Memes, communism, and a republic

8 12 2020

Thailand’s social media and its mainstream media is awash with hysterical commentary about ideas, logos, and republicanism. We will present some examples.

At the usually sober Khaosod, Pravit Rojanaphruk is worried about what he thinks are “drastic ideas.” One such idea comes from the mad monarchist

Warong Dechgitvigrom, leader of royalist Thai Phakdee group, made a counter move. The former veteran politician proposed that absolute power be returned to the king, “temporarily.”

“Isn’t it time for royal power to be returned temporarily in order to design a new political system free from capitalist-politicians for the benefit of the people and for real democracy?” Warong posted on his Facebook page.

In fact, though, Pravit spends most of his op-ed concentrating on “Free Youth, a key group within the monarchy-reform protest movement, [that recently] sent out a message to its followers on social media urging them to discuss the idea of a republic.”

Pravit thinks that both sides are getting dangerous:

It’s clear that the majority of the Thai people, over 60 million, have not expressed their views on the on-going political stalemate.

It’s time for them to speak and act. Continued silence would be tantamount to forfeiting their role as citizens in determining the future course of Thai society. If the silent majority do not speak or act soon, there may be no other options but to allow demagogues of different political stripes to dominate and plunge Thailand deeper towards conflicts and confrontations.

In fact, conflict is normal in most societies, and in Thailand it is mostly conservatives who bay for “stability,” usually not long after slaughtering those calling for change and reform. And, neither Warong’s monarchical rule nor the call for a republic are new. They have been regularly heard in Thailand over several decades. But we do agree that one of the reasons these ideas have resurfaced now is because of the political stalemate, bred by the refusal of the regime to countenance reform. We might also point out that when the silent majority has expressed its preferences in recent years – say, in elections that were not rigged – their preferences have been ignored by those with tanks.

Republicanism has been a topic for a considerable time. Academic Patrick Jory states: “republicanism is deeply ingrained in Thailand’s political tradition. In fact, Thailand has one of the oldest republican traditions in Asia.” Republicanism was around under the now dead king as well. In the late 1980s Gen Chavalit Yongchaiyudh was disliked in the palace and was believed to be a republican for his statements about Thailand’s need of a “revolutionary council” (sapha patiwat) in 1987.

For PPT, republicanism has been regularly mentioned in our posts from almost the time we began in early 2009. Often this was in the context of royalists and military-backed regimes accusing Thaksin Shinawatra of republicanism. This was a theme during the Abhisit Vejjajiva regime, with Suthep Thaugsuban often banging this drum. Back in February 2009, it was said that “Bangkok swirls with rumours of republican plots.” There was the Finland Plot and, later, the Dubai Plot.

One statement of plotting and republicanism came from royalist scholar and ideologue, the now deceased Chai-Anan Samudavanija. Presciently, he worried in 2009 that if the republicans expanded, the monarchists have little in their arsenal [army, tanks, guns, prisons, judiciary, lese majeste??] with which to counter-attack. He considered the monarchists’ arguments as only holding sway with the older generation, while the under 30s seem uninterested in nation and monarchy. He seemed to think the regime was a house of cards.

There was considerable debate about republicanism in Thailand in 2009. Nor should we forget that, in 2010, there was a spurt in republican feeling, a point obliquely made by Pravit back then. Republicans have cycled through PPT posts: Ji Ungpakorn and Rose Amornpat are examples. And no one can forget the idea of the Republic of Lanna.

Perhaps ideologues like Veera Prateepchaikul, a former Editor of the Bangkok Post, could recall some of this long and important debate and conflict. No doubt that his “it can never happen” was also a refrain heard around Prajadhipok’s palace (or maybe they were a little smarter) and in Tsarist Russia.

Meanwhile, at the Thai Enquirer (and across social media) there’s a collective pile-on to point out how silly/dangerous/childish/unsophisticated the the pro-democracy Free Youth were to come up with a new logo that uses a stylized R (sickle) and T (hammer) for Restart Thailand. Many of the armchair commentators, including local and foreign academics, suddenly become experts on protest strategy and many of them seem very agitated.

Fortunately, Prachatai has the equivalent of a calming medicine, showing how the young protesters have played with symbols, redefining, re-engineering and using irony and parody. We recall, too, that red shirts and other opponents of the military-monarchy regime are regularly accused of being communists – think of 1976 and that the current opposition, attacked as communists in 2019.

Put this together with threats and intimidation: lese majeste, intimidation, lese majeste, gross sexual assault and intimidation, lese majeste, and royalist intimidation and maybe, just maybe, you get a better picture of what’s going on.





Updated: Yet another anti-monarchy “plot”

3 10 2017

Thailand’s recent politics has been awash with rightist and royalist claims of “plots” against the monarchy. The military dictatorship claims to have “discovered” another such “plot.” This time the plot is claimed to be a plan to disrupt the funeral for the dead king.

PPT can only express disdain for this political ploy and we can only wonder if anyone still believes such nonsense. As much as we’d like to see an an anti-monarchy plot in Thailand, we haven’t seen any evidence that there is one in the works now.

One of the first “plots” was the entirely concocted “Finland Plot.” The claim peddled by many associated with the People’s Alliance for Democracy and fabricated by notorious royalist ideologue Chai-anan Samudavanija and others. It claimed that Thaksin Shinawatra and former left-wing student leaders had met in Finland and come up with a plan to overthrow the monarchy and establish a communist state. These inventions were published in the Sondhi Limthongkul-owned newspapers and repeated many times by PAD.

As bizarre as this nonsense was, Wikipedia notes that the allegations had an “impact on the popularity of Thaksin and his government, despite the fact that no evidence was ever produced to verify the existence of a plot. Thaksin and his Thai Rak Thai party vehemently denied the accusations and sued the accusers. The leaders of the 2006 military coup claimed Thaksin’s alleged disloyalty as one of their rationales for seizing power.”

Back in 2015, even the politicized courts held that ultra-royalist Pramote Nakornthap had defamed Thaksin with these concoctions. Not surprisingly, many ultra-royalists continue to believe this nonsense.

The anti-monarchy plot diagram

Equally notorious was the anti-monarchy “plot,” replete with a diagram, that the Abhisit Vejjajiva government concocted when faced with a red shirt challenge in April 2010.

The government’s Centre for the Resolution to Emergency Situations claimed to have uncovered a plot to overthrow the monarchy and said “intelligence” confirmed the “plot.” Indeed, the bitter Thawil Pliensri, the former secretary-general of the National Security Council “confirmed” the “plot.” The map included key leaders of the United Front for Democracy against Dictatorship, members of the Puea Thai Party and former banned politicians, academics and hosts of community radio programs. Then Prime Minister Abhisit welcomed the uncovering of the “plot.”

CRES spokesman and then Colonel Sansern Kaewkamnerd, who just happens to be the current dictatorship’s chief propagandist, repeatedly declared this plot a red shirt effort to bring down the monarchy.

We could go on, but let’s look at the current “plot,” which not coincidentally comes from the same military leaders who were in place in when the above “mapping” of a republican plot was invented. It is the same coterie of coup plotters (and that was a real plot) that repeatedly accused Ko Tee or Wuthipong Kachathamakul of various anti-monarchy plots and he was “disappeared” from Laos, presumably by the junta’s henchmen-murderers.

In the new “plot,” Deputy Dictator General Wongsuwan has declared:

Anti-monarchy cells are conspiring to disrupt the funeral of His Majesty the Late King this month, deputy junta chairman Prawit Wongsuwan said Monday.

Gen. Prawit described the alleged agitators as those who “have ill intentions toward the monarchy.” Although he gave no details, he said full-scale security measures would be implemented throughout the rites to place over several days culminating with the Oct. 26 cremation.

Prawit added that “[a]uthorities have learned of threats inside and outside the country, especially from those who oppose and have negative thoughts about ‘the [royal] institution’…”. He put “security forces” on “full alert.”

Careful readers will have noticed that the first mention of this “plot” came from The Dictator General Prayuth Chan-ocha almost two weeks ago.

Army chief General Chalermchai Sitthisart “refused to elaborate in detail on the supposed threat in the latest intelligence report” but still declared that “[t]hose involved were among the ‘regular faces’ abroad wanted on lese majeste charges, but who still incite negative feelings towards the monarchy among supporters through social media.”

The fingerprints on this concoction are those who have regularly invented plots for political purposes. That’s the military. They read all kinds of social media and put 1 and 1 together and come up with anti-monarchy plot.

We tend to agree with Pavin Chachavalpongpun, who is reported as saying:

The cremation provides an opportunity for the security forces to strengthen their position politically using critics of the monarchy as an excuse to increase the state’s heavy handed policy to control society more tightly…. Critics of the monarchy hardly pose a threat considering how much they have been suppressed since the coup….

The cremation and the coronation that will follow are critical political events for the military dictatorship. They want to be seen to be ensuring that everything runs smoothly for both events as the junta moves to stay in power, “election” or “no election.”  Finding a “plot” can make them look even more like the “protectors” of the monarchy.

Update: We don’t know why, but Khaosod’s most recent report on this “plot” seems to be supportive of the the junta’s claims. The claims this report makes amount to little more than reporting chatter. Similar chatter has been around for some time, encouraging individual acts that do not amount to anything like rebellion or disruption.

Some of the material that has been circulated may well derive from the state’s intelligence operatives seeking to disrupt and identify red shirts.  The thing about concocting a plot as a way to discredit your opponents is that there has to be elements in it that seem, at least on a initial view, feasible and believable. That was the point of the diagram produced above, naming persons known to be anti-monarchy. Putting them in a plot is something quite different.





Updated: An update on the RR case and its “reporting”

10 03 2017

A couple of days ago we posted on the floundering Rolls Royce corruption investigation. We noted that the National Anti-Corruption Commission (NACC) was thinking that a subcommittee to investigate allegations of bribery was the way to go. Committees in Thailand usually mean that someone wants an investigation buried.

But, behold! In The Nation yesterday we read that a subcommittee had been formed and that it did something. The headline was: “Thaksin’s ex-ministers to be questioned over Rolls-Royce bribery scandal.” And there was a photo concocted by The Nation.

We read on as the “journalists” and “editors” came up with this:

The anti-graft agency will interrogate former transport minister Suriya Jungrungreangkit and his ex-deputy Vichet Kasemthongsri as part of its ongoing investigation into the Rolls-Royce bribery scandal.

Sansern Poljieak, secretary-general of the National Anti-Corruption Commission (NACC), said on Thursday that its nine commissioners have set up a subcommittee to probe individuals involved in the purchase of seven Rolls-Royce engines for Thai Airways International aircraft between 2004 and 2005.

Hold on, just those two years? Didn’t the allegations go back to the very early 1990s?

Well, yes, and The Nation unhelpfully states:

A total of 26 people were found to be involved with the purchase, including Suriya, Vichet, 15 board members of Thai Airways at the time, and nine members of the national airline’s long-term investment subcommittee….

But who? Not a word. What we are told is that the “NACC had found that Rolls-Royce was unfairly favoured in the bidding for THAI’s aircraft engines between 2004 and 2005.”

Again, just those two years? What is going on?

We guess a couple of things. First, if something must be done about this corruption, make sure that it is mainly about political enemies. Second, The Nation has been vigorously anti-Thaksin for many years, and this is just one way of using the (military) boot to further that. Two of 26 are singled out and named.

It may not be “false news,” but it is remarkably unprofessional.

When we turned to a story in the Bangkok Post, we learned more. The NACC did provide names and The Nation just decided to be politicized in its reporting.

The Post is a little more professional in its reporting, indicating that the 26 names are simply lists of all the “names of ministers, all board directors and all members of the long-term investment subcommittee of THAI at the time.” It is a shopping list and not a list of those investigated. One of those listed is already deceased!

The others listed by the NACC are:

…15 are former THAI directors led by Thanong Bidaya, former chairman; Srisook Chandrangsu, vice-chairman (deceased); and Somchainuek Engtrakul, vice-chairman.

The remaining board directors are ACM Kongsak Wanthana, Chai-Anan Samudavanija, Thirachai Vutthitham, Thatchai Sumit, Borwornsak Uwanno, Chartsiri Sophonpanich, Vichit Suraphongchai, Viroj Nualkhair, Pol Gen Sant Sarutanon, Prof Dr Suchai Charoen Rattanakul, Olarn Chaipravat and Kanok Abhiradee.

The others are former members of THAI’s subcommittee on long-term investments led by Mr Thanong as adviser, Srisook as chairman (deceased) and Mr Kanok as vice-chairman.

The other former members of the subcommittee are Kobchai Sriwilas, Tassani Suthas Na Ayutthaya, Suthep Suebsantiwong, Kaweephan Ruangpaka, Fg Off Veerachai Sripa, Wg Cdr Supachai Limpisawat, Fg Off Chinavut Naratesenee, Charnchai Singtoroj and Sangngern Pornpaibulsathit.

There’s some interesting names there, including a scion of one of Bangkok’s wealthiest families (Chartsri of the Bangkok Bank), yellow-shirt ideologue Chai-Anan, multiple charter drafter and dedicated royalist Bowornsak, and several others of the “great” and the “good.”

Now why didn’t The Nation think to mention them or include them in a Photoshopped photo?

But there’s more. The Post also reports:

Notably, the list is limited to those linked to the purchases of Rolls-Royce engines and spare engines during 2004-05. They do not include those involved in the two rounds of purchases made earlier in 1991-92 and 1992-97 identified by the UK Serious Fraud Office (SFO) report on the Rolls-Royce case.

The Nation seemed to miss that point. The question is why is that the NACC seems uninterested in the others? We don’t think one needs to have the intellect of Einstein to hazard a guess.

Update: So maybe The Nation wasn’t so unprofessional…. We maybe owe them an apology, for a Khaosod story throws a third spin on the reporting. That report states:

Of the 31 ministerial officials who served during the years Rolls-Royce said it paid bribes to Thai officials, only two were implicated Friday following seven weeks of investigation by the national anti-graft agency.

And the two were, it says, the two former Thaksin era ministers.

The report states: “The graft agency said there’s not enough evidence linking the other 29 high-ranking officials to the graft, which spanned 13 years.”

That would be remarkable! As the report states: “Those two [the ministers implicated], as it turned out, served under former Prime Minister Thaksin Shinawatra, the leader of a political dynasty the current military government has sought to dismantle.” Yep, remarkable!

But then the report backtracks and says more evidence is being sought on the others named (in the Bangkok Post report above).

And, by the way, the NACC claims to still have nothing from Britain’s SFO, so the “implications” seem drawn without the necessary evidence.

At this point it can’t be just PPT that is getting confused, but maybe that’s the point of the manner the NACC conducts its (political) work.





Anti-democrat promotes “reform”

15 10 2014

What do you get when anti-democrats shout about reform? Pretty much what would be expected. You get all kinds of proposals that limit democracy and deliver power to unelected elites.

At Khaosod it is reported that the verbose and arrogant royalist ideologue Chai-Anan Samudavanija has blabbed about the anti-democrat desires on “reform.” We concentrate on that report. Bangkok Pundit has also blogged on these comments as reported in The Nation.

Chai-Anan wants just 77 MPs. In the parliament that the illegal military junta threw out, there were 500.

Chai-Anan’s thinking, if that is what it is called, is “to limit the influence of political parties.” He claims: “If there are many MPs, there’s more chance of corruption…”.

Given that there would only be one MP for each province, with vast disparities in the “representation” this would provide, Chai-Anan’s claim that there would be more local oversight of the MP election process seems bizarre. The idea that it would “decrease the influence of political parties” is closer to the mark.

Harking back to the era of Prem Tinsulanonda’s unelected premiership, which Chai-Anan helped bring to an end, he suggested that parliament should not have the “power to elect a Prime Minister,” claiming that this would reduce “conflict of interests.” He didn’t specify “who would have the authority to name a Prime Minister,” but Chai-Anan’s preference would be for the great and good – a.k.a. the network monarchy – to select a “moral” person.

He says that “correct democratic governance needs to have quality people…. Therefore, the solution is to create quality people who are not easily fooled, who value rights more than money, who do not easily believe in rumours or blindly follow their leaders.”

Kahosod rightly points out:

Chai-anad is considered a prominent thinker in Thailand’s Yellowshirt faction, which consists mostly of urban conservatives who view rural pro-Thaksin voters as “uneducated” country folk whose votes have been purchased by politicians.

As has been the case for decades royalists like Chai-Anan, who once touted themselves as “liberals,” are now promoting ideas that are in line with 1950s conceptions of “Thai-style democracy.”

To understand the position of Chai-Anan in the development of ideas about “Thai governance,” some academics have produced accounts worth considering. On the failures of this “liberalism,” Michael Connors is useful. Also see his article in Journal of Contemporary Asia, available for free download. On Thai-style democracy and its genesis in royalist and military dictatorship, click this link for a PDF of a chapter by Kevin Hewison and Kengkij Kitirianglarp.

PPT reckons that Thai-style democracy is the model for an anti-liberal, anti-democratic politics that the military dictatorship wants its puppet National Reform Council to adopt.





Dictating to the puppets

12 10 2014

The Nation reports that The Dictator has no shame. Well, that’s our interpretation of the story that General Prayuth Chan-ocha has “told the National Reform Council (NRC) to use the proposals of the Defence Ministry as guidelines for national reforms.”

Prayuth appears to have no shame in telling his hand-picked NRC that there only role is to approve the military’s dictates. Even PPT would have thought that The Dictator would have been just a little subtle in allowing his puppets a little more string.Puppets and clowns

The Dictator announced to the whole nation – at least those who bothered to watch his weekly rant on national television – that “the Office of the Permanent Secretary for Defence had already gathered information and public opinions on 11 issues for reforms and sent them to the NRC.”

While The Dictator “allows” the NRC members to make some decisions, these are to be limited to deciding “which points they want to add or change…”. The Dictator says that the junta provided all the issues and questions, and the puppets just come up with the answers, no doubt with further “advice” from the bosses.





Rewarding the anti-democrats II

9 10 2014

Yesterday we posted on the rewards dished out to anti-democrats by placing them in the military dictatorship’s puppet National Reform Council.

A report at The Nation stresses just how much rewarding has gone on. Two of the major ideologues of anti-democratic movements from the People’s Alliance for Democracy to the Democrat Party-led anti-democrats of 2014, have been Chai-Anan Samudavanija and Chirmsak Pinthong.

Chai-AnanChai-Anan, who has long been funded by Sondhi Limthongkul, considered a palace insider and a staunch monarchist, is reportedly “among the leading candidates for the NRC presidency.” Back in May, Chai-Anan was amongst a group of elite conspirators who wanted the king’s intervention to “solve” the political crisis in their interests. They ran to aged General and Privy Council President Prem Tinsulanonda to seek his intervention with the aged monarch. This was another manifestation of the old man country. You get a flavor for their perspective from earlier, very popular posts at PPT: Dangerous old men or just silly old men? and A country for old men? (also available as ประเทศนี้สำหรับคนรุ่นเก่าหรือไง).

Back in 2009, PPT commented on Chai-Anan:

Chai-Anan Samudavanija, formerly a political scientist at Chulalongkorn University, is a long-time ally of Sondhi Limthongkul. He was also a supporter of Thaksin Shinawatra for a considerable time, and seemed to stay longer than Sondhi. Chai-Anan jumped ship when the People’s Alliance for Democracy was in Sondhi’s hands. Chai-Anan is also close to the palace, as director of Vajiravudh College and a member of the Royal Institute.

Chai-Anan has been a regular commentator at ASTV and his columns have been rather incendiary whenever the political temperature has risen over the last couple of years.

In another post, we pointed out that Chai-Anan was one of those who promoted the infamous PAD propaganda claim of a “Finland Plot” that linked Thaksin Shinawatra to a republican plot involving former communist activists. This pre-2006 coup device was meant to further establish the palace-Thaksin battle lines. As chairman of his own Institute of Public Policy Studies, long funded by PAD leader Sonthi, Chai-Anan has engaged in some some dubious name-calling and attacked representative politics. He has stated that electoral politics need to be re-considered and has been a supporter of the “Thai-style democracy” notions of non-democratic legitimacy.

ChirmsakChirmsak, a former senator once collected some valid criticisms of Thaksin Shinawatra in government but was soon captivated by the People’s Alliance for Democracy and dominated by a deep personal hatred of Thaksin. Back in 2010, he was howling about “civil war” and suggesting that Thaksin supporters are either paid by the tycoon or are traitors to the royal Thai state. As for those who were duped into voting for pro-Thaksin parties or into becoming red shirts, Chirmsak couples “the poor” with the “ignorant.” Like other right-wing intellectuals, Chirmsak remains so resolutely dismissive of many millions of his fellow citizens. Hence, he dismisses elections by talking of “a political party owned by an individual …[where the] party founders had no ideology and relied on their financiers to sustain the party.”  For Chirmsak – and he is absolutely logical and consistent in this –  the solution is appointed “independent MPs.”

In 2012, Chirmsak supported the ultra-royalist Siam Samakkhi group. At one of its rallies, he joined with a range of royalists including Tul Sitthisomwong and Kaewsan Atibhodhi when they cheered two thugs who had beaten up Nitirat’s Worachet Pakeerut. Worachet had once written in books edited by Chirmsak, criticizing Thaksin, but that counted for nothing when Chirmsak went after him as a political turncoat.

These are the political types who will chart “reform” for Thailand.





Prayuth, Prem and fascists

10 05 2014

While Army chief Prayuth Chan-ocha continues to rule out a military coup, saying they “would not end the current political problems…”, he added that “soldiers would always be the people’s last resort.” PPT thinks this means: let the judicial coup work to its end, and the military will only intervene if the red shirts mass and it gets violent.

Meanwhile, Privy Council boss and political meddler par excellence General Prem Tinsulanonda has had one of his minions state that he is “not involved in the current political standoff in any way…”. Nobody believes him. That Prem returned to Bangkok on Friday in time for the anti-democrat rally and after Yingluck had been given the double whammy by Prem’s royalist courts is a statement of intent, if circumstantial evidence of the old dog’s continuing involvement in the political shenanigans.

Privy Council President General Prem Tinsulanonda

Privy Council President General Prem Tinsulanonda

More incriminating is the role of the geriatric royalists who went to Prem with ideas for royal intervention just a couple of weeks ago. Back in 2006, it was Prem who had to go out and convince the military to get rid of Thaksin Shinawatra. He can’t do that this time as he cost the monarchy dearly last time – so much so that the monarchy is now routinely seen as politicized.

In Prem’s stead, this time it is the geriatrics who are trying to convince the military to intervene. While the report states that “was cool to its appeal,” the actions of these closely connected royalists, all of whom have been close to the palace and Prem, suggest otherwise.

Led by a former military officer who has been close to Prem since at least the 1960s the old men’s group is to “push its agenda of seeking His Majesty the King’s discretion in ending the political crisis through armed forces commanders…”.

General Saiyud Kerdphol said his group “would ask commanders of the armed forces to seek the royal discretion.” The “royal discretion” bit means intervening and appointing an unelected government of royalists and fascists.

The Post identifies the conspirators as including “former air force chief ACM Gun Pimarnthip, ex-army chief Gen Wimol Wongwanich, former naval commander Adm Vichet Karunyavanij, ex-naval chief of staff Gen Suravudh Maharom, lawyer Amorn Chantarasomboon, political science scholars Pramote Nakhonthap and Chai-Anan Samudavanija, and former foreign affairs minister Surapong Jayanama.” All are coup plotters and/or royalist/fascist ideologues.

They say “the current crisis needs to be solved by the intervention of the army and … the King.” They seem rather less patient than Prayuth.





Old men united

3 02 2014

This video is all over social media. Unfortunately, PPT doesn’t have the time (or even inclination) to translate the meandering machinations of a bunch of silly old men who think Thailand is theirs.

You get a flavor for their perspective from earlier, very popular posts at PPT:

Dangerous old men or just silly old men?

A country for old men? Also available as ประเทศนี้สำหรับคนรุ่นเก่าหรือไง.

What is it about these silly old men that makes them think they are able make the best decisions for the country. Some of them are suffering the problems of old age, such as memory loss, but this doesn’t seem to bother them in deciding that they know what is best for the country. Military men and anti-democratic propagandists, they seem to want to return to a period way back in the 20th century.

Siam Intelligence blog lists those involved. Some of the names that stuck out for PPT were: old Cold War warrior General Saiyud Kerdphol (he’s 92 and acts it, if the video there is anything to go by as the reporter finishes his sentences for him), yellow-shirted ideologue Chai-Anan Samudavanija, 84 year-old royalist Amorn Chantarasomboon, a former secretary-general of the Council of State, ultra-royalist propagandist Pramote Nakhonthap, who is meant to be in jail as a 2008 airport occupier, former junta-appointed government secretary of the PM’s Office Suraphong Chainam, former Army boss General Wimol Wongwanich, Air Force General Kan Pimarnthip, and a bunch of other aged air force and navy brass

Some of this lot were also mentioned recently as “negotiators” for the palace in ousting the “Thaksin regime.” Many of them first became activist – if that is the right word for these geriatrics – this time around when the so-called “anti-government People’s Army” mentioned “the names of 30 high-ranking officials, including military men, who back the group in its campaign to bring down the Thaksin [Shinawatra] regime.” The names listed then were:

The group, led by Admiral Chai Suwannaphap, Thaikorn Polsuwan and General Preecha Iamsupan, held a press conference announcing the names of supporters. These include former Army chief General Wimol Wongwanit, former supreme commander General Saiyud Kerdphol, former Air Force chief ACM Kan Pimanthip, and Admiral Bannawit Kengrian. Prasong Soonsiri, former chief of the National Security Council, would act as adviser.

We are unsure who the woman in the photo is, although a reader suggests it is one of Chai-Anan’s collaborators.

This geriatric lot might have been Thailand’s future in 1973, when they were younger and were the elite’s ideas men. Now they are just old men with nothing to make but political mischief in support of the elite of the past.





Updated: Same old yellow-shirted “academics”

30 01 2014

More on the tired and those who pose as “academics” but who are simplistic ideologues for royalist, yellow-shirted causes at the Bangkok Post where they have formed yet another group with a name that fools nobody:

A group of 194 academics, former cabinet ministers, community leaders, business figures, civil servants, members of the media and writers and artists have set up a network to push for reform through peaceful means.

Prominent academic [sic.] Thirayuth Boonmi yesterday announced the formation of the Network of Servants for Reform through Peaceful Means.

We know that Thirayudh thinks that the only problem for Thailand is Thaksin Shinawatra. It is that simple for him. He has long lived on his reputation as an “activist”, 40 years ago, and publishes books that are usually a bunch of pretty incoherent “thoughts.”

Other “members” of the so-called “network” are reported to include “former Bank of Thailand governor and former finance minister MR [joined at the hip to the junta] Pridiyathorn Devakula, former Siam Commercial Bank president Khunying Jada Wattanasiritham, archaeologist Srisak Vanliphodom and former public health minister Mongkol Na Songkhla.” Pridiyathorn and Srisak are long-standing anti-Thaksin activists. Jada headed the king’s bank.

Others are of the same ilk: Rapee Sakrik, rabid yellow-shirt ideologue Chai-Anan Samudavanija, “media guru” Somkiat Onwimon, and a bunch of singers and artists, all with long yellow-shirt connections.

Thirayuth, comes up with the obvious:

Thailand has been plagued with corruption, political crises, social disparity and injustice…. The education system is inefficient and media organisations use freedom of expression irresponsibly, which has contributed to social divisions….

Well, perhaps the latter isn’t the obvious, but suggests a chilling willingness for control and re-education. This lot have long had opportunities to address such issues, but they hardly seemed to worry about them until the “Thaksin revolution” which attempted to drag Thailand into the modern world.

Thirayuth says: “Unlimited greed and arbitrary power have led the country into an absolute catastrophe…”. He adds: “The last thing which has already started to collapse is morality and ethics as killings and violence now take place on the streets but many people appear to be indifferent, which is very worrying…”.

As Thongchai Winichakul long ago pointed out, these people promote a royalist notion of morality that damns all politicians as the fount of all of these problems. Not the conservative elite or the military or the police and Ministry of Interior. Not the feudal ideology the imbues most institutions. Not the monarchy and its anti-democratic ideology and not rapacious Sino-Thai capitalists, including those at the palace.

When “[a]cademic” and junta constitution boss Meechai Ruchupan said “he threw his support behind the move,” you know that this group is fake. No wonder there is no mention of elections. The slogan should be: Reform now! Change the rules to our rule! Maybe have an election!

The “Thaksin revolution” really did shake up the elite.

Update: Actually, we were wrong in our comment on Meechai. He has  been reported as encouraging people to vote. Why? He wants the anti-democrats to vote no. He explains that voters should:

… show their disapproval of the government rather than refusing to go to the polls….

He said social media campaigns have been launched suggesting that if the voter turnout is less than 50%, Sunday’s election will become null and void.

Mr Meechai said this is a misunderstanding because even if the turnout is only 10%, the poll is still legally valid.

Whether the election is made invalid does not depend on the number of voters. but on whether or not it can be held nationwide on a fixed day, he explained.

The caretaker government and the Election Commission (EC) must know this but it appears they have still not discussed the matter seriously. If the poll cannot take place nationwide on Sunday, the government and the EC must take responsibility and they could both risk having criminal and civil suits being levelled against them, Mr Meechai said.

If there are many no-shows at the poll, the outcome of the election could be interpreted in a way that suggests that 100% or nearly 100% of voters support the government, Mr Meechai said.

But those who disagree with the government could tick the “vote no” box to show their disapproval.

You get the picture.





Promoting PADist propaganda

20 11 2013

The Faculty of Political Science at Chulalongkorn University is home to some of Thailand’s most outspoken yellow-shirted academics. As a result, it is not surprising that it would host one of its former “stars” and People’s Alliance for Democracy ideologue Chai-anan Samudavanija who wrapped himself in academic credentials to unleash yet another political attck on the representative parliamentary system.

Back in 2009, PPT commented on Chai-Anan:Chai-Anan

Chai-Anan Samudavanija, formerly a political scientist at Chulalongkorn University, is a long-time ally of Sondhi Limthongkul. He was also a supporter of Thaksin Shinawatra for a considerable time, and seemed to stay longer than Sondhi. Chai-Anan jumped ship when the People’s Alliance for Democracy was in Sondhi’s hands. Chai-Anan is also close to the palace, as director of Vajiravudh College and a member of the Royal Institute.

Chai-Anan has been a regular commentator at ASTV and his columns have been rather incendiary whenever the political temperature has risen over the last couple of years.

In another post, we pointed out that Chai-Anan was one of those who promoted the infamous PAD propaganda claim of a “Finland Plot” that linked Thaksin Shinawatra to a republican plot involving former communist activists. This pre-2006 coup device was meant to further establish the palace-Thaksin battle lines.

The Nation reports that Chai-anan is again allocated the job of propagandizing for palace, Sondhi and PAD against Thaksin, a task he relishes. As chairman of his own Institute of Public Policy Studies, long funded by PAD leader Sonthi Limthongkul, Chai-Anan has engaged in some some dubious name-calling and attacked representative politics in a manner that should again shame the Faculty of Political Science at Chulalongkorn University.

He blamed Prime Minister Yingluck Shinawatra for”the resumption of political turbulence” due to a claimed “lack of leadership,” saying “The prevailing political crisis has occurred because the country has a leader with low intellect who is a puppet of another…”.

Apart from repeating the base and misogynist charges made by Abhisit Vejjajiva not that long ago – we imagine that Abhisit gets his ideas from propagandists like Chai-Anan – the royalist repeats PAD’s disdain for electoral and representative politics:

Past protests erupted to oppose military dictatorship, he said, adding that this time around protests persist despite the existence of democratic rule and an elected government…. He called for a rethink of the political system, arguing that elections do not guarantee a government’s legitimacy, due to rampant vote buying…. “The elected government’s credibility is at its lowest ebb; protesters carry on their activities despite the [government’s] pledge to abandon the push for amnesty,” Chai-anan said.

There are a number of points that could be made about this remarkably trite and biased set of assertions. We make just two.

First, to link “democratic rule” and demonstrations is a clanger of high schoolboy proportions. Collective action worldwide is associated with all regime types, with the possible exception of the most iron-fisted, and the capacity to demonstrate against an elected government has even been touted by PAD as a measure of “democracy” in Thailand. In other words, the causality suggested by Chai-Anan between protests and elected government is absent.

Second, allegations of vote buying are a long-held PAD belief that is meant to delegitimize the electoral process. In the 2011 election, PPT has no doubt that the Puea Thai Party would have won the election without spending more than a few baht. Vote-buying in 2011 (and with the junta’s 2007 constitution referendum) was mostly associated with parties supported by Chai-Anan’s friends in the military who clearly wanted the Democrat Party and its allied parties in parliament. Perhaps that vote-buying undermines the legitimacy of elections, but Thai voters have shown a remarkable determination to have their voice heard in recent years, and most especially since the coup.

Of course, Chai-Anan, as a card-carrying member of the royalist elite, could not let his propaganda moment pass without joining the “bloods” in their harping on the monarchy and the destruction of the world as they believe they know it. He asserted:

… that amid the crisis, the fabric of society was being torn asunder by an unprecedented movement to attack the monarchy…. The country is facing a precarious dilemma, he said, as loyalty to the King, once seen as the nation’s unifying force, is being undermined while the government leader is being propped up as a puppet, he said.

This is a yet another rehearsal of the Finland Plot claims: Thaksin is destroying the king and the monarchy. Chai-Anan and other royalists are keen to re-make this claim again and again as they believe that the monarchy’s propaganda provides a basis for the rejection of electoral politics and is their foundation for political struggle.