Money for nothing II

17 02 2017

In a post a little while ago, PPT had the story of puppet legislators missing in inaction at the National Legislative Assembly. We mentioned Prachatai’s report of an iLaw study of the apparently unconstitutionality of some members of the military junta’s puppet National Legislative Assembly. We used the word “apparently” because the details of “leaves” taken are considered “secret.”

At the end of that post we speculated that because “leaves” from the puppet NLA are “secret,” and because The Dictator’s brother is one of those involved, and because the junta’s work is at stake, we expected an announcement that the non-attendees were “on leave.”

Clean hands?

Clean hands?

Sure enough, we already have that statement. The Nation reports that Deputy Dictator and Defense Minister General Prawit Wongsuwan has declared that “it is not a problem that General Preecha Chan-o-cha, the former Defence permanent secretary and brother of the prime minister, takes frequent leave from legislative meetings…”. Oddly, he also stated that “a committee is being set up to examine the case.”

And just in case you wondered, General Prawit declared that “Preecha took leave under normal regulations of the National Legislative Assembly (NLA)…”.

Of course he did. And, if he didn’t, you can probably bet he has applied now and been approved.

As we understand it, even on leave – for almost all the six months he missed almost all meetings – he still draws his NLA salary that is in excess of 100,000 baht a month.

Money for nothing.

Prawit explained the “situation.” He speculated “that as Preecha also served as the defence permanent secretary he might need to take leave sometimes.”

In any case, the NLA is just a rubber stamp for the junta so missing meetings is hardly an issue for The Dictator and his dictatorship. Demonstrating its puppet status, “Prawit said he had already talked to NLA president Pornpetch Vichitcholchai. Prawit said they found no problems…”.

Still, to launder the record, General Prawit “told Pornpetch to go ahead with setting up a committee to examine the case.”

That will result in a finding that there’s no issue. Junta-led “investigations” of themselves always reach this conclusion.

Naturally enough, General Prawit was loyally supported by “Army Commander General Chalermchai Sittisart also defended the absence of NLA members from legislative meetings, including the PM’s brother.” Chalermchai did admit that the NLA “is far different from a normal House, as it draws members from various professions, many of whom are civil servants, meaning they also have their own work to take care of.” He means its a puppet, rubber stamping hoax legislature.

General Preecha’s record displays considerable evidence of corruption and nepotism. His protection by his brother and the regime is simply one more case of gross double standards.





Army not united

8 02 2017

Less than a week ago, PPT commented on discussion of a possible coup in Thailand and the remarkable sight of military leaders and junta bosses denying that a coup was possible in 2017 and declaring the military is (almost certainly) united.

As if to confirm that the junta’s tank tracks are falling off, “Army chief [General] Chalermchai Sittisat has called for unity in the army…”. tank

That’s in the already “united” military. Well, perhaps not.

General Chalermchai said this “as he inspected the 1st Army’s headquarters on Ratchadamnoen Avenue in Bangkok. Lt Gen Apirat Kongsompong, the 1st Army commander, and high-ranking army officers were present to welcome the army chief.”

Chalermchai declared that “the army plays an important role in ensuring security and supporting the government [the junta].”

He babbled on about nation, religion, and king “and the people.”

Where’s there problems? It seems there are different views on the junta grasping and keeping power for decades:

If we think and act along the same lines, the army will move forward with honour and dignity and will become a main pillar supporting government efforts to run the country,” Gen Chalermchai said…

And, as usual, about promotions, with General Chalermchai insisting “he adhered to the merit system in promotions, a mechanism used to avoid problems associated with frustration over promotions seen as unfair by some.” We assume that Apirak’s promotion is one of those that has caused frustration.





Smoke, fire, coup and assassination

3 02 2017

PPT didn’t give much attention to the cockamamie notion in the Washington Post about “a number of researchers work on forecasting where coup attempts are likely to occur.” The idea that “statistical models” can “predict” the chance of a coup in Thailand is 2017 is 11%. Humbug political science “learning” from quantitative economics.

But the mention of a possible coup in Thailand caught the “imagination” of media commentators in Thailand. Television news mentioned it again and again, having tired of cheap pictures stolen from a Kyoto hotel.

Then there was smoke. The military leaders and junta bosses came out to deny that a coup was possible in 2017. After all, the military is united.

Then there was fire. Suddenly there was talk of assassination threats against The Dictator and the Deputy Dictator. More remarkably, the Army chief has thrown gasoline on the fire. General Chalermchai Sitthisat declared saying “an assassination plot targeting Deputy Prime Minister and Defence [General] Prawit Wongsuwon,” to use his words, “could be real.”

His response was: “I am convinced that nothing will happen. Those who issued threats will be prosecuted,” referring to social media death threats against Prawit and General Prayuth Chan-ocha. (We can only guess that the culprits will turn out to be red shirts. At the same time, almost all such threats in the past have been military-linked.)

Not only that, Prawit suddenly sounded less sure about the no-coup line, saying:

… there will be no coup following the next general election as nobody wanted a coup unless the country was “unable to move on”.

… Gen Prawit said if there was reconciliation and if all Thais gave their full cooperation, there was no way a coup would be staged again, adding the military would also be under the next government’s administration.

The latter claim is a bit odd. “Under” seems to suggest he knows The Dictator’s group will be the next “administration.” The military is unlikely to be “under” and “administration” is does not select and have elected. He went on with the hypotheticals that sounded increasingly like threats:

There was a strong possibility that the military will not stage a coup again if all politicians can reconcile with each other and care for the people without conflicts, he insisted.

Gen Prawit stressed there will be no counter-coups given unity in the military. Also, the present government, the National Council for Peace and Order [the junta] and the army were as one as Prime Minister Prayut is doing his best in every way for the country’s benefit, he added.

Whenever there is an election, the plan is clear. However, where there’s smoke and fire, assassination threats do begin to sound like there is real dissension in the military.





Updated: Mud on the road to nowhere

8 01 2017

The junta’s “election,” if ever permitted, is going to be a non-democratic public relations stunt. Thailand’s military junta will allow an “election” only when it knows it will get the result it wants. That means no Thaksin Shinawatra party can get close to power, not now, not ever.

Various members of the junta and its puppet organizations talk about “election” in contradictory ways. Yes, last year. No, this year. Well, perhaps next year. And, yes, after the military coup in 2014, there was babble from The Dictator about 12 months to an election.

(We can only wonder at the fad for the term “fake news.” After all, the junta and its authoritarian predecessors are masters of the lie that manipulates opinion. The palace propagandists and its flunkies and acolytes just make stuff up and have done so for decades.)

We are not the only ones to consider that Thailand is led by power-grubbing, authoritarian liars.

What is clear is that The Dictator has prepared the Army for an “election,” should there be one and for continuing anti-Thaksin political actions. As this Bangkok Post report by Wassana Nanuam states, reflecting the military perspective, “if” (let’s say “when”) General Prayuth Chan-ocha “needs to serve the nation longer, worries about the military should not be of much concern…”. At least not for the royalist elite and anti-democrats. The implication is that The Dictator will be around for a considerable time, “election” or not.

But there have been lots of conflicting reports of late on “election” timing. The latest effort to make things “clear” has been by Wissanu Krea-ngam, a hireling who is usually sent out when “legal” issues are “discussed” or need to be “clarified.”

Deputy Prime Minister Wissanu is deemed to have “clarified the government’s roadmap leading to the general amid confusion over whether an election will actually happen this year.” He says “the government [he means the junta] has agreed that it will follow the roadmap which spells out the time frames and sequence of related events specified by the new constitution.”

What’s the time frame?

When the new constitution is promulgated, the Constitution Drafting Committee (CDC) has 240 days to complete the 10 organic laws, which will be tabled to the National Legislative Assembly (NLA) for consideration — a process that will take two months.

As we remember it, the king had 90 days from 9 November to endorse the constitution. That would be 8 February would be the last day for “endorsement.” Assuming the CDC uses the full time, as it has said it will, then we would be about the end of the first week of October. Then there’s the two months for the CDC, meaning an election in the first week of December 2017.

But this is as clear as a bucket of mud. For a start, the last king died in October 2016 and the new king did not accede until 1 December. Oddly, his reign is claimed to have begun from the death of his father, even though Vajiralongkorn declined to accede for some six weeks. So when does the 90 days begin? 9 November? or 1 December?

Then, we imagine that some of the period of fiddling with the law and constitution by the CDC and NLA could overlap.

But the organic laws also go to the king for “endorsement.” We assume he has another 90 days to sign off. And assuming the king does as he’s told and those drafts become laws “an election will be held within 150 days…”.

road-to-nowhere

Just to be “clear” like mud, Wissanu says: “But with the passing of King Rama IX, things have to be postponed…”.

So when Wissanu says the “roadmap is still on course,” we can only guess at what this means. It may be the road to nowhere or it could be a mapping of some future year. We can be sure that it is a military map.

Update: The Nation has produced an infographic that seeks to explain the date of an “election.” It suggests that the junta’s “road map” means that the earliest date for an “election” will be January 2018 while the timetable allows an election as late as September 2018.





“Uneducate” them young

22 12 2016

This post is a companion piece to our recent post about education.

A Prachatai story states that the Royal Thai Army is training kindergarten students in nationalism, monarchy and military. All dictatorships believe that its important to get at the children and shape their thoughts and ideas as early as possible.

The most recent “training” was on 21 December 2016 in Kanchanaburi Province, where 180 kindergarten children and their teachers were unlucky enough to “participate in a program called ‘Land Defender Battalion’…”. The tiny kids were dressed in the uniform of Thailand’s murderous military and “instructed” in things like “military operations” – a photo with the article suggests they were taught how to throw grenades. The military may think this might come in handy when the tykes become fully-fledged anti-democrats and need to stir up a little “unrest” so the military can intervene again, and again and again.

They were also “taught” the so-called patriotic values that The Dictator thought up, which is a kindergarten-like mantra of “nation, religion and monarchy.” Needles to say, other fairy tales and bogus stories such as “sufficiency economy” were also crammed into the kids, filling them up with propaganda.

We guess these kinds of programs are what the military junta thinks amounts to “education.” It wants ultra-nationalists and ultra-royalists (who know their place in society).





Military on monarchy

10 12 2016

Thailand’s military dictatorship is reportedly arranging “special events” for the new king. This is a part of the military-palace propaganda exercise meant to hoist the new king into a position where he is “revered” (to use the international media’s favorite term for the dead king).

Deputy Prime Minister, junta leader and Defence Minister General Prawit Wongsuwan states: “We are in the process of arranging the events,…”. He added:

All of the military personnel are delighted with His Majesty. And they would like to see Thailand have the monarchy institution forever. We need the monarchy to remain as the country’s major institution. The monarchy has always taken good care of Thailand….

You get the picture. This propaganda exercise will require plenty of investment of public funds, whitewashing a poor past, the increased use of lese majeste and other means of repression.





Snouts in search of the senate trough

26 09 2016

In our last post, PPT indicated how observers think the future of “big” parties is limited. Indeed, we happen to think that the future of all political parties – except, perhaps, a military party – is limited. This is because the military junta has “arranged” a political and electoral systems in a manner that diminishes the role of political parties by reducing popular sovereignty.

The main “electoral” game will revolve around the unelected senate, to be appointed by the junta. The Bangkok Post reports on this. It states:

The 250 seats to be offered in the Senate under the new constitution have sparked a frenzy of lobbying as hopefuls jockey for position long before any of the posts are ready to be decided. The organic law that is needed to complete the promulgation of the Senate laws is also far from complete.Snouts

The 250 members of the Upper House, appointed by the junta, will play a key role along with the House of Representatives in the selection of a prime minister during the country’s post-election five-year transition to democracy.

In effect, elections are now replaced by intra-elite lobbying.

The military junta will appoint 194 senate members and select 50 more from another pool of candidates who will represent 20 professional groups. Another six seats are “reserved for the chiefs of the three armed forces and the Supreme Command, the defence permanent secretary and the police chief.”

The Post reports that “there are several thousand hopefuls eyeing the Senate seats and they are gearing up to lobby the military regime for a favourable nod.” This includes those who have already served the military dictatorship as selected members of the junta’s National Legislative Assembly and the National Reform Steering Assembly. They want another five years of unelected power and influence.

Nepotism and favoritism are likely to be important, along with a need for unquestioned loyalty to The Dictator, the monarchy and the military junta.