Nepotism

4 03 2015

The Bangkok Post has reproduced a list of the 70 members of the puppet National Legislative Assembly who have hired relatives to “work” with them at taxpayers expense, ranging from about 15,000 baht to 24,000 baht per month each. That’s around 17-18 million baht a year, not including per diems, travel and other perks.

This nepotism has been defended by The Dictator, General Prayuth Chan-ocha, the Army boss (or second or third in charge, depending how you look at it) General Udomdej Sitabutr and puppet NLA chairman Pornpetch Wichitcholchai. Now puppet National Reform Council president Thienchay Kiranandana has “insisted” that puppet “lawmakers faced no legal restriction on hiring family members as personal aides, but said it was an ethical decision they had to make.

Clearly, they have already made it! Get those snouts in the trough while proclaiming nepotism legal and those with snouts “good people.” After all, royalists operate on different standards.

Many of these consumers of the junta’s largesse are already obscenely wealthy.

Nepotism

A Bangkok Post graphic

 

 





Farmers, democracy and primitive accumulation

3 03 2015

Readers will have noticed the attacks on southern farmers in recent times, including, some say, four assassinations between 2010 and 2015, with the latest death being Chai Bunthonglek.

We have been looking for an opportunity to post regarding the Southern Peasants Federation of Thailand (SPFT). In amongst all of the mad monarchism of recent days it has been difficult to find time and space. However, thanks to a reader who drew our attention to a website in development, we have some details here about the SPFT, and more can be found at the website. All that follows is lifted from the site and is a taste for readers:

SPFT

Beginnings: The Southern Peasant’s Federation of Thailand was established in 2008, however the history of the associated movement of which the SPFT is a part dates back to May of 1992, when the expansive people’s movements emerged in attempts to institute a legitimate prime minister and oust the dictatorial system. The People’s Movement, or P-Move, consisted of grassroots lower and middle class people who pressured for a new constitution that better met their needs, which was approved after much delay on October 11th, 1997. The new constitution helped allow for organizations focused on environmental and natural resource management to spring into action and expand their efforts.

Mission: Securing arable land for peasants and landless people who have otherwise been disadvantaged. Thousands of people have been displaced or face mounting pressure to vacate their land in the wake of the privatization of agricultural land by both foreign and domestic companies. The SPFT has re-appropriated illegally-held land from the hands of private entities and distributed fertile land to many hundreds of families; essentially, the re-establishment of peasant class so as to carry on their livelihoods as independent farmers, protected under the organization.

Pushing for legally-binding land reform initiatives. The SPFT, in addition to claiming land for peasants and campaigning for redistributive policies, must also engage within the realm of policy to ensure that its gains are respected and violations against the organization and its members will not go unpunished under the law. This is accomplished in pressuring companies to vacate land which they illegally occupy past the expiration of their titles, legal battles to claim ownership and alter policy and government mediation to legally enforce them.

The creation of people-focused communities and cooperatives. We do not wish to establish privately owned, profit-based zones of operation, as though our organization constituted a company. Instead, we strive to construct an alternative to a system of subjugation by the private sector and state hegemony; one which employs a co-operative system of land management that focuses first and foremost on meeting the needs of its people, ensuring equal representation and common ownership of productive forces.

Establishing a united front with fraternal organizations under the people’s movement. The SPFT is engaged in participation with like-minded organizations such as the Thai Land Reform Network, the Four Regions Slum Network, and the overarching People’s Movement. We understand that as organizations which answer first and foremost to the needs of the people, we hold common interests and should therefore engage in unity of action to accomplish them. In this, the people’s movement is constituted of a wide variety of small organizations which form a powerful voice and collective action group capable of influencing policy and establishing a foundation from which an alternative socio-economic model may be realized; one which is entirely constituted by and truly represents the masses.

 





Updated: Lese majeste as farce II

2 03 2015

Under the royalist military dictatorship, things monarchical just get madder by the minute.

Any reasonable person who heard a claim by a General that and event that could “lead to an overthrow of the regime of democracy with the King As Head of State or affects the national security, peace and order, and good morality of the people” might think that something significant had taken place. But not in the land of monstrously mad monarchists.

Khaosod reports that Lt. Gen Peerapong Manakit, a member of the regulatory National Broadcasting and Telecommunication Commission (NBTC) has declared that the Commission has “launched an investigation into a state-owned TV station after one of its anchors misidentified a member of the Royal Thai Family in a news program.”

Obviously a heinous crime has been committed. Anyone who views the nightly royal propaganda that is broadcast knows that newsreaders regularly stumble over the faux ancient names and titles given to themselves by the royals. The ridiculousness of reporting the daily visits by well-fed  royals is a ritual demanded by the palace and state.

PPT is always surprised how straight-faced the announcers are as this parade of odd looking curiosities takes place. Yet we know the smallest stumbles and mistakes get the newsreaders into hot water.

Soam and OThe General claims that “the incident took place this morning when a Channel 3 anchorwoman ‘incorrectly stating the royal name and rank’ of Princess Soamsawali, former wife of Thai Crown Prince, in a news report about Her Royal Highness’ trip to a temple.” As the report helpfully points out, “Princess Soamsawali was married to Crown Prince Vajiralongkorn in 1977. The couple divorced in 1991.”

Soamsawali was wife no. 1, and is the prince’s first cousin. Since then he’s had two other official wives, both now kicked out and both disgraced by the prince with charges and attacks. One (Yuvadhida Polpraserth) is in exile and the other languishes in virtual house arrest as her family and associates have all been jailed (Srirasmi). We imagine that burying and disgracing a blood relative was not possible following Soamsawali’s divorce from the prince.

It is Peerapong who claims that this “mistake constitutes a violation of the 2008 Thai Public Broadcasting Service Act, which forbids airing content that could ‘lead to an overthrow of the regime of democracy with the King As Head of State or affects the national security, peace and order, and good morality of the people’.”

The report claims that “[r]epresentatives of Channel 3 have been summoned to give testimony to the NBTC ‘urgently’…”, with the General stating that “punishment will be decided after the commission listens to Channel 3’s side of the story.” He referred to the Channel 3 “side of the story” as “testimony in our deliberation of punishment.”

As usual, guilt in royal matters is assumed.

So heinous is this “crime” in the land of royal make-believe that the “general also asked media agencies not to publish details about Channel 3’s alleged wrongdoing, or else they will be liable for prosecution as well.”

We imagine, based on the befuddling use of the lese majeste law of late, that the military dictatorship may make this event another case.

Given that the king and queen are no longer visible, we can assume that the regime of lese majeste lunacy is a symbol of the forthcoming reign under military dictatorship.

Update: Prachatai reports that the news anchor read the formal name and title of Srirasmi Suwadee, the third former wife of Crown Prince Vajiralongkorn “who was recently demoted to commoner, instead of Princess Soamsawali’s name.” Given the purge of Srirasmi’s family and the attempt to expunge her prior to succession and the prince’s fourth official marriage, the thundering, huffing and puffing and threats and general ridiculousness is both a sign of the future and an indicator of the depths of feudal decay that Thailand has been dragged by mad monarchists, the military and the palace.





“Men in black”

2 03 2015

Prachatai reports that a case being brought by the police against so-called men in black has been sent back to prosecutors and the police.

The criminal court has postponed a deposition hearing for five suspects alleged to have been “involved in the violence during the military crackdown on redshirts on 10 April 2010…”. The reason for this is that there is a lack of evidence on the terrorism charge they face and because the public prosecutor and the Department of Special Investigation that has been responsible for the case seem unable to agree on what they are doing.

These suspects, all male, were arrested and charged with “with offences of possession of unauthorized and illegal weapons of war, such as M79 grenade launchers, M16s, HK33s and explosive devices.”

After their miraculous arrest more than four years after the events, the police arranged a press conference on 11 September 2014 so that the five could confess that they were indeed men in black. About a month later, all five recanted saying “they were tortured to confess while under detention by the military.” Torture of suspects by the military and the police is common in Thailand.

The five have been detained ever since, being unable to raise bail. Even if they could, the chances are that they’d be refused bail. After all:

… Punika Chusri, the only female suspect who was not involved in the case, but was merely accused of sitting in the same vehicle as the four other defendants during the incident. However, the court declined the bail request citing flight risk despite the fact that she was not arrested, but voluntarily reported to the police in early September.

The whole case should be viewed skeptically. No sooner had Thailand’s top cop shouted that he had captured the men in black who killed soldiers in April 2010, than he was backpedaling faster than a trick cyclist.

Police General Somyos Pumpanmuang had proudly declared that exiled red shirt Kritsuda Khunasen was involved in money and weapons transfers to the alleged men and women in black he had arrested. Almost immediately he was forced to withdraw the claim. At the time, Khaosod reported the obvious:

The retraction of the link between the Blackshirt suspects and the murder of Col. Romklao is only the latest inconsistency to puzzle observers and raise questions about the accuracy of the police investigation.

Yet when the military dictatorship holds power, even dubious cases can go forward, keeping these alleged “terrorists” locked up for months. This is the military dictatorship that claims to be moving towards democracy. Can these democracy dunces even spell the word?





Eat as much as possible

2 03 2015

When the military holds the monopoly of power in Thailand it usually leads to deals that fill the pockets and cushion the lives of the top brass.

In other words they reward themselves for illegal putsches. Often they throw in a bit of kit for the royals. We expect that this is what is happening as taxpayers pay the Army for new VIP helicopters:

The Royal Thai Army (RTA) has signed a contract with Airbus Helicopters to purchase six EC145 T2 light utility helicopters for VIP transport duties, it was announced on 23 February.

Photo from Airbus website

Photo from Airbus website

The value of the EC145 T2 contract, which IHS Jane’s understands was signed in late January, has not been disclosed but is estimated to be worth about USD50 million. Under the terms of the contract, the helicopters will be delivered to the RTA from 2016.

The Airbus announcement is here.

The military dictatorship is looking after the interests of its brass and others it ferries around. A kind of policy corruption perhaps?





Another princely lese majeste case

1 03 2015

Boontham Thepprathan was accused of lese majeste in February 2015 and an arrest warrant issued. He was arrested by police on 27 February 2015.

Boontham is reportedly a proprietor of the Colonze massage parlor-entertainment complex-cum-illegal casino and is often described as a property developer. He is aged 65.

With Setthawut Pengdit, he is accused of lese majeste in a land deal involving a connection to Crown Prince Vajiralongkorn’s housecleaning following his separation from third wife Srirasmi late last year.

Sometimes described as a property developer, Boontham was “taken into police custody on Friday over alleged crimes of lese majeste during land deals in Nakhon Ratchasima’s Pak Chong district, will remain at the Bangkok Remand Prison.”

The Criminal Court denied him “bail on grounds that he was a flight risk…”. That is all “normal” for the royalist courts.

Boontham “reportedly admitted to buying the Khao Nong Cheum land to resell it at a profitable price, but insisted he never mentioned the monarchy.”

 





Royals know nothing

1 03 2015

In a recent Khaosod report a couple of lines got our attention.

The lines referred to the sudden “confession” of lese majeste by Apiruj and Wantanee Suwadee, the parents of Srirasmi, the estranged wife of Crown Prince Vajiralongkorn, as part of an avalanche of cases associated with the prince’s separation from his third wife.

It was reported that Panita Suwadee, a sister of the former princess, “insisted that no members of the Royal Family were aware of the alleged crime syndicate run by Srirasmi’s uncle, Pol.Lt.Gen. Pongpat Chayaphan.”

She went further:

I’d like all of you [the media] to understand about the monarchy. All of the things that happened, the monarchy was not aware of them at all…. Our family doesn’t know about it either. We have been serving the monarchy with our loyal hearts. So I’d like you to know that all the illegal casinos and other cases are not connected to the monarchy at all. They are connected only to Pongpat. He claimed his ties to the monarchy on his own.

That sounds a tad too insistent and even a bit fabricated to us. Fittingly, it is Hamlet that comes to mind: “The lady doth protest too much, methinks.” Her vehement attempt to convince others that the royals know nothing is likely to convince us that the opposite is true.

Likewise the piling of bodies into jails and the remarkable 30+ years now handed out to Pongpat in record time add to the general sense of a royalist-military cover-up of a deep involvement.

Pongpat’s most recent sentencing is for the pretty much standard bribes for promotion in the police. These have been known for decades. Pongpat allegedly “claimed the bribes would reach HRH the Crown Prince.”

It is remarkable that so many claimed to act as money vacuum cleaners for the prince. And not a satang went to anyone in the royal family or the prince’s household….

Fairies








Follow

Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.

Join 169 other followers