Pavin Chachavalpongpun

Rewriting a history in an intricate business. Nations thrive on extraordinary history. It must be replete with heroism, sacrifices, courage and patriotism. History is employed to reaffirm the longevity of a nation. The longer the life of a nation is, a deeper sense of national belonging it becomes. Given this importance, history is a powerful tool in instigating nationalism. To make a perfect nation, a perfect history is necessary. In the world of nationhood, history tells stories of miracles, achievements and memorable occurrences.

The 23rd prime minister of Thailand being removed from historical textbooks

At the same time, history is a manipulative instrument. Conservative historians may wish to underscores the nation’s impressive tales while burying its embarrassing past moments. A prominent historian Professor Charnvit Kasetsiri, also former rector of Thammasat University, cautioned, “If you know nothing about history, you are one-sided blind. But if you believe in history without any questions, you are totally blind.”

Last week, an article by Thomas Fuller of the New York Times, unveiled the Thai state’s alleged project on rewriting Thai history by deleting from the high-school textbooks Thaksin Shinawatra, the 23rd prime minister of Thailand who had been in power from 2001-2006 until he was overthrown in a military.

So far, education authorities gave conflicting accounts on why details on Thaksin were erased from the Thai historical textbooks. One account was that the Thai political history happened to end only at the government of Chuan Leekpai (1997-2001). Basically, this is the case of the textbooks not being updated. In another account, education authorities admitted not to include Thaksin’s name, but only mentioned the period of political difficulties. Either way, it raises suspicions on the part of the Thai state in purposefully forgetting the Thaksin period, which saw the longest-running elected government in the short political history of the Thai nation.

Forgetting the past represents a trick that cleanses a nation. It is a trick that is designed to hide some inconvenient truths. More importantly, it is a part of adding a layer of legitimacy to the regime of the day. Erasing important figures or political episodes from the pages of history is not an uncommon practice.

The Chinese historical textbooks exclude the Tiananmen massacre in 1989, which killed hundreds, if not thousands, of pro-democracy activists. In comparison, Thai historical books treat with little significance the October 6 massacre of students at Thammasat University in 1976. In both incidents, the remaining of brutal memories only served to bring out the ruthlessness of the despotic regimes of the past. Conservative historians would rather craft a more picturesque history for the people to admire, even if it would leave them in the world of make-believe.

Since Thaksin’s downfall, the former prime minister has continued to cast a long shadow over the present and future of Thai politics. The current coup is a part of eliminating the Thaksin’s influence from the political realm. But Thaksin’s enemies have clearly chosen the wrong approach. Instead of winning back supporters of Thaksin through good policy platforms and via elections, they endorsed a coup as a shortcut to get rid of Thaksin and his proxies from politics.

But the coup will prove to be counterproductive. Thaksin’s supporters see it as yet another attempt to rob them of their electoral rights. Worse, removing Thaksin from the history will also be perceived as removing from their consciousness and recollection their dear prime minister. The forgetful past will not be forgotten. But it will be entrenched even further into some people’s mind.

Falsifying history is just plainly wrong. Loved or hated, Thaksin must earn a place in the Thai history. It is then up to the people to learn from such history, analyzing it, and making their own judgment about some good and bad legacies Thaksin has left behind. Bad history is not necessarily bad. It could provide a lesson for people of later generations. This explains why the European history is full of wars, ethnic animosities, losses of nations, heartless political leaders and mass deaths. Yet, they have made the most out of their bitter past to create an even brighter future for themselves.

For the conservative historians, deleting Thaksin from the people’s memory is much more difficult than they earlier thought. It is even more difficult now, comparing with many decades ago when social media did not exist. Today, people have other channels to learn more about their past without having to rely on a distorted version of history endorsed by the state.

Such alternative histories allow people to check facts, compare events, and give their own critical assessments about past happenings. The state’s manipulation of history will be from this point onwards confined within a new social context. Exploiting national history to create a uniform society will face several challenges. For example, the mysterious “men in black” who were supposedly behind the killing of some state agencies in 2010, have become a controversial topic. A number of people used evidences found on the Internet to question the existence of such men in black. This is how history will be contested from now on.

At the end, Thailand is not North Korea, although the two nations share a myriad of similarities. As an open society, even when it is currently under the military government, Thailand can no longer close down its social space in which differences must be tolerated. History is a larger social space in which national heroes or villains deserved their place.

 

 

Pavin Chachavalpongpun is associate professor at Kyoto University’s Center for Southeast Asian Studies.

 

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iLaw
 
Lèse majesté cases under Article 112 of the Criminal Code have gained much attention. Hot debates have flared up every time the Court hands down verdicts on such cases and the opinions expressed tend to be highly polarized. 
 
Part of the online debate is harbored to support a notion that “Lèse majesté is a bad law, it should be revoked”. Meanwhile, the other faction would claim that “the law is fine; if you have done nothing wrong; you are not supposed to fear (the law).” Very little effort has been made to draw public attention toward detail of the verdict of each cases and very few genuine critiques have been made over the interpretation of the law.  
 
In the aftermath of the 2014 coup, number of lèse majesté cases are queuing up for court trial. By reviewing previous verdicts made on such cases may help to shed light on problems stemming from the interpretation of the law. It would be useful for those who continue to monitor whether history will repeat itself and how the judicial process in Thailand will evolve over the issue. 
 
 
Intent must be key to determining guilt of an accused 
 
"Intent" is a determinant of criminal liability. Article 59(1) of the Criminal Code goes “A person shall be criminally liable only when such person commits an act intentionally, except in case where the law provides that such person must be liable when commits an act by negligence, or except in case where the law clearly provides that such person must be liable even an act was committed unintentionally”.  
 
As for an offence according to the Article 112 of the Criminal Code, it does not provide that a person who has committed the offence unintentionally or by negligence has to be penalized. Therefore, it is essential that a person can be convicted under this article only when it can be proven that he or she has committed the offence intentionally.  
 
In the case against seller of the book “Kong Chak Pi Sat” (Thai translation of The Devil's Discus), the Court ruled that content of the book is an offence against the Article 112 of the Criminal Code. However, given that the defendant has insisted on never reading the book, and since the prosecution has failed to prove that the accused had read the book, a benefit of the doubt has gone to the defendant.  
   
It is obvious in the verdict that intent is key to determining guilt of an defendant. Even though the defendant sold a book which content is an offence against lèse majesté law, but since there was no supporting evidence to prove that he might have been aware of the content of the book, it thus has given rise to a doubt of the defendant having really committed the offence. Since it was not possible to prove his intent, the case against him had to be dismissed. 
 
The lèse majesté case against Ibrahim is another example of how intent of the accused was used in his defense.  
 
A Saudi, Ibrahim was married to a Thai woman and regularly traveled between Thailand and Saudi Arabia. He traded stocks through a broker. In 2009, there was some negative rumor about the monarchy spreading around online media. Ibrahim who usually read news via international media outlets understood that the rumor was a fact, he then posted a message to warn his fellow traders on a webboard.
 
Later, he found out "a fact" was just a rumor, so he posted an apology and went by himself to apologize the webboard administrator. Still, he was arrested and prosecuted.  
 
In the Court, Ibrahim stated how he was loyal to The monarchy. Once, he made journey from his home in Phayao province to Siriraj Hospital in Bangkok to sign a "get well book" for His Majesty the King. He also sent a postcard to His Majesty the King in the occasion of the royal birthday which he later received a letter of acknowledgement from the Bureau of the Royal Household. 
 
Even though Ibrahim insisted that his posting was meant to give a warning to fellow investors and he had no intention to defame, insult or threaten the King, but both, the Court of the First Instance and the Court of Appeals were not convinced that he had no such intention.  
 
Part of the verdict issued by the Court of Appeals goes that, the fact that the defendant claimed in his motion of appeal that he had made a trip and written postcards to express his well wishes to His Majesty indicated that he was aware that His Majesty the King was the Head of the State and shall be respected and inviolable. By posting such a message while knowing it was false, was then an act to defame His Majesty the King.
 
The Court ruled over opinion and mindset.  
 
There are at least two verdicts of lèse majesté cases that the Court adjudicate by taking in to account opinion of individuals.  
 
Part of the verdict issued by the Court of Appeals in the case against “Jeng Dokjik”, can be summarized as follows.  
The Constitution of the Kingdom of Thailand provides that Thailand is ruled by a democratic form of government with the King as Head of the State. The King shall be enthroned in a position of revered worship and shall not be violated. The Thai state and its citizens are strictly obliged to protect the nation, religion, monarchy and the democratic form of government with the King as Head of the State. Not only in the provision of the law but also in the mindset, every Thai citizen holds respect to the Kings since time immemorial.
 
Meanwhile, part of the verdict issued by the Court of Appeals in the case against Ibrahim also goes that; 
 
"Section 2 of the Constitution of the Kingdom of Thailand B.E. 2550 (2007), provides that “Thailand adopts a democratic form of government with the King as Head of the State. Section 8 goes “The King shall be enthroned in a position of revered worship and shall not be violated. Section 70 goes " Every person shall have a duty to uphold the Nation, religions, the King, and the democratic regime of government with the King as Head of the State under this Constitution”. Section 77 goes "The State shall protect and uphold the institution of kingship..." It is clear that according to provisions in the Constitution of the Kingdom of Thailand, His Majesty the King is enthroned as the Head of the State and shall be respected and shall not be violated. The state and its people are obliged to uphold the institution forever. It does not just lie within the law, but also in the mindset of Thailand people, the monarchy shall be revered and held up high over our head all the times since time immemorial. Any verbal abuse or any posting of messages into a computer system which can be tantamount to being an insult or defamatory against His Majesty is an act that no one dares to perform”.  
 
Both verdicts of the Court of Appeals are similar, apart from invoking facts and legal provisions, the Courts even made reference to opinion held by individuals.  
 
An opinion is something personal and it is subject to one’s liberty to think freely. Article 18(1) of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (ICCPR)  thus provides that “Everyone shall have the right to freedom of thought, conscience and religion. This right shall include freedom to have or to adopt a religion or belief of his choice,…”.  
 
Even though Article 4(1) of ICCPR provides for a state party to waive certain of its obligations during the emergency situation, as it provides that; 
 
"1. In time of public emergency which threatens the life of the nation and the existence of which is officially proclaimed, the States Parties to the present Covenant may take measures derogating from their obligations under the present Covenant to the extent strictly required by the exigencies of the situation, provided that such measures are not inconsistent with their other obligations under international law and do not involve discrimination solely on the ground of race, color, sex, language, religion or social origin”. 
 
But in (2) of the same Article, it provides for Articles in the Covenant which cannot be abrogated in whatever condition including “derogation from articles 6, 7, 8 (paragraphs I and 2), 11, 15, 16 and 18” which could not be derogated.  
 
In other word, under emergency situation, the state may impose restrictions to limit certain freedoms of its citizens, i.e., the right to freedom of assembly or freedom of expression, but the right to freedom of thought, conscience and religion cannot be derogated in any circumstance. 
 
Thought and opinion are not a crime by itself, as long as it have not transformed into an action (or word) that against the law. Therefore, as law enforcement authority, the Court is obliged to determine guilt by reviewing criminality of an act (or word) and invoking existing legal provisions, instead of making any reference to opinion or mindset since it is something beyond the comprehension of the Court. In addition, opinion and mindset of the Thai citizens is not an essence of the cases and the Court should not have invoked it.  
 
Are the Courts getting adapted to social context? 
 
Whenever the court had the verdict of lèse majesté cases, it usually became subject of criticisms by those who are opposed to the use of the law. There are, however, at least, two verdicts which indicate that the Courts have not completely disengaged themselves from society. It also shows that the Courts are well aware of the implication of the Article 112 of the Criminal Code which shall not be borne by the accused only, but society as a whole. The verdict of the Court of Appeals in the case against Surapak and the verdict of the Criminal Court in the case against Thitinan (click here for detail of the case) are a good example of how the Courts have adapted themselves.  
 
Surapak was accused of posting five facebook messages found defamatory to the King on different occasions in 2012 (click here for detail of the case). In October 2012, the Court of First Instance acquitted him citing dubious evidence produced by the prosecution. The public prosecutor appealed the case on 26 March 2014, the Court of Appeals concurred with the Lower Court and dismissed the charge against him.  
 
The Court of Appeals’ verdict provides reasons to acquit the accused which can be summarized as follows;  
 
Lèse majesté case is sensitive. A defendant will not only punish by the law but also by social sanction. To convict the defendant based on dubious evidence is not only unjust for the defendant but it will also provoke divisions in the society. In addition, any enforcement of the law which may violate the rule of law may give rise to a decline in loyalty and respect toward the monarchy.  
 
Similarly, the verdict of the case against Thitinan who was accused of defacing the portrait of His Majesty the King, the Court invoked social context when making its adjudication.  
 
In this case, the defendant confessed to committing the offence as alleged, but she did it when she was ill and could not control herself. During the trial, evidence has been given by a medical doctor who has given her the treatment. The Court found the defendant guilty and sentenced her to two years.  
 
But given that the defendant had never been convicted to jail term before and considering that her mental illness could become a major factor contributing to her offence, for the benefit of the defendant and the society as a whole, the Court decided to suspend the imprisonment. 
 
In the verdict, the Court did not specify clearly what “society as a whole” means. But by issuing such a verdict, the Courts treat the cases as public cases and acknowledge that the implication of the verdicts shall not be just borne personally by the defendant, but also by the society as a whole.  
 
These two verdicts may indicate that certain Judges realize that the verdicts of Lèse majesté cases shall render implication not just on the defendants themselves, but also on society at large. Therefore, the writing of verdicts must be done carefully bearing in mind any impact that may affect political schisms in society.  
 
The verdicts above are just a few interesting examples. Apart from these, there are other verdicts which have been elaborated by academics and social activists working on legal issues including the lèse majesté case against a former King (King Mongkut, Rama IV) and the case of “Kenji” who was accused of posting a defoamatory message against the King in the Internet Freedom webboard (click here for detail of the case and an analysis of the verdict), etc.  
 
During the time a number of cases against the Lèse majesté are tried in the Court (click here for detail of the cases to be indicted), and amidst highly polarized political tension, by reviewing interesting verdicts, it may help us monitor the cases with understanding and without biases, and hopefully, it will have led to more constructive debate.  
 
Source: iLaw
 
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Kongpob Areerat
Prayuth Chan-Ocha, the head of the junta and Prime Minister, has revealed the eleven policies of his administration, one of which is a plan to improve Thailand’s health system; however, the conservative junta might set Thailand’s health policies back by ten years.
 
Prayuth stated that they would facilitate a health insurance system accessible to all, prioritize preventive medicine to reduce costs, and redistribute health personnel to rural areas in accordance to the fifth policy of his government.
 
This, however, contradicted his words in early August when he called on the rich to leave the universal health insurance system to the poor.
 
“The rich should make a sacrifice to people with lower income without being forced to by the state. If 3-5 million people give up their universal health care rights, we will have a bigger health budget,” said Prayuth on his Friday TV programme on 22 August 2014.
 
This might sound reasonable, but that fact that the junta might try to reduce the budget for the national health care scheme and increase the salary of bureaucrats instead would contradict their promise to provide health care accessible to all. 
 
The junta wants to reduce the cost of the public health care by setting the per capita health care budget next year at 2,895 baht in contrast to the inflation-adjusted figure of 3,060 baht proposed by the National Health Security Office (NHSO). 
 
This reduction will cause a net shortfall of 483 baht per capita, and will take 23,184 million baht out of the national health insurance budget.            
 
According to Sureerat Treemaca of the People's Health Systems Movement, a reduction in the budget for health care will worsen the public health system in Thailand.
 
“The idea that there is not enough budget for health care is a discourse that the Bureau of Budget has always been using. But in fact, out of a national budget of 2-3 trillion baht a year, 140 billion baht is spent annually for public health care, which is not much at all” said Sureerat.
 
She also pointed out that the junta’s health policy, which only prioritizes the poor, is flawed because the essential reason for creating a welfare system is to reduce the income gap. Therefore, the health care system should be created equally for both the poor and rich via a system of taxes that they can afford to pay.    
 
Sureerat said unequal provision of health care will set Thailand back ten years in its public health policies. 
 
“When we talk about welfare and health insurance, we should keep in mind that it should be accessible to everyone equally. However, the conservative paradigm of the junta, which thinks that welfare and health care should be provided only for the poor because a universal system will have additional costs, will set Thailand back ten years in its health system,” said the outspoken member of the People's Health Systems Movement.
 
Thaksin Shinawatra, a controversial ex-prime minister renowned for his so called ‘populist policies’, introduced the universal health coverage scheme in 2001. The scheme was called the ‘30 baht policy’ where people receive a ‘gold card’, allowing them to access medical treatment in their registered district with a co-payment cost of 30 baht per illness. 
 
According to the World Bank, 99.5 percent of Thailand’s population have access to public health care, which is divided into three schemes, one for government officials and their families, a social security system for employees in the formal private sector, and the universal health coverage.
 
When Thaksin’s government was overthrown by the coup in 2006, the next military-appointed government chose to retain the universal health care policy. However, they cancelled the co-payment and relied fully on tax revenue for funding health care. 
 
Although most Thais have access to public health coverage schemes, there are two apparent problems; one is the imbalanced distribution of health personnel, which are scarce in rural areas, and inequality in the medical treatment provided to patients covered by different healthcare schemes.
 
 
According to Sureerat, the contrasts of the number of physicians in cities and in rural areas and among the health budget for government officials and others are striking.
 
“Physicians are more concentrated in cities because they can treat patients with all kinds of diseases, earn more, and can pursue further medical studies as well. Another problem is inequality in health care policy. In Thailand, the budget for government officials’ medical treatment is unlimited, whereas others covered social security and the universal health scheme get limited treatment and cheaper medicines,” said Sureerat.
 
She added that, annually, 5-6 million government officials and family members in Thailand consume six to seven billion baht a year for health care, paid for by the Comptroller General’s Department, whereas ten million people eligible for social security consume only two to three billion annually and the rest, numbering more than 50 million people, get 10-20 billion baht a year.
 
Moreover, the high medical costs of the government officials’ scheme are not transparent and accountable, according to Sureerat.
 
“People who are under the universal health coverage and social security schemes usually get different medicines, which are cheaper than those provided under the government officials’ scheme. The way of allocating medicines is not standardized,” said the welfare campaigner. 
 
Another major problem of public health system in Thailand is the commoditization of health institutions in the country. Hospitals in the private sector operate in a manner similar to for-profit businesses. These private hospitals are more attractive for physicians and nurses since they pay more than public hospitals. These private hospitals have been drawing resources away from the public health sector.
 
“Thailand allows private hospitals to become profitable businesses that can even be listed on the stock exchange. It allows private hospitals to absorb important public health resources. In addition, the promotion of Thailand as a ‘medical hub’, with state support for private medical businesses, will take more resources from the public health sector,” said Sureerat.
 
For her, although Thailand prides itself for being one of the most advanced ‘medical hubs’ that welcome medical tourists from all over the world, it does not mean that all Thailand’s citizens have equal access to medical treatment. 
 
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Nidhi Eoseewong
Prefatory note to the English translation: During the crackdown on red shirt protestors during April-May 2010, at least 94 people were killed and over 2000 injured. In an unprecedented event in Thai political history, the leaders who presided over the crackdown -- former prime minister Abhisit Vejjajiva and former deputy prime minister Suthep Thaugsuban (now a monk) – were indicted in October 2013 for premeditated murder under Articles  80, 83, 84 and 288 of the Criminal Code. The indictment was unprecedented because this is the first time that state officials – either those at the level of command or those who carried out orders in the field – were indicted for their role in a massacre. The criminal case came amidst ongoing inquests into the deaths, the majority of which concluded that soldiers were responsible for the deaths of civilians. 
 
However, the indictment and accompanying hope for accountability, was short-lived. On 28 August 2014, the Criminal Court ruled that they did not have the jurisdiction to examine the case and it would be transferred to the Supreme Court’s Criminal Division for Persons Holding Political Positions. The only penalties this court can impose are a restriction on an individual’s ability to participate in formal politics. Thanong Senamontri, the chief justice of the Criminal Court, wrote a dissenting opinion in which argued that this decision violated the rights of the families of those who were killed during the April-May 2010 crackdown to seek justice [for readers who can read Thai, the dissenting opinion can be read in its entirety as part of this article in ข่าวสด].
 
In the essay translated below, noted historian Ajarn Nidhi Eoseewong has expertly parsed the ways in which the court decision is not a discrete moment in the present, but is an event shot through with the resonances of the past and has significant implications for the future. In particular, he raises astute questions about the possible contents of politics. He writes that, “The Criminal Court’s view is that the massacre of people in the centre of the city by the people who held political office is merely a crime of politics. And when it becomes a crime of politics, the soldiers who carried out the actions have nothing to do with the crime at all” [ในทรรศนะของศาลอาญา การสังหารหมู่ประชาชนกลางเมืองของ ผู้ดำรงตำแหน่งทางการเมืองเป็น ความผิดทางการเมืองเท่านั้น และเมื่อเป็นคดีทางการเมือง ก็ไม่เกี่ยวกับทหารผู้ลงมือปฏิบัติการ แต่ อย่างใด]. In other words, the Criminal Court has given a legal and institutional gloss to the already normalized use of violence as a strategy of political rule. —translator.  
 
*
 
The dismissal of the case in which Khun Abhisit and Khun Suthep Thaugsuban were defendants accused of committing premeditated murder which resulted in casualties in 2010 is a decision with both a past and a future. It seems as if all of the various pasts cannot be divorced from the future.
 
The decision not only liberates the two defendants from this criminal case, but also releases the soldiers who carried out the orders from possible criminal accusation as well. It’s true that the soldiers were following orders. But there were instances in which the conclusion that they acted in excess of the orders or in significant excess of necessity is credible. None of these soldiers, from those in the field up to the commanders who gave the orders to use real bullets, to use snipers, or to shoot indiscriminately into the crowd without choosing a target, are exempt from disciplinary action. These were entirely illegal orders. This is the case even though conditions for these orders may have been met, such these actions can be taken when there is a potential danger to the body or life of the person acting on the orders. At a minimum, was careful consideration taken in a given situation? The opportunity for soldiers to unnecessarily pull the triggers on their guns is one that easily arises. How strong a deterrent is there for a soldier to refrain from pulling the trigger? If there can be no deterrent, then the issuing of the orders is reckless. 
 
The Criminal Court (the Court of Justice) dismissed the charges against the primary defendants, who are those with the great power, because they deemed that the actions were carried out while they
held political office. This case will likely simply be discontinued, rather than continuing and extending to reach down to those who executed the orders. (I will not address how this analysis is legally erroneous. Many people have done so already, including the chief justice of the Criminal Court, whose dissenting view is present in the judgment.)
  
Without having to rely at all on an amnesty law, blanket or not, all of the soldiers who carried out actions in April and May 2010 are exempt from being investigated and examined for all possible offences. This is the case from the high-ranking commanders down to those who executed the orders in the field.    
 
When the case was transferred from the Criminal Court to the Supreme Court’s Criminal Division for Persons Holding Political Positions, it meant that the crime of murder has become a crime of politics. If the perpetrator holds political office at the time of the alleged offence, a crime of politics holds a penalty aimed only at restricting his right to be involved in politics. The Criminal Court’s view is that the massacre of people in the centre of the city by the people who held political office is merely a crime of politics. And when it becomes a crime of politics, the soldiers who carried out the actions have nothing to do with the crime at all.
 
Further, this case cannot be tried for a second time in the Court of Justice. Therefore, the only remaining path for this case is appeal. The families of the dead and injured will appeal, for certain. But the Court of First Instance adjudicated that they do not have the right to be co-plaintiffs. Therefore, the effect that the appeal will have remains uncertain.
 
The prosecution, which was not barred from appealing in the decision, necessarily knows well what the political implications of this decision are given the status quo of the NCPO in power. If the prosecution does not appeal, it will be understandable. But if there is a broad reaction of nonacceptance by society, the prosecution will then have to choose to appeal. This is understandable. 
 
Therefore, it is then possible that the use of violence to repress the people who demonstrated in 2010 will be treated the same as it has every time in the past. In other words, politicians (whether they come from the ballot box or the gun) who choose to use violence will get away with it as usual. Put another way, assassination of one’s political enemies with utter impunity remains a Thai political tool that possesses enduring efficiency.
 
This is the meaning given to the past by this judgment. But as we already know, the past-present-future are three periods of time that cannot be separated from one another. Therefore, the new meaning of the past following this judgment gives meaning to the present as well.
 
That is, there are no burdens of legal accountability to hinder the junta from using violence against protestors or those who disagree with the seizure of power. This problem lies in the future. That is to say, I cannot predict whether or not there will be any cases in which the NCPO will choose to use violence. But if there is violence, it will be a massacre worse than every prior one. This is because the perpetrators will not have to wait for any sort of amnesty bill. 
 
This decision has significance for the long-term Thai political future.
 
In the midst of the transformations which have taken place in Thai society over the last several decades, the elites may no longer remain able to set the direction of the political system. They will have to change in order to accommodate the advent of the significant numbers of the new middle-class. But the form of this change remains uncertain. What is certain is that it is unlikely to be smooth. What we — ordinary people as well as those in the ruling class that are cognizant —  should be concerned about is whether or not this lack of smoothness will involve a massacre. If a transition is made through violence, it will be difficult to avert the dismantling and destruction of the power and benefit structure at the roots. It will be impossible to escape violence if the transition is of this type. The violence would inescapably affect every matter and every person.
 
And as the decision has rendered it possible for any given regime to massacre the people without it being a usual criminal offence, therefore a regime in power which has the support of the military can choose to use this strategy with ease.
 
For these reasons, whatever features are contained in the permanent constitution, the army will be an important provision for the preservation of political power because it is an efficient, unrestricted tool of violence. There is no military in the world that maintains its importance to this degree without intervening in politics, or without using a coup to take charge of politics directly. Part of the army’s position has resulted from this court decision also.
 
The political space in every society is one important space that supports and makes it possible for transformation to take place. If this space is dominated by violence and massacre, a large number of people will create a new political space in order to afford themselves protection. But they will not ensure safety for the opposing side. Therefore, violence will become the only path for the contest between the political spaces. In the present, there is no jungle left for people to go set up an armed militia. And there is no great power that wants to intervene in Thailand via the instrument of an exile government. Terrorism is then what remains within this field of violent contention, such as we have seen in southern Thailand and in many other countries.
 
As much as it is possible to predict from the present, this is the future of the aforementioned decision.
 
As a person who has never studied the law at all, I have come to know that the interpretation of criminal law must rest upon the principle of what broad effects a given interpretation of the law will have on society, both in the present and in the future. Some guilty people may be able to enjoy impunity due to the inefficiency of the judicial process. But the principle that that an action is wrong, the principle that an action is dangerous for the entire society in the short and long-term, must not be destroyed because some people get away with committing the actions [without being held to account].
 
Translated by Tyrell Haberkorn
 
 
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BANGKOK, 17 September 2014: Many regions of Thailand will face heavy rains until Thursday as a consequence of Typhoon Kalmaegi, that is approaching Vietnam, Thailand’s National News Bureau reports. According to the latest report from the Thailand Meteorological Department, released Tuesday, Typhoon Kalmaegi was located 600 km east of Hanoi, Vietnam in the South China [...] Read more...
BANGKOK, 16 September 2014: Cruise business tops the agenda for the Tourism Authority of Thailand, this week, as a top flight delegation attends the  high-profile Seatrade Med Cruise Convention in Barcelona, Spain that opened today and continues to 18 September. TAT deputy governor for Europe, Africa and Middle and Americas, Juthaporn Rerngronasa, said Seatrade Convention [...] Read more...
In a move that would make the Ministry of Truth proud, Thomas Fuller of the NYT reports: His legacy is inseparable from the past decade of political tumult in Thailand, but high school students will not find the name Thaksin Shinawatra in the history textbooks that the country’s military junta recently ordered schools to use. Mr. Read more...