Bail double standards

26 02 2021

A couple of days ago we posted on the limp response on bail by one who should do better. The observations there become even more stark as yellow shirts, found guilty of sedition, stroll away with bail while four lese majeste defendants are repeatedly refused bail and may be kept in jail “indefinitely.”

The former People’s Democratic Reform Committee leaders, including three serving ministers, given their posts as “repayment” for paving the way to the coup in 2014, were sentenced on Wednesday. As Khaosod had it, those convicted were:

… former Democrat Party executive Suthep Thaugsuban and five others on charges of insurrection for their roles in street protests against the elected government back in 2013 and 2014.

Suthep was sentenced to 5 years in prison for the protests, which culminated in the military coup that toppled Yingluck Shinawatra’s administration in May 2014. The court declined to suspend their sentences, though it is not clear as of publication time whether Suthep and others would be granted a bail release while they appeal the verdict.

Defendants who were given jail sentences alongside Suthep include Digital Economy Minister Buddhipongse Punnakanta, Education Minister Nataphol Teepsuwan, and Deputy Transport Minister Thaworn Senniam.

Buddhipongse and Thaworn were sentenced to 7 and 5 years in prison, respectively, while Nataphol got 6 years and 16 months.

In all, 25 PDRC leaders and members were sentenced for treason and sedition. Other key PDRC leaders were given jail sentences were:

  • Issara Somchai – eight years and four months
  • Suwit Thongprasert, formerly Buddha Isra – four years and eight months
  • Chumpol Julsai – 11 years
  • Suriyasai Katasila – two years

Today, the Appeals Court granted bail to at least eight: “Suthep Thaugsuban, Issara Somchai, Chumpol Julsai, Digital Economy and Society Minister Buddhipongse Punnakanta, Deputy Transport Minister Thaworn Senneam, Education Minister Nataphol Teepsuwan, Suwit Thongprasert and Samdin Lertbutr.”

But, for those who have not been convicted of anything remain in jail as further charges are piled on. They are detained pending trial which means they are detained indefinitely until the trial is over or until bail is granted.

Double standards? You bet.





On a few things royal II

6 12 2020

Yesterday’s events memorializing the dead king get special treatment in the media, including faux details regarding public support for them.

The Bangkok Post headlines: Thousands gather to commemorate late king” and adds “Sea of yellow in Sanam Luang as Their Majesties preside.” Yes, there were probably a few thousand diehards, including notable monarchy maniacs like

… actors including Duantem Salitul and Methanee “Nino” Buranasiri. Former deputy prime minister Suthep Thaugsuban was also spotted, and activist Suvit Thongprasert (the former monk once known as Buddha Issara) was seen handing out drinking water and snacks to attendees.

But a sea of yellow at Sanam Luang? Only if you ignore the large islands of lawn. The photos (right) may not be directly comparable, but you get the picture.

Thai PBS headlines: “Thais across country commemorate late King Bhumibol’s birthday anniversary.” Well, sort of. As usual for such propaganda events, the regime brought in people in yellow shirts for “celebration” events, even ordering officials to round up attendees, in some cases, fishing them out of flooded provinces (see clips left).

As ever, the media tends to quote the usual monarchy tropes mouthed by some of the “regular” people attending. One is diligently reported as stating: “The king has always been there to take care of people’s happiness, and without the king there would be chaos…”.

In line with recent palace PR efforts, these “celebrations” were an opportunity for the king, his wife, consort and various other royals to show off how happy they all are to suddenly have become “of the people” and Hello!-style celebrities. Again, it is the palace women who are leading that charge.

Yesterday, we mentioned the the RID’s royal projects – almost 4,000 of them, all taxpayer funded. Today, the Bangkok Post reports on even more royal projects. We are not sure if the RID projects are included in the longer list, but we can probably assume some overlap.

The Post (and others) have pumped out similar reports for the palace propaganda effort for several decades, and they are always exercises in providing information that is never entirely clear. The numbers seldom add up and they never refer to the cost to taxpayers.

This report is about explaining that the dead king’s legacy is likely receiving huge state investment. This is hinted at when it is stated that “… royal initiative projects and sufficiency economy projects” are being “deepened … thanks to six state organisations”:

the Pid Thong Lang Phra Foundation, Ministry of Natural Resources and Environment, Ministry of Agriculture and Agricultural Cooperatives, Interior Ministry, the Prime Minister’s Office and Office of the Royal Development Projects Board.

We may be wrong, but it appears to us that the  Pid Thong Lang Phra Foundation is government-initiated and funded. Some of the information is simply recycled from earlier Foundation propaganda exercises. But what interested PPT is the scale of activities. There are Covid job schemes in nine provinces, claiming 450 water projects using at least 777 million baht, so far.

Over the past decades, the Foundation claims to have “developed 6,259 small dams and reservoirs … benefiting 80,247 families.” That’s about 12-13 families per project. It claims to have a large “economic forest” project, and fund management projects. There’s no information provided on cost and who pays.

The Office of the Royal Development Projects Board is quoted as claiming it is “developing 4,877 royal initiative projects…”.

It seems that the country has a thousands and thousands of royal projects, and as far as we are aware, it is the taxpayer that pays for these, successful or not, and with little transparency or accountability.





Legal harassment continues

6 11 2020

The military-backed regime and its minions continue to see the hand(s) behind the latest round of protests as being that of the Progressive Movement.

This has resulted in Pannika Wanich, Thanathorn Juangroongruangkit, and Piyabutr Saengkanokkul having to front the Phaya Thai police to “acknowledge sedition charges filed against them by a former yellow-shirt co-leader.”

Clipped from Thisrupt

The yellow shirt making the complaint is none other than Suwit Thongprasert, the former People’s Democratic Reform Committee activist monk Buddha Issara. This is not just any PDRC clot, but the one who has been seen a couple of times having things whispered in his ear by the king.

King, queen and ex-Buddha Issara

In Piyabutr’s case, the complaint “against him involved posting in social media his academic work, including his lectures, while he taught law at Thammasat University.” Some of this goes back a decade. Those old posts were connected with more recent “posts supporting solutions to the ongoing political crisis” where he “suggested that the three demands of youth protesters, including the monarchy reform, be brought to a safe zone by setting up a House special committee to hear their grievances.”

To an outsider, all of this must seem rather odd, but the fascist former monk sees it as sedition for commenting on the monarchy.

The allegations against Pannika appear to be “centred around her Facebook Live sessions from rally sites,” while Thanathorn is “accused of his role in connection with Samesky, a publishing house specialising in Thai politics,” a connection that also goes back many years. Apparently, the fascist former monk also found discussing the allocation of huge dollops of taxpayer funds to the royal family to be seditious.

The fascist ex-monk and other neo-Nazis are desperately trying to put the monarchy genie back in the sealed bottle. In other words, the rightists are using sedition as they previously used lese majeste.

Pannika “urged Gen Prayut to stop using the same old weapon he has been relying on for seven years.” She said: “Prosecution of dissidents no longer works. These bullets are blank— they not only fail to stop the rallies but also escalate them…”.





Compromise/threat

2 11 2020

The biggest news of the past 24 hours has been the video of an unsteady and sickly looking King Vajiralongkorn talking of “compromise.” CNN reports that when asked “about what he would say to the protesters who have been on the streets calling for reform,” he first said “no comment,” before going on to say: “We love them all the same. We love them all the same. We love them all the same.” A follow-up question was “whether there was any room for compromise with protesters,” Vajiralongkorn declared, “Thailand is the land of compromise.”

It is worth watching the whole thing, not least for the king sending his daughter on a political errand.

The problem with the “interview” is that despite the reporter’s efforts, it is decontextualized. It didn’t show him greeting and speaking with fascists who are working to undermine the students, accusing them of “overthrowing the monarchy,” and some of whom have promised violence:

The gathering was in response to calls by staunch royalists, such as Dr. Warong Degitvigrom of the Thai Pakdee group, Buddha Isara and the twin brothers Bin and Aekkapant Banluerith, former actors, to protect the Thai Monarchy, as anti-establishment protesters demand sweeping reforms of the institution.

AFP at the Bangkok Post notes that this is a “growing show of force from royalists — as well as their increasingly harsh rhetoric online against the pro-democracy bloc…”.

It is not a show of compromise when the king engages in political acts:

Actor and volunteer rescue worker Bin Banluerit said the gathering was held with no political agenda. They merely wanted to show the King and Her Majesty the Queen their loyalty. He was among several famous figures urging people to come out to show their respect for the monarchy amid calls for its reform from some anti-government leaders.

Bin was allowed to prostrate at the King’s feet when the King came out to meet royalists outside Wat Phra Kaeo after he finished changing the Emerald Buddha image’s attire. “It is my first time to touch and prostrate at the King’s feet. He has relieved my tiredness. I am feeling overwhelmed to meet [him] and see his face….

“The King also thanked me for helping the people. I consider this the highest merit of my life…”.

This is the king boosting the forces on the right, thanking them for their ultra-royalism, and encouraging them, a la 1976. Hence the signs declaring, “We will die for the king.”

The rally showing loyalty to the king and his “visit” was a statement not of compromise, but of threat.





Yellow anti-democrats and the fascist ex-monk

26 10 2020

Fascist former monk Buddha Issara – Suwit Thongprasert – has mobilized some of his PDRC gang to oppose any reform to the monarchy. He was with the king just a couple of days ago.

Thai PBS reports that in that public meeting, “The King said thank you…. I replied, it is my duty.” His “duty” is in “mobilising royalists in a counter-move against growing calls for monarchy reform.” He still has “320,000 followers on his Facebook page alone.”

It should not be forgotten that when a rightist, military supporting, ant-democratic, royalist monk, he illegally detained and beat two plainclothes policemen. He also extorted money from some businesses.

Today, in response to student-led, pro-democracy demonstrators who are calling for monarchy reforms, he declared: “If you’re going to destroy the monarchy, you must do it over my dead body!”

With his royalist gang of royalists “camping outside Parliament since Sunday to show their support for the government and prevent the invasion of pro-democracy protesters,” the fascist former monk has objected “to the setting up of a panel to look into reforming the monarchy.”

No democracy permitted at parliament!

He’s joined in ultra-royalism by the detestable Rientong Nan-nah, who has recently expressed his hatred for the students: “Under the pretext of reforming the monarchy, they undermine the revered institution. I don’t see them as people. I see them as enemies of the King.”

Their role is to provide support to the regime and to encourage the military to crackdown on protesters.





Updated: Royal family on the rightist warpath

24 10 2020

In our last post we stated the royal family’s public statement of support for ultra-royalists ranked with previous royal political interventions such as Vajiralongkorn’s support of ultra-royalists in 1976 and the then queen Sirikit’s attendance at a yellow shirt’s funeral in 2008.

The king praising an ultra-royalist: “Very brave, very brave, very good, thank you,” with the queen adding: “We’re so proud of what you’ve done. Thank you so much,” was more than a nudge and a wink. With the queen fist-pumping as she smiled broadly and urged the royalists on, and the king greeting fascist (former) monk Buddha Isara was a clear declaration of war against the protesters seeking reform.

Update: By the way, it is disgusting that the Bangkok Post chooses to view this dangerous and threatening royal intervention as “King, Queen thank supporters.”





Weaponized “law”

6 06 2019

According to a report at the Bangkok Post a few days ago, police are considering yet another political attack on Future Forward’s Thanathorn Juangroongruangkit as if it is a legal case.

We at PPT well understand that law has become deeply politicized and even weaponized in the junta’s Thailand, but this “case” is among the most egregious abuses of the law seen in recent days.

(Weaponizing law is a widely-used tactic by rightist authoritarian regimes.)

The police are apparently considering “a petition calling for a probe against … Thanathorn … and two others for allegedly offending late statesman Prem Tinsulanonda via social media.”

This crazy idea seems to be that it was not the dead Prem who was “offended” but his acolytes and posterior polishers.

The “complaint” comes from the founder of the virtually unknown junta-supporting New Alternative Party’s founder Rachen Trakulwiang.

Rachen’s royalist and military proxy party was “the first newly registered political party to receive the junta’s approval to convene meetings” back before the junta’s “election.” Then, The Nation reported on Rachen’s rightist-royalist background:

Rachen first came to the public’s attention as president of the Federation of Thai Defenders of the Monarchy. In 2011, he led a campaign against a group seeking to amend the lese majeste law in Article 112 of the Criminal Code. He has also filed complaints with police against several red-shirt leaders accused of insulting the monarchy.

In late 2013, Rachen joined anti-government street rallies organised by the People’s Democratic Reform Committee (PDRC), describing himself as a PDRC leader from Nonthaburi, his home province. Rachen also joined monk Phra Buddha Isara, a key PDRC leader, to organise a rally at Government Complex, but later withdrew from the effort.

Rachen has subsequently ended his role as a PDRC leader while continuing his role as president of the Federation of Thai Defenders of the Monarchy. He decided to enter politics two years ago and eventually turned the federation into the New Alternative Party.

In his most recent attack on his political opponents, Rachen barked that he “was referring to posts that he claimed were attacks on Gen Prem…”.

In filing his complaint, it seems Rachen has concocted yet another royalist “group” to allow him to propound rabid royalism:

“Gen Prem was a representative of the King. We should treat him with respect,” said Mr Rachen as his group Khon Rak Pa (“People Who Love Pa”, the nickname of Gen Prem).

Perhaps inadvertently, Rachen linked himself with other thugs by making similarly ridiculous but threatening “complaints” about other he opposes:

Parit “Penguin” Chiwarak, an anti-coup activist who chairs the Student Union of Thailand, and Suphraiphon Chuaichu, a losing Puea Chat Party election candidate for Bangkok’s Bang Khunthian district.

Rachen whined that “he suspected their alleged insults could be the start of attempts to destroy the Privy Council and the military.”He threatened: “We can’t accept that and will never let it happen…”.

PPT suspects that Rachen and his ilk will be used by the junta’s revamped regime to “protect” it as it seeks to “govern” in a polarized political environment. Its threats and the weaponizing of law will be used to undermine and silence critics. It’s an old military strategy, primed by ISOC, to support its governments.





Not let off easy (double standards)

31 10 2018

A couple of days ago, we posted on the fact that the former Buddha Issara, am ant-democrat monk, had got off light in a criminal case.

He was charged with having allowed his People’s Democratic Reform Committee thugs to capture and beat two policemen. The beatings were savage. One suffered broken ribs and a ruptured liver and another suffered bruising and broken teeth from beatings.

He got a suspended sentence and will be back in saffron and his anti-democratic ways very soon.

Now look at the double standards.

It is reported that the Criminal Court “sentenced former Pheu Thai MP Prasit Chaisrisa to two years in jail for having a helmet and a bullet-proof vest stolen from anti-riot soldiers in 2010.”

“Stolen” is a problematic term. At the time, many soldiers simply abandoned their gear and ran away. In this case, the claim is that the helmet was taken from a soldier who was beaten.

The court found Prasit “guilty of having the warfare products in the boot of his car on April 22, 2010.” Even if we dismiss the notion that these were anything other than crowd control products, as it is reported, soldiers were using “warfare products” to crack down on red shirt protesters. That isn’t questioned.

The double standards are clear. And, do we need to add that he’s being victimized? “The former MP for Surin province was earlier sentenced to two years and six months in prison for lese majeste.”





Let off easy

29 10 2018

Even the Bangkok Post noticed that the fascist and former monk Suwit Thongprasert, better known to anti-democrats as Buddha Issara, got a great deal in court.

He was charged with having allowed his People’s Democratic Reform Committee thugs to forcibly capture and detain two policemen. They were savagely beaten one suffered broken ribs and a ruptured liver and another suffered bruising and broken teeth from beatings.

The monk was photographed “questioning” the policemen.

For this the former monk faced the Criminal Court to get a suspended 18-month jail term. It is stated that the “prison term was commuted from three years to one year and six months because he confessed, and then suspended for a year because he had never previously committed a crime and had compensated the two victims, who did not want to continue with any legal action against him.”

We suspect the two have been ordered to keep quiet. Within a few weeks, we expect to see Suwit back in saffron robes and probably out of his wheelchair, which seemed a useful device for engendering court leniency.





Cleansing and coronation

25 06 2018

Some PPT readers may know more about these stories than we do. We’d appreciate and advice at our email: politicalprisonersinthailand@hushmail.com.

Our guess is that the stories we discuss below are probably linked with the big “cleansing” at senior levels of the Buddhist sangha that began with the crackdown on the Dhammakaya sect, then saw senior monks jailed or fleeing the country, and also saw fascist, royal amulet making monk Buddha Issara jailed.

We noticed a further cleansing trend in some rather cryptic media reports that can be seen in the tone of reports at The Nation.

The Nation reported the case of the Lawyers Council of Thailand criticizing police for their violent and forcible detention of a lawyer acting for a client. The client was “a self-proclaimed spirit medium [seeking] to file a defamation complaint against another person…”.

Amid the chaos, the 49-year-old medium, Saengsuriyathep Phramahasuriya, slipped out of the precinct without filing the complaint against Atchariya Ruangratanapong, a lawyer and chairman of the Facebook group for assisting crime victims. She later returned with a new lawyer to file the complaint. That complaint was about accusations that the medium was “insulting the monarchy [by claiming to be a medium of past kings’ spirits] and promoting false information to the public – both accusations denied by her [the medium].”

Soon after, ThaiPBS reported that “Police of the Crime Suppression and Technology Crime Suppression divisions have been ordered to launch a nationwide clampdown on mediums, especially those who claim they have connections with members of the royalty.”

Central Investigation Bureau commissioner Pol Lt-Gen Thitirat Nongharnpitak “said the police had been instructed to first approach the mediums and to tell them to stop the practice…”. Police said “that people … should be told not to believe the mediums as the practice of mediumship is un-Buddhist.”

The police claim to have “nabbed at least three mediums who claimed to have supernatural powers.  One of them was removed of his strange hairstyle from which he claimed to derive his supernatural powers … adding that not one medium has faced criminal litigation.”

This report was confirmed in another at the Bangkok Post. That more detailed report states that many mediums “claimed to be possessed by the spirits of the past kings and their followers lost a huge amount of money to these psychics…”.

It added that the “crackdowns have been carried out secretly over the past two weeks with at least three mediums netted.” The report confirms that no charges had been laid by police.

Police said “the issue connected to people’s faith and belief can be sensitive…”. It was added that police “do not want people to see that police are intimidating these mediums…. However, if we let this situation go on any longer, the mediums could exploit their victims by asserting their claims they are vested with supernatural power, which is not real.”

Pol Lt Gen Thitirat Nonghanpitak, a police commissioner “said police were enforcing the law swiftly as some mediums were posing as the spirits of those in the high institutions ‘which is completely inappropriate’.” Well, harassing, warning, cutting hair….

Police say they “nabbed a couple who claimed to serve as a medium for King Rama IX in Nakhon Pathom after they organised a rite which was widely shared on YouTube.” Another in Chachoengsao claimed to be a “medium for King Rama V…. This person, who applied makeup and dressed like King Rama V, ran an unlicensed clinic which doubles as a fortune telling outlet.”

Yet another man “claimed to be the medium of Phra Sri Ariyametrai, who was the fifth life in the Lord Buddha’s past, police said. He claimed he could foretell people’s future and cleanse them of their sins.”

Some mediums went further and “claimed they could be possessed by the spirits of multiple kings.”

The mediums detained by police, who did not name them, were given a “talking to” and were released after they “agreed to stop the spiritual possession business.”

The Technology Crime Suppression Division is also being used “to track down the mediums who are operating businesses online. They would be summonsed for talks with the police.”

Such efforts do seem congruent with the broader cleansing that is taking place prior to the king’s coronation.

Perhaps surprising is the fact that, as with Buddha Issara, such use of royal names is not being treated as lese majeste. That might be a good thing and represent a change in “policy,” although there’s also the relationship between the mediums, their supposed powers and those in power.








%d bloggers like this: