Judgment Day

I’m back from Southeast Asia and almost caught up with work here. I have a few pictures from the trip here, here, and here.

As you probably heard, there were two exceedingly important court judgments yesterday coming out of Southeast Asia.

The first was the Burmese Supreme Court’s dismissal of Aung San Suu Kyi’s appeal. BBC has a short description of it. I haven’t seen much commentary on it and of course the dismissal was pretty much expected. However, there were interesting constitutional arguments made in the case. I am in the process of tracking down a copy of the decision, which I hope to have (and of course share) soon.

The more dramatic case was the Thai Supreme Court’s decision to seize a large part (around $1.4 billion) of former Prime Minister Thaksin’s assets. There have been several reports on the politics of the decision, which seem quite obvious (please yellow shirts, infuriate red shirts). However, the legal basis for the decision is also quite interesting. Via the New Mandala blog, it seems as if the court rested its decision on the grounds of “policy corruption.” The court’s economic analysis seems superficial (as is often the case with court decisions), but basically the claim is that Thaksin’s policies resulted in “abnormal gains” for companies that he still secretly controlled via his family members. Of course, in a country like Thailand,* where many politicians have links to business, this reasoning seems either hypocritical or untenable. It will be interesting to see whether this emerges as a new subset of administrative law, or simply a onetime tool to attack Thaksin.

* The legal charge of policy corruption could wreck havoc among Southeast Asian elites. One need not have an active imagination to think of how Golkar Chairman Aburizal Bakrie could be indicted on grounds of “policy corruption.”

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