December 3rd, 2008


More details about the Thai court decision

Seems I was wrong about the three-year sentence, it was five years after all. One of my Peace Corps alumni friends who lives in Phuket has been keeping his online friends supplied with news clippings from the local English language newspapers, with some commentary he and his Thai wife add. Here's the latest:

Dear Friends,

There are two primary events to discuss today; the first is the set of decisions by the Constitutional Court regarding the dissolution of the three main political parties controlling the government and the parliament; the second is the story of the airport closures.

As for the party dissolution and its aftermath, there is much to note, but little to be added in this context. The Court believed that its hands were tied. Once the Election Commission determined that crimes and illegalities were committed by a political party, it had no discretion other than to apply the strict provisions of the Constitution and the election enabling legislation. How the math works out for control of the parliament until new elections can be held; who will control the government in the interim; how legislators will align with new parties are all open questions, although television media have been buzzing with speculation. One thing appears for sure: while it is numerically possible for the Democratic Party to form a bare-majority coalition government, the former small parties making up the PPP coalition are in no mood to compromise with the Democrats. December 8th has been given as the date on which parliament will reconvene to elect a prime minister before new elections can be held. A caretaker PM has been named by the PPP, Deputy Prime Minister Chavarat Charnveerakul. (See the Bangkok Post story below.) At least he will be in the PM position for the King's birthday celebration and the King's annual speech to the nation.

I am still baffled. The suspect elections were held in December of last year. PM Somchai was chosen as PM and as head of party on September 17th of this year after his predecessor was convicted of illegally taking money for a cooking show. Somchai was not on the scene when the deeds were done. Collective punishment means that the current denizen of the party offices becomes the sacrificial anodes when the decision is reached. Sounds like ex post facto decision making to me. I am not a fan of the current administration or its backers but essential fairness seems lacking.

As for the airport issues, this evening the airport authority stated that there would be no passenger flights in or out of Suvarnabhumi until December 15th, a change from the earlier announcement that only two or three days were required for full service. Hard reality won out over wishful thinking. No mention has been made that I have seen regarding the reopening of Don Muang airport. Cargo flights are scheduled to resume soon, concern being over potentially wilted orchids and rapidly rotting fruit. In any event, flights are coming in and out of regional airports to foreign destinations and U-thapao airport.

Latest news is that the PAD announced that it will end all its demonstrations tomorrow, including presumably, Don Muang airport. The cat's paw has been sufficiently used and singed. The PAD made no announcement as to who would clean up the airports. I say, leave the job to the recycling scavengers who work the Capital every day. They are very efficient.

We continue to hope for the best.

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