The unofficial premier, military and election cheating

15 03 2019

We apologize to readers that writing about the junta’s election has become peculiar, totally entangled in the ridiculousness manufactured by the junta’s puppet agencies.

Recently declared to not be a government official despite being self-appointed prime minister, Gen Prayuth Chan-ocha has taken his “official duties” (campaigning) to foreign investors.

Seeming to misunderstand how foreign investment works, The Dictator-in-a-business-suit “urged foreign investors … to invest and expand their businesses within the country, as Thailand has this year become the Asean chair.”

We can’t fathom why a year as ASEAN chair should encourage investment. But more easily understood was The Dictator’s call for support:

I need support from all stakeholders. I don’t want to see any protests. I am asking you [foreign investors] to refrain from considering comments on social media. The government needs peace so that we can facilitate foreign partners….

He is saying that only a junta-backed government can be trusted to repress the population.Some businesses seem unconvinced.

Of course, that also requires the military. Recent commentaries vary on the strength of the relationship between the Army and the junta. Read them here and here.

One of the things that comes from Thitinan Pongsudhirak’s account is his discussion of other agencies supporting the junta, its devil party and the rigged election. He refers to “politicised agencies, such as the Election Commission, Constitutional Court, and National Anti-Corruption Commission…”.

The level of collusion, corruption and rigging is unprecedented in the past six decades. The obviousness of the cheating is startling.

Updated: Mismanaging the election?

11 03 2019

Less than a week ago, the Election Commission was defending the 12 million baht it spent on sending its commissioners abroad “in order to inspect advance voting locations and ensure poll transparency…”.

Media reported that seven commissioners took trips to various places, including including the U.K., U.S., Switzerland and Singapore. We do not know if they showed up in Kuala Lumpur.

We mention this because it has been widely reported that the Thai embassy in Kuala Lumpur “was apparently overwhelmed by voters.”

Soon, photographs of cardboard boxes being used as makeshift voters’ cubicles at the Embassy on the weekend.

Clipped from the Bangkok Post

While many “criticised authorities in charge of organising the vote, asking whether it was legal to use the boxes, which appeared not to meet the EC’s cubicles’ standards,” the EC has quickly “clarified that using cardboard boxes as improvised voters’ cubicles in Malaysia is perfectly legal.”

Of course, readers with longish memories will recall that the 2006 election was “declared invalid by the Constitutional Court, which found that the positioning of the voting booths violated voter privacy.” This led the Court to pressure the EC to resign for its alleged mismanagement of the election. Déjà-vu?

More importantly, does this mismanagement of voting overseas suggest that the EC is incapable of managing the national election?

Update: Interestingly, the state’s propaganda arm reported heavy turnout in KL. So much so, that extra hours were added and an extra day of voting was allowed. It also reported that Deputy Secretary-General, Natt Laosisavakul “praised the embassy for setting up the voting station well.” Natt also “praised” the Embassy for extended voting hours.

Updated: Media on Thai Raksa Chart and Constitutional Court

8 03 2019

We thought it useful to provide a list of reactions to the dissolution of the pro-Thaksin Shinawatra Thai Raksa Chart Party by the Constitutional Court. The dissolution was allegedly based on a series of “cultural” and “legal” reasons. We will probably update the list in about 12 hours:

Prachatai, 7 March 2019: “Constitutional Court rules to dissolve TRC party

The Nation, 7 March 2019: “Court dissolves Thai Raksa Chart, bans party’s executive board for 10 years

Bangkok Post, 7 March 2019: “Constitutional Court disbands Thai Raksa Chart

Thai PBS, 7 March 2019: “Constitutional Court orders Thai Raksa Chart dissolved

Thai PBS, 7 March 2019: “Thai Raksa Chart supporters urged to vote for Pheu Thai

Amnesty International, 7 March 2019: “Thailand: Dissolution of political party highlights authorities’ abuse of power

AFP, 7 March 2019: “Thai Constitutional Court dissolves key Shinawatra party

Reuters, 7 March 2019: “Thai Court Bans Party for Nominating Princess for PM

The Guardian, 7 March 2019: “Thailand court bans party that nominated princess for PM

The Telegraph, 7 March 2019: “Blow for Thai democracy as opposition party is disbanded for nominating princess as prime minister

New York Times, 7 March 2019: “Thai Political Party That Nominated King’s Sister Is Dissolved

CNN, 7 March 2019: “Thai party that nominated a princess for PM has been dissolved

The Washington Post, 7 March 2019: “Thailand’s Constitutional Court dissolves party that presented a princess as its candidate

Khaosod, 7 March 2019: “Thai Net Reacts to Party Dissolution With Pungent Memes

Bangkok Post, 8 March 2019: “Thai Raksa Chart plans ‘Vote No’ strategy

Bangkok Post, 8 March 2019: “SET unfazed by party’s dissolution

Bangkok Post, 8 March 2019: “TRC dissolution turns up political heat

The Nation, 8 March 2019: “Banned party’s supporters urged to vote for ‘democratic camp’

The Nation, 8 March 2019: “‘A threat to monarchy’

Update: We promised to add to this list, and we do so here with some local stories but also a selection that indicates how widely this news has been consumed. Some a wire service reports so duplicate others on the list:

Deutsche Welle, 7 March 2019: “Thai court bans party that nominated princess for PM

France24, 7 March 2019: “Thai court dissolves Shinawatra-linked party over botched princess bid

The Times, London, 7 March 2019: “Thai princess’s party is abolished weeks before poll

CGTN, Beijing, 7 March 2019: “Thai court dissolves party for nominating princess for PM

Taipei Times, 8 March 2019: “Thai court dissolves party that nominated princess

NDTV, New Delhi, 7 March 2019: “Thai Princess Calls Order To Ban Party Linked To Her ‘Sad And Depressing’

The Express Tribune, Karachi, 7 March 2019: “Thailand court bans party that nominated princess for PM

Bloomberg, 7 March 2019: “Thai Court Disbands Thaksin-Linked Party That Chose Princess

Los Angeles Times, 7 March 2019: “Thailand bans political party that nominated ex-princess for prime minister

The Age, Melbourne, 7 March 2019: “Thai court bans party for nominating princess for PM

Al Jazeera video report

National News Bureau, 7 March 2019: “Constitutional Court dissolves Thai Raksa Chart Party

Khaosod, 8 March 2019: “Thais Overseas Kiss Their Thai Raksa Chart Votes Goodbye

Bangkok Post, 8 March 2019: “Ex-TRC execs can help other parties campaign, says EC

Thai PBS, 8 March 2019: “Thai Raksa Chart party members can campaign for other parties

Updated: Thai Raksa Chart dissolved

7 03 2019

As expected, the Constitutional Court has dissolved the Thai Raksa Chart Party for nominating a (non) princess member of the royal family as its prime ministerial candidate.

Khaosod reports a 9-0 decision from the judges who ruled that the pro-Thaksin Shinawatra party “broke the regulations when it nominated a former princess as its premier candidate last month, a move that the party had hoped would help it sail to victory at the poll.”

This is the third time that a pro-Thaksin party has been dissolved by the politicized Court.

The judges apparently “established the nomination amounts to illegally drawing the monarchy into politics under voting regulations.” They had to dig deep for “evidence,” citing dead kings, the Court ruled that the king “and other members of the monarchy must stay above politics and therefore cannot run for office.” In essence, though, the Court simply followed the king’s announcement in February barring his sister.

Of course, Ubolratana is not officially royal but the king declared her as part of the royal family and that meant she had to stay out of politics. In the past, several princes had been involved in politics and served in government as ministers.

The Court revealed its politicized nature, stating that the nomination of Ubolratana was “a ‘devious scheme’ to score political advantage.”

The result for the party is that it is dissolved and “all of its MP candidates removed from the race and its executives barred from politics for 10 years.” If we are not mistaken, some of them previously served an earlier 5 year suspension.

The junta and The Dictator, while expecting this outcome, will still be jubilent and will use “disloyalty” against other pro-Thaksin parties in campaigning.

Updated: Rampaging royalists

6 03 2019

Thai PBS reports that the campaign against the Future Forward Party is being led by some royals and royalists.

A few days ago we posted on Boonthaworn Panyasit of “People Protecting the Constitution,” petitioned the junta’s Election Commission to recommend dissolving the party to the Constitutional Court.

Boonthaworn, a loyalist royalist, accused Future Forward of “behaviour against the monarchy…”. He slammed the party opposition to the lese majeste law and Thanathorn Juangroongruangkit for claiming that Future Forward would complete the mission of 1932 and the People’s Party.

That particular loyalist royalism has now been taken up by ultra-royalists and most notably the princely Gen Mom Chao Chulcherm Yugala. In fact, as soon as the party was formed, the rightist Gen Mon Chao was accusing its leaders of republicanism.

He’s continuing that, trying to smear the party, saying completing the mission of 1932 amounts to a plan to abolish the monarchy. As much as we at PPT might hope for that, we don’t think Future Forward stands for that. But its mildly reformist agenda scares the silk chong kraben off the prince and his buddies.

The Gen Mon Chao reckons the “mission of the 1932 coup [sic.] makers was to overthrow the [m]onarchy.” Going back, way back, Gen Mom Chao Chulcherm sounds so 1930s when he accuses the People’s Party of “Bolshevism.” He reckons the Party’s interim constitution was:

modelled after the Bolshevik revolution, adding that the charter was drafted by the coup-makers after the bloody revolution in Russia, which culminated in the massacre of Czar Nicholas II and his entire family and an end of the Russian monarchy in favour of communist rule.

In fact, King Prajadhipok, a famous anti-democrat, did accuse Pridi Phanomyong of Bolshevism for his economic plan.

But the Gen Mom Chao goes deeper into history, claiming the “Future Forward party has made clear and did not hide its policy, modelled on the French revolution, to overthrow the Monarchy.”

We have previously observed that “loyalty” now demands the erasing of 1932, as has been seen in actions by the monarchy-military alliance over the past couple of years. But in his rabid criticism, the serene prince is more boisterous, clamorous, raucous, tumultuous, and woolly than serene. His claims revive debates from the 1920s and 1930s. Who would have thought that an election in 2019 would involve the same debates as almost 100 years ago. But, then, Thai royalism is antiquated.

Update: Future Forward say they are taking legal action against the not so serene general prince.

Loyalism and royalism

1 03 2019

When the whole princess-for-PM stuff blew up, PPT mentioned that the election see “loyalty” become an issue. And so it has.

In another move against the Future Forward Party someone the Bangkok Post chooses to label “an activist” – Boonthaworn Panyasit – has requested that the junta’s Election Commission recommend dissolving the party to the Constitutional Court.

Said to be a leader of “a group called People Protecting the Constitution,” the loyalist royalist declared that the Party was “exhibiting behaviour against the monarchy…”. The “activist” slammed Party” secretary general Piyabutr Saengkanokkul’s personal stance in opposition to the lese majeste law.”

This royalist logic, fomented by Gen Prayuth Chan-ocha when he was Army chief, alleges that wanting any changes to Article 112 is an attach on the monarchy itself. Warped royalism soon leads to violent royalism.

Boonthaworn also claimed that party leader Thanathorn Juangroongruangkit probably meant harm to the monarchy when he “recently that Future Forward would complete the mission of Khana Ratsadon [from 1932].” He went on to allege that the two party leaders “had made several comments threatening to the constitutional monarchy.”

“Loyalty” now demands the erasing of 1932, as has been seen in actions by the monarchy-military alliance over the past couple of years. Who would have guessed that 1932 would be an election issue.

Updated: Election and legal activism

27 02 2019

A week or so ago academics Khemthong Tonsakulrungruang and Björn Dressel wrote at New Mandala about the rise of the courts as the junta’s election approaches.

Their comments were mainly about the Constitutional Court and royal family member and (happy to use the title) Princess Ubolratana’s ill-fated 12-hour effort to become prime minister.

On that case, due in Constitutional Court today, if the court rules to disband the Thai Raksa Chart Party, the proceedings will end. However, if the court goes to an extended trial, then the Election Commission will have prosecutors from the Attorney General prosecuting its case.

In the latter case, the decision will take weeks to months to be decided, presenting an opportunity for the court to change the election outcome.

For the Future Forward Party, Thanathorn Juangroongruangkit and two other party officials appeared at the prosecutor’s office over a case brought by the junta under the Computer Crimes Act. Prosecutors decided that they will not again meet until 26 March to consider whether to indict the Future Forward folks. Just two days after the election date, this also allows the judicial process to change election outcomes.

Watch these judicial interventions as politics by another means.

Update: It seems the Constitutional Court has decided to avoid weeks to months and will drop its decision on Thai Raksa Chart in just a week. That is presumably not good news for the party. Indeed, the court stated “that it will base its decision on documents submitted by the EC and the party without having to call in witnesses.”