Out on bail

23 08 2016

Fifteen, mostly elderly, allegedly “communist”/”secret society” members and allegedly “conspirators” against the military dictatorship have been released on bail.

Their lawyer stated that “the Bangkok Military Curt had granted bail for his clients with a surety of 100,000 baht each.”

It seems that these “dangerous” conspirators, originally accused by the regime of having been responsible for bombings, were now far less dangerous political detainees. (The bombings are now, finally, said to be the work or southern separatists.)

 

No longer detained, the military court still seeks to silence these people who may be no more than critics of the regime. The military court “prohibited them from travelling overseas, engaging in any political activity and expressing their political views…”.

These bailed political detainees “have been charged with running an illegal secret organisation under Section 209 of the Criminal Code and violating the NCPO [the junta] ban on political gatherings.”





Making a military premier

22 08 2016

As has been clear for a couple of years, the military junta wants to retain political control well after any “election” that it decides to hold under its rules and when it decides an “election” can deliver a pro-royal and pro-military government.

In part, the charter and the “referendum” were about getting the right “rules” in place. But even those rules are malleable in the hands of the military junta and its agents.

As The Nation reports, the “extra question” passed in the “referendum” is now being interpreted to more easily allow The Dictator. General Prayuth Chan-ocha, to become prime minister after an “election.”Prayuth

National Legislative Assembly (NLA) vice president Peerasak Porjit has been reported as insisting “that allowing the Senate to nominate prime minister candidates is in accordance with the intention of the additional referendum question.”

That’s an interpretation for a military PM. Peerasak reckons that “political parties would nominate PM candidates and the Senate had the right to vote to select the PM but if this process failed to achieve that, it could pave the way for a second process in which the Senate nominated PM candidates.”

This gives the junta two shots at assuring that it gets its man in place. The senate will be dominated by junta supporters.

In a manner familiar to anyone who watches the junta, this supplicant then denied that this was a measure to benefit The Dictator and junta. Of course, it is exactly that.





More UN concern about human rights

21 08 2016

The Geneva-based Office of the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR) has issues a media statement on Thailand (again). Here it is in full:

19 August 2016 – The United Nations human rights arm today expressed concern about the mounting constraints on the democratic space in Thailand – calling for a prompt return to civilian rule.

“Following the military coup in May 2014, severe restrictions on freedoms of expression and opinion and assembly have been in place through the use of criminal and military laws and orders, said spokesperson Ravina Shamdasani of the Geneva-based Office of the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR).

She elaborated that restrictions spiked in the lead-up to this month’s Constitutional Referendum.

“Overall, at least 1,300 people have been summoned, arrested or charged, and 1,629 civilians tried before the military courts,” the spokesperson explained. “Since June, at least 115 people have been arrested or charged under military orders, criminal codes and the Constitution Referendum Act for expressing their opinion on the draft constitution or reporting human rights violations, including torture,” she added.

Twelve people arrested in the Chiang Mai Province in late July remained in detention, along with a student activist who was incarcerated on 6 August. The others were released, but have been charged or remained under investigation.

“We urge Thailand to immediately drop all charges against political activists and human rights defenders, and to release those jailed for voicing dissent on the draft charter in the run-up to the referendum,” underscored Ms. Shamdasani. “We also call on the authorities to suspend the use of military courts and military orders in cases involving civilians.”

She made clear of the urgency in implementing the measures as Thailand moves towards its 2017 election – as proposed in the military Government’s roadmap to restore democracy.

The election next year represents an opportunity for Thailand to meet the commitment it made at the UN Human Rights Council during its Universal Periodic Review in May to respect freedom of expression and, therefore, guarantee a more inclusive and participatory process that involves all political parties, civil society and the media in an open and non-threatening environment.

We are sure that the UN means well, but they still seem unable to comprehend that the military dictatorship allows no democratic space.





19th century repression

21 08 2016

The junta’s “capture” of 15 or 17 “activists” it calls “communists” is another example of how fascist military regimes can “invent” and “reinvent” law when it suits their political interests and as they seek to shore up their power.

Thailand’s military dictatorship has rather startlingly revived a law that belongs to earlier years centuries.

It has charged the 15/17 with being member of an ang-yi or secret society.

Earlier this year, Khaosod had an article on absurd Thai laws, like the ban on roller skating after midnight and refusing to assist a postman. The secret society law was included. It says this:

The offense dates back to Rama IV, when Chinese triads (secret societies) were formed, sometimes with criminal intent. Triads, known in Thai-Chinese lingo as Ang Yi, were also accused of sparking riots and revolts against the authorities in Thailand.

Although long gone in history, Ang Yi  remain alive and well in the law. Section 109 of the Penal Code specifically outlaws Ang Yi and similar organizations. The law defines Ang Yi-like behavior as belonging to a secret society with an intent to break the law.

This law has its origins in the late 1890s. As far as we can tell, it fell into disuse in the 1960s, when the military regime used the anti-communist law against its political opponents.

How desperate is the military regime? So desperate it seems that it needs 19th century laws. (Lese majeste dates from the early 20th century, but has been re-feudalized in recent years.)





Jory on referendum and political future

20 08 2016

Patrick Jory is senior lecturer in Southeast Asian History at the University of Queensland in Australia. He has a new short commentary at Asian Currents, which is not always widely seen.

He observes that:

The real aim of the draft constitution is to weaken the authority of any future elected government and to constitutionally protect the political influence of the military and its conservative backers.

Jory says that “[w]hile no evidence of electoral fraud has been uncovered, this was in no sense a free and fair referendum.” We agree that the referendum was rigged. We are not so sure that there was no fraud. At least we should be able to see the results of the referendum (as is usual in non-junta Thailand, but that hasn’t happened (as far as we know).

We completely disagree with Jory’s view that:

It is important to acknowledge that, unlike during the period from the 1950s to the 1980s, the Thai military today does not rule in its own right. It has a substantial social base of support. It is backed to varying degrees by middle and upper-class Thais, the powerful bureaucracy, the judiciary, university administrations and faculty, and large Sino–Thai corporations.

We suggest that the military has always had a social base. We’d also say that the sources of that base haven’t changed much although the classes mentioned have grown in numbers. His view leads him to resurrect the 1950s notion of a bureaucratic polity as if nothing much has changed. That’s a fallacy.

He is on firmer ground when he observes:

There is also an ethnic dimension to this Bangkok–provincial political cleavage. As historian Chris Baker has pointed out in a recent article, the predominantly Sino–Thai middle class has ‘almost no affinity with rural Thailand’… For many Sino–Thai, the countryside is ‘unknown and hence fearsome’.

Ethnicity has been overlooked for too long. Others have noted the Sino-Thai relation with rural areas but not necessarily in fear but in terms of seeking a cultural base for an immigrant class that lost its roots in and links to China.

Jory concludes with a view that “it is unlikely that this constitution will last much longer than its predecessors.” This constitution will last as long as it is useful for the military, monarchy and the rest of the ruling elite.





A regime in decline

19 08 2016

We at PPT have feeling that the military dictatorship has entered a period of decline. It is a “feeling” so we may well be wrong. After all, decrepit regimes can hold on for years,

In the present, we discern a regime that may have engineered a referendum victory, but which is now lost in its own machinations, repression and lack of intellectual capacity for arranging its political future other than by further repression.

Such blunt instruments can work, but a regime that intends to convert itself into an “elected” regime needs to display a little intelligence, some strategic thinking and an ability for a different kind of politics.

This regime displays none of these characteristics. In fact it is probably the dullest and least intelligent regime we at PPT can recall.

Evidence for this is seen in tow recent reports.

The first is associated with bombings, or so we thought. The 15 or 17 suspects in the recent bombings are suddenly not bombers but plotters in the overthrow of the military-royal regime.

Deputy Prime Minister, General Prawit Wongsuwon has, as if there had been no earlier reports, denied that the “17 detained southern bombing suspects” were involved in any of that, He now says they were “involved in other activities against his National Council for Peace and Order (NCPO) [the bumbling junta].”

As if Thailand has entered a time warp, police say the 17 are “communists.” Yes, seriously, that is what this bunch of dolts have invented,

The most elderly group of “13 men and four women” included leaders of an “anti-coup movement: no one had ever heard of before.

 

The “Revolutionary Front for Democracy Party” are claimed to be “hardcore reds” who have been “active in Nonthaburi and Pathum Thani provinces and allegedly coordinated by masterminds who were influential politicians in southern border provinces.” The inventive authorities say this is a “nationwide network, except in the lower South.” At the same time, they are not red shirts.

No sensible person can believe such inventive, throwback nonsense. The inventiveness of the regime is so ridiculous that we wonder if they are taking mind altering drugs. Of course, they have invented several conspiracies in the past and jailed people but have seldom brought anyone to trial. It is all the junta’s 1960s style counterinsurgency reborn in 2016.

The second story has to do with student activist Jatuphat Boonpattaraksa. His story has to rank in the pantheon of junta duplicity and legal invention and manipulation as one of its most scurrilous pieces of work.

Not that long ago, the junta was declaring that the hunger striking student activist should take the bail offer the puppet courts had offered, stop his hunger strike and go home.

He had been “detained for 13 days since the police arrested him on 6 August when he handed out anti-draft charter flyers at a market in Phu Khiao [in Chaiyaphum].” Following the arrest, he “started a hunger strike because he asserted that his activity is lawful. The police indicted him under Article 61(2) of the the controversial Referendum Act for allegedly distributing materials that distorted the draft’s content.”

On Friday, 19 August 2016, the anti-junta activist from the pro-democracy Dao Din group accepted the bail offer. However, junta thugs immediately re-arrested him on new charges.

We can hardly think of a nuttier move. After all, the junta had been keen to end his hunger strike. Now he’s back in jail.

This kind of buffoonery suggests the junta is in a spin and that may easily be a downward spiral. It can’t  be soon enough as the regime is a disastrous and nasty joke  inflicted on a people who deserve better.





The junta and fairies at the end of the soi

18 08 2016

As most sources have made clear, despite the military dictatorship’s rhetoric, there is currently no evidence  for the repeated claims that the bombings of a week ago were the work of red shirts. Most sources are suggesting that southern separatists are the main suspects.

However, as PPT has pointed out, the junta is not about to let a political  opportunity pass.

The junta  has revealed that it is holding 15 on suspicion of involvement it the bombings and will rearrest two persons  already released.

The junta has let it be known that “the suspects were members of a heretofore unknown political group called ‘Revolution for Democracy Party’.”

As the report  states, this claim “would dovetail nicely with the regime’s insistence the attacks were unrelated to separatists in the Deep South…”.

The report also notes that the “military’s sudden admission it was holding many suspects underscored again the disconnect between the civilian face put on an investigation that is largely being carried out by the military.”

Police have no knowledge of the mostly elderly suspects and nothing to link them to the bombings.

To believe the junta on the basis of so far nonexistent evidence is about as sensible as listening to Army boss General Theerachai Nakawanich, who warned Thais to watch out for people “who wear sunglasses or hats indoors, reasoning that they might be bombers since ordinary Thais would not dress in such costumes.” He added that “carrying backpacks is also abnormal. So we need to help look out [for unusual things]…”.

Believe Gen Theerachai on this and the military on a new conspiratorial group and then look for fairies in the garden at the end of the soi.








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