Sticking it to them

24 06 2017

Late on Friday, the junta’s police declared that there were no “unusual signs of political movements to stir public disturbances on the anniversary of the 1932 Siamese Revolution…”. What they mean is that there ban on gathering at the site of the stolen 1932 plaque was holding, so far.

No one in the royalist elite wants anyone to remember 1932 in ways that hail democracy and people’s sovereignty.

But then there was the brave Akechai Hongkangwarn. He was detained by the royalist patrol dogs on Saturday when he “attempted to install a mock-up of the missing historical plaque at the Royal Plaza…”.

Good for him!

Police say they “had not yet charged Ekachai but only detained him for ‘talks’ for an understanding of the situation.”

Akechai has a history of political activism and we salute him. We hope others follow his example and stand up for democracy.





Overthrowing royalist regimes

24 06 2017

The 24th of June is an important day. On that day in 1932 the People’s Party (khana ratsadon) executed its well-planned Revolution. It was the first time that Thais overthrew royal power.

It is an important day for those who have long struggled to establish parliamentary democracy in the country.

It is also important for anti-democrats and royalists. They have opposed and successfully rolled back the changes the People’s Party implemented 85 years ago. They want to expunge and erase the memory of anti-monarchism in Thailand. To do this, since the 1940s, they have worked in alliance with an increasingly ultra-royalist military.

24 June  used to be celebrated. In recent years, however, the event is barely noticed among the cacophony surrounding the celebration of various historically insignificant royal anniversaries made big and expensive.

For many years, the royalist aim has been to diminish the significance of the events of 1932 and to forget all but their bankrupt discourse that King Prajadiphok was the real democrat. Of course, he wasn’t, and supported several efforts to overthrow the new regime.

The 2017 constitution and the changes demanded by King Vajiralongkorn represent a further rolling back of the People’s Party notion of people’s sovereignty. It is no surprise to see that, after supporting the removal of the 1932 plaque around the time that the junta’s constitution was promulgated as a royal event, the military dictatorship has banned any gathering at that spot today.

We invite readers to consider the People’s Party Announcement No. 1, which would probably be considered lese majeste if uttered or published today. The announcement is attributed to Pridi Phanomyong.

Overthrowing a royalist regime is as important in 2017 as it was in 1932.

ANNOUNCEMENT OF THE PEOPLE’S PARTY NO. 1 (1932)

All the people

When this king succeeded his elder brother, people at first hoped that he would govern protectively. But matters have not turned out as they hoped. The king maintains his power above the law as before. He appoints court relatives and toadies without merit or knowledge to important positions, without listening to the voice of the people. He allows officials to use the power of their office dishonestly, taking bribes in government construction and purchasing, and seeking profits from changes in the price of money, which squanders the wealth of the country. He elevates those of royal blood (phuak chao) to have special rights more than the people. He governs without principle. The country’s affairs are left to the mercy of fate, as can be seen from the depression of the economy and the hardships of making a living – something the people know all about already.

The government of the king above the law is unable to find solutions and bring about recovery. This inability is because the government of the king has not governed the country for the people, as other governments have done. The government of the king has treated the people as slaves (some called phrai, some kha) and as animals. It has not considered them as human beings. Therefore, instead of helping the people, rather it farms on the backs of the people. It can be seen that from the taxes that are squeezed from the people, the king carries off many millions for personal use each year. As for the people, they have to sweat blood in order to find just a little money. At the time for paying government tax or personal tax, if they have no money, the government seizes their property or puts them on public works. But those of royal blood are still sleeping and eating happily. There is no country in the world that gives its royalty so much money as this, except the Tsar and the German Kaiser, in nations that have now overthrown their thrones.

The king’s government has governed in ways that are deceiving and not straightforward with the people. For example, it said it would improve livelihood in this way and that, but time has passed, people have waited, and nothing has happened. It has never done anything seriously. Further than that, it has insulted the people – those with the grace to pay taxes for royalty to use – that the people don’t know as much as those of royal blood. But this is not because the people are stupid, but because they lack the education which is reserved for royalty. They have not allowed the people to study fully, because they fear that if the people have education, they will know the evil that they do and may not let them farm on their backs.

You, all of the people, should know that our country belongs to the people – not to the king, as has been deceitfully claimed. It was the ancestors of the people who protected the independence of the country from enemy armies. Those of royal blood just reap where they have not sown and sweep up wealth and property worth many hundred millions. Where did all this money come from? It came from the people because of that method of farming on the backs of the people! The country is experiencing hardships. Farmers and soldiers’ parents have to give up their paddy fields because cultivating them brings no benefit. The government does not help. The government is discharging people in floods. Students who have completed their study and soldiers released from the reserves have no employment. They have to go hungry according to fate. These things are the result of the government of the king above the law. It oppresses the minor government officials. Ordinary soldiers and clerks are discharged from employment, and no pension is given. In truth, government should use the money that has been amassed to manage the country to provide employment. This would be fitting to pay back the people who have been paying taxes to make royalty rich for a long time. But those of royal blood do nothing. They go on sucking blood. Whatever money they have they deposit overseas and prepare to flee while the country decays and people are left to go hungry. All this is certainly evil.

Therefore the people, government officials, soldiers, and citizens who know about these evil actions of the government, have joined together to establish the People’s Party and have seized power from the king’s government. The People’s Party sees that to correct this evil it must establish government by an assembly, so that many minds can debate and contribute, which is better than just one mind.

As for the head of state of the country, the People’s Party has no wish to snatch the throne. Hence it invites this king to retain the position. But he must be under the law of the constitution for governing the country, and cannot do anything independently without the approval of the assembly of people’s representatives. The People’s Party has already informed the king of this view and at the present time is waiting for a response. If the king replies with a refusal or does not reply within the time set, for the selfish reason that his power will be reduced, it will be regarded as treason to the nation, and it will be necessary for the country to have a republican form of government, that is, the head of state will be an ordinary person appointed by parliament to hold the position for a fixed term.

By this method the people can hope to be looked after in the best way. Everyone will have employment, because our country is a country which has very abundant conditions. When we have seized the money which those of royal blood amass from farming on the backs of the people, and use these many hundreds of millions for nurturing the country, the country will certainly flourish. The government which the People’s Party will set up will draw up projects based on principle, and not act like a blind man as the government which has the king above the law has done. The major principles which the People’s Party has laid out are:

1. must maintain securely the independence of the country in all forms including political, judicial, and economic, etc.;
2. must maintain public safety within the country and greatly reduce crime;
3. must improve the economic well-being of the people by the new government finding employment for all, and drawing up a national economic plan, not leaving the people to go hungry
4. must provide the people with equal rights (so that those of royal blood do not have more rights than the people as at present);
5. must provide the people with liberty and freedom, as far as this does not conflict with the above four principles;
6. must provide the people with full education.

All the people should be ready to help the People’s Party successfully to carry out its work which will last forever. The People’s Party asks everyone who did not participate in seizing power from the government of the king above the law to remain peaceful and keep working for their living. Do not do anything to obstruct the People’s Party. By doing so, the people will help the country, the people, and their own children, grandchildren, and great-grandchildren. The country will have complete independence. People will have safety. Everyone must have employment and need not starve. Everyone will have equal rights and freedom from being serfs (phrai) and slaves (kha, that) of royalty. The time has ended when those of royal blood farm on the backs of the people. The things which everyone desires, the greatest happiness and progress which can be called si-ariya, will arise for everyone.

Khana Ratsadon

[People’s Party]

24 June 1932

 





Royal military training and death

23 06 2017

A few days ago, Prachatai reported on another case of a soldier’s death while training. This kind of report is common as military officers sanction hazing, torture and repeated beatings of recruits and lower ranks.

This case is about “a soldier who allegedly died from ill-treatment during military training….”. Sub Lt Sanan Thongdinok “drowned to death on 6 June 2015 while swimming as part of the King’s Guard Regiment training course.”

The soldier “was forced to swim back and forth repeatedly by a trainer at the 1st Infantry Regiment King’s Own Guard in Bangkok until he became too tired and drowned before trainers could rescue him.”

A doctor from the Central Institute of Forensic Science “testified on 15 June that the soldier died from being submerged for longer than five minutes, causing heart failure, hypoxia and bleeding in the brain, liver, and kidneys, adding that his head had also sustained bruises from being hit with a blunt object.”

The “trainer was also in the swimming pool, but did not help Sanan when he was drowning.”

The hearing is ongoing.

King Vajiralongkorn takes a personal interest in the training of the King’s Guard troops. In recent times, one of his concubines, Suthida, was catapulted to the rank of General in the unit.





In your face

23 06 2017

We are pleased that Prachatai has reported yesterday’s demonstration at Rajaprasong in support for Jatuphat Boonpattaraksa. This protest marked six months since the military dictatorship singled him out for a bogus lese majeste charge.

Prachatai reported that “Democracy lovers gathered to demand” Pai’s release.

While the cops monitored the event, it went on for almost an hour. There’s a 35-minute video at the Prachatai site.

Don’t fear this horrid dictatorship, get rid of it.





The authoritarian future II

23 06 2017

While we have long said that The Dictator craved being in power for longer and longer, it is useful when our perspective is confirmed, even if that confirmation appears to have been loose blabbing by a general who forgot he’s supposed to keep this quiet.

The blabber was 2nd Army Region commander Lt Gen Wichai Chaejorhor who declared that there’s “widespread support in the Northeast for Prime Minister Prayut Chan-o-cha to stay in power…”.

Lt Gen Wichai then went on to express blatantly racist – i.e., widely held Bangkok yellow-shirted – attitudes towards people in the northeast. He stated that “Isan people easily believe others. They love sincerely and they are loyal to those they love. They are also grateful…”.

Forget that the northeast has long been one of the most politically progressive regions of the country. But remember that the Bangkok royalist elite has looked down on these people. The anti-democrats in over the past 15 years have – and continue – to look down on those in the northeast as “buffaloes” but this is just the most recent contempt for northeastern progressives, democrats and politicians.

After looking down on northeasterners, the dopey general then claimed “many people in the region have expressed their desire to have Gen Prayut … continue guiding the country forward as it chases national reconciliation and development.”

The general said the bigger general had real support: “They spoke their mind, saying they ‘want Uncle Tu to stay on’. And they meant it, I can reassure you of that…”.

Buffaloes they are: “On many occasions I have had to help them understand the truth and not believe the distorted information being spread in some areas,” but he “convinced” them of his “truth.”

Or, this particular dopey general convinced himself of his “truth.” In all of this, he’s made it clear that the military’s plan is to have The Dictator continue as The “elected” Dictator.

The Dictator’s campaigning is likely to continue in other regions as the junta feels it has stumbled on a strategy for getting “votes.” They are to revive “mobile” cabinet meetings. Thaksin Shinawatra had those and so did Chatichai Choonhavan, but both were elected prime ministers.

We imagine that a political strategy from the late 1980s is considered an innovation by these knuckle-draggers. We know they plan to stay on in power. We have been able to watch them prepare for it for three years.





The authoritarian future I

22 06 2017

The National Legislative Assembly is a puppet assembly established by the military junta to do its work. The members are a bunch of junta lackeys, mostly from the armed forces, putting money in their bank accounts. Their voting behavior is that of Japanese cats.

This voting pattern was seen when the junta’s planning for military domination into the future was as enacted as a National Strategy Commission with the national strategy bill.

No prizes for guessing the voting: 281-0.

The Commission will have the prime minister at its head, with three vice-chairmen being the Senate and House speakers and a deputy prime minister or minister assigned by the premier.

Our guess is that its likely that at least the premier and Senate speaker will be military, depending on how the junta manages its “election.”

The members of the Commission will be the defense permanent secretary; chiefs of the Supreme Command, army, navy, air force and police; secretary-general of the National Security Council; chairmen of the National Economic and Social Development Board, National Farmers Federation, Thai Chamber of Commerce, Federation of Thai Industries, Tourism Council of Thailand and Thai Bankers’ Association. Another 17 supporters members can appointed by the government of the day.

That’s 5 or 6 from the military and the rest will be anti-democrats who have long supported military dictatorship.

The Commission is able to demand particular legislation related to “national reform” and maintaining the junta’s agenda into the future.





Childish Dictator

22 06 2017

The Dictator often has tantrums, likes being heard, shouts other down and bullies others. If those sounds a bit like a schoolyard bully, then you are getting an idea about General Prayuth Chan-ocha’s psychological disposition. Of course, he’s far more dangerous than your average school bully, having control of a huge gang of thugs (the RTA) and lots of weapons.

Prayuth as bully

His most recent outing has seen him acting even more like a child by yelling “shut up” you guys. I can’t accept this challenge. The king of the playground is a lot like a pre-teenager telling his enemies to say these things in Thailand. Face the music here he dares them.

According to the Bangkok Post, The Dictator has “lost patience with critics ‘scolding’ the military government from abroad…”. Of course, like a pudgy schoolkid, he’s got it wrong. The “critics” tend to focus on the monarchy, not his military junta.

Unfortunately, his childishness has produced equally childish responses. We think it far better to keep needling Prayuth, exposing the regime’s brutishness, plans and corruption. It clearly bothers him. More importantly, opponents need to organize and get rid of this bunch of useless thugs.