Less cake, not much eating either

31 07 2015

The old saying is you can’t have your cake and eat it too. The military dictatorship’s puppets seem to be reinventing this to be you can’t have much cake and you won’t be eating it either.

At The Nation it is reported that the National Reform Council (NRC) has “approved the decentralisation and local administration reform proposed by its panel with 149 votes in favour and 4 against.” It is said that the approach is to “strengthen the people.”

Chairman of the Local Administration Reform Committee Pongpoyom Wasapooti says this will come from “boosting people’s participation in the local administration and allowing them to check the work of the agencies…”.

Sounds reasonable until he adds that some local administrations “might be abolished or merged with others.” The “logic” of anti-democrats then comes into play. One of these so-called reformers is that “local administrations should be more independent…” but these “independent” local administrations can’t be independent because they may become “corrupt.” Hence, “independence” still means the good and great in Bangkok play a paternalistic role, where “the provision of budget should be carefully watched…”.

The local officials can’t be trusted because of “vote-buying and election fraud” even when “the number of local administrations [is] decreased.”

In other words, “corruption … might take place when the local administrations became more independent…”, so reduce the number of them and restrict budgets and limit voting.

Reform means anti-democracy, illogical nonsense and paternalism.





-9.754 billion/+10 billion

31 07 2015

This story came out a while ago, and PPT failed to get to it. It is short and bittersweet. Bitter if you are a regular person, sweet if you are in the military:

The committee working on the 2016 fiscal budget has so far trimmed 9 billion baht from the budget allocation for 18 Ministries.

According to the budget committee spokesperson, Maj Gen Chatudom Titthasiri, budgets requested by 302 agencies of 18 Ministries account for 76 percent of the entire fiscal budget. So far the committee has shaved 9.754 billion baht off the initial numbers….

Regarding the Ministry of Defense, Gen Chatudom disclosed that the committee had decided to increase the budget for the Ministry by 10 billion baht, because of an increase in compensation to its regular army personnel and ranger force. He noted however, that the committee did not allocate any budget towards the Ministry’s planned purchase of submarines in 2016.





Still no election

30 07 2015

Suthep Thaugsuban has launched back into politics claiming to support the military dictatorship. Some in the military and the dictatorship are worried.

Suthep is reported to have stated that he and his “foundation” of anti-democrats is not “a political group, even though those involved come from the political arena. It also has no affiliation with the Democrat Party” despite the fact that most of its “members” are former Democrat Party politicians.Protest leader Suthep Thaugsuban answers questions during a news conference in Bangkok

Rather he seemed to confirm that these politicians are, well, anti-democrats.

He said “no more rallies, protests or storming into anyone’s offices,” but “vowed to do everything he could to protect the national interest” as defined by his anti-democrats and, most significantly, declared that “he wanted to see the military government accomplish its reform goals before elections are held, no matter how long the process takes.”

While Suthep said “the foundation supported the junta,” he issued a threat or, depending on interpretation, a reminder to the regime.

He declared that “if it [the “foundation”] sees the government is making a wrong move, the foundation would oppose it in an orderly manner…”. Suthep declared: “We will tell the public how and what (the government) is doing and how it differs from what we think. Whether right or wrong, the people will decide…”.

PPT’s interpretation is that the anti-democrats have acted because they fear the junta is being compromised by opposition meaning it cannot properly root out the “Thaksin regime.”

Some in the military will worry that Suthep and the anti-democrats are scheming and that they are “scrutinizing” the regime. At the same time, this is support for the junta and its original mission.

The anti-democrats demand that the military postpone elections until their fascist “reforms” are in place. In other words, the anti-democrats are demanding that the military not make the same mistakes as 2006-7 that allowed the return of Thaksin via elections.





Rinda has bail renewed

30 07 2015

The Nation reports that a “military court has ordered the woman accused of starting the rumour about Prime Minister General Prayut Chan-o-cha transferring his money abroad to report on August 14 after it renewed her bail yesterday.”

This refers to Rinda “Lin” Parichabutr or Paruechabut, said to be a red-shirt supporter who spread a rumor on social media that Prayuth and his wife had transferred 10 billion baht to Singapore via a dodgy South Pacific-based bank.

Rinda is due to report back to the military’s court on 14 August. She is represented by the Thai Lawyers for Human Rights. Her bail is “Bt100,000 as a bail collateral and released under the condition that she does not express her political opinion or incite social disturbances. She is forbidden from travelling abroad without the court’s permission.”

She is accused of lese dictateur or in the words of the junta’s laws, “violating Article 116 of the Criminal Code and the Computer Crimes Act by spreading the rumour.”





Updated: Money and roads

29 07 2015

We could say that truckloads of taxpayer funds are again being wasted on royalist trivia. The problem is that these truckloads of money would be lucky to move around Bangkok as the military regime closes many road for the Bike for Mum propaganda exercise.

As reported at Coconuts Bangkok, the regime reckons “40,000 cyclists [are] to practice their pedaling for the ‘Bike for Mom’ cycling event to celebrate Mother’s Day.” Of course, in royalist Thailand, Mother’s Day is the queen’s birthday.

Kilometer after kilometer of roads are to be closed for several hours by the practice session and they’ll all be closed again on the 16 August.

There have long been complaints about royal convoys closing roads all over Bangkok. For this event, however, the impact is going to be far more widespread and the advice to the populace is: stay at home.

The military dictatorship doesn’t brook criticism and is ever willing to splurge money polishing the royal derrière. After all, it is only its royalism that provides legitimacy for the military dictatorship.

Update: The Nation reports that the rehearsal has been rescheduled from 7.30am to noon instead of 3pm to 9pm as previously scheduled…”. PPT assumes that the military dictatorship has realized that its royalist propaganda promises discontent. A police spokesman said the “event was postponed in order to avoid heavy traffic as holidaymakers will be returning to the capital on that day…”. The Nation has several photos showing the military’s involvement, with the rehearsal being “attended by Prime Minister General Prayut Chan-o-cha,” with the rehearsal mainly to check security for Prince Vajiralongkorn who is apparently participating for his mother’s birthday. It also explains that the government is providing a “souvenir” for each person who registers to participate.





Further updated: Suthep re-enters politics

28 07 2015

Much of the media commentary about Suthep Thaugsuban leaving the monkhood has been about his declaration that he will no longer be involved in politics.

Suthep

A Bangkok Post photo

Suthep entered the monkhood not that long after the coup, as a kind of political exile, and after a couple of slaps from the military dictatorship on commentary he made about the coup and his People’s Democratic Reform Committee links to the military’s planning of the coup.

Like others with a penchant for mobilizing people, be it Thaksin Shinawatra, Sondhi Limthongkul or even Chamlong Srimuang, the military is suspicious of them.

Hence, Suthep’s declaration that he is not re-entering politics is something of a ruse.

For one thing, saying he is done with party politics is not saying much when the military dictatorship has sent parties to the wilderness. Parties are more or less defunct and those drafting the new constitution have tried to make them less significant into the future.

Second, during the PDRC campaign against Yingluck Shinawatra’s government, much of the rhetoric was driven by royalist notions that are anti-party and a anti-politician, so an immediate return to party politics would be a denial of that anti-democratic ideology.

Third, it is noticeable that Suthep remains politically engaged. Photographed in his PDRC livery emphasizing monarchy and nation, Suthep stated that he “plans to join a foundation that other former protest leaders have established,” allegedly “to promote vocational education and other grassroots projects.” When he states that “I will work with the Foundation of the Great Mass of the People for Reform of Thailand. I will never go back to run in an election ever again. But I will be working in civil politics alongside the Great Mass of the People for the benefit of our country.”

In a sense, this is an acknowledgement of the post-politician/post-party politics that will be acceptable to the royalist elite and the military dictatorship. Suthep has re-entered politics in a space delimited by the military.

Update 1: As if on cue, Army chief General Udomdej Sitabutr has warned Suthep to steer clear of political organizing.

Update 2: The military dictatorship’s concerns regarding Suthep’s re-entry into politics has been shown in a statement by The Dictator. General Prayuth Chan-ocha “admitted yesterday he was concerned that politician Suthep Thaugsuban … has become politically active once again.” Prayuth was expressing concern about a press conference scheduled for Thursday that “will be the first time since the coup in May 22, 2014, that 12 PDRC leaders will officially get together to continue their push for reform.” Prayuth and Suthep

As Chairman of the so-called Foundation of the Great Mass of the People for Reform of Thailand, Suthep will attend the event. So will all of the other anti-democrat leaders: Sathit Wongnongtoey, Thaworn Senniam, Issara Somchai, Witthaya Kaewparadai, Akanat Promphan, Chumpol Chulasai, Chaiwut Bannawat, Puttipong Punnakan, Sakoltee Phattiyakul, Natthapol Theepsuwan and Chitpas Bhirombhakdi-Kridakorn.

The “foundation” will consider its “strategy to support ‘reforms’ according to the six-point proposal initiated by Suthep himself…”.

 





Rubbing out universal health care

27 07 2015

PPT has had several posts over a number of years on royalist-inspired efforts to roll back the Thaksin Shinawatra universal health care program. We have mentioned independent assessments of the success of that program and a short paper at East Asia Forum that assesses some of the recent politicking over the scheme.

More recently, we posted on General Prayuth Chan-ocha’s view that the universal health care program is a “costly populist” policy which “helped deposed prime minister Thaksin Shinawatra win the 2001 election.”

The royalist and military junta campaign against universal health care continues. The Nation reports that the puppet “National Reform Council (NRC) committee on public health” is seeking to “reforms” that may see “[m]illions of Thais will lose their right to many kinds of free medical treatment under the universal healthcare scheme…”.

The proposal seeks to unmake the universality of the program by “setting up of the National Health Insurance Council will require a large number of people now covered by the universal health scheme to pay extra for medical services that are beyond the basic range.”

Royalist ideologues believe that “nearly 30 million people covered by the universal healthcare scheme can afford healthcare insurance…”.

The opponents of “populist” health care talk about the scheme being costly – it is – but do not look at its broad benefits. Yet this is a ruse. What they are proposing is an effort to destroy the “Thaksin revolution” and undermine the political support that still adheres from his time in power.








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