Cabinet member campaigns for Prayuth

28 07 2018

The Nation comments on the unusual scene that has Commerce Minister Sontirat Sontijirawong linking with a pro-junta political party and campaigning for Gen Prayuth Chan-ocha to remain prime minister for the indefinite future.

That Sontirat may be engaging in activity that may be illegal is not something to bother a military regime that came to power in an illegal coup, is rigging an “election,” and that engages in lying as often as it represses political opponents.

Sontirat admitted that:

he had met with politicians on different occasions, including during this week’s Cabinet retreat in Ubon Ratchathani province. He added that he had discussed with them what should be done for the country…. Sontirat said that in Ubon early this week he met Supol Fong-ngam, a former Pheu Thai Party MP for the northeastern province.

Supol has “defected from Pheu Thai and voiced his support for Prime Minister Prayut.”

The junta has gotten away with so many actions that rig and “election” that a sense of arrogance can now be seen in such brazen broadcasting of the junta’s cabinet ministers’ electoral campaigning.

Sontirat said the government – he means the junta – needs “to talk with and listen to politicians, because politicians are close to the people.”

Huh? The junta spent more than three years saying politicians were evil bastards and now needs “evil bastards” to manufacture its long-term political superiority a la the Gen Prem Tinsulanonda regime of the 1980s.

When he says that the “ongoing Input from politicians allows the government to learn about the needs of people in different areas of the country…”, Sontirat is contradicting The Dictator, but we see his point. We doubt Gen Prayuth Chan-ocha, The Dictator and The Oracle, will agree. Prayuth has convinced himself that he knows better than anyone else in the country.

As a footnote, “Sontirat dismissed as a rumour media reports that he was going to become secretary-general of Palang Pracharat.” Sort of. He added: “When I am ready to accept the position, I will tell the media. I have not made my decision…”.

Whether he takes a official position in that Party hardly matters. He’s campaigning for them and for The Dictator. In any case, he confirmed he is working with Palang Pracharath. Again, he’s flouting electoral law, but arrogance and power trump law under the junta.

The junta’s Election Commission

11 06 2018

For most of 2013 and some of 2014, the Election Commission was actually the anti-Election Committee, doing evertyhting it could to prevent and election and then to ensure it collapsed. In the latter, the EC had plenty of support from the People’s Democratic Reform Committee.

Since the 2014 military coup, the EC has been pretty much dormant, except when some of its members fell out with the junta.

However, a report at the Bangkok Post has a bit of detail about Pol Col Jarungvith Phumma, the EC secretary-general who says his position “will give him the opportunity to ensure a democratic culture takes root in Thai politics.”

In fact, this is a very large pile of buffalo manure. Pol Col Jarungvith is a dedicated anti-democrat and his definition of “democracy” is that of the “good” people defined by their yellow shirts.

Pol Col Jarungvith, appointed on 8 May after a period as caretaker, He says he “dreams of is a society in which people choose representatives of their own accord and where their choices are not driven by money.”

This is a sad reflection of the yellow shirt position that all those who repeatedly and consistently voted to elect Thaksin Shinawatra-associated governments were misled, duped and bought. It is an article of faith that grew from an inability of the people who became anti-democrats to defeat these Thaksin-affiliated parties in national votes.

As Jarungvith acknowledges, his job it to ensure the “new rules” are implemented, protected and enforced. That is, his role is to police the junta’s crooked rules.

This means “intense training” of his staff “on how to make political parties abide by poll regulations, how to deal with vote cheating and how to protect witnesses in election fraud cases.”

We doubt any of this is going to apply to the junta’s parties.

Jarungvith explains that his police work had him “tasked with closely monitoring political conflicts in the country. He was often assigned to deal with hardcore political activists and street demonstrators.” His conclusion based on that work will warm the hearts of the anti-democrats for its expression of where he stands:

“I saw clearly there was a specific group bent on stirring up violence,” he said.

He also learned that, in many cases, political rallies were sustained by money from unnamed sources. Apparently, there were people sponsoring the protests, who were also willing to spend their money to further a political cause….

He also found some rally-goers did not join the protest based on an informed decision, but instead were lured into the activities by behind-the-scenes influences.

Whether he’s speaking of the Assembly of the Poor, the People’s Alliance for Democracy or red shirts, this perspective is fundamentally anti-democratic mantra.

His loyalty was rewarded when Pol Col Jarungvith was appointed a member of the now-defunct National Reform Council.

He seems the junta’s perfect EC secretary-general.

Just say NO

8 04 2016

This is another “catch-up” post and is thus quite long.

Accused by the military junta of being under the influence or in the pay of unnamed (meaning Thaksin Shinawatra) puppet masters, activist students have been relatively quiet for a while. Their return to activism was very public.

On Tuesday, no less than “three groups of student activists were led out of a conference room after they successively interrupted [military sycophant] Meechai Ruchupan, chairman of the junta appointed Constitution Drafting Committee, at Thammasat University’s Rangsit campus…”.VOTE NO

Meechai was interrupted first by the high school students of Education for the Liberation of Siam. After they were ejected, members of the League of Liberal Thammasat for Democracy, moved to the front of the stage “in masks of Prime Minister Prayuth Chan-ocha with a banner saying ‘Vote No’ to protest the draft constitution.”

Then, as Meechai concluded his talk, Neo-Democracy Movement activist Sirawith Seritiwat “and several of his counterparts appeared holding a protest banner and tried to ask Meechai questions. They were quickly swept out by the university staff…”.

Meechai’s response was to blame “a certain political party” of “trying to disrupt a CDC campaign to educate the public about the draft constitution…”. Some wags might think he meant the Democrat Party, but he is more a far more predictable puppet than that. He accused the students of having “acted on the order of someone else…”, meaning Thaksin and the Puea Thai Party.

Meechai declared that these parties opposed the junta’s draft charter because it was written to “stamp out corruption and keep the government’s exercise of power, particularly budget spending, in check.” It seems that those in the junta and those like Meechai who “work towards them” have convinced themselves of this in “explaining” opposition.

Like voters in previous election, it seems, the students are duped, paid and/or ignorant.

One student has declared these accusations nonsense. Parit Chiwarak, secretary general of Education for the Liberation of Siam, declared: “I didn’t take anyone’s money to protest…”.

He had something to say about the CDC. His group protested the charter’s reduction in funding to school education. He was asked about the reasons for this. The Khaosod report states:

Some have speculated that the decision not to fund the last three years of high school education under the new charter draft might be the desire of the junta, who appointed all the charter drafters, to create less-educated and more governable citizens.

Parit said this is “a frightening prospect.” He added: “It’s possible but I can’t confirm it. If this is the real rationale behind, it means the attitude of the charter drafting committee is scary and they must be a long-term threat [to society].”

Soon after these events, Khaosod reports that the Neo-Democracy students “chose a crowded public event on a national holiday today in the capital to open their campaign urging the public to reject the draft charter.” This was the National Book Fair the National Convention Center on Chakri Day.

(The day commemorates the founding of the current dynasty. Fittingly, the day marks a military coup that brought the first Chakri king to the throne.)

The students launched a campaign that they say will continue until the referendum. The message is: “Vote No, Don’t Accept an Unchosen Future.”

They pointed to “seven flaws of the charter.” Khaosod reports these as:

permitting a non-MP prime minister, an appointed senate, ongoing use of the junta’s absolute power, reduced social benefits, an unelected committee empowered to seize control from a civilian government, placing civil servants above citizens and a less representative district MP election process.

They might have added that the charter’s spawning and birth in a military junta, midwifed by junta puppets, means the charter and the junta’s referendum are illegitimate.

Immediately following the students’ campaign was launched, the junta became inflamed. The Dictator, General Prayuth Chan-ocha said “he would order an investigation into who is supporting groups campaigning against the charter…”. He bleated: “There must be someone [behind the students]. Everyone knows, why do you want me to answer who they are?” He means Thaksin, “whose political dynasty the military has attempted to dismantle.”

Dumpy Deputy Dictator General Prawit Wongsuwan immediately declared that “all public actions regarding the draft constitution, whether in support or opposition, were strictly prohibited.”

The junta was soon in another authoritarian tizzy. It is “threatening to take action against the people behind the protest on Tuesday at a forum held by the charter drafters at Thammasat University’s Rangsit campus.” Prawit babbled about “a hidden agenda behind the protest but he could not blame the student activists who took part,” implying that they were misled and juvenile. Even so, the police were investigating “crimes.”

The junta’s fear of opposition soon saw another set of its puppets at work. The National Legislative Assembly has decided that any person or party “disrupting” the referendum on the draft constitution will get 10 years in jail.

Now tell us we are wrong, but didn’t junta allies and all of those anti-democrats deliberately and violently disrupt the 2014 election? And wasn’t it the military and other royalists in the judiciary who declared all of this disruption legal?

The bill says that disruption includes: “creating disorder, telling lies, and using force to prompt eligible voters not to vote, to vote in any way or to choose the no-vote option in the upcoming referendum.” It continues to say that this includes “disseminating any text, picture or voice message via any media that is false, aggressive, rude, instigating or coercive in order to persuade eligible voters not to vote, to vote in a particular way or to choose the no-vote option in the referendum.” Readers can see how the junta can interpret and manipulate under such vague “laws.”

Updated: Referendum ruffians

28 03 2016

A day or so ago, PPT wrote that we suspected that, not only will the propaganda be heavy for the draft charter but that all opposition voices will be excluded. We also noted that getting a Yes vote in the referendum would depend entirely on repression and coercion.

Sadly, we were correct in these assumptions. Even before the final draft has been released, the repression is reaching new depths.

Significantly, Prachatai reports that the “draft referendum bill sets heavy sentences for denouncing the referendum or publishing polls predicting the result too close to voting day on August 7.”

The military junta does not care about international condemnation for repressing and fixing the referendum so that it may pass. It is determined to have its way.

This is why the fetid Election Commission is being given the power to “regulate all campaigns, both supporting and opposing the draft charter.”

Of course, campaigns for the charter will be full-throated and it will only be the voices of opponents that will be strangled. The bill that makes the EC an arm of the junta and of anti-democrats “sets a heavy sentence for anyone who tries to oppose the referendum.”

Opponents are now risking a jail term of up to 10 years and a fine of up to 200,000 baht. The military and its puppet EC can decide if “anyone who publishes text, images or sound, through either newspaper, radio, television, electronic media or other channels, that is either untruthful, harsh, offensive, rude, inciting or threatening, with the intention that voters will either not exercise their right to vote, or vote in a certain way, or not vote, will be considered as a person creating confusion so that the vote will not proceed properly.”

Recall that only a few days ago, opposing the the 2014 election was considered an anti-democrat hero by the politically prejudiced judiciary. You can bet the junta will interpret “opposition” very, very broadly and will use this law to repress and jail.

Only EC approved events on the draft constitution will be allowed. All radio, television and other communications will be required to air junta propaganda.

Will this repression and weight of information, resources and weapons overcome the opposition?

Sadly, we think that the military dictatorship is so determined to have the draft accepted that it will resort to all kinds of tricks, including preventing opponents from voting and any other form of cheating it can think of, including ballot box stuffing.

Update: Read Pravit Rojanaphruk on the increasing repression to get the referendum passed.

Judicial “reconciliation” is junta “law”

28 03 2016

Here are the facts, from Prachatai, which includes a photo:

On 28 December 2013, the defendants, together with other PDRC protesters, barricaded a Nakhon Si Thammarat candidate registration office. The protest prevented the local Election Commission from registering candidates. As a result, the general election could not be held in all nine Nakhon Si Thammarat constituencies on 2 February 2014.

Nakhon Si Thammarat was one of eight southern provinces which their candidate registrations for the 2014 election were disrupted by the anti-election protesters.

Nakhon Si Thammarat prosecutors indicted them for preventing the election.

Remember all that horse manure spread by the military junta about “reconciliation”? Here’s how the judiciary interprets it:

The court ruled that when the defendants were charged the political environment in Thailand was very divisive and all the prosecution witnesses were political opponents of the defendants. Therefore the evidence was weak….

Ignore the facts, the video evidence, the prosecutors and the case that comes from the police investigations and, most of all, ignore law when it is not politically acceptable. There are no double standards anymore, not under the military dictatorship. There are just the junta’s views, needs, desires and wants.

Double standards that protect political allies

11 07 2015

The military junta has an uneasy relationship with the anti-democrats who paved the way for its 2014 military coup.

On the one hand, there can be little doubt that the military brass had numerous political alliances with Suthep Thaugsuban’s People’s Democratic Reform Committee, as it agitated to provide a pretext for yet another military intervention. On the other hand, the military brass is always concerned about anyone or any group that can mobilize outside its control. (The military does not mind mobilizing its own groups for political purpose.)

Despite this uneasiness, the military junta knows that its relationship with the PDRC was critical for kicking out another Shinawatra government and providing the royalist elite with another opportunity to reorganize its dominant political position.

It is in this context that a recent Bangkok Post story that reports that the disruption of the 2014 election by PDRC protesters was “constitutional” should come as no surprise.

The Criminal Court dismissed the case filed by public prosecutors against PDRC members who surrounded the Din Daeng District Office to prevent officials from distributing ballots to polling places. This action meant that “no voters in the district could exercise their right [to vote]…”.

The court ruled the PDRC action “was legitimate based on a judgement by the Constitutional Court.”

The protest “at the district office was also peaceful and unarmed. Besides, there was no proof all the suspects padlocked the gate of the office as accused by the prosecutors…”. In fact, much violence occurred prior to election day as the PDRC created a situation that was meant to intimidate voters and those election officials who weren’t already aligned with the anti-democrats.

There are other PDRC thugs awaiting trial on similar charges. They can be fairly confident that they will now walk free after having deprived voters of their constitutional rights.

Defining political inanity I

9 03 2015

There are no prizes for being politically fatuous, totally wrong nor for being completely inane. If there were, we believe we have identified not only a triple prize winner but probably a Guinness World Record holder in each category.

Some background to begin with. The unpopular leader of the “Democrat” Party is Abhisit Vejjajiva. While he has convinced himself that his was a constructive role during the anti-democrat agitation of late 2013 and through to the 22 May coup.

As everyone else knows, however, Abhisit’s role was to connive with others to destroy Thailand’s democracy. The leadership of the anti-democratic movement was drawn overwhelmingly from the extremists of the “Democrat” Party and that movement and members of the “Democrat” Party repeatedly begged the military to intervene and “reform” politics. Abhisit repeatedly supported the anti-democrat movement, with a whistle embedded in his mouth.abhisit whistle suthep

Abhisit allowed his party to trash parliament, to boycott an election and to join in preventing others from voting when Yingluck Shinawatra called an election.

Abhisit’s response on the military and its role following the coup was predictably supportive.

Now that the military dictatorship is in power and is rewriting the rules of politics to manage a politics that will limit the power of elected politicians and embed military and bureaucratic power, Abhisit has baulked.

What did he expect? Perhaps that the nice boys in green would hand him power again, as they did in 2008? He probably did. Now that his military chickens have come home to roost and have grown to be pterodactyls, carnivorous of political liberalism, pluralism and democracy and developing a military fascism, this fool complains.

Clearly Abhisit is politically fatuous, was totally wrong in his political vandalism of 2013 and 2014, and will be forever remembered as vacuous and inane.

No coup

16 02 2015

As we have posted several times, the core of resistance to the military dictatorship is with students. They have consistently been at the center of opposition. Giles Ji Ungpakorn has some pictures of recent events.

Many readers will have seen that they have been active several times lately. Most recently, on 14 February, Prachatai reports that “a large crowd” turned out for a Valentine’s Day event called “The election that was loved (stolen).” This was an anti-coup activism.

The organizers from the Resistant Citizen group and participants “called for an election and commemorated the latest election on 2 February 2014.”

They were joined by about 100 police officers who “maintained tight control at the event, held in front of the Bangkok Art and Cultural Centre (BACC), Siam Square.”

Prachatai states that Natchacha Kongudom, an anti-coup student activist from Bangkok University said: “Nothing has changed since the coup, martial law is still imposed and of course the election is nowhere in sight. This implies that the military doesn’t have any idea how to govern without martial law.” Natchacha added: “Many people have shown up today which is a good sign. It proves that many are still calling for an election.”

Natchacha called on others for support: “I want Thai students and the foreign and Thai media to do more in pressuring the junta, especially foreign governments who can use diplomatic channels to pressure the regime…”.

Police arrested four activists for organizing the anti-coup event “and charged them with violating the junta’s orders.” They are “Sirawit Serithiwat, a student activist from Thammasat University, Pansak Srithep, a red-shirt activist and the father of a boy killed by the military during the 2010 political violence, Anon Numpa, a human rights lawyer from Thai Lawyers for Human Rights (TLHR), and Wannakiet Chusuwan, a pro-democracy activist.”

While arrested by police , the case will be heard in a military court. They were eventually bailed.

Some 20 anti-coup activists and student activists gathered in front of the police station to provide support for those arrested.  In addiion, “Prinya Thaewanarumitkul, Thammasat University’s Assistanct Rector, Prajak Kongkirati, a lecturer of Thammasat’s Faculty of Political Science and advisor of Sirawit, and Pongkwan Sawasdipakdi , also a lecturer of Thammasat’s Faculty of Political Science, went to the police station to help negotiate with police and give moral courage.”

The four were told told not to hold any more political gatherings or their bail would be revoked.

Of fools and other officials I

25 12 2014

PPT has been reading several rather bemusing accounts of the actions of Election Commissioner Somchai Srisuthiyakorn. In royalist Thailand, Somchai is one of those apparently unselfconscious dolts who is given a position simply because he is both stupid and because of this, steadfastly loyal to his masters and patrons.

That there are a lot of such fools in government explains why so many quite ridiculous statements on all kinds of things emanate from officials. Few of them are willing or able to utter much that is sensible outside the hierarchical and sycophantic enclaves of the bureaucracy and most especially from “independent agencies.”

Yet in this cretinous cesspool Somchai takes the cake. In earlier posts, we referred to him as the (anti-)Election Commissioner.

Khaosod reports that Somchai, who as an Election Commissioner opposed the 2 February 2014 election, is now seeking court action against those who disrupted the poll. He says the EC is going to seek 3 billion baht in damage from the unidentified individuals. He reportedly stated: “those responsible for the events that caused the invalidation of the 2 February poll will need to pay for the more than 3 billion baht Thai authorities spent on organising the doomed election. The lawsuit will be filed in January…”.

Readers will recall that the politicized “Constitutional Court that nullified the election…”. Somchai says the EC will study the verdict to see “who was responsible” for the election being nullified. Somchai would be challenged to study anything, unless it involves taxpayer funded trips and sight-seeing, and he’s making this up for he has already pointed the finger at then Prime Minister Yingluck Shinawatra and her government.

At the Bangkok Post, Somchai made it clear that he didn’t blame the protesters, but the government itself:

Somchai said prior to the Feb 2 election, the EC had tried to warn the then government that if it was held, it would risk being nullified because there were no candidates running in 28 constituencies in eight southern provinces.

The government did not heed the EC’s warning and instead said the EC was only predicting in advance what would happen.

Since the Feb 2 election had been invalidated, there must be people held responsible for the damage.

As Khaosod points out, Somchai “repeatedly sided with anti-government protesters who called on the then-government to postpone the election indefinitely until peace and order was restored.”

Indeed, at the time, PPT posted that when Yingluck called for meetings with all sides regarding an EC proposal for the election to postpone elections, protest leader Suthep Thaugsuban immediately rejected this and went on to harass voters and election officials, close polling booths and prevented an election in several constituencies.

At that time, Somchai expressed dissatisfaction with the government seeking such a meeting. He predicted the politicized EC would not be involved in an event that can be viewed as a compromise and which seeks to discuss EC recommendations to the government. We observed at the time that it seemed that the EC worked in tandem with the protesters, and when progress is made on EC suggestions, themselves with little legal basis, the EC simply adjusts its sights and, like its anti-democracy allies, rejects compromise.

In more recent times, Somchai has been licking the junta’s grubby boots, and “has supported the junta’s decision to suspend elections in Thailand while wide-reaching reforms are pursued” and only favors elections that “produce moral people who are capable of running the country and contributing to society.”

He probably means spineless ninnies like himself who serve royalist regimes and repeatedly demonstrate an incapacity for logical thought. Well, perhaps just an incapacity for thought.

A victim of the popcorn murderer

26 09 2014

Most of PPT’s readers will have already seen the sad news of the death of 72 year-old Arkaew Saelew. Arkaew was shot in front of IT Square shopping mall in Laksi district on 1 February, the night before the 2 February polls that the anti-democrats opposed

Khaosod reports that he “had been confined to his hospital for the last seven months after a bullet to the neck shattered his nerve system and paralysed him from the neck down.”

He was shot as “[a]nti-government protesters sought to block the election by besieging Laksi District Office, where poll ballots and other equipment were stored, prompting pro-government demonstrators to stage a counter rally nearby.” Arkaew had joined the  pro-government side.Shooter 10

In a brief battle between the twos sides, pro-government demonstrators were pinned down by anti-government militants equipped with automatic rifles and bullet-proof armor. The anti-democrat gunmen were organized in military style and were careful to collect bullet casing and protect their identities.

Popcorn2Anti-democrat ideology had long been nasty and misogynist, with a heavy fascist accent. However, when these killers were lauded as heroes for the anti-democrats, with bad taste t-shirts carrying their image being sold at anti-democrat rallies, the violence of the anti-democrat ideology was reinforced.

In March this year, the police “said they arrested a member of the anti-government militant group, who has been dubbed the ‘popcorn gunman’ because he concealed his firearm in a popcorn bag during the gunfight.” That suspect apparently remains in jail awaiting a trial.

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