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Democrats survive

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The Democrat Party survives and Abhisit Vejajjiva keeps his job as prime minister, but the technical nature of the Constitution Court’s decision fails to satisfy. Even Democrats sounded uneasy yesterday. 

Prime Minister and Democrat Party leader Abhisit Vejjajiva, left, and Democrat chief adviser and former prime minister Chuan Leekpai smile after hearing the Constitution Court dismiss the case against the party. APICHIT JINAKUL

Yesterday was a big news day and you likely already know what happened. The story below will give you a chance to read about it in English. Notice that many of the words in yesterday’s story also appear in today’s story, making it even easier to understand.

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Democrats off the hook

Donation case now looks shaky, say legal experts

Speculation is rife that the Democrat Party will also win the case against it of an alleged illegal donation after the Constitution Court spared it from dissolution by dismissing a charge of misuse of an election grant.

Six Constitution Court judges yesterday voted 4:2 to drop the case in which the party was accused by the Election Commission of misusing a 29 million baht grant from the EC during its campaigning for the April 2, 2005, general election.

The four judges who decided to throw out the case argued that the EC chairman, as the political party registrar, had failed – as required under the Political Parties Act – to submit the case to the court within 15 days of being notified that the grant might have been misused.

A source from the Constitution Court said the two judges who voted against dismissing the case were Chat Cholaworn, the court president, and Boonsong Kulbuppa.

The judges said the allegation that the party misused the grant came to the attention of the political parties registrar on Dec 17 last year, but the registrar only submitted the case to the court on April 26 this year.

This went beyond the 15-day time frame for submission of the case. This meant the move to dissolve the Democrats was unlawful and therefore there was no need to deliberate the rest of the legal issues related to the case, the judges said.

Chuan Leekpai, the head of the Democrats' defence team, made the closing statement on behalf of the party. Kittinant Thachpramuk, public prosecutor in charge of special litigation, made the closing statement on behalf of the EC.

Parinya Thewanarumitkul, deputy rector of Thammasat University, said the EC's failure to comply with the 15-day time frame was unexpected and was an important lesson for the EC.

Even though the case has now been dropped, members of the public are still in the dark over whether the Democrat Party had actually misused the grant, Mr Parinya said.

He said the court ruling yesterday might have implications on the other case in which the Democrat Party is accused of receiving an undisclosed donation of 258 million baht from cement giant TPI Polene.

Mr Parinya said the Democrat-led coalition government would face mounting pressure from its opponents, including the red shirt movement and the Puea Thai Party, now the court has spared it from dissolution.

He said the charter court has now freed itself from any predicament as the pressure has been shifted to the EC which failed to submit the case in time.

Komsan Photikong, a law lecturer at Sukhothai Thammathirat Open University, said the EC's procedures seeking the dissolution of the party were unlawful from the beginning.

The Constitution Court judges' decision to dismiss the case against the Democrat Party was right and legitimate, Mr Komsan said.

He agreed that anti-government protests would intensify as the government's opponents were disgruntled with the court's decision.

Bandit Siriphan, a member of the Democrat Party's defence team, said he would ask the Constitution Court to consider dismissing the case involving the alleged illegal donation from TPI Polene as the EC had also failed to submit the case in time as required by law. The 15-day time limit and the proceedings in the case involving the 29 million baht grant were based on Section 93 of the constitution.

But Thanapit Moolapruek, director-general of the Office of the Attorney-General's special litigation department, said the flaws in the case involving the 29 million baht grant would not be repeated in the 258 million baht donation allegation as the grounds to proceed in these two cases were different.

"These two cases differ in nature and in legal technicalities and legal proceedings. The Office of the Attorney-General has submitted the case involving the 258 million baht donation itself," Mr Thanapit said.

EC commissioner Somchai Juengprasert admitted the EC may have to review its role as an organisation following the court's decision.

He said EC members may raise the issue for discussion at today's meeting to find out why things turned out the way they had.

survive – to continue to exist อยู่รอด  สืบต่อไปได้
nature – the basic quality of feature of something ลักษณะที่แท้จริง
uneasy – feeling slightly nervous, worried, or upset about something ซึ่งไม่สบายใจ, ซึ่งกระสับกระส่าย, ซึ่งเป็นกังวล
off the hook – freed from a difficult situation or a punishment ปล่อยให้เป็นอิสระจาก (ความยุ่งยาก, ความรับผิดชอบ, การตัดสินใจ)
donation – money or goods that you give to an organisation, especially one that helps people เงินหรือสิ่งของบริจาค
shaky – not stable; weak ไม่มั่นคง
legal – relating to the law or lawyers เกี่ยวกับกฎหมาย
speculation – ideas or discussion about what might happen or has happened or why something has happened without having complete information การคาดการณ์ การคาดเดา
rife – very common or frequent มีอยู่ทั่วไป,แพร่หลาย
alleged – claimed to be true although not yet proven ที่ถูกกล่าวหา
illegal – against the law  ผิดกฎหมาย
spare – to prevent someone from having to experience something unpleasant ยกโทษให้,อภัยโทษ
dissolution – the process of officially ending the existence of a group of organisation การยุบ (พรรค สภา)
dismiss a charge – (of a court of law) to decide that a charge made against a person or group is not correct
misuse – to use something in an unsuitable way or in a way that was not intended  ใช้ในทางที่ผิด
grant – an amount of money that the government or an organization gives you for a specific purpose and does not ask you to pay back เงินช่วยเหลือ
campaign – a planned series of activities designed to persuade voters to vote for a particular candidate or political party การรณรงค์หาสียง
political party registrar – an official whose job is to keep official records on political parties นายทะเบียนพรรคการเมือง
Act – a law passed by a country’s government พ.ร.บ. พระราชบัญญัติ
submit – to formally give something to someone so that can make a decision about it ยื่น (เอกสาร) เพื่อการพิจารณา
notify – to tell someone officially about something แจ้ง
source – someone who gives information แหล่งข่าว
allegation – a statement that someone has done something wrong or illegal even though this has not been proved ข้อกล่าวหา
time frame – a period of time when something happens or must happen เงื่อนเวลา
dissolve – (of a group) to officially end ยุบ (พรรค)
unlawful – against the law ไม่ชอบด้วยกฎหมาย, ผิดกฎหมาย
deliberate – to consider carefully, usually before making a decision พิจารณา, ตรึกตรอง
issue – a problem that needs to be considered ประเด็น
defence team – the lawyer or lawyers whose job is to prove in court that a person did not commit a crime  ทนายจำเลย   
on behalf of – as a representative of ในนามของ ในฐานะของ
prosecutor – a lawyer whose job is to prove in court that someone accused of a crime is guilty อัยการ
litigation – the use of the legal system to settle a disagreement การฟ้องร้อง การดำเนินคดี
rector – the person in charge in some universities, schools, colleges and universities อธิการบดี
comply – to obey a rule or a law การปฏิบัติตามกฎ
in the dark – knowing nothing about something ไม่มีข้อมูล
ruling – a decision by a court of law คำตัดสิน คำชี้ขาด
implication – the effect that an action or decision will have on something else in the future การเกี่ยวพัน,ความหมาย,ความเกี่ยวข้อง
undisclosed – not reported publicly ไม่เปิดเผย
coalition government – a government formed by two or more political parties working together รัฐบาลผสม
mounting – increasing ที่เพิ่มขึ้น
pressure – a force pressing against you or attempting to defeat you ความกดดัน
opponent – someone who is competing against you ฝ่ายตรงข้าม
movement – a group of people who share the same aim and work together to achieve it การเคลื่อนไหวเพื่อวัตถุประสงค์ทางการเมือง
charter – a constitution รัฐธรรมนูญ
predicament – a difficult or unpleasant situation, especially one where it is difficult to know what to do สภาพกลืนไม่เข้าคายไม่ออก
shift – to transfer; to move from one place to another เคลื่อนย้าย
procedure – a way of doing something  ขั้นตอนการดำเนินการ
intensify – to get stronger เข้มข้นขึ้น
disgruntled – disappointed and annoyed about something ซึ่งทำให้ไม่พอใจ, ซึ่งทำให้ขุ่นเคือง
flaw – something wrong with something ข้อบกพร่อง
allegation – a statement that someone has done something wrong or illegal even though this has not been proved ข้อกล่าวหา
grounds – reasons for saying or doing something เหตุผล
proceed – to continue as planned ดำเนินการ
technicalities – the small details of how to do something or how something works ลักษณะทางเทคนิค
Attorney-General – the top legal officer in some countries, who advises the leader of the government อัยการสูงสุด
admit – to agree that something is true, especially when you are unhappy, sorry or surprised about it  ยอมรับ
role – the position or purpose that someone or something has in a situation, organisation, society or relationship บทบาท

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