The dawning of the Year of the Snake seems to augur well for the "Davids" -- the little men and women, the underprivileged waging legal battles to defend their basic constitutional rights against transgressions by the Goliaths in the business and bureaucratic empires -- thanks to the Administrative Court.
It took around a decade for the Klity Creek lead contamination case and the Thai-Malaysian gas pipeline protest case to finally bear fruit. The final rulings by the Supreme Administrative Court are indeed a welcome reprieve and a rare victory for the underprivileged.
In a period of just a week, the Davids finally won two hard-fought court cases against the Goliaths:
- After nine years of legal wrangling, the Supreme Administrative Court on Jan 10 issued its judgement, ordering the Pollution Control Department (PCD) to pay 22 Karen villagers in Klity village, Thong Pha Phum district of Kanchanaburi, a total of 3.8 million in compensation for its failure to clean up Klity Creek. The villagers' only water source, it was heavily polluted with lead waste illegally discharged by Lead Concentrate Company, exposing the community to deadly lead contamination and illness.
- On Jan 16, the Supreme Administrative Court delivered a final ruling on the Thai-Malaysian gas pipeline protest case, after 10 years of interminably slow court proceedings. The court ruled the police guilty of using unnecessary force to break up a demonstration by villagers in Songkhla’s Jana district and ordered the Royal Thai Police Office to pay 100,000 baht in total compensation to the protesters injured by the police.
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