Updated: Democrat Party and military domination

4 06 2019

It was always going to happen. The Democrat Party has agreed to lie with the junta and its 19 party coalition. All of the buffalo manure of recent days represented a small battle within the party, a negotiation strategy and a smokescreen.

Why was it always going to happen? Several reasons. First, the Democrat Party’s history is peppered with long periods where the party has worked for military political interventions and has supported military governments and military dictatorships. Second, in recent years, the party has shown a disdain for electoral democracy, boycotting elections (2006, 2014), rioting in parliament, working with the military to establish a Democrat Party-led coalition in 2008, and cheered the military to run its coups in 2006 and 2014.

But these more recent events also weakened the party. In the 2019 “election,” those who usually supported the Democrat Party had a choice to make between a fully-fledged military party and a Democrat Party that campaigned as junta-lite. The result was that the Democrat Party was deserted by its rightist supporters.

Now, as the Bangkok Post reports, the “Democrat Party has voted overwhelmingly to join the Palang Pracharath alliance, sealing the deal for Gen Prayut Chan-o-cha to continue as prime minister and for the pro-regime party to form a government with a slim majority of 254 votes.”

 Principles: Buddies then.

As it was a secret ballot, there’s an intriguing question as the vote was by party executives and MPs who voted 61-16 to join the junta’s coalition. If any of those who voted against were MPs, then the junta’s coalition will be shaky from the outset.

The junta welcomed the Democrat Party back to its natural home.

Principles: Abhisit and Suthep as anti-democrats

Update: Abhisit Vejjajiva resigned as a member of parliament just a short time before parliament was meant to convene for what the junta hopes is an anointing Gen Prayuth. He stated “he could not break his word and follow his Democrat Party’s resolution to support Gen Prayut Chan-o-cha as the next prime minister.” He then babbled that in his “political career, I adhere to ideals and principles…”.

We presume that means being backed by the military to form a government when he wanted to be PM in 2008 and the cold-blooded murder of protesters in 2010. It must also allow for the cheering of two coups, egging the military to intervene. Principled? Hardly.

Principles: Newin and Abhisit





On the road to nowhere (new)

24 05 2019

Is wasn’t hard to predict the final “election” result. PPT predicted a junta “win” a long time ago. The “win” was never in doubt as the whole process was rigged.

HRW’s Sunai Phasuk put it this way:

The March 24 general election was structurally rigged, enabling the military to extend its hold on power. While maintaining a host of repressive laws, the junta dissolved a main opposition party, took control of the national election commission, levied bogus criminal charges against opposition politicians and dissidents, and packed the Senate with generals and cronies who will have the power to determine the next prime minister, regardless of the election results.

What wasn’t clear is that the bumbling generals would be snookered by the electorate. Thai voters, despite all the rigging and repression still voted for anti-junta parties, with the pro-Thaksin Shinawatra Puea Thai Party winning a plurality.

Despite this, the junta’s puppet party, Palang Pracharath, will head up a coalition of some 20 parties. While a great deal of bargaining has gone on, pro-military parties like Bhum Jai Thai and the anti-democrat Democrat Party were always likely to saddle-up with the junta – after all, they have supported it for years and worked for its coup back in 2014.

In a throwback to December 2008, when the military midwifed a government led by the Democrat Party’s Abhisit Vejjajiva, it is reported that there was:

a meeting between Gen Prayut[h Chan-ocha], his deputy Prawit Wongsuwon, Bhumjaithai leader Anutin Charnvirakul and Democrat secretary-general Chalermchai Sri-on at a military camp in Bangkok…. They discussed coming together to set up a government with the PPRP as the main party, the sources said, adding that given the atmosphere of the meeting, the “deal” to form the next government is almost sealed.

The wheeling and dealing is over who gets what. Bhum Jai Thai wants a bunch of potentially lucrative cabinet slots that all seem focused on benefits for the Buriram clan. The Democrat Party wants anything at all that will allow it to look stronger than its horrid election result suggest.

Following the junta’s clear message, via the Election Commission and Constitutional Court, that it intends to grind the Future Forward Party into political dust, the deals were more easily struck, with most of the remora micro-parties and even the middle-sized parties rushing into the octopus-grasp of the junta.

How strong that grasp will be is yet to be tested. A 20-party coalition is a recipe for instability or for massive corruption in keeping it together. There’s also the “Prem model” who tried to ignore party and parliamentary bickering and ruled as a cabinet-led government. Like Gen Prem, Gen Prayuth has a tame Senate. In fact, the Senate looks rather like the puppet National Legislative Assembly of the past few years.

A weak coalition government with an autocratic premier suggests that The Dictator will require strong support from extra-parliamentary sources – the king and the military. Neither is likely to be maintained without cost and deals.

Back in the 1980s, the main threats and support for Gen Prem were extra-parliamentary, and despite the image of a period of stability, saw several coup attempts.





No justice

19 05 2019

Human Right Watch has issued a statement on the anniversary of the Abhisit Vejjajiva regime’s bloody military crackdown on red shirt protesters in 2010. We reproduce bits of it here.

Thai authorities have failed to punish policymakers, military commanders, and soldiers responsible for the deadly crackdown on “Red Shirt” protests in May 2010, Human Rights Watch said today. On May 4, 2019, the military prosecutor decided not to indict eight soldiers accused of fatally shooting six civilians in Bangkok’s Wat Pathumwanaram temple on May 19, 2010.

“Despite overwhelming evidence, Thai authorities have failed to hold officials accountable for gunning down protesters, medics, and reporters during the bloody crackdown in 2010,” said Brad Adams, Asia director. “The military prosecutor’s decision to drop the case against eight soldiers is the latest insult to families of victims who want justice.”

The military prosecutor dismissed the case on the grounds that there was no evidence and no witnesses to the killing. This decision contradicted the Bangkok Criminal Court’s inquest in August 2013, which found that the residue of bullets inside the victims’ bodies was the same type of ammunition issued to soldiers operating in the area at the time of the shooting. Based on information from the Justice Ministry’s Department of Special Investigation (DSI), witness accounts, and other evidence, the inquest concluded that soldiers from the Ranger Battalion, Special Force Group 2, Erawan Military Camp fired their assault rifles into the temple from their positions on the elevated train track in front of Wat Pathumwanaram temple….

According to the DSI, at least 98 people died and more than 2,000 were injured….

The high number of casualties—including unarmed protesters, volunteer medics, reporters, photographers, and bystanders—resulted in part from the government’s enforcement of “live fire zones” around the UDD protest sites in Bangkok, where sharpshooters and snipers were deployed….

All those criminally responsible should be held to account whatever their political affiliation or official position. But over the past nine years, there have been a series of cover-ups that have ensured impunity for senior government officials and military personnel. Successive Thai governments charged UDD leaders and supporters with serious criminal offenses but ignored rights abuses by soldiers. Under pressure from the military, deliberately insufficient investigative efforts have been made to identify the soldiers and commanding officers responsible for the shootings. Criminal and disciplinary cases were dropped in 2016 against former prime minister Abhisit, his deputy Suthep Thaugsuban, and former army chief Gen. Anupong Paojinda…. Thai authorities have targeted for intimidation and prosecution witnesses and families of the victims who demand justice.

It is outrageous that the military has been allowed to walk away scot-free from deadly crimes committed in downtown Bangkok,” Adams said….





Blood on their hands: remembering 2010

19 05 2019

19 May 2010 is remembered as marking the end of the Battle for Bangkok.

April and May 2010 are remembered for the utter brutality of a military that still views electoral democracy and people’s sovereignty as a threat to the order it prefers and defends.

It must be recalled that the leadership of the military dictatorship – Generals Prayuth Chan-ocha, Prawit Wongsuwan, Anupong Paojinda, and Apirat Kongsompong – together with then Prime Minister Abhisit Vejjajiva and his deputy Suthep Thaugsuban have never been held accountable for the protesters shot down, injured and killed in those bloody events. Several of these men, blood on their hands, will be at the center of yet another military-backed regime for the next few years.

These pictures are from both sides of the battle as the military gradually surrounded and then cleared the Rajaprasong area. Blood flowed and no one has been held responsible.





Political murder and impunity

5 05 2019

Many readers will have already seen the Khaosod report that sadly but not unexpectedly tells of another coronation gift: “Soldiers who killed six people at a temple during a 2010 protest will not stand trial in the military court…”.

Phayao Akkahad, who lost a daughter, Kamonkade, when the nurse was treating the wounded at the “safe zone” at Wat Pathum Wanaram. Kamonkade was shot dead by soldiers, probably firing from the Skytrain elevated railway. They shot others in that so-called safe zone as well.

“Investigators” have now told Phayao “that the military prosecutors decided to drop charges against the eight soldiers…” a court inquest earlier held responsible. They  cited “a lack of evidence,” but as everyone in Thailand knows, this is buffalo manure. In fact, the military is just doing what it always does when it tortures or kills civilians. That is, granting impunity.

Phayao said the “military prosecutors announced there won’t be indictment…. The prosecutors reasoned the no-indictment that there was no evidence, no circumstantial evidence, and no eyewitnesses.”

This is simply false. There are still photos and video evidence of the soldiers involved. PPT has posted some of this evidence several times.

The Khaosod report has video reporting from the time showing soldiers firing into the temple.

The evidence is clear but no soldier is held responsible. More importantly, those who ordered the murderous crackdown – Suthep Thaugsuban, Abhisit Vejjajiva, Gen Anupong Paojinda and current military dictator, Gen Prayuth Chan-ocha – get away with murder.

To date, not a single person has been held responsbile for the more than 90 deaths in April and May 2010. Sadly, in royalist Thailand, that is normal.





Eulogies

29 03 2019

The Bangkok Post seems to be lamenting the “loss” of Abhisit Vejjajiva over several articles in recent days. This probably has something to do with the long relationship between the newspaper and the Democrat Party.

Over the years that Abhisit has been its leader, the newspaper has repeatedly published loving stories and interviews with Abhisit. Or it may be that the board of directors and major shareholders (they overlap) are Abhisit’s kind of people – royalist plutocrats.

The fact that Abhisit was never able to win an election, that he was responsible for the deaths of scores of civilians and that his toxic reputation “led” the Democrat Party to arguably its biggest ever loss at the polls doesn’t seem to have come between the affectionate newspaper and its favorite anti-democrat.

Meanwhile, the Puea Thai Party has delivered a eulogy for the Election Commission and the junta’s “election,” with secretary-general Phumtham Wechayachai saying it was “one of the dirtiest in Thai politics.”

Comparing it with the 1957 election that allowed Gen Sarit Thanarat to come to dictatorial power, Phumtham “accused the EC of holding an ‘disorganised’ election with confusing results which called into question the [EC’s] credibility and efficiency…”. He  accused the junta of intimidation and pointed to rampant vote buying.

He could be right, but where does this leave the country? Prachatai has one useful and somewhat frightening response to that question.

PPT thinks that the next pressure point is when the EC begins to allocate red cards. If the rumors about this are correct, Puea Thai may see 25-30 of its candidates disqualified and 10-15 for Future Forward. If that happens, the constituency result could be overturned with knock-on changes to party lists, delivering government to the junta’s Palang Pracharath.

Such cheating would not be at all surprising from this regime.





The thick-faced, the thin-skinned and other crooks

21 03 2019

Here’s a round-up of a few stories that show the very worst of junta and its “election.”

Campaigning with the monarchy: Thaksin Shinawatra tried to have a princess on his side and failed. Gen Prayuth Chan-ocha had a birthday and got flowers from the king and some other royals. He made a big deal out of it and used it in his election campaigning.

Vote buying: The Bangkok Post reports that the Anti-Money Laundering Office “has set up an operations centre to monitor vote-buying and investigate poll-related money-laundering activities…”. Too late. If the money has changed hands, the deals will have been done already.

Army intimidation: Khaosod reports that “Party officials and candidates from the Pheu Thai and Democrat parties told the media that soldiers raided their residences on the pretext of looking for drugs or other contraband, though the politicians are convinced the army is seeking to intimidate them in the final days of campaigning.”

The fully-armed soldiers operated on junta orders: “soldiers did not have any court warrant, but forced their way in by invoking Section 44 of the 2014 charter, which grants soldiers acting under junta orders to search or detain anyone without a warrant.”

Buffalo manure award: The prize for the most egregious falsehood goes to Abhisit Vejjajiva and his Democrat Party. Just a few days ago, Abhisit loudly declared that he would not support The Dictator as PM after the election. Now he says “his party has yet to endorse his announcement that he will not support the junta leader for another term in office.” He fibbed and the strong group of anti-democrats in the party have put him in his place and announced support for Gen Prayuth.

Self-declared winners: Even before the big vote on Sunday it seems Prayuth’s devil party, Palang Pracharath, reckons it has already won and will immediately form government even before the vote count is finished. Breathtakingly arrogant and confident in the junta’s rigging and cheating.

Complete dicks: The lying, news fabricating dipsticks at Nation TV, caught out concocting a story meant to defame Future Forward Party, are unrepentant and unapologetic. Indeed, they are announcing that it is their right as journalists to fabricate and lie.

All this is how election cheats manage their manipulation and cynical fraud. It will only get worse.