It’s been an exciting week for courts in Southeast Asia. Here are some updates:
Indonesia: The continuing saga of the prosecutions of Bibit and Chandra, two framed KPK officials, has taken yet another turn. The new attorney general, Basrief Arief, suggested that he might not support a deponering (essentially a pre-trial pardon) after all. Fortunately, this might not be just another cynical twist in Jakarta’s wayang politics. Like a pardon, deponering would essentially leave the two KPK officials with the stigma of being suspects or criminals for life, whereas some legislators in President Yudhoyono’s Democratic Party urge them to fight in trial to clear their name.
Philippines: As I mentioned earlier this week, the Supreme Court struck down Aquino’s Executive Order No. 1, which would have established a Truth Commission to investigate allegations of corruptions in the prior administration. Already, some are calling for the impeachment of Chief Justice Corona, including apparently Aquino himself. However, the Supreme Court spokesperson publicly stated the justices sympathized with the administration’s anti-corruption drive. Meanwhile, judges have been protesting the lack of a budget increase for the judiciary, and the Supreme Court denies having instigated the protests.
Thailand: The Constitutional Court issued its second ruling in the Democrat Party case, again absolving the party and Prime Minister Abhisit. As with the last case, the justices held that the prosecution had failed to follow proper procedures and file the suit in a timely manner. While question will certainly be raised ver the court’s impartiality, Thais will also probably have to wonder how such blatant malpractice in the prosecutor’s office ever passed muster.
Stay tuned for more from the region…