Framing lese majeste prisoners

30 08 2015

The Bangkok Post has published an excellent article assessing the case of Surapak Puchaisaeng, accused of lese majeste in 2011, and kept in jail  for many months, without bail.

He battled for four years to eventually prove his innocence, having the charges dismissed. With a degree in law and working as an IT specialist, Surapak was able to understand and challenge the technical “evidence” against him, which was shown to have probably been fabricated. PPT’s suspicion is that police may have been involved in some of the fabrication of evidence.Surapak

With so many lese majeste cases being brought against social media users, and with almost all of them being “convinced” that pleading guilty is likely to reduce jail time, his case is an example of the kinds of lengths lese majeste vigilantes and police are willing to go in order to throw political opponents in prison.

Several others have claimed they were framed, including Joe Gordon.

Remarkably, the story claims that this is the “first time in history a lese majeste defendant had ever made it to Thailand’s Supreme Court and won.”

Equally remarkable is the line in the story that Surapak “… has yet to receive compensation for the 13 months spent on remand, calculated at 200 baht per day.” PPT doubts any of the crooked cops will ever be held accountable.





Ji on the military dictatorship’s constitution

29 08 2015

As we often do, PPT reproduced Ji Ungpakorn’s most recent observations:

Thai Junta’s draft constitution pushes democracy back indefinitely

Giles Ji Ungpakorn

No one with an ounce of intelligence would have expected the junta, and its herd of “academics for hire”, to come up with a democratic constitution or anything other than a host of anti-reforms to set the authoritarian political agenda for years to come. Tedious as it may be, I and many other activists and academics have had to plough through the endless pages of garbage in the new draft constitution in order to establish a facts-based critique of this offensive document.

Overall, it differs little in its tone from the previous draft, although there is a shocking additional article towards the end. The general tone is patronising and banal, with constant references to the monarchy. Since the late 1950s, the monarchy has been a tool of the military and other elites, justifying all manner of authoritarian measures and human rights abuses. At the same time the king has been a pathetic and cowardly character, always willing to do the bidding of his masters, while keeping up the pretence of being a “God-like genius”.

The draft constitution reads like a Thai-style kindergarten text, talking about the “duties of citizens to be loyal to King and Country and to maintain discipline. Duty and discipline take priority over the rights of citizens. There are pages and pages of rubbish about the qualities of “good” political leaders and naturally they must be loyal to “Nation, Religion and King”. We should not forget that this draft constitution is drawn up by gangsters and thugs in uniform, who murdered pro-democracy demonstrators and used violence to stage military coups and pervert the democratic process.

It is also a neo-liberal constitution, like all the various constitutions since the 1996 economic crisis. So it talks of public health being organised according to a “fair” market economy, the need to maintain “fiscal discipline” and the importance of following the King’s reactionary “Sufficiency Economy” ideology. As usual, this is all aimed against redistribution of wealth and state spending which benefits the poor. Naturally, military and Palace spending are not a threat to fiscal discipline (in the interests of national security).

In this light, article 189 and other sections of the constitution outlaw what the reactionaries like to call “populist policies”. This is aimed directly at Taksin-style measures which were hugely popular among the electorate. Such policies need to be outlawed by wise men because the majority of the population are “too stupid” to know what is good for them. However, there will be “people participation” in managing communities through toy-like “citizens’ assemblies”.

People like Taksin and some other Pua Thai politicians will be barred from office for “legal” reasons, much like the gerrymandered electoral system in Singapore or Burma which bars opposition politicians for dubious legal reasons. However, state murderers like Abhisit and Sutep, will not be banned from office.

There will be 300 constituency MPs and between 150-170 national party list MPs. The number of party list MPs will be adjusted according to the national vote for each party and the number of elected constituency MPs, so that it will be a more proportional representative system. However, parliament will have reduced powers.

The Prime Minister need not be an elected MP, if supported by 2/3 of parliament. All ministers must have bachelor degrees, to weed out any ignorant poor people, and the Prime Minister cannot hold office for longer than 8 consecutive years.

The all-powerful senate will be made up of 77 senators, elected in each province, and another 123 senators appointed by the military and the elites. The senate will have extensive powers to appoint the Electoral Commission, the Anti-Corruption Commission and the Constitutional Judges. In the past these bodies exercised power over the democratically elected Yingluk government and paved the way for a military coup. The senate will also appoint the useless Human Rights Commission, no doubt ensuring that there are plenty of military and police officers on board.

The illegal and highly oppressive “temporary” constitution, which was drawn up by the military in 2014 immediately after the coup, will be a guiding force for the new constitution, making sure, in article 285, that all the anti-democratic acts of the junta are “deemed to be legal”.

However, the worst aspect of this new draft is the last section, from article 259 onwards, with the establishment of a committee to determine the strategy for anti-reforms and so-called reconciliation. This committee will in effect be a “Super Junta”, with powers to veto any decisions made by an elected government and to take power at any time via a “legalised coup”, if and when it deems fit. Naturally the Super Junta will be dominated by the military top brass. This Super Junta will be enshrined in stone for 5 years, but its length of duty can be extended.

The upshot of this is that whoever is democratically elected to form a government will have very limited room to determine policy.

Of course, the constitution can never be amended to make Thailand into a republic or to allow self-determination in Patani. Any other amendments which have been sanctioned by a parliamentary vote, must be approved by the elite appointed Constitutional Court.

Now, it stands to reason that anyone who supports democracy and human rights would oppose this nonsense of a constitution. Yet, all manner of threats are being issued to silence critics. Apart from threatening to push back elections if the constitution does not pass in a referendum, the deputy Prime Minister Wisanu Kruangarm, and the head of the Electoral Commission, have stated that it is illegal to campaign against this constitution using social media and other means. Wisanu also took the opportunity of saying to the media that it was the “best constitution ever written”.

We all have rights, but some have more rights than the rest of us!





TRT economic policies revived

29 08 2015

The military dictatorship has been hopeless at economic management. Part of the reason for this is that it resurrected failed finance minister and (his major “qualification”) minor prince Pridiyathorn Devakula as its chief economic minister. As predicted, he again failed.

Perhaps humiliatingly, the military junta, while reshuffling the cabinet to strengthen military domination, The Dictator appointed former Thaksin Shinawatra finance minister Somkid Jatusripitak. The idea is that the Sino-Thai “technocrat” has a magic economic wand and can revive the economy.

The thinking and memory here seems to be that, despite all of the “sins” of the Thai Rak Thai government, it was economically successful and that success brought political support.

In a throwback set of policies, Somkid is reported to be reviving “the One Tambon One Product (Otop) scheme to kick-start the grassroots economy while boosting multiple business and industrial clusters with new incentives…” and the “Village Fund scheme…”.

Somkid told business leaders “that the economic situation is not yet a ‘crisis’ but there has been a lack of private confidence plus a slowdown in the global export demand.” Reviving the Keynsianism of the Thaksin period, Somkid declared that “we have to re-balance by shifting our focus to domestic activities and SMEs (small and medium enterprises) to strengthen our economy.” The emphasis, as emphasized by some business leaders is on “boosting domestic consumption.”

The problem for Somkid is that he is not an ideas man and, under the military dictatorship, he lacks a team of economic advisers who can provide innovative policies. Hence, we see the return to old policies for a domestic economy that has changed considerably over the past decade and a half. He also lacks the support at the top that Thaksin gave him in the early 2000s. Convincing the political troglodytes and economic morons of the junta of the need for innovative economic policy is like excavating dinosaur fossils.





Updated: Voices silenced

28 08 2015

Political voice is usually considered to be the ability to express views and interests and to influence policy and decision-making processes.

One of the complaints made about electoralism is that it allows just a few minutes of voice.Yet for Thailand’s military dictatorship, any political voice is dangerous and threatening, and it prefers political silence.

At Khaosod it is reported that “Thais will not be allowed to independently campaign either for or against their new constitution before it goes before voters in a referendum as soon as January.”No voice

Junta hireling Wissanu Krea-ngam has declared “that public debate over its [the draft constitution] merits and deficiencies will only be allowed at officially sanctioned forums organized by the Election Commission and balanced accounts in recognized news media.” There can be no other “political gatherings.”

Wissanu”explained” that ” the government will have to keep its the lid on free speech in the months leading to the referendum for the sake of stability.”

The remarkably daft Election Commission stated: “Campaigns to influence the referendum cannot be done, whether to tell people to accept or reject the charter draft…. If anyone or any group comes out to campaign about the referendum, they will be guilty of violating NCPO order No. 7, which bans political assemblies.”

The EC and Wissanu are clear that political voice is verboten.

Update: In a new report at Khaosod its is explained that the military dictatorship’s “ban on ‘campaigning’ for or against the new constitution will include uses of social media…”. Wissanu stated that “the ban will also cover using social media to ‘mobilize supporters’ in support or opposition to the new constitution.” If this wasn’t clear enough, the hireling declared:

“If you send Line or SMS messages in ways that incite, mobilize, use rude words, use violent terms, or use aggressive terms; you cannot do that. It’s against the law.”

… “This includes sending video clips that break the laws. If we catch you doing it, we will arrest you. The principle is that: you cannot mobilize or incite that cause divisions. If you express your opinion in a normal way, it’s fine, for example, by expressing opinions on TV shows.”





Undemocratic Bowornsak

27 08 2015

It is appropriate that the chief hired lawyer and constitution mangler for the military dictatorship, Bowornsak Uwanno,  also heads up the King Prajadhipok Institute, which is a front organization for “Thai-style” (non-)democracy.

One may peruse the recently revised KPI fairy tale history to learn that the royalist construction of “parliamentary democracy with the King as the head of state” came into existence in 1932 rather than when royalist and military ideologues hit on this mangled description in recent years. One might also note that under the misapprehension that the deposed king “granted” political change rather than having it forced on him and a coterie of princes.

Most significantly, KPI is claimed to have been “established specifically to promote democracy…”. In fact, it was established by royalists to subvert democracy, and Bowornsak is the perfect and trustworthy patron of that mangling of democratic politics.

That neither Bowornsak or his royalist organization has nothing to do with the promotion of democracy is shown by the linking of the last absolute monarch with the Institute. If it were even necessary, Bowornsak is reported in The Nation in a manner that makes this crystal clear.

The draft charter is aimed, Bowornsak asserts, “at getting Thailand back on its feet with a five-year ‘transitional’ democracy, rather than trying to inflict another ‘mature’ democracy on the country…”.

Conveniently forgetting that it is boss who most recently trashed the electoral system and the constitution, neglecting that it has been his royalist and military allies who have trashed every effort to establish electoral politics, Bowornsak blames everyone else for the way “… things fell apart…”. Mimicking his boss, The Dictator, Bowornsak crows: “I would like to ask if we still want it – a Western-style full-fledged democracy?”

BootlickerHis answer, demonstrated in his boot-licking of military fascists, is clear.

He reckons the puppet Constitution Drafting Committee “tried … to find a democratic model that fits the country’s situation…”.

Bowornsak says this “search” was because the “country has been facing the plague of corruption as well as a deep division that finds no end, significantly because of a Western full-fledged democracy.” It is that “democracy,” he fantasizes, that has caused the “the government fall under a military regime.”

 

Like his bosses, he thinks the Thai people are infantile, and need a “transitional democracy” before allowing “it grow into an adult one when the time was right.”

Like his military boss, Bowornsak criticizes “politicians” for daring to express a view on his draft (military) charter. He attacks their “tone of voice” when he means they should shut up and accept military-royalist dictatorship, paternalism and hierarchy.

Fascists will be fascists.





No monarchy, no Thai, no yellow, no religion

27 08 2015

The Straits Times Lifestyle section reports on the making of the action thriller “No Escape,” which contrary to some claims, is approved for screening in Thailand. The film reportedly was shot in Chiang Mai in 2013, so under the Yingluck Shinawatra government, which was also required to be appropriately royalist for fear of claims of disloyalty.

Co-writer Drew Dowdle says: “We worked very closely with the Thai government…”. He adds: “we had a very good relationship with the Thai authorities, and I think they were happy with the movie.” That relationship involved boundary setting to “protect” the monarchy and tourism. As Dowdle states: “… there were a lot of things they wanted us to shy away from.”No Escape

This means that “although the film shows a coup breaking out in a South-east Asian city … it never specified the country.” Given that Thailand is about the only currently coup-prone nation in the region, this is a bit odd.

Dowdle states: “We were very careful not to make it Thailand in the movie, so there was no Thai language used…. None of the signage is Thai and most of the language that the native population is speaking is a combination of Laotian, hill-tribe languages and other languages.” That’s enforcement of the view that Thailand is monocultural, which is clearly one of those 20th century royalist-nationalist myths.

The film-makers were told “not to use images of the Thai monarchy and to … never show the king or the colour yellow because that’s the colour of the king.” Tell that to the yellow shirts!

And, “no Buddhas.”

Nation, religion, monarchy and the tourist loot. Now that the military has conducted another coup in Thailand and the military regime seems attentive to all of these items, the last one seems to be falling apart as it enforces on the others.

 





The democracy trap

26 08 2015

Earlier we posted on some opinions being expressed on the draft constitution. There, we commented on The Dictator’s ill-tempered response. Khaosod reports on Prayuth’s attacks on “civilian politicians.”

Prayuth fumed about “civilian politicians.”

By commenting on the draft of the nation’s basic law, and criticizing it, these politicians are considered to be “overstepping their bounds by expressing opinions on the proposed constitution’s merits.” Prayuth declared: “Politicians are not involved…”.

As a self-appointed premier, coup master and royalist posterior polishers, Prayuth thinks he owns all political space. He declares: “It’s already generous of me for letting these people talk…. Usually, these people shouldn’t be allowed to speak at all.”

He threatened these politicians:

“These people, now that they are being harsh to me, I will have to be harsh in return…. Well, they shouldn’t reject the laws if there’s legal action against them. Don’t whine and scream that they are treated unjustly. That would be wrong thinking, because they did it to themselves.”

… “There’s no need for a prohibition now. But when the time comes, I will deal with them…. Today I have to teach people to think. Why do they allow anyone to misguide them?”

Frustrated with any criticism and demanding order, discipline and hierarchy, the ignorant Prayuth declared:

“Today we are still stuck in the trap of democracy, a trap of conflicts…. We still let emotions dictate our judgment. We have to fix these issues.”

Dictators will be dictators. Democracy is a “problem” they solve, by preventing it.








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