Plowing the taxpayer’s back I

25 11 2019

Quite a long time ago, before the overthrow of the absolute monarchy, there was criticism of the king and aristocrats for plowing the backs of the people – exploiting them, sucking away their “wealth.”

We dug up a copy of a cartoon on this topic from an excellent thesis from 1992.It is happening again. One example is the king snaffling units of the police and military. In a summary of his grasping of police for “protecting” the monarchy. That filching was costing the taxpayer a minimum of 300 million baht for salaries alone and probably double and triple that for all the necessary trappings.

Another cost has just been revealed. It turns out that the “commando unit that has been reassigned to provide security for … the King and other members of the royal family” now needs to be replaced. Apparently, the acquisition of the commando unit, now a 904 outfit, meant that there was no special for “protecting” the rest of the population. The Crime Suppression Division “has established a new special weapons and tactics (Swat) unit to replace a commando unit…”.

It is reported that “CSD commander Pol Maj Gen Jirabhop Bhuridet said the newly-established SWAT unit will be responsible for operations which require specialised personnel and weapons.” He said “this unit should be considered as a key unit within the CIB…”.

In other words, the king’s actions left the public vulnerable. More, the taxpayer is shaken down twice. Once to pay even more for the king’s extra “protection” and a second time to pay for the public’s “protection.”

Where will the sucking of public resources into the palace end?

Strange maneuverings I

23 10 2015

When it comes to Thailand’s feudal institutions, nothing is extraordinary. The new round of lese majeste cases raises numerous questions, almost none of which may be seriously asked or addressed in the country due to Article 112 and the military dictatorship’s monarchy psychosis.

The current cases against Suriyan Sujaritpalawong, Jirawong Wattanathewasilp and Pol Maj Prakrom Warunprapha will likely remain in an opaque cloud of rumor, fear and state obfuscation for years if not decades.

The Bangkok Post reports that the authorities have now “frozen some of the assets of the three lese majeste suspects…”. We are told they used the “monarchy to obtain benefits” and that the cases are “similar to the criminal case against former Central Investigation Bureau (CIB) chief Pongpat Chayaphan, whose criminal network was brought down late last year.”

It might have been a criminal network, but all of those associated with it were linked to the crown prince and/or his then wife, Princess Srirasmi. What is happening in the prince’s household that has him associated with criminal networks? Is the military junta protecting him or undermining him?

Whatever it is, the police say that they are “expanding their investigation…”. The press is told that this may include “eight CIB police officers who were transferred to inactive posts on Sunday pending a probe” and who are now said to have “cooperated well with investigators and they were providing useful information.”

One of the more bizarre elements of the current cases is that these are not persons who can be considered opponents of the monarchy.

Indeed, Pol Maj Prakrom “won a scholarship from the Defence Ministry to further his military studies in England …[and a]fter graduating, he served as a soldier at the army’s Artillery Centre in Lop Buri.” He later joined the police force. He had a slip-up in 1999, and “was dismissed from the police following an accusation that he forged the signature of the late Supreme Patriarch. However, prosecutors later decided not to indict him.” Who arranged that?

He later joined the Technology Crime Suppression Division and was with the Crime Suppression Division special operations unit when arrested. The Post buys off at this point, just when the story is getting interesting. Fortunately, a report in Khaosod has more.

It states that Prakrom “served as an officer in the online crime unit from January until last Friday…”. That is, he was at the Technology Crime Suppression Division, in charge of hunting lese majeste online. Indeed, Prakrom played a key role in the investigation of Pongpat! He also played a role in having Chayapa Chokpornbutsri arrested back in June. She allegedly “spread rumors of an imminent counter-coup against junta chairman Prayuth Chan-ocha.”

Readers may recall that “Chayapha was later charged with lese majeste after Prakrom’s unit said it found critical remarks about the monarchy on social media.”

So Prakrom is at the center of the group of monarchy protectors within the state. Who has he damaged within that group? Was he close to the prince or is he being punished?

Suriyan is very well known as a soothsayer to the elite and, until recently, was proclaimed close to the prince: “Before his arrest, he served as an adviser to a subcommittee responsible for holding activities for the ‘Bike for Mom’ cycling event in August, as well as the ‘Bike for Dad’ event scheduled for December.” What has he done? Has he fallen out with the prince or is the junta decapitating the prince’s closest advisers?

Strange times indeed.

Bangkok Post editorial supports the use of lese majeste

2 05 2011

In quite an astounding Bangkok Post editorial we see the Post supporting the use of lese majeste charges, recording the political nature of the “crime” and simultaneously demonstrating the nonsensical nature of the crime.

The editorial refers to Army boss Prayuth Chan-ocha’s use of the Internal Security Operations Command, the Office of the National Broadcasting and Telecommunications Commission and the Crime Suppression Division to close 13 red shirt radio stations for “broadcasting a speech allegedly containing comments offensive to the monarchy…”.

The editorial says that this operation “is troubling on several scores.” Why? It claims that there is no way to know if the alleged speech by red shirt leaders was “dangerous,” thereby justifying the actions. So how to deal with this? According to the Post: “If the speech is truly offensive, it clearly should not be made public, and if it is not offensive, it is still dangerous for anyone to publicise it for obvious reasons.”

But does the Post explain that this is the kind of illogical nonsense that allows lese majeste to be used for political repression? No. It actually congratulates Prime Minister Abhisit Vejajjiva for pushing “against politicians from all parties making any references to the monarchy in their campaigning. This should include accusations of lese majeste since the public has no way of knowing if they are justified.”

The truth is, as PPT recently posted, that Abhisit wasn’t being non-partisan in his call. In fact, he was attacking the Puea Thai Party as anti-monarchist. Additionally, the Bhum Jai Thai Party remains dead keen to use monarchy and lese majeste as its election strategy and the Democrat Party has been avid in using lese majeste against its opponents.

The Post seems to want to disagree with Prayuth’s lese majeste campaign. But it lacks the political courage to put this into print. It fails to acknowledge that Prayuth’s is a politically-inspired use of lese majeste accusations against a plethora of red shirts, trying to intimidate and shutdown opposition media before the election that the royalist Democrat Party cannot be allowed to lose.

The lack of political courage becomes total spinelessness when the Post states: “It is now up to the courts to decide their guilt or innocence.” And in the meantime, these opposition leaders are prevented from participating in political activities. They are censored and repressed.

Spinelessness becomes amoeba-like when the editorial declares: “Lese majeste should not go unpunished, but the media and the public must resist any push to make this issue central to the upcoming campaign.” In other words, the Post is signed up with Prayuth for his election strategy even when it asserts that lese majeste “should not be a defining issue of the campaign…”. The Post demonstrates that lese majeste can be an election strategy for the elite but that it shouldn’t be up for discussion. And the Post then has the hide to call for “intelligent debate” of anything but the lese majeste electoral strategy of the Abhisit government and its backers.

It really is astounding how the mainstream media is prepared to bend and slither on lese majeste. Human Rights Watch had the issue clearly stated and the Bangkok Post should be chastened that it can’t write as clearly.

Crime Suppression Division Takes Action Against Fa Diew Kan

27 04 2011

Prachatai has just posted news from this morning’s questioning by the Crime Suppression Division of Thanapol Eawsakul, editor of ฟ้าเดียวกัน (The Same Sky) magazine. Fifty-four monikers were identified as posting messages to the webboard, or comments on the messages, that were deemed to have possible lese majeste content posted before the webboard was shut down several years ago. Prachatai has listed these names, and notes that in some cases, they could not list the full name because if they did so, they might be accused of violating Article 112.

What the Crime Suppression Division is going to do next is unclear. What is clear to PPT is that this is another instance of strong harassment and constriction of speech. As PPT has noted, yesterday there was a harsh crackdown on red shirt community radio stations across Thailand. This follows on the heels of extralegal intimidation of Dr. Somsak Jeamteerasakul. As the state becomes more repressive, PPT urges readers to become more vigilant in tracking state repression.

Seeing red

15 01 2010

The red shirts brought their peaceful protest at Khao Yai Thiang to an end, vowing to continue to seek state action against Privy Councilor and former prime minister Surayud Chulanont.

In the Bangkok Post (13 January 2010) it is reported that Surayud has stood firm against all demands. He has even “refusing to give up his land at Khao Yai Thiang until he is required to do so by a Royal Forest Department ruling.” Naturally he has “shrugged off red shirt demands for him to resign his position as privy councillor.

Interestingly, the General is also chairman of the Foundation for Khao Yai National Park Protection.

The Post also reports that the red shirt leadership has “approved a planned ‘war’ on the bureaucracy…”. This will involve visits by red shirts to the Forestry Department, the Crime Suppression Division and the Office of the Privy Council, all to file complaints against Surayud, the Department of Special Investigation to file a complaint against Justice Minister Pirapan Salirathavibhaga for negligence for delaying the royal pardon petition for former prime minister Thaksin Shinawatra and a related visit to the Office of His Majesty’s Principal Private Secretary.

Later they will hold a mass gathering of red-shirts at Khao Soi Dao golf course in Chanthaburi province. The red-shirts claim the 400 rai golf course, which had encroached on the Khao Soi Dao forest reserve, is owned by the president of Privy Council Prem Tinsulanonda.

More worrying for the government and some of the pundits is the upcoming Supreme Court decision on Thaksin’s 76.6 billion baht assets seizure case (Bangkok Post, 13 January 2010).

The government and anti-Thaksin commentators assume a guilty verdict and the confiscation of this sum. PPT guesses that they are probably right to guess this based on the outcome of previous cases against Thaksin. However, Deputy Prime Minister Suthep Thaugsuban is urging “faith in the justice system and not worry about violence…” when the verdict is given. Using a relatively new line amongst the anti-Thaksin crowd, Suthep invokes the idea that “majority” interests should reign. Invoking the Abhisit Vejjaiva mantra,he adds: “When everything goes according to the rule of law, which is accepted by Thais, then everyone will have to accept it…”.

The Army chief General Anupong Paojinda assured the public that “the army is ready to maintain order if the red-shirt United Front for Democracy against Dictatorship (UDD) intensifies its anti-government activities.

Anti-Thaksin activist Kaewsan Atibhodhi, a former member of the Assets Scrutiny Committee, urged all parties to respect the Supreme Court when it hands down its verdict.” Kaewsan testified for the prosecution, but held out the chance of a not guilty verdict.

PPT expects to see many more warnings to the red shirts on these matters over the next month or so. We also don’t expect any backing down on the anti-Thaksin side. Any loss of face or decision is seen as a major negative outcome with serious repercussions. The word is, don’t back down. Several red shirts make similar statements.

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