Posting

25 08 2016

As readers may have noticed, our posts recently have been short. We are having trouble with our secure internet connection. We hope to have this fixed soon. However, posts are likely to be limited in the next few days.





Still an unelected PM

25 08 2016

There was some social media attention to what was seen by some as a backward step by the junta on having The Dictator become premier after an “election.”

There had been reporting that the “extra question” in the “referendum” was being interpreted as a way of having a military-appointed senate nominate the prime minister.

According to some, this has now been “clarified.”

Khaosod reports that there has the “Senate under the new constitution will have the authority to nominate its own candidates for prime minister only if the upper and lower houses fail to choose one…”.

To us, the difference between the two positions makes little practical difference. The military junta can still effectively control who becomes premier:

According to … Jate Sirataranont, who sits on the [NLA] assembly commission for interpreting the new charter, the next upper and lower houses will jointly vote for a new prime minister, which requires two-thirds of votes to pass.

Only elected MPs have the right to nominate candidates, but the senate votes with the house, meaning a veto by the senate will be possible. Then the senate can nominate its own candidate for PM and control the joint voting.

Khaosod observes that:

In Thailand’s previous charter, which was dissolved when the junta seized power in May 2014, only Members of Parliament voted for a Prime Minister, and the Senate was not involved. The previous charter also required the Prime Minister to be a Member of the Parliament, while the new charter does not.

A military-selected and approved premier remains the likely outcome.





Trump and Thailand

24 08 2016

PPT pays only limited attention to US domestic politics. However, when there are links to Thailand’s politics we get interested.

Over the past couple of weeks, US presidential candidate Donald Trump has been getting some attention for his links to Alex Jones. As one of the many Jones-linked websites has it, the “mainstream media is in a state of panic with the fact that Alex Jones and Infowars are influencing mainstream politics and aligning with presidential candidate Donald Trump.”

Trump’s interview with Jones is available.

Jones pedals extreme rightist conspiracy theory. But a vociferous group of Trump supporters, mostly white, gun-toting, racists, buys into it. More significantly, according one report,

Donald Trump’s top donors are now backing an InfoWars-approved challenger to Sen. John McCain— a Tea Partier [Kelli Ward] who blames the former prisoner of war for the rise of ISIS and who once held a town hall on chemtrails [the conspiracy theory that says government airplanes are spraying, through visible contrails that streak the skies, dangerous chemicals to change the weather or for darker motives].

Robert and Rebekah Mercer—the father-daughter duo spending millions to boost right-wing candidates—have substantial clout in the Trump campaign. While most Republican mega-donors have stayed away from Trump, Mercer and co. are all in for him.

What does this have to do with Thailand? Back in 2013, we had a post about Jones-acolyte “Tony Cartalucci,” who writes material that has been popular among far right yellow shirts and other royalists, including some in the current junta.

As we said back then (and we haven’t updated the links and Land Destroyer has changed its pages since we first posted):

His [“Cartalucci’s”] blog has been Land Destroyer, which provides no information on funding, but as a reader at Prachatai pointed out at the time, it:

[l]inks to Infowars.com which is Alex Jones. Infowars.com accepts advertising from Midas Resources (http://www.midasresources.com/store/store.php?ref=62&promo=specialOffer) which is “One of the world’s premiere precious metals firms, parent company of The Genesis Communications Network, proud sponsor of the Campaign For Liberty and creator of the Ron Paul Air Corps.”

The Ron Paul initiated Campaign for Liberty (http://www.campaignforliberty.com/about.php) draws inspiration from a range of conservatives and libertarians and localists. According to University of Georgia political scientist Keith Poole, Paul had the most conservative voting record of any member of Congress from 1937 to 2002 (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ron_Paul).

Midas Resources was founded by Ted Anderson. Ted Anderson and Alex Jones are collaborators, with Jones appearing on the Genesis Communications Network, where Anderson is the CEO (http://www.gcnlive.com/contact.php). It was established to promote the sale of precious metals (http://www.gcnlive.com/faq.php). Its front page advertisers include Christian holster sellers and a range of survival products (for surviving the coming global food crisis) along with Ron Paul sites and Russia Television/Russia Today. GCN has interviewed right-wing, anti-Semite Lyndon LaRouche (http://www.larouchepub.com/lar/2008/interviews/080401jack_blood_genesis.html), seen as a political extremist (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Lyndon_LaRouche). LaRouche also has a fan in another link at Land Destroyer in F.W. Engdahl, yet another conspiracy theorist (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/F._William_Engdahl), who believes in global cooling (not warming).

Jones and Anderson have promoted conspiracy rants by people associated with the extremist John Birch Society (http://mediamatters.org/blog/201101290003).

Companies linked in these groups, such as Free Speech Systems (http://freespeechsystems.com/) provide no links or information; certainly not practicing what they preach.

Land Destroyer links to a range of other conspiracy theory websites that never provide any details about funding. One of these is to the site of long-time conspiracy theorist Webster Tarpley who has a remarkable Wikipedia page (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Webster_Tarpley). Another is to anti-fluoride, anti-vaccination, Bin Laden is alive (Alex Jones too), and conspiracy theorist Jim Corr who is also on about the threat or One World Government (http://www.jimcorr.com/).

In the LaRouche Wikipedia page, in the section on “Selected Works,” it might be noted that LaRouche wrote a book with Uwe Von Parpart in 1970. Several sites note that he later worked at Asia Times and The Manager magazine owned by Sondhi Limthongkul. Interesting connections.

Conspiracy theories seem to be experiencing quite a comeback under rightist movements, not just in the US, but in Thailand too.





Out on bail

23 08 2016

Fifteen, mostly elderly, allegedly “communist”/”secret society” members and allegedly “conspirators” against the military dictatorship have been released on bail.

Their lawyer stated that “the Bangkok Military Curt had granted bail for his clients with a surety of 100,000 baht each.”

It seems that these “dangerous” conspirators, originally accused by the regime of having been responsible for bombings, were now far less dangerous political detainees. (The bombings are now, finally, said to be the work or southern separatists.)

 

No longer detained, the military court still seeks to silence these people who may be no more than critics of the regime. The military court “prohibited them from travelling overseas, engaging in any political activity and expressing their political views…”.

These bailed political detainees “have been charged with running an illegal secret organisation under Section 209 of the Criminal Code and violating the NCPO [the junta] ban on political gatherings.”





Making a military premier

22 08 2016

As has been clear for a couple of years, the military junta wants to retain political control well after any “election” that it decides to hold under its rules and when it decides an “election” can deliver a pro-royal and pro-military government.

In part, the charter and the “referendum” were about getting the right “rules” in place. But even those rules are malleable in the hands of the military junta and its agents.

As The Nation reports, the “extra question” passed in the “referendum” is now being interpreted to more easily allow The Dictator. General Prayuth Chan-ocha, to become prime minister after an “election.”Prayuth

National Legislative Assembly (NLA) vice president Peerasak Porjit has been reported as insisting “that allowing the Senate to nominate prime minister candidates is in accordance with the intention of the additional referendum question.”

That’s an interpretation for a military PM. Peerasak reckons that “political parties would nominate PM candidates and the Senate had the right to vote to select the PM but if this process failed to achieve that, it could pave the way for a second process in which the Senate nominated PM candidates.”

This gives the junta two shots at assuring that it gets its man in place. The senate will be dominated by junta supporters.

In a manner familiar to anyone who watches the junta, this supplicant then denied that this was a measure to benefit The Dictator and junta. Of course, it is exactly that.





More UN concern about human rights

21 08 2016

The Geneva-based Office of the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR) has issues a media statement on Thailand (again). Here it is in full:

19 August 2016 – The United Nations human rights arm today expressed concern about the mounting constraints on the democratic space in Thailand – calling for a prompt return to civilian rule.

“Following the military coup in May 2014, severe restrictions on freedoms of expression and opinion and assembly have been in place through the use of criminal and military laws and orders, said spokesperson Ravina Shamdasani of the Geneva-based Office of the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR).

She elaborated that restrictions spiked in the lead-up to this month’s Constitutional Referendum.

“Overall, at least 1,300 people have been summoned, arrested or charged, and 1,629 civilians tried before the military courts,” the spokesperson explained. “Since June, at least 115 people have been arrested or charged under military orders, criminal codes and the Constitution Referendum Act for expressing their opinion on the draft constitution or reporting human rights violations, including torture,” she added.

Twelve people arrested in the Chiang Mai Province in late July remained in detention, along with a student activist who was incarcerated on 6 August. The others were released, but have been charged or remained under investigation.

“We urge Thailand to immediately drop all charges against political activists and human rights defenders, and to release those jailed for voicing dissent on the draft charter in the run-up to the referendum,” underscored Ms. Shamdasani. “We also call on the authorities to suspend the use of military courts and military orders in cases involving civilians.”

She made clear of the urgency in implementing the measures as Thailand moves towards its 2017 election – as proposed in the military Government’s roadmap to restore democracy.

The election next year represents an opportunity for Thailand to meet the commitment it made at the UN Human Rights Council during its Universal Periodic Review in May to respect freedom of expression and, therefore, guarantee a more inclusive and participatory process that involves all political parties, civil society and the media in an open and non-threatening environment.

We are sure that the UN means well, but they still seem unable to comprehend that the military dictatorship allows no democratic space.





19th century repression

21 08 2016

The junta’s “capture” of 15 or 17 “activists” it calls “communists” is another example of how fascist military regimes can “invent” and “reinvent” law when it suits their political interests and as they seek to shore up their power.

Thailand’s military dictatorship has rather startlingly revived a law that belongs to earlier years centuries.

It has charged the 15/17 with being member of an ang-yi or secret society.

Earlier this year, Khaosod had an article on absurd Thai laws, like the ban on roller skating after midnight and refusing to assist a postman. The secret society law was included. It says this:

The offense dates back to Rama IV, when Chinese triads (secret societies) were formed, sometimes with criminal intent. Triads, known in Thai-Chinese lingo as Ang Yi, were also accused of sparking riots and revolts against the authorities in Thailand.

Although long gone in history, Ang Yi  remain alive and well in the law. Section 109 of the Penal Code specifically outlaws Ang Yi and similar organizations. The law defines Ang Yi-like behavior as belonging to a secret society with an intent to break the law.

This law has its origins in the late 1890s. As far as we can tell, it fell into disuse in the 1960s, when the military regime used the anti-communist law against its political opponents.

How desperate is the military regime? So desperate it seems that it needs 19th century laws. (Lese majeste dates from the early 20th century, but has been re-feudalized in recent years.)








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