Lese majeste as farce

27 02 2015

On 5 February, Apiruj and Wantanee Suwadee were accused of lese majeste. The parents of Srirasmi, the estranged wife of Crown Prince Vajiralongkorn found themselves caught up in a swathe of cases associated with the prince’s separation from his third wife.

The lese majeste accusation was filed by Sawita Maneechan of Ratchaburi province. She accused Apiruj and Wantanee of using their royal connection to bully her in 2003, eventually having her jailed.Mum and dad

Sawita said that Wantanee had falsely accused her of having an affair with Apiruj and later used her royal connection to convince a high-ranking police officer to charge Sawita with fraud. She was found guilty and sentenced to 18 months in jail because she confessed to what she claimed was a bogus charge.

Wantanee and Apiruj denied all accusations and vowed to fight the charges.

PPT has no inside knowledge of this case but we would think it almost “normal” that those with associated with the monarchy using their reflected power for their own advantage; this is the elite’s bonus for honoring/sucking up to the royals. When associated with the gangster-like prince, the power wielded is threatening and large.

When that link and associated power is removed, those involved are hung out to dry. In this case, the association with the prince was mediated by Srirasmi, and her crash from grace has seen her family and associated excoriated.

By 27 February, they had confessed to the lese majeste charges and to filing a false police report. The police now say they want to lock up the aged couple and will oppose any bail request.

Why would there be such a turnaround? Again, we have no inside knowledge and yet we can guess. The couple was probably threatened with even more charges or charges against other family members. They had watched as others were smashed by the prince and the military regime. Guilty or not, they had no choice.

That’s the way the royal mafia works. It protects the royals from any scrutiny and allows them to do what they want with impunity and with the state’s support, including jailing persons for falling foul of a royal.

 





Bowornsak unable to distinguish between election and appointment

26 02 2015

Some of the nonsense that emanates for anti-democrats claiming to be “democrats” involve remarkable logical contortions, although we doubt they see it that way. So banal, so isolated and so self-important, we are sure they are blind to their own ridiculousness.

We know that Bowornsak Uwanno is a constitutions writer for hire to military dictatorships and other royalists, and writing constitutions to deny civilian representation is his daily bread. His capacity for grabbing the cash and giving autocrats what they want is seared in the annals of Thailand’s sorry legal history.

We almost choked on our joke (the rice variety, โจ๊ก) when we read that Bowornsak has the audacity to lecture the media on a point that makes him appear even more ludicrous and bought than usual.

The military dictatorship’s chairman of the junta-appointed Constitution Drafting Committee told the media to stop describing the next Senate as “unelected.” He prefers “indirectly elected.”

Bowornsak and friends

Bowornsak and the military working together

Khaosod states that the “CDC announced yesterday that the next Senate will be a fully-appointed body under the new charter.”

Describing a senate of 200 members, half of whom will be chosen by the council of “experts,” the latter chosen by unknown means, “other Senators will be appointed by former high-level politicians and bureaucrats such as prime ministers, military commanders, parliament speakers, judicial leaders, and representatives from other civic organizations” sounds like unelected to us.

Bowornsak can package “unelected” however nonsensically he likes, but the senate is a throwback to the time when the military controlled the senate to prevent elected politicians exercising any popular power.





The function of double standards

25 02 2015

The double standards at work in Thailand are so obvious that they hardly need emphasizing. If one is a supporter of military junta, monarchy and/or a member of the royalist elite, then one need not fear the law or judiciary. Unless there has been a falling out, one can expect gentle treatment. If one is considered an “enemy” of military junta, monarchy and the royalist elite, expect harassment and probably jail.

In essence, the double standards are enforced by the judicial system in order to protect the social, political and economic monopolization by the elite.

A current case, relatively small but significant, demonstrates this. Khaosod reports that The Dictator, General Prayuth Chan-ocha, cannot be consider corrupt.

Back in September 2014, PPT posted on the purchase of “unusually expensive” audio equipment for Government House, the seat of the military junta. As the National Anti-Corruption Commission ran away from the case, not wishing to embarrass the military dictatorship or The Dictator, it was the latter who decided to cover things up. As we stated then, The Dictator was clear about his plan to rescue wrongdoers by launching an “investigation.” As we noted, the potential was for a few low-level officials to be thrown to the wolves, but we expressed confidence that it would all be show amongst smoke and mirrors. Prayuth said: “We probe all (suspected corruption) issues. Just be patient. Don’t pressure us and don’t jump to conclusion either…”. The problem is that his probes are conducted by his underlings and sycophants. He has said that a “sub-panel of the 18-member committee” set up by the junta” to probe budget spending of state agencies is investigating the issue…”. The committee is chaired by an Army general….

Khaosod reports that “Thailand’s anti-corruption agency has spared junta chairman and Prime Minister Prayuth Chan-ocha from its inquiry into the government’s 67.9 million baht purchase of unusually expensive microphones and other equipment last year.”

Of course it did.

The spokesperson for the politicized NACC said that “ten officials from the Department of Public Works, including the department’s director Monthol Sudprasert, will be investigated over the purchases.”

The report states that “top executives like Prayuth and [minor royal M.L.] Panadda Diskul, Minister of the Prime Minister’s Office, will not be investigated because they merely ‘approved’ the purchases…”.

Tell us we are wrong, but wasn’t Thaksin Shinawatra convicted for being premier when his wife won a bid for land? Wasn’t he held ultimately responsible?

 





A sad day for Thammasat University

25 02 2015

Black

Thammasat University has a long and proud history of being at the center of reformist politics in Thailand. Established to be the national university on 27 June 1934, the university was the brainchild of Pridi Phanomyong, who called it The University of Moral and Political Sciences. In other words, it was born of the 1932 Revolution that overthrew the absolute monarchy in 1932.

It has been a hub of political thought, radical, liberal and reformist political movements and has proudly maintained its links to the founding ideology. Student leaders have become political leaders and its academics have shaped political debate. The triumphant events of 1973, overthrowing a military dictatorship, and the terrible events of 1976, when the royalists and militarists brought a savage revenge for 1973, are events that make Thammasat a centerpiece of modern political history.

Today, taken over by royalist administrators, the once proud university has abandoned its history and failed its people. We hope it can eventually be won back from the royalists and made great again.

Black





World news on Wolf Bride sentencing

24 02 2015

Some of the international and national press reports on the sentencing of Patiwat Saraiyaem, a 23 year-old student in Khon Kaen, and Pornthip Mankong, a theater activist aged 26, is reproduced as links below. They received two years and six months in prison for their roles in “The Wolf Bride.” The play was about a fictional kingdom but the remarkable royalist judges considered that “insulted” the non-fictional monarchy. Their sentences were reduced from 5 years because of the guilty pleas.

The military dictatorship looks more ridiculous and dangerous to thinking people every day.

Radio Australia, 25 February 2015: “Human rights groups slam jailing of two Thai students for ‘royal insult’ in university play

Asian Correspondent, 24 February 2015: “Thai court jails theater activists for lese majeste

Sydney Morning Herald, 24 February 2015: “Thailand jails two for insulting the monarchy in a university play

Bangkok Post, 24 February 2015: “Charged scenes as dramatist pair jailed for lese majeste

The Australian, 24 February 2015: “Thai theatre activists jailed for lese majeste

The Nation, 24 February 2015: “Jailing of actors for lese majeste stirs criticism

Voice of America, 23 February 2015: “2 Students Given Jail Terms for Defaming Thai Royal Family

Daily Mail, 23 February 2015: “Two Thais are jailed for more than two years for ‘defaming the monarchy’ in a university play

The Indian Express, 23 February 2015: “Producers of ‘The Wolf Bride’ convicted for mocking the Thai monarchy

Channel 4 News, 23 February 2015: “Jailed for satire: Thailand’s lese majeste convictions

Irish Independent, 23 February 2015: “Thailand jails students for insulting monarchy in play

The Times, 23 February 2015: “Thais jailed over satirical play about a king

Business Times, 23 February 2015: “Thailand jails two on royal insult charge

Lonely Planet Travel News, 23 February 2013: “Two jailed for insulting Thailand’s monarchy

Zee News, 23 February 2015: “Thai actors sentenced for crime of lese-majeste

Deutsche Welle, 23 February 2015: “Rights groups slam conviction of Thai theater activists for royal slur

Associated Press, 23 February 2015: “2 Thais Who Staged Play Found Guilty of Insulting Monarchy

Bloomberg, 23 February 2015: “Thai Court Sentences Two for Play Deemed Insulting to Monarchy

Reuters, 23 February 2015: “Thailand jails two students for insulting monarchy in college play” ( video report by Reuters is here)

BBC, 23 February 2015: “Thai pair jailed for insulting monarchy in student play

Prachatai, 23 February 2015: “Court sentences theater activists to 5 years in jail for lese majeste

Khaosod, 23 February 2015: “Theater Activists Jailed Over Satirical Play About Monarchy





My polls are good polls

24 02 2015

Politicians like polling when they are running their way. Dictators, it seems don’t even like them when they are in their favor.

Thailand’s Dictator, General Prayuth Chan-ocha has had almost nothing but good polls since his 22 May 2014 coup. After all, Thais know that the the ill-tempered holder of guns and power cannot be contradicted and that polling agencies are asking questions that essentially demand positive responses for the military dictatorship.

The military has its own polling flunkies.

In a recent “survey,” the Thai Researchers in Community Happiness Association has found that “a majority of community leaders believed that Thailand was not yet ready for a general election and agreed that the poll should be organized after the national reform.” What else would they say? That is the military dictatorship’s polling agency asking “leaders” who owe their positions to the junta. The miracle is that almost a third of respondents thought an election could be held now. They must be from the north and northeast.

Even the “regular” polls have knuckled under, often asking leading or misleading questions.

Such results are not good enough for the junta’s boss. He has provided a guideline: “no anti-junta surveys allowed.” Reasonable people might think this unreasonable. It is worse than that:

“If they want to do polls, they can do so. But if they do polls to oppose NCPO, that’s unacceptable,” Gen. Prayuth said at the Government House yesterday, using the formal name of the junta, the National Council for Peace and Order [they mean the junta]. “They cannot do that.

Prayuth went on to babble about the junta’s “road map to democracy,” using terms the old Burmese military dictatorship used. And he demanded that the media push his message on martial law. He warned that the media was causing “people will be impetuous, because they see that the NCPO is afraid to use its power.”

The impression is that The Dictator is deranged by his monopoly of power.





More jailed for lese majeste

23 02 2015

As has been widely reported, a student and a theater activist have been convicted of lese majeste. As usual, they decided to plead guilty in order to move the case along more quickly.

Patiwat Saraiyaem, a 23 year-old student in Khon Kaen, and Pornthip Mankong, a theater activist aged 26, were given sentences of two years and six months in prison for their roles in “The Wolf Bride,” a play about a fictional kingdom that royalist judges considered “insulted” the non-fictional monarchy. Their sentences were reduced from 5 years because of the guilty pleas.Wolf bride

The pair were arrested in August 2014 after the play had been performed almost a year earlier at Thammasat University. The play was to commemorate the anniversaries of the pro-democracy student uprising in October 1973 and the bloody royalist massacre of students at the university in October 1976.

The royalist judges stated that: “performing the play … was an act of defamation and insult in front of numerous people…. Moreover, it was disseminated on many websites, causing damage to the monarchy, which is revered by all Thais [sic.]. Such action is a grave crime that warrants no suspension of the punishment.”

A lawyer said the two defendants were unlikely to appeal the verdict. In fact, experience shows that an appeal results in further punishment and even torture-like legal processes meant to punish the appellants who are almost always refused bail.

Police are reportedly searching for another six people involved in the play, and it is believed that several of them have fled royalist Thailand under the military dictatorship.








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