Election (and) time and “deadlines”

8 02 2018

The general election will take place after all election-related laws are promulgated. That’s the word from The Dictator. But don’t ask him when that will be. Unbelievably, not least because the laws are all being considered by handpicked junta hacks and cronies, General Prayuth Chan-ocha is now coy on a date. Are we the only ones who think this is a political strategy by the junta to hold onto power for as long as possible.

This non-announcement came as Prayuth campaigned for his junta in Chanthaburi.

The various puppet assemblies are now engaged on such minutiae that it seems that the National Legislative Assembly and the Constitution Drafting Committee are seeking to make decisions about the most insignificant matters.

Delaying tactics and no deadline.

The other deadline, according to the Bangkok Post is for Deputy Dictator General Prawit Wongsuwan “to submit a third statement explaining all the luxury watches spotted on his wrist expires Wednesday…”. A third explanation? Another delaying tactic, this time by the seemingly corrupt National Anti-Corruption Commission.

The NACC is said to have written to Gen Prawit on 24 January “asking him to explain the watches but has so far received no response from the deputy premier.” We thought they had written to him in December when the scandal broke.

The NACC claims it has “interviewed four people reportedly linked to the watches and received good cooperation.” It says it will complete its investigation by the end of the month. That sounds like a deadline.

We can hardly wait.





The junta’s “election” stitch up I

27 12 2017

The junta and The Dictator are working hard on what they assume will their “election” victory, whenever they decide to allow one. The campaign has been underway for a considerable time.

General Prayuth Chan-ocha’s provincial campaigning has continued. After a bit of a cock-up in the south, the junta managed to orchestrate things better in the northeast.

His most recent provincial trip was to Phitsanulok where his campaigning again involved animals. As reported, Prayuth conversed with an award-winning fighting cock. His message? “Don’t be scared of the NCPO…. The NCPO won’t be hard on you.”

Clipped from The Nation

Meanwhile, the junta is handing out goodies that are incentives for voters. The utilities bills that were a part of earlier elected regime’s and their election campaigns, and trashed as “populist,” are there for the poor.

For the middle class and the rich there are new tax deductions of up to 15,000 baht per taxpayer for taking a holiday. The Bangkok Post reports that:

Tax breaks for tourism spending in secondary provinces from Jan 1 to Dec 31, 2018 will go before the cabinet today. The move is intended to distribute income to these provinces and make the recovery more broad-based.

How “populist” is that! A really cheap holiday thanks to the junta. (Remember to vote for their party!)

While the Democrat Party is disturbed by The Dictator’s use of Article 44, fearing that it will be decimated, that is indeed the junta’s aim. The party that has not been especially critical of Article 44 in the past:

will file a petition with the Constitution Court to determine if the latest National Council for Peace and Order (NCPO) order to extend deadlines required for political parties to follow under the Political Party Act is unconstitutional under the charter approved in last year’s referendum.

At the same time, the junta is busy stitching up the “independent” agencies that oversee politics and elections and enforce the rules. This bunch of junta puppets will now include “allowing unqualified anti-graft commissioners to continue working as members of the National Anti-Corruption Commission…”. The courts and independent agencies are likely to dance to the junta’s tune, now and into the future.

While all of this is going on, the political repression of red shirts continues unabated, seeking to silence and disintegrate this pro-Puea Thai Party coalition.

And when the junta decides to have its “election,” its puppet Constitution Drafting Committee has decided to make it illegal to criticize another candidate when campaigning for election. Goodness, the junta doesn’t want any of its candidates being criticized!

It’s a giant stitch up.





A party for Prayuth II

9 11 2017

It was only a couple of days ago that the Deputy Dictator General Prawit Wongsuwan was saying there was no need yet for a military political party. It seems that was a statement designed to actually announce that a military party was in the works.

This Prawit non-announcement seems to have been motivated by, as Khaosod reported, General Songklod Thiprat “who once worked for the ruling junta” is now the “acting chairman” of a “political party called Palang Chart Thai (literally, Power of the Thai Nation),” denied he was fronting the junta’s party.

This general has recently “presided over meetings and banquets, surrounded by party supporters. Media analysis dubbed his clique a ‘soldier party’ or ‘NCPO [junta] party,” having “pledged to support” to the junta.

General Songklod has been targeting members of other parties and especially the Puea Thai Party in his recruiting. We do not yet know what he and the junta have on offer.

The General is now Sgt Schulz-ing:

… on Monday, Maj. Gen. Songklod told reporters his party was nobody’s ally. In fact, he disputed founding a party in the first place – saying it was the media who misunderstood him.

“I have not done anything. I’m not good with politics,” Songklod was quoted as saying. “I have not disputed the news because I didn’t know anything about it … I think it’s because I seem to know a lot of people, so people connected me to politics.”

He knows nothing, nothing!

His “party” was just a  “volunteer group” that was “dedicated to helping the junta and improving the country, and it was not registered with the election authorities.”

Interestingly, bright yellow Veera Somkwamkid “added that another factor of what the next government will look like depends on King Vajiralongkorn…”. He said: “If His Majesty wishes to see democracy, he must support a political system based on genuine democracy…. But if His Majesty supports military rulers, then it’s undemocratic.”

That’s a brave observation that is likely to get Veera in considerable trouble. The junta has difficulty understanding Veera as he is a yellow shirt who is not now pro-military.

After all of this, as The Nation reported, facing calls to lift the ban on political party ban got peeved (again) blabbering that he would not “rule out the formation of a political party…”. He garbled his response: “I’m not thinking about [setting up a party] now but I’ll see how the situation is in the future.”

In other words, the planning is under way (see above).

Then Prayuth seemed to say that the election might be further delayed. He said “he would use … Article 44 of the interim Constitution, to extend the preparatory time for parties if necessary.” That means that the ban stays and that he’ll delay the election again by not lifting it in time for parties to meet the requirements of the political party bill.

He confirmed this delay by saying that the junta had “concluded … that the current situation was not yet settled. The country is still in a period when it should not go through a conflict of any kind…”. That is, no election until, as we have said many times before, the junta decides its party can win easily under its rules.

The military dictatorship is supported in its delaying tactics by its various puppet organizations like the Constitution Drafting Committee. There’s not even an Election Commission set up or likely to be any time soon. That is, no election until the junta decides its party can win easily under its rules.

Then The Nation reported The Dictator’s firm confirmation that a military party is in the works.

General Prayuth presented “another set of questions to ask people regarding the future of politics…”. In fact, though, they are a softening up process for the military party. They are also about the junta campaigning. The propaganda/questions were:

1. Do we need to have new political parties or new politicians for the people to consider in the next election and whether the old politicians or political parties can form a government that pushes forward reforms or the national strategy?

2. Is it his or the junta’s right to support any one of the parties?

(After asking the question, Prayut himself appeared to answer the question by saying that it was his right to support or not support any one, and if there were all the old faces he would not support them.

3. Do people see a better future from the government’s work during the past three years?

4. Is it appropriate to raise the idea of going back to the administrative style of previous governments in the current moment?

5. Have democratic governments or politicians been effective over the years and shown enough governance to drive the country’s growth in a sustainable manner?

6. Why are politicians lining up together and attacking the government?

We actually think this is a potential kindling point. Having mostly proclaimed (quite falsely) that the junta only acted to prevent chaos, these questions reinforce that The Dictator and the military junta are power hungry thugs.





Meechai the nepotist

31 10 2017

Since the 2014 military coup, there have been several cases of nepotism involving the junta and its various puppet bodies.

Back in 2016, The Dictator was defending his brother General Preecha Chan-ocha against allegations of nepotism after a leaked memo revealed that the permanent secretary for defense had secured a military post for his son Patipat (see here and here). The same Preecha was also involved in a scandal when another son received military contracts worth nearly 27 million baht and from the army region his father once commanded. Earlier, Preecha had been unable to do the arithmetic in his assets declaration and was defended by his powerful brother.

In 2015, the Association of Organizations Protecting the Thai Constitution pointed out that Deputy PM Wissanu Krea-ngam had seen his two brothers appointed to the National Reform Steering Assembly.

Also in 2015, it was reported that 70 members of the puppet National Legislative Assembly who have hired relatives to “work” with them at taxpayers expense, ranging from about 15,000 baht to 24,000 baht per month each. That amounted to around 17-18 million baht a year, not including per diems, travel and other perks.

Thailand’s dictatorship demonstrates the arrogance of unfettered power. Nepotism runs deep and no investigations are permitted.

Getting in for a slurp at the trough is Constitution Drafting Committee chairman Meechai Ruchupan. He has fed from the military boot for decades as a dedicated servant of royalist authoritarianism.

The Bangkok Post reports that Meechai’s daughter, Mayura Chuangchote, draws a monthly salary of 47,500 baht as her father’s deputy secretary on the CDC.

Like other junta nepotists, Meechai rejects that appointing his daughter as a personal assistant in a government position is nepotism.

The nepotist says that appointing his daughter was justified because “the role had to be filled by someone reliable and who could be trusted to keep the panel’s work confidential.” Of course, he trusts his daughter! No one else among 65 million Thais could possibly do the job. Sounding like someone from the 13th century, Meechai says only family can be trusted.

We can well understand that Meechai has lots of secrets and that his work for the junta must be secretive as they connive and scheme to monopolize political power.

Meechai’s keeping it all in the family follows the example of The Dictator as puppeteer.





A lawless and lying junta

11 10 2017

PPT has been busy posting about other things – the absurdity of lese majeste, junta political gymnastics – and so we neglected to mention an important op-ed by Umesh Pandey is Editor of the Bangkok Post. Earlier we posted on another commentary by Umesh on the basis of the junta’s rule in illegality and lies.

This op-ed may be seen as somewhat dated, given recent “changes” (see below), but we think his comments deserve consideration for the broader points made about what defines the military dictatorship, led by General Prayuth Chan-ocha.

Umesh’s latest commentary begins thus: “Bending the law and going back on words seems to have become the norm ever since the coup that ousted the elected government in 2014.”

In other words, the regime is built on lies and the manipulation of law.

The Post’s editor is particularly upset that The Dictator told US President Trump that there would be “free and fair elections in 2018,” only to renege. (We actually think that General Prayuth and his team of flunkies simply didn’t comprehend the statement they signed. They are not all that intelligent.)

Umesh also worries that the puppet Constitution Drafting Committee, led by serial constitution buster and military minion Meechai Ruchupan, “is defending delays in polls is something that should go down in history books as being one of its kind in the world.” He comments that the CDC “is a body that supposedly comprises some of the smartest people, who are supposed to look at the country’s future and its long-term well-being, and they are protecting the never-ending delays that this military regime is trying to undertake.”

Smartest? Really? As far as we can tell from their record, the CDC is composed of puppets with no more intelligence than their wooden counterparts.

And, this is certainly not the first time that the CDC has supported the junta’s delays. In fact, we have lost count. But this is nothing other than a collection of puppets with the junta pulling all the strings.

Umesh observes that:

The regime’s initial promise to hold elections was within a year of the coup, so 2015, then it turned out to be 2016, then 2017 and finally Gen Prayut announced at the United Nations that it would be 2018.

Then it was 2019, although in recent days The Dictator has changed this back to 2018 (maybe). We still don’t know why Prayuth back-flipped.

Umesh continues:

While democracy is being kicked around a football, the players are gradually being red-carded one after another. The latest headlines in yesterday’s papers suggest that there is an all-out effort to go for the final kill.

After having prosecuted the Pheu Thai and its predecessor parties for the past decade, efforts are being made to charge its backer, Thaksin [Shinawatra], with the feared Section 112. Newly appointed Attorney-General Khemchai Chutiwongs said 112 can be applied for video footage in which Thaksin reportedly blamed members of the Privy Council for the May 22, 2014 coup that ousted Pheu Thai government.

Of course, no election held under the junta’s rules will be “free” or “fair” or “democratic.”

Bravely, Umesh ponders the lese majeste law: “As far as most of the population of this country is aware, the lese majeste law clearly states that it applies to only members of the royal family.”

Well, sort of, apart from the cases related to Princess Sirindhorn, royal pets, dead kings, historical figures and mythical queens. But we get the point.

He asks:

So, what is the section of the 112 law that the attorney-general is going to use to prosecute Thaksin? Or is it the case that this law was changed over the course of time and people are not aware of it?

In fact, lese majeste is used however the junta (and palace) wants it to be used. There’s no rule of law in Thailand, just rule by junta.





Updated: Disorganized, disorganizing and an election date

10 10 2017

We were just about to post the story that was to appear below when breaking news stated this:

Thailand will hold a general election in November 2018, Prime Minister Prayuth Chan-ocha said on Tuesday, the most precise date he has given yet for the vote since taking power in a 2014 military coup.

Prayuth, head of the ruling junta or National Council for Peace and Order, said the exact election date would be announced in June 2018. The junta has repeatedly delayed elections, citing concerns such as changes to the constitution and security issues.

“Around June we will announce the date for the next election,” Prayuth told reporters at Bangkok’s Government House.

“In November we will have an election.”

Update: The junta has actually blinked or it has come under sustained pressure. It was only a few days ago that military dictator General Prayuth Chan-ocha signed a Joint Statement between the United States of America and the Kingdom of Thailand that vowed: “Thailand’s commitment to the Roadmap, which, upon completion of relevant organic laws as stipulated by the Constitution, will lead to free and fair elections in 2018.”

Within hours, General Prayuth had corrected “misconceptions” declaring that 2018 really meant 2019. Other members of the junta supported him. Now, there a back-flip and, as noted above, The Dictator has changed his mind and 2018 from now on will mean 2018. But why the back-flip? We don’t know. Some suggest it is because of pressure from political parties. Others say the army is split. Some others say that royalists are convinced that an election under the junta’s rules will produce a pro-junta regime, and having a rigged election will satisfy the “democratic” demands in Europe and the US and that Thailand will look better once it can ditch the military dictatorship moniker.

In making this back-flip, Prayuth loses considerable face, so expect outbursts against opponents. Perhaps even more regime repression and jailings.

The Bangkok Post earlier reported some of the consternation. Constitution Drafting Committee Chairman Meechai Ruchupan, who is a regime lackey, said he believed the time was right “to revoke the ban [on political parties] this week so parties could resume their political activities.” This recommendation to the junta, which met just prior to a cabinet meeting, seems to have reflected pressure being applied in other quarters for a transition away from military dictatorship.

The junta certainly appears disorganized. At the same time, if the ban on political parties remains, “election” delays will continue. In this sense, the junta is disorganizing those who may compete against its candidates (however it decides to manage its “election”).

On top of all of this, Prayuth, if he is feeling more powerful than he is today, could always postpone again.





Updated: Will it be 2019?

6 10 2017

Thailand’s military dictator, General Prayuth Chan-ocha, presumably understood that in the U.S. he was signing a Joint Statement between the United States of America and the Kingdom of Thailand that stated “Thailand’s commitment to the Roadmap, which, upon completion of relevant organic laws as stipulated by the Constitution, will lead to free and fair elections in 2018.”

Lying is a bit like eating and sleeping for The Dictator; it comes naturally. In any case, within days, General Prayuth has corrected “misconceptions” that using the date “2018” actually meant the year 2018 in the Gregorian calendar.

We didn’t believe the statement on this point – neither Trump nor Prayuth fully understand “truth” – and the latter has now, magician-like, revealed that 2018 means 2019.

This election rabbit has been pulled from a hat when meeting with junta-worshiping, posterior polishing Thais in the United States “that the election should take place in 2019,” with the report adding that this is “many months later than the junta-appointed legislators had predicted.”

Remember all the times that Prayuth promised and the reneged? Recall all the times he has said he’s sticking by the roadmap and then changed it? Now, the earliest Prayuth’s election can be held is probably April 2019. But he could easily change his mind again.

Perhaps the junta feels that this date is appropriate and it reckons its iron grip will be tight enough by then to allow its people to dominate the “election.” After all, five years after the coup (in 2019), the dinosaur coup-makers probably assume there won’t be much left of the Shinawatras and theirassociated political party and red shirts. Pesky pro-democracy activists have been more or less cowed. And, following a royal funeral and coronation, the military thugs probably think they’ll have the country tied up.

If The Dictator remains unsure of his “electoral” victory, expect further delays. The rabbit can go back in the hat to be revealed again. Prayuth has repeatedly babbled about not wanting to be premier but he sure seems to crave the power and prestige.

Update: The Bangkok Post headlines a story: “Meechai unravels Prayut’s poll quote.” The story is about one of Thailand’s most destructive of conservatives, Meechai Ruchupan. This old man has meddled in the writing of Thailand’s most conservative constitutions and laws. For his role in 1991 when he was also serving military putchists, we have a post. It seems this geriatric is somehow in a time warp – 1968.

Meechai is, quite simply, the military’s man, responsible for multiple illiberal reversions over several decades. He currently chairs the puppet Constitution Drafting Committee. The sub-heading is “Says premier only speculating on delay.” We doubt The Dictator will fancy being told he’s “speculating.” The Dictator is more likely to be telling Meechai what to do. In fact, baring some kind of uprising from within the military or from society, it is General Prayuth who will decide when he wants to hold his “election”; Meechai, as a pawn, will do what he’s told.