Royalist myth-making

12 10 2017

A story at The Nation caught our attention. It is about the absurd lese majeste case facing conservative royalist Sulak Sivarasaka.

As we know, Sulak is being charged under Article 112 for daring to “wonder aloud whether King Naresuan’s famous elephant duel in defence of 16th-century Ayutthaya actually occurred.”

The possibly mythical battle between Naresuan and a prince from what is now Myanmar “is regarded in Thai mainstream history as a momentous event that freed Ayutthaya from the threat of Burmese rule.”

The modern military, which has no relationship at all to Ayutthaya thinks that the date of the “battle” was 18 January and makes this Armed Forces Day.

Thais are taught that Naresuan was “Great” and they are told that he is to be “revered” as a “national hero.”

The Nation states that the “reality [is] that the combat took place centuries before the Thai nation-state came into being and thus cannot be confined within modern political boundaries.”

It then tilts at other elements of “Thailand” and “Thainess,” including muay thai which is regional as is Songkran.

It says “monopolising the story surrounding King Naresuan is especially damaging because it misguides everyone, especially Thais, into believing there is only one version of history.”

It adds that the elite “discourage[s] any further study of history because for them the official version – or the version that supports the powers-that-be – is the correct one and everything thing else is wrong.”

Examples of similar ultra-nationalist furors stage-managed by the elite include the “graduate student questioned whether the historical figure of Lady Moe had actually existed.” She was threatened with being lynched.

Back to Naresuan, “Thailand’s history textbooks criticise many Ayutthaya monarchs for failing to protect their kingdom. Why should King Naresuan be an exception? The dismal answer is that he is admired by the military, and the military are now in power.”

Naresuan did ally with the (now) hated Burmese for a considerable period, if chronicles are to be believed.

On Sulak’s case, it observes:

The fact that the case was not thrown out the minute it was raised three years ago is a strong indication that Thailand’s authorities and many of its citizens have lost any sense of that normality.





VPNs for Thailand

11 10 2017

If you read PPT in Thailand, you might want to consider a Virtual Private Network (VPN).

A VPN “extends a private network across a public network, and enables users to send and receive data across shared or public networks as if their computing devices were directly connected to the private network. Applications running across the VPN may therefore benefit from the functionality, security, and management of the private network.”

VPNs are used to protect private web traffic from snooping, interference and censorship.

A VPN is useful for maintaining privacy when browsing and can also be used for unlocking geo-restricted content.

One site suggests 5 best options for Thailand. Others are listed here. Most browsers allow add-on VPNs.





1932 plaque back in the news

11 10 2017

Prachatai reports that the Puea Thai Party’s Watana Muangsook has been “accused of sedition for posting on Facebook about the missing 1932 Revolution Plaque…”.

That plaque “mysteriously” disappeared around the time that the military dictatorship’s “constitution” was promulgated by the king.

That was no coincidence. No one ever investigated the disappearance, suggesting that the authorities were the vandals and thieves or that they knew who was responsible for an act meant to further erase 1932 from Thailand’s collective memory.

Watana has said he will fight the sedition charge. On Monday he appeared for a deposition hearing that also includes a charge under the Computer Crimes Act.

The report states that the “Technology Crime Suppression Division (TCSD) accused him of posting false information on the internet in claiming that the 1932 Revolution plaque is a ‘national asset’ in order to call for people to demand its return, adding that the post might also incite chaos.”

This is a very large pile of buffalo manure, but the regime’s exaggerated response suggests that it is protecting a very powerful thief.





A lawless and lying junta

11 10 2017

PPT has been busy posting about other things – the absurdity of lese majeste, junta political gymnastics – and so we neglected to mention an important op-ed by Umesh Pandey is Editor of the Bangkok Post. Earlier we posted on another commentary by Umesh on the basis of the junta’s rule in illegality and lies.

This op-ed may be seen as somewhat dated, given recent “changes” (see below), but we think his comments deserve consideration for the broader points made about what defines the military dictatorship, led by General Prayuth Chan-ocha.

Umesh’s latest commentary begins thus: “Bending the law and going back on words seems to have become the norm ever since the coup that ousted the elected government in 2014.”

In other words, the regime is built on lies and the manipulation of law.

The Post’s editor is particularly upset that The Dictator told US President Trump that there would be “free and fair elections in 2018,” only to renege. (We actually think that General Prayuth and his team of flunkies simply didn’t comprehend the statement they signed. They are not all that intelligent.)

Umesh also worries that the puppet Constitution Drafting Committee, led by serial constitution buster and military minion Meechai Ruchupan, “is defending delays in polls is something that should go down in history books as being one of its kind in the world.” He comments that the CDC “is a body that supposedly comprises some of the smartest people, who are supposed to look at the country’s future and its long-term well-being, and they are protecting the never-ending delays that this military regime is trying to undertake.”

Smartest? Really? As far as we can tell from their record, the CDC is composed of puppets with no more intelligence than their wooden counterparts.

And, this is certainly not the first time that the CDC has supported the junta’s delays. In fact, we have lost count. But this is nothing other than a collection of puppets with the junta pulling all the strings.

Umesh observes that:

The regime’s initial promise to hold elections was within a year of the coup, so 2015, then it turned out to be 2016, then 2017 and finally Gen Prayut announced at the United Nations that it would be 2018.

Then it was 2019, although in recent days The Dictator has changed this back to 2018 (maybe). We still don’t know why Prayuth back-flipped.

Umesh continues:

While democracy is being kicked around a football, the players are gradually being red-carded one after another. The latest headlines in yesterday’s papers suggest that there is an all-out effort to go for the final kill.

After having prosecuted the Pheu Thai and its predecessor parties for the past decade, efforts are being made to charge its backer, Thaksin [Shinawatra], with the feared Section 112. Newly appointed Attorney-General Khemchai Chutiwongs said 112 can be applied for video footage in which Thaksin reportedly blamed members of the Privy Council for the May 22, 2014 coup that ousted Pheu Thai government.

Of course, no election held under the junta’s rules will be “free” or “fair” or “democratic.”

Bravely, Umesh ponders the lese majeste law: “As far as most of the population of this country is aware, the lese majeste law clearly states that it applies to only members of the royal family.”

Well, sort of, apart from the cases related to Princess Sirindhorn, royal pets, dead kings, historical figures and mythical queens. But we get the point.

He asks:

So, what is the section of the 112 law that the attorney-general is going to use to prosecute Thaksin? Or is it the case that this law was changed over the course of time and people are not aware of it?

In fact, lese majeste is used however the junta (and palace) wants it to be used. There’s no rule of law in Thailand, just rule by junta.





Thaksin denies lese majeste

10 10 2017

Lese majeste has become the military dictatorship’s weapon of political choice in attacking opponents. Because it has to do with monarchy, yellow shirts immediately jump on board and support the junta, no matter how absurd the allegations and charges (historical myths and events, the dead king’s dead dog, use against a juvenile, etc.). When this political charge is used against Thaksin Shinawatra, the gleefulness of junta and royalist supporters is palpable.

So when the military dictatorship reactivated a lese majeste accusation against Thaksin (one of many such charges and allegations), the yellow-hued royalists again clapped and cheered the military regime.

In this instance, Thaksin has responded.

Thaksin denied “that he has ever defamed the royal family and threatened to sue anyone who accuses him of the crime.” He took to Twitter to state that he was “emotionally troubled” by reports that “the new attorney general had vowed to prosecute him for the crime.”

He condemned the use of lese majeste against him and declared that he “will take all legal action against those who continue implicate him, regardless of whether he knew the person. He did not name names.”

The newly appointed attorney general Khemchai Chutiwong wants to prosecute Thaksin for a “crime” of stating, quite reasonably, of the 2014 military coup, that:

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.

Of course, as in many cases of lese majeste, this statement cannot possibly be lese majeste if any sane person reads Article 112. But like many of his ilk, Khemchai is insane when it comes to Thaksin and sees no problem in contorting an already absurd law to the political purpose of the anti-Thaksin coteries of royalists, coup-makers and anti-democrats.





Updated: Disorganized, disorganizing and an election date

10 10 2017

We were just about to post the story that was to appear below when breaking news stated this:

Thailand will hold a general election in November 2018, Prime Minister Prayuth Chan-ocha said on Tuesday, the most precise date he has given yet for the vote since taking power in a 2014 military coup.

Prayuth, head of the ruling junta or National Council for Peace and Order, said the exact election date would be announced in June 2018. The junta has repeatedly delayed elections, citing concerns such as changes to the constitution and security issues.

“Around June we will announce the date for the next election,” Prayuth told reporters at Bangkok’s Government House.

“In November we will have an election.”

Update: The junta has actually blinked or it has come under sustained pressure. It was only a few days ago that military dictator General Prayuth Chan-ocha signed a Joint Statement between the United States of America and the Kingdom of Thailand that vowed: “Thailand’s commitment to the Roadmap, which, upon completion of relevant organic laws as stipulated by the Constitution, will lead to free and fair elections in 2018.”

Within hours, General Prayuth had corrected “misconceptions” declaring that 2018 really meant 2019. Other members of the junta supported him. Now, there a back-flip and, as noted above, The Dictator has changed his mind and 2018 from now on will mean 2018. But why the back-flip? We don’t know. Some suggest it is because of pressure from political parties. Others say the army is split. Some others say that royalists are convinced that an election under the junta’s rules will produce a pro-junta regime, and having a rigged election will satisfy the “democratic” demands in Europe and the US and that Thailand will look better once it can ditch the military dictatorship moniker.

In making this back-flip, Prayuth loses considerable face, so expect outbursts against opponents. Perhaps even more regime repression and jailings.

The Bangkok Post earlier reported some of the consternation. Constitution Drafting Committee Chairman Meechai Ruchupan, who is a regime lackey, said he believed the time was right “to revoke the ban [on political parties] this week so parties could resume their political activities.” This recommendation to the junta, which met just prior to a cabinet meeting, seems to have reflected pressure being applied in other quarters for a transition away from military dictatorship.

The junta certainly appears disorganized. At the same time, if the ban on political parties remains, “election” delays will continue. In this sense, the junta is disorganizing those who may compete against its candidates (however it decides to manage its “election”).

On top of all of this, Prayuth, if he is feeling more powerful than he is today, could always postpone again.





The great escape, police and DNA

9 10 2017

The Bangkok Post reports that Yingluck Shinawatra “is believed to have been driven from her house in Bangkok’s Bung Kum district on Aug 23 and to have switched cars in Min Buri. The new car headed to Chachoengsao province via Suwinthawong Road and proceeded to the eastern border.” From there she went into exile.

That’s the story that the military dictatorship and the police bosses have been sticking to.

The super sleuths then seized a Toyota Camry they claimed was the getaway vehicle.

Deputy national police chief General Srivara Ransibrahmanakul now says that “an informal report indicated there was no evidence confirming the vehicle was used for Yingluck’s escape in late August.” He added that the “DNA samples taken from a were too contaminated to be compared with samples from former prime minister Yingluck Shinawatra’s residence to confirm whether she used the vehicle when she fled the country.”

Naturally enough, “police could not charge Pol Col Chairit Anurit with malfeasance of duty under the Section 157 of the Crimes Act” for his alleged role in the great escape.

Pol Gen Srivara said “there is only a verbal confession that the vehicle was used in the great escape,  without forensic evidence to support it, police were unable to charge Pol Col Chairit on this count.”

The question of under what circumstances and why Chairit and a couple of other cops confessed remain a mystery.

A Khaosod report states that General Srivara said: “For this issue, it’s now over…. We cannot press charges or expand the investigation any further.”

The yellow shirts will be unhappy.

Yingluck remains silent.