Liars and scoundrels II

11 07 2018

As well as lying to the public, military dictators can lie to themselves.

The Dictator and self-appointed Prime Minister Gen Prayuth Chan-ocha has made a series of statements to actors and singers who called on him at Government House that are lies to himself, to the visitors and to the public.

First, he “denied he was trying to retain power…”. That lie can’t hold up. Even The Dictator could “not reject speculation over his perceived political ambition to return as government head after the next general election…”. Everyone in the country knows that any claim he is trying to retain power is a lie. He’s been campaigning. His adjutants say they intend for Prayuth to stay on, the military knows its job is to ensure The Dictator stays on, and political parties have been formed to ensure Gen Prayuth continues in the top job (-1) following the junta’s election, whenever it decides to hold them. His minions have been hoovering up candidates for the junta’s party. The Election Commission looks the other way so that the junta’s supporters can bend and break electoral rules.

Clipped from the Bangkok Post

Second, when he says “I have never benefited from being prime minister. I am not a business owner, so I have no need to seek benefits. I am satisfied with what I already have…”, he’s obfuscating. Even he went on to claim that “he was being investigated in 400 cases.” That number seems one just plucked out of the air, but we know that no case against those in power is properly investigated. No one has ever investigated why so many military and police officers are so absurdly rich. The whiff of military corruption is involved in every deal that it does.

Third, The Dictator “boasted about the performance of his government…”. He rhetorically asked: “Of all the post-coup administrations in the past, did they work like mine? My government keeps developing. Foreign countries praise us. No other developing countries have been able to achieve what we have done. This is what I want, for you to share this pride with me…”. He claimed “that his had been the most hard-working post-coup government in Thai history, and one that had achieved a lot for the country.”

Lying to oneself in front of others is pathological.

Liars and scoundrels I

10 07 2018

About a week ago, PPT pointed to the outrageous lying accompanying the military junta’s election campaigning and its hoovering up of candidates and election fixers, including some previously considered enemies of the military and monarchy. A few days later, in an op-ed at the Bangkok Post, Wasant Techawongtham seemed to have noticed the same lies. He was scathing in his comments. Here are some of them:

Some people just have no shame. They tell lies with a straight face. Perhaps they even believe those lies they tell.

Thai politics is … like a whirlpool spiralling ever deeper in the dark cesspool, reaching a greater depth than we ever reached before.

… obfuscation and downright lies.

We are dealing with charlatans who will lie and do anything to hang on to power.

Large numbers of people are now willing to take their lies as truths, treat their misbehaviours as appropriate or at least pardonable, and believe that “peace and stability” trumps freedom and democracy.

… their [the junta] gross craving for power and riches has led them to lose all shame and not mind being labelled hypocrites.

… they unashamedly turn to a group of discredited politicians — whom they earlier condemned as the cause of all political ills — to help them maintain their seats of power in any way possible.

There’s a lot there that is so obviously correct that we need not comment.

And so it is that the very same newspaper reports on the latest bucket of lies, dumped from on high. How high? Its from Gen Prawit Wongsuwan, the Deputy Dictator, the organizer of repression, the election fixer, the holder of luxury watches for a dead friend, a man so high up that he can spit on everyone else, lie with a straight face and keep his position.

In his latest blatant crock of smelly stuff, delivered with straight face, Gen Prawit at first “denied any knowledge of a senior military officer based in the Northeast helping to poach former MPs for the Phalang Pracharat Party.” Then when asked if “the officer in question was one of the top chiefs in the 2nd Army Region,” the dumpy general then admitted that he knew about this and threw out a stream of lies.

Gen Prawit said the “senior officer may have talked to politicians because they were acquainted but there was nothing more to it.” You see, he knows and then he lies. He then went deeper into the cesspool: “They may have had a conversation but it has nothing to do with me…”. He means it has everything to do with him. He’s the boss. He’s lying again.

And just for good measure – three lies are better than one or two – Gen Prawit “dismissed a rumour politicians paid a courtesy call on him at his residence at the 1st Infantry Regiment, King’s Guard, in Bangkok late last week.” Of course, he’s been meeting with them on a regular basis, organizing the junta’s rigged election. Gen Prawit couldn’t lie straight in bed.

Waiting and waiting for the NACC do something … anything

13 06 2018

At the risk of being mischievously accused by The Dictator and his Deputy Dictator of having “doctored” a photo – we haven’t – and causing panic – it won’t – we ask again about news of the Deputy Dictator’s case.

We at PPT know that asking is enough to cause him a loss of face and great anger, but the case looks so much like a cover-up that we must ask.

We have been scouring the news to find what the National Anti-Corruption Commission has decided on Gen Prawit Wongsuwan’s jewelry and luxury watch case.

Our search has come up with nothing.

It seems that the NACC is just hoping that the whole scam of millions of baht of “borrowed” watches just goes away with time. That’s an old strategy used to provide impunity to the corrupt high personages in Thailand. Well, those who are on the “right” side.

The NACC has been compromised and hopeless on its boss’s case from the beginning.

Will it ever make a decision on this case? Even a bad one? While it may hope that it will never have to, it should not be permitted to provide impunity for corrupt “good” people while using the law to harass and repress its opponents.

The junta and big business

18 05 2018

The Nikkei Asian Review has an article by Marwaan Macan-Markar that begins the much-needed task of unraveling the military dictatorship’s business dealings.

Over almost four years, the junta has quietly gone about reshaping the relationship between the military and business, both state enterprises and Sino-Thai conglomerates.

The article refers to a “cosy relationship between Thailand’s business-minded generals and powerful Thai-Chinese conglomerates.” It refers to junta-supporting companies as the Central Group, Thai Bev, Mitr Phol, Thai Union and the Bangkok Bank.

The report cites academic Veerayooth Kanchoochat who argues that the junta’s Pracha Rath project that brings the blue suits and khaki together represents the “collective endeavors of Sino-Thai conglomerates to replace competitive markets with hierarchy, rather than encouraging SMEs to catch-up with them.”

The report states that: “Conglomerates have been enticed to sign up with Pracha Rath with generous tax breaks and hopes for previously elusive project approvals.” It adds: “Officers in and out of uniform are meanwhile finding their way on to corporate boards and being given shares in return for acting as ‘fixers with authority’.”

In addition, academic Napisa Waitoolkiat is cited as saying “this symbiotic relationship has again become the ‘norm’.” PPT can’t recall hearing this since the 1970s. She added that state-owned enterprises have again become a sinecure for generals. She says that of “56 state-owned enterprises, 42 now have military directors…”. She adds that the movement of generals onto boards is beginning to include the private sector.

Those generals and their business “partners” are keen to protect this corrupt system, just as they were in the 1950s, 1960s and 1970s.

Somyos and his money

13 05 2018

It was less than a week ago that wealthy former police chief Somyos Pumpanmuang was mentioned in a post. Of course, long-time readers will know that we have been posting on his unusual wealth since it was revealed in 2014.

Back in 2017, we asked about the Police General’s positions and wealth. Somyos is head of the Thailand Football Association, an organizations neck-deep in accusations of corruption for many years. He had long business relationships with mining companies, and at the time of his retirement as Thailand’s top cop, was one of its wealthiest policemen. Somyos was known to have ordered police to support companies he had previously worked with. He was so wealthy that he gave rewards to cops out of his “own” bag of money. And we asked: Has he ever been taxed?

Somyos then got caught up in a scandal as one of his “friends,” from whom Somyos seems to have garnered considerable loot, has his upscale massage parlor raided,

It is now reported that 40 individuals, including  Somyos, “are being interrogated by the Department of Special Investigation (DSI) for engaging in financial transactions with the owner of Victoria’s Secret massage parlour.”

The former Police General’s claimed buddy Kampol Wirathepsuporn is suspected of money laundering and human trafficking.

Pol Gen Somyos has stated that “he had borrowed 300 million baht from his ‘old friend’.” That was “while he was a national police commander.”

The National Anti-Corruption Commission, populated by two other police generals, says Pol Gen Somyos had “offered a clarification over the 300 million baht, but would not discuss further details.”

The NACC seems most uninterested in the unusual wealth of dozens of people associated with the junta who display unusual wealth.

None of their assets declarations “explained” their unusual wealth but revealed (some of) it.

Somyos, in “his first assets declaration as a former NLA member did not show the 300-million-baht debt.” In fact, Pol Gen Somyos listed his and his wife’s assets at about 358 million baht, with debts listed at 3.3 million baht.

As the NACC has repeatedly shown, it is unwilling to investigate superiors and junta buddies. Will any body take this up?

Updated: Still watching and waiting

11 05 2018

A Timeline (from the Bangkok Post)

A couple of days ago we posted on how quiet the National Anti-Corruption Commission (NACC) had become very, very quiet on Gen Prawit Wongsuwan’s luxury watch “investigation.”

The NACC has now been pushed by activists to state that the “probe into the luxury watches allegedly owned by Deputy Prime Minister [Gen] Prawit … is still ongoing and is not being stalled…”.

As ever, though, the NACC secretary-general Worawit Sookboon said “it is unlikely the commission will meet this month’s deadline to wrap up the case.”

So far, the NACC has met none of its self-imposed “deadlines.” Nor has the Deputy Dictator met NACC “deadlines.”

Now the NACC says the “investigation requires another two to three months…”.

So the saga goes on and on. But that’s the plan. The NACC and the Deputy Dictator figure that they can just wait for the heat to finally go and they walk away from the cover-up “investigation.”

The NACC’s Worawit said, as he did months ago, that “the speed of the probe depends on how quickly luxury watch dealers respond to NACC requests for information about the 22 watches seen worn by Gen Prawit…”.

We can only guess that the dealers have been ordered/told/threatened/encouraged not to respond.

Worawit added that “it is not complicated verifying the 22 watches’ owners via the serial numbers, it takes time repeating the same process for each watch…”.

He did respond to the activists who demanded investigations to include all witnesses, saying that “questioning of witnesses, including the children of Pattawat Suksriwong, the late close friend of Gen Prawit, is completed…”.

Presumably that has produced receipts for the purchase of each watch and the tax paid. Yeah, right.

Update: The Bangkok Post has an editorial that makes all the obvious points. It notes that the NACC’s claim for delays is not at all convincing. This is also worth repeating:

The latest delay to the probe revealed this week will come as no surprise to the public but disgraces both Gen Prawit and the National Anti-Corruption Commission (NACC), which has six of its nine commissioners appointed by the current regime. This unnecessary and unconvincing delay has deepened the public’s mistrust in the agency’s integrity and independence, and in Gen Prawit’s claim.

NACC on watch

9 05 2018

It was only a couple of days ago that PPT mentioned how very quiet the National Anti-Corruption Commission had been since Gen Prawit Wongsuwan told them his luxury watch case was over. We assumed then that the NACC has done as it was ordered and there’s no case for the boss to answer.

Interestingly, a couple of activists have raised the watch case again. Akechai Hongkangwarn and Chokchai Phaiboonratchata have asked that “the NACC to summon Jiraphan and Jutiphon Suksriwong, daughters of Pattawat Suksriwong, for questioning over the luxury watch scandal.” Pattawat is the dead businessman Gen Prawit claims to have “borrowed” a score of expensive watches from.

The two activists, with considerable merit, “said that since Pattawat had died, his two daughters should clarify whether the watches in question belonged to their late father as claimed by Gen Prawit.” It seems the NACC has neglected these women, while hoping the case will just go quiet and go away.

We can’t wait to hear the NACC response.