On democracy in Thailand

19 12 2013

Readers will find something of interest in two recent posts by Andrew Spooner. The first is at Left Foot Forward, a UK political blog, about the fascist turn in Thailand and those opposing it. He concludes:

Thailand stands at crossroads – the potential for civil war is now obvious and fascism is rearing its ugly head. It’s time for the global community of democrats – whether on the left or the right – to stand shoulder to shoulder with those battling extremism in Thailand.

The second is at his own Asia Provocateur blog, where he has “asked four prominent persons from what I would call Thailand’s “pro-democracy alliance” the four same questions to gauge the range of thoughts and feelings as to the country’s present political situation.” The four are: “trade unionist and possible prospective party list MP candidate for the new Palang Prachathipatai Party (Democratic Force Party)” Jitra Kotchadej, political exile, Jakrapob Penkair; Secretary General to Yingluck Shinawatra, Suranand Vejjajiva, and Panuwat Panduprasert, a lecturer in the Faculty of Political Science and Public Administration at Chiang Mai University.


Violence and bias

28 11 2013

Readers will find Asia Provocateur Andrew Spooner’s recent post on violence and media bias of interest. His point is that these demonstrations, like those of PAD in earlier days and the various ginger groups that preceded Suthep Thaugsuban’s current lot, ooze right-wing and violent ideology. He uses the term fascist to describe the “movement.”

Their spokesperson says they are “civilized.” If they say it, the idea seems to be that it will eventually be believed. She should have just said that the protesters represent the rich, for the rich believe they are civilized compared with the nasty red shirt lot who are farmers and workers.

It seems that some of the media supporters of the current lot are having second thoughts:

It is undeniable the government has reached an impasse and lost legitimacy to run the country…. But the protesters are also destroying their own legitimacy more and more by violating the laws.

The first sentence is wrong, but the second betrays the concern that Suthep is losing momentum.

Spooner and Suranand

18 11 2013

Readers will no doubt find Andrew Spooner’s interview with Suranand Vejjajiva of some interest. Suranand is Secretary General to Prime Minister Yingluck Shinawatra. PPT will highlight a couple of points while urging readers to consult the whole interview.

The first interesting point for us is on the amnesty:

Was it a mistake to attempt a blanket amnesty?

The intention of the blanket amnesty bill is based on to forgive (but not forget). Many countries with violent political conflicts eventually end up with amnesties as a mechanism to set the country back on track. It is not a mistake but maybe a little too naive and “off” in terms of timing and communicating to the general public.

SuranandThis is surprising. Suranand usually has a good feel for the political pulse. This response might be spin, but if it is in any way real it suggests that the Puea Thai government is out of touch with its support base. If that were the case, it would be very dangerous for the party and government. It is important that Puea Thai not take the red shirts or the voters for granted. They are comrades and supporters who expect to be heard.

Critics claim the govt let down their supporters by not reforming laws like lese majeste or not doing enough to free the Red Shirt prisoners – what would you say to them?

The government has been trying to work to free the Red Shirt political prisoners as hard as possible. Some has been released but many remained, stuck in the judicial maze. The work will need to continue. As for lese majeste, the law remains a sensitive issue in Thailand.

Excellent question and a tired and rather pathetic answer. Wouldn’t it be remarkable to hear some one in (any) government actually explain the real reasons for sensitivity on the now completely bonkers lese majeste law.

HRW and orders

30 05 2013

PPT draws attention to a statement by Thailand representative for Human Rights Watch, Sunai Pasuk in a Bangkok Post article on the murder of Fabio Polenghi.

Sunai is right when he says that “the finding highlighted the need to hold the military to account for the 2010 deaths…”. He’s also right to complain about the Yingluck Shinawatra Government apparent decision to not hold soldiers responsible for their actions in April and May 2010 is legal  travesty.

However, Sunai also makes a remarkable claim: “According to Human Rights Watch’s research, there was no order given to shoot unarmed civilians…”.

PPT has not heard such a claim previously and has not seen the “research” Sunai says his organization conducted.

As Andrew Spooner points out, this claim seems different from a recent HRW statement on this matter.

Sunai needs to make the “research” he cites available or explain his claim.

Updated: Spooner, Asia Sentinel and HRW

29 04 2013

A couple of weeks ago we had a couple of posts (here and here) regarding Andrew Spooner’s short career at Asia Sentinel. One of the reasons he thinks he was shunted by Asia Sentinel was a story he did regarding Brad Adams at Human Rights Watch.Asia Provocateur moves

When Asia Sentinel showed Spooner the electronic door, they deleted this story. He has now re-posted it at his Asia Provocateur blog.

The post refers to a 2011 appearance by Adams at a meeting held in the UK Parliament. The post includes a video of Adams speaking at the parliament on arson in Bangkok in May 2010. Spooner questions Adams and HRW on their claims in 2011.

Update: A reader points out that former lese majeste political prisoner Joe Gordon has also posted a link to another Spooner post on HRW that caries a specific warning about HRW. Read Joe’s comment here and the Asia Provocateur article he refers to here.

Spooner’s ups and downs

11 04 2013

Less than a week ago PPT posted that:

Andrew Spooner is back with a new post at Asia Sentinel. His blogs and posts have always been interesting and have often aroused some fiery debates and controversy.

In that very short period he posted three stories with Asia Sentinel. Remarkably, they pulled them all.

Andrew tells his story of censorship back at his old blog Asia Provocateur. It certainly seems that his post questioning Human Rights Watch’s Brad Adams was a catalyst, but maybe his earlier writing also caused Asia Sentinel’s drastic action. And here we are referring to posts that were completely unconnected with Asia Sentinel!

Updated: Spooner’s back

5 04 2013

SpoonerAndrew Spooner is back with a new post at Asia Sentinel. His blogs and posts have always been interesting and have often aroused some fiery debates and controversy.

In his new post, on the latest constitutional amendment posturings and shenanigans is a topic PPT will shortly post on too. However, we have to agree with his observation that:

The Abhisit [Vejjajiva]-led Democrats [he means the Democrat Party], still bereft of policy yet ripe with a flagrant disregard for democracy, preferring, as ever, the arm of the politicised judiciary rather than the will of the Thai people, appear desperate to bring down the democratically-elected Pheu Thai government.

And like Andrew, we often wonder why the media doesn’t ask more searching questions of the anti-democratic Democrat Party and Abhisit when they continually seek to bring down elected governments.

Update: In keeping with his controversial blogging of the past, in a new post at Asia Sentinel, Spooner targets Human Rights Watch and Brad Adams: Did Brad Adams and Human Rights Watch lie about the Red Shirts?

Intimidating the relatives of the dead

7 09 2012

As we recently posted, Asia Provocateur (Andrew Spooner) has moved. His first post there deserves attention.

He reports that , the mother of murdered medic , and a campaigner for justice for her daughter and others killed during the events of April and May 2010, is receiving threats. It is explained that: “Payao told me this morning that she has been harassed continually since 2010 but that the tone of the harassment is becoming ‘more aggressive’.”

… with some callers even claiming to be Thai Army officers. The call I received on 3rd September threatened to murder my whole family if I didn’t stop pursuing justice for the death of my daughter. The second call was this morning [7th September], it sounded like the same man, and repeated the same threats. But this time he sounded very angry and became abusive.


Prayuth, snipers, “fake” ammo

29 08 2012

The stories concocted by the military to deny its use of  snipers in April and May 2010 are now reaching such incredible levels that the Army is now destroying its very last few shreds of credibility. These most fantastical lies were apparently delivered to the Department of Special Investigation yesterday. But we turn first to Army boss General Prayuth Chan-ocha.

The Bangkok Post reports that the Army boss said “he would cooperate if summonsed by the DSI.’ That seems pretty straightforward. But not, it seems, in the mind of the distracted and angry general, for it is immediately added that he “would have to check whether he had an important engagement on that date…. If he could not make himself available, he would assign an officer to represent him…”.

That means Prayuth isn’t going to show up. This deliberate snub of the investigation shows how much Prayuth values impunity and sets up for a clash between military brass and government.

Now back to the two army snipers who showed up yesterday. Recall that the military has repeatedly denied the use of snipers, despite evidence to the contrary. 

The report states: “Sgt Saringkan Taweecheep and Sgt Kacharat Niamrod of the 5th Cavalry Battalion were accompanied by a lawyer Lt-Col Burin Thongprapai of the Judge Advocate General’s Department…. They did not speak to the press.” The Post tells us nothing more.

However, Andrew Spooner has blogged on other reports. He refers to a short report at TNN24. This report states in its headline that the two snipers admitted that the fired at the “red shirt mob” but used “fake bullets.” Yes, that is the story. These men were assigned to the Bon Kai area, with M-16s, but they used some kind of blank cartridge.

We don’t blame these low-ranking men for this lie. Obviously their bosses have ordered them to make this ridiculous claim. Anyone still believes this bunch of liars masquerading as state-funded military brass must have fairies at the bottom of the garden or are blinded by nonsense political ideology.

Updated: Suthep and Abhisit

28 08 2012

Yesterday, in a brief update to an earlier post, PPT noted that former deputy premier and the man mostly responsible for security issues under Abhisit Vejjajiva’s royalist government Suthep babbled about his capacity for only telling the truth before his “talk,” over many hours, with the Department of Special Investigation. In fact, this is how the Bangkok Post reported him: “I’ll tell only the truth…”.

It seems it is difficult for Suthep to recognize the truth because even this statement of him telling the truth is revealed as a lie. Andrew Spooner has a post worth reading at Asian Correspondent, where Suthep is quoted by Matichon as saying that he had “never seen” video footage of troops “shooting at Red Shirt protesters in the afternoon of April 1oth 2010 at Kok Wua.” It is impossible that a man in his position could not have seen this widely available footage, much of it available on the very night of the events.

As for Abhisit, Spooner draws attention to a Thai Rath report where Abhisit is quoted as warning Yingluck Shinawatra that an elected government should not interfere with the Army or else she would end up like her brother, Thaksin, overthrown in a military coup. Abhisit must simply love that idea as the Army might even make him prime minister again.

Abhisit has said that his party plans to “grill” the government on “white lies” about the economy. We wonder if the Democrat Party would ever be able to ask itself about the myriad of lies it has told regarding the murderous events it unleashed in 2010. They were black lies.

Update: The Nation now carries an account of Suthep’s 10 hour “meeting” with DSI and investigators, including his claims about being blind to evidence. The Nation headline appears to misrepresent the story in that Suthep’s claim is that the Army didn’t “fire first.” This seems to be something of a shift in the Democrat Party story on events, and different from that by the Army boss; until now, the claim has been that the Army killed not a single person.


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