2006 as royalist coup

19 09 2018

2006 coup

It is 12 years since the military, wearing yellow tags, rolled its tanks into Bangkok to oust Thaksin Shinawatra, the Thai Rak Thai Party government and to wind back the Thaksin revolution.

Thaksin had a lot of faults and made many mistakes. His War on Drugs was a murderous unleashing of the thugs in the police and military that should not be forgiven.

But his big mistake was being “too popular” among the “wrong people.” TRT’s huge election victory in February 2005 was an existential threat to the powers that be. Their final response, after destabilizing the elected government, was to arrange for the military to throw out the most popular post-war prime minister Thailand had known. And, the palace joined the coup party.

2006 coup

But getting rid of the so-called Thaksin regime and his popularity was too much for the somewhat dull guys at the top of the military and the palace’s man as prime minister was typically aloof and hopeless. He appointed a cabinet full of aged and lazy royalists who misjudged the extent of Thaksin’s popularity. The 2007 election proved how wrong the royalists were about the Thaksin regime being based on vote-buying and “policy corruption.”

So they ditched out another prime minister and then another elected government, this time relying on the judiciary. Then they killed red shirts.

But still Thaksin held electoral sway, this time via his sister Yingluck. And she had to go too, replaced by the knuckle-draggers of the current military dictatorship.

Meeting the junta

12 years on, PPT felt that our best way of observing the anniversary of the military-palace power grab is to re-link to the Wikileaks cables that reflect most directly on that coup. Here they are:

There are more cables. As a collection, they provide a useful insight as to how the royalist elite behaved and what they wanted the embassy to know.





Meechai as military lackey

12 09 2018

Meechai Ruchupan has loyally served several military and military-backed regimes.

Meechai has faithfully served royalist and military regimes, being a in various legal and political positions to prime ministers Sanya Dharmasakti, Kukrit Pramoj, Seni Pramoj, Thanin Kraivichien, General Kriangsak Chamanan, General Prem Tinsulanonda and Anand Panyarachun. His main task in all of these positions has been to embed Thai-style (non) democracy. rather than an electoral democracy where the people are sovereign.

He also worked for Prime Minister Chatichai Choonhavan, but when Chatichai was ousted in a miltiary coup led by General Suchinda Kraprayoon and his National Peace-Keeping Council (NPKC) in 1991, Meechai was hoisted by his military allies into the acting premier’s position before Anand was given the top job by the military, probably on royal advice.

Later, the military had Meechai appointed the leader of a charter-drafting committee, leading to the 1991 Constitution, which eventually led to the May 1992 massacre. In drafting that constitution, Meechai simply plagiarized bits of a charter that had been used earlier by a military regime. The major “achievement of that constitution was in allowing an “outsider” prime minister. Sound familiar? Yes, that’s what he has recycled into the 2017 constitution.

Like many of the “good” people, he is arrogant, practices nepotism, lies for his bosses and political allies, slithers before the monarchy, he’s a “constitutional expert” who practices and supports double standards and the retrospective application of laws. You get the picture.

Thai PBS now reports that, against all evidence, Meechai has claimed to not be a military lackey. As the report begins:

Every coup-maker of the past two decades needed his service. Seizing power doesn’t end with just toppling the incumbent governments. Coup announcements and executive orders need to be issued. And more importantly, interim constitutions need to be drafted.

And his track records have proven that nobody could have done a better job with all these necessary paperworks than Meechai Ruchuphan.

It is well more than two decades, but let’s go on.

Maybe he’s been to a fortune teller who predicts that Meechai will burn in the fires of hell for an eternity or perhaps he’s writing a self-congratulatory book. But whatever the reason, Meechai improbably claims that “he was inadvertently dragged [sic.] into a few coups despite the fact that he hardly knew any of the generals involved.”

He reckons that the multiple coup leaders just needed his legal expertise. In other words, he claims he’s just a tool for the men who repeatedly act illegally in overthrowing legal governments and smashing constitutions.

A tool he might be, but a willing and blunt tool. Willingly plagiarizing and willingly taking positions and pay from dull dictators.

But none of that means, at least in Meechai’s fairy tale, “that he would follow every marching order from the military.”

That he’s piling up buffalo manure is illustrated in his ridiculous claims about the 2006 coup.

He says the first he was ever at the army headquarters was during the 2006, which he knew nothing of. Really? Seriously? More unbelievable is his statement that he “didn’t even know at the time who was leading the coup. There were three of them there and I knew only afterward … [who] they were…”.

He is imitating the Deputy Dictator making stupid and unbelievable stuff in the belief that the public are gullible morons. That Meechai thinks anyone would believe that he, a military servant for decades, didn’t know three of the most powerful generals is laughable.

Then he lies about the 2014 coup: “His service was enlisted once again by the people he didn’t know.” Yes, that’s right, didn’t know anyone. He lies:  “I didn’t know Gen Prayut and didn’t even know what he looked like…”.

We assume that when he was President of the military-appointed National Legislative Assembly after the 2006 coup he kept his eyes closed the whole time so that he didn’t see NLA member Gen Prayuth.

He goes on and on with this stream of fermenting lies to claim “that even under military dictatorship … he was by no means an unquestioning subordinate of those in power.”

Meechai is unscrupulous and a military lackey. He doesn’t feel like a lackey because his ideas on anti-democracy fit the generals ever so perfectly.

The arrogance of the man is as stunning at Gen Prawit’s.





When the military is on top XXVII

2 09 2018

Khaosod’s Pravit Rojanaphruk has an op-ed and a story that deserve attention.

In the stroy, Pravit points out that the “head of a private anti-corruption organization has been silent on its decision to award full marks to junta leader Prayuth Chan-ocha in its annual assessment.” He refers to a press conference where Chairman Pramon Sutivong celebrated the Anti-Corruption Organization of Thailand’s 7th anniversary by declaring that his “organisation has helped save 25.1 billion baht of state funds that could have been lost to corruption over the past seven years.”

As it turns out, they don’t mean over seven years but since 2015, when ACT partnered with the military junta.

Pramon claimed lots of “outcomes” that can’t be verified, but correctly touted ACT’s “involvement in the development of their 2017 constitution which the organisation implemented as an ‘anti-corruption constitution’.”

At the media circus, Pramon stated: “I give Gen. Prayuth Chan-ocha, the prime minister, full marks. But I admit that there are still a number of people around him that have been questioned by the public…”. He means Gen Prawit Wongsuwan, where ACT has made a comments, but didn’t get into nepotism and military procurement.

When Pramon was asked to “explain how its score was calculated to award the highest possible ranking to a regime that has been marred by corruption scandals, …[he] did not respond to multiple inquiries.”

One activist pointed out that Pramon and ACT gave The Dictator “full marks” when international rankings had Thailand wobbling and had a lower ranking now than in 2015.

A reporter’s questions were said to have included one on whether Pramon considered “staging a coup and monopolizing state funding through the junta-appointed National Legislative Assembly as a form of corruption or not.” No response.

Pravit points out that a source at ACT “defended the announcement by saying Pramon, who was appointed by the junta leader to his National Reform Council following the coup, only gave full marks to Prayuth for his ‘sincerity’ to tackle corruption.” That ACT employee flattened out, saying: “He [Pramon] must have heard something that made him feels that His Excellency [The Dictator] Prayuth was sincere…. He may have had some experience from meeting [Prayuth].”

Of course, nothing much can be expected of ACT. It was a royalist response to the election of Yingluck Shinawatra and was populated by royalist “advisers” including Anand Punyarachun and Vasit Dejkunjorn, both activists in opposing elected governments. (By the way, ACT’s website still has Vasit listed as Chairman despite his death in June.)

Pravit’s op-ed is on China in Thailand. Chinese and Chinese money are everywhere, he says. Tourists, property buyers, investors are seen in everything from high durian prices to military authoritarianism.

It is the latter that Pravit concentrates on, citing academics who “publicly warn how the rise of China bodes ill for human rights and democracy in Thailand and Southeast Asia.” PPT commented on this seminar previously. One thing we said was that the emphasis on China, blaming it for the resilience of the military junta seemed a little overdone for us.

But Pravit is not so sure. He notes that China is unlikely to promote democracy, but that hardly needs saying. He does note that Japan and South Korea have “failed to put any pressure on the [2014] Thai coup-makers as well. To them, it’s business as usual.” As it is for China.

Pravit seems to be pointing to the West that was, for a time, critical of the 2014 coup. But, then, some in that  same West were pretty celebratory of the 2006 coup – think of US Ambassador Ralph Boyce and his commentary in Wikileaks.

But Pravit says that “the difference is that China has become much more influential in Thailand compared to Japan or South Korea.” Really? We have previously pointed out that it doesn’t take much work to look up some data to find out which country is the biggest investor in Thailand. But here’s a problem. Pravit cites a deeply flawed book, riddled with errors, that makes more than a few unfounded claims.

We might agree that “[d]emocracy, human rights, press freedom and free speech are at risk if we ape the Chinese model of politics and administration…”. But think, just for a few seconds about this statement. Thailand’s democracy, human rights, press freedom and free speech are not at risk from Chinese supporters but from Thailand’s military. Under the junta, they have been mangled.

Thailand’s generals don’t need Chinese tutors on how to undermine democracy, human rights, press freedom and free speech. They have done it for decades. It comes naturally, whether “relying” on the support of the US as many military leaders did or with China’s support.





Remembering two Mays

19 05 2018

The Bangkok Post had a report recently on politicians being asked to remember the bloody days of 1992.

They seemed to conclude, as the Post put it, that “politics is now in a more backwards state than it was before the Black May uprising of 1992…”, when like today’s big boss, another general tried to hold onto power after repeatedly saying he wasn’t intending to do that and that he abhorred politics. To maintain his power that general, Suchinda Kraprayoon, ordered civilians shot down and beaten by police and military.

Why is “politics” more “backward” now? The junta’s rules, constitution and “roadmap” are “designed to prolong its grip on power…”, say the speakers at the event.

But it is more than that. In fact, the 1991 coup group wasn’t nearly as ruthless following the coup as The Dictator has been. For one thing, it didn’t rule directly as this junta has done following its coup, putting a pliable, royalist businessman in the premier’s chair.

That 1991 coup group changed some rules, but didn’t successfully undermine and infiltrate civilian institutions in the way this junta has. It didn’t arrest and jail hundreds of persons and stalk opponents nearly as routinely as this dictatorship has. There’s more, but the picture is clear.

Democrat Party leader Abhisit Vejjajiva claimed that “the public has not fought back with as much gusto as it did in 1992.” He added that people “harbour fears that parties may wreak havoc if they ascend to power…”.

Of course, Abhisit himself and his party has much to answer for on this. They deliberately undermined civilian politicians by behaving abominably, supporting rightist and royalist mobs, boycotted elections and ordered the military to shoot down demonstrators.

PPT has posted on the events of May 1992 several times and readers can view these posts.

Remembering May 1992 is useful in the current political circumstances. Then, people did rise up against generals seeking to maintain control. The military response was to shoot them.

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

Many pictures have been reproduced over the years of the results of Abhisit’s regime ordering the military to shoot demonstrators; PPT has a few reproduced here.

These pictures are from both sides of the battle as the military gradually surrounded and then cleared the Rajaprasong area in May 2010.





2006 military coup remembered

19 09 2017

2006 seems a long time ago. So much has happened since the palace, led by General Prem Tinsulanonda, the military and a coterie of royalist anti-democrats (congealed as the People’s Alliance for Democracy) brought down Thaksin Shinawatra’s government on 19 September 2006.

Yet it is remembered as an important milestone in bringing down electoral democracy in Thailand and establishing the royalist-military authoritarianism that has deepened since the 2014 military coup that brought down Yingluck Shinawatra’s elected government.

Khaosod reports:

Pro-democracy activists are marking the 11th anniversary of the 2006 coup on Tuesday evening on the skywalk in front of the Bangkok Art and Culture Centre.

Representatives from the police and BTS Skytrain were ordering them to clear the area because it belongs to the rail operator.

The location, frequented by commuters and tourists in a highly visible location, has become a de facto location for protests since the 2014 coup.

“It’s unbelievable how far back we’ve gone for the past 11 years,” said Siriwit Seritiwat, the prominent activist known as Ja New. “The country doesn’t suck by itself, but it sucks because of the wicked cycle.”

The 2006 coup was no surprise given that Thaksin had faced determined opposition from PAD and from General Prem, who reflected palace and royal household dissatisfaction with Thaksin. The coup came after Thaksin had been re-elected in a landslide in February 2005 with about 60% of the vote.

Thaksin had many faults and made many mistakes often as a result of arrogance. The February 2005 election reflected Thaksin’s popularity and this posed a threat to the monstrous egos in the palace. Of course, they also worried about Thaksin’s combination of political and economic power and his efforts to control the military.

Thaksin’s reliance on votes and the fact that he accumulated them as never before was an existential threat to the powers that be. The elite feared for its control of political, economic and social power.

Behind the machinations to tame Thaksin lurked the real power holders in the military brass, the palace and the upper echelons of the bureaucracy who together comprised the royalist state. Some referred to this as the network monarchy and others identified a Deep State. They worried about their power and Thaksin’s efforts to transform Thailand. Others have said there were concerns about managing succession motivating coup masters.

We are sure that there were many motivations, fears and hallucinatory self-serving that led to the coup. Wikileaks has told part of the story of the machinations.

Coup soldiers wearing the king’s yellow, also PAD’s color

A way of observing the anniversary of the military-palace power grab on 19 September 2006 is to look again at Wikileaks cables that reflect most directly on that coup. Here they are:

There are more cables on the figures circling around the coup and the events immediately before and after the coup, giving a pretty good picture of how the royalist elite behaved and what they wanted the U.S. embassy to know.

The royalist elite came to believe that the 2006 coup failed as pro-Thaksin parties managed to continue to win elections. The result was the development of an anti-democracy ideology and movement that paved the way for the 2014 coup and the military dictatorship that is determined to uproot the “Thaksin regime” and to eventually make elections events that have no meaning for governing Thailand.





Corruption cover-ups again and again

28 01 2017

Rolls Royce has a motto: “At Rolls-Royce we design, develop, manufacture and service integrated power systems for use in the air, on land and at sea.”

Tarnished somewhat by recent scandals, but we thought it could be of use for Thailand’s heavily tarnished military junta: “At the junta we design, develop, manufacture and service corruption systems and alibis for use by the great, the good and the military brass.”

PPT has posted on the Rolls Royce admissions of quite large corrupt payments to officials of Thai Airways and state officials over a considerable period of time.

The admissions are clear and Rolls Royce has paid a price for its corrupt activities. In the junta’s Thailand, however, it seems that nothing will be done.

The National Anti-Corruption Commission (NACC) secretary-general Sansern Poljeak has declared that “a lack of unity among state agencies, and the death penalty on corruption cases, are hindering its efforts at getting in-depth information on the Rolls-Royce bribery case from foreign agencies.”

This is horse manure. The death penalty is a red herring. All the Thai state needs to do is guarantee that the penalty won’t be used.

On “confusion,” the NACC claims the US Department of Justice and the UK Serious Fraud Office are dummies. He says they “may be confused as to which state agencies in Thailand are directly responsible for handling bribery cases.” In fact, this could appear much more like a device for a cover-up.

As a Thai bureaucrat he thinks all bureaucrats are the same: “The foreign agencies may not dare provide information and they may have to seek permission from their superiors, which could make procedures more complicated…”.

It is clear that he’s making this up. He has no idea what the “foreign agencies” will actually do. This is partly because his agency is isolated and politicized. It is also firmly under the military junta’s boot. If The Dictator wanted something done, the NACC would do it.

But Sansern  is right on one thing. Confusion is created when the “NACC, the Office of the Auditor-General, the Public Sector Anti-Corruption Commission (PACC), Thai Airways International Plc and various other agencies have all formed their own teams to seek more information from overseas.” It is also great for the beneficiaries of corruption because many agencies usually means nothing happens, apart from the cover-up.

In a later report, the NACC appears to have capitulated and rolled over to have its tummy rubbed.

It has “advised Thai Airways International (THAI) to pursue civil lawsuits for damage caused by those involved in the Rolls-Royce bribery scandal.” No effort will be made to look at the “first two periods involving the scandal” because “the 20-year statute of limitations for bribery cases that took place … has now expired.”

One the corruption for the “third period between 2004-2005 … THAI can still pursue civil action against those involved during this period…”.

Sansern, who a few hours earlier was worried about multiple agencies being involved in the (non)investigation, suggested that the “national carrier can also petition the Anti-Money Laundering Office (Amlo) to examine the money trails of those involved and freeze their assets.”

Sansern then explained the cover-up. He declared that The Dictator, General Prayuth Chan-ocha did not need “to exercise his special power under Section 44 of the interim charter to extend the statute of limitations on those expired bribery cases, as this would cast the country in a negative light.”

It might also expose the high and mighty. All governments from the military regime of General Suchinda Kraprayoon and Anand Punyarachun to Thaksin Shinawatra are potentially involved as are dozens of high and mighty royalists, generals, air chief marshals and, perhaps, even the current king, who was provided a position with the airline.

Sansern then “revealed” that the “NACC fact-finding panel can identify who was the transport minister, the deputy transport minister, and THAI officials at the time of the bribery scandal that took place in the third period, though the panel still cannot establish any connection between them and the bribery.”

Jeez, they did an online search using Wikipedia and downloaded Thai Airways annual reports. Wow! Such diligence is, well, pathetic.

But wait! “The NACC panel will have to wait for more information from the UK’s Serious Fraud Office (SFO) before taking further action…”. Have they even asked? What did they ask for? How did they ask? Or is this yet another red herring that will dissolve into the swamp of corruption (non)investigations?

Oh, wait! Sansern said the “NACC held a teleconference meeting with the SFO on Thursday to discuss the matter.” With who? Is that “official”? Well, no. The “SFO had asked the NACC for a formal written confirmation that the NACC is the main agency responsible for handling the bribery cases.”

And there’s more: Sansern said “the questions the NACC will ask the SFO will cover who received the bribes, when and how.” Get out! Really! Wow. These guys are sub-professionals.

The cover-up is proceeding.





More “commissions” and corruption

25 01 2017

The Bangkok Post today is a broadsheet of corruption and potential corruption. The stories range from a person identified as a senior official stealing cheap hotel art work in Japan to yet another admission of bribe-commissions in Thailand.

We can only think that the official forgot which country he was in. In Thailand, the great and powerful can do what they like. However, the latest story on a U.S. firm, General Cable Corporation, that has entered another agreement to avoid prosecution over commissions paid, continues to define business practice in Thailand.

General Cable “has agreed to pay $82.3 million to halt the U.S. government’s investigation into inappropriate payments to government officials in Egypt, Angola, Bangladesh, China, Indonesia and Thailand.” The U.S. Department of Justice has stated that:money

… [b]etween 2002 and 2013, General Cable subsidiaries paid approximately $13 million to third-party agents and distributors, a portion of which was used to make unlawful payments to obtain business, ultimately netting the company approximately $51 million in profits.

In Thailand, this scandal “involves the Metropolitan Electricity Authority (MEA), the Provincial Electricity Authority (PEA) and TOT Plc.”

In the usual way, the agencies have “set up a panel to look into the case.” In the Rolls Royce cases, everyone is running for cover and the agencies who are investigating themselves reckon that they may not be able to get names and details to allow a result to “investigations.”

We feel a cover being thrown over the allegations. And no one has said much about how the payments began under the military regime led by General Suchinda Kraprayoon and recognized great and good former unelected premier Anand Punyarachun. The good people always seem to have a cover of teflon.moneybags

Another story is about the military junta’s decision to buy submarines from the Chinese. Billions of baht. Who is getting the commissions on this deal? As we’ve said many times, commissions is normal, so we can’t help but wonder.

Yet another story is about a whiffy deal by the military junta to extend a “contract to manage a landmark convention centre [Queen Sirikit National Convention Center] in Bangkok by another 25 years instead of calling a new bid has drawn criticism it favoured a liquor tycoon.” The junta agreed to a state contract “with N.C.C. Management & Development Co (NCC), a company under the business empire of Charoen Sirivadhanabhakdi.”

The original contract was handed out in 1991, expired last year, and is now handed over for another 25 years. It is stated that “the renewal of the contract without calling a bid was stipulated in the previous contract.” Hmm, 1991. General Suchinda again or Anand?

Of course, Charoen is not only one of Thailand’s richest and its biggest landowner, but also a great royalist and with great links with the military. As a big donor to the palace, he’s surely great and good. But this quote seems to say it all:

Sumet Sudasna, president of the Thailand Incentive and Convention Association, said the failure to call a bid blocked the chance for other companies to compete with NCC and for the government to maximise its income from the property.

“The estimated return of 100 million baht a year or less than 10 million per month on average is too low, given the prime location of the QSNCC…”.