Military corruption and politics

14 10 2014

When the story of three serving and retired naval officers being caught with millions of dollars of counterfeit U.S. banknotes in Cambodia, PPT didn’t have an opportunity to post about it. Now a longer and more detailed story at the Bangkok Post is available, we thought it warranted a brief comment.

As has become clear in recent days, the military brass in Thailand is riddled with corruption. Naval officers seem particularly adept at becoming “unusually wealthy,” as our clip from an earlier post indicates, there are at least four whales that need to explain their huge wealth.Navy

Of course, there may be no connection at all between whales and beached naval officers in Cambodia hauling around $7 million in counterfeit currency in cardboard boxes brought from Thailand.

Yet the U.S. Secret Service seems to think that “the huge bust points to a well-oiled and growing counterfeit operation in neighbouring Thailand, where identical notes had previously been seized.”

The navy has yet to comment in any detail.

We are reminded that the navy played a critical role in supporting and protecting the anti-democrats as they prepared the ground for a military coup. Prior to the coup in May, Naval Special Warfare Command (SEAL) commander Winai Klom-in was a strong supporter of the anti-democrats, providing serving and retired Seals as guards. All of this costs money, and we are sure that there is a need to pay some of this back.

The idea that the military brass is trying to cash up again following the coup is worthy of consideration, and this is sure to involve both personal and institutional funds expended in preparing for the coup through the support of the costly anti-democrat demonstrations.





Rewarding the anti-democrats I

8 10 2014

In an earlier post, PPT referred to the fiction of a separation between the military junta and the government. In another post, we pointed out the obvious: that the National Legistlative Assemby is a puppet assembly.

In this context of the military junta’s control of all government it is to be expected that the (fake) National Reform Council (NRC) will be stuffed full of the military’s political allies. Some time ago PPT posted from The Nation, stating that the leaking of 173 names claimed to have been selected for the National Reform Council (NRC) “clearly signify political bias and social exclusion, which could lead to unfair reform proposals that will make all reconciliation efforts fail…”.

The uniform you have when you slip out of the Army uniform

The uniform you have when you slip out of the Army uniform

Did this cause The Dictator to pause? Not a bit. He did exactly what the critics suggested. The military dictatorship has hand picked the NRC crammed with anti-democrats and fascists.

Khaosod reports that “Thailand’s military junta has appointed a 250-member reform body that is heavily stacked with traditional elites and allies of the country’s conservative establishment.”

General Prayuth Chan-ocha had lied that “the NRC would represent a balanced cross-section of society,” but it doesn’t. The final list of members “is dominated by conservative hardliners opposed to the former government.” Khaosod lists some of them:

Among them were nine leaders from the anti-government protests that preceded the coup, including Naowarat Pongpaiboon, Sombat Thamrongthanyawong, and Charas Suwanmala.

The protest group, known as the People’s Committee for Absolute Democracy With the King As Head of State (PCAD), campaigned against the former government for seven months until the military intervened and launched a coup in May.

Eleven of the ‘Forty Senators’ clique – a group of unelected Senators who opposed the former government – also made the final cut, such as Rosana Tositrakul, Kamnoon Sitthisaman, and Pramote Maiklat. The so-called Forty Senators played an active role in the PCAD’s campaign to unseat then-Prime Minister Yingluck Shinawatra and replace her with a royally-appointed PM.

In addition, 31 retired military officers were added to the reform council, as well as nine members of the governing bodies appointed by the previous coup-makers in 2006.

It is as if The Dictator is rewarding those who worked so hard for the coup and against elections earlier in the year.





Snitching for the royalist elite

4 10 2014

It is well-known that lese majeste charges are thrown at political opponents in order to discredit and silence them. The most proficient at this political ploy have been the anti-democrat zealots associated with the Democrat Party. Watchara Petthong, a former Democrat Party party-list MP is particularly notorious for slinging lese majeste mud at his opponents and has been doing it for years.

Watchara with the "evidence"

Watchara with “evidence”

This time he has filed a lese majeste complaint against Thaksin Shinawatra, Tom Plate and Suranand Vejjajiva and the company Matichon for publishing Plate’s translated book, Conversations with Thaksin or Jub Khao Kui Thaksin Shinawatra.

PPT has not been a fan of the book, finding it lightweight and uncritical. But that matters little in these circumstances for not only has the book “been available in the local market for more than two years” but Plate was apparently careful about the lese majeste threat. The English original was published in 2011 by Marshall Cavendish. The Thai translation, completed by Suranand, was published in 2012 and was reprinted earlier this year.

As is expected of lese majeste monsters like Watchara he claims that “some parts of the book contained material harmful to the royal institution and had been quoted worldwide.” PPT has read the English version, and we didn’t see anything remotely like a slur against the king, queen or heir apparent. Yet the lese majeste crazies can always construe and misconstrue when they want to settle a score or create trouble.Thaksin Book

Watchara is to be condemned for his puerile and self-serving nonsense and for hiding behind the repressive law and the throne. He’s not the first, though, for another anti-democrat, Somkiat Onwimon, babbled about this book on the anti-democrat stage in January 2014. At the time, Somkiat seemed to mistakenly think the book hadn’t been published in Thailand, but was simply looking for yet another excuse to attack Thaksin.

Tom Plate is undoubtedly an enthusiastic supporter of Thaksin. For crazed ultra-royalists, that seems to be a”crime.” Watchara’s warped world is marked by fear that the royalist control may crash, worry that the aged and ill monarch is unable to hold the royalist world together, and the threat that popular and electoral politics offers an alternative to armed feudalism.





A victim of the popcorn murderer

26 09 2014

Most of PPT’s readers will have already seen the sad news of the death of 72 year-old Arkaew Saelew. Arkaew was shot in front of IT Square shopping mall in Laksi district on 1 February, the night before the 2 February polls that the anti-democrats opposed

Khaosod reports that he “had been confined to his hospital for the last seven months after a bullet to the neck shattered his nerve system and paralysed him from the neck down.”

He was shot as “[a]nti-government protesters sought to block the election by besieging Laksi District Office, where poll ballots and other equipment were stored, prompting pro-government demonstrators to stage a counter rally nearby.” Arkaew had joined the  pro-government side.Shooter 10

In a brief battle between the twos sides, pro-government demonstrators were pinned down by anti-government militants equipped with automatic rifles and bullet-proof armor. The anti-democrat gunmen were organized in military style and were careful to collect bullet casing and protect their identities.

Popcorn2Anti-democrat ideology had long been nasty and misogynist, with a heavy fascist accent. However, when these killers were lauded as heroes for the anti-democrats, with bad taste t-shirts carrying their image being sold at anti-democrat rallies, the violence of the anti-democrat ideology was reinforced.

In March this year, the police “said they arrested a member of the anti-government militant group, who has been dubbed the ‘popcorn gunman’ because he concealed his firearm in a popcorn bag during the gunfight.” That suspect apparently remains in jail awaiting a trial.





Unenforced amnesia

21 09 2014

Our header is probably as polite as PPT can be about a report in Khaosod that says “[l]eading members of the Democrat Party have denied the allegation that their party supported the anti-government protest campaign that was launched at the end of last year.”

Any one with even the slightest knowledge of the events associated with the anti-democrat movement will recognize that this is a lie.

In amongst all of the lies of recent years, this is probably the whopper to beat all whoppers.

abhisit and whistleApparently, the “leading” members of the so-called Democrat Party was brought on by “a complaint filed by Redshirt activist Sa-ngiam Samranrat to the Constitutional Court, asking the court to dissolve the Democrat Party on the grounds that it engaged in politics through non-parliamentary means.”

abhisit whistle suthepSa-ngiam complained about “the involvement of prominent Democrat party leaders in the six months of street protests staged against then-Prime Minister Yingluck Shinawatra starting last November.” That anti-democrat movement was led by former deputy premier and secretary-general of the Democrat Party, Suthep Thaugsuban. The entire leadership of Suthep’s movement were “former” members of the Democrat Party. Democrat Party leaders including Abhisit Vejjajiva repeatedly joined the protests and appeared with its leaders.

Wirat Kalyasiri, director of Democrat Party’s legal department, fibbed that:”The party did not organise the protests…”. He said “Suthep and other Democrat leaders had already resigned from the party when they joined and organised the protests.” That may be accurate. However, Democrat Party members were all over the rallies, stage and more. Only eight resigned from the party.

Just in case this defense isn’t convincing to anyone, Wirat “insisted that previous court rulings deemed the PCAD protests legal, peaceful assembly.” That kind of lie is about having one’s cake and eating it too. We weren’t supporting it, but if we were, the courts side with us.

Nipit Intarasombat, deputy chairman of Democrat Party, said “his party never agreed to endorse the PCAD protests.”

Funny, really, that Nipit says this now when he was one of the Democrat Party leaders who was directly involved in organizing the movement that became Suthep’s anti-democrats.

As we posted at the time, Kalaya Sophonpanich was one of the “first leading Democrat [Party] figures to appear on the anti-government People’s Army stage at Lumpini Park…”. Two days before that, Kalaya “joined Democrat MPs Kasit Piromya, Nipit Intarasombat and Chalermchai Srion to meet People’s Alliance for Democracy (PAD) leaders to talk about forming an alliance.”

Under the military dictatorship lies are standard operating procedure, and so we doubt that anyone will raise an eyebrow. In any case, unless The Dictator declares otherwise, the Constitutional Court is unlikely to ever find against the Democrat Party.





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.








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