Military hierarchy and the need for violence

24 11 2017

As readers will know, reports of the unusual deaths of recruits to the Thai military are common. Pictures of naked recruits being forced to engage in degrading activities and other pictures of recruits who have been beaten and bashed are all over social media.

We hadn’t posted on the most recent case, despite its grotesque details, as it was one case among many. However, this case has taken an unusual political turn as the dead recruit and his family had promoted their support of the People’s Democratic Reform Committee, the group that supported and encouraged the 2014 military coup. The dead recruit did not come from the draft, but was at the “prestigious” Armed Forces Academies Preparatory School.

Prachatai reported that Cadet Phakhaphong Tanyakan may have been beaten to death. At least his parents thought this and secreted away his body for an independent autopsy after the military stated he died of sudden cardiac arrest.

The independent autopsy revealed that several of the cadet’s internal organs were missing, including his brain. The media reported the parent’s shock but then seemed to confirm that returning a body sans organs is “normal” and “not illegal.”

His parents were criticized for wanting another autopsy and not accepting the military’s explanation of his death.

While the junta has now had the “chief of the Armed Forces Academies Preparatory School has been transferred to an inactive post,” the initial response of the senior-most military thugs was to support “military discipline.” But even in replacing the former commander, the junta showed its intention to cover up by appointing a loyalist: “Col Benjapol Dechartwong Na Ayutthaya, deputy commander of the 21st Infantry Regiment, Queen’s Guard.”

Another Prachatai story had Deputy Dictator Gen Prawit Wongsuwan “explaining” the death. He stated that “the freshman cadet … was … just too weak to withstand tough training.” Blaming the victim is the redoubt of fools and fascists.

He also supported the cadet school.

General Prawit also justified the “extreme discipline” at the school. He declared: “all soldiers have had to undergo such disciplinary measures, including himself.” He added: “I was once repaired more than I could take and I fainted too. I didn’t die.” That’s all okay then. Torturing your recruits is fine and dandy and if they die, it is their own weakness.

Prawit also indicated that “extreme discipline” would continue: “You don’t have to enrol. You don’t have to be a soldier. We want those who are willing.” Willing to be bashed, humiliated, and tortured. Those who survive can make coups and get unusually wealthy because they “learn” the hierarchy, accept it and move up, getting more loot and power at each level.

His view was supported by The Dictator, as reported in another Bangkok Post story. With the virtually moribund National Human Rights Commission (NHRC) actually making a statement that “harsh disciplining of cadets could constitute an act of torture…” under a law that is not in effect, Gen Prayuth said military bosses “would meet for talks the family of Pakapong … Tanyakan whose cadaver was later found to be missing organs including his brain.”

Prayuth mumbled that “military discipline for cadet training” was okay. He added: “Don’t worry. Nobody wants any losses or injuries…”. He used the same “logic” as Prawit: “he was disciplined when he studied at the Armed Forces Academies Preparatory School.” He brainlessly added: “What’s wrong with it? I went through it all.”

That explains a considerable amount about Prayuth, Prawit and their dictatorship. Trained to accept torture as “discipline,” they are mentally crippled by their “education” to the extent that they think all Thais need “order” and “extreme discipline.”

On learning that the family were PDRC, Prayuth “apologised to the family and pledged to continue with the investigations to get to the bottom of the mystery.”

It isn’t a “mystery,” it is military discipline, establishing hierarchy and marking territory. The military does this with violence. This is also how they run the country: threats of violence and the use of violence. The deaths of citizens who get in the way is just collateral damage for the greater good and social order.





Fake news/junta lies

24 11 2017

Our last post was about The Dictator, General Prayuth Chan-ocha using Article 44 “to amend the internal security legislation and set up a security ‘super board’ to help the Internal Security Operations Command (Isoc) deal with domestic threats.”

As we noted, ISOC has already been expanded, strengthened and made central to all the repression under the military dictatorship.

Readers might also remember a post on The Dictator ranting about media that “distort facts” and disseminate “fake reports and hate speech.”

Linking the two is easy because it is the junta itself that “distorts facts,” and that’s being polite. In fact, it simply concocts “news” and lies regularly.

The latest is that claim that the expansion of ISOC’s control is not “politically motivated.” By that, its seems that ISOC spokesman Major General Peerawach Saengthong means “the move has nothing to do with the upcoming general election slated for next November…”. No, not political at all, just a “part of a long-term security management plan to better handle domestic threats.”

That is, by the junta’s own definitions, anything considered anti-monarchy, anything considered anti-junta and anything associated with the Shinawatra clan, the Puea Thai Party and red shirts.

Notice that Major General Peerawach didn’t say anything about local elections, but it is no accident that these changes are being put in place when there is talk of local elections.

In fact, this move is just one more act in the military’s establishment of its dominance over politics into the future. ISOC has always interfered in politics; in fact, that’s its role. So the ISOC and junta claims of the move being apolitical is buffalo manure.





It’s getting darker II

23 11 2017

Yesterday we posted on The Dictator’s demands that critics of the junta (and monarchy) be crushed through the use of laws like the computer crimes act. Our view is that the junta is becoming more confident in being more repressive. Certainly, opposition voices in Thailand are very quiet following almost four years of repression.

Confirming this, the Bangkok Post reports that General Prayuth Chan-ocha “has invoked his sweeping powers under Section 44 to amend the internal security legislation and set up a security ‘super board’ to help the Internal Security Operations Command (Isoc) deal with domestic threats.”

ISOC has already been expanded, strengthened and made central to all the repression under the military dictatorship, often using methods resurrected from the Cold War.

Prayuth reckons that there are important “new security challenges” that “justify the setting up of the Internal Security Administration Committee.” This doesn’t sound like a regime that is going anywhere. It is settling in for a long repressive future.

What changes in this move is that ISOC becomes the central agency dealing with “security,” at all levels. “Security” usually means the use of lese majeste, computer crimes and sedition laws against political opponents.

Essentially, ISOC will head up all other agencies, and at the regional level, this includes the Interior Ministry, police and prosecutors.

No one need turn off the lights, they are already off. The military has control and is not about to give it up.





Abhisit on ethics (yes, really)

23 11 2017

Under a headline “Abhisit evangelises on ethics,” the Bangkok Post reports that Democrat Party leader Abhisit Vejjajiva called on the puppet political reform committee to prioritize “a set of rules governing the ethical behaviour of politicians is needed before the next elections.”

Anek: working for the junta

Abhisit is said toe be “sharing his opinions with the reform panel on politics headed by Anek Laothamatas.” Anek, once a communist, later styled himself as an academic before deciding that his vocation was politics. He took money from godfathers and set up a party that was dysfunctional and thumped at the polls. This political chameleon then became an anti-democrat and had a makeover that involves geeky glasses and propeller-like bow-ties and hawked himself to the military junta.

In the company of anti-democrats, Abhisit waxed lyrical about ethics and wondered if elections should be held: “It’s hard to say if it’s time to go ahead with the elections because we don’t know how people will behave…”.

Abhisit

When Abhisit speaks of ethics, he is using the side of his brain that eliminates his own unethical behaviors: presiding over the murder of dozens of protesters in 2010; fake military credentials; boycotting elections; coming to the premiership on the tip of a military bayonet; keeping his dual citizenship secret; supporting anti-democrats; disrupting parliament; accepting military “justice”; we could go on and on.





It’s getting darker I

22 11 2017

The lights are dimming everywhere and Thailand’s lights have been starved of wattage for the years since the 2014 military coup.

The Dictator is in charge of turning the lights off, and he looks like he’s going for candle power.

The Bangkok Post reports that the military dictatorship has demanded that the Computer Crimes Act “be rigorously enforced against online media that distort facts and disseminate ‘fake reports and hate speech’.”

Thanks Donald and the alt-right for that idea, a redoubt of fascists. It means that General Prayuth Chan-ocha feels free to claim that any news story he dislikes is now considered “fake.”

The Dictator demands order: “society needs to function in an orderly fashion. No matter who you are, if you twist the facts, write what is not true or incite hatred, you will face legal action…”.

That’s a lie (or perhaps fake). We know that the military, the junta and their spokesman twist facts, speak untruths and incite hatred of their opponents and most especially those they accuse of lese majeste. None of these liars will face legal action because they control and manipulate whatever law the junta decides to invent (like Article 44).

The Dictator especially pointed to “his political critics [saying they ]were not immune.” He seemed to have Voice TV in his sights.

He’s been especially ticked off by speculation over his cabinet reshuffle. That seems stalled, somewhere between the junta and the palace. There’s still some horsetrading being done.

 

Government spokesman and perpetual purveyor of fake news, Lt Gen. Sansern Kaewkamnerd said “the intention is not to monitor media who play by the rules but to monitor online media and netizens whose identities are usually unknown and operate in the dark.”

This suggests that the military junta is keen to wipe out all critics. It also suggests that another lese majeste crackdown may on the cards.

Lt Gen Sansern revealed that The Dictator demanded that “every ministry and the Government Spokesman Bureau … compel agencies under their authority to be vigilant in monitoring social media and online news entities that publish information relating to the government’s work.”

The Nation adds that The Dictator is concerned about any news or commentary that criticizes the junta’s performance and mentioned the “online dissemination of information ‘deemed controversial to national security’.” That’s usually code for the monarchy.

In making these demands, The Dictator claimed to be relying on recommendations by the King Prajadhipok Institute, which once claimed to support “democracy,” but is a royalist and anti-democrat agency.

The proposed political loosening was fake news. What we are really getting is deep, deep darkness.





Burning arches lese majeste “guilty” pleas

22 11 2017

About a week ago we posted on the sentencing of two men, held in jail until they pleaded guilty, for allegedly torching dead king arches in Khon Kaen province. They were said to be two among eight suspects and a 14-year-old who are accused of being involved in the burning.

Prachatai reports that “[f]ive teenagers and one adult facing royal defamation [lese majeste] charges for burning royal arches in northeastern Thailand have pleaded guilty.” Previously, the six had only agreed to plead guilty to destroying public property. They denied charges of criminal association and lese majeste.

Why did they change their plea?

One of the six said that they chose to plead guilty because the trial would be lengthier if they continued to fight the case, adding that he hopes that the sentence can be halved and that they will receive a royal pardon.

Nothing new there. This is now standard operating procedure in the Thai (in)justice system.

On 20 November 2017, the Provincial Court of Phon District “held a preliminary hearing for six suspects indicted for violating Article 112 … criminal association, and destruction of public property…”. The court is scheduled to sentence them on 31 January 2018.

The unusual thing in this case is that five of the defendants are teenagers.

In other words, the Thai state is prepared to keep children and youth in jail, without bail and limited access to lawyers in order to get its guilty pleas that avoid having anyone challenge the “sanctity” of the horrid monarchy, even in a real court case.

There is no such thing as a fair trial on lese majeste in Thailand. Legal procedures are fake and a farce.

The 14 year-old who is also charged will face the Khon Kaen Juvenile and Family Court later. We are unable to confirm if he is detained.





It is still about Thaksin

22 11 2017

Yingluck Shinawatra has completely disappeared from public view. She was targeted by the military junta as one important Shinawatra clan member as the junta has sought to dismantle something it and other anti-democrats identify as the “Thaksin regime.” Of course, they have also gone after other members of the Shinawatra clan and their supporters, attempting to expunge their political pull. For the junta, an important target is the Shinawatra wealth, which the junta mistakenly considers the basis of their political attractiveness for voters. Another aim is to “demonstrate” that the Shinawatras have been criminals, with the “thinking” being that this shows voters that they are not “good people.”

So with Yingluck gone, the targeting has moved back to Thaksin. Armed with new laws passed by the puppet National Legislative Assembly, the junta has directed public prosecutors to “pursue two corruption cases against former prime minister Thaksin Shinawatra despite the fact that he’s outside the country.” This (again) means that new laws are applied retrospectively.

The puppet Office of the Attorney General claims, against all logic and belief, that the retrospective application of the new law “was not meant to target the 67-year-old tycoon…”. He lied: “This is in accordance with the law. It is the duty of the Office of the Attorney General…. There was no discrimination.” Of course, the truth is that the new law was passed expressly to target Thaksin.

The cases go back to the first term of the elected Thaksin government.

The junta is desperate to destroy Thaksin and his clan and almost everything the junta does is in the shadow of Thaksin and his influence and popularity.