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Do we jail the poor and let the rich kill?

Do we jail only the poor, while the rich have a licence to kill?

Case 1: Orachon "Praewa" Thephasadin na Ayudhaya, then 16, drives without a licence, rams a van, causing nine deaths on the expressway. Result: zero jail time, suspended two-year sentence.

Case 2: Red Bull heir Vorayuth Yoovidhya admits hitting a cop with his Ferrari, dragging his motorcycle 200 metres, killing him, then running home to Daddy. Result: zero jail time, released on bail, not even a fine for speeding.

Case 3: A politician's son allegedly kills a cop in a pub, flees the scene, and returns to a hero's welcome. Case not even tried.

Contrast these cases with that of Udom Siri-on, 51, and his wife Daeng Siri-on, 48, convicted for picking mushrooms in Dong Ranang National Park. They claim they picked only to eat, and the police did not counter that defence. Result: 15 years in prison.

In Thailand, is it a crime to be poor, with prison as the punishment?

We would do well to heed the words of Frederick Douglass: "Where justice is denied, where poverty is enforced, where ignorance prevails, and where any one class is made to feel that society is an organised conspiracy to oppress, rob and degrade them, neither persons nor property will be safe."

Burin Kantabutra

Bangkok


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