Updated: Suthep demands more dictatorship for longer

18 03 2017

The People’s Democratic Reform Foundation (PDRF) is the legalistic renaming of the anti-democratic People’s Democratic Reform Committee to allow it to keep operating under the junta it helped seize power in 2014.

It is still led by Democrat Party stalwart Suthep Thaugsuban, who “left” the party to arrange his anti-democratic actions opposing elections and the elected government led by Yingluck Shinawatra. Its bosses remain those anti-democratic elite and Democrat Party (former) members, Sathit Wongnongtoey, Akanat Promphan, Chitpas Kridakorn (Bhirombhakdi), Thaworn Senniam, Nattapol Teepsuwan, Chumpol Julsai and Sakoltee Patthippayakul.

It was this group that recently met with representatives of the military junta for “reconciliation talks.”

Readers might be surprised to learn (or maybe not) that, almost three years after he got the coup he wanted, Suthep “remained firm in its stance of ‘reform before election’, saying it did not mind a delay in the holding of the next election.”

Suthep and his clutch of anti-democrats also declared their full support for “absolute power under Article 44 of the interim charter” and claimed it “was not a problem for reform. Suthep said it as an opportunity for the junta to effectively reform the country.” We know he supports the murderous military and we guess he would also support military courts, torture and all manner of draconian measures against his political opponents.

Of course, we also know that Suthep hates elections, not least because his party never won one in its own right, and repeatedly hung off the military and royal coattails.

Likewise, it is no surprise that this group of anti-democrats “admitted to being fans of junta head General Prayut Chan-o-cha and the desire to complete key reforms.” Why wouldn’t they be? It was Suthep who claimed that he had worked since 2010 with General Prayuth on ways and means for preventing a Thaksin Shinawatra-aligned government from getting elected and then, if it did, on bringing it down.

Suthep and his cronies met with the junta’s people for “four hours of reconciliation talks” after which Suthep declared or maybe even threatened: “We’ve made the point in the meeting that the masses expect the National Council for Peace and Order [the junta] and the government led by [Prayuth] to finish the reforms so the country can continue as a democracy with the monarch as the head of state.”

Suthep, who spent many years as a Democrat Party powerbroker and politician chortled about “politics” being a problem: “Politics has to serve the people. In the past, it was [dominated by] politicians and financiers as well as interest groups. It’s never about the people…”. Because his party was resoundingly defeated time and time again, we can understand his reluctance to accept the will of the people.

Remarkably, as if Thailand’s elite is still under threat, he grasps the monarchy shibboleth by the throat and thunders: “Most importantly, political parties must be run by people who support democratic rule with the monarch as the head of state, not a republic.”

That purported danger justifies for Suthep, and his gaggle of anti-democrat scions of the elite, continuing military dictatorship. He reckons “the people” don’t want an election any time soon.

If the message wasn’t clear, Suthep stated: “The PDRF has no concerns over the NCPO staying in power so long as it works to push reforms.” He added that his support for “the military and Gen Prayut … was never hidden…”.

Update: And just in case anyone was wondering, the Bangkok Post reports that Suthep declined “to say whether his group would accept the outcome of the next election in the event that the Pheu Thai Party wins the poll.”





Going south II

27 02 2017

Attacking those “liberals” and of the middle class who have generally been supportive of the 2014 military coup and the military junta is another example of things turning screwy from the junta’s position.

The Nation reports that Mahidol University, in rankings terms, the best of a pretty dismal bunch of universities, all controlled by royalist administrations, has said that it “will form a committee to investigate a group of lecturers belonging to its Institute of Human Rights and Peace Studies (IHRP)…”.

Why is this? It is precisely because of “the institute’s statement questioning alleged junta abuses of power, including the issuance of Article 44 orders.” Goodness! How could they be so ungrateful of the wonderful junta?!

The boundary riders of royalist “learning” claim that defending human and legal rights is terrible. “In a statement issued Sunday, Mahidol University denounced the lecturers for ‘damaging the university’s reputation’ by using its name in their original statement.”

In fact, the reputational damage is now caused by the dopey and coup-lovers in the administration.

It gets worse, when they state: “Such action is not academic freedom…. We urge the issuers to stop immediately.”

This is a clear demonstration of the failure of university administrators and another example of why education fails in Thailand in so many ways. By and large, royalist ideologues see all education as indoctrination and claims about human and legal rights are not a part of this.

Mahidol’s administration asserts that “it always stood by the principle that everyone must respect the law.” Well, the military’s law, anyway.

The university administration’s rightist reaction “came after the IHRP late on Saturday night issued a statement calling for the National Council for Peace and Order (NCPO) [the junta] to stop using absolute powers granted by Article 44 of the interim charter.”

Its authors stated:

Using the article [to solve problems] is using dictatorial power against the rule of law, with a lack of checks and balances, and it is illegitimate…. Article 44 is used too often and without a sense of urgency. In many cases, the government and authorities are able to enforce [the same measures] by normal laws.

That all seems polite and reasonable. Yet one thing that seems to have bother the junta and their supporters running the university was that in citing “nine orders issued this month,” it also mentioned “one establishing the controversial Dhammakaya Temple and surroundings areas as a ‘controlled area’.” It came just after “a man hanged himself from a 100-metre-high radio antenna in an apparent protest against the ongoing siege at the controversial Dhammakaya Temple.” He also complained about Article 44.

Military-loving yellow shirts went online to condemn the IHRP, caliming it should not be “allowed to use Mahidol’s name when taking action.”

Things are indeed unraveling.





Updated: “Election” slipping II

30 11 2016

The two dictatorial generals seem to be in a game of election ping-pong. When a couple of junta types, including General Prawit Wongsuwan, start to talk about “election” delays, General Prayuth Chan-ocha declares his roadmap in place and that there will be an election in 2017. Prawit, reported in the Bangkok Post, has sent his return across the net.

Deputy Prime Minister General Prawit has again “admitted … he could not say for sure if a general election would take place next year, but insisted the government was doing its best to stick to the roadmap.”

Prawit said he “could not rule out unusual circumstances which could head it off course.” His words were: “I really can’t say but we are holding on to it. We’re proceeding with the plan which has procedures and steps. Now we have the charter, so next are the organic laws. Things are so far, so good…”.

He warned: “If the people fully cooperate, things will proceed [as planned]…”.

There’s the rub. The jumpy junta can easily create a little disturbance, blow it up and delay “elections” if it wants. Or they can look around for legal or other reasons for further delays.

The junta has really developed a taste for authoritarian rule. Its like feeding chimps chocolate.

Update: The match is over. Prayuth has agreed with Prawit, albeit a bit testily. The Nation reports that Prayuth agreed that the “election” could be delayed. He said: “The road map is the road map. What would you like it to be? Whether the road map will be changed or not depends on all people, not me… It will depend on domestic and international situations, peace and stability. When will you understand this?” When asked about the road map itself, he got even more snappy, refusing “to confirm whether the road map would remain unchanged,” saying: “I can’t be bothered to answer this kind of boring question…”.





Media censorship

23 07 2016

As we noted in our previous post, we noted that the Bangkok Post wrote that the military junta had decided to “allow debates on the draft constitution in all provinces ahead of the Aug 7 referendum, bowing to pressure for calls for open talks.”

It seems unlikely that the junta has bowed to anyone. Rather, the junta’s plans are to force through a Yes vote by all means necessary and then claim legitimacy. This involves carefully delimited “debate” including only trusted participants while ruthlessly suppressing opposition voices.

The most recent examples of blocking discussion and debate include banning the distribution of the most recent print edition of The Economist for a long story on the monarchy and politics. (As we understand it, the online version of the story remains available in Thailand.)

A second example is the 30-day closure of Peace TV. The ban by the Communication Authority of Thailand is for “allegedly disseminating content threatening national security.”

The closure is reportedly based on “three TV programmes which allegedly carried content that breached NCPO [junta] Announcements No. 97/2014 and 103/2014, which prohibit dissemination of content that instigates violence and misleads the public.”

Because Thailand is a military dictatorship, the authorities had no need to disclose what content was chosen by them (or, rather, the junta) as somehow threatening the nebulous concept of “national security.”

We assume that “national security” is defined minimally as anything the military junta doesn’t like. In any case, this is no more than a ruse to close the station as the country moves to vote in an illegitimate referendum on the military’s draft charter.

The blackout of the red shirt-aligned Peace TV began at one minute past midnight on 22 July.

Jatuporn Promphan of the United Front for Democracy Against Dictatorship “said that the station will sue the CAT for 6.3 million baht as compensation…” and “petitioned the Administrative Court to hold an urgent hearing to provide the station with legal immunity.”

Jatuporn also explained that:

the junta has made various attempts to shut down Peace TV since the station became a public space for those who oppose the junta-sponsored draft charter, further adding that the blackout will intensify dissatisfaction against the junta itself. He also rejected the allegation that Peace TV disseminated content threatening national security and condemned the junta for abuse of power….

In fact, the move by the junta is not an abuse of power as much as a demonstration of its basic nature. This is how dictatorial regimes behave.