Thai black hole grows by the day
The first photograph of a black hole was published last week. It looks a lot like Thailand after the March 24 election.
The public right to know, common sense, integrity and accountability seem to be flying fast into an expanding dark core.
What is going on with an Election Commission (EC) which seems to have difficulties producing poll results but has already begun suing people who criticised it?
More than a week has passed but people are in the dark over why the arguably highest-profile policeman in the country, Surachate "Big Joke'' Hakparn, was transferred out of the Immigration Bureau.
The Office of the Narcotics Control Board (ONCB) made a grand gesture last week in charging Khaokwan Foundation chairman Daycha Siripatra and his associate with illegal possession of marijuana and producing products from the plants.
The ONCB secretary-general Niyom Termsrisuk insisted the charges against the two men who, as traditional medicine practitioners, developed cannabis oil to help people with different medical conditions were in line with the law.
A few days later, however, the ONCB did an about-turn following uproar against its move and said Mr Daycha will not be charged as the foundation chairman still has time to seek amnesty during the 90-day grace period under the new medical marijuana law.
Mr Niyom even said the ONCB was aware of the 90-day grace period for ganja possession. So why did the ONCB arrest Mr Daycha's associate and file charges against the two men in the first place?
A black hole seems to have opened up here which devours logic and bends common sense. And it's not just about the ganja case. What is all the fuss by the Foreign Ministry about the Western diplomats who showed up at Pathumwan police station where Future Forward Party leader Thanathorn Juangroongruangkit went to acknowledge sedition and related charges?
Foreign Minister Don Pramudwinai was almost theatrical when he accused the envoys of breaking diplomatic protocol and interfering in Thailand's judicial process. The ministry's statement was even stronger as it accused the embassies of taking sides in Thai politics.
But as the EU and United States said, their observation was standard diplomatic procedure. This would appear in line with common sense as well. How could the mere presence of a dozen or so foreign envoys hinder the Thai justice system? Is the Foreign Ministry suggesting the judicial process or the case against Thanathorn, in particular, are susceptible to foreign pressure?
It is possible that the Foreign Ministry and other government machines and mechanisms are collapsing upon themselves due to an ever-increasing weight of confusion, extreme divisiveness and bleak political prospects following the post-election dead-end.
Looking ahead, there seems to be no way out. Following intense debate about how to calculate the number of party-list MPs according to the constitution, the EC has decided to ask the Constitutional Court to rule on the matter.
This not only means that the EC's earlier promise to announce poll results by May 9 might be forfeited but it also reveals how the poll organiser was unprepared for the task and how problematic the charter is.
With the mixed member proportional representation system that the charter drafters chose to use for the country's election, a poll which is supposed to be a simple and egalitarian system -- one person, one vote with the winner being the first candidate to pass the majority line -- has become a challenge for mathematics geniuses.
What's with the number of constituency seats that a party has won not being the number of seats that it will be entitled to? There is a calculation to find out the total number of seats that a party is entitled to plus another to see how many could be from the party-list and how many votes are required to earn a seat.
That is not all. The EC has apparently run into yet another maths challenge of how to calculate the overhang seats from parties that won more constituency MPs than the total number of seats they are entitled to that must be distributed to other parties under this system.
Is this overly complicated and confusing? The fact that the EC itself seems to have admitted that it has not the wits to deal with the party-list quota suggests so. The charter drafters may have chosen this electoral system because they wanted to destroy the domination of an overly strong government. Have they gone too far and adopted a system that will produce no government at all?
As confusion becomes the rule and more things are happening or disappearing, without reason, the darkness is descending and it looks indomitable.
Atiya Achakulwisut is a columnist, Bangkok Post.
Columnist for the Bangkok Post
Atiya Achakulwisut is a columnist for the Bangkok Post.