General corruption

19 05 2015

PPT has been watching the Rohinga boat people reporting with considerable interest and concern. We were waiting to see how long it was going to take for the military to be mentioned. After all, there was the big story on this in Reuters and Phuketwan some time ago. The Navy sued.

If social media is any barometer, it is widely believed that the massive human trafficking that has been going on in the south for several years could not continue without military connivance (and profit).

We were interested to read that the police “investigating human trafficking rings smuggling boat people into southern Thailand believe a major general [from the Army] was involved.”

Unsurprisingly, the Army and The Dictator say “none of its officers are directly linked to the illegal activities.” The report says:

Evidence showing this unnamed military official’s possible involvement in Rohingya trafficking was found during a raid at a suspect’s home in Ranong’s Muang district last Wednesday, a security source revealed Monday.

The evidence included four receipts for money transfers to a bank account belonging to the major general and a document with the bank account and the major general’s name written on it, the same source said.

The trafficking of Rohingya and illegal migrant workers, from Ranong down to the southern border, has long been a very lucrative business because handsome bribes were paid to people in uniform, the source said….

“In this case, although police found evidence to prove the major general’s involvement in trafficking, no one dares do anything with this suspect. Of course, you know who is in power. So, who wouldn’t be afraid?” the source said.

An important observation.





His lies

11 04 2015

A long time ago it was said that there are simple liars, damned liars, and experts. The Dictator, General Prayuth Chan-ocha, is certainly not an expert at anything except arranging repression, so we leave it to readers to decide if he is a simple liar, a damned liar or a combination of the two.

As is well known, Prayuth has repeatedly and consistently claimed that soldiers did not shoot anyone in April and May 2010.

At Khaosod he is reported as taking this claim further, again revealing his deep political hatred of red shirts, his fears about freedom and the ways in which military bureaucrats can simply make stuff up.

The report states that Prayuth “is considered an architect of the 2010 crackdown…” and that he banned red shirts from commemorating the brutal deaths in 2010. At the same time, he called on the media “to help tell” what he says is the “true” story “of the violence that claimed more than 90 lives.” Prayuth demanded that the media “help” him: “Don’t throw away the evidence. I saw you taking many photographs…”. He observed: “Hundreds of you reporters walked behind soldiers, you dodged the bullets with them…. Why don’t you help me by speaking out? Okay?”

Of course, the media has never been silent, and thousands of photos, accounts and videos have been made available, along with several reports and the evidence to the inquests. While there are disputes about some of the evidence, none of it exonerates the military or its commanders like Prayuth.

What Prayuth wants is for the media to accept his version of events and exonerate the murder of citizens by the military. As a commander of the crackdowns, he wants to sanitize these military murders. His view, historically balmy, is that those who used “weapons of war to shoot at demonstrators” were not the military, but the same groups in 2010, 2013, and 2014.

He’s making this up. There were some armed elements amongst red shirts – the so-called men in black – yet it is not clear who they were, who they represented, how many there were, and whether they were involved in any killings. Certainly, the courts have not found them responsible in the inquests conducted to date. More significantly, the courts disagree with Prayuth. There have been 27 inquests where judges have ruled that military gunfire was responsible for the deaths of 18 victims. The other cases returned inconclusive rulings.

Apart from his call to the media – 5 years after the events – Prayuth added to his story, entering the realms of the bizarre and ridiculous. One claim he made is that “the military had no intention of harming civilians.” This is a lie that Prayuth has long repeated. A military that has no intention  of harming citizens does not use 2,120 sniper rounds and use less than 7,000 blank rounds while firing 117,923 live rounds at protesters.

He goes on, slipping deeper into the slime of intentionally false statements: “Who would want to harm the people? Soldiers, police, officials, they have hearts too, you know…”. This is the former commander of a military that has organized 12 successful coups, is notoriously corrupt, regularly uses torture and is responsible for the deaths of perhaps tends of thousands of its citizens whom it has considered terrorists or insurgents or simply as political opposition. It is a military that has burned opponents alive, engaged in forced disappearances, fired on protesters from helicopters and more.

Defending his ban on the commemoration of the dead red shirts, Prayuth explains: “When I use my legal power, you say I restrict freedom, but how has freedom fared in the past?… Can it [freedom] run the country? Were there protests?” In other words, freedom is rejected in favor of order enforced by the murderous military in the interests of the royalist elite.





Believe us, we’re from the military

24 03 2015

In recent posts a theme has been lies and impunity. This somehow “naturally” applies to the military and most especially under authoritarian regimes usually run by former military leaders who have made their way to the top by loyalty and attention to hierarchy then through any particular ability and certainly not through displays of even meager intelligence.

We don’t feel the need to harp on this yet the military lads – and they are all men at the top – keep displaying their incapacity for anything other than looking completely moronic and thinking that they might just have gotten away with it.

Stay with us on this…. it gets very silly.

The Bangkok Post reports that “a large quantity of illegal weapons and explosives found in Prachuap Khiri Khan’s Huan Hin district…”. The “abandoned” weapons included “41 bars of TNT, four units of C-4 explosives and 31 fire bombs, rifle ammunition and other explosive devices” and were in bags and “labelled with what appears to be the army unit code ‘Phan 1 Roi 1′.”

The implication is that there is a military connection. After all, the military is always selling or stealing its own weapons. Or perhaps someone else stole them or they fell of the back of a truck or tank. Or maybe drunk soldiers decided to have some fun.

Whatever the “excuse,” we expect the military brass to come up with a story to “explain” this current find. Of late, weapons are said to belong to red shirts. Clearly, though, in this case, these were not weapons carefully located to implicate others.

Who would be the best group to investigate the weapons and explosives cache? Well, of course, it is the military itself! We are told they are “investigating any military connection.” What a good idea!

The ever so sharp and quick Army boss Gen Udomdej Sitabutr, who is both deputy defense minister and army chief, said “military agencies are investigating to see if the cache is state property.” He added that “it would be premature to assume based on the bags’ appearance that the weapons and explosives belong to the army…”. As quick as a molasses in January, Udomdej declared that anyone can have military sacks: “bags with military codes and logos are used during emergencies to distribute relief supplies, such as sandbags during floods.” Or, he reckons they could have been bags that “were discarded and later re-used to transport the weapons…”.

He did concede “that some soldiers may be involved in the illegal weapons trade. They would face tough punishment if any link was found.” What about their bosses? In the military, the buck stops with the privates and sergeants. The big boys get the loot, the houses and the cars, not to mention fancy and expensive watches.

With a bunch of military brass-cum-cabinet ministers-cum-junta members mumbling similar things and seemingly playing down the discovery, the Post turned to the military’s adviser and paid “academic,” who decided to buff his bosses’ posteriors by claiming that the weapons were “left over from past regional conflicts.”

That could be true, and we expect that they were just left around a Hua Hin farm by a forgetful arms trader. Such traders usually leave weapons and explosives on the side of one of Thailand’s biggest highways. That way, when they recall leaving them, they are easier to find.

Junta and army spokesman Winthai Suwaree helpfully explained that “illegal war weapons are found discarded in various locations occasionally.” It is those forgetful arms dealers. They get so many weapons from the Thai military that they just forget where they leave them.

We believe the military dictatorship and its minions on this. Clearly the military couldn’t possibly be involved.Fairies





Lies and lies

22 03 2015

When you repeatedly lie others come to the conclusion that everything you say is likely laced with untruths. So it is with the military’s top brass.

Readers will recall that the military recently abducted Nattathida Meewangpla, who was a witness to murders by soldiers at a Bangkok temple during the 2010 crackdown on red shirt protesters. The junta’s spokesman denied that the military could possibly have been involved. Within just a few hours, the military handed her over to police. One lie demonstrated.

Remarkably, The Dictator, General Prayuth Chan-ocha then demonstrated his disdain for the intelligence or Thais and/or demonstrated his own thick-headedness by saying that the military hadn’t arrested her, just invited her to join them in what we might describe as their secret abduction headquarters. A second lie.

Then, having “invited” her, and then not charged her with anything, the brass quickly arranged for her to be slapped with both “terrorism” and lese majeste charges. We count that as lie number three.

Three lies over one abduction-arrest is a relatively low count if one considers the thousands of lies the military has told involving the tens of thousands of citizens it has abducted, tortured, disappeared and murdered over several decades. Of course, the lies are unnecessary because the military has impunity from prosecution in these instances of violence.

So when Army boss General Udomdej Sitabutr gets all huffy and puffy because the Thai Lawyers for Human Rights Center claims the military tortured four men arrested as part of an alleged “terrorism network” plotting bomb attacks in Bangkok or of having carried them out, and then produces photographic evidence seeming to back up the claim, we wonder about his counter claims.Udomdej

Army boss, the suspiciously dark-haired General Udomdej “has threatened to take legal action against anyone who accuses the military of torturing four terror suspects arrested earlier this month.” That is not a lie. Under martial law, he can pretty much threaten and arrest/abduct any one he pleases.

The the General gets into the untruths. He “insisted that the allegation was untrue, and stressed that all security officers performed their duties without violating human rights.” That’s clearly a lie. And not just a little one. The military violates human rights on a daily basis; the links above are to just a few of these in recent days.

It gets into the deeper, almost pathological category of lying when he states: “Especially the action of harming suspects. We strictly do not do that…”. Of course, there’s ample evidence of the military using torture over a long period. Just look to the South to see confirmed cases of torture.

And Udomdej then contradicts himself, admitting, “Whoever does a wrong thing, they have to be investigated and punished.” But, dear General, if you say it doesn’t happen, how could you ever investigate it? Another lie.





Eat as much as possible

2 03 2015

When the military holds the monopoly of power in Thailand it usually leads to deals that fill the pockets and cushion the lives of the top brass.

In other words they reward themselves for illegal putsches. Often they throw in a bit of kit for the royals. We expect that this is what is happening as taxpayers pay the Army for new VIP helicopters:

The Royal Thai Army (RTA) has signed a contract with Airbus Helicopters to purchase six EC145 T2 light utility helicopters for VIP transport duties, it was announced on 23 February.

Photo from Airbus website

Photo from Airbus website

The value of the EC145 T2 contract, which IHS Jane’s understands was signed in late January, has not been disclosed but is estimated to be worth about USD50 million. Under the terms of the contract, the helicopters will be delivered to the RTA from 2016.

The Airbus announcement is here.

The military dictatorship is looking after the interests of its brass and others it ferries around. A kind of policy corruption perhaps?





More lese majeste charges linked to prince

22 02 2015

The Bangkok Post reports that lese majeste cases have been made against two further men associated with Crown Prince Vajiralongkorn’s housecleaning following his separation from third wife Srirasmi late last year. We think the total number of lese majeste cases related to this event is now 29.

Setthawut Pengdit, who is a younger brother of former Department of Special Investigation chief Tarit Pengdit, “has turned himself in to police after a warrant was issued for his arrest.”

He and Boontham Thepprathan, a proprietor of the Colonze massage parlor-entertainment complex-cum-illegal casino, are accused of lese majeste. Boontham has not yet surrendered.

The lese majeste charges came after some 50 residents of the Lamtakong self-help settlement in the Pak Chong district “accused the pair of issuing unlawful title deeds…”. The deeds were allegedly for “more than 700 rai to Ban Chum Thong Co and Khaoyai Beverly Hill Co…”. That land is said to belong “to an army infantry unit” and that the “unit had loaned the land to the settlement, which issued Nor Kor 3 land ownership documents to the residents.”

It appears that this murky deal involved the army, police and “investors” making the land transferable by having the certificates illegally changed to “title deeds” without telling the residents. It is reported that “Setthawut had allegedly made a false claim to land officials — citing the name of former Central Investigation Bureau chief Pongpat Chayapan — that the land would be developed into a palace for the royal family.”

The report adds: “There is speculation that Pol Lt Gen Pongpat, convicted of a raft of charges involving a crime network, might be involved in the case as he is closely acquainted with Mr Boontham…”.

Setthawut has allegedly confessed.

It is quite a believable scenario that farmers would lose their land to “investors.” It is also conceivable that land could be acquired for a “palace;” this has happened before. That the Army and police would be involved in such deals is quite normal in rural Thailand.





Army boss wants (his) order

18 02 2015

Army boss Udomdej Sitabutr has many of the usual traits of the army brass. He’s conservative, intolerant, royalist, happy with hierarchy and has little capacity for understanding political difference.

The Bangkok Post reports that after some activists rallied on the weekend, holding a mock election, the Army boss has felt the need to warn “that legal action may be taken against people who protest against the coup because martial law is in place to limit political gatherings.”

That’s pretty well known, and four of the activists were arrested and bailed. Yet Udomdej’s warning is about anti-coup demonstrations. He says “[p]eople are allowed to express their views and take part in ‘positive’ activities, as long as they are within the law…”. That confirms that approved pro-coup rallies are okay  – as was seen, for example, at the US Embassy when rabid nationalists rallied.

Udomdej explained a military perspective as a national perspective: “I think most people prefer peace and order in our country. It is only small groups that carry out unlawful activities…”.

As might be expected, Udomdej says he doesn’t want “any more [anti-coup] political gatherings.”

 








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