As I’ve mentioned several times on this blog, Thailand’s Constitutional Court is set to rule on whether Prime Minister Abhisit’s Democrat Party violated campaign finance laws (the expected date for the hearing is now November 29). As I’ve argued elsewhere, the Thai judiciary has generally had a reputation for probity and competence, despite concerns about political bias on the Constitutional Court.
However, as the Economist reports, a spate of YouTube videos posted “ohmygod3009” has now put the Thai judiciary itself on trial. In one video, a Democrat Party politician appears to be lobbying the secretary to the court president, Chat Cholaworn, for a favorable verdict. In others, judges appear to show judges conspiring to hire relatives. The court blames a conspiracy fomented “ill-intentioned people,” while the Democrat politician alleges Chat framed him (Chat has since left the country and the Economist speculates he might be the anonymous poster).
The big question now becomes how will these allegations affect the Constitutional Court’s decision? If these videos gain credence, then the Economist argues the judges might feel compelled to rule against the Democrats in order to prove that it was not influenced by improper considerations. However, I suspect the court will try to split the difference, as other Thai courts have in heated disputes (notably, the Supreme Court only ordered around half of Thaksin’s assets seized). Perhaps this will mean suggesting that the Democrats violated the law, but refusing to apply a punishment retrospectively (the alleged violations took place in 2004, whereas the most recent Constitution was promulgated in 2007). I think it’s safe to predict that the judges will face massive protests either way.