Contempt of the Court : Academic Arguments
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Contempt of the Court : Academic Arguments

Bangkok Post:
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Public Health Minister Chaiya Sasomsab was found guilty of contempt of court and fined 25,000 baht by the Administrative Court yesterday.
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/>The court also issued warnings to three newspapers _ Manager Daily, Matichon and Post Today _ which published the minister’s criticism of the court’s order reinstating the chairman and five-member board of the Government Pharmaceutical Organisation (GPO).
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/>Mr Chaiya had recommended the board’s dismissal, and the cabinet approved their removal.
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/>Former chairman Vichai Chokewiwat and the other board members had petitioned the court to overturn the cabinet’s ”unfair” decision.
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/>In its verdict yesterday the court said Mr Chaiya’s comment published on June 26 questioning the judges’ qualifications was ”not academically sound”. He was initially fined the maximum of 50,000 baht under article 65 of the Administrative Court Establishment Act.
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/>The court halved the fine because Mr Chaiya confessed during the hearing to making the comment and apologised.

/>Bangkok Post:
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Supreme Administrative Court president Ackaratorn Chularat insists the Central Administrative Court has the authority to rule against the cabinet’s resolution on the Preah Vihear temple issue.
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/>Still, the court president said yesterday he did not pay any attention to Prime Minister Samak Sundaravej’s remarks querying the Central Administrative Court’s role in the case.
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/>Mr Samak made his remarks during his weekly Pood Ja Prasa Samak (Samak-Style Talk) TV programme, citing a group of law lecturers from Thammasat University, led by Worajet Phakeerat, who said that the Central Administrative Court’s injunction against the cabinet’s support of Cambodia’s attempt to list the temple as a World Heritage Site may be not within the scope of the Administrative Court’s authority.
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/>Mr Samak said he agreed with academics who believed that the ruling interfered with the work of the administration authority.
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/>The academics feared it could set a precedent and would damage the credibility of the administration in dealing with other countries.
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/>The prime minister said the ruling ran counter to the checks-and-balances system between the administrative, legislative and judicial branches, he quoted academics as saying.
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/>Mr Ackaratorn said the Central Administrative Court did not base its decision to hand down the injunction on the petitioning alone. The court has considered the evidence and concluded that national interests could be irreversibly damaged.
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/>As a result, the court decided to order an injunction, but did not rule whether the cabinet or Foreign Minister Noppadon Pattama have mishandled the issue, said Mr Ackaratorn.
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/>”I don’t dispute that it is the executive branch’s authority to issue administrative policies, but the Preah Vihear case is not only a policy matter. It also concerns the government’s actions, on which the Administrative Court can rule,” he said.
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/>Mr Ackaratorn said the prime minister’s remarks could not be considered contempt of court, as they would be classed as opinion rather than fact.
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/>However, the citation of academic comments could be considered contempt of court on certain occasions, depending on the motivation and intention of those citing the comments.
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/>”The prime minister’s comment doesn’t bother me. But for the country, it’s a dark joke,” said the Supreme Administrative Court president.
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/>Mr Ackaratorn said he was surprised Mr Samak did not realise that without the Central Administrative Court’s injunction, Thailand could lose part of its territory to Cambodia.
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/>”I wondered if he didn’t see the point or that he didn’t have enough knowledge base about the issue,” he said.

/>BP: So a judge can criticise the government minister’s knowledge on an issue and call what they say a joke. What if Samak made the same comment about a judge? Government ministers are not allowed to criticise judge’s qualifications* and I agree with Samak in that the balance between the executive, legislature, and judiciary is tiled to give the judiciary too much power.
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/>* I can’t find a direct quote in Thai on what Chaiya said, but from my reading, he is referring to them being in the best position to make the decision and not saying they are not legally qualified to be judges.