Jatuporn makes a point
- Published: 15/11/2012 at 09:09 AM
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In a world where leaders take responsibility and make sacrifices for the people and the nation, the leadership on both sides of our political divide would be standing in front of the judges. Whether any are guilty of anything, is up to the judicial system to decide.
On Tuesday Nov 13 at the Bangkok Post forum with United Front for Democracy against Dictatorship (UDD) leader Jatuporn Prompan, other red activists and academics, the controversial politician made a point worth considering.
He said amnesty should be given to everyone, red or yellow, but the respective leaderships must surrender to face charges of terrorism and be judged by the law. People's Alliance for Democracy (PAD) leaders such as Sondhi Limtongkul, Chamlong Srimuang and others must surrender. He himself would also surrender.
Jatuporn Prompan (Photo by Somchai Poomlard)
This, according to Jatuporn, is the road towards justice and reconciliation. Due to time limits, many themes, questions and panelists, the point was not pursued further, but allow me to add on.
Going after each and every ordinary individual on either side of the political divide who might have broken a law would only enrage the conflict. Families suffer and invariably some innocent people get caught up in the witch hunt. It does nothing for national reconciliation, because the leaders are still out and about, provoking more conflict.
However, those who led the violence and destruction must be held accountable for their words – their inspirations, motivations and directions that led to action breaching laws and infringing on the civil liberties of the citizens and residents of Thailand.
While Sondhi has been convicted of fraud, but is still out on bail, he has not faced trial over incidents such as the storming of Government House and the occupation of Suvarnabhumi airport, both in 2008, among others.
Jatuporn, meanwhile, had been detained on terrorism charges, now out on bail and yet to face trial, but said he is willing to step up in front of the court.
But the leaderships of the yellow-shirt PAD and the red-shirt UDD facing trial is not enough, as this conflict is bigger than them.
Corruption charges against Thaksin Shinawatra should have been decided by the judicial system from the beginning. But instead, we had a military coup in Sept 2006. In the interests of justice and national reconciliation, being accountable and making sacrifices for the Kingdom of Thailand, should the generals behind the coup that ousted Thaksin face trial?
But still, that wouldn’t be enough.
In the military crackdown on the UDD protesters the authorities acted to restore law and order, but there are allegations of excessive use of force and of extrajudicial killings. Should the generals in charge of operations, as well as Abhisit Vejjajiva and Suthep Thaugsuban, who were in charge of national security, also face trial?
But still, that would not be enough.
Thaksin himself, who has been convicted on corruption charges, in the interests of the people and the nation, of peace and reconciliation, should he not make the sacrifice and surrender himself?
Many supporters of both sides no doubt will raise alarm, crying that the other side is the only one that did wrong and that their side is entirely innocent. That they are the good guys and the other side the bad guys. Or at the very least they are much less guilty than the other side.
All of this, of course, is a never-ending argument that puts us back to square one where excuses and self-righteousness take precedent over accountability and sacrifice, keeping the entire nation stuck in first gear and in danger of sliding backward off the cliff.
But none of us wear the black robes, even if many of us suffer from delusions of being the undisputed judge, jury and executioner. It only goes round and round in circles.
Other than those already convicted, everyone else is yet to be proven guilty of anything. Let the due process of law decide.
The question then begs, can we trust the judicial system to be fair and impartial? Of course not. The law is subject to interpretations and the judges are humans with flaws.
Thaksin Shinawatra (Bloomberg photo)
But since Jatuporn is willing to submit himself to the law, then that means the UDD leader is willing to trust the judgment of the courts. As well, if the military, the PAD and the Democrats champion the conviction of Thaksin, then they also have trust in the judgment of the courts.
So since the leaderships on both sides have displayed trust, why not let the judicial system, flawed though it may be, decide?
If, as Winston Churchill pointed out, democracy is the worst system of government except for all the others that have been tried – then, the Thai judicial system is also perhaps the worst solution to national conflict, except for military coups, occupation of airports and district offices, storming of hotels and government buildings, as well as shooting, bombing and burning.
The democratic general elections apparently weren’t enough to bring about reconciliation, so perhaps the one-two combination of the electorate and the judicial system could pacify the fear, hatred and anger.
Those leaders should be subjected to the tangible thing that holds a society together, the rule of law. Those followers should respect the tangible thing that holds a society together, the rule of law.
The battle should be fought in the courts through democratic means and the verdicts respected, whether one agrees with them or not. After all, laws on terrorism, arsonsand murder are not subjected to controversy like the lese majeste law, even if the judicial process and the judges are flawed.
Why don’t we challenge the leaders to step up and the judicial system to lay down the law, in the interests of peace and moving forward as a nation?
About the author
- Writer: Voranai Vanijaka
Position: Political and Social Commentator