Stunned by reporting

23 03 2017

Well, we know nothing should stun us when it comes to Thailand, its politics and its media. Yet a report at the Bangkok Post is seriously stunning. We are stunned because the report seems to buy, consume, digest and reproduce junta propaganda.

In a report at the Bangkok Post, the newspaper combines reports on Ko Tee or Wuthipong Kachathamakul and the claims by the junta that he was seeking to kill a couple of dictators, a story on the junta’s instrument, the Department of Special Investigation, a senior monk from Wat Dhammakaya surrendering himself for interrogation and a falling out between a DSI man, now assigned by The Dictator to head up the National Buddhism Office and fascist monk Buddha Issara.

Without the junta’s stories from a few days ago, there’s no connection between the stories, except for DSI being involved in each. But that’s not the headline, which is the junta ruse. That’s either really lazy editing or its a dumb acceptance of junta stories.

We also note that, as The Dictator demanded, the media is dutifully cutting back on its reporting of the Ko Tee story.

While on that story, does it seem odd that Ko Tee is reported charged: “A police source said warrants have been issued for Mr Wuthipong’s arrest on charges of possessing weapons of war and violating the Firearms Act.”

Now how does that work?

After all, the junta “plans to seek the extradition of Mr Wuthipong from Laos following the discovery of a huge [sic. that’s the Post accepting the junta story, again] cache of weapons…. They suspect the weapons were his.”

So he’s been on the run outside Thailand for more than three years but “charged” with “possessing weapons”? Poor reporting or dopey reporting?

Or is the new story that these weapons were sitting there for years and police didn’t find them in previous searches? We think we’ll go for dumb junta and dopey reporting.





The Bangkok Post on corruption

29 01 2017

PPT has been posting quite a lot on corruption. Of course, we skim our posts from a limited set of Thailand sources and sometimes international reports. We are not doing anything more than highlighting stories already in the media and adding a bit of background and detail where we can.

With yet more stories of officials and corruption on the front page of the Bangkok Post today, it is worthwhile to highlight the op-eds on corruption in that paper as the enormity of the corruption and the obviousness of the cover-ups is revealed.

While some columnists who write for the Post sound more and more like sycophants for royalist military rule, others are writing appropriately critical accounts.

The most recent story is what might be called petty corruption. That said, it can amount to big bucks over time. Police and state officials in Phuket are exploiting legal loopholes to extort money from foreign employees and migrant workers. These groups are standard prey for officials and police.

It needs to be remembered that poaching from such vulnerable small fry is a part of a broader system of corruption that is based in impunity and funnels funds up to higher-level bosses. Its essentially a crime syndicate in state garb.

Now the op-eds. We will link to them and just quote a couple of bits and pieces:

Corruption and cover-ups lists many of the recent cases and cites Transparency International: “The lower-ranked countries in our index are plagued by untrustworthy and badly functioning public institutions like the police and judiciary.” Thailand. The article adds: “The Great Cover-ups are under way.”

Thailand must clean up its act is by the Post editor. He refers to secret deals with Sino-Thai tycoons, among others, but then asks: “where [are] the voices are that supported and cheered the military coup that ousted an elected government on the grounds it was [allegedly] corrupt…. I do not hear their voices coming out to voice their opposition against the rising corruption and lack of transparency in the [General] Prayut[h Chan-ocha military] regime.” PPT has pointed out the distinctions in the minds of anti-democrats, between Good people being  corrupt, and others they see as Bad and Evil people. The Great and the Good can do what they like.

his-masters-voiceGraft nosedive comes as no surprise at all is by Kong Rithdee. He gets the Good people nonsense of the anti-democrats, when he says of Sansern Poljeak of the politicized National Anti-Corruption Commission complaining about the use of “being a democratic country” in “one of the checklists used to calculate the [TI]  score.” Kong asks: “What did he expect? That being a non-democratic country is nobler and less corrupt, because it has righteous people holding top jobs?” Well, yes! Of course, Sansern listens to his masters and obeys.

Then there’s Surasak Glahan’s We can’t all be starry eyed in busting graft. He complains long and loud about the lack of transparency, not just under this military regime, but over a long period. That’s all fine and dandy, but PPT wonders why, even when there is some transparency – think of the huge and unexplained wealth of the officials who are part of the puppet assemblies – nothing is done. Their wealth is on display, but no one cares or investigates. Only when one falls foul of the powers that be does “corruption” become something that can be (politically) used.

There’s also an editorial in the Post. It’s tepid because it is critical of The Dictator.

Far better is Wasant Techawongtham, former News Editor at the Bangkok Post, who looks at police corruption and police reform. He gets it right when he says real police reform won’t happen under the military regime:

What would happen if, after police reforms, people started to demand reforms in the military?

And who can confidently say the military is any less corrupt? The military is probably the least transparent and accountable organisation in the entire bureaucracy. It is inscrutable and refuses to be scrutinised. Any shady activities are therefore kept under wraps away from the public’s eyes.

So shouldn’t genuine reform begin with the military?

Its a mess. But its a very lucrative mess for those who benefit, in the civil and military bureaucracies, in the upper echelons of the royalist elite, and among the Sino-Thai tycoons.





On dictatorship

27 11 2016

This from the Bangkok Post:

Foreign media and observers continue to regard our present government as a “dictatorship.” They have ignored [the] Prime Minister[‘s] … explanation about the necessity for building a democratic society on a stage-by-stage basis.

The Bangkok Post was supporting a dictatorial regime in an editor’s comment on a story from 25 November 1976. Little would appear to have changed from the period of the dictatorial and palace-picked prime minister and monarchist Thanin Kraivixien to the period of the self-appointed and palace-endorsed prime minister and monarchist General Prayuth Chan-ocha.

The story, however, is of the rightist and youthful Interior Minister and palace favorite Samak Sundaravej and his approach to “establishing” what he called “democracy” in Thailand, in line with Thanin’s 12-20 year plan of stage-by-stage political change. There was an appointed assembly and elections were seen as “divisive.”

Prayuth has few youthful types in his military-based “government” but he has plenty of rightists and royalists. And he has a 20-year stage-by-stage plan. Prayuth’s military junta also has a puppet parliament of military appointees and views elections as dangerously divisive.

But there’s a difference. Samak stated (clicking opens a PDF of a 1976 press clipping):

Democracy of the past began at the Ananta Samaggom Throne Hall (traditional site of Parliament). lt then tried to seek roots in the villages. That was why it was unstable…. Democracy has to begin at the village council, then move up to the district council, the provincial assembly and then the House of Representatives.

Samak went on to declare: “We are now building up democracy from the villages.”

That sounds nothing like the current regime under The Dictator. No “bottom-up” democracy for them for they have learned that villagers simply cannot be trusted. Those at the local level don’t know what’s good for them and elect governments associated with Thaksin Shinawatra. These uppity villagers even dare to think that they should have some say in government, which is the preserve of the great and the good (and those of the military brass who don’t happen to fit these categories).

In fact, though, the comparison is false. Samak was no democrat in 1976. Reading the story it is clear that the “democracy” he boosts is, like Prayuth’s, no democracy at all. It remains top-down, with officials involved all along, directing, managing and funding a bureaucratized village planning process that knits neatly into the preferred hierarchical model of Thailand’s administration and politics. Anti-democracy and authoritarianism runs deep among the great, the good and the military brass.





Cyber dictatorship

14 09 2016

PPT hadn’t realized that the Bangkok Post’s Don Sambandaraksa had moved to Khaosod. The reason for the move may be in his byline: “Ex-Post Database refugee still trying to make a difference.”

His report in Khaosod begins with a punchy account of “[a]mendments to the criminal code removing judicial oversight of wiretapping combined with new laws on cybercrime, cyber security and even the digital economy all suggest the Good People running the country can no longer distinguish between internal security and external threats.”

His next line is scary: “These laws, as written, may well criminalize satire such as internet memes and have other far-ranging repercussions for free speech and privacy.”

Proponents of the legislation want to attack “enemies of the state” but it remains the prerogative of the authorities. Under a military dictatorship this becomes doubly scary.

The military regime promises to “overhaul of the criminal code would allow police to intercept phone calls and computer communication without a court order.” The report says that the junta’s cabinet “secretly approved these amendments on Aug 9…”. A secret law!

Some of the worrying promises in the law mean that “merely possessing an image that is defamatory could land you in jail for 18 months.”

The law also targets Thais and foreigners overseas: “the new 17(2) says computer ‘misuse’ crimes are an extraditable offense.”

The article has plenty of scary stuff in it.





Still betting on the junta

20 06 2016

In an editorial, the Bangkok Post seems confused.

For a start, for no apparent reason and seemingly forgetting almost all of the past two years since the coup, the editorial seems surprised that The Dictator, General and Prime Minister Prayuth Chan-ocha has declared red shirt referendum centers “illegal” after earlier “pledg[ing] to stay clear of the debate on the national referendum on the draft constitution.”

The editorial writer must be the only person in Thailand to have believed this malarkey. After all, this is Bizarro World, where only the ridiculous believe the notion that the referendum is some kind of apolitical exercise. To even consider this as a possibility is quite ridiculous but also gives the military dictatorship support and succor.

The Dictator was never, ever, going to allow red shirts to become active again.

The editorial then attributes sinister motives to the United Front for Democracy against Dictatorship (UDD), alleging that it “clearly believes it has found a way to resume political hostilities…”. The Post writer seems to forget that political conflict has involved more than red shirts, although it is they who have lost most in recent years.

The Post editorial writer also seems to forget that the newspaper’s own pages have been covering the extensive debate and conflict involved in another referendum – on Britain’s EU membership – and might ask why Thailand’s referendum is so very different.

The editorial is a bit closer to being on track when it notes that even the date for the referendum remains “tentative” and that the Election Commission has done nothing “to promote the referendum and ensure a large turnout have been lacking. Millions of Thais on the EC’s mailing list for voter information have yet to receive any information.”

“Lacking” is a euphemism for “nothing at all.” Yet the EC has been active. It has been acting for the junta in policing the referendum, assisting it in ensuring that there is no discussion and debate.

The editorial is right to observe that the junta is relentless in closing down discussion, not allowing “any discussion of the draft charter unless approved by the EC — which has approved nothing so far.” Yet the editorial then expresses surprise: “Less comprehensible, however, is why the EC is effectively inhibiting any campaign at all, even simple information campaigns.”

The writer is well aware that the EC works for the junta and that the junta wants a Yes vote and nothing else, stating:

There is more than a bit of truth to the UDD’s overall concern about cheating in the referendum. The Referendum Act, and Gen Prayut, have decreed the first ban in Thai history on poll monitors. Until right now, this country and every regime, including the worst military dictators, have welcome or at least allowed domestic and foreign groups to observe election campaigns, as well as activities at the polls and vote-counting centres….

The very structure of the planned referendum, along with the vague and even intimidating control by the EC, is causing suspicion. The UDD has politicised the referendum campaign for now, but it should be noted that the government and the EC cast the first stone by trying to restrict natural public discussion of a vitally important national issue.

Despite this admission, the Post seems to still be betting on the junta it supported in coming to power.

Accusing the UDD of “obstinacy,” apparently for wanting information, debate and politicking that is not all the junta’s narrative, the Post editorial meekly requests that the military dictatorship “should consider how to enlarge the public’s participation in the referendum campaign. The vote on the draft charter won’t be fair unless there are regional and national debates, with all opinions considered.”

The Post appears to be groveling. Yet the junta is unlikely to oblige. The military boot is firmly on the neck of the referendum and no debate, discussion or anything else that is not junta-managed is out of the question.





Misunderstanding lese majeste

11 05 2015

Eagle-eyed readers may have noticed not one but two stories in the Bangkok Post on a rare lese majeste case in the Netherlands.

The first story we came across was from the Spectrum liftout. It came with the challenging headline: “Lese majeste, we’re not the only ones using it.” It probably needed and exclamation mark. That headline was added to a New York Times story that had the title “Dutch Activist Faces Trial Over Profanity-Laced Tirade Against King.” Like the second story we saw (which was actually first to print), was a tale of the events in Holland.

The reports note that:anti-black pete

Abulkasim al-Jaberi was arrested in November when television cameras showed him spouting a stream of profanity aimed at the king, Queen Maxima and the royal house.

Al-Jaberi was part of a demonstration in Amsterdam against the Dutch “Black Pete” children’s figure, which opponents say is a racist throwback.

The point of both stories, and every other reputable article we have seen, is that the outrage at the use of the archaic law is so great that the prosecutors have had to reevaluate the case.

So intense has been the response to lese majeste stupidity that “[a]n unknown person spray-painted Al-Jaberi’s words on the Royal Palace in Amsterdam…”.

Such outrage is unthinkable (and unutterable) in Thailand.





New lese majeste page

17 02 2015

LM - CopyReaders may have noticed that the Bangkok Post has revamped its online presence.

As part of that, it has established a link to its recent reports on lese majeste.

This section currently begins with reports from mid-January 2015. The way things are developing in Thailand, the current 3 pages are likely to multiply very rapidly.

Hopefully the Post continues to post all of its lese majeste reports in this easy to access site.





Telling it like it ain’t

1 09 2014

PPT has no idea who author’s the Bangkok Post’s Saturday column “About Politics.” We do know that it is rapidly deteriorating into a mouthpiece for the military dictatorship. The week’s column is a mixture of concocted headlines and false and anti-democratic claims.

The first header is “He’s hiding in the Philippines.” This rather breathless statement of Apiwan Wiriyachai’s flight to the Philippines after the military coup is something already known to Bangkok Post readers seems overly manufactured in that the Post had reported it some four days earlier. In addition, the “story” is about the lese majeste charges that have been known since late June.

All of this non-story appears to be about establishing that there is a pro-Thaksin Shinawatra clique still loose in the deeply royalist Ministry of Foreign Affairs:

A political source said it was unclear when or how Col Apiwan managed to slip out of the country to receive medical treatment in the Philippines.

Those familiar with the matter said in the past some Thai embassy staff in a number of countries have made themselves “accommodating” to politicians who travel overseas. The politicians in question might not have positions in the government anymore, but they still wield immense influence.

Seems like a beat-up to us, especially as the Ministry has been one of the most deeply royalist.

The second story has to do with The Dictator, General Prayuth Chan-ocha. The story seems to be that the general, while prime minister, “is expected to continue running the country through the mechanisms of the National Council for Peace and Order,” meaning the military junta.

Who didn’t know this?

Even so, a parade of sycophants have been parading before The Dictator trying to entice him to appoint them to a puppet cabinet.

Yes, we know it is now appointed, and we are behind on posting about it, yet the heads in it seem almost irrelevant as they are dominated by the junta. The Post put its money on Thirachai Phuvanatnaranubala becoming finance minister. It was wrong.

Finally, the column refers to UK ambassador to Thailand, Mark Kent, who is said to have “joined the vibrant social media community in Thailand…”.  We wonder which Thailand the columnist is resident in. Not the Thailand of the military dictatorship and its censorship regime, that’s for sure.





Bleating about the military

4 08 2014

When we recall the constant efforts to bring down the elected government and to denigrate electoral representation, does it now seem odd that some of the most vociferous anti-democrats now complain that the military dictatorship is being just a little too dictatorial?

No, for the two positions are exactly the same. PPT has two examples, both from the Bangkok Post, where the apparent schizophrenia regarding politics is often on display. The management might say this represents healthy competition on views about Thailand’s politics. In fact, though, it is representative of much that is wrong with the royalist elite and its middle class supporters.

Veera Prateepchaikul is a former editor of the Bangkok Post and was a great supporter for and propagandist of the anti-democrat demonstrators. When he bleats that the “colour of the day and for many more days to come over the next 18 months is, I guess we all know, green,” he is not really complaining, for this is exactly what he wanted and urged, for months.

He complains that there is insufficient “representation” for occupational groups other than the men with guns. What did he expect? You ask for a coup and you get the military. In any case, it is important to note that occupational “representation” is not about elections or democracy.

So when he quotes other anti-democrats complaining that the puppet assembly should “be a forum for debate and not an army club,” this is errant nonsense. These dopes simply want to talk amongst themselves, exclude others, and know that, in the end, they want the military there to protect them. The parliament they want is a Starbucks parliament. No representation, no elections, just chatter amongst those who think they should rule.

Veera advises that the military dictatorship needs to get its job done, and admits that the puppet parliament will just be a quiet rubber stamp. Exactly what the anti-democrats wanted. The media, if they support the junta, should be permitted to be a little critical: “the NCPO should be more open-minded and receptive to criticism and even opposing views which are rational and honest.”

He worries about the lack of an “independent” think-tank and says: “During the era of Field Marshal Pibulsongkram, there was a popular saying: ‘Believe in the leader, the nation will prosper.’ Now, we seem to be going along that path of following the leader. Of course, the performance of our leader, the NCPO, for the past two months has been OK. But it is just the beginning. There are at least 18 months to go.” Yes, Veera wants to “participate” by keeping the junta on track!

Pichai Chuensuksawadi is editor-in-chief of Post Publishing and has been a propagandist for military intervention and anti-democratic positions. When he bleats that the “composition of the National Legislative Assembly, unveiled this week with a heavy tint of green,” he is not complaining but explaining that it is necessary. He says: “With the military at the helm one cannot expect varied representation.” Of course not!

He knows that you get what you protest for: “Amid the street protests and political turmoil prior to the coup, many sides [he means one side, the anti-democrats] called for and made proposals for reform, greater transparency and the end of corruption.” He says the military’s “goals set are laudable but the challenges are immense.” As he observes, “in the end, the NCPO will make the final selection and can influence not only the composition of the NRC, but the direction it takes on reform and whether genuine, fundamental changes will be made.”

That change is “eradicating not just the influence of Thaksin but also preventing the possibility of any other political party becoming dominant and pushing ‘populist policies’.” That’s exaqctly what the anti-democrats wanted, so Pichai urges sticking with the military dictatorship, even if he urges more functional representation.

The argument that “for reform to take place, there must be vigorous debate,” is bleeding heart nonsense. There can be no vigorous debate when the anti-democrats just want to listen to themselves and ignore the majority. Criticizing the military for acting as it does is closing the gate after the horse has bolted and the barn has burned. Speaking to the military bosses is nothing to do with representation, elections or democracy; it is elite and middle-class political bleating.

When Thailand has electoral politics, these groups complain and campaign to bring it down. When this happens, almost always by the military in alliance with the palace, they get squeamish about the results. Some of this is simply pretending to be upset. Some of it is about telling the military that it owes something to those whocreated the ground for the coup. All of it is anti-democratic.





“Liberals” do the junta’s work II

21 07 2014

Our last post was about the fake liberal Anand Punyarachun. It is no accident that Pichai Chuensuksawadi, who is editor-in-chief of Post Publishing, should follow-up on Anand’s work, also published in the Post. It seems that Pichai has been selected to do the military dictatorship’s work as a kind of tag-team partner for the aged faker.

Pichai was the subject of an earlier post where PPT stated that he is a reliable propagandist for the royalists, posing as one of those so-called liberal royalists, who are, in fact, never very liberal when the elite’s political or economic dominance is threatened. Like Anand, he is an anti-democrat wolf in liberal garb.wolf in sheeps clothing

In an op-ed at the Post, Pichai gets into propaganda mode for royalists. He begins by supporting the junta and anti-democrats in their repeated attacks on civilian politicians.

The Leader, General Prayuth Chan-ocha, “suspended local elections because they could lead to renewed political conflict.” Evidence for this? None. But no matter, Pichai reckons this is warranted, because he hates the idea of the masses expressing a political view.

He also mentions the politically biased National Anti-Corruption Commission urging the equally biased (anti-) Election Commission “to implement measures to screen populist policies.” He means to plans to ban any policy that the EC and its backers might not like.

Remarkably, to support the biased EC, he reports EC “opinion polls on various measures to reduce corruption, abuse of power and patronage among elected MPs.” The polls were full of leading questions, getting the EC the responses required: Thai-style push-polling.

After all of this nonsense, Pichai says: “The track record and role of our politicians and political parties is nothing to be proud of.”

We agree that politicians have not always been great models of propriety. But who has a track record to be proud of? The military that murders its own people? Corporations that engage in racist slavery? The media that is takes bribes? Self-promoting and parasitic royals? The grasping rich?

You get the picture.

When Pichai states that “some MPs received committee attendance allowances of up to 9,000 baht after spending just five or 10 minutes at meetings” might be a reasonable question. But why doesn’t he ask why the royals get more than 1.5 million baht per hour from the taxpayer.

You get the picture. Tarnish the electoral politics you hate but do not look at the opaque finances of the monarchy. Don’t examine the opaque finances of the military. Don’t look at the junta’s grasping and corrupt activities in all of the state enterprises. Don’t ask about meeting allowances there!

All of this is about “reforming the role of MPs is just one change that needs to take place for us to become a democratic society.” What a joke. Pichai is supporting the destruction of democracy by a fascist junta.

Pichai reckons that the “biggest challenge is how to change the mindset of many of our representatives who repeatedly quote chapter and verse that they are ‘elected and chosen by the people’ and therefore have carte blanche to do what they want.”

To be honest, in this form, the only place we have heard this is on the anti-democrat stage. But really, shouldn’t elected governments and their MPs be entitled to implement their policies? Not according to the anti-democrats.

Then Pichai goes to the great lie: “Limiting the terms of MPs, for example, does not tackle the problem at ground zero where vote-buying and election fraud remain rampant despite decades of elections.”

He’s making this up. Look at this and then look at this. Pichai is peddling this “dangerous nonsense” because he is a propagandist.

 








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