Kakistocracy : Samak, cooking shows, and the Constitutional court

If you wonder about “kakistocracy”, click here… πŸ˜‰

So what’s up in the Kingdom ? What is the inanity of the day ? Samak went monday morning to the Constitution Court.

Prime Minister Samak Sundaravej on Monday denied charges that he had broken the constitution by hosting a television cooking show while also serving as premier, claiming the programme had been done on a freelance basis. (Bangkok Post)

Constitution prohibits the PM to have another work.

It’s funny to see the various versions, in several articles…

-According to Prime Minister Samak, he had never earned a salary for hosting the cooking shows from Face Media Company Limited, and the company only reimbursed him for petrol costs for his appearances. (Bangkok Post)

-and then Sakchai Khaewwaneesakul, the managing director of the company that produced the cooking show, testified in support of Samak, saying it paid him 80,000 baht (US$2,300) for the four shows.
“The presenters of our shows are not our employees, but we pay them honorariums,” he told the court.

-“I presented the cooking show and got paid for my acting,” said Samak. (Bangkok Post)

-“I didn’t request any payment,” he told the Constitutional Court today.” (Bloomberg)

He told the court today that he refused payment after he was appointed prime minister, according to state-run NBT Television. (Bloomberg)

So money ? No money ? Samak is playing with words of course. He was paid indeed (if we believe the testimony of the company’s director…)

He violated the constitution. Period. Now we all agreee : it’s not that bad. It’s not a very strong conflict of interests. But still, rules are rules.

And it’s a fact that in Thailand people, from the bottom to the top, do not care about rules. It’s the freaking mai pen rai attitude. Another attitude : rules are made for the others… not me.

The idea that the constitution would prevent only “regular jobs” and not “freelance” is of course totally idiotic.

Here is the Constitution (the whole text here) :

Part 2
Conflict of Interests

Section 267. The provisions of section 265 shall apply to the Prime Minister and Ministers, except for the holding of position or an act to be done under the provisions of law. The Prime Minister and Ministers shall neither hold any position in a partnership, a company or an organisation carrying out business with a view to sharing profits or incomes nor being an employee of any person.

Wanna buy a minister ? You can’t make him an “employee“. You just have to make him a “freelance” of your company. πŸ˜‰

For sure, we all agree that to buy a minister with a suitcase full of crispy cash is much more efficient. But that’s not the point. πŸ˜‰

Anyway. Verdict tuesday. At 2 PM.

UPDATE
The press gives another -and rather tasty- detail.

He said he had only hosted the show a few times after becoming prime minister and only on a freelance basis. He claimed he had passed the money he earned on to his driver. (Nation)

πŸ˜‰ What a striking justification ! I gave the money to my driver, so it’s not a big deal… ah ah ah.

9 Responses to “Kakistocracy : Samak, cooking shows, and the Constitutional court”


  1. 1 FDL 8 September 2008 at 11:56 am

    Deja vu. The proxy Samak, it is looking very likely, would be falling down exactly his master Thaksin.

    There are many more legal cases that will follow that could stew, for good, proxy Samak Sundaravej (not to mention his party). The cooking-for-money, the libel suits, the fire-truck corruption case, and the electoral fraud item, to cite a few.

    It’s no wonder Samak Sundaravej would like to address the United Nation urgently. To the titles-conscious, medals flashing, self-promoting Samak Sundaravej, he needs that photo-shoot of PM Samak Sundaravej pompously addressing the UN for his memorabilia . . and last hurrah.

  2. 2 ThaiCrisis 8 September 2008 at 11:59 am

    “Last hurrah” ?

    Let’s hope.
    πŸ˜‰

  3. 3 thaichris 9 September 2008 at 3:26 am

    The point is, that Samak already did the cooking show for 7 years. Under Thai law, you can not be a ‘consultant’ for such a long period of time. If you do the same job for more that 2 years, you are automatically considered as being employed. And your employment status might not be changd by a writen contract but just according to the law. And for Samak this means, that he was employed and that he should be disqualified.

    One more thought. Where else in the world does a PM hold a cooking show. Doesn’t he has nothing else to do? Can the cooking show solve the issues in the south, untite the divided country, fight inflation? Samak’s behaviour is just not PM like.

  4. 4 Rockderk the Great 9 September 2008 at 5:20 am

    Kakistocracy? I still prefer Kleptocratic Chaocracy, a moniker the Chosen Ones continue to justify for We.

  5. 5 ThaiCrisis 9 September 2008 at 5:26 am

    Yep, that’s good too.
    πŸ˜‰

    A little definition, to help our readers :

    Carroll does devise an interesting political system called ‘Chaocracy’, operating on the principle of selecting a legislative body ‘purely by random means’, stating that ‘a chaocracy will free us from the conflict of party political ideology with conscience, and free us from the distasteful business of casting our votes amongst professional liars’.

    I see many keywords in this definition that can apply, indeed, to Thailand. πŸ˜‰

  6. 6 Bedwyr 9 September 2008 at 9:58 am

    How about criminocracy?

    Seems appropriate now since a cheating, libellous and corrupt politician is likely to be replaced by Barnharn. Mr 20% himself. Thais just have no sense of shame.

    God help us. The monkey replaced by the eel.

    Bedwyr

  7. 7 ThaiCrisis 9 September 2008 at 9:59 am

    God help us, indeed.

  8. 8 Bangkok Pundit 9 September 2008 at 7:02 pm

    Thai Crisis : If after 2 years a consultant becomes an employee, why didn’t the court rule that way? They ruled that the word employee also includes consultant in the case of the Constitution.

  9. 9 ThaiCrisis 9 September 2008 at 7:21 pm

    ->BP . I think that you continue the misinterpretation you had yesterday.

    The debate was not around the definition of employee, and whether a consultant becomes employee after 1, 2 or 3 years (that was Samak’s line of defense).

    But rather on the conflict of interests (article 267 of the Constitution was cited) : a minister can’t receive payment (income, profit) from an individual or a company, for a work, any kind of work.

    That’s the core of the issue, and certainly the spirit of the constitution.

    It doesn’t matter if it’s 1 hour of work, paid 500 THB.

    I would cite a message from a member of ThaiVisa Forum (not me !), which I think say it well.

    He took money from a MEDIA COMPANY for work.
    Makes no difference if it was cooking or making Oregami birds from paper, or a show on civics and social responsabillity.

    Media companies should not being paying Prime Ministers of any country period.

    Lets see if CBS paid GWB to do a brush clearing show
    It is reasonable to assume CBS wants more than BRUSH CLEANED,
    more like FCC censorship fine rollbacks etc.

    You want the BBC paying Gordon Brown a stipend for anything?

    Furthermore, it seems clear that Samak has lied, in a very pathetic manner, by trying to explain the payments… Many different versions… To finish by : “I gave the money to my driver”…

    The Court talked about it.

    Anyway, it’s the principle. The Constitution might be stupid, but it’s the law.

    Now, I would certainly agree that the offense is minor.
    And that such judgement is also political.

    Conveniently political. And with a perfect timing πŸ˜‰

    (I hope we will have the translation of the ruling so we can check).


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Thailand Crisis

Coup, Economic slowdown, Terror In the South... The situation is worsening in Thailand. Bumpy road like often before.

But this time, it's different.

The key to understand the present turmoil is the inevitable... succession of King Bhumibol.


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