Threatening Yingluck’s supporters

11 08 2017

The military dictatorship’s fears around Yingluck Shinawatra’s next court appearance grow by the day.

We have mentioned several of the junta’s efforts to undermine any displays of support for her. As the junta does these things it also reveals the deep-seated “beliefs” that underpin the broad yellow-shirted anti-Thaksin movement about the Shinawatra clan and red shirts.

Essentially, that view is that, as Thaksin’s voters were, Yingluck’s supporters are paid, duped and/or ignorant.

So it is no surprise that The Nation reports that the Ministers of Interior and Defense have been told that “local administrative organisations had misused their budgets by funding trips to Bangkok for ‘hidden’ political motives.” While no evidence is produced for such claims, the notion is that ignorant villagers are being “used” by “political interests.” Those ministers have been ordered to ensure that there are no more of these claimed “paid” trips to Bangkok.

Taking the “villagers are stupid” line further, The Dictator has ordered uniformed thugs “to ask people gathering in support of Yingluck whether they knew why they were attending the event and whether they had travelled on their own or were mobilised in large groups.”

These “allegations that free transport is being provided for people to travel from the provinces to Bangkok” actually appear to originate in the social media accounts of rabid yellow shirts and other anti-democrats.

Deputy Dictator and Defence Minister General Prawit Wongsuwan “also said he had heard people would be brought from the provinces in large numbers to support Yingluck.

The Dictator, General Prayuth Chan-ocha, reckons “some” Yingluck supporters “go because [they] … are hired to do so…”.

He warns/threatens that “Yingluck’s supporters … must not violate the law, express contempt for the court, create chaos, violate other peoples’ rights or cause traffic congestion.”





Updated: Fear and repression I

24 07 2017

Talk of “reconciliation” seems pointless in the junta’s dictatorship. The task of the junta has been to repress those it identifies as “threats,” “enemies” and “opposition.” As it was largely through the efforts of the anti-democrats, led by the (anti-)Democrat Party, that paved the way for the 2014 military coup, it should be no surprise at all that the coalition of military and anti-democrats coalesces to continue the fight against those “threats,” “enemies” and “opposition.”

As everyone knows, the “threats,” “enemies” and “opposition” are mainly red shirts, elements of the Puea Thai Party and the Shinawatra clan and associates. After more than three years of heavy duty repression designed to decapitate these groups, there is limited evidence that they retain much capacity for mobilization. Yet the military and anti-democrats live in fear that they may rise against them.

As reported in The Nation, the pending verdict against Yingluck Shinawatra, due on 25 August, is causing considerable angst among the ruling regime and its anti-democrat allies.

This deep anxiety was inflamed by the sight of “[h]undreds of Yingluck’s supporters [who] gathered at the high court last Friday during the last hearing of the case against her.”

The Democrat Party, never very popular anywhere except in the previous palace hierarchy and among the royalist military, immediately went back to their rhetoric of anti-Thaksinism that has been a feature of their efforts to bring down each elected government since 2001. They claimed that “many of the supporters travelled together in an arranged trip from the northeastern provinces of Ubon Ratchathani and Amnat Charoen.” In other words, they reflexively denigrated their opponents as unthinking and unintelligent people/buffaloes, led around by money and bosses.

At the same time, Somchai Sawaengkarn, reported as “a member of the National Legislative Assembly (NLA)” but in fact a former unelected senator, dedicated anti-democrat, anti-Thaksin campaigner for more than a decade, hard core royalist and prone to accuse opponents of lese majeste, claimed “that he has learned of a plot to incite riots in a bid to overthrow the government and the NCPO [he means his buddies in the junta].”

Somchai has concocted plots in order to denigrate political opponents in the past and we assume he’s at it again. “Good” people like him are skilled liars but usually claim they do it for the greater “good.” This usually means ousting an elected government, supporting the crown or lapping the military boot or, as in this case, encouraging it in political activism. This is why he invents a plot: “They will try to bring down the government and the NCPO [junta] through riots. Hard-core groups that are their allies have clearly said that they want to wage a ‘people’s war’…”. He predicts a “mobilization” of 10,000 people.

While we might hope he is right, based on previous “inventiveness” by Somchai, we can be reasonably sure that, tongue on military boot, he’s making this up to encourage his junta allies in further political repression.

Indeed, the military thugs are already at work.

The Nation reports a source in the ruling junta as revealing that the military and its bureaucratic handmaidens are “closely following movements by certain groups of people ahead of the Supreme Court verdict in the case against former prime minister Yingluck…”.

That source adds that “Army commander-in-chief General Chalermchai Sitthisart, in his capacity as secretary to the National Council for Peace and Order (NCPO), has instructed the local peacekeeping forces to monitor the movements of ‘all groups involved’ over the next month…”.

The Army’s regional commanders have been ordered “to make sure any suspicious movements are under their microscope…. If the local peacekeeping forces, which were formed after the military coup in 2014, discovered any plan to mobilise large groups of people into Bangkok, they would need to persuade their leaders to cancel such a trip…”. That will mean detentions, threats and other forms of repression. Indeed, the leaking of these orders are a part of that repression.

Military officers have already “been dispatched to different areas of the country in an attempt to persuade Yingluck’s supporters not to come to Bangkok … [and t]hey are going to meet with local community leaders and administrators and ask them to ‘create a better understanding’ among the local residents.” The order is that there “should be no mobilisation of the masses…”. In other words, the military presence at all levels is being heightened and the threats made real.

Update: Part of the fear of Yingluck’s supporters seems reflected in the estimates of the number who showed up last week. The Bangkok Post reports almost 1,000. The official red shirts of the United Front for Democracy against Dictatorship (UDD) have warned The Dictator that his threats inflamed the situation and brought out even more supporters. More threats and intimidation could would damage the junta.





Troops to threaten Yingluck supporters

5 07 2017

Yingluck Shinawatra has already been ordered to pay “compensation” of Bt35 billion – yes, more than $1 billion – for allegedly “causing losses” to the Thai state and taxpayer due to her government’s rice pledging policy.

Yet that’s insufficient for the military dictatorship and for the anti-Thaksin Shinawatra/anti-democrats. They want to grind her, her family and party into dust so that they are unable to challenge anti-democrats whenever the junta decides to hold its “election.”

But her widespread popular support challenges The Dictator, the junta and its supporters.

The Nation reports that this fear has prompted the “military will deploy troops to help the police maintain security later this month during the final hearing in the rice-pledging case involving … former prime minister Yingluck Shinawatra.”

The Supreme Court’s Criminal Division for Holders of Political Positions has scheduled its final hearing for 21 July and it is expected that a “huge number of people” will “turn out to show their support for Yingluck on the last day of her trial.”

Army boss General Chalermchai Sitthisart warned that “public order would be maintained” by the troops.





Still working against universal health care

19 06 2017

Since its coup, the military dictatorship has continually tried to convince people that the Thaksin Shinawatra-inspired universal health care program should be ditched or modified. We have we have posted on some of these royalist-inspired efforts to roll back the universal health care program. We have also mentioned independent assessments of the success of that program.

The junta ha, each time it floated the idea, backed off when it was clear that the program has wide public support. That hasn’t stopped it sniping at he program as a part of the Thaksin regime that has to be uprooted. The regime has also ensured that the program suffers budget problems.

Along with the big hospital owners and the doctors who make a fortune from private clinics, the junta would prefer a privatized system (think America’s Republicans).

Its latest efforts to gut the program are being pushed with more determination this time, seemingly going ahead despite opposition. As The Nation puts it, “the National Health Security Bill is set to sail ahead despite its four public hearings utterly failing to appease opponents.”

Not only will the puppet National Legislative Assembly vote almost unanimously for whatever its bosses want, but it is made up of anti-democrats who consider universal health care a Thaksin plot to win votes. They call it policy corruption and grumble about populism.

The measure of the dictatorship’s renewed determination is shown by the efforts now being made to intimidate opponents of this dismantling.

The saving of the program will only be if the junta believes that changing the program will be “electorally” damaging when they decide it is time they win an election.





Updated: Anti-democrats united and Democrat Party disunited

2 06 2017

The moves against (anti-) Democrat Party leader Abhisit Vejjajiva are gathering some pace as the anti-democrats in the People’s Democratic Reform Committee, described by The Nation as “supposedly defunct,” seeks to take control of the party leadership. The report states that “the party’s future is unclear as key players are split on whether Abhisit Vejjajiva should remain the party leader.”

PPT has said several times that Abhisit is tainted goods in terms of elections. He ordered the murderous crackdown in 2010 but has not been able to develop the relationship with the military and its dictatorship that marked the cooperation between the former deputy and PDRC leader, who takes responsibility for the bloody attack on red shirts, Suthep Thaugsuban.

Suthep is far happier to get into bed with the men in green and canoodle with them than Abhisit, who sees himself as being too “virtuous,” “good” and “great” for that kind of relationship.

Interestingly, The Nation and the Bangkok Post diverge in their reporting of a meeting between anti-democrats of the PDRC and the Democrat Party. The Post emphasizes the coming together of the groups while The Nation is focused on Abhisit’s tenuous position and differences.

PDRC core leader, Thaworn Senniam now claims that the Democrat Party members who joined the PDRC are still with the party or never left it, at least in spirit. He said:

he wanted to make it clear that in their fight against the “Thaksin regime”, nobody had resigned from the party, refuting reports that said “they were returning to Democrat Party again”.

“We have always been Democrats up to the present,” the former PDRC leader said. “We joined, also with the Democrat Party, the fight against the blanket Amnesty Bill and we won.”

Going forward, he said the PDRC and the Democrat Party were united. (We already knew that.) He observed that the anti-democrats would:

First, … remain united in following the road map towards an election. Second, they shared the same ambition of achieving reforms within one year after the Constitution was promulgated.

Where the radical anti-democrats differ is that they don’t want an election. Suthep has made that clear. He’d rather stay in bed with the military in a consummated relationship based on the fear of Thaksin Shinawatra and a hatred of people’s sovereignty.

Update: The Democrat Party is now consumed by internal disputes as the PDRCistas seek to take control of the party. Abhisit is likely to be seen out the door, not least because the PDRC’s allies in the junta want him out for an “election,” should they decide to hold one. That said, Abhisit has so few principles and such a desire for prestige and power that he could easily do a deal with all the devils.





Seeing red

21 03 2017

As the junta approaches the anniversary of its third year of military dictatorship, it is going through another phase of red shirt repression. The regime is again seeing reds under its beds and it doesn’t like it.

There are frantic junta imaginations of fantastical red shirt assassination plots, reds infiltrating Wat Dhammakaya, separatist rebellion and more.

This reaction appears to derive from two closely related perceptions: first, a view that any opposition is an immediate threat to the junta’s stability; and second, a desire for regime longevity, where “regime” is the broader elite military-monarchy-business alliance.

At least an element of this perception derives from yellow-shirted and anti-democratic grumbling about the junta having lost its zeal for “reform” – defined as rooting out the Thaksin Shinawatra regime. That grumbling has also been associated with some southern protests over ports and cola-fired power stations. It seems the junta felt its right wing was weakening in its support.

The result has been an intensification of both anti-Thaksinism and anti-red shirt repression.

The targeting of Thaksin has involved an effort to levy Thaksin for past taxes due (although we had somehow thought that the assets stripping case was part of the “tax’) and going after loyalists in a series of legal cases.

The anti-red shirt effort has been frenzied of late, with the Wuthipong Kachathamakul or Ko Tee weapons and assassination stories and the earlier (and probably related in the minds of the junta) plots said to be originating in Laos.

At the same time, the courts have been at work, dealing with red shirt cases. The most recent of those sees the Appeals Court upholding a “lower court’s sentence of a four-year jail term each, without suspension, for singer Arisman Pongruangrong and 12 other red-shirts for leading protesters who forced their way into the Royal Cliff Beach Resort Hotel in Pattaya, where the 2009 Asean Summit was being held.”

(What has happened with the yellow shirt occupation of airports in 2008?)

They were prosecuted “for defying an order prohibiting a rally of more than 10 people and causing unrest.”

(What has happened to all the yellow shirts who broke similar laws?)

In early 2015, they were sentenced to four years each in jail, without suspension, and a fine of 200 baht. Those sentenced were:

Arisman Pongruangrong, Nisit Sinthuprai, Payap Panket, Worachai Hema, Wanchana Kerddee, Pichet Sukjindathong, Sakda Noppasit, Pol Lt Col Waipot Aparat, Nopporn Namchiangtai, Samrerng Prachamrua, Somyot Promma, Wallop Yangtrong and Singthong Buachum.

The Appeals Court upheld the lower court’s ruling, which sentences the 13 to four years each in jail without suspension. Bail may follow, but the threat is clear.

This is a pattern seen previously, although the junta does appear more frantic in its efforts at present.





Secrets, constitution and election

19 02 2017

Not that long ago, PPT posted on the secret amendments to the draft constitution. Despite the sham “referendum” on the “constitution,” the king demanded changes that, according to The Dictator’s account, give the king more power and flexibility.

Those amendments were crafted, in secret, by a puppet committee. Then the military junta declared that these palace and junta secret amendments would only be revealed to the public by the Office of His Majesty’s Principal Private Secretary.

We remain in awe of the notion that a “constitution” put to a “referendum” can then be amended by a feudal institution and announced by that same feudal encumbrance. This is certainly a defining feature of Thailand’s authoritarianism in the tenth reign.

The Bangkok Post again quotes Deputy Prime Minister Wissanu Krea-ngam on this bizarre process. He says the “draft constitution has been re-submitted to … the King and its revised content will be revealed soon…”.

He can’t say when, because that choice remains with the feudal forces of the palace.

Remarkable, even in this extraordinary process, Wissanu is quoted as saying that the junta’s “cabinet will be officially informed about it on Tuesday…”. We assume that “it” refers to the changes made.” But who knows, this is such a farcical exercise.

Wissanu then turned to the delayed junta “election.” He declared taht the junta’s so-called “roadmap to a general election remains intact…”.

That nonsensical claim was then amended: “It’s only that we can’t fix the date of each step as everything is set within a framework…”.

That’s in part because they don’t seem to know what the king will do. Wissanu says that the “date the constitution is proclaimed will be the start.” Then there are junta laws to draw up “on national reform and national strategy” and these “must be completed four months after that [proclamation of the constitution].” Then the organic laws “will be completed within six months from that date…”. He then got to the junta’s “election,” stating the “general election date can be set once the organic law on elections is proclaimed.

That the “election” is delayed hardly bothers the junta. It wants it delayed so it has plenty of time to prepare for its “election” victory.

They continue to work at neutering the Shinawatra clan and its supporters and the “reconciliation” talks give them the opportunity to sound out their potential electoral allies. The junta is also working to ensure that the bureaucracy is junta-friendly and sufficiently anti-Shinawatra and anti-“politician” so that the election counts for nothing.