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“The Justice is served” – who ordered it?

Now that I’ve done with various views on what a rule of law means to different parts of Thai society it’s time to look at Thaksin’s assets verdict.

For “yellow” part of the spectrum the justice has definitely been served as they ordered, as the ruling was in accordance with what they perceive as a rule of law – the principles behind 1997 constitution, mainly accountability of politicians before independent powers – counter corruption commission and justice system.

They don’t particularly care about the amount of seized assets, they just want a spade to be called a spade first and foremost. Despite all the speculations, the court was going to rule on what was bloody obvious to everyone – Thaksin was in control of Shin all along. The yellows finally got it recognized legally. The punishment is too technical for most to have an educated opinion on so they don’t burden themselves with details. Thaksin lost some, got something left. Fair enough, being declared a crook is far more important.

For Thaksin, on the other hand, there’s no justice until he gets what he wants. He believes, and that is a widespread belief here, that any verdict must be negotiated, not issued and imposed by the court. Thus there’s no justice until the defendant agrees to the terms. It sounds ridiculous by western judicial standards but that’s how things work where Thaksin comes from. Harmony and agreements are valued above all, those disagreeing are ex-communicated and dealt with decisively. Since he is very much alive and loved by many, he doesn’t accept defeat and so demands negotiating the verdict as an equal.

For Thaksin followers the verdict is unjust until their idol says so. They would make up numbers in “Was the ruling fair?” surveys but have no opinion on their own and defer to Thaksin to do their thinking.

For newly educated red shirts the verdict is another evidence of unelected ammart tramping the will of the people. I’m not sure they believe in need for politically independent watchdogs or unelected judiciary at all, but at this point they just brand anything non-Thaksin as “ammart” and that’s the end of the discussion.

The “progressives” are in a long war against “status quo”, they don’t care about justice in this case per se, they surely admit that Thaksin was guilty but that’s not what interests them, they want to see chinks in elite armor instead, so they look for them in every sentence and every turn of the phrase in the verdict. Those who can’t battle through technicalities simply talk about collusion between the court and “network monarchy” (whatever that means in real life). They speculate about secret deals and behind the door machinations and read double meanings in HMK’s address to the newly elected judges a few weeks earlier.

Interestingly, Federico Ferrara recently called it “coordinating” rather than “manipulating”. I suspect it’s for the lack of evidence of either direct orders or the chain of command itself. I suspect “progressives” rule out the possibility of the court declaring Thaksin a crook just because he was one, rule it out as a matter of principle. There must be a network conspiracy behind it, things are not what they seem. They also ignore that the verdict was in accordance with what the elites believe should be the rule of law in this country, they believe the “network” has some other ideas in mind, ie preserving status quo. Constitutions and the laws do not matter much here. They are illegitimate as long as they appear to support the “status quo”.

The differences between the “network” and the “elites” has never been explored, btw. Do they all agree on the same things? Do they fight among each other? Is there any evidence to any of that? Doesn’t matter – they are all pro status quo, end of discussion.

Those who analyze the verdict itself predictably focus on technicalities and legal precedents, but what is interesting is that they also argue against “damage”, which they view as “if no harm done to anyone, there isn’t any damage”. This is where there’s a lot of common ground with reds and patronage based value system I described earlier, and there’s a lot of possible common ground with yellows as well, as they are a quite practical lot when it comes to honesty and corruption. I don’t think there would be massive support among the “yellows” for some subsequent lawsuits, particularly on behalf of TOT or CAT – they feel that the corrupt policies have actually benefited the country and the people so there’s no point in going after Thaksin any further, he’s got what he deserved already.

The actual PAD part of yellow end of the spectrum, a relatively small part, would probably push for more suits, but that won’t be the attitude of the mainstream.

The government needs to protect TOT and CAT at any cost, it needs TOT contributions to the state budget, so it would probably be happy to litigate if there are enough financial incentives.

For the government the party had only just began.

And so it will roll on, mainstream Thais will be happy and proud of their justice system, Thaksin will be fuming, his fans will be lamenting, red shirts will be plotting a government overthrow, progressives will argue against status quo while things will stay more or less the same.

Eventually the notion that politicians should be held accountable not only before voters but before laws, too, will settle in. Complaining about double standards to save politicians from justice will not get them anywhere. Should Abhisit manage to form the ruling coalition after next elections the elite version of “rule of law” will only be cemented. Should PTP form the coalition, it will find going by the old, patronage based rules very tough and would rather spend energy to comply rather than fight the elite laws.

The process is irreversible and there are no viable alternatives. Eat that or go hungry, you were not there when elites were doing ordering.

Oh, and there are reds who claim 1997 as “people constitution” but refuse to accept its principles when they go against their current agenda. What they get now is not what they expected the justice would taste like.


8 Responses

  1. I’ve never thought the ‘network’ was a cohesive ‘co-ordinated’ structure.
    I see it more as a loose collection of people in positions of power & influence – on some things they even compete with each other, but they also know on what side their bread is buttered, and therefore act accordingly to protect their priveleged positions.
    All it takes is a pronouncement from above (or a word or two over a phone call:), and the others know whats required of them.

  2. I’d say there are millions of people who share the same ideology and who do not hold any privileged positions.

    I’d also say that the privileged have never felt any threat to the positions, self preservation is not their driving motive at all.

  3. You are probably right that its not their driving motive (yet) – they still have their snouts in the trough, accustomed to thinking it will go on forever.
    However, I have a feeling something has changed within the country (an eye opening:) and the old tricks will not continue prevail in this day and age.
    Its a choice – open up a little toward the western model (where the elites still win – thats why they are elite, after all), or move more down the Burma, North Korea route.
    Time will tell which way it all heads.

  4. I’d say yellows nailed the politicians pretty good, no one will even risk pulling “Thaksin” again.

    As for non-political ammart – I have no idea what reds can possibly do to them. Surayud moved out just because he is a nice guy so he didn’t fight or demanded “rights”.

    The rest of the “elites” have absolutely nothing to worry about – they and reds do not cross paths in daily lives, ever.

  5. Did you read Kasian T. today on Prachatai?
    (remember he’s a Thai in Thailand, so understandably a lot is left unsaid, but you should get the picture)

  6. Yes, I glanced over it, his thinking seemed to be very confusing. All in all it’s just another take on why the verdict must be wrong, wrong, wrong. Any excuse will do.

    What’d he say? It was a high price to pay for nailing Thaksin?

    Well, high price or not, but the state MUST be able to enforce its laws, otherwise it’s just a joke. I’m pretty sure the next on their list will get his serving cheaply.

  7. Well, high price or not, but the state MUST be able to enforce its laws, otherwise it’s just a joke.”

    It is a sick joke – how many times have the airport invasion leaders been able to postpone/evade or just simply refuse to turn up?
    TRT dissolved – Democrat case gets delayed & delayed

    Need I go on?

  8. No, you don’t need to go on. I’ve heard it before.

    Airport was blocked in the name of the same laws and the same state. It was part of a price to pay for this verdict.

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