Anti-democracts, treason and bucket loads of double standards

13 09 2018

Treason is in the news. There are a bunch of people, some seemingly held secretly and without legal representation, accused of treason for something to do with black shirts, anti-monarchism, republicanism and separatism.

The junta declares them bad people, misguided people, dangerous and threatening to the heart and soul of the unitary state.

But, as ever in the anti-democrat mindset that defines the military junta, there’s bad sedition and good sedition. The former is associated with political opponents and the latter with anti-democrats.

This fact has been sounded loud and clear by the “recent appointment of a former protest leader, who is facing a sedition charge, as the prime minister’s deputy secretary-general…”, reporting directly to The Dictator.

Former Democrat Party MP Buddhipongse Punnakanta, a key leader of the People’s Democratic Reform Committee (PDRC) protest, got his new position as part of The Dictator’s political maneuvering for the rigged “election,” but caused some to question “whether it is appropriate and meets an ethical standard.”

Discussing ethics and the military junta is just silly. A military group that seizes power in an illegal coup can’t even pronounce “ethics.” And, double standards are its only standards.

It seems likely that Buddhipongse is going to line up with a junta-supporting party in the “election.”

As the Bangkok Post reports, this is the second appointment of “a key street protester facing criminal charges.” Back in April, the junta “ordered the ‘urgent’ appointment of Sakoltee Phattiyakul to the position of deputy governor of Bangkok…. He also was a core PDRC member, street-protest leader and is facing charges of violence and violating a ban on political crowds.” He’s also a former Democrat MP.

Another Bangkok Post story says this is just the start of the movement of anti-democrats from the Democrat Party, with “Natthapol Theepsuwan, also a core member of the PDRC movement and a former Democrat MP” the next to be brought in, probably as “director of the Phalang Pracharat Party…”.

The Dictator declares himself a winner

22 08 2018

Various newspaper reports say that The Dictator confirmed a late February “election,” or that he didn’t, or that he might have but then reneged. What is clear is that Gen Prayuth Chan-ocha now reckons he’s the best thing for Thailand since the invention of the monarchy.

During the the campaigning-disguised-as-cabinet-meeting in Chumpon a pretty in blue of the monarchy, General Prayuth first revealed that he’s up for the job of premier for years to come, saying he was going to join a party. While he said, “I have not decided which political party I will join,” the pro-junta parties come to mind. The junta boss bragged: “Many people support me. They want me to stay longer. I don’t know what to do…”. He was begging for adulation. Some in the crowd shouted their support. The Dictator felt good and satiated by adulation, real or not.

And, he knows exactly what he wants to do. He’s doing everything he can to “win.”

The general then declared war on the Democrat Party, telling southerners: “In the future election, do not do the same [as you did in the past] again…”. Given that the Democrat Party has won most of the seats in the south in recent elections, the message is clear.

The junta leader also bragged that the junta”had in four years achieved more than its elected predecessors did.” We are sure that his junta leads in some areas: ownership of luxury watches, more generals than any previous government, higher military budgets, most political prisoners locked up, most repression of expression, more lese majeste cases than ever, with gargantuan sentences. And they are just the things The Dictator is especially proud of.

Democrat Party lying to itself

31 07 2018

Bringing down Yingluck

The Democrat Party has been kidding about itself and to the public for years about its political history. The latest in this long line of myth makers is deputy spokesman Churith Laksanavisit, who has been in a social media contest with red shirt/Puea Thai’s Nattawut Saikua.

Thai PBS reports that Nattawut made the obvious point that the Democrat Party “was involved in the overthrow of Thai Rak Thai-led Thaksin government and the Pheu Thai-led government of Ms Yingluck Shinawatra by the military.”

The good old days at the Army Club

A pretty basic point you’d think. But for some reason “Churith insisted that the Democrat [P]arty had never supported or conspired with any group of people to seize power from a legitimate government…”. He added: “the party is definitely not a democratic turncoat that supports power seizure…”.

Where to begin? There’s just so much evidence of the Democrat Party’s efforts to bring down legitimate governments that it hardly needs saying.

Who is the puppet?

The Democrat Party vandalized parliament in 2013, boycotted two elections, and supported the military and was supported by the military.  Then there was the military-brokered coalition that brought Abhisit to the premier’s chair in 2008.

Newin and Abhisit

Of course, the Democrat Party has a long history of bringing down legitimate governments. The Party has a long history of political hypocrisy. For most of its history, it has been conservative, royalist and cooperative with military regimes. There have been brief periods where it has attempted to be a democratic Democrat Party, but these periods appear as aberrations.

We could add that the Democrat Party has supported military-led lese majeste campaigns, which also destabilized elected government, and as well as presiding over a government that ordered the military to shoot demonstrators, easing power to the military.

We could go on and on, but in everything it has done since 2005, the Democrat Party has pretty much been in cahoots with the military. It might be regretting that now that the junta is dismissing the failed party and going its own way, but watch the Democrat Party return to form as time and elections pass. Because the junta’s party is likely to undermine the Democrat Party as much as Puea Thai, the former will fall in with any future junta-led and arranged regime.

Poaching anti-democrats

26 07 2018

In another report hat we missed a couple of days ago, Khaosod reports that it isn’t just Puea Thai and the red shorts being stalked and poached by the military and its parties.

Democrat Party leader Abhisit Vejjajiva has admitted that even his party is seeing the green-clad hunters and their men in suits stalking “some of his former MPs…”. He states that they “are being lured to a new party by promises of money, prestige and legal assistance with  criminal charges they face.”

Abhisit observed that “the promise of prosecutorial relief as an incentive to entice some former MPs would be a troubling brand of politics.”

Abhisit is particularly miffed because he reckons this kind of MP-fishing is a throwback to an earlier period and he has repeatedly stated that red shirts and his opponents should face the courts and he fears they are being offered the same deal as Democrat Party members facing charges from their anti-democrat campaigns in 2013 and 2014. The charges include “treason and terrorism for participating in the street protests which led to the ouster of the elected government and 2014 coup.”

After an “election”

14 07 2018

The Klong Dan convictions provide a timely reminder of what politics under the junta’s constitutional arrangements might look like following the junta’s rigged election.

In the linked story, readers are reminded that the saga began in 1995 under a Democrat Party-led coalition:

Suwat Liptapanlop, who served as science minister in the Democrat government headed by Chuan Leekpai, first proposed the wastewater treatment project in 1995. Prayoonvisavat Karnchang, one of the companies convicted in the case, was founded by Mr Suwat’s father Visava.

One of the other companies convicted, Seesaeng Karn Yotha, was founded by Banharn Silpa-archa, whose party at the time was a coalition partner with the Democrats.

Other cabinet-level supporters of the project were Vatana, who was then the deputy interior minister, and Yingphan Manasikarn, then minister of natural resources and environment, who died in 2003.

Like other rich persons who feel they are unable to negotiate a comfortable legal outcome, Vatana fled the country and has been “gone” for a decade, although we guess he arranges long periods at home.

The saga was so long that some readers may not have been born when it began. For background and for a reminder of how weak coalition governments worked under rules introduced by the military following the 1991 military coup, we provide a Bangkok Post investigative report from 2000 and a link to a Focus on the Global South Report from 2002.

Democracy as defined by anti-democrats

29 06 2018

It may be that the reporting is not complete, but we found a revealing statement by an ex-Democrat Party MP opposing the Bangkok Metropolitan Administration plan to “drop its plan to dissolve the city’s district councils and replace each one with a so-called civic committee, an elected body.”

Atthawit Suwanphakdi declared he opposed the change from elected councilors to an elected “civic committee” for particular reasons:

The district councillor is the only elected position that is least prone to being involved in corruption because the councillor doesn’t hold any authority to propose a project or make decisions in any budget allocations of the BMA….

Councilors receive a paltry salary to act as “an adviser to the district office director and a general inspector with good connections with both the BMA and the voters in each district…”.

Atthawit’s support for elected district councilors may be seen as slap to the military junta that has prevented elections at all levels since its coup, but his reasoning is classic anti-democrat.

In his view, elected politicians are only useful where they have no power to do anything, leaving the important decisions to bureaucrats and technocrats.

Rip up the junta’s basic law

16 06 2018

The Bangkok Post reports that representatives of Future Forward Party and Puea Thai Party “agreed at a forum that changing the whole charter is a top priority for their parties after the poll.” This amounts to a tearing up of the junta’s anti-democratic constitution.

Meanwhile, while Democrat Party leader Abhisit Vejjajiva also believed that the junta’s constitution was a problem, as might be expected, he talked of amending it, not ditching it as a deeply flawed charter. Likewise, he did not think this a “top priority of the new government…”.

We don’t think the Democrat Party is particularly concerned about the junta’s charter but knows that the charter is likely to be a major election issue whenever the junta decides to hold its rigged election.

They also acknowledged that “the charter is written in such a way that change is almost impossible by following the normal process.”

 Thanathorn Juangroongruangkit of Future Forward said:

The whole 2017 constitution should be scrapped as it is undemocratic and passed by a referendum that lacked transparency. Moreover, the charter also forces future governments to stick with the junta’s 20-year national development blueprint….

Chaturon Chaisang of Puea Thai said that the “national strategy will impose additional burdens on future governments as they will be required to comply with the new law.” If they fail to follow the junta’s plan, they could go to jail.

Chaturon “urged all pro-democracy parties to join in this task” of getting rid of the junta’s charter and its 20 year plan.

In contrast, as the Bangkok Post reports, while admitting that the charter and junta plan are “impediments,” Abhisit seemed happy enough to go along with the junta’s plan, altering it when the context changed. Indeed, he seemed supportive of the plan saying “anyone who has better plans than the government’s 20-year national strategic plan must present them to the public.” He seems to not have an alternative.