Rewarding the anti-democrats I

8 10 2014

In an earlier post, PPT referred to the fiction of a separation between the military junta and the government. In another post, we pointed out the obvious: that the National Legistlative Assemby is a puppet assembly.

In this context of the military junta’s control of all government it is to be expected that the (fake) National Reform Council (NRC) will be stuffed full of the military’s political allies. Some time ago PPT posted from The Nation, stating that the leaking of 173 names claimed to have been selected for the National Reform Council (NRC) “clearly signify political bias and social exclusion, which could lead to unfair reform proposals that will make all reconciliation efforts fail…”.

The uniform you have when you slip out of the Army uniform

The uniform you have when you slip out of the Army uniform

Did this cause The Dictator to pause? Not a bit. He did exactly what the critics suggested. The military dictatorship has hand picked the NRC crammed with anti-democrats and fascists.

Khaosod reports that “Thailand’s military junta has appointed a 250-member reform body that is heavily stacked with traditional elites and allies of the country’s conservative establishment.”

General Prayuth Chan-ocha had lied that “the NRC would represent a balanced cross-section of society,” but it doesn’t. The final list of members “is dominated by conservative hardliners opposed to the former government.” Khaosod lists some of them:

Among them were nine leaders from the anti-government protests that preceded the coup, including Naowarat Pongpaiboon, Sombat Thamrongthanyawong, and Charas Suwanmala.

The protest group, known as the People’s Committee for Absolute Democracy With the King As Head of State (PCAD), campaigned against the former government for seven months until the military intervened and launched a coup in May.

Eleven of the ‘Forty Senators’ clique – a group of unelected Senators who opposed the former government – also made the final cut, such as Rosana Tositrakul, Kamnoon Sitthisaman, and Pramote Maiklat. The so-called Forty Senators played an active role in the PCAD’s campaign to unseat then-Prime Minister Yingluck Shinawatra and replace her with a royally-appointed PM.

In addition, 31 retired military officers were added to the reform council, as well as nine members of the governing bodies appointed by the previous coup-makers in 2006.

It is as if The Dictator is rewarding those who worked so hard for the coup and against elections earlier in the year.





A fiction

7 10 2014

The military dictatorship handpicked its National Legislative Assembly and then The Dictator, General Prayuth Chan-ocha handpicked his cabinet.

One of the aims was to say to the world that there was a “civilian government” in place, somehow de-militatized, despite the remarkable dominance of very wealthy military clients in the puppet Assembly and cabinet.

The Dictator himself maintains this fictional “separation.” He keeps a straight face when he declares that the “government and the National Council for Peace and Order will continue to work together to tackled problems left unsolved by past governments…”.

This declaration of a fictional separation came when the “two bodies had their first joint meeting at the army club on Vibhavadi Rangsit road on Tuesday.”

The fiction begins with The Dictator, “who heads both bodies,” and dissembles about the junta and government co-operating. They could do nothing else as they are inseparable tools of the military dictatorship. Only a culturally challenged “farang” commentator would miss this.

A tip for The Dictator: no one believes this nonsense and you look ridiculous saying it.

A couple of other points in this report deserve some attention.

Apparently Prayuth stated that “[h]igh on their to-do list is corruption,” although we doubt he means the military corruption so wonderfully demonstrated in recent days and now displayed for all to see. Like the culturally inept foreigner, The Dictator seems only able to conceptualize corruption amongst elected politicians.

The Dictator declared that there must be martial law as there are ” underground activities against the government and NCPO,” but that he “could not disclose [these] publicly.”  Believe him, he is The Dictator.

Prayuth also demanded that he and his military junta not be criticized by the public or the media. He reckoned that criticism would discourage his guys and they “could not solve any problem.”

These military types are just so fragile that they can’t take criticism. It has to be remembered that generals are seldom criticized because of the operation of impunity and live in a hierarchical world where their orders are followed, not questioned.





Rank stupidity

7 10 2014

PPT has read some awfully daft op-eds in recent years. Many of them have been by foreigners trying to understand Thailand’s contentious politics. Some of the silliest are by those who explain things Thai in deep cultural terms apparently making the place impenetrable to the ordinary non-Thai, although these foolish musings are usually by foreign observers.

Today, the Bangkok Post has published yet another of Stephen B. Young‘s scribblings.  It is without a shadow of doubt, the dumbest op-ed we have ever seen. And, using the word “dumbest” is being generous indeed.

It does seem odd that any member of the royalist elite rewards such a ludicrous propagandist for their cause. We can only assume they are like old men, with their hair colored jet black, and thinking that the young women employed  in expensive gentleman’s clubs really do find them attractive.Young They believe the sweet talk and they believe Young.

We apologize for drawing attention to this ridiculous stuff, but felt we had to comment on a couple of things.

A first point is that Young is a charlatan. He advertises himself as a leader at the Caux Roundtable where the website trumpets “moral capitalism” and mentions” human flourishing and social justice concerns.” You might come away thinking that Young’s creation is about morality, ethics and good governance.

In fact, this is creative and false advertising. The company one keeps is revealing. One story at has Young awarding Malaysian premier Najib Razak a gong. Young sucked up to Najib in the company of “Senior Adviser and former Thai Foreign Minister Kasit Pramoj [and] presented Prime Minister Najib with a certification of recognition and appreciation.”

His other ethical claims are about how wonderful Thailand is under the murderous and repressive military.

With friends and “advisers” like Kasit, it is clear why Young babbles about Thailand being “happier” under the military (as the military has demanded) than ever before!

Like his friends, the “members of the ammart elite,” Young decided everyone was “more relaxed, happier” than ever before from talking with “[a]ll my Thai friends and associates, taxi drivers, wait staff, [and] vendors…”. What, no hair stylists?

If “farang” don’t understand this, it is because it takes someone like Young to conjure the deep cultural meaning of happiness under military repression. If you don’t get it, then you are a dumb and culturally bankrupt “farang.”

Young has vast experience of military repression ethical and cultural rule because he can remember Sarit Thanarat’s military government. He just loved Sarit: “Sarit was then, and still today is for many older Thais, respected and appreciated for getting things done without seemingly endless wrangling and pointless interpersonal entanglements.”

Sarit’s rule was described as “despotic paternalism” by a Thai author and ruled by having his opponents jailed and killed. No doubt having your opponents murdered is the moral approach the Caux Roundtable promotes. We imagine Young also recognizes Sarit’s mammoth corruption and his harem of hundreds of concubines as “moral” and as removng “pointless interpersonal entanglements.”

When he says that “[t]his current military government seems to be delivering something of similar value to many Thais,” he is probably right. The military leadership has been shown to be immensely corrupt, with some of them amassing stupendous fortunes. The regime is also remarkably repressive.

For Young, all this is culturally appropriate because it result in a return to the “proper order.” Jailing, torture and corruption it seems aredefining of the “traditional ‘Thainess’ of his [General Prayuth Chan-ocha’s] government,” with Prayuth, just like the murderous and corrupt Sarit, administering for the “common good…”.

Young, of the moral, ethical and social justice-promoting Caux Roundtable, lauds Prayuth for sidelining political parties, academics, intellectuals and “others who would impose themselves on the decision-making process.” He says the self-promoting Prayuth is “committed to advancing the public good, not private privilege.” His generals seem in a different space, being corrupt bastards, but Young ignores that for the sake of the boot licking praise of The Dictator.

Prayuth may have been responsible for the murderous attacks on red shirts in 2010, but that’s okay for the moralistic man from the Caux Roundtable because Prayuth is getting rid of “money politics.” In fact, the money is still there, and the military brass rakes it in; it is just that the politics is repressed.

The rest of the article is errant nonsense, irrational and bizarre. We can only imagine that his royalist elite buddies love this stuff and like having a dopey farang tell then how culturally Thai they really are. When Young lauds the military dictatorship for returning Thailand to a cultural equilibrium which means the royalists rule, they must be chuffed even if they know he is a fake and a sycophant.





The criminalization of thought

7 10 2014

Academic and activist Tyrell Haberkorn has another excellent piece at The Asia-Pacific Journal: Japan Focus. She writes of the ” intimidation, violation of the rights of … individuals to freedom of thought and speech, and … the ongoing creation and maintenance of a climate of fear in Thailand.” She observes:

Neither coups nor dictatorships are unusual in Thailand…. What makes the 22 May 2014 coup significant is both the acute repression which has followed in its wake, and the context of the nearly eight years between this coup and the previous coup of 19 September 2006. The 19 September 2006 coup was widely supported by royalist-nationalist elites and a large number of middle-class people who viewed the then-elected prime minister Thaksin Shinawatra as a grave threat to the nation who had to be removed by any means necessary, even a military coup. The coup succeeded in removing Thaksin from office (he remains in exile) and also planted a deep seed of contention and enmity into Thai society. This contention generated a series of prime ministers and color-coded movements of royalist-nationalist yellow shirts who supported the coup and the ancien régime and democratic-populist red shirts who supported the ousted former prime minister and regime change towards a more participatory polity. Yet aside from the contention in the streets and the big-P politics of elections and prime ministers, the nearly eight years between the coups also held the growth of remarkable and generative dissident cultural politics in the service of democracy and justice. A new generation of poets, fiction writers, essayists, and intellectuals inside and outside the university brought sharp insights to inequality, rural-urban tensions, and the silenced past as they began circulating their work in progressive literary and political print and online publications. Visual artists and musicians whose work critiqued the past and present and imagined possible futures for the country emerged in the streets and in new performance spaces. Youth and student activists and teachers and professors began to once again turn universities into places of learning and knowledge exchange for all people, not only the elite. Many of those behind these transformations have been directly targeted for repression following the 22 May 2014 coup.

It is an insightful analysis and deserving of careful reading.





The repressive weight of lese majeste

7 10 2014

At Prachatai a series of reports indicates the huge repressive weight of the royalist use of the lese majeste law.

The first report is about the Ubon Ratchathani Court that “in July gave an unprecedented sentence of 30 years in jail to a musician for defaming the king.” The sentence was described as “incredibly harsh” and was said by Sawatree Suksi, Assistant Professor at Thammasat University’s Faculty of Law, as legally dubious as “the judge mistakenly added three years to the correct jail term…”.

What is considered “unprecedented is that on each count, the court gave two jail terms, one for an offence under Article 112 or the lèse majesté law, and the second for an offence under the Computer Crime Act.”

Sawatree says that” the court’s calculation of the penalty was wrong.” She observes that judges “should follow Article 90 of the Criminal Code which states that if an offence violates more than one law, the sentence must follow only the law which carries the most severe sentence…”.

As PPT has pointed out several times, the law hardly matters in lese majeste cases. Judges see it as an affirmation of their loyalty to convict. Law and constitutional rights (when they were available before the 2014 military coup matter for nothing.

The lawlessness in this case included evidence used for a conviction that was obtained by the police through entrapment.

In this case, because the victim wants to seek a “royal pardon,” he is not going to appeal the sentence. Lese majeste victims know that appealing just means delays, jail time and deliberate extra punishment by the royalist authorities. So the lawless judge gets off.

The second report is about a case in Chiang Mai where proceedings have been halted because the red shirt involved has suffered a stroke. As a middle-aged man, the case can be thought to have had an impact on his health. His case comes from 19 May 2010, when he threw several yellow flags into a river. He was captured on video, subject to “cyber-bullying” by ultra-royalists, was personally harassed, fled the country and finally returned to be arrested.

Despite the stroke, the case is scheduled to continue at a later date.

The third report is about a new case, where police arrested a 55 year-old man last week on lese majeste allegations in Samut Prakan. Phuchit Wongthanarat is accused of lese majeste on 1 September at the Amporn Satarn Mansion, in the Dusit Palace.

He has “declined to testify to police, and will only testify before the court.”Lese majeste repression is a heavy weight on Thailand, obliterating legal sense, human rights and history.





The salacious academic

6 10 2014

Long-time readers of PPT will know that we have little time for academic prostitutes. We repeatedly point out that we use this term metaphorically to indicate that a person debasing him or herself by working towards an unworthy cause or is “selling out” to the forces of “evil” or no good. In this sense, “prostituting oneself” or “whoring oneself” the services or acts performed are not sexual but a salacious desire for personal promotion or for money.

No single “academic” has been more salacious and more willing to prostitute himself than the imposter Panitan Wattanayagorn. He slithers about the powerful hoping that their power radiates to their sorry self.

Panitan when the Abhisit government relocated to a military base in 2010

Panitan

When he was, for several years, the acting spokesman for the odious Abhisit Vejjajiva regime, justifying murderous attacks on red shirts and sundry other abuses of human rights, including lese majeste, Panitan kept his Chulalongkorn University position so he could keep a cheap apartment and other perks that come with an academic position. No academic himself, Panitan protected his interests.

A couple of days ago it was reported that he is back hawking his wares to the corrupt military regime. He is reported to be a “security adviser to the deputy prime minister and minister of defence…”. No surprise there. We can think of no better servant for the military dictatorship. Not that he has ever had a track record of public service or advice on anything other than increasing repression.

And so it is that we read of Panitan swooning over the the junta. He says the “current situation” is a “democracy closed for repair.” Any sensible “political scientist” would ask how a military coup and remarkable repression, together with total political control can have anything to do with “democracy.”

Panitan is so amorous of military despots that he reckons “the military has been trying to gain the public’s confidence and bring peace to society, along with boosting the economy and setting the course for reform.” Pigs flying, raining fish and military sincerity are all likely in Thailand.





6 October and the military coup

6 10 2014

The military dictatorship would prefer that no one remember the massacre that was unleashed in the name of the monarchy on 6 October 1976. It would prefer that the crushing of a fragile democracy not be remembered.

Oct 6Perhaps it would prefer that the long period of military domination and tutelage from 1976 to 1988 be remembered, for it seems to have a similar plan for 21st century Thailand.

Those who remember:

Kong Rithdee at the Bangkok Post

Kem Issara at Prachatai

Financial Times video (This is well worth viewing: “As Thailand’s military government continues to detain its critics, some Thais are commemorating students killed at Thammasat university on October 6, 1976. Michael Peel meets witnesses to the massacre.”)

Another video remembering the terror:

student-6oct1Prachatai on photos of 6 October

The Guardian on a brutal Thai coup

Wikipedia on 6 October massacre

Pokpong Lawansiri on demystifying and remembering

Puey Ungpakorn on 6 October (opens a PDF)

PPT’s 2013 remembrance

PPT’s 2012 remembrance and another here

PPT’s 2011 remembrance

PPT’s 2010 remembrance

PPT’s 2009 remembrance

 

 

 








Follow

Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.

Join 176 other followers