Monitoring and repressing for the monarchy

20 11 2009

In a government that is increasingly authoritarian, Prime Minister’s Office Minister Sathit Wongnongtoey seems most enthusiastic about  increased repression and censorship. The Nation (19 November 2009: “Govt to monitor Jakrapob’s phone-in: Satit”) reports that Sathit has reminded “media outlets to abide by the law when reporting the phone-in of fugitive red-shirt leader Jakrapob Penkair…”.

Sathit stated that the authorities would “closely monitored by authorities” because he believed that Jakrapob  wanted to “smuggle weapons via the Northeast borders for an uprising during the rally from November 29 to December 3.”

He added: “The government is definitely keeping a close tap on Jakrapob who is acting hostile to the country and its revered institution…”.

Sathit repeatedly demonstrates the monarchy’s significant political role and the Democrat Party’s determination to repress dissent and opposition to protect the current order.

Update 1: Sathit is also cited in the Bangkok Post (21 September 2009: “Abhisit gets radio death threats”). This report claims that red shirt community radio stations in Chiang Mai had threatened Prime Minister Abhisit Vejjajiva.

The Post states this somewhat circumspectly this way: “Some community radio stations are said to have threatened to kill Mr Abhisit in a bomb attack during his visit.” It adds that Democrat Party MP for Bangkok “Boonyod Sukthinthai lodged a complaint with … police against the host of a programme broadcast on FM 92.5 community radio in Chiang Mai. The complaint demanded an investigation into Phetchawat Wattanapongsirikul, host of the Sapha Kafae (Coffee Council) programme, and his co-host, who was not identified.Both were accused of encouraging their audience to come out to protest violently against Mr Abhisit. Mr Boonyod also handed over audio clips of the programme broadcasts to the CSD for further investigation.”

If it is true that a station called for Abhisit to be killed, then this is a serious issue. As serious as PAD speakers calling for the beheading of Hun Sen, General Chavalit Yongchaiyudh, and Thaksin Shinawatra, alluding to an old Thai saying of shedding blood to wash royal feet.”

As is now usual, the Democrat Party-led government is awash with double standards. So PAD can call for murder and not a peep from them, but an allegation of a similar call from Chiang Mai reds and Minister Sathit is wound up into repress mode yet again.

He has ordered the community radio stations in Chiang Mai be closely monitored and he claims “have repeatedly incited red shirt supporters to protest against Mr Abhisit’s visit to the province on Nov 2.”

That might be true, but if Sathit knows it, why does he also state that there is no clear evidence?  Indeed, he says: “When there is clear evidence that they have violated criminal law and community radio regulations, the stations will be shut down and face legal action…”. Is Sathit simply trying to intimidate opposition and red shirt community radio stations?

The government is planning “[e]xtra-tight security is being planned. Twenty companies of police and another 20 companies of troops from the 3rd Army will be deployed during the prime minister’s visit.”

Abhisit “warned Thaksin Shinawatra’s supporters in Chiang Mai to stop their hostile action, saying they should work with the government to bring about peace and reconciliation in the province.”

Update 2: The Bangkok Post (21 November 2009: “Red-shirts: No plan to kill PM Abhisit”) has a report that the red shirts in Chiang Mai accuse the government of “slandering Chiang Mai red-shirts to justify its plan to use ten of thousands of police and military force to attack the antigovernment protesters.” Rak Chiang Mai (Love Chiang Mai) 51 group leader Kanyaphak Maneechak insisted that a red-shirt DJ’ scooments were taken out of context and that he “was just making joke when he said he would kill Mr Abhisit in a bomb attack during his Chiang Mai visit…”.

In a highly charged situation, joking about such matters is unlikely to be helpful to anyone and damages the red shirts.

Kanyaphak “warned the Thai Chamber of Commerce to be careful if it insists to invite Mr Abhisit to chair its annual meeting in Chiang Mai.” She commented that “There are a lot of red-shirt groups in the province. In addition a third hand could take this opportunity to create situation…”.

Update 3: AFP (22 November) reports that the threat to Abhisit was on 3 November, and was said to be a statement about a car bomb.

Back on 15 July 2006, when there were reports of an  assassination plot against Thaksin Shinawatra, a spokesperson for the Democrat Party was dismissive. Then, in August 2006, when the government claimed a  failed car bomb attempt against Thaksin, with arrests made and a bomb displayed, there was widespread skepticism, including from the Bangkok Post. There were academics calling for the government to desist from using the “plot” as a pretense for repression. Where is that skepticism now? Where are the protectors of human rights?

Update 4: The Nation (23 November 2009) reports that the car bomb threat case had not resulted in arrest warrants being issued. The “Chiang Mai Provincial Court Monday rejected police’s request for an arrest warrant against a local red-shirt on ground that police’s evidence is too weak.”



6 responses

21 11 2009
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