Worachet at the military court

28 05 2015

Prachatai reports that Nitirat’s Worachet Pakeerut has appeared before a military court. On Tuesday, “the first witness hearing in the case where Worachet … is accused of twice defying the coup makers’ orders to report in” following the May 2014 coup.

Worachet is accused of defying the military junta’s NCPO Orders No. 5/2014, issued on 24 May 2014, and No. 57/2014, issued on 9 June 2014.

The court hearing was attended by “[o]bservers from Thai and international human rights organizations and the US and German Embassies came to observe the trial.”

Worachet faces a maximum jail term of four years.

Under the military dictatorship, appearances before military courts by civilians has become common. Military courts do not operate under “normal” law and may be influenced by military hierarchies.





Army Fools’ Day

28 05 2015

PPT read a report at Khaosod and checked the date. No, the 1st of April has passed, so we think the report is not an April Fools’ Day joke. Rather, we think it cause for adding an Army Fools’ Day every 27 May, for as long as Thailand suffers under a military junta.

The report states that that “[a]mbassadors from twelve countries are visiting Bangkok today as a part of the Foreign Ministry’s effort to form a new diplomatic bloc that promotes Thailand’s standing in the international community…”.

Spokesman Maj.-Gen. Weerachon Sukhonthapatipak stated that the bright sparks at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs believe that by inviting (and paying for) so-called Friends of Thailand to visit Bangkok is about “creating a network of alliances for Thailand” that will “promote” Thailand’s military dictatorship at the United Nations.

Who are the Friends of Thailand? They represent “Antigua and Barbuda, Burundi, Central African Republic, Comoros, Dominican Republic, Gabon, Ghana, Kiribati, Hungary, Nauru, Vanuatu, and Cameroon.”

Significant powers with great influence? Hardly. Some are also on this list. Some might suggest that these are diplomats for hire.

Still, The Dictator and Prime Minister Gen. Prayuth Chan-ocha met with them to “explain” Thailand’s “period of national reforms” and said there would be “an election by September 2016.”

Weerachon later explained that “representatives from all twelve nations expressed support for Thailand’s military government.” Not just that, but they “spoke with one voice, that Thailand is a good place to live, and it is full of friendship…”.

Weerachon went on to propagandize that the diplomats “also gave moral support to the administration, which has clearly proven to them that it is working to benefit the Thai people and spread happiness. The diplomats unanimously agreed that in order to move the country forward, stability and national security have to come first, then other things will follow.”

Apparently, the “Friends of Thailand” were well-behaved and “did not ask any questions” about human rights.

Who was it who wrote the script for this nonsense? Yes, the junta-directed Ministry of Foreign Affairs. Who believes them? Why does it matter? How much did the junta pay for this “support”?





Updated: A = equality before the law

27 05 2015

The graffiti that appeared at the courts in Bangkok over the weekend was an anarchist symbol.

The artist has been apprehended. Whereas the Bangkok Post’s report is bland, Coconuts Bangkok tells us more.Anarchy

Nattapol Kemngen is with the band “Drunk All Day,” and before he went to the Criminal Court “to spray some old-school anarchist symbols on its sign, he first built his fury listening to his band’s song ‘Hell of the Poor’.”

Nattapol “told police he was angry about the inequality in society after there seemed no accountability for a soldier shot and killed his bandmate Yuthana Sripradit earlier this year.” The report states that “Nattapol said only the poor seem to go to jail because they don’t have money. Anarchy to him means equality.”

His protest was against double standards.

It may have had something of a result as police have “announced yesterday Lt. Cpl. Watjaraphong Jurat will be brought for trial in a military court.” A military court? For killing a civilian? Still military double standards.

Update: Prachatai reports that Nattapol was sentenced to a month in jail.





Passports revoked, lese majeste invoked

27 05 2015

A couple of days ago PPT posted on former elected Prime Minister Thaksin Shinawatra’s comments on the links between military and privy council in orchestrating the 2014 military coup.

Thaksin stated that:

The military listened to the Privy Councilors…. When they didn’t want us to stay anymore, they made Suthep [Thaugsuban, leader of anti-government protests] come out, and then had the military help him. Some people from the palace circle also provided help, which made us powerless.

For most observers of Thailand’s politics, this is hardly a startling claim. After all, there is ample evidence of palace circles working against Thaksin from 2005.

But The Dictator is ticked off. He worked hard to create a perception that the palace was not involved in the 2014 coup in the same way that it had actively planned the 2006 putsch.

Not only did self-proclaimed dictator premier General Prayuth Chan-ocha get testy with Thaksin’s claim, but so did a bunch of royalists in the so-called Democrat Party who demanded that Thaksin’s Thai passport be removed from him.

AP reports that “Thai authorities said Wednesday they revoked two passports belonging to former Prime Minister Thaksin Shinawatra following an interview he gave in South Korea they said could affect national security.”

Apparently, the malleable folks at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs decided that Thaksin’s comments amounted to several “crimes” against, as the report quotes them, “security, safety and pride.”

In the same report it was facetiously stated that “Deputy government spokesman Maj. Gen. Verachon Sukhonthapatiphak told reporters in Bangkok that Thaksin was not being targeted by the junta. He said the government had to take action after security agencies referred the issue to them.”

Nobody believes such military nonsense. Even less so when it is reported at AFP that “Thai police are investigating whether fugitive former premier Thaksin Shinawatra committed royal defamation in a recent interview…”. Confirming the report, Deputy Prime Minister Prawit Wongsuwan asserted that Thaksin’s “remarks were detrimental to the state and the monarchy.”

Thaksin already has several outstanding claims of lese majeste against him, dating back to 2009. It seems he has at least four lese majeste charges outstsnding, and if this accusation becomes a charge, that will be five. That could amount to 60 or more years jail if he ever returned to face the biased and deeply royalist courts.





A Kingdom in Crisis reviewed VIII

26 05 2015

It is some time since we posted on the initial reviews of Andrew MacGregor Marshall’s book A Kingdom in Crisis: Thailand’s Struggle for Democracy in the Twenty-First Century. Earlier reviews can be found here.

At the Journal of Contemporary Asia, there is a new and longer review, by academic Serhat Ünaldi. Unfortunately, the review is currently behind a pay wall, so we try to give a feeling for it here.Kingdom in crisis

The review draws comparisons between the excitement surrounding the publication of the acclaimed book by Paul Handley, The King Never Smiles in 2006 and the reaction to the publication of A Kingdom in Crisis. Ünaldi argues that Marshall’s book is an “important contribution.” He states that “it informs a wide audience about the damaging political role of the monarchy…”. The reviewer is less happy, however, with what he says is the author’s failure to adequately acknowledge “an already existing corpus of literature that deals critically with Thailand’s monarchy.”

Handley was also criticized for failing to acknowledge a wider literature, yet that criticism was less significant in 2006 than it is now, 10 years after and with far more critical work being readily available.

Ünaldi is also critical of the “focus on the succession as the key factor in the ongoing political crisis…”. The reviewer argues that this focus “is unnecessarily narrow and should have been complemented by an analysis of structural forces as drivers of change.”





A year under the military boot III

26 05 2015

PPT lists below some of the articles and posts that reflect on the past year:

Thai mothers remember misery of coup

Life for the Thai Exiles: Aum Neko in France

Thailand’s Prime Minister: I’m not meddling with election timetable (includes a CNN interview with The Dictator)

Thailand’s Shame

Thailand election won’t solve the political crisis

Thailand: Deepening Repression One Year After Coup

A Year After Thai Coup, Stability Trumps Growth for Business

Stigma haunts relatives of Thais jailed under royal insult law

Thailand’s Stunted Transition

Why We Don’t Have Any Thailand Holdings

Thailand one year later: Stable but stuck?

One year of Thai military rule passes with a whisper (PPT: well, not quite, given the almost 50 protesters arrested)

Public Statement by TLHR On the first anniversary of the coup in Thailand

 





Giving ideology its name

25 05 2015

An editorial at the Bangkok Post on The Dictator begins:

Politicians are bad, politicians are corrupt, politicians are the roots of all the evils that branch out across the country — this is a mantra that has been repeated so often many assume it to be a universal truth.

PPT has also recently made comments on this mantra. A reader rightly suggests that we should acknowledge that this anti-democratic ideology has been identified and given a name.

In an academic article some years ago, Professor Thongchai Winichakul wrote that:

since 1973 in particular, the monarchists have assumed the status of the superior realm in Thai politics that claims the high moral ground above politicians and normal politics. With distaste for electoral politics, and in tacit collaboration with the so-called people’s sector, activists and intellectuals, they have undermined electoral democracy in the name of “clean politics” versus the corruption of politicians.

This is a royalist ideology that underpinned the 1991, 2006 and 2014 military putsches.








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