Piya J’s lese majeste conviction upheld

27 04 2017

As expected, an appeals court has agreed with a lower court conviction of Piya J. for lese majeste.

Piya J. was arrested by police on 11 December 2014 for allegedly defaming the monarchy on Facebook with “defamatory” comments and pictures of the king on 27 and 28 July 2013.

He was convicted on 20 December 2016 and sentenced to 9 years, reduced by a third. Later, on 10 October 2016, he was sentenced to an additional 8 years on a second lese majeste charge associated with these posts, deemed defamatory of the king.

As is common in royalist Thailand, it was a bunch of lese majeste vigilantes  who made the complaint in mid-2013.

Piya was said to have used the Facebook profile of Pongsathorn Bantorn. The police claim Piya, aged 46 at the time, and a computer programmer, admitted his guilt while under interrogation. Piya denied the charges and rejected the police claim of a confession. In fact, during the deposition hearing at the Criminal Court he claimed that the account was not his and that it was a fake account using his publicly available profile photo.

A former officer of the Stock Exchange of Thailand, Piya claims that he never participated in any political demonstrations and said that he had no interest in politics.

The court allowed a secret trial and the only incriminating evidence produced in this case is reportedly an image of the king on a mobile phone from about 2001. Other computer evidence and IP addresses were not considered on the case. According to a report of the case, there was only weak evidence against Piya.

The court accepted “evidence” given by Achariya Ruangratpong, one of the plaintiffs, as primary evidence of guilt, despite it essentially being hearsay.

The plaintiff told the court that Piya had used the name ‘Vincent Wang’ as his online identity and told the court that Piya used to reside in Don Muang District, which was consistent with the information from investigators that Piya once adopted the name Pongsathorn Bantorn at the Don Muang District Office.

Yes, that’s it. At least as far as we know from secret courts. Such flimsy “evidence” gets one sent to jail for years.


Fashion madness in Munich

27 04 2017

PPT doesn’t follow the king around looking for Hello magazine style stories. After all, the king may be a public figure, but we still think he should be able to pop into a shop and buy a frying pan when he feels the need.

Yet we feel compelled to post the latest from Germany’s Bild newspaper. The newspaper has photographers who have captured the king in all his fashion madness several times. That said, some might argue that the 64 year-old king is aligned with certain fashion trends.

We have used Google Translate, but it isn’t perfect, even for the headline, but the gist is clear. We also took out a couple of photos that seems inconsequential, including of a pooch that was dressed up, but this seems pretty normal these days.

He bought cups, a frying pan, and his dog was wearing cute socks

Thai king in the furniture houseThe Thai king runs around when he is “private”, as here in a furniture house near Munich. At his side: Lady Goi (former nurse). Photo: BILD-LESERREPORTER


Munich – The Thais regard their king as a deity. It is true that Maha Vajiralongkorn (64) is not as popular with the people as his father Bhumibol, who died in 2016 … but God King remains God-King – even in belly-free top and sneakers.

In Thailand he can only be seen in uniform – in his secret homeland Bavaria, he can run around as he likes. Just like this week at the Segmüller furniture store in Parsdorf near Munich.

At his side, ex-nurse Lady Goi. One of his current main women.

The king is three times divorced, at least one of his ex-wives was arrested after the divorce. To be in the royal game in Thailand is not a long-term gig. But as long as it lasts – its is party time.

Vajiralongkorn has villas all over the world, continues to travel by private jet, and is famous for the extravagant parties that he likes for his poodle. Estimated assets: 40 billion euros.

(PPT hasn’t heard about villas outside Germany and Thailand.)

In Parsdorf, His Majesty contented himself with kitchen accessories. Patterned coffee cups with saucers and a frying pan. “He loves to play a normal life in Bavaria, so he goes shopping,” a court insider told BILD.

In Bavaria the king is famous for his excursions.

In the guesthouse “Stern” in Unterammergau, the guests were not surprised when people serving the king skidded along on their knees. His servants approach him only on knees. In the VIP area of the Munich airport, the royals are known to wear skimpy tank tops an flip flops.

The cute poodle almost always accompanies the king, as it did at the furniture house (next to servants and bodyguards). Is the king planning another great party?

When the military is on top IV

27 04 2017

Military dictatorships only like media they can manipulate. Military dictatorships want to control the news. Censorship is their modus operandi.

Thailand’s military dictatorship is no different. The Dictator has shown, time and again, that he hates the media because it sometimes does not do as he wants.

Thailand’s military dictatorship wants to censor everything. It thrives on censorship. Its minions seek out material to censor in the media, on the internet and in private conversations.

The military dictatorship’s latest effort to control news is reported in the Bangkok Post. This effort is led by the mass media panel of the puppet National Reform Steering Assembly (NRSA).

It has drafted laws that will require that any person the state deems to be a “reporter” “will be required to have a licence to do their jobs or face a jail term up to two years or a fine not more than 60,000 baht, or both…”.

In true Orwellian style, Pol Maj Gen Pisit Pao-in, the deputy chairman of the panel said his committee named the revised bill as being about “the protection of rights and freedom and promotion of ethics and professional standards of mass media…”.

It is really a dictatorial regime’s effort to limit rights and freedoms and has absolutely nothing to do with professionalization or ethics.

The dozy Pisit compared journalists to “traditional massage service[s]” in needing to be licensed.

He also explained who this bill was meant to silence. He noted that “licensing shouldn’t be a problem with old media — newspapers, radio and TV — but it won’t be easy with new media.”

Defining “reporters as those who have the intention and continuity in reporting news to the public and earn direct or indirect revenue from doing so,” the bill is meant to censor blogs, alternative news sites and “websites such as Sanook.com, Kapook.com or news apps on Line platform…”.

Maj Gen Pisit stated that the opposition of all “mass media organisations” – “against the bill, against licensing” – counted for nothing. He has a job to do for the dictatorship.

When the military is on top III

26 04 2017

When the military is running its dictatorship, secrecy and silence replace any notion of transparency, reinforcing arrogance and abuse of power.

We have already noted the junta’s secret approval of its controversial purchase of a 13.5 billion baht Chinese submarine. Taxpayers fork out the money but they are not told about how their money is to be used.

Yet secrecy goes far wider than this.

Most lese majeste “trials” are held in secret. This ensures that political “crimes” are heard in political courts.

Now it seems that more political “crimes” are to be heard in secret political courts.

The Bangkok Post reports that the “[s]even people accused of contempt of court in connection with a Feb 10 gathering to voice support for lese majeste suspect Jatupat Boonpattararaksa [and who] reported to the provincial court [in Khon Kaen on] Monday to acknowledge charges” were treated to a secret hearing.

The court that does this is indeed contemptible. It again demonstrates that the junta and its courts are lawless in delivering injustice.

Not only was the “hearing was held behind closed doors,” but police were “deployed to beef up security.” This for a group that has never indicated any semblance of “unrest.” In fact, the heavy “security” is but another measure of demonstrating who is on top.

The arrogance of power is breathtaking. The destruction and politicization of Thailand’s institutions is breathtaking. But when there’s a military dictatorship, they do these things. No transparency, no scrutiny, no justice.

Updated: More lese majeste censorship

26 04 2017

The military junta is again exercised by lese majeste, suggesting they may be getting a boot in the backside from the new and the easily annoyed king.

The National Broadcasting and Telecommunications Commission, a regulator, and the Ministry of Digital Economy and Society which is actually a censorship ministry, have, according to the Bangkok Post, “reiterated their demand that all internet service providers (ISPs) and international internet gateway providers block webpages and content that contain or promote illegal acts or breach Section 112 of the Criminal Code, the lese majeste law.”

“Illegal acts” usually mean things like sedition, gambling and pornography, but previous bouts of blocking and censoring have mostly been about lese majeste.

The junta has demanded that these agencies do more to protect the tawdry reputation of the king. It wants ISP cooperation “to remove illicit video streaming on Facebook and YouTube from their local network server, called a content delivery network (CDN).”

Takorn Tantasith, the NBTC secretary-general, opined that there’s been “good cooperation between the regulator and the ministry” but that “the government [he means military junta] hopes for more, and expects better result by next month…”.

Takorn is dutifully and enthusiastically calling for “serious cooperation” from ISPs and international internet gateway (IIGs) providers to “block webpages … after receiving a court order or when their own monitoring staff finds such [offending] material.” He demands that they “immediately inform the NBTC or DE if they cannot block a webpage due to it being encrypted overseas.” When that happens, these agencies again say they will “ask cooperation from embassies and the Foreign Ministry…”.

A more difficult area is when content they don’t like derives from “online video or video streaming stored with ISP servers in country on their CDN or cache server.”

It also seems that the Ministry and the NBTC are “reiterating their warning to people not to ‘follow’ or correspond with three well-known opponents of the regime, who are now living overseas.” This means exiled historian Somsak Jeamteerasakul, exiled political scientist Pavin Chachavalpongpun and journalist Andrew MacGregor Marshall.

This military dictatorship has tied itself to the monarchy, meaning that, at least for the time being, it will reflect the views from the king, and he has shown that he is intolerant and violent.

Update: Prachatai has background on the NBTC’s new role on censoring streaming and online video. It also has information on a probably related piece of legislation that gives police the right to intercept communications. Welcome to the new reign (of terror).

When the military is on top II

26 04 2017

While some of the media seems prepared to join with the junta in allowing the extrajudicial killing of Chaiyapoom Pasae be eased off the front pages, Prachatai continues to report on events related to the military’s efforts to bury the case in delays and silence. (Consider the same manufactured silence on the political vandalism of the 1932 plaque.)

A network of academics and several ethnic minority groups recently met in Chiang Mai and “issued a joint statement over the summary killing of Chaiyapoom Pasae, a young Lahu ethnic activist who was shot dead by a soldier on 17 March.”

This group pointed to the “intimidation of relatives of the slain activist and witnesses of the killing” and noted the failure of the (lying) “military must submit the CCTV footage of the crime scene to the police for further investigation process.”

The statement said:

After the incident, soldiers have visited Kong Pakping Community where Chaiyapoom lived almost every day. His relatives or even the head of the community were summoned [by the authorities]. Bullets were found placed in front of houses of Chaiyapoom relatives….

Such intimidation is standard operating procedure for the state’s thugs. It is also the modus operandi of the junta itself when dealing with critics.

When the military is on top I

25 04 2017

The military on top means remarkable arrogance in the use and abuse of power.

The Bangkok Post reports the junta “has secretly approved the controversial procurement of a Chinese submarine costing 13.5 billion baht.”

Defence Ministry spokesman Major General Kongcheep Tantravanich stated: “… not all issues approved by the cabinet have to be conveyed to the press…”.

In fact, it isn’t entirely clear whether the decision was made by the junta’s cabinet or its Defense Council, both reported to have met around the time that the billions of baht were approved.

Kongcheep also gave an insight into the junta’s view of history, declaring that “60 years ago, Thailand had submarines so now the country is simply going to have them again.”

So conniving in the theft of an 80 year-old plaque commemorating constitutionalism would seem reasonable to this lot.

While on the Navy, PPT came across an interesting report at the website of the Thai Embassy in Washington, headlined “Navy investing in EEC ports, Phuket port expands.

It states that “The Royal Thai Navy is moving full steam ahead towards developing the Eastern Economic Corridor (EEC) with a nearly $60 million dollar investment in 13 projects including ferry ports…”. It goes on:

The Eastern Economic Corridor is a development zone that will showcase advances in Thailand’s economy and society and provide a home for higher-technology and green industries, research and development centers and more modern and environmentally friendly communities….

Developing the zone in and of itself should provide an important economic stimulus in terms of investment, both domestic and foreign, and through a robust building and construction program.

The Navy’s projects will include a business area covering five acres at Chuk Samet, Sattahip, along with two quays for ferries and cruise liners, a ferry terminal and multimodal transport links. The ferries will link the EEC with cities, towns, resorts and manufacturing centers along the … east coast on the Gulf of Thailand and the port will be expanded to handle cruise liners.

That investment is about 15% of a submarine.

It also shows how the Navy, like the Army and Air Force are businesses that deliver wealth to admirals, generals and air marshals, making them all unusually wealthy, at the taxpayers’ expense.

The arrogance of power is the source of corruption. But when there’s a military dictatorship, they can easily do these things. No transparency, no scrutiny.