All used up

8 11 2018

When the royalist establishment deemed it crucial that it oppose elected governments, it supported the creation of “movements” with allegedly “charismatic” leaders, using “civil society” to bring down those governments. Backing them were royalists from business, including the giant conglomerates, and the military.

First there was Sondhi Limthongkul and the People’s Alliance for Democracy. It drew on considerable middle class discontent with Thaksin Shinawatra and his regime but was driven by royalist ideology.

After a series of false starts, the second great “movement” was the People’s Democratic Reform Committee, led by the royalist anti-democrats of the Democrat Party and fronted by Suthep Thaugsuban.

Of course, neither movement was able to bring down the elected governments. That required military coups in 2006 and 2014.

When they had done their work, the fact of their invention by the royalist strategists of the military, business and palace was seen in the manner in which the “movements” vaporized once their usefulness was over.

And, look at the leaders. Both had a capacity to mobilize supporters and this worried many in the military. At the same time, the military knew that it “deserved” to be on top and that the upstarts they created had to know their place.

Sondhi was targeted for what was either an assassination bid or a brutal warning to know his place. No one was ever charged, but it is interesting that the media at the time suggested that both Defence Minister Prawit Wongsuwan and army chief Gen Anupong Paojinda were considered “suspects” in the Sondhi shooting.

Suthep thought he was a “star” and “popular,” but the military put him in his place following the 2014 coup, having to enter the monkhood. While Suthep is back and campaigning for his Action Coalition for Thailand (ACT) Party, it seems his “movement” has evaporated and his capacity for garnering the political limelight has been lost under the military junta. Interestingly, this return is a backflip and, according to one op-ed, not popular with his former PDRC supporters (and presumably its backers).

The op-ed continues: “… Suthep seems to have overestimated his popularity, thinking it could be on par with the backing he received from PDRC supporters during the time he led the street protests.” He was disappointed: “his recent jaunts in several areas to recruit members for the party have apparently received a cold response.” This caused “core PDRC supporter Arthit Ourairat … calling for Mr Suthep and other PDRC leaders who have joined ACT to stop their political activities.” Arthit might have poured money into the PDRC but is an ardent anti-democrat and probably is 100% behind The Dictator’s bid for extended power. Tellingly, the man who funded and funneled money to Suthep and PDRC reckons that “people ‘no longer believed them’.”

Anti-democrats want a military-dominated regime and Suthep’s usefulness, like Sondhi’s before him, is over. Suthep’s response will be interesting as his face, position and wealth depend on state links.





One up, one down

25 10 2018

With the alliance of the military junta and the anti-democrats who formed the People’s Democratic Reform Committee being harnessed for “elections,” it seems like the PDRC’s pro-junta party, the Action Coalition for Thailand Party is getting some free kicks. It probably needs this as it has to fight not just Puea Thai but perhaps the Democrat Party as well. So having the junta give ACT a free kick is presumably meant to help in forming the pro-junta coalition.

ACT has “announced its plan to carry out an activity described as ‘walks to pay respect to the land’, which begins today in Bangkok.” That means the ACT is campaigning, a bit like the ministers-Palang Pracharath-party-executives-cabinet-members-junta-minions.

Thaweesak Na Takuathung, secretary-general of the Democrat Party, claims “the walks have already been approved by the [puppet] Election Commission…”.

ACT’s campaigning involves activities Prajadhipok Road and meeting people in Worachak and nearby areas. Tomorrow the electoral campaigning moves to the Sukhumvit Road area. This is to be followed by campaigning in Yaowarat, Silom, Sathorn, Bang Rak and Pratunam. Once Bangkok is covered, ACT says it is off to campaign in the provinces.

All said to be approved by the EC which bans anti-junta parties from doing pretty much anything.

Worse, though, Puea Thai seems increasingly worried that it faces dissolution. The Bangkok Post reports that “the chances of the party being dissolved will become much greater if eight core members accused of defying the regime’s political gathering ban are indicted next month.”

So while ACT, Palang Pracharath and other devil parties can campaign their socks off, Puea Thai faces charges and possible dissolution.

How are those free and fair elections coming along? They aren’t. The junta has rigged them. But it is so fearful that Puea Thai may still “win” that it is contemplating getting rid of the party.

The junta will only do this once the time for candidates registering with a party has passed, thereby disqualifying all of those registered with Puea Thai.

This is the junta’s rigging at work. This is the double standards in operation.





“Democrats” are anti-democrats

12 10 2018

The Democrat Party has always been a party of royalists and anti-democrats.

The Bangkok Post reports that analysts now think the “Democrat Party has a chance to form a coalition government led by pro-regime parties rather than cooperating with Pheu Thai as the opposition…”.

While current leader Abhisit Vejjajiva has “insisted that the party under his leadership would not support dictatorship and said if the party were to form a coalition government, its partners must have shared values,” ironically, this does not rule out either possibility. After all, Abhisit and his party supported anti-democrats and have worked in concert with the military when they were most recently in government.

The Post reports that “Deputy Democrat leader Nipit Intarasombat explained that Mr Abhisit’s stance is that he will not support a dictatorship of any kind, be it a military or parliamentary one — a situation where one political party controls parliament so completely it can do whatever it wants.”

In other words, no alliance with Puea Thai (or with any other majority party). Parliamentary democracy and the will of the people is still rejected as it always has been by Abhisit and his party.

Nipit denied “talk that the party may eventually lean toward supporting a military dictatorship…”. But few believe him. This is because many in the party would love to jump back into bed with the military.





Doubling down on double standards III

2 10 2018

It is reported that “[c]alls are mounting for Prime Minister [Gen] Prayut Chan-o-cha [The Dictator] and the four cabinet ministers who are at the helm of the Palang Pracharath Party to step down due to a potential conflict of interest in the lead-up to the election.”

“Potential”?? Isn’t that “actual”? And hasn’t this been happening for several months? Even years? In fact, the 2014 coup and, the constitution referendum and all the rules acceded to by a puppet National Legislative Assembly have been a mammoth election rigging scheme.

Prime Minister’s Office Minister Kobsak Pootrakool and his cheating buddies have “claimed the four ministers will not abuse their authority during the campaign.”

Look! Flying pigs!

Even the yellowish former Election Commission activist Sodsri Sattayatham observed that “the cabinet positions afford the four ministers the opportunity to act improperly in their own interests.”

But that’s exactly the point! They expect to be able to do this.

Sodsri says they are not “legally required to step down, it is political etiquette that they should resign from ministerial posts when deciding to step into politics…”.

Huh? “Step into politics”? These guys have been politically engaged forever! A coup and a junta is a very big political intervention. Sodsri is engaging in yellow nonsense about “good” people and “bad” politicians.

And laws? What does the junta care for laws? There are constitutional requirements about standing for election, but none that prevent the junta from rigging the election – something the constitution itself does.

Of course, the junta’s constitution does not prevent any junta member from being prime minister or, as we quickly read it, from being ministers in the next government. There are constitutional requirements about how minister should behave when an election is to be held. But it would seem that the junta’s regime is immune from constitutional requirements. It keeps its NLA, keeps making decisions that bind a future government, etc, all things restricted by the constitution. But double standards apply to the junta.

We did notice that The Dictator should not be able to serve as prime minister because he has violated two requirements of the constitution: he lacks the required integrity and he has failed to comply with ethical standards. By leading a coup, he should be disqualified on these grounds. But this junta is subject to double standards.

We also noted that a prime minister “shall not hold office for more than eight years in total, whether or not holding consecutive term” (section 158). That means supporting The Dictator will likely mean he can serve only about 3 to 3.5 years, depending on when the “election” is held. That will be some relief for many.

Puea Thai’s Chaturon Chaisang is right that “the ministers … must refrain from disbursing money in ways that might seem as though they are attempting to gain political support, as well as stop approving long-term projects and stall transfers of officials.”

That’s what usually applies when an election is pending and is required under the 2017 constitution, but that would require standards other than the junta’s double standards.

Meanwhile, the unrestrained ministers are in full campaign mode declaring double standards apply to them.

The Bangkok Post also reports that one of Palang Pracharath’s still “covert” members, Somkid Jatusripitak “has defended four cabinet ministers who are facing mounting criticism over potential conflicts of interest after taking the helm of the Palang Pracharath Party.”

Somkid and his master

Of course he does. They are his boys. He recruited them and came up with the strategy for the party and how it will seek to maintain The Dictator in place following rigged elections.

Somkid went further, campaigning for his boys and their/his party, saying all four are “deserving of support…” and he implies that they will stand for election. We think they are barred from that, but it may be that he expects and has promised them that they will be unelected ministers under a new junta-based government.

Somkid also explained that the constitution does not apply to the junta, stating that “several government projects cannot be stalled any longer…. They [the four ministers] must speed up their efforts and follow through on those projects, which can serve as a key foundation for the future of the country…”. Section 168 will not be applied to the junta and its men.

But junta legal manipulator Wissanu Krea-ngam seemed less sure than he was and “suggested the four ministers should tread carefully and avoid any actions that could be perceived as a conflict of interest.” He said, “[b]ased on the charter, they must act neutrally.”

This highlights the obvious double standards. If pressure is maintained, we wonder if the truculent Gen Prayuth will eventually have to ditch them for fear of the obvious rigging being rather too obvious and damaging to his campaign for the premiership.

Rather oddly, we see that the Democrat Party’s Abhisit Vejjajiva agrees with PPT when he observes that “the charter indicates those in office need to quit within 90 days of the charter being promulgated if they want to contest the poll. Those who fail to resign are not expected to play a part in the election.”

He’s right to observe that “the Palang Pracharath Party … is … trying to evade the spirit of the charter.” But there’s more. They are trying to avoid the constitutional requirements.

At PPT, we are no supporters of the junta’s constitution, which needs to be thrown out and rewritten as a “people’s constitution,” but it is satisfying to see that those who rigged that charter are now being caught by it.





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.