With two updates: Junta politics of influence, dark influence and murder

25 09 2019

A quick look at the English-language newspapers over the last day or so suggests that there’s more than a little poor journalism going on.

One was the report that “the Charoen Pokphand Group (CP)-led consortium, winner of the bid to build the 224-billion-baht high-speed railway linking three airports, will be told to sign the contract on Oct 15 or face a fine for failing to honour the terms of the bid.” That “ultimatum was decided upon … at a meeting between Deputy Prime Minister Anutin Charnvirakul, who oversees the Transport Ministry, Transport Minister Saksayam Chidchob, senior transport officials and the chief of the Eastern Economic Corridor (EEC) Office.”

PPT has no brief for the Sino-Thai tycoons at CP, but we would have thought that someone at the Bangkok Post might have recalled that Anutin’s family are the major shareholders in CP competitor Sino-Thai Engineering and Construction. Perhaps it might have also been useful to note that the Chidchob family, Anutin and his father have been political bedmates for over a decade.

While on Sino-Thai tycoons, the Post reported that Viroj and Samrerng Suknamai, the parents of “former beauty queen and actress Nusara Suknamai,” have “filed a lawsuit with the civil court on Monday, demanding 300 million baht in compensation plus a 7.5% interest from the manager of Vichai’s estate and the King Power Duty Free company, which is owned by the tycoon’s family.” Nusara “died on Oct 27 in a helicopter crash outside the King Power Stadium in Leicester…”. When all of the eulogies were for Vichai, at the time of the accident, BBC Sport Editor Dan Roan was in a spot of bother after being caught “talking about Vichai[‘s]… personal assistant Nusara Suknamai.” He correctly identified her “the mistress who died in the crash, otherwise known as member of staff, i.e. mistress… [of the so-called] family man [Vichai]…”. The report does indicate that the fabulously wealthy King Power lot have been pretty tight-fisted in dealing with the “other woman.”

The ruling class’s military-backed regime is anything but tight-fisted when it comes to buying support. Puea Thai Party chief strategist Sudarat Keyuraphan claims to have “an audio clip that would show that Phalang Pracharat had tried to lure …[14] Pheu Thai MPs by offering to pay them certain benefits.” Deputy Prime Minister Gen Prawit Wongsuwan denied this. But no one should believe Gen Prawit. He’s got form on this, having bought up former pro-Thaksin MPs all over the country before the election. That included heroin trafficker and standover man Thammanat Prompao. Now, Gen Prawit needs “to prop up the government’s slim majority.” This wheeling and dealing is expensive and leads to all kinds of policies that are designed simply to raise money for political shenanigans. The media should be more active in pointing out that it is the military junta’s constitution that (re)created the capacity for such political corruption.

While considering the military junta’s corruption, look to the report that the “Parliament’s Anti-Corruption Committee is gathering evidence in a fact-finding probe against Public Relations Department chief Lt-General Sansern Kaewkamnerd over accusations that he verbally and in writing ordered his subordinates to spread information allegedly helping the Palang Pracharat Party ahead of the March 24 national elections and attacking a former prime minister and his party.” Remarkably, the junta government’s former spokesman thinks that like a heroin smuggler, he can simply deny: “Sansern argued that he had never taken sides…”. Back when the junta moved Lt Gen Sansern to his position, the Bangkok Post observed that Sansern was in place to “control all government-run media and enforce censorship rules in the lead-up to the expected 2019 election.” While denying everything, Sansern ran back to the boss: “Sansern said he had briefed Prime Minister General Prayut Chan-o-cha about the case.” Of course he has.

And speaking of corruption, the National Anti-Corruption Commission is ever so careful when dealing with its masters the government. A report at The Nation advises that Deputy Minister of Agriculture and Cooperatives from Anutin’s Bhum Jai Thai Party, Mananya Thaiset – yes, in there with Thammanat – “has not yet submitted her declaration of assets and debts to the anti-graft body within the required time frame…”. While the law requires all to declare their assets, NACC secretary-general Worawit Sukboon “said officials … would gather information regarding the matter and consider issuing a letter to Mananya requiring her to provide her reason for failing to file.” It gets worse as the NACC tiptoes around its masters: “If the NACC decided Mananya was required to submit the declaration, the NACC secretariat will issue a letter to notify her accordingly…”.

Back when the political dealing was in full swing, the Bangkok Post had a source who observed the obvious: “Because it receives a big budget, the ministry [of agriculture] can be used as a political tool…”. Money can be made, voters influenced and parties supported.And, as we know from the Thammanat case, “influential persons” get these positions because they are the party wheeler-dealers. And, Mananya is from a family of chao phor and chao mae. Not that long ago, her brother, Chada Thaiset, also a Bhum Jai Thai MP for Uthai Thani declared “I am an influential person.” Back in 2015 it was reported that. like Thammanat, Chada was considered a “dark influence”:

Crime suppression Division (CSD) police officers and commandos yesterday raided 11 locations belonging to alleged influential figures in Uthai Thani’s Muang and Sawang Arom districts.

Most of the targeted premises were those of former or local politicians. They included the house of former Chart Thai Pattana Party MP Chada Thaiset and a resort building under the care of Chada’s nephew.

The 200-strong “Yutthakan Sakaekrang” operation … seized 20 guns, four bullet-proof vests, two tiger skins, two pairs of wildlife horns and a clouded leopard carcass.

… the operation was part of the Royal Thai Police’s policy to suppress crime, crack down on influential figures and hired guns.

Then in 2017, it was reported that:

A former MP and four members of his entourage were released on bail on Sunday after being detained overnight for carrying firearms in public without permission.

Chada Thaiseth, a former Uthai Thani MP, reportedly has been on an official list of mafia-style figures.

More than 100 policemen, both in uniform and plainclothes, intercepted his convoy on a road in Uthai Thani province on Saturday afternoon.

Chada’s group was driving as many as eight vehicles and a search found several guns and illicit drugs in the cars.

A pattern? You bet.

Turning to the other side of politics, Khaosod reports that Nawat Tohcharoensuk, a Puea Thai politician was found guilty of “engineering the murder of a civil servant” and was “sentenced to death on Tuesday … [but] will continue serving as an MP for the opposition, his party said.” He’s appealing the verdict, so the case is not over, but even so, it might be considered prudent for him to step down. But with gangsters in the government, the opposition has them too. And a bit of reading suggests the modus operandi of a dark influence:

Prosecutors said Nawat hired two police officers to gun down Suchart Khotethum, an administrative official in Khon Kaen, in front of his home in 2013. Investigators cited romance-related vendetta as the motive.

And, just to finish off with state violence of the military kind, we see the remarkable report that “four red-shirt co-leaders on Monday … confessed to their roles in the violent protest outside the home of the late Privy Council president, Prem Tinsulanonda, in 2007.” Perhaps they confessed to get the case settled? Perhaps a deal has been done? We can’t help but wonder because Nattawut Saikua said:

he and fellow red-shirt co-leaders offered their apologies because the protest outside Gen Prem’s residence caused injuries among both protesters and police officers on duty.

“We are sorry for what happened,” he said, before insisting the red-shirt co-leaders harboured no grudge with the late Gen Prem.

No grudge? Why’s that? He was one of those who perpetrated the 2006 coup and egged the military on in 2014. He supported crackdowns on red shirts that resulted in deaths and injuries to thousands. He dis this for the military-monarchy alliance that underpins the ruling class. With all the royalist buffalo manure that surrounds this creepy general, there’s no criticism allowed. No one has asked about his unusual wealth, revealed when he finally died.

What a week it has been for a political system designed by the military junta.

Update 1: Legal eel and Deputy Prime Minister Wissanu Krea-ngam declared Nawat’s “tenure as an MP was now voided, even though the appeal process was not finalised…”. He said the “constitution stated clearly that MPs lost their status when convicted of a criminal offence.” While we think Nawat should step down and while Wissanu picks and chooses which aspects of the constitution he adheres to, we are not so sure he’s right on this. All sections in the constitution relating to convictions refer to final judgements. Indeed, Article 29 offers a general protection to those in the legal process, stating:

A suspect or defendant in a criminal case shall be presumed innocent, and before the passing of a final judgment convicting a person of having committed an offence, such person shall not be treated as a convict.

Despite this, and the fact that “appeal is automatic in the case of a death sentence,” the House Secretariat is advising a ruling from the Constitutional Court. Of course, the judgement of that Court will probably follow Wissanu.

Meanwhile, in another case of twisted ethics (see those above), the junta’s Palang Pracharath Party is “likely to field Krungsrivilai Suthinpuak in a potential by-election despite the Election Commission (EC) having issued him with a yellow-card for attempted vote-buying.”

The junta’s 5 years seems to have yielded an administration of goons and crooks.

Update 2: Being ever so gentle and flexible with junta party allies, the NACC has decided that Deputy Minister Mananya Thaiset “must declare her assets and liabilities despite her insistence she is under no obligation to do so.” But she’s forgiven for “interpreting” the law incorrectly and can take longer to get her assets list in order before submitting it. Can anyone imagine such leniency for the other side of politics? Of course not. The Post believes Mananya is known “for spearheading a mission to ban toxic farm chemicals.” We think they are gilding it. She’s best known for being from a family of dark influences.

Chada Thaiseth’s convoy stopped by more than uniformed and plainclothes police on a road in Uthai Thani province in 2017. Clipped from The Nation.

Getting rid of the junta’s charter

1 06 2018

We neglected to post this a couple of days ago. So we are catching up, but it is an ongoing debate.

Future Forward Party leaders have stated that the junta’s undemocratic constitution. The junta has gotten agitated.

They have more to worry about. The Chart Thai Pattana and the Puea Thai Party have voiced support for this wonderful and essential policy promise.

Both parties noted the limitations placed on the election system, the political party system and national administration that all have to be scrapped.

As well. “Pheu Thai key member Watana Muangsook voiced support for the Future Forward Party’s initiative to scrap the 2017 constitution.”

He said he agreed the junta’s charter “was undemocratic and passed by a referendum that lacked transparency.” He added that the dictatorship “used every trick in the book to get the charter passed, including pressing charges against critics and dispatching military officers to highlight ‘good points’ to the public…”.

He is correct and he could have said more. The referendum was an antidemocratic farce.

Get rid of it. Get rid of the junta.

Grazing among the opportunists

16 05 2018

A leading former Puea Thai MP has revealed how “former party MPs, especially those in the Northeast, the party’s main political stronghold, were being approached and urged to defect” to the junta’s preferred parties.

Yutthapong Charasatien, former MP for Mahasarakham, felt the need to “warn” potential defectors that Puea Thai remains widely popular in the northeast and that abandoning the party for the junta’s support bases was likely to cause voter disaffection.

The junta’s efforts to peel former MPS away from Puea Thai have been ongoing for several months.

Meanwhile, the junta’s party recruiting among those devil parties that already support military authoritarianism is easier. Sources in the Bhum Jai Thai Party are reported as saying “about 24 former MPs and senators, mainly in the Northeast but also in the North, had expressed their intention to defect to Phalang Pracharat,” a junta proxy party.

Warawut Silpa-archa, a core member of the Chart Thai Pattana Party, “said some former MPs from his party, were also being lured away” to the junta.

None of this comes as a surprise given that the rules the junta established for party politics mandate that it return to an era when cashed-up parties grazed among political opportunists-cum-MPs.

2019 “election”

5 12 2017

Remember that late 2018 “election”? Even with the military dictatorship fixing the electoral rules, fixing the institutions, and likely to fix the result, that date is looking even less likely than when the junta made the announcement.

We use “fixing” in the sense of match fixing.

The Bangkok Post reports that some now predict that the “[military] regime’s possible delay of lifting the political ban could cause a general election to be postponed to 2019…”. Those saying this are “united” in that whatever their political hue, they are “civilians.”

One is former PAD leader Suriyasai Katasila. He points out, as others have, that 5 January is the “deadline for political parties to complete mandatory processes, including notifications of changes of party members to the registrar…”. Because of the ban on political party activity, they simply can’t begin this process.

One of the requirements is that by 4 April each party to find 500 members within 180 days of the law taking effect, find an initial fund of 1 million baht, call a meeting to alter their regulations, prepare their ideology, elect party executives, establish party branches and appoint branch representatives and pay the party fees…”.

The thinking is that either the military dictatorship is going to seek to hamper political parties by sticking to the deadline, while advantaging its preferred party or parties or it will later extend the deadline, thus further delaying the election.

Suriyasai says that some “political parties may lose their legal status and no longer exist if they are unable to meet the stipulated requirements within a given deadline, whether it is extended or not…”.

Chart Thai Pattana Party’s director Nikorn Chamnong agreed, saying “the only way to cope with the deadline of updating the party’s member database is to ask for an extension, otherwise the parties might have to be dissolved for failure to comply with the organic law.”

The junta’s blunt strategy is plain to see. Concoct plots, delay political activity (even under its fixed rules), weaken most political parties and stay in power as long as possible. Delaying elections (even under its fixed rules) means that the junta gets its preferred political outcome.

Gotcha moments on “elections”

21 11 2017

Talk of “elections” continues. One report has a deputy premier – the hopelessly military entangled “legal expert” Wissanu Krea-ngam saying local elections would be “held within 45 days of bills to amend six laws relating to regional governing bodies being enacted…”. That’s meaningless, and anyway, it will be The Dictator who decides. And if it is done, is 45 days sufficient for an election? We guess it is under the military dictatorship, which prefers unfree and unfair polls where it knows the outcome in advance.

Another report is of the virtual impossibility of “qualifying” parties for a national “election.” Chart Thai Pattana Party director Nikorn Chamnong points out that “the political party bill raises concerns … as its Article 141 requires parties to report any change of membership to a not-yet-appointed registrar within 90 days of its enactment.”

In fact, that deadline “will be in early January, but no party has been able to file its report because they are restrained by the junta order that bans political gatherings of five or more people.”

Is this the plan? No parties can run candidates because the parties will be in breach of “rules”? Or is it that the “elections” are going to be delayed further?

Hun Sen seems to have decided that elections are rubbish, even for justifying his authoritarianism, and the Chinese have agreed and see authoritarianism in Cambodia as their win. It is an unusual direct intervention by China into domestic affairs but a step further in its “diplomacy” in the region.

Thailand’s dictatorship, too, could decide to be allied to China and be authoritarian for years to come. Elections wouldn’t need to bother the military regime at all.

Ousting Yingluck and Prayuth’s campaigning

21 09 2017

At the Asia Times Online, Shawn Crispin says that Yingluck Shinawatra’s flight – yes, we know, it still isn’t confirmed – has been good for The Dictator and his regime. Crispin says:

[General] Prayuth [Chan-ocha]’s proponents view Yingluck’s impromptu departure as a third big recent win for the authoritarian leader, following last August’s resounding passage by referendum of a military-drafted constitution that solidified a future political role for the armed forces and his perceived as smooth management of the royal succession after … King Bhumibol Adulyadej’s death last October.

He adds:

Whether Yingluck’s flight has put the country more firmly on a path to new elections, long promised by Prayuth’s junta, is less certain. While junta representatives tell foreign envoys and business representatives the country is on a track back to democracy [he means a junta-controlled election], Prayuth continues to question the wisdom of holding polls that return to power the same corrupt elected politicians he overthrew in a coup.

On Yingluck’s case and “justice,” Crispin states:

An eventual guilty verdict against Yingluck is a foregone conclusion. According to one well-placed diplomat with access to the Shinawatra family, senior junta members were in contact with Thaksin as early as May advising that the court would rule against Yingluck – a verdict that carries a possible ten-year prison sentence – and that his clan should begin to make arrangements for her departure into exile.

He seems to be suggesting that the junta may have forced her to leave for exile. And, he adds: “Some analysts and diplomats believe the royal palace may have signaled for the junta to allow for Yingluck’s unmolested passage into exile to avoid instability…”.

The broader claim is that the military junta has essentially won. There’s no hint of royal discontent with the junta or of factionalism within the military and/or junta. Yet some social media commentary sees General Anupong Paojinda under unusual pressure – we mentioned this a couple of days ago.

Certainly, Prayuth campaigning is going at full tilt. Whether this is a sign of weakness (ie., the junta is split or splitting) or a sign that the splits are a myth and the junta is forging ahead, the calls from anti-democrats like Anek Laothamatas for a “national government” suggest that there is still concern that all the “work” done does not guarantee a Thaksin-free “election” outcome.

A “national government” would have General Prayuth as premier well into the future. This prospect has seen jellyfish politicians lining up to support continuing military Guided Democracy/Thai-style democracy.

A national government under The Dictator

The Nation reports that The Dictator, Thaksinizing his campaigning in rural areas of Suphanburi and Ayutthaya, has been promising all kinds of benefits and handouts to farmers if they support him and his dictatorship.

The two-day trip by Prayuth and his junta and a couple of civilian toadies was a massive PR exercise promoting military government.

Prayuth again warned potential voters to only “elect” those he considered the right people.

More significantly, The Dictator met with the owners of parasite political parties. In this case it was the Chart Thai Pattana Party, owned by the Silpa-archa family. They have created a franchise of gravel haulers and dumpers that can only politically prosper when attached to a dictator or a larger party or coalition of parties.

Prapat Pothasuthon polished Prayuth’s already shiny posterior: “I would only ask the government to distribute some of the budget from high-speed railway projects to help farmers. As long as people’s wellbeing is sustained, you can stay for another eight or 10 years and I won’t blame you for anything.”

Warawut Silpa-archa lapped at Prayuth’s boots: “The election will be decided by you. We’ll just wait to play by rules.”

This concocted meeting with politicians has been used to further Prayuth’s ambitions for ongoing political control. The Bangkok Post reports: that The Dictator is picking off the little parties, presumably to create a military party/national government.

Prayuth explained “democracy”:

We are making Thailand a democratic country, and special means are needed to achieve that goal. If we use normal means, is it really possible? I am well aware that the method to reach the goal is not democratic, but the problem needs to be fixed in this way….

Keeping the pressure on the Shinawatras and their supporters, The Dictator “warned Ayutthaya residents not to become pawns of some political groups encouraging them to gather in the capital.” He seems worried that they may disrupt the dead king’s funeral:

You can go to Bangkok to pay respect to the late King, but if you are going for other purposes or if anybody tries to persuade you to go, don’t go. Please stop it, in every province….

His persistent talk of threats permits deepening militarization and suppression, which makes the “election” a foregone conclusion.

“Training” for junta-appropriate politics

9 03 2017

The Nation reports that the military junta’s minions at the Election Commission (EC) are seeking to “train” political parties.

The report states that a “committee” has been established to “develop” political parties “in line with the charter’s national reform approach…”.

In other words, political parties are being “reformed” to match the junta’s rules, regulations and desires.

Unsurprisingly, the committee is headed by Anek Laothamatas, a former academic and failed politician. He has worked closely with the junta.

The junta claims that the committee includes “Pheu Thai Party’s secretary-general Phumtham Wechayachai, Democrat Party’s deputy leader Chamni Sakdiset, Bhum Jai Thai Party’s leader Anutin Charnvirakul, and Chart Thai Pattana’s key figure Nikorn Chamnong, as well as some experts and academics.”

The EC says the committee will conduct a “strategy, plan, and approach” to “develop political parties in line with reform approach as stipulated in the charter draft.”

Parties have little choice but to be involved although the EC says the members are individuals, not representatives of their parties.

General Sonthi and the coup II

22 03 2012

Perhaps now feeling that he went a little too far in asking his direct questions – or more likely reflecting elite criticism – Sanan Kachornprasart is reported at the Bangkok Post as backpedaling and simultaneously pedaling nonsense.

Sanan said he raised his question “with the sincere intention of wanting people throughout the country to know the answer [to who was behind the coup]. Since the the Sept 19 coup the country had been plagued with violence.” He said that “The people believed from the beginning that there were some other people behind the coup.”

Of course, The People have good reason to believe that.

Sanan said that “Thaksin and the red shirts believed Gen Sonthi received an order to stage the coup. This belief led a group of red shirts to lay siege to Gen Prem’s Si Sao Theves residence and the matter escalated to affect a high institution…”. Remarkably, Sanan then added:

Not only the people in general believed the high institution was involved in the coup, even some MPs of his party also held the same belief.

Then Sanan turned to a defense of the palace and Privy Council President General Prem Tinsulanond. He stated that Prem “had nothing to do with the Sept 19, 2006 coup…”.

He went on to “answer” the three questions:

To the question who were behind the coup, the answer is nobody.

To the question whether it was Gen Prem who lead [sic.] Gen Sonthi and his team to have an audience with His Majesty the King after the coup and whether Gen Prem was aware there would be a coup, the answer is “no.”  Gen Prem knew nothing about the coup plot.

To the third question whether he met Gen Prem before the coup and whether after the coup Gen Prem asked him twice, via Gen Mongkol Ampornpisit (a former supreme commander), to speak out the truths concerning the coup….  Gen Prem really did that through Gen Mongkol,” Maj-Gen Sanan said.

Sonthi refuses to say – if there was no-one why keep a “secret” to the grave while declaring loyalty to the king? – Sanan reveals the source of his “knowledge” on the coup: “from his own intelligence.” He doesn’t tell us anything with this. I know because I was told…. Maybe he should have watched Prem, listened to the coup plotters themselves and even read Wikileaks.

By blathering like this, his claim “that the high institution and members of the elite were not involved in the Sept 19 coup” really sounds like I’d like people to believe this with no evidence and, indeed, counter to the available evidence.

Updated: General Sonthi and the coup I

22 03 2012

The debate on the 2006 military coup has been given increased public attention in a quite spectacular way. PPT and many others believe that the palace was deeply involved in the planning and implementation of the coup. Yesterday, Major-General Sanan Kachornprasart, and soon to retire “de facto leader of the Chart Thai Pattana Party,” asked a very direct question.

Military leader at the time and junta leader, General Sonthi Boonyaratglin, who now heads a tiny party in parliament and is chair of the House Committee on National Reconciliation, according to The Nation, was asked:

Were Privy Council President General Prem Tinsulanond and the bureaucratic elites behind Sonthi and the coup, as had been alleged by red shirts?… Who was behind the coup?

… Was it you or did you not have any personal motivation? Please speak the truth, or else the public will continue to doubt. Before we can reconcile you must speak the truth and clear the doubt.

What was Sonthi’s response? According to the report,

He began by saying no one should ever doubt his loyalty to His Majesty the King, and then added: “I don’t think I can answer. For some questions, you can’t answer even if you are dead. When the time comes it will reveal itself.”

Interestingly, the report argues that to know the truth, “[p]erhaps you can try to read between the lines on what Sonthi said yesterday and decide.”

At the Bangkok Post, the report is a little more revealing, with Sanan asking:

“After the coup, Privy Council president Prem Tinsulanonda took you to have an audience with His Majesty the King, didn’t he? And was Gen Prem aware of the coup plot? Did you inform Gen Prem about the coup before you launched it?”

Perhaps the answer is not to be found between the lines but in Wikileaks cables that PPT has published on the coup. We won’t list them all here; there’s quite a few. The search function works. Alternatively readers could look at this photo in the Bangkok Post (at the link above) for clues on who might have been behind the junta.

A Bangkok Post photo

UpdatePrachatai has made a translation of the executive summary of the King Prajadhipok Institute report on reconciliation – the site of the questioning of Sonthi – and it makes interesting reading.

Why we are not surprised V

14 07 2011

It is not a surprise to see the Bangkok Post reporting that the People’s Alliance for Democracy “has asked the Supreme Court’s Election Cases Division to declare the July 3 election null and void.” Yes, that’s the same PAD that opposed an election and then campaigned for a “No Vote,” and was roundly rejected by the electorate.

PPT sees their strategy as one that is meant to spoil and soil the very idea of voting for political parties in a representative democracy. The ever more balmy yellow ones want to bury the democratic process because they want a political system led by the unelected “good” people of Thailand, backed by some kind of mandate from heaven.

Oddly, we agree with the yellow pack on the failure of the politicized and incompetent Election Commission that denied millions their voting right. The EC should be investigated and, if appropriate, sanctioned.

PAD is also trying to inflate its “No Vote.” In a second lawsuit it claims that “election officials at some units did not count ballots with ‘no votes’ on them but treated them as invalid…”. PPT is sceptical.

Meanwhile, PAD’s ally, the so-called People’s Council of Thailand, has demanded that the EC “disband six parties, including the Democrats and Pheu Thai [with Bhum Jai Thai, Chart Thai Pattana, Chart Pattana Puea Pandin and Phalang Chon], for allegedly allowing banned politicians to join in political activities.” This claim is made by PCT secretary-general Chaiwat Sinsuwong.

PPT wonders how many people actually know about the tiny People’s Council of Thailand that claims to speak for them all? PCT’s claim is a part of the same process of undermining the electoral process that is fundamental to a functioning democracy.

An arm wrestle and more is guaranteed between those wanting to push the EC (and the behind the scenes operators) and the red shirts.

Also on the unsurprising list is the threats made by Army boss Prayuth Chan-ocha, also reported in the Bangkok Post. The voluble Prayuth has been unable to keep his trap shut and barked his latest “orders” to journalists.

The Army chief, who has worked for a coup in 2006, been in charge of vicious crackdowns against protesters, expanded repression throughout the country, and had people sent to jail for alleged offences against a declining monarchy, “has brushed off worries about his fate at the hands of the next government, saying he has done nothing wrong as he has performed his duty as a soldier.”

In a sense, PPT can’t argue with the statement that “he has performed his duty as a soldier.” In fact, the Thai Army’s main job is repression. It has been responsible for the deaths of an unknown number of civilians over many years. But the statement, “I didn’t do anything wrong” is one that begs too many questions. We doubt that Prayuth is able to distinguish between right and wrong in any moral sense.

The claim he makes that “the military has done its best to restore order and normalcy in the country over the past few years, and the public should give moral support to soldiers” is simply rubbish. The military in Thailand is part of the problem, and its 2006 coup is the cornerstone of the political crisis.

It is then that Prayuth makes comments that suggest he is spilling his marbles: “The army belongs to the people and is ready to perform its duty to the fullest. If the army is weak, the country won’t be safe and may be in danger…”. A plea for support by the public may have some support, but many will see it as a statement of determination by the Army to remain well-funded and a law unto itself.

He engaged in his usual rant about the military being “duty-bound to protect Thailand’s three institutional pillars – the nation, religion and the monarchy.” That statement is a justification for repression and impunity.

Startlingly, Prayuth “warned that there should be no attempts to interfere in military affairs. The military has performed its duty as stated in the constitution and law…”. The constitution he presumably refers to is the 2007 version, drawn up by the military. Of course Prayuth and his buddies overthrew the 1997 Constitution in a demonstrably illegal act. Warning a government not to interfere with a military that should be under its control is a threat of mutiny. In most countries, such a statement would see the Army boss removed from his position. Prayuth should go now and spare Thailand further acts of military bastardry.

We are not surprised by Prayuth, just completely appalled by his impudence and by the fact that he is completely out of touch with political realities in what is meant to be a democratic country. We don’t think it will be long before Prayuth will symbolically match PAD (again) in opposing an elected government. His clash with the red shirts is bound to intensify.



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