Traffic or something more?

4 09 2018

A couple of days ago we mentioned rumors that Gen Prayuth Chan-ocha has had some potential military challengers transferred out of Bangkok bases. We meant whole units being relocated, as the Bangkok Post now reports.

It is stated that the 1st Cavalry Reconnaissance Company of the 1st Division, the 4th Tank Battalion of the 1st Division, the 1st Cavalry Regiment on Thahan Road, the army’s intelligence unit and the 2nd Cavalry Division, the King’s Guard are all to be moved by October 2019.

In addition, the 11th Military Circle on Rama V Road will be relocated within greater Bangkok.

It is also stated that:

The army also has a plan to “dissolve” the 11th Infantry Regiment in Bangkok’s Bang Khen district and the 1st Infantry Regiment (King and Queen’s Guard) in the Phaya Thai area and transfer their personnel to other units, the source said.

We need help on this. Ostensibly this has to do with easing traffic in Bangkok. But what happens to the land?

Some of the units being relocated and dissolved seem important and are often mentioned in the context of the monarchy. If readers have views, email us or use the comments buttons.





Who me? No, couldn’t be

23 08 2018

Just a couple of days ago we posted on the Army’s “election” and suppression activities in the northeast.

The same General mentioned in that post and linked story now appears in a story at The Nation, defending his and other senior officers’ engagement with the junta’s MP hoovering.

The commander of the Second Army Lt-Gen Thanakorn Thammawinthorn dismissed “a claim by a pro-junta political group that he gave them ‘the green light’ to woo support in the northeast.”

He says “he did not give the green light to any politicians making moves in the area under his jurisdiction.”

Really? Any one believe him?

Then he “defended the Second Army Area following a report that one of its high-ranking officers asked politicians to help the junta retain its power.”

Now, who could that have been? Truth be told, it could be almost any senior officer in the Army. They know they polish the boots of their bosses.

Thanakorn’s response was that this “was a personal matter, as it was likely the officer might have known the politicians personally.”

Perhaps that is the point. The Army is helping with the hoovering. But Thanakorn denies everything.

 





Suppression in the northeast

21 08 2018

There are several reasons why the military junta and The Dictator feel they have a chance of winning sufficient seats in the northeast when they decide it is time for their “election.” They have thrown money at the region. They disrupted red shirt movements. But most of all, they have used the military to infiltrate to the village level.

Because a lot of the military infiltration is under the radar, we know precious little about the repression, suppression and psychological warfare, the recent article at the Bangkok Post is important.

As the report is easily accessible, we won’t repeat other than a few snippets:

Second Army Region commander Tharakorn Thamwinthorn is expected to retain his position in the upcoming annual military reshuffle as he was perceived to have performed well in keeping the red shirts and supporters of the Pheu Thai Party in check in the Northeast over the past year.

His job is to ensure that these groups are disrupted and the junta’s lot have a chance of winning their “election.”

… Deputy Prime Minister and Defence Minister Prawit Wongsuwon, … wants him to be in charge of the Northeast when elections are held….

Of course he does!

… he [Lt Gen Tharakorn] said people’s attitude in the region has improved four years on from the coup.

That means he thinks he can manipulate political attitudes. Part of the reason for “improved attitudes” has to do with all the loot as the “army has pressed ahead with the state-funded Thai Niyom Yangyuen (Sustainable Thainess) programme…”.

Naturally enough, Lt Gen Tharakorn is also supportive of the activities of the junta’s political allies as they mop up MPs. He knows them well. He supports them. When he “insisted politicians have their own reasons to switch parties, and it is not because of the military’s efforts of persuasion,” he’s lying about the military’s “persuasion.”





The junta’s lock

20 07 2018

The military dictatorship has now had more than four years to lock-in its rule and its rules. In establishing control over the military, it has had longer.

Around the time of the 2006 military coup, royalist elements in the military, aligned with the palace directly or through privy councilors Gen Prem Tinsulanonda and Gen Surayud Chulanont, marked certain military officers as untrustworthy due to their perceived alliance with Thaksin Shinawatra. These officers were sidelined, stymied and seen out of the military, mostly through the efforts of four generals: Sonthi Boonyaratglin, Anupong Paojinda, Prayuth Chan-ocha and Prawit Wongsuwan. Sonthi was soon discarded as too weak but the others remain, ran the 2014 coup and now plot and plan for the continuation of military guided “democracy” into the future.

That planning for the future involves something that Gen Prem did for years on behalf of the palace: managing succession in the armed forces so that loyalists are on top. In this context. loyalty means to the palace and to the junta and its regime.

It has been known for quite some time that the chosen successor for Gen Chalermchai Sitthisart as Army chief is Gen Apirat Kongsompong. Apirat is a ruthless rightist who has vowed support to The Dictator and taken a leading role in suppressing red shirts and other political opponents.

Last year, when the new King Vajiralongkorn approved the military promotion list, it was widely assumed that Gen Apirat had the king’s approval as Vajiralongkorn takes a strong interest in what happens within the armed forces. However, in May this year, there was an unconfirmed report that Apirat may have fallen foul of the erratic king. Within a couple of months, however, an announcement in the Royal Gazette saw Gen Apirat granted special special status as a member of the king’s personal security unit. If Apirat had fallen foul of the king, he must have completed his penance and/or service with flying colors, at least in the king’s eyes.

This has been followed by Gen Apirat getting plenty of media attention as the Defense Council is scheduled to meet on 25 July to discuss promotions and appointments, with the meeting chaired by Gen Prawit. Interestingly, most of the media stories are almost exactly the same, suggesting that this is a strategic leak by the junta, paving the way for Apirat and acknowledging that the king’s approval has been given.

Apirat, a graduate from Class 20 of the Armed Forces Academies Preparatory School, and in the military’s feudal system, “belongs to the Wongthewan clique and not the powerful Burapa Phayak circles of elite commanders — of which Gen Prayut and his deputy Gen Prawit are members — [yet] he is one of the regime’s most trusted lieutenants.” He has pledged allegiance to The Dictator. His loyalty has been earlier tested in 2010 and his bosses appreciate Apirat’s willingness to shoot down civilian opponents.

If the junta does decide to hold its rigged election next year, Gen Apirat will be expected to use his 200,000 + soldiers, the Internal Security Operations Command and various other resources of the state to deliver the votes needed for the “election” to appear to have been won by the junta’s parties.





When the military is on top XVII

30 03 2018

In another egregious example of the warping of society under the military boot, The Nation reports that “Army chief General Chalermchai Sittisart has given the green light to resume construction of court buildings and official residences at the foot of Chiang Mai’s Doi Suthep, near [right at the edge of] Doi Suthep-Pui National Park.”

The same report states that the “plot in question is considered Ratchaphatsadu land belonging to the state. However, when the project started two decades ago, the plot was under the authority of the Army.”

So why the chief Army thug has his say on this seems to reflect the way Thai society and administration has been militarized.

Chalermchai declared that the “[p]roject ‘gone too far to stop’ despite residents’ environmental worries…”. He added: “As our investigation found construction had proceeded in line with the law and it was already 95 per cent complete, I have allowed the construction work to resume…”. He’s the boss!

Significantly, the large plot of land – 24 ha – cutting a swathe into forest is building luxury houses for judiciary officials based in Chiang Mai. It seems the judiciary has been such a loyal ally in politicized rulings that the military junta is rewarding it.

 

From the Bangkok Post

Construction of the judges and associated staff luxury houses will “cost about Bt1 billion.” Then there will be additional services and fine furnishing.

The Bangkok Post reports that local residents are livid about the judicial housing project essentially involving clearing all trees from the site.

Now the Army boss has “ruled,” he expects all discussion and debate to cease. This is what happens when the military is on top.





Army’s chief thug

29 03 2018

The Nation reports that chief Army thug (or Army chief) General Chalermchai Sittisart has threatened pro-“election” activists.

Speaking of a series of rallies calling for an “election” in November (as The Dictator previously promised) the Army godfather singled out the Democracy Restoration Group. The Army is trying to show that the group is backed by “others” – meaning Thaksin Shinawatra and his followers.

We are not sure about some of the things this General godfather is reported to have said, but he apparently “called the activists’ demands … ‘groundless’, [saying]… “[t]hey have no condition. They just want to make movements…”. That’s not what has been coming from other reporting, where the activists have made particular demands.

The threat was then made and made very clear: “Eventually, ‘somebody’ will take care of them backstage anyway…”.

It is remarkable that even this murderous military can make such public threats.





Trigger-happy soldiers and impunity

13 01 2018

When Chaiyapoom Pasae was shot dead by soldiers it was soon revealed that there was another shooting leading to death involving Abe Sae Moo. Both cases involve soldiers accused of using excessive force. Both were separately killed at the Ban Rin Luang military checkpoint in Chiang Mai’s Chiang Dao district. The excuses provided by  the military and backed all the way to the top was that both men resisted, ran and tried to throw a grenade at the soldiers who then shot them dead.

As far as we know, neither case has gone anywhere, the military shooters remain free and more or less unidentified and evidence remains officially hidden.

A recent case suggests that the military remains trigger-happy.

A few days ago, Khaosod reported that after initially “forgetting” to reveal that soldiers were involved, police had finally admitted that they were when Sorachai Sathitraksadumrong was shot in the head and died. Amazingly, a community leader, Wutthichai Injai, had already been arrested for the alleged crime.

Initially the police said “only civilians manned the roadblock…”, on the road between Chiang Mai and Chiang Rai, but “Sorachai’s family and neighbors went to protest Monday at the district administrative office to demand answers and justice for his killing.” They said they knew soldiers were at the road block.

The initial police story was full of inconsistencies.

After it was admitted that soldiers were at the money-making venture road block, “all of the soldiers denied any involvement with the killing, and no witnesses [were said to have] … implicated them.” The soldiers also claimed to be unarmed.

After a while, another Khaosod report was saying that a “soldier [had] stepped forward to admit that he killed a motorist at a northern checkpoint last week…”.

The soldier was not named and remained with military, said to be “in custody.”

This admission came after “the community rallied to pressure police to come clean about what happened following the arrest of a civilian [Wutthichai] for killing the motorist.” Wutthichai was later bailed but still faces legal action.

As police “investigated,” Defense Ministry spokesman Kongcheep Tantravanich said “the military will convene a disciplinary investigation into the shooting.”

The Bangkok Post then reported that an “army private has turned himself in to police…”:

Pvt Wanchai Champa was accompanied by his boss, Col Worathep Bunya, who commands the 17th Infantry Regiment in Phayao, to report to Provincial Police Region 5 in Chiang Mai before he was handed over to Mae Suai police for interrogation.

Wutthichai’s family have requested that “the national police to take over the case from local officers.”

Then Army chief Gen Chalermchai Sitthisart blathered that “the fatal shooting could have stemmed from a misunderstanding by the soldier.” And he played the drug claim, also made in the earlier checkpoint killings:

He admitted he was surprised to learn that soldiers were helping local authorities man a village checkpoint. Their presence could be because of reports of drug trafficking in the area….

Whatever happened, it is clear that the military is out of control. When the military runs the country, they get even further out of control.