Human rights lawyer faces several charges

24 10 2016

Readers will be aware that lawyer Sirikan Charoensiri has been the subject of a concerted police campaign, which human rights organizations say include “the specious accusation of sedition, which apparently relate to her organization’s representation of 14 student activists peacefully protesting in June 2015…”.



With the country in compulsory mourning for the dead king, the police remained hard at “work” harassing Sirikan. The Chiangrai Times reports that, on Saturday, the police filed criminal charges against Sirikan. Political repression cannot be reduced for the king’s death.

The filing of the charges was witnessed by representatives of the European Union and officials of European embassies at Bangkok’s Samranrat police station.

Sirikan works with Thai Lawyers for Human Rights and “was charged with illegal political assembly of more than five people, incitement of unrest and resistance of the state among the people for her role in providing legal assistance to political activists deemed to be critical of the Monarchy.”

The last bit seems a little odd and we take it as descriptive, for Sirikan’s Facebook page states: “Charged with sedition & violating junta’s ban on political gathering for my legal representation to activists. If indicted, the trial will be processed in military court.”

These charges stem from Sirikarn’s observation of a rally on 25 June 2015 at the “Democracy Monument on Rajdamnoen road by the so-called New Democracy Movement.”

Earlier, on “May 12, 2016, Ms Sirikarn was charged with concealing evidence and resisting police order in accordance with Sections 142 and 368 of the Criminal Code, for refusing to allow the police to search her car without a warrant in order to seize 14 smart phones belonging to 14 students of the New Democracy Movement before they were escorted into prison.” The police then stole her car until they had a warrant.

If found guilty, “Sirikan could face a punishment of up to to five years in prison and a fine of up to 10,000 baht…”.

Anti-election EC and the deceased king

23 10 2016

The American media has been in a spin because wealthy businessman Donald Trump claims the election is rigged and that he may not accept the results. He’s also highly critical of “politicians” and the corruption he says they preside over. Of course, we at PPT don’t know anything much about U.S. politics but we do throw bags of salt around when listening to this particular Republican.

We do know that, in Thailand, the elite has essentially never accepted election results they don’t like. Its claims about vote-buying and policy corruption are a way of saying free elections are rigged. And, its allegations against elected politicians as evil and corrupt are repeated daily.

Thailand’s Election Commission is very much enveloped by this royalist perspective on politics. Essentially anti-election, it is composed of anti-democrats who do their best to prevent elected politicians actually being able to govern while working to deprive the people of their sovereignty.

In an interesting report at the Bangkok Post the EC has joined the junta bandwagon using the dead king to justify its anti-politics. In this case, they have a point.

The EC claims to have adopted one of the late king’s “famous speech” from 1969 when he spoke at the 6th National Scout Jamboree, and “which specifically calls for Thais to ‘strip bad people of power’.” Armed king

At the time, the king strongly supported the dictatorial and corrupt Thanom Kittikachorn regime.  That’s Thanom in the picture, between the king and prince.

The speech, the EC claims, “provides a guide to five strategies aimed to prevent election fraud next year.” The genuflection to the king’s authoritarian anti-politics fits neatly with the current military dictatorship’s approach to a “controlled election.”

The EC’s “five strategies” for that election involve mobilising “well-trained people” – they mean indoctrinated anti-democrats – “to help the EC organise and look out for irregularities in the general election” and said to “match the King’s 1969 speech that emphasises a key principle of the government’s administration — to support good people and ‘keep away bad ones’…”.

The EC is committed to “help screen out bad election candidates.” As part of this, the “EC is training hundreds of people who will learn how to prepare accusation documents and file petitions with the court…”.

So much for any democratic notions of representation and popular sovereignty. As the EC states, “All of these strategies are aimed at achieving the late King and the nation’s goal — to have ‘only good people’ rule the country.” No prizes for guessing who might be “good.”

Boxing lessons

23 10 2016

The fawning and treacly accolades continue for the deceased monarch.

One of the more interesting tributes is from the boxing world with parallels between boxing and monarchy.

The dead king has been credited with a remarkable array of skills and exploits. One might imagine – and that is what people do – that anything and everything in Thailand owes most to the king. The boxing establishment in Thailand, dominated for decades by military men, has decided thta it should join the fawning displays, with the linked article declaring that “not many people are aware of the enormous contributions that … the King made to develop boxing and Muay Thai out of the public view.”

Mauricio Sulaiman, president of the World Boxing Council, is quoted: “Boxing has lost one of the most influential persons who has ever supported the sport: King Bhumibol Adulyadej passed away last week in Bangkok…”. He claims that the king “played an important role in promoting professional boxing in the country and also in introducing Muay Thai … to the world.”

The WBC had awarded the king its “Golden Shining Symbol of World Leadership Award” in 2001. We did a quick search and can’t find this award listed anywhere other than in stories about the king, so it may be another of the awards created just for him, at the urging of royal acolytes of the time.

The WBC president at the time was Mauricio Sulaiman’s “late father Jose Sulaiman,” proving that like monarchies, the WBC has hereditary positions. Sulaiman Senior was “Lifetime President” of the WBC and was a skillful propagandist for his group and himself. His Board of Governors looked like a Privy Council and the WBC is a bit like a family business, not unlike the Crown Property Bureau.

As Wikipedia notes, Sulaiman Senior was a controversial figure. One critical journalist stated that the WBC head “became more King’s junior partner…”. He means Don King. And, it states, Sulaiman was accused of corruption numerous times.

The WBC’s headquarters are in Mexico. While only formed in 1963, like monarchies, the WBC creates a “history” that links it to figures from an ancient world.

Khaosai Galaxy is quoted in the story as also saying good things about the king. It might be noted that he did all of his work with the World Boxing Association.

The world of boxing is riven with splits, coups and failures to acknowledge the results of internal elections. That’s why it has four international and competing federations.

Updated: In bed with the fascist regime

23 10 2016

We guess it should not be any surprise at all, but after years of trying, a report at Prachatai indicates that, by using the death of the king and the extraordinarily gushing reporting that is appearing, the military dictatorship has finally signed up some of the big, global, internet firms to the junta’s parochial, nasty and repressive internet censorship program.

We should note that the account is from the junta itself, so we do hope that the firms involved are willing to deny the accuracy of the report.

Deputy Prime Minister ACM Prajin Junthong, who is also deputy junta head says he “has asked Google and YouTube to cooperate in blocking websites and videos with alleged lèse majesté content.”censorship-1

He says that on 21 October 2016, he invited Ann Lavin, the Director of Public Policy of Google’s Southeast Asia and Greater China Office, to a meeting where censorship was the topic. The American Chamber of Commerce in Singapore lists her as “Director, Public Policy and Government Affairs in Asia Pacific, Google Asia Pacific.” It also notes that she has been a member and executive of several organizations with links into the palace.

The junta’s website states that “Prajin consulted with Lavin about ways to block websites and video clips deemed defamatory or offensive to the Thai [m]onarchy.”

According to the junta, Lavin “placed great importance on the case under the current circumstances after the recent death of King Bhumibol.” We are not at all sure why the death of a king (or anyone else) should be cause for censorship.

The report states that Lavin “agreed to set up an ad hoc team in the US to monitor alleged lèse majesté content with Thai nationals in the team and adjust the complaint form in the Thai language to make it easier for Thai people to file complaints about such online content…”. That team has reportedly begun work.

The junta “will also set up a team in Thailand to send web addresses and URLs of people alleged to have posted such online content to the Google team after which the team will consider within 24 hours whether the content should be blocked.” Prajin added that the Ministry of Foreign Affairs “will send a request to the US to obtain information from Google about people who post lèse majesté content on the internet…”.

Prajin noted that “on 19-20 October, 120 people, mostly Thais, reportedly posted online content deemed offensive to the … monarchy.” It is not clear if this refers to persons overseas, in Thailand or both.

The junta’s deputy leader said that pressure would also be brought to bear on Line and Facebook.

The junta is using the king’s death to promote and embed its politics and enhanced censorship is critical for the junta in denying critical voices.

Update: Above, we stated: We should note that the account is from the junta itself, so we do hope that the firms involved are willing to deny the accuracy of the report. At The Nation, it is stated:

INTERNET giant Google has denied it is monitoring posts by Thai social media users but said it would simply consider Thai government requests to remove certain sensitive posts on a case-by-case basis.

Google was reacting to a claim by Deputy Prime Minister Prajin Juntong that it would help the government scan sensitive posts during the mourning period for His Majesty King Bhumibol Adulyadej.

In a statement to The Nation, Google said: “We have always had clear and consistent policies for removal requests from governments around the world. We have not changed those policies in Thailand.

“We rely on governments around the world to notify us of content that they believe is illegal through official processes, and will restrict it as appropriate after a thorough review. All of these requests are tracked and included in our Transparency Report.”

We’d tend to believe Google as the junta has a terrible record of lying. Let’s see if Prajin responds.

Regime not sufficiently monarchist?

23 10 2016

At the same time that the military regime is using the late monarch and the period of mourning for political purpose, it is also accused of not being sufficiently monarchist.

It has spent a week trying to smother a royalist social media campaign that declares the junta disloyal for “ordering the removal of the late king’s portrait.”

The Bangkok Post reports that The Dictator has now had to issue an order banning the removal of the ubiquitous portraits that capture a king of 20 or 30 years ago.

General Prayuth Chan-ocha has “prohibited public offices from removing the pictures or portraits” of the “late King, as well as those of Queen Sirikit, and must keep them in good condition…”. It was added:

If they come with text such as ‘Long Live the King’ or the Pali version of it [Teeka Yuko Hotu Maha Racha], it may be changed appropriately. If they are to be replaced or decorated with black or white ribbons, the changes must be quickly made and the pictures put back without delay….

Lt Gen Sansern Kaewkamnerd “reaffirmed the government had never ordered the removal of the portraits as shared by some users in social media.” He demanded that these users “should refrain from sharing such information without sources.”

Any notion that the regime would undermine the monarch that they have literally (at Corruption Park) and metaphorically hoisted high for their own regime is potentially damaging. That they might be preparing for the new reign is likely to prove unpopular among its constituency of mad and even sane monarchists (and other seeking to undermine the regime).

Grasping political opportunity

22 10 2016

Khaosod reports on yet another defining statement by The Dictator.

General Prayuth Chan-ocha declares: “The media should not write about politics these days, because we don’t have politics these days…”.

Prayuth’s antipathy towards elected politicians is well known. “Good” people, the people of Prayuth’s ilk and other royalists apparently do not engage in “politics” and this defines this anti-politics call.

Prayuth invoked the “legacy of the late monarch,” who was indeed suspicious of elected politicians seeing them as evil and grasping. “Good” people are wealthy but not evil.

The General also used the late king’s name to demand that the media provide his “good” government with a free pass:

Write only about what work the government is doing, as guided by the wisdom of His Majesty, to fit with the situation. Please, don’t start any fights. Give us some time. Give some time for peace.

Of course, Prayuth is using the king’s name for his own partisan political purposes. This is entirely as expected; the king’s death has provided an opportunity for Prayuth to further embed his regime.

(We note that Khaosod is not alone in helping the regime out a bit on this by repeatedly and incorrectly stating that the late king “ruled Thailand for 70 years…”.)

What rule of law?

22 10 2016

As expected for some time, former Prime Minister Yingluck Shinawatra has been “fined” 35.7 billion baht or more than $1 billion, over her government’s rice program.

The Bangkok Post reports that the military junta has notified her of the “fine.” In fact, it is reported that the order is for  “her assets to be seized.”

The Post report states that the order was “signed by Deputy Finance Minister Wisudhi Srisuphan and permanent secretary Somchai Sujjapongse on Oct 13 … [and] details allegations and losses to the government which occurred from the scheme.” (We assume that they had time to burn on the day of the king’s death.)

Whatever one might think of Yingluck and the Shinawatra clan, this administrative order should be a cause for great concern. Yingluck is right when she says: “Such an order has violated my rights and is not fair…”.

It needs to be remembered that the biggest “fine” in Thailand’s history has not been processed following any court procedure. (We don’t doubt that the junta-loving courts would agree, but the point is that due process has been ignored.) Yingluck had “previously called on the junta to file civil claims in court instead of ordering the 35.7-billion-baht fine, 66 times the 579-million-baht assets she declared in June 2015.”

Yingluck is told to pay up within 30 days. She can appeal “within 90 days if she does not agree with the order.”

It is also worth noting that the order follows a pattern of authoritarian decision-making by The Dictator. It was only in September that General Prayuth Chan-ocha used Article 44 “to have the Legal Execution Department seize the assets of state officials liable to pay civil damages under the scheme. The executors will have immunity in doing their duties.”boot-print

So the junta boss allows immunity for his servants but denies it to all those “nasty” elected politicians that he hates and engages in acts of retrospectivity.

As ever, the junta has trampled muddy military boots across the rule of law.

Yingluck has been “charged with criminal negligence over the rice subsidy scheme and is now fighting the charges in court.” The lawless junta could not wait for due process.

The junta is running hundreds of other cases – as many as 850 –  against Yingluck and senior members of her former cabinet and others related to the rice scheme.

Yingluck has already been”retroactively impeached and, as a result, she was banned from politics for five years.” The junta’s idea in proceeding on the 850 cases is to break Shinawatra clan, cripple the Puea Thai Party and shatter the so-called Thaksin regime.

While anti-democrats will cheer, the rule of law is also broken and it may be decades before the legal vandalism of the junta can be undone.