Success of Constitutions?

Manila Bulletin, December 4, 2008 | Go to article overview

Success of Constitutions?


THAILAND has a population of 65M occupying a huge land mass of 198,000 sq. m., more than one and one-half times the size of RP (115,000 sq. m. with a pop. of 90M).

Its formal name is Kingdom of Thailand, with a form of government cited as a constitutional monarchy, like Britain's. Its new constitution was signed by the king October 11, 1997.

Credible election but...

Elections in January 2001 brought a near majority to the Thai Rak Thai party of computer and telecommunications billionaire Thaksin Shinawatra who was named prime minister. He also faced serious charges of tax evasion, but the Constitutional Court acquitted Thaksin voting 8 to 7.

In early 2005, shortly after the tsunami devastated parts of Thailand, Thaksin won a convincing electoral victory. In July 2005 Thaksin signed an emergency decree that allowed him broad powers to ban public gatherings, detain suspects, etc. to help fight a growing insurgency.

Coup v. Thaksin in New York

But by 2006 Thaksin was under pressure to resign and in September, while he was at the UN in New York, the military removed him in a bloodless coup and installed a retired general, Surayud Chulanont, as prime minister who promised a new constitution and election.

In August 2007 voters strongly approved the new constitution.

Split decision

This week the same Constitutional Court that acquitted Thaksin of tax evasion, in what the boxing world and judges call a split decision, dissolved Thailand's top three parties for electoral fraud and banned Prime Minister Somchai Wongsawat from politics for five years.

Abolition of parties

In Britain, this is akin to dissolving/abolishing three leading parties by its highest court: Labor as the ruling party, the Conservative and Liberal parties.

In RP this is like the Supreme Court decision dissolving Lakas-NUCD, Kampi, etc. for electoral fraud, exemplified in "Hello Garci," and other practices in violation of the Election Code, Local Government Code and Penal Code. …

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