Updated: PPT is back on email

28 07 2015

PPT is now checking our email account, but we are way behind. We apologize for this.





Rinda has bail renewed

30 07 2015

The Nation reports that a “military court has ordered the woman accused of starting the rumour about Prime Minister General Prayut Chan-o-cha transferring his money abroad to report on August 14 after it renewed her bail yesterday.”

This refers to Rinda “Lin” Parichabutr or Paruechabut, said to be a red-shirt supporter who spread a rumor on social media that Prayuth and his wife had transferred 10 billion baht to Singapore via a dodgy South Pacific-based bank.

Rinda is due to report back to the military’s court on 14 August. She is represented by the Thai Lawyers for Human Rights. Her bail is “Bt100,000 as a bail collateral and released under the condition that she does not express her political opinion or incite social disturbances. She is forbidden from travelling abroad without the court’s permission.”

She is accused of lese dictateur or in the words of the junta’s laws, “violating Article 116 of the Criminal Code and the Computer Crimes Act by spreading the rumour.”





Updated: Money and roads

29 07 2015

We could say that truckloads of taxpayer funds are again being wasted on royalist trivia. The problem is that these truckloads of money would be lucky to move around Bangkok as the military regime closes many road for the Bike for Mum propaganda exercise.

As reported at Coconuts Bangkok, the regime reckons “40,000 cyclists [are] to practice their pedaling for the ‘Bike for Mom’ cycling event to celebrate Mother’s Day.” Of course, in royalist Thailand, Mother’s Day is the queen’s birthday.

Kilometer after kilometer of roads are to be closed for several hours by the practice session and they’ll all be closed again on the 16 August.

There have long been complaints about royal convoys closing roads all over Bangkok. For this event, however, the impact is going to be far more widespread and the advice to the populace is: stay at home.

The military dictatorship doesn’t brook criticism and is ever willing to splurge money polishing the royal derrière. After all, it is only its royalism that provides legitimacy for the military dictatorship.

Update: The Nation reports that the rehearsal has been rescheduled from 7.30am to noon instead of 3pm to 9pm as previously scheduled…”. PPT assumes that the military dictatorship has realized that its royalist propaganda promises discontent. A police spokesman said the “event was postponed in order to avoid heavy traffic as holidaymakers will be returning to the capital on that day…”. The Nation has several photos showing the military’s involvement, with the rehearsal being “attended by Prime Minister General Prayut Chan-o-cha,” with the rehearsal mainly to check security for Prince Vajiralongkorn who is apparently participating for his mother’s birthday. It also explains that the government is providing a “souvenir” for each person who registers to participate.





Further updated: Suthep re-enters politics

28 07 2015

Much of the media commentary about Suthep Thaugsuban leaving the monkhood has been about his declaration that he will no longer be involved in politics.

Suthep

A Bangkok Post photo

Suthep entered the monkhood not that long after the coup, as a kind of political exile, and after a couple of slaps from the military dictatorship on commentary he made about the coup and his People’s Democratic Reform Committee links to the military’s planning of the coup.

Like others with a penchant for mobilizing people, be it Thaksin Shinawatra, Sondhi Limthongkul or even Chamlong Srimuang, the military is suspicious of them.

Hence, Suthep’s declaration that he is not re-entering politics is something of a ruse.

For one thing, saying he is done with party politics is not saying much when the military dictatorship has sent parties to the wilderness. Parties are more or less defunct and those drafting the new constitution have tried to make them less significant into the future.

Second, during the PDRC campaign against Yingluck Shinawatra’s government, much of the rhetoric was driven by royalist notions that are anti-party and a anti-politician, so an immediate return to party politics would be a denial of that anti-democratic ideology.

Third, it is noticeable that Suthep remains politically engaged. Photographed in his PDRC livery emphasizing monarchy and nation, Suthep stated that he “plans to join a foundation that other former protest leaders have established,” allegedly “to promote vocational education and other grassroots projects.” When he states that “I will work with the Foundation of the Great Mass of the People for Reform of Thailand. I will never go back to run in an election ever again. But I will be working in civil politics alongside the Great Mass of the People for the benefit of our country.”

In a sense, this is an acknowledgement of the post-politician/post-party politics that will be acceptable to the royalist elite and the military dictatorship. Suthep has re-entered politics in a space delimited by the military.

Update 1: As if on cue, Army chief General Udomdej Sitabutr has warned Suthep to steer clear of political organizing.

Update 2: The military dictatorship’s concerns regarding Suthep’s re-entry into politics has been shown in a statement by The Dictator. General Prayuth Chan-ocha “admitted yesterday he was concerned that politician Suthep Thaugsuban … has become politically active once again.” Prayuth was expressing concern about a press conference scheduled for Thursday that “will be the first time since the coup in May 22, 2014, that 12 PDRC leaders will officially get together to continue their push for reform.” Prayuth and Suthep

As Chairman of the so-called Foundation of the Great Mass of the People for Reform of Thailand, Suthep will attend the event. So will all of the other anti-democrat leaders: Sathit Wongnongtoey, Thaworn Senniam, Issara Somchai, Witthaya Kaewparadai, Akanat Promphan, Chumpol Chulasai, Chaiwut Bannawat, Puttipong Punnakan, Sakoltee Phattiyakul, Natthapol Theepsuwan and Chitpas Bhirombhakdi-Kridakorn.

The “foundation” will consider its “strategy to support ‘reforms’ according to the six-point proposal initiated by Suthep himself…”.

 





Rubbing out universal health care

27 07 2015

PPT has had several posts over a number of years on royalist-inspired efforts to roll back the Thaksin Shinawatra universal health care program. We have mentioned independent assessments of the success of that program and a short paper at East Asia Forum that assesses some of the recent politicking over the scheme.

More recently, we posted on General Prayuth Chan-ocha’s view that the universal health care program is a “costly populist” policy which “helped deposed prime minister Thaksin Shinawatra win the 2001 election.”

The royalist and military junta campaign against universal health care continues. The Nation reports that the puppet “National Reform Council (NRC) committee on public health” is seeking to “reforms” that may see “[m]illions of Thais will lose their right to many kinds of free medical treatment under the universal healthcare scheme…”.

The proposal seeks to unmake the universality of the program by “setting up of the National Health Insurance Council will require a large number of people now covered by the universal health scheme to pay extra for medical services that are beyond the basic range.”

Royalist ideologues believe that “nearly 30 million people covered by the universal healthcare scheme can afford healthcare insurance…”.

The opponents of “populist” health care talk about the scheme being costly – it is – but do not look at its broad benefits. Yet this is a ruse. What they are proposing is an effort to destroy the “Thaksin revolution” and undermine the political support that still adheres from his time in power.





Inspiring lawyers

27 07 2015

Pravit Rojanaphruk has an inspiring story at The Nation on the Thai Lawyers for Human Rights (TLHR), described as “a cohesive gathering dedicated to helping those whose views and actions pit them against military might.”

TLHR was formed after the 2014 military coup when it became clear that there was a desperate “need for legal representation of those prosecuted by the junta…”. These lawyers have taken cases by thse accused of having “broken security laws or suspected of lese majeste as well as those summoned by the [junta] for ‘attitude adjustment’.”

According to Yaowalak Anupan who heads up the TLHR, it wasn’t the coup itself that stimulated the formation of the TLHR. Rather it was “the realisation that the National Human Rights Commission (NHRC) would not be setting up a hotline to help opponents of the coup who were being detained without charge in secret locations, those who had been charged and those who claimed to have been tortured.”

At PPT we think it rather remarkable that lawyers would have thought that the NHRC had any interest in human rights. After all, with but a couple of exceptions, the NHRC has done nothing at all for human rights. Yaowalak knows this too, stating: “The Thai state has never supported Thai [rights] NGOs even before the coup.”

With “12 full-time staff and some 10 pro bono lawyers” these are a group that deserves credit for representing those targeted by the military regime. They say they are idealists yet they are dealing with a regime that is destroying ideals, rights and liberties.

Of the 48 cases taken on by TLHR, “23 involve lese majeste and involve a total of 81 clients.”

Yaowalak bravely declares: “We don’t recognise the legitimacy of the NCPO…”.





Protecting the judiciary

26 07 2015

It has become increasingly common for the judiciary to “protect” itself. This “protection” appears to have originated as the red shirt movement developed and became critical of the obvious double standards displayed by the judiciary following the 2006 palace-military coup.

The judiciary has been manipulated to become an important arm of the royalist elite in maintaining its rule, taking on some of the work of the king as he allocated it more responsibility in dealing with the elite’s perception of threats from electoral politics.

A recent example of this self-protective behavior is the Supreme Court’s decision to uphold a “one-year prison term, without suspension, imposed on Pheu Thai Party spokesman Prompong Nopparit and former party MP Kiat-udom Menasawat for defaming former Constitutional Court president Wasan Soypisudh.”

Wasan’s defamation lawsuit “said they wrongfully accused him during a press conference on June 8, 2010, of acting inappropriately and lacking judicial ethics and impartiality.” We have more on Wasan’s bias below.

Earlier, the Criminal Court had “found the pair guilty of defamation and sentenced them to one year in prison, suspended, and fined them 50,000 baht.” Wasan and several of his royalist buddies were enraged and the Appeals Court “lifted the suspension, ruling the defendants had intentionally insulted the judge and discredited the judiciary, despite being well-educated and holding political positions. The Supreme Court upheld that decision.”

As if to emphasize double standards, the “Supreme Court overruled an Appeals Court ruling and acquitted former deputy prime minister Suthep Thaugsuban … of defaming Prommin Letsuridej, a former executive of the now-defunct Thai Rak Thai Party in 2006. The court also upheld the prior acquittal of former prime minister Abhisit Vejjajiva and Ong-art Klampaibul of the Democrat Party on similar charges.”

Back to Wasan. He was, until 2013, a politicized judge at the head of a politicized Constitutional Court. PPT has had several posts on his activities. The Constitutional Court has been irretrievably biased in favor of the royalist elite. This court has been shown to be corrupt and colluded with members of the elite, including in the palace. The Constitutional Court repeatedly acted as the judicial arm of the royalist elite, most notably in its actions to dissolve various pro-Thaksin Shinawatra parties and politicians and in its protection of favored parties and groups. Its actions to stymie legal constitutional change have been some of the most biased and ludicrous cases ever seen in Thailand.

The court’s politicized decision-making has been central to the political conflicts of the past decade and Wasan has even stated the biases of the court:

At a seminar on the court’s role in keeping the balance in Thai politics, he referred to the court’s resolution to dissolve the People Power, Chart Thai and Matchima Thipataya parties [the 2008 judicial coup]. If various groups had not staged so many rallies at the time, the decision might have been different, he said. “If the country at that time had been peaceful, the government and the opposition could have joined hands, the country could have moved forward, and I believe most of the judges would have decided not to dissolve the parties,” he said. “But the country at that time was chaotic and the Constitution Court had to use its judgement to maintain law and order,” he said, adding however that the court was under no pressure.

Wasan did more than any other judge to politicize the Constitutional Court. His politicized career included strong connections with  the Democrat Party, having interned with  are long. The report states the royal leader of the early Democrat Party, Seni Pramoj.

As a Supreme Court judge, it was Wasan who dished out the two-year imprisonment term on Thaksin for allegedly assisting his wife in the Ratchada land purchase deal.

He also played a role in stripping red-shirt leader Jatuporn Promphan of his parliamentary election victory by ruling that his incarceration on bogus charges meant he was ineligible.

Was he defamed? Not if it is considered that the defendants told the truth about a corrupt and biased judge. Yet the judiciary wants to protect its capacity for politicized interventions.








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