The unelected on elections

7 11 2013

The so-called Group of 40 Senators are a coterie of rabid royalist senators who have mostly never been elected to anything, let a lone the Senate, where most of them sit as appointed senators, the spawn of the military junta’s illegal 2006 coup and undemocratic 2007 constitution.

At the Bangkok Post, we learn that this undemocratic cabal have “called on the prime minister to dissolve parliament and call a general election…”. They argue that this would be to “return the power to the people.” We find it difficult to conceive that a bunch of unelected royalist puppets have any conception of representative government yet they arrogantly demand a dissolution of parliament.

That would mean a new election, and we doubt that many of this lot would stand the test of an election. We also doubt that Puea Thai would lose. We understand that the party’s serious miscalculation on the pathetic amnesty will have cost some support, but the electorate is unlikely to elect the Democrat Party.

But back to the unelected military spawn, who just happened to be speaking in “an interview” with what the Bangkok Post chooses to call the “pro-Democrat Blue Sky satellite TV channel.” We guess they mean the Democrat Party, for Blue Sky is not “pro-Democrat [Party]” but is a creation of the party and is funded by the same elite businesspeople who fund the party itself.

Somchai Sawaengkarn, usually the spokesman for the unelected lot, “described the bill as one of the worst pieces of legislation in Thai political history.” That’s a pretty arrogant call given that Somchai himself owes his position to the military junta’s illegal act in 2006 and its awarding itself amnesty! Indeed, Somchai served in junta’s fully-appointed National Legislative Assembly in 2006.

Of course Somchai realizes this, for he is not a complete fool. It is just that he sees royalist and military illegal actions as good and appropriate and the actions of an elected government as being inappropriate.

Of course, PPT has expressed our disdain for the amnesty bill, but we recognize that an elected government that campaigned on bringing Thaksin Shinawatra home and on reconciliation does not lose legitimacy by withdrawing a bill or losing a vote on it in a half-elected Senate.

Somchai said his group of senators “had passed a resolution agreeing to demand that Prime Minister Yingluck Shinawatra dissolve parliament.” The basis for this was not that the prime minister has lost the confidence of parliament or came to power through manipulation by behind-the-scenes powers (as was the case with the Democrat Party in 2008), but because “the government has lost the people’s trust to the point where it is impossible to regain it.”

Somchai and his unelected military spawn, who have teamed up with fascist groups such as PAD,  Siam Samakkhi and Pitak Siam, should be the last to speak of the people’s trust. They do not even comprehend the concept.





Updated: Throwbacks

23 09 2013

(PPT apologizes in advance for being rather silly when assessing PART. Read on…)

PPT was wide-eyed when reading a report at the Bangkok Post about a brand new anti-Thaksin Shinawatra group with a brand new tactic for bringing the Puea Thai-led government down: going to the courts!

We weren’t really stunned, we’re fibbing. We were really just amazed at how boringly predictable this lot are. That said, being predictable or boring doesn’t mean that their tactics won’t be successful.

The People Assembly Reforming Thailand – yes, that’s PART – is reportedly about to “launch a legal challenge to the government’s 2-trillion-baht borrowing bill for infrastructure development projects,” which will see it asking the Constitutional Court to rule, yet again, against the government based on its royalist interpretation of the military junta-tutored 2007 constitution.

PART is composed of the usual old farts – sorry, couldn’t resist – of the yellow-shirted, royalist groups that get established by the dozen each time a new anti-government gimmick is required, although simply shuffling a known deck is hardly useful gimmickry.old-farts-and-jackasses

And, oh yes, the Democrat Party “also intends to launch legal action.” How predictable.

PART even got together at its usual spot, the decidedly yellow  National Institute of Development Administration, where it was also led by the usual suspects. One of them was

One of Part’s leaders was People’s Alliance for Democracy leader and former Democrat Party MP Somkiat Pongpaibul. Another was NIDA’s own former PAD stage performer Pichai Rattanadilok Na Phuket.

He let it be known that PART “also discussed other issues including the rising cost of living, the amnesty bill, and the charter amendment bill.” What a surprise!

Preeda Tiasuwan, chairman of Pranda Jewellery and head of the Businessmen for Democracy and Environment Club (any link there?), managed to come up with the usual royalist complaint that politicians can’t sold the “country’s problems,” although apart from the yellow lot’s opposition to elected representation, the reason for this view isn’t explained.

Meanwhile, a Senate committee dominated by the unelected variety managed to criticize Yingluck Shinawatra’s policies as “populist.” The Democrat Party agrees and is going to launch an alternative economic policy with its old Thai Khem Khaeng projects “as a model showing how money under budget laws could be better spent.

The Thai Khemkaeng projects were the subject of criticism and didn’t amount to much.

This is all ever so boringly old; indeed, a bunch of throwbacks coming up with throwback ideas. Yet, the old farts of PART have some supporters in the judiciary, so maybe the throwbacks are onto something (again).

Update: Above, we noted that Democrat Party’s return to Thai Khemkaeng. At the Bangkok Post, it is noted that a part of the Party’s “alternative” scheme would “serve public needs better as it would cover all regions of the country equally and fairly…”. The report specified the northeast which:

often suffers droughts and studies have shown hundreds of billions of baht would be required to solve this problem, Mr Abhisit said. The government should spend some of the money on ending water shortages in the Northeast, he said.

“The government has often talked about poverty in Isan, but it chooses not to spend in this region,” he said.

 We were reminded that “solving” this problem would almost invariably be an ecological disaster if the “studies” mentioned are those that began as far as the Green Isan project initiated by Chavalit Yongchaiyudh in the mid-1980s. The Democrat Party’s penchant for old ideas is remarkable.





Updated: Marking the coup

18 09 2013

On 19 September 2006, a palace-military coup threw out Thaksin Shinawatra and his Thai Rak Thai Party government.

Khaosod reports that red shirts plan “to take to the streets tomorrow to commemorate the 7th anniversary of the military coup…”.

As the report notes,

the 2006 coup is generally regarded as a turning point in Thai modern history, sparking the turbulent period which saw the appointments and elections of 5 Prime Ministers in the space of 7 years, and occasional outbursts of political violence that have claimed more than 100 lives.

Some groups will rally at parliament to “Remember the Disgraceful 7 Years,” noting how human right abuses spiked, especially the royalist use of lese majeste, and how the military-backed 2007 Constitution had established undemocratic institutions and practices.

Others will rally at Ratchaprasong, one of the sites of the 2010 red shirt uprising.

Notably:

the official leadership of the Redshirts, the National United Front of Democracy Against Dictatorship (UDD), has refused to organise any street rally to commemorate the coup anniversary, contrary to previous years.

Update: Some photos of the parliament house rally here.





Using monarchy and judiciary

13 09 2013

Despite their parliamentary pugilism and organisation of bedraggled street protesters, the Democrat Party and its supporters in the senate – the unelected lot, of course – have not forgotten their judicial and monarchist allies.

At The Nation it is reported that the Democrat Party is to seek a Constitutional Court ruling on whether, essentially, amending the 2007 constitution is unconstitutional. In the mind of anyone other than those infected by royalist and yellow-shirted bizarrists, such a notion would seem lacking in any element of logic.

More so that the royalist bench has already rejected a case that sought to have constitutional change declared a move to overthrow democracy.

Undeterred by either logic or this judicial outcome, the opposition Democrat Party “will ask the Constitutional Court to see if the ongoing charter amendment is lawful and seek an injunction before the third reading can be held…”. The claim is that “amendment goes against Article 68 of the Constitution, which refers to overthrowing the political system and acquiring power in unconstitutional ways…”, essentially the same claim that was recently thrown out.

The claim using Article 68 is essentially a claim that those trying to amend the constitution seek to overthrow the monarchy.





Updated: Lost in law

28 08 2013

PPT admits to being confused on a Bangkok Post story citing Kanit na Nakhon as chairman of the Law Reform Commission (LRC). Readers will recall that Kanit was formerly chair of the Democrat Party-appointed Truth for Reconciliation Commission.

Kanit has come out to assert that “Parliament’s deliberation of the charter amendments on the make-up of the Senate violates the constitution…”. Apparently he sent a memo on this “warning” parliamentarians that: “… deliberation of the charter amendments relating to the make-up of the Senate contravenes the constitution.”

Tie us up and whack us with wet newspapers, but we just don’t get it. If the constitution can’t be amended according to the constitution’s own provisions, then is it some kind of divine document rather than just being an invention of a bunch of military junta and elite cronies.

Can any reader see anything in Kanit’s curious claim that has even a smidgen of legality to it?

Update: Here’s another one that confused us for a second. At the Bangkok Post, Deputy Democrat Party leader Korn Chatikavanij is said to have “blasted the government for prioritising charter amendment ahead of political reform.” Um, changing the constitution to rid it of military junta-imposed unelected senators who represent the royalist elite is not political reform? The way the elite protect the constitution that they all said could be changed “later” when it was foisted on Thailand is revealing.





Democrat Party abandons parliament for street politics

20 08 2013

It has been clear for some time that the Democrat Party has been increasingly frustrated by parliamentary politics. They are an electorally unsuccessful party and have decided that parliamentary politics can be abandoned as they seek a return to power via street politics.

Of course, this is learned political behavior, for it was the People’s Alliance for Democracy that was created to bring down the Thaksin Shinawatra government via street demonstrations and, eventually, military coup in 2006. That set of stage-managed events was fully supported by the Democrat Party as it created new political rules – via the junta’s 2007 constitution – that promised the party a chance at government.

Now the Democrat Party has essentially abandoned parliament for the streets again. This time the party is playing the leading role in managing and apparently funding street politics.

Our conclusions are drawn from a series of recent reports in the media.

First, at the Bangkok Post, t is reported that the Democrat Party has opposed meeting to set a parliamentary agenda for constitutional change. A Democrat Party leader said that “the opposition is against the constitutional amendment, claiming efforts are being made to manipulate the Upper House.”

The unDemocrats oppose making the Senate elected. Like pundits in the mainstream media, they prefer the junta spawn of appointed senators rather than elected members of the upper house. Why? Well, simply because the nonDemocrats don’t win elections.

Democrat Party leader Abhisit Vejjajiva concocted a statement that “most opposition MPs agree that the election, rather than the appointment, of senators would serve democratic means.” However, they don’t want the Senate controlled by a pro-Thaksin Shinawatra party and prefer a “neutral” Senate.

There’s more on unDemocrat opposition at The Nation.

Second, at Khaosod, these same “neutral”-loving lot are visiting the “People′s Army Overthrowing Thaksin Regime” at Lumpini Park, praising “the protesters for ‘their contributions to the country’.” Of course they support them for the Democrat Party is more or less sponsoring the protest.

Yellow-shirted Democrat Party members like Kalaya Sophonpanich, Korn Chatikavanij and Kasit Piromya, “brought the protesters some instant food and camping items.” Kalaya promised sponsorship for three days.

She praised the motley crew for “doing their best for the country, religion and the monarchy.”

Korn said “he is willing to stand by the People’s Army.” We recall that he supported the PAD when they engaged in illegal occupations of airports.

As reported at The Nation, these senior nonDemocrats were “given the green light by the party leader to join the street rallies…”. Abhisit argued that “… it’s good if we can support them…”.

He also supported an alliance with PAD and said the two groups “would … discuss the amnesty bill and moves to amend the Constitution…”.

If a party can’t win elections, it should look to itself for reform. The nonDemocrats ignore this and seek extra-parliamentary means to grab power, whether coup or PAD protest.

 





Updated: Busy day in Bangkok II: reform, rice, old kings, censorship and impunity

10 08 2013

As we noted in the first part of this post, it has been a busy few days in Bangkok, with more stories than PPT can possibly comment on, so we are now posting a second  combination of stories.

In another story that cites PPT, Asia Sentinel had a story a couple of days ago regarding the politics of amnesty. PPT is cited as an “NGO,” which is probably rather too much of a grand title for our small effort to shine a light on aspects of politics and political prisoners in Thailand. The story also seems to erroneously suggest that Thaksin Shinawatra put the 1997 constitution in place. Even so, it is true that: “Any time amnesty or constitutional reform looms, the protesters take to the streets. Pheu Thai leaders have been waiting for almost three years to attempt to push through a series of constitutional reforms…”. It would be even more accurate to notice that when the military junta’s 2007 constitution was put in place, all of the old conservatives said it could be changed by elected governments, and even made this an article of the constitution. Since then, this pledge has been shown to be a lie. In fact, then, elected governments have been waiting six years to make changes.

Also worth reading is Robert Amsterdam’s post on the Wat Pathum inquest findings. This note caught our attention:

Without truth there is no justice. And without justice there can be no real workable amnesty. Some might argue a de facto legal amnesty already exists for the extremist anti-democratic People’s Alliance for Democracy and the groups aligned with them, including Abhisit’s Democrat Party. Abhisit and his former deputy PM, Suthep Thaugsuban, have both been charged with the murder of civilian protesters in 2010, yet arrogantly strut around, even dismissing the court’s bail conditions, assured of their own impunity.

Prachatai has a post regarding censorship of books – an unofficial removal from sale – at Asia books. Of course, the books relate to the monarchy. But not the current king. These two books relate to past kings and the royalist response to the 1932 revolution. Prachatai says: “The books concern the history of the 1932 revolution and the controversial relationship between King Rama VI and his palace servants.” So why the “ban”? Asia Books withdrew the two academic titles reportedly for reasons of “political sensitivity” but declined to comment further. The book by Dr. Nattaphol Chaiching studies the “counter-revolution led by the royalists” following the 1932 revolution. Readers without Thai skills can get an idea about the book through the author’s chapter in Saying the Unsayable. The book was published by Fa Diaw Kan as part of its “Monarchy Studies Series.” The second book by Chanun Yodhong is about “Gentlemen-in-waiting”, and deals with the relationship between the gay King Vajiravudh and his palace flunkies. Prachatai states that the book “poses questions about King Rama VI and his projects such as the Boy Scouts and Vajiravudh College, a private boys-only boarding school he founded in 1910.” It is published by Matichon.

While on censorship, we feel compelled to add to the outcry about the Ministry of Information and Communications Technology’s continuing stupidity regarding Facebook posts and its use of the draconian Computer Crimes Act. Minister Anudith Nakornthap has lost his marbles if he thinks social media users should be charged and locked up for “sharing and clicking ‘Like’ on social media posts, since they could be deemed as damaging to the country’s security.” His view that “postings that are political in nature or meant to stir up public confusion might be in breach of the Internal Security Act and Computer Crime Act” is utter nonsense but clearly neanderthals can use the law to censor and stifle. Interestingly, the cyber-cops have declared the warning as a successful scare tactic. Update: Asked if clicking “like” is now against the law, Police Maj Gen Pisit Pao-in, commander of the Technology Crime Suppression Division, says: “It will be if you ‘like’ a message deemed damaging to national security. If you press ‘like’, it means you are accepting that message, which is tantamount to supporting it. By doing so, you help increase the credibility of the message and hence you should also be held responsible.” Officials like this are appallingly dull and through their dullard actions, dangerous to Thais and their rights to free speech.

PPT also wants to draw attention to a couple of posts at Bangkok Pundit. The first is not that different from what PPT said on the story/retracted Bangkok Post story on Anand Panyarachun. The second explains what happened, and comes from a source that we also had, but since Pundit has it posted, there’s no need for us to do the same.

Finally, we want to give a few lines to a report in The Economist, which identifies the rice policy as an economic millstone for the government. We agree, but then the politics of reducing the guaranteed price saw farmers protesting just a few weeks ago. An economic millstone is becoming a political millstone, and the government’s policy wonks need to find a way out.








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