Undemocratic Bowornsak

27 08 2015

It is appropriate that the chief hired lawyer and constitution mangler for the military dictatorship, Bowornsak Uwanno,  also heads up the King Prajadhipok Institute, which is a front organization for “Thai-style” (non-)democracy.

One may peruse the recently revised KPI fairy tale history to learn that the royalist construction of “parliamentary democracy with the King as the head of state” came into existence in 1932 rather than when royalist and military ideologues hit on this mangled description in recent years. One might also note that under the misapprehension that the deposed king “granted” political change rather than having it forced on him and a coterie of princes.

Most significantly, KPI is claimed to have been “established specifically to promote democracy…”. In fact, it was established by royalists to subvert democracy, and Bowornsak is the perfect and trustworthy patron of that mangling of democratic politics.

That neither Bowornsak or his royalist organization has nothing to do with the promotion of democracy is shown by the linking of the last absolute monarch with the Institute. If it were even necessary, Bowornsak is reported in The Nation in a manner that makes this crystal clear.

The draft charter is aimed, Bowornsak asserts, “at getting Thailand back on its feet with a five-year ‘transitional’ democracy, rather than trying to inflict another ‘mature’ democracy on the country…”.

Conveniently forgetting that it is boss who most recently trashed the electoral system and the constitution, neglecting that it has been his royalist and military allies who have trashed every effort to establish electoral politics, Bowornsak blames everyone else for the way “… things fell apart…”. Mimicking his boss, The Dictator, Bowornsak crows: “I would like to ask if we still want it – a Western-style full-fledged democracy?”

BootlickerHis answer, demonstrated in his boot-licking of military fascists, is clear.

He reckons the puppet Constitution Drafting Committee “tried … to find a democratic model that fits the country’s situation…”.

Bowornsak says this “search” was because the “country has been facing the plague of corruption as well as a deep division that finds no end, significantly because of a Western full-fledged democracy.” It is that “democracy,” he fantasizes, that has caused the “the government fall under a military regime.”


Like his bosses, he thinks the Thai people are infantile, and need a “transitional democracy” before allowing “it grow into an adult one when the time was right.”

Like his military boss, Bowornsak criticizes “politicians” for daring to express a view on his draft (military) charter. He attacks their “tone of voice” when he means they should shut up and accept military-royalist dictatorship, paternalism and hierarchy.

Fascists will be fascists.

No monarchy, no Thai, no yellow, no religion

27 08 2015

The Straits Times Lifestyle section reports on the making of the action thriller “No Escape,” which contrary to some claims, is approved for screening in Thailand. The film reportedly was shot in Chiang Mai in 2013, so under the Yingluck Shinawatra government, which was also required to be appropriately royalist for fear of claims of disloyalty.

Co-writer Drew Dowdle says: “We worked very closely with the Thai government…”. He adds: “we had a very good relationship with the Thai authorities, and I think they were happy with the movie.” That relationship involved boundary setting to “protect” the monarchy and tourism. As Dowdle states: “… there were a lot of things they wanted us to shy away from.”No Escape

This means that “although the film shows a coup breaking out in a South-east Asian city … it never specified the country.” Given that Thailand is about the only currently coup-prone nation in the region, this is a bit odd.

Dowdle states: “We were very careful not to make it Thailand in the movie, so there was no Thai language used…. None of the signage is Thai and most of the language that the native population is speaking is a combination of Laotian, hill-tribe languages and other languages.” That’s enforcement of the view that Thailand is monocultural, which is clearly one of those 20th century royalist-nationalist myths.

The film-makers were told “not to use images of the Thai monarchy and to … never show the king or the colour yellow because that’s the colour of the king.” Tell that to the yellow shirts!

And, “no Buddhas.”

Nation, religion, monarchy and the tourist loot. Now that the military has conducted another coup in Thailand and the military regime seems attentive to all of these items, the last one seems to be falling apart as it enforces on the others.


The democracy trap

26 08 2015

Earlier we posted on some opinions being expressed on the draft constitution. There, we commented on The Dictator’s ill-tempered response. Khaosod reports on Prayuth’s attacks on “civilian politicians.”

Prayuth fumed about “civilian politicians.”

By commenting on the draft of the nation’s basic law, and criticizing it, these politicians are considered to be “overstepping their bounds by expressing opinions on the proposed constitution’s merits.” Prayuth declared: “Politicians are not involved…”.

As a self-appointed premier, coup master and royalist posterior polishers, Prayuth thinks he owns all political space. He declares: “It’s already generous of me for letting these people talk…. Usually, these people shouldn’t be allowed to speak at all.”

He threatened these politicians:

“These people, now that they are being harsh to me, I will have to be harsh in return…. Well, they shouldn’t reject the laws if there’s legal action against them. Don’t whine and scream that they are treated unjustly. That would be wrong thinking, because they did it to themselves.”

… “There’s no need for a prohibition now. But when the time comes, I will deal with them…. Today I have to teach people to think. Why do they allow anyone to misguide them?”

Frustrated with any criticism and demanding order, discipline and hierarchy, the ignorant Prayuth declared:

“Today we are still stuck in the trap of democracy, a trap of conflicts…. We still let emotions dictate our judgment. We have to fix these issues.”

Dictators will be dictators. Democracy is a “problem” they solve, by preventing it.

Prem and the junta

26 08 2015

Former unelected prime minister and current President of the king’s Privy Council General Prem Tinsulanonda has celebrated his 95th birthday by, in the words of a Khaosod headline, showering praise on the military junta.

Prem and his boys

There’s no surprise in that. After all, Prem is essentially the “godfather” of the military brass and has long preferred military-dominated regimes. The aged meddler stated:

“Today is a day that I am very proud, happy and confident, to see the prime minister, Khun Pom and all military branches displaying their love, unity, sacrifice and loyalty for the people to see,” Prem said, referring to Prayuth [Chan-ocha’s] deputy Gen. Prawit Wongsuwan by his nickname.

In a display of mutual back massage, Prayuth “thanked” Prem for his “contributions” to the nation. He declared: “You are most loyal to the nation, the religion, and the King, which earns you respect and admiration, and you have become a role model for us…”.

Prem returned the praise from his boys, “referring to Prayuth and his Prawit by their nicknames – Tuu and Pom, respectively.”

The palace’s political position has always been clear over the past decade or so.

Stunt or failure? II

26 08 2015

Now that the draft constitution is available, some opinions are now being expressed. Few seem very satisfied.

Some of the anti-democrats oppose it, preferring “reform” before constitutional change.

Yingluck Shinawatra has made her concerns clear. At the Bangkok Post, Yingluck is quoted as saying “she found the new constitution unacceptable because it is not linked to the people.”

Leader of the (anti-)Democrat Party, Abhisit Vejjajiva has “called for the National Reform Council to vote down the draft constitution on Sept 6, saying the proposed establishment of an all-powerful ‘crisis committee’ is unacceptable.”

The Nation has an editorial that slams the draft:

The new constitution would turn back the clock to the authoritarian rule of the late 1970s and ’80s….

The draft constitution, if passed by the National Reform Council (NRC) and then a public vote, would be a serious setback for democracy in Thailand.

Rather than ushering in “Thai-style democracy”, as claimed by Constitution Drafting Committee (CDC) chief Borwornsak Uwanno, the proposed national blueprint reflects the undemocratic way in which it was created.

In response, General Prayuth Chan-ocha has been predictable in his response to criticism; he’s rejected it: “Prayut called on the media not to cover remarks made by these politicians, saying they had failed to solve the country’s problems but insulted his military-led regime, which he said was not fair.” Presumably, leading an illegal coup and overthrowing an elected government and the constitution is somehow “fair” in Prayuth’s jaundiced view of the world.

He went further, threatening: “They should not have been allowed to make such verbal attacks. Many have court cases and have spoken out without fear. If they hit out at me, I must hit back. When they face legal action, do not scream that they do not receive justice…”. The idea that criticizing the draft constitution is an attack on Prayuth indicates how much he has tutored the drafters, to the extent that Prayuth feels the constitution is owned by The Dictator.

Dictators will be dictators.

Stunt or a failure? I

25 08 2015

Thailand’s constitutional lawyer for hire Bowornsak Uwanno and his puppet committee of charter drafters has recently produced the draft constitution. They presented it to the puppet National Reform Committee.

The Thai-language version is available for download.

The front page of the draft is shown to the right.Missing preamble

It is essentially blank. When PPT downloaded it yesterday, we thought there was a mistake with fonts of something similar. However, today it is reported at the Bangkok Post that: “Two reform panels have agreed to ask the Constitutional Court to rule if the draft charter, which is due for a vote early next month, is complete and legitimate as the preamble is missing.”

Borwornsak has reportedly “downplayed their concerns, saying the preamble is not the CDC’s task and it is exclusively for the monarch’s review.”

This is somewhat contradicted by this: “Traditionally, he said the preamble is written after the drafting of a charter is finished and the cabinet’s secretariat office will be responsible for the matter.”

We are not convinced that this is the usual procedure. The draft 2007 constitution circulated for the referendum included a preamble. Bowornsak reckons that the 1932 constitution had a “Royal Preamble.” Our viewing of that document does not confirm this.

Given that the hired lawyer should know what is required, is this a royalist stunt to hand back more power to the monarchy or is it something that introduces legal complications that will delay the referendum?

We welcome reader opinions on this.

Updated: Things that seem normalized

25 08 2015

Reporting of the Bangkok bombs has taken up much of the media headlines in recent days. However, there have been a bunch of other reports that deserve some consideration. Here’s a selection:

Protecting exploitation: Migrant rights activist Andy Hall has been indicted on charges of criminal defamation and computer crimes that could lead to 7 years in jail. He has referred to “judicial harassment.”

The case is explained this way:

Natural Fruit, a pineapple processing company based in the Bangkok municipality of Thonburi and exporting to European markets, filed civil and criminal defamation complaints against Hall in February 2013. Hall had been contracted to conduct research for a report by European corporate watchdog Finnwatch that documented low wages, the employment of underage workers and other labor abuses against the company’s largely Burmese migrant workforce.

In response, Hall stated:

“I’m disappointed but I will respect the court’s decision…. I’m going to fight the case, and the case will expose many wrongdoings by many different people…I’m confident that in the end I’ll be served justice and be acquitted of all charges.”

Meanwhile, Finnwatch executive director Sonja Vartiala, said the prospects of a fair trial were “looking grim.”

No-one had yet been held accountable for the unlawful labor practices at Natural Fruit.

More slavery: In one of several reports of slavery in recent days, 13 Lao immigrants aged 15 to 18, who were reportedly treated as slaves, were rescued by officials who found them being kept in “animal cages” at a pig and chicken farm in Nakhon Pathom. Investigations focus on  the farm owner who is also a Krung Thai Bank manager. Usually such cases disappear as bribes are paid.

Enforced disappearance: The Asian Human Rights Commission shared an updated appeal from Protection International about the high-risk situation of Ms. Waewrin Buangern (Jo), coordinator of the Rak Ban Haeng Conservation Group and a community-based Woman Human Rights Defender, who is under constant and surveillance by military authorities. Military personnel have threatened her with enforced disappearance.

As explained in the appeal:

Ms. Waewrin Buangern (Jo) coordinator of the Rak Ban Haeng Conservation Group and community-based Woman HRD, who is under constant surveillance by military authorities, is facing a high-risk situation. As coordinator of the Conservation Group, Ms. Waewrin is under close monitoring by authorities and she is contacted on a regular basis by authorities for information on her whereabouts or on the Conservation Group’s plans. The threat of enforced disappearance against Ms. Waewrin was made during an ‘attitude adjustment session’, on 11th November 2014, when she was accompanied by another 10 villagers to the attitude adjustment session at Patoupah Special Military Training Facility. The attitude adjustment session was chaired by Deputy-Chief of Provincial Military Division, Colonel Chainarong Kaewkla, and there were heated exchanges between villagers and authorities during the course of the session. Ms. Waewrin has said that at one point in the session, she was told, “You know we can make anyone disappear.” During the same session, Ms. Waewrin was also the target of a gender-specific attack when she was told, “You will never be able to find a husband.”

Ms. Waewrin has been closely monitored ever since the Conservation Group joined the 1st Walk for Land Reform in Thailand on 9 November 2014 in Chiang Mai. Following such high-level intimidation and confrontation, Ms. Weawrin has been under surveillance and frequently contacted by local authorities. Everyday 2 plainclothes soldiers, on motorbike, patrol the Ban Haeng Village at around 7 p.m. Every day, there are different soldiers who patrol the village and they are always low-ranking soldiers. There is information that the soldiers are monitoring the movement of villagers, but also monitoring Ms. Waewrin specifically. She has never received any military personnel in her home and always requests that they meet her in the village Assembly Hall.

The clear and high-level threats from authorities that have been voiced against Ms. Weawrin are of grave concern, especially as authorities have adopted a clear oppositional stance against the activities of the Rak Ban Haeng Conservation Group. One such threat of violence has arrived against Ms. Weawrin from a high-ranking and now promoted military officer. It indicates a clear and consistent risk for Ms. Waewrin as authorities continue to monitor her whereabouts and know how to gain access to her.

“Normal” military slaves: There’s been some commentary after a chained soldier walked into the military junta’s complaint center to ask for help. PPT can’t judge this particular story and its veracity, but it does highlight an issue that is quite common: the use of the lower ranks by their bosses as personal servants. Rear Adm. Benjaporn Bawornsuwan denies chaining Pvt. Anek Thongvichit to a tire, and unleashed on the soldier. Yet it is the details that are most revealing.

Benjaporn met with police and “speculated that several Navy commanders who harbor grudges against him may have encouraged Anek to file his complaints, telling reporters that other commanders abuse the system of ‘servant soldiers’.

Having soldiers stationed at their masters’ homes like this is normal. And it’s widespread. Especially the rich people’s kids who couldn’t dodge the draft in time, they asked for help that way,” he said at a Nakhon Pathom police station. “They asked to be posted in commanders’ homes, but they aren’t really there. And the commanders get the money, 9,000 baht per month.”

Today Gen. Udomdet Sitabutr, commander of Royal Thai Army, defended the practice of sending soldiers to serve as personal servants.

“Right now, we don’t call them ‘servant soldiers’ anymore. This word doesn’t exist anymore. Right now we call them ‘service soldiers’ who have a duty to assist their commanders.”

He said the work conditions of servant soldiers are enviable.

“People who sign up for this work do so voluntarily. They want to have a living that is different to the barracks and their friends,” he said. “Mostly, service soldiers will be well taken care of. Soldiers in some units even compete with each other to be service soldiers, because puuyai will take care of them. As for their duties, they are light, small things, not something that would frighten people.”

One of PPT’s writers has personal experience of “servant soldiers.” A few years ago, this person lived in a high-end condo where a Navy officer had five such servants or personal slaves. They spent their days at the beck and call of the officer, his wife and his children, washing cars, doing housework, acting as chauffeurs and even as enforcers when the Navy officer was in dispute with other residents over unsanctioned modifications he made to his condo. None of them were chained, but they wor So this is a “normal” as the Army commander claims, and it is reprehensible. It is part of the payoff for being a “puuyai,” and a part of the enforcement of hierarchy.

Update: Readers may be interested in the Bangkok Post’s Sanitsuda Ekachai’s Feudal system stunts shoots of democracy, which reflects on some of the issues above.


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