Reflecting the regime I

24 08 2021

Some recent reports would be funny if they weren’t serious. These reports shed light on the nature of the regime.

Thai Enquirer reports on a turncoat politician. This time it is not the execrable Suporn/Seksakol Atthawong but “Ruangkrai Leekitwattana, a former party-list MP for the Pheu Thai Party turned member of the pro-junta and ruling Palang Pracharath Party, is not the brightest bulb in parliament.”

It may be that Ruangkrai is a complete lug nut or he might just be reflecting the level of impunity afforded the regime and its members when he is “telling everyone that he received two Mercedes from ‘kind adults’ since he switched sides.”

Clipped from Thai Enquirer

Author Erich Parpart is right to wonder “what is the Anti-Money Laundering Office (AMLO) doing?” He might have added the National Anti-Corruption Commission, but we all know that they are hopeless accessories of the regime.

Like Suporn, Ruangkrai is a useful political stooge. He has recently petitioned the “Election Commission (EC) to investigate the Move Forward Party (MFP) for bringing up the palace bureau during budget debate” and wants the party dissolved by the Constitutional Court. Both organizations are also regime accessories.

While mentioning the hopeless NACC, let’s nod to the story that the agency needs another “16 months to complete its investigation into alleged mishandling, by 15 officials, of the controversial hit-and-run case against Red Bull heir, Vorayuth ‘Boss’ Yoovidhya, including both retired and active high-ranking police officers and senior prosecutors.” No one who has followed this story of the escaped but very rich (alleged) cop killer would be at all surprised. After all, the cases against Vorayuth have gone on and on since 2012, with many of them expired and the rest of them buried, delayed and forgotten.

Both Ruangkrai and Vorayuth show how the legal system in Thailand is not just corrupt but provides a means to escape justice. Under the junta-cum-military-backed regime, what we used to call double standards in the judicial system has been transformed into a sytem of political repression with limited attention to anything resembling justice.





Further updated: Yes, really

17 06 2020

We read this jaw-dropping news with nothing more than incredulity. We simply could not believe the story. How is it possible for this regime to think that every Thai citizen is a complete moron? Why does the regime treat its people as so insignificant? Of course, the answer is that the regime and its people are used to impunity, getting away with murder and considers itself a law unto itself.

Here’s the story, from the Bangkok Post: “Former transport permanent secretary Supoj Saplom has been appointed as a member of a sub-committee tasked with studying an industrial estate for rehabilitation and development of inmates just months after completing a jail term for filing false asset declarations…”.

The responsible minister is Justice Minister Somsak Thepsutin. He said “he had invited individuals from various professions including former senior state officials to give their input on the proposed establishment of the facility.”

Supoj was “released from prison in the middle of last year after serving 10 months for filing false asset declarations…. The Supreme Court … [found] he failed to declare assets worth over 20 million baht.”

Supoj. From the Bangkok Post.

But there’s more to the story than this. Readers can click through to PPT’s several posts on Supoj. The last time we posted on Supoj, we said that we were “winding up of a story that began some time ago.” Little id we think that Minister Somsak would push Supoj back into “service” and into the news.

The original story of Supoj’s ill-gotten gains involved fantastic amounts. In late 2011, as huge floods bore down on Bangkok, Supoj’s house was burgled. At the time he was permanent secretary at the Ministry of Transport and chairman of the State Railways of Thailand and was in that position under the previous government. Earlier he was Director of the Highways Department. Such positions are honey holes for the corrupt.

A report at the time stated that while Supoj was at his daughter’s wedding, a dozen burglers tied up two maids and took off with loot. Supoj told reporters that “the valuables taken by the robbers were not in fact worth much, though they also took cash. He believed the robbers heard about his daughter’s bridal price so they wanted to steal it.” Soon after, there was a report that one of the culprits “allegedly confessed to stealing more than 200 million baht in cash from the house of transport Supoj Saplom.” That’s quite a bride price!

But the story became even more interesting. One of the suspects claims “that when the gang entered the house, they found between 700 million baht to 1 billion baht in cash stuffed into bags.” Supoj responded, pleading poverty, claiming that the burglars were defaming him! He explained that he “was smeared by the suspects who claimed he might have hidden as much as Bt1 billion at his home,” adding, “… I don’t have that much money…”.

Even the police seemed to agree: “Police Major General Winai Thongsong, chief of the Metropolitan Police Bureau, said that CCTV videos of the robbery showed the group leaving the house with large bags, indicating that a large amount of cash had been stolen.”

Later, in 2012, as he scrambled for excuses for being so stupendously “unusually rich,” Supoj claimed “he earned the millions of Baht working a second job…”. He began shifting assets to relatives as investigations loomed. At the time, the Anti-Money Laundering Office “revealed that money found in the transport permanent secretary Supoj Saplom’s home is related to construction contractors in the Northeast – including one from Buriram province – which were involved in the bidding for construction contracts on government projects in several provinces.”

But, by the time the case reached the National Anti-Corruption Commission and then commissioner Klanarong Chanthik announced a seizure of some assets. He was convicted when the “Civil Court ruled in January, 2014, that 46.14 million baht in assets should be seized from Supoj and his family for being unusually wealthy.”

Then there was the verdict of the Supreme Court’s Criminal Division for Political Office Holders holding Supoj guilty “of deliberately avoiding to mention Bt17.5 million in cash and a Bt3 million Volkswagen in the declaration of his assets on five occasions.” Yes, the millions claimed to have made Supoj “unusually wealthy” led nowhere. It was expunged, deleted, and was made to go away, like magic. All Supoj was convicted of was a problem with his asset declarations. It was whittled down because the suspects who were arrested only had “Bt18 [17.5] million in cash and gold ornaments…”. How convenient. He got 10 months in jail and the 18 million was seized. It took seven years to get Supoj into prison to serve that 10 months. It was only this year that the 17.5 million was given to the state treasury. We have no idea what became of the other 46 million baht.

More to the point, what happened to the bags of money the burglars claimed to have taken? Readers can probably come up with some excellent guesses on that. But presumably one could think of cops getting their hands on it (think Saudi gems), corrupt officials and judges, influential people or even much higher ups being paid off.

Okay, as a former inmate, perhaps Supoj has something of a perspective on “an industrial estate for rehabilitation and development of inmates,” but somehow we doubt it. It seems much more like paybacks or a mutual backscratching exercise.

So here we are, with a military-backed government that not only has a convicted heroin smuggler as a deputy minister, but it’s also appointing a man who may hold a national record for moving state funds into private hands.

Update 1: While dealing with the corruption being embedded in the regime, we note that the Department of Special Investigation’s acting chief has disbanded six special investigation teams that he set up only about six weeks ago. The teams were responsible for investigating money laundering via illegal casinos, misconduct by Stock Exchange of Thailand-listed companies, factories causing environmental and public health damage and producing substandard cosmetics or dietary supplements, land encroachment and unlawful land title deeds, and and price collusion involving state projects. Almost all of those arenas seem to have resonances for the regime’s ministers. Is it a coincidence that these events are in Justice Minister Somsak’s ministry?

Update 2: The Bangkok Post reports that the private sector Anti-Corruption Organization of Thailand has “submitted an open letter to Justice Minister Somsak Thepsuthin, voicing opposition to the appointment of Supoj Saplom … to sit on a sub-committee tasked with studying a project for rehabilitation and development of inmates.” The report noted:

The ACT said in the letter that the constitution of Thailand bars people who lack morality, ethics and good governance from taking part in the country’s administrative affairs.

Since people expect the Justice Ministry to be a model for righteousness and justice, it should appoint only people who are not tainted with corruption to work for it, the letter says. The appointment of Mr Supoj violates this principle.





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.





Reporting truth on AMLO and the rigged election

17 08 2018

The Nation has some interesting comments on the events at AMLO.

Policeman Romsit Viriyasan “was abruptly removed from his top post at the Anti-Money Laundering Organisation (AMLO) largely because he failed to expedite a number of long-delayed politically sensitive cases, especially since the general election is looming…”.

The Dictator issued the transfer order under the power of Article 44, which allows him to do pretty much anything he wants.

Gen Prayuth Chan-ocha used his unbridled power and then said, unbelievably, that “… Romsit had done nothing wrong…”. He’d been in the AMLO job since 29 June 2018.

Prayuth added that AMLO’s boss had been changed “to make the agency more efficient.” This “abrupt removal followed the August 14 meeting of the National Council for Peace and Order (NCPO) [the junta] chaired by Prayut and attended by deputy PM Prawit Wongsuwan, who had reportedly said there was a top-level discussion on AMLO’s leadership change.”

The Nation observes that the removal was “rather unusual.” That’s too bland. This action by The Dictator is “rather usual” in the sense that almost everything the junta does now is highly politicized in the sense that it is meant to consolidate its position going forward.

As The Nation explains, for the junta, “the top AMLO post is crucial, especially in view of the looming general election due some time next year. Hence, the AMLO secretary-general has to be someone who can take immediate action to speed up pending cases that are politically sensitive.” That is, the junta needs to finish off some important political opponents before an rigged election can be held and it can win it.

Apparently, “Romsit had not expedited several pending [political] cases, citing legal and other constraints, which prompted the premier to have him moved to an inactive post in the PM’s Office.”

One case in particular is that against Panthongtae Shinawatra, son of former premier Thaksin, which the junta claims involved “wrongdoing in the state-owned Krung Thai Bank loan fraud case.” But, in addition, the junta wants AMLO to “play a powerful oversight role in the upcoming general election regarding the flow of funds that are used by politicians during the elections.” In other words, AMLO has to be a part of the election rigging, and The Dictator didn’t trust Romsit to do the job he’d be given by the junta.

hHe Nation concludes: “So, there will soon be a replacement as the Prayut government gets ready to hold general elections next year.” Yep, that’s the rigged election (which will only be held when the junta is sure its lot can triumph.





How does that happen?

16 08 2018

With the military junta in its fifth year of rule, at times it does seem to lose even its own plot. Below are three news items that PPT struggles to comprehend.

First, in a financial scandal that looks something between a white-collar crime and a Ponzi scheme with new means, the Bangkok Post reports that a big investor on the Stock Exchange of Thailand and staff from at least three commercial banks “are suspected of being complicit in a 797 million baht (US$24 million) scandal involving a foreign investor and the cryptocurrency bitcoin…”. The banks are the big three: Bangkok Bank, Siam Commercial Bank and Kasikorn Bank. Police say that “several of the banks’ employees failed to report money transfers of 2 million baht or higher, a serious violation of bank rules.” Those rules come under the Anti-Money Laundering Office.

It was just a couple of days ago that The Dictator sacked the head of AMLO. That head had only been in the job for about a month. Gen Prayuth Chan-ocha used his unbridled Article 44 powers to send the AMLO boss packing. What’s going on there?

(Call us suspicious, but we do recall the big wigs being involved in the Mae Chamoy chit fund that was exposed in the 1980s. The Wikipedia entry states:

The fund had a large number of politically powerful investors from the military and even the Royal Household and as such there were calls for the government to bail out the banks and the chit funds. After discussions with King Bhumibol Adulyadej, the nature of which were not made public, the Mae Chamoy Fund was shut down and Chamoy Thipyaso was arrested. She was held in secret by the air force for several days and her trial was not held until after the losses for the military and royal personnel involved had been recovered.)

Second, the Nikkei Asian Review reports that the junta is dumping its Special Economic Zone projects. It observes:

Since taking power in 2014, the military-led government had floated SEZ projects with the idea of building industrial complexes in the poor, remote areas along the country’s border. The plans backfired by fueling property speculation and sending land prices substantially higher, driving up the costs of building the SEZs.

How does that happen? Perhaps it has to do with the third story, with the junta stating it now wants to concentrate on infrastructure rather than SEZs.

Third, the Bangkok Post reports that “Transport Ministry officials have confirmed that auctions for the construction contracts for all sections of the first phase of the Thai-Chinese high-speed railway project will commence by the end of the year, despite unsettled negotiations between both countries.” How does that work?

One way it works is by dividing up the work into “14 separate contracts, which will use design and construction blueprints from China.” Quite a few are going to be in the money!





Cleansing and coronation

25 06 2018

Some PPT readers may know more about these stories than we do. We’d appreciate and advice at our email: politicalprisonersinthailand@hushmail.com.

Our guess is that the stories we discuss below are probably linked with the big “cleansing” at senior levels of the Buddhist sangha that began with the crackdown on the Dhammakaya sect, then saw senior monks jailed or fleeing the country, and also saw fascist, royal amulet making monk Buddha Issara jailed.

We noticed a further cleansing trend in some rather cryptic media reports that can be seen in the tone of reports at The Nation.

The Nation reported the case of the Lawyers Council of Thailand criticizing police for their violent and forcible detention of a lawyer acting for a client. The client was “a self-proclaimed spirit medium [seeking] to file a defamation complaint against another person…”.

Amid the chaos, the 49-year-old medium, Saengsuriyathep Phramahasuriya, slipped out of the precinct without filing the complaint against Atchariya Ruangratanapong, a lawyer and chairman of the Facebook group for assisting crime victims. She later returned with a new lawyer to file the complaint. That complaint was about accusations that the medium was “insulting the monarchy [by claiming to be a medium of past kings’ spirits] and promoting false information to the public – both accusations denied by her [the medium].”

Soon after, ThaiPBS reported that “Police of the Crime Suppression and Technology Crime Suppression divisions have been ordered to launch a nationwide clampdown on mediums, especially those who claim they have connections with members of the royalty.”

Central Investigation Bureau commissioner Pol Lt-Gen Thitirat Nongharnpitak “said the police had been instructed to first approach the mediums and to tell them to stop the practice…”. Police said “that people … should be told not to believe the mediums as the practice of mediumship is un-Buddhist.”

The police claim to have “nabbed at least three mediums who claimed to have supernatural powers.  One of them was removed of his strange hairstyle from which he claimed to derive his supernatural powers … adding that not one medium has faced criminal litigation.”

This report was confirmed in another at the Bangkok Post. That more detailed report states that many mediums “claimed to be possessed by the spirits of the past kings and their followers lost a huge amount of money to these psychics…”.

It added that the “crackdowns have been carried out secretly over the past two weeks with at least three mediums netted.” The report confirms that no charges had been laid by police.

Police said “the issue connected to people’s faith and belief can be sensitive…”. It was added that police “do not want people to see that police are intimidating these mediums…. However, if we let this situation go on any longer, the mediums could exploit their victims by asserting their claims they are vested with supernatural power, which is not real.”

Pol Lt Gen Thitirat Nonghanpitak, a police commissioner “said police were enforcing the law swiftly as some mediums were posing as the spirits of those in the high institutions ‘which is completely inappropriate’.” Well, harassing, warning, cutting hair….

Police say they “nabbed a couple who claimed to serve as a medium for King Rama IX in Nakhon Pathom after they organised a rite which was widely shared on YouTube.” Another in Chachoengsao claimed to be a “medium for King Rama V…. This person, who applied makeup and dressed like King Rama V, ran an unlicensed clinic which doubles as a fortune telling outlet.”

Yet another man “claimed to be the medium of Phra Sri Ariyametrai, who was the fifth life in the Lord Buddha’s past, police said. He claimed he could foretell people’s future and cleanse them of their sins.”

Some mediums went further and “claimed they could be possessed by the spirits of multiple kings.”

The mediums detained by police, who did not name them, were given a “talking to” and were released after they “agreed to stop the spiritual possession business.”

The Technology Crime Suppression Division is also being used “to track down the mediums who are operating businesses online. They would be summonsed for talks with the police.”

Such efforts do seem congruent with the broader cleansing that is taking place prior to the king’s coronation.

Perhaps surprising is the fact that, as with Buddha Issara, such use of royal names is not being treated as lese majeste. That might be a good thing and represent a change in “policy,” although there’s also the relationship between the mediums, their supposed powers and those in power.





A lese majeste case reported

24 06 2018

As far as we can tell, we have missed the lese majeste case against Chonlada Wattano. It is reported in The Nation among a series of cases where the Anti-Money Laundering Office seized undeclared banknotes. In that report, AMLO said it had “decided to seize six assets worth Bt4.4 million from fraud suspect Chonlada Wattano and others.” The report continues:

Chonlada and accomplices were accused of having, during late 2008 through mid 2013, duped a former president of Yala-based Than Nam Thip farmers’ group, Phuchid Saesan, of Bt9.4 million.

Police said Chonlada had allegedly claimed to be a niece of a royal family member and to be in need of a financial sponsorship from the group to fight a court battle. She allegedly promised them rewards of more money and 1,000-rai of land in the North at the conclusion of the trial.

The group later discovered they had been deceived after Chonlada was arrested on a separate case of lese majeste and fraud and sentenced to a 30-year imprisonment. They then filed a complaint against her. That resulted in the Amlo decision to seize the assets of Chonlada and accomplices for 90 days.

It isn’t clear how much of the 30 years was the lese majeste sentence. We guess that the case was in 2017.





When the military is on top XI

15 09 2017

It’s a while since we had a “When the military is on top” post. This post is prompted by a couple of recent stories reveal more about the military dictatorship and its aims.

First, as we have noted previously, the dictatorship’s core task is uprooting the “Thaksin regime.” That task is deepening and widening. Following thoroughgoing purges and arrests, the attention to the money the dictatorship and its anti-democrat allies mistakenly believe underpins Thaksin and Yingluck Shinawatra’s electoral popularity. The latest effort has the Anti-Money Laundering Office (AMLO) and the Department of Special Investigation (DSI) seeking to bring money laundering charges against Panthongtae “Oak” Shinawatra. This is a ratcheting up of earlier efforts and a precursor to charges being laid.

Second, Prachatai reports that the new junta-written election commission law has been promulgated and means that the new election commissioners will be selected by 250 military junta-appointed senators. That decision means that the Election Commission will essentially be junta-controlled for the next 5 or so years (depending when the junta decides to hold its “election”). Should a new government not be as the junta wants it, it is likely that that government will always be under threat from anti-election election commissioners.

Third, members of “the Pheu Thai Party and the United Front for Democracy against Dictatorship (UDD) have slammed a [police reform] committee over its move to invite former protest leader Suthep Thaugsuban to give his opinions on reforming the Thai police.” Suthep, mired in long-standing corruption allegations that go back to the 1990s, when his underhanded actions brought down Chuan Leekpai’s government in 1994, is an anti-democrats as coup planner and supporter.

The “committee on police reform [has] announced it would start seeking opinions from Constitutional Court judges, mass media, former national police chiefs, and the former leader of the now-dissolved People’s Democratic Reform Committee Suthep Thaugsuban, who has also come up with reformist proposals.”

The police are seen as a nest of Thaksinites, so Suthep’s views will be important. After all, he’s been a minister, accused of corruption many times, is an “influential person” in the south, has been in the courts several times, once essentially accused of mass murder. That seems just the kind of advice the junta will want.

Can Thailand sink much deeper into the fascist slime? Under the military dictatorship, it seems it can go much deeper.





Updated: Another case against the Shinawatra clan

9 09 2017

Getting rid of the so-called Thaksin regime was the military dictatorship’s main political aim following its 2014 coup. This was also a key demand of the anti-democrats who schemed and maneuvered against Yingluck Shinawatra’s elected government.

Yingluck Shinawatra was one target. She’s now gone, even if the we still don’t know how and where.

Her departure seems to have caused the military regime to turn its attention to other ways to hog-tie the Shinawatra clan. The Bangkok Post reports that the junta’s target has now been hung around Panthongtae Shinawatra’s neck.

It is reported that the “Anti Money Laundering Office (Amlo) is expected to press money laundering charges against Panthongtae … and three others in connection with the Krungthai Bank (KTB) loan scandal next week.”

That “scandal” refers to officers “wrongfully approving more than 9.9 billion baht in loans to affiliates of developer KMN from 2003 and 2004…”. Yes, that’s 13 and 14 years ago, when Thaksin’s son was 23-24 years old.

In 2015 the Supreme Court’s Criminal Division for Holders of Political Positions found 24 people guilty in the case. For many of the years since 2006, the Department of Special Investigation (DSI) has been seeking to locate “adequate evidence” for the case to proceed. Despite having received a statement on the case from Panthongtae in 2016, little progress was made until recently:

A DSI source insisted the case against Mr Panthongtae, who is Thaksin Shinawatra’s only son, is not politically motivated as some might try to suggest following former prime minister Yingluck Shinawatra’s Aug 25 disappearance when she did not appear before the Supreme Court’s Criminal Division for Holders of Political Positions to hear the court’s ruling in her trial for alleged negligence in managing her government’s controversial rice-pledging scheme.

The DSI claims to have “come across evidence that Mr Panthongtae and … [another] three [Shinawatra-linked individuals] received two checks for 36 million baht…”. He is now accused of money-laundering.

As far as we can determine, no other persons – those who received and used the other 9.864 billion – have been charged. In addition, it seems that the company involved is repaying the 9.9 billion.

One can be forgiven for wondering about timing and intent.

Update: Panthongtae’s response is reported at The Nation.





Journalists do the state’s work

18 08 2017

The Associated Press’s report on Red Bull family is worth reading in full. It is getting considerable international attention for issues of tax avoidance and the unaccountable power that comes from great wealth in Thailand (and elsewhere).

We won’t repeat it all here. We do recall that, back in May,

“Red Bull scion Vorayuth Yoovidhya, the suspect in a brutal hit-and-run case in which a police officer was killed, gave authorities the slip once again by leaving Thailand for an unknown destination on April 25, just two days before he was due to answer charges over the 2012 incident.”

Five years after the allegedly coked-up and drunk rich kid ran over a cop and drove off, dragging the body along, to hide from the law in his gated and guarded family home. Lawyers and fixers got to work.

Five years have produced no justice. How can that be? Vorayuth lived the high life around the world as he avoided justice. Some police and others with power in Thailand were obviously complicit.

PPT said that this case demonstrated how Thailand’s (in)justice system doesn’t work, except for the junta when it wanted to lock up the poor and political opponents.

Vorayuth’s flight and high life around the world was revealed by AP (not the Thai authorities) back in March. It was AP researchers and reporters who tracked him down in London.

Why is it that journalists do this investigations while Thailand’s leaders and state agencies remain silent.

AP’s pursuit of the Red Bull killer and the continuing (manufactured) failure of the Thai authorities to track down a scion of one of Thailand’s richest ($12.5 billion) and most influential families has led to the latest AP story.

Thai authorities will probably now issue statements about how they have been “investigating,” but then go back to their legal slumber, induced by the influential.

AP has trawled the Panama Papers for this story and investigated the Yoovidhya family’s secret money trail, its tax avoidance minimization and its extraordinary efforts to conceal all of this. Their concealing of ownership even baffled Mossack Fonseca, the company that managed its international transfers and concealing.

On Thailand’s failures, the AP story makes that wider than just the Red Bull family:

While other governments were swift and aggressive in responding to Panama Papers revelations, that has not been the case in Thailand. More than 1,400 Thai individuals were identified in the documents, but the government calls the reports rumors with no evidence.

Last year, Thailand’s Anti-Money Laundering Office said it was investigating more than a dozen of those individuals — unnamed current and former politicians and business people. To date, that office has not reported any crimes, however, and it would not answer AP’s questions.

The rich and powerful in Thailand can get away with murder. Readers will soon realize just how scary these plutocrats can be when the AP story interviews Viraphong Boonyobhas, the director of Chulalongkorn University’s business crime and money-laundering databank. It is added:

Viraphong would not speak directly about the Yoovidhyas or any other Thai person or company, saying he feared for his legal and physical safety, but added that his expectations for accountability in the military-run government are low.

Thai authorities have vowed to fight corruption, but “wealthy people in Thailand are influential people,” Viraphong said. “Maybe the government can’t untangle such a complicated network.”

That’s a story about how Thailand is actually run. The whole system is not just built on double standards, but is structured to funnel wealth to the top Sino-Thai tycoons through corrupt military and bureaucratic machinery that, for a fee and reflected “barami,” covers money trails. Ideological devices associated with the obscenely rich monarchy are in place to make the greedy appear among the “good” people who slosh about in troughs of money.