More suppliers means more “commissions”

18 05 2016

The Nation reports that Army boss General Theerachai Nakawanich has “defended the decision to purchase main battle tanks [MBTs] from China, saying Chinese hardware is of high quality and performance.” He “explained” that he knew this “since I personally went to see them…”.

Hmm. Theerachai has:

been Director of TMB Bank Public Company Limited since November 2,2015. General Nakwanich serves as Commander in Chief of Royal Thai Army at Metropolitan Electricity Authority. He serves as Secretary of National Council for Peace and Order (NCPO) and Member of the National Legislative Assembly. He received Bachelor of Science, Chulachomklao Royal Military Academy, and Diploma of RTA Command and General Staff College. He also completed the programme of National Defence College.

Tanks aren’t listed. But Thailand has hundreds of tanks, of six types, some quite old, so we might assume he’s seen one and sat in it.

The Army has reportedly signed a contract with China’s Norinco for the MBT 3000 main battle tanks, also known as VT4. The tanks would be delivered from 2017. Thailand is the first and, so far, only buyer. The tank is a relatively new version, with a review of it here. One assessment is that “this tank is no match for modern Western MBTs.”

The Army has been having trouble with new tanks because the Ukrainian T-84 Oplot deliveries are way behind schedule.

In 2011, the Army ordered 49 Oplot tanks and only about 10 have arrived. The general says the Oplots will arrive.

If one looks at the Army’s arms purchases, it is noticeable how much kit is acquired and from many suppliers. Often relatively untried equipment is purchased. The reason for this pattern has to do with “commissions” and spreading these out. Each new commander simply loves the idea of new kit. And the boss changes regularly, allowing them to be rewarded and to reward themselves.





More and more repression

4 05 2016

PPT is playing catch-up on our posting. The military dictatorship has become so aggressively repressive that we simply can’t keep up with all of its machinations. Here are a couple of stories we think were important over the last couple of days, and we’ll try to post a little more to report on the repression.

The Bangkok Post reports that the military brass is planning even “[t]ougher steps … to deal with anti-coup elements,” to support is bosses in the junta. Army chief General Theerachai Nakawanich says he and the regime are intent on arresting red shirt leader Jatuporn Promphan and independent red shirt Sombat Boonngamanong. Also on their list is Thaksin Shinawatra’s son, Panthongtae.

The general makes the claim that “coup critics are bent on causing public unrest,” states that Jatuporn and Sombat are behind the eight Facebook users arrested last week accused of lese general, lese majeste, poking fun at the military junta, sedition and computer crimes.

The conspiratorial military dictatorship has even come up with another of its pathetic diagrams of plots and plotters. The general claimed that the “anti-coup chart was based on the suspects’ statements given to police,” but is yet another junta concoction.

The difference this time is that the “conspirators” are political opponents who have been ridiculing the regime and gingerly opposing the coup. None of them have attempted to hide their activities, so even the dopiest of police and military knuckle draggers could “identify” them. Some of the claims made about the Facebookers goes back before the coup, when ridiculing military thugs was legal.

The general promised no more “attitude adjustment” because “it’s hard to talk to them now.” More repression is the promise.

The regime has stated that it is also chasing down Panthongtae Shinawatra, claiming he is also “linked to the eight suspects.” The police, however, that they need to concoct more evidence.

In another Bangkok Post story, a “nationalist group with unknown backers” – that usually means the military itself – “petitioned the Crime Suppression Division to investigate whether someone is providing financial support for student anti-coup activists rallying under the New Democracy Movement banner.”

This is just the military’s claim that Thaksin is funding every critic, warmed over by yet another fascist group.

As far as we can tell, the Neo-Democracy group’s most expensive actions have involved train tickets to Hua Hin and Post-it notes. But such claims are just another aspect of the repression of political opponents. Given the history of the military’s creation and use of right-wing groups this new group adds to the fear and intimidation.





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.








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