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Damned if they do, damned if they don't

The clock is ticking towards a landmark judgement against caretaker Prime Minister Yingluck Shinawatra, whose job is on the line over the unlawful transfer of National Security Council chief Thawil Pliensri.

Many hearts go out to Yingluck, the country's first woman prime minister, who has been enduring a series of setbacks.

From another corner of society, there is sympathy for independent agencies like the Election Commission (EC), the Constitutional Court, the National Anti-Corruption Commission (NACC), the National Human Rights Commission and the Office of the Ombudsman.

These agencies have been subjected to attacks, directly and indirectly, for many years. The hardest-hit are the Constitutional Court, the EC and NACC, which have been accused by the government camp of not being neutral and of practising double standards.

Government supporters have questioned why whenever the cases under scrutiny by these agencies are related to the Pheu Thai Party, the government or Yingluck, the decisions or verdicts are more negative than positive.

But before jumping to any conclusion, the public should accept that these independent agencies were created under the 2007 Constitution as organisations tasked with maintaining checks and balances on the government and the House of Representatives.

Hence it is not surprising that these agencies are sucked into the political whirlpool and politicians' power struggles. Several Constitutional Court judges publicly accept the nature of their job.

"It is natural to have both admirers and haters, as there will be a winner and a loser in any case. It is normal for the winner to take satisfaction and the loser to condemn or even insult judges," a judge said.

So it is common that shortly after independent agencies like the Constitutional Court hand down verdicts, critics, whether they are linked directly or indirectly to the case, lambaste the judges. Some critics, seemingly with academic principles, present their points of disapproval, but others, who may be judgmental by nature, seem to lash out just for the enjoyment of it.

In comparison, judges in normal courts of justice are protected against contempt, insult and criticism.

The charter does not provide the Constitutional Court judges with the same protection it does to other judges. That is the reason critics pull no punches against them.

The Centre for Administration of Peace and Order, led by caretaker Labour Minister Chalerm Yoobamrung, has become one of the arch-critics of the Constitutional Court judges and the NACC. Chalerm has made it graphically clear that if Yingluck loses her job as prime minister, it will lead to a "bloodbath", because the Pheu Thai Party and government supporters will not allow that scenario.

There have been steady attacks, intimidation and threats against the court even before the verdict is issued.

Former prime minister Chuan Leekpai recently extended moral support to the Constitutional Court judges, urging them to carry out their duty with righteousness and without fear of intimidation or being influenced by bribery at this critical political juncture.

It is unavoidable that regardless of which side the judges rule in favour of, the court will be attacked.

"Stay true to your cause. Each situation is a test of your ideology and commitment," Chuan advised the judges.


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