NOTE: This is the first in a series of guest blogger posts that will appear on Bangkok Pundit over the coming weeks.
By Ricefield Radio,
Every time I hear this it raises, if you don’t mind the pun, the proverbial red flag and makes me ask the question once more, “Who is actually running the country”.
Headlines point not to elected officials making decisions about the security of the country but those who have been appointed dictating the decisions to the elected. This is very troubling. If it’s not troubling you, it should be.
Of the English language press, The Bangkok Post leads it like this ‘CRES decides to keep emergency rule’. The Nation, ‘The Centre for Resolution of the Emergency Situation (CRES) resolved yesterday to retain the state of emergency’ and MCOT with, ‘CRES extends Emergency’.
CRES orders arrests and detentions without warrant or charge, property seizures without warrant, financial assets freezes without warrant, the closing of websites, radio and TV stations without warrant, the list goes on and on. Just to make matters worse the emergency decree gives them all immunity from prosecution for almost anything they have, will or could do. Most times it looks like a witch hunt to crush any semblance of opposition or differing opinions.
Deputy Prime Minister Suthep Thaugsuban, the CRES chairman, had to resign his post as an elected MP over accusations of illegal share holdings. So although he ís a cabinet minister he is not an elected MP but an appointee. Neither is the Army Chief or the Police Chief or the almost cult spokesman an elected official. There are however cabinet ministers on CRES, the Minister of Interior and Minister of Justice. Not forgetting to mention the Minister of Defence, who’s also an appointee. The remainder are Permanent Secretaries, Commanders of the various armed forces and high-level bureaucrats none, of which are elected. Not a very well rounded group, more of an old boys club.
In the end justice will be served in Thailand, maybe not this year or in five years but eventually. 1973 or 1992 may have been easily covered up, not any longer; this is the age of DNA testing, social networking and video phones. Eventually someone will be held accountable for the crackdowns and deaths in the summer of 2010. The weight of Thai public opinion will surface, just as it has in Argentina.
Thirty-four years after the fact, in an Argentine courtroom a historic trial is unfolding. Former military ruler Jorge Videla, who had awarded himself immunity from prosecution, has just gone on trial for the murders of more than 30 political prisoners in 1976. A full pardon given to him in 1990 under an amnesty by the then president was recently overturned by the Supreme Court and he again is serving a life sentence for abuses committed during military rule.
Perhaps Thailand can learn from the very brave decisions taken by Argentina’s courts and overturn all these self given immunities from prosecution and amnesties by those who have used them to protect themselves under the guise of protecting the country. Then and only then will Thailand have a Democracy to be proud of.
In the meantime, who the heck is running the country – elected representatives or appointees?