Updated: Bankrupt PAD

7 01 2018

As widely reported, including in the Bangkok Post, 13 core members/leaders of the People’s Alliance for Democracy face a combined bill of 522 million baht incurred as a court’s decision on compensation to the Airports of Thailand Plc, for losses incurred “by the 10-day closure of Suvarnabhumi and Don Mueang airports 10 years ago.”

Apparently, “a legal execution notice sent by prosecutors, who were authorised by the operator of the two gateways, to seek the payments.” This follows a 2011 ruling by the Civil Court upheld by the Appeals Court and the Supreme Court between 2011 and 2017.

This might be good news for those who were outraged by PAD’s illegal actions that led to the judicial coup of December 2008.

But is it? It seems that the PAD leaders will simply declare themselves bankrupt.

The 13 are Chamlong Srimuang, Sondhi Limthongkul, Pipop Thongchai, Suriyasai Katasila, Somsak Kosaisuk, Chaiwat Sinsuwong, Somkiat Pongpaibul, Amorn Amonrattananond, Saranyu Wongkrajang, Samran Rodpetch, Sirichai Mai-ngam, Maleerat Kaewka and Therdpoum Chaidee.

While Sondhi is in jail for another unrelated offense, we guess that the rest have had plenty of time to organize their personal finances.

Criminal lawsuits are continuing.

Update: Confirming our comments above, the PAD group has thumbed its nose at the courts (again). Chamlong “said he cannot find the money to pay, and he had no assets which can be seized.” In any case, he rejects the notion of compensation to Airports of Thailand: “I insist I did nothing wrong. Why was I ordered to pay such a huge sum of money — as if we burned buildings. But we never burned a single building…”. He added that “he does not regret the consequences he now has to face as he did it in the best interests of the country.” His yellow compatriot, Sirichai Mai-ngam simply said: “We have no money. We won’t run away. We won’t pay…”.





Junta, death and airports

21 09 2014

PPT was sent a news story from Z News/india.com: that at first seemed difficult to believe. However, redialing to allow for the idiosyncrasies of military dictatorship, we accepted this odd story as real.

It begins: “Anyone found guilty of causing closure or damage of an airport in Thailand could face the death penalty under new proposed law by the military junta.”

The Dictator’s handpicked National Legislative Assembly is reported to have “already passed the first reading of the new bill proposed to replace the 1978 and 1995 laws.” In the first reading bill, “[f]orcing the closure of an airport, damaging airport facilities or aircraft at an airport plus any action that maims or kills someone in an airport would result in the death penalty or a life sentence…”.

Bangkok-Airport-ClosedOf course, anyone who follows Thailand’s politics will know that the royalist People’s Alliance for Democracy occupied both of Bangkok’s airports in late 2008.

At the time, as well as being supported by members of the Democrat Party, when the incumbent government requested the then Army commander, General Anupong Paojinda to clear the airport, he reportedly mutinied by refusing a lawful order.

Interestingly, the mutinous Anupong is now Interior Minister in General Prayuth Chan-ocha’s junta-appointed cabinet.

The idea of such legislation does seem a bit odd until it is considered that the military gets worried when there are political mobilizations that it can’t necessarily control.

Not unexpectedly, PAD-associated appointee to the junta’s National Legislative Assembly Somchai Sawaengkarn muttered that “putting someone to death for causing an airport’s closure might be too harsh.” He then lied: “Personally, I don’t support the closure of airports.” We know this is a lie because he immediately added: “in some cases an airport operation needs to be shut down for other reasons…”. And his example was 2008.PAD

Another PAD-associated NLA appointee, Klanarong Chanthik “said some articles in the proposed bill were not realistic…”.

In the recent demonstrations by anti-democrats in 2014, PPT recorded at least two declarations that airports were to be targeted (here and here).

As far as we can tell, the cases under the previous legislation against PAD airport occupiers continues but without much seriousness.

Interestingly, as a footnote, we did find one mention of a policeman who headed up that “investigation” for a while, before resigning from it. Guess who? None other than current top cop, appointed by The Dictator, Police General Somyos Pumpanmuang. Supporting the royalists has been significant for his career advancement.

 





Anti-democrat propagandists

6 02 2014

Regular PPT readers will surely know that Kasit Piromya is a former  Foreign Minister under the Abhisit Vejjajiva regime and is a Democrat Party member of parliament. He is also a former speaker on the PAD stage, charged but still awaiting trial, for his role in the 2008 airport occupation.

In recent weeks, Kasit has been “writing” op-eds at Al Jazeera. The latest one certainly deserves the inverted commas as, based on previous missives by Kasit, we do not think him capable of the material presented this time. We naturally assume that, writing in an international outlet, Kasit seeks to influence international opinion. He fails hopelessly, not least because he thinks the international audience is made up of dolts. But let us look at what he says.

KasitThe current situation in Thailand is a “new experience” that “has given them the ability to see through the facade, a house of cards, erected by Yingluck Shinawatra’s government.”

We were a bit puzzled. “Facade” has not been the usual criticism, which has focused on alleged corruption and so on. Kasit, or whoever wrote it, jumps on what has been a brand new issue:

Fed up that the government could not pay a dime for their hard-earned harvest because of loopholes that encourage massive systematic corruption in the rice pledging scheme, the farmers took to the streets.

We might be wrong, but it just seems that the recent farmer demonstrations have been a bit too convenient for the anti-democrats. Are these like the rubber growers rallies of a few months ago? Even if they are real rallies now, has the anti-democrat blockade of government not caused some of the delays the farmers now face in receiving payments? Wasn’t stopping government from operating exactly what Suthep Thaugsuban promised?

Kasit continues:

Fed up with the government’s breach of trust to reconcile the nation, secretly pushing through an amnesty bill that will grant wholesale absolution to convicted politicians, the people took to the streets.

This is a lie. There was no secret. It was in parliament – was Kasit asleep? – it was in the newspapers and red shirts also campaigned against it. What was secret?

Kasit then speaks of an “illusion of democracy, [and]… we need a fair and transparent electoral system devoid of interference and violence.” What interference and violence was there in this election or in the last? Kasit and his writer are making stuff up.

He then gets shrill: Marbles

We wish not to see the country plunge further into the abyss, for we will be stuck in a black hole where totalitarian abuses of power will be accepted under the guise of democracy, where one man reigns with complete disregard for checks and balances.

PPT is lost here. In fact, the Yingluck government has been more conciliatory than they needed to be. They have lost several cases in the biased courts with little more than a bit of backchat on their part. Totalitarian? There are far fewer political prisoners than under the Democrat Party government Kasit served in 2008-11.

He says he’s not dreaming; we think he’s lost his marbles. Our evidence is this statement:

In modern Thai history, I have never seen any parliament majority defy the rule of law by brushing aside the judiciary and other independent anti-corruption bodies as if they were nothing more than pesky flies, as they made a mess of the country.

Can any reader tell us what he is talking about? Is he in some parallel universe? It seems so, for also reckons “we may have even been deceived by the distorted reality perpetuated by the mainstream media.” Really, this is such garbage that we won’t say more.

And what is this pretend reality about? “[O]ur cause [is] to redefine democracy, as a viable and fair system for all – where all votes are equal and respected…”. Kasit has lost his marbles. But we guess there are anti-democrats already sending this nonsense around by social media and giving it thousands of “likes.” This is anti-democrat propaganda that is for them and no one else. It is devoid of factual material and only the true believers will accept such nonsense.

Another propagandist sans facts is Nattaya Chetchotiros, Assistant News Editor at the Bangkok Post. In her recent op-ed, after providing some data on last week’s poll, and not pointing to any particular irregularities, apart from noting that further polling “will be disrupted again given the ongoing fierce political conflict.”

This is interesting for she cannot even bring herself to say that the disruption is entirely due to those she supports, the anti-democrats. This is mischievous and misleading. She does make a correct observation: “All roads lead to the Constitution Court again to settle the difference….”. It seems that “the difference” is that her lot want the election annulled. That is why a gaggle of anti-democrats have petitioned their judicial anti-democrat brethren to support them.

If annulled, she says:

It’s worth looking back at April 2, 2006 poll. The court annulled it and ordered a new poll on Oct 9 the same year. The Democrat Party, after boycotting the April 2 poll, decided to contest again. Should the Feb 2 poll be revoked, another big question that remains is, will there be enough time before the new election to reform the election rules so it will be truly free and fair the next time round?

So what was unfree and unfair about this recent poll? She doesn’t tell us.

It seems that, for the anti-democratic in Thailand, free and fair means an election that Thaksin Shinawatra-associated parties simply cannot win, for they keep winning elections that have been widely considered free and fair by most who are reasonable observers of Thailand’s politics.

In fact, these parties have won elections even when there was unfairness, such as the banning of several hundred of their brightest politicians in kangaroo courts and the changing of electoral rules to suit the Democrat Party.





The failed state scenario

1 02 2014

The royalist anti-democrats have long shown a disdain for “the country” because “the country” does not belong to all Thais, but is theirs. Indeed, there is something to this claim. The current Thai state was created and has been maintained by the hierarchical institutions that want total control. The lower classes are just the workers and farmers who are to be exploited and suppressed in the interests of those who “own the country.”

So closing the country’s airports in 2008 was a “patriotic act,” returning the country to its true and rightful rulers: royalists, monarchy, military and the old Sino-Thai tycoons.

Hence, when failed state scenarios are contemplated, PPT’s bet is that this upper crust think that it matters little, because they will soon put it back together, under its true and rightful rulers.

But listen to young Thammasat University political scientist Prajak Kongkirati at the Bangkok Post. He says what is obvious: “The PDRC [the anti-democrats] rejecting the election has escalated the deep-seated political conflict to another level from which it will be difficult for the country to recover…”.

Prajak says the “PDRC’s transformation from being an anti-government group to becoming an anti-election one is a ‘big mistake’.” This is because it has “triggered a situation for a possible clash of the masses…”. He adds:

By boycotting the election, the protest group has turned not just millions of people who support the Yingluck government into its enemies, but also millions of others who still cherish their democratic right through the electoral process.

The “animosity towards the election itself marks an unprecedented development in the country’s prolonged political conflict.” Prajak continues:

In short, the PDRC has destroyed the previously agreed-upon means to settle political conflicts, he said. By boycotting the election, the PDRC broke the peaceful and democratic way for the general public to participate in a process to decide who should have the right to govern….

”The PDRC is pushing society closer to a corner where there is no exit,” Mr Prajak argues.

Prajak understands the frustration of the rank-and-file anti-democrats. With supporters from Bangkok middle class and many from the Democrat Party stronghold in the South, “[i]n the current electoral landscape, these two groups … are the minority…”. He adds: “Their main vehicle in the parliamentary system, the Democrat Party, has not won a general election in more than two decades.”

Failed party rather than failed state?

Maybe both: “With the conflict raised to the anti-democracy level, will the country be able to recover from it?… Mr Prajak believes it is possible albeit very difficult.” He went on to predict “a state of paralysis and failed government will prevail with the country suffering political instability for a few more years.” He worried that the country could be plunged into “a state of anarchy.”

PPT’s guess is that the string pullers behind the scenes reckon the cost is worth it if they can maintain control over the unruly lower classes.





Updated: Protest news

14 01 2014

At The Nation there is another of those anonymous reports that claims insider knowledge, and thus needs to be considered with due skepticism.

While speculating on premier Yingluck Shinawatra’s decision-making, the report continues to mention Army boss Prayuth Chan-ocha’s advice to “his subordinates to prevent violence during the anti-government protest.” Apparently, he has said that soldiers, to “protect themselves from being attacked by unknown parties, soldiers should dress in plain clothes while guarding the many buildings of government agencies and their command posts…”. Again, this is from an unnamed source, but if true, is a dangerous move, opening the way for clandestine and guerrilla-like operations that would not be subject to any reasonable investigation and would allow impunity for any wrong-doing.

Meanwhile, just as they did in 2008, the anti-democracy protesters have declared their “shutdown” will go on until demands are met. Suthep Thaugsuban declared: “We will shut down the city. We will do it all days and we will do it everyday until we win…”. He vowed there would be no compromise.

In 2008, the shutdown was of airports, and provided the context for a hastily cobbled together judicial coup. This time, we believe the judiciary has been working more closely with the anti-democrats, and a judicial intervention – leading to the possible use of Section 7 of the constitution. This scenario will come to a relatively speedy conclusion and deliver on the demands of the protesters.

Numbers at Suthep’s rallies yesterday were relatively small, but as noted earlier, the anti-democracy movement only planned to “mobilise 35,000 people from seven southern provinces to shut down seven locations in the capital on Monday to paralyse Yingluck Shinawatra’s caretaker administration…. They noted that some middle-class people in Bangkok might join in, but the southerners are the core of the operation.”

In line with Suthep’s “must win” strategy, he has rejected any talks with the government regarding a postponement of the election. Following repeated “calls for postponement of the February 2 election, yesterday [the Yingluck government] softened its stance as pressure for a delay in holding the poll increased.” Yingluck called for “meetings with all sides regarding the Election Commission’s proposal for the election to be postponed…”.

Suthep immediately “ruled out his attendance at any talks on a possible postponement of the election.” He insisted his group would accept “nothing less than the mass resignation of the caretaker Cabinet, including Yingluck.” In essence, his group has no interest in any election.

More surprisingly, Election Commission member Somchai Srisuthiyakorn “expressed dissatisfaction yesterday at the government move to hold a multiparty meeting without first responding to the EC’s written call for postponement.” 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. It seems that the EC works 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.

Update 1: The Nation reports that “Suthep Thaugsuban, secretary-general of the People’s Democratic Reform Committee, Tuesday threatened to capture five caretaker Cabinet members.” The brief report continues:

Suthep alleged that the five ministers and Pheu Thai secretary-general Phumtham Wechayachai were the ones who encouraged Yingluck Shinawatra to remain in her position as the caretaker prime minister.

The five ministers are Deputy Prime Minister Surapong Tovichakchaikul, Labour Minister Chalerm Yoobamrung, Deputy Prime Minister Pracha Promnog, Education Minister Chaturon Chaisang, and Deputy Prime Minister Plodprasop Suraswadi, Suthep said.





Threatening the airports again

5 01 2014

Back in 2008, after a long occupation of Government House, the People’s Alliance for Democracy decided to occupy both of Bangkok’s airports, causing huge losses to the country and considerable personal inconvenience to hundreds of thousands. The deal then was to run political interference while the Constitutional Court hastily dispatched another elected government.PAD

One of the often forgotten parts of that political agitation was the occupation and closing of some southern airports. These were sometimes seen as trial runs for the effort in Bangkok. Today Khaosod reports that:

Anti-government protesters in Krabi province has threatened to shut down the provincial airport if Prime Minister Yingluck Shinawatra refuses to resign.

Mr. Detchart Damdee, leader of the local chapter of the People′s Committee for Absolute Democracy With the King As Head of State (PCAD), said in a press conference at Krabi′s Mueang district today that his supporters are ready to campaign in the province to coincide with PCAD′s “shutdown” of Bangkok on 13 January.

In 2008 the then government called on the military to act against the airport rallies and the top brass essentially mutinied. As far as PPT can recall, not a single PAD leader of the airport occupiers has been sentenced for their illegal actions. Such impunity can only encourage the anti-democrats to further illegal acts.





Yellow court day

30 04 2013

It must have been standing room only when 96 members of the People’s Alliance for Democracy, including leaders like Sondhi Limthongkul and Chamlong Srimuang, appeared in the Criminal Court for the “first hearing of charges over the occupation of Don Mueang and Suvarnabhumi airports in 2008.” But as the Bangkok Post reports, this was not a huge milestone as the “court agreed to postpone the hearing” for some of the accused as they claimed no legal representation and a further 17 defendants have yet to be indicted.

While the judge did point out that “the charge of terrorism carries the death penalty,” it was not explained why all defendants repeatedly get bail while red shirts accused of terrorism have been indicted, refused bail and imprisoned for long terms for alleged offenses in 2010. Obviously double standards are at work in the courts.

An AFP report: states that all of the PAD members are “planning to plead not guilty…”.  It also notes that “investigations against the arch nationalist group have been sluggish, prompting resentment and claims of double standards…”. It adds: “Many leaders of the mainly rural, working class Reds were swiftly locked up on terrorism charges after their street protest in the heart of Bangkok in 2010 which came to a bloody end after an army crackdown.”

 





PAD and the airport saga

24 02 2012

Remember when the People’s Alliance for Democracy occupied parliament, Government House, a bunch of southern airports and then Bangkok’s airports back in 2008? While it isn’t a complete account, see here. All of that began in late March 2008 as PAD reactivated itself and joined with the Democrat Party, appointed senators, yellow-hued academics and sundry others on the right and in the military and palace to overturn the election result of 2007.

Sound familiar? It seems that the same groups are mobilizing again in 2012.

In the Bangkok Post it is reported that charges related to the PAD occupation of the airports in Bangkok are still being investigated, some charges are being dropped and others are being added. It is all a bit ho hum when it is considered that this all relates to events from late 2008. That’s more than 3 years ago.

Meanwhile, while the PAD leadership walks about, sit in parliament, do their business, plot against the government and come up with weird conspiracy theories, lese majeste victims Ampol Tangnopakul, Darunee Charnchoensilpakul, Joe Gordon, Tanthawut Taweewarodomkul, Wanchai Saetan, Somyos Pruksakasemsuk, Surapak Puchaisaeng, Suporn Atthawong, Surachai Sae  Dan continue to rot in jails and about 50 red shirts have been jailed since mid-2010.

Double standards continue to prevail in a judicial system that is politicized and at the service of the royalist elite.

 





Royalists versus innovation

15 09 2011

© Shutterstock

Is Thailand’s royalist elite strangling its business potential? It seems they are. Think of their support for the military coup in 2006, the People’s Alliance for Democracy’s airport occupation in 2008, and their sustained cheering for the royalist-military smashing of red shirts in 2009 and 2010, risking – almost wishing for – civil war.

Lese majeste may not seem threatening for innovators and investors, but think again. According to the Wall Street Journal, “[g]lobal companies are growing increasingly worried that Thailand’s recent clampdown on Internet traffic might drag down the country’s economic potential and make it more difficult to expand here.”

The political use of computer crimes laws “is starting to alarm investors, including a key industry group that includes such global names as Google Inc., Yahoo Inc. and eBay Inc., many of which operate here.”

The vigorous, nonsensical use of the lese majeste law has “undermin[ed] the country’s democratic credentials, analysts and free-speech activists say.” Companies have been especially worried by Chiranuch Premchaiporn’s case:

Other businesses fear they, too, could fall end up in prosecutors’ sights, chilling the growth of online commerce.

“By holding an intermediary liable for the actions of its users, this case could set a dangerous precedent and have a significant long-term impact on Thailand’s economy,” the Asia Internet Coalition said recently. The group, based in Hong Kong was founded last year by Google, Yahoo, eBay, Nokia Corp. and Microsoft Corp.’s Skype unit to lobby on Internet policy issues around Asia.

That fear is hurting business, many of it potentially innovative. The worries are real: “Some chambers of commerce in Thailand hold private briefing sessions about the risks involved in conducting any kind of online business here.”

Tyrell Haberkorn, a research fellow at Australian National University says: “It’s deeply ironic that a law whose stated aim is to create stable e-commerce environment is achieving completely the opposite result…”.

The new government has done nothing to change this bleak situation. It seems that the elite would rather strangle business and threaten every web user than allow the supposedly magnificent and deeply revered monarchy suffer a word of criticism. That’s why at least 57,000 anti-monarchy URLs are blocked.





Updated: Another Chamlong victory?

14 02 2011

The Bangkok Post reports that “Pol Lt Gen Somyot Phumphanmuang, an assistant police chief who headed a team investigating the seizure of Bangkok commercial airports by the PAD in 2008, yesterday told reporters he had resigned as the investigation leader.”

This announcement follows PAD leader Chamlong Srimuang’s filing of a “lawsuit with the Civil Court, demanding 220 million baht in compensation plus 7.5% annual interest from Pol Lt Gen Somyot for charging him with terrorism.”

Somyot says that he actually resigned on 11 February, before the Chamlong suit. Somyot stated that he “wrote in the letter that he had been under pressure from several groups since being appointed to head the investigation team. His involvement in the case had affected his family and close friends, and so he asked the police chief to find a replacement.”

Another victory for the grizzled, grinning old man and his PAD?

Update: The Bangkok Post reports that “police spokesman Prawut Thavornsiri announced that no replacement would be appointed  for assistant police chief Somyot Pumpanmuang, who has resigned as chief investigator handling the cases against the PAD, since the investigation has been completed.” The police claim that: “All that remains to be done is for police to forward their investigation report to the prosecutors for indictment…”.