In a striking turn of events that rocked the political landscape of Thailand, the marble halls of the Supreme Court echoed with a verdict that has etched itself into the annals of political jurisprudence. Amid the hushed suspense of the courtroom, a decisive blow was struck to the political careers of three former Phatthalung representatives – Chalong Thirdweerapong, Phumisak Kongmee, and the erstwhile party-list powerhouse Natee Ratchakitprakarn. With the pound of the gavel, their future on the political playing field was placed on indefinite hiatus starting Wednesday, as the arms of Article 235 of the Thai Constitution wrapped around their political aspirations.
This narrative echoes a saga of intrigue and controversy where the integrity of the political process was called into question. The highest echelons of Thailand’s judiciary, the Supreme Court, handed down a ruling steeped in the findings of a previous confrontation in the courtroom. A parallel tale had unfolded in the Criminal Court, where on a day that had shaken the foundations of political propriety – May 18, last year – found these three purveyors of political maneuver guilty.
At the heart of the matter, was an act of deputization gone awry. For these were no ordinary MPs; the Criminal Court had caught them red-handed, passing their sacred tokens of democracy, their MP identification cards, like a deck of cards. These pieces of identification had done the unthinkable; they had cast votes without their masters’ presence during a time of crucial decision-making – the deliberations of the 2020 budget bill.
Yet, despite being sentenced to the lonely confines of a jail cell for nine months, our trio clung to hope, appealing against the currents of justice that sought to encroach upon their political voyage.
What had been an egregious flouting of duties, was the abdication of their responsibility, as they allowed proxies to cast the sacred vote in their stead. Absent from the sanctum where history was being made, they left their duty unattended. The Supreme Court suspended Chalong and Phumisak, clipping their parliamentary wings, on the third of September 2021 after the vigilant National Anti-Corruption Commission cried foul, invoking the powers of judiciary scrutiny. Meanwhile, Natee, perhaps sensing the tide turn, abdicated her MP throne ahead of the Supreme Court’s stern gaze.
The tribunal, armed with evidence from the trial by the Criminal Court, painted a poignant picture of betrayal; a triad of erstwhile leaders who had flouted not just the code of ethics, but had sullied the sanctity of their positions, and in doing so, marred the nation’s pride and interests. Their honor as representatives – compromised; their duty as guardians of democracy – left wanting.
Amidst this cavalcade of accusations and legal pronouncements, Bhumjaithai’s chieftain and current Interior Minister, Anutin Charnvirakul, chimed in with a serene countenance, unruffled by the tempest swirling his party. Offering a shrug that seemed to brush off any implication of the ruling on the party’s magnetism among the electorate, he serenely claimed the mantle of acceptance, honoring the Judiciary’s decision with a nod of respect.
And so, with the final stroke of judicial decree, a retroactive disqualification was carved into the timeline, setting the date of their undoing to the very day they were divested of their roles – the third of September, 2021, marking an indelible page in the ledger of legal and political history.