28 05 2011

The Bangkok Post reports that denials of allegations are a theme of the election campaign.

First, Election Commission chairman Apichart Sukhagganond has stated that he “will sue a Pheu Thai Party list candidate for claiming that he met Privy Council president Prem Tinsulanonda to block the election.” Apichart is said to be “furious” and says “the allegations were groundless. He distributed a five-page document to reporters to explain what he was doing that day.” There’s no mention of other days.

Meanwhile, Army chief General Prayuth Chan-ocha “has denied a military task force joining the government’s drug suppression campaign has been told to intimidate red shirt supporters against backing Pheu Thai at the election.” He said the task force would continue its operations.

Puea Thai Party “called for the dissolution of the task force, which it said was set up to sway voters under the pretext of suppressing illicit drugs. The party claimed the task force has sent soldiers to monitor red shirts and their campaign activities in Bangkok constituencies such as Min Buri, Nong Chok and Lat Phrao.” On television, the Puea Thai Party showed pictures of the task force at work in red shirt locations.

The elite’s Songkhran gift that corrupts democracy

13 04 2011

The gift is 73 senators appointed under the junta-appointed Surayud Chulanont government’s 2007 constitution.

Surayud was prime minister after he was plucked from the Privy Council that advises the king in order to rollback the gains of the 1997 constitution and the legacy of elected governments under Thaksin Shinawatra. The 2007 constitution sought to embed a less representative form of government (a process that continues today under the royalist Abhisit Vejjajiva regime).

As The Nation explains, the “list of 73 newly chosen senators announced by the Election Commission yesterday did include many with strong links to the 2006 coup-makers’ Council for National Security and defectors from Thaksin Shinawatra’s group.” The junta’s representatives will hold the balance of power in parliament for a further six years. In other words, the 2006 coup group seeks to continue to control politics in the interests of the royalist elite until at least 2017, meaning more than a decade of military and fellow travelers will have effectively been, if not formally in charge, then a veto block, for a decade.

Former senior military junta leader General Somjed Boonthanom said he was “proud to be selected.” And why wouldn’t he be? The junta established a regime of repression and control that sought to protect the country and monarchy from the electoral masses, and he is now in such a position. He can seek to ensure that full representative democracy is never allowed under his watch.

Who selected these offspring of the junta and coup? Those charged with selecting were: Constitutional Court president Chut Chonlavorn, Election Commission chairman Apichart Sukhagganond, Chief Ombudsman Pramote Chotemongkol, National Anti-Corruption Commission chairman Panthep Klanarongran, Supreme Court Justice Montri Sriiamsa-ard and Supreme Administrative Court Justice Kasem Komsattham. None are particularly partial to democratic politics and all are proud servants of the crown and backers of royalist rule.

To further cement the network of opposition to representative politics, the committee also selected and re-selected senators who are close to the People’s Alliance for Democracy, businesspeople who were close to the junta and who backed the PAD, and a former member of the Assets Scrutiny Committee that was a yellow-hued, semi-legal body that investigated Thaksin and his family after his overthrow and was close to the junta. Other selected senators are known to be close to the current Abhisit government, including the younger brother of Defence Minister Prawit Wongsuwan, others with links to Newin Chidchob’s Bhum Jai Thai Party and defectors from pro-Thaksin parties and the usual bunch of yellow-hued academics known for their ability to hawk themselves to those in power.

The Bangkok Post concludes, somewhat unremarkably, that “Many of former prime minister Thaksin Shinawatra’s staunchest opponents were among 73 new members of the Senate announced by the Election Commission…”. By the Post’s calculation, 23 of the re-appointed senators were from the staunchly anti-Thaksin group of 40.

The selection committee still manages to mumble something about having “their dignity and could not be influenced”. PPT isn’t sure about dignity, but it may well be true that they weren’t “influenced.” After all, they are paid-up members of the royalist elite, so they know what they had to do. Then again, we doubt the grey hairs were prepared to allow the selectors to operate without appropriate guidance.

Calls for an elected senate have come from the Puea Thai Party and even via a Bangkok Post editorial. Such calls will not be heeded as the royalist elite is desperate to maintain control and to protect their interests.

One thing that is clear is that any elected government that is not pro-royalist is going to have a very hard time and will be prevented from governing in its own right. That’s the point of all of this. and the many other changes being hastily implemented before an election is called.

Double standards again

14 02 2010


PPT readers will be aware of the sudden revelation by the Democrat Party of funds allegedly being transferred to the opposition red shirts from abroad (see here and here). The prime minister, deputy prime minister, justice minister and a gaggle of spin doctors and spokesmen have all said that investigations are ongoing to prove this so far unsubstantiated claim.


Meanwhile the alleged illegal transfer of funds to the Democrat Party, from within the country, continues to drag along with postponements and other delays. The contrast with the current investigations of the red shirts could not be more stark. Both cases are riddled with political interests.


The Nation (14 February 2010) reports that the Election Commission team looking into the Democrat Party dissolution case yesterday said it still has much work to do, particularly since the report from the Department of Special Investigation contained many holes.”


Apparently, the DSI has “not concluded whether TPI Polene’s Bt258-million donation to the Democrats was obtained lawfully…. Nor has it filed a complaint accusing the party of violating the Political Party Act, which could lead to its being disbanded.”


The investigating panel has apparently called in a former DSI deputy director who had worked on the DSI report. Apparently, the investigation revolves around a question of whether the “DSI believes TPI Polene illegally siphoned the Bt258 million from the Financial Institutions Development Fund, since the company was still in rehabilitation. If so, the then CEO of TPI, Prachai Leophairatana, would be subject to legal action for violating the Securities and Exchange Act of 1992.


The former DSI officer claims the EC has plenty of clear evidence in the 7,000 page report “submitted to EC chairman Apichart Sukhagganond in his capacity as the political-party registrar last March…” following more than a year of investigation.


In terms of the donation to the Democrat Party, at issue is the question of whether it was an unlawful donation. Receiving and using an unlawful donation means the “party could be disbanded for violating the Political Party Act…”. However, for this to occur, the investigating panel would have to consider the Party’s intent to “violate the law, commit an offence against morality or disturb peace and order.” To reach a conclusion on this is going to require a truckload of evidence and testimony.


Democrat politicians say “the alleged donation never took place” and that the “party never obtained it.” It was a business deal with relatives of Democrats. Where have we heard that kind of excuse before?


It is clear that this case is being deliberately delayed for political purposes. If it isn’t, then the authorities are doing a pretty good job of providing that impression.





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