Dumber than a bag of hammers II

7 06 2018

We at PPT have been critical of the justice system because it has been politicized, practiced double standards and enforced injustice. The system that runs from police to prosecutors to courts includes many nodes where the rich can pay bribes to avoid courts, charges and jail. The regime uses it to maintain impunity and to repress and jail political opponents. They make use of the lese majeste, sedition and other political laws and decrees.

The junta has worked hard to “cleanse” the so-called justice system of the “politically unreliable.” While the judiciary has long been a nest of royalists, the junta has re-made it as a bunch of clueless political automatons. That may be something of an exaggeration as some professionals remain at various courts, but it is essentially a judiciary that does as it is expected.

The result of the junta’s interventions is that the judiciary is looking as dumb as a bag of hammers. We say this based on two reports of the dumbest court ruling we have seen for some time. One report is in The Nation and another at Prachatai. They report on a Chiang Mai court’s “verdict” on the extrajudicial killing of Chaiyapoom Pasae on 17 March 2017.

The court “concluded that the young Lahu activist … was killed by army bullets…”. And that’s it.

How dumb can a court get? Or how politicized and corrupt can it be? Seriously? Everyone involved knew that the boy was killed by the military. The military has said it shot him. The media reported it. Witnesses said it.

So the court, after 14 months of the judicial system’s “investigations,” concludes the obvious and known. It concludes what was never in dispute.

An astute reader might say that this is just a part of a longer process. Yet, as we know from such “investigations” into the 2010 military murder of red shirts that such decisions can be an endpoint.

So this court didn’t just rule that a military bullet killed Chaiyapoom, it refused to confirm anything else. The court did not rule the killing illegal.

In essence, it has granted impunity for the military’s shooter and his commanders.

The court “refused to consider the argument made by Chaiyaphum’s relatives which claims that the activist neither possessed drugs or hand grenades nor attempted to stab the authorities as the army had accused him of doing.”

In response, the judge stated that “the court was only asked to find the cause of his death.” That is, of course, a reflection of what the police “investigated,” what the military brass and junta demanded and what the prosecutors did. It is a failure of the judicial system and shows that this judge is a little more than a dopey processing terminal for the military.

Lahu Chiang Mai Group president and Chaiyapoom’s mentor, Maitree Chamroensuksakul, said “he could not have imagined that the Chiang Mai Provincial Court would simply announce results that the public already knew.” He added: “I am disappointed, frankly speaking. In fact, one year should have been long enough to nail down the culprit…”.

Now that the court has confirmed what everyone knew, after 14 months of hidden evidence and intimidation of witnesses and others, its report will go “to a public prosecutor who will decide whether the soldier who killed Chaiyaphum will be indicted or not.”

More delays, intimidation, suppression of evidence and political interference will follow.

And, if the prosecutors decide to press charges, the case will probably be heard in a military court, where justice is almost never served and proceedings will likely be secret.

The family can file a civil suit, but that is the system’s way of ensuring that there will be likely be delays of years in hearing the case.

Again, “Chaiyaphum’s lawyer and family have also petitioned the Royal Thai Army to publicly reveal the CCTV footage at the military checkpoint where the activist was slain.” The court did not see the footage which the military claimed vindicated its men. Early on, when the military was justifying its actions, “there were widespread reports that video footage of the incident existed and that several military figures, including Army chief Chalermchai Sittisart, had already watched it.”

Cover-ups go right to the top in the impunity that the murderous military enjoys.

That’s why it is now “said the footage did not include what had happened at the time Chaiyapoom was shot.” How convenient that footage once claimed to vindicate the military is now said to not show anything at all about the case. Clearly the military leadership is full of scoundrels and liars. They can get away with murder, again and again.

The Prachatai report includes a timeline of the military’s role and intimidation, the judicial system’s failures and the stonewalling. But there’s much, much more to be learned in this case and the similar case of a Lahu killed a little while before Chaiyapoom, where the military used exactly the same “excuse” for the killing.

Judges overseeing dumb decisions for a murderous military are not dumb themselves. They are just doing their “duty” in protecting the state’s older brothers and enforcing the required impunity.





Beware of ISOC

4 05 2018

Since its inception, one of the main tasks of the Internal Security Operations Command has been disrupting political movements. It has done this by establishing its own “movements” of murderous rightists, and paramilitaries and not just in the past. It has also infiltrated genuine movements and groups to disrupt them. Yet another tactic has been to act as agents provocateurs, disrupting and often provoking violence.

So when ISOC spokesman Maj Gen Peerawat Sangthong tells the organizers of this weekend’s anti-military dictatorship rally that they must must watch for “third hands,” be very worried that ISOC is engaging in disruption.

ISOC says “security forces will be deployed to maintain peace and order,” but warns that “protest organisers must also ensure that no one with ill-intent infiltrate the gathering and instigate unrest…”. Maj Gen Peerawat warned rally organizers that they will be accountable should “anything untoward … transpire.”

That’s an ominous warning when it is most usually ISOC that is ill-intentioned and trained to be so.

The military mouthpiece repeated claims that are not supported by opinion polls that “people” feel “an urgent need for elections.”

Maj Gen Peerawat added that Army chief Gen Chalermchai Sitthisart’s policy is to make ISOC “an agency people believe they can rely on for help.” ISOC’s history and its fawning obeisance to the current dictatorship suggests that ISOC should be feared. It is a disrupting organization dedicated to anti-democracy. It often acts illegally. It should have been disbanded decades ago.





When the military is on top XX

28 04 2018

As political activists say they are about to “step up their activities against the junta … ahead of the fourth anniversary of the May 22 putsch,” the military is threatening them and declaring its love and support for The Dictator and his regime.

Supreme Commander, Gen Thanchaiyan Srisuwan, said “security authorities are preparing to deal with demonstrators,” while pledging “to support the government [the junta], saying the military is part and parcel of national administration and its duty is to ensure that the government’s work can continue uninterrupted.”

Of course, that is not quite the role of a professional and apolitical military. Readers can get a better view of how a proper military views its role here and here.

Gen Thanchaiyan did not say much “when asked if armed forces leaders would join a military-backed party.”

Army commander Gen Chalermchai Sitthisart told “the media not to magnify the importance of the protests as it could hurt the investment climate, adding that nothing significant might actually happen.”

The Nation reports all of this a little differently. Its says Thanchaiyan hinted that “military leaders also joining pro junta parties.”

Gen Thanchaiyan’s words are quoted a little differently too, saying he “admitted that the military remained a tool of the government even though Prayut had shown signs of political ambition.” The Nation reports this move “came after a series of political moves from junta chief Prayut to consolidate power in preparation for the election…”. It adds: “Thanchaiyan did not rule out the possibility of military leaders also joining the pro-junta party that could be set up to back Prayut.”

When asked “if the military would become a tool in Prayut’s political campaign, the supreme commander said the military did what it did regardless of people’s perceptions…”. Its record is abysmal. It is corrupt, murderous and self-serving.

Wanwichit Boonprong, described as a military and security affairs expert from Rangsit University,explained:

The military network now has close ties with key junta leaders like Prayut and his deputy Prawit Wongsuwan…. They would continue to help secure the junta, overseeing dissent On the other hand, the junta will also reward them with a liberal budget and smooth and continuous implementation of policies…. They trust generals-turned-politicians better than they do ordinary politicians….

“Reform” is a long way off. Eight decades of military political interference suggests that change requires something akin to a revolution that uproots these armed politicians.





Stealing an “election” I

16 04 2018

PPT has been posting on the military dictatorship’s efforts to manufacture an “election” victory since the junta and its lackeys in various councils, assemblies and committees began carrying out instructions on how to write the constitution for the military’s benefit and to the broader satisfaction of the royalists and other anti-democrats who supported the 2014 coup. These efforts at rigging the “election” – indeed, the whole political system – are becoming clearer by the day.

The Bangkok Post’s Alan Dawson write on how to steal an election. He writes of the rigging from last week alone:

Fabulous week for election thievery, last week was….

The stealth takeover of 80% of TV broadcasters took our breath away.

Not only does the government come away looking like the altruistic, fair-minded friend of both big business and the 70 million TV watchers but it got public applause for taking billions in taxpayer funds and handing it to digital TV owners claiming poverty. In return, digital TV newsrooms will broadcast what the regime wants, when the regime wants.

Remember when the broadcasters rebelled a few months ago at the “suggestions” by the Minister of Truth on how they should cover an up-country cabinet barnstorming. That won’t happen again.

There are those who don’t, won’t or can’t see the forces at work here, so let’s reduce the project scale.

Then there’s the fixing of supporters in various positions:

… giving the politician and sedition suspect Sakoltee (aka Sakol) Phattiyakul a job at the Bangkok City Hall. A truly hard-core supporter of Suthep Thaugsuban, the People’s Democratic Reform Committee and the coup regime, son of a leading 2006 coup general, Mr Sakoltee showed up two weeks ago to confirm his membership in the Democrat Party. That surprised a lot of people.

A lot more, though, were surprised at his metamorphosis from somewhat aimless anti-red politician to deputy governor of Bangkok. The Section 44-appointed governor, Pol Gen Aswin Kwanmuang, tossed four assistants under the bus to make way for Mr Sakoltee.

But insiders said the real force behind the lightning transfer was Deputy Prime Minister Somkid Jatusripitak, accused of being Kingmaker Apparent of the 2019 election. He has been lining up politicians, political parties and now controls the single most powerful urban office in the country behind the outsider prime minister-to-be.

From inside City Hall, Mr Sakoltee has a unique look at political organising in Bangkok. Democrat Party deputy leader Nipit Intharasombat calls this direct, government interference in running the BMA.

But to calm things down, the Bangkok Post reports that, despite these frantic efforts, the army chief Gen Chalermchai Sitthisart has lied stated that there’s no rigging going on involving his troops. He lied insisted “that the military is not using its resources and personnel to help the government score political points.”

Of course, the Army boss “also serves as secretary-general of the National Council for Peace and Order [the military junta]…”, which means he’s obviously a liar a clear and obvious role for the military in the government. He lied declared “there was nothing political about the army’s campaign to publicise the government’s work in the provinces.”

He lied denied “that the army was mobilising to help Prime Minister Prayut Chan-o-cha gain the upper hand over political rivals as reports once again emerged of a pro-regime political party being formed to back Gen Prayut to return as prime minister in the next election expected [sic.] to be held in February next year.”

Gen Chalermchai babbled that “the army’s campaign is not aimed specifically at publicising the government’s Thai Niyom Yangyuen development programme, but for promoting projects aimed at restoring national unity as well as advertising the army’s activities such as military conscription.”

The army chief disembled: “It is a long-term strategy which I have conceived and I want it to continue over a span of five to 10 years. It is not merely for the sake of the Thai Niyom programme…”. He means the military is working to fully militarize the administration of the country, which is also the junta’s main objective. We know this because, among many other signals, the bellicose general stated that he is dispatching “teams of army personnel responsible for handling civilian affairs …[being] sent to meet local people, listen to their problems, explain what the government [military dictatorship] has done and find ways to improve [sic.] their livelihoods…”.

As we have previously posted, the general states that the military and junta are using the “Internal Security Operations Command …[working] with the army’s 35 military circles nationwide to finalise details regarding budget allocations and action plans that will suit the different natures of the problems facing each particular province…”.

It is all about rigging the “election.”





When the military is on top XVII

30 03 2018

In another egregious example of the warping of society under the military boot, The Nation reports that “Army chief General Chalermchai Sittisart has given the green light to resume construction of court buildings and official residences at the foot of Chiang Mai’s Doi Suthep, near [right at the edge of] Doi Suthep-Pui National Park.”

The same report states that the “plot in question is considered Ratchaphatsadu land belonging to the state. However, when the project started two decades ago, the plot was under the authority of the Army.”

So why the chief Army thug has his say on this seems to reflect the way Thai society and administration has been militarized.

Chalermchai declared that the “[p]roject ‘gone too far to stop’ despite residents’ environmental worries…”. He added: “As our investigation found construction had proceeded in line with the law and it was already 95 per cent complete, I have allowed the construction work to resume…”. He’s the boss!

Significantly, the large plot of land – 24 ha – cutting a swathe into forest is building luxury houses for judiciary officials based in Chiang Mai. It seems the judiciary has been such a loyal ally in politicized rulings that the military junta is rewarding it.

 

From the Bangkok Post

Construction of the judges and associated staff luxury houses will “cost about Bt1 billion.” Then there will be additional services and fine furnishing.

The Bangkok Post reports that local residents are livid about the judicial housing project essentially involving clearing all trees from the site.

Now the Army boss has “ruled,” he expects all discussion and debate to cease. This is what happens when the military is on top.





Army’s chief thug

29 03 2018

The Nation reports that chief Army thug (or Army chief) General Chalermchai Sittisart has threatened pro-“election” activists.

Speaking of a series of rallies calling for an “election” in November (as The Dictator previously promised) the Army godfather singled out the Democracy Restoration Group. The Army is trying to show that the group is backed by “others” – meaning Thaksin Shinawatra and his followers.

We are not sure about some of the things this General godfather is reported to have said, but he apparently “called the activists’ demands … ‘groundless’, [saying]… “[t]hey have no condition. They just want to make movements…”. That’s not what has been coming from other reporting, where the activists have made particular demands.

The threat was then made and made very clear: “Eventually, ‘somebody’ will take care of them backstage anyway…”.

It is remarkable that even this murderous military can make such public threats.





Money and power

21 03 2018

The military dictatorship’s “election” campaigning is intensifying. It is a campaign to strengthen the regime, whether it goes to an “election” or just remains in power through “election delays.” The intensity of the campaign and related action suggests a regime feeling stressed and worried about its capacity to retain power.

As we have noted several times, the military regime has been pouring money into the electorate. Its latest effort involves a plan to “inject 30 billion baht into more than 82,000 villages nationwide…”. This effort reeks of the so-called populism that the regime once criticized but has readily embraced as a means to retain power.

In fact, the regime has a “supplementary budget of 150 billion baht approved in January by the cabinet to spur the grassroots economy.” In other words, the 30 billion is just a part of the regime’s new “election” fund. Its going to rain money, especially in rural electorates.

The National Legislative Assembly will shortly endorse the supplementary budget with the regime urging NLA deliberation now, declaring “it is essential to disburse funds that can spur investment and the economy in general under the government’s Pracharath people-state partnership scheme.” That’s just one of the junta’s electoral campaigning fund.

Meanwhile, Gen Prayuth Chan-ocha continues his personal campaign for nomination at prime minister following the junta’s “election,” should it decide to allow one. He’s visiting the northeast.

While campaigning, The Dictator still had time to use Article 44 to sack anti-election election commissioner Somchai Srisutthiyakorn. Somchai is a bright yellow election commissioner who has come to clash with the junta because he wants to keep his job but the regime is dismissing all commissioners. Presumably the junta finds the current commissioners, already under-strength, a little too unpredictable when it comes to its delayed “election.”

Somchai paints himself as a martyr, declaring: “It’s been an honour to reveal the face of the NCPO.” In fact, Somchai had a large role in preparing the political ground for the 2014 military coup, and feels the regime should be rewarding him, not appointing a new EC. He should be apologizing for his role in bringing the military dictatorship to power.

Then there’s the military arm of the junta. Army boss and junta member Gen Chalermchai Sitthisart has gone a bit crazy after Nitirat member Worachet Pakeerut raised the specter of a 1992-like uprising if The Dictator becomes an outsider premier following an “election.” Gen Chalermchai demands that no one speak of The Dictator’s political desire.