Military rule continuing

21 05 2017

A story reproduced in a Malaysian newspaper begins this way:

Thailand enters its fourth year under military rule Monday with the junta firmly entrenched in power and prospects for the return of democracy bleak despite promised elections at the end of next year, rights activists say.

Briefly, the article notes that the junta’s puppet National Legislative Assembly “swiftly passed an array of laws aimed at gagging dissent, in a country that already had strict Lese-Majeste laws forbidding insults to the royal family.” The junta also ruled by decree.

The story is of repression: “Since the coup three years ago, the junta has detained 597 people, including politicians, activists and journalists, according to iLaw…”. It adds:

Among them, 82 were held for violating Lese-Majeste laws, under which offenders can get as many as 15 years in jail for sharing a story on Facebook, while 64 were hauled up for sedition, iLaw figures show.

As we have stated before, we think these figures are underestimates.

The story quotes national human rights commissioner Angkhana Neelapaijit: “The issue of concern is the snuffing out of freedom — [freedom] of speech, to hold demonstrations, peaceful public gatherings…. Human rights defenders are intimidated or prosecuted…”.

The Financial Times points to a critical transition:

A more unpredictable dimension for the junta is the arrival of the new king and the next phase in the military-monarchy alliance that has long underpinned the power of both. The generals clashed with Facebook this week as they stepped up efforts to scrub the Thai internet of commentary and images that were potentially embarrassing to the monarch. But the king has also been flexing his muscles independently, bringing various royally-linked institutions under his direct control and securing late changes to the constitution that increase his authority.

The junta is probably hoping for another royal death so that they can seek to further manage this relationship and maintain authoritarianism.

 





Updated: Remembering and anti-remembering

20 05 2017

The military junta tried to prevent all commemorations of deaths and injuries resulting from its murderous 2010 crackdown. The photos below are of Rajaprasong, where the military and police closed off public areas, fearful of commemorations.

Despite this, there were small events, as shown here:

Another commemoration was disrupted by official thugs.

Update: Khaosod also has a story on the junta anti-remembering. But even they have faulty memories, forgetting who was army boss at the time.

The main point is that on 19 May 2010, then prime minister Abhisit Vejjajiva and his deputy Suthep Thaugsuban ordered then-army chief General Anupong Paojinda  to clear out remaining protesters. General Prayuth Chan-ocha led the operation. In it, 41 civilians died on that one day, and one soldier was killed by friendly fire. Another 60 had dies in events leading up to the clearance over April and May. Then, as the report succinctly reports it:

Four years later on May 22, 2014, Prayuth staged a coup to seize power from the elected government and installed himself as prime minister.





Remembering May 2010

19 05 2017

Remembering May 1992 is useful in the current political circumstances. Then, people rose up against a military regime seeking to “civilianize” its repression and control. The military response was to shoot them.

Yet it is April and May 2010 that should be remembered for the utter brutality of a military that views electoral democracy and people’s sovereignty as a threat to the order it prefers and defends.

Many pictures have been reproduced over the past week or so, and PPT has chosen just a few to re-post here.

These pictures are from both sides of the battle as the military gradually surrounded and then cleared the Rajaprasong area.





The junta, the temple, tycoons and Thaksin

19 05 2017

The Bangkok Post has had a series of stories on Anant Asavabhokhin, one of Thailand’s richest, and his daughter Alisa, and allegations and charges related to alleged money laundering involving Wat Dhammakaya.

Read this  first. Then these: Amlo freezes Alisa’s land assets, Anant faces money laundering charge and LH founder surprised by summons.

Then  read this: Embezzlement-temple scandal ensnares property titan.

Then recall that Anant is widely considered to be one of the few big businessmen who stuck with Thaksin Shinawatra. Unequal Thailand: Aspects of Income, Wealth and Power, edited by Pasuk Phongpaichit and Chris Baker shows on pages 150-1 that Anant remained a supporter.

Also recall that Anant is a Wat Dhammakaya supporter.

Back when the military ran its 2014 coup, General Prayuth Chan-ocha’s regime summoned or temporarily detained “more than 500 individuals since the coup, the current junta has not just picked off members of erstwhile ruling Puea Thai party and its ‘red shirt’ supporters.”

At the time, it “also identified luminaries in the Thai business world linked to Thaksin, like Mr Anant Asavabhokhin, chairman of Land and Houses, one of the country’s biggest developers. It showed a keen awareness of the possible support for the Thaksin network.”





Updated: No remembering allowed II

18 05 2017

Not so long ago we posted on the military junta’s continuing efforts to censor and repress, several times going into royalist overload, and to seek to “control” history.

We mentioned the political vandalism of the 1932 plaque, several other events the dictators think best forgotten and swept under a military tarpaulin. The protesters killed in April and May 2010 were also noted as something the military junta wants its own story to prevail.

The most recent example of the junta’s efforts to control the history of its murderous past are seen in a Prachatai report.

It begins:

Uniformed and plainclothes officers have fenced off a plaque commemorating a teenager shot seven years ago during the government’s crackdown on red shirt protesters, lurking on as loved ones commemorated the boy’s passing.

On the evening of 15 May 2017, family and friends gathered around a footpath along Bangkok’s Ratchaprarop road to remember Samaphan ‘Cher’ Srithep, who was shot there fatally seven years ago as authorities were dismantling the United Front for Democracy Against Dictatorship (known as the ‘red shirts’). Samaphan was only 17 years old.

The junta’s thugs tried to fence off the area where Samaphan was shot. Following that “scores of both uniformed and plainclothes officers stayed to observe the commemoration event.” This “observation” was, in fact, just one more act of political intimidation.

Update: Khaosod reports that the junta remains determined to prevent any commemoration or remembrance of its murderous crackdown on red shirt protestors in May 2010. To prevent this, it closed public areas around Rajaprasong.





Making stuff up

17 05 2017

Two reports in Khaosod and one at The Nation should serve as reminders that Thailand under the military boot is a kingdom of lies.

The first Khaosod report is about infamous police chief Lt. Gen. Sanit Mahathavorn. He’s the one who produced an assets declaration that stated he received a hefty monthly payment from beer magnates. Then he denied this. It was a mistake. And, anyway, he didn’t fill out the form himself, but had minions do it. Presumably they made it up? Hardly. But, no one in the junta was bothered. Such payments are the norm and apparently not illegal, not corrupt and not unethical. Just normal for this bunch of corrupt bastards.

The Bangkok police commander has now lied again and covered it up with a wholly unbelievable story that suggests that he continues to believe that the public are a bunch of clowns and dolts.

As the story has it, the policeman “visited the site of an explosion that wounded two people and told reporters it was not an explosion at all, but a ‘explosive-like loud bang’ caused by a malfunctioning water pipe.” Not long after, “a police leak burst his implausible claim of an injurious water pipe, [and] Sanit admitted that he made up his original version of events. The lie was necessary to deceive the perpetrators, said the lieutenant general…”.

Equally unbelievable, this latest claim from this fraudulent official is remarkable for displaying his own lack of intelligence, coming up with “stories” about as believable as a grade school student blaming the dog for eating his homework.

This person is a serial liar and a disgrace. But he’s got plenty of company.

The second Khaosod report is about the still unexplained extrajudicial killing of Chaiyapoom Pasae. Two months after his death, the police say the Royal Thai Army has finally handed over video footage of the events. The Army says the kid was a drug smuggler and “resisted.” No evidence of any of these claims is available, but top military and police say the video footage “proved” their claims.

Yet it took almost two months for the video to be handed over. And, then, as a hard disk that the police say they can’t view because of a software issue. What software? They can’t say.

But if they do view the footage, what then? Police Maj. Gen. Thawatchai Mekprasertsuk says “the Official Information Act prohibits information disclosure if it can affect others…”. Presumably he means official killers might be affected.

They just make stuff up.

The final story is from The Nation. On 2 May the Thai Ambassador in Seoul sent an official letter to the chairman of the May 18 Memorial Foundation seeming to complain that lese majeste detainee Jatuphat Boonpattaraksa had been awarded the Gwangju Prize for Human Rights.

In that letter the ambassador lied that Jatuphat was guilty of certain crimes. Of course, he hasn’t (yet) been convicted by one of the kingdom’s feudal courts.

Jatuphat’s parents demanded an apology and retraction by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs.

Getting the junta to correct its lies is problematic, not least because the junta seems unable to discern fact from fiction.





Tabloids agog

17 05 2017

Britain’s Tabloid The Sun is now writing about Thailand’s “wacky” king.

Tabloid attention is not just to his bizarreness, but to his history and a pattern of strange actions.

Sadly for Thais, wackiness and bizarre and strange actions extend to violence and a political preference for feudalism.

The junta has unleashed the monster and it can no longer control the narrative.