With major updates: PADocrat Party

30 05 2012

It is no surprise at all that the democratically-inept Democrat Party is announcing that it is still in bed People’s Alliance for Democracy. Yes, they had a lovers’ spat when the Democrat Party was the military’s proxy party in government from 2008 to 2011, but things are now back to normal.

“Normal” means that the Democrat Party “says it will back protests” that PAD has organized against any reconciliation bill that “whitewashes” Thaksin Shinawatra.

Democrat Party secretary-general Chalermchai Sri-on revealed “that Democrat MPs could join the yellow shirt PAD’s rally outside parliament today.” And why not? They supported PAD rallies and showed up for them before 2008. That includes party leaders like Abhisit Vejjajiva and Korn Chatikavanij. The latter even wrote that he supported illegal acts by PAD. Kasit Piromya, who became foreign minister under Abhisit was a speaker at PAD rallies.

One of Abhisit’s close supporters, the deeply yellow Democrat Party MP Thepthai Senapong “encouraged viewers of his TV programme to participate.” He believed that “the rally the beginning of a second round of battle against the Thaksin regime.” That is classic PADspeak.

PPT wonders how much support the Sino-Thai business elite, military and palace will give the PADocrats this time round. We guess that they have the go-ahead from these groups for an initial testing of the protest waters.

Update 1: While their yellow-shirted brothers and sisters rallied outside parliament, the PADocrat Party played its part and disrupted parliament and, if the video is to be believed, actually assaulted the House Speaker:

Update 2: At the Bangkok Post there is some commentary on the PAD rally, with the Tul Sitthisomwong ultra-royalist faction rallying close by in small numbers and in support of his PAD leaders. At the PAD stage, Sondhi Limthongkul “announced from the rally stage that the PAD will continue with its protest until it achieves victory in its fight against the reconciliation bill…”. Sondhi stated that any “move is taken to pass an amnesty law, the PAD will stage a rally…”.

Sondhi added that PAD opposition is partly motivated by the ultra-royalist perspective that a reconciliation bill infringes the king’s power:  “Annulling a court verdict is tantamount to infringement on the King’s power. However many days our rally will last depends on when we get victory…”.

The idea that the judiciary is the king’s tool is an interesting constitutional position.

 





Royalists: election results mean nothing

29 01 2012

Thammasat University is usually considered to be one of the most progressive of universities in Thailand. Its origins are in the civilian elements of the People’s Party. The People’s Party overthrew the monarchy in order to establish a democracy in Thailand. Through the ups and downs of military and royalist opposition to the people’s voice, Thammasat has tended to reflect its foundation as a university of the people. It is seemingly fitting that Nitirat should blossom at such a university.

Reading The Nation it seems that some old law graduates have forgotten everything about their university. They also appear to have forgotten the most basic notions of justice that is meant to be a part of the law.

Opposing the Nitirat group of law lecturers at Thammasat and their proposals regarding lese majeste and coup-related laws, the law class of 1958 has:

issued a statement calling for an end to Nitirat’s use of the university as a venue for its activities, and alleged that the group had defamed the Royal institution. They said that since the lecturers were government officials but did not support Thai democracy with the monarchy as its head, they should be fired.

We fully understand that aged lawyers – they must all be in their mid-70s – can be forgetful of the heritage of their faculty and university and may also have forgotten the law itself. Even so, their call would be more at home from tinpot military despots than people who were once trained in law and philosophy.

But it is a class that does include some of the major political figures like the Democrat Party’s Chuan Leekpai and royalist ideologue Meechai Ruchupan. At the Bangkok Post these old men are said to be worried that Nitirat professors would have “a bad influence on the students.”  They called for

Disciplinary probes should be launched against the lecturers as they have shown they do not have faith in democracy with the King as head of state….

PPT can well imagine that these aged royalists worry that their ideological edifice is crumbling.

Of course, all of Democrat Party leader Abhisit Vejjajiva’s closest allies are jumping on the anti-Nitirat train. Abhisit’s buddy Sathit Wongnongtoey is reported at The Nation as “mobilising party members to oppose the group.” When his party was in government, Sathit was responsible for closing opposition and independent media.

In a coordinated attack, Sathit claimed the country was facing “a new security threat.” He identified this as “the distorting of information about the monarchy institution to make it look bad.” We are a little mystified by this claim as most recent “information” has been pro-monarchy. Sathit demanded “[m]ore dissemination of correct information was needed…”. We wonder how much more propaganda is possible.

Another close Abhisit  aide joined in. This is Thepthai Senapong who went the additional step and linked Sathit’s claims to the Yingluck Shinawatra government. He “said the ruling Pheu Thai Party had made it clear at certain levels that they would not make a move to amend the lese majeste law. Whether people believed that or not was another matter, however, he said.” He then exploded into claims of disloyalty:

Thepthai said the lack of trust was related to the fact that many figures associated with the party, from former premier Thaksin Shinawatra down, had been embroiled in actions or words deemed as disloyal to the throne. He claimed that the ousted and convicted former premier always attacked the monarchy in interviews with foreign media.

Thepthai then did a bit of lateral concocting and said the actions and movements of people like Jakrapob Penkair and rather bizarrely, Ji Ungpakorn to claim that “people would trust Pheu Thai when it comes to the issue of the monarchy, no matter how many statements they made.” Thepthai has a history of making scurrilous claims.

PPT has made the point that ultra-royalists – be they old lawyers or the DemoPAD Party – will never accept Puea Thai no matter how royalist it makes itself. Whatever Puea Thai does, it is “disloyal” and this is the issue chosen to bring the election result undone.

For the Democrat Party and its royalist allies in the military, palace, PAD, and so on, the battle began the day the voting public rejected them.

Puea Thai has been misguided (if not politically stupid) in believing that their battle was won when it won that election. Even now surveys show that the public is not supporting the ultra-royalists and Puea Thai has far more support than the Democrat Party. But that counts for nothing with the royalists: they are not democrats and they are desperate to save their crumbling royalist regime.





With a major update: Clash escalating towards real war

8 02 2011

The border “skirmish” between Thailand and Cambodia continues to expand and grow. As ever, The Thai Report is providing a host of useful links to stories, tweets and video.

On the Thais side, there appears little way to back down. Readers can go back to our earlier posts on the relationship between PAD and the Abhisit Vejjajiva government for comments on the need to be “tough” in a tug-of-war for the nationalist yellow supporters. The military continues to run its own show with little or no effective civilian oversight and seems to line up in ways that provide considerable support for the yellow nationalists.

The Phnom Penh Post has several stories from the Cambodian side.

Update: As the armed forces seem to control so much, including the way the border clashes go with Cambodia – perhaps towards more martial responses, in The Nation, Democrat Party MP Thepthai Senapong gets upset that red shirt leader and Puea Thai Party MP Jatuporn Promphan has again talked of coup plots. Of course, Jatuporn isn’t the only one making these claims. Admiral Bannawit Kengrien, a yellow-hued supporter of the 2006 coup and (a former supporter) of the current government has talked of coup too.

Thepthai says Jatuporn “fabricated an alleged coup plot in order to drive a wedge between the government and the armed forces…”. Well, the fact is that the army is the dog and not the tail in this relationship, so if there is a breech, perhaps it is reflective of the tail not being adequate for wagging. He claimed that “the government had a good working relationship with the armed forces. This was in stark contrast to the situation when Pheu Thai was in power and failed to win the respect of top military leaders…”. Thepthai neglects to mention that the government is beholden to the armed forces. It stays in power while the military wants it there.

Jatuporn alleged that a  “coup plot was being hatched by five figures.” He named  the plotters as: “tycoon Prayad Boonsung, Army Chief-of-Staff General Dapong Rattanasuwan, retired General Saprang Kalayanamitr, businessman Piya Malakul and People’s Alliance for Democracy Sondhi Limthongkul.” All names that we’ve heard from before and potentially associated with a coup, some of them not for the first time.

The events on the border and the actions of PAD should be seen in the context of rumors of splits and coup plotting.

 





Some of July’s unanswered questions

1 08 2010

PPT was consolidating newspaper files for July and ran across a number of questions and issues raised in the media that seem to have been dropped or faded from view. Here they are in rough chronological order (we have probably missed many more). No links are provided as most of these questions were in one of our posts in July. Email us if you have any recent information on any of the questions:

1) Why is the king still in hospital?

2) Did anyone challenge the Ministry of Commerce regarding its spending of 72 million baht ($2.2 million) bringing “Thailand’s Best Friends” to Thailand on a taxpayer-funded junket? These are people who already trade with the country and in an economy where the reports are that the export economy is booming. So what’s the point?

3) Human Rights Watch called for an investigation into how on 26 June, Manit Toommuang, was shot and killed while handcuffed and in Ratchaburi police custody. Did anyone in government do anything?

4) Was there any serious debate regarding the Democrat Party-led government’s blatant attempt to vote-buy through muddle-headed “populist” policies? Remember when Thaksin Shinawatra was criticized unremittingly for policies that misled people and dragged voters to the TRT? What’s happened to the critics when their government is blatant in pouring money into areas designed to capture votes?

5) Has the government’s committee set up to amend the constitution done anything? Has the public been kept informed of its work?

6) Why didn’t Abhisit’s personal spokesman Thepthai Senapong resign after being found to be making deliberately misleading statements about opponents?

7) What were the results of the elaborate PR stunt promoted as gaining opinions by telephone on reconciliation and Thailand’s way forward?

8) Why did the PAD’s New Politics Party pull out of the Constituency 6 election? If NPP had received just 15,000 votes, Korkaew would have won. Was the withdrawal strategic to prevent a defeat for the government? Was this worthy of investigation?

9) Why does Chavalit keep calling for royal intervention in politics?

10) It was three weeks ago that Kobchai Boonplod and Warisaya Boonsom were returned to Thailand as suspects in an attempt to bomb Newin’s party headquarters. Why has so little been heard of the case since then?

11) How many red shirts remain in jail? How many are missing? How many have been assassinated? Is Arisman really in Cambodia?

12) When will any member of PAD go to court on charges related to the seizure of NBT, southern airports or Bangkok’s airports?

13) Will the National Human Rights Committee ever do anything about human rights?

14) Related, because the NHRC was asked, what has happened to Cambodian national Peth Saengmanee and Australian David Purcell, held on charges related to the government’s 19 May crackdown?

15) Should Korkaew have been permitted to campaign for election in Constituency 6? Or even to send out a recording of one brief speech? Should the Election Commission be identified as hopelessly biased?

16) How many are held in jail on lese majeste convictions?

17) When will the Corrections Department ever finish verifying the signatures on the red shirt petition to seek a royal pardon for ousted prime minister Thaksin Shinawatra? On 10 July it was reported that they still had to check another 2 million names. So how many did sign?

18) How did yellow-hued Foreign Minister Kasit reject the Cambodian management plan for Preah Vihear temple on 12 July while also claiming that the Cambodians had not so far submitted such a plan?

19) What happened to the red shirt claim of prisoners being held in Kanchanaburi? Why didn’t they follow up on this. False information?

20) What is the story behind the missing/mislaid/was-never-lost-and-changing-value jewellery while it was with the DSI? Was the heat too much and whoever had it returned it? Was a “deal” done? Is the DSI simply the Democrat Party’s police agency?

21) Why is the police Special Branch involved in conducting electoral opinion surveys?

22) How much “rent” does the Abhisit government have to pay the military – in deflated airships, personnel carriers from failed suppliers, new anti-red shirt divisions, and so on – in order to guarantee continued partnership?

23) How many more legal cases can be brought against Thaksin and his family?

24) With some reports saying that Thailand’s government now blocks 110,000 web sites and URLs, how many more will it block?

25) Will Abhisit finally get to name his preferred new police chief in September, a year after a new appointment was promised? Who is blocking Abhisit?

26) Who is responsible for the recent bombings in Bangkok? Government supporters, red shirt supporters, the army or someone else?

27) Why are yellow-shirted, Chamlong-led PAD demonstrators allowed to rally and break the emergency decree but not red shirts? Is the emergency decree the emergency anti-red shirt decree? Why do PAD demonstrators have pleasant meetings with the premier while even lone red shirt demonstrators are arrested?

28) Why did army officers – three of them – attend the World Heritage Committee meeting in Brazil as part of the Thai delegation? Is there anything this government can do that does not require army backing?

29) Why is the king still in hospital?





Suspicions

28 07 2010

There have only been a few stories that caught PPT’s attention in the past couple of days amidst by-elections, a bomb blast, the DSI trading accusations with red shirts and others, Thaksin Shinawatra’s birthday, flash protests by red shirts, and an apparently never-ending stream of stories regarding Princess Sirindhorn’s latest visit to China – seemingly essentially a holiday – that finished on 23 July but still screening long portions of the royal news four days later.

Some of the stories have raised questions for us, although PPT knows little more than what is reported in the media. We thought it might be useful to list them.

The first story relates to 28 July as Prince Vajiralongkorn’s birthday and he turns 58. As usual, newspapers have little advertisements that double as birthday felicitations to the prince. PPT only purchased the Bangkok Post, which had a one-page tribute and a series of the company-sponsored adverts. The whole thing is pretty low-key, kicked off with a large color picture of the prince at Wat Phra Kaew yesterday.

As PPT went through the color adverts, we noted they were from: Thai Airways, Boon Rawd Brewery, the Central group (the largest greeting, being a full page), CP Group and one all in Thai from Thai Beverage. The latter also posted a very large billboard celebrating the prince near Pan Fah Bridge (see the picture here). On the same day, PPT was reading The Bangkok Massacres: A Call for Accountability produced by Thaksin’s representatives, Amsterdam & Peroff LLP. On page 16, the report states: “The families controlling some of Thailand’s largest economic empires — among them Bangkok Bank, Kasikorn Bank, Thai Beverage, and TPI Polene — became fierce opponents of Thaksin.”

Maybe PPT was asleep at the wheel, but we hadn’t registered Thai Beverage as a major opponent previously. The company belongs to Charoen Sirivadhanabhakdi, the liquor, beer and land tycoon. Charoen has been pretty secretive. There’s a chapter on him by Nuolnoi Treerat in Pasuk and Baker’s Thai Capital After the 1997 Crisis (Silkworm). Recently he has been seen sponsoring royal events, including one of Princess Chulabhorn’s ventures. If Charoen has signed up with the royalists, then he has huge wealth and networks to build political support.

A second story is in the Bangkok Post and considers what is designated the “alleged ‘plan’ by Finance Minister Korn Chatikavanij to change the current yuppiephone concession contracts…”. Then this is slipped in: “mortally wound Shin Corp and its No 1 network Advanced Info Service although that’s not the purpose, perish the thought…”. Given the “plan” is from Korn, a major yellow supporter, maybe this is the purpose. The story goes on to say that the “plan” has “thrown business, government, regulators and even the Senate into a tizzy; the kindest people said Mr Korn had good intentions, lousy planning; others were not so charitable; they noted that his plan to issue AIS, Dtac of Norway and True Move of Thailand with 15-year licences was highly questionable in legal terms…”.

The same column reminds us that Juti Krairiksh, said to be “minister of Internet Censorship in Thailand (MICT)” as well as “sniffing out dodgy websites” has “bragged that one of his greatest achievements was the arrest of three people who posted information critical of the monarchy.”

The third story relates to the Big C bombing and the Bangkok Post story that the “emergency decree will remain in place, at least in Bangkok, … Prime Minister Abhisit Vejjajiva says.” Abhisit said that “some parties were determined to carry out dangerous acts and it was the duty of the authorities to try to stop them. That meant they needed the proper legal tools.” Proper legal tools mean the power to detain and anything else the government seems to want to do to opponents.

Just a day before, in the venerable Bangkok Post, Abhisit’s motor-mouthed personal spokesman Thepthai Senapong had attacked critics of the imposition of the emergency decree, saying the bombing proved that the decree was necessary. He added: “The old saying that there is a calm before the storm is still worth considering…”. There’s little doubt that the hardliners in the government, like Thepthai, want the emergency decree in place for a lot longer, benefit from every incident. Much of the cabinet is very twitchy about “security” and, as they have admitted, personally frightened.

The fourth and final story, also in the Bangkok Post, was buried down on about page 4, and the headline suggested to PPT that the Ministry of Justice was going to investigate allegations that a bribe attempt was made in the Department of Special Investigation missing jewellery scandal of a few days ago. But, no. The Justice Ministry was launching an investigation into the rumours themselves!

The rumours were that the “owner of a shop who complained three pieces of jewellery had disappeared from a Department storeroom had been offered 300,000 baht to retract her accusation.”

The “secretary to the justice minister, Fuangwit Aniruttaewa, said it was possible that the claims the jewellery had disappeared were the work of certain people in the ministry who wanted to discredit the justice minister and DSI director-general Tharit Pengdit.” Remarkably, Fuangwit disclosed that an “investigation” had “found the jewellery said to be missing from the DSI storeroom had not disappeared at all. The owner of the store, identified only as Ms Chayaphon, had been told the items had been located.”

Apparently, the three items had just been … well, we don’t know. Hanging off some rich lady perhaps? Miraculously, they have turned up! So what was going on inside the DSI that caused the jewellery to be lost and found at about the same time?





Disingenuous regime maintains totalizing control of politics

2 07 2010

Yesterday the Democrat Party candidate for the upcoming Bangkok by-election disingenuously claimed to a Channel 7 TV reporter that he had no advantage from his Puea Thai Party opponent being in jail. That was followed by the Democrat Party and Abhisit Vejjajiva’s personal spokesman Thepthai Senapong making seemingly stupid but actually considered statements that labeled the opposition Puea Thai Party candidate Korkaew Pikulthong’s campaign slogan should be “Vote for Korkaew, Troublemaker, Terrorist, Number 4.”

The statement was meant to influence middle-class voters. At the same time, it accused a candidate alleged but not proven to have committed any crime. We know Thepthai meant the comment because he later stated that he’d say “terrorist suspect” in future. Expect more such dirty politics from the so-called Democrats as they cannot afford to lose this by-election when the opposition candidate is locked-up, can’t campaign, and has been prevented from engaging in even basic requirements of the Election Commission.

Recall that Abhisit has threatened the Puea Thai Party with all kinds of legal trouble if they say the government did anything wrong in April and May. In fact, having demanded this of Puea Thai, Abhisit should now sack Thepthai, but the usual double standards are at work.

This dirty work was followed by the prime minister launching a phone-in to get ideas about reconciliation. It seems that the Abhisit regime is interested in short ideas. Recent meetings have allowed 2-minute comments and now a phone-in, lending itself to short and unverifiable interpretation. A phone-in at least means that Democrat leaders don’t have to come face-to-face with their opponents.

Meanwhile, and as expected, the Bangkok Post reports that the “Criminal Court on Friday rejected a request for the release on bail of political activist Sombat Boonngamanong who has been charged with violating the emergency decree.” Recall that he was arrested while engaged in the heinous act of tying ribbons of remembrance at the Rajaprasong intersection but on a charge of gathering with other red shirts at Lat Phrao following the government’s bloody crackdown on red shirt protesters.

No release, no bail and further detention at the Region 1 Border Patrol Police headquarters in Pathum Thani province.

Of course, all other red shirts were also refused bail again. Keeping opponents locked up remains important to the authoritarian but still shaken regime.

In amongst all the nonsense, this is worth a read. Suranand Vejjajiva TELLS the Democrat Party what they should know but aren’t prepared to understand.








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