The lies of dictators

4 10 2015

Every dictator is overcome by the words of sycophants and assorted hanger-on. Politicians have spin doctors so that the best can be made of the uncomfortable. General Prayuth Chan-ocha hs liked to speak for himself, often appearing angry, testy, short-tempered and ignorant.

In recent posts, PPT has wondered whether The Dictator is delusional or an inveterate liar. We now have the answer.

Khaosod reports that, for all of these foibles, Prayuth has now shown that he is more of a liar than delusional.

Some weeks ago it became clear that the military dictatorship was seeking to “funnel all internet traffic through a single, government-managed choke point…”.

After much criticism and an extensive denial-of-service-like attacks on state websites, the military dictatorship has denied that it plans a single gateway and “insists the project has not been initiated despite evidence to the contrary.”

The Dictator himself has lied:

I have not ordered [the government] to go ahead with this. I merely told them to study it, but there has been some misinterpretation…. Right now, this matter is only under study. There’s nothing.

A bunch of junta members, ministers and assorted mouthpieces also lied.

Minister of Information and Communication Technology Uttama Savanayana lied:

Let me insist this is just an idea…. Since I took up the post a month ago, there has been no policy plan, no conclusion of what it will look like, and I have not yet proposed anything for the prime minister to deliberate.

Minister in the Prime Minister’s Office Panadda Diskul lied. He fibs that “the prime minister merely told us to study the facts…”. Of the single gateway panic, he declared: “This is fabricated news created by those who are selfish…”.

Government spokesman Major-General Sansern Kaewkamnerd lied, “saying the project was only ‘noted’ in cabinet minutes to acknowledge its study.” He fibbed: “I insist that all of these are just studies…. It is not a project yet yet. It is not happening. Will it happen or not, I cannot answer.”

Khaosod doesn’t call these liars by that name. However, it points out that:

Weeks after the cabinet ordered officials to “speed up” development of the single-gateway project, officials from the top down have done an about-face after internet users banded together to bring down at least six government agencies’ websites to protest the plan.

It points to The Dictator’s efforts to accelerate the project:

Prayuth … raised the project as a priority in June, according to minutes of his cabinet meetings. In subsequent meetings in July and August, the cabinet stepped up orders for officials to urgently expedite the project.

It even produces legal evidence to demonstrate the lies:

Section 1.2 of the June 30 Cabinet Resolution, a legally binding document, includes this section: The Ministry of Information and Communication Technology must also work with related agencies, such as Ministry of Justice and Royal Thai police, to proceed with implementation of a single gateway to be used as a device to control inappropriate websites and flow of news and information from overseas through the internet system.

If that isn’t sufficient evidence of deliberate fabrications, the report says:

… at least four published Cabinet Resolutions indicate that Prime Minister Prayuth and his military regime have not only finished discussing and studying the feasibility of a single gateway, but had made it an urgent matter for implementation.

On 30 June, Gen. Prayuth was quoted in the cabinet minutes urging administrators to solve the problem of youth addiction to online games and “access to inappropriate media” by “proceeding to implement a single gateway to be used as a device to control inappropriate websites and flow of news and information from overseas through the internet system.”

On 21 July, Prayuth instructed the telecommunications ministry and “related agencies to urgently speed up the implementation of a single gateway to be used as a device to control inappropriate websites and flow of news and information from overseas through the internet system in accordance with 30 June, 2015, Cabinet Resolution.”

On 4 Aug., the ministry and other related agencies were again instructed to “report about development in implementation of a single gateway.”

Three weeks later on 25 Aug., the cabinet – apparently still waiting for a response – gave a September deadline for the MICT to report back and once again ordered it to “speed up its work on the issue.”

That all seems pretty clear. Prayuth, Sansern, Panadda and Uttama are lying.

In this case, lying might be a way to drop the project.





Sport and dictators

4 10 2015

Sports stars often claim they are ignorant of “politics.” They may be, although we doubt the claim when it comes to highly-ranked players who travel the world with entourages of managers, coaches, advisers and other minions. Some are outspoken, like Novak Djokovic who has proclaimed that he is a Serbian nationalist, while others like Rafael Nadal claim no politics.

We mention these two because they have landed themselves in the middle of the world’s only military dictatorship and have actively promoted that horrid regime and the symbols that underpin royalist politics. One report states that the two players “came to Bangkok to earn a few million dollars for an exhibition match. But there were a few strings attached.” The report stated that the two earned “a total of 150 million baht ($4.1 million) for coming to Thailand.” They were on court for about an hour. As another report has it, they “spent longer in official engagements than on the court.”Tennis2

More important, however, was the before propaganda. Djokovic and Nadal put on the junta uniform of silk jackets in the royal colors of blue and yellow. The reports state that the “dress code was part of a tightly scripted trip meant to boost military-ruled Thailand’s image, which included a meeting with the junta leader.” They met with The Dictator, General Prayuth Chan-ocha. They also “signed a book of well wishing for the … Thai [k]ing…” and visited the “Erawan Shrine, the site of a deadly bombing in August, where the players laid wreaths and posed for pictures under tight security…”.

Obviously money talks very loudly for the players, but the investment by the regime’s supporters must have been considered useful in propping up repression and authoritarianism.

Back on 2 September, it was reported that the “Lawn Tennis Association of Thailand is joining hands with True Corporation to hold a special tennis match featuring World’s Number One tennis player Novak Djokovic and former World’s Number One player Rafael Nadal at Hua Mark In-door stadium on October 2.”

Suwat Lipatawallop, president of the Lawn Tennis Association of Thailand, stated that “the organizing committee had been working out the programme of activities for the two players to promote tourism in Thailand.” In fact, the “program” was one of supporting the monarchy and military regime. Not that many tourists show up in Thailand to play tennis, but we imagine that the event was about branding, especially in Europe. where the coup and the rule of military dictators means Thailand has declined in the estimation of European tourists.

It was added that “the match will be an inspiration for Thai youths to turn to sports.”

Given that tickets were priced from 1,000-5,000 baht each, we guess that Suwat means the kids of the elite. Even if poor kids and the disable were to be invited, to be polite, tennis is not widely played by the poor. Tennis

This event was the military dictatorship’s propaganda exercise. With Suwat Liptapanlop (สุวัจน์ ลิปตพัลลภ) as president, the administration of the LTAT is dominated by the military and funded by the Sino-Thai tycoons of the royalist elite.

When the “special tennis match was disclosed at a press conference held at the Grand Hyatt Erawan,” Suwat was joined by Supachai Chearavanont, a vice chairman of the giant Charoen Pokphand group and CEO of the True Corporation. The generals were gleeful when it was announced that the military-tycoon elite had captured two big name sportsmen.

The Tourism Authority of Thailand claimed the tennis players had “helped to promote Thailand’s tourist credentials,” and saying that they had shown that “it’s business as usual” under the military junta.

That’s the point. Money invested by the tycoons and state for propagandizing for the military and its monarchy.





More double standards

3 10 2015

Thai PBS reported some time ago, and we missed it until a reader alerted us, that People’s Alliance for Democracy boss Sondhi Limthongkul was convicted of “defaming the Shinawatra and Damapong families over tax avoidances [sic.] in share purchases in 2006.”sondhi-limthongkul

As would be expected under the royalist military dictatorship, he was “sentenced to a three-year suspended jail term by the Supreme Court.” In other words, no jail time.

This is the second instance in a couple of weeks where double standards have been demonstrated to be deeply entrenched in the judiciary. Both involved ASTV/Manager people.





Money for royals

3 10 2015

Not that long ago, a New York Times story had it that the taxpayer under the military dictatorship was forking out $540 million on promoting and protecting the monarchy, massively increased from the already enormous $350 million of 2013. That’s in addition to any deals done with individual royals, the Crown Property Bureau and any additional funds that are allocated after the budget is drawn up.

In other words, the monarchy and individual royals do very nicely indeed, leeching off the taxpayer and the state.

What we did not realize is that these privileged, wealthy and pampered royals also draw salaries from the ridiculous ceremonial positions they hold. Yes, we know they charge students for the “honor” of a diploma being handed to them and that posterior polishers throw money at them, but we hadn’t known that they get paid for being generals, admiral and air chief marshals.

In a Khaosod report it is stated that Princess Sirindhorn, who has just “left her teaching post at the Chulalomklao Royal Military Academy, has been paid a salary of 26 million baht over 35 years. Sirindhorn and golden mikes

Khaosod is able to report this because the academy director, General Charnchai Yotsundhorn waxed grateful that the stupendously royal employee had decided to give the salary back. Not immediately, but on an installment plan, beginning with 7 million baht as a first installment.

Charnchai was “infinitely grateful to Her Royal Highness…”, but failed to explain why she took the salary for 35 years and why she can’t give it all back now.

Khaosod states that the “monarchy has a close relationship with the military, with prominent members of the Royal Family holding military ranks or posts in the armed forces.” This caused us to wonder if all the other royals with ceremonial ranks were pocketing taxpayer tips? We guess they are: king, queen, prince and several princesses perhaps. We wonder if the recently departed poodle Fu Fu, which had rank in the military, was also paid a salary?





Rightist, royalist and daft monk

2 10 2015

“Daft” is a useful English expression. It is excellent for characterizing the royalist machinations of the political monk Buddha Issara.

The Bangkok Post reports that the royalist monk led anti-democrats and pro-coup groups to the U.S. Embassy to protest actions they perceive as “anti-monarchy” by the United States government and Human Rights Watch.

The rightist monk declared the U.S. Embassy politically biased: “The US embassy has met several red-shirt activists but they did not visit us at the [anti-democrat] People’s Democratic Reform Committee [PDRC] stages, so we are here to explain our stance to them…”.

During the PDRC protests, it arranged for several demonstrations at the U.S. Embassy as the anti-democrats decided the United States government was pro-Thaksin Shinawatra. This view drew on a rabid libertarian and anti-Americanism associated with former leftists who supported the anti-democrats and circulated in yellow-shirt emails and in social media.

Buddha Issara and ultra-royalist Rientong Nan-nah, “leader of the People’s Organisation for Royal Thai Monarchy Protection”, a fascist organization, met U.S. Embassy representatives.

The mad monk declared: “We want them to expel Sunai Phasuk from the HRW as this person has always expressed unfair and biased comments against Thailand…”.

By “Thailand” he seems to mean to royalists and anti-democrats. Sunai is a Thai and works for HRW. His support for the 2006 coup is seen in Wikileaks cables.

At the same time, Sunai has been critical of red shirts, yellow shirts, lese majeste, Thaksin Shinawatra, the current military dictatorship and various anti-democrat groups. It seems that this work for HRW is considered insufficiently royalist.

Buddha Issara alleged Sunai “took sides with one political group…”. As PPT posts over several years show, this is a blatant lie.

The monk accuses Sunai of “moaning when the red-shirt Peace TV was shut down but not caring how many casualties the PDRC suffered, criticising the lese majeste law so he must be in the same gang as the Nitirat group [of academics], which is politically lopsided and critical of the beloved institution.”

Lying and incoherence can be added to Buddha Issara’s fascism, thuggish acts and acts of extortion.

The monk made claims that are revealing of his warped rightist view of politics: “Of course, the American diplomats said they could not meddle with an NGO, but the HRW is based in their country, so they can take action…”. He seems to think that politics in the United States operates as it does under military dictatorship in Thailand. He also seems unaware of the status of HRW:

We are a fully independent non-governmental organization, supported by contributions from private individuals and foundations worldwide. In order to maintain our independence, we accept no money from any government, directly or indirectly.

Buddha Issara said “his demonstration was not a political one like those of other groups at the Democracy Monument which are still calling for elections, so he believed the government understood the feelings of ‘loyal subjects’.” PPT it sure that he is correct in assuming that the military dictatorship supports his activism; after all, the military protected and supported the anti-democrats on the streets in 2013-14.

Singing royal songs, the monarchist monk declared that his fascists is “the voice of the Thai people that Washington should take heed of…”.

He declared that “no one should support people who want to amend the lese majeste law or defame the Thai monarchy, or else they would be considered as interfering in Thai domestic affairs.”

Interfering in the domestic affairs of the United States, however, seems acceptable for these royalists, with Rienthong stating that he had “submitted to the US embassy the names of some people who he claimed had committed lese majeste and still live in the US.” He declared: “We will give them more names and organisations and will ensure the US won’t allow those people to sabotage the revered institution…”.

Rightists and royalists tend to be nasty and dangerous nationalists. They also tend to be ignorant and daft.





Delusional dictator

2 10 2015

Thailand’s self-appointed prime minister is either delusional or a poor liar. In several reports on his trip to the U.S. and appearance at the U.N., some extraordinary claims are made.

The Voice of America interviewed General Prayuth Chan-ocha and report that The Dictator “insists he supports democracy and urges patience as a new constitution is being developed…”. He is quoted: “Thai democracy still needs some fine-tuning, whether it is for the constitution … election process and especially governance and how politicians get into politics…”.

Prayuth seems to think that establishing democracy is a bit like old-fashioned dog obedience. He seems to think that with a bit of stick (repression) and some rewards (populist economics) he can train “politicians” and “people” to obey him, which he misconstrues as “democracy.”

His aim is order and enforced stability, not political democracy. That requires hierarchy, and that is where the monarchy becomes ideologically important.

Prayuth explains that U.S. businesses don’t care about democracy: “I have met with dozens of U.S. companies in Thailand, and they are happy to continue their investment…. They are not talking to me about democracy.” Nothing new there. U.S. businesses have long invested in authoritarian Thailand.

Prayuth “denied he has further clamped down on freedom of expression in Thailand.” He says his repression is “minimal.”

The delusional/falsehoods of The Dictator are revealed for foreign readers at the eureporter, where the headline is:

Thailand junta: ‘Prayuth displays flagrant disrespect for human rights, democratic norms, and Thailand’s international legal obligations’





Updated: Double standards confirmed

2 10 2015

In politics, in recent years, the lese majeste law has been used to target political opponents of the royalist regime, and most especially red shirts.

The political interventions by the monarchy and on its behalf have been eye-opening for some. For others, these interventions have been a part of a restorationist project since 1932.

Leaving aside the vicious attacks on the prince’s problems and the use of lese majeste to “solve” those marriage issues, when red shirts have been accused of lese majeste, the outcome has been jail for almost all, sometime for decades. The military courts under the military dictatorship has been especially vicious.

But not for those who are identified as supporters of the military regime and yellow-shirted politics.

Prachatai reports that the military court “has for the first time in history suspended the jail term for a pro-establishment yellow shirt lese majeste convict, accused of publishing a false royal statement.”

On 29 September 2015, rabid ASTV propagandist Niran Yaowapha was sentenced to 5 years in jail for lese majeste and under the 2007 Computer Crime Act.

Niran published “a forged statement of the Bureau of the Royal Household, which stated that [… the king] had decided to appoint a Regent to act on his behalf on 2 February 2015.”

As usual, with the defendant pleading guilty, the court halved the jail term. It then used its double standards and “suspended the jail term for two years, reasoning that the convict tried to fix his mistake by immediately taken down the false statement from ASTV website as soon as it had been notified and issued a statement of apology.”

Essentially, the yellow shirt got a let off for his political position.

A lese majeste case against red shirt Krit Bootdeejean is ongoing. He is accused of circulating the same statement.

Update: We have now had time to check the claim we quoted above – that the military court “has for the first time in history suspended the jail term for a pro-establishment yellow shirt lese majeste convict, accused of publishing a false royal statement.” We are now not exactly sure what this claim means and wonder if it applies only to military courts. Certainly others have been given suspended sentences. We can note Chaleaw J., where on 1 September 2014 the Criminal Court sentenced him to three years imprisonment. However, because of a guilty plea and good record, the jail term was halved and suspended for two years.” This was appealed and Chaleaw was later sentenced with no suspension. Likewise, Natchakit M. received a suspended sentence from the Supreme Court, Robert R. received a suspended sentence from a civilian court in 2007, Thitinant Kaewchantranont initially received a suspended sentence, but this was overturned on appeal, and Uthai received a suspended sentence in 2012.

 








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