The Democrat Party and its inglorious members

5 07 2016

PPT doesn’t usually read the letters columns of the newspapers. However, a recent and grossly disingenuous letter in The Nation caught our attention for its defense of the Democrat Party. We thought it deserved some discussion.

The letter is signed by Borvorn Sripaurya, who claims to be a member of the Democrat Party, a statement confirmed in other newspaper articles. The Chiangmai Mail describes Borvorn one of Chiang Mai’s “favorite sons” and suggests he is a cultural guru.

His letter is apparently prompted by one of The Nation’s regular correspondents, Eric Bahrt who is said to have “expressed the belief that the Democrat government took advantage of the coup and used the lese majeste law against its political opponents to cling to power.”

For most PPT readers, there would be nothing controversial in this. A Democrat Party member like Borvorn might react and defend his own lot. But Borvorn goes a lot further.

First, Borvorn claims the “Democrat Party is the oldest political party in Asia, established in 1946.” He’s wrong. We can point to several older parties, including the Chinese Communist Party, the Kuomintang, the Japanese Communist Party, and the Liberal Party and the Nationalista Party in the Philippines. The Indian Congress Party claims to have been founded in 1885.

Democrat_PartyMore egregious, Borvorn claims that the Democrat Party “has never supported any coup, directly or indirectly. In fact it has always been on the other side of the road of the military.” We can assume that Borvorn is either as thick as a brick or is a propagandist lacking the skills of a skilled liar. It is a fact that, almost from the day it was born, the Democrat Party supported a coup, and provided the political groundwork for the 1947 coup.

We won’t bother going through teh other coups supported by the Democrat Party, but skip to the modern day. We know only too well that the Democrat Party was fully supportive of the 2014 military coup, having provided the backbone of the anti-democrat movement that literally begged for a coup.

If you check carefully, you will see that no Democrat government ever brought lese majeste charges against an opposition party. The police and private citizens were the only ones who brought such charges during its tenure in power and they were directed at individuals who committed wrongdoing.

But Borvorn thinks it is  wrong to be “mixing up the Democrats and the People’s Democratic Reform Committee led by Suthep Thaugsuban.” He displays a remarkable scorn for his readers, apparently believing they are all idiots or amnesiacs when he states: “… party leader Abhisit Vejjajiva never expressed support for the Suthep committee.”

abhisit whistle suthep abhisit and whistleHere’s two pictures of Abhisit campaigning with Suthep. As we said, Borvorn is lying.

Borvorn then turns to lese majeste.

He begins with a statement that “[t]he lese majeste activities of the red shirts were well known, and yet the government at that time took no action.”

Sadly, this is another untruth. The Yingluck Shinawatra government did arrest and imprison people for lese majeste. This might have been at the behest of the military but the Puea Thai Party has a sad record on lese majeste.

The Democrat Party doyen then states that it was the “military government [that] has since clamped down, but Democrats have nothing to do with it.” He’s right that the military dictatorship has been frantic in its use of lese majeste against political opponents.

However, the Democrat Party government led by Abhisit was remarkably active in arresting and jailing people accused of lese majeste. In fact, the Bureau of Investigative Journalism has stated, referring to Joe Gordon’s case: “Gordon’s case is only one of dozens of lese majeste cases currently underway in Thailand.  Nearly all of the present slew of lese majeste cases began during PM Abhisit Vejjajiva’s Democrat Party rule…”.

Again, Borvorn is making stuff up for political purpose.

Members of the Democrat Party have also acted as lese majeste snitches, demanding that political opponents be punished by the military dictatorship.

He then careens off into a racist rant about how it is “Westerners” who are unable to “see that the lese majeste law does not constitute denying anyone’s freedom of expression.” This is utter nonsense and many Thais know all too well that they cannot speak on the monarchy because of Article 112 and royalist fanatics like Borvorn who hunt them down for any kind of “transgression.”

The culturalist crap that these royalist deal in is recycled: “Throughout our long history we have regarded the King as our father and our god, and no one has the right to denigrate him.” Historically, this is horse manure, but it is the royalist rant.

(For some reason he then embarks on a claim about “Western values” and “lax American gun laws that have led to so many deaths.” Perhaps he should look at the data on Thailand’s lax gun laws and deaths there.)

Clearly Bovorn is concocting a history. It isn’t the first time. Not that long ago, when there were some complaints about the exploitation of Thai workers in Israel, it was in the Bangkok Post that Borvorn appeared, again concocting a story. This time he was listed as “a Democrat Party member and owner of Thai Overseas Manpower Association, a firm that recruits labourers to go to Israel and other countries…”.

His story was that there were “no problems with living conditions of Thai workers in Israel…”. He blathered that “Israeli employers have no control over Thai workers and they are granted too much freedom…”. He claimed that more than 80% of the 26,500 Thai workers in Israel were “drug addicts…”. Still, we are sure that Bovorn makes a tidy profit plowing the backs of Thai workers.

You get the picture.

Piling on the royalist nonsense

9 07 2010

They keep saying it. AFP states that Thailand’s “82-year-old king has been a stabilising force…”. The agency refers to 1992. The evidence is, however, that the monarchy and this king has also been a force that has encouraged partisanship and instability. Just a few examples: 1946 regicide, 1947 coup, 1957 coup, destabilization of governments in 1973-76, 1976 massacre and coup, 2006 coup. Why do they keep saying this?

This error is made in an article citing Prime Minister Abhisit Vejjajiva on the political role of the monarchy. He says that his government’s position “had always been that the monarchy should remain above partisan politics…”. As PPT has pointed out several times, and will do again below, this is a misrepresentation. In fact, the Abhisit regime has and continues to use the monarchy for political gain.

Abhisit also had to deny “speculation that the palace had sought to influence his administration during the recent crisis.” The reason he is forced to state this is because the assumption of palace involvement is widespread in the country. Abhisit states: “I can definitely say, categorically, that all the decisions during the protests were taken by the government. The palace does not interfere in the matter…”.

Even if one accepts this assertion, the proximity of Privy Council President Prem Tinsulanonda to the civilian-military junta – called the Centre for the Resolution of the Emergency Situation – during the red shirt demonstrations would raise questions. Abhisit’s private audience with the king raises questions and so does the king’s speeches to judges.

When Abhisit says: “The institution plays the same role as in other constitutional monarchies” he’s just parroting royalist nonsense. His statement on lese majeste, where he claims “We have to make a distinction between people who make comments on the monarchy, maybe academic discussions, from people who clearly show intent in terms of undermining the institution, which would be a threat to national security…” simply and clearly confirms his adherence to the status quo.

In any case, the actions of the government are far louder than the premier’s bleating. The ever more Gestapo-like Department of Special Investigation is reported to have “begun its operations dealing with the anti-monarchy movement, setting up nine teams comprising nearly 300 agents from various agencies to do the task.” That’s three hundred!

The DSI doesn’t seem too bothered about issues like the presumption of innocence, but has decided to identify “people whose behaviours are considered ‘detrimental or ill-minded’ to the monarchy…”. How will it determine who these people are? It will rely on the so-called “Mind Map composed by the government’s Centre for Resolution of the Emergency Situation (CRES), which indicted 27 key figures released during the run-up to the red shirt protests in Bangkok.” This is a wholly discredited document, but the DSI is interested in destroying the government’s political opponents. It’s a witch hunt or worse.

The DSI’s director-general Tharit Phengdit makes things worse when he makes the government’s conspiracy even bigger by considering the “blacklisted 83 people whose assets had been frozen by the CRES were taking part in the [red shirt] movement.” Ahem. They are accused. But the political Tharit – he’ll get piles of royal honors and awards for sure – is going to try to make connections. Tharit also targets those who joined the UDD are in the Puea Thai Party and those who “took part in arranging the red-shirt protests in May…”. This is the flunky officer really wanting to show he can protect the monarchy better than anyone else. Such slithering individuals are the most dangerous. He says there is no deadline for the “completion of all lese-majeste and anti-monarchy cases.” This is because the cases involve “a large number of people through complicated networks of operations. The overall DSI investigation will be lengthy…”.

The ever-vigilant DSI has “identified two types of wrongdoing: online publication of lese-majeste content; and public statements in various forms, including public interviews, speeches during rallies and distribution of hard copies. The wrongdoers involved are divided into three levels: the leadership and commanders, who allegedly funded the anti-monarchy operations, gave directions and tactics and issued ideological themes. The second level are the ‘operatives’, who delivered lese-majeste content or speeches as directed by the leadership – individually, as groups, or systematically as a whole. The third level are ‘the masses’, who used public activities or gatherings to support the people in the second level.” They are going to be filling the jails!

International human rights groups need to look far more critically at the DSI as a politicized agency, operating with government mandate, Abhisit’s support, and regularly infringing on human rights. The potential is for it to get far worse and the rabid royalists and drooling yellow shirts urge them on.

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