The Nation quoting Constitution Court President Wasan:
At a seminar on the court’s role in keeping the balance in Thai politics, he referred to the court’s resolution to dissolve the People Power, Chart Thai and Matchima Thipataya parties. If various groups had not staged so many rallies at the time, the decision might have been different, he said. “If the country at that time had been peaceful, the government and the opposition could have joined hands, the country could have moved forward, and I believe most of the judges would have decided not to dissolve the parties,” he said. “But the country at that time was chaotic and the Constitution Court had to use its judgement to maintain law and order,” he said, adding however that the court was under no pressure.
BP: So he concedes it was not just about interpreting the law. Would the Court have dissolved the Democrats if there was a massive political protest against them say in 2009 or 2010? There was a case against the Democrats in 2010, but the Court decided not to dissolve the Democrats on a technicality – see here, here, and here. The court could have sped up the case if it wanted too.
At the time, it seemed obvious that the dissolving of the pro-Thaksin PPP and two other parties in December 2008 and banning of executives of each party was political. The dissolution happened so quickly with the court restricting testimony from the defense and holding the final hearing in the morning and writing the judgment in less than an hour delivering that afternoon. This directly led to the downfall of the PPP-led government as it allowed Newin and MPs in his faction to leave the Thaksin fold (as they were no longer PPP MPs as PPP had been dissolved, they could legally join a new party without restrictions which wouldn’t have been possible without the dissolution). The fix was clearly known as a WikiLeaks cable entitled “THAI PRIME MINISTER SOMCHAI DISREGARDS ARMY COMMANDER’S SUGGESTION HE RESIGN” (08BANGKOK3143) dated October 17, 2008 showed. The key paragraph is:
6. (C) Anuporn Kashemsant, a foreign liaison officer for the Queen in the Principal Private Secretary’s office, remarked to us October 17 that various political maneuvers were ongoing. He said ”a coup like what happened September 19, 2006 is not one of the options” for resolving Thailand’s political crisis, because the military had proven it was incapable of running the country. His qualification evoked the remark of former Prime Minister Anand Panyarachun on October 16 (ref A) to Charge that there would not be “a coup in the traditional sense of the word.” Anuporn hinted that significant developments likely would take place in the coming days, but refused to predict what might occur, beyond saying there were two possible paths forward.
BP: Indeed, there was not a coup in the traditional sense of the word, but there was a judicial coup with the dissolution of PPP and the other two parties in early December 2008. What is surprising is that the Court President would admit that political considerations were the reason behind the dissolution of PPP.
In addition, per Matichon, Wasan also admitted that the decision to disqualify Samak as PM in 2008 was done in a careless and slipshod manner (“สุกเอาเผากิน”). He said what happened is that they took the law to make the decision first and then debated the facts, which is not right (ที่ผ่านมากลับนำเอาข้อกฎหมายขึ้นมาวินิจฉัยก่อน แล้วค่อยมาเป็นถกเถียงในเรื่องข้อเท็จจริง ซึ่งเป็นสิ่งที่ไม่ถูกต้อง).
BP: In essence, they made the decision and then found the facts to support their decision….
btw, for background on the Samak case, Samak lost his position as Prime Minister because of his role on a cooking show deemed him to be an employee of the show and this was contrary to the Constitution- see posts here, here, and here.