The 36 lecturers said the judges did not interpret the law correctly and warned that the current political conflict could only be resolved through accurate and fair interpretation of the laws.
They did not agree with the court's verdict, the lecturers said, which stated that a political party is barred from borrowing money.
First, they argued that a political party is not a public juristic person, because they could not exercise public power. Political parties are more like corporates or charity foundations which do not have public power. Political parties can only propose policies under the international benchmark and the Thai law system. Previous rulings on cases by the Thai Administrative Court were in line with this international practice.
“Therefore, political parties could borrow money ,” said the law lecturers. The legal experts said political parties can borrow money like corporate firms and there was no need to have a separate law giving them the authority to borrow. The court’s verdict says political parties can do what only the law allows them to do when there is no such specific law.
On the second point, they did not agree with the court's reasoning that given the interest rate on the loan was lower than the market rate, it should not be considered a loan. The law lecturers argued that lower interest rate charge was not an unusual practice in the market, the rate charged depended on an agreement between the borrower and lender.
Therefore, the low-interest loan is not a donation which is stated in section 66 of the Organic Act on Political Parties. It is a debt that the political party needs to pay back.
On the third point, section 72 of the Organic Act on Political Parties which prohibits political parties to receive unlawful money ,or deemed being originated from illegal activities, could not be applied to this case.
The maximum donation of Bt10 million a year per donor under section 66 does not relate to section 72, the two sections must be applied separately unless there is clear evidence that the money was unlawfully acquired or originated from illegal activities, the law lecturers said.
Therefore, violation of section 66 cannot be the reason for dissolving the political party.
Fourthly, the intention to dissolve a political party, as practiced internationally, is to protect the democracy and the constitution in guarding a democratic political system from the threat of dictatorship. The dissolution of political party can be applied only when it is proven that a political party or a political group is intended on toppling a democratic political system or the constitution.
By principle of law , the Constitutional Court must limit its power in ruling on cases involving political party dissolution. Dissolution must be the last resort and should be imposed only when a political party has committed serious wrong-doing that could not be protected by the freedom of expression principle.
" If there is no clear evidence, the court has to limit its own power," said law experts.
“We believe that the prolonged political conflict could be resolved by accurate law interpretation and justice . Democracy could survive if law professionals do their duties without prejudice and people jointly find a way out of conflict with proper reasons and patience,” they say in the statement jointly signed by the 36 law lecturers, which noted that their opinions did not represent the views of Thammasat University’s Law Faculty.
Published : February 24, 2020
By : The Nation