Royalist “cleaning”

18 03 2019

When a succession and coronation comes along, there’s a lot of “cleaning” that takes place.

Some of this is ritual. Some of it is (kind of) personal. Some of it is about wealth and investment. And, some is (kind of) administrative.

We also think it is about clearing out opponents of the monarchy, a task that has been facilitated by the military junta. It is clear that that cleaning out – or at least repressing and quietening – of republicans and other anti-monarchists has been quite successful.

Clipped from Thai Alliance for Human Rights website

It now seems pretty clear that the effort has turned its attention to republicans elsewhere, targeting those who have been active on social media.

In this context, we recommend reading an article at The Guardian, assessing this murderous trend, focused on what looks like enforced disappearances and murders along the Mekong, including Surachai Sae Dan.





All the king’s servants III

28 01 2019

The Bangkok Post reports a Royal Gazette announcement on “the structure and jurisdiction of the new Police Royal Guards 904 Division.”

This unit is the newest of the “security” organizations that comes under the king’s control. We first mentioned this new unit, “attached to the Central Investigation Bureau” back in October last year. It will eventually have 1,600 officers.

The latest announcement is about the jurisdiction of the unit’s nine sub-divisions. Essentially, this royal security unit will have nationwide jurisdiction paralleling the regular police.

The relationship with the palace is highlighted by the 904 moniker. It was seen when a group of propagandists from the armed forces and police were identified as “Volunteers Unit 904″ in 2018. The number 904 is derived from the former radio call sign of the king before he was king. Related, male officers associated with the palace, police and military are required to have “904 haircuts,” which are throwback styles that mimic earlier times and/or school children.

That the king now has a personal police force that operates nationally should be cause for even greater concern regarding the huge expansion of royal power.

Such expansion is not unrelated to the royal “missing”: a 1932 plaque, a 1932/33 memorial, anti-monarchists and the former public properties now privatized as the king’s. Likewise, these moves are related to the “fear,” growing from a secret prison, deaths in custody, huge use of lese majeste in personalized ways and the torture and murder of anti-monarchists.

Changes made to the Crown Property Bureau and the new powers the king has over property can also be recalled as providing the king with immense economic power.

Even before he has had his coronation, Vajiralongkorn has changed the monarchy in remarkable and foreboding ways.





Murderous monarchists VI

27 01 2019

In a brave op-ed, Pravit Rojanaphruk at Khaosod comments on the bodies of “two Thais murdered and mutilated horrendously” to raise questions about “what kind of hatred, cruelty or inhumanity could be responsible.”

Many are asking this question, not least those in Laos and Cambodia who fear they are in serious danger from the murderous monarchists of the Thai state.

Pravit details the brutality:

The two [Chatchai Bubphawan (Phoo Chana) and Kraidej Luelert (Kasalong)], who fled to Laos after the 2014 coup, were bound, disemboweled and stuffed with concrete. Their bodies were wrapped in rice sacks, another layer of green fishnet and thrown into the Mekong River.

He asks: “Was it just sheer hatred and vengeance? Or were their executioners merely “professionals” carrying out an operation?” And, adds, was the “fact that at least two if not three bodies floated to the Thai side of the river … an unintended coincidence? Or was it a warning to the rest of the anti-monarchists who dare speak out?”

He answers: “I’m not alone in holding that the killings, which brought to five the number of identical disappearances since the coup, was about ‘making an example’.”

We at PPT agree and we are pretty sure that most can guess at the identity of the person most likely to be demanding such horrendous crimes.

Pravit observes that the “climate of fear is real.,” and, we would add, not just in Laos and Cambodia. The implied threat of murder for anti-monarchists is equally chilling for critics within Thailand.

As Pravit notes, torture and murder are celebrated by ultra-royalists.





Updated: Murderous monarchists III

22 01 2019

Back when the handcuffed, disemboweled bodies, filled with chunks of cement, found on the banks of the Mekong, the victims of murderous monarchists, we posted on an unconfirmed report of three bodies having been found.

Two of the bodies have been identified as aides to anti-monarchist Surachai Sae Dan. The three were “disappeared” late in December from a house in Laos where the three were in exile.

Khaosod has a story seemingly confirming that a third body was found in the river, and then that it “disappeared.” The report states:

Coming after two mutilated bodies recovered from the river were identified as aides of a missing prominent anti-monarchist, the photos show what appear to be a third body that can no longer be accounted for.

The third body was found by a villager on 27 December and reported to police. A navy patrol arrived and took photos, but when police arrived, the body was gone.

The local headman “was instructed by security forces not to talk about what happened.”

It is looking like the suspension of the use of lese majeste charges has been been replaced by abduction, torture and murder.

Update: The Bangkok Post reports that police have confirmed that the bodies of the tortured and murdered two are the aides to Surachai. One line in the report jumped out: “The murdered men are believed to be the victims of more political killings of accused lese majeste suspects tracked down and killed inside Laos.” Clearly, the perpetrators are assumed to be representatives of the Thai state, torturing and murdering. It is also implied that these murders are targeting critics of the monarchy. It is a dark state that uses abduction, torture and murder, yet these have long been defining characteristics of the murderous military. When they work for a vindictive palace, acting with impunity and with no consideration for domestic or international law, the future looks as bleak as some had predicted back in 2016.





Murderous monarchists II

22 01 2019

Yesterday we posted on the handcuffed, disemboweled bodies, filled with chunks of cement, found on the banks of the Mekong, and how one of the victims was likely Phoo Chana, a 57-year-old who had fled Thailand after the 2014 coup and lived in exile in Laos, working with Surachai Sae Dan (Danwattananusorn).

Surachai, Phoo Chana and Kasalong all went missing at the same time. Their enforced disappearance was probably the work of murderous monarchists, acting under orders. We assume that the orders to torture, murder and dispose of the bodies probably originated high up in Thailand.

It is now confirmed that the second tortured and mutilated body is that of Kasalong. Khaosod reports that “a source at the Forensic Science Institute … speaking on condition of anonymity, confirmed Tuesday that DNA testing has linked the second body … to a man known as “Comrade Kasalong…”.

This also means that Surachai was probably also tortured and murdered.

The real identities are not publicly known but both were red shirts working with Surachai.

It seems that at least five anti-monarchy Thais have been “disappeared” and probably killed.

The viciousness of the murders brings to mind the work of rangers and Border Patrol Police in earlier times but also reminds one of rumors of cruelty and murder in the 1990s linked to high places.

In the report of this particular murder, “Police in Nakhon Phanom, where one of the bodies was recovered, vowed Tuesday morning to find those responsible.” Presumably they will be sleuthing in Bangkok.





Murderous monarchists I

21 01 2019

It seems increasingly likely that the handcuffed, disemboweled bodies, filled with chunks of cement, found on the banks of the Mekong, are the victims of murderous monarchists, probably acting under orders. The orders to torture, murder and dispose of the bodies probably originated high up in Thailand.

Khaosod reports that the “son of one of three missing republicans said Monday that police have concluded that a mutilated body found in the Mekong River was his father.” Phoo Chana and Kasalong went missing at the same time that Surachai Sae Dan (Danwattananusorn) was disappeared late last year.

The Institute of Forensic Science has conducted a preliminary DNA test and the results identified him as Phoo Chana, a 57-year-old who had fled Thailand after the 2014 coup and lived in exile in Laos, working with Surachai.

Several other anti-monarchists have been disappeared and are presumed to have been murdered.

Fear among dissidents overseas is now rife. Indeed, that is exactly what the enforced disappearances are meant to achieve, for fear breeds silence.





A uniformed hierarchy

13 01 2019

It was easy to miss or to dismiss: a private school decided to let its students wear whatever they wanted, one day a week, for six weeks or so. By this, they meant that, on the day, students were not required to wear a uniform.

Uniforming them early

It is common to see Thais in uniform. Royals have hundreds of them, even for pets.

This reflects a society that is rigidly hierarchical and that has been militarized. School students are regimented and uniformed at every level of education from kindergarten to university.

The school said the one-day exercise was so students could “wear casual clothes to express their individuality and creativity…”. Such notions are anathema to Thailand’s ruling elite and especially to military types.

Presumably they are also somewhat surprising for average Thais who have internalized militarized notions that uniforms make for an orderly society.

Training “good” royalist lads at Vajiravudh College

Roger Crutchley usually writes a Bangkok Post column that humorous reflection on an older Thailand. This week, however, he reflects on the uniform “revolution.” He observes:

Reports that Bangkok Christian College is allowing students to wear casual clothes once a week might seem a trivial tale, but it could cause a few ructions in Thailand. This is a country where even university students wear uniforms and any thoughts about breaking out from this conformity are frowned upon. After all, it might spark “self-expression” which will send shudders down the spine of the education establishment. The next thing they know, students even might start asking meaningful questions.

Orderly and uniformed

Morally unacceptable but still a uniform

The policing of school uniforms in Thailand has been more rigorous than teaching the basic subjects. Regimenting students – uniform, hair cuts, parroting fascist slogans and inculcating hierarchical values and subservience – is, for many in the ruling class, absolutely critical for the maintenance of their privilege. It is as if policing uniforms is necessary for maintaining a moral, upright and ordered nation.

Unacceptable uniforming causes moral panic.

But even unacceptable uniforms seem superior to no uniform at all. No uniforms seems to mean the collapse of the world as the ruling class knows it.

Prachatai reports that following the first day of the Bangkok Christian College experiment, the Ministry of Education have sprung into action and want to “halt the experiment and stop other schools from copying it even though the rules say it is OK.”

No rules broken, except for the rule of hierarchy that all Thais are forced to inculcate and follow. To maintain hierarchy,

Maintaining hierarchy

The Office of the Private Education Commission (OPEC) has sent an official letter to Bangkok Christian College, a famous private school, asking it to review its initiative. Mr. Chalam Attatham, Secretary-General of OPEC, said that OPEC is worried about discipline, orderliness, the expense for parents, teachers’ responsibility, the Thai social context and social problems that might arise.

Chalerm wanted the school to restore order and maintain the hierarchy. He opined:

Bangkok Christian College must consult its board and report back to the Ministry of Education, because what students can wear in private schools still comes under the 2008 MOE Uniform Rules. We understand that the school’s executive team and teachers have consulted each other and want to do research on student uniforms for 6 weeks, but we want them to look deeper than that into what effects it will have during the experiment. After all, the MOE, if anything happens, has to reconsider this. If other private schools want to do anything, they should think carefully about the consequences of their actions. A school board has to be strong about this….

The junta’s Education Minister Teerakiat Jareonsettasin immediately jumped into the fray. After all, he knows what uniforms are about as he wears them and serves men wearing them. He reinforced the hierarchy, saying:

The reason we must have uniforms is because wearing uniforms is a matter of tradition and culture since the time of Rama V, who said that apart from setting discipline, having student uniforms narrows the gap between the rich and the poor.

Discipline, tradition, hierarchy, maintaining the social, political and economic power of the ruling class. Of course, the military knows how to deal with recalcitrant students and has, several times, violently intervened to maintain those values of the ruling class.

Students in 1976 (a Lombard photo)

The current military junta has maintained strict control of universities and has changed the curriculum in schools to maintain its “values.” This has involved “training” students with military discipline.

Controlling students

In fact, one of the junta’s tasks in “returning happiness” to the people has been to reinstate “orderliness.” Erasing challenges to the monarchy – the institution at the top of the hierarchy – has been critical. The military knows that monarchists are more submissive to the hierarchy.