Ignorant misogynist

18 09 2014

PPT was about to post on Thailand’s great leader, The Dictator and General with sundry other high titles, Prayuth Chan-ocha and his misogynous claptrap of recent days, when Saksith Saiyasombut at Siam Voices wrote all we could say and more. Well, almost. As ever, PPT has something to add.

As Siam Voices explains it:

The murder of two British tourists on the southern Thai island of Koh Tao has raised questions about tourist safety in Thailand. [Two tourists] … were found dead on Monday morning half-naked and with severe wounds to their heads. Local police initially (without any substantial evidence) suspected migrant workers on the island of the crime, before turning their attention to a British backpacker, who was a roommate of one of the victims and another British man, who has been asked not to leave Thailand before the investigation is complete.

As usual, Thailand’s incompetent cops have made a mess of what should be professional police work. Thailand’s police are mostly bumbling and unprofessional, more used to shaking down criminals and taking bribes than in anything like the investigation of crime. One of the best examples of this is the Saudi gems scandal. In this case, the other usual incompetence is displayed by the media.

Yet this usual incompetence and unprofessional behavior is topped by the crass misogyny of the country’s leader, boss, prime minister and dictator. His first comment was disturbing:

I have been following this matter very closely,” Gen. Prayuth told reporters as he arrived at Government House this morning. “We also have to look into the behavior of the other side [the tourists]. (…) This case should not have happened in Thailand at all. I think it will affect foreign opinion of our country.

His second comment was even worse:

There are always problems with tourist safety. They think our country is beautiful and is safe so they can do whatever they want, they can wear bikinis and walk everywhere,” Prime Minister Prayuth Chan-ocha, who is also the army chief, told government officials. But “can they be safe in bikinis… unless they are not beautiful?” he said, addressing the issue of tourist safety in a speech broadcast live on television.

Blaming the victims and being misogynist is a trait of Thailand’s ruling elite. When he was deputy premier, the anti-democrat leader Suthep Thaugsuban blamed red shirt protesters for being killed by the Army. His view was that they ran in front of bullets. Misogynist rants were common at the elite-dominated anti-democrat rallies. In this context, Prayuth is speaking in exactly the same terms that much of Thailand’s elite does.

MiB madness

15 09 2014

The men in black soap opera continues. The most recent intervention we have seen is by the anti-democrat member of the Democrat Party, Thaworn Senniam, who was last in PPT as a leader of the anti-democrat thugs who were armed and dangerous in 2013-14.

He is reported at The Nation claiming to know who some of the phantom-like men in black are. He even claims to have been in negotiation with them.

In the report, “Thaworn claimed to have been approached by four of the armed militants who took part in the violent – sometimes deadly – attacks during the 10 weeks of street protests by red shirts protesters against the Democrat-led government led by Abhisit Vejjajiva four years ago.” It seems that, at the time, Thaworn was deputy interior minister. His claim is that these mysterious men in black “demanded Bt5 million each from him in exchange for ‘telling the truth’ and identifying the people who hired them.”

This claim seems remarkable enough. Here’s a senior government minister saying he was involved in negotiations with people the police and military were supposedly hunting, but he “rejected the offer, as the requested sum was too high.” And then this: “Thaworn said the men who approached him were a different group than the five suspects who were arrested earlier this week…”.

Clearly Thaworn was in direct contact with alleged murders and yet he rejects them as too expensive! Really? If this is a real story, shouldn’t he have been more law-abiding and rigorous than this? And, why is he making his legal and moral failure public?

The answer to first question could be that he is making this up. Or it could be that he is naturally dumb. Readers can think of more answers. The answer on the second question is easier. Thaworn is making a claim that the “recent arrests and the people who approached him were proof that the ‘men in black’ did exist…”.

In a footnote to the story, despite police claims that they had a ton of evidence against the four men and one woman they have arrested and dressed up at men in black (and they only rigged this for the men), the police have gone back to the courts to seek a further “12 days while police investigate the case.” The police claim they need “more time to question the suspects in order to determine their accomplices.” One of the men has already been in custody since 5 September.

The royalist elite at work

1 09 2014

PPT collectively controls capital sufficient to barely keep a northeastern farmer’s tractor running. Our knowledge of economics and investing is limited. However, this Bloomberg report seemed to tell a very interesting story. It begins:

Thailand’s millionaires are helping their military leaders revive lending as legal and political certainty spurs the super-rich to buy riskier bank debt.

Part of the reason for the Sino-Thai tycoons and other royalist rich doing this because their support of the anti-democrats not only brought down yet another elected government they hated, but also ran the economy into the ground and frightened the foreign investors they have long relied on.

The report explains that:

Thai banks have offered $1.6 billion in subordinated notes that cushion their balance sheets since the government made it clear three weeks after the May coup that high-net-worth investor purchases are allowed, data compiled by Bloomberg show….

Wealthy investors are taking advantage of higher returns on riskier debt, with TMB’s securities [i.e. the military's old bank] offering 5.5 percent compared with an average 4.3 percent coupon on all Thai financial bonds issued this year.

The Army is still a major shareholder in the bank, although its shareholding has been greatly diminished since the 1997 economic crisis. It is controlled by the broader state and ING Bank. In its 2014 annual report, The Dictator, General Prayuth Chan-ocha was a director of TMB.

How keen are the rich to support the military dictatorship (and what they see as their best interests)?

“Banks have to rely on the high-net-worth individual investors” for subordinated sales as institutions must class the notes as junk holdings, Kowit Adireksombat, a senior associate at Baker & McKenzie LLP in Bangkok, said yesterday. “All of the bonds sold so far comply with the requirements to allow them to be sold to” such individuals, he said.

It was only after the coup that this process was permitted:

Thai banks didn’t conduct any large subordinated bond sales to the public from the start of 2013 until June this year, as lenders grappled with a lack of clarity on regulations. The Securities and Exchange Commission issued notices on June 16 confirming high-net-worth individuals and institutional investors were allowed to buy such bonds….

Three days after the clarification, Thanachart Bank Pcl sold 13 billion baht of 10-year subordinated bonds carrying a 6 percent coupon to local investors….

The SEC became “flexible on sales to high-net-worth individuals” of such bonds after the change of government, Ariya Tiranaprakij, executive vice-president at the Thai Bond Market Association, said in an interview from Bangkok Aug. 26.

This is the elite coming together to support the dictatorship it feels it needs to maintain its political and economic control.

Updated: Truth on trial, again

31 08 2014

A couple of days ago, it was reported that 36-year-old Surakrit Chaimongkol, a red shirt accused of murdering anti-democrat leader Suthin Tharatin, died in prison.

Suthin led groups of anti-democrats as they campaigned to bring down the elected government, eventually leading to the 22 May 2014 military coup. He was shot during these demonstrations, by unknown gunmen, as the anti-democrats disrupted voting in the 2014 election on 26 January.

Surakrit was arrested soon after the military coup, on 8 July, and has been in prison since then.

Surakrit’s death is reported in Khaosod with the Director of the Corrections Department Wittaya Suriyawong stating that “Surakrit had an asthma attack on 28 August. Although officials rushed him to hospital immediately, Mr. Surakrit died that evening…”.

Surakrit’s mother, Arie Chaimongkol, was immediately suspicious of the “cirucmstances of her son’s death.” She stated: “I don’t believe he died because of medical condition.” She claimed that the last time she saw her son he stated that he had been threatened and beaten.

Surakrit, who has been refused bail, “told her he was coerced by unidentified individuals in prison to confess about his actions and reveal the names of the people who commanded him to commit the alleged murder.”

Her suspicions must have been further heightened when Wittaya said: “Let me stress that he wasn’t harmed by anyone.” His claim was supported by “Sorasith Chongcharoen, director of Bangkok’s Remand Prison, [who] admitted that Mr. Surakrit had no previous history of asthma, but insisted that the suspect died of a medical condition and not because he was mistreated in any way.” He added: “During his time in prison, Mr. Surakrit had no problem with other inmates, and he was never harmed…”.

There are times when the repeated denial sounds more like an admission, especially when the deniers can’t get their stories straight.

The Bangkok Post has recently reported on an official autopsy. It says nothing of asthma. Rather, it says that Surakrit “died of gastrointestinal bleeding while in detention.”

A police forensic doctor also stated that there “were no signs of external injuries…” and that “[g]astrointestinal bleeding could be the result of ulcers or painkillers…”. The doctor said nothing about finding any evidence of these issues, suggesting that he is making it up.

Surakrit’s mother has a right to be very suspicious. She “believes her son may have died from internal injuries suffered in a beating.”

Update: Khaosod has a different take on the autopsy, quoting Salaktham Tojirakarn, a physician and son of a prominent red shirt leader, who said” the initial autopsy revealed a large amount of bleeding in Mr. Surakrit’s digestive system and some ‘bruises’ on his body, but stressed that it is too early to determine a clear cause of death.”

Thailand and its crisis I

25 08 2014

Readers will perhaps find some interest in a report in Roarmag.org where Ben Case looks at the Thai political crisis-cum-coup-cum-military dictatorship in global context. In Thailand, a political crisis with global implications is a long article, so PPT only reproduces some choice bits and pieces.

Case is introduced as:

a political organizer and activist from New Jersey and a PhD student in Sociology at the University of Pittsburgh. He spent time in Thailand between 2007 and 2010 and has written about the ongoing struggle there, as well as on revolutionary movements in Egypt, Iraq, Libya and India. He is co-founder of Think: International and Human Security, and is a member of Organization for a Free Society.

PPT certainly agrees with Case that the “social upheaval and military coup in Thailand reveal a crisis of democracy that may have implications for the future of democracies everywhere.” As in the 1930s, democracy is in crisis everywhere. Much of that crisis is a result of elite greed as they protect their economic and political dominance.

Case argues that the Thailand situation has been “neglected,” not least by the Left. He sees this as due to:

… the confusion generated by the unique scenario of having two powerful, popular, opposing social movements, neither of which represents the left. However, the confusion in many ways reflects a complex, changing global political environment that is easy to misjudge. The recent coup in Thailand has implications far beyond the country’s borders. It has a great deal to teach us about organizing, mobilizing, and identifying allies, and it may even have implications for the evolution of liberal democracy around the world.

Case is clear on where the majority is:

Despite the [political] back-and-forth, one side is in the clear national majority. The United Front for Democracy against Dictatorship (UDD), dubbed “red shirts,” supports Thaksin and his sister Yingluck, who was elected prime minister in 2011 and was deposed in the latest coup. The Shinawatra family’s populist platform, including subsidies for small farmers and near-free public healthcare schemes, has consistently and decisively won elections since 2001.

Their opponents are also mentioned.

The Democrat Party … has proven incapable of winning national elections. Their numerical inferiority combined with their intolerance of the Shinawatra family in office has led the Democrat Party and PDRC to abandon democracy, paradoxically in the name of democracy — boycotting elections and advocating an unelected government to rule Thailand for the foreseeable future.

In the aftermath of the 2014 coup, responding to the anti-democrat movement, the “military’s actions have conformed almost perfectly to the demands of the PDRC…”.

Case notes that “[l]ike Egypt in 2013, street protests cleared the way for the tanks to roll in, as the army claimed to save the country from imminent collapse. In this case, though, it was precisely what the protesters were asking for.”

Looking at the red shirts and the anti-democrats, Case observes that “[b]oth movements are capable of organizing themselves in ways traditionally associated with the left, but neither is, strictly speaking, left-wing.” The anti-democrats are, he says, operating “underneath the mask is unambiguous proto-fascism.”

On red shirts he is unnecessarily confused. Yes, they are “closer to the left” than the anti-democrats, but his claims of “credible rumors” claiming that “Thaksin single-handedly finances the red shirts” is an exaggeration that defames thousands of ordinary red shirts. As Case notes, red shirts are “genuinely rooted in communities” making them “real.” But that finding “a category for the red shirts on the increasingly problematic left-right spectrum is difficult,” is also an exaggeration.

PPT reckons that for many faults of strategy, backing and like, red shirts have several political advantages, in addition to those already noted by Case: in general terms, they are no longer by the monarchy, they oppose the military and they support the downtrodden. In a Thai context, these are laudable political attributes.

Back to the big question which is the future of democracy:

The upheaval in Thailand reveals a crisis in liberal democracy that is not particular to Thailand. Indeed, the crisis of democracy in Thailand may have implications for the future of democracies everywhere. Economic stagnation, political impasse and ecological destruction create a sense of urgency that is driving political opinions away from the center. The further people’s political positions diverge and the more intolerant they become of one another’s, the less likely they are to passively accept their opponents in national office. At the same time, the more divergent political opinions get, the harder it becomes to win national elections.

Worth a read.

Further updated: Capturing universities

25 06 2014

What happens when a university comes to be controlled by yellow shirts who become anti-democrats? As you’d expect, they promote yellow shirts and anti-democrats.

PPT posted on how the so-called Council of University Presidents had been captured by royalists and ultra-royalists. Some “academics” also got involved with the anti-democrats as speakers and leaders, often reproducing misogynist rants. Not all academics are anti-democrats, but like academic medical departments, many university leaderships have been taken over by anti-democratic royalists.

Naturally enough, at Chulalongkorn University, the ultra-royalist takeover wasn’t required. It was always in the hands of the royalists. Hence, a regular reader informs PPT of a royalist stunt, supporting the anti-democrats and the military coup at this venerable sink hole of academic yellowness.

Chulalongkorn seems to have an event that Americans refer to as “Commencement” and those of the British persuasion might call “Graduation.” These events usually involve getting some venerable soul to come along and say useful and/or sage things to the graduating class, wishing them a thoughtful future based on all of the learning they are meant to have done. Admittedly, there are times when some dopey university administration decides to invite a looney or some politically partisan speaker. Yet, most good universities will usually try to stick with people who have something useful and wise to say.

So who would you guess the royalist coven that administers Chulalongkorn would decide to get for this event this year? The answer is that Chulalongkorn have decided to invite the young, filthy rich anti-democrat Chitpas Bhirombhakdi, once a spokesperson for the decrepit Democrat Party and then a celebrity protest leader for the anti-democrats. Naturally enough, she is also from a family that is fabulously endowed and that was reported several times as being one of the big funders of the very expensive anti-democrat rallies that paved the way for the current military dictatorship.

Our reader tells us that she’s a speaker at the Chula commencement ceremony on 3 July. The reader observes that this is another case of Chula sycophants/supporters of PDRC doing their bit for the anti-democrat/pro-royalist cause. This reader explains that there is a lot of opposition but it looks like Chula’s administration “is in on it.” Of course they are.

It seems like another case where wealth is more important than capacity. And it is certainly a case where anti-democrat royalism and airheadedness trumps all.

Update 1: We got this a little wrong. She has been selected as the student to make a speech. This is because, somehow, in amongst all of the protesting and whistling, she completed an M.A., even without attending class too much. Many of her peers aren’t too happy, some will boycott. The yellow-shirted academics are beaming.

Update 2: The Bangkok Post reports that lecturers at Chulalongkorn University have announced that they will boycott the graduation ceremony where the anti-democrat Chitpas will speak for her fellow graduates.

Updated: Opposing the military

20 05 2014

We have done a brief trawl of Facebook and some of the blogs and have a few pictures that may be of some interest. The first is of Suthep Thaugsuban and his anti-democratic lot thanking the military:

Suthep says thanks

Opposing the coup:

Stop the coup

More opposition:

No coup

Update: In the provinces:We want democracy

Fear and the military boot:Military boot

The military in charge means censorship, control and repression:Military in charge




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