Palace PR at full throttle I

13 11 2020

The palace public relations machinery has long had to “manage” Vajiralongkorn’s “problems.” His explosive “divorces,” his erratic behavior and , and the rumors of violence, illnesses, philandering and associations with crime. Generally, the PR exercises revolved around strategies that had “worked” for his father.

The explosion of dissatisfaction with Vajiralongkorn that has been seen recently, reflecting tension over his neo-feudal absolutism, his bahavior and his preference for living in Germany, has seen a new twist on palace propaganda. This involves a rebranding of Vajiralongkorn and the younger royal family members as celebrities. This might be called the Hello! strategy. Obviously, this follows the model of royals in some other countries.

As PPT has said previously, we think this new PR strategy reflects the influence of the royal family’s younger women, including Queen Suthida, Princesses Bajrakitiyabha and Sirivannavari, and some of the harem.

After rousing the raucous royalists in Bangkok, and getting good PR in Thailand (always expected and demanded) but also internationally, with that CNN interview contributing to an image of “compromise” and “popularity,” ignoring the king’s unsteadiness and giving him an instant free pass on all his previous black marks, the palace “influencers” have decided to have the king do “populist tours.”

Reuters reports that “Vajiralongkorn wrote messages of national unity and love on Tuesday during a visit to the northeast of the country two days after protesters sent him a letter demanding royal reforms that would curb his powers.”

In a PR stunt, the king wrote a message to the governor of Udon Thani province: “We all love and care for each other. Take care of the country, help each other protect our country with goodness for prosperity and protect Thainess…”. Going full-on celebrity on a “picture of himself and the queen … the king wrote”: “Love the nation, love the people, cherish Thainess, real happiness.” Another message stated: ““Thank you for all the love and support. We love and care for each other. We must take care of the country, and we must help each other protect it with virtue for it to prosper. Preserve the marvel of Thainess…”.

If the protests against the king have been unprecedented, so is the palace PR response, seeking to create a new image for the king. Previous efforts at this kind of image making have been undone by Vajiralongkorn’s inability to stick with the PR plan and messages.

As these reports of “good king” are being managed, there’s also been “bad king” reports. Hype (Malaysia) had this”

King Maha Vajiralongkorn was married to his third wife, Srirasmi Suwadee, in 2001, before divorcing her in 2014.

Since then, the ex-princess is currently under house-arrest and has decided to take on life as a nun.

Back in 2014, Srirasmi’s uncle, parents, sister and three brothers were convicted with several offences, including “lèse-majesté”, which is defamation to the monarchy. They were all sentenced to prison with different offences and Srirasmi got her royal title stripped of the same year.

As aforementioned, Srirasmi is under house arrest as she hasn’t been seen in public ever since she was forced to leave the royal house. As per China Press, Thai royal experts have exposed photos of the King’s third wife in white robes with her head shaved, as a sign of her nunhood, at her house in Ratchaburi province in central Thailand.

In the photos, she can be seen living a simple life of planting seeds and sweeping leaves in her backyard, despite previously living as a monarch. However, it might not be so simple for her as her eyes tell a different story.

According to SCMP, she was forced to leave her son, Prince Dipangkorn Rasmijoti, who is the next in line for the throne after the king. There are photos on the internet of Srirasmi’s last meeting with her son before she was forced to leave the palace.

We’re unsure of the exact reason behind her sadness but being under house-arrest while separated from your child can definitely drain one’s mental health.

But the PR/propaganda rattled on. In a Bangkok Post report it is stated that the king “has been told that many red-shirt villages that used to support former prime minister Thaksin Shinawatra are now sworn to uphold the monarchy.” Apparently, the person doing the telling was the queen: “They are from the red-shirt villages to protect the monarchy…” she said as she and the king were “mingling with supporters at Wing 23 of the air force in Udon Thani on Tuesday night.”

Of course, many millions of red shirts never considered Thaksin an enemy of the monarchy, but the queen seems to have taken this position. How does she know? For one thing, the yellow shirts constructed this narrative and clearly Suthida has imbibed the yellow shirt kool-aid. She’s had this view reinforced by the fawning betrayers of the red shirts, Anon Saennan and Suporn Atthawong, both of whom sold out to the rightists long ago.

The king appreciates the turncoats. The regime has rewarded Suporn with legal cases dropped and lucrative positions.

As the report states:

Mr Suporn was prosecuted for disrupting the Asean summit in Pattaya in April 2009, but the United Front for Democracy against Dictatorship member evaded the charges because police could not find him before the case expired in April last year.

An earlier Post report adds further detail, stating that Suporn:

a vice minister attached to the Prime Minister’s Office. His appointment to this political post is said to be a reward for his defection from Pheu Thai to the pro-military Palang Pracharath Party prior to the March 24 election.

We assume the regime and the military are pouring funds into the Suporn-Anon anti-red shirt campaign.

Updated: Trading justice

26 06 2019

Thailand’s judicial system has been in terrible trouble since at least 2006, when the previous king pushed judges to the center of political conflict. Since then, several courts have been delivering politicized decisions, not least the Constitutional Court.

One of the most blatant cases of this political use of the judicial system seems to be the recent decision by the Office of the Attorney-General that red shirt turncoat and political opportunist Suporn  Atthawong, once known as Rambo Isan, “could not be brought to hear an indictment at the Pattaya court…”. According to the Office of the Attorney-General, the statute of limitations had expired.

The charges went back to the invasion of the ASEAN summit in Pattaya in 2009.

Startlingly, this statute of limitations did not apply to his co-accused red shirts. One of them, Nattawut Saikua, is cited in the report:

Nuttawut, a co-defendant in the Pattaya case, wrote on Facebook he was impressed by the “miracle of law” which let only Mr Suporn walk free.

“I don’t have any problem if he is let off the hook because we red shirts have faced many more charges than others. But the statute of limitations expired? This is hard to swallow.

“I’m only saddened by the miracle of law and the judicial process,” he wrote.

There were rumours that making lawsuits disappear was used as a tool to lure former MPs to join a new party. “I wonder if there is a shred of truth in this case, “ he continued.

In that last comment, Nattawut is referring to the offers that were allegedly made to former Thaksin Shinawatra supporters to defect to the junta’s proxy party, to assist in mobilizing voters and to work against former allies. It was claimed that not just money changed hands in such dealing, but legal favors as well. Justice is a commodity for trade for the junta.

Update: Khaosod reports that “[p]olice commanders … declined to explain why they failed to arrest a pro-junta politician before insurrection charges against him expired.”

Chonburi police commander Nanthachart Supamongkol, whose was tasked with apprehending Suporn, used a royal excuse!: “Nanthachart said he was busy attending an event to honor King Rama X,” and told reporters to ask someone else. We are sure General Prawit knows the answer. Deals were done.

Jet-lagged, out of his league, dopey or an inveterate liar?

20 02 2016

Thailand’s National News Bureau quotes The Dictator quite often and usually very briefly. In a recent short statement, General Prayuth Chan-ocha is quoted on his trip to the US, where he had photo-ops with US President Obama.

The story has The Dictator declaring:

The Prime Minister has assured that while the US has devoted great importance to Thailand and ASEAN, it has refrained from pressuring the Kingdom on its political situation.

Prime Minister Gen Prayuth Chan-ocha has revealed that during his attendance of the US-ASEAN leader’s summit in California of the United State, US President Barack Obama did not indicate any pressure on Thailand concerning its political circumstances. He stated that instead, the US leader acknowledged that Thailand is moving towards democracy with the drafting of a new constitution and gave his support on the matter as he sees the ASEAN region as an important partner for the US.

We are not sure that Prayuth was actually in charge of his faculties while in the Summit. What we saw – and we weren’t there – was the record. As we posted earlier, resident Obama “called for a return to civilian rule in Thailand.” He is quoted from a press briefing at the US-ASEAN Summit: “We continue to encourage a return to civilian rule in Thailand…”.

The Joint Statement from the Summit stated, among other things:

Our commitment to ensure opportunities for all of our peoples, through strengthening democracy, enhancing good governance and adherence to the rule of law, promoting and protecting human rights and fundamental freedoms, encouraging the promotion of tolerance and moderation, and protecting the environment….

Was The Dictator jet-lagged, out of his league, dopey, all of these? Or is he just an inveterate liar who thinks that the Thai people are all stupid and unable to understand these reports? Or all of these?

Updated: Don’t hold your breath I

17 02 2016

In a brief report, the Bangkok Post states that US President Barack Obama “has called for a return to civilian rule in Thailand.” He is quoted from a press briefing at the US-ASEAN Summit: “We continue to encourage a return to civilian rule in Thailand…”.

All PPT can say is don’t hold your breath. Even if there is an election, it is clear that unless there is some remarkable change in Thailand, no election (or referendum) will be free or fair. No election under junta rules will result in any major change to the clique holding power or in the nature of the authoritarianism being embedded in laws and procedures.

Yes, we know, all the US wants is a civilian leader in the mold of previous post-coup administrations, but even that looks impossible while the business tycoons and royalists pimps support the military regime.

Update: Readers may be interested to note the Joint Statement from the Summit, where among other things, The Dictator, General Prayuth Chan-ocha, agreed to this:

Our commitment to ensure opportunities for all of our peoples, through strengthening democracy, enhancing good governance and adherence to the rule of law, promoting and protecting human rights and fundamental freedoms, encouraging the promotion of tolerance and moderation, and protecting the environment….

Prayuth, the draft charter and domination

16 02 2016

We all know that The Dictator is in California, at a US-ASEAN summit. There aren’t any other military dictators attending, even if there are some leaders who share Prayuth’s authoritarianism.

We felt that readers might find a story at The Washington Times of some interest reminding American readers and President Obama of the problems facing Thailand.

A coup-installed government writing a new constitution and opposition parties (and supportive parties) and human rights groups rejecting it and the junta.

For Americans, the article notes that “the balancing act the Obama administration has faced dealing with the new government [it is hardly new after about 21 months].” The once “key U.S. ally in the region” is now a problem: “the government’s anti-democratic tendencies and persistent courting by China have put heavy strains on the bilateral relationship.”

There’s a bit of repeating things about the DOA undemocratic charter and the junta’s demands and threats:

Many people are afraid to directly criticize the draft constitution because of the regime’s frequently shifting punishments against free speech, enforced by threats to seize assets and military trials for civilian dissidents who express themselves.

Prayuth’s tantrums are mentioned: he grumbled, he labeled journalists “stupid,”  threatened to have the country “depart from this world, from the international community.”

It quotes Michael H. Nelson, a research fellow at Thammasat University, who reckons the military plans to hang on, in some form, for another four years. Titipol Phakdeewanich, dean of the Faculty of Political Science at Ubon Ratchathani University, essentially agrees: “It is more than likely that Prime Minister Prayuth Chan-ocha’s military junta will remain essentially in power, even if we have elections in 2017, albeit with a new prime minister…”.

Burin Kantabutra, a columnist, is also quoted as saying: “I fear we are headed towards the political system of the People’s Republic of China…. I think that post-charter, postelection Thai politics will be a train wreck…”.

A “scholar of Southeast Asia who asked not to be identified because of his research” [hmmm] explains that the “military is too backward, hopeless at government and an embarrassment…”. That scholar reckons this means there will be an election.

PPT reckons that it might be a reason for not having an election.

Abhisit and ASEAN

27 10 2009

Kavi Chongkittavorn used to be one of just a couple of sensible commentators remaining at The Nation. PPT might have considered his latest article a tongue-in-cheek attack on Prime Minister Abhisit Vejjajiva (The Nation, 26 October 2009: “Kudos to PM for a successful summit”) hidden in irony because his bosses at The Nation won’t allow a critical report.

It seems, however, that he is serious, demonstrating his inability to distinguish between his admiration for Abhisit and reality. Kavi’s report on the ASEAN summit presents arguments that fly in the face of most international reporting, as Kavi himself acknowledges. It seems that he is trying to “correct” the record.

Kavi’s headline statement is remarkable: “The 15th Asean Summit at Cha-am must go down in history as the most colourful with additional soap opera-like interventions. Only Thailand could have handled such a messy affair and come off with flying colours.” Only Thailand? Flying colors? Really, seriously?

We think that what he means is that there were no demonstrations. This is clear when Kavi says: “Big plaudits should be given to Prime Minister Abhisit Vejajjiva and Foreign Minister Kasit Piromya and their 30,000 nervous officials, both in uniform or plainclothes, for successfully hosting the event.” In fact, Kasit was nearly invisible. We again refer readers to this Reuters video where they can see some of the 30,000.

Kavi thinks that the recent royal health rumors were a political plot: “Worse of all was the most recent spate of rumours about the health of His Majesty the King. It was aimed at undermining, if not destroying, Abhisit’s ability to be an effective host. If the plan had succeeded, his political leadership would have been in tatters.” PPT wonders how Thaksin and his boys managed to get the king to go to hospital for a month in order for them to implement their dastardly plan?

Abhisit is so wonderful and effective that Kavi believes it is “[n]o wonder a number of Asean leaders, especially those who have been in power for a long time, are jealous.” Hun Sen jealous of the new kid?

An example of Abhisit’s success is seen, for Kavi, in the fact that “the much awaited Asean Intergovernmental Commission on Human Rights” has been established. The Thai chair is said to have played a major role in seeing this through.” Great achievement, except that the apparently bipolar Kavi then says: “Of course, this rights body in itself is toothless.” So to give it some teeth, “liberal” Thailand tried to get “the participation of civil society organisations.”

But didn’t this civil society deal fail? Well, yes, but Kavi blames the civil society organizations: “Too bad representatives of Asean-based civil society organisations (CSO) from five countries walked away from dialogue with their leaders.” Perhaps they walked away to avoid control, gagging and banning? No mention of that by Kavi. Nevertheless, he admits that “Thailand’s long-term plan to institutionalise the interface between them fell flat.”

Kavi again gives PPT pause for thinking that he’s pulling our collective leg when he observes: “Too bad, the kind of drama and excitement one witnessed throughout the Thai chairmanship will be absent from now on. Vietnam has meticulously mapped out its 12-month chairmanship what it wants to achieve for Asean and for the host.” Doesn’t that sound like a joke? Vietnam has planned meticulously while Thailand presided a circus?

However, it probably isn’t a joke, for Kavi now has a track record of commentary that seems based on an admiration of Abhisit rather than serious reporting. We have previously provided several examples of this. Back in February, Kavi supported Abhisit’s efforts on the repression of Muslims in the South, the handling of the Rohinga issue and lese majeste.  In March, Kavi defended Abhisit on media freedom at the very time that a crackdown was being implemented. In April, he was supportive of lese majeste arrests.

Some readers have suggested to us that we are just wasting good blog space in commenting on The Nation’s declining journalism. Perhaps, but this newspaper is still read internationally, so it deserves critical attention.

Giles Ungpakorn on NGOs, ASEAN and cretinism

25 10 2009

Reproduced in full by PPT:

“Lobby Cretinism” of NGOs over the ASEAN Human Rights Commission

Giles Ungpakorn

The Association of South-east Asian Nations (ASEAN) is made up of Thailand, Vietnam, Laos, Cambodia, Burma and Singapore, which all have authoritarian sates. It also includes the semi-democratic Malaysia, along with the Philippines and Indonesia, which are more or less democratic. Would anyone expect a gathering of government leaders from these countries to set up a genuine Human Rights Commission?

Apparently, some NGOs from the region did think so. They got snubbed. Not only did the governments decided to appoint the Human Rights Commissioners themselves, they also refused to meet with half the NGO delegates, and allowed only Dr Surichai Wangaeo of Chulalongkorn University to speak on behalf of the NGO delegation.

Who is Dr Surichai? He supported the 2006 military coup in Thailand and was an appointee to the military junta’s parliament. The Thai NGO team that was involved in so-called “civil society” discussions also included people who supported the military coup.

The Inaugural Ceremony of the ASEAN Intergovernmental Commission on Human Rights was kicked off by a speech from Abhisit Vejjajiva, head of the present military installed government. Abhisit’s government has presided over some of the most draconian censorship seen in Thailand for 40 years, along with the use of an Internal Security law which curtails the right to peaceful protest. His government has imprisoned political opponents under the lese majeste law and it was also responsible for shooting pro-democracy demonstrators in Bangkok last April. In addition, Abhisit’s Democrat Party has set up a paramilitary Blue Shirt gang to commit acts of violence against government opponents. Yet in his speech, addressed to the King, who wasn’t actually present, he unashamedly said things like: “Human rights is an important component of our people’s lives, and it is important for the people-based community we plan to build.” For the members of civil society, he had this to say: “you should rest assured that you now have a new partner with whom to work.” These lies are no longer shocking, since Abhisit has lied about most of his government policies and about the use of lese majeste.

How could NGO activists go along with all this nonsense? Are they stupid or just plain dishonest opportunists? Or have they been blinded by their lack of politics?

The “lobby NGOs” like to claim that they represent “Civil Society”, despite never being elected by anyone. Some are even against elections and voting. They forget that Civil Society can only increase the democratic space and defend rights if it is organised into mass social movements, which act against authoritarian governments and elite vested interests. Instead of trying to talk to government leaders, it would be better to concentrate energy and resources in building such mass movements or supporting movements which already exist, such as the Red Shirts in Thailand and oppositional movements in other ASEAN countries.

Any Human Rights Commission worth its salt must be totally separate and independent from governments and must have the courage to condemn all violations of freedom. The Asian Human Rights Commission in Hong Kong is one good example among many.

After the “collapse of Communism”, much of the NGO movement turned its back on “politics” and the primacy of mass movements and political parties in the 1980s. Instead they embraced “lobby politics” and/or Community Anarchism. Despite the apparent contradiction between lobby politics, which leads NGOs to cooperate with the state, and state-rejecting Community Anarchism, the two go together. This is because they reject any confrontation or competition with the state. Lobbyists cooperate with the state, while Community Anarchists hope to ignore it. They both reject building a big picture political analysis. That is why they can deliberately ignore the fact that most ASEAN countries are run by dictatorships.

Instead of building mass movements or political parties, the NGOs concentrated on single-issue campaigns as part of their attempt to avoid confrontation with the state. They prefer trying to gain invitations to enter the corridors of power, rather than getting rid of elite power. This method of working also dove-tails with grant applications from international funding bodies. It leads to a de-politicisation of the movement.

On Climate Change, the NGOs which met in Bangkok also ignored the fact that governments were unelected. They tried to suck-up to local governments by using a nationalist agenda to blame only the West for Climate Change. This lets local elites off the hook. It also makes alliance-building with movements in the West more difficult. Activists in Europe and the U.S.A. are well aware that Western nations should shoulder the majority of the burden, but the issue is how to tackle the profit-driven market system which destroys the planet and creates great inequalities.

ASEAN countries need to invest more in improving the lives of citizens. The rich need to be taxed and military budgets slashed in order to fund such projects. We need modern technology under real democratic control, in order to build solar power station, wind turbines, electrified public transport and efficient housing. On this important point, the NGOs meeting in Thailand were silent, preferring to suggest some kind of de-industrialisation along the lines of the King’s reactionary “Sufficiency Economy”.

The era of NGOs being radical forces in society is long over. For activists who wish to build a better society, the time has come to reassess the past and find a better alternative form of struggle. For those only interested in a career, just stay put and hope the funding doesn’t dry up.

Ministry of Foreign Affairs, governments gag civil society representatives

23 10 2009

Prachatai (23 October 2009: “5 out of 10 civil society representatives were rejected from the interface meeting with ASEAN leaders”) has an important story regarding the barring and gagging of civil society representatives to an “interface meeting” with ASEAN heads of government. Apparently this was overseen by Thailand’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs.

In addition, Singapore and Burma had selected substitutes for the nominated civil society representatives, replacing them with people from government-sponsored agencies.

According to the report, “These developments rendered the interface, an important space for civil society to engage with government officials, utterly meaningless. Therefore, the representatives of Thailand, Malaysia and Indonesia decided to walk out of the meeting.” Further, “in rejecting their civil society representatives sabotages the credibility of the ASEAN Inter-governmental Commission on Human Rights (AICHR)…”.

The Abhisit Vejjajiva government has claimed that the AICHR has been a major achievement if its term as ASEAN chair. It is now looking more like a failure.

Update 1: Associated Press has a useful story on the ASEAN summit and its no-shows, walkouts, civil society protests and Thailand’s extraordinary security blanket. On the human rights commission, a Filipina is cited to good effect: “It does not bode well for the human rights commission. ASEAN has lost credibility.”

Update 2: Washington Post/Financial Times (24 October 2009) has a story citing Abhisit after the banning/gagging saying that he “tried to put a positive gloss on the dispute” when he stated: “For members of civil society, you should be assured that you now have a partner with which to work…”. Abhisit’s ability to manipulate the truth is again showcased internationally.

Red shirts, ASEAN summit and political realignments

23 10 2009

The Bangkok Post (23 October 2009: “Arisman allowed to present petition”) reports that, after both Prime Minister Abhisit Vejjajiva and Deputy PM Suthep Thaugsuban refused to allow any red shirts anywhere close to the ASEAN summit, they are to be allowed to present a letter to representative of the ASEAN leaders.

Earlier, Abhisit was adamant that no red shirt could get to the summit venue and Suthep supported him, threatening to have red shirt leaders arrested.

It seems, however, that Defence Minister General Prawit Wongsuwon “has given approval for Arisman Pongrurngrong, a core leader of the United front for Democracy against Dictatorship, to submit the UDD’s petition to Asean representatives at Puek Tian Beach in Petchaburi, secretary to the defence minister Gen Noppadon Inthapanya said on Friday.” Prawit has apparently given 7 red shirt leaders permission to make the trip to deliver the letter-petition.

Anticipating criticism from the Democrat Party leaders, it was stated by Prawit’s aides that: “In his capacity as the director of the Asean summit peace keeping centre, Gen Prawit can give permission without having to report to Deputy Prime Minister Suthep Thaugsuban…”.

Arisman said that he would “go to submit the petition,” saying that he was “not afraid of being arrested as threatened by Mr Suthep, who is in charge of security affairs, as he had arranged his visit with Gen Prawit.”

Meanwhile, Abhisit’s hand-picked acting police chief is sticking by his boss and saying that Arisman and other red shirts will be arrested if they show up at any summit venue  (Bangkok Post, 23 October 2009: “Pateep: No contact from red-shirts”).

[Update: The Bangkok Post (23 October 2009: “UDD submits petition to Asean”) reports that the “… United Front for Democracy against Dictatorship (UDD) has submitted its petition to the Association of Southeast Asian Nations, calling on member countries to withdraw their support for Prime Minister Abhisit Vejjajiva as Asean chairman.” It appears that the letter was delivered outside the main summit venue, bit still , it seems, inside the area where the ISA was enforced. A compromise location.]

Whatever happens, this is the latest in a series of reports that began with the Puea Thai Party’s rejection of constitutional amendment and Chavalit Yongchaiyudh’s move to join the party that suggest that a realignment is taking place. PPT may well be proven to be premature in our assessment, but it seems to us that something is moving in politics that hasn’t been seen since the Democrat Party was hoisted to power by the military.

Chavalit gets chided by Prem as a traitor, but still joins the party and is followed by a goodly number of former senior military men, some from Thaksin’s class at the Armed Forces Academies Preparatory School but others as well. Chavalit then goes to Cambodia and meets Hun Sen and the latter makes it clear that Thaksin Shinawatra is welcome and will  not be extradited. For many in the Democrat Party and for royalists and PAD, this will mean that the devil is potentially at the doorstep.

At the same time, several Democrats defect to the New Politics Party (of PAD) and to Puea Thai, and the Democrats appear to be unable to resolve internal  rifts. At the same time, Chavalit has also offered an olive branch to PAD. Is Prawit doing the same for the red shirts?

Interior Minister Chavarat Charnveerakul is right that the “political arena is just like a trading market where there is normally fierce competition.” However, these latest moves are suggestive of a broader level of maneuvering that hasn’t been seen for a while and which might be aimed at sidelining some of the more extreme royalist politicians.

Based on previous experience, we might now expect a response from them, including the group of appointed senators. Presumably, Abhisit and Suthep will also need to respond to Prawit’s apparent direct challenge.

We know we are speculating, but Thailand’s political tectonic plates seem to be displaying considerable activity.

Using the monarchy against red shirts

18 10 2009

Also available as: อ้างสถาบัน ป้ายสีเสื้อแดง

The Nation (18 October 2009 “Reds up pressure on govt”) reported a much larger turnout for the red shirt rally in Bangkok. Even The Nation estimated that the protestors outnumbered the security forces. Some estimates from observers suggest 20,000. There were so many protestors that police had to allow them closer to Government House. The protesters want the government to proceed with processing of their petition to pardon Thaksin Shinawatra. Prime Minister Abhisit Vejjajiva, away from Bangkok making a TV commercial for the government’s Thai khemkaeng scheme that is riddled with corruption, called his buddy Panitan Watanayagorn if he would be able to get into his office at Government House on Monday. [Update: The Nation reports that some red shirts are now planning to deliver a letter to the ASEAN leaders in Hua Hin. Abhisit warns them about ISA. In another short report it is said that Abhisit thanked the red shirts for a peaceful rally.]

The Democrat Party seems rattled each time the red shirts rally. Bangkok MP Kowit Tharana “attacked the red shirts for staging a protest by blocking roads, damaging the confidence in the country, creating an atmosphere of terror and scaring away investors.” Where was Kowit during PAD’s record non-stop protest, their violence, their occupation of the airport and so on? Joining Prem Tinsulanonda, Kowit said red shirt leaders and “those pulling the strings behind the protests from abroad have given orders to destroy the country…”. And taking the link to the monarchy and palace further, Kowit further politicized the king’s illness by accusing the red shirts of disloyalty. He said “the red shirts had picked a bad time to stage their protests, as this is the time that all Thais should be demonstrating their loyalty to His Majesty the King and pray that he recover from his illness.” So who’s using the monarchy and the king’s health for political purposes?

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