Mr Chulasingh retired as attorney-general on Sept 30 this year. Unlike most other retired officials he will probably be remembered for years to come for the two controversial decisions the OAG made under his leadership. These two decisions may haunt him for the rest of his life if there is a major political wind of change in the future.Both decisions concern the Shinawatra family. The first is the decision not to appeal to the Supreme Court a case in which Khunying Potjaman na Pombejra (Shinawatra), the ex-wife of fugitive former prime minister Thaksin, Mrs Kanchana Honghern, the khunying’s personal secretary, and associates were charged with evading 273 million baht in taxes for the transfer of Shin Corp shares to Bannapot Damapong, a brother of Khunying Potjaman.
In this case, the Criminal Court found Khunying Potjaman and Mrs Kanchana guilty as charged and sentenced them to three years imprisonment each. Bannapot was given a one-year prison term.The Appeals Court however acquitted both the khunying and her secretary. It upheld the one-year imprisonment for Bannapot, but suspended the jail term.Mr Chulasingh, while serving as the attorney-general, decided not to appeal the judgement to the Supreme Court.The second decision concerns Thaksin himself, who faced a terrorism charge for his role in connection with the violent red-shirt protest against the Abhisit government in April-May 2010. The OAG’s decision to drop the terrorism charge against Thaksin was announced Thursday, in the presence of the new attorney-general, Atthapol Yaisawang, 10 days after he took over from Mr Chulasingh.It was disclosed that the decision was made on Sept 17, while Mr Chulasingh still served as the attorney-general. Apparently he did not have the nerve or the decency to make the decision public and let his successor to do the job instead.The reason cited by the OAG not to press the terrorism charge against the self-exiled former prime minister is that Thaksin was abroad at the time, although he addressed the red-shirt protesters at Ratchaprasong intersection in person through video links. Also, Thaksin talked about democracy and criticised the 2006 coup which toppled his administration in his video-linked speeches, and none of them were provocative or incited the protesters to resort to violence, according the OAG's decision.Thaksin’s opponents may despise the OAG for letting Thaksin off the hook, but the go-free decision was not unpredictable, given the decision in the previous case of Khunying Potjaman.How credible the OAG’s reasoning may be is anybody’s guess, but the truth is that the case against Thaksin is final.
This was confirmed by Tharit Pengdit, chief of the Department of Special Investigation (DSI), who earlier recommended that the ex-premier be indicted, together with 24 red-shirts, including Veera Musikhapong, who are now being tried in court.
Final though the case against Thaksin may be, its aftermath implications are yet to be felt and witnessed. I believe the murder charges filed against former prime minister Abhisit Vejjajiva and his deputy, Suthep Thaugsuban, for their role in the crackdown of the red-shirt protesters in May 2010 are also likely to be droppedby the OAG.From the beginning, the criminal case against Mr Abhisit and Mr Suthep by the DSI was politically motivated as a counterweight against the Thaksin case. Now Thaksin is off the hook, so will the case against Mr Abhisit and Mr Suthep be dropped. This a Thai-style compromise.With Thaksin exonerated, there is also one less justification for opponents of the blanket amnesty bill for political offenders of all colours, which is still pending.The next thing we may see is that all the alleged offenders of both the red and yellow camps, including the leading figures, will be let off the hook too, due to the amnesty bill.As for Mr Chulasingh, it is his kharma that he will have to answer for the two controversial OAG decisions he was responsible for. A charge of malfeasance in office has already been lodged with the National Anti-Corruption Commission by the Democrats, on Sept 30 – his last day in government service.But he may still find comfort and live in peace for the next 10 years or more before the cumbersome NACC comes up with a ruling on his case.