Updated: Wrong and right

13 01 2015

A few days ago, PPT posted that former Prime Minister Thaksin Shinawatra was wrong again. We noted Thaksin’s political silence of late and assumed that a recent report that had Thaksin telling “his supporters to refrain from interfering with the missions of the military junta…” meant that Thaksin was yet again confusing his personal interests and those of a broader (political) community. As we noted then, this repeated failure was always one of his negative traits when in government and it led him to the disastrous decision on amnesty that brought down the Yingluck government.

With a new report in Khaosod, it is now clear that Thaksin is politically confused. Married to one of Thaksin’s sisters, former Prime Minister Somchai Wongsawat, is also reported to have “endorsed the military junta’s effort to draft a new constitution.”

The first point about this is that this is a stupid statement, for the constitution is not yet drafted. But let’s assume that part of the deal being done is that Somchai knows what in the draft, presumably shared with him by the military dictatorship.

Somchai reportedly stated: “In my opinion, the ongoing drafting of the new constitution has help from many respectable experts. Bowornsak Uwanno [chairman of the Constitution Drafting Committee] is respected and accepted by the people. So, I strongly believe that the new charter will be impartial, universal, and accepted by both Thais and foreigners.”Marbles

He is clearly so enamored of the deal Thaksin and the military are negotiating that he has lost his marbles. Bowornsak is not only a royalist-military stooge, with a long track record of duplicitous politics, but he is expert at only one thing: supinely serving those who pay him. He is certainly not “accepted” and, as in 2007, it is likely that the constitution will only be “accepted” because the military dictatorship demands that it be so.

Yes, we understand that it might be a deal for the military junta to go easy on Yingluck and not ban hundreds of pro-Thaksin politicians, but in dealing with the elite, Thaksin has been wrong too many times.

Somchai has not only lost his marbles, but they are rolling across a floor of authoritarian and repressive politics constructed on the bodies of red shirts murdered by the military. Somchai’s grisly disdain for red shirts, their dead and their families is made clear when he reportedly stated that he believes the 2014 coup was a “sincere effort” by the military to “take care of the country, solve the conflicts, and lead our country forward.” He’s wrong.

Trampling on the bodies of red shirts and laughing at those who have been jailed, he says, “We accept and understand it. I want everyone to think of the country, so that the international community will not look down on us…”. He’s wrong on all counts.

He dances on the bodies of red shirts when he states that he has a “bond” with red shirts and blathers that “we should let the people who are taking care of the country to do their duty…”. People like Somchai are unable to comprehend notions of bond and duty outside of elitist clientelism and self-serving strategic betrayals. He is politically wrong and a quisling.

It should be recalled that it was not Thaksin and his supporters who initially opposed the 2006 military coup and built the opposition that became the red shirts.

These wrongs and that last observation bring us to a right. Look to Nattanan Warintarawet (or Nice), an anti-coup student activist from Triam Udom School and the Secretary-General of Education for Liberation of Siam. She is apparently unafraid and is willing to speak the truth in the face of the military dictatorship’s nonsensical propaganda. She was shown the door at the Army’s Channel 5 when she interrogated Thienchay Kiranandana, the puppet President of the National Reform Council (NRC).

According to Prachatai, she asked the puppet:

“How can the NRC solve the corruption problem, when the way it came to power was through stealing the votes from the people, which in my view is a kind of power corruption that is no better than financial corruption?” and “Do they [NRC members] think that the illegitimate method by which they obtained power is a form of corruption?”

She’s absolutely right.

Nattanan  stated that the puppet responded: “Don’t stick to principles too much, [we] must look for the future of the country…”. We assume that advice is followed by Somchai and Thaksin in a principles-free politics that is far worse than wrong.

Listen to Nattanan and others like her.

Update: Another student to listen to is in the U.S.

More kangaroo “courts”

8 01 2015

At the National News Bureau, the reporting is often vague and propagandist. In a recent report, however, there is a clear statement of the partisanship of “legal” processes in Thailand’s military dictatorship.

The report refers to the forthcoming impeachment “cases” by the National Legislative Assembly (NLA) against former Senate President Nikom Wairatpanij and former House Speaker Somsak Kiatsuranont on ridiculous charges of “attempting to amend the constitution.” The 2007 constitution did actually allow parliament to make changes.

A third “case” is against former Prime Minister Yingluck Shinawatra “for her alleged dereliction of duty during operation of the rice-pledging scheme.” This is bizarre given that previous governments had rice pledging programs and the Puea Thai government’s scheme was a major election campaign issue.

But logic and law mean nothing to the puppet NLA. Its “First Vice President … affirms that the assembly is handling the impeachment cases of former government officials in accordance with the law…”. Not.

The NLA’s Surachai Liangboonlertchai demonstrated that these “impeachment cases” are kangaroo courts when he declared that the NLA would discuss these matters “during the upcoming NLA meetings on the 8th and 9th of January at which the National Anti-Corruption Commission (NACC) will open the case files. Afterwards, the defendants will be allowed to present their rebuttals.” There are thousands of pages of materials but in this case, the puppets have allocated “approximately 2 hours to deliberate, after which a preselected committee will conduct a hearing of each case during which it will put questions that have been submitted previously by house members.”

Surachai lied that “all cases will be given due process of law and believes that all sides will agree with the work of the NLA…”. The assembly “votes” by secret ballot. Interestingly, many of the puppets hate votes, but they love them in this case.

No justice can be expected. Not even a court in sight. Decisions are already made, orders given, orders accepted.

As a footnote, Thaksin Shinawatra’s political soft pedaling is probably related to these cases.

Rancid royalist politics

8 01 2015

In the recent past, when the elite has discussed its various constitutions, the sections dealing with the monarchy have been considered “controversial” in the sense that the notion of a constitutional monarchy is poorly developed in Thailand and the current reign has seen a determined effort to limit the constitutional constraints on the monarchy. If PPT’s collective memory is correct, the discussions of the sections dealing with the monarchy in the deliberation of the 1997 constitution were held in-camera.

When the military junta seized power in May 2014, it scrapped almost all of the 2007 constitution, with the significant exception of the sections on the monarchy.

As the military dictatorship considers its new constitution, the puppet Constitution Drafting Committee has so far said little about the monarchy. It has considered proposals about a number of changes to the political system, although the outcomes of these are anything but clear.

Yet, if a report at Khaosod is a good indication, rabid royalists are determined to have an even more powerful monarch, less constrained by the new constitution.

Retired commander of the Thai armed forces General Saiyud Kerdphol, long a buddy to the great political meddler and Privy Council President General Prem Tinsulanonda, “has urged drafters of the new constitution to allow … the King to intervene directly in politics…“.

The king has long intervened, and to give them their due, Khaosod points this out.

So this call is not for the standard intervention of the palace-monarchy conservative coalition, but for something more significant.

Saiyud wants the new constitution to define the “channels for the King to intervene” on the basis that he should “solve any political crisis in the country…”.

In fact, most political crises in the country, at least in the past few decades have been as a result of actions by the military, palace and royalists. Sure, there have been others, such as the red shirt risings of 2009 and 2010, but these have been responses to the interventions of these other groups of perennial meddlers. After all, it is the military, always with palace support or acquiescence, that conducted illegal coups in 1991, 2006 and 2014.

In the pickled world of old farts, political zombies, military jackasses and lumbering dinosaurs that Saiyud inhabits, his claim that he wants the king to be politically interventionist “in order to prevent further coups in Thailand” would make sense. However, no moderately sane person possessed of a few brain cells could possibly by this nonsense.old-farts-and-jackasses

According to this mad monarchist,

… the King should have the constitutional authority to exercise power “through the military, or the Statesman that he has appointed.” In Thailand, the honorary title of “Statesman” is currently held by Gen. Prem Tinsulanonda, the former unelected Prime Minister who is now serving as a top adviser to King Bhumibol.

There’s his elder military brother popping up in a role that Saiyud has promoted for Prem previously.

In Saiyud’s world, this “will help prevent more military coups in Thailand by allowing [the king] to solve political crises as soon they arise, thereby freeing the Thai military from ‘needing’ to intervene.”

The nonsense is that coups result when the palace wants to sort out its political problems and resolve its political fears. This would amount to a return to an absolute monarchy in all but name and would require that the king have control over all aspects of the coercive elements of the state.

Saiyud seems to not understand that monarchies went the way of the dodo because blood is not a trustworthy mechanism for choosing a political leader.

Tumbling down the hill

27 12 2014

PPT has sometimes commented on the slippery slope to authoritarianism. Thailand since the coup has seen the slide become a free fall. The military dictatorship has almost total control yet The Dictator and his military junta remain prickly and desire that the their control to be absolute.

This is one reason why, reported at Khaosod, The Dictator, General Prayuth Chan-ocha blubbered about having:Prayuth gunning for democracy

endured it [mild media criticism] for a long time now. They [the media] criticise me on every issue, every page of the newspapers. What the hell is wrong with them? Are they crazy?… I get angry [every time] I read these newspapers. They made me lose my manner and have ruined my leader image.”

We can well imagine that Prayuth is ticked off for he is surrounded by rump-buffing sycophants and is unused to criticism.

Having been socialized in a corrupt, elite-serving and fascist organization like the Army, his response to this is entirely predictable: “I will shut them down…. I cannot allow them to continue their disrespect. Otherwise, what’s the point of me being [Prime Minister]? What’s the point of having martial law?”

Prayuth is supported by another military man used to getting his own way. General Prawit Wongsuwan blathers about the junta’s mission of “national reconciliation” as the junta locks increasing numbers of opponents in its jails. Like children in tantrum mood, Prayuth and Prawit complain that some media agencies “… like to ask about things that cause disputes. They really like doing it. They never ask constructive questions. They like to pick up fights. I don’t know what’s wrong with them.”Prawit and gold chain

What’s wrong is the incapacity of military dictators to understand a normal society where political disputation is normal and positive. Dictators believe that only they know what’s best for the nation.

Part of the reason for wanting total control and for only The Dictator’s voice to be hears is that the “reform” of politics is getting to the point where the military’s preferred anti-democratic proposals for the new constitution are being promoted. Related, the military dictatorship needs to manage the succession of an unpopular king.

A series of reports make it clear that the junta is still seeking to have a reform that is nothing more than an embedding of undemocratic politics.

At The Nation, it is reported that the preference for an appointed senate is again being heavily promoted. In Thailand’s troubled parliamentary politics, the military has always dominated appointed senates, preventing elected politicians from ruling.

Constitution drafters want a “super power” and fully appointed senate, giving the appointed military puppets “the power to scrutinise ministerial candidates…”. This is in addition to the powers this unelected swill had under the military’s 2007 Constitution “to impeach the prime minister, ministers and top officials.”

The junta’s puppet Constitution Drafting Committee has “decided that there would be a maximum of 200 senators appointed from five social groups.”

The royalists, fascists and military will falsely assert that this will make the unelected senate “more inclusive.” In the best tradition of Orwellian doublespeak, the military and its minions will use fine sounding terms to describe their attempt to maintain power and control.

Also at The Nation, it is reported that the quite ludicrous Election Commission will “no longer have the role of organising elections…” not because the EC is hopelessly partisan, but simply to put the elections back in the hands of the dependable election riggers at the Ministry of Interior and other centrally-controlled agencies.

The EC will only be charged with rubber-stamping the election result and banning candidates who “commit unlawful acts,” such as becoming too popular.

EC commissioners will be “selected” by a committee made up of trusty judges and other establishment types.

Meanwhile, serial constitution drafter and military-royalist boot licker Borwornsak Uwanno has “defended the decision to allow a non-elected MP to be chosen as prime minister.”

This option has always been the preferred one for the military dictatorship and its anti-democrat supporters. As PPT has long pointed out, a non-elected premier is the Prem-era option that promises military control of politics for years to come.King-Queen-Prem

Bowornsak knows that the military and royalist fossils reckons political crises can be avoided if there is a non-elected premier: “We all know that the May 22 coup was caused by a deadlock, as the previous constitution did not allow a candidate outside Parliament to resolve the political impasse…”.

If the fossils actually looked at the period, they’d know that when Prem was premier, with the total support of the palace, he still faced considerable opposition.

Borwornsak also pointed out the critical position of the monarchy in this anti-democratic movement when he stated that “the CDC promised not to expose the country’s main institutions – nationhood, religion and the monarchy – to any risk like the proposal for direct election of the PM. A directly elected PM and cabinet would make the government too strong and vulnerable to become authoritarian…”.

No elected politician can be allowed to become “too popular,” especially with an unpopular monarch about to take the throne.

Of course, any political observer with an ounce of sense knows that these proposals are meant to perpetuate the authoritarian power of hierarchical institutions. Dopes like former unelected swill senator Kamnoon Sidhisamarn, also cited in a story at The Nation, lies when he claims “the drafters were not writing the charter to perpetuate the continuance in power of junta chief General Prayut Chan-o-cha after the next election.”

It may not be The Dictator, but if not, it will be someone very much like him. This is a blatant military grab for power, not unlike 1991.

Arranging “participation”

28 11 2014

When you are a military dictatorship attempting to fix the rules of the political game so that your bosses and allies in the anti-democrats can’t be displaced, how do you do it?

PPT read with considerable interest a story at The Nation which suggests one attempt being made by the puppets laboring for the military dictatorship. Thawilwadee Bureekul is the chairwoman of a subcommittee of the puppet Constitution Drafting Committee (CDC) that has been told to gather public opinions and encourage public participation.

The military junta knows this is a two-edged political sword. If there is no semblance of public participation or support for its constitution, the junta’s coup is then in question and Thailand rolls down the steep slope to military-backed fascism. If it does try to manage some elements of public participation or support for its constitution, then it risks unleashing all the “unruly” politicians and activists who will try to take over bits of the process and will push their political agendas. The interesting point is that many of its anti-democrat supporters do feel that the military should listen to them. After all, they did prepare the road to the coup.

The Nation report tells us that Thawilwadee has acknowledged this, stating that “[a]ll groups of people are welcome to provide input for the new charter draft to ensure it will be acceptable to the public, but they should be aware that none will get everything they want…”.

She adds: “when the charter is finished, it must be acceptable to the people.” Exactly how the supposed acceptability is to be determined is unstated. Last time, the 2006 coup leaders accepted the dopey idea of a yes/no referendum on the long and detailed 2007 constitution.

Thawilwadee described “five important stages for her work in the charter, and these would start very soon.” She sees the processes as “creating mechanisms of public participation, also preparing the public to propose ideas of what should be inserted in the new constitution…”.

She admitted that “the process was still in the early stage,” and that her subcommittee had yet to “create an opportunity for people to propose ideas to the CDC.” She explained, however, that in the first phase, there will be “[f]orums to gather opinions” and that these begin “next month and run until September [2015]…”. These so-called public fora “will include meetings with relevant agencies such as the National Reform Council (NRC)…”.

PPT isn’t sure if this is public meetings with the puppet NRC or whether the “public” includes that junta-picked and unrepresentative body.

The second phase is said to be a process “to inform the public, to provide them with information and help them understand the process of the subcommittee’s work…”. Perhaps that might be a better first process, but, heck, it is probably all about junta propaganda. She says the subcommittee is training “facilitators” to ensure that “citizens discuss things with reasoning in all forums…”. Military dictatorship “reasoning” grows from the barrel of a gun.

It turns out that Thawilwadee is “a data-analysis expert,” and she said that “after the subcommittee receives ideas and suggestions from the public, it was its job to analyse the data carefully, and focus on rational objectives.” We can only wonder about the idea of turning political ideas into “data” for “processing.” Her view is this remarkable nonsense: “Perhaps what matters most is that any ideas must be able to generalise and produce probability samples to the public…”.

The third process is to “listen” to the views of the people in 10 fora across the country, where the “subcommittee would arrange topics for people to propose in each forum.” Of course, the fora will be limited: “Participants in some cases would have to be chosen to represent their groups, she said, adding that this method would also prevent chaos during the forums.”

These fora are important for they must allow “villagers and the public to take part” – note the distinction between the public and others. That “participation” is so that “when the charter comes out they won’t be able to argue that they were excluded…”.

Even so, “the panel had arranged to limit the topics to be discussed at each forum to prevent an overflow of irrelevant information.”

The fourth stage was also “to consult with the people…”, at least in this report: “She said this stage would also involve beneficiary groups invited to join the forum to debate any conflicting ideas and ‘find solutions’.”

The final stage is “making decisions, and reassuring that the charter belongs to everyone along with empowering the citizens…”. Again, a propaganda phase.

The process is important, not so much for the outcome, but for opening space in the exceptionally narrow political environment under the military dictatorship. But no one should think that the processes are anything other than military-directed measures to control and direct.

Capturing the constitution

1 11 2014

PPT has periods where we get a bit behind and have a backlog of stories we think worthy of posting. We will try to work through that today.

A couple of days ago, the Bangkok Post had a revealing story. Long-time Thaksin Shinawatra opponent Paiboon Nititawan, a former unelected senator, has been selected by the military dictatorship as a charter writer appointed by the junta’s puppet National Reform Council. He got this gig as a reward for his long support for royalist anti-Thaksinism, support for the People’s Alliance for Democracy and every other anti-democratic and ultra-nationalist movement over the past decade.

It should not be a shock, then, to learn that this anti-democrat says that neither the 1997 nor the military’s 2007 “charters will not be used as models in the drafting of the next constitution…”.

He reckons the new rules for politics  will be written “from scratch” to “reflect the reforms under way, except for chapters on the constitutional monarchy.” Of course, king-fearing yellow shirts can’t be seen to be changing anything to do with the monarchy, although we do expect some changes to be made.

The changes he expects to be “drastic” will be to the things Paiboon abhors: “the election systems involving MPs and senators and the formation of a cabinet…”. Reflecting his anti-democratism, Paiboon “said the powers of political parties should be reduced while the public should be allowed to take a more active role in politics…”. He wants “the party-list system be abolished to reduce parties’ powers.” To be elected in provincial constituencies, Paiboon expects an MP to garner at least 80% of the vote.

There’s no secret in his demands and plans. The reason for crushing political parties and changing elections is because “political parties are to blame for the conflicts that have troubled the nation for years.” He’s wrong for his lot have been making plenty of “trouble” too, but the point is, he hates popular political parties that propose change.

Keeping on this anti-democrat line, Paiboon barks that “the prime minister and cabinet ministers should not be MPs while the prime minister should be nominated and endorsed by parliament.” We imagine that Prem Tinsulanonda might like one last shot at the top job. If not him, then some other “good” royalist. Perhaps one of those uniformed “public servants” who have demonstrated remarkable entrepreneurial skills by becoming millionaires on low salaries?

Paiboon reckons that the “prime minister should not have the power to dissolve the House of Representatives, and parliament should not have the power to remove the premier from office.” Only one of the royalist allied courts could remove a prime minister.

If Paiboon has his way, Thailand may be less than the semi-democracy most anti-democrats think will solve the “problem” of people voting for parties they like.

A servant of dictators

13 09 2014

Our header is based on one used in a sycophantic About Politics story in the Bangkok Post regarding the recently selected deputy prime minister and legal prostitute servicing the military, Wissanu Krea-ngam. As we point out, we use “prostitute” as a description of Wissanu’s work behavior rather than as a criticism of far more honest sex workers.

Wissanu (L): Serving the military junta

The lickspittle article refers to Wissanu as “[a] servant of the law.” As we suggest, he is a servant of dictators. His interpretations and twisting of the law for authoritarian regimes is in a long tradition of lawyers who have willingly sold themselves to fascists. Wissanu has served several governments, including Thaksin Shinawatra, and has been known as a neti borikon or “lawyer-in-service to power.”

In fact, the Post does get one thing right, saying that Wissanu’s “services are proving to be very welcome among the coup generals.” He’s important to them because he can manipulate law for them in ways that make the illegal legal and allow for impunity and repression. He’s a thug armed with law books.

Academic Craig Reynolds has a very bland review of one of Wissanu’s self-justifying memoirs, politely criticized by David Streckfuss who points to Wissanu’s “service”:

From the review, it appears that the book’s foremost quality is that its author is honest and straight forward, and the author is one to know, given his position. That alone makes it Oscar worthy…. Wisanu was at the heart of things as a very different constitution comes into being, the rise of the Assembly of the Poor (and NGOs), the rise of Thaksin, the War on Drugs, Tak Bai, not to mention the passing of controversial laws such as the Emergency law. And of course, the initial rise in lese majeste cases. Perhaps I’m asking too much of a reviewer to go into more detail of the book …, but I would have liked to hear more about why he doesn’t like military governments or his explanation of just how he (or Dr. Borwornsak?) were not involved with providing the legal paperwork to legalize the coup. Or maybe the book lacked this sort of breadth that places the work within the period? Briefly said, am I going to find any of these goodies in this book?

Streckfuss is right; Wissanu has a pretty solid reputation for manipulating the law in some pretty nasty situations. Our guess is that he has also been critical in organizing university councils for the royalists.

Today, Wissanu is one of the deputy prime ministers serving The Dictator, General Prayuth Chan-ocha.

Wissanu is considered a bureaucratic and legal helmsman by Prayuth, tasked with “helping the military administration to navigate through the labyrinth of affairs of state and with tackling legal complexities which could hinder that administration.”

Wissanu links with other royalist legal ideologues like Meechai Ruchupan and Bowornsak Uwanno. The latter also sells himself and has headed the royalist King Prajadhipok Institute, which is a royalist propaganda organization for Thai-style democracy. These three were responsible for the military-directed 2007 constitution and will likely be the key drafters of the next military-directed basic law. They will be charges with correcting the errors they made last time that allowed pro-Thaksin parties to win elections; that cannot be permitted in the future.