Defining nepotism

20 04 2016

Blood is thicker than water inside mafia-like military families. Prime Minister General Prayuth Chan-ocha has “defended his brother [General Preecha Chan-ocha] against allegations of nepotism after a leaked memo revealed that the permanent secretary for defence had secured a post in the military for his son.”

Earlier posts, here and here, provide the background.

Most sources describe nepotism as favoritism, particularly in appointments to jobs and official positions, based on kinship. Preecha’s first statement on the matter – it’s normal in Thailand’s Army to appoint sons – fits the definition perfectly. He did try to backtrack and cover-up on this.

Yet it seems that The Dictator doesn’t get it. Blood may indeed be thicker than water, but nothing is thicker than a military dictator. We say this because, seemingly believing he can do and say anything, no matter how stupid and incriminating.

Prayuth insisted the nepotism of his brother was “a minor matter” and “simply an ordinary appointment.”

Clearly, nepotism is rampant in today’s military. The top brass can’t even conceive of nepotism being consider wrong or unethical. For them, appointing family member is no big deal and normal.

Prayuth went on to explain this feudal situation: “Today the offspring of military families are appointed (to positions) because they gain trust from what their parents have done for the country…”.

From this it is easy to see how the military has become personalistic fiefdoms that defend hierarchy and the royalist elite.

And, oh yes, Prayuth added: “Everything was legal and correct, that’s it…”.

We doubt that it was all “legal and correct,” but guess that the paper trail is being cleaned as we write. We also doubt that this is the end of the story. Nor should it be.





Looking after the family’s interests II

18 04 2016

The Ministry of Defense has declared that nepotism in the Army is normal.

According to a report at Prachatai, the Ministry “has defended the appointment of the junta’s leader’s nephew to an army post, saying that it is normal for the army to replace retired army personnel.”

We think the Ministry is not simply covering up. While there might have been some thought that someone would complain about The Dictator’s brother, General Preecha Chan-ocha handing his some an Army commission and salary, the Ministry really does think this is normal. It is normal because it is standard practice in the military. The top brass probably do it all the time, as Preecha has claimed.

Ministry spokesperson Major General Kongcheep Tantrawanich declared “that such appointments are necessary to maintain and improve the capability of the Thai Army.” Given the capacity of the Army for improving the incomes of officers, accumulating that unusual wealth in the family makes accounting sense.

Prachatai states:

Isara reported that such appointments occur via a process in which the authorities in the military issue job qualification documents in accordance to the qualifications of certain people connected to high ranking officials, ensuring that certain posts are reserved for well connected persons.

Meanwhile, the Bangkok Post reports that General Preecha “the permanent secretary for defence, has come out to defend his son’s appointment as an officer in the 3rd Army amid allegations of nepotism.”

He claimed his son “had been properly recruited by the 3rd Army to fill a vacant post as civil affairs officer” and reckoned he had the right “qualifications for the job as he had experience working in public relations with the Petroleum Authority of Thailand (PTT) and he was a graduate in mass communication.”

He did not say how many qualified applicants there could have been if he hadn’t handed out the job to his son.

This is starting to sound like a cover-up. Maybe The Dictator is ticked off by Preecha’s initial truthfulness?

He had said he’d given it to his son. Preecha’s new story is one of process and procedure. Who does he think he is kidding?

Now he says all “[a]pplications for military positions were usually screened by a committee and it was his job as defence secretary to approve proposals made by the committee, as assigned by the defence minister…”.

He does not say that his boy went through this process.

General Preecha then made some remarkable claims: “that in fact his son did not want to be a soldier, but he had wanted him to take a military job because it was more secure than being an employee at PTT.”

His son doesn’t want to be an military officer. Preecha, who has a hand in running the country reckons PTT is insecure? Who does he think he’s kidding? PTT is one of Thailand’s largest companies, operates internationally and pays well.

He said he asked his son to apply when there was a vacant position.

Again, this seems like a claim that he didn’t simply give his son the slot, contradicting his earlier “it’s normal” statement about nepotism.

He adds that brother Prayuth “had no objection to him doing this [giving his son a job], as long as it was correct and legitimate.” He does not say if it is “correct and legitimate” to do the “normal” thing and give his lad a commission.

Getting deeper into the cover-up, Preecha re-defines his earlier statement of “normal,” stating that :[i]t is normal for children of high-ranking military officers to join the military when there are openings available.”

Who does he think he is kidding? That horse has bolted.

Furthering the cover-up, General Prawit Wongsuwan “told reporters he saw nothing wrong with the appointment.”

The pattern has been seen before: recall the initial statement of truth on Rajabhakdi Park – yes, there was corruption – and then the long, long cover-up that no one believes.





Prem supports murderous thugs

12 04 2016

In our previous post, PPT pointed out how murder, torture and impunity were imprinted in the DNA of the current military establishment and, by definition, in the junta that runs the country. We also indicated that this hierarchical bunch of thugs fits the structure of Thailand’s exploitative social structure. This means that the royalist elite cheers the military as “heroes” and as providing service to the nation (they mean their nation).

Low and behold, no sooner do we write this and the Bangkok Post provides evidence for it. As if on cue, “Privy Council president Gen Prem Tinsulanonda yesterday extended moral support to Prime Minister Prayut Chan-o-cha as he opened his residence to welcome Songkran well-wishers,” almost all of them from this murderous military. The exceptions to this were minions, handmaidens and bootlickers, like Wissanu Krea-ngam.

The Dictator “led cabinet ministers and senior armed forces officers to pay their respects to Gen Prem and ask for his blessings to mark the traditional Thai New Year.” In the picture, clipped from the Bangkok Post, Prem’s delight is clear.Prem and Prayuth

The aged royalist political meddler stated: “I hope that all the prime minister wants to do for the country and for the people comes true. And I wish everyone honour and pride for your determination to protect our country and bring love and unity to Thais…”.

Torture and murder are part of that “love and unity” because those who suffer it are not considered part of Prem and Prayuth’s nation.

When Prem “praised Gen Prayut for his efforts to preserve Thai culture…” and declared: “Preserving cultural identity is tantamount to protecting the nation. What the prime minister is doing is protecting the country. He has been doing his job as a Thai and deserves to be a role model,” not only is he anointing Prayuth as leader into the future but he is praising loyalty, subservience and hierarchy.

Prem made this clear, saying “a five-year period is deemed an appropriate period to work…”. He is advocating acceptance of the junta’s charter and continuing military authoritarian tutelage.





Murderous thugs

12 04 2016

PPT has some readers who get agitated when we point to the fact that Thailand’s military has been, since its modern birth in the nineteenth century, a force for internal security. These readers get angry when we observe that this has meant that the military enjoys such impunity that it literally gets away with murder. Thousands have fallen victim to this murderous gang over the decades.

The most recent bunch of murderous thugs seized control of government in May 2014.

The Bangkok Post seems to agree on some of this, turning on the military over the death of a recruit as a result of torture.

The Post editorial begins with this:

It was a shocking revelation that the commander of today’s Royal Thai Army had to publicly order his officers not to murder or torture fellow soldiers. Yet that was the order issued last week by army commander Gen Teerachai Nakwanich, and shown to the public.

While suffering historical blindness, saying that the military has a tradition of “142 years of serving the nation,” the editorial seems shocked that the “army has officers and men capable of killing their own service members.”

This is faux shock. After all, torture is standard operating procedure for the military when dealing with the elite’s political opponents. More importantly, though, revelations about this kind of pathological behavior used against recruits have been around for decades. Ask any male villager who has been called up in the national draft and they can tell of such incidents. (The rich and even the middle class can avoid duty in the ranks through favors and pay-offs.)

The Post knows all of this. It rightly observes that “the army by its traditions treats such premeditated murders gently.” For torture and murder, the Army confines perpetrators to their barracks for 30 days. In other words, the corrupt military condones murder and torture and grants its murderers and torturers impunity. It does this because it must maintain servility and hierarchy. It considers the murderers and torturers loyal and that they are doing their duty.

And if it wasn’t clear enough, we can repeat it: murder is a “tradition” in this corrupt organization that values only loyalty, subservience and hierarchy. Murder is a tradition in the monarchy’s military.These thugs, murderers and torturers protect the monarchy as the cornerstone of an edifice of corruption, impunity, power and exploitation.

The Post also says this:

Gen Teerachai and his superior, Defence Minister Gen Prawit Wongsuwon, appear in denial about a key fact. The Royal Thai Army suffers and perhaps condones such vicious attacks on its men and women — and especially its recruits. “Incidents like this are rare,” said Gen Prawit, who is clearly at the top of the current military hierarchy. But this hardly fits the known facts.

Credit social media once again with quickly assembling a number of actual and recent videos of soldiers beating conscripts. Recruits often are forced to strip, and are beaten and kicked. The compilation is difficult to watch. The last video shows the beating death of Pvt Wichian Phuaksom, also in the South, in 2011.

The videos confirm such incidents are not rare, as Gen Prawit says. It is even worse, knowing that this is the filmed tip of this violent iceberg. One must guess how many beatings were not taped and completely covered up.

We have chosen not to link to the videos. It is crystal clear that General Prawit, one of the coup leaders and a leader of the military junta is a liar.

The Post is right to demand better: “the army must clean house on this despicable matter.” But here’s the rub. The Post cannot call a spade a spade:

The murder and beating were premeditated acts. They deserve courts martial, just as if they had occurred outside the army camp by civilians. The military is a unique institution, but it cannot harbour men who believe they have the right to kill and maim fellow soldiers. No such licence can exist anywhere in Thai society.

The fact is that Thailand’s military is corrupt and incapable of reform. It has political power and is run by thugs who got to the top of a rotten organization because they do what is required. They sit atop an organization that is the elite’s enforcers, torturers and murderers.

In this context, PPT wonders if the Post understands its own words:

In their high positions, Gen Prawit and Gen Teerachai represent the entire nation. They are commanding officers, men and women responsible for defending the nation against all enemies, including gross indecencies against their own fellow service members. Army discipline obviously needs full-scale reform. Pvt Songtham must be the last Thai soldier killed by his fellow men in uniform.

Thais should be ashamed that thugs “represent the entire nation.” Reform is a word much loved by the military junta. In Thailand it has come to mean a return to the values of loyalty, subservience and hierarchy that serve to maintain exploitation and subjugation, and it is this system that requires thugs, murderers and torturers.





Army of repression

5 04 2016

As PPT has stated many times, Thailand’s military, and especially the Army, has almost no skills in defending borders. It is a politicized Army or as one academic paper has it, a monarchized military.

To re-emphasize this fundamental fact, according to the Bangkok Post, the “newly-appointed chief of the 2nd Army Region has made raising public awareness about the upcoming charter referendum one of his priorities.”

The 2nd Army Region is in the northeast and is thus critical for the military dictatorship in suppressing opposition and having the junta’s charter pass the already discredited referendum.

Lt Gen Wichai Chaejorhor reportedly “said an urgent task is to educate voters in the Northeast about the draft charter and encourage them to take part in the planned referendum.”

This is juntaspeak for propagandizing for the military’s charter and making sure it passes.

His other two missions were also civil rather than military. First, “to ease the hardship of residents in drought-hit areas…”. This is an area where the military has no particular expertise but usually sends in bulldozers to scrape out ponds and may drill a few wells. In the past, the experience of these is that most fall into disrepair soon after they are constructed. At times they also send drinking water tankers to villages, and this simple task is usually completed (but always with great fanfare and sometimes advertising claiming the water is provided by the king’s kindness).

His second task was to “step up security and road-safety measures during the Songkran festival.” We can’t imagine the military having any role in traffic policing, catching drink drivers or speeders, but perhaps some income is possible for the military hierarchy. We can guess that “security” involves hunting down the purveyors of red bowls.

Propaganda for the royalist elite, the repression of its opponents, corruption and murdering citizens is the stock-in-trade of Thailand’s Army.





Repression deepens, gulags promised

29 03 2016

A day or so ago, PPT wrote that we expected that getting a Yes vote in the referendum would depend entirely on repression and coercion.

Following calls by royalists and dedicated anti-democrats for more repression, the junta has shown our  prediction to be correct. The military dictatorship of junta and military have made coordinated threats.

In a report at the Bangkok Post, the junta’s dumpy boss of bosses General Prawit Wongsuwan “said he will propose that the National Council for Peace and Order [the junta] arrange a special course to ‘re-educate’ politicians who were invited for ‘attitude adjustment’ but continued their ‘unruly’ behaviour.”

Prawit is essentially promising a gulag for political opponents.

The report states that the diminutive thug was “apparently referring to Watana Muangsook, a core member of the Pheu Thai Party … and Worachai Hema, a former Pheu Thai MP for Samut Prakan.” But the threat to all opponents is deadly clear. We say “deadly” because people have died in custody under this regime and because the Thai military is skilled at killing its own citizens.

Worachai is already in custody and held in some secret military detention site for mild and reasonable comments on the referendum and charter. All Watana did before being abducted was point out the unfairness of the detention of his colleague.

The ridiculous Prawit lies that these abductions and detentions are not “a violation of anybody’s rights.” Prawit is a dunce on rights; he only knows thuggery.

Prawit’s view is the the charter belongs to the dictatorship and it is right and correct on everything:

The draft charter is nearly ready.  We are approaching the public referendum stage. The NCPO [junta] knows what they have been doing…

He’s right on one thing: the junta knows that this ridiculous and undemocratic charter and the junta’s grip on power that it arranges can only pass with huge repression and charlatanry. No one will be permitted to say anything negative about the charter, the referendum of the increasingly nasty and threatening junta.

Further building the case for deepened repression, The Dictator General Prayuth Chan-ocha has “declared he will not tolerate politicians who have repeatedly defied the government.” The Dictator stated: “From now on, those who are summoned must attend a training session to improve their understanding.”

We weren’t aware that there has ever been a choice. The military simply arrives and spirits people away.

The Dictator huffed, puffed and trumpeted: “They will also be asked about what they did in the past — right or wrong — and what they plan to do if they form a government…”. Huh? We take it that this is just Prayuth’s inability to construct sensible spoken sentences.

He belched something about “if they [politicians] cannot think for themselves, they should no longer be politicians.” He’s fortunate that the same “logic” is not applied to the junta.

And, he added: “… the government … cannot let them criticise it.” As usual, The Dictator personalized: “I cannot accept the fact that they still keep criticising…”. When he thinks he’s under attack, Prayuth becomes very dangerous and threatening. He can get away with murder.

Adding to the threats and launching intimidation, the Bangkok Post reports that Army chief General Theerachai Nakawanich “ordered immediate crackdown on any action the government believes will lead people to ‘misunderstand’ the government’s workings before the charter referendum in August.”

Bizarrely, but par for the course for these bumptious and dim generals, the Army boss “told subordinates the country has entered an important period where public participation in the referendum on the proposed constitution was essential…”. He means to say that the junta needs a cacophony of positive statements while grinding out opposition voices.

The Army declared that “law enforcement and social order operations were being intensified, focusing their suppression efforts on influential local people and those illegally possessing military-grade weapons.”

Again, we can be confused here. It is the military that is armed. What is clear is that the military is going to crush opposition.

This is getting very ugly. In such circumstances, when US Under Secretary for Civilian Security, Democracy and Human Rights Sarah Sewall calls for “the government to respect freedom of expression,” she sounds ridiculous.

This is a regime that is becoming increasingly brutal and rejects and barely understands notions like freedom. She’s spitting into the wind. Rights? Freedoms? There are none.

Expect more arrests, disappearances and plenty of intimidation.





Police, Prawit, Phajun and Prem

29 02 2016

An interesting report appears in today’s Bangkok Post, and many will be able to speculate rather broadly on the implications.

PPT has a couple of posts that mention Admiral or Vice Admiral Phajun Tamprateep (search by family name). In all of them he is reported to be a close aide to General Prem Tinsulanonda, President of the Privy Council, for over three decades. Phajun has been mentioned in posts about the 2006 coup and when he joined the rightist Pitak Siam.

These things make the report in the Post very interesting indeed, especially when there have been rumors of splits, make-ups and more splits between Prem and the junta (or members of it).

The report states that Phajun is chairman of the NLA’s sub-committee on police reforms, and sent some messages to various people regarding claims that police were paying for promotional positions (which has been normal practice in the police for decades). The allegation, though, suggested “an army general … [was] involved in position-buying in the police force.”

Remarkably, the police have taken (or perhaps threatened) legal action against Phajun. Indeed, police have “issued a summons … requiring Adm Phajun to report to the Cyber Crime Division, under the Central Investigation Bureau, on March 10 to acknowledge a charge of violating the Computer Crime Act.”

Even more remarkable is that Deputy Prime Minister and Defense Minister General Prawit Wongsuwan “backed” this police action. Prawit said “police were right to take legal action against … Phajun … because the message undermined the police.”

It also undermined Prawit because he reckons he’s in charge of the process and “insisted there had been no position-buying as long as he had been in charge and those who claimed they could secure police posts in that way were lying to get money.”

Presumably it undermined the Army also.

Presumably Prawit’s response undermines Phajun and Prem too.

These are interesting times.








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