More conspiracy madness

7 06 2023

Conspiracy theories have long been in the royalist-rightist toolkit for defeating those who win elections. To mention just a few, there was the Finland Plot, the Marxist network, and the Illuminati secret society. All have been concoctions, but all had real political impacts. Each of these was taken seriously by elements of the state and elite.

Take the Illuminati nonsense as an example. In July 2019 crazed royalist Nathaporn Toprayoon, a former adviser to the Ombudsman, lodged a complaint, claiming that the Future Forward Party was anti-monarchy because it was a part of the Illuminati. Future Foward denied the dopey claims.

Part of the “evidence” for this bonkers claim was that Future Forward’s logo was triangular, which was a bit like an Illuminati sign, albeit rotated 180 degrees. Nathaporn claimed the “secret Illuminati sect [was] ‘believed to be behind the unseating of monarchies in Europe’.” Other concocted “evidence” was that the party’s did “not use the standard phrase ‘democracy with the king as head of state’, but instead uses the words democracy according to the constitution’,” and that it was “party policy [to ]… have Thailand ratify the jurisdiction of the International Criminal Court, a body that does not grant immunity to the head of state, which is against the Thai constitution.”

The anti-monarchist claims were taken seriously and resulted in a Constitutional Court case. Although dismissed, as the royalists hoped, Future Forward was damaged.

The mad monarchists are at it again. The Bangkok Post reports that the Election Commission has asked the Move Forward Party to explain “why it included a hammer and sickle in its campaign cartoon, after a complaint that it suggested opposition to the constitutional monarchy.”

From Bangkok Post

The cartoon is from a party social media post on April 18 that introduced “its list-MP candidates from the labour sector, ahead of the … general election.”

The EC said a “complainant asked it to investigate if the party was against constitutional monarchy, which would be a violation of the constitution.”

So the claim is that Move Forward is made up of communists intent on overthrowing the monarchy, and the stooges at the Election Commission take it seriously.

Monarchy vs. the people

5 06 2023

The old guard, desperate to head off a popular government, have been using the monarchy with relentless enthusiasm.

So far, the Move Forward Party is sticking with its election promise to reform Article 112. Of course, the old men and women who align with the military and monarchy are using 112 as a proxy for the monarchy and the whole edifice of the ruling class system.

Seeking to push the proposed coalition forward, Pol Gen Seripisut Temiyavet, leader of the Seri Ruam Thai Party “has assured the Senate that he will not allow the lese majeste law to be amended, in what is seen as a bid to woo support ahead of the prime ministerial vote.”

His party has one seat. Move Forward currently holds 151.

One might wonder how the aged policeman can vow: “I will not allow Move Forward to amend the law. Other parties [which are partners of the prospective coalition] such as Prachachart and Pheu Thai have also opposed the bid.” He adds that 112 is not in the coalition Memorandum of Understanding.

The latter is certainly true, but the MOU also permits parties to pursue their core election promises. MFP deputy leader Sirikanya Tansakun, who insists on the freedom of expression principle, “all parties have the right to advocate for additional policies as long as they do not contradict the policies outlined in the agreement.” As such, she says Move Forward will submit the same bill it did in February 2021.

It is looking increasingly likely that the monarchy is being “protected” by opposing the people. This could end very badly.

Updated: Defeating the people

4 06 2023

A media outlet comments: “More than a fortnight after the May 14 general elections in Thailand, voters are still far from certain who will be their country’s next prime minister. Or whether the poll body will allow the winners to take their parliamentary seats at all.”

It is an deeply disturbing situation, and as well as the unelected, junta-appointed senators working against democratic outcomes, the delay is suggestive that the “deep state” is hard at work undoing the election result.

Referring to the unelected swill, the report asks:

How can a liberal-leaning young politician [Pita Limjaroenrat] who campaigned on instituting social reforms and curbing the influence of the monarchy and the military win the trust of non-elected older senators, who owed their positions from the military, which is loyal to the King? Can he convince at least 63 of those senators to join their House counterparts and back his candidacy?

He might, but even if he does, there are plenty more efforts underway to undo him and the Move Forward Party. This is exactly as the conservatives who drafted the 2017 constitution for the military junta wanted it. As the report adds:

Since the senators are mostly appointed by the military, many of them also have military and security forces backgrounds. The majority was even appointed by the same military leaders who staged the coup d’etat in 2014. Former ministers, civil servants and lawyers have also been appointed senators.

And, with reprehensible legal vulture Wissanu Krea-ngam tutoring Move Forward opponents, even if Pita could overcome the senate, he’s likely snookered, with consisiderable attention to the ludicrous claim that Pita owns shares in a “media company”:

On May 31, Thai Caretaker Deputy Prime Minister Wissanu Krea-ngam, a Thai jurist who advised the military leadership after the 2014 coup d’etat, hinted at the possibility of Pita’s disqualification by Election Commission and Constitutional Court]. He said that the details of the complaint against the candidate for prime minister’s shareholding in the media company iTV Plc would be a key factor determining his eligibility.

He said that if the complaint targets his eligibility to be a prime minister, then Pita can still serve as a member of parliament. But if it targets both his premiership bid and membership of parliament, then the court could rule on both.

The report concludes: “An unfavourable decision by the Election Commission could put Pita and the Move Forward Party into unchartered territory and push the country into political disarray.”

It isn’t uncharted territory given previous party dissolutions, coups, and judicial coups, but political protest is indeed likely. The events of 2020 did not emerge from nowhere, but from the dissolution of Future Forward.

Update: As has become its standard practice, the Election Commission is seeking to whittle away at the leading party’s MPs, seeking to disqualify them. The Election Commission’s chairman has now stated that “some 20 winning candidates attached to the Move Forward-led coalition may have been involved in electoral wrongdoings as alleged in petitions filed with the polling agency.” The EC and its commissioners have no shame.

Courts unlawfully fast-tracking 112 cases

3 06 2023

An earlier photo

Earlier in the week, PPT speculated that the judicial system has been charging, convicting, and repressing at an increased pace. We added that it seemed that the courts and prosecutors are keen to push lese majeste cases through the courts, ensuring that as many are locked up as possible.

That has now been confirmed. In tweets by Thai Enquirer, where it is stated: “Chonthicha [Jaengrew] … noted that her lese-majeste case is not the only one being expedited, as the Criminal Court also fast-tracked the case against another MFP MP candidate, Piyarat ‘Toto’ Chongthep.” In a related tweet it is noted that the “Human Rights Lawyers Association has stated that the fast-tracking of the case was not a result of the defendant’s actions, but rather due to the decision of the deputy director of the criminal court, made without consulting the defendant’s lawyers.”

These tweets refer to court proceedings against Chonthicha that the Association “deemed unlawful in this case and a violation of human rights.

The events that have caused the court to engage in actions deemed unlawful are detailed by Prachatai.

Chonthicha was initially charged with lese majeste following a complaint by Nopadol Prompasit, a member of the bullies who misname themselves the Thailand Help Centre for Cyberbullying Victims, a royalist group that has filed numerous lese majeste complaints against activists, protesters, and internet users. Chonthicha was accused of “posting a message to King Vajiralongkorn during a November 2020 protest, in which protesters marched to the Grand Palace to send letters calling for monarchy reform.”

Witness hearings in the trial against Chonthicha were scheduled for March 2024. However, in a startling move, the Criminal Court changed the schedule to 1–11 June 2023, “even though Chonticha’s lawyer informed them that he is not available on these dates as he has to attend another hearing at the South Bangkok Criminal Court.”

On 1 June, “Chonticha filed a request with the court to postpone the witness examination hearings on the grounds that her lawyer has already informed the court that he is not available and because she did not sign the court order rescheduling the hearings.”

However, the court rejected her request. The court stated that “she did not oppose it when the hearings were rescheduled and because the prosecution witnesses had already come to court, and ruled that the hearings should continue without her lawyer.” In fact, Chonthicha’s lawyer had “filed a request to the court which included a list of cases he is responsible for and hearing schedule.”

Chonthicha protested the court’s decision to proceed. She told the court that hearing witnesses without her lawyer “would undermine her right to a fair trial.”

She then asked to speak with the “Criminal Court Chief Justice or Deputy Chief Justice [Attakarn Foocharoen], who she said decided to reschedule her hearings, but she was refused.” She then “requested to change the judges responsible for the trial on the grounds that their ruling to continue witness examination without her lawyer is unlawful and undermines her ability to fully fight her charges. Her request was later rejected by the Chief Justice because there is no ground to change the judges.” It was Attakarn who rescheduled the court dates.

Chonthicha resolved to reject the process and told the court she “will not sign any document resulting from the hearing.” The court determinedly “insisted on continuing the witness examination after her declaration and summoned 4 prosecution witnesses to the stand without Chonticha’s lawyer to cross examine them.” She was advised by the court “that she may cross examine them herself, she refused to do so in her rejection of the process.”

Chonthicha stated that “if the court insists on examining witnesses knowing that there won’t be a lawyer present then go for it. Section 112 is a criminal charge. According to the principles, there should be a lawyer present. If you want to examine the witnesses, go for it. Let the judicial process fail.”

The court went ahead and heard all seven prosecution witnesses in just two days, and scheduled the next hearing for 6 June.

On 2 June, she filed a complaint with the Judicial Commission. In that complaint, she requested:

disciplinary action to be taken against the judges for expediting her trial to the point of examining witnesses without the defendant’s lawyer. She said that the court did not tell her why her hearings were rescheduled, only saying that it was up to the judges’ discretion. She noted that her lawyer told a court official that he is representing Parit Chiwarak and other activists and would not be available. Despite this, the court rescheduled the hearings without asking her lawyer to confirm them.

Legalities and technicalities hardly matter in Article 112 cases. What does matter is who is directly the judges. And, clearly, there is considerable effort now being made, after long delays, to convict activists.

Of course, the fact that Chonthicha has just been elected as a Move Forward MP is likely a factor in the ruling class’s decision-making on these cases. As she said “she was indicted only days after she announce[d] her intention to run an an MP candidate for the Move Forward party in February 2023.”

The Human Rights Lawyers Association “said that rescheduling hearings without confirming whether the defence lawyer is available and not allowing the hearings to be postponed is unlawful and damages the fundamental principles of the judicial process.” The Association “called on the Chief Justice of the Criminal Court to investigate these actions and prevent them from occurring again so as to stop any unfair and unlawful proceedings, noting that although trials can be expedited so that they do not take too long, doing so must also be fair to everyone involved.”

Of course, the Chief Justice is a party to these proceedings (see above) and is likely to be the one ordering and/or transmitting orders on these cases.

The unelected vs. the people

2 06 2023

The unelected are fighting hard to overturn yet another election result they dislike.

The Nation reports that a core group of senators – all appointed by the military junta and loyal to that bunch of coup makers including Gen Prayuth Chan-ocha and Gen Prawit Wongsuwan – “are actively lobbying their peers not to vote for Move Forward Party leader Pita Limjaroenrat to become Thailand’s 30th prime minister.” They reckon this will mean Move Forward has no chance of leading government.

From Wikipedia’s article on lese majeste

At the report has it: “Sensing an opening, the NCPO loyalists in the Senate have proposed that the next government be formed with Prayut and Prawit as key ministers so that they can continue running the country.”

These junta loyalists are arguing that “voting for Move Forward is tantamount to betraying the monarchy…”. Their “evidence” is “Move Forward’s repeated vow to amend Article 112 of the Criminal Code…”. Reform is “proof of the party’s opposition to the monarchy.”

While this unelected gang figures that using the monarchy in this way is a winning strategy, it is, as one academic pointed out, a dangerous strategy:

… this royalist tactic imperils democratisation, political stability, and the crown itself. It is risky for the monarchy because it does what Article 112 allegedly seeks to prevent: it negates its constitutional position as “above politics.” The royalists, by situating the monarchy at the core of their rejection of the people’s mandate, expose the monarchy as a political target.

The corrupt are loyal

1 06 2023

According to Prachatai, Lampang Deputy Governor Chamlak Kanpetch, who has been investigated for alleged disloyalty to the monarchy, has declared that “he is a true royalist, and willing to die for His Majesty.” More fool him, but you get the picture regarding the ridiculousness and buffalo manure demanded by the rightist-royalist regime (which is still in place and deeply embedded).

He was investigated by a panel of six for clicking the like button on the Facebook page of Yan Marchal, known for his political parodies of Thailand’s monarchy and junta. The deputy gov claims he was “framed” by someone disgruntled about a land deal. We wonder if the deal should be investigated.

This would be silly if it were not reflective of the old regime’s efforts to stymie the popular vote and engineer a more “royalist” regime than any that would include Move Forward. It is remarkable that mad monarchism now means that a pro-Thaksin party is more reliable than Move Forward. Just a month ago the royalists feared a Puea Thai coalition government and still hates Thaksin Shinawatara. Now the tune has changed as the old men and women of the entrenched ruling class seek to see off Move Forward as dangerous anti-monarchists and to prevent mildly progressive change in the country.

Even the caretaker prime minister, never elected but aligned to a party that was crushed in the election, has decided that he’s still the boss and can order folks around.

The Nation agrees that Gen Prayuth Chan-ocha “appears to be having a hard time moving on from his crushing election loss.” Yet there he is, warning “the party that won the most seats in May 14 vote – Move Forward – against amending Article 112 of the Criminal Code, also known as the lese majeste law.”

When the defeated general was asked if he was against amending Article 112, he replied: “Of course.” He added: “It has to be that way. It is in the heart of soldiers, police, civil servants, and many people…. They don’t agree and they wonder why [Move Forward would amend it.]”

Who support Article 112, meaning the monarchy? He says, “many people,” but we can never know for sure. But we do know that more than 60% of the people who voted threw in their lot with parties that want reform or had expressed concern about 112.

He says the military. Some of the election results show that many of the rank-and-file voted for progressive change and against military-backed parties. We also know that the military is a bloated and corrupt organization led by hundreds of more or less inactive generals who, like Prayuth, live high on the hog.

He says the police. Here he refers to a vast and corrupt mafia-like organization, where a new scandal involving billions emerges almost every day.

In other words, protecting Article 112-cum-crown is an exercise in protecting the corrupt.

Burning down the house

31 05 2023

According to Prachatai, a teenager, known only as K., has been indicted for lese majeste “after a prosecutor in the Office of the Attorney General ruled that burning a portrait of the King is the same as burning the King himself.”

Read more on burning portraits of the king here.

Clipped from Asia Democracy Chronicles

The teenager was arrested on 8 September 2021, when just 17 years old. Thai Lawyers for Human Rights said K. and another person were “arrested without a warrant and were detained for around 20 hours, during which their clothes, mobile phones, and motorcycles were confiscated.” They were questioned about protests in the Din Daeng area. The police “requested an arrest warrant after searching their residences and confiscating their belongings.”

K. was charged with lese majeste, violation of a curfew imposed under the Emergency Decree, arson, participating in a gathering of more than 10 people, and being disorderly in public. Additional charges included “allegedly shooting a slingshot and setting fire to a royal ceremonial arch near the Din Daeng intersection during a protest on 6 September 2021.”

K. was indicted on 26 May 2023.

TLHR reported that “Somsawat Thepnamsomanay, a public prosecutor at the Office of the Attorney General’s Family and Juvenile Case Division, ruled that setting fire to a ceremonial arch containing a portrait of King Vajiralongkorn is an offence under the royal defamation law because a portrait of the King is a representation of the King himself, and therefore burning the portrait is the same as burning the King himself and shows that the protesters involved wanted to destroy the monarchy.”

The prosecutor also accused K. of “throwing explosives and using a slingshot to shoot marbles at crowd control police during the protest and setting a fire on a public road, as well as tearing down the King’s portrait and stepping on it before setting fire to it.”

K. was granted bail on a security of 10,000-baht, and is scheduled to appear in court on 24 July 2023.

Updated: Don’t even talk about 112!

31 05 2023

The Bangkok Post reports that Teerayut Suwankesorn, claimed to be a lawyer, has filed a petition request with the Office of the Attorney General, requesting that that Office “forward a petition to the Constitutional Court requesting that it order Move Forward leader and aspirant prime minister Pita Limjaroenrat and his party to cease their campaign to change the lese majeste law.”

As well as demanding that Move Forward “cease all attempts to amend or abolish Section 112 of the Criminal Code, the lese majeste law,” he also opined that the court order Pita and Move Forward “to stop expressing opinions in speeches, articles, publications and advertisements which could lead to Section 112 being amended or abolished.”

Teerayut previously acted as a lawyer for fascist monk Buddha Issara.

Meanwhile, the tycoons who own pay TV in Thailand are censoring international news on Move Forward and Article 112. They are either being ordered to this or are doing it off their own bat as misguided, rich, loyalists acting in the interests of ultra-royalists and palace. In this case, it was the BBC that was blocked when there was discussion with Pita regarding lese majeste.

Pita’s interview is available in English with Thai subtitles:

Update: Read Pravit Rojanaphruk’s opinion piece on these disturbing issues.

112 update

30 05 2023

So… PPT chose the wrong time to go on holidays. So much happened. Our apology comes in the form of an update, focused mainly on lese majeste.

In the middle of the month, there was an election. Lots of enthusiasm, with the military-backed monarchists defeated in a progressive landslide, with Move Forward coming out on top. But hold on. Two weeks later, and once again the same military-royalists are seeking to overturn the result. A variety of mechanisms have been deployed to get rid of Move Forward and to split the proposed coalition apart. We found several articles particularly useful in explaining the situation: Thitinan Pongsudhirak has two insightful articles in the Bangkok Post on 19 May and 26 May, while Kevin Hewison had “Thailand’s Orange Wave: Progressives, Conservatives, and Monarchy” with Australian Outlook.

The senate votes

Most noticeably the appointed senators have gotten off their posteriors, awoken from junta-induced sleep, and have been poked into action to oppose the electorate. Their action is unequivocally about the monarchy, with the proxy issue that is front-and-center in the royalist rejection of Move Forward is Article 112. Of course, the military junta’s constitution writers made sure that the unelected have the capacity to reject a prime minister.

Meanwhile, the judicial system has been hard at work, charging, convicting, and repressing. It seems that the courts and prosecutors are keen to push lese majeste cases through the courts, ensuring that as many are locked up as possible. Here’s a summary, Based on Prachatai’s excellent reporting, which begins with a good news story (although appeals may be ongoing):

Books on Thailand

14 05 2023

For those who have become bored with the election we urge voting for progressives!

Meanwhile, a reader who liked our posts on academic articles has noticed a large “dump” of books about Thailand at Library Genesis. There’s an interesting and eclectic set of uploads from the 1960s to the 2020s.

Readers may find something of interest to get them through the rest of the day.

We are back for a brief moment, but this may be our last post for a couple of weeks as we continue to soak up the sun and the election results and the post-election fallout.

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