Updated: Making stuff up

13 04 2014

PPT never ceases to be amazed by the nonsensical reports in the mainstream media that seems to have been written by persons with no memory, neither short-term nor long-term. To recent examples appear in the Bangkok Post.

In one story, the Bangkok Post reports on an interview with “former Senate speaker, legal expert and Council of State member Meechai Ruchupan.” Oddly – perhaps we should say “Of course” – the Post doesn’t see fit to describe Meechai as a rabid royalist ideologue associated with the 2006 military coup and junta and with several anti-democratic movements.

If the Post had stated this political position, Meechai’s claims about the constitution on who has the responsibility to call the Senate together when the House is dissolved.

At least the Post pointed out that “Meechai does not see eye-to-eye with colleagues who recently told the cabinet secretariat that the parliament president has the authority to seek a royal decree for the Senate to be convened.”

The story should be that Meechai has broken ranks with his colleagues on the Council of State for political reasons.

Also at the Bangkok Post, Justice Minister Chaikasem Nitisiri’s is reported as coming up with the not-so-bright “idea to seek a recommendation from His Majesty the King if the Constitutional Court rules against caretaker Prime Minister Yingluck Shinawatra…”, using Section 7 of the Constitution.

PPT reckons it is dumb to try to involve the king/palace in anything political. They should be discouraged, not encouraged.

But what made us laugh in this report is royalist and anti-democrats criticizing “Chaikasem for trying to involve the institution of the monarchy in the political crisis…”.

Now, really, how ludicrous is such a claim from these political clowns? They spend almost all their time “defending the monarchy” and using it as a political weapon for lashing their opponents. And it was the anti-democrats who originally propounded the use of Section 7.

They are simply making stuff up and there seems no journalist willing to point out that these people are rolling in horse manure.

Update: Still making it up, the hopelessly biased and ridiculously incompetent Election Commission, unable to organize the 2 February election now thinks it is an agency on a constitutional par with an elected government (albeit in caretaker mode). It has been encouraged in this by the equally politicized Constitutional Court. The Election Commission “has warned there will be no chance of an election if the caretaker government and the EC cannot settle their differences.” It is a threat.

Election commissioner Somchai Srisuttiyakorn said the Constitution Court determined “the EC and the caretaker government must work together to set the date and organise a new general election.” He declared “that if the government and the EC cannot come to an understanding there will be no election.”

Look that fiction up in the constitution or electoral laws. Again, they are making it up for political advantage.

The point is that the EC is saying that it will determine the dte of the next election. When? “Somchai, who is in charge of election management, said the fresh poll is likely to be months away.”

He’s back!

9 04 2014

We find it a little difficult to believe, but we are very pleased to see that veteran democracy campaigner Chalard Worachat is back at it. Prachatai reports that 22 years after he put backbone into the movement to prevent the military consolidating power in 1992, Chalard is camping out near Parliament House and has been there since 22 March (another report says 21 March). That is the day the Constitutional Court nullified the 2 February election.

Back in 1992, it was Chamlong Srimuang, now a grinning leader of the rightist Dhamma Army and of the People’s Alliance for Democracy who got credit for his hunger strike that eventually led to demonstrations and a massacre of civilians (note this report where a little-known intervention by the king is reported, trying to get Chamlong to abandon his hunger strike). In fact, though, it was Chalard who, as a very lonely protester, began a hunger strike that forced usually spineless politicians like Chuan Leekpai of the Democrat Party to take notice.


A Prachatai photo

Prachatai sates that:

Chalard’s very first hunger strike took place [in 1980]…. He protested against the right-wing Prime Minister Kriangsak Chamanan, who was installed after the 1977 military coup, for raising oil prices…. It caused Kriangsak to resign on the 36th hour of Chalard’s hunger strike.

In 1983, Chalard was back, protesting:

during the General Prem Tinasulanond government, the House tried to pass a bill allowing bureaucrats and military officers to become Prime Minister, in effect allowing Prem to extend his term. Chalard held a hunger strike for nine days before successfully stopping passage of the bill.

He was back again in 1992, and then “played an important role in pushing for the 1997 constitution…”. From 1965 to 1987, Chalard was a member of the now disgraced Democrat Party. He once represented the Party in parliament. However, he:

protested against his party leader by holding a hunger strike to call on Chuan to amend the 1992 constitution to be more democratic, but on the 49th day, he quit due to his deteriorating health. The Supreme Patriach asked him to ordain instead…. His strike however led to “Chalard’s Friends,” a committee which successfully pushed for political reform as its main social agenda, and later paved the way for the drafting of the 1997 constitution.

In the hours after the 2006 palace-military coup, Chalard was arrested for protesting against it.

As Prachatai puts it, he is now back at the spot:

… where this 71-year-old man held a 45-day long hunger strike in 1992 to protest against General Suchinda Kraprayoon, then Prime Minister who came from a coup he led in 1991. The protest led to Black May, a people’s uprising in Bangkok which toppled the military regime and paved the way to a more democratic government for Thailand.

And, he has much the “same demands — to abolish an undemocratic constitution and oppose an appointed Prime Minister, as well as a military coup.” He isn’t refusing food yet, “but he says he will, should a military coup happen.”

Today, Chalard said “the core problem of Thai politics is the 2007 constitution which allows independent agencies too much power over the government.” He says: “We must call for the abolition of the current seditious constitution, and bring back a more democratic one.” If this doesn’t happen, Chalard states that the “situation will lead to chaos, more violence and a military coup for sure…. What we need is a new election to be held as soon as possible. We need a Prime Minister who comes from elections.”

Asked about the failed Democrat Party, “Chalard said he first decided to join the party because it was against the military in the 1970s…. Now it changed from opposing dictatorship to supporting it…”. In fact, even in the 1970s, the party’s opposition to military government was tepid.

Chalard’s actions always spur reaction, so it will be interesting to see if this current lone protest has any impact.

Updated: Suthep and the judicial coup

5 04 2014

Suthep Thaugsuban, speaking to the anti-democrats at Lumpini Park as red shirts massed, has declared that it is the National Anti-Corruption Commission and the Constitutional Court that will deliver victory for his supporters.

Protest leader Suthep Thaugsuban answers questions during a news conference in BangkokHis demagogic declaration, meant to incense and provoke red shirts, was that once Prime Minister Yingluck Shinawatra met her”legal” demise, it would be Suthep as “the people’s medium,” who “would nominate a new prime minister for royal endorsement.” Following that he declared a “people’s assembly” would “reform the country by amending the Constitution and relevant laws, before a new election would be organised.”

Indicating his confidence in the judicial coup, Suthep said the “next battle to last about 15 days” and would result in the anti-democrats seizing “sovereignty” for “the people.”

Suthep thundered:

This time we will seize Thailand. The sovereignty belongs to the Thai people and the government has already committed suicide after dissolving the House of Representatives on December 9. We the people have the right to become the sovereign….

Other anti-democrat and Democrat Party leaders supported Suthep and the judicial coup, with Thaworn Senniam declaring the government “will be out of power by the end of the month after the Constitutional Court disqualifies Yingluck…”. Like most anti-democrats and royalists, Thaworn reckons this case will be decided quickly as no new evidence is required.

Update: A reader points out that the Bangkok Post reports that Suthep made other claims:

Suthep said the People’s Democratic Reform Committee (PDRC) was ready to step in as soon as the judicial axe falls on the current cabinet. “Once we become the sovereign, we’ll seize the assets of the of the Shinawatra family members. We won’t allow them to go abroad. They will need to report to us,” he declared. “We will appoint the prime minister of the people and submit the name to His Majesty, to be countersigned by me.”

It is clear that “demagogue” is an accurate description for Suthep.


Another step towards the judicial coup

3 04 2014

The “creeping coup” as we dubbed it many months ago, is continuing. The Bangkok Post reports the latest move, which sees the royalist Constitutional Court accepting a case against Prime Minister Yingluck Shinawatra that will have it ruling within about two weeks.

The case accepted by the kangaroo court involves the transfer of then National Security Council head Thawil Pliensri in 2011 and his reinstatement by the Supreme Administrative Court a couple of weeks ago. The court has “affirmed its authority to consider the Thawil case that was submitted by a group of senators led by Paiboon Nititawan.” This unelected senator is a regular petitioner to the Constitutional Court and a member of the anti-Thaksin Shinawatra group of appointed senators with royalist and military ties.

Based on the Supreme Administrative Court’s decision, the petition claims Yingluck “violated Section 266 (2) and (3) and Section 286 when she signed the order transferring Mr Thawil to be prime ministerial adviser in 2011. It asks the court to rule if she must leave her post as stated in Section 182.” The relevant sections are listed below:

Section 266. A member of the House of Representatives and a senator shall not, through the status or position of member of the House of Representatives or senator, interfere or intervene the following matters, directly or indirectly, for the benefit of his own or other persons or of political party:

… (2) the recruitment, appointment, reshuffle, transfer, promotion and elevation of the salary scale of a government official holding a permanent position or receiving salary and not being a political official, an official or employee of a government agency, State agency, State enterprise or local government organisation;

(3) the removal from office of a government official holding a permanent position or receiving salary and not being a political official, an official or employee of a government agency, State agency, State enterprise or local government organisation….

Section 268. The Prime Minister and a Minister shall not perform any act in violation of the provisions of section 266, except the performance of powers and duties for the administration of State affairs as stated to the National Assembly or as provided by law….

Section 182. The ministership of an individual Minister terminates upon:…

(7) having done an act prohibited by section 267, section 268 or section 269;

The Post states that Paiboon’s petition claims “the transfer was not in the public’s best interests, but is an attempt to find a position for ex-national police chief Wichean Potephosree so the government could appoint its own man to the police chief’s job.”

In fact the whole situation over the police chief’s position goes back a considerable way and involves military, police and palace meddling during the period of the Abhisit Vejjajiva government. Abhisit was dead keen to have his man as police chief, and Wichien was selected for his political credentials and to prevent the rise of  Pol Gen Priewphan Damapong, “the elder brother of Khunying Potjaman na Pombejra, Thaksin Shinawatra’s ex-wife.”

In other words, the political decisions by the Abhisit regime, which were never really challenged or taken up by the biased judiciary and “independent” agencies or royalist-military senators, and which were overturned by the incoming and elected government, are now challenged.

The Supreme Administrative Court “said the prime minister’s judgement [PPT guesses the signing of the transfer] was unlawful and ordered Mr Thawil reinstated. The transfer orders were not in line with government policies announced in parliament.”

Yingluck “will have 15 days to lodge her defence after getting a copy of the petition.”

The Constitutional Court route to bringing down the government is considered by royalists as the best route. It is certainly faster than the National Anti-Corruption Commission rice-pledging scheme kangaroo court and is more likely than an impeachment in the Senate that requires a two-thirds majority.

Minister Chaturon Chaisaeng noted that this route was the one the royalist preferred, observing that “the Constitutional Court has so far ruled as it pleases, rather than going by the charter.” He’s right on that. And, he sees a ruling likely this month.

Royalist Senator Paiboon claimed that he “expects the court to make a decision in two weeks because the case is not complicated and there is no need to hold further hearings.” Another case in the developing tradition of royalist court decisions where evidence and witnesses count for nothing.

NACC and evidence

2 04 2014

During the period following the 2006 military coup, the judiciary and “independent” agencies repeatedly trampled over principles of law in order to deliver decision that were in the interests of the royalist elite.

PPT can think of several such cases that involved double standards and the jettisoning of all legal principles. A favorite is the junta’s Assets Scrutiny Committee (or the Asset Examination Committee) which was stacked with anti-Thaksin Shinawatra appointees and its work was only ruled legal because it was undertaken under junta rules. That committee’s secretary Kaewsan Atibhodhi claimed “evidence and witnesses are useless,” with one of its panels recommending legal action without hearing 300 witnesses or considering 100 additional pieces of evidence (Bangkok Post, 9 April 2008). Another example is the 2008 judicial coup that resulted in the dissolution of several parties that formed the government, where the Constitutional Court refused to hear more than 200 witnesses in the defense of the three parties that were dissolved (a pro-royalist account of this is available).

Why do we recall all of this? Simply because a similar process is now underway at the National Anti-Corruption Commission, which is making itself some kind of judge and jury but which refuses to follow normal legal procedures. The situation that reflects this is the appearance of Prime Minister Yingluck Shinawatra at the NACC, where she made available “200 pages of evidence” and  “asked the NACC to consider her documents and she would be willing to provide more information if needed.” In addition, she “told the NACC that she has prepared 11 witnesses to argue against the charges in 13 points…”.

Within about 24 hours, the NACC had made a decision on this. According to the Bangkok Post, the NACC has decided to only allow Yingluck “to bring in three more witnesses in a case where she is accused of dereliction of duties involving the rice-pledging scheme.”

Yes, in about a day, the NACC apparently considers that we should believe that it has read and digested the information and requests it received. Of course, it hasn’t. Evidence doesn’t matter in the progress of the judicial coup. Rather, the NACC has taken yet another politicized decision yet again and is seeking to wrap up its role in the judicial coup as quickly as possible.

Protecting the Democrat Party

25 03 2014

When the so-called independent agencies and biased judiciary make stuff up and cobble together rulings with little or no basis in law, interpreting the law becomes difficult, if not impossible. The confusion caused by these bizarre decisions also opens the way for disingenuous interpretation. PPT was taken aback when reading a Bangkok Post report of the Election Commission response to the most recent Constitutional Court blarney decision. It says:

Legal advisers with the Election Commission (EC) interpret the Constitutional Court’s ruling on the Feb 2 poll as meaning its process was unconstitutional, rather than nullified.

As a result, it would have to issue a royal decree to amend the election date and election process, EC chairman Supachai Somcharoen said after the EC meeting with a legal team yesterday.

Mr Supachai said the previous royal decree involving the House dissolution and the Feb 2 election is still in effect as part of the House dissolution.

Now let’s get this right…. The election was unconstitutional, or at least that it what the court decreed. But that does not mean the poll has to be nullified. Ipso facto, and unconstitutional poll is legal! We should be rolling about in fits of laughter, but, as is usual for these crazy organizations, there’s a political reason for this:

Their interpretation, which would serve as the guideline for the EC to deal with future poll problems, means election candidates and individuals who violate election laws still face charges and the Democrat Party will not be dissolved if it boycotts another poll, according to EC experts.

PPT is not sure the EC is expert in anything, not least elections or the law, but the highlighted bit seems to be significant.

With Democrat Party leader Abhisit Vejjajiva already stating that his party would again boycott elections, the real law, as opposed to the made-up stuff the royalist elite deals in states, as the Post comments, “[b]y law political parties which do not send candidates for two consecutive elections face dissolution.”

Unless we have missed something, this is yet another bit of legal and political concoction in order to protect the Democrat Party. Of course, PPT expects that the judicial coup will have rolled along quite a bit before any new poll is held (except for the Senate, where the anti-democrats hope to gain a majority, which, for them is only a couple of seats as the appointed lot are expected to be loyal royalists.

Opposing the Constitutional Court

24 03 2014

The Bangkok Post includes a story about a “group of academics calling themselves the Assembly for the Defence of Democracy (AFDD) yesterday issued a statement opposing the Constitution Court’s ruling to void the results of the Feb 2 general election.” We thought this statement well worth reproducing in full, and nicked it from Asia Provocateur:

Statement of the Assembly for the Defense of Democracy (AFDD)

We Oppose the Ruling of the Constitutional Court Intended to Render the 2 February 2014 Election Unconstitutional.

The Constitutional Court has ruled on a matter forwarded to them by the Ombudsman under Article 245 (1) of the Constitution. The matter in question was whether or not the general parliamentary election held on 2 February 2014, in line with the Royal Decree on the Dissolution of Parliament (2013), was constitutional. In a statement announced by the Chief Spokesperson  of the Constitutional Court, the Court commented that there were 28 electoral districts in which there were no candidates who submitted applications to contend in the 2 February 2014 election.  The Court further commented that elections cannot be held in those districts after 2 February because the effect would be that the general election was not held simultaneously on the same day across the kingdom. Therefore, the Court ruled that the 2 February 2014 election was not one that was held simultaneously on the same day throughout the kingdom. The effect of this ruling is to make the Royal Decree on the Dissolution of Parliament (2013), particularly the setting of the date of 2 February 2014 for the election, unconstitutional and in contradiction with Article 108, paragraph two, of the Constitution. It is the view of the Assembly for the Defense of Democracy (AFDD) that this ruling of the Constitutional Court ruling contains the following problems of constitutionality and political legitimacy:

1. Article 245 (1) of the Constitution of Thailand stipulates that the Ombudsman can propose a matter to the Constitutional Corut when he thinks that there is “any provision of law that begs the question of constitutionality.” Therefore, the substance of the case that the Ombudsman has the discretion to send to the Constitutional Court to consider must be a “provision of law.” But in this case, the clearly visible problem is that the substance of the case is “the holding of the general election.” When the substance of the case is not a “provision of law,” the Ombudsman cannot propose the case to the Constitutional Court, and if the Ombudsman forwards such a matter to the Constitutional Court, it is the duty of the Court to refuse to accept the request for examination. The acceptance of the aforementioned matter by the Constitutional Court is unconstitutional in line with Article 245 (1) and is equivalent to the Constitutional Court singlehandedly amending the Constitution and altering the substance of the permitted cases for examination under Article 245 (1). There is no provision in the Constitution that gives the Constitutional Court the authority to do so.

2. Article 108, paragraph two, of the 2007 Constitution of Thailand prescribes that, “The dissolution of the House of Representatives shall be made in the form of a Royal Decree in which the day for a new general election must be fixed within the period of not less than forty five days but not more than sixty days as from the date of the dissolution of the House of Representatives and such election day must be the same throughout the Kingdom.” The facts show that the election day was set for the same date (2 February 2014) throughout the whole kingdom in the Royal Decree on the Dissolution of Parliament (2013). The aforementioned setting of the date of the general election was therefore constitutional.

But in this case it appears that the Constitutional Court has used evidence of events that occurred after, and were unrelated to the setting of the date of the general election, as the basis of their examination. In other words, the Court used the fact of candidates not being able to register to compete in the election in 28 electoral districts to claim that if a general election was held in these districts after 2 February 2014, it would mean that the general election was not held on the same day simultaneously throughout the kingdom. The Court made this claim even though the Constitution does not mandate that the general election must occur on the same day throughout the whole kingdom. There may be acts of god or other unavoidable incidents which may make holding an election on the same day as the rest of the country impossible in some districts. The Constitution stipulates only that the election day must be “set” to be the same day simultaneously throughout the kingdom. Therefore, the setting of the date was already done constitutionally.

3. In addition, there is also the fact that, on the whole, the 2 February 2014 election passed in an orderly fashion. The Constitutional Court’s raising of the instances of not being able to register to run for election in some districts as a result of obstruction by some individuals in order to claim that the section of the Royal Decree on the Dissolution of Parliament (2013) that set the date for the general election was unconstitutional was done with the intention to spoil the  election. In addition to having no basis in law, there is an additional problem of interpretation of this ruling. Have the ballots of those people who went to vote on 2 February 2014 been destroyed or not, and under the authority of which Constitutional or other legal provision?

4. Analyzed from a perspective of political struggle, it can be seen that the obstacle to the election came from the collaboration between the People’s Democratic Reform Committee (PDRC) and individuals who support the PDRC inside and outside the Parliament, and collaboration between those who are overt and covert in their actions to destroy parliamentary democracy. In addition, the Election Commission of Thailand (ECT) did not act with an intention to work in line with their framework of authority and duty in order to successfully hold elections. Therefore, an effect of the ruling of the Constitutional Court is to prop up opposition to electoral democracy and make it come to fruition. This ruling disregards and neglects the rights of the people: those who hold the authority [in the country] and can express this authority in line with the rules and regulations that are in force.

5. This cooperation to oppose democracy will continue to create a political vacuum in order to open up the space for an extraconstitutional prime minister and government to come to power, and in order to push forward amendment of the Constitution in a direction that will weaken and devastate electoral democracy. The Assembly for the Defense of Democracy therefore condemns these attempts, those that have occurred and those that will occur in the near future, as antithetical to the basic rights and liberties of the people.

6. It is clear that from the 2006 coup up until the present, all of the independent agencies and the judiciary have become instruments of a powerful minority group acting in opposition to democracy. This group does so simply because they wish to swiftly destroy their political opponents. This has allowed the independent organizations and the judiciary to become distorted and seized to be used in the service of the destruction of democracy and the economic development of the country for the the sole purpose of causing the nation to become stagnant in a smelly, clogged whirlpool of violent conflict without end. Therefore, it is time for the people to come together to demand that the independent organizations and the judiciary are reformed and checks and balances are established. It is time to demand that these important mechanisms of the country come to be under the supervision of organizations representive of the voice of the majority. The people must take on these important tasks and make these changes come to fruition in the near future.

7. This method of spoiling elections has progressed for nearly a decade and may cause the nation to fall into a state of violence from which there is no exit. This state will remain until every authority and every side in Thai society comes to respect the equal voting rights of the people.

The Assembly for the Defense of Democracy would like to assert that the only solution for Thai society at present is to accept the principles of “equality of the people,” “sovereignty belongs to the entirety of Thai people,” “legitimacy of the majority,” and “respect in the rights and liberties of minority voices.” This is necessary to carry out reforms to eradicate the mechanisms that are antithetical to democracy, and before democracy, which is barely holding on at present, is completely destroyed.

With 5 updates: Battle plans revealed

21 03 2014

Almost all political commentators are now agreed that the remaining anti-democrats hunkered down at Lumpini Park count for little. Even the Democrat Party is sidelined as they have no ammunition left apart from their repeated statement that they are a political party that will not contest elections. The real political battle is the so-called independent agencies versus the Yingluck Shinawatra government.

This is made clear in several quite stark reports and op-eds. Assistant News Editor at the Bangkok Post, Nattaya Chetchotiros, sets out the plan:

The Constitution Court has started its hearing into whether the Feb 2 election should be nullified. It will deliver its ruling Friday [today].

According to Pheu Thai’s assessment, the election will be certainly revoked which means a new general election will have to be called….

Satit Wongnongtoey, a core leader of the People’s Democratic Reform Committee (PDRC) and a former Democrat politician. “But we still cannot make the Yingluck government fall yet.” … As long as Ms Yingluck refuses to step down, the rallies will have to continue, he insisted.

If the court rules to annul the Feb 2 election, the PDRC, which opposes the election, will certainly boast that it is its victory as well.

A far more serious threat to Ms Yingluck’s political survival is the pending ruling by the National Anti-Corruption Commission (NACC) on the rice-pledging scheme.

If the NACC rules she is guilty in the rice scheme, Ms Yingluck must step aside promptly….

Pheu Thai MPs and senators — 308 of them to be exact — also face the axe for their votes to endorse a charter amendment to change the composition of the Senate, which has been ruled as unconstitutional.

Should the NACC find them guilty, more than 200 Pheu Thai MPs may be banned from politics which will prevent them from running in the next election.

The Puea Thai Party is convinced that “these attacks are orchestrated by the ammart system (the aristocratic or bureaucratic elite) with the ultimate goal not only of unseating the government but also eliminating the so-called Thaksin regime.”

This was made clear in a speech at the Foreign Correspondents’ Club of Thailand where the premier’s secretary-general Suranand Vejjajiva “accused the Election Commission (EC) of not doing its job properly and the National Anti-Corruption Commission (NACC) of trying to expedite Ms Yingluck’s indictment.” He was explicit:

“Certain institutions have resorted to arm-twisting legal action and other tactics to delay elections, and convince the public that the prime minister does not exist,” Mr Suranand said.

He said forces were orchestrating the government’s demise to help the People’s Democratic Reform Committee (PDRC)’s cause. This could be seen in the Democrats’ election boycott, and attempts by independent agencies to interfere.

Unfortunately, the roller-coaster of amart-inspired judicial conspiracy is continuing at full speed. One example is the NACC’s recommendation that “Senate Speaker Nikhom Wairatpanich be impeached for his role in the passage of the charter amendment draft on the composition of the Senate.” As the Bangkok Post explains:

The NACC ruling means that Mr Nikhom is required to cease carrying out all of his duties as Senate speaker. This has significant political implications, since the speaker of the upper house plays a crucial role in the selection of a new prime minister should the current one leave her post.

The NACC unanimously decided that Nikhom “has abused his authority in violation of sections 3 and 291, which could lead to him being removed as Senate speaker.”

Section 3 states:

Section 3. The sovereign power belongs to the Thai people. The King as Head of State shall exercise such power through the National Assembly, the Council of Ministers and the Courts in accordance with the provisions of this Constitution.

The performance of duties of the National Assembly, the Council of Ministers, the Courts, the Constitutional organisations and State agencies shall be in accordance with the rule of laws.

Section 291 states is the section that deal with Amendment of the Constitution.

Essentially, a decision by the Constitutional Court that appeared highly biased is now used to allow the Senate to eject its speaker. But because this requires a three-fifths majority, it is not clear it will proceed. Even so, having Nikhom out of the seat, replaced by an appointed senator, for a several weeks means that more legal shenanigans can be put in place to ditch Yingluck and her government.

A Bangkok Post photo

A Bangkok Post photo

Update 1: Phase 1 of the amart plan completed! PPT is not surprised that the Constitutional Court has decided that the uncompleted election is “unconstitutional.” The court has said nothing about the reason for the election being incomplete: the illegal actions of the anti-democrats in boycotting the election, preventing candidate registration and blocking voting.

We understand that the the Constitutional Court is doing the work of the royalist elite, but the great risk of its decision (assuming that the junta-tutored 2007 constitution remains in place) is that any opponent of elections can now prevent them.

In the short term, we guess that a new election needs to be called, but we do do not imagine that the amart will allow one to proceed before completing the destruction of the current government. The plan is in process.

Update 2: Reuters reports on the court decision, with (anti-)Election Commissioner Somchai Srisutthiyakorn saying there are “two options to organise a new vote”:

The commission could discuss with the government about issuing a new royal decree for a new date or we could ask the heads of all political parties to decide together when best to set the new election date….

The Democrat Party has already stated it will boycott a new poll. The report also has a quote from Suthep Thaugsuban’s statement to anti-democrats the day before the decision:

If the court rules the election void, don’t even dream that there will be another election. If a new election date is declared, then we’ll take care of every province and the election won’t be successful again….

As we noted above, and have stated for several months, the amart’s preferred political option is to bring down the government via a creeping judicial coup. The Reuters report quotes Kan Yuenyong, a political analyst at the Siam Intelligence Unit on this:

Independent agencies are being quite obvious that they want to remove her and her entire cabinet to create a power vacuum, claim that elections can’t be held and then nominate a prime minister of their choice….

If they run with this plan, then the government’s supporters will fight back and the next half of the year will be much worse than what we saw in the first half….

Update 3: Meanwhile, Puea Thai Minister Chaturon Chaisaeng has listed eight political implications he sees as resulting from the court’s decision:

1. The charter has been rewritten to enhance the powers of ombudsmen and the Constitution Court, allowing them to void an election.

2. Election non-believers now have more tools to make sure a poll will never end so long as there is no guarantee the Democrat Party will win and form the government.

3. An election can from now on be put off indefinitely. All it takes is for someone to topple it the way the PDRC did and it can always be claimed that the election must be held on the same date or be nullified.

4. The Democrats are given another chance to run in the next election and the party will join the race only when it is confident of victory such as when politicians from the government camp have been eliminated. But it is likely the Democrats will not run anyway because they view they still cannot win and they fear antagonising Suthep (Thaugsuban) and his men.

5. When the Democrats do not run, the election will never end. Independent bodies and the Constitution Court will “deal with” the government and politicians from its camp to create a “political vacuum” and pave the way for the use of Section 3 and 7 to appoint an unelected government and implement reforms before the election.

6. All parties now have a chance to review their options for the next election to encourage more people to support the poll and strengthen democracy.

7. If Thai society cannot resort to elections as a tool to resolve conflicts, the constitution will be scrapped, leading to more conflicts, violence and eventually, a coup.

8. Such a coup will not be the solution or the end of the strife but the beginning of yet more conflicts, violence and great losses for the Thai society.

Update 4: A reader sent us this translation of a “Dr. Pichet” (พิชิต ลิขิตกิจสมบูรณ์) analysis made just prior to the court decision:

We are expecting the Constitution Court to rule on the February 2, 2014 election as to whether it should be nullified, in light of the intentions and in line with what the Election Commission of Thailand (EC), the Democratic Party (DP), People’s Democratic Reform Committee (PDRC), and the gang of appointed Senators have been pushing for in the past several weeks.

The forces of tyranny will never allow the House of Representatives to be filled without the presence of the Democratic Party, which has with their shenanigans sought to disrupt the Phue Thai party and its coalition government. The most important issue is that the members of the House from the February 2, 2014 election will have more members of the parliament than the previous set because the Democratic Party decided to boycott the general election. There will be only a few minority parties that will act as opposition parties. This will give Phue Thai an even greater absolute majority in the House of Representatives than ever before.

Should the Establishment allow the election to be validated, the quorum will elect a new House Speaker and a new prime minister. They will be able to form a new full cabinet. The elite and Establishments will totally lose all opportunity to topple the election system and in its place select a “neutral prime minister” and the National Reform Council filled by their preferred appointed methods.

This is the reason why the Establishments wants to nullify the February 2, 2014 election. In the meantime, the current prime minister and her government will continue to assume the role of just a “caretaker” government. (This caretaker government will have no executive power, no authority to issue any orders or to shuffle government officials, and have no authority to borrow money or pay any debts on their populist policies.) The tyrannical groups aim to prolong this situation as long as they can. So the Election Commission of Thailand, the National Anti-Corruption Commission, Constitution Court, the appointed members of the Senate, and their cronies will have more time to help each other trample the prime minister and this government until they finally and completely sink it into the ground.

Update 5: The EC’s chairman Supachai Somcharoen has effectively sided with the anti-democrats (again) saying that he can’t predict when elections will be held. He said “all political parties should have a say in the matter,” giving the boycotting Democrat Party a say on an election it refuses to recognise! He added that the EC “would have to take into account the political situation to ensure tax money would not be wasted.” That hands a license to protesters to boycott any time they like and that will mean no election!  He continued: “We don’t know when things will return to normal. It may take at least three months…”.

PPT suspects that this is the amart timeline for getting rid of the elected government. It is remarkable that those who believe Thailand belongs to them have no qualms about the damage they do to the economy and seem very willing to countenance much further bloodshed in order to maintain their economic and political control.

The gang of six

18 03 2014

In yet another of those reports where the reader is left wondering why an interviewee at the Bangkok Post has protested just a little too much, Election Commissioner Somchai Srisuttiyakorn makes a case for the gang of six “independent” agencies and political “compromise.”

Said to be an interview about “what the independent agencies, including the Election Commission, are doing to help mend shattered national unity, and the downsides of his job,” Somchai immediately trumpets that there is “[n]o plot to attack government” by the “six independent [sic.] agencies.” Confirming that the “independent” agencies are anything but, Somchai states:

… I think the various independent agencies are just acting within the scope of their responsibilities [sic.]. In the beginning, they did not meet or set a common agenda to work together. It was a spontaneous decision to pursue the matter. The decision by the organisations to come together looks like it was planned and pre-arranged. But it wasn’t.

No timeline was discussed or fixed. For example, we didn’t talk to the National Anti-Corruption Commission over when they should issue which case rulings on what cases. No one told the ombudsman which petition it should accept for referral to any agency. The EC is organising the election and carrying out certain tasks in place of the caretaker government.

Many events occur around the same time and this convinces some people it’s all staged when, in fact, there is no connection.

Is it just a stage-managed ploy? Somchai is asked: “The country has been split for quite some time. Why did the independent [sic.] agencies wait so long to act?” (Perhaps the interviewer might have asked why the gang of six are acting outside the roles allocated to them under the military junta-tutored 2007 constitution?) The answer is breathtaking: “The heads of the agencies said they have worked on the issue for a long time. But their work was carried out covertly with efforts made to involve respected figures.”

On the perception of bias amongst the Election Commission, the National Anti-Corruption Commission, the National Human Rights Commission, the Office of the Ombudsman, the State Audit Commission, and the National Economic and Social Advisory Council, Somchai explains the anti-democrats are supportive of them (and he lumps in the courts as well in his response) because:

The issue here is some independent agencies are being threatened by people who hold different views. This drove many people to rise up and try to defend the agencies. What’s unfair is when the independent agencies hand a ruling that is favourable to one group of people, there is no opposition to it. But when another group loses out from the ruling, they react aggressively, giving the impression of a threat being issued. Threats on the life of NACC members or members of other agencies are unacceptable. The protesters are not providing us with security.

The issue is that these agencies have demonstrated, time and again, double standards. They do this on an almost daily basis. The Election Commission has become the anti-election commission, the NHRC only trumpets the human rights of a few, the Constitutional Court makes decisions that defy the constitution, and so on. Their “compromise” is a group of “neutral people who will broker peace talks.” That sounds a bit like “respected figures” coming together and deciding on a “Thai-style compromise.”

The government is unlikely to trust this group of biased agencies who work against them. The more radical anti-democrats, including boss Suthep Thaugsuban reject the proposed “compromise” saying:

With respect to the independent agencies, it’s not that I don’t want to cooperate but I don’t believe it would be possible to find a mediator between Yingluck’s side and ours. The reality is that Yingluck and Thaksin [Shinawatra, ousted prime minister] are desperate to hold on to power and want to maintain their grip on Thailand.

Suthep seems to prefer that the courts and “independent” agencies just proceed with the judicial coup and then deal with the political fallout. That requires the military to be prepared too.

Notes on the news

20 02 2014

PPT is again having trouble keeping up with the flood of stories – bizarre and serious – that deserve attention at present. Here’s a brief set of notes:

Army hide-and-seek: Both Khaosod and Bangkok Post report on the military refusing/delaying handing over soldiers accused of involvement in organizing the assassination attempt on red shirt activist Kwanchai Praiphana. At Khaosod it is reported that the “military has not yet handed to the police four suspects…”. All are said to be from the 9th Infantry Division.

The Army had previously promised to deliver the suspects but this hasn’t happened. (Yes, it is the case that the military is treated differently from regular citizens in legal cases owing to their control of government for many years.) It seems the military are refusing to answer the phone. Worse, they are withholding evidence: “the 9th Infantry Division, … in Kanchanaburi Province, has also withheld two pick-up trucks thought to be used by the four suspects during their assassination attempt…”.

The Bangkok Post has it this way: “The army yesterday abruptly cancelled the handover to police of four soldiers allegedly involved…”. The Post says that the Army accuses the “police of allegedly breaking a handover condition and cited this as the reason for the cancellation.” Here’s the reason: “The suspects had travelled to Khon Kaen, along with the staff judge advocates and military court prosecutors, expecting to be handed over to police. Before they reached the police training centre they were informed that witnesses would be questioned while they were being interrogated, said Maj Gen Pairoj. This had not been part of the agreement, he said.”

Eventually, the suspects were delivered, and then released on bail….

Who us (Army)? No, couldn’t be. Then who?: At the Bangkok Post, a “top army officer [Maj Gen Varah Boonyasit, commander of the 1st Division (King's Guard),] has denied speculation that troops shot at police during Tuesday’s clash between authorities and anti-government protesters.” Why would he need to do this? Because some on social media “questioned whether unidentified men who used deadly weapons during the melee were military officers.” For PPT, what we have heard is questions regarding the shooters – who are now pretty well-known and identified – is a question about whether they are serving or or were previously serving, soldiers. As Army boss General Prayuth Chan-ocha has previously said that these shooters appear to be well-trained and claimed he has no idea who they are, the social media question seems reasonable.Shooter 10

Meanwhile, the reprehensible Tharit Pengdit of the Centre for Maintaining Peace and Order (CMPO) has also said that the shooters were “unidentified armed elements” with “high-explosive hand grenades, M79 grenades, high-velocity sniper rifles and handguns.  We doubt they are “unidentified given the photographs available of them.  We have more to say on Tharit below.

Courts again support anti-democrats: The Bangkok Post reports that the “Civil Court ruled yesterday the caretaker government has the authority to enforce the emergency decree, but issued a set of orders chiefly to prohibit dispersal of the anti-government protesters.” In essence, the court upheld the decree but rejected the measures needed to enforce it. Pondering the 2010 red shirt demonstrations, this action would have been unthinkable. So why the double standards? Simple: “It cited an earlier ruling by the Constitution Court that the PDRC rally is peaceful and without weapons.” Right…. The guys with guns and grenades actually are “unarmed”….  And the court was frank about its decision: “The court said its order was to protect the protesters’ right to hold peaceful demonstrations, citing massive mobilisation of security forces into Bangkok to break up the protest.” Funny, we don’t recall that logic being applied in 2010? Or have we neglected the courts providing “protection” to red shirts? It matter not that this is legal horse manure, for the Constitutional Court has ruled!

Anti-election commissioner: At the Bangkok Post it is reported that Election Commissioner Somchai Srisuthiyakorn, who has led the EC’s charge against elections, stalling, fibbing, dragging feet etc. etc.,  says that by defending the government’s rice policy and trying to stem a political run on a state bank, “Caretaker Prime Minister Yingluck Shinawatra’s televised address … risks breaking the law.” It is stated that a message posted on Somchai’s Facebook page – yes, it is okay for an election commissioner to post his views there it seems – where he said “the premier’s use of the media to woo voters conflicts with Section 60 of the organic law on elections and the EC’s announcement on the poll campaign. Ms Yingluck also promised to give farmers something, and this breaches Section 53 of the organic law on elections, he said. The premier, meanwhile, used state resources to seek votes, which goes against Section 181(4) of the constitution. She also failed to behave neutrally, which violates Section 57 of the organic law on the election.” It seems that in politics, Somchai is of the view that a caretaker government can do nothing at all, whereas the opposition is free to campaign as they please, including on the streets. More of those old blue double standards!

Meanwhile, Somchai is busy suing others for allegedly defaming him!

Abhisit VejjajivaAbhisit in la-la land: Also at the Bangkok Post, Democrat Party leader Abhisit Vejjajiva has an op-ed and there is also a story about his call for a political path forward. He uses pretty political language to dress up his party as well-educated proponents of political compromise. The problem for PPT is that Abhisit seems to think that every one in the world interested in Thailand’s politics is either an anti-democrat or suffers memory loss.

Some seem to think it is a kind of breakthrough that Abhisit says “As the leader of the Democrat Party, I must share the blame for the failed politics…”. Of course he does. His party rejected elections after calling for them, trashed parliament, supported political extremists, engaged in serious hate speech and decided to lead street demonstrations because it can’t win an election. Abhisit has also destroyed the moderate wing of the Democrat Party and allowed it to be controlled by extremists. In addition, Abhisit was prepared to accept a military coup, make deals to grab the premier’s position and then participated in decisions that saw red shirt demonstrators shot down, more or less in cold blood. Yes, Abhisit has more than his fair share of blame for the current problems.

It is clear that he is in both denial and spin modes when he states: “We must all demand progress in bringing to account the perpetrators of over 30 incidents of violence against protesters and opposition leaders in the past few months.” The guy has to be given a negative credit for his complete rejection of his own violent responses to demonstrators and the failure to condemn violence by his own people; indeed, the Democrat Party’s own Blue Sky channel lauds the protester’s violence.

And the elitist Abhisit has also found farmers to be political tools when he finally manages to see them not as ignorant buffaloes but as tools for attacking his opponents.

Perhaps the least surprising element of his political diatribe is the call for “someone credible and accepted by all sides can lead the reform process and manage the short transition to new elections in which everyone participates. That someone is clearly not the current government, the protest leaders nor the Democrat Party…”. That call is the one emanating from the senior royalists and Abhisit must do what he is told.

Is it Dhamma or Army?: Chamlong Srimuang’s religious beliefs have long been soaked in politics and blood. From his time as a mercenary to 1976, 1992, and all the events since 2005, Chamlong has mobilized the so-called Dhamma Army, which nowadays appears to be bereft of dhamma and to act as a political gang. They were at the center of clashes with the police on Tuesday and they remain united under Chamlong as their commander. Other extremists populate the Dhamma Army contingent and encourage violence. As the Bangkok Post explains, “Police were attacked with grenades and gunfire but they also fired live rounds at protesters.”

And The Eel: We noted above that we’d get back to Tharit. This is reported in The Nation: “Tarit insisted that the police who carried out the operation were not armed.” As he did during the red shirt demonstrations when he was against them, he’s lying. It is clear from many reports, videos and photographs, police were armed with shotguns and automatic weapons. To claim otherwise is stupid. In another source, he states: “crowd control police were backed up by an armed unit, to protect them if they were in danger. However, the backup unit did not fire a shot on Tuesday, just displayed their weapons in a tactic to subdue the other side…”. Again, we think this is lunacy. The picture evidence is that police did fire shots. What is unclear is whether these were all live rounds or rubber bullets. With “allies” like this, enemies are almost unnecessary.


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