With a major update: Anti-democrats in a flap

16 05 2016

As expected, following US Ambassador Glyn Davies responded to reporters questions that got the military junta’s Foreign Minister Don Pramudwinai in an angry spin late last week, the response of the increasingly anti-American rightist royalists and other anti-democrats was expected.

Sure enough, according to Prachatai, they have gone bonkers, raging against the US Ambassador rolling out the usual shrill nationalist messages calling for Davies to be expelled.

This huffing, puffing and manure-rolling is apparently because the Ambassador reiterated that the State Department had expressed concern about the junta’s terrible human rights record and its manufacturing a lese majeste case against Patnaree Chankij.

Arthit Ourairat declared “Davies’s action … despicable and lacked diplomatic manner. He suggested that Thai government should send him back to the US in order to protect Thai monarchy’s dignity…”. We are not sure how the monarchy’s dignity was harmed, but that matters little to ideologues like Arthit. He is a former Parliament Speaker, a PAD funder who regularly appeared on the anti-democrat stage, as well as being president and owner of Rangsit University, where he funds and maintains a den of anti-democrats.

Like the dopey royalist rant by Justice Minister General Paiboon Khumchaya, Arthit babbles about Thailand being “a country with an older and greater culture than the US, [that] should be able to teach the US that by sending such a bad manner person to be an Ambassador is an insult to our country.” He wants Davies made persona non grata and expelled.

Taking up the royalist-nationalist cudgel was Former deputy spokesperson of Democrat Party Mallika Boonmeetrakool, who has a history of histrionic and neo-Fascist outrages. She” posted an image of Davies on her Facebook with a message that read ‘Get Out’.” The post has been widely shared among yellow shirts.

PAD and PDRC ideologue Chirmsak Pinthong declared that “Davies would only worsen US-Thailand relation[s].” He also took up the latest nationalist fashion of declaring Thailand socially and culturally unique, requiring the lese majeste law.

How such a draconian law is civilized is not expressed. But, then, that’s not the point when racists and nationalists flap their deformed right wings.

Update: According to the Bangkok Post, the military junta is also in a flap. Uncoordinated, contradictory and concocting things, the junta seems driven by the rightist rage and by yellow-shirted social media.

As usual, The Dictator, General Prayuth Chan-ocha is erratic, idiosyncratic and reflects his incapacity to understand much outside his hierarchical world of military posterior polishing. As a dedicated yellow-shirt and social media follower, he demands: “Is Thailand a US colony?”

Again revealing his insular perspective, Prayuth bleats: “The ambassador likely based his comments on general US democratic principles and information he gleaned from media reports…”. We imagine that he says similar things about Australia, Austria, Belgium, Botswana, Brazil, Canada, Costa Rica, Czech Republic, Finland, Germany, Greece, Iceland, Italy, Latvia, Luxembourg, The Netherlands, New Zealand, Norway, Paraguay, Spain and the UK, all of which expresed concerns about the junta and its repression at the UN Human Rights Council’s Universal Periodic Review.

While not a complete record of the event, a video of the Davies and Don meeting with the press is here:





Chirmsak mangles democracy

10 10 2014

A day ago we posted on the rewards heaped on the military junta’s allies amongst the anti-democrats. In that post we mentioned the appointment of Chirmsak Pinthong to the puppet National Reform Council (NRC). We noted that Chirmsak, a former senator, captivated by the People’s Alliance for Democracy and opposed to electoral democracy. His position moved to the extreme right as he joined the ultra-royalist Siam Samakkhi group.

Chirmsak’s rightist anti-democratic views are clear in a report at Khaosod. He declares:

The drafting of the Constitution needs to produce long-term benefits without bias against any individual, but if the drafting is meant to prevent people who abuse their power – people like Thaksin – from entering politics, it can be done….

Chirmsak equates elections with “the power wielded by the state…”. That’s an amazing conclusion but expected from anti-democrats who fear the power of voting that can produce benefits for the non-elite. He demands that “political parties that win elections in the future” should ever be allowed to claim “a popular mandate and alter… the Constitution…”.

Of course, the real story is that no elected party has changed the constitution since 1997. Rather, the military has intervened twice to throw out constitutions.

Chirmsak dismisses any suggestion that the NRC, the handpicked servants of the military junta, was biased. Given that it is stuffed full of his allies, Chirmsak’s dissembling is to be expected. He thinks “democracy” and “involvement” in reform will be a referendum. That idea is that citizens will be presented with a long and complicated document and asked to vote in support of it, in total. You get the idea that Chirmsak’s notion of democracy is badly mangled.

Meanwhile, as a footnote, another NRC puppet, Amorn Wanichwiwat, “promised to reform Thailand” declaring that this would be through a “Buddhist moral system” that only allows “Good People” to take political office. That it plagiarized from those who wrote the royalist script known as Thai-style democracy in the early 1960s. The emphasis on Buddhism will alientate non-Buddhists, but the anti-democrats couldn’t care less.





Rewarding the anti-democrats II

9 10 2014

Yesterday we posted on the rewards dished out to anti-democrats by placing them in the military dictatorship’s puppet National Reform Council.

A report at The Nation stresses just how much rewarding has gone on. Two of the major ideologues of anti-democratic movements from the People’s Alliance for Democracy to the Democrat Party-led anti-democrats of 2014, have been Chai-Anan Samudavanija and Chirmsak Pinthong.

Chai-AnanChai-Anan, who has long been funded by Sondhi Limthongkul, considered a palace insider and a staunch monarchist, is reportedly “among the leading candidates for the NRC presidency.” Back in May, Chai-Anan was amongst a group of elite conspirators who wanted the king’s intervention to “solve” the political crisis in their interests. They ran to aged General and Privy Council President Prem Tinsulanonda to seek his intervention with the aged monarch. This was another manifestation of the old man country. You get a flavor for their perspective from earlier, very popular posts at PPT: Dangerous old men or just silly old men? and A country for old men? (also available as ประเทศนี้สำหรับคนรุ่นเก่าหรือไง).

Back in 2009, PPT commented on Chai-Anan:

Chai-Anan Samudavanija, formerly a political scientist at Chulalongkorn University, is a long-time ally of Sondhi Limthongkul. He was also a supporter of Thaksin Shinawatra for a considerable time, and seemed to stay longer than Sondhi. Chai-Anan jumped ship when the People’s Alliance for Democracy was in Sondhi’s hands. Chai-Anan is also close to the palace, as director of Vajiravudh College and a member of the Royal Institute.

Chai-Anan has been a regular commentator at ASTV and his columns have been rather incendiary whenever the political temperature has risen over the last couple of years.

In another post, we pointed out that Chai-Anan was one of those who promoted the infamous PAD propaganda claim of a “Finland Plot” that linked Thaksin Shinawatra to a republican plot involving former communist activists. This pre-2006 coup device was meant to further establish the palace-Thaksin battle lines. As chairman of his own Institute of Public Policy Studies, long funded by PAD leader Sonthi, Chai-Anan has engaged in some some dubious name-calling and attacked representative politics. He has stated that electoral politics need to be re-considered and has been a supporter of the “Thai-style democracy” notions of non-democratic legitimacy.

ChirmsakChirmsak, a former senator once collected some valid criticisms of Thaksin Shinawatra in government but was soon captivated by the People’s Alliance for Democracy and dominated by a deep personal hatred of Thaksin. Back in 2010, he was howling about “civil war” and suggesting that Thaksin supporters are either paid by the tycoon or are traitors to the royal Thai state. As for those who were duped into voting for pro-Thaksin parties or into becoming red shirts, Chirmsak couples “the poor” with the “ignorant.” Like other right-wing intellectuals, Chirmsak remains so resolutely dismissive of many millions of his fellow citizens. Hence, he dismisses elections by talking of “a political party owned by an individual …[where the] party founders had no ideology and relied on their financiers to sustain the party.”  For Chirmsak – and he is absolutely logical and consistent in this –  the solution is appointed “independent MPs.”

In 2012, Chirmsak supported the ultra-royalist Siam Samakkhi group. At one of its rallies, he joined with a range of royalists including Tul Sitthisomwong and Kaewsan Atibhodhi when they cheered two thugs who had beaten up Nitirat’s Worachet Pakeerut. Worachet had once written in books edited by Chirmsak, criticizing Thaksin, but that counted for nothing when Chirmsak went after him as a political turncoat.

These are the political types who will chart “reform” for Thailand.





On the incapacity for political learning

17 10 2013

There are several common positions held on what has happened in Thailand since 2001 or since the 2006 coup, whichever is seen as the “major turning point” in Thai politics.

One position that we kind of like is that the combination of economic crisis, new constitution and the resulting advance of electoral politics saw Thaksin Shinawatra and his Thai Rak Thai Party “sleepwalking into history,” [clicking opens a PDF] offering national political-electoral platforms that came to be seen as a challenge to the royalist status quo. Voting for a party that promised and delivered opened people’s eyes to the possibilities offered by electoral politics that far exceeded the old “money politics” model.Sleepwalking

From our perspective, this is not an outcome we expected at the time Thaksin was first elected. We’re pretty sure that Thaksin didn’t expect it either, hence our pilfering of Jakrapob Penkair’s emphasis on “sleepwalking.” Nor did Thaksin imagine that the palace and associated elements of the capitalist and royal hangers-on elite would find his politics such a challenge. That opposition pushed Thaksin even further to so-called populism and a political alliance with voters in rural and working class electorates.

For an academic account that tells some of this story, download this PDF by Pasuk Phongpaichit and Chris Baker.

Another perspective is one that hasn’t changed at all since about 2003-4. The Nation reports on a “Senate-organized seminar.”  In  fact, the “seminar” was little more than an opportunity for the incandescently bright yellow “group of 40 senators” who are mostly appointed junta spawn senators to “explain” an unchanged perspective on Thai politics that refuses to learn from events and elections or to admit that people have changed.

Asleep at the WheelWhile Thaksin might have sleepwalked, this lot have been asleep at the wheel.

It seems that the unelected lot want “independent candidates be allowed to join the electoral race as a way to counter parliamentary dictatorship.” The latter terminology reflects the incapacity for any clear thinking on elections. Essentially, they refuse to believe that every election since 2000 has returned a pro-Thaksin government has anything to say about the mood of the electorate or the electorate’s refusal to accept coups, whether judicial or military.

One of the “panellists” was “former senator Chirmsak Pinthong.” Chirmsak once collected some valid criticisms of Thaksin in government but since has become caught up with the People’s Alliance for Democracy and a personal hatred of Thaksin. Back in 2010, he was howling about “civil war” and suggesting that Thaksin supporters are either paid by the tycoon or are traitors to the royal Thai state. As for those who were duped into voting for pro-Thaksin parties or into becoming red shirts, Chirmsak couples “the poor” with the “ignorant.” Like other right-wing intellectual Chirmsak remains so resolutely dismissive of many millions of his fellow citizens.

Hence, Chirmsak dismisses elections by talking of “a political party owned by an individual …[where the] party founders had no ideology and relied on their financiers to sustain the party.”  For Chirmsak – and he is absolutely logical and consistent in this –  the solution is appointed “independent MPs.”

Funny that, for his buddies organizing the “seminar” are appointed. And, they are “independent” of the ruling party. But they are the flunkies of the palace, military and every other hierarchical and unelected institution in the country.

Chirmsak’s position has been heard over and over again from those who hate the idea of the “poorer classes” having a say in government if that say doesn’t accord with their “betters” wishes. For this lot, people are best kept in their place and not heard too much. It is ever so much better if the toffs run the show.

Nothing has changed at all for the toffs who seem resolutely blind to change.





Further updated: The Constitutional Court simply has to be politically biased

8 06 2012

Kaewsan Atibhodhi has a long history of anti-Thaksin Shinawatra activism followed by deep engagement with the military junta after the 2006 military coup. He is a former member of the junta’s Assets Scrutiny Committee that was charged with investigating Thaksin and the claims of unusual wealth, policy corruption and so on.

He has recently joined the ultra-royalist Siam Samakkhi group that has insistently rallied against constitutional amendments.  In March, at one of its rallies, along with its head, who is a former member of the post-coup military junta, and joined by a range of elite supporters like Tul Sitthisomwong and Chirmsak Pinthong, they cheered two thugs who had beaten up Nitirat’s Worachet Pakeerut. So much for rule of law amongst Siam Samakkhi and its supporters!

Kaewsan and his ultra-royalist buddy Tul

With all of this background, Kaewsan – a lawyer – is the perfect advocate for the Constitutional Court’s political and illegal intervention and his argument deserves attention.

At the Bangkok Post, Kaewsan states that those who petitioned the Court see “efforts to pass the charter amendment bill as an attempt by some legislators to overthrow the constitutional monarchy.”

The “evidence” for this claim is the attempt to “amend Section 291 of the constitution, which would allow a Constitution Drafting Assembly (CDA) to be set up to rewrite the charter.”

In fact, this move by the government is attempting to meet an earlier demand by the Democrat Party and other ultra-royalists for increased consultation beyond that currently in the constitution, where all the emphasis is on parliament.

Despite this concession, the ultra-royalists are unhappy and (again) conjure an anti-monarchy plot claim. Kaewsan says the:

“complainants believe the Pheu Thai Party will exert undue influence on the CDA as it is set up. They also expect the party to influence the public hearing process and the types of changes which will be made to the charter by their hand-selected assembly. The petitioners say they are concerned these amendments will eventually bring about the overthrow of the constitutional monarchy.

In other words, the case made by the petitioners is a sloppy collection of cockeyed ideology, guesses, and suppositions.

Even so, Kaewsan’s understanding is that the Court is on board with these beliefs and suspicions: “I understand that the Constitution Court wants to know how the charter will be rewritten.”

Kaewsan

Of course, the Court has no legal power to do this (see below). So Kaewsan “explains” that in:

“reviewing the petition, the court may interpret Section 68 of the constitution mainly in the political aspect, not the legal aspect.

If that isn’t clear, Kaewsan then embarks on a discussion of why the Court must be political:

If we consider the case in a purely legal light, it is correct … that the court does not have authority to suspend parliament’s readings of the constitution amendment bills.

Let’s repeat that: the Court has no legal authority. None. But that doesn’t stop the ultra-royalists like Kaewsan:

if we take into account the petitioners’ concerns about political manoeuvring, it is a different matter and the court’s decision to suspend proceedings can be understood….

He’s right. The Court’s illegal but political decision is easily understood as a politically-driven intervention based on royalist ideology and conspiracies:

The court made its decision because groups of people told the judges that moves are afoot to overthrow the constitutional monarchy.

Of course, their ultra-royalist allies at the Constitutional Court believe such nonsense, so when they get the order to intervene they are more than willing to take politically-biased and illegal decisions. Kaewsan cheers them:

The court should consider overall conditions when making its decision, not just the legal aspects. Based on this overall premise, the court has authority to suspend the process.

Yes, the Constitutional Court is not about the law. It is about politics and double standards. Kaewsan makes this crystal clear.

What do the complainants (and the Court) see as the threat to the monarchy under a process of constitutional reform? Kaewsan says they:

believe the [Puea Thai] government will use off-parliamentary power _ the red-shirt groups _ to augment its majority in parliament to acquire a level of state power which may exceed what is provided in the constitution.

More supposition, ignoring the fact that, today, following the initial acts of the People’s Alliance for Democracy, even the Democrat Party has its own extra-parliamentary “power.”

As we noted, Kaewsan is a lawyer, so we might wonder why he condones illegalities and the destruction of the Courts by ultra-royalists. In fact, he has a long history of playing fast and loose with law. Back when he was with the ASC, he made the remarkable claim that “evidence and witnesses are useless,” when one of its panels recommended legal action against Thaksin without hearing 300 witnesses or considering 100 additional pieces of evidence (Bangkok Post, 9 April 2008).

Nothing much changes when it comes to the ultra-royalist opposition to Thaksin, to elections and to ideas about popular democracy. The “protection” of the monarchy and the system it symbolizes trumps law, constitution and the voice of the people.

Update 1: As an antidote to this ultra-royalist dissembling, two articles in The Nation may assist. The first, cites four legal experts: “Somchai Preechasilapakul, from the Law Faculty of Chiang Mai University said he wondered if the judiciary had any power over the legislature, the power of which is connected to the public”; “Chulalongkorn University law lecturer Manit Jumpa also said he disagreed with the court’s decision to accept the petitions…”; “Mano Thongpan, an academic on law who is formerly an executive of the Law Society of Thailand, said that he did not think this case required urgent attention from the Constitution Court”; “Political scientist Likhit Dhiravegin, speaking at the same seminar, also questioned the court citing Article 68 for its decision to accept the petitions directly from the people, not a state agency.” The second story involves the statement from the real agency responsible for assessing the constitutional reform/amendment=conspiracy to overthrow the monarchy claim, the attorney-general:

The Attorney General’s Office said yesterday that government-sponsored bills to amend the Constitution were not aimed at overthrowing the political system, as has been alleged in petitions filed separately by five groups of people.

Winai Damrongmongkolkul, a spokesman for the agency, told a press conference last night the Attorney-General decided not to forward the petitions to the Constitution Court. “The amendment bills will not result in changes to the political system that are unconstitutional,” he said.

Update 2: PPT has been watching Prime Minister Yingluck Shinawatra’s non-involvement as an indicator of her lack of attention and fortitude for anything controversial. The Nation reports today: “… PM Yingluck Shinawatra has decided to avoid what could be a contentious debate, saying she has a busy schedule until next week.” What’s so pressing? What trumps the Constitutional Court’s launching of yet another judicial coup? Well, there’s flood stuff. Visiting people and looking at flood preparations. Yes, floods and preventing them are important, but missing this debate is a capitulation.

 





Yellow protest, part 2

3 03 2012

This is essentially an update on our earlier post on the ultra-royalists and other yellow shirts coming together to oppose constitutional change. We are making it a new post because it deserves more attention than a simple update.

The Nation reports on the Siam Samakkhi group that rallied at Lumpini Park and was headed up by former military junta member and appointed senator Somjet Boonthanom and anti-Thaksin yellow shirts Kaewsan Atibhodhi, appointed senator Somchai Sawaengkarn and Seri Wongmontha. Apparently also featured were  Chirmsak Pinthong and Banjerd Singkaneti. We are assuming that this was the same event we posted on earlier, but the report is a little vague on this.

In any case, here’s the significant bit:

[The group began] their talk by jokingly thanking the twins arrested on Thursday over Wednesday’s assault on Worajet Pakeerat, a member of the Nitirat group…. While they do not support violence, tolerance has its limits, the panel members said.

Their comment is truly reprehensible and these people are to be condemned in the strongest terms.

Just as bad is the Democrat Party. Their Sathit Wongnongtoey is in the same report stirring up more violence by making patently false claims regarding constitutional amendment. Of course, Sathit is well known as a purveyor of fabrications.





Further updated: Nitirat academic attacked

29 02 2012

Leading Nitirat academic Worachet Pakeerut was set upon, punched and injured by two unidentified men in a parking lot at Thammasat University. The Nation reports that Worachet was talking to a fellow academic from Mahidol University “when two men sneaked from behind to deliver several punches in his face.” He commented: “I was hit and everything happened so suddenly that I could not even remember the profile of my attackers…”.

A Nation photo

Metropolitan Police are said to be investigating but “had not drawn conclusion on the motive behind the attack.” PPT thinks the motive is as clear as day: Worachet was attacked as a royalist warning to him and Nitirat to shut up. The kind of intimidatory tactic is one that has been commonly used in the past, most usually by dark elements within the security forces.

Interestingly, editor of Fa Diaw Kan magazine Thanapol Eawsakul witnessed the attack and saw “two attackers fleeing by a motorcycle.” That motorcycle was also seen by activist Sombat Boonngamanong who “tweeted that the motorcycle license plate was Mo Tho 684.” That should make it somewhat easier for police, assuming that they actually want to track down the aggressors.

This kind of attack is reminiscent of the dark days of authoritarian regimes, usually associated with the military when engaged in regime-maintaining violence, and is very worrying as there have been earlier instances of hate speech targeting Nitirat and Worachet. The nature of this kind of political attack is exemplified in The Nation’s own report, which is misleadingly stated:

Worachet is the core leader of Nitirat academic group spearheading a campaign to amend the lese majeste law. He is seen as a controversial figure due to his outspokenness in opposing the coup. His political views are often favouring the pro-Thaksin [Shinawatra] camp.

In fact, in earlier days, Worachet was a leading anti-Thaksin critic writing chapters in books attacking Thaksin edited by Chirmsak Pinthong. He was also anti-coup in 2006. That he has now suggested discussions of reforms of the draconian and internationally condemned lese majeste law, sees some – and apparently The Nation reporter and editors – as somehow simply “pro-Thaksin.” This kind of loose and/or politicized reporting makes the media culpable in political violence.

Update 1: Readers should look at Prachatai’s stories following this event. The first story refers to the despicable comments of ASTV/Manager readers. In fact, none of this is surprising and is pretty much par for the course. The second story is a statement from Human Rights Lawyers Association, Union for Civil Liberty, Human Rights and Development Foundation, Campaign Committee for Human Rights, Environmental Litigation for the Wants, Cross-Cultural Foundation, Center for Protection and Recovery of Local Community Rights, Community Resources Center deploring the attack. They state that they are “gravely concerned that the reason behind the attack could stem from the lecturer’s taking the lead as a core member of the Nitirat Group.” They add that the incident will “spur a climate of fear in society.” Of course, that is exactly what the attack is meant to do. The groups condemn the attack.

Update 2: Both the Bangkok Post and The Nation report that the two men who attacked Worachet have surrendered to the police. The “twin brothers told investigators that they are members of the anti-Nitirat group that opposes any move to amend Section 112 of the Criminal Code, the lese majeste law.” Meanwhile, in the Bangkok Post it is reported that: “Members of the Nitirat law group at Thammasat University say they will continue with their activities to disseminate their opinions, in the spirit of academic principle, despite the attack…”. The Thammasat University rector “condemned the attackers…”.





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.





PAD moneybags opposes elections

20 04 2010

The Bangkok Post (20 April 2010) neglects some important information – deliberately perhaps? – when they interview Arthit Ourairat. The Post says Arthit is “Rangsit University rector and former speaker of the House.” They neglect to say that he is one of the People’s Alliance for Democracy’s main financial backers and was one of their key speakers at its Sunday rally. He’s worth listening to in order to understand the right-wing perspective on current events.

Arthit sheets home the current conflict to the red shirts and Thaksin Shinawatra. This exceptionally wealthy businessman says the “crisis stems primarily from people’s insatiable greed.” Not his, of course, but the nasty guys. He says there are “four groups of people contributing to the conflict. They have different agendas, although they share the common aim of overthrowing the government.” Compare his 4 groups with the 5 identified by royalist Prawase Wasi or by royalist and anti-Thaksin campaigner and propagandist Chirmsak Pinthong in his civil war article from 28 December 2009.

For Arthit, the “first group is made up of convicted former prime minister Thaksin Shinawatra and his supporters. Their ultimate aim is to seek an amnesty for Thaksin and to retrieve all of his assets seized by the state.” That has been the PAD and government chant. “The second group comprises radical leftists influenced by the ideas of the French Revolution and they hope to bring about a revolution in Thailand. They aim to abolish the current regime with the King as head of state.” Arthit presumably is railing against republican ideas such as liberty, equality and fraternity which are all hated by the ruling class. His “third group is made up of the poor majority of the country. They are exploited and unfairly treated and are led by the pro-Thaksin group into believing the present government serves only the elite and ignores the poor. This group wants to free itself from poverty and social injustice.” The 4th group is “comprised of soldiers who have broken ranks with the army to work for the pro-Thaksin elements. They expect more power and higher positions if they help Thaksin return to power.”

On the present government’s handling of the red shirts, Arthit wants it to do more, talking of winning the “hearts and minds” of the “grassroots” people and more anti-Thaksin propaganda. Like the government, Arthit thinks that all red shirts are simply misled because of their ignorance and lack of quality information. More rule of law against the protesters is another mantra.

A “dissolution of the House or the prime minister’s resignation” would not sort things out. Why? Because these are “short-term solutions.” An election would see “the old power clique led by Thaksin would return to power…”. It seems he accepts that the government would lose an election, so don’t have one until his side can win. If these Thaksin people came back to power, this would unleash “a new vicious circle with anti-Thaksin demonstrators back on the streets.” He means the people he funds and supports.

How to get “reform”? Arthit goes back to one of the initial PAD calls: use Article 7 of the constitution to get royal intervention “and waiving the invocation of some other sections of the charter…”. What does he mean here? Perhaps those requiring an election at the end of next year? This would allow the establishment of a “national assembly of ‘decent people’ made up of representatives of all sectors of society.” So PAD are back to this plan, where elections are seen as dangerous, so appoint people – by the king or some other undemocratic mechanism.Would this replace the current government?

This unelected assembly would then “work on the reform plan covering measures to eradicate poverty and improve access to education, among other things. The assembly must take urgent action to reform the agricultural sector and apply the welfare state concept to the country. These measures will present a long-term and sustainable solution to the problems.” Arthit says nothing about how long this unelected body would meet, how long it would stay.

This seems to be the plan for establishing a – let’s use the right term – dictatorship in Thailand. It would probably be built on the destruction of the red shirts. If people like Arthit get of the leash in Thailand, authoritarian principles will organize the country. The problem is that the Abhisit government is currently accepting of this position and is moving the process forward (a point PPT has made several times over the past year).





Lese majeste and the “new” measures

20 01 2010

Frank G. Anderson at UPI Asia.com (19 January 2010) writes about Prime Minister Abhisit Vejjajiva’s new Advisory Committee on National Security Cases Involving the Monarchy.

The new head of this body, Kittipong Kittayarak, who is permanent secretary of the Ministry of Justice, is “perceived as having the objective of ensuring justice in the investigation and prosecution of the lèse majesté cases that have been plaguing the kingdom over the last few years.”

While some hope that the new committee will sort out the mess created by the government’s political use of lese majeste, Anderson points out that “Kittipong seems not to have been chosen for his compassion or his embarrassment over injustice meted out to the undeserving as much as for his status-quo leanings.”

Anderson observes that with “near-unanimous consensus [sic.] that the monarchy is to be regarded as sacred – and indeed this is enshrined in the national charter – it is not logical to expect that the new advisory council will proceed to free what are essentially political prisoners.” He adds that “it is unlikely that anyone will be released or that major changes in the judicial process will be enacted.” Anderson says that because Kittipong “has established a public record of supporting the 1997 Thai Constitution” that there is some hope.

For PPT, the problem is that many who supported the 1997 charter were equally pleased to see it trashed by the military-palace coup in 2006 and supported the writing of the military’s 2007 Constitution. Here think, as examples, Chirmsak Pinthong, Borwornsak Uwanno, and so on. Anderson thinks reform will be limited, preserving “traditional ‘sakdina’ values to preserve national security.”

PPT thinks that another factor at work is Abhisit’s duplicitous approach to controversial issues. His statements can’t be trusted and no one should be fooled into thinking that he has a “liberal” political streak. Each time he speaks in public, especially to foreigners, he presents his “liberal face”. However, when one looks at the actions of his government, it is anything but politically liberal, especially on censorship, lese majeste and the monarchy as a national security issue.

Just two examples of this two-faces approach is seen in reports today on the print media and controlling the internet.

The first story is in the Bangkok Post (20 January 2010), where it seems likely that the usual political double standards are at work as the “Culture Minister Teera Slukpetch, a Democrat, said yesterday that Wilawan Sapphansaen, the director of the NLO, reported the office had lodged a complaint with the Crime Suppression Division on Thursday against Somyos Prueksakasemsuk, publisher and editor of Thai Red News, for publishing and distributing the newspaper without registering it as required under Section 11 of the 2007 Publishing Registration Act.” The NLO is the usually quiet National Library Office that has now “filed a formal police complaint against the editor of Thai Red News weekly newspaper, accusing the owners of failing to register the pro-Thaksin publication.”

Somyos “said that the legal action against the newspaper was politically motivated…. The government just wants to silence the red shirt members…”. He added that there “are hundreds of magazines and newspapers which have violated the publishing act. If the government closes our paper, others have to be closed too…”.

PPT agrees with Somyos’s assessment; this is another politically motivated action that will be dressed up as “rule of [by] law.”

The second story is also in the Post and refers to the need for vastly increased technical capacity to deal with cybercrime.

What’s the first example (no prizes for a correct guess). Yes, alleged crimes against the monarchy: “Asanee Kawtrakul, Deputy Executive Director at the National Electronics and Computer Technology Center (Nectec), said in the past year in Thailand, there have been many big cases related to computer crimes, especially the posting of false information about His Majesty the King’s health which caused damage to national security and alarmed the public, causing the stock market to plunge during trading at that time.”

What is worse is that the government is successfully recruiting research agencies and universities to its cyber-censoring mission: “Concerns over cyber crimes have led government agencies, research agencies and educational institutions to join hands in building digital forensic resources in Thailand, as well as boosting research and confidence in electronic transactions through strengthening cyber security.”

As we said a couple of days ago, Orwell is resurrected in Thailand. More importantly, there needs to be serious scrutiny of Abhisit as the two-faced presentation on these matters. He continually misleads and lies on these matters. Watch his actions and forget what he says.