Updated: Running to the king

12 11 2013

It had to happen. The Bangkok Post reports that the yellow-shirted Anti-Thaksin Coalition has “submitted a petition to the palace asking His Majesty the King to allow a ‘people’s council’ to run the country’s administration in the place of the present government.”

PPT mentioned this people’s council tactic two days ago, pointing out that this is something like an assembly appointed by notables selected or ratified by the king, or maybe the military following a coup, that would act without election or through some fake process of acclamation. In other words, representative democratic forms of government will be jettisoned. The justification will be much like that of the coup masters in 2006: we will press the reset button and get a “real” democratic system in place….old-farts-and-jackasses

Of course, their “democracy” comes without electoral representation.

The anti-democratic activists are the usual cast of old farts and mad royalists: retired Admiral and former assistant to Privy Council President Prem Tinsulanonda, Chai Suwannaphap;  The ultra-nationalist and PAD supporter and former General, Preecha Iamsuphan, who has been urging illegal actions against Cambodia; the ever-grinning political manipulator, Dhamma Army boss, PAD leader and former Major-General, Chamlong Srimuang, who led the airport occupations in 2008; PAD’s Somkiat Pongpaibul, who was once a Democrat Party MP, who was always pushing the party to be more activist and bright yellow; and PAD’s Samdin Lertbutr.

This tactic of running to the king is highly reminiscent of the call to use Article 7 in 2005, asking the king to dump the elected government. The call for a “national government” or a “people’s council” suggests that this lot thinks the palace is likely to be supportive of its actions.

Update: Naturally, when running to the king for support, the yellow shirts also expect the judiciary to do their part. While we missed this report at Khaosod, a regular reader picked it up:

11.00: The court has allowed Mr. Chaiwat Sinthuwong, a leader of the Yellowshirts, to join the anti-government rally and give speeches on the stage, as long as the speeches do not “encourage chaos in the nation”.  Mr. Chaiwat is facing a legal action for his role in leading the occupation of Survanabhumi Airport in 2008 as an attempt to oust the Thaksin-allied government at the time. The court has previously allowed him a bail release on the ground that he must not join any political activity.  Mr. Chaiwat said he would later give speeches at the rally in Ratchadamnoen Avenue today.

Recall that in the judiciary of double standards, red shirt leaders have been sent to jail for political activism.

The same report notes that the Army is also being drawn in:

15.00: A representative of Student and People Network For Political Reform of Thailand has submitted a letter to Gen. Prayuth Chan-ocha, commander-in-chief of the Royal Thai Army, calling on the army to investigate a rumour that the government has secretly brought in foreign armed militants to sow chaos against the anti-government protesters.

Such reports and claims open the way for any violence to be attributed to the government.

The patterns here are just all too clear and remarkably depressing Thailand’s anti-democratic Groundhog Day.





Busy day in Bangkok I

8 08 2013

It has been a busy few days in Bangkok, with more stories than PPT can possibly comment on, so we are going to combine several of them in a couple of posts. We begin with monarchy stories.

First, the Bangkok Post reports that the queen is “recovering from shoulder pain and soreness in her left wrist.” That used to be called “poker wrist.”

Second, and more serious, Thida Tawornsate Tojirakarn, the leader of the United Front of Democracy Against Dictatorship (UDD) has filed “lawsuits against group of anti-government activists who accused her of planning to overthrow the monarchy and install a Communist regime.”

Thida has “filed a formal complaint against the group calling itself ′People′s Army Overthrowing Thaksin Regime′…”. As Khaosod explains, this Dad’s Army, is “the latest resurrection of the anti-Thaksin faction,” and it has claimed Thida is anti-monarchy, which is considered a crime in Thailand and results in longer sentences than many meted out to murderers. Apparently, Thida’s complaint is against the aged leadership of the royalist ninnies:

The lawsuit names core leaders of the People′s Army as defendants. They are Mr. Thaikorn Polsuwan, the webmaster of the People’s Army website, Adm. Chai Suwannaphap, Gen. Chukiat Tansuwatna, Gen. Preecha Iaemsuphan, Am.Watchara Rittakhanee, Adm. Banwitya Kengrean, and Mr. Phichet Pattanachote.

Third, the Bangkok Post had egg all over its front page yesterday. Or does it? We’ll get to this, but the build-up to the egging is worth mentioning.

A couple of days ago, on its front page, the Bangkok Post reported at some length that former prime minister Anand Panyarachun has turned his back on Yingluck Shinawatra’s proposed political reform assembly, “saying he will not allow himself to be used as a political pawn.” It adds that “Mr Anand’s remarks yesterday came as Deputy Prime Minister Phongthep Thepkanchana and PM’s Office Minister Varathep Rattanakorn began visiting senior political figures, asking them to embrace the prime minister’s initiative.” Anand is then cited:

Mr Anand said yesterday he had not been approached by the government to join the proposed council, but stressed he would not take part in it to avoid being used as a pawn by any party.

He also questioned the motives of those who floated the names of people they wanted to take part in the assembly.

“[This tactic] would make it seem to the public that the government is trying to foster national reconciliation but the others just won’t cooperate,” he said.

These are direct quotes and reporting of statements. PPT had no reason to doubt the report. After all, the royalist Anand has long opposed Thaksin and pro-Thaksin governments, as our many Wikileaks posts attest. In addition, we would have posted on the story and asked why Anand is prepared to be a pawn of palace and military (as when he served twice as unelected prime minister) but not now? Once a pawn always a pawn? But maybe just on the royalist side?

But in yesterday’s Bangkok Post there is this:

Yesterday’s edition of the Bangkok Post carried a front-page article with the headline “Anand spurns advisory council”.

The Bangkok Post would like to clarify that both the headline and statements attributed to former prime minister Anand Panyarachun in the article are erroneous and totally groundless.

Mr Anand confirmed that he has never spoken to any Bangkok Post reporter about the matter.

The Bangkok Post regrets the error and apologises for any inconvenience or negative repercussions caused by the article upon Mr Anand and the government.

So the story is that the Bangkok Post either made up the whole story (unlikely) or that the comments were made “off the record” by the patrician Anand (more likely) or that Anand thought again about his outburst and asked the Post to protect him (also likely). We think the Post took egg for Anand.

Finally, at The Nation it is reported that Army boss General Prayuth Chan-ocha has “defended the monarchy against what he called unfair criticism, and lambasted rumour-mongers calling for a coup to end the ongoing political instability.” This refers to some reporting that linked the flight of the king and queen to Hua Hin to preparations for either a coup of political violence. Prayuth said:

He said Their Majesties’ current stay outside Bangkok did not signify anything about a looming political confrontation, and that comment and speculation on reasons for their trip, on social media, was not fair towards the monarchy.

The general also criticised people who spread rumours of a military coup and tell others to hoard food supplies ahead of political “turmoil” that could turn violent.

Prayuth said he was personally happy with the King’s improving health and many senior foreign military officers congratulated him upon what he described as a national delight.

Military

In uniform for the monarchy and “People’s Army”

We are not sure what a “national delight” is, but probably is a treacly royalism.

Then Prayuth said: “But I don’t know what’s with some Thai people who do not like the monarch,” and he is said not to have elaborated. He was also ticked off that the “rally held by an anti-Thaksin Shinawatra movement that referred to the monarchy. He maintained that the monarchy played no part in Thai politics and stayed neutral, and beyond political conflicts, all along.” He added:

“I don’t understand what’s wrong with some people, who not only fight against compatriots but also hurt the monarchy and attack the military, or these people want the country to no longer exist, through internal conflicts, or they are not Thai people,” he said, in an emotional way.

Prayuth seems frustrated that the monarchy is now (visibly) central to political struggles. Given the military’s huge budget for promoting and protecting the monarchy, he is probably reflecting on his organization’s inability to get beyond Cold War-style “protection” and “promotion” of the declining monarchy.





Updated: Dad’s army

7 08 2013

The so-called People’s Army was discussed a few days ago at The Nation. In the report, as the “peaceful demonstration” began at Lumpini Park, with just a few thousand participants.

The significant element of the report is that the “anti-government People’s Army yesterday revealed the names of 30 high-ranking officials, including military men, who back the group in its campaign to bring down the Thaksin [Shinawatra] regime.” This is who is said to be supporting and leading it:

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.

Other supporters were said to include “high-ranking officials, from the police and military whose names could not be revealed because they were still in office.”

Sounds like Dad’s Army to PPT. Most of these persons have palace connections and have long been agitating against all pro-Thaksin governments.Dad's army

At Bangkok Post the usual claims – they were made about red shirts as well – that protesters are being paid are trotted out. We seldom put much stock in such claims although it is known that keeping a rally going is not cheap. In this case, it is easy enough to mobilize a couple of thousand aged and die-hard royalists and anti-Thaksinites. The government’s claim is that: “The money’s from businessmen who work in construction in Bangkok and nearby provinces. They have billions of baht to spend in an effort to topple the government…”.

The Democrat Party is opposed to anything from the government, so their tacit support of Dad’s Army is expected.

Democrat Party leader Abhisit Vejjajiva states: “If there’s a clash between different groups of people, I want all sides to stay within the law. The one who can end the conflict is the government…”.

Meanwhile, his former deputy Suthep Thaugsuban, “said his party will halt its parliamentary activities and join forces with anti-government protesters if a single person is killed in Sunday’s rally.” He added: “Do not threaten us. If a civilian is hurt or killed, I’ll be the one to topple the government and the prime minister [Yingluck Shinawatra] will have to pack her bags and live abroad.” No one was and there was not an incident. However, PPT wonders what Suthep and Dad’s Army has in mind, especially as Suthep seems so excited.

A clearer statement of Democrat Party involvement in the planning of the Dad’s Army rally is provided by loudmouth People’s Alliance for Democracy supporter and Democrat Party member and former foreign minister Kasit Piromya. Unaccountably, this unguided missile was interviewed by a usually respectable Australian news program, and he kept referring to protesters as “we.”

Also at The Nation, Thaksin is quoted as ridiculing the Dad’s Army rally, “saying many core leaders were people without noteworthy achievements. The Democrats were reprimanded for siding with the protesters. The opposition bloc should relax and wait for its turn to form the government, he said.” He added that: “Many leaders of anti-government campaigns were retired senior military or police brass with ‘broken hearts’ from missing out on key positions during reshuffles when they were still in the service.”Democrat lead protests

Update: Above we alluded to the Democrat Party’s support for the People’s Aged Army. It is now clear why Suthep was excited and why Kasit was talking about the PAA as if partners. The Nation reports that:

Democrat Party’s heavyweights on Wednesday are walking from Uruphong Intersection towards Parliament, accompanied by thousands of anti-government protesters. Former prime minister Chuan Leekpai were seen beside Democrat Party leader Abhisit Vejjajia.





“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.”





Return of the political zombies

21 07 2013

Just as the white mask “movement” has declined after two weeks of mainstream media frenzy has passed and as the sorry lot at Sanam Luang have split andd most have gone home, the failed Pitak Siam has re-emerged. Is this an accident or are the master manipulators amongst the old men who think they should be running the country again pulling the strings?

If the report at the Bangkok Post is accurate then any suggestion that this is a coincidence is far-fetched. Watch out for all the generals and admirals listed below.

The report states that the Pitak Siam group is now led by Admiral Chai Suwannaphap who was at earlier Pitak Siam rallies and “key figures of the Isan Kuu Chart group announced the formation of a ‘people’s army against the Thaksin regime’ and issued new demands to the government.” The report states:

Isan Kuu Chart leaders who joined a news conference at the Royal Turf Club on Saturday included Gen Preecha Iamsuphan [who once wanted to declare war on Cambodia via PAD], a former member of the yellow-shirt People’s Alliance for Democracy, Gen Chukiat Tansuwat and AM Watchara Ritthakanee [also associated with PAD].

If PPT’s hazy memory is any good, this group has connections – through people associated with it – that stretch back to the days of the Cold War and counterinsurgency and mercenary training. These men of a past era continue to haunt Thailand like grotesque political zombies.

According to the Post,

They called for action against critics of the monarchy, especially those in the camp of fugitive former prime minister Thaksin Shinawatra. As well, they demanded the resignation of Prime Minister Yingluck Shinawatra and Gen Yuthasak Sasiprapa from the defence and deputy defence portfolios respectively.

The protesters also called for stern measures to curb the rising cost of living, the end of the 350-billion-baht water management scheme and the 2-trillion-baht infrastructure investments, and the withdrawal of all reconciliation and amnesty bills aimed at bringing Thaksin home.

If their demands are not met, they promise to rally on 4 August. That may be no idle threat as these old soldiers link into the zombie- and dinosaur-controlled networks of ultra-royalists and ultra-nationalists that are able to mobilize several thousand supporters.

Zombies





Further updated: Bring on the coup, again and again and again

24 10 2012

In our last post, PPT mentioned the many times that Pitak Siam [Protecting Siam] boss and retired Army officer General Boonlert Kaewprasit had demanded and pleaded for a military coup. Sad old soldier Boonlert has repeatedly urged soldiers to protect the monarchy, save Thailand from the boffins at Nitirat with a coup, warned or talked of a military coup to prevent “disrespect” being shown to the monarchy, of another coup to protect General Prem Tinsulanonda. A military coup for Boonlert is a solution for many ills, a bit like any normal person might take a painkiller for a headache or other pain.

Hence it is no surprise at all when this old pain-ridden retiree calls again for a … yawn … coup. The old coupster “said he would have staged a coup by now if he was in a position to do so, claiming the country is being run by a ‘puppet government’.” If people were confused about what he really wanted, Boonlert explained:

I’d love to see a coup because I know this puppet government is here to rob the country. Several sectors of society can’t take it anymore. If I had the power a coup would have been staged by now….

Boonlert is a bit of a dunce, but such manipulable dolts are useful for others to use. But surely they could script him better. When he claims that the Yingluck Shinawatra government “has not only stood by as offensive criticism has been hurled against the monarchy, but it has appeared to encourage it,” he sounds as if he has lost his marbles.

Boonlert said his “organisers hope to draw about 25,000 people to fill up the Royal Turf Club stadium” when Pitak Siam rally on Sunday. Still looking for his marbles he then says “the rally has no political backing or funding…”. In another story on Boonlert, the Bangkok Post explains that the backers/supporters are all ultra-royalists: “…Tul Sitthisomwong, scholar sic.] Pramote Nakhonthap, Senator Somjet Boonthanom and activist [sic.] Adm Chai Suwannaphap.”

Adding more to the Boonlert story, the Bangkok Post decides that the silly old duffer is “widely respected…”. Yes, seriously, that is the term they use. Why? the old gun polisher “is a classmate of privy councillor and former premier Surayud Chulanont, who came to power after the Sept 19, 2006 putsch toppled Thaksin.” What a (non)surprise! Boonlert is secretary of the Royal Turf Club and General Surayud is president of the club. What a (non)surprise!

Update 1: A reader points out that the Bangkok Post should have noted that under the military junta’s 2007 Constitution, Section 68 states:

No person shall exercise the rights and liberties prescribed in the Constitution to overthrow the democratic regime of government with the King as Head of State under this Constitution or to acquire the power to rule the country by any means which is not in accordance with the modes provided in this Constitution.

Boonlert is thus proposing an unconstitutional and unlawful act, and he does so repeatedly.

Update 2: Further on The Nation’s beat up and bias, the Bangkok Post has two stories where both the premier and the UDD state the right of Pitak Siam to peacefully rally. Yingluck stated that “she was ready to listen to opinions aired at the rally…”. Deputy Prime Minister Yutthasak Sasiprapa stated that

… the rally on Oct 28 would likely be joined by a group of national development participants, who were former communist insurgents who defected to the authorities a long time ago. He said there are five groups of “national development participants” and those joining the rally belong to a group of 300-400 people who had already received assistance and compensation from the government while Gen Surayud Chulanont was prime minister.