On length

12 09 2014
Wassana Nanuam is a senior news reporter covering military affairs for for the Bangkok Post. She usually knows what The Dictator is planning and sometimes acts as a conduit for the military in getting its view known. That is always very useful for her readers because they are getting an inside perspective.

In this context, her recent comments on the longevity of the junta are important:

With a hint delivered during his weekly address last Friday, National Council for Peace and Order (NCPO) and Prime Minister Prayuth Chan-ocha let us know that his tenure will not end in one year as initially announced.

She’s right that this should be “no surprise.” She says this is because Prayuth has an “ambitious” plan. We’d suggest the agenda is as ambitious as is required to establish a Prem-like “semi-dictatorship.” Wassana says this “may take two to three years or longer…”. We think it will take as long as The Dictator thinks is necessary. “Necessity” may demand staying in power long enough for the king to die and ensure a successful succession.

Wassana reckons there is a threat to the military dictatorship: “the underground movements of anti-coup groups which are ready to surge once martial law is lifted.” This is little more than junta propaganda and there’s no evidence for the claim. Her hclaim that the military dictatorship will be around for a considerable time because “pro-coup people want the military to … make sure that the ‘Thaksin regime’ will not return” is much closer to the mark.Prayuth and Suthep

Wassana notes that Prayuth “has strengthened his power base for a long tenure” through “military transfers.” He “handpicked deputy army chief Gen Udomdej Sitabutr as his successor for the top army position and also deputy defence minister.” Udomdej is Queen’s Guard and the two have “been close since they were junior officers.”

The two of them have concocted a story that they “fought side by side in 1983, when the Vietnamese army” and that the “two eventually pushed the Vietnamese out of the Thai border.” As far as we can recall, the Thai Army, trained only for killing its own citizens, was repeatedly in trouble against the Vietnamese, who were attacking Khmer Rouge sites protected by the Thai military.

Udomdej has also “served both Gen Prawit Wongsuwon and Gen Anupong Paojinda.” Udomdej is likely to only last a year as he retires in 2015, and is likely to be replaced by “Lt Gen Preecha Chan-ocha, younger brother of Gen Prayuth who was promoted to the rank of full general to become assistant army chief.” Wassana states:

It is said that Gen Prayuth, as prime minister, will have a major say in naming the next army chief, and it would not be unusual to push his own brother to the top post. It would be an honour for the Chan-ocha family if two members become army chief, and Gen Prayuth has no doubts over his brother’s loyalty.

Wassana concludes that:

Prayuth has nothing to worry about while he runs the country. A counter-coup is not possible. If the situation is not good for general elections, Gen Prayuth can prolong his interim government with no challenges from the armed forces.

Prayuth can stay in power for a log time. The only question that is unanswered is whether The Dictator can keep control of the population. That is usually where dictatorships stumble.

The tale of junta longevity is confirmed in another Bangkok Post story where the military sycophant-cum-Deputy Prime Minister Wissanu Krea-Ngam makes the bizarre claim that the junta “will become only an organisation, not a government as it previously was.” This claim is that the junta is being replaced by a “government.” That this government is entirely the offspring of the junta is somethign Wissanu is hired to deny and propagandize about.

This claim by Wissanu is so loopy that when he says that the junta “can no longer issue any announcements or orders, nor can it summon anyone to report as the government has taken on all decision-making powers on national administration” is simply a ridiculous lie.

Wissanu is simply making the case for a long-term military-dominated government.





Prem reincarnated?

10 09 2014

Bangkok Pundit has a recent post suggesting that the grand old man of political maneuvering for the palace-military alliance may be sulking as he feels he’s being pushed aside. General Prem Tinsulanonda, president of the Privy Council, has had a major say in politics and especially on military promotions for five decades.

PremWe are not sure if the old man is sulking or is aged, sick and weak, a bit like his junior, the king. He’s 94 and the last time we saw him, he was frail and not quite making sense. Senility? Illness? Both? Whatever it is, he’s being replaced by a generation of military men who are 30 years younger and “battle-hardened” from their murderous attacks on red shirts.

These are the generals who will take over the management of the royalist elite’s bigger decisions: General Prawit Wongsuwan, General Anupong Paojinda and General Prayuth Chan-ocha. These mean are more or less from the same generation and have pretty good relations. They are determined royalists with long-term palace relationships.

Some might think that the transition represents a major change. We are not so sure. We think the rejigging has been underway for some time and will probably see them reporting to their old boss General Surayud Chulanont in the Privy Council. The Privy Council is full of very old men and we don’t foresee any major changes there unless Prem dies before the king.

What is clear is that the military dictatorship is Prem-oriented and is unlikely to need to clash with him. The links to Prem and his style in government have been clear for some time since the coup. Prayuth as Prem

As if to emphasize this, Prayuth has just paraded before the cameras dressed as Prem, as seen in the two pictures appended to this post. Prayuth has garbed himself in the shirt that Prem made famous when prime minister in the 1980s.

We think the omens are about Premocracy. Thai-style shirts inevitably mean Thai-style democracy.





A cabinet of sycophants

2 09 2014

Sycophant is defined as: a “servile self-seeker who attempts to win favor by flattering influential people.” Another meaning is: “a person who uses flattery to win favour from individuals wielding influence; toady.” And a third and related meaning is: ” a self-seeking, servile flatterer; fawning parasite.” All of these seem like perfectly adequate definitions of the military dictatorship’s recently announced cabinet of yes-men-cum-ministers.

An AP report stated that The Dictator, General Prayuth Chan-ocha, has “awarded top posts in his Cabinet to senior military officials, in the latest move that critics say will prolong the military’s grip on power.” We doubt that only critics will notice this. We notice that the anti-democrats are cheering. According to AP, the new cabinet “includes 11 career military men with no political experience, seven of them generals, who will serve as the ministers of justice, education, defense, transport, commerce and foreign affairs, among other posts.”

In fact, though, these general do have political experience. All of them have been heavily involved in politics for their entire careers, serving political masters in the palace. As a result most of them have seen 3-4 military putsches overthrowing elected governments.

Indeed, a longer AP reports states, “Prayuth awarded portfolios to several senior soldiers said to have played key roles in both coups, including his predecessor and mentor, former army chief Gen. Anupong Phaochinda. Anupong will serve as the new interior minister.”

Anit-democrats seem to have wanted more military men in the cabinet, with pretend “academic” Sombat Thamrongthanyawong criticizing the non-military “bureaucrats” in cabinet.

PPT is having difficulty reconciling the numbers in cabinet. The Bangkok Post’s reporting has it that there are 36 members of cabinet. The official announcement lists 32, of whom 12 are military or police.

The Nation commented that the 11 military yes-men are “close and trusted colleagues of Prime Minister General Prayuth…”. It identifies three groups of military men. The first are Prayuth’s former bosses, General Prawit Wongsuwan and General Anupong…”. They take the two most important political positions, defense and interior. For more than a century, these have been the most powerful cabinet positions. Here the sycophant is Prayuth. The second group id composed of trusted buddies. Prayuth reckons his “close friends … deserve rewards and important posts.” These friends were all “Prayuth’s former classmates at the Armed Forces Academies Preparatory School.”

These include General Dapong Ratanasuwan, who was an Abhisit Vejjajiva regime appointment to ISOC, used for their political purposes, which coincided with the military’s desires.

The third group of military men are all trusted by The Dictator, who has also brought in “National Intelligence Agency director Suwaphan Tanyuvardhana as the Prime Minister’s Office minister [which] also indicates that Prayuth is focusing on security affairs, at a time when the junta believes there are still threats to the newly formed government by old power cliques.” To make the point again, The Nation states: “It appears Prayuth wanted him to help with possible threats from the new unelected administration’s political enemies.”

Regime protection is important to Prayuth as he re-designs Thailand for the royalist elite.

The civilians brought in are a mix. There are recycled sycophants from the previous coup and a group of trusted and anti-Thaksin/anti-red shirt bureaucrats. PPT has mentioned military sycophant Wissanu Krea-ngam plenty of times in the past. He’s trusted because he is for hire. His position, status and wealth depends on his support to the palace-military cabal. Minor prince Pridiyathorn Devakula is a failed former finance minister from the failed military-backed government led by privy councilor General Surayud Chulanont.Sommai Pasi is a former deputy finance minister in the Surayud administration.

We were most interested to see Narongchai Akrasanee, described as a “senior economist and former commerce minister” included as energy minister. Quite some time ago, PPT noted that Narongchai was a spectacularly failed businessman, and adviser to various governments, who was then chairman of MFC Asset Management. In passing, we noted that even if you fail in this industry and lose millions of baht in other people’s money it seems you can be reincarnated in both business and politics. For more on this, we are grateful to a reader who sent on material.

Narongchai headed General Finance, which was one of 56 finance companies closed by the Thai government in 1997 because of bad loans and making loans without requiring collateral. In August 1998, the Bank of Thailand filed criminal charges against six executives of General Finance. For some of 1997, Narongchai was the commerce minister. He was brought into the Chavalit government by Amnuay Viravan, and they presided over some of the financial meltdown:

Although Amnuay was close to the prime minister and had known him for about 10 years, relations between the two were getting sour. Amnuay came aboard the Chavalit government on the New Aspiration Party’s quota, along with other non-MP colleagues Dr Narongchai Akrasanee, the commerce minister, and Somphob Amatayakul, the deputy industry minister.

Narongchai was a well-known economist and chairman of General Finance & Securities Public Company Ltd, which was among the first lot of insolvent finance companies to be shut down by the banking authorities. Somphob was a former top executive of IBM Thailand Ltd.

 If readers can add more, we’d be happy to post.





Rise of the sycophants

21 08 2014

PPT has previously noted The Leader’s penchant for rightist sycophants. As if to confirm the sycophantic nature of the military dictatorship, the Bangkok Post reports that the junta’s bullyboy policeman, Police General Somyos Pumpanmuang was chosen “unanimously” by the National Police Policy Commission to be the new national police chief.

It is made clear that Somyos was selected because of “his ability to work with the military junta…”. Of course, “ability” here means his sycophantic attention to The Leader’s wishes and demands.

Somyos the sycophantNeed we mention that the Commission is chaired by junta leader General Prayuth Chan-ocha?

Somyos’s “skills” were said to have been demonstrated “in leading a campaign to clamp down on illegal possession of war weapons [which] impressed the six members of the panel.” Most of these were fake raids.

Somyos “has close ties with assistant army chief Gen Paiboon Khumchaya and 3rd Army Region commander Preecha Chan-ocha and friends from Class 15 at the Armed Forces Academies Preparatory School, which he attended. Lt Gen Preecha is a younger brother of the coup leader.” He also has “backing from NCPO chief adviser Gen Prawit Wongsuwan and former national police chief Pol Gen Patcharawas Wongsuwan.”

Somyos confrimed that his sycophancy is critical in his new position: “Pol Gen Somyot said later his performance in security affairs and his ability to work alongside other agencies were the main reasons he was trusted and chosen by the NCPO for the job.”

When he adds that “he was serving the military regime in tackling security problems on the ground and ‘other secret missions’,” we wondered if this included the smashing of poor farmers and landholders in Loei.

A statement on ongoing death threats against members of the Wang Saphung community has been forwarded by the Asian Human Rights Commission (AHRC)

THAILAND: Death threat made against human rights defender in Loei

Death threats still stand and are repeated against the Wang Saphung community

We, the undersigned 18 organisations, are deeply concerned about the Wang Saphung community’s situation. The death threats against 10 community members are still standing. More worryingly, we have been told by community leader Mrs Viron Rujichaiwat – mother of a one-month old baby – that she received a phone call from an unidentified man, on the eve of the community’s reconciliation meeting – Saturday 16th August at 19:00. Here is the transcript of their conversation.

Unidentified man: “Are you the wife of Surapan Rujichaiwat?
Viron Rujichaiwat: Yes.
Unidentified man: Tell your husband that he watch out for himself.
Viron Rujichaiwat: Who are you?
Unidentified man: If your husband doesn’t stop his campaigning he will suffer the consequences.”

We see this phone call as a renewed death threat against community leader Mr Surapan Rujichaiwat, and also against Mrs Viron Rujichaiwat. This event worries us greatly regarding the security of Wang Saphung community leaders under death threats, and of the community as a whole.

Moreover, the Wang Saphung community’s dispute with the gold-mining company, Tung Kha Limited Company (TKLC), is at a very tense stage. This week (19th-22nd August), the Loei Court will start the trials for the first two of seven legal cases against a total of 33 community members. This judicial harassment will drain a lot of attention and energy from the community as a whole.

The Wang Saphung’s community organization, KhonRak Ban Kerd Group (KBRK), has also informed us on the result of their reconciliation meeting on Sunday 17th August, with TKLC representatives, which was mediated by Wang Saphung District Chief. All relevant authorities were also present, including the Maj. Gen. Woratat Supattananon (Military District Commanding Officer, Loei Province),Governor Viroj Jivarangsan, the Deputy-Governor, the Provincial Police Chief, Mr Vichai Cherdchivasart (Managing Director of TKLC), and the concerned village headmen.

After the meeting the KBRK clearly told us that no agreement had been reached during the heated meeting. The company proposed no changes to the current situation, which has seen all mining operations suspended since before the 15th of May attack on the Wang Saphung community. The KBRK asked for all the legal cases against community members to be lifted in the spirit of reconciliation. This proposal was categorically refused by the company, as were all the other proposals from the Wang Saphung community representatives. As the meeting resolved none of the outstanding issues between the community and the company, the authorities concluded the meeting by calling for another reconciliation meeting between all stakeholders to take place in a month’s time.

We believe that the Wang Saphung community will continue to engage in all mediation efforts. This is because we deem that it is the community itself which has the most at stake in seeing the tense situation resolved, as they are the ones suffering both from the mining activities and from the deteriorating security situation.

We call upon the authorities to:

Carry out an immediate, thorough and independent investigation into the death threats against Mr Surapan Rujichaiwat, and also against Mrs Viron Rujichaiwat with a view to publishing the results and bringing those responsible to justice in accordance with international standards;
Take all necessary measures to guarantee at all times the physical and psychological integrity of  Mr Surapan Rujichaiwat, and also that of Mrs Viron Rujichaiwat and all other leaders of the KBRK and their families, including reinforcing any existing protection measures where necessary;
Guarantee in all circumstances that all human rights defenders in Thailand are able to carry out their legitimate human rights activities without fear of reprisals and free of all restrictions.
We call upon the general public and all stakeholders to:

Publicly condemn the threats and harassment suffered by KBRK and the Wang Saphung community as a whole;
Listen to all stakeholders in this dispute, in order to avoid a one-sided perception of the dispute which can only aggravate the already tense situation;

We call on the media to give a voice to all central stakeholders in this dispute.

Signed By:

1. NGOs Coordinating Committee, Northeastern Region
2. E-san Human Rights and Peace Information Centre
3. Network for Isaan Natural Resources and Environment
4. Eco-Culture Study Group
5. Center for Community Information for Social Justice
6.  The Udonthani Conservation Group
7. People’s Network on Community’s Mineral Resources
8. Mid-Chi Basin Community Group,
9. Dao Din Student Group
10. Assembly of the Poor, Rasi Salai Dam’s affected group
11. Lam Panieng Basin Conservation and Rehabilitation Group, Nong Bua Lamphu Province
12. Mekong Studies Group
13. Mekong River Conservation Group, Pakchom District, Loei Province
14. Community Resources Centre
15. Cross Cultural Foundation
16. Protection International
17.  EnLAW Thai Foundation
18.  People’s  Empowerment Foundation

We raise this issue because Somyos is closely aligned with the company that has hired thugs and police (often one and the same) to attack villagers (read the comment of 12 June).





The military threat to the military dictatorship

13 08 2014

At the Bangkok Post, military affairs journalist Wassana Nanuam is usually a reasonably useful reporter of military rumors. In her most recent article, she reveals a quite startling motivation for the military dictatorship:

As army chief Prayuth Chan-ocha and other armed forces leaders approach their scheduled retirement on Sept 30, they need to be sure the transfer of military power goes smoothly and that their successors will not stage a counter-coup against them.

A counter-coup? If this fear is truly felt amongst the military junta, then it suggests greater dissension within the military than has so been evident in the past couple of years. Sure, there was talk of tomato soldiers – red shirt supporting soldiers – and so on earlier, but this seemed to amount to little when crackdowns and coups were needed.

At the end of September, Prayuth and the bosses of the navy and air force and the Supreme Commander will retire. All are members of the junta. While there have been postponed retirements under military and quasi-military regimes in the past, Wassana reports that such a strategy is unlikely this time, not least because Prayuth will likely be premier and other junta members may get cabinet positions.

So is there a chance that anti-coup brass might get to the top? While that is the implication of the line quoted above, it seems highly unlikely. The transition, long managed by Privy Council President, former unelected premier and General, Prem Tinsulanonda, he is now aged and losing his capacity.

Stepping in is “former defence minister Prawit Wongsuwan and [also] former army chief Anupong Paojinda,” who will be “the main architects of the transfer of power. Gen Prawit is now chairman of the NCPO advisory panel and Gen Anupong is deputy chairman.”

Prayuth, Prawit and Anupong “have kept close ties since the early stages of their military careers when they served in the 21st Infantry Regiment in Chon Buri. They were also members of the Burapha Phayak, or Tigers of the East, the name used by present and former soldiers of the 2nd Infantry Division (Queen’s Guard) based in the eastern province of Prachin Buri.” They have been the principal “red-busting” force of recent years, slaying, jailing and harassing red shirt political activists and protesters. Under “the Abhisit Vejjajiva government. Gen Prawit was defence minister while Gen Anupong was the army chief and Gen Prayuth was deputy army chief” and it was they who planned and implemented the attacks on protesters in 2010.

They have also made sure that their trusted cronies got to the top in the military: “When Gen Prawit was army chief between 2004-2005, he assigned army officers from the Burapha Phayak faction to control the army’s key combat units, replacing those from the Wongthewan group. After the Sept 19, 2006 coup, Gen Anupong and Gen Prayuth took on the role of army chief successively.”

Deputy army chief General Udomdej Sitabutr “is favoured for the post of army chief. He is also a member of the Burapha Phayak group.” An unnamed “army source said Gen Udomdej is the one who Gen Prawit, Gen Anupong and Gen Prayut trust most as they and Gen Udomdej served together when they were young soldiers.”

The idea of a counter-coup seems fanciful, yet back in the period of Premocracy, it was only threats from within the military – often from disgruntled field commanders – that appeared likely to unseat Prem. It was support from the palace that maintained his position. PPT suspects that the current palace is with Prayuth, Prawit and Anupong.





Updated: The Leader explains

27 07 2014

The interim constitution – in fact, a document that grants the military dictatorship sweeping power – is available in English translation. Given that the junta had already grabbed sweeping powers, this is hardly a shock.

Surprisingly, the grumpy military dictator General Prayuth Chan-ocha decided that, despite having his minions “explain” the need for a dictatorship, he needed to “explain” it again. The Bangkok Post has a story where The Leader states that the junta “sought to maintain a balance between the powers of the interim government and those of the NCPO [the junta].” He adds that the junta “has no desire for power or personal interest…”.

Perhaps The Leader hasn’t read his interim charter. If he had, then he’d realize that his statement to the nation is nonsensical. The interim constitution makes it clear that the military dictatorship and, more specifically, The Leader himself, have remarkable power that override those of any interim government.Prayuth planking

That government will be a bunch of junta flunkies, and under the interim constitution the junta is still acting illegally except for the fact that that basic law absolves the junta of all illegalities (section 41), including the illegal seizure of power itself (section 48). The junta continues to hold power and can even call a joint meeting with the junta-appointed Council of Ministers (section 46).

Prayuth defended the junta’s cancellation of local elections, saying that “the selection method was not transparent in some [local] areas while some of the people holding office were not effective.” In fact, the junta is transparent in its intentions. It wants no elections where its political opponents may win until it can fix the rules in a way that only permits its allies to be victorious.

Prayuth also “urged the media to correctly understand the NCPO’s intentions.” The problem is that the media – what little of it that remains supportive of democratization – knows the intentions of the junta only too well. Accurate reporting of this would lead to bans, censorship and “invitations” for re-education.

As The Leader “explained,” there would only be “problems” for the media “if you over-criticise or don’t have an honest intent.” Of course, it is The Leader and the junta that determines “intent.” More alarmingly, The Leader promised “media reform”: “In the second phase, there will be reform in all branches of the media and all media members must help and cooperate…”.

PPT can only assume that this is going to be a major state-military-junta effort to enforce “fascism with the king as head of state.” After all, The Leader “criticised the people who claimed to be ‘calling for democracy’ in the country.” He’s clear that His “democracy” is not the democracy of elections, voting and representation.

Update: To follow up on that statement by the Big Boss (-1) where he earnestly stated: the junta “has no desire for power or personal interest…”. The Nation reports that he must have been fibbing for “an informed NCPO source,” which means one of the military dictatorship’s junta, has contradicted the sill Prayuth claim with a statement of reality: “At least 100 senior military officers are tipped to be selected as members of the National Legislative Assembly (NLA)…”.

The Leader and liar, General Prayuth even personally “screened the list of people proposed to be members of the NLA presented by his assistant General Paiboon Koom-chaya, who is in charge of justice and legal matters for the military leaders.” The list includes some other flunkies who masquerade as academics, claim to head “non-government groups,” steal the slaves’ labor as “business people,” and who have done the palace’s dirty work as unelected “senators,” but the biggest group will be the men in green.

The powers backing Prayuth and the key links to the palace will also be there: General Prawit Wongsuwan, the mutinous former Army chief General Anupong Paochinda and former deputy Army chief General Dapong Ratanasuwan.





Updated: This is for the king II

31 01 2014

The idea that the palace isn’t showing favorites in this political struggle was again shown to be false when it agreed to a royal cremation for slain anti-democracy demonstrator Sutin Taratin. Of course, we haven’t seen any such events for the dead red shirts.

This is yet another signal that the palace is firmly supporting the demands made by Suthep Thaugsuban and his anti-democrats.

On the subject of the role of the palace, Shawn Crispin at Asia Times Online, who can always be relied on for a great story of intra-elite intrigue, backroom deals and unnamed sources, true or not, has some comments worth perusing.

He begins by reasserting a 2011 pre-election deal between Thaksin Shinawatra and “the royal palace and military top brass.” As far as PPT can determine, the source of this rumor is Crispin himself. Every other reference to this “deal” draws on Crispin’s article claiming this in 2011.

Crispin also sticks with his claim that the red shirt protest was “Thaksin mobilized and financed to topple the Democrat Party-led government in 2010 after a court seized over US$1 billion of his personal assets.” We think that when you deal only with the elite and the intrigue, you miss what’s really happening on the ground. This claim that Thaksin paid for it all is as silly as saying that all votes are bought or that the current demonstrators are all paid dupes of Suthep and his backers. Sure, there some funding of rallies – there has to be – but dismissing real grievances is dumb politics and blind journalism.

That “Thaksin’s rehabilitation and return from exile is still deemed as non-negotiable at the highest royalist levels” seems an unremarkable observation, deal or no deal.

We do think that Crispin’s description of the anti-democrats is probably accurate. He says it is:

Fronted by former Democrat party member Suthep Thaugsuban and tacitly backed by a royal establishment with power centers in the bureaucracy, courts, military and monarchy….

He’s also correct to note that the upcoming election “will almost inevitably be marred by violence and finally ruled null and void by establishment-aligned agencies and courts.” And, we have said this too:

Other cases, including a fast-tracked impeachment motion against Yingluck for her alleged role in overseeing a mismanaged and widely criticized rice price-support scheme and pending charges against over 250 Peua Thai politicians for trying to amend the constitution, threaten to create a political vacuum before the Election Commission, as widely expected, officially nullifies the poll result. [Premier] Yingluck [Shinawatra] could be indicted in the rice-price case as early as mid-February.

We agree, and we’d add that those backing the Suthep lot have to keep them on the streets until the judiciary can act against the government in a 2008-like judicial coup. Crispin says this is the royalist strategy:

top royalists have bid to leverage the two-sided squeeze of anti-Shinawatra street protests and legal impeachment pressure to force Yingluck’s resignation and Thaksin’s acquiescence to the formation of an appointed ruling council.

If this scenario comes about and there is no major pro-Yingluck backlash, we think Crispin is also right to say:

… Thailand is more likely headed towards a period of appointed rather than elected governance, a political shift that royalist institutions will justify with rule-by-law arguments and will be backed but not overtly orchestrated by military force.

While much of this is speculation based on past experience, Crispin is on shakier ground when he gets back to his plots and intrigues. He says:

the push and pull is a reflection of ongoing and unresolved behind-the-scenes negotiations between Thaksin and senior royalists comprised mainly of retired senior soldiers, according to diplomats, mediators and a well-placed military insider familiar in varying degrees with the situation. Those negotiations through intermediaries have to date failed to reach a new stabilizing accommodation.

From what we have seen, we doubt there are any real negotiations. The royalists and palace seem to have determined to be rid of a pro-Thaksin government one more time.

Crispin mentions these negotiators: former army commander and defense minister General Prawit Wongsuwan, 2006 coup makers Lieutenant-General Winai Phattiyakul and Prasong Soonsiri, and retired General Saiyud Kerdphol. If Thaksin were dealing with these guys, he’d be bonkers for they all hate him.

As Crispin notes, this lot are in line with the anti-democrats in wanting “a purge of Thaksin’s and his family’s political and business influence, and appointment of a people’s council’.” They also want Thaksin’s whole family in exile.

None of this requires much negotiation unless the royalists are frightened of a red shirt rebellion.

ConnorsCrispin then follows this with speculation regarding succession, none of which is new. We’d simply point out that the snip from Michael Connors said similar things more than a decade ago. One way or another, speculation on succession and royal death has been going on for a very long time!

Crispin then speculates on violence, with no evidence whatsoever. He notes attacks on protesters but says nothing of attacks on red shirts. Why does only one kind of violence matter at this point in his narrative? Simply because his is speculative thinking out loud, quoting others doing the same.

Some of his claims, though, deserve quotation just for the tortured logic that gets the reader back to some real facts:

One [unnamed] military insider claims that January 17 and 19 grenade attacks on the PDRC were perpetrated by mafia elements involved in illegal video-game gambling and with links to police in Pathum Thani province north of Bangkok.

Okay, this is pretty speculative, but then this:

The [unnamed] source believes rogue police may have hired proxies to exact revenge for PDRC assaults on its personnel and property, while avoiding direct confrontations with military members, including soldiers in plainclothes serving as PDRC guards at certain protest sites.

That seems interesting to us. Rouge police suggests that there is no orchestrated government violence, which Crispin spends considerable time discussing.

Military personnel acting as anti-democrat guards. Interesting indeed.

Finally, Crispin gets to some verifiable facts while admitting he really doesn’t know what is happening:

Police officials have suggested that the PDRC, or allied military-linked culprits, have staged the attacks to frame the government and regain momentum amid signs of flagging popular support for their protests. Police arrests of active Navy Seals near one protest site, and the capture of an apparent military-linked suspect transporting war weapons from the army base central town of Lopburi to an unknown recipient, feed that narrative. Whatever the case, both sides have hidden incentive to escalate the shadowy violence.

Finally Cripin speculates on red shirt reaction and dismisses it, saying “UDD pro-election rallies organized in Thaksin’s and Yingluck’s geographical strongholds failed to galvanize large numbers…”. We think he’s not been watching this. His speculation on Thaksin “launch[ing] a UDD-led rural insurgency aimed at partitioning the country,” is simply the wildest speculation PPT has heard for a very, very long time, even from Crispin, who publishes the most outlandish of this stuff.

Readers can make of this what they will. Fairy tale? A few facts and lots of story? Who do the “informants” want this stuff to be heard by?

What is clear is that this is yet another bit of royal interventionism.

Update: Above it was noted by Crispin that “military members, including soldiers in plainclothes [are] serving as PDRC guards at certain protest sites.” The Bangkok Post confirms this:

More security guards have been recruited to provide protection for the protest leaders, most notably for the PDRC secretary-general Suthep Thaugsuban.

Mr Suthep is driven around in a vehicle surrounded by a convoy of motorcycles made up of plainclothes police and soldiers. The convoy includes four to six security vehicles.








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