Prem dead

26 05 2019

The grand old meddler in Thailand’s politics, from the 1980s to recent times, Gen Prem Tinsulanonda is dead, aged 98.

We expect the buffalo manure to be piled high for him as royalists and lazy commentators recall his time in power as an unelected premier as somehow better than now. In fact, Thailand’s politics seems strangely locked in the 1980s, and that’s largely due to Prem and his political and military meddling, promoting lapdogs and loyalists and refusing to accept the will of the people as expressed in elections. Others will not look beyond his “loyalty” to the throne where it must be acknowledged that he did much to promote the palace’s political role.

We may post more about Prem later.





Updated: House in conflict

25 05 2019

PPT has been watching the Thai PBS telecast of the parliamentary session that is meant to select a House speaker.

As The Nation reports, “Phalang Pracharat MPs proposed postponing the voting for House Speaker in Parliament on Saturday amid reports that the pro-junta camp is still negotiating with other parties to form a coalition government.”

This has been vigorously opposed by the anti-junta parties, with the interim speaker, 91 year-old Chai Chidchob allowing a lengthy debate on the Palang Pracharath proposal. Palang Pracharath members repeatedly asked for the House to be postponed.

After a break of more than an hour at around lunchtime, the debate continued briefly before a vote was called.

Clearly, the junta doesn’t yet have all its score of parties in a row. This previews the future for the junta and its parties.

(One of the minor issues is that the parliament is meeting in a temporary building because the building has been given back to the king. The electronic voting system doesn’t exist, so Chai was confused on voting for a while. Eventually the idea of raised hands was suggested but a roll call preferred.)





On the road to nowhere (new)

24 05 2019

Is wasn’t hard to predict the final “election” result. PPT predicted a junta “win” a long time ago. The “win” was never in doubt as the whole process was rigged.

HRW’s Sunai Phasuk put it this way:

The March 24 general election was structurally rigged, enabling the military to extend its hold on power. While maintaining a host of repressive laws, the junta dissolved a main opposition party, took control of the national election commission, levied bogus criminal charges against opposition politicians and dissidents, and packed the Senate with generals and cronies who will have the power to determine the next prime minister, regardless of the election results.

What wasn’t clear is that the bumbling generals would be snookered by the electorate. Thai voters, despite all the rigging and repression still voted for anti-junta parties, with the pro-Thaksin Shinawatra Puea Thai Party winning a plurality.

Despite this, the junta’s puppet party, Palang Pracharath, will head up a coalition of some 20 parties. While a great deal of bargaining has gone on, pro-military parties like Bhum Jai Thai and the anti-democrat Democrat Party were always likely to saddle-up with the junta – after all, they have supported it for years and worked for its coup back in 2014.

In a throwback to December 2008, when the military midwifed a government led by the Democrat Party’s Abhisit Vejjajiva, it is reported that there was:

a meeting between Gen Prayut[h Chan-ocha], his deputy Prawit Wongsuwon, Bhumjaithai leader Anutin Charnvirakul and Democrat secretary-general Chalermchai Sri-on at a military camp in Bangkok…. They discussed coming together to set up a government with the PPRP as the main party, the sources said, adding that given the atmosphere of the meeting, the “deal” to form the next government is almost sealed.

The wheeling and dealing is over who gets what. Bhum Jai Thai wants a bunch of potentially lucrative cabinet slots that all seem focused on benefits for the Buriram clan. The Democrat Party wants anything at all that will allow it to look stronger than its horrid election result suggest.

Following the junta’s clear message, via the Election Commission and Constitutional Court, that it intends to grind the Future Forward Party into political dust, the deals were more easily struck, with most of the remora micro-parties and even the middle-sized parties rushing into the octopus-grasp of the junta.

How strong that grasp will be is yet to be tested. A 20-party coalition is a recipe for instability or for massive corruption in keeping it together. There’s also the “Prem model” who tried to ignore party and parliamentary bickering and ruled as a cabinet-led government. Like Gen Prem, Gen Prayuth has a tame Senate. In fact, the Senate looks rather like the puppet National Legislative Assembly of the past few years.

A weak coalition government with an autocratic premier suggests that The Dictator will require strong support from extra-parliamentary sources – the king and the military. Neither is likely to be maintained without cost and deals.

Back in the 1980s, the main threats and support for Gen Prem were extra-parliamentary, and despite the image of a period of stability, saw several coup attempts.





Fake charges

24 05 2019

As we have previously posted, the military junta, in its efforts to frame Future Forward’s Thanathorn Juangroongruangkit, has suddenly had to concoct cases against 15 activists for events four years ago.

We can only wonder about all the time that elapsed and no charges over each of those four years. Of course, its the opportunity to kick Thanathorn that the junta now manufactures charges against the activists. A bigger pile of buffalo manure is hard to imagine.

How high can the junta pile it?

The Bangkok Post reports that recently released Jatupat Boonpattararaksa and 12 other activists have all “denied newly-filed charges against them over a rally outside Pathumwan police station four years ago.”

Four years ago!

It seems somehow fitting that this, the latest of the military junta’s manipulation of law came fiver years to the day after the military coup – itself illegal – that brought these fascist buffoons to power.

And, it was great to see “[s]upporters waiting outside [who] cheered the activists as they reported to Pathumwan police on Wednesday, some carrying pieces of paper criticising the National Council for Peace and Order (NCPO) for holding on to power for five years.”

Police have “pressed charges of sedition and engaging in gatherings of 10 or more people under the Criminal Code against them.” Sedition! For fuck’s sake, this was four years ago. Does sedition mean so little now that the junta can casually wait years and years to use the charge for base political purpose?

PPT has never used a profanity in a post in nearly a decade, but this is the most base, concocted and ridiculous piece of junta buffalo manure we have seen in five years.

Fortunately, the activists were released and will fight the case, but the case is a farcical political use of the law and judiciary.





Further updated: Thanathorn’s future bleak

23 05 2019

Future Foward’s Thanathorn Juangroongruangkit is is trouble. With the Constitutional Court deciding 8-1 [see update 2] to hear the case against him, Thanathorn’s political future looks bleak indeed.

Having done so well in the junta’s election, pro-junta supporters and the junta itself identified Thanathorn as a potential threat to their order, seeing him as a second generation of popular politicians promoting popular reforms. That is, a politician who looked to political troglodytes like a new Thaksin Shinawatra. They have decided to be rid of him sooner rather than later.

The Constitutional Court has agreed to hear the complaint filed by the Election Commission “which accused him of breaching election laws by owning stakes in a media firm.”

If he is found guilty, Thanathorn could face up to 10 years in jail and lose his seat in parliament.

But even before that, the Court has “suspended Thanathorn’s MP status, effective immediately, while the judges deliberate on the case.”

There are a bunch of other junta and “activist” inspired cases pending against Thanathorn and his party.

We expect him to be found guilty and that the party will eventually be dissolved. These were the junta’s aims even before the election.

Crystal-balling, one knock-on from this decision is that the wavering middle-sized parties would now seem more likely to flop to the junta’s side in a coalition government.

Update 1: PPT watched Thanathorn’s defiant speech after this announcement. This speech is briefly reported at Khaosod. Thanathorn said the EC/Constitutional Court case “appears to have been rushed under suspicious circumstances.” He declared: “I do not agree with the decision of the court…. I want to ask the public … am I being afforded justice?” He claimed that the EC “subcommittee tasked with investigating the matter had yet to conclude its inquiry when the main commission forwarded the case to the court for deliberation.”

Defiantly he emphasized that he remains “a prime ministerial candidate for his party.” And he remained defiantly anti-junta.

Update 2: Prachatai reports that “9 judges of the Constitutional Court decided unanimously to accept a request by the Election Commission of Thailand, which accuses Thanathorn Juangroongruangkit of violating the law by holding shares in V-Luck Media Company. In accepting the ECT request, the Constitutional Court also ruled 8-1 to suspend Thanathorn’s MP status until the case is settled.” This suggests that the Court will likely find against Thanathorn when it hears the case.

This report also points to double standards: “On 29 April, the Pheu Thai Party, Future Forward’s ally, filed a complaint with the Election Commission to investigate if Chanwit Wiphusiri and Somsak Sukprasert, MPs of the pro-junta Phalang Pracharat Party, also hold stakes in media companies. However, the Election Commission still has not taken up the complaint.”

Further, “The Ombudsman requested the [Constitutional] Court to investigate if it is a violation of the Constitution for members of the Senate Selection Committee to appoint themselves to the Senate, including Gen. Thanasak Patimaprakorn (Deputy Head of the NCPO), Adm. Narong Pipatanasai (Deputy Head of the NCPO), ACM Prajin Juntong (Deputy PM and Deputy Head of the NCPO), and Pol. Gen. Adul Sangsingkeo. However, the Court announced on 23 May not to take up the case.”





No justice from the military

23 05 2019

The mothers of two men murdered by the Army in early 2017 are suing it for 11 million baht in compensation, with their lawyer urging the authorities to ensure justice for the families.

The families of Abe Saemu and Chaiyapoom Pasae have been forced to the Civil Court because the Army and the military junta has refused any justice for the extrajudicial killings, despite the “Chiang Mai Provincial Court ha[ving] … ruled last year that Abe and Chaiyaphum had indeed been shot dead by military officers.”

Chaiyaphoom

PPT’s summary of the murder of Chaiyaphoom is worth re-reading for the details of this horrendous cover-up that began from the moment he was murdered. The impunity is staggering, even for the junta’s Thailand.

Ratsada Manuratsada, representing the families, “said his clients have the right to seek compensation as per the Liability for Wrongful Act of Officials Act, under which official agencies have to make reparations for the wrongdoings of their officers.” He added: “We have to take this case to court, because the acts of military officers in both cases are a clear discriminatory action and directly violates their rights…”.

Ratsada also “called on relevant officers to disclose the latest update on the process of filing a criminal case against the officers behind the slayings…. He also asked whether the police had already submitted the case docket with a Military Court attorney, as civilians are not allowed to file a case with the Military Court directly.”

And, Ratsada again called for the “release of a CCTV recording of the incident involving Chaiyaphum at the checkpoint, which has been missing so far.” Well, “missing” only in the sense that the military has withheld it.





Injustice and hunting dissidents

22 05 2019

The Thai Alliance for Human Rights has post reproducing the ไทย text of a statement by the Thai Academic Network for Civil Rights and an unofficial translation to English. The statement is “The Hunting of Dissidents who are Refugees in other Countries.” It begins:

The political conflict over the past several decades doesn’t only cause problems for the people arrested, imprisoned, and charged with crimes, or those who die and are wounded. It also causes problems for the many people who flee to other countries, because Thai law and society don’t give any space to people with opinions that are quite different. Meanwhile, the justice procedures are not in a condition that they can assure justice. Most of those political refugees not only must live with difficulty, they must also be ready to flee those who hunt them extra-judicially, as this sort of violence has increased continuously from 2016 until now.

Its calls for the protection of dissidents in other countries. Importantly, that call is also directed to the offices of the UN High Commissioner for Refugees, saying the UN “must give protection to the Thai refugees in a systematic and serious way…”.