Incoherence and double standards

23 10 2012

Avudh Panananda at The Nation has an almost incoherent op-ed that displays some of the usual double standards seen in the mainstream media.

He begins with an attack on Deputy Prime Minister Chalerm Yubamrung holding “a series of public forums on reconciliation…”. Avudh states that “Chalerm is trying to mobilise state mechanisms for a government offensive to sway public sentiment and achieve greater national unity.” But he quickly adds that this is a nonsense, and that what Chalerm is really doing is trying to get “an amnesty for fugitive former prime minister Thaksin Shinawatra.”

The evidence for this claim seems to be that Chalerm has “two pro-Thaksin politicians, Adisorn Piengket and Sutham Saenpratoom [Saengprathum]” working with him…. In fact, in government, Chalerm, who is pro-Thaksin, is surrounded by pro-Thaksin politicians who make up the Puea Thai Party. Avudh’s claims amount to nothing but yellow-shirted extremism.

Of course, Avudh, as a dedicated yellow shirt, guesses the plan is for a Thaksin amnesty, for as he states, “Thaksin’s opponents [meaning yellow shirted ultra-royalists, including Avudh, and the Democrat Party] have been monitoring developments closely with an aim to counter every move the government makes in regard to an amnesty.” He asserts that this move, constructed in his own mind, could lead to a repeat of “the political violence of two years ago…”. We may be missing something, but PPT’s view is that any violence would need to be constructed by anti-Thaksin groups. Maybe Avudh knows that they are planning something? Maybe he is just given to concoction and hyperbole?

Avudh seems miffed that the “Metropolitan Police Bureau has been busy training police to rein in crowds.” He claims that police “intend to foil any yellow-shirt protests at an early stage rather than allow the crowds to surge.” No evidence for this, not even in the meager budgets for the police Avudh mentions in the article. Indeed, various yellow shirts have been seen on the streets even in recent weeks. Red shirts too.

Avudh’s double standards are clear when he begins to write of “a rally at the Royal Turf Club organised by the Pitak Siam [Protecting Siam] Organisation.” There can be nothing sinister in this because, well, it is organized by his buddies, even if they are led by a rabid royalist “retired Army officer General Boonlert Kaewprasit…”. Avudh seems to deny that this group and its leader are who they are and any suggestion that there are others behind the group.

Boonlert, as chairman of the Armed Forces Academies Preparatory School Foundation and leader of Class 1, has urged soldiers to protect the monarchy. And in attacking Nitirat, warned of a possible coup to prevent “disrespect” being shown to the monarchy. In fact, he has repeatedly talked of a military coup in this context or to protect General Prem Tinsulanonda. Boonlert was once reported to be a close aide to former Deputy Prime Minister Sanan Kachornprasart. Far from being a rabid royalist repeatedly rousing the military to a coup, Avudh points out that “Pitak Siam organised its first activity, billed as a merit making, in June. Its second event this Saturday will focus on populism and runaway power.” And perhaps Avudh sees it as unnecessary to mention that the Royal Turf Club is closely associated with military and palace.

We take it that in Avudh’s world of double standards, merit-making and “public good” outweighs the repeated calls for illegal military interventions to throw out elected governments. He concludes by observing: “Pitak Siam may presently appear harmless. But it has the potential to become a roaring tiger should a misstep happen in efforts to bring Thaksin home before achieving genuine reconciliation.”

And back to Avudh’s point above, where he claims bias in preparing for crowd control: Chalerm agreed to meet with Boonlert, according to another report in The Nation, to “thwart plans for an anti-government rally scheduled for Sunday” which the paper seems to think will be “massive.” In fact, in the report, Chalerm seemed to express no opposition to the rally being held. In fact, he is cited: “we cannot stop it because it is their right. But we will ensure that it is orderly.”

And when The Nation wants a comment on a planned red shirt rally on Saturday, of course they get it from the military! In fact, however, the military plays down both rallies. But that doesn’t stop The Nation’s yellow-shirted foaming and frothing as they make their stories biased and largely fact-less.

This is the kind of illogical and concocted nonsense that passes for “journalism” at The Nation.

The truth that cannot be spoken

15 05 2012

At The Nation, Avudh Panananda has an opinion piece with the headline “Oddities abound in Amphon’s trial and jailing.” One of the oddities, as a reader pointed out to PPT, is that The Nation cannot bring itself to speak the truth.

The article begins well enough: “The death of Amphon Tangnoppakul serves to remind us of a travesty of justice.” Yes, it does, in spades, but the article simply cannot state that Ampol was wrongly convicted. Okay, there may be a fear that the courts will go after a journalist for disputing its decision, but shouldn’t truth win out? Not when you are recycling drivel from ultra-royalists propagandists at outlets like ASTV/Manager.

Avudh rightly points out that Ampol “was at the centre of an ongoing debate between proponents and opponents for change in the lese majeste law.” Of course, that is true, because his sentencing, as an old, sick and self-admitted “loyal” man was so obviously ludicrous and based on legal interpretation that was so obviously politically biased.

But so too were the convictions of other lese majeste victims. Let us mention just two: Darunee Charnchoensilpakul and Joe Gordon. Darunee was taken to a closed court for a secret trial and, beyond all reason and law, the Constitutional Court decided that this illegal process was somehow constitutional.

In Joe’s case, the Thai courts decided that they had jurisdiction over acts that were allegedly committed when he was in the United States and a citizen of that country. The kangaroo court in Thailand decided that he was a Thai by birth so they could frame him.

So the Ampol case is just one of a string of cases that demonstrate the barbaric nature of the royalist ruling class and its puppet courts.

While Avudh’s statement that the “opposing camps should, however, be mindful that this is a time for mourning and reflection, instead of treating the dead man like a political football,” will ring true for many, it is also a sleight of hand. Was it perfectly fine and just royalist dandy to throw this sick old man in in jail as a political football for the royalists and the Abhisit Vejjajiva regime?

The article seems not to be able to say it: Ampol was not guilty. But it is willing to weasel about, implying that others were responsible by “failing” Ampol. Like the horrid ultra-royalists, Avudh seeks to raise questions about Ampol’s lawyers and the way they conducted the case. The article again takes up the ultra-royalist nonsensical claim, and implies that Ampol was somehow framed, with the additional implication that it was by red shirts and his lawyers.

Repeating ultra-royalist inventions and conspiracies provides them with a credibility they most certainly don’t deserve for they are just self-serving concoctions.

The brave and correct thing is to observe that the courts were and are rigged by the monarchist ruling elite and royalist toadies to ensure convictions on lese majeste. The court system is quite simply rigged. Don’t forget that lese majeste charges that go to court have an almost 95% conviction rate!

Why doesn’t the author damn the judges? Avudh shows that they manufactured a conviction of Ampol when, as the article makes clear, there simply wasn’t the necessary evidence to convict? Speaking the truth requires integrity, intelligence and bravery. Repeating ultra-royalist dross in low, lazy and reprehensible.

Avudh makes yet another claim that has been doing the ultra-royalist rounds: “The autopsy report showed Amphon had terminal liver cancer. … Yet in all his eight bail applications, the defence never mentioned cancer.” It is then added: “His poor health was apparent for all to see.”

From the day of his arrest, lawyers and supporters stated that Ampol was sick and mentioned cancer in bail applications. Here’s a report from January 2011. There the discussion was of mouth cancer, but cancer is cancer. If his “poor health was apparent for all to see,” then what do we make of the judges in each of 10 applications for bail and several other court appearances? Were they blind? Perhaps they were blinded by the dazzle of yet another chance to demonstrate the power of the courts in “protecting” the monarchy.

Finally, Avudh gets buried in deeper in royalist yellow propaganda by making the remarkable claim that he was let down by “the people he trusted.” Again, the “blame” for Ampol’s death is sheeted home to those who worked long and hard for this poor and sick man.

The death of Ampol had nothing to do with a vicious and malicious law. It has nothing to do with the royalist lese majeste hysteria stoked by a military and the Abhisit Vejjajiva regime that even concocted royalist plot diagrams that they now admit were bogus. It has nothing to do with the king who does nothing on lese majeste when his supporters bleat that he doesn’t like it. It has nothing to do with salivating and cruel ultra-royalists baying for lese majeste blood. It has nothing to do with a judiciary that manufactures decisions. No, all of Ampol’s travails were the doing of those who supported him!

To repeat, those peddling such royalist tripe are  low, lazy and reprehensible.

Updated: Conflict on the politics of flooding

11 10 2011

More photos here.

The Nation’s Avudh Panananda has an op-ed where Prime Minister Yingluck Shinawatra is taken to task for her alleged failure to seriously consider the floods:

After months of heavy rain, Yingluck has just realised the severity of excess water. On Sunday, she paid attention for the first time to draining run-off into the sea and evacuating flood victims. It is almost too late because run-off has already started arriving in Bangkok.

Although the government has set a top priority to tackle seasonal floods since August, Yingluck’s inspection trips were photo opportunities rather than any serious attempt at water management.

Thailand has had plenty of warning signs about climate change, resulting in unusual rain.

The claims go on for several paragraphs, seemingly neglecting that the Yingluck administration was only inaugurated in August.

Compare this with a Bangkok Post editorial a few days ago:

Prime Minister Yingluck Shinawatra has won marks for her personal attention and her government’s response to the flood crisis. There is little to be done this rainy season except to respond as needed.

… The government has put together a good response team of disaster experts, aid delivery and military teams to provide labour and transportation. The premier herself has inspected several crisis spots.

On Sunday, she took her helicopter down to the site of the breach in the important dyke in Sing Buri province, to try to provide some morale to the threatened population.

Ms Yingluck might take the plight of the 20-plus provinces and its millions of people, to consider what none of her predecessors has paid nearly enough attention to. That is to formulate and start work on a modern and up-to-date system of water control, conservation and flood management. It is not possible to control the weather but there certainly is potential to control many of the negative effects.

It strikes PPT that the Bangkok Post is hardly a supporter of the current government, which leads us to conclude that Avudh and The Nation are, as well as being unfair, dull and short-sighted, campaigning against the “Thaksin devil government” (again).

Update: A reader sent us two photos collected on the web that seem to have carry some meaning. The first is of Yingluck with Army boss Prayuth Chan-ocha:

The second is Yingluck with kids, up to their knees in water:

On keeping Jatuporn locked up

25 05 2011

PPT hasn’t editorialized much on The Nation in recent months. Part of the reason for this is that much that appears in the opinion pages is simply concocted nonsense. Remember when these pages regaled readers with vitriolic attacks on Thaksin Shinawatra and red shirts, drawn directly from yellow-shirted media? And the oft-repeated nonsense that Thaksin was dying of cancer, politically finished and broke? In all, this was worth ignoring as fantasy and/or plagiarism of bitter writers masquerading as journalists.

Today, however, a piece has caught PPT’s eye. It is a story by Avudh Panananda that discusses Jatuporn Promphan. He languishes in prison following Army-inspired charges of lese majeste associated with his speech on 10 April to a red shirt rally. The story caught our attention as it coincides with a growing fear that the Puea Thai Party may well come out on top in the election. This fear seems to signal the need for The Nation to go to campaign mode, supporting the royalist regime.

In the story, Avudh has convicted Jatuporn of crimes before any trial and joins the Army in accusing him of lese majeste. To make this point, Avudh comes up with an implausible story plot. The scribe says Jatuporn’s outspokenness “could cost both his party and the movement very dearly.”

PPT doesn’t see any evidence at all. In fact, recent opinion polls have Jatuporn’s Puea Thai Party ahead of the incumbent Democrat Party. We wonder if Avudh isn’t simply saying that the big bosses won’t accept a Puea Thai victory? At least that would make sense.


Avudh agrees that, even in jail, Jatuporn will win. He is locked up precisely because he appeals to and is hugely popular amongst, the Puea Thai base. Despite this, Avudh says “the question is, how many voters will he repel…?” Then this: for “red shirts, Jatuporn is an iconic figure.” So what is Avudh really on about?

The point is clearer when Avudh writes of the deep hatred for Jatuporn as a mobilizer – PPT’s words. Avudh says that “many” outside the movement who have “suspicion and disdain, consider… him either a troublemaker who incites riots or a rude figure who regularly takes swipes at the country’s revered institution.”

There it is! It’s that lese majeste/plot to overthrow the monarchy/royalist Army bandwagon. Yep, on “April 10, Jatuporn delivered a controversial speech at a rally….” Avudh is clearly jumping on board the Army/Department of Special Investigation royal blue wagon.

Avudh further dissembles, saying “Jatuporn is entitled to his defence under due process…”. A nice try, but later comments show that Jatuporn is already judged guilty. But here’s another important point: Avudh seems to think that Jatuporn will be in “court battle [that] could take years.” The whispers are that Jatuporn will be punished and locked away for as long as possible.

Then Avudh gets really silly: “The red shirts and Pheu Thai supporters will definitely vote for him, but several undecided voters, particularly royalists, are expected to go against him. If a critical number of voters become spiteful, then Pheu Thai might see defeat.” That’s the hope and hence Avudh’s piece of campaign nonsense.

PPT doubts whether any royalist worthy of the name would ever vote for Puea Thai when they are locked in battle with the royalist Democrat Party. How Avudh sees any other scenario is beyond us.

At least Avudh manages to point out – we think it’s a slip – that “Jatuporn has been a pro-democracy activist since his student days at Ramkhamhaeng University.”

But it seems he has fallen under the influence of the “evil one,” making Jatuporn anti-monarchy: “When the red-shirt movement was beginning to take off in 2009, Jatuporn delivered a fiery speech at Royal Plaza attacking the ammat, which literally means ‘the king’s men’, for their part in the coup.” And then, “under the guise of attacking the [19 May] crackdown, Jatuporn triggered an uproar among the royalists by coining the phrase ‘royally bestowed bullets’. Is he just raising the level of slights heaped on the monarchy?”

See what we mean? Jatuporn already being judged. The royalists were never voting for Jatuporn. They’ll not vote for Puea Thai. They hate Thaksin and they hate Jatuporn. If they could, they’d have their heads on stakes.

Get ready for more vitriol and the concocted claptrap that accompanies the panic attacks that the mainstream media has whenever it seems that the opposition is getting a political advantage.

An army at war internally?

13 04 2010

In another post, about the queen and prince attending the funeral of Colonel Romklao Thuwatham, killed on Saturday, we have included some information about him.

We have been intrigued as to why this one death amongst the 21 (so far) has seemed so important for the yellow-shirted establishment. Its all over the blogs and the ASTV crowd seem transfixed. The claim is that he was hunted down and maybe by fellow officers. At the same time, the claim that he was targeted by laser beam and then taken out with a grenade seems “unprofessional.” Not that we have experience in these things, but PPT thinks that targeting someone for assassination would usually result in a killer bullet rather than a sloppy grenade.

But much is murky in all of this. However, yellow-shirted journalist Avudh Panananda at The Nation (12 April 2010) has some interesting comments. He says: “What happened on Rajdamnoen Avenue on Saturday was not a botched anti-riot operation nor a lynching mob gone berserk. It was a head-on skirmish between two well-trained armed forces – one in fatigues and another in black. The red shirts were just props in the battlefield.” This is more of the disingenuous ranting about the poor outgunned security forces. As far as we can tell from looking at the videos and photos, there have only been 4-8 people carrying war weapons who were amongst the red shirts; many of the images seem to be of the same people. And, as we have said several times, the injury and death count is very much dominated by civilians. Avudh has lost all ideas of proportionality that makes it horse manure to write of “two well-trained armed forces.”

He goes on to more interesting things: “The death of Colonel Romklao “Pao” Thuwatham of the 2nd Infantry Division, is expected to reverberate through the Army ranks. It is a century-old tradition that graduates from Chula-chomklao Royal Military Academy come from the same feeding bowl, and hence will not kill their own kind under any circumstances. In the failed coup of 1977, General Chalard Hiransiri broke the sacred code by fatally shooting General Arun Thawathasin. Chalard was subsequently executed by a firing squad.  Chavalit and top generals backing the red shirts should know that Army commanders will not allow Romklao to die in vain. Justice must be served one way or another.”

This is a threat, passed on by a “journalist”, suggesting that red shirt supporters in the army can expect death. Interesting indeed. It does demonstrate how deeply divided the military must now be that they will now consider internal score-settling.

Damning Darunee or damning The Nation?

31 08 2009

In the 1 September 2009 issue of The Nation, columnist Avudh Panananda has an article entitled “Da Torpedo’s downfall a warning to the like-minded.” Regular readers will know that we have previously questioned this newspaper’s odd “journalism” that has also degenerated into propaganda.

In this article, Avudh takes up the situation of Darunee Charnchoensilpakul who was sentenced to 18 years in jail on lese majest charges on 28 August 2009 stating that he has found an “interesting” angle on the case. Avudh questions Darunee’s “outspokenness” and warns others who might be similarly outspoken.

Seemingly to know what happened in the closed court, Avudh argues that in “one of its arguments, her defence team contended Daranee’s remarks were of no consequence because she was in no position to make an impact deemed offensive to the monarchy.” Here Avudh adds that court rejected this argument and mentions her “foul and offensive remarks.” Notice the use of the word “foul” for it is used again.

Avudh jumps on this idea with considerable glee, wondering if this line of argument “might have touched a chord with people of like minds posting their insults against the monarchy via thousands of web boards.” It seems that as a monarchist, Avudh trawls the internet looking for the “political graffiti deemed offensive to the country’s revered institution.” The question for the observant Avudh is: “Are Internet vandals sharing the same thoughts as Daranee and acting foul-mouthed out of spite, since they see themselves as too marginalised to make a difference?”

Avudh becomes pop psychologist, wondering if this widespread hatred of the monarchy is a way of seeking fame: “The royal bashing may be the name of the game for fame seekers, whatever the cost.” Avudh doesn’t consider the idea that the law that had put Darunee away for 18 years might be the reason people posting their thoughts choose to be anonymous. Nor does Avudh consider the possibility that there are people who have real reasons for criticizing his beloved monarchy.

Avudh then has some details on Darunee’s ordinariness as a member of the Sino-Thai middle-class and as a journalist. If PPT was being pop psychologist we might ask if Avudh feels betrayed by someone like himself? He has trouble understanding, stating that there is “no clear explanation about her abrupt change nor about the financial backing for her advocacy.” Note the use of “financial backing”; here Avudh is insinuating the usual line that anyone who doesn’t agree with Avudh’s PAD-like views is a traitor in the pay of Thaksin Shinawatra.

Avudh’s incapacity to understand a different political perspective is displayed when he says that Darunee was opposed to the 2006 coup and the trampling of the 1997 Constitution: “She was among the first anti-coup groups to arrive at Sanam Luang and have a collection of rally sites set up a few short months after the coup.”

Avudh then claims that “she began to pepper her speeches with foul words, gaining notoriety as Da Torpedo. The underlying theme to her speeches was the alleged link between the coup and the Royal Palace, with chief royal adviser General Prem Tinsulanonda as the conduit.” Nothing wrong there, for The Nation itself made the point that royal support was critical for the success of the coup and the Bangkok Post military affairs reporter Wassana Nanuam (in the Bangkok Post on 21 September 2006, in an article entitled “Timing could not have been better, says army source”) stated that the “coup plot was known within a tight circle of people, among them Gen Prem Tinsulanonda … and his close aides…, Air Force Commander … Chalit Pukkasuk and Lt-Gen Anupong Paochinda…”.

But for Avudh, the problem is that Darunee “seemed, however, more intent on belching out foul words and curses instead of stating her case.” Avudh keeps saying that the speeches she made were “foul.” And, he claims that it was after she became “foul” that the red shirts accepted her and then she promoted “pro-Thaksin messages.” She also made “veiled attacks on the Royal Palace. Although she did not mention any names, her remarks were explicit and insulting.” Avudh then says that the whistle was blown by the PAD’s Sondhi Limthongkul. Avudh conveniently forgets that the yellow-shirted Sondhi has been equally foul-mouthed and has also been charged with lese majeste. Foul-mouthed monarchists and allies are okay.

Avudh seems content that the “Criminal Court ruled last Thursday Daranee had tarnished the reputation of Their Majesties with malicious intent to sway the crowds to lose their reverence and trust in the monarchy.” The warning is there for others who might seek fame by attacking the monarchy. He simply can’t comprehend alternative political views.

Update: Ironically, Avudh’s story, along with the remarkable Sopon’s latest musings (1 Spetember 2009: “Red shirts face setbacks due to bad leadership”), are carried in an issue of The Nation (1 September 2009) with an editorial (“End of the line or daily newspapers?”) about the future of the print and online newspaper. The editorialist states: “However, if most general newspapers do become extinct, both on and off- line, society may become more fragmented and weakened as people turn to increasingly specialised news. Society without commentary and in-depth news and analysis in the general discourse, may end up decimating itself into small pockets of people hardly relating or feeling empathetic to one another.” In Thailand, The Nation seems to have been intent on this kind of “decimation.”

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