Updated: Royalist skulduggery v. The People’s skulduckery

26 11 2020

Social media is better than the mainstream media on last evening’s rally at the Siam Commercial Bank HQ. Social media is reporting shots fired, people wounded, infiltration of the protesters by “third hand” elements, probably from the military, and royalist counter-rallies boosted by the king and queen.

Khaosod does report that “[s]hots were fired by unidentified assailants at pro-democracy protesters as they were leaving their rally at the headquarters of Thailand’s oldest bank on Wednesday night, wounding at least two people.” It adds some details:

Eyewitnesses said they heard a loud explosion, followed by 3-4 gunshots, at about 10.15pm, soon after the protest in front of Siam Commercial Bank’s main office concluded. One of the assailants was apprehended while he was trying to run away with others; the rest reportedly managed to flee the scene.

Sombat Thongyoi, one of the volunteer guards who provided security for the protesters, said two people were shot. Both of them were sent to hospital.

“We cannot yet establish whether it was a personal matter or politically motivated,” Sombat said.

Forensic police at the scene said they found traces of bullets; police also said they found a handgun on the man apprehended by the protest guards, though it is unclear as of publication time if it was the same firearm used in the shooting.

Khaosod reports a little on the rally:

The target was switched to the Siam Commercial Bank, a publicly held company in which King Vajiralongkorn is the biggest shareholder. The bank’s headquarters are in a different area of Bangkok, far from the district hosting the Crown Property Bureau and other royal and government offices.

Ducks and some chickens. Clipped from SBS News

An international report has more:

Thousands of Thai democracy activists have rallied in Bangkok to demand the king give up control of his multibillion-dollar fortune, turning their protest movement directly on the once-untouchable monarchy’s vast wealth….

Protest leaders have struck a defiant tone in response, with human rights lawyer Anon Numpha – who is among the 12 summoned for questioning [on lese majeste charges] – telling Wednesday’s protest “the reform of the nation has started whether you believe it or not”.

“Many Thais who had never dared question the monarchy now have started asking question about this king,” he said.

Parit “Penguin” Chiwarak, a student leader also called for questioning, told AFP he was not afraid and said the summons under section 112 would simply encourage more people to join the movement.

“Does this mean the monarchy has declared an all-out war with the people – is that right?” he said.

While some of the time the atmosphere of the protest was light-hearted, the speeches were also making important points. Thisrupt reports:

… Ratsadon’s leading activist Anon Nampa stood on a truck in a yellow duck costume. Thousands of people gathered, spilling out onto the other side of the street.

Cries of “ooh” and “ahh” went up now and then. Not because Anon was cursing hell, fire, and brimstone from the truck. Instead, he was educating minds, provoking thoughts, and inspiring changes.

That’s why he’s Thailand’s most dangerous man. It’s no wonder General Prayut Chan-o-cha is bringing back Article 112, the lese majeste law.

There was also the moment when the aged Sulak Srivaraksa, “aided by a walking stick and an assistant, made a surprise appearance.”

In his brief address, Sulak said he would speak on just one issue, the lèse majesté law, or Section 112 of the Criminal Code. He said HM the late King Bhumibol once said that the invocation of Section 112 amounts to an assault on him and its use will undermine the Monarchy.

“Why doesn’t Prayut comply with the late King’s wish?” he asked, adding that HM King Vajiralongkorn has instructed the attorney-general and the president of the Supreme Court, in writing, to stop invoking Section 112.

He accused the prime minister of undermining the Monarchy and bullying HM the King by invoking Section 112 against protest leaders, as he demanded the prime minister’s ouster.

We have few doubts that Sulak is wrong on his interpretation. In his actions, the king has made it clear that the anti-monarchism of the protesters has to be eradicated. His most recent PR outing included another meeting with Warong Dechgitvigrom, leader of Thai Pakdee. At something seemingly belonging to the ultra-royalists and called The Truth, there’s a story about the meeting, quoting the king as whispering in Warong’s ear to say: “Thank you. We must help the people see what is wrong, what is bad, what distorts and what is fake news.”

It is clear that the king believes he can defeat the rising tide of anti-monarchism. His support for the ultra-royalists unleashes their fury. Hence the attempts to stoke conflict at anti-regime demonstrations.

Update: The Bangkok Post, which has more or less not reported from the rally at the SCB, has reported on the shooting. It reports the police story that “shooting heard after the protest at SCB Park ended on Wednesday night involved students from rival vocational schools who worked as guards during the rally…”. Given that vocational students have been involved with yellow shirts, there remains room for some skepticism on the reporting. We’d like to hear from the rally organizers before deciding what happened. We are still waiting to hear more about the previous shootings.





Updated: Confrontation looms

25 11 2020

The use of lese majeste and the multiple threats of arrest today have mounted. The regime has seemingly calculated that the events at police headquarters and the royal family’s PR blitz and its “demonstrated generosity,” that a crackdown on protesters targeting the king and his wealth may not earn them “too much” public derision.

Police and military are preparing for tonight’s rally at the Crown Property Bureau. Razor wire is up and the so-called “royal” exclusion zone established. That the military has been active with helicopters suggests preparations for a confrontation.

Thai PBS reports that “increased helicopter activity, heard over several areas of Bangkok on Monday night,” and “which went on for hours” was described  by Army Chief Gen Narongphan Chitkaewtae as “part of security arrangements for the motorcade of … the King and Queen…”. We fear it is preparations for tonight, especially when he added that while “it is the police’s responsibility to deal with the rally,” the army is prepared to “help” if “there is a request from the police.”

The Free Youth have also upped the anty, publishing this statement:

Meanwhile the regime is doubling down. Neo-fascist member of the Democrat Party coalition party, Deputy Transport Minister Thaworn Senniam declared that the regime arrest Progressive Movement’s Thanathorn Juangroongruangkit and Piyabutr Saengkanokkul for being responsible for the uprising and anti-monarchism.

He “explained”:

“As a Thai citizen and a Democrat MP, I will perform my duty to protect the Nation, the Religion, the Monarchy and the democratic system with the King as the head of state,” said Thavorn, claiming that 90 percent of the Thai population agree with him.

As “evidence” he “showed the media today a video clip of Piyabutr giving a speech at the University of London, on the topic of “Is Thailand in a Deeper State of Crisis?” on June 11th, 2016.” Yes, that’s more than four years ago.

On Thanathorn, Thaworn says that “in several speeches, has stressed the need for reform of the Thai Monarchy, adding that the founding of the Future Forward Party, which was dissolved by the Constitutional Court, was intended to achieve that goal.”

He went on to accuse “Thanathorn and Piyabutr of spending more than eight months brainwashing and inciting hatred of the Monarchy among Thai youth, with the intention of turning the protests into riots and, eventually, civil war.”

In fact, Thaworn is simply reflecting the views of ultra-royalists and rightists who are baying for blood.

It will be a difficult evening as the regime, at this point, seems to have drawn its line in the sand and the rally is likely to test that.

Update: As has happened previously, the anti-government protesters have changed their rally site, reducing the prospect of a clash. The new location is related as the rally will be at the Siam Commercial Bank HQ, with the king being the biggest shareholder in the bank.

We are not sure that the change was to avoid a clash and the inordinate efforts the regime had taken to seal off the area around the CPB, or just a prank to make the regime expend effort and look a bit silly.

The regime has barricaded the area around the CPB, with “[r]olls of razor wire and steel barricades…”, mainly shipping containers stacked end-to-end and two high. These efforts caused huge traffic jams. In addition, “[s]oldiers in plain clothes were seen deployed around the CPB…”.





Manipulating law

24 11 2020

PPT understands that pointing out abuses of the law by the current regime is not of much consequence. Double standards, impunity, bloody crackdowns, arrests on trumped up charges, making stuff up, and so on are just grist for the dictatorship-in-parliamentary-guise’s repression. But here goes.

A story in the Bangkok Post has this line about an upcoming demonstration at the Crown Property Bureau:

Pol Lt Gen Pakkapong Pongpetra, commissioner of the Metropolitan Police Bureau, on Monday warned protesters not to go within a 150m radius from the office. Assembling within the distance from palace grounds is prohibited under the Public Assembly Act.

At Thai PBS there’s a sightly different version:

Pol Lt-Gen Pakkapong Pongpetra, commissioner of the Metropolitan Police Bureau, also warned the Ratsadon group to abide by the law, when they stage their protest at the office of the Crown Property Bureau this Wednesday.

He insisted that, in previous protests, the police were unarmed and did not resort to violence which, he alleged, was started by the protesters. He suggested the Khana Ratsadon group not venture within 150 metres of the Crown Property Bureau.

Another story, at Thai Enquirer, has Gen Prawit Wongsuwan quoted as having “reminded the protestors that they must not enter within a 150 meter radius of a government building under the Public Assembly Act.”

Social media and the Post tell us that police are now marking out a zone of 150 meters around the CPB’s offices, designating a “palace area.”.

As far as we can tell – and there’s not a lawyer among us – none of this fits the deliberately vague Public Assembly Act. There is a bit on palaces:

Section 7. No public assembly shall be held within the radius of one hundred and fifty meters from the boundary of the Grand Palace, Royal Palace, Royal Residence of the Heir to the Throne or of His or Her Royal Highness Prince or Princess, Royal Palace Up-Country or Royal Mansion or from the place where the King, the Queen, the Heir to the Throne or His or Her Royal Highness Prince or Princess stays or resides, or from the place of Royal Visitors.

As far as we can tell, the CPB is not a palace under this definition.

Then there’s Section 8:

No public assembly shall obstruct gateway of, impede the performance of duties of, or hinder access to service of, the followings:
(1)    State agencies’ office;
(2)    airport, wharf, rail station or any other public transport station;
(3)    hospital, education institution and religious establishment;
(4)    embassy or consulate of foreign State or office of international organization;

The CPB isn’t a state agency or any of the other things.

However, Section 8 comes with another point:

(5)    other places as notified by the Minister.

We guess that this allows the minister to designate any place he/she pleases. But we do not think we have heard any news on such a designation. And if such a designation is made, these restrictions would need to be “interpreted.”

Rather, what we hear is the ultra-royalist, from Gen Prayuth Chan-ocha telling the media “to ask the anti-government protest leaders why they have to go to the Crown Property Bureau” to threats:

The pro-monarchy Phalang Phaen Din Siam group, led by Bancha Panniwat and Sumet Trakulwunnu, issued a statement announcing their own plans to stage retaliatory events on Tuesday and Wednesday near the Education Ministry to disrupt the anti-government rally at the nearby Crown Property Bureau.

If the People’s Movement protesters want to go to the bureau, they must wade through the Phalang Phaen Din Siam group, whose leaders have said they will no longer allow any disrespectful behaviour towards the monarchy.

Mr Bancha said his group would demonstrate near the bureau beside the Education Ministry from 3pm on Tuesday, insisting that they were not looking for a confrontation of any kind.

He also called on supporters show up at the same spot at 8am on Wednesday.

“They can rally anywhere but not here,” Mr Bancha said.

He also said that many other royalist groups would be joining the Phalang Phaen Din Siam demonstration but vowed that violence would not be used against members of the People’s Movement.

As has been the case recently, we somehow doubt the ultra-royalists will be arrested for breaching the (fake) “palace zone.” It will be yet another manipulation of the law.

The purpose seems to be to have the ultra-royalists continue their attacks on the anti-regime rally goers.





Further updated: Lese majeste complaints begin to flow

23 11 2020

In sync with The Dictator’s announcement that lese majeste was back, two reports of complaints and/or charges being filed against protest leaders.

The Nation reports that Protest leader Parit Chiwarak or Penguin stated on Sunday that “police had contacted him to hear a charge of lese majeste against him. However, he was not sure the charge related to which demonstration. The protest leader assured people that he would not flee Thailand to escape the severe charge.”

The Bangkok Post reports that Nitipong Hornak, reportedly a “songwriter, founder and major shareholder of Grammy Entertainment,” has “filed a lese majeste complaint against Panusaya ‘Rung’ Sithijirawattanakul, a co-leader of the People’s Movement.” He is reported to have “filed the complaint with the police Technology Crime Suppression Division on Friday afternoon…”. The incident the complaint focuses on is not known.

We may be missing something, but the Stock Exchange of Thailand does not list Nitipong as a major shareholder of Grammy/GMM and nor is he listed at Wikipedia as a founder of the company.

Update 1: Matichon reports that lese majeste charges are now out for 12 protest leaders, including Rung and Penguin (mentioned above):

1. นายพริษฐ์ ชิวารักษ์ หรือเพนกวิน (Penguin)

2. น.ส.ปนัสยา สิทธิจิรวัฒนกุล หรือรุ้ง (Rung)

3. นายภาณุพงค์ จาดนอก หรือไมค์ (Rayong Mike)

4. นายอานนท์ นำภา (Arnon)

5. น.ส.ภัสราวลี ธนกิจวิบูลย์ผล หรือมายด์

6. นายชนินทร์ วงษ์ศรี

7. น.ส.จุฑาทิพย์ ศิริขันธ์

8. นายปิยรัฐ จงเทพ

9. นายทัตเทพ เรืองประไพกิจเสรี

10. นายอรรถพล บัวพัฒน์

11. นายชูเกียรติ แสงวงศ์

12. นายสมบัติ ทองย้อย

Update 2: Several English-language outlets now report the 12 lese majeste cases: Bangkok Post, The Nation, Thai PBS.

Interestingly, “Protest leader Panusaya ‘Rung’ Sithijirawattanakul has been named as one of the world’s 100 most inspirational and influential women of 2020 by the BBC.”

Meanwhile, Thai Enquirer argues that using lese majeste is merely inviting rightists to expand their fascist royalism.





Palace PR at full throttle III

23 11 2020

It may be that the current palace PR effort is about to be undone (again).

Royal critics Pavin Chachavalpongpun and Andrew McGregor Marshall have both posted pictures they say are from phones that once belonged to Consort Sineenat Wongvajirapakdi. Many of the hundreds of photos are said to show her naked. Both imply that that the leaking of the photos is a part of a continuing conflict between Queen Suthida and Sineenat.

In the past, the leak of naked photos of the crown prince’s/king’s women have indicated some kind of “partner crisis.” The king has displayed a penchant for erotic images of his women and PPT has previously seen photos of former wives Yuvadhida Polpraserth and Srirasmi and of current queen Suthida. Of course, the video of a naked Srirasmi has been widely circulated.

Pavin and Marshall, who don’t always see eye-to-eye, have begun leaking some of the tamer photos, with the latter claiming he’s had them for some time and initially decided not to make them public on moral and ethical grounds. It seems that several news outlets also have the photos, so it may be that they come out sooner rather than later.

Meanwhile, Marshall has posted links to German news media suggesting that the king’s troubles there are not over. One is an Ardmediathek video report and the other is a 2DF video report. Interestingly, Deutsche Welle reports that “Thailand’s King Maha Vajiralongkorn may be expelled from Germany if he issues decrees from his Bavarian villa, the Bundestag has said.” The report clarifies that the king has diplomatic immunity when he is in Germany, meaning that the “German state has very little power to prosecute the Thai king, despite recent threats by Foreign Minister Heiko Maas.” Rather, Germany would need to expel “the king from Germany as a ‘persona non grata’…”.





With a major update: Palace PR at full throttle II

22 11 2020

One of hundreds of pieces of graffiti attacking the king and royal family

As we said in an earlier post, the palace public relations machinery has long had to “manage” Vajiralongkorn’s mostly self-inflicted PR disasters, ranging from his erratic and vengeful behavior to rumors of violence, illnesses, philandering and associations with crime. These PR exercises have mostly involved strategies that had “worked” for his father.

King, queen and ultra-royalist

However, as popular criticism of the monarchy has reached levels that no one can recall in their lifetimes, what we have called the Hello! strategy has emerged, mostly revolving around the women currently closest to King Vajiralongkorn: Queen Suthida, Princess Sirivannavari, and chief concubine Sineenat.

The king is now almost always seen arm-in-arm with Suthida, as she guides her often shaky looking husband around crowds of royalist well-wishers, encouraging the “common” touch of selfies, autographs and statements of encouragement to selected ultra-royalists. The queen is seen as the one recognizing the ultra-royalists,  beaming and fist-pumping to supporters, and directing the king to them.

Sirivannavari as “one of us”

Meanwhile, Sirivannavari is high profile, fostering a kind of “people’s princess” image, seeking to link to younger people. This effort has not always been successful. Protesters know that Sirivannavari has been officially promoted and the recipient of “award” just because she’s the king’s daughter. And, protesters know that she’s cycled through a series of expensive “career choices” that have cost the taxpayer plenty. We recall she was the top student at university, a national badminton player, a diplomat, a Paris fashion designer, etc. That knowledge has led to the princess being spoofed by protesters.

Clipped from LA Times. Photo credit: Jack Taylor AFP / Getty Images

Sineenat has sometimes been seen making up the royal triplet in public, but has recently been off in the countryside, also cultivating a “people’s” semi-royal persona. Yet her troubled, on-again, off-again relationship with the king is well known and rumors of her role in palace and royal family tensions are also widespread.

The general idea seems to be to show that the palace is not really aloof, hugely wealthy, grasping, erratic and uncaring, but is really at one with the people. This is a strategy that carries high risk. After all, making the monarchy “popular” challenges the most basic premise of royals as special, divine, blue-bloods. It is blood and position that counts, not popularity.

But when a royal house is challenged, it is often a spur to make the royals “popular.” And the challenges are coming thick and fast.So strong is the anti-monarchism that even the Hello! strategy is having to be surpassed with publicity that shows the grasping king as “generous.”

In the most high profile PR effort to date, the Bangkok Post reports that the king will “give royal land title deeds worth ’10 billion baht’ to four educational institutes in a handover ceremony.” (That the Post puts the figure in quotation marks suggests a need for caution.)

Our first thought was that this declaration is a response to pro-democracy demonstrators having announced that their next rally will be outside the Crown Property Bureau on 25 November. The palace is trying to pre-empt that demonstration by showing that the king and CPB are “generous.”

Higher Education, Science, Research and Innovation Minister Anek Laothamatas reportedly said:

… ownership of royal title deeds covering more than 100 rai of land along Ratchawithi Road in Dusit district would be handed over to two universities and two schools [Rachawinit elementary school and its secondary school] already located on the land…. Suan Sunandha Rajabhat University will receive title deeds covering more than 60 rai, while Suan Dusit University will be granted more than 37 rai, Mr Anek said, adding that the value of the land was estimated at about 10 billion baht.

That statement is not at all clear. Is there a difference between “ownership of a royal title deed” and ownership of land? How much is “more than”?

We recall that, in 2018, there were reports that these universities had been told that they would need to relocate. The CPB kind of confirmed this.

The Post claims, seeming to cite Anek, that the “land where the universities are located originally belonged to the King and the land is part of Dusit Palace, which is a complex of royal residences.” This means prior to 1932 for it was after that revolution that the new regime used (took over?) some of the land “for educational purposes…”. As Wikipedia has it: “In 1932 the absolute monarchy was abolished and part of the Dusit Palace was reduced and transferred to the constitutional government. This included the Khao Din Wana (เขาดินวนา) to the east of the palace, which was given in 1938 to the Bangkok City Municipality by King Ananda Mahidol to create a public park, which later became Dusit Zoo.”

It seems that the current king is the one who has had this land “returned” to him.

The zoo comes into the Post story: “Apart from the handover of the deeds, the royally-owned land where Dusit Zoo, the country’s first public zoo, was once located will be used for the construction of a public hospital.” It seems to us that this is a recent decision designed to reduce the criticism of the palace’s grasping. Add to that the “Nang Loeng racecourse in Dusit district [which did belong] to the Crown Property Bureau (CPB) … is now to be “transform[ed] … into a public park in commemoration of … King Bhumibol…”. Yes, another one. As far as we can tell, this is another new idea.

Clearly the ideological war is expanding.

Update: The Nation has a listing of the “grants”, saying the king “granted nine land title deeds to government agencies and educational institutions.” Hopefully there’s someone out there who knows more about this than PPT, but the PR on this story seems to overwhelm what seems to have been going on. And we are not sure we know, but we smell fish.

The report states that the “King and Queen arrived at Amporn Sathan Throne in Dusit Palace to hand over land title deeds of royal properties in Bangkok and other provinces to use as government workplaces and educational establishments.” That doesn’t quite sound like the land is changing ownership.

When one looks at the properties involved, it gets fishier still. There are plots of land that have long been occupied and used by government bodies, the military and the Border Patrol Police. Take the latter as an example. The report states:

Commissioner of the Royal Thai Police, Pol General Suwat Jangyodsuk, received a land title deed for an area of 185 rai, 1 ngan and 85.20 square wah, in Cha-am district of Phetchaburi province for use as a working place for Naresuan Camp Border Patrol Police headquarters.

Commander of the Border Patrol Police, Pol Lt-General Wichit Paksa, received a land title deed for an area of 275 rai, 3 ngan and 57.20 square wah in Cha-am district of Phetchaburi province to use for Border Patrol Police headquarters, Rama VI Camp (Maruekhathaiyawan Palace) in Phetchaburi, which was in addition to the land bestowed in 2017.

As far as we know, the BPP has been occupying and using these plots of land since the early and mid 1950s. It isn’t clear to us who owned the land back then, but one source states:

Before building Naresuan camp in Hua Hin, the camp site had been allocated to the army’s royal guard to provide security to the royal family but as soon as [the CIA’s] Bill Lair proposed the site for building a camp for PARU, both Phao and the royal family agreed to give the land to Lair and PARU instead of the army.

Lair and the king. Clipped from Amazon

That seems to suggest that the land might have once belonged to the royal family. It remains unclear to us whether there was any official transfer back then. Another source states that Lair “used an old Imperial Japanese training camp in Hua Hin to train a select crew of Thai police in guerrilla warfare, including parachuting.” It is clear that the king developed quite a jolly relationship with the PARU/BPP and with Lair.

So it seems like the king is acknowledging longstanding occupation and use, if not “ownership.” It remains unclear if receiving the title deed amounts to transferring ownership.





Lese majeste back

21 11 2020

As Gen Prayuth Chan-ocha made it known that the king ordered that lese majeste not be used, we can only assume that the resumption of its use also comes from the king.

In a Bangkok Post report, Gen Prayuth is quoted as stating that lese majeste will again be used. The report states: “Referring to cases involving the insulting of the monarchy,” Gen Prayuth declared: “The government must take swift action because many people have voiced opinions on the issue. People nationwide cannot accept this.” He means royalists “cannot accept” an end to neo-feudalism, preferring to be serfs.

It is royalists who have been calling for the use of the draconian law:

… royalists on Thursday stepped up their demand that police invoke it against protesters after an offensive remark was spray-painted on the portrait of a Royal outside police headquarters during a protest on Wednesday night.

The use of lese majeste is a last ditch effort to suppress the demonstrations. After all, the police have charged hundreds in recent months, most with serious “crimes,” like sedition and computer crimes. Some of the charges are summarized here. Just in the past few days, police are considering charges against another 31 protesters.

Thai PBS reports that “[p]olice and relevant agencies will tomorrow [Saturday] meet to discuss conduct and activities of anti-establishment protesters which could be construed as violation of the lèse majesté law.” Pol Maj-Gen Piya Tavichai said that “police will not file lèse majesté charges until after the meeting tomorrow.”

Another report refers fears that “ongoing political conflict will intensify, with no visible way out, after Prime Minister Prayut … declared that ‘all existing laws’ would be wielded against anti-establishment protesters.”





Justice for Thailand’s disappeared

20 11 2020

Al Jazeera’s 101 East has a program available on Thailand’s victims of enforced disappearance. Given the significance of Wanchalearm Satsaksit’s abduction in Cambodia for the genesis of the current protests, it is well worth viewing.





The king, his servants, and the monarchy question

20 11 2020

Clipped from Thisrupt

Thisrupt reports on the rally at Parliament House and the speeches made, many of them “addressed directly to [the] … King … by his first name, Vajiralongkorn, and openly mocked his rule.”

As mentioned in a previous post, they launched red balloons where the “words written on them were, ‘I order you to be under the constitution,’ using the “derogatory กู (gu) as the pronoun for ‘I’ and มึง (mueng) as ‘you’.”

The report concludes that “at the heart of Thailand’s political conflict is the monarchy question.”

While Gen Prayuth Chan-ocha promises to use all laws against the protesters, hinting that Article 112 on lese majeste may be back in the regime’s arsenal, the king continues to reward hard-line favorites.

The Bangkok Post reports that the king has “has appointed former army chief Gen Apirat Kongsompong deputy director of the Crown Property Bureau.”

He was already a member of the Board, appointed after he retired from the Army and was made a deputy chamberlain in the palace. Now he’s catapulted to a level just behind the prince-cum-king’s long-serving Air Chief Marshal Satitpong Sukvimol.

Gen Apirat is notoriously hot-headed and the most ardent of ultra-royalists.

King and his new, favorite minion, Gen Apirat (right). Clipped from the Bangkok Post

Interestingly, pro-democracy demonstrators have announced that their next rally will be “outside the Crown Property Bureau on Nov 25…”.

At the same time, the king’s supporters are becoming increasingly rabid and going ever more supine. The picture below has circulated on social media. It claims to show Supreme Court President Methinee Chalothorn. LIke all judges, she believes the courts and judges owe their allegiance to the king rather than to the law and justice for all people. Perhaps more than others, she has demonstrated her subservience to the king.

So far  the demonstrators haven’t given much attention to the judiciary. Perhaps they should as it is a pillar of the establishment they seek to reform. Like the king, the judiciary needs to be reformed and brought under the constitution. The double standards and politicization need to be reversed. The neo-feudalism of the judiciary is a roadblock to reform.





No regime compromise

19 11 2020

The regime has delivered its verdict on the waves of demonstrations and calls for constitutional reform. There won’t be any substantive reform and the diddling around the edges will be at the pleasure of the regime.

The Bangkok Post reports that the most democratic iLaw proposal, supported by almost 100,000 and reflecting the core of the protesters’ demands has been dumped, with almost unanimous support of the junta-appointed senators and of the military spawn party Palang Pracharath.

The same unelected senators and regime flunkies “overwhelmingly backed the government-sponsored versions” of (non)reform. The two versions that passed the first reading were the government draft that “would set up a committee of elected and appointed members to write a new charter within 120 days, leaving Chapters 1 and 2 concerning the monarchy untouched,” while the “opposition” version “requires an elected charter-drafting committee to write a new charter within 240 days, also leaving Chapters 1 and 2 untouched.”

The result of the vote is that “a 45-member committee was set up to scrutinise the drafts before their second and third readings.” While iLaw manager Yingcheep Atchanont expressed some optimism that the “door for charter amendments has been cracked open…”, it seems pretty clear that the government’s version will be approved unless something massive happens.

Pro-democracy demonstrators had arrived “in their thousands again on Wednesday at Ratchaprasong Intersection, where they besieged Royal Thai Police Headquarters and splashed paint all over its walls.” It was clear that the protesters “were expressing their anger at police for using water cannon and tear gas on protesters outside Parliament on Tuesday while failing to prevent clashes with royalist counter-protesters. The violence left at least 55 injured, six with gunshot wounds.”

The Bangkok Post reports the protesters’ anger was heightened by “the rejection of the so-called ‘people’s draft’ of amendments to the constitution.” Even so, they avoided direct confrontation with the police, daubing paint and slogans across the wall of the police headquarters.

Another Bangkok Post report is that protest leader Jatuphat Boonpattarasaksa declared that the rejection of the “people’s constitution amendment draft has left anti-government protesters with no other choice but to press on with their street protests to achieve their goals…”. He added that “Wednesday’s decision by parliament was the last chance at compromise.”

His compatriots at Free Youth “posted on its Facebook page accusations of most MPs and senators serving the dictator [inverted commas removed] and ignoring calls by the people.” They added that refusing to deal with the reform of the monarchy, “any new constitution that was drafted would not really serve the people…”.

Ending the rally on Wednesday evening, it was “announced they will hold another rally at the Crown Property Bureau on Nov 25.”

Clearly, as Thisrupt notices, protestors are well aware that the regime is “dragging its feet, using delaying tactics to exhaust the movement.” That means that the “heart of Thailand’s political conflict is the monarchy question.”

The speeches by rally leaders are now “addressed directly to … Rama 10 by his first name, Vajiralongkorn, and openly mock … his rule,” his lifestyle and his wealth.

At the parliament rally, “”[p]rotestors launched red balloons into the air. The words written on them were, ‘I order you to be under the constitution’.” Strikingly, the “derogatory กู (gu) [w]as the pronoun for ‘I’ and มึง (mueng) as ‘you’.”

As never before, discussion of monarchy reform is now widespread across society.

Thisrupt predicted that the regime may crack down harder.

Today, The Dictator has responded. Gen Prayuth Chan-ocha lamented that the “situation is not easing in a good direction and there is a tendency for conflict to escalate into more violence. If not addressed, this could cause damage to the country and the beloved institution [he means the monarchy], as well as to peace and the safety of people’s lives and property…”. As a result, he declared that “the government and security agencies [will] … intensify their actions by using all laws and all articles to take action against demonstrators who break the law…”.

No compromise, no stepping back. More of the same and intensified arrests and repression.