Wednesday, August 12, 2009

Thai Political Update

I haven't given much of a political update in the last few months.  Not surprisingly, the conflict between the red and yellow shirts, while not in the streets, continues.

The UDD (the red shirts) mounted a petition drive requesting a royal pardon for former PM Thaksin.  I believe one story reported that over four million people had signed.  Thaksin's opponents and some academics claim that the petition is illegal because one has to serve part of one's sentence to be eligible. There was a lengthy editorial piece in the Bangkok There was a piece in the Bangkok Post last week where a scholar laid out the reason since the petition was illegal, that it was outside the scope of the monarchy's powers.  I found it interesting that he cited several constitutional provisions that would prevent the monarchy from granting an illegal pardon, however, he offered no legal precedent that receiving a pardon requires one to serve at least part of one's sentence. 

I am not an expert on Thai law or pardons in general.  Perhaps that is such a rudimentary concept that every Thai knows it already.  Of course, he wrote the piece in English which means it was directed mainly at a Thai audience.  In the most famous pardon in U.S. history, President Ford pardoned President Nixon before he was even charged with a crime.  The learned writer may have been absolutely correct, however, I am always suspicious when someone who takes the time to provide authority for most of his points provides none for the most important part of his argument. 

Another story is the controversy around the investigation into the attempted assassination of PAD (yellow shirt) leader Sodhi in April.  The speculation is that the police chief had interfered with the investigation, and perhaps may have had knowledge of it.  There was a lot of pressure on PM Abhisit to remove the chief, who was set to retire in two months.  There was some kind of deal struck where the chief would go on leave for a month, but that may have fallen through.  Its all very confusing, and so very Thai. 

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