It looks rather likely that we will be at loggerheads once again over the perennially unfinished charter amendment business.
When will it ever end?
The affair could drag on for a while and could take a bloody turn sooner rather than later if the constitution is treated simply as a means to achieve a political end.
The time may be ripe in the Pheu Thai Party's view to renew the push for the charter amendment and the national reconciliation bills - arguably the most controversial pieces of legislation since the government came to power.
The Pheu Thai Party has managed to tie up some loose ends, after electing its party leader, assigning some of the stalwarts in House No.111 to the cabinet, and weakening the opposition with the Defence Ministry's stripping of Democrat Party leader Abhisit Vejjajiva's army rank. With its key missions accomplished, the party can now concentrate on pursuing the dreaded two bills.
There have been reports of the bills possibly being un-shelved and proceeding in parliament from where they had left off when the legislative session reopens next month.
It has been the subject of heavy speculation that the Dubai boss is losing patience after brushing past the borders so many times. He has pressed for the national reconciliation bill, which has yet to be accepted for deliberation in parliament, and the charter amendment bill, now pending a third and final reading, to be rushed through so he can return home a free man.
If there is any truth to this speculation, the charter will be the instrument of absolution - or at best detergent to scrub away the boss's two-year stain of incarceration.
But has the constitution not been written to perform a white-washing function before? Didn't the architects of every successful military coup also tear apart the charter and write a new one to excuse their disservices to democracy?
So the constitution can be exploited. Is this the reason why we've spent the last 80 years trying to perfect the supreme law of the land which we know in our hearts cannot be made perfect?
And we have veered off the track in the process. Too many of us have deluded ourselves into thinking that by putting everything in writing everything will be taken care of. It might have, if the charter were a land lease contract.
A lease contract usually contains iron-clad, precisely-definitive terms that leave no room to be breached.
But since the constitution binds everything under the sun, it is a technical impossibility to craft limited words to achieve limitless legal coverage.
That renders the constitution hugely interpretative, which presents a pitfall we have been sucked into and can't climb out of.
It has even been theorised that the charter may have been drafted with vagueness so that its contents can be construed to resolve constitutionality queries, which could eventually work to political advantage and partisan benefits.
That has made the task of the Constitution Court justices an unenviable one. The court has heard and ruled on cases of all profiles and gravities imaginable, from the status of MPs to alleged perversion of key sections of the charter itself.
Also, many complaints are submitted to the Constitution Court by politicians to get at their opponents. Putting MPs on trial provides a ray of hope and a prospect of them being ejected from their seats. It is regrettable how the constitutionality queries can sometimes be more tactical than they are constructive.
The petitions many politicians bring to the Constitution Court's attention are often destructive for society. Many constitutional disputes that reach the court have political implications, over which vultures hover ready to capitalise on the outcome. This deepens the distrust and breeds hatred among the people.
Remember the tense few days leading up to the Constitution Court's decision on the fate of charter amendment? It was expected to be yet another showdown between colour-coded camp followers - those who were fiercely suspicious that the sweeping change in the blueprint was designed to ultimately exonerate one man - and the other camp, the one which insisted the current charter was the poisonous fruit of dictatorship.
We are victims of our fantasy that the codification of the supreme law promises an effortless ride to democratic greatness. Like the Constitution Monument, the charter is a mere accordion scripture on a fancy tray when it has no moral sanctity that underpins its enforcement.
Let us respect the charter for its spirit. Words in the constitution alone will get us nowhere.
Kamolwat Praprutitum is an Assistant News Editor, Bangkok Post.
About the author
- Writer: Kamolwat Praprutitum