Rolling back 1932 one piece of property at a time II

7 04 2018

The palace and Crown Property Bureau have been active in recent months as they seeks, for the king, to consolidate what he considers the “royal precinct.” We have previously mentioned assertions of royal control over the Bangkok or Dusit Zoo, Suan Amphon and the Ananta Samakhom Hall. And who can forget the illegal (and still unexplained) removal of the 1932 plaque that the king and the junta must have thought sullied the “royal precinct.”

The most recent territory marking involves the Royal Turf Club and the Nang Loeng horse-racing track, also in Dusit district. It is reported that the CPB has demanded the Royal Turf Club vacate the property in 180 days.

Anant Waiwitaya, a CPB legal affairs officer recently wrote to the club “to demand the departure.”

For many years the very large property has been in the hands of aged military people who benefit from gambling and while having been in operation for more than 100 years, is most recently remembered as the home of anti-Thaksin/anti-Yingluck grey activists under General Boonlert Kaewprasit’s Pitak Siam. This group was supported by all kinds of old royalists and conservatives who began the initial agitation against Yingluck. Boonlert was – maybe still is – secretary-general of the Royal Turf Club.

The CPB’s Anant noted that the lease had expires and that the Royal Turf Club had to vacate the property and its “track, five-storey stand, two six-storey parking buildings, a five-storey management building, a one-storey structure and a swimming pool.”

The CPB stated that it “had to use the land and the buildings.”

The report says: “Initiatives to relocate it were discussed during the previous governments of Chuan Leekpai and Thaksin Shinawatra.” Nothing resulted.

We see the action as another effort to create the “royal precinct,” rumored to include plans for a massive palace. The map below shows that the king’s moves over the last six months have massively expanded his territory.





Updated: Anti-democrat splinters

13 03 2017

About a week ago, PPT commented on the meanderings of anti-democrat Thirayudh Boonmee’s criticisms of the lack of resolve in the military dictatorship for “reform.” Those seemingly mild urging followed on the junta’s back down on the protesters from the south, one of its strongest constituencies.

Things seem to be splintering in the anti-democrat coalition that has been a powerful ally and promoter of the military coup and the military dictatorship.

The Nation reports that “[p]olice are launching a manhunt for well-known political activist Veera Somkwamkid after he published an opinion survey’s result on his Facebook wall, saying the majority people lack confidence in the Prayut administration.”

Veera has a long history of anti-democratic and ultra-nationalist activism and was aligned to the southern anti-coal protesters and he has recently poked the military on The Dictator and nepotism. Some background before getting back to The Nation story.

Veera, who is associated with thugs like the armed extremists of the Network of Students and People for the Reform of Thailand (see the photo where Veera is joined by the fascist “student” leader Nittithon Lamlua and the right-wing Iceman and coup promoter General Boonlert Kaewprasit).

VeeraAlthough Veera was briefly detained not long after the coup, he praised The Dictator, General Prayuth Chan-ocha and urged him to emulate the Chinese in “cracking down on corruption.” Veera is an admirer of China and its totalitarianism, having claimed that China was “more advanced” than some democratic countries.

Earlier still, Veera headed the Thai Patriots Network, which was aligned with the People’s Alliance for Democracy. Some may recall that he had once sought to provoke a war with Cambodia and whose release from jail in Cambodia was prompted by the military dictatorship’s willingness to create a crisis by sending Cambodian workers streaming back home in a fear campaign that was for Veera’s benefit and also effectively brought Hun Sen “into line” through a threat to the workers’ remittances.

In the story at The Nation, we learn that the have an “an arrest warrant from the Criminal Court and searched [Veera’s] … house in Bangkok’s Khannnayao district but failed to locate him.”

The arrest warrant states that Veera “violated the Computer Crime Act by posting distorted information into a computer network in defamation against the government.” The police allege that “Veera posted results of his opinion survey on his Veera Somkwamkid Facebook wall, causing damage to the reputation of the government and Prime Minister Prayut Chan-o-cha.”

While the junta is always happy to crow when there are polls indicating massive support, often with unbelievably ridiculous numbers, Veera’s stunt has The Dictator seething. We suspect that he also sees Veera as an ingrate.

Veera is said to have “claimed that the majority of the people lacked confidence in the government although the survey was carried out among just one group of people and was organised by Veera himself.”

The TCSD said “the results might be inaccurate,” and observed that “Veera is a well-known activist so the post on his Facebook wall had severely damaged the reputation of the government and the prime minister.”

The anti-democrat coalition seems to be splintering and that certainly worries the junta as much as Prayuth feels his pride damaged.

The manhunt is on. Perhaps he is on the lam with the former head of Wat Dhammakaya?

Update: Khaosod reports that Veera has been responding, stating at his Facebook account:

“I’m announcing this publicly: The police don’t need to waste their time finding me. I will meet with [investigators] on Wednesday,” Veera wrote on his Facebook, hours after police officers raided his home to look for him.

Veera said he’s willing to contest the charge in a court of law, but added that he feared security forces may abduct him before meeting with police and put him in a military prison where he might die in custody.

“I may die of a blood infection,” Veera wrote, referencing an infamous explanation given for one death in military custody in 2015. “Are we clear? A man like Veera Somkwamkid never runs away from the law. I’m ready to contest my case. But I’m not ready to be murdered.”





Anti-democrat calls for absolute fascism

31 08 2014

It is clear how far Thailand has moved politically with the military coup and the establishment of a military dictatorship when the ultra-royalist, ultra-nationalist and ultra-anti-democrat Veera Somkwamkid is labeled an “anti-corruption activist” in The Nation.  PPT considers this is misleading advertising for the anti-democrats. There’s a lot that is misleading under the military boot.

Veera, who is said to be “secretary of the People’s Network against Corruption,” but who is associated with thugs like the armed extremists of the Network of Students and People for the Reform of Thailand (see the photo where Veera is joined by the fascist “student” leader Nittithon Lamlua and the right-wing Iceman and coup promoter General Boonlert Kaewprasit).Veera

Perhaps because he is a right-wing extremist, the propaganda arm of the monarchy known as the King Prajadhipok Institute had him speak at an anti-democrat-inspired seminar on “Reforming Thailand, Opposing Corruption.”

On cue, Veera praised The Dictator, General Prayuth Chan-ocha and “urged [Prayuth] to emulate the Chinese president’s policy of cracking down on corruption seriously and without exceptions, as part of his government’s fight against graft.” Veera barked that “to ensure success in reducing the problem of corruption, Prayuth needed to wield total power in the same way as China’s President Xi Jinping in the Chinese government’s policy against corruption.”

Showing his deep affection for totalitarianism, Veera claimed that China was “more advanced than some democratic countries, particularly Thailand, about sincerity in tackling corruption…”. Veera might have missed the coup, but his call is apparently for Chinese-style executions of those deemed corrupt by the politically-biased kangaroo courts in Thailand.

On China’s campaign, Professor Andrew Wedeman, a political science professor at Georgia State University notes that: “Every anti-corruption campaign is an exercise in public relations. They’re trying to build legitimacy.”That would be the Thai junta’s approach as well. If it has executions, we are betting that political opponents will be the first in line, with the reprehensible Veera shouting his support for absolute fascism.





For us, against us

8 07 2014

The lines of demarcation between the junta and its opponents are reasonably clear, as two recent event demonstrate.

If you are an ally of the junta, you get special treatment.

Bangkok Pundit recently suggested that the massive Cambodian migrant worker “exodus was so quick that it has no doubt caused political problems in Cambodia, [and] … forced Hun Sen to cooperate with the junta. (Veera’s release?).” Veera is Veera Somkwamkid, the People’s Alliance for Democracy-associate ultra-nationalist member of the Thai Patriot Network, who was detained in Cambodia following a border incursion in 2011. When he was released a few days ago, all of the old hyper-nationalist, yellow shirts got together for a party to welcome back their “hero.”

As the Bangkok Post reports, the party was arranged at the at the Royal Turf Club, where General Boonlert Kaewprasit was host. Boonlert is a favorite of the military and royalist elite not least because he was one of those who managed the revival of anti-democrat street protests for the PAD lot prior to the mobilizations that became the Suthep Thaugsuban anti-democrats, who paved the way for the coup…. and the rest is history, as they say.

The military dictatorship became worried, after the fact, that the welcome party might be seen as “double standards,” not that such claims seem to bother them in other spheres. The party was attended not just by Boonlert, but a bunch of others from the military and the anti-Thaksin Shinawatra movement including “Gen Preecha Iamsuphan, former senators Prasarn Maruekpitak, Khamnoon Sitthisamarn and Rosana Tositrakul, national artist Naowarat Pongpaiboon and other activists.”

So Veera and Boonlert were called in by the junta. The result was a bit of hugging and and a public reprimand. Then, as the Post reports it, after a couple of hours, they were “allowed to go home after a meeting with a high level officer of the National Council for Peace and Order (NCPO).” They even went on television to “explain”:

Gen Boonlert said in an interview with television reporters afterwards that Gen Paiboon Khumchaya, the assistant army chief and NCPO’s chief of legal and justice affairs section, asked him and Mr Veera to let the NCPO know before conducting any activity which may be construed as violating the NCPO’s orders including the ban on a political gatherings.

They agreed to comply with the request, Gen Boonlert said.

If you are seen as an opponent of the coup, you get very different treatment. Boonlert and Veera get mainstream media coverage for the party and its aftermath. Most of those present, as yellow shirt supporters of the coup, go about their business, political and otherwise. But not opponents. Khaosod reports the second detention of Thanapol Eawsakul, editor of Fa Diaw Kan.

A “senior army officer” says that the editor is having his attitude “re-adjusted.” Why? Because of “critical Facebook comments violated a condition he signed before being released from his first bout of military detention. That release form barred Mr. Thanapol from participating in politics or expressing any opinions that ‘incite unrest’.” Should the “military decide to charge Mr. Thanapol with violating the NCPO’s release conditions, the activist will be tried in military court and could face up to two years in prison.”

Compare the re-education and multiple detention of an activist writing on Facebook with the military junta’s freeing of Veera and the treatment of their friends Boonlert and Veera. This is not about double standards but about the nature of the military regime.





“New” anti-government group is old and tired but threatening

26 07 2013

In recent days there has been talk of a “new” anti-government alliance. The Bangkok Post announces a “newly formed anti-government ‘People’s Army [Against the Thaksin Regime]…’.” It may be new in its current form and alliance, and it may excite the scribes in the mainstream media, but it is dreadfully old and corked wine in a not particularly new or even clean bottle.

This “People’s Army” – as much a misnomer as “People’s Alliance for Democracy” – says that it “hopes to mobilise at least 30,000 people to join a rally in Bangkok when the House resumes next week to deliberate the amnesty bill of Pheu Thai MP Worachai Hema.” It plans “co-ordinated” rallies and a “big event” on 4 August, aimed at “overthrowing the Thaksin Shinawatra regime…”. In fact, The Nation describes the “People’s Army” as being “formerly known as Pitak Siam…”. And, the group did meet at General Boonlert Kaewprasit’s Royal Turf Club.

But let’s be just a little more generous and agree that there is more to this than just the old men of Pitak Siam. So who are they? The leaders of the so-called new “People’s Army” include:

  • Thaikorn Polsuwan of the PAD in the Northeast;
  • Pitak Siam group under the new leadership of retired Admiral Chai Suwannaphap;
  • the Thai Patriot Network;
  • Card-carrying old man wanting to run Thailand for the monarchy, Police General Vasit Dejkunchorn of the misnamed Thai Spring non-group, said his (non)group would demonstrate against the amnesty bill. Vasit is able to mobilize royalists associated with the old counterinsurgency and mercenary groups from the Cold War;
  • dull royalist Tul Sitthisomwong, leader of the so-called multicolor movement,that is really a bunch of yellow shirts;
  • Suriyasai Katasila, coordinator of the Green Politics Group, and of PAD; and
  • PAD spokesman Panthep Puapongpan, who says PAD core leaders are to meet to assess their role.

While the Post says that the “People’s Army” is mobilizing “its” provincial chapters, these are the old PAD  networks.

This coalition is potentially threatening for the Yingluck Shinawatra government. Last time, when Pitak Siam rallied, the the cabinet decided to impose the Internal Security Act in three districts of Bangkok. That was criticized.





Return of the iceman

24 07 2013

With his trademark shiny face and jet black hair, former Pitak Siam leader General Boonlert Kaewprasit has hit the headlines again. This time, it is not for calling for a coup or a freeze on Thai society and politics, but for a sharp attack on the military brass.

Boonlert, who doubles as secretary-general of the Army-dominated Royal Turf Club, is reported in the Bangkok Post as saying that “the armed forces are under the control of ousted prime minister Thaksin Shinawatra.”icicles2 Boonlert explained:

“The armed forces are in [Thaksin’s] hands,” … “The military is now under his control and it is hard to take it back. I no longer have faith in the armed forces.”

Thaksin’s alleged control of the military brass is, Boonlert said, why he “decided to support the anti-government movement…”. Hmm. Given that he has already called for a coup and ran the Pitak Siam lot around a bit as an anti-government movement, his support for this kind of thing is not unexpected. Indeed, form Prem Tinsulanonda man Adm Chai Suwannaphap now runs Pitak Siam.

Yet his statement on the military suggests splits, at least between the old soldiers and the current brass. As the report notes,

Adm Chai and Gen Boonlert were classmates of Class 1 at the Armed Forces Academies Preparatory School…. Other Class 1 alumni include Privy Councillor Surayud Chulanont and Gen Wattanachai Chaimuanwong, the former deputy army chief who is now president of the Royal Turf Club.

General Boonlert, the Iceman,  called for support from the public to the already failed Pitak Siam “to uproot Thaksin’s system.”





Further updated: Political custard congeals

20 01 2013

PPT has repeatedly noted how the political opponents of the Yingluck Shinawatra government and everything associated with Thaksin Shinawatra congeals around particular causes. While the yellow-hued lot have had their differences over various ultra-nationalist causes like Preah Vihear, the Democrat Party has now come into a gooey political mix with the People’s Alliance for Democracy and other “patriotic” – read xenophobic – groups to demand that the Foreign Ministry “protect Thailand’s national interest.” This refers to a small piece of land that has long been disputed by Thailand’s xenophobes despite a World Court decision in 1962 that went against the then military xenophobes.Yellow, gooey custard

Like the other ultra-nationalists, the Democrat Party and their vacuous – meaning devoid of any original idea – leader Abhisit Vejjajiva believe that Thailand will lose the “clarification case” at the Court, brought by the Cambodian government. Hence they are huffing and puffing about Thailand needing to “formally reject Phnom Penh’s claim that Thailand had intruded on Cambodian territory around Preah Vihear temple…”.

Abhisit supported the Thai Patriot Network, “which plans a rally … against the ICJ’s pending ruling, has the right to express its opposition to the court’s jurisdiction on the issue.” Of course they have the right, but Abhisit should be principled in rejecting ultra-nationalist maneuvering; he can’t because he lacks principles and hopes that demonstrations will further congeal the yellow custard opposition in trying to bring down the elected government.

Joining Abhisit in supporting the so-called Thai Patriot Network is the deep freeze political failure General Boonlert Kaewprasit of the yellow-shirted royalists of the Pitak Siam group. Of course, all of these groups are pretty much one and the same, but the media reports them as separate even when their political campaigns are coordinated. Boonlert says he “would not take part in the rally” but he handed over a list of 80,000 names from Pitak Siam to the other lot so they can mobilize together.

As far as we understand it, the Court’s decision is not for several months yet, so this mobilization is more about anti-elected government activism than anything else.

Update 1: A reader admonishes PPT for not pointing out that the Ministry of Foreign Affairs has also dived into the custard, rejecting the Court’s authority on this case.

Update 2: The Nation reports that the congealing of yellow/ultra-nationalist political forces continues, although the Thai Patriot Network only managed to rally several hundred supporters opposing the jurisdiction of the International Court of Justice. That demonstration was headed by PAD’s Chaiwat Sinsuwong. Chaiwat’s gaggle of mostly elderly protesters told the U.N. that it rejected ICJ jurisdiction and that “Thais were against the government and politicians who ‘betrayed’ the nation by handing over national interests to others.” There’s a social science thesis in this conception of “nation.” He claimed to have 1.2 million signatures opposing any ICJ ruling. The demonstrators also pressured the Army and then the Supreme Court “demanding that the head of the judiciary balance the government’s power to stop it from giving the country’s sovereignty away.” The latter visits were to allies, pushing them to take positions in the political-dispute-in-the-making.

Remarkably, Army boss General Prayuth Chan-ocha then chose to speak for the Army and government, saying that “the Army and the government were waiting for a ruling of the ICJ before planning the next move.” He added a rejection of the ICJ when he stated “… he preferred bilateral talks with the Cambodian government on how to settle the dispute over the plot near the Preah Vihear Temple.”

The congealing continues.