Sedition

24 07 2015

“These is no justice in this country, we should be separated as Lanna State”

That’s the message on a banner hung in Chiang Rai in February 2014.

Article 116 of the Criminal Code states that:

whoever makes apparent to the public by words, writing or any other means anything which is not an act within the purpose of the constitution or which is not the expression of an honest opinion or criticism (a) in order to bring about a change in the laws or the government by the use of coercion or violence, (b) in order to raise confusion or disaffection amongst the people to the point of causing unrest in the kingdom, or (c) have people violate the law, shall be punished with imprisonment not exceeding seven years.

In a case of protecting the judiciary, the court ruled that “the claim … that there is no justice in the country after the criminal court in early 2014 rejected to grant arrest warrants against the key leaders of the anti-election People’s Democratic Reform Committee (PDRC) protesters was false.”

They don’t explain why it was false, but like the rulings of the king and of The Dictator, no debate or dissension is really possible. In any case, the banner hangers were expressing a widely-held view at the time. As everyone knows, including thoise who benefit from it, Thailand’s judicial decision are riddled with double standards.

The judges of the provincial court seemed most miffed that “by expressing such claims, the defendants also insulted the Criminal Court’s ruling to deny the arrest of the PDRC leaders then.” Of course they did, and the court deserved insulting over its politicized ruling.





Fearing Thaksin II

23 07 2015

In an earlier post we referred to the fear of Thaksin Shinawatra evident in the military junta. A couple of new stories suggest that the fear is real and knee-tremblingly real.

In the first story at the Bangkok Post, we are reminded that Yingluck Shinawatra was impeached as premier by the Constitutional Court that ruled she violated the charter on the transfer of National Security Council chief Thawil Pliensri. Thawil was opposed to the Yingluck government, effectively a troll for the royalists defeated in the 2011 election. One transfer and out the door.

That is not the situation for the military junta, which can transfer anyone it likes, and has done so many times. The most recent case is “National Security Council deputy secretary-general Pongsakorn Rodchompoo [who] has been unexpectedly transferred to an inactive post in the latest move to rid the agency of all influence of former prime minister Thaksin…”. The Dictator issued the order.

The Post reports that an “NSC source said the transfer was part of the campaign to eradicate ‘watermelon’ soldiers from the security agency.” Pongsakorn was appointed by Yingluck, so he was suspect.

The Dictator is considering a new boss for the NSC. Who might be in the running? None other than military posterior deep polisher Panitan Wattanayagorn. His appointment would be entirely appropriate as he is nothing more than a military flunkey with limited abilities. The military dictatorship has no other interest than in appointing dull followers.

In a second story highlighting the military’s fear, one of the 155 persons banned from traveling by the military junta, Wattana Muangsuk, a former Puea Thai parliamentarian, sued The Dictator-General Prayuth Chan-ocha over the ban.

He argued that the ban “restricts human rights and breaks international laws, as well as the 2014 interim constitution,” and “is discriminatory and arbitrary…”.

Wattana knows that his efforts are futile because the junta and The Dictator are a lawless bunch. He “is well aware his case will go nowhere since the NCPO chief has absolute power over all three branches of government under Section 44 of the interim charter.” He explained:

I resort to exercising the right to sue to demonstrate a civilised way to solve problems, not by rolling tanks to seize people’s power and then issuing orders arbitrarily….

He’s right, but the military lot are anything but civilized. Essentially, like their predecessors, they are political thugs, knuckle-draggers and afraid of elected and popular politicians.





Who cut the forests?

23 07 2015

Self-appointed Prime Minister General Prayuth Chan-ocha has an opinion on pretty much everything. As The Dictator his opinion is widely heard even if his opinions are those of a cloistered military bureaucrat with little knowledge of real life.

Recently he has had opinions on the environment, commenting favorably on the proposed coal-fired power station down south and denigrating those who oppose it. Military dinosaurs have a penchant for the past, and coal-fired power stations seem set to go the way of the dinosaurs.

Continuing on the environment theme, the military junta ordered an end to deforestation. Recently, The Dictator has remarked that elected governments had destroyed 8.6 million rai of forest in the north and northeast.

Former Democrat Party MP Watchara Petthong seemed a little miffed by this allegation. Watchara stated:

It sounds like the PM is blaming democratic governments – but the true reason forests disappeared was that government officials did not do their duty. Some, like those from the Royal Forestry Department, the Department of National Parks Wildlife and Plant Conservation or the Department of Provincial Administration, sought vested interests….

He added:

Another reason the country’s water resources had turned into bald mountains was that a giant conglomerate lures poor farmers to grow corn to be used as animal feed. This has caused natural disasters like floods, landslide and drought….

We guess he means CP. We’d also note the data on land ownership from an earlier post, reproduced here, which suggests another phenomenon at work; the acquisition of large plots of land across the country.Land 2The CP lot come in second, but are a long way behind the biggest landowner. That Sino-Thai tycoons own huge swathes of land seems to be a relatively recent phenomenon associated with the 1980s boom that began under the premiership of General Prem Tinsulanonda. That followed a huge expansion of agricultural land in the 1960s and 1970s that cleared considerable forest.

The same PPT post had the ownership list for politicians from a couple of years ago. If those top 10 politicians were added together they would have been listed at no. 5 in the list reproduced above. Most of those politicians were serious business people before entering parliament.

Watchara goes further, accusing The Dictator of negligence: “Even in areas under the jurisdiction of the military during the period the PM was then Army Chief, the mountains turned into ‘bald’ mountains. Did the PM ever look into the problems?” He states that “forest encroachment also took place during the Prayut government,” and suggests that the current military dictatorship and the fear it engenders prevents “decent state officials” doing their jobs.

“Politicians and senior officials encroach upon reserve forests, water sources, mangrove forests and the Sor Por Kor land. How can the Land Department issue land title deeds for them? The PM must order a check of all plots and exercise Article 44 to confiscate the land,” he said.

Watchara response is to demand even more use of dictatorial powers (sigh…) and “urged Constitution Drafting Committee chairman Borwornsak Uwanno to incorporate in the charter draft a rule that MPs, Senators, ministers must not be involved in forest encroachment, either directly or indirectly through nominees.”

Given his comments on the military, perhaps he thinks that most future MPs, Senators and ministers will be from the military.

PPT well recalls the encroachment on forests that was encouraged in the war against the CPT (opens a PDF). Many of those areas are those where the “forest encroachers” turn out to be people the military and other security organizations encouraged to settle in and clear forest hill areas in the north and northeast a couple of generations ago.

Even in the late 1980s there were endless streams of military-registered logging trucks coming out of military-controlled hill areas that were deforested. Over several decades, many of the military brass made huge fortunes through their involvement with forest and land encroachment in those areas and along Thailand’s borders.

They worked in tandem with local businesspeople-cum-politicians and with Sino-Thai tycoons.





Fearing Thaksin I

22 07 2015

Thaksin Shinawatra has been outside Thailand, in self-imposed exile, since 2008. A military regime has been in power and more or less total control since 22 May 2014. Yet, if a report at the Bangkok Post is to be believed, the major threat to Thailand’s ruling elite and its military is none other than Thaksin.

The military junta has announced that it “will not allow politicians currently under military surveillance to travel abroad to meet … Thaksin…” on his birthday.

Scary Thaksin

Scary Thaksin

Army boss and junta member General Udomdej Sitabutr announced: “We won’t give them permission if we think their travel could instigate unrest…”.

As far as we are aware, none of these persons “currently under military surveillance” has been convicted of any crime.

But because this is a military dictatorship, it can make up “rules” as it goes along.

Even so, it is remarkable that these military bosses are so frightened of Thaksin in exile. Udomdej judges that it is “not right to go abroad and scheme to disrupt the work of the government. I am responsible for national security. I won’t let it happen…”.

Udomdej must have nightmares that Thaksin could mobilize against the regime. Not that there’s much evidence of this since the coup. Yet these military men seem a very frightened lot.





Updated: The royalist rubble that was human rights

22 07 2015

Readers will know that PPT has little time for the ridiculous National Human Rights Commission. In the period since Amara Pongsapich has been chair of the organization it has been a joke. Being responsible for human rights should never be a joke, but working with the Abhisit Vejjajiva regime, Amara made the NHRC a biased and useless organization.

Amara and friends

Amara and friends

The only current commissioner who has made a public effort to do anything remotely serious about human rights abuses, of which there are many, was Niran Pithakwatchara.

So PPT expected the worst when the names of the proposed new commissioners for the NHRC. We were surprised to see one high-profile activist, being Angkhana Neelaphaijit, who has criticized the military at various times. Most of the rest are loyal royalist bureaucrats.

More significant for the future of this useless organization, however, is the nomination of ultra-royalist Boworn Yasintorn. Both Khaosod and Prachatai have stories regarding the nomination of this campaigning yellow shirt.

Boworn, as well as supporting anti-democrats campaigning against elected governments, has formed and led several royalist groups that not only promote the monarchy but actively hunt those they consider anti-monarchists or republicans, seeking to have them jailed. His Thai Facebook page provides a vivid illustration of his ultra-royalism.

At various times, Boworn has been described as a leader of the “multicolors” who were yellow shirts without their royal colors and organized to support the Abhisit regime and oppose red shirts and the electoral prospects of any pro-Thaksin Shinawatra Party. Later, he was reported as forming the “Students Centre of Thailand” that was made up of adults and former student activists rather than current students. Its role was as a “disorganizer” and spoiler organization to undermine the Students Federation of Thailand.

He was behind other groups, mostly royalist vigilantes, including being reported as President of the Network of Volunteer Citizens to Protect the Monarchy on Facebook and Citizens Volunteer For Defence Of Three Institutes Network. Both groups have brought lese majeste complaints against political opponents.

In fact, as we think about it, Boworn is probably the most suitable appointment to this hopeless organization. He is a living, breathing symbol of its destruction.

Human rights in Thailand are a pile of royalist rubble.

Update: Prachatai has another perspective on the demise of the NHRC.

 





Denying the undeniable

21 07 2015

Lies, untruths, fabrications, porkies, misrepresentation, deceit, distortion and falsification are all tools of the military dictatorship. Its spokespersons could not lie straight in bed.

It is no wonder that The Nation reports that a Major-General Sarayut Klinmahom, a director of the Army’s Judge Advocate Office, declared that “Nobody ordered the Army to seize political power…” on 2 May 2014. He was “testifying before the Criminal Court yesterday during a hearing of the Army’s libel case against Thaksin [Shinawatra].”

We believe that this case comes from Thaksin’s visit to Korea in May. Then, Thaksin told a South Korean media agency that last year’s military takeover was plotted by advisers to the king. He alleged that privy councilors helped engineer the anti-government protests that culminated in the coup that overthrew the Yingluck Shinawatra government. Thaksin stated:

The military listened to the Privy Councilors…. When they didn’t want us to stay anymore, they made Suthep [Thaugsuban, leader of anti-government protests] come out, and then had the military help him. Some people from the palace circle also provided help, which made us powerless.

That’s a pretty reasonable account of the way things played out. At the same time, we are sure that the Army brass were also dead keen to oust Yingluck. Yet they have to lie about it in order to shore up the ridiculous lie that the palace isn’t involved in politics.





Hunting and hating Pavin

20 07 2015

The Dictator and his minions are very angry with Pavin Chachavalpongpun.

Already living in exile in Japan because the military junta withdrew his passport and charged him with lese majeste, Pavin has been a regular commentator on the monarchy, the military and politics.

Pavin (a Nation photo)

Pavin (a Nation photo)

His most recent outing has been at the New York Times, where he argues that The Dictator is at odds with the grand old man of the palace Prem Tinsulanonda. He writes that a “rift is growing within the military-royalist establishment, threatening the country’s stability and undermining prospects that the upcoming royal succession will unfold smoothly.” He argues that Prem’s power is on the wane as General Prayuth Chan-ocha and his cronies rises.

Pavin observes that the Prince “Vajiralongkorn, for his part, seems to have endorsed General Prayuth’s coup…”, adding further to the current clique’s power. He sees a succession clash between the two groups.

No one may be sure about this scenario but we can be sure that it annoys the military dictators. So annoyed that they are whining to the Japanese, asking the “the [new] Japanese ambassador to ‘reconsider’ whether it is appropriate for Japan to shelter an academic [Pavin] charged with insulting the Thai monarchy…”.

Pavin certainly seems to be able to get under the thin skin of the royalists and the military dictatorship.

 








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