Another privy councilor gone

21 06 2018

The king seems to be having trouble maintaining his Privy Council. Since he took the throne there’s been a revolving door as three privy councilors appointed in 2016 have already been shown the exit. As ThaiPBS reports, the third is Gen Theerachai Nakawanich:

Former army commander-in-chief General Thirachai Narkvanich has been relieved as a member of the Privy Council by a Royal Command of His Majesty King Maha Vajiralongkorn.

According to the Royal Command dated June 19 which was published in the Royal Gazette on June 21, General Thirachai offered to resign from the privy councilor’s post.

The retired general was appointed a member of the Privy Council on December 6, 2016, after his retirement from the military service at the end of September of the same year.





Progress to free and fair elections?

21 06 2018

The UK’s Foreign Office has let down its prime minister badly. Based on Theresa May’s comments to The Dictator, we assume the Foreign Office provided incorrect briefing information.

As the self-styled buffoonish British Foreign Secretary Boris Johnson met with Thailand’s Foreign Minister Don Pramudwinai (who is under a corruption cloud), May talked with the military dictator Gen Prayuth Chan-ocha, who seized power by a coup.

As bad as it appears for May to shake hands with such a thug, May blundered. Her spokesman stated:

The Prime Minister [May] urged continued progress towards free and open elections in Thailand in line with international standards, including restrictions on political parties being lifted at an early stage….

Such a statement is bizarre. “Continued progress” suggests there has been movement to “free and fair elections.” There has been no such movement. Worse, there can be no free and fair election under the rules established by the junta. It is simply impossible.

The comment on lifting “restrictions” on political parties is equally disturbing. “Restrictions” are political repression, bans and the crushing of parties as the junta prepares for its own “elections” to result in its own parties running the country, with The Dictator still in charge. And, what is “early”? It’s been more than 4 years already.

Either Boris has lobotomized his Foreign Office, May bungled or its another example of Conservative desperation as Brexit approaches meaning trade with anyone will be sanctioned.

Meanwhile, The Dictator can be the Cheshire cat and continue to rig his “election” and expect the West to accept it.





Generational change

21 06 2018

Associated with years of military rule and anti-democracy, the old men who have run Thailand for decades are dying off. But they are replaced another group of royalist military thugs who intend to maintain political control and repression for decades to come.

We say this after the announcement of the death of royalist policeman Vasit Dejkunjorn. Usually no one would take much notice of the death of a former deputy police chief. However, Vasit gets plenty of attention because he was seen as close to the dead king, a relationship Vasit played up.

A long time ago we wrote this of Vasit, citing Michael Montesano (where the link is now defunct):

“Briefer of CIA director Allen Dulles during the latter’s late-1950s visit to Thailand, veteran of anti-Soviet espionage in Bangkok, long the Thai Special Branch’s leading trainer in anti-Communist operations, and palace insider at the time of his country’s most intensive counter-insurgency efforts, Police General Vasit Dejkunjorn ranked among Thailand’s most important Cold Warriors.”

His background in the shadows of the Cold War did not prevent him from being of an office holder at Transparency International in Thailand. Vasit remained a warrior for the palace in his columns in Matichon and as a royalist speaker. For a very short time Vasit was deputy interior minister for Chatichai Choonhavan being raised from his position as deputy police chief. Vasit “retired” years ago, but kept popping up in strategic locations. His political views reflect the position of the palace. His royalism and extreme views were inflected with racism, extreme nationalism, support for lese majeste and the rejection of constitutional monarchy as being to constraining of his king.

He was associated with all kinds of rightist, royalist and nationalist efforts to eject elected governments.

As expected, his funeral will be a royal one, with Princess Sirindhorn presiding. That’s a sign of a man who did the palace’s work.

Several of the other old men are on their last legs, including Gen Prem Tinsulanonda, now seen in a wheel chair.

In recent years as Prem, Vasit and others schemed against elected governments and worked to mobilize opposition on the streets and in the barracks, they also managed a transition to “tough” military royalists, trusted to carry forward their preferred royalism and anti-democracy well into the future.

Think Meechai Ruchupan’s role in constitutional manipulation and Gen Prawit Wongsuwan and Gen Prayuth Chan-ocha as military strongmen. This “new generation” of political manipulators are the legacy left by the departing old men.





Hitting Puea Thai, using populism

20 06 2018

Report after report has recounted how the military dictatorship is hoovering up Puea Thai Party politicians for its own parties.

The most recent we saw told the story of former Thaksin Shinawatra-linked politicians working for the junta canvassing in the northeast trying to entice and bribe politicians to join up with the junta.

After a trip to Loei, Suriya Juangroongruangkit (same family as Thanathorn Juangroongruangkit) and Somsak Thepsutin are heading into Nakhon Ratchasima “to try to convince former Pheu Thai MPs to switch their allegiances to a party supporting [Gen]Prayut[h] Chan-o…cha to be an outside prime minister after an election.” The offers are to join the Palang Pracharath Party and are said to target “three members of the Rattanaseth clan: former [party] list-MP Wirat and two former constituency MPs, Tassineeya and Athirat.”

Suriya and Somsak “are publicly leading the campaign to woo Pheu Thai members into the new political camp.”

The other element of this pilfering of politicians is the junta’s continuing efforts to destroy the Shinawatra clan and the Puea Thai Party.

The Bangkok Post reports that former foreign minister Surapong Towijakchaikul “has been sentenced to two years in prison for issuing a passport for Thaksin Shinawatra.”

The Supreme Court’s Criminal Division for Holders of Political Positions “ruled him guilty of malfeasance under Section 157 of the Criminal Code and the 2000 anti-corruption law.”

Surapong has appealed, but the message is clear: support Thaksin and we will screw you. Malfeasance is highly debatable under the law but the court decided that he was guilty because Thaksin was subject to “an arrest warrant on national security charges.” We take it that this means lese majeste. That charge is trumped up. But the yellow shirts and junta prevail over law.

The claim that Surapong’s “actions allowed Thaksin to travel freely and live abroad and the Thai government could not ask a country to expel or extradite him on the charge of not having a passport” is complete nonsense given that Thaksin has other passports.

When the court states that Surapong had “weakened the judicial procedures and court sanctions” and argues that he “tarnished the reputation of the country,” we can only point to the 2014 military coup that was illegal and caused serious damage to Thailand’s reputation (and still does). Yet the courts have always accepted that coups are retrospectively legal because the criminals make them so.

That effort to “legally” target the Shinawatra clan and Puea Thai sees more Supreme Court action against Thaksin.

While the junta pilfers politicians from Puea Thai and uses the judiciary against recalcitrants, the junta continues to pilfer political tactics from that party.

When The Dictator orders the execution of a prisoner, he captures some of the notion of populist appeal.

Gen Prayuth declared that “most people thought it [state execution] should remain in place,” he was appealing to fear. When he says:

The death penalty is legitimate. Many cases of severe crime have happened. Capital punishment exists to guarantee national peace and teach lessons. It is a necessity for us and people want it….

The Dictator is targeting the same vein of fear that had Thaksin receiving support for the reprehensible War on Drugs.

Take from Thaksin and Puea Thai while crushing them has been on the top of the junta’s agenda from the time that it planned the coup.





The coronation delay and more royal propaganda events

20 06 2018

The Dictator has stated that there will be no “election” until after the coronation. The coronation will only be held at a date to be decided by the king, and probably has been decided, but is still to be announced.

This is not the first time he has said this. Back in July 2017, he stated that the timing for the next general “election” was for him to contemplate. He said the timing needed to be “appropriate.” That could mean a time when he thinks the military junta can be assured of its outcome. But he went on to state that the “election” would “definitely be after the ceremony for King Rama IX’s cremation and King Rama X’s ceremonial accession to the throne.”

So Gen Prayuth Chan-ocha’s most recent statement should not be a surprise.

At the same time as reporting this, the Bangkok Post lists a series of events that coincide with the run-up to the king’s birthday. The junta is nothing if not a royal-promoting and propagandizing:

Meanwhile, the administration is preparing to hold activities to celebrate His Majesty the King’s 66th birthday on July 28.

The activities will be held July 22-28 in Sanam Luang, Prime Minister’s Office Minister Suwaphan Tanyuvardhana said after a meeting to discuss events to mark the King’s birthday.

The government is in the process of relaying information about the activities to the King.

He said provinces will also hold their own events to mark the occasion.

On July 28, a procession of offerings for him and a blessing ceremony for the King will be held. Gen Prayut will represent the Thai people in an address to honour the King at 7pm.

At Sanam Luang an exhibition of photos showing voluntary activities under the “Tam Kwam Dee Duay Hua Jai” (Do good deeds by hearts) project, in line with the King’s guidance, will be held.

The pictures will be gathered from activities taking place across the country.

Mr Suwaphan said people are invited to bring their own pictures showing their involvement in the project to be displayed at the exhibition.

On July 27 and 28, free skills training will be held, including how to make garlands, Thai sweets and herbal drinks.

Low-priced food and beverages as well as low-cost products will also be on sale at the events.

Cultural and entertainment performances will be staged during this period.

Provincial authorities will hold activities to celebrate the auspicious occasion at their own discretion, the minister said.

As the events coincide with Asarnha Bucha and Buddhist Lent days on July 27 and 28 respectively, Buddha’s relics would be moved to Sanam Luang from the National Museum to let people pay homage, said Mr Suwaphan.

 





Old farts and their lies

19 06 2018

Old fart is sometimes considered a pejorative term. In this case it certainly is meant that way.

Constitution drafter to several military and fascist regimes Meechai Ruchupan is an old fart. He’s a continual meddler on behalf of the past.

Recently he was forced to deny that the constitution he dutifully prepared the anti-democratic charter for the military dictatorship “was written with a goal of paving the way for a government of ‘national unity’ after the next general election.”

Meechai, chairman of the Constitution Drafting Commission, then lied. Not just fibbed, but lied big time: “He declared that the junta’s constitution … was based on suggestions from public members.”

Nothing could be further from the truth.

Meechai must not be permitted to lie about the junta’s basic law.

The junta’s constitution was drawn up on the military dictatorship’s orders, based on anti-democratic ideology, written by the junta’s puppets and approved by the junta’s puppet National Legislative Assembly.

While the charter was approved in a referendum, this vote was neither free nor fair, with the dictatorship’s thugs preventing any campaign against it or any criticism.

The only major changes made were ordered by King Vajiralongkorn who took the opportunity to grab more power for himself, which the junta granted in secret sessions of the NLA.

Meechai lied again when he claimed it was impossible to scheme on an election outcome: “You can’t plot such a plan that is speculated…”.

That’s buffalo manure. The most basic reason for the2014 military coup was to ensure that pro-Thaksin Shinawatra parties could never win another election. It plotted to do this by changing the electoral rules in ways that seek to ensure such an outcome.

Meechai’s lies were piled one on another as he declared that the junta’s Constitution was written to benefit of the public. The charter was drawn up to benefit the amart, the elite, royalists, anti-democrats and the military.

Meechai’s lies are a part of a process to prevent changes being made to the junta’s constitution should all of the above fail and an anti-junta regime somehow comes to power.





All that is old is new again

19 06 2018

“New” is a relative term. What is new for a 10 year-old may be old for a 70 year-old. For those now piloting Suthep Thaugsuban’s Action Coalition of Thailand Party the really old conservative ploy of calling for a “national government” is promoted as if a new idea, not one recycled from previous conservatives and fascists.

Whenever such a call is launched it usually suggests that Thailand’s politics is deeply conflicted. And so it is again.

Party puppet leader Anek Laothamatas made an “appeal” to his party’s arch-enemies in Puea Thai. If the report at Khaosod is to be believed, Anek called on the “political rivals [to] bury the hatchet and form a ‘unity government’ after the next election.”

Worryingly, this former “scholar” – in Khaosod’s reporting he is transformed into a “veteran law scholar”- made his call based “inspiration” drawn from “last week’s historic meeting between US President Donald Trump and North Korean leader Kim Jong Un…” as his inspiration.

Anek is said to have told reporters: “Even North Koreans and South Koreans – they fought till millions were dead – managed to reconcile. Even Mr. Donald Trump and Mr. Kim Jong Un managed to reconcile.”

It seems Anek is a seer rather than a scholar of any sort, concocting a conclusion to recent events. That unused train station at the DMZ must be suddenly busy!

For the anti-democrat vision of “reconciliation,” the ACT’s fortuneteller “called on all key political parties to form a government in which they will share power and work for the good of the country.” For him, there should be “no opposition elements.”

He mimics dictators of the present and the past.