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.
People Power, Chart Thai and Matchima Thipataya parties disbanded
Published on December 2, 2008
The Constitution Court on Tuesday ruled to disband three coalition parties, People Power, Chart Thai and Matchima Thipataya, and banned the three's party executives from electoral process for five years.
The high court held the three parties for accountability on electoral fraud involving party executives, Yongyuth Tiyapairat of People Power, Monthien Songpracha of Chart Thai and Sunthorn Wilawan of Matchima Thipataya.
In the fraud case linked to People Power Party, the high court cited the Yongyuth conviction by the Supreme Court as the ground to penalise the ruling party.
For cases linked to Chart Thai and Matchima Thipataya, it invoked the rulings by the Election Commission as the basis to punish the two parties.
The nine presiding judges reached unanimous decisions against People Power and Matchima Thipataya parties. And they formed the eight-to-one decision to punish Chart Thai.
The high court opined that the punishment by disbandment was mandatory as sanctioned by Article 237 of the Constitution and that it had no leeway to selectively punish the party executives on the individual basis.
The Constitution Court on Tuesday banned Prime Minister Somchai Wongsawat from politics for five years and dissolved the ruling People Power party (PPP) and two other coalition parties, Chart Thai and Matchimathipataya, over voting fraud cases.
"As the court unanimously decided to dissolve the PPP, therefore the leader of the party and party executives must be banned from politics for five years," said Chat Chonlaworn, head of the nine-judge court panel.
"The court had no other option," he said.
The verdict came amid a confrontation between Somchai, the brother-in-law of ousted former premier Thaksin Shinawatra, and anti-government protesters occupying Suvarnabhumi and Don Mueang airports.
Somchai was elected by parliament on September 17 after his predecessor, Samak Sundaravej, was forced from office last month for appearing in television cooking shows.
The judge, wearing a black robe with a scarlet collar, read the order live on national television.
"No matter whether you are satisfied or not with the verdict, we ask you to accept it," he said.
The verdict said the party must be disbanded because PPP executives had been convicted of vote fraud after elections in December 2007.
"Although some party executives had no knowledge of the election fraud, the law stipulates clearly... the party must scrutinise its executives thus the party cannot deny responsibility," Chat said.
The court banned 109 PPP, Chart Thai and Matchimathipataya executives from politics for five years. — (AFP)
Chavarat appointed as interim PM
(BangkokPost.com) - Deputy Prime Minister Chavarat Charnveerakul was appointed as acting prime minister after the Constitution Court on Tuesday passed a verdict that the People Power party (PPP) was guilty of vote-buying in the previous general election and banned PPP executives from politics for five years, according to Government spokesman Nattawut Saikua.
Mr Somchai Wongsawat was released from the prime minister's post immediately as he was a PPP executive.
The Government spokesman said interim premier Chavarat will now preside over the next cabinet meeting and a parliamentary session will later select and appoint a new prime minister.
He affirmed the six coalition parties will continue to work together to push forward the government works.
(From The Nation)
Suvarnabhumi airport to remain closed until at least Dec 15 : AOT
Published on December 2, 2008
Suvarnabhumi International Airport will remain closed to passenger flights until at least Dec 15 due to the disruption caused by anti-government protesters.
Airports Authority of Thailand's acting director Serirat Prasutanont said that the country's main airport has lost more Bt350 million due to the closure of the protesters.
But the airport allowed the cargo flights to land on Tuesday, the first flights were expected to arrive later the day.
People's Alliance for Democracy has led anti-government protesters to seize the airport since last week.
The extension of the suspension for passenger flights is made although AOT and PAD met on Tuesday and agreed that the airport will resume its service as soon as technical officials examined functional and operational system,.
The panel set up to solve the airport crisis is attended by PAD's co-leader Somkiart Pongpaiboon, AOT's president Wutthipun Wichairat and AOT's advisor to the president ACM Kittisak Ratprasert.
Somkiat said that the meeting agreed that all flights in and out the airport will be resumed as normal. PAD which has seized the airport since last week will divide channels and space for passengers from the protesters.
The panel will examine assets inside and outside the airport to check if there was any damage before returning the areas to AOT.
Somkiat said he could not say for now when officially the airport will resume the service because he has to talk with other PAD's co-leaders.
Meanwhile Wutthipun said that AOT will jointly inspect the readiness of the airport with PAD as soon as possible.
"I think that Suvarnabhumi Airport will be able to be re-opened within 24 hours," he said. Referring to checkpoints set up by PAD at the entrances of the airport, AOT and PAD will jointly conduct the screening of passengers into the airport.
"First priority of the work is to clean all the passengers' buildings and to remove tones of garbages from the areas," he said.
Meanwhile an informed source said AOT told PAD that the airport should be resumed the service on December 3.