Korn, Rule of Law, and Democracy

8 03 2010

Thanks to Bangkok Pundit, PPT was alerted to a new Thai-language Facebook post by Finance Minister Korn Chatikavanij (6 March 2010). In this post, Korn expresses some surprise that his earlier post on the Thaksin Shinawatra assets case verdict, which PPT commented on here, caused so much of a fuss. He claims to have been misunderstood and to have been misrepresented by mischievous opponents. We’ll come back to this.

PPT had a long comment on that earlier post because it contained some revealing statements by the elite English-educated minister who had the Facebook post published by the Bangkok Post. We noted that Korn’s most significant issue was in this question: “The question I would like to raise is, if the coup did not happen in 2006 and the Assets Scrutiny Committee (ASC) had not existed, would we see justice being served in this case?” He restates it as: “if there had not been a coup, would justice have prevailed?” And then he thinks a bit more: “why can’t Thai society … achieve justice without having to rely on coup-makers initiating the process? Does this mean that sometimes ‘undemocratic’ actors place more emphasis on truth and justice than democratic ones?”

We noted that Korn didn’t explicitly answer the questions although we considered it clear that he is a coup supporter and believes that justice has been brought by the 2006 military coup. Of course, the question is hypothetical as the coup prevented any further attempts to deal with Thaksin’s alleged corruption under the 1997 Constitution.

PPT also pointed to Korn’s effusive PAD-like position where he attempts to consider whether the poor have the time or energy to think about justice. He said: “Perhaps, therefore, only the wealthy have the time and inclination to ponder on matters such as justice while the poor, who have to struggle to feed their families, do not have that luxury. And when the majority is made up of poor people and the majority voice is what counts in a democracy, the resounding answer is seemingly ‘We don’t care’.” We noted that Korn’s view was elitist.

In now claiming to have been misunderstood or misrepresented, Korn states that he did not say that he supported the coup in September 2006. He claims that he was just asking a question of Thais: would we have had “justice” if we had not had the coup? In our post, we acknowledged that Korn didn’t say outright that he had supported the coup. PPT stated that his support for the coup was implicit in what he said.

In his new post, Korn now takes the high ground, claiming a concern for rule of law and true democracy. So we decided to have a quick look at Korn’s track record on supporting rule of law and democracy by surveying the English-language press since the 2006 coup. We don’t claim to have found everything, but we have enough to suggest that Korn is dissembling.

Support for a coup and military intervention: True, back at the time of the coup, Korn didn’t jump up and down in public proclaiming ecstasy at the outcome. At the same time, he did not speak against the military’s destruction of the constitution, parliament or the illegality of the military’s putsch. And he did provide some succour for the generals. News.com.au (22 September 2006) states that when the coup leaders decided to ban the activities of political parties and forbade the formation of political parties, speaking for the Democrat Party, Korn stated: “We respect the council’s [i.e. the junta’s] need for stability and we will abide by it…”. Respect in a word full of meaning. And Korn meant it, for he immediately canceled an interview with TIME magazine (25 September 2006) and “declined to comment on the nation’s political future.”

When the junta decided to appoint a prime minister, Korn was reported in Mainichi Daily News (29 September 2006) as speaking highly of Privy Councilor and retired general Surayud Chulanont. Korn even said that appointing a former general should not give the impression that the military was merely transferring power to one of its cronies.” He said that “would be neither true nor relevant.”

The record is that at the time of the coup, Korn did not oppose it and spoke supportively of the military junta, its restrictive announcements and supported that appointment of a puppet government led by a former general. It is important to recall that he also did this as a politician speaking for the Democrat Party. Maybe he just forgot the “democrat” bit of the name.

A year later, Korn rejected those assertions that the Democrat Party had accommodated the coup group. In The Irrawaddy (21 December 2007) he is cited: “Everyone had faith that nobody would have the power to renege on the public promises made by military at the time [of the coup, to have elections].He added that not being “more forceful against the military, [had] … shown the world that the Thai way of solving problems, avoiding confrontation, often yields the best results.” At the time, the Democrat Party was hoping for the election victory that the military hoped to hand them, especially after bludgeoning through the 2007 Constitution that was, in part, meant to ensure that victory.

Much later, at the demise of the Samak government, Korn appeared to endorse military intervention when he stated: “So much for democracy providing a safety valve. So, while a full-blown coup is something everyone wants to avoid, it would appear that an unspoken threat of a coup was necessary for the right decision to have been made by politicians” (Bangkok Post, 23 September 2008).

All of this means that Korn can hardly claim to have been anything other than supportive of the military coup. How about rule of law?

Rule of law: Most of the comments PPT found had to do with the People’s Alliance for Democracy. In the Asia Times Online (29 August 2008), Korn claimed that treason charges “filed against the PAD leadership were ‘overly harsh and unnecessarily provocative’.” About a week later he wrote in the Bangkok Post (9 September 2008): Let’s be clear – I am a PAD sympathiser…. No point shying away from the obvious – after all, it is a wellknown fact that one of the PAD leaders, even if he is acting on an individual basis, is a Democrat MP. Many other key speakers were our candidates in the recent general elections. Almost all of the tens of thousands of the attending public are Democrat voters. Most importantly, the PAD and their supporters make similar arguments with us….

All of this at a time when Korn himself admits that PAD had engaged in illegal acts, including breaking into and occupying Government House. He says: “Did everything change as a result of the illicit acts? Not for me.” Why? “[L]like it or not, the Democrats could not on our own have resisted the PPP or the government from abusing their powers in the seven months of their rule. I think that without our parallel efforts, it is likely that the Constitution would by now have been amended and protection given to both Thaksin and PPP itself. He adds: “I was saddened by the PAD decision to cross the legal line. Yet I understood it from the perspective of strategy.

It is clear that Korn supported all of PAD’s actions, including their many illegal acts.

Democracy: On democracy as rule by the majority, Korn is PAD-like: “I am not one to believe that fairness always means the view of the majority – I have seen the majority at work in Parliament over the past four years to know how flawed they can be. I am thus apt to believe that while the majority view should be given first priority, a good system requires other mechanisms to provide the check and balance necessary. This is why I was always a supporter of the part-elected, part-selected Upper House – there is no reason why we should have the Upper and Lower Houses filled with people of the same DNA. The question today, however, is whether we should go further – should the Lower House also be partly selected and, if not, should its powers be curbed? I can tell you as an elected MP that it is humbling to have to acknowledge that the questions have validity. In my opinion, if we are to seek to amend the Constitution, these are the issues we should be focusing on…” (Bangkok Post, 23 September 2008).

The Asia Times Online (8 October 2008) reports that “Kasit Piromya, currently a Democrat party shadow cabinet minister, acted as a de facto PAD spokesman at a foreign press event on September 30. He was joined on the panel by Democrat deputy party leader Korn Chatikavanij, who expressed his personal support for the PAD and its call for political reforms, including a move towards more appointed representatives.

These comments show Korn, a member of the elite and a PAD supporter, throwing his weight behind decidedly undemocratic and highly conservative forms of representation.

And in case you wondered if Korn was just taking political cover on this recent Facebook-based debate regarding his support for the 2006 coup, recall that when the army and palace brokered a deal with Newin Chidchob to get Abhisit Vejjajiva in the prime minister’s seat, the Asia Times Online (16 December 2008) reported: “Newin’s association with the Democrats represents the latest blotch on the conservative party’s self-promoted good governance image and points to possible political infighting ahead. In an August interview with Asia Times Online, Democrat party deputy leader Korn Chatikavanij saidhis party would never form an alliance with the rough-and-tumble Newin to establish a Democrat-led government.

Korn’s track record on limited democracy, partisan rule of law and his support for military intervention is about as clear as it gets in Thailand’s political maelstrom.





Another showdown day nominated

5 03 2010

Over the last couple of months the military-backed, royalist government led by Prime Minister Abhisit Vejjajiva time and again told the media that a “showdown” was looming and predicted that this would come around the time of the verdict on the Thaksin Shinawatra assets case. That day passed without major incident.

In what is now a well-planned strategy of invoking fear, another date is now nominated as a “showdown” date, this time by the army chief and power behind the government, General Anupong Paochinda (Bangkok Post, 5 March 2010). Anupong Paojinda is reported as having “expressed grave concern over the fragile security situation in the lead up to the red shirts’ mass rally on March14.” The general explained that Thailand is “edging closer to a critical juncture”.

It was deputy army spokeswoman Colonel Sirichan Ngathong who commented for the army chief, saying Anupong told a meeting with unit commanders that “the security situation would become precarious from the middle of the month.Anupong appears to be expecting a clash.

In another meeting, over three hours, the government’s security committee, chaired by Deputy Prime Minister Suthep Thaugsuban, discussed the upcoming red shirt rally. In the past, it has usually then been a government spokesman who has made announcements on security. This time, however, the committee is apparently dominated by the military. Its spokesman is Major-General Ditthaporn Sasasamit.

Ditthaporn said the meeting covered possible traffic problems that could be caused by the red shirt demonstration.” He said it did not “discuss preventing upcountry red shirts from entering the capital. But stopping them getting to Bangkok might be necessary if the security law was invoked.” In fact, there are already numerous road blocks designed to discourage red shirt movement to Bangkok.

The army is heavily involved, even without the Internal Security Act being invoked. It is working with police in stepping up security and the 1st Army will oversee vulnerable locations in Bangkok. General Anupong has also instructed every army unit to step up security ahead of the red shirts’ demonstration.





The verdict, security and judicialization

28 02 2010

Continuing a theme of posts on judicialization and the enhancement of security, PPT provides these two links to stories by two of the most experienced foreign political reporters/commentators based in Thailand. Their perspectives on these matters can be read in conjunction with PPT’s earlier post.

Marwaan Macan-Markar at Inter Press Agency News (27 February 2010) points out, commenting on the Thaksin Shinawatra assets case, that the “800 million U.S. dollars, which the court did not seize on account of it having been made before Thaksin was became prime minister ... will remain frozen till other cases against Thaksin are resolved, according to the courts.

Marwaan cites historian Thanet Aphornsuvan on the judiciary: “This verdict confirms the continuing role of the judiciary in resolving political crises in the country…. The Supreme Court is being increasingly asked to play an important role, so I was not surprised by the verdict. The judges settled for a compromise rather than take all of Thaksin’s assets.” PPT remains unconvinced that this was a “compromise.” Thanet is further cited: “The judiciary is now so powerful it is almost becoming another sovereign power. It is more powerful than the legislative and executive branch of government.”

Marwaan sees the shift to the judiciary as political enforcer as “rooted in an April 2006 speech by the … monarch…”. He has a partial list of other judicial decisions that have repeatedly targeted the pro-Thaksin political forces and notes the king’s “two important speeches to groups of judges in recent weeks. He called for justice to be shaped by the spirit of ‘righteousness’.”

Shawn Crispin at Asia Times Online (27 February 2010) also has some useful comments. He observes that the “court-ordered seizure of Thaksin’s assets is in line with the gathering trend towards the ‘judicialization’ of Thai politics, an apparently royally endorsed concept where high courts and judges assume the role the monarchy has traditionally played in mediating the country’s complex and often heated political disputes. Observers noted that King Bhumibol Adulyadej symbolically addressed groups of judges on two occasions in recent weeks, urging them to adjudicate with ‘righteousness’ the cases they handle.” Crispin adds that the king “made a similar address in the lead-up to a Constitutional Tribune [sic] decision in May 2007 that resulted in the legal dissolution of Thaksin’s former ruling Thai Rak Thai party and banned 111 of the its top executives – including Thaksin – from politics for five years.

Crispin also notes the Abhisit Vejjajiva government’s increased attention to security: “The government has pre-emptively responded to the threats by mobilizing joint civilian and security force teams across 38 provinces, including in Bangkok, and the erecting of new security cameras in areas of the national capital, including this week in front of the Supreme Court.” PPT would add that several of these “threats” are largely manufactured by a non-stop barrage of accusations and often false stories emanating from within the government.

His story finishes by speculating that Thaksin may be “keeping his financial powder dry to press his case for a royal pardon after the eventual succession from Bhumibol to his heir apparent son, Crown Prince Vajiralongkorn.” While Thaksin is no Pridi Bhanomyong, he no doubt knows – not least through a family connection – that Pridi was forever an enemy of the palace and was never permitted to return.





Updated: Out of hospital

28 02 2010

Update (1 March 2010): There are now conflicting reports on whether the king was discharged from hospital. Both English-language newspapers reported he was discharged. AP has a report from 28 February that says the king left the hospital for 4 hours and then returned. AP says: “It was the first time the 82-year-old monarch has left Siriraj Hospital since he was hospitalized Sept. 19 with fatigue and loss of appetite.” That’s wrong because he left once previously. It goes on: “Bhumibol left for Chitralada Palace at about 9 p.m. Saturday night on “personal” business and returned to the hospital at 1 a.m. Sunday, a palace official said.The official, speaking on condition of anonymity because she was not authorized to release information, did not explain the nature of the personal business.She said there would be no official announcement because the visit was regarded as part of the king’s personal affairs. Hospital officials said they could not comment.” That seems wrong as well as Sunday night’s royal news on television showed the king being discharged from hospital and traveling by van to the palace.

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So now we know why the king was in hospital for more than 5 months. He was just waiting for the Thaksin Shinawatra assets case verdict. Sure he was ill initially, but he seemed to stay on and on, and there was all kinds of speculation. He spoke publicly to judges at least twice in the run-up to the verdict, ensuring that his views were clear (see here and here).

Now the verdict is out, as The Nation (27 February 2010) reports, “[w]earing pink and accompanied by his pet dog Tongdaeng, His Majesty returned to his Chitralada Palace.





Updated: Only the beginning

27 02 2010

Update: The Nation today (28 February 2010) leads with several stories on the new cases that will flow from the Supreme Court decision. View them at The Nation’s website.

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PPT has several times posted of the Thaksin Shinawatra assets case as being seen by many as a “final showdown” and of some on the government side, at least for a time thinking that the “final showdown” might also involve a confrontation with red shirts. But there was no red shirt rallying, apart from small gatherings to listen to the long reading of the verdict on 26 February.

As it turns out, the “final showdown” was just part of a process. Here we are not joining the chorus that is simply saying that the verdict did not end political conflict. Rather, we are saying that the verdict is one step by the military-backed Abhisit Vejjajiva government to destroy Thaksin, demobilize his supporters and maintain a less liberal political regime that has, as its central mission, the maintenance of the monarchy.

PPT has already posted on how the military leadership is standing firmly behind its royalist governmen t. We have also posted several times on the authoritarian trend in the Abhisit government. The success that the government has had in establishing its repressive power is evidenced, for example, by its ability to deploy military in security operations over the past couple of weeks without having to use the Internal Security Act.

Why do we say it is just the beginning of the “war” against Thaksin and the red shirts? Here is some of the evidence, in addition to the strengthening of the security state mentioned above and in earlier posts.

First, the verdict was a rather brilliant piece of media performance, which is meant to show investors and the international community that there is “rule of law” in Thailand (see here and here). By not confiscating all of Thaksin’s assets, these groups may feel more comfortable that justice has been done and that the case was not merely political. What is still unclear, however, is whether the funds can and will be returned any time soon.

Second, royalist academics have already come out to warn, worry and re-start their activities that target red shirts as dangerous and violent republicans and of boosting the government’s security state drift (see here). The People’s Alliance for Democracy joined this chorus while crowing that the court had accepted the yellow shirt arguments. The military remains deployed for civil strife.

Third, The Nation (27 February 2010) reports that as a result of the Supreme Court verdict, Thaksin and his family now potentially face “at least 10 separate criminal cases…”. Readers can see these 10 cases listed in the article. They include cases related to what must now be false assets declarations several times when Thaksin was premier.

More broadly, the decision on the assets case now allows the government to go after a raft of former Thai Rak Thai politicians – most of whom are still serving a 5-year ban from politics – and seek to destroy any thoughts they had of a political comeback.

This is not idle speculation for the Bangkok Post (27 February 2010) reports that Preecha Suwannathat, a former dean of Thammasat University’s Law Faculty said that the verdict meant “all members of the two Thaksin cabinets would have to be held accountable. This was because Thaksin could not have abused his authority alone. The former cabinet members could face criminal charges.” His view was supported by National Anti-Corruption Commission member Wichai Wiwitseree, who said “the verdict rendered the cabinet members and civil servants who served during Thaksin’s tenure liable for legal action.

Indeed, in a speed totally unheard of in the Thai government and justice system, “NACC member Vicha Mahakul said his body had appointed teams to take action against the cabinet members and civil servants in question.”

The process of destroying what the yellow shirts called the “Thaksin regime” is continuing, perhaps with even greater strength in terms of conviction and desire and in terms of the use of the judiciary to do as first exhorted back in April 2006 – cleaning up the “mess” as the king described it. But more than the Thaksin regime, the political and legal cleaning must deal with the red shirts and their supporters if it is to be a victory for an Ancien regime that never forgets its enemies.





Mysterious funds

23 02 2010

While the Abhisit Vejjajiva government was quick to claim huge inflows of funds for the red shirts, they have been decidedly slow in finding evidence. Indeed, PPT cited the Department of Special Investigation just yesterday stating that they hadn’t yet found any evidence for the claim.

But that doesn’t stop unverifiable sources being quoted in the media. The Bangkok Post (23 February 2010) cites “a source in the judiciary” as saying this: “It is the money flowing in [to the country]. The government may have the impression that the money is for the red shirt movement. But we fear that the money might be used to bribe judges.”

So the money – as yet unverified – is now said to be flowing not to red shirts as several government spokesmen and ministers loudly claimed, but to the judiciary as bribes.

This unnamed source cited above said he “feared” money was being used to bribe judges in the Thaksin Shinawatra assets case. Within a couple of paragraphs he is quoted as saying that bribes have been offered to judges.

This unnamed source is “confirmed” by yet another unnamed and unverifiable source who claims that the judges have made a written statement about the bribes. This latter “source” adds that “one of Thaksin’s close aides who has close affiliations with the judiciary was known to be acting as a lobbyist.”

Make of it what you will. The official spokesman for the Supreme Court denies it all. And one of the 9 Supreme Court judges calls the whole bribery story a “fabrication.”

These stories and rumors get more bizarre by the day, and that’s not to say that all of them are going to be completely false. At the same time, these media beat-ups are a measure of the manufactured frenzy around the case.






Updated: Legal precedents, political ramifications

23 02 2010

Update: The always astute Bangkok Pundit has also blogged on this topic. Read the analysis here: 23 February 2010, “Is there legal precedent for the Thaksin asset seizure case?”

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We at PPT are not legal eagles, so on the Thaksin Shinawatra assets case, we have no particular expertise. Like everyone else, we are sure that it is a political case and that any calls for it to be viewed as something else are misplaced. We are also pretty sure that Deputy Prime Minister Suthep Thaugsuban’s position that “We have to be confident in the panel of nine judges that they will rule with reason and legal principle. Our justice system meets the highest international standards…” is untrue.

The various calls for the verdict to be accepted, no matter what, sounds like a plea to accept judicialization as the new form of elite domination. All of these calls come from the Abhisit Vejjajiva government and the ruling elite that backs it. Prime Minister Abhisit sounds much closer to the truth when he warns: “To anyone who thinks of resorting to violence, we will deal with you swiftly…”. Even though most commentators have now moved to the position that the verdict is not going to be the defining moment that many had previously predicted, Abhisit is still threatening and seeking to control. After all, it is the acts of control that are most significant. Part of the reason that “rule of law” and “let justice take its course” rhetoric is important is in embedding a modified means of controlling in the oligarchy’s interests.

But what of legal precedents for the Thaksin case? Yesterday, the Bangkok Post (22 February) implied precedents when it stated that “Thaksin could join a disgraced group of [four] former politicians who lost millions of baht in assets after they were found guilty of being unusually rich.” The Post then stated: “The assets case is not the first of its kind in Thailand. Four such cases have been decided since the country switched from absolute monarchy to constitutional monarchy in 1932.”

Actually, if the cases of former prime ministers Sarit Thanarat, Thanom Kittikachorn and Chatichai Choonhavan and former public health minister Rakkiat Sukthana are legal precedents, then the Post needs to add a fifth: the case against King Prajadhipok in the 1930s, when he was accused of ripping off state funds that he reckoned were his.

PPT is not at all sure that these cases are, in fact, proper legal precedents. According to The Nation (23 February 2010), the Sarit and Thanom cases were not decided by the courts. The one closest to the Thaksin case would seem to be that of Chatichai, not because he was convicted but because of the decision that the Supreme Court decided “that the asset scrutiny committee applied the court’s authority over the case improperly.” The precedent seems to be that the asset scrutiny committee in the Thaksin case, also set up by a military junta, has been declared constitutional in an action meant to prevent a similar challenge in the current case.

The Nation takes a different view on precedent, saying that the “nine Supreme Court judges will find themselves caught between a rock and a hard place.” The Nation adds that a “dilemma the judges face is outlining a ruling based on legal principles, not sentiment,” and continues, “the case is unprecedented.”

Why is this? The Nation states: “This is the first judicial inquiry into abuse of power to enrich oneself – or ‘policy corruption’ – an offence that has no legal precedent.” Defining “policy corruption” is not going to be easy, especially as this was a political charge made by Thaksin’s opponents in the People’s Alliance for Democracy and the Democrat Party, and is now taken up, via the asset scrutiny committee, as a legal case. The Nation even claims that “there is no judicial review anywhere in the world addressing this issue.”

Friday’s verdict is eagerly awaited, on a par with the Thai Rak Thai Party dissolution case, and the political ramifications will be equally broad no matter what decision is made.





Coup talk, security preparations

9 02 2010

Readers may find a new piece at Asia Sentinel (8 February 2010) of some interest. The report begins with the continuing buzz about a coup – and PPT has to confirm that this is the main topic of conversation in political circles – and then discusses the Thaksin Shinawatra asset case.

The article states: “Getting rid of Thaksin’s influence completely would presumably be the rationale for another coup. The military would take over and obliterate him once and for all.” Later it says: “The biggest beneficiaries of the coup talk are the pro-Thaksin group that needs to build momentum before a court rules Feb. 26 whether to seize about $2 billion in proceeds from his family’s 2006 sale of telecommunications firm Shin Corp. to Singapore’s Temasek Holdings.”

PPT is not sure how to reconcile these seemingly disparate statements. In fact, red shirts seem intent on preventing a coup – taxi drivers are on alert to surround tanks and armored personnel carriers if they come onto the streets. The government appears to think the coup talk is a red shirt attempt to destabilize the government. Some red shirts believe that the coup would be to stabilize and strengthen the government, with the military continuing to stand behind the Democrat Party but maybe not Abhisit Vejjajiva. The Asia Sentinel writer seems to think that Abhisit remains the military’s “best bet for the moment.

On the Thaksin assets case, the article has this to say as background: “Like most of the court cases brought against Thaksin after the coup, the assets seizure case is more about politics than law. It’s anyone’s guess how it will turn out. Ever since head of state King Bhumibol Adulyadej instructed judges to solve the country’s political problems in 2006, nearly every legal decision has gone against Thaksin. Courts have nullified an election that he won, dissolved two parties linked to him, banned him and some 200 lawmakers associated with him from politics for five years, and slapped a 2-year prison sentence on him for abuse of power, should he actually ever reappear in Thailand. Prosecutors have at least three more criminal cases against him that they are keeping in the bag.

The political chatter is about how much he will lose: all, some or none. On the latter, it is said that: “If the court were to exonerate Thaksin and give him the money back, it would undermine the whole rationale for ousting him in the first place and instantly boost his war chest for the next big election fight.

The author thinks the court won’t take it all because that would cause political chaos and favors an outcome that sees Thaksin keeping half of the money. The author thinks this was the king’s message: “the king urged judges last month to stay in the middle’.” PPT guesses that Thaksin will lose the lot. There are stories of a deal being negotiated between Thaksin and the palace, but the rumor is that these talks were ineffective. The palace seldom forgives its enemies.

The article concludes this way: “With the military and coalition partners unlikely to abandon him, Abhisit looks like he can ride out any protests over the next month.” Further: “Abhisit will likely be able to muddle through 2010 without any major disasters before he’s forced to call an election next year.” That seems a reasonable guess but Thailand’s politics remains exceptionally volatile and bitter.

Meanwhile, the Abhisit government is preparing for red shirts not a coup. The Washington Post has an AP report (8 February 2010) that reports on the deployment of “about 20,000 security forces to brace for protests ahead of a widely anticipated court ruling on the Thaksin [assets case]…”.

The remarkably supercilious acting spokesman Panitan Wattanayagorn said more than 13,000 army, police and civilian security officers will be deployed across Thailand’s 38 provinces. About 6,000 additional security will be deployed in the capital, where 200 checkpoints will be set up at ‘every entrance into Bangkok’…. PPT recalls that the military used this roadblock tactic after the coup to prevent the free movement of citizens.

This deployment has begun and will expand next week. As PPT stated previously, we think the movement of 22 armored personnel carriers was part of these preparations.

Panitan explained: “We don’t want a repeat of what happened last April when the troops came out a little late…”. He added that would invoke his baby, the Internal Security Act, if required.