The Ko Tee “plot” and extradition

20 03 2017

In our last post on the military junta’s marvelous story about a mammoth plot to accumulate war weapons, assassinate The Dictator using a sniper rifle and cause a rebellion based on Wat Dhammakaya, we stated:

While Ko Tee [Wuthipong Kachathamakul] has denied the arms belonged to him, the cops admit he’s been on the run since early 2014…. “Pol Gen Chakthip said police had tried to contact … Cambodia … for Mr Wuthipong’s extradition, but had received no helpful reply.”

Now the police can claim that Ko Tee “allegedly played a leading role in gathering weapons to support the temple and as such must be considered a threat to national security…”. This “plot” will presumably help with gaining his extradition.

Bingo! The Bangkok Post reports that the junta “has vowed to seek the extradition of hardcore red-shirt leader Wuthipong Kochathamakun, alias Kotee, from Laos following the discovery of a huge cache of weapons by authorities in a house in Pathum Thani.” (Like everyone else, we thought he was in Cambodia.)

Gen Prawit Wongsuwan said “he wanted Mr Wuthipong brought to justice given the weapons were found in his home, adding officials will contact Laos authorities to seek Mr Wuthipong’s extradition.”

They really want him for lese majeste and seem prepared to go to extreme devices to get him.

In our earlier post we also stated:

The next step for the police will be to parade the “suspects” before the media where they will presumably admit their guilt and “confirm” the “plot.” They may even be made to re-enact some “crime.” That’s the pattern.

Bingo! The same Bangkok Post story quotes a senior policeman as stating; ” The nine arrested suspects were questioned by military officers and they confessed to keeping the weapons for a particular mission…”.

Now we await the parade of “suspects.”

As a footnote to this story, readers might recall earlier posts, beginning in early February, about a junta desire to extradite anti-monarchists from Laos. This morphed into an alleged “death threats” against The Dictator, which were then said to come from republicans, and which saw attempts to push the Lao government to extradite the alleged conspirators. This effort went on for some time.

Does it seem like too much of a coincidence that yet another plot has suddenly been “revealed”?





Rice “plot” thickens

6 11 2016

The Dictator feels he is under threat. It isn’t the student activists. It isn’t really opposition politicians. Rather, it is the weight of rice growers.

In addition to its cultural significance, rice growing has a remarkable economic significance, even in days where manufactured exports dominate. Thailand has long been one of the world’s top rice exporters. It remains so. Hence, rice has long been politicized.

Back in the late 1970s, when there was another crisis, there was talk of rice farmers being the backbone of the nation. When General Prem Tinsulanonda became never-elected premier, he mouthed support for farmers but did little. Predictably, an uptick in prices saved his political bacon.

But long-term trends in commodity prices seem downward, so when farmers get agitated, self-appointed premier General Prayuth Chan-ocha gets politically agitated and wary.

Having now plagiarized previous rice subsidy and pledging schemes, bellowed “plot” and sent out his armed minions to threaten millers (and farmers), he’s now embarking on a second round of (non-)populism. The first may cost between 20 and 127 billion baht.

General Prayut Chan-ocha has “called an urgent meeting with the National Rice Policy Committee to draw up relief measures for rice farmers before a new supply of grains hits the market this month.” That’s because his first scheme only covered hom mali growers. Another avalanche of rice comes to harvest a bit later.

The suicide of a farmer indicated a political time bomb for the military junta.

This is potentially a challenge like no other that the junta has faced. Coercion is unlikely to work as it has for smaller groups of political opponents.





Rice “plot” II

4 11 2016

In our last post we noted that The Dictator was fuming and jumping about, claiming that rice price declines are all the fault of collusion between millers and “politicians” out to get the junta/government.YosemiteIn response, The Dictator’s minions have been rushing here and there, seeking people to blame for the junta bringing back a rice subsidy and pledging scheme that will cost at least 127 billion baht.

The Bangkok Post reports that the junta has also come up with a brilliant idea for raising rice prices. The military dictatorship has decided that it can order millers to pay decent prices. It has “deployed” soldiers to “seek cooperation” from “all rice mills nationwide to buy grain from farmers at ‘reasonable’ prices in an effort to shore up rice prices.”

Brilliant! Order the millers to pay above market prices will mean that they can be eliminated.

Of course, this threatening move “was not aimed at threatening millers but seeking their cooperation not to drive down prices…”.

Brilliant! As with political activists, catch everyone off guard by coming up with ridiculous lies, fooling no one, so item 1 above works – force prices paid up.

Every “mill operators across the country” will get “cooperation” visits as the soldiers seek to “gather information.”

Brilliant! Troops in humvees, in uniform and with a load of weapons will certainly get “cooperation.”

In addition, the “[a]rmed forces will buy grain from farmers through growers’ cooperatives to feed 100,000 military personnel as well as resell grain…”. Brilliant! The military brass can surely make a bit of loot on this! What a bonus!

But hold on, this brilliant scheme has a tiny speed bump.

The Bangkok Post reports that the “president and executives of the Thai Rice Millers Association have resigned, saying they have failed to help farmers and been unable to push up grain prices.”

President Manas Kitprasert had denied The Dictator’s allegations, saying “we’re not the ones who set paddy prices. That’s the role of exporters because they sell to end buyers…”.

But still brilliant! The junta can take over the associations and mill and expert rice itself!





Rice “plot” I

3 11 2016

As we noted in a recent post, rice subsidies are back! But, they are quite all right because it is the military’s “good people” doing it this time.

We are still awaiting the anti-democrats of Bangkok’s middle class to criticize this subsidy, as they did when they pilloried Yingluck Shinawatra. We are not holding our breath, for we know that these people live in a world composed and disfigured by double standards.

To deflect attention from this “new” policy – rice subsidies have been around from the 1980s – The Dictator has screamed “political conspiracy!

General Prayuth Chan-ocha ordered “the Agricultural Cooperatives Ministry, the Commerce Ministry and the National Council for Peace and Order (NCPO) to the implement the measure and monitor warehouses for signs of irregularities.” He claims there are “reports” – we think he listens to his own speeches – “that politicians and rice millers are manipulating paddy rice prices in a bid to provoke rice farmers to protest against the government.”

Joining his beloved boss, junta spokesman Lt Gen Sansern Kaewkamnerd said Prayuth “asked security authorities to investigate whether there are people trying to manipulate rice prices.” He added that “initial findings suggest there are irregular activities in Phichit, with attempts to discredit the government and convince farmers there that the government is mishandling the situation.”

That has to be the case because these just can’t be bumbling bullies.

Confirming double standards, representative of the anti-democratic middle class, “[anti-]Democrat [Party] member Wirat Kallayasiri said  the rice price is being manipulated by supporters of ex-premier Yingluck Shinawatra to distort information about the rice-pledging scheme.”

They remain strong supporters of Thailand’s military dictatorship. They love the military boot.





Bike for Dad “Plotters”

17 07 2016

112Thanakrit Thongngernperm, Nattapon Na-wanlae, Wanlop Boonchan and Weerachai Chaboonmee are suspects in the alleged Bike for Dad “terrorist plot” who is also charged under the lese majeste law.

Initial reports were that the suspects arrested and accused of lese majeste and computer crimes were Pol Sgt-Major Prathin Chanket, who was formerly with the Border Patrol Police, Pissanu Phromsorn and Nattapon.

In late November, a list of suspects was published: Nattapon, Prathin, Phitsanu Promsorn, 58, Wanlop, 33, Chatchai Sriwongsa, 24, Meechai Muangmontree, 49, Thanakrit, 49, Weerachai, 33, and Pahiran Kongkham, 44.

Yet by early 2016, the names listed in reports were Nattapon, Wanlop and Weerachai. In the end, this opaque case, with fit-ups, frame-ups and confusion means that it is not clear how many of the suspects face lese majeste charges. It could be 1, 3, or even 9.

Military prosecutors from the Judge Advocate General’s Department charged them with under Article 112 and crimes under Article 14 of the 2007 Computer Crime Act for allegedly contacting each other online while planning to stage an attack on the Bike for Dad propaganda cycling rally.

These three were arrested and detained from late November 2015. Police Commissioner said that in total there were nine suspects in the case, most of whom are associated with the so-called Khon Kaen Model uprising that was never established, dating from soon after the coup in 2014. The main point is to ensure that the “plotters” are considered red shirts.

Police claimed that one of the planned operations by the group was the assassination of General Prayuth Chan-ocha, the junta leader.Another police allegation was that Pol Sgt Maj Prathin and Nattapon and seven others were plotting to stage “terrorist attacks” and capture military and police camps as well as government installations in many northeastern provinces.

Police claimed that these cases involved lese majeste because the suspects had been contacting each other via Line Chat Application to prepare the terrorist plot on the auspicious event for the King.

The suspects claimed innocence.

The case became murkier when it was revealed that Thanakrit, who the authorities claimed claimed was “on the run,” had in fact been incarcerated in a Khon Kaen jail since mid-2014 as a “Khon Kaen Model plotter.”

The deliciously dumb response from the junta came initially from General Prawit Wongsuwan. He said that:

… although Thanakrit was in prison he must have done something against the law, otherwise the court would not have approved the warrant for his arrest…. He might have been in some communication (with outsiders). Ask him. He must have done something wrong. The court must have gone through all the requested warrants individually before approving them. A warrant can’t simply be issued without legal backing….

Meanwhile, the Director of the Central Correctional Facility in Khon Kaen confirmed that Thanakrit would have been unable to engage in external plotting, saying that it is strictly forbidden for inmates to use mobile phones and illustrated that a signal would ring immediately if the prison phone interception devices detect phone signals coming from the cells and that signal blockers operate.

Thanakrit’s lawyers threatened legal action against the authorities. For this action, the police filed charges against the lawyer Benjarat Meetian and Thanakrit was transferred from Khon Kaen to a remand black site in the 11th Military Base on Rama V Road in Bangkok.

Media accounts of the “plotters”:

The Nation, 20 March 2016: “Lawyer complains to EU about ‘intimidation’

Prachatai, 24 February 2016: “Suspects in alleged terrorist plot indicted for lèse majesté

Prachatai, 6 January 2016: “Prisoner transferred to jail in army base over lèse majesté conversation

Bangkok Post, 30 November 2015: “Prawit: Warrant for behind-bars suspect approved by court

Bangkok Post, 28 November 2015: “‘Khon Kaen Model’ suspect to counter-sue

Bangkok Post, 26 November 2015: “Prayut and Prawit targeted for violent attack

Bangkok Post, 26 November 2015: “Police seek Khon Kaen ‘unrest plotters’

The Nation, 25 November 2015: “Three held for plotting attacks during ‘Bike for Dad’

 





Assassination plot suspects indicted on lese majeste

24 02 2016

Lese majeste cases have been getting stranger and stranger over the years. Dead kings, dead royal dogs and more are now “protected.”

Yet the Prachatai report today of “[m]ilitary prosecutors [having] indicted suspects of the alleged Bike for Dad terrorist plot with the lèse majesté law while the suspects plead innocent” is one of the strangest.

The report states that the Thai Lawyers for Human Rights (TLHR) lawyer Benjarat Meetian visited the suspects – Nattapon Na-wanlae, Wanlop Boonchan and Weerachai Chaboonmee – on 23 February 2016. They are held at the military’s remand facility in the 11th Military Circle base.

The lawyer told the men that of the judge advocate of the military prosecutor’s office indicted them of offenses under Article 112 of the Criminal Code and Article 14 of the Computer Crime Act for allegedly contacting each other online while planning to stage an attack on the Bike for Dad parade, organized in the the name of Prince Vajiralongkorn to honor his ailing father.

The claim is that the three were engaged in a terrorist plot. They have been detained since late November 2015. They were linked to another unproven “plot” called the Khon Kaen Model.

At the time of their arrest, it was stated that the three planned to assassinate The Dictator.Yes, we realize he isn’t covered by the lese majeste law, but it seems that along with disintegrated corpses and dogs, “events” are now covered by the lese majeste law.

The men are detained in illegal circumstances by the military and the military restricts access by lawyers.

Our search suggests that not all of these three have been mentioned in the case previously.





Further updated: More on the “assassination plot”

26 11 2015

We get the impression that the military dictatorship remains confused and anxious. The story on the “assassination” plot is changing by the minute.

Yesterday the “authorities” claimed that they had foiled a royal assassination plot and arrested three men. Today, according to Khaosod, a police general says “he was no longer sure about their [the “plotters”] objective.” And, there’s only two in custody and another seven being “hunted.” It turns out that these two have been in military custody for a week.

Confused? You bet!

More significantly, The Dictator, Gen. Prayuth Chan-ocha and his police say red shirt activists are behind what is now described as “a disrupted terror plot.”

They appear to be making political capital from the tragic events in Paris and hoping that by calling the so-called plot an act of “terrorism,” the rest of the world may believe them.

Bizarrely, the “authorities” are also claiming that the “red shirt cell” is one they said they destroyed last year when they arrested two dozen persons who have still not been brought to trial after 17 months.

Deputy police chief Sriwarah Rangsipramkul said the military detained “two Redshirt supporters” for “an unspecified conspiracy to cause ‘unrest,’ possibly by assassinating junta chairman Prayuth.”

Confused? You bet! It gets worse:

“They have targets, but we cannot confirm what those targets are,” Sriwarah said. However, he believes the group could have been thinking about seizing army barracks in the northeast as a starting point to unleash their alleged campaign of terror.

Confused? You bet!

Red shirt leaders say the alleged plot is “a work of fiction” meant to “distract the public from ongoing embarrassment over alleged corruption in the army’s Rajabhakti Park…”. Weng Tojirakarn said the story was a “farce.” Worachai Hema said it was “absurd.”

Just to make the whole thing more theatrical, The Dictator “told reporters today he’s undeterred by the alleged threat and will continue visiting northeastern provinces for government affairs.” He puffed out his chest and declared: “I can visit any area. I’m already risking my life these days anyway. I’m not afraid. Don’t you think I’m not risking my life now?”

Confused? Maybe not. Prayuth gets to show he is a tough guy and the Army has interference running for it.

Update 1: A Bangkok Post report updates the confusion. It continues to report that the arrested men have been “charged with violating Section 112 of the Criminal Code, or the lese majeste law, and the Computer Act.”

Pol Maj Gen Chayapol Chatchaidej “said that apart from Pol Sgt Maj Prathin and Mr Nathapol, there were seven other people involved in a plot to stage terrorist attacks and capture military and police camps as well as government installations in many northeastern provinces.” Many? Really?

Of course, the “two had confessed to the crime…”.

The seven others in the “team” are listed as: Phitsanu Promsorn, 58, Wallop Boonchan, 33, Chatchai Sriwongsa, 24, Meechai Muangmontree, 49, Thanakrit Thongngernperm, 49, Veerachai Chaboonmee, 33, and Pahiran Kongkham, 44.

Update 2: The military dictatorship is following a familiar path in the claims they are making regarding this so-called plot. First a plot. Second, a claim involving monarchy. Third, a fumbled “story.” Fourth, blame is directed to red shirts. Fifth, opponents exiled overseas are claimed to be “involved.”

Prachatai has reported on the final element of this construction: “The police also announced that two suspects caught said during the interrogation that certain anti-monarchy figures overseas who posted messages defaming the monarchy on social media are involved in the plot.”

So all the military’s pieces are put in place. Now all they have to do is convince others that this “plot” actually existed.

The Prachatai report also seems to “answer” a question PPT raised when the “plot” was first “revealed.” We wondered how the “plot” resulted in lese majeste charges. The report “explains”:

The police chief added that the suspects also face charges under Article 112 of the Criminal Code, the lese majeste law, for contacting each other via Line Chat Application to prepare the terrorist plot on the auspicious event for the King.

Lese majeste is now to be used for king, royal family, regent, dead kings and events….





Updated: Royal assassination plot alleged

25 11 2015

PPT is becoming more and more bemused by the goings on related to lese majeste and the military junta. The latest story is among the most bizarre. So bizarre that we reproduce it in full from The Nation:

Three men, including a former Border Patrol policeman, have been arrested in connection with an alleged plot targeting government figures during a big national event next month, the national police chief said Wednesday.

Pol General Chakthip Chaijinda said police intelligence had learned that the trio may have been plotting to create unrest and allegedly planning an attack during the “Bike for Dad” event on December 11.

The suspects were identified as Pol Sgt-Major Prathin Chanket, who was formerly with the Border Patrol Police, Pissanu Phromsorn and Nattaphol Nawanlay. They were initially accused of violating Article 112 of the Penal Code involving lese majeste and the Computer Crime Act.

Chakthip said yesterday that police had monitored the suspects’ activities and movements for a while before their arrests were made.

“This group was targeting Bangkok and intelligence reports show they were aiming at important persons in the government. It could have been sabotage with the use of explosives,” the police chief said.

“But we still don’t know if this group has any political connections,” he said, adding that police investigators have not ruled out political motivation.

Chakthip said police have evidence against the suspects, including records of their communication through social-media applications.

“The military court approved the arrest warrants because police could prove that they were planning to carry out an attack in Bangkok,” the police chief said.

Police are checking to see if those suspects had anything to do with bomb attacks in Bangkok in the past, Chakthip said.

“Police believe this movement involves more than three people and they have a mastermind,” he added.

Before his arrest, former policeman Prathin worked as a security guard at the Bank of Thailand’s Khon Kaen office. He was arrested at his home in the Northeast province and later brought to Bangkok for questioning.

We assume that a claim will be made that the arrested men are or were red shirts. Whatever the claims that will be made and the veracity of the “plot,”, it seems that Thailand’s ruling elite and the military junta is being torn apart by something to do with succession and Crown Prince Vajiralongkorn.

Update 1: Khaosod reports on this alleged “plot” and does not mention lese majeste. In this report there are claims regarding “[r]umors of a plot to assassinate junta chairman and Prime Minister Prayuth Chan-ocha [that] began circulating on Monday.”

Already a finger has been pointed at red shirts and a broader “plot” to create “unrest” in the northeast. The report names three “suspects”: Police Sergeant Prathin Chanket, Pitsanu Promsorn and Nattapol Nawanle. Social media rumors are of a junta effort to create a diversion from its own corruption issues and “investigations.”

The Bangkok Post reports that a “search” is on for “the mastermind of a group suspected of plotting unrest and possibly attacking key figures during festive events in Bangkok and the provinces.” This report does mention lese majeste charges against the three arrested men.





Another plot…

16 07 2015

The military dictatorship has managed to come up with quite a few “plots” since its 2014 coup. Several of them have been for media consumption. Some have been to frighten or threaten. Others have been to jail “plotters.”

The most bizarre so far came from General Thawatchai Samutsakhon, a military member of the National Reform Council.

Before we get to that claim, recall that the same general came up with the absurd claim that the Dao Din students being under the influence of an “ill-intentioned foreign organisation” that brainwashed them. The father of one of the students claimed Thawatchai had made this stuff up.

Reveling in his role as political jester, Thawatchai was quoted a couple of days ago alleged that “two political parties, whom he refused to identify, were preparing to mobilise up to a million people to descend on Bangkok to overthrow the government.”

It seems he thinks the (anti)Democrat Party and Puea Thai are joining to overthrow the military dictatorship. Perhaps he had a dream? Perhaps he is delusional? Or just mad, for he also accused the “parties of being behind violence in the deep South.”

The response of the (anti)Democrat Party was almost as bizarre:

Democrat Party member Nipit Intrasombat said: “I would like Thawatchai to be more specific on which political party [was behind the incident] so that state authorities can sue the party concerned by sending the case to the Election Commission (EC) – to have the parties dissolved. This way, no one would be mistaken.”

Nipit seems to want to suggest there is a plot! No one else of any consequence seems to agree. While Thawatchai claimed to be citing “intelligence reports,” the National Security Council contradicted him. Despite the nonsensical claims, General Thawatchai continues to be an Army commander and puppet legislator.





Losing the plot

1 02 2014

PPT has usually read Thitinan Pongsudhirak of Chulalongkorn University with considerable interest and sympathy. This time, however, he seems to have lost his way in his op-ed at the New York Times.

Yes, sure, the political deadlock “is crippling the country,” but every commentator has said this.

But his commentary gets weak when he refers to “reset options that have worked in past times of crisis — a royal intervention or a military coup — do not appear to be in the offing.”

This is an odd perspective. The military coup has generally been about re-establishing the status quo ante, not “resetting.” And the king’s interventions have been about that, sometimes via shocking crackdown and sometimes to prevent a catastrophic loss by the elite. This latter scenario occurred in 1992 and whike his “moral authority” might be unrivaled, it is not unchallenged.

That “there have been no signs so far that he might intervene” should not surprise a student of politics, where a non-intervention is also a statement of position and intent.

After a couple of hundred words describing the general situation, Thitinan concludes that: “The only way forward for Thailand is to hold reforms in order to strike a more viable balance between the majority and the minority.”

What’s the evidence for deciding this? Apparently, the “Yingluck [Shinawatra] administration has deployed its unassailable parliamentary majority to ram through disastrous policies, such as an amnesty bill that would have absolved Thaksin of corruption charges.”

ThitinanDid it? This is an exaggeration. The government did this in the case of the lower house, but it responded to public pressure and withdrew the bill from the upper house. That is the way a parliamentary democracy usually works. It is an example of parliament functioning, not of dysfunction.

When Thitinan opines, like the anti-democrats, that “electoral winners cannot do as they please after scoring at the ballot box,” he should be applauding the success of the opposition to the dumb amnesty bill. He should also acknowledge that governments are elected on a platform, and it is their duty to implement that platform. The Yingluck government has repeatedly backed away from this duty in the name of compromise. In this sense, its supporters, the majority, can rightly complain that their wishes are ignored.

His claim that:

Rather than trying to seize power without regard for the will of the majority of Thai people who elected Ms. Yingluck, Mr. Suthep and the P.D.R.C. must make concrete demands and propose an actionable agenda on good governance that is acceptable to other parties. And the Yingluck government must address those grievances, by making political reforms a top national priority.

This is a nonsense. For a start, Suthep’s lot are about bringing down the government, and they offer no compromise. One might also ask why it is that reform is so desperately needed when all of the basic rules were set by the military and anti-democrat allies when they drew up the new rules of the 2007 constitution. That they keep wanting to change the rules doesn’t amount to reform. Rather it is about sour grapes, elite control and re-establishing the subordinate position of voters who seem to challenge them.