Back and still in trouble

12 08 2014

There was a ton of speculation when Yingluck Shinawatra left Thailand a couple of weeks ago. It almost seemed that the anti-democrats and the military dictatorship preferred that she stayed out of Thailand.

The junta demanded that she get their “permission” for her trip. This she dutifully did.

Now that Yingluck has returned, exactly as she promised, event the junta seems disappointed, and they are looking for ways to punish her, in addition to the corruption charges the anti-democrats concocted.

In The Nation it is reported that “[w]hile former premier Yingluck Shinawatra returned to Thailand late on Sunday as per a schedule she gave to the junta,” a so-called “junta source” claimed that “her travel did not match her itinerary.” Apparently, by going to Singapore, she went beyond her “approved” travel.

This means the junta may not allow her to travel again. The junta claims that “[s]he was required to seek permission because legal allegations against her were pending.” In fact, though, the junta has restricted hundreds of political opponents in this way. It is simply part of the junta’s desire for total control.

Comedy and the coup II

11 08 2014

We understand that the military dictatorship’s comedic qualities are not appreciated by all. After all, much of its “comedy” has quite grim outcomes for many. But really, they are such a bunch of hilarious dipsticks.

Think of the laughable claim that red shirt activist Yongyuth Boondee, aka “Daeng Shinjang,” like Kritsuda Khunasen before him, has “requested” that his detention by the military dictatorship be extended beyond the legal limit. The military presented a document allegedly signed by Yongyuth but still refused “to disclose the whereabouts” or allow anyone to contact him, including his lawyers.

Such antics by The Leader and his coup cohort is either very, very funny or they are simply a bunch of ridiculously egocentric dolts and criminals. We leave it to readers to decide which category to place them.

Here’s some more humor-cum-egotistical nonsense the military dictatorship has come up with in recent days.

A report at The Nation reads like a script for a comedy show. It tells us that speaking to his hand-picked – although some were compelled to attend – Prayuth is said to have been cheered. Of course he was! What would be expected from a bunch of anti-democrats who love the military almost as much as the monarchy. Here’s some excerpts:

The audience applauded loudly when he talked about education…. “Students don’t have textbooks. They’ve got only sheets. I don’t know what the Teachers’ Council of Thailand has been doing,” he said…. He said students were made to work too hard, with many having tutorial classes on top of their normal classes…. “Children nowadays don’t know how to do housework,” he said. “Parents see them overwhelmed with homework until 10pm, so they don’t want to tell their kids to do it [housework]…. “The father helps his kid with the homework, and the next day the kid tells him the answers were all wrong.” Prayuth added to laughter.

Clearly Prayuth is being funny or he has no conception of the situation for children in the vast majority of schools around the country.

Like most comedic dictators, he thinks he knows about everything and can fix everything too, with military orders and discipline. For example, he talked about garbage sorting. Seriously, he did. He said: “What’s the point of garbage sorting in bins when the garbage collectors later put it all in the same truck?” We don’t know which enclave Prayuth resides in state-funded splendor, but where one of the PPT collective resides, the garbage collectors spend quite a few hours very early every Wednesday morning sorting the garbage they collect, mainly so they can sell the recyclable stuff and make a bit extra for the pretty awful job they have.

When Prayuth got to the coup, he babbled that “he did not lead the coup due to a thirst of power” and complained that the military junta “haven’t had a holiday since the coup…”. Yes, seriously, Prayuth thinks that he and his military morons deserve holidays every couple of months. The garbage collectors and other workers might like such a job, with regular holidays.

When Prayuth claims that he only gets a per diem of 400 baht a day, is anyone feeling sorry for military leaders who engage in corruption that allows them to own expensive holiday properties, houses, cars and watches.

When he says: “Our wives are going to leave us” because of all the work and pitiable allowance, we can only wonder about all the mia nois.

In another comedy story at The Nation, about the same event, we are told that “many” of the hand-picked participants predictably “agreed it was time to reform the country and are optimistic the efforts would finally end the political crisis.”

And just in case anyone missed it, they “expressed confidence in the leadership of the ruling National Council for Peace and Order (NCPO).” That’s the junta member’s minions polishing the junta’s boots for them.

The hilarious bit here is that The Nation even reports such tripe. When the media is controlled, the participants chosen by the dictators and The Leader on stage, what else could be said?

Adding mirth, in quoting supportive delegates, The Nation goes to an official of the Department of Local Administration, part of the Ministry of Interior, long central to the country’s hierarchical authoritarianism, says the “meeting … was useful because it gave knowledge about the reform.”

The someone from “the Mass Internal Security Operations Command.” Given that the guy goes on to talk about bus drivers and traffic jams, we assume he’s really from the Bangkok Mass Transit Authority rather than ISOC. said he was optimistic the NCPO would lead the country out of the current turbulence. While his official location may be confused, he’s naturally impressed by Prayuth!

Also at The Nation, the jokes continue, with the junta, which kept Kritsuda in custody for almost a month and then released her, now has a warrant our for her on weapons charges. It is funny that the military dictatorship only issued the warrant after she complained of torture while in custody. They are a bunch of obnoxious wise guys.

Abhisit’s stories

11 08 2014

It may seem like Australia Day at PPT, but after our last post, a reader sent us a link to an Australian television interview with anti-democrat politician and leader of the “Democrat” Party Abhisit Vejjajiva. That report deserves some attention for Abhisit’s apparent delusion on his and his party’s responsibility for the military coup and resulting dictatorship.abhisit whistle suthep

Abhisit appears to have convinced himself that his was a constructive role rather than him having connived with others to destroy Thailand’s democracy. He seems blind to the fact that the leadership of the anti-democratic movement was drawn overwhelmingly from the extremists of the “Democrat” Party and that those members of the party repeatedly begged the miiltiary to intervene and “reform” politics.

He seems to have conveniently forgotten his own support for the anti-democrats.

He has convinced himself that the coup and dictatorship was all the fault of Yingluck and Thaksin Shinawatra. Yet it was Abhisit who allowed his party to trash parliament, to boycott an election and to join in preventing others from voting when Yingluck called an election.

Abhisit’s response on the military and its role, when asked by the interviewer, is sanguine simply because all that is happening now owes much to him and his party. We are sure that he approves of the military’s action for this is part and parcel of support for the military coup. He has his wish.

As for his desire to eventually return as premier, this depends on whether the military dictatorship can amend the electoral laws to the extent that the “Democrat” Party can actually win an election.

However, Abhisit may be kidding himself on this as well, for his last stint as military-backed premier produced only conflict and dissatisfaction, and it may be that the military will toss him aside as used and tainted goods.

Australia and the military junta

11 08 2014

Thailand’s National News Bureau reports on the country’s relations with Australia.

Soon after the military junta seized power, the Australian government expressed “grave concerns” about the coup. Hence, it is something of a surprize to read that junta flunkey Sihasak Phuangketkeow, who is “the Permanent Secretary of Foreign Affairs, and acting Foreign Minister,” claims that bilateral discussions with Australian Minister for Foreign Affairs Julie Bishop at the ASEAN Foreign Ministers Meeting has been reported as support for the military dictatorship.

The report states that “Australia has confirmed its support for Thailand’s road map, as developed by the National Council for Peace and Order (NCPO)…”.

Supporting the so-called road map can be support for the milary junta and even if there is fluff about urging a return to democracy, the report makes it sound like Australia is now officially signed up as a junta fan.

Or is the story a fabrication to keep the junta happy and to imply international support from a Western democracy. After all, Sihasak is not always the most truthful or principled spokesman.

Veera and The Leader

10 08 2014

There was some news that red shirt leader Veera or Veerakarn Musigapong was at The Leader’s reform shindig yesterday. PPT did a little bit of tracking on this story to understand the relationship, especially after the Bangkok Post reported that Veerakarn “thought Gen Prayuth [Chan-ocha] deserved to be prime minister.”

In fact, as the Post reports, this seems to have been an ironic statement: “As the one who staged the coup and head of the NCPO [the junta], Gen Prayuth should become prime minister…”.

At The Nation it is reported that Veerakan “did not seem to enjoy Prayuth’s joke about the legal cases faced by him.” Perhaps because Prayuth joked that Veera’s cases be left “up to the courts to decide…”. Of course, there’s little chance that Veera’s cases will receive a fair hearing as the courts are in the pockets of the junta and royalists.

Also at The Nation Veerakarn made this point when “stressed there was a need for judicial reform as a response to the public accusing it of double standards.”

He later “said he attended the event following the military’s invitation although he was not so eager to come.” In fact, when “asked whether he voluntarily came to the meeting,” his answer was an emphatic “No.”

More on succession

10 08 2014

It has to be admitted that Wikileaks, the 2006 coup, the role the palace played in that, the royalist opposition to electoral representation, the infamous birthday video, and the rise of the successionist line in blogs and on social media have changed the way most of the world thinks about Thailand’s monarchy. The recent coup hasn’t helped the monarchy either, and the military dictatorship’s repeated denials of the palace’s involvement only confirms suspicions that the old men of the palace are continually meddling.

Whereas almost all of the world’s media once referred to the “revered monarchy,” that line is now usually accompanied by a note that royalists want to “control” succession and/or that the crown prince is not particularly popular.

There’s been a flurry of articles about the king now that he has gone back to Siriraj Hospital. (Has he come out yet? If he has, PPT has missed it.)

One of these articles was in the UK edition of the International Business Times. It begins: “It’s hard to overstate the importance of King Bhumibol Adulyadej of Thailand who, at age 86, has been readmitted to hospital in Bangkok for a medical check-up.” Of course, the palace and the governments of Thailand have been overstating the case for decades.

It continues: “He’s the world’s longest-serving monarch and perhaps the most revered, hailed as a near-deity in politically turbulent Thailand. His portrait hangs on government buildings, on roadside billboards, in taxis and in living rooms and politicians often seem in competition with each other to proclaim their love for him.” There’s the required “revered” statement, and no questioning of why people in Thailand should behave like this.

When the king dies, PPT reckons the response will be North Korean-like. Succession there was reasonably well-ordered, although the new lad did eventually have to have his uncle bumped off. The report worries about a disorderly succession: “But concerns about who will succeed him after he dies, or abdicates, from his 64-year reign have become the central issue in Thailand’s ongoing political drama, which has seen instability and political unrest rock the country for a decade.”

While the report states that it is “not yet clear who will succeed Bhumibol…”, this is misleading. As the report later adds, it is clear who succeeds to the throne. It is legally sanctioned that it will be the crown prince. What the report means to do is to point to the secessionist argument that looks for signs that the succession will be troubled or contested. It recounts things that have been known about the prince for many years. [Opens a PDF of a Far Eastern Economic Review article from 1988.]

The claim that the “king could also choose not to name an heir before his death,” is a red herring for he has already named his heir, as promulgated in the Royal Gazette decades ago, but this claim allows for the construction of a case for the Privy Council possibly intervening. Such an intervention would be illegal and would be a rebellion unless the prince refuses the throne (note that illegalities seldom bother the royalist elite).

The report then claims that “[a]ctivists and academics are discussing proposals for a different solution – dissolving the monarchy in Thailand altogether.” This is interesting and it must be clandestine or involving people outside Thailand, much as the situation was in the 1970s – see here and here, where clicking the link opens PDFs that may be suspect under the military junta in Thailand.

The monarchy’s and palace’s political meddling and the backlash has seen what might have been a little discussed or debated succession move onto the public stage. If the whole thing goes belly-up for the palace, historians will conclude that its own political stupidity was its undoing.

Ji on theories of democratization

10 08 2014

As we often do, here is a reproduction of Ji Ungpakorn’s most recent post:

Thailand’s Crisis and Shattered Political Theories

Giles Ji Ungpakorn

The present political crisis in Thailand has shattered a number of “democratisation” myths created over the years by mainstream political science academics.

The first myth is about “civil society”, as defined by the middle-class or the “chattering classes” and Non-Government Organisations. After the end of the Cold War we were told that a well-developed civil society and a large middle class was the key to a free and democratic society. Yet we have seen the middle-classes and the NGOs take part in many anti-democratic protests and we have seen them welcome two military coups. The middle classes have organised to protect their privileges and prevent the urban workers and rural farmers from having a say in politics. The NGOs have also behaved in a similar manner for slightly different reasons.

Middle-class academics, lawyers and doctors have joined the whistle blowing anti-democrats led by Sutep Tueksuban and his henchmen.

Marxists have always seen the middle classes as being a potential base for fascism and dictatorship. We saw this in the 1930s. They can also join pro-democracy movements at other times and support working class demands. But the middle classes are too fragmented and weak to set their own class agenda. They flip flop between the interests of the business and bureaucratic elites and the interests of the working class.

Perhaps what we can recue from the “civil society” theory of democratisation is the importance of “social movements”, but not the so-called “new social movements” which were widely touted by right-wing academics after the collapse of the Stalinist regimes in Eastern Europe. We were told then that social movements were no longer class based and were about life-style politics and single issues, not about challenging state power. In Thailand the largest social movement in history is the red shirt movement. The red shirts are more or less classed based and have wide political aims involving democratisation and challenging the old state.

The second myth is about “independent bodies” and the need to create political structures which act as “checks and balances” on elected governments as part of the “democratic” process. This is very fashionable among Western liberals, who favour non-elected Central Banks and a non-elected, supposedly neutral, judiciary. In Thailand we have seen these so-called independent bodies, such as the Election Commission, the National Human Rights Commission, the Anti-Corruption Commission and the courts, subverted and used by the conservative elites in order to destroy freedom and the democratic process. These bodies have place anti-democratic fetters upon elected governments. In the European Union the European Central Bank has also played a key role in trying to place restrictions on government policies in countries like Greece.

Marxists have always maintained that no group of people in society is ever neutral or independent of class interests. It is not so-called independent bodies which check and balance elected governments. It is opposition political parties, social movements, trade unions and opposition or alternative media which perform this function.

The third myth is that democracy can only become stable and well-developed if there is a political culture of democracy among the people and if political parties and political structures are mature. But what we have seen in Thailand is that the vast majority of the population have a democratic political culture while the conservative elites do not. The army is then used by the elites to frustrate the wish for democracy. We have also seen a long established political party; the Democrat Party, stand clearly against the democratic process along with various state structures and bodies.

The fourth myth is that developing globalised capitalism and the free-market somehow encourage the growth of democracy. This has not happened at all. The globalised Thai big businesses have supported the conservative elites and the junta and its friends are extreme advocates of neo-liberal free-market policies. So is the King with his “sufficiency economy” ideology. They all have a laissez faire mind-set. In contrast, it is Taksin Shinawat and his various parties which have used a mixture of state funded development and welfare (grass-roots Keynesianism) alongside neo-liberal market forces. The conservatives have attacked this as “dangerous populism”.

The bottom line in reality is that the present crisis is a result of increased political empowerment of workers and small farmers, a phenomenon that was seized upon and encouraged by Taksin and his allies for their own interests. It is a crisis of class society with the conservative elites and middle-classes resenting the rise of the working class and the small farmers.

And what this crisis clearly shows is that strong social movements from below are the critical key to building and fighting for democracy. Every inch of the democratic space will have to be fought for and taken from the elites in this struggle. Democracy will not be crafted by committees of “wise men”, lawyers and academics who are appointed by the junta.

It is a fair bet that despite all this, Thai academics at universities and in the Prachatipok Institute will still carry on spouting these shattered and discredited democratisation theories and in a climate where the questioning of authority is discouraged, they will mainly go unchallenged.


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