‘Boss’ strides atop pyra­mid of in­jus­tice

Bangkok Post - - OPINION - Kong Rithdee is Life Editor, Bangkok Post. Kong Rithdee

The boss walks free. The boss is the boss. The boss dines in France and snow­boards in Ja­pan. The boss rules the road and tram­ples the law. In the pyra­mid of priv­i­lege, the boss stays on top. In the food chain of in­jus­tice, the boss re­minds us again, and again and again, who the boss is.

If an alien came to Earth and asked us to de­scribe what Thai­land was, tell him the story of the boss.

Like a bull charg­ing at an un­sus­pect­ing mata­dor, Red Bull heir Vo­rayuth “Boss” Yoovid­hya al­legedly ran over Thong Lor po­lice­man Wichian Klan­prasert with his black Fer­rari in the morn­ing of Sept 3, 2012. Five years later, he still re­fuses to meet the pros­e­cu­tors. Five years later, the boss is still “too busy”. His bril­liant lawyers are clearly per­form­ing some kind of le­gal leg­erde­main to de­lay the meet­ing, and what hurts us most — us the peo­ple who could any day be tram­pled over by the rich kids of Bangkok — is that the pros­e­cu­tors seem blase about the whole thing.

On Thurs­day the Of­fice of the At­tor­ney-Gen­eral, in­sist­ing that they’re on the ball, post­poned Boss’s sum­mons for the sixth time to April 27. Mr Vo­rayuth, now 32, claimed he was busy in the United King­dom. We never doubt for a mo­ment how busy he must be af­ter the AP re­port show­ing him jet-set­ting around the world, din­ing, win­ing, pooldip­ping, merry-mak­ing, and lov­ing ev­ery minute of his life spent in the co­coon of en­ti­tle­ment.

The whole Boss saga was en­rag­ing enough. The case doesn’t seem that com­pli­cated. There were wit­nesses and plenty of ev­i­dence. The vic­tim was a po­lice­man. The at­tempt to stall the case is bla­tantly ob­vi­ous. What makes it even more en­rag­ing, how­ever, is when we think about peo­ple who’ve been thrown in jail from far murkier cir­cum­stances and how alert and fast-mov­ing the law seems to work in those cases — the cases in­volv­ing peo­ple stuck in the lower strata of the justice food chain: the teacher jailed for run­ning over a man though it came to light that she wasn’t the driver; the janitor who was con­victed wrongly for rob­bery and who met the real per­pe­tra­tors in jail (the cul­prits wrote letters to the court out of sym­pa­thy for the janitor); the old cou­ple con­victed for en­croach­ing na­tional for­est for the sim­ple act of pick­ing wild mush­rooms. The list goes on.

And of course, Jatu­pat “Pai Dao Din” Boon­pat­tararaksa has been locked up for three months for shar­ing an on­line ar­ti­cle. The court has re­peat­edly de­nied Pai’s bail with the same fre­quency as Boss the Bull has post­poned his meet­ing with the law. Pai was jailed weeks af­ter com­mit­ting “the crime”. Boss is a free man af­ter five years.

Tell me which case in­volves a dead po­lice­man?

If an alien came to Bangkok, tell him that the man-made con­cept of justice is fickle. For some it’s a lethal in­jec­tion to the head. For oth­ers its ar­rival can be de­layed un­til eter­nity — or un­til the statute of lim­i­ta­tions ex­pires. For Boss, he has 10 more years be­fore the charges of reck­less driv­ing caus­ing death go stale. For some­one with money and pool vil­las, it doesn’t seem that long.

But at least we should learn some­thing. In 2014, Boss’s le­gal team sent a let­ter to the pros­e­cu­tors ask­ing for more wit­nesses to be ques­tioned. His lawyers also pe­ti­tioned the Na­tional Leg­isla­tive As­sem­bly’s le­gal and justice com­mit­tee to seek fair­ness in the treat­ment of the case. Last De­cem­ber the pres­ti­gious, coup-ap­pointed NLA also in­formed pros­e­cu­tors about Mr Vo­rayuth’s re­quest for justice. It’s not clear what has en­tailed from that “in­form­ing” by the com­mit­tee whose func­tion is merely ad­vi­sory.

Still, does it mean any­one can now post­pone the sum­mons by pe­ti­tion­ing the NLA, with the hope that the NLA will “in­form” the pros­e­cu­tors? This is a hit and run case with a dead body, and if some­thing like this flies so smoothly with the as­sem­bly well-known for fair­ness, well-paid stipends and im­pec­ca­ble at­ten­dance, then those charged with less se­vere crimes — crimes that lead to no death — should look it up as prece­dent.

Un­less there’s no prece­dent. There’s only the boss.

Up­hold­ing the rule of law is what the gov­ern­ment prom­ises us — es­pe­cially this gov­ern­ment al­ways claim­ing moral su­pe­ri­or­ity. But what hap­pens is ev­i­dent: The man­i­fest un­fair­ness in the ap­pli­ca­tion of law, the re­la­tion­ship be­tween wealth and de­liv­ery of justice, and the ten­ta­cles of in­flu­ence that raise the elite — the rich, the well-con­nected, the po­lit­i­cal class, the mil­i­tary — above or­di­nary cit­i­zens who pay tax and wait to die on the side­walk alone and in pain.

So the boss walks free. Ev­ery­one else just lives on the bread­crumb of justice that al­ways ar­rives too late, if at all.

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from Thailand

© PressReader. All rights reserved.