Prayuth and cronyism

30 08 2014

The Dictator, General Prayuth Chan-ocha, is like all dictators and is falling in love with the sound of his own voice. He’s also surrounding himself with flunkies who will tell him what he wants to hear.

As predictable as this is, The Dictator is reported in the Bangkok Post,  pronouncing on his hand-picked cabinet which is expected to be dominated by military types.

He babbled about the cabinet line-up having “representation from a wide cross-section of groups in society.” Based on the experience of Prayuth’s dictatorship so far, this is nonsense. All appointments to date have been narrow and unrepresentative. But then why would anyone even imagine that a military junta would provide for “representation”? Indeed, it was Prayuth who sent elected representatives packing on 22 May 2014.

That Prayuth says he “is not affiliated with any political parties, stressing that there is no government party nor opposition party” is nothing more than a statement of dictatorship.

He is creepily Orwellian when he declares: “Today we want to move to democracy and we have an interim charter [to reach that goal].” Prayuth

When he states: “So don’t focus on how many soldiers are in the cabinet. We can’t afford to exclude the military from the cabinet since we still have security problems…”, he’s just being silly. We don’t expect him to do anything other than pack his cabinet with his cronies, but the cabinet has little to do with “security problems.”

He is finally truthful when he explains he wants total control: “We [he means himself] don’t want anyone to obstruct our work [he means the junta], but what we need is more support from the people…”. He is warning that he demands obedience. He is truthful when he says: “How can I work if I don’t have those I can trust…”. So he surrounds himself with cronies.

No one should trust Prayuth.





More comical military lies

30 08 2014

We assume that having to be in exile is not a joke. But the military dictatorship’s recent call for political opponents to return to Thailand for a “fair trial” is comical.

Khaosod reports that the junta’s spokesperson Colonel Winthai Suvaree as stating: “We want them to come back. We never shut the door to them. We never prohibit them [from coming back]…”. He went on to claim that The Dictator Prayuth Chan-ocha “has personally invited all dissidents to return to Thailand, with promises to treat them fairly.”

To be honest, PPT does not believe that Prayuth understands “fairness.” This is snipped from Wikipedia [click on the image for a larger view]:Fairness

The record of the military and the judiciary is of remarkable double standards that could not be further from any notion of fairness. Winthai, and presumably The Dictator too, was responding to a comment by a lawyer numerous opposition activists and lese majeste defendants. The record on lese majeste is clear: even laws, international conventions and constitutional provisions are routinely ignored in seeking to punish the accused.

Those who have fled the countryinclude “former Minister of Interior Affairs Charupong Ruangsuwan, Redshirt leader and former Deputy House Speaker Apiwan  Wiriyachai, and historian and critic of the Thai monarchy Somsak Jiamteerasakul.”

Winthai added to the lies by disingenuously stating:

“The case is the duty of the police to decide how to proceed. Everything is in accordance with the law. The NCPO will merely ask for cooperation [from Mr. Apiwan] to come back and contest the charge in Thailand,” Col. Winthai said. “Let me stress that we have no policy of hunting down individuals who are taking exile abroad.”

The media has quoted several officials who claim to be hunting down those overseas and seeking extradition. Think of Aum Neko as just one example. Winthai lied further – has he no shame? – “People who are contesting their charges in the country, those that don’t run away, get their bail release.” This is clearly, unequivocally a blatant untruth. Khaosod gives an example:

Contrary to Col. Winthai’s claim, a Thai criminal court recently denied a bail release for two activists charged with lese majeste for their role in a play that was performed in October last year. Police say the theater performance was offensive to the Thai Royal Family.

The two activists are currently imprisoned as they await their trial. If found guilty, they could face up to 15 years in jail.

What is the purpose of continually and intentionally making false statements? After all, everyone know that these are lies. We at PPT can only assume that the military is so accustomed to false claims and impunity that they can no longer detect the truth.





The 23 February 1991 coup

29 08 2014

PPT was doing some hard disk cleaning and came across a file that was sent to us some time ago by a reader who thought  we’d be interested.

It is a report by Australia’s Parliamentary Research Service and is listed as a “Background Paper,” and we have also located it online as “The Coup inThailand” [Clicking downloads a PDF]. Because there are so many of them, we should note that this refers to the coup of 1991, and that the report is dated 19 March 1991. Its author is listed as Frank Frost.

We thought these bits interesting, indicating how the monarchy has been used by the military/has used the military for political purposes:

The deterioration in relations between Prime Minister Chatichai and his government and the senior military leadership came to a decisive point in February 1991. The ultimate cause of the confrontation was probably the military’s concern at evident efforts by Chatichai to bring their autonomy into question and the general lack of trust between the parties. The immediate focus for tension was an investigation into an alleged assassination plot against senior public figures in 1982 and an attempted Cabinet change by Chatichai.

Prologue: The assassination plot’ issue

The publicity given to the alleged assassination plot highlighted the continuation of tensions between elements of the Thai military from the 1980s. The Thai military is now firmly in the control of a group of military leaders identified by their status as graduates of the Chulachomklao Royal Military Academy’s Class Five (i.e.the fifth post-world war two graduating class); General Suchinda Kraprayoon, now commander of the Army, was class president. The 1981 and 1985 coup attempts were largely planned by a group of officers identified with the Military Academy’s Class Seven. In January 1991 , publicity was given to the continued investigation of an alleged plot in 1982 by some military officers, several  academics and several members of the Communist Party of Thailand, to assassinate several figures, including Prime Minister Pram, Supreme Commander Arthit Kamlang-ek, and Queen Sirikit. One alleged suspect was a leading Class Seven officer, Manoon Roopkachorn, who led both the 1981 and 1985 coup attempts. He left Thailand after each attempt, but in 1990 was able to return, was pardoned, reinstated into the military, promoted from Colonel to Major General, and appointed by Prime Minister Chatichai to the Defence Ministry as his adviser. In January, anonymous leaflets were reportedly circulated, accusing Manoon and Chatichai’s son, Kraisak {who had been one of the Prime Minister’s key advisers) of having been involved in the alleged plot. Both men complained to the police about the leaflets.

The controversy was intensified in late January, when the national police chief General Sawaeng Thirasawat and General Boonchu Wangkanond, who had been in charge of the assassination plot case, were both transferred; Boochu was a Chulachomklao Class Five officer. Rodney Tasker (Far Eastern Economic Review) wrote that: “Inevitably, there was strong suspicion that Chatichai had ordered the police reshuffle to prise the assassination case away from Boonchu and place it out of harm’s way in other officers hands … Chatichai strongly denied that this was a motive and ordered the police through the Interior Ministry, to expedite the case”. Tensions rose over the issue. Army commander General Suchinda called for a speedy conclusion to the case and Supreme Commander General Sunthorn in his capacity as director of internal security, warned: “If the directorate of internal security finds any distortion of the facts, it will take drastic action against the ill-intentioned people in accordance with its legal powers”. Sunthorn took action to ensure that General Boonchu would remain involved in the case as a military representative. In this complex context, Chatichai’s association with Manoon, the alleged conspirator, was clearly a matter of controversy. In an atmosphere of rising tension, Prime Minister Chatichai moved to appoint a senior former military supreme commander, now in parliament, General Arthit Kamlang-ek as deputy minister of Defence on 20 February. The military leadership, who are known not to be on good terms with Arthit, evidently viewed this with disfavour. Chatichai may also have planned to make personnel changes among the top military leadership. In the event, on 23 February, when Chatichai boarded an aircraft to fly to Chiang Mai for an audience with the King, a coup was instituted by the military leadership.

The coup leaders received formal endorsement for their actions from the King. A Royal Command, dated 24 February, stated that “it has occurred that the government which has Gen Chatichai Choonhaven as prime minister, has not administered the country to the confidence of the people, and cannot keep peace and order in the nation”. The Command formally appointed General Sunthorn as head of the NPC and directed civil servants to heed the orders of General Sunthorn. While formally endorsing the position of the NPC, the King, in a comment relayed by General Sunthorn the day after the coup, cautioned the NPC “not to let the people down”. The King’s endorsement was a crucial issue; the monarch played a major role in the defeat of the coup attempts in 1981 and 1985. A draft interim constitution was submitted to the King and, in an unusual step, he reportedly asked for it to be amended before approving it.

The new interim constitution, approved by the King on 1 March, granted extensive powers to the military. A legislative assembly of up to 300 members would be appointed to prepare for elections and draw up a permanent constitution. The assembly will have six months to do this, and elections would be held by April 1992. But the NPC reserves the right to dismiss the interim prime minister or dissolve the assembly in the interests of national security. Article 27 gives seemingly wide-ranging authority to the military to take any action necessary against people threatening national security or going against Buddhist morals.

PPT previously posted documents about this: Young Turks Assassination Plot 1982-91.





Updated: Double standards as wide as an ocean

29 08 2014

The term “double standards” has been used to describe judicial and political actions in Thailand that means that there is one law for the rich and another for the rest. In recent has also been used to accurately portray a political bias where one side of politics – the royalists – get favored treatment over the rest. That the rich and the royalists have considerable overlap is well-known.

It is no surprise then when the Bangkok Post lauds yet one more confirmation of gross double standards under the military dictatorship that illegally seized state power in May this year. The Bangkok Post’s lauding of double standards might have a lot to do with the fact that the company that owns it was headed by a double coup supporting minor prince who drools at the opportunity to once again work for the corrupt and murderous military.

In an editorial the Post lavishes undeserved praise on the military dictatorship for its decision “to free Veera Somkhwamkid, leader of the Thai Patriots Network, and seven other members of an energy policy reform group, without pressing any charges against them…”. Veera is a People’s Alliance for Democracy associate and ultra-nationalist who has wanted to provoke war with Cambodia and whose release from jail in Cambodia was prompted by the military dictatorship’s willingness to create a crisis by sending Cambodian workers streaming back home in a fear campaign that was for Veera’s benefit and also effectively brought Hun Sen “into line” through a threat to the workers’ remittances.

The Post’s editorial is bizarre. It lists the repression of free speech (which affects everyone in Thailand, not just the looney rightists):

The eight activists were arrested by police on Sunday for staging a protest march against energy policy and violating martial law. The order to arrest them was made by Pol Maj Gen Amnuay Nimmano, deputy commissioner of the Police Education Bureau, currently in charge of security affairs and peace maintenance in Bangkok.

Last week in Hat Yai, a handful of activists from the energy policy reform network were arrested as they embarked on a 950km march to Bangkok to raise public awareness of their demand for changes to national energy policy.

They were held in military custody for five days before being released.

The group was allowed to continue the march on the condition that they must end it at 5pm each day and no public forums or public speeches were carried out throughout the walking protest.

That seems like a reasonable account of the actions taken by the military dictatorship against these protesters, and they have been even more repressive against those seen as enemies and opponents. However, the Post gets out the bottom polishing rag and declares, against all logic:

Thanks to openness on the part of the NCPO [it means the military junta], Mr Veera and his associates were released so they could join academics, government officials and energy activists in a public forum yesterday to discuss energy issues.

One hopes the group of experts will seize this opportunity to present its views and rationale for energy policy changes to the public.

It is regrettable that former senator Rosana Tositrakul, a vocal critic of the PTT Public Company who claims current energy policy favours the oil and gas giant, could not attend the public discussion. She explained she had an appointment which could not be cancelled at such short notice.

Openness? Really? The Post also doesn’t mention that Rosana is another ultra-nationalist, ultra-yellow PAD supporter who has promoted a range of anti-democratic actions over a decade and more.

The Post reckons that The Dictator, General Prayuth Chan-ocha, who recently had himself made premier, is loosening up because he said the junta “will only use the special powers vested upon them by martial law and the interim constitution when necessary for the sake of national security.” The Post seems to hope that this means that the anti-democrats, ultra-royalists and ultra-nationalists can “participate” and have “free expression.” It makes this clear when it states:

Clampdowns on free expression such as public gatherings which, by their nature, do not pose any security threat but merely voice grievances to get the attention of the powers that be, should be carried out with greater discretion and prudence, or avoided altogether.

The Post is openly supporting dictatorship and effectively making the case for huge double standards. The military dictatorship determines what is a “security threat” and it is as clear as can be that this means red shirts and anti-coup activists. Sure the Post bleats about “free spirit” and “rights,” but its approach is partisan, promotes double standards and is supportive of dictatorship.

Update: Yes, we should have checked when we were pointing at Pridiyathorn Devakula above as a coup-loving Chairman of the Board at Post Publishing. We should have checked how many other coup-loving, military paid servants were at the same company. Fortunately, as all these military servants resign so they can be appointed to various puppet ministries, the Post is telling us. The latest military harlot to resign from Post Publishing is Wissanu Krea-ngam, another serial offender who drools at the opportunity to once again work for the corrupt and murderous military.

 





Huge (non-)surprise

28 08 2014

PPT was certainly not alone in being anything but surprised when the politicized judiciary threw out the murder charges against  elite, royalist anti-democrats Abhisit Vejjajiva and Suthep Thaugsuban.

Both order three cold-blooded attacks on red shirt protesters, in 2009 and in April and May 2010. About a hundred deaths and thousands of injuries resulted.

The Criminal Court ruled that:

any alleged wrongdoing or abuse of power by Mr. Abhisit and Mr. Suthep must be dealt with by the Supreme Court’s Division for Holders of Political Office, as the two men were Prime Minister and Deputy Prime Minister at the time of the military operation.

Just to ensure that the double standards were adequately revealed, the “ruling also transferred authority to pursue the charges from the DSI to the National Anti-Corruption Commission (NACC),” meaning that nothing is ever likely to happen on the charges. It seems that the military’s well-known impunity when it slaughters its citizens extends to elite, royalist anti-democrats.

Flying in the face of considerable evidence, Abhisit and Suthep have always denied the murder charges, claiming that unidentified “men in black” were responsible for all deaths. This lie has been repeated by The Dictator, General Prayuth Chan-ocha, who commanded the murderous attacks.

The evidence is that the military was “responsible for the majority of deaths caused by the crackdown, including a soldier who was reportedly killed in a ‘friendly fire’ in April 2010.” In addition, video evidence has shown soldiers “shooting indiscriminately into the crowds of protesters.”

Suthep, Abhisit and Prayuth are responsible for these murders.





Arbitrary detention and threats to human rights defenders

28 08 2014

Reprinted in full:

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
AHRC-OLT-008-2014
August 28, 2014

An Open Letter from the Asian Human Rights Commission

THAILAND: Arbitrary detention and threats to human rights defenders and their families
Working Group on Arbitrary Detention
Special Rapporteur on Human Rights Defenders
Special Rapporteur on Freedom of Opinion

Office of the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights
Palais des Nations

CH-1211 Geneva, Switzerland

Dear Special Rapporteurs and Working Group Members,

You will be aware of the significant threats to human rights which have followed the 22 May 2014 coup by the National Council for Peace and Order (NCPO) in Thailand. During the first eleven weeks since the coup, there have been severe restrictions placed on freedom of expression and political freedom, ongoing formal and informal summons to report to the junta, extensive use of arbitrary detention, the activation of military courts to process dissidents (the dangers of which the Asian Human Rights Commission detailed in a prior open letter to a number of special procedures holders), and the creation of a general climate of fear detrimental to human rights and the rule of law.

Under the terms of martial law, which were put in place two days prior to the coup, soldiers can detain and interrogate anyone for up to seven days without having to provide evidence of wrongdoing or bring formal charges. People arrested can be held at irregular places of detention, including permanent or temporary military bases or other sites designated as places of detention. Detention in irregular places means that the possibility for rights violations, including torture, forced disappearance and extrajudicial execution is greatly increased.

The junta has refused to provide full details of the number of people detained and the places of detention, but according to the Internet Dialogue on Law Reform (iLaw), a Thai nongovernmental organization collecting information about detentions and arrests following the coup, noted that by the first week of August, at least 570 people were summoned by the junta, and at least 235 were arrested. While the junta has repeatedly claimed that those who are summoned and then held are not being detained, but are instead being offered “accommodation” and “attitude adjustment,” the penalty for not responding to the summons is possible processing within the military court system and a punishment of a prison sentence of up to two years and/or a fine of up to 40,000 baht. In addition, although the junta has repeatedly stated that all those in their custody are being well-treated, Kritsuda Khunasaen, who was detained for 27 days shortly after the coup, left Thailand to seek asylum abroad and then released an account in early August to the public of her mental and physical torture during her detention. Her account prompted calls from the OHCHR as well as a number of Thai and international human rights organizations including the Cross Cultural Foundation, Human Rights Watch, the International Commission of Jurists, and the Asian Human Rights Commission, for an independent investigation. Thus far, the response of the junta has been to first attempt to discredit Kritsuda Khunasaen, and then subsequently to press criminal charges that would result in her extradition to Thailand.

Despite the potential prison term and fine for not reporting, many of those summoned by the junta have elected not to report. One of these persons is Thanthawut Taweewarodomkul, a former political prisoner. Thanthawut was accused of defaming the monarchy through his work as a web designer and webmaster, and was sentenced to 13 years in prison under the 2007 Computer Crimes Act on 15 March 2011. He was granted a royal pardon on 5 July 2013. Following his release, he was engaged in building a small business, setting up a support network to protect human rights and aid the families of current and former political prisoners, and taking care of his son as a single father.

Thanthawut was summoned two different times by the junta, in Order No. 5/2557 [2014] issued on 24 May 2014 and in Order No. 43/2557 [2014] issued on 7 June 2014.  He has elected not to report following the summons and has gone into exile outside the country. In an essay published in both Thai and English at the end of July, and included as an appendix to this open letter, he explained why he decided not to report. In this article, he explains that the primary reason why he did not report is as follows, “ …I could not accept the seizure of power by the junta, the NCPO. I cannot accept any seizure of power without the necessary agreement from the people.” In addition, he explained his prior experience with the judicial and prison systems, his keen sense of the politicized nature of the charges against him, and the use of military courts to process civilians caused him to be concerned that if he reported, he would not be treated fairly. It is the assessment of the Asian Human Rights Commission that his concerns are well-founded given the unlawful nature of the coup and the deterioration of human rights protections subsequent to it.

Following Thanthawut’s decision not to report himself to the junta, his family has been subject to daily harassment from the authorities. Police and military soldiers have visited his parents’ home to inquire about his whereabouts and to threaten that they will continue to visit the family until he reports himself. Thanthawut wrote an open letter detailing this harassment and sent it to various human rights organizations, including the Asian Human Rights Commission, and it is appended to this letter as an appendix. The ongoing harassment and threats from the authorities have taken a significant toll on his family, and his mother had to be hospitalized due to the strain. This is a clear instance of intimidation by the junta. The Asian Human Rights Commission is further concerned that this may not be an isolated case of intimidation of families of those who have not reported following summons by the junta.

In view of the above facts, the Asian Human Rights Commission urges you through your respective mandates to raise these matters with the Government of Thailand, such that the authorities cease their harassment of the family of Thanthawut Taweewarodomkul and other families of those who have been summoned by the regime and have declined to report themselves. The AHRC also asks that you call for the restoration of civilian government in Thailand as quickly as possible, and expresses its view that the temporary constitution put in place by the National Council for Peace and Order is unacceptable, an affront to the rule of law, and will likely have disastrous consequences for human rights in Thailand.

Yours sincerely,

(signed)

Bijo Francis

Executive Director
Asian Human Rights Commission, Hong Kong

Copies to:
Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights, Regional Office, Bangkok
Permanent Mission of Thailand to the United Nations, Geneva

Appendixes





Prayuth’s lies

28 08 2014

Reuters reports that self-appointed prime minister, junta leader and Army chief General Prayuth Chan-ocha, known to us as The Dictator, has “told European investors … that he was not a dictator and that his government was seeking to create a Thailand that would be more attractive for their long-term investments.”

Do we take his claim the “he is not a dictator” at face value and assume that Prayuth is brain dead? Probably not.

Do we interpret and think that a man who has spent his whole life being socialized within a royalist, hierarchical and murderous organization can be blind to the political meaning of “dictator”? Maybe. After all, he goes on to state this as a definition of “non-dictatorship”: “We are not dictators that just order whatever…. We listen to many civilian advisors…”.

Yet PPT thinks that the best interpretation is that Prayuth thinks that foreigners are stupid or ignorant (rather like the red shirt “peasants” he calls “buffaloes”). Because these foreigners are stupid, he feels comfortable in lying to them. Yet his lies are candy-coated because, like the “buffaloes” he wants their support.

Remarkably, Prayuth who “met representatives from the Thai-European Business Association (TEBA), a group representing 80 Thai and European investors including automotive, aerospace, pharmaceutical and logistics firms,” begged for investment. Conjuring a sexual image, he implored them: “I am prepared to do everything.” He added: “Just show me your investment roadmap…”. By roadmap, he means money.

The economy is certainly in deep trouble following the combined operations of palace, military, judiciary and anti-democrats who closed down the normal operations of the elected government. It is remarkable that those who brought the economy undone for the richest Thais and Sino-Thais now beg for investment from foreign investors.

The Thailand of the royalist elite is rather like Prayuth: it is based on lies and fictions manufactured to allow this minority to maintain absolute control over the majority.

 








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