Corrupt justices, corrupt regime

6 04 2021

Yesterday, PPT posted on a possible corruption case involving “current and former Thailand Supreme Court judges, as well as to the country’s top finance and justice officials…”.

Such a bombshell has received muffled attention and another cover-up might be expected. Even so, as the Bangkok Post reports, the Courts of Justice have felt compelled to provide a comment, although it is of the usual slippery variety, telling the taxpaying public that “they will take action against any judges found to have taken bribes linked to a tax dispute involving a Thai subsidiary of automaker Toyota.”

Well, maybe, for the claims are dismissed: “the office said claims without grounds that judges involved with bribery often happen during legal disputes.” Such claims were described as “bogus.” In other words, like Mafia dons they say “forget about it.”

Helpfully, Suriyan Hongvilai, spokesman of the Office of the Judiciary, “explains” that:

… the case in the focus involves a tax dispute worth about 10 billion baht between Toyota Motor Thailand Co (TMT) and tax authorities over the imports of parts for Prius cars.

He said the Supreme Court’s decision to review the dispute was announced on March 29 and the case is now pending hearings and has yet to be finalised.

He urged the public to investigate and not to rush to conclusions when bribery allegations against judges emerge.

“The Supreme Court has yet to hear and rule on the case. It just agreed to hear it and the granting of the request is line with laws which allow the Supreme Court to hear the case when it sees fit,” he said.

So, the Supreme Court decided to “review the dispute” and announced this on 29 March, the very day that Law 360 published the story “Toyota Probed Possible Bribes To Top Thai Judges.” That was just 10 days after the first media report of the Toyota case. How convenient.

The clarification is in response to foreign media reports.

Thailand’s Mafia dons also appear in a separate Bangkok Post report.

Palang Pracharath Party leader Gen Prawit Wongsuwan has thrown his and his party’s “support behind former national police chief [Gen] Chakthip Chaijinda for the upcoming Bangkok governor election…”. The junta appointed the sitting governor, also a former top cop, and Gen Prawit expects to be able to maintain that control.

To get the job done, Gen Prawit has reportedly assigned Mafia boss, convicted heroin trafficker, and moneybags, Deputy Agriculture and Cooperatives Minister Thammanat Prompao to arrange the election for the party.

That’s a neat idea: a former felon will assist a former top cop. Cops are used to dealing with “dark influences” in Thailand, often working in partnership for mutual wealth creation.

One of the outcomes of coup and military dictatorship has been the alliance of the twin evils of dark influences and dark power.





Propaganda personified

8 10 2020

Recently retired army chief Gen Apirat Kongsompong has a new job with the king, certainly rewarding his “loyalty.” Yet, according to the Bangkok Post, he has entered the monkhood for one month, at Wat Hong Rattanaram, classified as royal temple. It is the same temple where retired national police chief Chakthip Chaijinda was ordained last week.

The Post report is odd, saying his “ordination was a simple ceremony,” but then reporting that all the “chiefs of the defence forces and police” were there for the event and a bunch of Army “slaves” are on call to help the newly ordained Apirat. That hardly counts as “simple” – unless describing the collective mind of the chiefs – and seems to have been a media event as well.

Why? Because it was yet another piece of royalist propaganda, with “Gen Apirat [having] earlier announced he would enter the monkhood … to make merit for King Rama IX, … Queen Sirikit … and [the current] King and Queen.”

As many of Thailand’s old men have shown for a couple of decades, their post retirement propaganda activities are significant.

We doubt that Apirat is making merit for his leadership failures or for the deaths of civilians at the hands of his forces.

 





Updated: Monarchists loading up

24 06 2020

With more mainstream calls to reconsider the lese majeste law, protests against the king in Germany continuing and a rare public expression of discontent in Thailand, we guess the powers that be are worried.

We also guess that 24 June’s importance in the mind of the monarch has also set the fear level rising among the generals who run the regime and their hangers-on. They have seen illuminations and other events that are evidence of rising anti-regime sentiment or, as they will fashion it, an anti-monarchist threat rising.

In fact, the commenorations are by activists but they are of people calling for democracy and constitutional change and are not in any way revolutionary:

“Eighty-eight years ago today around dawn, the People’s Party seized power and changed the system of governance to a democracy,” said Anon Nampa. Another protest was planned outside parliament.

Activists demanded amendments to the current constitution written by the junta that preceded the current coalition government.

“We want to use the revolt anniversary to make our point about the problematic nature of the current constitution drafted by the military,” said Anusorn Unno of the Committee Campaigning for a People’s Constitution.

This is the significance of 1932 for today’s political activists. (In passing we must mention a hideously uninformed commentary on the 1932 revolution at the Thai Enquirer. It is evidence that today’s reporters and commentators are just too lazy to develop an understanding of the period by reading some of the truly excellent recent work using archival material.)

If the regime is under pressure from the absent king – which may help explain enforced disappearances – and it also worries about The Threat, then it should be no surprise at all when yet another “weapons cache plot” is miraculously uncovered to coincide exactly with 24 June.

The regime has repeatedly concocted these “plots” whenever the regime feels that political tensions are rising. We would usually say that no one believes them, but there are probably some hard-baked ultra-royalists who do think there are plotters out there, about to blow the smithereens out of the palace or the regime.

How high can they pile it?

This “plot” has Gen Prawit Wongsuwan’s pudgy fingerprints all over it, and probably stage-managed by ISOC. So once again the toady police chief Gen Chakthip Chaijinda saying that a tip-off led “soldiers and border patrol police …[to seize] 33 war weapons, including M16, M79, and AK rifles from a house in Mae Sot district and arrest … two men for questioning.”

Giving the plot game away, Gen Chakthip declared that he “believed the weapons might be used for political movements to create a situation, citing intelligence from security agencies that found a certain group of people reportedly planned to create political chaos.” As a result of this concocted “intelligence,” he “ordered police in all areas, particularly in 10 provinces, to keep a close watch on political movements following the seizure of war weapons and ammunition…”.

No prizes for guessing which provinces! Of course, those where red shirts were previously strong: Khon Kaen, Phrae, Nakhon Ratchasima, Ayutthaya and Chiang Mai were mentioned. And, the not-very-clever policeman directly linked the “plot” to “the 88th anniversary of the transformation to constitutional monarchy from absolute monarchy…”.

To add to The Fear, Deputy police spokesman, Pol Col Kissana Phattanacharoen, “said it is believed the seized weapons were intended to create havoc and the discovery comes amid intelligence reports about suspicious activities being planned by a certain group of people.” Usually it is only the military that creates havoc with war weapons, murdering and maiming citizens.

We think Thai PBS had the most appropriate note on this “plot” in its brief report:

Previous reports of weapons seizures in Mae Sot, and other districts bordering Myanmar, indicate that most of the arms are actually smuggled from Cambodia by arms traffickers, for sale at huge profits to Burmese rebel groups based along the porous border between Thailand and Myanmar.

They are right and we might suspect that the local military is engaged in this trade and with those gun runners.

The next act in the “plot” play is to parade some suspects who will have been tutored to incriminate the said political movements.

What is worrying in these inept shenanigans is that is may signal the intensification of repression, a loading up by the monarchists for more crazed political maneuvers. And this regime is not inept when it comes to blunt force, killing citizens and other forms of repression.

Update: A report at The Irrawaddy, translated from Burmese, has a perspective that demonstrates the buffalo manure peddled by the Army and police in Thailand:

A joint task force, including the Thai military and police, seized a large cache of Chinese-made weapons, which are believed to be destined for Myanmar, on Tuesday morning.

AK47 assault rifles, machine guns, anti-tank mines, grenades and ammunition were among the items seized in a joint raid on a house in Mae Tao in Mae Sot District on the Thai side of the border.

Two Thai nationals were arrested and six suspects from Myanmar were arrested at the Mae La refugee camp around 65 km from Mae Sot. Four are ethnic Karen and two are ethnic Rakhine.

“They are not the weapons currently used by the AA [Arakan Army]. The weapons manufactured by the Wa [United Wa State Army] and the KIA [Kachin Independence Army] are not up to much. They can’t fire on automatic. The seized weapons are original and Chinese-made,” a source from an ethnic armed organization based on the border told The Irrawaddy.

He said a black market has emerged in Mae Sot for weapons to meet the demand of armed groups in Myanmar. Individual dealers make huge profits in the business, the source added.

An AK47 costs around 100,000 baht (4.5 million kyats) and a machine gun costs approximately 300,000 baht (13.5 million kyats). The value of the seizures is around 30 million baht (1.35 billion kyats), according to the source.

“Usually weapons are smuggled to Indian rebels based on the border with Myanmar and the AA as they pay good prices,” he said. There are several rebel organizations in Assam and Meitei fighting the Indian government from bases along the border.





Another royalist warning

22 06 2020

In a note at The Nation, yet another of the co-ordinated warnings to young Thais is reported.

Chakthip (clipped from The Nation)

The junta-appointed national police chief Pol Gen Chakthip Chaijinda has “warned young people against taking political sides, saying they may be violating the Criminal Code’s sections 112 [lese majeste] and 116 [sedition].

He also warned that “Thai youngsters may be paying heed to information that violates the national security law or messages aired by political activists who are facing charges under the Computer Crimes Act.”

This repressive royalist rant has become increasingly strident as the absent king comes under pressure in Europe and is not missed in Thailand.

It also reflects an attempt by the regime to keep the lid on the anger over the enforced disappearance of Wanchalearm Satsaksit and associated criticism of the monarch and regime.

The royalist rant also coincides with the run-up to the anniversary of the 1932 revolution that ended the absolute monarchy. This has resulted in lame efforts by the police and military to prevent any rally or sign of significance at the few monuments to the 1932 events that have escaped state vandals.

We know the king wants to wipe out all remaining memorials and memories of this event.

His minions have removed several monuments to 1932 and its promoters and he’s taken back several properties that had been removed from the monarchy after 1932.

As significant has been his rollback of post-1932 legal and constitutional measures that provided (limited) controls on the monarch’s economic and political power.

All this means that the king is likely to be paranoid that remembering 1932, especially by the young generation, amounts to anti-monarchism.





Police business

4 04 2020

Pol Gen Somyos and some of his loot

Over the years, PPT has posted quite a bit on police and their often unusual wealth.

Readers may recall the seemingly never investigated story of Thailand’s post-coup police boss Gen Somyos Pumpanmuang who was involved with the owner of the Victoria’s Secret Massage parlor back in January 2018. He claimed to have “borrowed” 300 million baht from the brothel boss. He even appeared with a stack of money that was claimed to be the same 300 million.

Somyos declared in 2014 that he had amassed assets of almost 375 million baht. We have previously posted on his connections with shady business groups that use men-in-black to harass villagers.

The National Anti-Corruption Commission has been deathly quiet on this case.

He’s not the only one. As the 2014 assets declarations showed, top cops averaged a whopping 258 million baht each. Back then, current Commissioner-General of the Royal Thai Police Pol Gen Chakthip Chaijinda declared almost 1 billion baht in assets. Current head of the NACC, Pol Gen Watcharapol Prasarnrajkit declared almost 470 million baht in assets.

Pol Gen Wirachai

This is a long introduction to the case of Pol Gen Wirachai Songmetta.

Readers may remember him from the Big Joke police dance in January 2020, when Pol Gen Chakthip came into conflict with Surachate Hakparn, a former immigration chief who, back in April 2019, was quickly and surprisingly taken into custody, removed from his posts and then made a civilian before being resurrected as a cop assigned to Government House. After he claimed shots were fired at his car and that all of the kerfuffle had to do with money associated with a biometric equipment deal, Chakthip suddenly transferred two of his two deputies, Pol Gen Chaiwat Kateworachai and Pol Gen Wirachai.

Adding to the spice, King Vajiralongkorn expelled both officers from the royal police bodyguard corps and ordered that the two were not to wear medals that bear the emblem of the royal guards.

But, then, to our surprise, Pol Gen Wirachai just appeared in the Forbes list of Thailand’s richest, with a photo of him in his uniform. Forbes states “Wirachai Songmetta entered the ranks of Thailand’s richest following the November 2019 IPO of Absolute Clean Energy, a renewable energy producer” and values his fortune at $585 million. It adds that the company “operates 14 biomass power projects with a combined capacity of 212 megawatts…”. (We wonder why Pol Gen Chakthip is not listed?)

Forbes observes that “[h]is ex-wife chairs the company while two of his three sons have board seats.” You can get a look at them here, while noting that one of the sons has been listed as a director of companies associated with Wirachai since he was 18. (That’s how the rich operate in Thailand where family trumps any sort of skill.)

The company claims another 19 projects under development throughout Thailand.

PPT was stunned. Maybe we are naive, but we hadn’t realized that serving cops could own large companies and actively engage in business. ACE is publicly-listed with Wirachai holding more than 22% of the shares and people with the same family name holding almost 80% of the shares.

Another report explains how ACE became big. It built on his family’s earlier business as “the nation’s leading producer of hardboard and wood chips, and the residue of that process is used to fuel the biomass power plants…”.  ACE reports a bunch of associated companies, all family-held and mostly in energy and tree plantations. An example is Shaiyo Triple A, claiming to have “been invited to invest in overseas markets such as China, Vietnam, Laos, Cambodia, Myanmar, Philippines, Malaysia, and Australia.”

Being a top cop can only have assisted Wirachai in grabbing land for plantations.

While he’s been a cop, Pol Gen Wirachai has been active in business, including undertaking trips overseas for his companies. In one, in 2018, he was hosted by the Chairman of Thua Thien Hue Provincial People’s Committee in Vietnam, Phan Ngoc Tho with “a reception for President of Shaiyo Triple A group Wirachai Songmetta and delegation. Also attending the working session were relevant departments and agencies.”

Wirachai for himself. Clipped from Thua Thien Hue Portal.

Shaiyo Triple A claims to have 2.5 million contracted farmers supplying it. It, too, has several subsidiaries. One recent report states that the “Industrial Estate Authority of Thailand (IEAT) has teamed up with Asia Clean Industrial Park Co (ACIP) to develop a new industrial estate in Chon Buri to serve novel investment projects in the Eastern Economic Corridor.” That investment is “located on a plot of 1,300 rai in Ban Bung district with a development cost of 3 billion baht.” ACIP itself “has a registered capital of 1.8 billion baht and Songmetta Corporation owns a 99% stake.” ACIP is reportedly “an affiliate company of Shaiyo Triple A Group, the international conglomerate headquartered in Thailand, with core businesses in agriculture, clean and renewable energy, logistics services, industrial land development, engineering procurement and construction services, and international trading.”

Back at ACE, the Executive Committee includes Pol Lt Gen Adul Narongsak, formerly Deputy Commissioner of Metropolitan Police Bureau. Its Board of Directors includes Charoon Intachan who lists his positions as a member of the Council of State, member of the junta’s Constitution Drafting Committee, and a term as President of the Constitutional Court. He was the presiding judge at the Court when it dismissed Prime Minister Yingluck Shinawatra from office for abuse of power in 2014.

Well connected you might say. With connections to the judiciary and police, the provincial operations of the various companies associated with Pol Gen Wirachai are well lubricated. But politically-connected businesses also carry political risks, especially when the monarch gets involved. When Wirachai was removed to the PM’s Office, the “share price Absolute Clean Energy Public Company Limited (ACE) hit the floor in the morning session on January 24, 2020,” diving almost 30 percent.

We find it troubling that a serving policeman so obviously has other interests and business. More so because there are conflicts of interest involved in the businesses being operated while he is a policeman. The junta was and Prayuth regime is unconcerned by such activities because all of them – police and military – benefit from this and similar activities.





Police chief’s fibs

20 02 2020

Chakthip (clipped from The Nation)

Regular readers will recall that earlier in the month national police chief Pol Gen Chakthip Chaijinda was fibbing about his nepotism. That complaint was pretty quickly buried and seemingly easily forgotten – after all, nepotism is a norm for the regime.

He’s now been found to be fibbing again, this time to parliament.

He reportedly told the House committee on law, justice and human rights that he had not applied a different standard in securing the anti-regime Wing Lai Lung (‘Run to Oust the Uncle’) event in Bangkok last month…” when compared with a pro-regime rally.

He declared: “Soldiers did not meddle with my work…”.

A military puppet

That’s improbable, but as a puppet of the regime he obviously knows what the regime and the military wants.

He went on:

Pol Gen Chakthip insisted that he gave one order to all of his subordinates at the event, as well as to those assigned to secure the at the pro-regime Dern Cheer Lung (“Walk in Support of Uncle”) which was held on the same day in Lumpini Park. The “Uncle” in both events’ names, refer to Prime Minister Prayut Chan-o-cha.

To give just a few examples of the partisanship of the police and to illustrate Chakthip’s fibs, we can point to several reports.

First, in the period before the event, the Wing Lai Lung was harassed by police. In one report:

The “Run Against Dictatorship” launch event was previously scheduled to be held at the Foreign Correspondents’ Club of Thailand (FCCT), but that had to be cancelled after reported police pressure.

The police even denied this pressure, but the FCCT confirmed it. A statement from FCCT said that “the police asked them to cancel the group’s booking and threatened FCCT with ‘serious consequences’ if they did not comply…”.

Next,

The press conference was then re-scheduled to today (16 December) at 10.00 at Rattanakosin Hotel. However, Tanawat Wongchai, one of the organizers, said that the hotel informed him that they have been pressured by “those in power” into cancelling their booking.

That may have been the military working hand-in-glove with the police. There were no such reports of pressure on the Dern Cheer Lung organizers.

Next, the Wing Lai Lung event was forced to relocate:

Authorities have been attempting to block spin-off Run Against Dictatorship events in at least three provinces, while the main Bangkok event has been forced to move from Thammasat University to Wachirabenchathat (Rot Fai) Park.

In several cases, the police called in provincial organizers and attended their homes – obviously measures meant to threaten them. For example:

three students from the University of Phayao who were organizing a Run Against Dictatorship event in Phayao were summoned by the police….

These students suffered repeated acts of repression. There were no such reports of pressure on the Dern Cheer Lung organizers.

When the event began, in several provinces, both police and military harassed participants, with wide reporting on social media.

And the latest police act of extreme bias was to charge the organizer of the Bangkok Wing Lai Lung event:

Tanawat Wongchai, one of the organisers of the “Run Against Dictatorship” in Bangkok, has been summoned by Bang Sue Police Station for organizing a public assembly without notifying the police according to the Public Assembly Act.

Tanawat … insisted that a race is exempted from the Public Assembly Act and that this is a case of harassment of the political opposition.

Pol Gen Chakthip is a serial fibber.





Updated: Lie of the day: No nepotism

4 02 2020

According to Wikipedia, nepotism is:

Nepotism is the granting of jobs to one’s relatives or friends in various fields, including business, politics, entertainment, sports, religion and other activities. Nepotism is the act of using one’s power to secure better jobs or unfair advantages for a family member [or friend] when they may not have the right skill, experience or motivation compared to others.

Nepotism is rampant in Thailand. It is common in business – think of all those family-owned firms where young scions suddenly become vice presidents of huge firms. It is common in the military – a recent example involving Gen Prayuth Chan-ocha and his brother Gen Preecha. Preecha delivered lots of “contracts” to his sons and had them promoted. It is seen in politics, where “political parties” are made and filled by families that often have local “influence.” And, it is seen in the bureaucracy.

Chakthip (clipped from The Nation)

The most recent case to emerge involves national police chief Pol Gen Chakthip Chaijinda. We guess this allegation has emerged because of the ongoing clashes within the police.

After Pol Gen Chakthip’s son was promoted to inspector and to the rank of Police Major, the police officially declared that Pol Capt Chanant Chaijinda had been “promoted to inspector on merit, and not because he is the son of national police chief Pol Gen Chakthip…”.

Several news reports “questioned his qualifications for the double promotion.” It is pointed out that:

Pol Capt Chanant, the police chief’s eldest son, has served as sub-inspector for less than four years in the Border Patrol Police Bureau, the stories said. Regulations required that an officer must have served at least seven years as sub-inspector before being eligible for promotion.

Earlier, it is reported that the “Police Commission earlier stopped short of approving Pol Capt Chanant’s promotions because he did not satisfy the criteria.”

So what happened? As might be guessed, the promotion “was referred to the cabinet last year, and it agreed to ignore the minimum service tenure criteria and later gave the green light to Pol Capt Chanant’s promotion.”

Gen Chakthip was the military dictator Gen Prayuth’s choice for police chief and was also supported by Gen Prawit Wongsuwan. Despite being the least senior among the five deputy police chiefs, he got the job because of his relations with the junta and his ant-red shirt credentials. He also had support from the palace.

Yesterday, the police had to pronounce that the facts didn’t matter and that “Pol Capt Chanant was qualified for the new rank.” It was admitted that the tenure regulations were not met. So, he wasn’t qualified, but what the heck, he’s the boss’s son and the junta loves the boss.

Business as usual.

Update: Khaosod has more on this story and includes a defense of the promotion by Gen Prawit. It is reported that the promotion took place in April 2019 and it seems that the dispute within the police force, linked above, is why the story has just leaked.

It also appears that his son’s promotion was fast-tracked by Pol Gen Chakthip. It was “a decision by the police commissioner to promote his own son to a senior police rank despite not meeting one of the criteria.”

Gen Prawit defended the promotion, saying “there were grounds for exception in the case of Capt. Chanan…”.He said: “They can do that, it’s supported by regulations…”. When asked “whether it’s appropriate for a police commissioner to approve fast-tracking his own son,” Prawit not only defended nepotism but seemed to acknowledge it in this instance: “Do you love your son, too? Do you?”

Meanwhile, police spokesperson Krissana Pattanacharoen defended the unusual promotion “saying the police command had the authority to grant promotion to individuals who show talents and valuable knowledge.” The reference was to Chanan having undertaken “multiple training programs, including anti-terrorism and parachuting courses.” These included a “sniper course in Israel and received training from the FBI in the United States…”.

No doubt his father helped out in getting him these prized gigs.





Big Joke, police and politics

29 01 2020

We guess that our readers will have been following the rapid fire events associated with Big Joke or Surachate Hakparn, a former immigration chief who, back in April 2019, was quickly and surprisingly taken into custody, removed from his posts and then made a civilian before being resurrected as a cop assigned to Government House.

Then, we noted that a Khaosod report about the events then carried a disclaimer: “Note: Some details were omitted from this story due to legal concerns.” We observed then that this kind of self-censorship usually implies that the events have something to do with the monarchy.

We were guessing, and we are again when we see more palace involvement in this story that is never explained and has involved gunshots, leaked phone calls, and allegations involving national police chief Pol Gen Chakthip Chaijinda and his two deputies.

There’s an incomplete summary of this debacle at the Bangkok Post. But what piqued our interest was a Khaosod report that King Vajiralongkorn had “expelled two former deputy police commanders from the royal police bodyguard corps…”.

In an order dated 25 January, Gen Wirachai Songmetta and Gen Chaiwat Ketworachai “were fired from the royal guards” with no reason stated. The day before, the police had “abruptly removed … on Jan. 24, and transferred … to civilian posts under the Prime Minister’s Office.”

Another announcement announcement ordered that the two were not to wear “medals that bear the emblem of the royal guards.”

That Surachate speedily “departed Thailand with his wife and family for India, where he would take up monkhood for about a week, according to his aides, just days after the government issued him with an unusually harsh warning not to bring disgrace to the bureaucracy” is suggestive of fear. Such fear from big shots usually points to the king being involved.

Something is going on and the king has form on interfering in senior police appointments of senior police.

If any readers have information, please email us.





Political violence and official impunity

2 07 2019

Gen Prawit Wongsuwan is administratively in charge – still – of all security units. He has finally spoken of the attack(s) on activist Sirawith Seritiwat. He wasn’t very convincing when he “denied being behind a recent attack that left a pro-democracy activist in a critical condition.”

He went on in junta-speak: ““I don’t condone violence. Whoever causes unrest in the country must be punished…. The case is still unclear. It is under investigation.”

Gen Prawit managed to maneuver into to ultra-rightist narrative when he added that he did not know if the attack was politically motivated or a “personal issue.” This plays into the “fake news” (that Prawit claims to want to end) from ultra-yellows and the junta’s own, including the reprehensible Pareena Kraikupt of the Palang Pracharath Party and police “leaks” to a rightist newspaper that claim “Sirawith might have been attacked by loan sharks due to a family debt…”, which Sirawith’s mother has vehemently denied.

Meanwhile, national police chief Chakthip Chaijinda “aired his suspicions that both attacks on Sirawith were orchestrated by the same group.” Brilliant! No wonder he is police chief! But then he managed to support the rightists thugs and their aim, warning “that it wasn’t safe to get political in public, saying that activists should avoid campaigning publicly…”. That’s what the thugs (and the junta) want. He also mentioned that police “couldn’t guarantee their [activists’] safety.”

Some of the reporting/op-eds on the cowardly attack is worth considering.

Veera Prateepchaikul at the Bangkok Post observes the brazen attack, claims of state connivance and the attackers’ apparent nonchalance, “convinced they would never get caught.” He is right to say that the “unprovoked violence deserves condemnation in the strongest terms.”

He’s also correct to observe that “there has not been a word from any other incumbent ministers except …[Gen] Prawit Wongsuwon…”. He notes their silence on previous attacks on Sirawith and other anti-coup activists. And, he’s has little doubt that the “attack on Mr Sirawith was politically motivated.”

But, then, as ever, Veera wants to compare this violence with that under Thaksin Shinawatra. While political violence occurs under all regimes, the culprits and motivators of political assassination, beatings and enforced disappearance are almost always believed to be police and military. In recent cases, He also mentions the murder of former ministers in the 1940s, by police. It isn’t clear why Veera does not look at the rise of royalist-rightist violence sponsored by the military in the early 1970s.

(He might also get his facts right. He states that “whistle-blower Ekkayuth Anchanbutr went missing without trace in 2013 during the government of prime minister Yingluck Shinawatra.” In fact, according to Wikipedia and The Nation reported Ekkayuth’s “body was found in the southern province of Phatthalung…”.)

Then there’s Paritta Wangkiat who is a columnist for the Bangkok Post. She observes the rightist cheering of the political thugs. That’s the “He deserves it”response, “with apparent satisfaction…”. Some on social media “referred to the activist as a ‘saboteur’ against the nation who deserves to suffer from even more attacks.”

She’s right to observe that these “recent attacks reflect the current state of polarisation in Thai politics with a dangerous rise in incidences of violence.” Her comment that the rightist “acceptance and encouragement of the use of violence against someone with a different political ideology speak volumes about our sick and rotten society” is worth considering.

But she looks to the past decade when, again, her view should be more historical. This kind of violence, conducted with impunity, is a defining characteristic of Thailand’s military and its efforts over several decades to “protect” monarchy and promote anti-democracy.

While Veera neglects it, Paritta does mention the impunity with which the military under Gen Prayuth Chan-ocha and Gen Anupong Paojinda shooting down dozens of protesters and injuring hundreds more or the cheering associated with that, including from the Bangkok Post.

Sadly, she gets amnesic when she refers to “unidentified killers.” Letting the murderous military off the hook for their dirty deeds contributes to its impunity.

Clipped from Thai Alliance for Human Rights website

On another point, however, she offers insight by observing the class nature of political violence. She notes that:

Thais are expected to know “their place”, be submissive and accept oppression…. This attitude of submissiveness and obedience has been embedded in society making it a perfect match for an authoritarian regime.

Such attitudes are the bread-and-butter/rice-and-fish sauce of the military and royalist rightists.

Where she gets it wrong is to argue that there is apathy towards political violence. There’s no apathy, on any side. Rather, the problems is that the military and other authorities operate this barbaric way with legal impunity.





Further updated: Who knew?

27 06 2019

A couple or three stories caught our attention as they suggested we at PPT are either dopes or strange things are going on.

First, we read that the “Defence Ministry has launched a project to upgrade military courts nationwide to boost public confidence in them.” We weren’t aware that there was a nationwide system of military courts. We had thought that they were (“normally”) limited to dealing with military stuff.

The junta changed that, but we thought the these courts would be put the courts back in their box, only being brought out again after the next coup. But, no, there’s going to be an effort to “improve public trust in military courts…”. Seriously? It seems so. And the models? Already existing corrupt and hopeless military courts. It looks like they are being prepared to replace civil courts! Well, probably not, but you get the spin being pedaled by the creeps in uniform.

Second, despite the fact that there’s no government and no ministers seems to not stop House of Representatives is meeting in its temporary digs. We guess this is because it is a place to take pot shots at the junta and The Dictator. However, is this the way Thailand operates, with a complete disjuncture between reality and practice?

Third, we are staggered that Big Joke is back! Sacked in April and hurriedly disappeared for a while, Pol Lt Gen Surachate Hakparn is back!

Heck, it was only Monday when both Gen Prawit Wongsuwan and Pol Gen Chakthip Chaijinda said Surachate would not return to any work with the police. But there he is! So, the questions multiply? Why was he sent off in the first place with closed mouths all round? Who ordered it? Who’s now allowing him back, indeed, pushing him back? How has this been manipulated? What have been the lubricants? Money? Threats? What is going on?

Update 1: Oops, before we even posted this, the Big Joke continues. He’s gone again:

Police Commission has resolved to remove sacked immigration chief Surachate Hakparn from a police sub-committee following mounting pressure.

Deputy Prime Minister Gen Prawit Wongsuwon on Wednesday chaired a meeting of the commission to consider the appointment of Pol Lt Gen Surachate, nicknamed “Big Joke”, to the police sub-committee responsible for laws and regulations.

National police chief Pol Gen Chakthip Chaijinda, his deputy Pol Gen Wirachai Songmetta and representatives from concerned agencies attended the meeting, which lasted about 40 minutes….

The meeting resolved to remove Pol Lt Gen Surachate’s name from the police panel responsible for laws and regulations. Pol Col Mana Phochuay, deputy commander of the Metropolitan Police Division 8, was asked to fill the slot due to his knowledge in legal affairs, and he accepted the job, said Pol Gen Wirachai.

The deputy police chief said the change was made over concerns about suitability for the position….

Who knew? What a bunch of jokers, and not just Big Joke.

Update 2: One thing that came out of the Assembly meeting was a useful needling of The Dictator. 102 MPs: “petitioned House Speaker Chuan Leekpai to ask the Constitutional Court to consider whether Prime Minister Prayut Chan-o-cha should serve as premier, saying his status as NCPO chief may violate the charter.”