11 01 2015

The military dictatorship knows that political symbols can be powerful. That’s why they spend buckets of taxpayer money on promoting the monarchy. In some ways, this has become both a deathwatch and a strange symbolic invisibility.

Yellow ChickensWhen The Dictator demanded that the whole country wear the king’s yellow for a month, the deathwatch element of the symbolism was clear. At the same time, though, the wearing of yellow was symbolic of the political victories of the anti-democrats, from the military’s use of yellow in its 2006 coup, to the People’s Alliance for Democracy and the ultra-monarchists who ravage human rights with the illiberal use of the lese majeste law.

Yellow is General Prayuth Chan-ocha’s preferred color because it is symbolic of hierarchy and authoritarianism.

So when a couple of woman wear black against Prayuth’s orders, this is identified by military and other fascists as symbolic resistance and repressed.

More significantly, the military dictatorship hates and fears red. This color is symbolic of support for electoralism, Thaksin Shinawatra and opposition to dictatorship. Most recently, “security authorities” have demanded that red shirts be exchanged for white shirts at the 100-day ceremony to mark the death of Apiwan Wiriyachai.

No symbols that are not military or royal are permitted in Thailand under the military dictatorship.

Dopes, censorship and repression

21 10 2014

The military brass has again declared its loyalty to its boss. Why these dolts bother beats us, but there’s always a chance that one of the dopes gets sick of the dopes above him and tries to change things. But declaring loyalty means nothing for when they do decide to act, they are unlikely to declare it. What they did declare was: “We not only give our support and encouragement to the prime minister, but we will also translate his orders into actions. We will do our best.” Their “best” may be everyone else’s “worst” as the military brass engages in a political feeding frenzy.

At Prachatai it is reported that the military has “ordered the editor of anti-establishment socio-political Same Sky journal to delete a Facebook status which states the military’s attempt to censor the publishing house.”

The military ordered editor Thanapol Eawsakul “to delete the Facebook status on the conversation with Prajak Kongkirati, a renown[ed] political scientist from Thammasat University, at the annual Book Fair in central Bangkok.” Apparently the dunderheads in the military “mistook the fan meeting [with author Prajak] as [a] political seminar and requested the book fair organizer to videotape … the event which the book fair organizer declined.”

The deleted post “stated that the night before the opening of the fair, the military officials came to search the Fah Deaw Kan’s booth, claiming that some of the books have contents that could be deemed as defaming the …. Thai monarchy.” We deleted a word at … to protect our readers from royalist nonsense.

It is reported that “Same Sky … deleted the status and said it was forced to delete the status because the military felt ‘upset’.”

Also at Prachatai, it is reported that the military arrested and detained a red shirt who attended Apiwan Wiriyachai’s funeral. Military officers arrested Nueng Katesakul for allegedly taking part “in the anti-coup protest at the Victory Monument on 28 June…”.

The repression and censorship continues.

Updated: Apiwan’s funeral

19 10 2014

Large numbers of people attended the funeral of Apiwan Wiriyachai. Apiwan was a former leader of the Puea Thai Party and of the red shirts. The military dictatorship had accused him of lese majeste. They feared his funeral as a possible stage for a red shirt protest.

Yingluck at funeral

Update: Khaosod has a story on the funeral. Estimating a crowd of 10,000, it is described as “the largest public gathering of Redshirt supporters since the military coup on 22 May.” The story adds: “soldiers were deployed on the roads around Bang Phai Temple and many police officers were posted at the temple to observe the cremation.” The claim that “there were no political activities or speeches at the ceremony…” seems denied by the photo:

Red Shirt funeral

Death and after III

12 10 2014

A couple of days ago, PPT posted on Deputy Dictator General Prawit Wongsuwan deciding that he was such an important boss that he could tell people how to behave at funerals. The Deputy Dictator feared that the funeral of former Puea Thai MP and red shirt leader Apiwan Wiriyachai might become an opportunity for expressions of resistance to the royalist military dictatorship.

ApiwanApiwan died in exile, forced out of the country by the military coup in May, and harassed with lese majeste charges.

At The Nation it is reported that “huge numbers” of red shirts gathered at the international airport, which was also “heavily secured” as Apiwan’s body was returned from Manila for a funeral.

Key red shirt leaders present included Weng Tojirakarn, Thida Tawornsate Tojirakarn, Nattawut Saikua and Jatuporn Promphan, surrounded by “hundreds of police and soldiers [who] guarded all entrances.”

The apparently fearful police “frequently warned the crowd not to express anything political in nature.” Unusually wealthy businessman, junta sycophant and incompetent police chief Somyos Pumpanmuang was there to ensure the “gathering was non-political.”

Jatuporn said that” many red-shirt supporters were likely to attend the funeral rites for Apiwan, as he had fought side by side with them.” Yingluck Shinawatra was also expected to attend the funeral despite the military dictatorship attempting to limit her participation in public events.

Many will find the dictatorship’s interference with a funeral distasteful and lacking appropriate respect.

Death and after II

9 10 2014

While the military dictatorship may see one of its major tasks as being to manage the death and succession of the king, it also seeks to manage politics.

One of the most remarkable pieces of pompous dictating that has come out of the current junta – and there have been plenty – is Deputy Dictator General Prawit Wongsuwan deciding that he can dictate who goes to funerals.Apiwan

The Nation reports that the Deputy Dictator “urged that the funeral rites of former Pheu Thai MP Col Apiwan Wiriyachai be kept free of politics.” Apiwan died in exile, essentially forced out of the country by the military coup in May, and harrassed with lese majeste charges laid on 26 June 2014, three years after a speech deemed by the military to constitute lese majeste.

The Deputy Dictator felt that it was his prerogative to dictate how his relatives and friends could pay their respects. He said:

“It is okay for relatives, friends, and people who respect him, to mourn for him [at the funeral] but they will have to abide by the law. But if [the gathering] is about a political agenda and will lead to political chaos, we [the fascist military dictatorship] will send officials to look over the funeral,” said Prawit.

Prawit was worried that supporters of Apiwan, “who was also a red-shirt leader,” who wanted to pay their respects “would create an opportunity for the red-shirt supporters to create chaos and disrupt the government’s reconciliation plan.” The Deputy Dictator – who will no doubt get a royally-sponsored funeral when he is dead, if the monarchy still exists – declared: “We’ve been working on national security and other aspects to keep the country stable, please do not make any movement to interfere with the country’s stability…”. The implied threat of arresting people at a funeral is stark and cruel.

Meanwhile, The Dictator, General Prayuth Chan-ocha, “said Apiwan’s charge of violating lese majeste law would be dropped due to his death.” How big-hearted and generous of him. But he also showed his true colors as a military despot by warning that his dictatorship “could not tolerate any violation of order.” That is well known; the dictatorship is intolerant.

When he also stated that “he would not attend the funeral,” and said he “hop[ed] everyone would understand,” we were confused and didn’t understand. Is Prayuth simply full of political and personal hatred? Is he disdainful of red shirts despite all the nonsensical rhetoric about reconciliation?

Updated: Paid to lie for the junta and monarchy

25 09 2014

Thai diplomats usually speak for their country and almost always put the best spin they can on that representation. Nothing remarkable in that. It gets more interesting when diplomats have to lie for their government.

At the China Post there’s a perfect example of this. Kriangsak Kittichaisaree is an executive director of Thailand Trade and Economic Office in Taipei, which means he’s a diplomat. A few days ago he did lie duty for king and country. He wrote to the Editor-In-Chief of the China Post to complain and lie.

Kriangsak wrote to complain about an AFP article “Royal slur cases skyrocket post Thai Coup: Amnesty” which quoted Amnesty International that “14 Thais indicted under the controversial lese majeste law in less than four months.” This is a verifiable fact, but Kriangsak was presumably told to dispute it.

He stated that the report “provided inaccurate information on the current political situation in Thailand.” His lies then became layered: first  he claimed that “Thailand supports and highly values the freedom of expression…”. This is a bogus claim. The lie is made in order to make the ridiculous assertion that lese majeste is just like other laws; of course, it isn’t.

Kriangsak has this spin: “there is a certain degree of restriction in order to protect the rights or repotations [sic. reputations] of others as well as upholding national security and order.” The “national security” bit is the giveaway for there are no “others” considered essential for “national security.”

He then adds another lie: “The lese-majeste law … gives protection to the rights or reputations of the King, the Queen, the Heir-Apparent, or a Regent in a similar way libel law does for commoners.” This lie has been exposed many times. The simple response to this blatant lie is to ask how many commoners go to jail for several years for libeling other commoners? Ask how many commoners are denied their constitutional rights (when there any) and the right to bail for libeling other commoners? Ask how many millions of people must self-censor in order to avoid jail for libeling commoners? The answers are all close to zero.

Kriangsak adds another layer of lies when he says the lese majeste law “is not aimed at curbing people’s right to the freedom of expression or the legitimate exercise of academic freedom including debates about the monarchy as an institution.” Of course, it is meant to do all these things.

Unlike libel, lese majeste  is made a political crime that has a chilling impact on the whole population.

Kriangsak’s final fibs are that “Amnesty International failed to acknowledge that the higher number of lese-majeste arrests since 22 May 2014 merely represented old cases…”, and that all cases result in “a fair trial.”

The claim that all are old cases is false – as just one example, see Apiwan Wiriyachai’s case. The idea that any lese majeste victim gets a fair trial would be laughable if it wasn’t such a tragic event for those accused, charged and imprisoned.

Update: The Nation reports on another Thai diplomat who can make a crooked line straight with a lie here and a fib there. The pliable Sihasak Phuangketkeow has told pliant Thai reporters that while he got criticism from a relatively lowly State Department official, reckons he told President Obama that “Thailand … had reaffirmed its faith in democratic values…”. That must explain all the repression, censorship, harassment of academics, lese majeste cases, the military dictatorship and the military’s complete domination of the cabinet and assembly. It is all about “democratic values”!

Telling it like it ain’t

1 09 2014

PPT has no idea who author’s the Bangkok Post’s Saturday column “About Politics.” We do know that it is rapidly deteriorating into a mouthpiece for the military dictatorship. The week’s column is a mixture of concocted headlines and false and anti-democratic claims.

The first header is “He’s hiding in the Philippines.” This rather breathless statement of Apiwan Wiriyachai’s flight to the Philippines after the military coup is something already known to Bangkok Post readers seems overly manufactured in that the Post had reported it some four days earlier. In addition, the “story” is about the lese majeste charges that have been known since late June.

All of this non-story appears to be about establishing that there is a pro-Thaksin Shinawatra clique still loose in the deeply royalist Ministry of Foreign Affairs:

A political source said it was unclear when or how Col Apiwan managed to slip out of the country to receive medical treatment in the Philippines.

Those familiar with the matter said in the past some Thai embassy staff in a number of countries have made themselves “accommodating” to politicians who travel overseas. The politicians in question might not have positions in the government anymore, but they still wield immense influence.

Seems like a beat-up to us, especially as the Ministry has been one of the most deeply royalist.

The second story has to do with The Dictator, General Prayuth Chan-ocha. The story seems to be that the general, while prime minister, “is expected to continue running the country through the mechanisms of the National Council for Peace and Order,” meaning the military junta.

Who didn’t know this?

Even so, a parade of sycophants have been parading before The Dictator trying to entice him to appoint them to a puppet cabinet.

Yes, we know it is now appointed, and we are behind on posting about it, yet the heads in it seem almost irrelevant as they are dominated by the junta. The Post put its money on Thirachai Phuvanatnaranubala becoming finance minister. It was wrong.

Finally, the column refers to UK ambassador to Thailand, Mark Kent, who is said to have “joined the vibrant social media community in Thailand…”.  We wonder which Thailand the columnist is resident in. Not the Thailand of the military dictatorship and its censorship regime, that’s for sure.

More comical military lies

30 08 2014

We assume that having to be in exile is not a joke. But the military dictatorship’s recent call for political opponents to return to Thailand for a “fair trial” is comical.

Khaosod reports that the junta’s spokesperson Colonel Winthai Suvaree as stating: “We want them to come back. We never shut the door to them. We never prohibit them [from coming back]…”. He went on to claim that The Dictator Prayuth Chan-ocha “has personally invited all dissidents to return to Thailand, with promises to treat them fairly.”

To be honest, PPT does not believe that Prayuth understands “fairness.” This is snipped from Wikipedia [click on the image for a larger view]:Fairness

The record of the military and the judiciary is of remarkable double standards that could not be further from any notion of fairness. Winthai, and presumably The Dictator too, was responding to a comment by a lawyer numerous opposition activists and lese majeste defendants. The record on lese majeste is clear: even laws, international conventions and constitutional provisions are routinely ignored in seeking to punish the accused.

Those who have fled the countryinclude “former Minister of Interior Affairs Charupong Ruangsuwan, Redshirt leader and former Deputy House Speaker Apiwan  Wiriyachai, and historian and critic of the Thai monarchy Somsak Jiamteerasakul.”

Winthai added to the lies by disingenuously stating:

“The case is the duty of the police to decide how to proceed. Everything is in accordance with the law. The NCPO will merely ask for cooperation [from Mr. Apiwan] to come back and contest the charge in Thailand,” Col. Winthai said. “Let me stress that we have no policy of hunting down individuals who are taking exile abroad.”

The media has quoted several officials who claim to be hunting down those overseas and seeking extradition. Think of Aum Neko as just one example. Winthai lied further – has he no shame? – “People who are contesting their charges in the country, those that don’t run away, get their bail release.” This is clearly, unequivocally a blatant untruth. Khaosod gives an example:

Contrary to Col. Winthai’s claim, a Thai criminal court recently denied a bail release for two activists charged with lese majeste for their role in a play that was performed in October last year. Police say the theater performance was offensive to the Thai Royal Family.

The two activists are currently imprisoned as they await their trial. If found guilty, they could face up to 15 years in jail.

What is the purpose of continually and intentionally making false statements? After all, everyone know that these are lies. We at PPT can only assume that the military is so accustomed to false claims and impunity that they can no longer detect the truth.

Updated: Another political lese majeste case

23 07 2014

Yes, we know, they are pretty much all political cases, and we recognize that lese majeste is an essential tool in the the military dictatorship’s kitbag.

The newest case amongst the junta’s swathe of political lese majeste cases involves “Pheu Thai executive and red-shirt co-leader Col Apiwan Wiriyachai for an alleged lese majeste offence committed at a political rally.”

The initial report states:

The warrant was issued after a complaint was filed with Chana Songkhram police station, accusing the former deputy House speaker of making offensive remark about the monarchy when he delivered a speech to supporters of the United Front for Democracy against Dictatorship (UDD) in Phetchaburi on Jan 29, 2011.

Col Apiwan was among 155 people summoned by the military a day after the May 22 coup. The junta banned the group from travelling outside of Thailand.

Expect more of this kind of political repression.

Update: Prachatai states that Apiwan spoke in his speech “about people who ‘ordered the killing’ and ‘ordered the shooting’ in the military crackdown on red-shirt protesters in 2010.” There was graffiti about this too.

Democrat Party and lese majeste

26 03 2010

For some months, the Democrat Party leadership under Abhisit Vejjajiva seems to have been trying to keep lese majeste out of the headlines. For example, the government has tended to use the Computer Crimes Act where they may have used lese majeste provisions in the past. But lese majeste is a political charge that tends to be used most actively to threaten and cajole in times of political challenge. It was no surprise to see Jakrapob Penkair’s case pushed forward a couple of days ago.

Now The Nation (26 March 2010) reports that Democrat Party MP Nipit Intarasombat has submitted a petition with Parliament President Chai Chidchob and the Parliamentary Ombudsman’s Office calling for second deputy House speaker Apiwan Wiriyachai’s speech delivered at the red-shirts’ protest site on Monday to be investigated.Apiwan is a Peua Thai Party MP and Nipit has charged that he made “inappropriate comments” that he believes can be “interpreted as being in contempt of the monarchy. Nipit also planned to “bring this case to the National Anti-Corruption Commission.” He does this because he thinks the comments by Apiwan violated a code of ethics for members of parliament.

It will be interesting to observe whether lese majeste cases will again be making headlines as a measure of political pressure.

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