On Democrat Party hypocrisy

24 09 2017

The Democrat Party has a long history of political hypocrisy. For most of its history, it has been conservative, royalist and cooperative with military regimes. There have been brief periods where it has attempted to be a democratic Democrat Party, but these periods appear as aberrations.

(For an official history of the Democrat Party, written as fairy tale, see here.)

Under Abhisit Vejjajiva, who has led the party since March 2005, it has become a raucously anti-democratic party, losing all elections that it did not boycott, damaging parliament, supporting and leading anti-democratic street protesters, happily boostering two military coups and presiding over the gunning down of red shirt protesters.

On the latter, on the 2010 massacre, after getting off murder charges again and again, Abhisit’s ego seems to know no bounds. In a display of narcissistic hubris, Abhisit was reported as miffed that red shirts were pressing on with trying to get the 2010 murders properly dealt with. He “hit back against the red shirts, urging them not to turn the loss of life suffered in the 2010 crackdown under his administration into a ‘political game’.”

A “political game”? As far as we can tell, it is only Abhisit and his ilk who have treated the murders as a political game.

Then, remarkably and unbelievably, Abhisit said “he felt sympathetic towards relatives of the victims who wanted to know the truth in order to see justice…”. Not only does that feel like a blatant lie, but the former prime minister then doubled down with a statement he used intentionally for the purpose of deception.

He declared that these red shirts – those who had lost relatives to military bullets – “had not opposed the controversial blanket amnesty bill when it was tabled by then-Pheu Thai MPs and supported by the Yingluck Shinawatra-led government, even although the proposed measure would have granted amnesty for those who were involved in the crackdown.”

This is what the United Front for Democracy against Dictatorship declared at the time:

Speaking on the eve of the final House debate Thursday on the controversial bill, UDD chairwoman Thida Thavornseth on Wednesday reaffirmed the red-shirt movement’s opposition against the blanket amnesty. She said that the UDD did not want the amnesty to cover both Abhisit Vejjajiva and Suthep Thuagsuban whom the movement held accountable for the deaths of red-shirt protesters in May 2010.

Mrs Thida said that the Pheu Thai party would have to be responsible for any consequences which follow after the endorsement of the bill by the House….

Abhisit has lied (again).

He’s not the only member of the Democrat Party prone to lies and flights of fantasy.

Ong-art Klampaibul, a deputy leader of the Democrat Party, recently babbled about an “election” held under the military junta. He said: “I hope the people’s voice will be respected this time…”.

Of course, it has been the Democrat Party that has refused to accept each election result since 2005. He probably meant to say that he hopes that his failed party can ride on the military’s coattails to a position in a military-dominated government.





Updated: Us yes, UDD no

14 09 2017

The Bangkok Post reports that the “National Council for Peace and Order (NCPO) [the military junta] has warned [the official] red shirts against holding a press briefing planned for Thursday on ways they will pursue justice for red-shirt demonstrators affected by the deadly military crackdown in 2010.”

Junta spokesman Colonel Piyapong Klinpan said that “questions must be asked” on “whether the press event is a political activity. If that is the case, the NCPO may have to ask them not to go ahead.” The mouthpiece added that “political activities cannot be allowed during this sensitive period. Once the country’s situation returns to normal, the NCPO would ease restrictions on such gatherings…”.

Got it?

Easy, right? Even the Post gets it, observing:

The regime warning to the red shirts came despite the former leader of the now-dissolved People’s Democratic Reform Committee Suthep Thaugsuban discussing political matters with reporters in July and the People’s Alliance for Democracy holding a press conference on Aug 2 after the Supreme Court acquitted ex-PM Somchai Wongsawat and three others for the deadly dispersal of yellow-shirt protesters in 2008.

The Post is observing the double standards involved.

It might have also noticed that The Dictator denied such double standards in the justice system. At the time, we did suggest that he lied. Now one more piece of evidence affirming his lies is in place.

UpdateThe Bangkok Post reports that, despite the threats, the UDD did hold its press conference. It revealed that “lawyers will next week file a formal petition for the National Anti-Corruption Commission (NACC) to consider ‘new evidence’ regarding the 2010 crackdown on protesters.” Interestingly, red shirt leaders “said the UDD will also consider distributing information regarding comparisons of the different ways the NACC has treated legal cases involving yellow shirts and red shirts to both domestic and foreign media.”





The Dictator and his law

12 09 2017

The Dictator and his military junta are particularly keen on the law. They have used it extensively in their self-initiated battles against Shinawatras, red shirts, the Peau Thai Party, students, local communities, republicans, and anyone else conceived of as an enemy or potential threat.

This is why The Nation reports that General Prayuth Chan-ocha has “stressed that justice is a crucial part of human rights protection, saying that everyone must go through the process equally and face the consequences if they are found guilty of wrongdoing, regardless of their social status.”

On the face of it, none of this would seem to apply to General Prayuth and his military dictatorship or their allies. After all, the junta seized state power in an illegal coup, it has abused human rights and it has lasciviously bathed itself and its allies in rule by decree, martial law, impunity and double standards.

A Bangkok Post picture

But, then, one must remember that all the junta members and supporters think the law is a tool for repression and order that falls to those who control the state.

But even then, when The Dictator states that his “government [he means the junta] pays attention to human rights protection and instructs investigations into allegations concerning the issue,” he’s lying. In fact, his regime has repeatedly affirmed that it has little understanding of human rights.

Clearly, however, when General Prayuth, who also commanded troops that gunned down dozens of civilians in 2010, spoke of law and justice, he was thinking of those now declared “fugitives” – Thaksin and Yingluck Shinawatra.

He did, however, get closer to truth when he acknowledged that human rights “allegations need to be delicately handled when it comes to the performance of state officials.” What he means is that impunity is the rule and that state officials only get into trouble when their actions don’t help their bosses or when they forget to pass on required loot.

On double standards, the general mischievously declared:

It’s not that the poor commit wrongdoings and they will definitely go to jail, while the rich will not. The fact is that the rich have often fled the scene, and that’s why we see that they don’t go to jail. It’s not a problem with the justice system…. The law is not there to bully anyone. If one commits wrongdoings, he or she must go through it and fight for justice….

Prayuth’s regime has shown that this is untrue. Yes, some of the rich do flee, but sometimes that suits the regime and sometimes it suits the rich. But it is the double standards that are most evident. Slow investigations, withheld evidence, cover-ups, and so on. And, significantly, the regime uses (and abuses) the law to bully and silence opponents. It also uses it to benefit itself and its allies.

Thailand’s justice system was wobbly before the coup. Since the coup it has become an injustice system.





Prem’s support for dictatorship eternal

24 08 2017

At 97 years, General Prem Tinsulanonda’s penchant for political interference remains undiminished even if his physical and mental capacities are now reduced.

As is usual, when his birthday rolls around, his military posterior polishers show up at his taxpayer funded home to buff the old man while he lauds corrupt military leaders and constitution crushers.

Reports of the mutual back-patting is sometimes worth recounting for the morsels it reveals of the thinking about military dictatorship.

This year, The Dictator “spent five minutes verbally extending his best wishes to Gen Prem.” General Prayuth Chan-ocha praised his patron as a “good example of love for the nation,” with the emphasis on “good,” for it is Prem who has defined “good people” and “bad people-politicians” for Thailand’s traditionalists and royalists.

Prayuth also stated that “he would follow the path of Gen Prem and free the nation of internal conflict.” Prem is remembered by some as a commander in the latter period of the anti-communist civil war. It is telling that Prayuth feels he is fighting a similar war. Such a view goes some of the way to explaining the 2010 military massacre of red shirts.

Privy Council president Prem cheered that too.

Today Prem “expressed support for the [military] government … and stressed that it has helped improve the lives of Thai people.” We are not at all sure which “Thai people” Prem talks with. None that we know.

Gen Prem babbled on:

I think that Thai people understand what Tu [The Dictator’s nickname] does… I think that Thai people understand that the government is working to save people from poverty and have sufficiency. They will understand that you are not doing it for your own honour or reputation….

And on:

Gen Prem also referred to his lasting friendship with Gen Prayut and Deputy Prime Minister and Defence Minister Prawit Wongsuwon, saying that this friendship would ensure the smooth working of the government.

And on. Friends, nepotism, corruption, paternalism:

I would like Tu to pay attention to remaining determined to work for the nation. Do not get an unnecessary headache over people’s remarks….

It must be frustrating for those who feel Thailand would and has done better when the military is not on top.





Updated: PAD excited and angry

2 08 2017

Yellow shirt social media has erupted, complaining bitterly about the Supreme Court’s Criminal Division for Holders of Political Positions has acquitted Somchai Wongsawat, Chavalit Yongchaiyudh and two others for their role in seeking to move protesters seeking to block parliament.

The details are still vague and incomplete, but it should be recalled that the “four men were charged with abuse of authority in 2015 by the National Anti-Corruption Commission.”The charges related to the dispersal of People’s Alliance for Democracy protesters in 2008, with the junta pushing the charges forward.

It was the same NACC that claimed that Abhisit Vejjajiva, Suthep Thaugsuban and General Anupong Paojinda had no case to answer for their role in the events leading to the deaths of more than 100 red shirt protesters and others in 2010.

The court ruled that the “authorities had no intention of causing injuries or loss of life when they launched the operation to clear away the protesters.”

Given that Abhisit and his lot got off so easily, the fact that the NACC took Somchai and others to court raised a serious question of double standards. With Yingluck Shinawatra’s case also coming to a conclusion, the courts and junta faced a dilemma that could have unleashed a political backlash. They appear to have both backed off and followed the law. That’s an innovation.

The backlash now seems to be coming from the yellow shirts.

Update: Angry yellow shirt “leaders have called on the National Anti-Corruption Commission (NACC) to appeal yesterday’s acquittal of four defendants in a case stemming from the fatal 2008 crackdown.” Suriyasai Katasila, a former PAD leader “disputed arguments that the dispersal of the protest had been conducted in line with international practices, that the demonstration was not peaceful or unarmed, and that the defendants had no intention of causing casualties.”





2010 military crackdown report

21 06 2017

In a post at New Mandala that almost slipped by, Kwanravee Wangudom reports that an English-language edition of Truth for Justice, consisting of six selected chapters from the mammoth Thai-language fact-finding report by the People’s Information Centre, is available.

The 300+ page report can be downloaded as a PDF at the PIC website.

The earlier 1300+ page Thai report can also be downloaded.

The Thai version was published in Thai in 2012. The English version was edited by Kwanravee.

PIC’s report “is produced in the hope that it will stimulate a wider global discussion on truth, justice and reconciliation in the deeply-divided Thai society, and perhaps elsewhere.”

It might even cause some rethinking about the murder of citizens by military leaders who now run the dictatorship. It might also cause some rethinking about the manner in which the leaders such as Abhisit Vejjajiva and Suthep Thaugsuban have not be held responsible.





Enforced amnesia

17 06 2017

The efforts to erase history from the brains of Thais continues.

A widely-circulated Khaosod report is of junta thug-soldiers and police going to two art galleries in Bangkok and ordering the removal of “three photographs from an exhibition without citing any reason.”

In fact, thug-soldiers working for the military dictatorship doesn’t need any reason for doing what it pleases. Yet, in this case, the notion seems to be to prevent people from remembering.

One of the exhibitions depicts the “lives and memories of political prisoners while the other was an homage to the 2010 military crackdown on Redshirt protests which left more than 90 people dead.”

The soldiers reportedly showed up under a misapprehension that lese majeste convict Pornthip Munkong, was hosting the exhibition. In fact, many of the photos had already been removed from the exhibition following a complaint by Pornthip.

By chance, the soldiers wandered across to the other exhibition and were aghast that the exhibition “contrasts images of the bloody 2010 crackdown with pictures of everyday life.” The soldiers demanded that three collages be removed.

The military junta seems intent on countrywide lobotomy.