Let the court have its say
All eyes and ears will be focused on the Constitution Court tomorrow when the eight judges vote to determine whether the government's attempt to rewrite the constitution is tantamount to an attempt to overthrow the constitutional monarchy.
Pheu Thai Party spokesman Prompong Nopparit correctly said that the court's verdict will be a turning point for Thailand. It will determine whether the country will sink deeper into a political abyss or whether it will be able to achieve peace and reconciliation.
Political tensions have been escalating as two political camps _ the United Front for Democracy against Dictatorship (UDD) and the multi-coloured group _ are flexing their muscles ahead of the verdict day with some key red-shirt co-leaders making thinly veiled threats to stage a mass protest if the court's ruling goes against the charter rewrite bid.
These threats unmistakably amount to intimidation of the court, which goes against Pheu Thai's promise to accept the court's ruling even if it is not in the party's favour.
It appears the UDD, comprising the ruling party's "foot soldiers", will go its own way which means a mass protest as threatened by the red-shirt co-leaders.
Distressingly, no attempt has been made by the party to rein in the red-shirt hardliners, many of them party members. Even more disappointing is that Prime Minister Yingluck Shinawatra has chosen to skip the court's verdict and the potential troubles which may follow by visiting Cambodia to address a group of American businessmen at the invitation of US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton.
During her absence at this important moment, Deputy Prime Minister Chalerm Yubamrung has been assigned to oversee peace and order and ensure safety for the eight judges.
It is hoped he will not fail in this important assignment, especially in reining in the red shirts.
Caught in the middle of two intractable political camps, the court is obviously under heavy pressure because its verdict will never please all the parties involved in the conflict.
A guilty verdict for attempting to overthrow the constitutional monarchy will certainly provoke the red shirts and may indeed prompt mass protests unless powerful figures intervene and tell them to stop.
The judges know they have to keep in mind the best interests of the country and do their job in an honest and fair manner regardless of the political differences and loyalties of the parties involved.
The case is a political one and should not be viewed strictly in a legal context.
Constitution Court president Wasant Soipisut earlier said the court's duty is to safeguard the constitution, which is partially true.
But more importantly, the court's other duty is to help the country restore peace and reconciliation so it can move on.
All the political pressure groups should remain calm, and refrain from doing anything which may be deemed as putting pressure on the court, or intimidating the judges.
Pheu Thai and the red shirts may still have bad memories about the court twice dissolving the party's two predecessors, the Thai Rak Thai and People's Power Party, and may still harbour deep distrust of the court and its judges.
But they should give the court a chance to prove its worth _ at least this time.
12 July 2012