Busy king

4 12 2017

Over the past week or so, the king has seemed busier than usual, at least in terms of public reporting. As usual, the reporting is circumspect.

Khaosod reports that the king is engaged in two activities that have been defining his still short reign.

The first is his continuing intervention in the way the security forces appear in public. Readers will recall that he has ordered a new form of salute and forms of military posture for police and military, demanded new haircut regulations for the armed forces and police and has  transferred agencies responsible for palace affairs to his direct control.

Now the king has ordered that “police will be given new uniforms…”. A police spokesman Colonel Krissana Pattanacharoen said “that a single khaki shade, officially called Sor Nor Wor 01, will be implemented across the police force to display a sense of unity.” It seems that, over the years, different units have used slightly different shades of khaki.

No doubt this annoys the king as he has an almost obsessive–compulsive need for order and control. In fact, the king has already picked out the shade and has sent a “sample fabric and color pattern … to police commissioner Chakthip Chaijinda…”.

Krissana found himself having to dissemble: “Every police officer deeply appreciates it…”. All 230,000 of them.

When the new design is finalized, “Gen. Chakthip will be the first to wear it ‘as an example’,” and will no doubt sport the required haircut as well.

The second task has been the consolidation of royal control over all of the property in the so-called royal district. Readers will recall the stealing of the 1932 plaque and the closure of Ananda Samakhom Hall to the public. The former parliament building appears to have been returned to the throne.

The king seems to want to wipe out all references to the 1932 revolution and grab back “royal property.”

One major gap in the property is the Dusit Zoo. The zoo began as a private zoo for royals and it was in 1938 that  the “constitutional government asked King Rama VIII’s regency council to give this park to the Bangkok City Municipality to be open as a public zoo.” No doubt the king regards this as theft. To get the land back – all 189,000 square meters – the king has decided the zoo should move.

The zoo was not talking about the move to Pathum Thani and a larger plot, said to be donated by the king. An official stated: “His Majesty is very merciful…”. And, no doubt pretty happy with this deal that expands the royal area substantially.

This is a king with a sense of where the monarchy should be, and that marks out a restorationist monarch.





Who is taking advantage of the funeral?

20 10 2017

PPT has had several posts in recent days that compare The Dictator’s campaigning and his accusations that Puea Thai Party’s Sudarat Keyuraphan was “political campaigning” in the name of remembering the dead king.

Khaosod has a report that deserves some attention.

Anti-corruption activist Srisuwan Janya points to “two purchasing scandals” he says have surfaced in the past week, but claims he can “only fume … because of the period of national mourning for for … King Bhumibol…”.

Yet he was not too constrained to refrain from slamming the military junta: “this is a period of sorrow for the entire nation…. But the government has no decency to consider this at all.”

One case involves officials who are buying hundreds of “road speed guns for six times the normal price.” The second case involves “revelations the army spent upward of 15.9 million baht to build restrooms” at Corruption/Rajabhakti Park.

After criticism, Interior Minister General Anupong Paojinda said “849 hand-held laser speed detectors – each costing 675,000 baht – was urgent to replace outdated equipment.” That’s more than 573 million baht.

We, like others, can’t see why Anupong needed to buy more than 800 speed guns right now. Given that “[c]ritics said similar devices can be found for about 100,000 baht…”, it seem reasonable to think that there’s “commissions” in the wind.

The main issue is that “[n]either of the projects went to open bidding, meaning the contracts were awarded to contractors solely at the discretion of those officials in charge.”

Yellow-shirted ultra-nationalist Veera Somkwamkid thundered that the speed gun “purchase was intentionally slipped through under the cover of mourning…”.

Veera observed that the junta had criticized Sudarat but questioned its own actions: “those bastards are engaging in corruption! It damages the public!… It is both inappropriate and damaging to the country.”





Nepotism, face and boredom

21 08 2017

The Bangkok Post reports that the nephew of General Prayuth Chan-ocha and son of General Preecha Chan-ocha “has resigned from military service following criticism of nepotism over his appointment to an officer position…”.

Readers might recall that (the briefly, but forever holding the title) Sub Lt Patipat Chan-ocha was appointed to the “3rd Army’s Civil Affairs Division in Phitsanulok in April last year.”

The now former officer took “advantage of the high-profile position of his father, who was then permanent secretary for defence, to land the job.” He got some criticism until the powerful brothers denied any problems or issues.

There was also support for this nepotism, with some suggesting that the ‘position was natural given his upbringing in a military family.” These dopes seemed to suggest that being a military thug or a general’s son was somehow in his genes.

Patipat complained that he “had to remove many hostile comments posted on his Facebook page, block people who were not his friends and eventually had to deactivate his Facebook account.”

The person who revealed this also “added that Sub Lt Patipat was not personally interested in pursuing a military career but that his parents wanted to see him follow in his father’s footsteps.” Apparently he didn’t like the work and wasn’t very good at it.

That hasn’t stopped others. Indeed, many senior military officers aren’t very good at their jobs either, but they take the loot, make the connections, polish posteriors and do very nicely.

So there was nepotism – his parent’s pushed him – then the two generals had to save face, and now Patipat has become bored and discontented. That’s kind of definitional of Thailand’s military.





“Public” discussion

26 07 2017

How does the junta handle “public” discussion? The linked report explains.

The military headed up the military junta’s main “reconciliation” effort by coming up with something various called a “social contract” or a “national harmony pact.” In fact, this was a set of military junta musings about how to keep a lit on Thailand’s sometimes raucous politics by banning and repressing the junta’s political opponents.

Following its release, the military junta then ordered what it called “final public hearings to introduce the draft of the so-called social contract, and seek opinions on it…”.

These meetings “were held at four regional military barracks around the country from Monday to Thursday beginning 17 July.

The report states that “[h]undreds of people joined in…”. Who were they? Apparently, almost all “seats were reserved mostly for those enlisted or invited.” Further, the report states that “[m]ost participants were civil servants called up by Interior agencies.”

It is unclear how many “outsiders” made it to the meetings. It was reported that “[d]espite it being a top national agenda item, only one well-known figure, red-shirt leader Jatuporn Prompan, attended the seminar on Monday at the First Army Area command in Bangkok.” Hours later, he was sentenced to a year in jail.

The report goes on to explain that in a “two-hour long presentation by the military, less than 30 minutes were spent on the introduction of the draft social contract…”. The rest of the presentation by the military “involved officers emphasising the military’s dedication to recreating national harmony and the inclusive, non-dictatorial approach they had adopted in the scheme.” In other words, the officers shoveled buffalo manure.

That’s how the military arranges reconciliation for the military and by the military.





On the campaign trail

29 06 2017

The military junta continues to campaign for its dictatorship, now and into the future, when it chooses to hold an “election.”

The Bangkok Post reports that, unlike political parties that are banned from campaigning, the dictatorship is sending out teams of uniformed soldiers to campaign for the junta.

We note in passing that the soldiers are paid by taxpayers who now foot the bill, not just for corruption in the junta, commissions on arms deals, salaries for puppet assemblies and agencies and vanity and royal posterior polishing projects, but for electoral campaigning.

The Post report tells of “Army speakers … being sent to provinces nationwide to give seminars promoting love of the nation, royalty and the military…”. There are to be 12 campaign teams touring the country.

They are not your average teams. They are drawn from the “Special Warfare Command and the Army Air Defence Command.” As we have long said, the military has little to do in terms of normal defense (the south excepted) and is focused on the repression of political opponents. Psychological warfare was pioneered for the Thai military by the CIA in the 1950s, and little has changed. (The generals are remarkably conservative and, hence, slow learners. Indeed, they learn little in their training and service apart from which butts to cherish.)

According to one of those conservative and dull generals, Army boss General Chalermchai Sitthisart, says this particular roadshow will “promote national unity and would organise seminars presenting [distorting] Thai history and promoting love for the nation, royalty and the military.”

Note that the nationalist trilogy just changed from the 1920s version of nation, religion, monarchy to a junta preferred nation, monarchy, military.

On the “election” campaign trail

The Army chief was asked if all of this was about a military party being formed to run in the junta’s “election.” He responded, saying “that was a matter for the future.”





Royal military training and death

23 06 2017

A few days ago, Prachatai reported on another case of a soldier’s death while training. This kind of report is common as military officers sanction hazing, torture and repeated beatings of recruits and lower ranks.

This case is about “a soldier who allegedly died from ill-treatment during military training….”. Sub Lt Sanan Thongdinok “drowned to death on 6 June 2015 while swimming as part of the King’s Guard Regiment training course.”

The soldier “was forced to swim back and forth repeatedly by a trainer at the 1st Infantry Regiment King’s Own Guard in Bangkok until he became too tired and drowned before trainers could rescue him.”

A doctor from the Central Institute of Forensic Science “testified on 15 June that the soldier died from being submerged for longer than five minutes, causing heart failure, hypoxia and bleeding in the brain, liver, and kidneys, adding that his head had also sustained bruises from being hit with a blunt object.”

The “trainer was also in the swimming pool, but did not help Sanan when he was drowning.”

The hearing is ongoing.

King Vajiralongkorn takes a personal interest in the training of the King’s Guard troops. In recent times, one of his concubines, Suthida, was catapulted to the rank of General in the unit.





2010 military crackdown report

21 06 2017

In a post at New Mandala that almost slipped by, Kwanravee Wangudom reports that an English-language edition of Truth for Justice, consisting of six selected chapters from the mammoth Thai-language fact-finding report by the People’s Information Centre, is available.

The 300+ page report can be downloaded as a PDF at the PIC website.

The earlier 1300+ page Thai report can also be downloaded.

The Thai version was published in Thai in 2012. The English version was edited by Kwanravee.

PIC’s report “is produced in the hope that it will stimulate a wider global discussion on truth, justice and reconciliation in the deeply-divided Thai society, and perhaps elsewhere.”

It might even cause some rethinking about the murder of citizens by military leaders who now run the dictatorship. It might also cause some rethinking about the manner in which the leaders such as Abhisit Vejjajiva and Suthep Thaugsuban have not be held responsible.