Junta’s referendum guardians

18 06 2016

Over the past week or so, we have made several comments on the Election Commission and disparaging comments on anti-election Election Commissioner, the ridiculously clownish and politically biased Somchai Srisuttiyakorn.

Somchai’s at it again. He says the EC “will monitor electronic media around the clock to stop any attempt to ‘sabotage’ the Aug 7 referendum by opponents of the draft constitution.”

He may be looking in the wrong place. It is more likely that it will be the junta itself will “sabotage” its own referendum, just as it sabotaged its previous draft charter.

But, of course, the biased election commissioner and the partisan EC are pointing at the the Puea Thai Party and red shirts.

The EC, as guardians of the Yes vote for the military junta, dismiss the red shirt support of the referendum because they also support a No vote. By EC definition, this makes them “saboteurs.”

Somchai in junta supporter's silly hat

Somchai in a silly hat

Somchai, the military junta’s champion, disguised as an election commissioner, “said the EC, the Technology Crime Suppression Division and the Information and Communication Technology Ministry would form a working group to monitor the spread of ‘rude, false and provocative messages’ via electronic media to influence voters.”

He means any messages or posts that support a No vote.

Somchai revealed that the junta wants to control the “electronic media” as it “would be the main battlefield of opinion in the run-up to the referendum…”.

In a message meant to threaten referendum and charter opponents, he said there would be 24/7 monitoring. He threatened immediate legal action against opponents.

Election commissioner Boonsong Noisophon dismissed the red shirts, accusing them of political bias.

The military and the EC are apparently politically neutral. Yes, really. Maybe this post should have been “Dumb III.”

What does he say now? I

17 06 2016

Readers who looked at our earlier post, citing failed Democrat Party leader Abhisit Vejjajiva, will recall that he was reported as having “praised” The Dictator and self-appointed military Prime Minister Prayuth Chan-ocha for “allowing the United Front for Democracy against Dictatorship to set up an anti-fraud centre for the referendum as long as it did not break any laws.”Abhisit Vejjajiva

What does he say now?

Prachatai reports that “the military ordered the red shirts referendum watch centers to be closed in many provinces.”

The military dictatorship has no interest in any monitoring of their referendum.

It is also reported that the “red shirts, however, refused to obey the authorities and said that they will continue to run the centers as planned for the upcoming draft constitution referendum, saying that people should be given chances to participate in passing the draft constitution as much as possible.”


Dumb II

17 06 2016

In our previous post we noted there were two stories in the media that gave us cause to pause. Here’s the other one, which caused us to look at a calendar to ensure it was 1 April.

The Bangkok Post has reported on the latest turn in the long-running saga of the military junta wanting a high-speed railway project with China. This report is a doosie.

Some background first. Back in December 2014, Chinese Premier Li Keqiang visited as the most prominent foreign leader to visit the country since the military coup. The junta used the visit as propaganda, declaring the country “normalized.” Minister Li’s visit result in two MOUs, one a rail project, requiring an investment of $10-12 billion investment. Deputy Prime Minister, General Thanasak Patimapragorn soon declared that construction would begin by the end of 2015. In line with this, a “ground-breaking” ceremony was held in December 2015. Nothing happened. The negotiations were not complete and the Chinese and Thai negotiators could not agree on the terms of loans and more.

If a “ground-breaking” ceremony before an agreement was reached was weird, the latest “news” on the Thai-Chinese high-speed train scheme is reported by the Bangkok Post as having “entered a strange phase where officials of the two countries agreed on Thursday to kick-start the construction of a short section, although they have not settled on the overall project.”

Bizarrely, it has been agreed, so the report goes, to build a “3.5km section [of track and a station] in tambon Klang Dong of Nakhon Ratchasima’s Pak Chong district to be constructed first, while leaving the entire project to further negotiations.”

Seriously? Really? Apparently so, as Transport Minister Arkhom Termpittayapaisith said: “We will build the short section in line with the aspiration of the leaders of the two countries…”. said the minister.”

Boys do like toys. Taxpayers pay for it.Train


Dumb I

16 06 2016

Two stories in the media give us cause to pause. Here’s one of them.

The first story is at The Nation, and reports failed Democrat Party “leader” Abhisit Vejjajiva. Abhisit is best known for his tenure as premier boosted by military support and a judicial coup in 2008 and his government’s bloody murder of red shirt protesters in 2010.

In his statements following his meeting with US Ambassador Glyn Davies, he acknowledged that the junta’s referendum campaigning is biased. But he also appeared dumb and uninformed.

He’s reported as stating two rather dumb things. The first is that the US “will not interfere in the August 7 referendum since it is Thailand’s internal affair…”. Yet he then quotes Davies as saying “public participation was needed ahead of the referendum…”.

His second statement is bizarre as he “praised” The Dictator and self-appointed military Prime Minister Prayuth Chan-ocha for “allowing the United Front for Democracy against Dictatorship to set up an anti-fraud centre for the referendum as long as it did not break any laws.”

Is Abhisit a politician not watching any news and not reading newspapers? The UDD is being harassed and repressed.

Shackling and chaining political prisoners

16 06 2016

The military dictatorship continues to treat its political prisoners – most especially those charged with lese majeste – as dangerous criminals. This is reflective of both the feudal mindset of royalists and their cruel desire to torture and belittle those with whom they do not agree.

Shackled and chainedPrachatai reports that two junta critics Harit Mahaton and Natthika Worathaiwich have been taken, shackled and chained, to a military court. For a fourth time, the court rejected bail for the two civilians, accused of lese majeste.

As usual, the royalist court refused bail because lese majeste is considered a major crime in royalist Thailand and because it thought the two were flight risks. (The courts, both civil and military, almost always say this as they repeatedly refuse bail for those being victimized under the lese majeste law.)

On “15 June 2016, the Bangkok military court rejected one million baht bail for the [two], … accused of lѐse majesté for sending messages deemed defamatory to the Thai [m]onarchy in their private Facebook chat.”

The court did urge “authorities to finish the case’s investigation before the end of current custody period. The two have been detained for almost two months.” (Slow investigations are part of a process of wearing down the defendants, repeatedly demanding that they plead guilty.)

On the military’s charter and its referendum

16 06 2016

Interesting developments are being reported as the junta’s referendum on the military’s draft charter approaches. As everyone knows, the junta has tried desperately to prevent critical discussion of the undemocratic charter.

Over the past few days we have posted on attempts to stifle red shirts, even when they claim to be supporting the referendum as a process.

Khaosod reports that the UN High Commissioner on Human Rights Zeid Ra’ad Al-Hussein “called on Thailand’s military government to respect the electorate’s right to freely deliberate the proposed constitution before voting whether to adopt it as the law of the land.”

This is probably horrifying for the junta and “evidence” of a conspiracy against it.

The UN High Commissioner also “raised the ‘paradoxical’ suppression of debate on a matter going to public vote in less than two months…”. For the junta, it is not paradoxical. It is the norm. This is not a “real” referendum and people are not permitted to debate, anything political.

The Commissioner declares that “[t]he people of Thailand have a right to discuss – and to criticize – decisions about their country, and free, fair and dynamic public debate on the draft constitution is vital if the country is to return to sustainable democracy…”.

For the junta, the High Commissioner simply displays a failure to understand its kind of “democracy,” which involves nothing that is democratic, apart from the moniker.

For us, the Commissioner’s use of the junta’s terminology – “sustainable democracy” – is a step too far, for the High Commissioner must understand that the junta’s referendum is anti-democratic. It has to be rejected in speeches as much as in the referendum. (We continue to harp on the stupidity of a referendum on a large document with a simple Yes/No response.)NO ref

The “Jordanian prince” – we imagine that has some significance in royalist Thailand – also  expressed concern “about the increasing use of military courts…”.

The “architect of the referendum,” the anti-election Election Commissioner and junta clown, Somchai Srisutthiyakorn, decided to “challenge” the High Commissioner, demanding that he be”specific about allegations Thai citizens’ rights have been curtailed in deliberating the charter draft.”

Yes, we think Somchai is serious in this statement. He has shown himself to be so dull and so silly that we simply have to believe he is accurately reported.

Silly Somchai stated: “Initially, His Excellency should clearly specify what freedom do [Thai] people not have in relation to this referendum?” PPT has umpteen examples, Prachatai has plenty and the rest of the media regularly report the junta’s threats and intimidation.

Silly Somchai decided to dig his clown hole deeper still, declaring: “As the organizer [the EC], we think people have freedom and are not being curtailed in any way … adding however that using language deemed ‘lewd’ or encouraging people to vote one way or the other has been criminalized by the military government.” He’s lying. The junta has repressed and has also been campaigning for the charter.

We are encouraged to see that Puea Thai Party politicians have decided to speak out despite the repression (maybe because of it). Prachatai reports that “[m]ore than 10 Pheu Thai politicians have simultaneously denounced [on Facebook] the junta’s charter draft for its undemocratic origin and content, adding that they will turn it down in the August referendum.” Later reports had the count up to 17.

Variously, they stated that the military’s draft charter is undemocratic, lacks guarantees of rights and freedom, will bring long-term political suffering if passed, because it is difficult to amend, had no popular participation, “enhances the dictatorship’s power”

Weerakarn Musikapong [Veera Musigapong], “a former key leader of the United Front for Democracy against Dictatorship, aka the red shirts movement,” posted this: “I’m confused whether it is a constitution or an amnesty bill for the junta. I cherish rule of law so I reject this charter…”.

The Bangkok Post reports that a junta friend and former member of the 2006 junta General Somjet Boonthanom, also a former senator and a “former chairman of the National Legislative Assembly’s committee vetting the referendum bill demanded the politicians be charged under the referendum law. (Somjet has reaped the rewards that fall to loyalist generals.)

The anti-democrat general declared that the politicians “appeared to be manipulative and intended to incite unrest during the referendum…”. Obviously rubbish and concocted, but like Somchai, Somjet is a junta puppet, a committed anti-democratic and rather dim.

As the referendum gets closer, it will become increasingly clear whether the junta remains committed to the charter and referendum or whether this is a diversion from its major goal of staying in control of politics.

Shutting down red shirts II

15 06 2016

Just a few hours ago, we updated an earlier post on how the military junta has been responding to an uptick in red shirt and Puea Thai Party activity, with repression. In the update, we noted that military thugs had ordered the removal of a UDD banner for its anti-referendum fraud centre in Lampang.

The banner read: “Referendum must not be derailed. No fraud. UDD’s centre for fighting fraud in the Aug 7 referendum.”

The military thugs have now “summoned key leaders of the anti-establishment red shirt group in northern Thailand into the military base over a draft constitution referendum watch campaign.”

The report is that “Siriwat Jupamattha, key leader a red shirt group in the northern province of Phayao … that soldiers from the 34th Military Circle on Tuesday, 14 June 2016, summoned him and another red shirt leader for a discussion at the military base…”.

In a one-hour “discussion,” Colonel Thinachat Suthirak “told the two red shirts that they are prohibited from opening such center, reasoning that it might cause political instability.” His claim was apparently that “it is not written by the law that such center will be allowed.” Even though there is no law actually prohibiting the center, the Colonel “maintained that it is forbidden.”

It is not just the military making stuff up and conjuring “law” out of thin air, for “[a]fter the talk with the military officer, the two red shirts were taken to Phayao Provincial Hall where the Deputy Governor of Phayao informed them again that they cannot open the referendum watch center as planned.”