Competing Notions of Judicialization in Thailand
- Contemporary Southeast Asia: A Journal of International and Strategic Affairs
- ISEAS–Yusof Ishak Institute
- Volume 36, Number 3, December 2014
- pp. 417-441
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This article examines the politics of judicialization in Thailand between 2006 and 2014, looking at the ways in which the judiciary became regularly embroiled in politics during this extremely contentious period. It takes as its starting point important royal speeches of 2006, and the interpretation of those speeches offered by the prominent academic and social critic Thirayudh Boonmee. Several key judicial decisions which had lasting political consequences are closely examined, including the 2006 election annulment, the 2007 banning of Thai Rak Thai, the removal of pro-Thaksin Shinawatra prime ministers Samak Sundaravej and Yingluck Shinawatra in 2008 and 2014, Thaksin’s conviction on corruption-related charges in 2008 and the judicial seizure of his assets in 2010. Some of the questions posed in this paper are as follows: Does judicialization inevitably mean conservative attempts to curtail the power of politicians and undermine electoral politics? Are judges working on behalf of Thai society, or in alignment with certain vested interests? Could greater judicial activism serve progressive social and political causes in the Thai context? The paper argues that Thailand’s “judicialization” is a complex phenomenon: judgements made by different courts, in different cases and at different times need to be scrutinized on their individual merits.