every legal case makes the national rift grow deeper. 
Every time the National Anti-Corruption Commission or the Constitutional Court or the Criminal Court or the Administrative Court is set to issue a ruling, the nation almost goes up in flames. 
Every ruling makes the mutual hatred grow. Every ruling makes reconciliation a little harder.
The election is certainly spawning new court petitions or lawsuits. The curse that has been wreaking havoc can be even more active. 
The only way to be optimistic about all this is to believe that meaningful things can really rise out of debris. It’s a major torture, though, not knowing when the debris will stop expanding.

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