The fear factor

10 10 2010

In our last post, PPT mentioned a Bangkok Post editorial that raised questions about the Abhisit Vejjajiva government’s ratcheting up of alleged threats, saying that these claims are part of “the politics of fear that is taking root in Thai society.” PPT noted the Post’s comments on the claims regarding a team of so-called red shirt terrorists-in-training who will likely turn out to be nothing of the sort and will soon fade from the collective memory apart from the idea that there are trained assassins “out there.” The stirring of fear is a tactic used by the Abhisit Vejjajiva government since it came to power (for very early PPT posts on this see here, here and here).

And it just gets worse.

Admiral Banawit Kengrian (pick the howler in this bio), a former deputy defence permanent secretary, and aide to Privy Council President General Prem Tinsulanonda, is cited in The Nation with a truly bizarre claim.

The admiral states that he has “confirmed a report that armed militia are plotting assassination of leaders and attacks in the capital during the next 20 days. Bannawit said he had learnt from military intelligence officials that tens of foreign armed militia from a neighbouring country’s Seals, with the same capability as the Royal Thai Navy’s Seals and the Royal Thai Army’s Special War Command or Red Hat, are planning terror strikes.” Somehow Bannawit links this claim to the Nonthaburi explosion and adds that his “report was based on facts and militias had infiltrated several spots in Bangkok to commit sabotage.” He claims that army chief General Prayuth Chan-ocha has these groups being followed and has warned the government.

Adding threat upon threat, Bannawit says 4 RPGs “found near the old headquarters of the opposition Pheu Thai Party could be linked to a Parliament attack.” It seems “near” is good enough for Bannawit. Evidence counts for little when the desire is to instill fear and loathing.

Bannawit is joined as a contestant on Fear Factor by Democrat Party Spokesman Buranaj Smutharaks, who has a long record of unfounded claims and accusations. Maybe that’s his job, but he often sounds a couple of salung short of a baht. He reckons the government is about to round up a bunch of bombers involved in: “plotting sabotage at Santirat Withayalai school, the Bhum Jai Thai Party [PPT thought the alleged bombers were already in custody?], and the military camp in Chiang Mai [see our earlier post]; the group linked to the missing weapons from an arms depot in Lop Buri [likewise, we understood that the thieves were already in custody]; and trained militia [no idea who he means here, but more conjuring and stunts are possible].”

And just for good measure, “First Army Region commander Lt-General Udomdet Sitabutr confirmed the reports that ill-intentioned groups were planning attacks. He called on the public to tip off security officials to prevent rogue elements from striking terror.”

A yellow shirt senator and hard-core royalist Somchai Sawaengkarn chimed in, claiming “that sabotage was planned against basic infrastructure such as power plants.”

PPT wonders if there is any point to observing that red shirts are pretty much leaderless and that the lese majeste bomb threats, bombs, explosions, “terrorists-in-training” and weapons seem remarkably convenient this reconvening collection of royalist, pro-government and privy council alarmists.


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10 10 2010
Tweets that mention The fear factor « Political Prisoners in Thailand -- Topsy.com

[…] This post was mentioned on Twitter by NEWSpace, อิสระภาพ แห่งข่าวสาร. อิสระภาพ แห่งข่าวสาร said: The fear factor: In our last post, PTT mentioned a Bangkok Post editorial that raised questions about the Abhisit … http://bit.ly/9Alr80 […]

11 10 2010
The Cambodians and red shirts « Political Prisoners in Thailand

[…] and the last group met at Sa Kaeo and crossed to Cambodia…”. Linking this story to the Privy Council-linked alarmist claims released over the weekend, Payao said the 39 were “in a Cambodian army camp and they were trained by Cambodian […]

12 10 2010
More on alleged Cambodian terrorist training « Political Prisoners in Thailand

[…] summit later this month…”. This report refers to the claims that have been made by Privy Council associated sources and the Department of Special Investigation after 11 alleged red shirt […]

13 10 2010
Government tactless at best « Political Prisoners in Thailand

[…] claims regarding red shirts, explosions, “terrorists-in-training” and so on (see here, here, here and […]

16 10 2010
Military dinosaurs « Political Prisoners in Thailand

[…] also known to be involved in political shenanigans that don’t look all that different from the “fear factor” campaign currently being […]