Constitution Court Ruling: End of Story Or Start Of Witch-Hunting & Party Crucifixion?

Constitution Court Ruling: End of Story Or Start Of Witch-Hunting & Party Crucifixion?

Constitution Court Ruling: End of Story Or Start Of Witch-Hunting & Party Crucifixion?

The Constitution Court’s ruling that protestors’ call for reform of the monarchy is tantamount to an attempt to overthrow has caused a storm of anger, increased divisiveness and confusion in Thai society.

The Court ruled that 3 activists, Arnon Nampa, Panupong “Mike” Janok and Panusaya “Rung” Sithijirawattakul had attempted to overthrow the democratic institution with the King as head of state, in a 10-point demand list made during a rally at Thammasat University, Rangsit campus on Aug 10,2020 and on several occasions thereafter.

 The court also ruled that the ruling applies to any organization or the network that supports them and are prohibited from any such actions in the future.

The apprehension amongst the public is that due to this ruling, which is meant to end the story that started off with protests in Harry Potter themed rallies in August last year, will it in fact have the opposite effect and lead to more drastic steps taken by protestors who have now limited ways of expressing themselves ? Or will the powers that be use it as a precedent ruling to hunt out dissidents of the government and people with different opinions and dissolve parties by putting cases against them?

Right after the ruling, Nattaporn Toprayoon , a lawyer and former advisor to the chief Ombudsmans and who initiated the case against the protestors, said he will use the courts’s ruling as a precedent to seek a dissolution of the Move Forward party with the Election Commission. He said that the party’s push for the amendment of Section 112 and their support of protestors and their bail are actions that fall under the court’s ruling.

Paiboon Nititawan, Deputy leader of the government’s core party, Palang Pracharat said that the Constitution Courts ruling is binding on courts and law enforcers, including the Election Commission to take action against individuals and political parties that support the protestors in their threat against the constitutional monarchy. He said political parties linked to the activists’ movements must be looked into and dealt with.

Peeraphan Saleerathaviphak, Advisor to the Prime Minister has come out and said that anybody that has been supporting them must be brought to justice, whether they are groups in the country or outside the country, which includes anybody who has rendered support to them whether it’s through providing location, products, capital and even the cheering crowd and the people behind the scenes.
Authorities that fail to do will be deemed as doing something illegal themselves in a case of “negligence of duty”.
He said for the rest of us Thais, we must protect our Monarchy and the Sovereignty of our Country.

In the eye of the storm are the protestors and anti government groups on one hand and Move Forward Party on the other.

Will they be subjected to witch-hunting behavior or face party dissolution from now on?

Move Forward party’s MFP secretary-general Chaithawat Tulathon has come out in a press conference and taken a firm stance on their parties beliefs and actions saying that their MPs have used their rights, in the parliamentary system provided under the constitution to air their opinions and push for reforms and amendments. Also, in the case of helping protestors with bail where some have achieved bail, means its a legal process which the party’s MPs were assisting the protestors with. In conclusion, Mr Chaithawat said that the allegations that the party’s MPs had helped bail out protestors or the party’s push to amend Section 112, could not be used as evidence to dissolve the party.

In another interview, Move Forward party member Viroj Lakkanadisorn said that although the party will fight not to be dissolved, in case that happens ,we will start another party, we will not stop.

At the same time, since the court ruling had a direct impact on rallies and speeches, public was waiting to see protestors next moves.
On Sunday the 14th, protestors of different groups gathered at Pathumwan intersection in large numbers in what could be seen as their denouncement of the court ruling.
However, to avoid sensitive statements of reforms, they protested on a platform of “we do not want a system of absolute monarchy”. Since Thailand is under a democratic system with the King as head of state and not absolute monarchy, technically the protestors are not saying anything wrong and this should make the authorities scratch their heads on how do deal with this new stance. 
From Pathumwan the protestors marched to the German Embassy where 3 protestors were welcomed inside the embassy to present a document, which they wished to be passed on to the Ambassador.

An announcement was made for press in Thai and English detailing why they were there and part of the speech focussed on how the protestor’s requests for reforms should not be taken as treason and since the protestors’ have no support from higher institutions in Thailand, they need to reach out to international institutions.

It needs to be seen if any actions will be taken against the core leaders of the day by the pro-government side.

However, with PM Prayuth’s reopening of the country and his readiness to step up his international exposure with APEC chairmanship and his recent participation at COP26 summit, any domestic turmoil and occurrences that could be frowned on by the international community should be avoided, if the government wishes to have a respected place on the international stage.

The Prime Minister is making good stride in the international community and should not jeopardize it by having to revert back to an explanatory mode on the political situation of our country.

PM Prayuth needs to rein in witch-hunting and party crucifixion happy enthusiasts and give space in Thailand itself for the youth, the new generation and opposition parties to stand on.

Written By - Patra Manas.