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

 

 





Updated: Ji says its a coup

20 05 2014

As we often do, we post Ji Ungpakorn’s take on events. The only way this may not be a coup is if the military make space for elections that are held as soon as possible. That means in just over 60 days:

Smells like a coup, tastes like a coup, looks like a coup

Giles Ji Ungpakorn

Today Thai army general Prayut Chanocha declared martial law without consulting the caretaker government or any other elected representatives. Troops took over all radio and TV stations and are positioned along major road intersections in Bangkok.

Despite the fact that he claimed that “this is not a coup”, Prayut’s actions smell, taste and look like a coup. This is from a man who has blood on his hands. Four years ago to the day Prayut oversaw the shooting down in the streets of almost ninety Red Shirt pro-democracy demonstrators. Before the elections in the following year he made public statements against the Pua Thai Party. He had previously been a key figure in manoeuvring Abhisit’s anti-Democrat Party into an unelected government in 2008. He has never been brought to court for his crimes and was on the list of those who would be given total amnesty in Yingluk’s abortive amnesty bill.

The military say that the declaration of martial law is just to maintain peace and security; if so, it is too little too late. If the military were really concerned with keeping the peace they would have acted against Sutep’s anti-Democrat mobs when they invaded government ministries in order to overthrow the elected government at the end of last year. They would have arrested Sutep and his armed thugs who used violence on the streets to wreck the February election.

But the military are just team players on the side of those who want to destroy Thailand’s democratic space. They have sat on their hands and watched with glee as the Yingluk government was gradually destroyed and the elections wrecked. Now they estimate that their allies among Sutep’s mob and the kangaroo courts have created enough chaos to legitimise military intervention.

Make no mistake, this military “non-coup” will not ensure that free and fair elections take place and it certainly won’t protect freedom of expression. The “non-coup” will instead smooth the way for an unelected “temporary” Prime Minister. It will smooth the way to fixing the democratic process so that unelected powers can control any future elected government. It is part of the process of decreasing the democratic space.

Democracy can only be built if significant numbers of Red Shirts realise that Pua Thai and the UDD leadership are unwilling and unable to lead a fight. The building of an independent pro-democracy movement based upon the Red Shirts with clear links to the progressive working class and peasantry is long over-due. Such a movement cannot be built over night but it can and must be built.

Update 1: Not just Ji says it is a coup. TIME’s headline is: “Thailand: If It Looks Like a Coup, and Smells Like a Coup, It Is a Coup.” It quotes red shirt leader Weng Tojirakarn: “Martial law must be [imposed on] a specific area, but this is the first time the army commander declared the whole country under martial law, so this is a special kind of coup d’état…”.





Anti-democrats and the “political vacuum”

19 05 2014

How do anti-democrats create a “political vacuum”? It seems they are in the process of hunting down ministers, breaking into their houses and may be trying to capture them. FascistsThat’s what social media accounts are reporting.

This follows “advice” by royalist Meechai Ruchupan that Article 7 may be able to be used in a case where, say, the whole cabinet was dead or had vacated their positions. The anti-democrat leaders have now sent mobs in search of ministers.

With red shirts retaliating with a bounty on Suthep Thaugsuban.

This could get even nastier and create volatile situations that might spin out of control quickly.

 








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