Mad, dumb, and more

21 06 2022

Now that the police have arrested Aniwat Prathumthin, aka “Nara Crepe Katoey”, Thidaporn Chaokuwiang, aka “Nurat”, and Kittikhun Thamkittirath, aka “Mom Dew,” and charged all three with Article 112 offenses, the Royal Thai Army has lifted restrictions on trade with Lazada.

If we weren’t so used to dumb-assed “explanations” from the lot in green, the statement by Army Deputy Spokesperson Col Sirichan Ngathong “said yesterday (Monday) that the lifting of the boycott was … in line with the further relaxation of restrictions, to allow business to resume normal operations and reopen the country to overseas arrivals.” What’s that got to do with monarchy and Article 112? We can only imagine that there may have been pay-offs, whispers in ears emanating from the Chinese Embassy, or orders from the boss. Or maybe all of them. We will never know.

Senate Speaker Pornpetch Wichitcholchai is supposed to have legal training. But he’s also a “good” person, meaning he enjoys being a dumb-ass with impunity. He’s defended his Senate colleagues – also “good” people – who employ dozens of their relatives. He says it “is not illegal.”

Pornpetch says “certain positions in public office may require someone, who the senators can trust, to fill.” We recall that Alexander MacDonald reported similar nepotism and the same “explanation” back in the 1940s (look for his Bangkok Editor on Library Genesis). Thai Enquirer has him saying: “[Nepotism] is not wrong because it is not against the law.” Taken aback, “reporters acknowledged that even though nepotism was not technically illegal, wasn’t it still morally wrong?” No, Pornpetch retorted, “nepotism, in government, is not morally wrong.”

Having trusted relatives means they are not likely to blow the whistle on their relatives as they supp at the public trough. It’s a family protection racket.

While on “good” people, we must mention a letter to the SCMP by Wiwat Salyakamthorn, said to be president of the World Soil Association and former vice-minister of agriculture and cooperatives of Thailand. You might have thought the sufficiency economy fertilizer might have leached away. But you’d be wrong. There’s now an effort to attribute everything that’s ever happened in Thai agriculture to the dead king and his “idea.” More, there’s an effort to transfer sufficiency economy to King Vajiralongkorn.

Wiwat claims: “Much of Thailand’s resilience in food security is due to … King Bhumibol Adulyadej’s development projects for the betterment of the Thai people’s livelihoods based on his philosophy of sufficiency economy.” Yes, farmers are all Thaksin-voting dolts. Only the royals know, and although Vajiralongkorn would have trouble growing a flower, Wiwat comes up with this guff: “Building upon his father’s legacy, His Majesty King Maha Vajiralongkorn Phra Vajiraklaochaoyuhua has guided the Thai people in applying the Khok Nong Na model to ensure that resilience of the food system remains one of Thailand’s crowning achievements in the years to come.”

That’s enough for today!





Updated: 18 months and 200 lese majeste cases

19 06 2022

The International Federation for Human Rights has issued a press release on the rise in Article 112 arrests and prosecutions:

According to information complied by TLHR, between 24 November 2020 and 16 June 2022, 201 individuals – including 16 children – have been charged under Article 112, which imposes jail terms for those who defame, insult, or threaten the King, the Queen, the Heir to the throne, or the Regent. Those found guilty of violating Article 112 face prison terms of three to 15 years for each count. Some lèse-majesté defendants face numerous prosecutions and prison sentences ranging from 120 to 300 years.

It goes on to observe:

Various United Nations (UN) human rights monitoring mechanisms have repeatedly expressed concern over Thailand’s lèse-majesté prosecutions and the severe application of Article 112. They have also called for the amendment or repeal of Article 112.

Since August 2012, the UN Working Group on Arbitrary Detention (WGAD) has declared the deprivation of liberty of nine lèse-majesté detainees to be “arbitrary” because it contravened several provisions of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights (UDHR) and the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (ICCPR), to which Thailand is a state party. Eight of those detainees were released after serving their jail terms, while the ninth, Anchan Preelerd, remains incarcerated.

The arrest and prosecution of children under Article 112 is also inconsistent with Thailand’s obligation under international law. Article 13(1) of the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child (CRC), to which Thailand is a state party, stipulates that children have the right to freedom of expression, including freedom to seek, receive, and impart information and ideas of all kinds. Article 37(b) of CRC states that children should not be deprived of their liberty arbitrarily and that the arrest, detention, or imprisonment of children should be used as a measure of last resort.

Update: A reader comments:

Regarding the last sentence: I think that the powers that be are at the point of thinking that this is their last resort to maintain in power. They are increasingly feeling threatened and they will resort to ever increasingly irrational methods to stay in power.





Piyabutr accused of lese majeste

18 06 2022

The Nation reports that the Progressive Movement’s secretary-general Piyabutr Saengkanokkul “will meet police investigators on June 20 about a lese majeste accusation levelled against him.”

Piyabutr posted on Facebook “that police had initially summoned him for questioning on June 12. However, he and his lawyer were busy and asked to postpone the meeting to next Monday [20 June] at 10am.”

Apparently, the summons results from “a complaint filed by independent historian Thepmontri Limpaphayom accusing Piyabutr of insulting the monarchy under Article 112 of the Criminal Code.” We are not entirely sure what “independent historian” means. In any case, we do know that he’s an ultra-royalist.

Piyabutr “has maintained that his comments about the Thai monarchy and calls for reforms were purely aimed at helping the institution survive modern-day challenges.” He stated: “None of my comments suggested transforming [the Thai political system] into that of a republic. No insults were levelled against the monarchy…”.

Piyabutr was referring to commentary he has provided about the monarchy and reform for over a decade. He added: “None of my comments can be seen as violating Article 112…”. This is the first time he’s been accused of lese majeste.

He claimed that this complaint by “those hyper royalists and ultra-royalists” was only “aimed at discouraging him from commenting on reforms of the monarchy…. They want to make me stop speaking, but they can’t…”.





Updated: Lazada madness

17 06 2022

Back in May, royalists went berserk over a TikTok advertisement produced for the Chinese firm Lazada, screaming lese majeste.

On 16 June 2022, the police arrested Aniwat Prathumthin, aka “Nara Crepe Katoey”, Thidaporn Chaokuwiang, aka “Nurat”, and Kittikhun Thamkittirath, aka “Mom Dew,” and charged all three with Article 112 offenses. Aniwat has also been charged under the computer crimes law.

The three were arrested by Technology Crime Suppression Division police, Thidaporn in Ayutthaya, Aniwat at Don Muang airport, and Kittikhun in Bangkok’s Wang Thong Lang district. Each was released on bail of 90,000 baht.

The charges stemmed from a “Lazada clothes shopping clip features Thidaporn in traditional Thai costume and sitting in a wheelchair, while Aniwat was seen accusing Thidaporn, who plays her aristocratic mother, of stealing her clothes.”

The video immediately drew criticism from ultra-royalists who claimed the video mimicked royals, including Princess Chulabhorn who is sometimes seen in a wheelchair. The royalists also reckoned the advertisement mocked the disabled, but that was a smokescreen for their real complaint based on their own hypersensitivity on things royal. Their immediate reaction led to a hashtag campaign on Twitter to boycott Lazada, a call taken up by the Royal Thai Army, Royal projects and foundations, among others.

Clipped from Thai PBS

Lazada issued an apology, as did “Intersect Design Factory, the company which hired the influencers to promote the Lazada sales campaign…”. It was serial campaigner and royalist activist Srisuwan Janya who lodged a complaint with the Technology Crime Suppression Division police, “accusing Aniwat of offending a member of the royal family.”

Aniwat refused to “issue a public apology or show regret has only added fuel to fire.” Quite correctly, but further angering ultra-royalists, in a television interview, Aniwat said that “anyone has the right to wear a traditional costume,” and that “the so-called reference to a Royal was imagined by the netizens.”

Army chief Gen Narongpan Jitkaewtha quickly announced “that he has banned members of all military units to stop buying goods from Lazada. He also banned all Lazada delivery trucks and motorbikes from entering Army compounds.”

Joining the royalist pile-on, Prime Minister Gen Prayuth Chan-ocha expressed his “concern about the clip on May 7 and noting that Thais love and respect the monarchy.” Meanwhile, the “Digital Economy and the Society Ministry also instructed the Police Technology Crime Suppression Division to check if the TikTok clip violated any laws.”

Aniwat had earlier gained online followers “among youngsters fed up with General Prayut Chan-o-cha’s style of governance. She has openly pushed for the PM’s resignation and often criticized his supporters.”

Of course, Princess Chulabhorn is not covered by Article 112 but that has never stopped bizarre lese majeste cases in the past.

Update: Coconuts Bangkok reports on the arrest of Kittikhun “a transgender blogger and  model known as Mom Dew, [who] was being held Thursday afternoon at the Technology Crime Supression Division in Bangkok’s Lak Si over a complaint that she impersonated the Queen Mother Sirikit in an ad campaign that was quickly pulled after it aired last month.”

Like Chulabhorn, Sirikit is not covered in Article 112. To refresh memories, Article112 of the Criminal Code states, “Whoever defames, insults or threatens the King, the Queen, the Heir-apparent or the Regent, shall be punished with imprisonment of three to fifteen years.”





Reform to revolution

16 06 2022

From Destination Justice

These days, New Mandala publishes far less on Thailand than it once did. When it does manage something on Thailand, sometimes these are noteworthy contributions. Its latest offering, “The network origin of the Thai youth revolution,” by Akanit Horatanakun, is worth considering.

While PPT’s ventures into the rallies suggest that it’s not all youth, it is true that these brave young activists are the driving force in the “revolution.”

With Thalugas reactivating in recent days, it is worth considering Akanit’s contribution, despite some of the graduate student language.





Palace discipline

15 06 2022

At 112 Watch, there is a list compiled by Pavin Chachavalpongpun where he has gone through Royal Gazette announcements from 3 August 2016 to 31 August 2020.

Given the manner in which King Vajiralongkorn has used the Gazette, often in furious language, to instill “discipline” and fear, this is a very useful listing. It details the causes of dismissal, demotion, de-decoration, de-robing and imprisonment of each individual under King Vajiralongkorn.

86 individuals are listed.





Hunger strikers

14 06 2022

For those who haven’t already seen it, a few days ago, Thai Lawyers for Human Rights posted on the long list of political prisoners who have used a hunger strike to push back against the regime and its jailing-happy judiciary: “Since the May 2014 coup, at least 18 activists and civilians have chosen “hunger strike” as a method of protest to call for justice …, especially with the purpose to demand the right to bail.”

The review argues that:

the “hunger strike” tactic first started in 2016 with Jatupat “Pai” Boonpattararaksa, the then activist of pro-democracy Dao Din group. After being arrested for handing out leaflets to campaign against the Meechai Ruchuphan’s proposed constitution draft, Jatupat — at the time detained at the Phu Khiao District Prison in Chaiyaphum province, northeastern Thailand — went on a hunger strike for the whole 12 days of his pre-trial detention to protest against the illegitimate referendum process and unlawful arrests of activists.





Youth and democracy

13 06 2022

Readers may be interested in a new US-based initiative (at least new to PPT). Democratic Erosion follows and compiles data and commentary on the experience of democratic governance. It says: “Democratic Erosion is a multi-university consortium that helps students and faculty evaluate threats to democracy both at home and abroad through the lens of theory, history, and social science.” It is very much North American social science.

Our attention was drawn to this site by a blog post “Youth Are The Future of Democratic Consolidation in Thailand.”





Former convict aiming high

11 06 2022

While we are trying to limit our posting to lese majeste related material, we couldn’t miss the story of how a convicted heroin trafficker is nearing the apex of Thailand’s political structure, and may turn out to be the one to determine the country’s immediate future.

Clipped from the Bangkok Post

That convicted drug smuggler is, of course, Thammanat Prompao who, on Friday, “was named top leader of Thai Economic Party.” In other reports the name of the party is rendered New Setthakij Thai Party.

Thammanat was unanimously elected by the party caucus of some 22.

It may be that the party can work with “allies” to have the heroin dealer become “candidate for head of a post-election government…”. As part of the plot to elevate the former criminal and vastly wealthy Thammanat declared that the upcoming censure motion against 10 ministers “should be a cause for concern for all the targeted ministers except Gen Prawit [Wongsuwan].”

Gen Prawit is one of the ruling triumvirate of generals who run the country, but this senile general seems able to control most of the ruling Palang Pracharat Party and willing to deal with anyone in order to have himself or his chosen one as a new prime minister. That could be his loyalist Capt Thammanat, the convicted trafficker.

Thammanat’s MPs and his vast cash stash might be enough to give Gen Prawit his way, but in dealing with a devil there’s always a price. We are sure Thammanat’s price is at least important and lucrative cabinet positions, but it may even be the top spot.

 





No equality, no freedom

10 06 2022

If readers haven’t seen it, the video story on an interview with Thai rapper Elevenfinger of Rap Against the Dictatorship at Aljazeera is worth watching:








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