Interfering non-interference

6 03 2016

The Nation reports that the so-called fiver rivers – the junta, the Constitution Drafting Committee, the National Reform Steering Assembly, the Cabinet and the National Legislative Assembly – “will meet tomorrow in a bid to ensure the charter draft passes the upcoming public referendum.”

In fact, these are not five “rivers” but one polluted river made up of overlapping “streams” of military thugs, royalists, anti-democrats and associated sycophants.

It is reported that The Dictator, General Prayuth Chan-ocha, called the meeting to discuss changes for the draft charter. Of course, if anyone else discusses the constitution or proposes changes, they get re-educated, abducted or threatened (see below).

Laughably, some dope claimed to be “[a]n NCPO source,” is quoted:

… given Prayut had reiterated many times that he wanted the charter draft to pass the referendum, all revisions to be made to it must be suitable for the country and meet international democratic standards to ensure public acceptance of it.

Laughably delusional.

The source “said the junta wanted to tighten its grip on political elements to prevent them from expressing opinions that distort or cause public confusion or convince the public to vote down the charter draft.” Apparently the junta feels under threat and his watching everyone.

The group is also “expected to discuss the 20-year national strategies in terms of how to dispel the widely held perception that the junta wants to cling to power.”

That will require more lies and lots of propaganda. It includes Prayuth claiming that “he does not want the public to think he is interfering in the reform and charter drafting processes.” Heaven forbid that the public might think he’s called the meeting to discuss changes for the draft charter.

2014 and the (further) rise of authoritarianism

6 03 2016

A reader points out that PPT has neglected a couple of academic articles at the Journal of Contemporary Asia. We have now looked at the papers, apparently the first to come out in a special issue of the journal. The issue is to be titled: “Military, Monarchy and Repression: Assessing Thailand’s Authoritarian Turn,” edited by Veerayooth Kanchoochat and Kevin Hewison. Both articles at the publisher’s website are of great interest.

The first is available for free download. Eugénie Mérieau contributes “Thailand’s Deep State, Royal Power and the Constitutional Court (1997–2015),” which the JCA blog says “is an important article assessing the way in which a conservative elite has ruled Thailand and how it seeks to manage succession.”

The abstract for the article is as follows:

This article challenges the network monarchy approach and advocates for the use of the concept of Deep State. The Deep State also has the monarchy as its keystone, but is far more institutionalised than the network monarchy accounts for. The institutionalised character of the anti-democratic alliance is best demonstrated by the recent use of courts to hamper the rise of electoral politics in a process called judicialisation of politics. This article uses exclusive material from the minutes of the 1997 and 2007 constitution-drafting assemblies to substantiate the claim that the Deep State used royalists’ attempts to make the Constitutional Court a surrogate king for purposes of its own self-interested hegemonic preservation.

The second paper is by Chris Baker, titled “The 2014 Thai Coup and Some Roots of Authoritarianism.” Unfortunately, it is behind a paywall. His abstract states:

Thailand is the only country currently ruled by a coup-installed military government. The 2014 coup aimed not only to abolish the influence of Thaksin Shinawatra but also to shift Thailand’s politics in an authoritarian direction. While the army authored the coup, the professional and official elite played a prominent role in engineering the coup and shaping political reforms. This article examines some historical antecedents of this authoritarian turn, first in the broad trends of Thailand’s modern political history, and second in the emergence and political evolution of the Bangkok middle class.

Prawit’s idea for military domination

5 03 2016

PPT has posted several times on the recent outspokenness of General Prawit Wongsuwan, the tubby 70 year-old deputy premier and skilled manipulator of intra-military politics.

He has been clearest on the military junta’s current plan for extending its control of politics into the future.

The Nation reports that Prawit has declared the plan for a fully selected/appointed senate that allows the military, including the junta, to manage politics, even if an election takes place.

Prawit said this was “his idea” and was for:

…the senators [to] help work on a national strategy, especially on strategic reform work during the transition. He said he proposed the idea because he feared things would not go as strategically planned, including the reform to help move the country forward.

We do not think he is lying. He is, however, being careful with the truth. What he means it that the military and its political allies will control Thailand’s politics through a senate that will not allow a government to rule in its own right, even if it wins an election.

This is clear in the report:

The deputy prime minister did not rule out the selection of NCPO members as senators, saying details needed to be worked out further. Prawit said there should be a senator selection committee to help pick these people and this should cover all professions.

Now the junta sits back to see the reaction. If it is “manageable” expect “Prawit’s idea” to progress and for Thailand to regress.

Harassment on human rights

5 03 2016

This release refers to the case of a lawyer working with Sirikan Charoensiri, being harassed by authorities for defending human rights:


A Press Release from Thai Lawyers for Human Rights forwarded by the Asian Human Rights Commission (AHRC)

THAILAND: Update on Sirikan Charoensiri’s case: Inquiry official will file the charge to await the prosecution orderSirikan

3 March 2016, Ms. Sirikan Charoensiri received a summon warrant to report herself to the inquiry official at the Chana Songkram Police Station in order to be handed over to the special prosecutor in litigious division at the 3rd Sub District Court (Dusit) on 4 March 2016. The lawyer team will submit a request to postpone the date to 9 March, the date which was formerly fixed, and Sirikan will give an additional statement to the inquiry official on 5 March and 7 March at the Police Station.

Ms. Sirikan Charoensiri, a lawyer from Thai Lawyers for Human Rights, was accused by police officer for refusing to comply with a competent official (Article 368 of the Criminal Code) and concealing evidence (Article 142 of the Criminal Code). This was related to the incident which Sirikan did not allow the officers to search her car without warrant in the night of 26 – 27 June 2015. She had been informed of the charge on 9 February 2016.

On 1 March 2016, Sirikan’s lawyer team had negotiated with the inquiry official of the Chana Songkram Police Station that Sirikan will give an additional statement as an alleged offender. In her defense, Mr. Kritsadang Nutcharus, one of the lawyers, will give a statement as a witness on 5 March 2016 at 9.00. Also, Mr. Anon Nampa and Ms. Ida Arunwong will give a statement as witnesses on 7 March 2016. The witness statement will be submitted alongside with the file to the prosecutor on 9 March 2016

However, today (3 March 2016) Sirikan received a summon warrant calling her to report to the inquiry official in order to be handed over to the special prosecutor in litigious division at the 3rd Sub district Court (Dusit) on 4 March 2016 at 10.00 , together with the inquiry official’s file requesting the prosecution order. Her lawyer team will file a request to have the dates fixed on 5, 7, and 9 March 2016 as originally agreed, and will file a motion to drop her charges to the prosecutor.

It should be noted that so far there is no update on the offence of giving false information concerning a criminal offence, which may likely cause damages to the other person or the public (Articles 172 and 174 of the Criminal Code) in relation to Sirikan having filed a complaint for malfeasance against police officers for illegally impounding her car.

# # #

The Asian Human Rights Commission (AHRC) works towards the radical rethinking and fundamental redesigning of justice institutions in order to protect and promote human rights in Asia. Established in 1984, the Hong Kong based organisation is a Laureate of the Right Livelihood Award, 2014.

Updated: Who was the boss?

4 03 2016

Readers will no doubt have seen that the “Criminal Court sentenced a suspect known as the ‘popcorn gunman’ to 37 years and four months imprisonment for attempted murder and carrying weapons in public during the political violence in February 2014.”

Wiwat Yodprasit was convicted of “shooting at red shirt protesters during a confrontation between the anti-establishment red shirts and People’s Democratic Reform Committee (PDRC), anti-election protesters, at Laksi intersection in Bangkok on 2 February 2014…”.

Shooter 10Wiwat was said to have “used a popcorn sack to conceal an M16 and shot at red-shirt demonstrators…”.

Prachatai states that:

Four people were seriously injured in the shooting, one of whom, Akaew Sae-Liew, a 72-year-old street vendor, who was allegedly shot by the suspect, died later in September 2014 after being paralysed for eight months.

It also says that there “are 21 other suspects on the case all of whom are still at large.” Wiwat stated that he was a People’s Democratic Reform Committee guard. The PDRC was commanded by Suthep Thaugsuban.

Wiwat will appeal and there was 3.7 million baht prepared for a bail request.

Our question is: who were his bosses? We guess some of Suthep’s people but we’d also guess some in the military. Wiwat might, eventually, do some time, but his bosses still have impunity.

Update: Readers might be interested in Nick Nostitz’s account of the case at New Mandala. He links to an early interview with the gunman and helpfully provides a translation. We do not know why Nostitz thinks this is an “outstanding interview.” Most of the interview is unconvincing about anything related to the case. Wiwat claims to have never been trained to use the gun (we are led to believe he is firing an automatic weapon for the first time), to have had it in the popcorn bag to carry it (rather than to collect spent cartridges) and to have not known his spotter. None of that makes much sense, and the interviewer does not ask any serious questions at all. That Wiwat was a stooge is clear, but not much else.

No opposition can be tolerated

4 03 2016

The Bangkok Post describes the military junta’s record:

Since seizing power in May 2014 the junta has crushed dissent, banning political discussion, locking up opponents and dramatically increasing prosecutions under laws covering lese majeste, sedition and computer crime.

So-called attitude adjustment sessions have also been instituted, with critics arbitrarily detained by the military, often for days. They are released once they sign a form promising to refrain from criticising authorities, sometimes under the threat of asset seizures.

The “new” boss, General Prawit Wongsuwan seems just as repressive, manic and erratic as the “past” leader General Prayuth Chan-ocha.

(A reader tells us that one reason Prawit is standing front and center on the current political stage is because the “new” plan is to have the appointed senate appoint Prayuth as prime minister. Hence, he is being “protected” in the “warfare” on the draft charter.)

Dinosaur Prawit’s sexist and stupid remarks on Yingluck Shinawatra brought a spirited Facebook response from “prominent Pheu Thai Party figure Watana Muangsook…”.

The response was a bunch of soldier-thugs abducting him from his home and taking him to the military gang’s hideout. The story of Watana’s abduction is at The Nation.

The angry little man was responsible for ordering Watana to the taken to the base, saying he had been “invited to talk”  for “expressing false information…”. Like some cartoon character, Prawit sounded something like a six year-old:

“What did he do? Whom did he verbally attack? Did he speak about me?” Gen Prawit asked rhetorically. “He expressed an opinion that misled society, so we invited him for talks.”

Meanwhile, the ridiculousness continued from “Col Winthai Suvari, spokesman for the National Council for Peace and Order,” who declared that Watana’s “attitude adjustment session was warranted based on his comments over the past two days.”

Watana foolishly told the truth. He said the junta was “clinging on power…”. Everyone knows that. It is just that the angry little man won’t allow the truth. Winthai went even further down buffoon’s road saying that Watana’s comments “could distort people’s perception of the NCPO.”  Winthai seems to think that the public’s perception is based on false infomation that shows the junta is a good light.

Self delusion knows no bounds within the junta.

Now released, Khaosod reports that Watana has “been charged with computer crimes for criticizing a deputy junta chief’s sexist comments…”. The translation of the Watana’s post is at the end of the Khaosod story.

No debate on draft charter II

3 03 2016

The Bangkok Post has more on the current flurry of junta brain explosions.

The suddenly frantically activist 70 year-old General Prawit Wongsuwan has ranted that “[g]overnment critics who make comments deemed [by the military junta] not to be in the nation’s interest will be detained for ‘attitude adjustment’ for up to a week…”.Brain explosion

To make his point clearer, if that was necessary, he went on: “If they speak so 100 times, they will be summoned 100 times…”.

Prawit babbled about the law having to be enforced, but his law is illegitimate, politically repressive and, in most countries, would not be law at all. In modern countries, Prawit and Prayuth would be in jail.

It is worth repeating the Post’s assessment:

Since seizing power in May 2014 the junta has crushed dissent, banning political discussion, locking up opponents and dramatically increasing prosecutions under laws covering lese majeste, sedition and computer crime.

So-called attitude adjustment sessions have also been instituted, with critics arbitrarily detained by the military, often for days. They are released once they sign a form promising to refrain from criticising authorities, sometimes under the threat of asset seizures.

The junta is composed of small-minded, unintelligent and poorly educated sycophants lacking morals and  good sense. Worse, their hands are covered in blood.