Military dictatorship vs. democracy

28 02 2015

Pisan Manawapat is Thailand’s ambassador to the United States. He read the Washington Post’s editorial “Thailand’s ineffective rule by force” (19 February 2015) and was ordered or decided to respond. His is an official response and thus represents the military dictatorship’s position.

He writes of a make believe kingdom located at the bottom of The Dictator’s garden, full of fairies and other imaginaries.

Pisan writes:

The Feb. 20 editorial “Thailand’s rule by force” grossly misrepresented the situation in the country.

In fact, any fair reader would look at the Post’s editorial and think it rather mild. It could have said more about the draconian lese majeste law and the dozens of people in jail based on flimsy evidence and mad monarchists’ claims. It could have said more about the corruption of the generals and their flunkies. It could have said more about Prayuth’s role in murdering protesters in 2010. More could have been said about the dysfunctional monarchy.

Thailand has not wavered in its commitment to democracy. Progress is being made, and the new constitution’s drafting and consultation process must, by law, be completed by September. After its enactment, Thailand will hold multiparty elections early next year. To prejudge the constitution’s contents or even to presume a referendum will not be held is not appropriate. The talk of election delay was in anticipation of the time needed to organize a referendum.

The Ambassador has lost his marbles and cannot find them. Democracy? Even in its limited electoral format, the military dictatorship and its puppet assemblies has moved to allow an unelected senate and an unelected prime minister. “Democracy” will be controlled by the military, which is winding the clock back to the 1980s and ineffective and incapacitated parliaments dominated by generals and bureaucrats. This will not be democracy.

As with every country, Thailand has to balance its national security with respect for civil liberty. Martial law is necessary to maintain public safety. Fed up with prolonged street protests and random violence, the Thai public is not affected by this deterrence. Martial law will, however, have to be lifted before elections to allow vibrant and participatory campaigning.

Here the Ambassador seems quite mad. Hundreds and perhaps thousands of people have been arrested or detained. The rest of the population is repressed. Censorship is standard practice. Farmers are thrown off their land. Martial law protects the military dictatorship, the monarchy and crony business interests.

There are no political prisoners in Thailand, and former prime minister Yingluck Shinawatra will be accorded due process in our Supreme Court.

Completely bonkers. Dozens of political prisoners languish in squalid jails charged with lese majeste.

Thailand’s goal is to achieve democratic rule, where key principles such as good governance, transparency and accountability are respected. Further, anti-human trafficking and anti-child pornography bills to further improve human rights protections are being pushed into law.

Mad as a hatter. Human rights protections are non-existent. The National Human Rights Commission is a sad joke. “Thailand” does not exist politically. Where the Ambassador says “Thailand” he means the military dictatorship, and its goal is anything but a functioning democracy. Its goal is a political system controlled by the royalist elite under military leadership. Their aim is to retain power for the old ruling classes.

Updated: Family snouts in the trough

28 02 2015

The Bangkok Post refers to a Isara News Agency report that list all of the leeches in the puppet National Legislative Assembly who have decided to make loot while they are having their strings pulled.

More than a quarter (57) of the 220 puppet members “have appointed family members or relatives as personal aides, paid from public funds.”

Naturally, they claim to be legally able to appoint husbands, wives, sons and daughters to “work” as “advisers” to mum, dad, wife and husband. They rake in between 15,000 and 24,000 a month, directly from the pockets of the taxpayer.

Each NLA member may appoint assistants and advisers whose salaries are paid by taxpayers. A personal assistant gets a monthly salary of 15,000 baht, a personal expert 20,000 baht and a personal specialist 24,000 baht.Snouts

The specialists provide academic advice to the NLA members while the experts research for facts and legal issues and study complaints, motions and interpellations for the NLA members. The assistants do what the members ask them to.

Puppet Nipon Narapitakkul “has appointed his wife, daughter and son to help with his work…”. Military brass rewarded with puppet positions are keen family men and women: “Adm Taratorn Kajitsuwan appointed his wife and daughter…. As the regulation states that one person can take only one position at a time, Adm Taratorn appointed his wife three times to different positions, with the latest one as personal specialist, effective on Jan 1, 2015.”

Other puppet members “who have appointed more than one relatives as helpers are Khunying Songsuda Yodmani, ACM Narongsak Sangapong, Pol Lt Gen Boonraung Polpanich, Gen Somjed Boontanom, Gen Suchat Nongbua and Gen Ongard Pongsakdi.”

Update: Even PPT is dumbfounded that a member of the military junta and a puppet assemblyman have supported nepotism. And, they do it in terms that suggest that nepotism is the norm for the military dictatorship. Puppet NLA chairman Pornpetch Wichitcholchai “insisted yesterday that the practice is not corrupt, because no laws forbid it…. There’s no prohibition about relatives.” He said hiring relatives was necessary: “The NLA members may need to find someone they can trust as their aides to help with their work, so they appoint people close to them as the aides.” He means wives, husbands and sons and daughters.

We thought a puppet might be expected to come up with such idiotic babbling – after all, they are not made puppets for their sparkling intellect – but then the military commander and junta member General Udomdej Sitabutr agreed with the puppet: “I share the same view as Mr. Pornpetch. They didn’t break any laws…. Your relatives have knowledge and expertise, and [can] be qualified for the jobs. This is personal matter, and it is in accordance with the regulations about what is prohibited and what is not prohibited.”

The defense of nepotism and corruption is dangerous as the middle class seems to dislike this nonsense, even if they love coups, kings and the old power structure. When junta places itself on a collision course with middle class moralists the chances are that repression will increase.

Unelected PM and other anti-democratic plans

28 02 2015

We recently posted on the unelected senate that will work to keep the military at the center of power. If that wasn’t sufficient in the rolling back of electoral politics some 25 years, the puppet Constitution Drafting Committee has now approved a non-elected prime minister.

The puppets met on Thursday in Pattaya. Why? Who knows, given that it was an in-camera meeting. Perhaps in the words of an old Post correspondent on the night industries, they felt like some rubs and suds? Perhaps they wanted to golf or eat free seafood?

Whatever the motivation, they “approved a provision that will open the position of prime minister to both MPs and outsiders.” That’s the Post’s way of ridiculous way of saying that the fascists want an unelected premier, most likely a “retired” general and maybe even a Dictator.

The model is the era when the great political meddler General Prem Tinsulanonda represented the monarchy as prime minister.

Apparently 17 of the 31 who attended the meeting wanted this arrangement. The others were said to be tied up with other arrangements. (The mind boggles when this is considered in the context of Pattaya and closed door meetings.)

An unelected senate, an unelected premier and a constituency system that means smaller and weak parties and coalitions. This is a model for the 1980s.

One aspect that seems new is a strange provision that the (perhaps unelected) prime minister “can decide which legislative bills are significant and require endorsement by the House.” (Presumably “insignificant” bills can slip by through executive fiat?) When a “significant” bills are “tabled to the House, the opposition is given only 48 hours to decide whether to propose a no-confidence motion against the government over the bills.” If the opposition doesn’t demand a no-confidence vote “within 48 hours, the bills are deemed to be passed by the House…”.

It seems increasingly unnecessary to even have a parliament, which is what anti-democrats seem to prefer.

Revised: 2010 justice or the end of old politicians?

27 02 2015

Back in 2010 when the Abhisit Vejjajiva government planned the crackdown on red shirt protesters, the military commanders of the murderous operation were Generals Prayuth Chan-ocha, Anupong Paojinda and Prawit Wongsuwan.

Khaosod reports that the National Anti-Corruption Commission “has begun impeachment procedures against former Prime Minister Abhisit Vejjajiva and his deputy Suthep Thaugsuban for authorizing a military crackdown on Redshirt protesters in 2010 that left over 90 people dead.”

While we welcome any legal measures that give attention to the military’s murder of its own citizens in 2010, we remain bemused by the notion that a former premier can be retrospectively “impeached” years after they have left office.

The NACC states that Abhisit and Suthep “should be charged” with “abuse of power” for “failing to stop” the use of “excessive violence” in the crackdown on red shirts. The junta puppets in the National Legislative Assemblywill consider the cases and the leaders of the Democrat Party led government could be banned from politics for 5 years.

For us this is insufficient. The two former leaders of the (anti)Democrat Party and its military commanders should face a murder trial.

We note that Suthep has been in a monastery since the coup, “avoiding politics.” We can only guess that there were reasons for this hide related to the military’s renewal of its political mandate via the coup.

Interestingly, on the “men in black” that the military and Abhisit and Suthep have always claimed, with almost no evidence, caused some or all of the deaths, the NACC says the red shirt protest area “was not wholly composed of violent or armed elements, but also demonstrators without weapons, and other civilians who were not related to the rallies.”

It also noted “previous court inquests that have attributed the deaths of some civilians to security officers.”

Khaosod also reports that Abhisit whined that military commanders should be questioned about their role.

Remarkably, The Dictator, General Prayuth, has said that”he is willing to provide testimony to Thailand’s anti-graft agency about his role as a top army commander in the 2010 military crackdown…”. As far as we can recall, he’s never been “willing” before, and has been downright hostile to any investigation.

Prayuth was asked if the “investigation will affect the reputation of the military,” and he responded with his usual line: “How will that affect the military? The officers were performing their work.” He then got excited about men in black, demanding very loudly:

“I want to ask you about this fact: were there armed people among the civilians? Were there? Answer me loudly. Were there Blackshirts among the Redshirts? Did they shoot at the soldiers? If so, then it’s over.”

No one seems to have ever identified, arrested or investigated a man in black.

We can’t imagine the NACC doing this investigation without the permission of the military dictatorship. So what is going on?

We do know that the military leadership hates all civilian politicians. It is particularly concerned about pro-Thaksin Shinawatra politicians because they win elections. However, it also dislikes those who can mobilize people, like Suthep. We also know that the military dictatorship also wants to clear the political decks to smooth the path to military-dominated politics in the future. Is this the way they do it?

Updated: Lese majeste as farce I

27 02 2015

On 5 February, Apiruj and Wantanee Suwadee were accused of lese majeste. The parents of Srirasmi, the estranged wife of Crown Prince Vajiralongkorn found themselves caught up in a swathe of cases associated with the prince’s separation from his third wife.

The lese majeste accusation was filed by Sawita Maneechan of Ratchaburi province. She accused Apiruj and Wantanee of using their royal connection to bully her in 2003, eventually having her jailed.Mum and dad

Sawita said that Wantanee had falsely accused her of having an affair with Apiruj and later used her royal connection to convince a high-ranking police officer to charge Sawita with fraud. She was found guilty and sentenced to 18 months in jail because she confessed to what she claimed was a bogus charge.

Wantanee and Apiruj denied all accusations and vowed to fight the charges.

PPT has no inside knowledge of this case but we would think it almost “normal” that those with associated with the monarchy using their reflected power for their own advantage; this is the elite’s bonus for honoring/sucking up to the royals. When associated with the gangster-like prince, the power wielded is threatening and large.

When that link and associated power is removed, those involved are hung out to dry. In this case, the association with the prince was mediated by Srirasmi, and her crash from grace has seen her family and associated excoriated.

By 27 February, they had confessed to the lese majeste charges and to filing a false police report. The police now say they want to lock up the aged couple and will oppose any bail request.

Why would there be such a turnaround? Again, we have no inside knowledge and yet we can guess. The couple was probably threatened with even more charges or charges against other family members. They had watched as others were smashed by the prince and the military regime. Guilty or not, they had no choice.

That’s the way the royal mafia works. It protects the royals from any scrutiny and allows them to do what they want with impunity and with the state’s support, including jailing persons for falling foul of a royal.

Update: Khaosod reports that Wantanee and Apiruj have been jailed and await trial. The report has some interesting quotes regarding their submission:

“We have confessed everything,” Wantanee said to reporters after the meeting, “What I have done, what I have said, I did not mean it. That is all. I have confessed to every allegation. I don’t want to say much. I only would like to say that I still love and revere the monarchy.”

Her husband told reporters, “I repent my crimes. I don’t know what I should say. I now repent the things I have done without thinking.”

The isolation of Srirasmi seems pretty complete as almost her whole family has been jailed. Thailand’s royals seem to have “progressed” somewhat over the last 400 years; back then, they would have all been murdered.

Bowornsak unable to distinguish between election and appointment

26 02 2015

Some of the nonsense that emanates for anti-democrats claiming to be “democrats” involve remarkable logical contortions, although we doubt they see it that way. So banal, so isolated and so self-important, we are sure they are blind to their own ridiculousness.

We know that Bowornsak Uwanno is a constitutions writer for hire to military dictatorships and other royalists, and writing constitutions to deny civilian representation is his daily bread. His capacity for grabbing the cash and giving autocrats what they want is seared in the annals of Thailand’s sorry legal history.

We almost choked on our joke (the rice variety, โจ๊ก) when we read that Bowornsak has the audacity to lecture the media on a point that makes him appear even more ludicrous and bought than usual.

The military dictatorship’s chairman of the junta-appointed Constitution Drafting Committee told the media to stop describing the next Senate as “unelected.” He prefers “indirectly elected.”

Bowornsak and friends

Bowornsak and the military working together

Khaosod states that the “CDC announced yesterday that the next Senate will be a fully-appointed body under the new charter.”

Describing a senate of 200 members, half of whom will be chosen by the council of “experts,” the latter chosen by unknown means, “other Senators will be appointed by former high-level politicians and bureaucrats such as prime ministers, military commanders, parliament speakers, judicial leaders, and representatives from other civic organizations” sounds like unelected to us.

Bowornsak can package “unelected” however nonsensically he likes, but the senate is a throwback to the time when the military controlled the senate to prevent elected politicians exercising any popular power.

The function of double standards

25 02 2015

The double standards at work in Thailand are so obvious that they hardly need emphasizing. If one is a supporter of military junta, monarchy and/or a member of the royalist elite, then one need not fear the law or judiciary. Unless there has been a falling out, one can expect gentle treatment. If one is considered an “enemy” of military junta, monarchy and the royalist elite, expect harassment and probably jail.

In essence, the double standards are enforced by the judicial system in order to protect the social, political and economic monopolization by the elite.

A current case, relatively small but significant, demonstrates this. Khaosod reports that The Dictator, General Prayuth Chan-ocha, cannot be consider corrupt.

Back in September 2014, PPT posted on the purchase of “unusually expensive” audio equipment for Government House, the seat of the military junta. As the National Anti-Corruption Commission ran away from the case, not wishing to embarrass the military dictatorship or The Dictator, it was the latter who decided to cover things up. As we stated then, The Dictator was clear about his plan to rescue wrongdoers by launching an “investigation.” As we noted, the potential was for a few low-level officials to be thrown to the wolves, but we expressed confidence that it would all be show amongst smoke and mirrors. Prayuth said: “We probe all (suspected corruption) issues. Just be patient. Don’t pressure us and don’t jump to conclusion either…”. The problem is that his probes are conducted by his underlings and sycophants. He has said that a “sub-panel of the 18-member committee” set up by the junta” to probe budget spending of state agencies is investigating the issue…”. The committee is chaired by an Army general….

Khaosod reports that “Thailand’s anti-corruption agency has spared junta chairman and Prime Minister Prayuth Chan-ocha from its inquiry into the government’s 67.9 million baht purchase of unusually expensive microphones and other equipment last year.”

Of course it did.

The spokesperson for the politicized NACC said that “ten officials from the Department of Public Works, including the department’s director Monthol Sudprasert, will be investigated over the purchases.”

The report states that “top executives like Prayuth and [minor royal M.L.] Panadda Diskul, Minister of the Prime Minister’s Office, will not be investigated because they merely ‘approved’ the purchases…”.

Tell us we are wrong, but wasn’t Thaksin Shinawatra convicted for being premier when his wife won a bid for land? Wasn’t he held ultimately responsible?



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