Category Archives: Thaksin

Warranting contentious politics

Adding fuel to the fire of the Red Shirt protests in Thailand, a Thai court has confirmed the arrest warrant for former prime minister Thaksin Shinawatra. (for background, I’ve added two links to books about Thaksin and recent political events in Thailand).

This is a good demonstration of how courts can serve to deflect attention on controversial decisions away from political elites. The government can simply point to the court’s “independent” and external validation of an otherwise controversial political act (notably, this BBC article doesn’t even mention Prime Minister Abhisit). Ideally, this will soften popular anger and allow political elites to distance themselves from the decision, if necessary (claiming that they’re only carrying out the law).

However, given the mistrust between Red Shirts and Yellow Shirts (see this interesting New Mandala blog for more on that), this strategy of judicial deflection probably won’t resolve much. Red Shirts view the courts as beholden to the political elite, meaning that they will probably view the decision as not much more than another attack on their patron. Ironically, this type of situation demonstrates some of the benefits of judicial independence – for without independence, courts cannot serve their validating role on behalf of political elites.

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Meticulous Thai Courts

From a recent Asia Times interview with former Thai Prime Minister Anand Panyarachun:

Haseenah Koyakutty: On the recent Supreme Court verdict that seized $1.4 billion worth of Thaksin’s assets on abuse of power charges: 

Anand Panyarachun: Why did the Attorney General take so long to file the charge and why did the court take so long to pass the judgment? Because they were very thorough. 700 pages and why did they decide to go into this 700 pages and read for seven-and-a-half hours? Because they wanted to make their reasoning very clear. 

If you study the judgment carefully, on the points of facts, they were all there. On the points of law, they were also correct. I think they did take the trouble and I have admiration for their patience because they were very much criticized about the slowness of the court decision.

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