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…”.

Double standards on display

27 08 2018

Thailand’s political elite practice a form of politics that is underpinned by double standards.

Double standards are about the only standards observed by the politicized judiciary.

As the junta thinks about its people winning its rigged election, all parties are banned from political activities. That is, unless the party or proto-party happens to be pro-junta. The double standard also applies to the junta’s own campaigning.

Political parties are only one element of the political system, and the double standards extend far and wide and into what remains of a shattered civil society.

In seizing power in 2014, one of the main self-appointed tasks of the military junta was to destroy the red shirt movement. That involved the deep militarization of areas identified as red shirt supporting and the arrest and jailing of scores of red shirt leaders.

It has to be said that the military’s tactics have been quite successful in suppressing red shirts.

Today, the treatment of civil society is riddled with double standards. Groups and even protesters who are not considered a threat to the junta’s politics are tolerated whereas those considered red shirts are forbidden from any kind of activism.

These double standards have been on display in Chiang Mai over the last couple of days.

There the authorities “had promised not to block the protest based around Tha Phae Gate in Chiang Mai’s old city”targeting the judiciary’s housing cutting into a forest on Doi Suthep. The junta and military sees this protest, dominated by middle-class activists, as non-threatening.

But what happens when it learns that a solitary red shirt leader based locally had joined the rally?

The media reports that Third Army Region commander Lt Gen Wijak Siribansop became annoyed at “the presence of a local red shirt leader in a rally …[believing it] may spoil the protest movement…”.

That local red shirt leader was Phichit Tamul, with the Army saying his participation “could undermine the objective of the protests…”.

If one is identified as red shirt or anti-junta, then you are effectively banned from any political activism, even as a solitary figure, even when others are permitted to engage in activism.

Keep on campaigning

20 08 2018

The military dictatorship keeps declaring political campaigning is illegal. It cracks down on some parties, but not so much on its buddies. And, of course, The Dictator campaigns as much as he wants.

But such double standards have caused some grumbling as the junta has allowed the so-called Sam Mitr (Three Traitors/Friends/Allies) to go about its work of gathering up politicians to stand for a junta-backed party.

This caused a “warning” from Interior Minister Gen Anupong Paojinda. But that “warning” amounts to little.

As the Bangkok Post reports, the “trio of political heavyweights,” which includes current minister Somkid Jatusripitak, probably acting illegally, busy “lobbying former MPs to back a new junta-aligned party” hardly missed a step.

Somsak Thepsuthin said he and his allies would continue campaigning, but “away from the public limelight.” He said “we will avoid being in the news and giving press interviews…”. As that was said in an interview, that claim seems daft.

In any case, Gen Anupong’s “warning” was contradicted by Deputy Dictator Gen Prawit Wongsuwan, who said “he saw no problem with Sam Mitr lobbying politicians in northeastern provinces because it was not a political party.”

Updated: Manipulating laws

1 08 2018

PPT has had numerous posts since the (illegal) 2014 coup on how the military junta abuses the law. These posts have included the political use of courts, using military courts, abuse of lese majeste, impunity,  corruption ignored, and more.

One of the defining characteristics of military dictatorship is the political use of law: what the dictatorship does is legal (or ignored) and what opponents do is illegal.

Two recent reports highlight these double standards.

In the first, with just 5 of the 7 new members of the Election Commission selected and approved, the mini-EC is to meet “to select a new chairman Tuesday, although some experts have warned such a move could be illegal.”

In the junta’s 2017 constitution, the EC is mentioned dozens of times as having particular roles to play in all things electoral. It is a necessary for the EC to be in place and operating for elections to take place.

With just five members approved by the puppet National Legislative Assembly but, “whose appointments have yet to be submitted for royal endorsement,” this non-EC  “will meet to discuss how to choose the EC chairman and then proceed with choosing someone — probably from among their own ranks.”

We say “non-EC” because Article 222. “The Election Commission consists of seven commissioners appointed by the King upon the advice of the Senate…”. (In the first instance, with no Senate, it is the NLA.)

That is, not just 5 as-yet-unapproved members.

Confirming the position is only held after appointment by the king, Article 223 states: “The Election Commissioners shall hold office for a term of seven years as from the date of appointment by the King…”.

In other words, any actions taken by cannot be considered legal (unless the junta deems it legal).

The “secretary-general of the National Legislative Assembly (NLA), insisted the action would not contravene Section 12 of a law governing the poll agency, as some have suggested.” Perhaps he’s also thinking of Article 223 which also states:

During the period in which an Election Commissioner vacates office prior to the expiration of the term and an Election Commissioner has not yet been appointed to fill the vacancy, the remaining Election Commission may continue to perform duties. However, if there are fewer than four Election Commissioners remaining, the Election Commission may carry out only an act which is necessary and unavoidable….

Yet is is not clear that selecting a chairman is “necessary and unavoidable.” It is even less likely that this can be done by EC commissioners who have not been appointed by the king.

Law professor and constitution drafter Jade Donavanik has “warned that picking a chairman from among the EC members could be a breach of the law.” He claims the “law states that the first chairman to be named since it was enacted can only be chosen after all seven election commissioners have been installed.”

By choosing a chair before being officially appointed and without two commissioners is clearly dubious. The idea that two foundation commissioners are deprived of the right to participate in selecting a chairman or from being chairman is also dubious.

There are various ways of considering how this dubious process impacts the junta. If the EC awaits the two other commissioners being appointed and also awaits the royal endorsement, then presumably the “election” is delayed further. That might suit the junta. But, then, it might be that the EC and its selected chairman, if done by the 5 commissioners (whether royally appointed or not), can be challenged in the courts and the whole “election” process thrown out. That might suit the junta. But if the junta does think it is ready for its “election,” then it may want it to go ahead.

In the end, the junta will probably decide what it wants and make that legal.

The second story involves the junta itself filing a computer crimes charge against Thanathorn Juangroongruangkit, leader of the Future Forward “Party” (still to be approved as a party by the EC).

The “accusation came after Mr Thanathorn and two others broadcast live on ‘The Future We Want’ and ‘Thanathorn Juangroongraungkit’ Facebook pages.”

What has caused the junta to get prickly? It seems the Facebook broadcast involved “commentators allegedly implicat[ing] the NCPO [junta] when they talked about the luring of former MPs by using the lawsuits against them as a bargaining chip.”

That point has been made by several others, including Abhisit Vejjajiva.

It is also suggested that the “commentators also asked their Facebook followers to sign up to ‘revamp the judicial system’.” That must be the junta’s judicial system.

On the first concoction-cum-complaint, as Thanathorn makes clear, ” it’s common knowledge. I have no intention to accuse or tarnish the NCPO but its action shows it had really done it and views us as an enemy.” He added that he also had “first-hand information on such offers from a number of ex-MPs who were approached.”

The junta, operating illegally through intermediaries who are recruiting for the junta’s Palang Pracharath, maintains the fiction that it is not doing this. Everyone can see it, it is widely reported, but the junta demures.

The junta’s minion Col Burin Thongprapai, who filed the complaint two weeks ago, states: “Mr Thanathorn mentioned the NCPO, which is a distortion of facts and an accusation against the NCPO. It’s also an attack on the judicial system.”

He said the junta had ordered-asked the police to take action.

The law can be whatever the junta wants t to be and it uses it freely and abusively to eliminate and hobble its political opponents. But that’s what you get when you have an arrogant and corrupt military dictatorship.

Update: The (non-)EC went ahead an “elected” a chairman. Now we await the ramifications. Maybe it will be like “investigating” the Deputy Dictator and will melt to nothingness? According to another report, junta minions explain the “need” for a chairman as urgent because of the “need” for an “election” sometime “soon.”

Meanwhile Thanathorn is defiant of the junta. He has rejected the charges against him, saying “he would continue making comments on political issues in his regular online broadcasts through his Facebook fan page.” He added, “It’s the right of everyone…”. Using the term “right” places him in conflict with the junta which prefers duties and obedience to rights. And, stating the obvious, Thanathorn said: “The NCPO used its power to suppress the public who have political views that differ from its own…”.

When the military is on top XXIII

4 07 2018

With a military dictatorship in place, double standards are the only standard and lies become standard practice. Of course, many people and governments omit, fib and tell so-called white lies, but when lying is a defining characteristic of governance, it is a pathology with untruths being habituated. When lies overwhelm truths, those who are lying construct an (un)reality that is itself an untruth. A military dictatorship uses its its puppet agencies and institutions to collaborate in its unreality.

So we might not be surprised when the military junta rejects any notion that it engages in double standards in its “treatment regarding ongoing moves by a pro-Prayut[h Chan-ocha] political group wooing former MPs into its fold.” That’s a lie, but one that you would expect from a regime seeking to rig an “election.”

But then “[k]ey government figures also denied any involvement with the group of veteran politicians who are calling themselves “Sam Mit” (Three Friends).” This is going too far, creating an unreality, bending and breaking its own laws.

The Three Friends group, also called the Three Traitors, are Suriya Juengrungruangkit, Somsak Thepsuthin and Deputy Prime Minister Somkid Jatusripitak. It is widely known the three are working for the junta and for The Dictator. We know this because a couple of them have said so and they have been seen bringing former MPs together in large meetings (which the junta bans for other parties). They support Somkid’s formation of the junta’s Palang Pracharath Party.

But then junta spokesman Maj-Gen Piyapong Klinphan lies that the junta “was making sure the politicians complied with relevant NCPO orders.” He also lies: “We have to take action against any violator…”. This is an unreality.

Then, Deputy Prime Minister Gen Prawit Wongsuwan lies, saying “I am not biased at all…”. If he wasn’t biased, he would not be rigging the election, he would not have managed a coup and he would not have detained and jailed hundreds of political opponents. His lies get even bigger when he says “that he did not know Suriya personally.”

Somkid also lied when he “denied any involvement with Sam Mit, saying that he knew nothing much about the group’s moves.” That’s the most unreal of lies. He’s truthful when he says “[t]hey are my friends…”.

Lies are become normal when the military is on top.

Dumber than a bag of hammers II

7 06 2018

We at PPT have been critical of the justice system because it has been politicized, practiced double standards and enforced injustice. The system that runs from police to prosecutors to courts includes many nodes where the rich can pay bribes to avoid courts, charges and jail. The regime uses it to maintain impunity and to repress and jail political opponents. They make use of the lese majeste, sedition and other political laws and decrees.

The junta has worked hard to “cleanse” the so-called justice system of the “politically unreliable.” While the judiciary has long been a nest of royalists, the junta has re-made it as a bunch of clueless political automatons. That may be something of an exaggeration as some professionals remain at various courts, but it is essentially a judiciary that does as it is expected.

The result of the junta’s interventions is that the judiciary is looking as dumb as a bag of hammers. We say this based on two reports of the dumbest court ruling we have seen for some time. One report is in The Nation and another at Prachatai. They report on a Chiang Mai court’s “verdict” on the extrajudicial killing of Chaiyapoom Pasae on 17 March 2017.

The court “concluded that the young Lahu activist … was killed by army bullets…”. And that’s it.

How dumb can a court get? Or how politicized and corrupt can it be? Seriously? Everyone involved knew that the boy was killed by the military. The military has said it shot him. The media reported it. Witnesses said it.

So the court, after 14 months of the judicial system’s “investigations,” concludes the obvious and known. It concludes what was never in dispute.

An astute reader might say that this is just a part of a longer process. Yet, as we know from such “investigations” into the 2010 military murder of red shirts that such decisions can be an endpoint.

So this court didn’t just rule that a military bullet killed Chaiyapoom, it refused to confirm anything else. The court did not rule the killing illegal.

In essence, it has granted impunity for the military’s shooter and his commanders.

The court “refused to consider the argument made by Chaiyaphum’s relatives which claims that the activist neither possessed drugs or hand grenades nor attempted to stab the authorities as the army had accused him of doing.”

In response, the judge stated that “the court was only asked to find the cause of his death.” That is, of course, a reflection of what the police “investigated,” what the military brass and junta demanded and what the prosecutors did. It is a failure of the judicial system and shows that this judge is a little more than a dopey processing terminal for the military.

Lahu Chiang Mai Group president and Chaiyapoom’s mentor, Maitree Chamroensuksakul, said “he could not have imagined that the Chiang Mai Provincial Court would simply announce results that the public already knew.” He added: “I am disappointed, frankly speaking. In fact, one year should have been long enough to nail down the culprit…”.

Now that the court has confirmed what everyone knew, after 14 months of hidden evidence and intimidation of witnesses and others, its report will go “to a public prosecutor who will decide whether the soldier who killed Chaiyaphum will be indicted or not.”

More delays, intimidation, suppression of evidence and political interference will follow.

And, if the prosecutors decide to press charges, the case will probably be heard in a military court, where justice is almost never served and proceedings will likely be secret.

The family can file a civil suit, but that is the system’s way of ensuring that there will be likely be delays of years in hearing the case.

Again, “Chaiyaphum’s lawyer and family have also petitioned the Royal Thai Army to publicly reveal the CCTV footage at the military checkpoint where the activist was slain.” The court did not see the footage which the military claimed vindicated its men. Early on, when the military was justifying its actions, “there were widespread reports that video footage of the incident existed and that several military figures, including Army chief Chalermchai Sittisart, had already watched it.”

Cover-ups go right to the top in the impunity that the murderous military enjoys.

That’s why it is now “said the footage did not include what had happened at the time Chaiyapoom was shot.” How convenient that footage once claimed to vindicate the military is now said to not show anything at all about the case. Clearly the military leadership is full of scoundrels and liars. They can get away with murder, again and again.

The Prachatai report includes a timeline of the military’s role and intimidation, the judicial system’s failures and the stonewalling. But there’s much, much more to be learned in this case and the similar case of a Lahu killed a little while before Chaiyapoom, where the military used exactly the same “excuse” for the killing.

Judges overseeing dumb decisions for a murderous military are not dumb themselves. They are just doing their “duty” in protecting the state’s older brothers and enforcing the required impunity.

Updated: The Dictator declares victory

23 05 2018

There have been many reports on the rally by hundreds of anti-coup activists that ended yesterday, blocked by hundreds of police.

The report at The Nation interested PPT as it seemed The Dictator declared victory over the protesters.

While the leaders of the rally could not reach their objective of marching to Government House and were arrested, they vowed to fight on.

The Dictator, Gen Prayuth Chan-ocha dismissed the rally. He stated, again, that the poll “would be no sooner than early 2019” but, as usual, provided no specific date.

He declared that the protesters “cannot march, whether they support or oppose us. It breaks the law. They will just cause conflict and upset the economy…”. That’s Prayuth’s mantra, selectively enforced and it is his electoral campaign slogan: the junta means political stability.

As usual, The Dictator deliberately confused junta decrees and human rights, stating that “[e]nforcing the law and breaking up the protest did not violate their human rights…”. He added, “the law is the law,” except that junta law is the law of double standards and selective use.

The junta boss referred to the organic laws for the election. An election can only be held within 150 days of the four laws coming into effect.

On cue, Constitution Drafting Committee Chairman Meechai Ruchupan warned of further delays on the laws, seeming to predict that the Constitutional Court would rule on Wednesday that it violates the 2017 charter. He said: “If the court rules they [the provisional clauses] break the charter, the whole bill will be revoked and we will have to start over and draft a new one…”.

He says that shouldn’t delay an election. He means the one for which there is no stated date. Delaying an unannounced election does indeed seem improbable.

Update: Meechai, while touted as a constitutional ‘expert” was wrong. The Constitutional Court unanimously approved the bill.