Remembering May 2010

19 05 2017

Remembering May 1992 is useful in the current political circumstances. Then, people rose up against a military regime seeking to “civilianize” its repression and control. The military response was to shoot them.

Yet it is April and May 2010 that should be remembered for the utter brutality of a military that views electoral democracy and people’s sovereignty as a threat to the order it prefers and defends.

Many pictures have been reproduced over the past week or so, and PPT has chosen just a few to re-post here.

These pictures are from both sides of the battle as the military gradually surrounded and then cleared the Rajaprasong area.





Updated: No remembering allowed II

18 05 2017

Not so long ago we posted on the military junta’s continuing efforts to censor and repress, several times going into royalist overload, and to seek to “control” history.

We mentioned the political vandalism of the 1932 plaque, several other events the dictators think best forgotten and swept under a military tarpaulin. The protesters killed in April and May 2010 were also noted as something the military junta wants its own story to prevail.

The most recent example of the junta’s efforts to control the history of its murderous past are seen in a Prachatai report.

It begins:

Uniformed and plainclothes officers have fenced off a plaque commemorating a teenager shot seven years ago during the government’s crackdown on red shirt protesters, lurking on as loved ones commemorated the boy’s passing.

On the evening of 15 May 2017, family and friends gathered around a footpath along Bangkok’s Ratchaprarop road to remember Samaphan ‘Cher’ Srithep, who was shot there fatally seven years ago as authorities were dismantling the United Front for Democracy Against Dictatorship (known as the ‘red shirts’). Samaphan was only 17 years old.

The junta’s thugs tried to fence off the area where Samaphan was shot. Following that “scores of both uniformed and plainclothes officers stayed to observe the commemoration event.” This “observation” was, in fact, just one more act of political intimidation.

Update: Khaosod reports that the junta remains determined to prevent any commemoration or remembrance of its murderous crackdown on red shirt protestors in May 2010. To prevent this, it closed public areas around Rajaprasong.





No remembering allowed I

13 05 2017

The junta continues to try to censor and repress, several times going into royalist overload in its efforts.

Part of its work is to effectively change history. Whether it wanted to or not, the theft and vandalism of the 1932 plaque caused the dictatorship to line up with their king in saying the past is best forgotten (in fact) and replaced with mythical legends about good kings and the current one (the silk purse-sow’s ear notion).

Other facts are simply ignored. What happened to the murdered Chaiyapoom Pasae? Best forgotten and swept under a military tarpaulin. And so on, ad infinitum.

While on history and this regime, or at least the devils running it, those people killed in 2010. Either they were republican dupes of a Svengali or they can be swept aside as deserving of death as bad people (or both).

It is no surprise to learn from The Nation that the military junta has prevented a “commemoration of late Maj-General Khattiya Sawasdipol…”.

Known as Seh Daeng, he was murdered with a single sniper shot to the head “during the 2010 red-shirt demonstrations against the Abhisit [Vejjajiva] government…”. As the high buildings were occupied by government troops, it may be assumed that the shooter was ordered to take out Seh Daeng by the Abhisit regime and military leaders including General Prayuth Chan-ocha and General Anupong Paojinda.

Former deputy prime minister Chalerm Yubamrung “claimed in 2012 that a group of senior police officers were behind the assassination…”, although we’d bet it was military snipers.

Colonel Winthai Suvaree, a spokesperson for the military junta “insisted that there was no attempt to thwart the family’s commemoration plan, but the event could be considered politically motivated,” so it was banned.

Seh Daeng’s daughter is unimpressed with the junta’s call for “cooperation” and forget about the commemoration of his murder.

She “insisted she would today go to Sala Daeng intersection on Silom Road in the capital to lay flowers and light candles to commemorate her father at the location where he was fatally wounded by a sniper.”

Ms Khattiyaa said she received a phone call from a police officer on Thursday, who said he was instructed by the army to ask about what she intended to do to mark the seven-year anniversary of her father’s death.

She “questioned why authorities want to prevent her and her sister from expressing gratitude and commemorating their father.”

Military dictatorship spokesman, and probably involved in the planning of the sniper attack, Lt Gen Sansern Kaewkamnerd said “in ordinary merit-making ceremonies, the NCPO [junta] always gives permission if the activities have no political implications.”

We assume he means ceremonies already deemed “political” for we doubt other merit-making  needs junta approval. But perhaps we have missed another expansion of the use of the junta boot.

Junta spokesman Winthai reckoned the fire-breathing anti-red shirts at the 1st Army Region are the ones swinging the boot in this case.

You get the picture. A couple of women are considered political threats to the junta because they might just challenge the junta’s history of Thailand or cause people to remember.





Quick updates

16 04 2017

Remembering April 2010. Prachatai has two recent reports worth reading: first, 10 Facts about the 10 April Crackdown: 7 years of unhealed wounds; and second,
#10AprilWhereAreYou: memories of a massacre.

Fraud and lese majeste. We posted that police were considering pressing a lese majeste charge against a woman who allegedly cheated thousands of tourists by promising a trip to Japan and then leaving them stranded at Suvarnabhumi Airport. Latest reports are that there is insufficient evidence of lese majeste. That’s a surprise.

That library and the CPB. The Bangkok Metropolitan Authority has “defended” its new library with few books and its allocation of funds. It states: “about 295 million baht was spent on improving the historic building and installing facilities while the 30-year leasing contract between the BMA and the Crown Property Bureau for the site has cost the BMA 600 million baht, or 20 million baht a year.” That confirms our earlier post. The BMA says: “The library hopes to buy about 45,000 books with its budget but the rest of the library’s stock is expected to be donated by companies and people. The library is big enough to hold more than 100,000 books.”

 





Elections vs. the patronage system

11 04 2017

The Puea Thai Party may think it has a chance of doing well in an election, even if it is the junta’s “election.” We have serious doubts that they could win another election under the junta’s rules. Even if they did, the junta’s constitution will stymie them as a government.

In line with their faith in electoral democracy, the Puea Thai Party has demanded a “general election early next year, revocation of ‘unconstitutional’ orders of the National Council for Peace and Order (NCPO) [the military junta] and freedom to express opinions about legislation.”

Somewhat oddly, at least in our view, the party sees the “promulgation of the 2017 constitution last Thursday started a process to restore democracy…”. We see it as the beginning of a period of military-backed government.

Meanwhile, the enemies of electoral democracy met with General Prem Tinsulanonda, the President of the Privy Council. The now frail Prem beamed as he accepted the obeisance of some members of the junta (who was missing?), cabinet members, military commanders-in-chief, the national police chief and other top officials.

General Prem “wished Prime Minister [General] Prayut Chan-o-cha success in his handling of the country’s administration and advised him not to be discouraged by problems he has encountered.” For the grand old political meddler, “success” involves “returning happiness” to “the Thai people.”

The Dictator was puffed up and proud, praising General Prem, “who he said was a role model for everyone in the country in terms of loyalty to the nation, religion and the monarchy.”

Readers will be amused to learn that The Dictator “presented a vase of flowers and a basket of gifts to Gen Prem, who in return distributed a CD on the tribute to the late King … and a book of prayer to everyone present.”

Just the thing for men who were responsible for the attacks on red shirt demonstrators seven years ago to the day that eventually left scores dead and thousands injured.

Meanwhile, it seems that Prayuth has decided that as The Dictator, he deserves Prem-like obeisance. He will “open Government House on April 12 for cabinet members, members of the National Council for Peace and Order, armed forces commanders and other officials to perform a rod nam dam hua [water-pouring] ceremony for him to mark the Songkran Festival.”

The juxtaposition of these political positions is defining of Thailand’s political present and indicative of its futures.





Abhisit and the junta

27 03 2017

We at PPT don’t usually pay much attention to the self-promoting bantering of failed (anti)Democrat Party leader Abhisit Vejjajiva. He seems to do several interviews each year for the Bangkok Post and they aren’t usually riveting reading.

This time, however, there’s more interest. The main reason for this is that Abhisit indicates that he and his party are under pressure from the military junta. Before getting too much into that, a little on Abhisit’s self-important view of how he has never done anything wrong. (We do note that he was not asked about the 2010 events and his role in those murders.)

Abhisit criticizes the junta, saying “… I am not sure if they understand who was actually involved in the political conflict in the most recent years.” He reckons the junta has “been obsessed with the notion the political conflict occurred because (the Democrat Party) did not accept the result of the (previous) election.”

At least the junta got that right. But, of course, Abhisit has to dissemble because his preferred notion is that his party’s anti-democratic stance was not his fault. He blames the Yingluck Shinawatra government’s amnesty bill.

There’s no doubt that that move was ill-considered, but it was also a useful trigger for unrest that the Democrat Party had been seeking to foment from the time of their landslide defeat in 2011.

His view that the “Yingluck … government still manage[d] to stay on for more than two years without any of us doing anything to disrupt her government…” is a bald-faced lie.

Worse, he still won’t accept an election result in the future if it doesn’t suit him. He says: “No matter who wins or loses in the next election, if corruption still persists and if a political amnesty push is revived, the conflicts among people will become more severe…”.

Implicitly, he is also warning the junta about contemplating an amnesty.

On his own future, and rumors that others are working to oust him, he initially retorts that he is continuing “doing my job while political parties are banned from engaging in activities.” As we understand it, parties can’t officially meet, so he “safe” for the present. If he later gets ditched, he says he will accept this.

He then gets really dumb, saying: “If I lead my party to contest elections and fail to secure success, they won’t keep me.” As he was trounced in 2011, we can only wonder why he’s still there. Maybe he forgot this crushing defeat?

As he resumes his criticism of the junta, he says, the “Democrats as a political party were not established to satisfy anyone and any change of its leadership won’t bend to the will of those in authority.”

That’s historically incorrect as the party was formed as a royalist party that supported royalist militarists. That aside, he’s indicating the junta is pushing the party to be rid of him.

He says he, Chuan Leekpai and other failed leaders “share the view that we will not change the party’s stance so as to kowtow to people in authority in exchange for securing cabinet seats.”

He means the junta is going to offer the Democrat Party cabinet seats after the junta arranges an “election” victory at some time in the future. However, the party is expected to ditch the lame baggage of the unelectable Abhisit.

Abhisit declares that “[e]veryone knows that we think along the same lines, particularly Mr Banyat who among us is the most ardent critic of the military.” Funny, we haven’t heard much of this or seen him called in for days of re-education by the military dictators.

Abhisit then criticizes the junta for scrapping local elections and organizations, saying this “will adversely affect the decentralisation of power.” He adds: “What the NCPO is doing now is really a retrograde step.” He is right on this.

The junta is seeking a coalition that it will be comfortable joining when it decides to manage its “election,” and Abhisit seems unlikely to be a part of that, and the ever “pragmatic” anti-democrats will happily ditch him to get into bed with the military party.





What a story!

20 03 2017

The junta’s minions have come up with a remarkable story regarding the weapons “seized” in Pathum Thani.

In our earlier post we did express some skepticism about the report and added a note about Thai Rath saying the weapons were for an assassination plot. We expressed skepticism about that claim as well.

There has been a lot of skepticism, and not just from us. (The yellow-shirted royalists and anti-democrats believe all the stories.)

So the junta has come up with a story of a “plot” that suggests a remarkable effort to weave together a range of moral and political panics by the junta and among its anti-democratic supporters.

We cannot say that there is nothing in the “plot” claims – after all, all “plots” have to have some aspect to them that will convince true believers to believe. However, the royalists and anti-democrats have concocted a remarkable number of plots over the past decade to justify their political actions. Think of the Finland Plot, the infamous republican plot diagram and the “Khon Kaen model.” None of these has ever been shown to be other than a political concoction.

More recently, there was the claimed republican plot to murder The Dictator. We mention this, because it seems that the junta is using this to weave its current plot:

Police believe the huge cache of mostly military weapons retrieved on Saturday were intended to be used against authorities who had laid siege to Wat Phra Dhammakaya, including a plot to kill Prime Minister Prayut Chan-o-cha.

Add to this remarkable aggregation of Wat Dhammakaya and a plot to assassinate The Dictator, the weapons are located at a “house linked to hardcore red-shirt leader Wuthipong Kochathamakun, alias Kotee.” Then stir in a claim that “some of the seized weapons had been taken from soldiers during the violent red-shirt political rallies in mid-town Bangkok in 2010.”

Even the words in that quote are meant to reinforce the notion that red shirts are still “violent” and a political problem.

The cops reckon that the “weapons were being prepared for a potential attack against officers that had surrounded and were searching Wat Phra Dhammakaya in Pathum Thani’s Khlong Luang district…” and “were prepared to ‘harm or assassinate’ … Gen Prayut…”.

A police chief says that something he called “[a]n investigation” that “found people in Kotee’s group were preparing to use weapons to assassinate the government’s leading figures including Gen Prayut…. We found a rifle with a scope. We guarantee that this is not to shoot at birds but was going to be used to assassinate the leader of the country…”.

That’s a remarkably frivolous piece of evidence gathering and imaginative supposition.

He goes on: “If the government uses forces to suppress people in Wat Phra Dhammakaya, the armed group would be ready to help the temple and hurt officers.”

Evidence? It seems that “police and the DSI have always suspected that political groups have operated in Wat Phra Dhammakaya and intelligence from both agencies points to allegations they had tried to cause unrest.” Confirming this for the authorities, “[0]fficials found people in Mr Wuthipong’s network had been entering and leaving the temple prior to the siege and had been meeting him in the neighbouring country [Cambodia].” In fact, of the nine people so far arrested, the police say “[o]ne … was found to have showed up to the temple before…”.

It is a flimsy story. But there’s more: “Pol Gen Chakthip [Chaijinda] said Mr Wuthipong has played a role in inciting people to fight against the monarchy, and he is a supporter of Wat Phra Dhammakaya.”

And still more: The nine “suspects” had “joined the 2010 red-shirt political rally in central Bangkok.” The implication that the public is meant to draw from this is that the suspects might be “men in black.”

So far there’s red shirts, republicanism, Wat Dhammakaya, assassination, war weapons, men in black and monarchy involved in the plot. What more could there be? How about the frustration of the regime unable to extradite those they hate?

While Ko Tee has denied the arms belonged to him, the cops admit he’s been on the run since early 2014 (not since the coup as we said in our earlier post). “Pol Gen Chakthip said police had tried to contact … Cambodia … for Mr Wuthipong’s extradition, but had received no helpful reply.”

Now the police can claim that Ko Tee “allegedly played a leading role in gathering weapons to support the temple and as such must be considered a threat to national security…”. This “plot” will presumably help with gaining his extradition.

The next step for the police will be to parade the “suspects” before the media where they will presumably admit their guilt and “confirm” the “plot.” They may even be made to re-enact some “crime.” That’s the pattern.