Notes from the news II

30 11 2013

Again, PPT is trying to link to interesting stories we can’t find the time to post on in detail.

Note 1: The New York Times comments on the current anti-government protests and states:

… [they] are the largest in the country since a military crackdown left more than 90 people dead three years ago. This time the government and the military have been strikingly restrained in their reaction. The government says this is a deliberate strategy of nonconfrontation to avoid violence.

Of course, it probably needs to be stated that the government is different. This time, instead of a reactionary Democrat Party government, it is an elected Puea Thai Party government. As if to emphasize the difference, the NYT, while noting provocation, quotes a policeman:

We have not arrested a single protester so far,” Maj. Gen. Piya Uthayo, a police spokesman, said by telephone. Arresting protesters is “not our policy,” he said.

So far, no live fire zones, no emergency decree, no massive censorship, no hysterical rhetoric.

Sadly, the Times also observes that: “… police had received intelligence reports of possible disorder in the coming days that could lead to violence. The police have been ordered to ‘protect buildings and guard against possible calamity’.”

The NYT also makes another excellent, which PPT emphasizes: ”

The protests have been a highly personalized battle between Mr. Thaksin and his allies — who have won every national election since 2001 — and a vocal minority in Bangkok and southern Thailand that says his power threatens the country’s democratic institutions.

The Times notes that Democrat Party chums Abhisit Vejjajiva and Korn Chatikavanij have joined the protests that their election-losing party promotes.

The article also mentions that the “military went out of its way on Friday to back away from confrontation.” That is our note 2.

Chamlong invades

A Bangkok Post photo

Note 2: The Bangkok Post reports that that while the military may have not wanted to confront those who entered their HQ, including the old grinning gargoyle and master political manipulator over four decades, Chamlong Srimuang, it is making statements that no professional army should ever make. But this is the Thai military. A spokesman commented:

“The army calls for protests on all sides to be carried out under the democratic system and within the rule of law,” he said in a statement read out by army spokesman Col Winthai Suwaree. “[Protesters] should refrained from [causing] division and trying to bring the army to be on their side.

So far, so good you might think, and perhaps the protesters see it as  less than supportive. However, a professional military should not be commenting on such matters.

It is followed by this:

“The army would like to inform the public that the army is the army of His Majesty the King and the people. [The army] is monitoring the situation and is prepared to help people if there are injuries or the loss of lives from protests which could lead to violence.”

At least the Army seems uninterested in shooting protesters, but that raises the issue of double standards. How come they were so keen to murder protesters in 2010? Have they learned a lesson or are they showing a bias? And what of the claim about the king. Thailand has been a constitutional monarchy for over eight decades and yet the military clings to a feudal relationship (and vice versa). Professional armies act on the lawful direction of the government. But this is the Thai military.

Note 3: The Bangkok Post reports that Suthep Thaugsuban, in declaring Sunday the day for overthrowing the so-called Thaksin regime,  has come up with a people’s committee. It says:

He also introduced a “people’s committee” including businessmen, academics, activists, workers’ leaders and retired officers to gather under one umbrella to drive the campaign. He brought 24 people to the stage — every single one of them a man.

PPT isn’t sure that the lack of women is the important point here….

Note 4: From a couple of days ago, the Bangkok Post reported on academics in support of Suthep’s anti-democratic proposals. One is the ferociously yellow-shirted Charas Suwanmala, dean of Chulalongkorn University’s Political Science Department.  Charas apparently “believes some parts of the constitution must be put on hold for Mr Suthep’s ‘people’s parliament’ and ‘dream team’ government to become reality.”

Of course it would, for even this junta-tutored constitution is insufficiently undemocratic for yellow-shirted propagandists like Charas. He referred to “the need for the democratic system to take a break.” He sounds remarkably like the 2006 military junta talking about the same thing or the dopey old men who wanted to “freeze” Thailand.

He said that “the people’s parliament and government must have a strict mission to draw up a blueprint for political reform.” We assume he means “reform” in the sense of properly fixing the system so that the rural buffaloes will not be able to vote for pro-Thaksin political parties and will accept democratic tutelage from hierarchical institutions. It all seems very 1991 or 2006. But Charas seems to be an adviser to Suthep because he knows the details of the “plan”:

The parliament will only be temporary, existing for three months at most, he said. After that, a new election should be called and the new government must implement political reform as envisaged by the representatives of the people.

Yep, an unelected committee of appointed (by whom? Suthep?) notables will draft a program that elected representatives will have to implement. So the elections are all a bit of a smokescreen for the elected representatives will only be able to implement a pre-ordained plan. Fascism anyone?



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