Yanking the puppets’ strings

13 10 2014

Some of our recent posts have pointed to the ways in which the military dictatorship is directing its puppet “assemblies” at the National Legislative Assembly and the National Reform Council. Without repeating all that we had in those posts, it is clear that the dictators are yanking the puppets strings and, undoubtedly, the puppets are responding as directed. At the same time, there are some puppets who consider themselves not as puppets but just 100% supporters of the military dictatorship.

The Bangkok Post reports on some of these supporters of dictatorship and, of course, they are found to be long-standing anti-democrats.

Some members of the junta-appointed NRC have quickly “denied the military is trying to steer their work, claiming guidelines given to them by the junta last week are simply intended to kick-start the reform process.” They are denying that a Defence Ministry “document listing ideas and recommendations for various aspects of reform” provided to them as they registered for the NRC. This is the same document that The Dictator, General Prayuth Chan-ocha says they should study and heed.

One of the puppets denying this reality is “Charas Suwannamala, an NRC member and political scientist from Chulalongkorn University…”. Charas has long been a propagandist for PAD from the beginning, cooperated with the military junta and its government in 2006-2008, and was active in Suthep Thaugsuban’s anti-democratic movement. His political views are rabidly anti-democratic and pro-monarchy. Naturally, he “insisted” that the document “offers a guideline that enables members to explore their options before pursuing reforms…”.

Remarkably he reckons that the “NRC will have the final say on the direction of the reforms.” That’s remarkable because it is disingenuous. The Dictator will only allow a “final say” if it accords with the views of the junta. But Charas is a true believer: “Charas defended the document, claiming it was well-researched and provides background information that will help members hold debates once the council starts work.” Even more startling is his claim that “[m]embers might know little about matters outside their area of expertise…”.

Relying on the military’s information for inadequately prepared members is a recipe for military gravy. Charas will get fat on it.

Also supping the military’s gravy is rabid yellow-shirt Khamnoon Sitthisamarn who described the military directions “as reasonable and comprehensive.”

Charas and Kamnoon are true blievers in the fascism of military royalism.

Anti-democrat Chulalongkorn

4 02 2014

A reader sent us a link to the following clip, where a group claims to represent the Faculty of Political Science at Chulalongkorn University on the anti-democratic stage. Their leader is introduced as Charas Suwanmala, a notorious propagandist for every anti-democratic group from PAD to the current lot.

PPT finds it remarkable that Charas claims to speak for his whole faculty. It seems propagandists have no shame at all.

Interestingly, the speakers claim to be telling the rest of the world “the truth.” In fact, their truth is simply a series of manufactured and exaggerated claims. The one about people having no freedom to oppose the government is about as ludicrous as it gets. There have been demonstrations against the government for ages. Couldn’t they see the people in front of them?

Another claim is that the judiciary is manipulated by Thaksin and his governments. Could they come up with anything more nonsensical than this? The judiciary is controlled by the royalist elite as virtually every decision in recent years proclaims.

That’s probably enough from PPT, but heck, these are meant to be well-educated people. But they prove themselves blinded by propaganda and hatred or just plan stupid.

Updated: Questions from the news

20 12 2013

PPT has been busy in recent weeks and struggling to keep up with a large number of interesting and insightful newspaper reports on Thailand’s current political situation. Academics in the West have come up with accounts that consider that recent events are a struggle of liberalisms, the death throes of Thai paternalism and more. Some Thai academics have pointedly remarked that the struggle is against a political fascism.

As much as we’d like to, we can’t get to all of these views yet we are sure readers have seen them and don’t need our commentary to consider their flaws and contributions. We have to say that the liberalisms notion was a curve ball, and we don’t really get it, but the other perspectives seemed to offer some food for thought.

Rather than commentate, then, we want to ask some questions about items in the news of late.

Question 1: When a bunch of aged generals get together and talk of the “side of righteousness” should we take them seriously? After all, haven’t these military officers been responsible for thousands of political murders and for repressing democracy movements? Maybe the emphasis is not on righteousness but on right-wing extremism.

Question 2: When The Nation, in the same story, says the military reactionaries were joined by Prasong Soonsiri and describe him “a former member of the constitution drafting assembly,” should this newspaper be given a bollocking for outright bias, incompetence, stupidity or all three? After all, Prasong is another of the Dad’s Army of aged and disgruntled schemers who hate elections and democracy. As well as being one of the men behind Suthep Thaugsuban, Prasong has worked to bring down every single elected government since 2001. Indeed, he claims to have been involved with the planning of the 2006 coup.

Question 3: Should we believe the bosses at the Boonrawd Brewery when they distance themselves from the walking selfie, royalist and rightist Chitpas Bhirombhakdi? To be honest, we don’t know, but at least the bosses recognize that her Marie Antoinette-isms when damning every single rural voter as an idiot are damaging to the company. Santi Bhirombakdi made the excellent point that “the company is in debt to the customers…”. We doubt that a spoiled rich girl will listen to any kind of sensible discussion.

Question 4: How is it that the Election Commission can continue to ask for the election to be delayed? Their bleating seems designed to encourage Suthep’s anti-democrats to acts of sabotage against the election and the (un)Democrat Party to boycott. Their call seems unlawful. But that never seems to bother this lot.

Question 5: Has Bangkok Post op-ed writer Veera Prateepchaikul completely lost his marbles? His latest propaganda-piece-posing-as-an-op-ed actually suggests that readers should read rants by the most bizarre self-appointed commentators on the planet and take them seriously. This link is pure Sondhi Limthongkul and People’s Alliance for Democracy. For a while in 2011-12, PAD and ASTV were avid followers of Veera’s Tony Cartalucci. His blog has been Land Destroyer, which provides no information on funding, but as a reader at Prachatai pointed out at the time, it:

[l]inks to Infowars.com which is Alex Jones. Infowars.com accepts advertising from Midas Resources (http://www.midasresources.com/store/store.php?ref=62&promo=specialOffer) which is “One of the world’s premiere precious metals firms, parent company of The Genesis Communications Network, proud sponsor of the Campaign For Liberty and creator of the Ron Paul Air Corps.”

The Ron Paul initiated Campaign for Liberty (http://www.campaignforliberty.com/about.php) draws inspiration from a range of conservatives and libertarians and localists. According to University of Georgia political scientist Keith Poole, Paul had the most conservative voting record of any member of Congress from 1937 to 2002 (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ron_Paul).

Midas Resources was founded by Ted Anderson. Ted Anderson and Alex Jones are collaborators, with Jones appearing on the Genesis Communications Network, where Anderson is the CEO (http://www.gcnlive.com/contact.php). It was established to promote the sale of precious metals (http://www.gcnlive.com/faq.php). Its front page advertisers include Christian holster sellers and a range of survival products (for surviving the coming global food crisis) along with Ron Paul sites and Russia Television/Russia Today. GCN has interviewed right-wing, anti-Semite Lyndon LaRouche (http://www.larouchepub.com/lar/2008/interviews/080401jack_blood_genesis.html), seen as a political extremist (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Lyndon_LaRouche). LaRouche also has a fan in another link at Land Destroyer in F.W. Engdahl, yet another conspiracy theorist (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/F._William_Engdahl), who believes in global cooling (not warming).

Jones and Anderson have promoted conspiracy rants by people associated with the extremist John Birch Society (http://mediamatters.org/blog/201101290003).

Companies linked in these groups, such as Free Speech Systems (http://freespeechsystems.com/) provide no links or information; certainly not practicing what they preach.

Land Destroyer links to a range of other conspiracy theory websites that never provide any details about funding. One of these is to the site of long-time conspiracy theorist Webster Tarpley who has a remarkable Wikipedia page (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Webster_Tarpley). Another is to anti-fluoride, anti-vaccination, Bin Laden is alive (Alex Jones too), and conspiracy theorist Jim Corr who is also on about the threat or One World Government (http://www.jimcorr.com/).

In the LaRouche Wikipedia page, in the section on “Selected Works,” it might be noted that LaRouche wrote a book with Uwe Von Parpart in 1970. Several sites note that he later worked at Asia Times and The Manager magazine owned by Sondhi Limthongkul. Interesting connections.

Question 6: Recalling that Veera’s op-ed is supposed to be a lecture on democracy but cites sources like Cartalucci, LaRouche and the John Birch Society should we consider Veera’s notions of democracy on a par with fascists, racists and mad conspiricists?

Update: As might be expected The Nation has also begun reporting the bile of fascists, racists and mad conspiricists as if they were real journalists. It seems difficult for many of those associated with The Nation to distinguish between claptrap and professional journalism. Interestingly, this story cites a journalism lecturer who appears to know little of his professed trade, and yellow-shirted academic Charas Suwanmala, who has “raised concerns that comments by academics given to foreign media were often becoming targets of harsh criticism in social media.” He makes some useful points but is then quoted as saying:

“Academics should not be condemned as long as they honestly opine academically and independently,” he said. “But if they are academics who have sold their souls, are being paid by some people to support one side, give comments without considering the facts or without caring for what is right or wrong, then they deserve to be condemned.”

Hold up the mirror. Charas has effectively been a propagandist for PAD from the beginning and cooperated with the military junta and its government. His political views are rabidly anti-democratic and pro-monarchy.

Anti-democratic “academics”

14 12 2013

According to The Nation newspaper, the anti-democratic movement has “many experts” who take roles in the movement, as “committee members, including former MPs, academics, businesspeople, and activists.” Most of the activists are former members of the People’s Alliance for Democracy and its spin-off and front organizations. The list at the report has this:

Regular academics who advise the PDRC’s leaders include: Sombat Thamrongthanyawong, former rector of the National Institute of Development Administration (NIDA); Banjerd Singkaneti, dean of Nida’s Graduate School of Law; Charas Suwanmala, former dean of Chulalongkorn’s Faculty of Political Science; and Kaewsan Athibodhi, leader of the Thai Spring group….

All of these have been anti-Thaksin Shinawatra activists since the early days of PAD. Sombat and Banjerd have long been leaders of yellow-shirted “academics,” showing up for every single group that has spun off from PAD, including the most extreme and reactionary.

Charas has effectively been a propagandist for PAD from the beginning and cooperated with the military junta and its government. His political views are rabidly anti-democratic and pro-monarchy.

Kaewsan is equally right-wing, although his politics seem driven by a personal hatred of Thaksin rather than any ideology as he has had a career in hiring himself out as a loudmouth. Most recently he has joined with racist fascists like former palace policeman Vasit Dejkunjorn.

Added to this list of hardened rightists and royalists is the now quite incoherent retiree Thirayuth Boonmee. He is said to have:

attended a meeting at the PDRC’s war room just before Suthep issued a statement requesting a meeting with Supreme Commander General Tanasak Patimapragorn and commanders of the Army, Navy and Air Force, as well as the commissioner-general of the National Police.

These “academics” bear much responsibility for the continual undermining of electoral democracy in Thailand. Their efforts are no doubt rewarded in various ways, but their positions place them in a long line of military and royalist anti-democrats who have acted for a wealth and powerful minority against the majority.

Notes from the news II

30 11 2013

Again, PPT is trying to link to interesting stories we can’t find the time to post on in detail.

Note 1: The New York Times comments on the current anti-government protests and states:

… [they] are the largest in the country since a military crackdown left more than 90 people dead three years ago. This time the government and the military have been strikingly restrained in their reaction. The government says this is a deliberate strategy of nonconfrontation to avoid violence.

Of course, it probably needs to be stated that the government is different. This time, instead of a reactionary Democrat Party government, it is an elected Puea Thai Party government. As if to emphasize the difference, the NYT, while noting provocation, quotes a policeman:

We have not arrested a single protester so far,” Maj. Gen. Piya Uthayo, a police spokesman, said by telephone. Arresting protesters is “not our policy,” he said.

So far, no live fire zones, no emergency decree, no massive censorship, no hysterical rhetoric.

Sadly, the Times also observes that: “… police had received intelligence reports of possible disorder in the coming days that could lead to violence. The police have been ordered to ‘protect buildings and guard against possible calamity’.”

The NYT also makes another excellent, which PPT emphasizes: ”

The protests have been a highly personalized battle between Mr. Thaksin and his allies — who have won every national election since 2001 — and a vocal minority in Bangkok and southern Thailand that says his power threatens the country’s democratic institutions.

The Times notes that Democrat Party chums Abhisit Vejjajiva and Korn Chatikavanij have joined the protests that their election-losing party promotes.

The article also mentions that the “military went out of its way on Friday to back away from confrontation.” That is our note 2.

Chamlong invades

A Bangkok Post photo

Note 2: The Bangkok Post reports that that while the military may have not wanted to confront those who entered their HQ, including the old grinning gargoyle and master political manipulator over four decades, Chamlong Srimuang, it is making statements that no professional army should ever make. But this is the Thai military. A spokesman commented:

“The army calls for protests on all sides to be carried out under the democratic system and within the rule of law,” he said in a statement read out by army spokesman Col Winthai Suwaree. “[Protesters] should refrained from [causing] division and trying to bring the army to be on their side.

So far, so good you might think, and perhaps the protesters see it as  less than supportive. However, a professional military should not be commenting on such matters.

It is followed by this:

“The army would like to inform the public that the army is the army of His Majesty the King and the people. [The army] is monitoring the situation and is prepared to help people if there are injuries or the loss of lives from protests which could lead to violence.”

At least the Army seems uninterested in shooting protesters, but that raises the issue of double standards. How come they were so keen to murder protesters in 2010? Have they learned a lesson or are they showing a bias? And what of the claim about the king. Thailand has been a constitutional monarchy for over eight decades and yet the military clings to a feudal relationship (and vice versa). Professional armies act on the lawful direction of the government. But this is the Thai military.

Note 3: The Bangkok Post reports that Suthep Thaugsuban, in declaring Sunday the day for overthrowing the so-called Thaksin regime,  has come up with a people’s committee. It says:

He also introduced a “people’s committee” including businessmen, academics, activists, workers’ leaders and retired officers to gather under one umbrella to drive the campaign. He brought 24 people to the stage — every single one of them a man.

PPT isn’t sure that the lack of women is the important point here….

Note 4: From a couple of days ago, the Bangkok Post reported on academics in support of Suthep’s anti-democratic proposals. One is the ferociously yellow-shirted Charas Suwanmala, dean of Chulalongkorn University’s Political Science Department.  Charas apparently “believes some parts of the constitution must be put on hold for Mr Suthep’s ‘people’s parliament’ and ‘dream team’ government to become reality.”

Of course it would, for even this junta-tutored constitution is insufficiently undemocratic for yellow-shirted propagandists like Charas. He referred to “the need for the democratic system to take a break.” He sounds remarkably like the 2006 military junta talking about the same thing or the dopey old men who wanted to “freeze” Thailand.

He said that “the people’s parliament and government must have a strict mission to draw up a blueprint for political reform.” We assume he means “reform” in the sense of properly fixing the system so that the rural buffaloes will not be able to vote for pro-Thaksin political parties and will accept democratic tutelage from hierarchical institutions. It all seems very 1991 or 2006. But Charas seems to be an adviser to Suthep because he knows the details of the “plan”:

The parliament will only be temporary, existing for three months at most, he said. After that, a new election should be called and the new government must implement political reform as envisaged by the representatives of the people.

Yep, an unelected committee of appointed (by whom? Suthep?) notables will draft a program that elected representatives will have to implement. So the elections are all a bit of a smokescreen for the elected representatives will only be able to implement a pre-ordained plan. Fascism anyone?

Updated: Appointing royalists to consider constitutional (non-)amendment

23 02 2012

In a remarkable report at The Nation, it is reported that the Office of the Ombudsman has appointed royalists – including some associated with the People’s Alliance for Democracy – to “study how to improve the Constitution…”. In the language of the British, this is a stitch-up. Some background first.

The alleged “experts” are appointed “because the ombudsmen were required by Article 244 of the Constitution to evaluate charter enforcement and provide advice on how to improve the charter.”  The appropriate section of the military’s 2007 constitution states:

Section 244. The Ombudsmen have the powers and duties as follows: … (3) to monitor, evaluate and prepare recommendations on the compliance with the Constitution including considerations for amendment of the Constitution as deemed necessary;

In other words, the Ombudsmen is not required to do this, as reported. A decision must be taken to do it. PPT guesses that this decision also relates to Section 245, which states:

The Ombudsmen may submit a case to the Constitutional Court or Administrative Court in the following cases:

(1) if the provisions of any law begs the question of the constitutionality, the Ombudsmen shall submit the case and the opinion to the Constitutional Court and the Constitutional Court shall decide without delay in accordance with the organic law on rules and procedure of the Constitutional Court;

 (2) if rules, orders or actions of any person under section 244 (1) (a) begs the question of the constitutionality or legality, the Ombudsmen shall submit the case and the opinion to the Administrative Court and the Administrative Court shall decide without delay in accordance with the Act on Establishment of the Administrative Courts and Administrative Courts Procedure.

We likewise guess that these appointments are part of a process that will seek to invalidate amendments to the constitution. The Bangkok Post reports: “A source at the Office of the Ombudsman said the advisory board was set up out of concern the charter’s chapter covering the monarchy may be amended.” PPT would be staggered if that were the case.

The “experts” appointed are:

Noranit Settabut, who was the chairman of the military junta-appointed 2007 Constitution Drafting Assembly (CDA)

Wissanu Krua-ngarm (sometimes Krea-ngam), a former deputy prime minister under Thaksin Shinawatra, but one of those who jumped ship and went to the support of the royalists. Since then, he has accrued a remarkable number of company directorships, perhaps as his reward. He was mentioned in a Wikileaks cable: “Prem had signaled his intentions and intimidated two cabinet members (Cabinet Secretary Borwornsak Uwanno and Deputy Prime Minister Wissanu Krea-ngam) into resigning in June. Pansak claimed that Prem had sent a clear signal by asking their view on whether constitutional provisions allowing the King to take on a political role might be invoked in the event of Thaksin’s death.”

Bowornsak Uwanno, secretary-general of King Prajadipok’s Institute and mentioned in the above cable and this one too.On his resignation as Thaksin’s government spokesman, Bowornsak spent some time in an elite temple and wrote articles extolling the wonders of monarchy and defending lese majeste as a process of rehabilitation to the royalist elite. PPT had this description of him, mentioning his record of political promiscuity.

Surapol Nitikraipot is a former rector of Thammasat University and an appointed member of the military junta’s National Legislative Assembly.

Sombat Thamrongthanyawong, rector of National Institute of Development Administration. Sombat is one of the most compromised of academics, having been harshly critical of red shirts, supportive of all post-coup governments and of yellow shirts. He has been solidly conservative, even rallying his fellow academics at NIDA to oppose those he sees as pro-Thaksin Shinawatra, including outspoken and baseless  attacks on the current government and Prime Minister Yingluck Shinawatra. Back in April 2010, he was one of the academics signing a statement opposing red shirts, along with card-carrying royalists and PAD supporters Chai-Anan Samudvanij, Charas Suwanmala and Pramote Nakhonthap. In June 2010, Abhisit Vejjajiva appointed Sombat to head a constitutional review panel. That panel did nothing and sank into oblivion except for recommending a change to the system of appointing the prime minister taht was meanrt to help the Democrat Party. Even the Democrat Party didn’t jump on that totally biased suggestion.

Thiraphat Serirangsan, former PM’s Office minister in the Surayud Chulanont government appointed by the military junta in 2006. He got his position mainly through his close relationship with self-proclaimed coup planner and well-known royalist and political manipulator Squadron Leader Prasong Soonsiri.

Charas Suwanmala is a former dean of Chulalongkorn University’s Faculty of Political Science, former member of the of the military junta-appointed 2007 CDA and one of the best-know yellow-shirted academics in Thailand. In August 2010 he supported moves to prevent students demonstrating against Abhisit. Charas is a well-known and staunch yellow-shirted academic. In April 2010 he joined with royalists including Police General Vasit Dejkunchorn, in rounding up other yellow shirts, including fellow Chula academic Tul Sitthisomwong, in demonstrating against red shirts by dressing in royalist pink. Vasit and Charas are reported to have sworn an oath before the statue of King Rama VI to protect the nation [from nasty red shirts]. Their crowd chanted royalist slogans, sang royalist songs and demanded that Abhisit not dissolve the House, which was the only red shirt demand at the time. Leaflets claiming Thaksin Shinawatra had defamed the king were also distributed at that rally.

Parinya Thewanarumitkul, vice rector of Thammasat, is generally considered reasonably independent, having been critical of the Puea Thai Party and red shirts prior to the last election and also critical of the military’s 2007 constitution.

The only two who are relatively unknown quantities, at least to PPT, are Kittisak Porakati, a law lecturer of Thammasat and Supachai Yavaprabhas, dean of Chulalongkorn University’s Faculty of Political Science. If readers know more about them, we’d be pleased to update this post.

That means that the Office of the Ombudsman has appointed seven well-known and outspoken partisan “experts,” making a mockery of the claim that “the opinions of the advisers of the ombudsman would be neutral…”. Rather, the Ombudsman appears partisan and biased.

The first meeting of this sub-committee of the PAD Ombudsman is due to be held next week. Don’t expect anything other than partisan politicking from this lot.

You get the general idea of where all this is going in The Nation, where it is reported that the political allies of the panel of “experts” is opposed to any suggestion of rewriting a constitution that was written at the behest of a military junta and is meant to be able to be revised in parliament. Indeed, the current government has won two elections (as People’s Power Party and then as Puea Thai) where it promised amendments as part of its policies.

The Nation reports that the PAD has “issued a statement opposing the ruling coalition’s attempt to rewrite the Constitution in a way that would “allow Thailand to come under the grip of parliamentary dictatorship by evil political capitalism”. That’s all PADspeak for Thaksin and its disdain for voters and elections that produce outcomes it hates. It has called a rally for 10 March.

Meanwhile, a group of 50 senators is also opposed. This is the usual suspects in the Senate, mostly appointed under junta-established rules in the 2007 constitution. They include Surajit Chiravet, Somjet Boonthanom, Kamnoon Sidhisamarn and Rosana Tositrakul. Rosana was clear: she reckoned the whole process of constitutional amendment was “to whitewash the wrongdoing of a certain former prime minister.”Like other royalists, they see rewriting the charter as “tantamount to overthrowing the 2007 Constitution.”

PAD’s words were only slightly different, viewing the “ruling coalition’s amendment as an attempt to overthrow the charter, which is an illegal act against the Constitution.” Of course, all of them simply ignore the actual provisions in the constitution for changing it in Section 291. But it isn’t the constitution they seek to “defend” but the system of elite rule under the monarchy, emblazoned in the junta’s constitution. Expect others from the anti-Thaksin alliance of the past few years to rejoin PAD and the opposition to constitutional reform.

Update: And just to remind readers that the opposition to the charter amendment is a yellow-shirt rallying point, the Democrat Party has made essentially the same points as PAD and the appointed senators in opposing change. The old team is very firmly reunited.

United royalists want lese majeste law toughened

14 01 2012

Yesterday PPT added an update to its post on blue-bloods calling for lese majeste reform. In that update, we noted that yet one more yellow-shirt group has been formed to “protect the monarchy.”

According to The Nation, that group – calling itself “Sayam Prachapiwat” or Siamese People’s Progress – this “group of royalist academics from eight universities,” as part of an orchestrated yellow-shirted campaign, has issued a remarkably backward, even fascist, “manifesto.”

It began by “attacking those who want to amend or abolish the lese majeste law and vowing to fight what they called the monopoly of Thai politics by a ‘capitalist political party’.” Here they mean the Puea Thai Party and they are specifically rejecting election results. That is not surprising. After all, this is a yellow shirt group that draws inspiration from the anti-democratic elements of the People’s Alliance for Democracy.

The group includes “26 academics from eight universities including Chulalongkorn and Thammasat.” As we noted yesterday, the spokesman is a NIDA academic. The reactionary academics stated that:

… no one should touch the lese majeste law and that the penalty for violating it should be made more severe, because there exists a movement to defame and abolish the monarchy institution.

Law lecturer – yes, apparently that is the correct designation – Komsan Pho-kong, from Sukhothai Thammathirat University stated that

the “real problem” is not the lese majeste law but “an attempt by some to establish a new Thai state“, referring to the perceived threat of republicanism.

This new ultra-royalist group

accused the Nitirat group of law lecturers, which will launch its public campaign to amend the lese majeste law on Sunday at Thammasat University, of exploiting their academic status to push forward a “hidden agenda” to undermine the monarchy.

For Nitirat’s agenda, see this lengthy document. There seems little that is hidden in that, and this week Nitirat will re-launch its campaign to eradicate the laws established by the 2006 coup and military junta. Indicating just how reactionary this new group is, one member stated that Nitirat “speaks like Latin American revolutionaries…”.

Of course, the academics who are members of the so-called Sayam Prachapiwat or Siamese People’s Progress are supporters of the coup. They do not see the military as problematic. Rather, they are opposed to elections that “their” party never wins. So:

The group insisted that military dictatorships’ domination of Thai society is over and the sole threat is that of the so-called “capitalist political party”, which it said is corrupt.

Remarkably, this fascist-like group argues for a reduction in political freedoms:

Komsan added that most Thais do not understand what liberty is all about. The Siam Prachapiwat group stated in its manifesto that Thailand is facing a “crisis of [too much] liberty”. “There exists the overuse of liberty, leading society toward anarchy,” part of the manifesto reads.

The Nation notes the group’s links to PAD. It is thus no surprise that it includes the deeply yellow PAD activist Charas Suwanmala of Chulalongkorn University’s Faculty of Political Science, who is also associated with that other PAD front organization, the so-called multi-colored group. Charas is claiming that, as he did in the past, he will organize anti-Thaksin Shinawatra “academic seminars.” He promises “discussions” of the “monopolisation of Thai politics” by the Pheu Thai Party.”

Echoes of the early 2008 PAD activities are not coincidental.

Meanwhile, the Bangkok Post has a report that indicates how a yellow-shirted campaign has been orchestrated. Tul Sitthisomwong, also of Chulalongkorn University and a yellow shirt stalwart plans to mobilize his multi-colors to “campaign in opposition to any move to change the lese majeste law.”

In a related move, Tul will rally his followers to “show its opposition to the cabinet’s resolution to pay compensation to relatives of protesters killed and injured in the anti-government protests…”. He reckons that the amounts “was too high, because the budget comes from the people’s taxes…”.

Also joining in is a senate committee that “opposes moves to amend Section 112 of the Criminal Code, the lese majeste law, saying those who are against the law might have a hidden agenda.” In other words, the same statement as the fascist academics noted above.

Senator Pornphan Boonyarataphan, appointed to the Senate under the military junta’s rules and chair of the Senate Law Enforcement Follow-up Committee, made the standard royalist claim that the lese majeste law is in line with the laws of other countries. This is a point that has repeatedly been shown to be false. The unelected senator went further:

The senator said the committee will send a letter to the Foreign Affairs Ministry, asking it to protest against United Nations rights official Frank La Rue’s call for the government to make changes to Section 112 after the Criminal Court sentenced a 61-year-old man to 20 years in jail after finding him guilty of lese majeste.

She expressed a position also made in the Manager, a PAD mouthpiece in rather more derogatory terms:

Those who want Section 112 of the Criminal Code changed don’t actually want the law to be more lenient but their target is to allow people to insult, defame, create malice and cause the institution not to tolerate any longer.

While that last sentence might be a bit mangled, the intention is clear. With the anti-Thaksin forces increasing their level of mobilization, the next week or so will see an interesting clash of ideas about the structure of Thai politics.

Ji on the TCIJ

30 05 2011

Giles Ji Ungpakorn has posted this account of the newly highlighted Thailand Information Center for Civil Rights and Investigative Journalism or ศูนย์ข้อมูลและข่าวสืบสวนเพื่อสิทธิพลเมือง. In fact, PPT received this not long after a ThaiPBS television show highlighted the work of various poll watching groups. It heavily featured Charas Suwanmala, the former Dean of the Faculty of Political Science, Chulalongkorn University.

As Ji notes below, Charas is not exactly an unbiased political figure, having supported the 2006 coup and various yellow-shirted movements, including those that were associated with attacks on red shirts rallying in Bangkok last April and May. One of our earlier posts mentioning Charas is here.

In the ThaiPBS show, Charas presented a position that was pretty close to the People’s Alliance for Democracy, questioning the value of elections and being totally dismissive of politicians. The underlying message is that he does not believe that “the people” can make appropriate decisions because the politicians of all parties are hopeless. In essence, Charas attempts to undermine a basic right to elect a government. In essence he continues to support those in the PAD, military and so on who oppose elections for Thailand.

Ji’s post follows:

Exposing the new “Thailand Information Center for Civil Rights and Investigative Journalism”

Today Suchada Jakpisut announced a new “investigative” website named the “Thailand Information Center for Civil Rights and Investigative Journalism” which claims to expose wrong-doing in Thai society.

But before you get excited, just consider a few hidden facts about this site.

1.  “Thailand Information Center for Civil Rights and Investigative Journalism” is fully funded by the Thai Health Promotion Foundation, a Thai Government organisation which gives money to NGOs. Thai Health Promotion Foundation is funded by ‘sin taxes’ collected by the Government from producers and importers of alcohol and tobacco.

2. Try searching for key issues in Thailand’s political crisis in the “Thailand Information Center for Civil Rights and Investigative Journalism” website. You will find NOTHING on lèse majesté, state murders of unarmed demonstrators last year, the secret military budget, corruption in the Royal projects or corruption in the Democrat Party. But you will find an article “exposing” Yinglak Shinawat, leader of the Peua Thai Party… and there is about to be an election….

3. At the bottom of the website for “Thailand Information Center for Civil Rights and Investigative Journalism” you will find links to various organisations which have been tainted with supporting the Military-backed Government: for example, the Thai journalists association, SEAPA, the Election Commission and the National Human Rights Commission.

4. More interesting links closely connected to the “Thailand Information Center for Civil Rights and Investigative Journalism” are organisations set up or run by Prof. Dr. Charas Suwanmala, former Dean at Facuty of Political Science, Chulalongkorn University. He rose to fame when he organised an anti-red shirt rally in the centre of Bangkok. He has been involved with “Thailand Democracy Watch”. This is based at Chulalongkorn University, the university which gave my book “A Coup for the Rich” to the Secret police, resulting in my prosecution for lèse majesté. “Thailand Democracy Watch” never once criticised the 2006 coup or any destruction of Democracy since.

5. Another site linked to the “Thailand Information Center for Civil Rights and Investigative Journalism” is “Thailand Political Database” set up by the same Prof. Dr. Charas Suwanmala along with an organisation calling itself “Siam Intelligence Unit”. The steering committee of the “Thailand Political Database” has such illustrious characters as Wira Somkwamkit (PAD extremist who crossed over into Cambodia to start a war), Dr Monkol Na Songkla ( ex- military-appointed Minister in the junta’s government of 2006) and Yellow Shirt media personality Jermsak Pintong.

So the “Thailand Information Center for Civil Rights and Investigative Journalism” is just another “GNGO” (Government-backed Non-Government Organisation), or in other words a Government media site pretending to be an NGO.

Defending the indefensible

24 08 2010

Dean of the Faculty of Political Science at Chulalongkorn University, Charas Suwanmala, while admitting that he has received his information from the lecturer involved, is reported by Prachatai to have defended  Weerasak Krueathep’ s decision to prevent students from demonstrating at an event meant to celebrate the anniversary of the establishment of the Faculty with Prime Minister Abhisit Vejjajiva as a guest. PPT’s earlier post is here. Of course, Abhisit attended an overseas university, not the royalist Chula.

According to a Matichon report cited by Prachtai, Charas said that “Weerasak did not overreact” when he ripped posters away from students, and also contended that this action was “reasonable, and not in violation of the rights of the students.”  In fact, he was doing his job as an organizer of the event and ensuring that it “went smoothly.” Weerasak seemed convinced that the naughty students would have signs that “would contain vulgar messages like those of the red shirts, so he seized them.” It seems pretty clear that Weerasak was simply worried that students carrying any kind of red shirt message would embarrass the premier, himself and the royalist university.

The Dean went further, insisting that Weerasak would not suppress students’ freedom of expression.  The point is that he did. Charas the adds that his Faculty “has been open for all colours.”  In fact, he says, “open, more than any other university…”. His claim that Weerasak would have let the students protest if he’d been made aware in advance of all the details seems lame.

Weerasak admits that the “PM’s security team alerted him to a group of students standing among students he had organized to greet the PM.  The group carried folded placards in their hands.  He approached them and asked to see the placards.  He had to repeat the demand, but the students tried to walk away. So he snatched the placards, but not by force.” [snatch: v. to make a sudden effort to seize something]

Dean Charas is dissembling. He has a well-known reputation as a staunch yellow-shirted academic. In April he joined with royalists including Police General Vasit Dejkunchorn, in rounding up other yellow shirts, including fellow Chula academic Tul Sitthisomwong, in demonstrating against red shirts by dressing in royalist pink. Vasit and Charas are reported to have sworn an oath before the statue of King Rama VI to protect the nation [from nasty red shirts]. Their crowd chanted royalist slogans, sang royalist songs and demanded that Abhisit not dissolve the House, which was the only red shirt demand at the time. Leaflets claiming Thaksin Shinawatra had defamed the king were also distributed.

Also in April, Charas joined with other royalist academics such as People’s Alliance for Democracy ideologue Chai-Anan Samudvanij, Pramual Wirutamasen, dean of the Faculty of Medicine at Chulalongkorn, Sombat Thamrongthanyawong, rector of the National Institute of Development Administration and royalist ideologue Pramote Nakhonthap in attacking red shirts. And as to his ideas about freedom and democracy, in July, Charas talked about democracy (see here). Charas makes it clear that democracy, while a noble goal, is potentially dangerous. Not least when vote-buying looms so large (at least in his mind).

In other words, given his track record, it is predictable that Charas would support a fellow yellow-shirted academic. If readers think us unfair, ask these questions: 1. What support did Charas provide for his colleague Ji Ungpakorn, harassed in his publishing and then chased into exile by royalist claims of lese majeste?; and 2. How vocal was Charas in supporting his colleague Suthachai Yimprasert when he was arrested on flimsy charges under the draconian emergency decree? It is clear that Charas has double standards.

Updated: Yellow academics

8 04 2010

Update: Available in Thai as “นักวิชาการเหลือง” from Liberal Thai.

The Bangkok Post (8 April 2010) reports on what might be called “dueling letters” as various academics call for or oppose a House dissolution. The latest is from the most yellow of yellow shirted academics. Others were reported here, here and here.

Now “303 academics at universities throughout the country on Thursday signed a statement opposing the use of violence and ‘unreasonable’ demands for a House dissolution, and calling on the the government to implement political and social reforms.  They said people can exercise their right to a political gathering under the constitution, but they should be condemned if they cause trouble for other people through intimidation and threats.  They called on the government to maintain the sanctity of the law and restore peace in society as soon as possible, before the country suffers more damage. In conducting political and social reforms, the government should be sincere and take the opinions of people of all sectors into consideration.”

The academics signing are led by Chai-Anan Samudvanij, the President of the Royal Institute, Pramual Wirutamasen, dean of the Faculty of Medicine of Chulalongkorn University, Sombat Thamrongthanyawong, rector of the National Institute of Development Administration, Charas Suwanmala, dean of the Faculty of Political Science of Chulalongkorn University, and Pramote Nakhonthap, said to be “an independent academic.”

PPT sees all of these names individuals as People’s Alliance for Democracy stalwarts, and in some instances, simply academic stooges. They are operatives for PAD.

Chai-Anan is one of Sondhi Limthongkul’s allied academics, and PPT has posted on him previously, here and here where his use of the Finland Plot (along with Pramote Nakhonthap, who wrote the discredited 5-part article titled ‘Finland Strategy: Thailand’s Revolution Plan?’, that appeared in the Manager on 17, 19, 22, 23 and 24 May 2006, is also mentioned.

The Faculty of Medicine at Chulalongkorn University is the most yellow of faculties in the most yellow of universities. PPT had a relevant post here. Dean Pramual Wirutamasen was one of those who brought the complaint to the Election Commission that had the snap 2006 election annulled and earlier called on Prime Minister Samak Sundaravej to resign.

A more staunch opponent of Thaksin Shinawatra, all of his related parties and the red shirts than Sombat Thamrongthanyawong would be harder to find. Yet he is still regularly cited in the media as if he is independent. He was one of the academics appointed by the military junta to the National Legislative Assembly in 2006. He earlier approved of another petition to get rid of Thaksin.

Charas Suwanmala has never hidden his yellow shirt, and was most recently seen changing it to pink, along with other royalists.

We mentioned Pramote Nakornthap above in respect of the Finland Plot. He was also one of those said to have helped arrange and been at the dinner at the Sukhumvit residence of Piya Malakul, chairman of Pacific Intercommunications company, in early May 2006, and attended by big shots including judges, businessmen, and Privy Councilor General Surayud Chulanont where there was allegedly discussion of how to get rid of Thaksin.

“Academics” doesn’t seem like the appropriate description of their work.

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