Dense dictators I

26 03 2015

The Dictator and his minion dictators, who seem stuck to him like ticks, are rapidly showing themselves to be ignorant, dense, mindless, dull-witted and slow. Unfortunately, these traits, quite common amongst the military brass, where such characteristics are rewarded as evidence of loyalty, are making Thailand a laughing stock.

A recent story at Khaosod shows how doltish this lot are. Most readers will understand that PPT has little time for Thailand’s National Human Rights Commission. While led by Chairperson Amara Pongsapich, the NHRC has shown itself to be politically compromised.

When one of the NHRC commissioners – Niran Pithakwatchara – turned up at the Bangkok Remand Prison to visit with four men who say they were tortured by military officers, he was turned away. One of the suspects claims he was electrocuted on his legs because he refused to confess.

Niran had forensic experts from the Ministry of Justice with him and apparently wanted to consider the torture claims. He was given short shrift and the warders told him to beat it as he didn’t have permission to visit. He responded: “I am here as a director of the NHRC…. I am a state official. I am not an NGO.”

Niran has sometimes sought to do what he thinks is right in his position. However, he seems to have forgotten that Thailand is a military dictatorship that has no conception of much other than power and hierarchy. Human rights simply do not compute for the military brass that hold the country by its collective throat.

The Dictator and his minions are so thick that they do not understand that turning away a commissioner from their own NHRC amounts to a confession of guilt on the torture allegations. Or maybe they simply don’t care that their standard operating procedures include torture, forced disappearance and murder.





Updated: Media madness

26 03 2015

Thailand’s media under the military dictatorship is, at best, supine. But that isn’t good enough for The Dictator. As we posted yesterday, General Prayuth Chan-ocha reckons Thailand under the junta is a 99% democracy. It seems the missing 1% is the media. If he could get them totally compliant then 100% (Thai-style) “democracy” would seem complete.

In two Khaosod reports, the remaining 1% gets a spray of vitriol from the self-appointed prime minister.

In the first report, Thailand’s military boss has gotten rather testy and then exploded when he referred to media reports about slavery on Thailand’s fishing boats. This is not a new story. Allegations and proof of slave-like working conditions in fisheries have been available for more than two decades.

Rather than address the issue seriously, The Dictator attempts to cover it up and, well, dictate.

He demanded that the media “not to report on human trafficking without considering how the news will affect the country’s seafood industry and reputation abroad.”

Protecting Sino-Thai tycoons is bread and butter (Mercedes and Patek Philippe) for the military; they have been protecting and promoting them for five decades or so.

General Prayuth stated:

The media should consider the impact the news will have on the country…. It may cause problems, and affect national security…. If this news gets widely published, [it could raise] problems of human trafficking and IUU [Illegal, Unreported and Unregulated Fishing].”

Gen. Prayuth warned that if any news reports cause Thailand’s seafood industry to loses customers, “the people who published the news will have to be held responsible.”

Ah, that’s what “national security” is: protecting slavery and profits. You can bet that generals are involved in the industry through wives, siblings and corruption cash.

Prayuth went on to say that his military junta is going to “summon the Channel 3 journalist,  Thapanee Ietsrichai, who has been reporting on the plight of Thai men languishing on the slave ships.” He declared: “Let me tell you now, Thapanee will have to come see  officials…”.

That will ensure 100% democracy!

In the second report, the newspaper reproduces a transcript of Prayuth flying off the handle:

Reporter: There has been a talk about a possible shift in the Cabinet, especially the team working on economic issues.

Gen. Prayuth: … Join hands together, because today there is a good opportunity now that this government has entered [the scene]. Unite people to solve problems, unite all of the sides. Don’t end up criticizing everything, as though this is a normal government. Don’t you understand that?

You want freedom, I gave you freedom. Everything. I never forbid anything [see above]. No one else gave it to you like this. I will wait a little while and see, about the working of the media…. The media makes society divided…. The reason why I am talking now is not because I want to remind you of your debt of gratitude. All the things I have done are for the Thai people. If anyone doesn’t understand, they are not Thais. That’s all. The media has to help. From now on, I will keep my eyes on all media [agencies] and, if necessary, I will use my power on everyone. I am not saying you cannot criticize me. You can criticize me, but you have to have some understanding. Today there are still the orders from the NCPO. Have you forgotten that? Have you? It’s been too relaxing for you, maybe?

Reporter: If the media reports divisive news, will any action be taken against them?

Gen. Prayuth: … Let’s see whether that damn media agency causes divisions. If you criticize generally, I don’t mind that. A little of criticism, I can accept that. But if you say every day that I am a failure, how the hell can I be a failure? The previous things were even worse than a failure. Now that I am here to fix it, things will get better from that failure, of course. Learn to think like that.

Reporter: So will you shut down the media?

Gen. Prayuth: Don’t pick a fight with me, don’t make me go to war with the media.

Reporter: So what will be the punishment?

Gen. Prayuth: Execution, maybe? You ask silly questions. Just don’t do actions [that warrant punishment]. Be cautious…. I will use a dog-headed execution device. I will deal with the media. But I still love them. Please, help me out. Don’t make excuses for me, please just help me build love and unity. Now that we are here, let’s change a crisis into an opportunity. Don’t make a crisis into another crisis.

Reporter: Why don’t you see these criticisms as suggestions?

Gen. Prayuth: Well, go look at all this criticism from the media. Is it constructive? …

Gen. Prayuth: If I arrive late, I will inform His Majesty the Sultan that it is because of all of you. I am not angry today. I’m just in bad mood.

Prayuth then decided to criticize Matichon and Manager.

Gen. Prayuth: Where’s the reporter from Matichon group? Go take a look. Write your news well. Don’t write news that supports the other side too much. Let me tell you, in the previous government Matichon sold really well in the Ministry of Interior Affairs. Dig it up. It’s because the Ministry of Interior Affairs ordered people to buy only Matichon, so it hurt the businesses of other papers….

Gen. Prayuth: Why make a big fuss? I don’t understand. They want this. They want that. Especially Manager. I can’t read a single page they write. Are they all mad? They write about nonsensical things every day. What do they want, huh? They are so intelligent. Come on, meung [Thai insult], come administer the country. Come serve as MP. Damn [ไอ้] Chatchawarn, damn Sophon [Manager columnists]. These people. This government says this, like this, if they want to criticize me, go ahead. I can take it. But I am a human. I’m not a Prime Minister who is not a human. I also have feelings. I have a life and feelings.

100% democracy is The Dictator’s fascism.

Update: This is the self-appointed leader of Thailand in action, displaying qualities that would be certifiable and simply unacceptable anywhere but a dictatorship. If readers make it to the execution remark, at about 12 minutes, there’s no smile.





My “democracy” will not be your democracy II

25 03 2015

Just a couple of days ago, The Dictator was holding forth on his commitment to something he calls “democracy” and his recognition that his junta took power in a “non-democratic” manner. A couple of days later, the very same leader, the self-appointed prime minister of bad temper and poor manners, General Prayuth Chan-ocha, has said something quite different.

Khaosod reports that Prayuth has opined that Thailand “… has seen so much trouble because we have had too much democracy…”. He declared: “I insist that today, we are 99 percent democratic, because I didn’t overthrow democracy at all.” In fact, 99% is an improvement on Prayuth’s last estimate, a week ago, when he said it was 90%.

Let’s try to get this straight…. If he didn’t overthrow democracy when he formed a junta and ousted an elected government, appointing puppet committees and legislature, making himself and his military buddies cabinet ministers, ditching a constitution while instituting martial law and threatening and harassing hundreds he feels are opponents, then his overthrow of that government and all the other stuff was establishing a 99% democracy?

He was speaking to “investors and businessmen” at the Federation of Thai Industries, a group that has seldom shown much interest in democracy in Thailand but we imagine that even they were befuddled by The Dictator’s mangled logic.

But he hates his own 99% democracy. While he doesn’t say which countries, he reckons that “other countries …[have] more power to restrict freedoms…”. Prayuth seemed pleased to observe that in those unnamed countries – we guess North Korea, China –   “Even the media can’t criticize [those leaders], like they do here.”

Prayuth’s sparkling (lack of) logic continued when he stated that he can’t be The Dictator because, if he “had complete power,” then he “would have imprisoned [critics] or handed them to a firing squad.” We suspect that this represents Prayuth’s threat and dream.





Weak parliament

25 03 2015

An article we saw at the Bangkok Post a few days ago deserves brief mention here.

Almost since the day of the formation of the puppet assemblies and committees to “reform”  Thailand’s politics along lines preferred by the conservative, royalist ruling class, PPT has been posting on how this is an attempt to emasculate political parties, make elections less determining for government and weakening elected civilian politicians. We said the aim was unstable and weak coalitions of small parties, much like those that existed in the 1990s.

At long last, the mainstream media is waking up to this or, at least, is now prepared to express and report it.

The Post report notes that the main political parties, which hardly have any role under the military dictatorship, say that “mixed member proportional representation (MMP) system proposed under the new constitution will enfeeble large political parties and lead to weak and unstable coalition governments prone to falling at any time…”.

When Banthoon Setsirote, “a member of the Constitution Drafting Committee, defend[s]… the adoption of MMP, arguing that coalition governments will help ease political conflict and foster unity,” he means that the elite will be back in charge because the parliament and politicians will be weak and ineffectual.

Thai-style democracy will be the rule.





Believe us, we’re from the military

24 03 2015

In recent posts a theme has been lies and impunity. This somehow “naturally” applies to the military and most especially under authoritarian regimes usually run by former military leaders who have made their way to the top by loyalty and attention to hierarchy then through any particular ability and certainly not through displays of even meager intelligence.

We don’t feel the need to harp on this yet the military lads – and they are all men at the top – keep displaying their incapacity for anything other than looking completely moronic and thinking that they might just have gotten away with it.

Stay with us on this…. it gets very silly.

The Bangkok Post reports that “a large quantity of illegal weapons and explosives found in Prachuap Khiri Khan’s Huan Hin district…”. The “abandoned” weapons included “41 bars of TNT, four units of C-4 explosives and 31 fire bombs, rifle ammunition and other explosive devices” and were in bags and “labelled with what appears to be the army unit code ‘Phan 1 Roi 1′.”

The implication is that there is a military connection. After all, the military is always selling or stealing its own weapons. Or perhaps someone else stole them or they fell of the back of a truck or tank. Or maybe drunk soldiers decided to have some fun.

Whatever the “excuse,” we expect the military brass to come up with a story to “explain” this current find. Of late, weapons are said to belong to red shirts. Clearly, though, in this case, these were not weapons carefully located to implicate others.

Who would be the best group to investigate the weapons and explosives cache? Well, of course, it is the military itself! We are told they are “investigating any military connection.” What a good idea!

The ever so sharp and quick Army boss Gen Udomdej Sitabutr, who is both deputy defense minister and army chief, said “military agencies are investigating to see if the cache is state property.” He added that “it would be premature to assume based on the bags’ appearance that the weapons and explosives belong to the army…”. As quick as a molasses in January, Udomdej declared that anyone can have military sacks: “bags with military codes and logos are used during emergencies to distribute relief supplies, such as sandbags during floods.” Or, he reckons they could have been bags that “were discarded and later re-used to transport the weapons…”.

He did concede “that some soldiers may be involved in the illegal weapons trade. They would face tough punishment if any link was found.” What about their bosses? In the military, the buck stops with the privates and sergeants. The big boys get the loot, the houses and the cars, not to mention fancy and expensive watches.

With a bunch of military brass-cum-cabinet ministers-cum-junta members mumbling similar things and seemingly playing down the discovery, the Post turned to the military’s adviser and paid “academic,” who decided to buff his bosses’ posteriors by claiming that the weapons were “left over from past regional conflicts.”

That could be true, and we expect that they were just left around a Hua Hin farm by a forgetful arms trader. Such traders usually leave weapons and explosives on the side of one of Thailand’s biggest highways. That way, when they recall leaving them, they are easier to find.

Junta and army spokesman Winthai Suwaree helpfully explained that “illegal war weapons are found discarded in various locations occasionally.” It is those forgetful arms dealers. They get so many weapons from the Thai military that they just forget where they leave them.

We believe the military dictatorship and its minions on this. Clearly the military couldn’t possibly be involved.Fairies





It’s a fascist regime

23 03 2015

Abigail Haworth’s blurb at The Guardian states that she is the senior international editor of the American edition of Marie Claire. UK-born and based in Asia she writes about global women’s issues and human rights. In The Guardian she has a long magazine piece on Thailand that is well worth reading in full.

It begins at “a five-day extravaganza, Discover Thainess 2015, to showcase how united and happy the country is under martial law,” with “colourful stalls selling local food and crafts … cultural performances, and … cheery peasants pose[d] beside plastic water buffaloes.” One observer said: “It’s like 20 or 30 years ago. It’s not like Thailand today.” Of course it isn’t! This is The Dictator’s notion of the Fatherland.

The author notes that the “event is ostensibly to promote tourism, but it’s also thudding domestic propaganda … based on the ’12 core values of the Thai people’ that coup leader … General Prayuth Chan-ocha compiled after seizing power…. All Thai school-children are required to recite the 12 sayings daily and, to prove that feudal values can also be fun, the junta has issued downloadable stickers for Thai messaging apps.”

Prayuth’s politics are on show: “There’s no greater way of showing contempt for the rule of law than by removing an elected government, however flawed, at gunpoint. But such inconsistencies don’t trouble Prayuth.”

Prayuth’s fascism is on show: “Disagreeing with his path, he declared, was incompatible with the very nature of ‘Thainess’.” Prayuth thunders: “Whoever causes chaos to Thailand or disrupts peace and order, they should not be recognised as Thais, because Thais do not destroy each other…. The charm of the Thai people is that they look lovely even when they do nothing, because they have smiles…”.

Prayuth’s exasperation with even a compliant, even supine, media is on show: “I was asked by a reporter: ‘What are the results of the government’s work?’ I almost punched the person who questioned me in the face.”

Prayuth’s regime is fascist.





My “democracy” will not be your democracy I

23 03 2015

The Dictator, General Prayuth Chan-ocha, self-appointed premier of Thailand, leader of the military coup that overthrew an elected government and former commander of troops that shot down red shirt demonstrators in 2010, claims, at The Nation that he is “building democracy for the country…”.

Speaking at the opening ceremony for an essay contest that promotes his personal and fascist “Twelve Core Values” as being the values of the entire nation, and without a hint of irony, The Dictator declared: “… I understand democratic means and we will not fail democracy. We will take care of the people well and equally…”.Prayuth Puppetry

What kind of “democracy”? He says it won’t be “100 per cent like democracy in Western countries,” and we can assume that his democracy is Thai-style democracy, the redoubt of past authoritarian leaders in the country since the late 1950s. It is the democracy you have in Thailand when you are not having democracy. As he puts it, “We have to put Thai elements into the democracy, but it will not contradict international values…”.

Given that Prayuth does not understand “international values” and flouts them on a daily basis, we can dismiss his claims to being an architect of anything other than fascist Thailand.

When he claims that “[p]eople would be able to access justice equally and fairly” and then has to beseech people to “be confident in the existing justice system,” you know the “justice” system is crippled by lese majeste, by royalist bias, by military impunity and by martial law.

When he demands that political conflicts be reduced and demands that the media not ask questions about politics and political conflict, you know that Prayuth’s democracy is not real democracy.

When he says, “So, next time, please elect a good government into power,” he is repeating his demand of the electorate in 2011, when he went on national television to demand a vote for the pro-military and royalist Democrat Party. You know the 2014 coup had much to do with Prayuth’s anger that the electorate spurned him and the (anti)Democrat Party.

 








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