Astounding legal action II

24 07 2020

PPT has had a couple of recent posts about the continuing double standards that define the politicized judiciary.

In the past day or so, however, we have seen another stupendously corrupt decision by regime authorities. As everyone now knows, the police have let it be known that the rich and powerful can literally get away with murder.

Well, readers will say we have known this from 1976, 1992, 2010 and other events where the military has gunned down citizens.

But the revoking of all “local and international arrest warrants … for Red Bull scion Vorayuth Yoovidhya after prosecutors dropped the last charge in his fatal hit-and-run case…”. is breathtaking because the police are accepting the murder of one of their own.

Party time for Boss (clipped from The Daily Mail)

Vorayuth, driving his Ferrari, struck and killed a motorcycle policeman in the early morning of 3 September in 2012 on Sukhumvit Road. After the driving his car over the policeman and dragging his body for a considerable distance under the car, Vorayuth hid behind the gates of the family mansion. Forensic police concluded he was driving at 177 kilometers per hour. He may have been drunk and/or drugged up at the time.

Known as Boss, as a fugitive, Vorayuth was reported to have at least two passports and a complex network of offshore bank accounts. Using these he lived a luxury life, traveling the world with impunity. He reportedly cruised Monaco’s harbor, snowboarded Japan, and celebrated his birthday at a swanky restaurant in London.

Now, Pol Col Kritsana Pattanacharoen, a spokesman for the Royal Thai Police Office, tannounced that prosecutors “decided late last month not to press the remaining charge of reckless driving causing death against Mr Vorayuth, and police agreed with the prosecutors.”

This means “police revoked local warrants for the arrest of Mr Vorayuth and told Interpol to lift its red notice…”. Police say that “Vorayuth could now return to Thailand without any problem.”

Wow! Breathtaking. Astounding.

Even more so when, as the Bangkok Post explains: “The National Anti-Corruption Commission earlier found police intention to exempt Mr Vorayuth, from prosecution on the charges.” Now they have.

There must be some who are now counting large piles of baht. Money and justice seem intertwined, and in a terribly corrupt way.





Astounding legal action I

23 07 2020

The use of “double standards” is so common in post-2006 Thailand that it gets little commentary in the local media; it just gets reported as a matter of fact event.

To begin this short account of double standards, consider that no leader of a successful coup or any successful coup group-junta has ever been held to legal account.

Then consider the most recent case against Yingluck Shinawatra, reported in the Bangkok Post.

It seems the junta’s National Anti-Corruption Commission “has found grounds to the accusation that former prime minister Yingluck Shinawatra and two other former officials committed offences and abused their authority by rolling out a roadshow campaign to publicise infrastructure development projects in 2013.”

Along with Yingluck, “former prime minister’s secretary-general Suranand Vejjajiva and then PM’s office minister Niwatthamrong Boonsongpaisan stand accused of violating two laws — Section 151 and Section 157 of the Criminal Code and Section 12 and Section 13 of the law on offences relating to the submission of contract bids to state agencies.”

The NACC said that the “alleged offences are related to the 240-million-baht Building the Future of Thailand in 2020 project launched in 2013 at her [Yingluck] instruction as prime minister.”

The events included “exhibitions, seminars, and other public relations activities to promote an infrastructure investment scheme…”.

On “March 12, 2014, the Constitutional Court ruled the bill sponsored by the Yingluck government to authorise the Finance Ministry to seek 2 trillion baht in loans for infrastructure development projects was unconstitutional.”

According to the NACC, this means that the 2013 events were “effectively rendered null and void, and the 240-million budget already spent on the campaign was wasted, causing damage to the state…”.

The NACC will now ask the Office of the Attorney-General to take legal action in the Supreme Court’s Criminal Division for Holders of Political Positions.

It doesn’t take a legal eagle to observe that the action against Yingluck and her colleagues is driven not by law but by vindictiveness.

Meanwhile, actions by an illegal junta and its manipulations since the 2014 coup get a pass and are never investigated.





Double standards again and again

22 07 2020

Double standards are the politicized judiciary’s only standard. In another case of blatant double standards.

Khaosod reports that three men “who participated in a symbolic protest against the junta-sponsored charter referendum in 2016 were sentenced to four months in prison by a court on Tuesday.” The Criminal Court “found activists Piyarat “Toto” Chongthep, Jirawat Ekakkaranuwat, and Songtum Kaewpanphreuk guilty for ripping a ballot paper in a polling station and posting a video of the protest on the internet.”

While the sentence was suspended, “the defendants were fined 4,000 baht each.”

Piyarat said: “My feelings today remain unchanged. It was civil disobedience that I have to receive the consequences of today…. If I could turn back time, I would do it all over again. I’ve never regretted doing it.”

It was Piyarat who declared: “Down with dictatorship, long live democracy!” as he ripped up the ballot.

Why do we say double standards? It is worth recalling that, back in 2010, in a case from the 2006 election, rightist and yellow-shirted Chulalongkorn University political science lecturer Chaiyan Chaiyaporn was acquitted after he tore up ballot papers. The court found a technicality that meant it could let Chaiyan off the hook as he blatantly used the courts to highlight his anti-Thaksin Shinawatra campaign.

And then there’s the issue that the charter was a junta scheme for prolonging its rule – as has proved the case. That draft charter was put to a bogus referendum. But even after that the junta changed several sections, demonstrating that it was bogus. The changes were mostly prompted by the king’s desire to live in Germany and to control his palace world.





Odd stuff

10 07 2020

A reader reckoned it was odd that PPT has been ignoring the ructions in the Palang Pracharath Party. While we have linked to a couple of stories on this, our view has been much as the Thai Enquirer has it:

The former party leader of Thailand’s ruling party and three other senior officials resigned from the party on Thursday signalling a possible cabinet shake up and the consolidation of power by the army wing of the ruling party.

We’d just add that it has always been a military-backed party. Recall that it was formed to allow Gen Prayuth Chan-ocha and his military junta to stay in power following a rigged election. The plan is to have the military pulling the string for up to 20 years.

On that 20 year period that The Dictator once called this “national reform.” It was a long-term plan to keep the military in politics and the monarchy in place.

Perhaps because the regime seems to feel it remains in control, as the Bangkok Post reports, no one seems particularly interested, demonstrated when a “Lower House sitting on national reform was cancelled yesterday for the lack of quorum.” The meeting was meant to “discuss progress on reform plans, which require a report and debate in parliament every three months.”  mainly because the .

For some grasping at “democratic” straws, see Prachatai.

Finally, the regime has ditched the ridiculous lie that the American general and his entourage had quarantined for 14 days prior to arrival in Thailand. Rather, it has sought to downplay the obvious double standards.

The Bangkok Post reports that:

Taweesilp Visanuyothin, spokesman of the Centre for Covid-19 Situation Administration, said the delegation … would not be quarantined because health officials were confident of controlling any disease they may have….

Taweesilp added:

Thai officials who accompanied the visitors would also not have to be quarantined for 14 days subsequently, because they knew well how to protect themselves, kept a distance from the visitors, and had experience gained in handling returnees who arrived by plane….

Funny statement when Taweesilp has carved out those accompanying the US military delegation and those meeting with it. We don’t recall Gen Prayuth or Gen Apirat Kongsompong “handling returnees.” There are still glaring double standards at work, most especially when the regime maintains an emergency decree.

Rounding out a series of cockeyed reports, Gen Apirat is reported to have “insisted the US did not ask to use Thailand as a place to build a base.” He warned: “Don’t stir up issues that might create conflict in the region…”. Tell us more!





Hopeless minister

9 07 2020

Health minister Anutin Charnvirakul has been a disaster in his post. Of course, he’s not the only hopeless minister under this regime.

Not only does he have conflicts of interest, but his behavior has often been odd. As we mentioned in a recent post, we stated that Anutin’s performance on the virus crisis has been so hopeless and so bizarre that he was pushed aside and has barely been seen in public.

A Khaosod report refers to his early virus crisis rants.

Now Anutin has been forced to apologize for “ignoring his own advice on wearing face masks during the coronavirus pandemic.”

Anutin unmasked in an earlier outing. Clipped from Der Farang.

Anutin attended Fourth of July celebrations at the US Embassy without a face mask.

It doesn’t matter whether one things masks are necessary. As the reports states: “The health ministry requires visitors to all public venues to put on their masks, citing the threat of coronavirus infection.” As minister, Anutin should be a model of masking up, following his ministry’s directive.

Along with the treatment of the American general and his entourage and the unmasked king and queen visit, including meetings with ambassadors, the double standards are obvious.

Anutin has been forced to come up with an apology: “Sorry for letting my guard down…. Dear citizens, don’t let your guard down like I did. I humbly accept their criticism. I apologize. It won’t happen again.”

Not long before he had “dismissed reporters’ questions about the photo [of him unmasked] by laughing and saying ‘so much drama’.”





With 4 updates: Generals, kings and isolation

6 07 2020

After some criticism of quarantine exemptions for a visiting US military delegation, a Thai general was quoted:

A delegation led by the US army chief of staff has been required to self-isolate before their arrival for 14 days for a two-day trip under a special arrangement, Gen Somsak Roongsita, secretary-general of the National Security Council (NSC) said yesterday [Sunday].

That seems pretty clear. The Thai general is further quoted:

US army chief of staff Gen James McConville will meet his Thai counterpart, Gen Apirat Kongsompong, and Prime Minister [Gen] Prayut Chan-o-cha on Thursday and Friday, Gen Somsak said.

But, then, as ever, things get a little murkier:

Gen Somsak said the delegation would fly from Singapore to Thailand on a private flight. “They won’t be flying directly from the US. It’s a small delegation and will be in Thailand for two days.”

They were tested and quarantined for 14 days in the US before the trip and would be tested again in Singapore and at the Military Air Terminal 2 at Don Mueang airport.

So in Singapore, they are not isolated.Just saying….

But what about in the USA? We found this official report:

REDSTONE, AL, UNITED STATES
07.02.2020
Photo by Kari Hawkins
U.S. Army Materiel Command

Gen. Ed Daly takes command of the Army Materiel Command as he returns the AMC flag to Command Sgt. Maj. Rodger Masker during a Passing of the Colors ceremony July 2. The Passing of the Colors was part of the change of command ceremony, and included previous AMC Commander Gen. Gus Perna and Army Chief of Staff Gen. James McConville.

Date Taken: 07.02.2020
Date Posted: 07.02.2020 16:46….

We did a count, and we don’t think 2-9 July equals 14 days. Is the Thai general concocting a lame story for local consumption? Does he think no one will bother doing a bit of online searching? We are sure another lame story will follow. Just saying….

And what of all those who are in contact? Are they isolating after the visit? Probably not. Just saying….

And then there’s the arrival this morning of yet another special Thai Airways reportedly carrying the king and queen back to Bangkok from Germany and Switzerland for another less than one day visit. It seems the bankrupt airline is still flying special flights for the royals. And, like the king’s one other visit to Thailand, there’s no isolation, presumably as the possibility of a royal virus is a blessing. Just saying….

Update 1: If you aren’t filthy rich and are without a royal or military connection, then you can be held in contempt compared to those with status and loot. Gen Prayuth has “expressed his concerns about the future resumption of international travel under the Travel Bubble scheme, stressing Thailand must implement a vigorous arrivals screening.” Unless you are rich, royal or connected.

Update 2: We predicted another story to cover for the Thai general’s dissembling. One we saw came in the Bangkok Post. It seem that the buffalo manure is being dumped as the Post has a photo that appears to be showing that the American general hasn’t isolated for 14 days anywhere. The caption for the photo states:

US army chief of staff Gen James McConville (centre right) visits the Thai army’s combat team which joins Exercise Lightning Forge at the Schofield Barracks army Base in Hawaii before his trip to Singapore, Thailand and Japan later this week. (Photo supplied by Wassana Nanuam)

Clipped from the Bangkok Post

We can’t confirm when the photo was taken but the text above gives the impression that “before” means within the last few days and the photo shows everyone masked.

Now the official line is that the American general and his entourage will wear masks and limit meetings. Then is is added that they’ll be virus tested before arrival and on arrival. But what about all those they meet and the “liaison officers, along with health and security officials”? What about Gen Prayuth and Gen Apirat?

Update 3: Serial complainer Srisuwan Janya, who has celebrity status for his incessant attention-seeking activism, has lodged a complaint about the delegation’s visit and associated double standards.

Update 4: Because they lied, officials and army brass have been busy covering posterior and repairing their image by going above and beyond in having the American general appear to be sanitized and separated. Look at the lengths Gen Apirat has gone to. One suspects he is trying to (re)burnish his image for a political career.





Demonstrating double standards

2 07 2020

Double standards have been a defining feature of the judiciary and the so-called independent agencies since the 2006 military coup. Confidence in the judiciary has declined and the “independent” agencies are a laughable.

Even so, they continue to coordinate on double standards. The reports of the last day or so shout DOUBLE STANDARDS!

The Constitutional Court ruled on 1 July that the ruling party’s Bangkok MP Sira Jenjaka had not abused his authority when in August 2019 he jetted off to Phuket to involve himself in case there and “attacked a police officer … for not providing him with an escort.” The loudmouthed Bangkok MP shouted at the hapless policeman, describing himself as a big shot who should have police escorts. The Palang Pracharath Party hack now plans to sue the 57 MPs who brought the complaint. It remains unclear why a Bangkok MP was involved in local affairs in Phuket.

Then there’s everyone’s favorite convicted criminal and deputy minister, Thammanat Prompao, also of the Palang Pracharath Party.  The Constitutional Court also rejected a petition against him. The Court had been asked “to rule on the eligibility of Thamanat … holding a seat in parliament due to his wife’s business dealings with The Port Authority of Thailand (PAT).” This wife, one of two, “holds shares in Klongtoey Market (2551) Co Ltd, and the company entered into a land lease contract with the … PAT.” He was claimed to be in breach of Article 184 of the constitution. While that article is straightforward and applies to spouses, “the court said it found the contract with PAT is not monopolistic. Therefore, there is no reason for Mr Thamanat to lose his status as an MP.” We have no idea why a monopoly matters in this case, except for the Court is slippery interpretation.

We suppose that ruling royalist party MPs getting off is par for the course these days and that the cases might sort of slip by as “normal” these days.

But then there is other news that makes it all reprehensible.

It is reported that:

Thailand’s National Anti-Corruption Commission (NACC) has found that former Prime Minister Yingluck Shinawatra abused her power, in violation of Section 157 of the Criminal Code, for her illegal removal, nine years ago, of Thawil Pliensri, from his post as secretary-general of the National Security Council and subsequent reassignment to the PM’s Office as an advisor.

NACC deputy secretary-general, Niwatchai Kasemmongkol, said today (Wednesday) that the NACC’s investigative panel found that  Thawil’s abrupt transfer was carried out with undue haste, taking just four days for the entire process to be completed.

Readers will recall that Yingluck was unanimously found at fault by the Constitutional Court and dismissed from office for the transfer of a top security officer, Thawil Pliensri, as National Security Council secretary-general in 2011.

That, following the 2014 coup, the junta summarily transferred hundreds of officials counts for nothing. It’s okay when the royalist thugs do it under conditions where only their “law” matters via retrospective edicts and so on.

Now the NACC “wants to bring another case against former prime minister Yingluck Shinawatra in the Supreme Court’s Criminal Division for Holders of Political Positions.” The NACC “will ask that Ying­luck be indicted for malfeasance and abuse of power.”

These royalist minions to the junta/post-junta are a nasty lot, but this action seems oddly vindictive. Why are they doing it? It is our guess that the regime’s bosses (again) see Thaksin Shinawatra as “stirring up trouble,” so they hit the family again.

 





Updated: More political prisoners

28 06 2020

Along with every other media outlet, Khaosod reports that, on Friday, the Supreme Court upheld rulings by lower courts against five leaders of a July 2007 protest that marched from Sanam Luang to the taxpayer-funded residence of the then president of the king’s Privy Council, Gen Prem Tinsulanonda. The rally accused Prem of fomenting the 2006 military coup.

Nattawut Saikua, Veerakarn (then Veera) Musikapong, Weng Tojirakarn, Nopparut Worachitwuthikul, and Wiputhalaeng Pattanaphumthai were sentenced to two years and eight months in prison for “illegal assembly and using violence to resist police orders.”

Fellow UDD leader Thida Tawornsate Tojirakarn observed that these men are political prisoners. The five were immediately taken from the court to prison.

While the reports refer to the five as red shirts, it needs to be noted that the wearing of the color hadn’t taken off at this time and the United Front for Democracy against Dictatorship-led rally and march had most people wearing yellow shirts, which was a display of “loyalty” following the 2006 60th anniversary of Bhumibol’s reign.

Another UDD leader, Jatuporn Promphan, reflected on the double standards in the judicial system: “I once said to them that on our way of fighting, it’s either death or imprisonment…. Over the past decade, we took turns getting in and out of the prison.” Jatuporn is “also due to stand trial on the same offense…”.

The double standards refer to the efforts by several royalist regimes supported by the pliant judiciary to lock up red shirts and UDD leaders while those from the royalist People’s Alliance for Democracy and People’s Democratic Reform Committee who also occupied parts of Bangkok and several state properties for extended periods, with considerable violence, get off quite lightly.

Few of the reports said much about the rally at Gen Prem’s free lodgings, so PPT went back and looked at reports from the time.

Asia Sentinel had a perceptive report. It began by observing:

On Sunday night, UDD leaders caught police unaware by marching with thousands of supporters to the house of Privy Council President Prem Tinsulanonda, a former army chief and prime minister who is held in high respect by much of the Thai public due to his proximity to the king.

King, queen, Prem and military coup leaders

The protesters accused Prem, who was in the compound at the time, of acting as the puppet master behind the coup last September that ousted Premier Thaksin Shinawatra. They called on Prem to resign.

The UDD set up a makeshift stage in front of Prem’s house on Sunday afternoon and made speeches for five hours or so, according to witnesses and news reports. But in the evening, after the protesters vowed to permanently camp outside the residence, riot police attempted to break up the gathering and arrest the leaders, prompting demonstrators to hail rocks, chairs, sticks, water bottles and pieces of broken flower pots at the police, who eventually retreated.

Most reports put the UDD crowd at 5,000 to 10,000, with some counting up to 20,000. The police eventually mobilized about 2,000 officers. The police:

made two more attempts to arrest the protest leaders, charging at  demonstrators with clubs, pepper spray and tear gas. Each time the demonstrators fought back with fists, rocks, sticks, bottles and anything else they could find.

Weng said the protesters withdrew when threatened with the army, saying, “We didn’t want anybody killed from this event.”

The police claimed that 200 of their officers and about 70 protesters were injured. Six protesters were arrested and charged with “causing chaos, obstructing the work of authorities, and damage to state property…. Police were also seeking arrest warrants for eight or so other UDD leaders…”.

The report wonders about the police action, saying:

It’s unclear why authorities attempted to break up the protest this time as many similar
protests had occurred earlier without incident. Some observers said the army may have been spooked by UDD statements that the group would camp out in front of Prem’s house — an unacceptable scenario for generals who swear allegiance to the royal advisor.

It also notes Prem’s coup role:

Although Prem is supposed to be non-political as a privy councilor, coup opponents blast the 86-year-old for a series of speeches he gave a year ago in which he donned full military garb and said soldiers should be loyal to the king instead of the government. Many observers said the speeches set the stage for the coup.

The Irrawaddy (July 23, 2007) carried a report that royalists declared Thaksin behind the UDD. The then president of the Constitution Drafting Committee Prasong Soonsiri, cheered the arrests, saying: “He [Thaksin] is probably responsible for supporting the clash, and he won’t stop there…”. This was a widely held view among the military-installed regime led by former Privy Councillor Gen Surayud Chulanont.

Shortly after the event, the Union for Civil Liberty issued a statement:

Declaration concerning the avoidance of violence during a conflict of opinion

During a protest by the Democratic Alliance Against Dictatorship (DADD) at the home of Privy Council President Prem Tinsulanonda in the Thewes district of Bangkok, there occurred violent clashes between police and demonstrators. Alleging the part played by General Prem in organizing the military coup of 19th September 2006, protestors called for his resignation. As a result of the clashes which took place in the late evening of Sunday 22nd July, according to news media, 106 persons were injured.

The Union for Civil Liberty (UCL) maintains that the holding of non-violent protest to make known a political viewpoint is a civil right and a fundamental component of the democratic system. It is the duty of government to assure that the right of citizens to exercise this right is respected at all times, whether their action is against or in support of government, or to express other political opinion.

It is a matter of great regret that the protest on 22nd July last could not enjoy such a right to free expression due to the action of the police in blocking the protest march to the residence of General Prem in the Thewes district. The action angered some participants in the protest leading to the use of force and many casualties both among the protestors and the police.

To avoid the recurrence of such violence, perhaps on an even larger scale, the Union for Civil Liberty submits the following proposals:

1. Appoint a committee of persons acceptable to the public to investigate the events which occurred on the evening of the 22nd July for presentation to the Government and to the public.

2. Take court action against those who have acted illegally, whether the police or the protestors, in order that justice be done and human rights be protected.

Statement issued on 23rd July 2007
Union for Civil Liberty

So, for seeking to exercise their freedom of expression, these men are jailed. The regime that went after them was a junta-appointed administration that was vehemently royalist and anti-Thaksin. The double standards are as clear as they ever were.

Update: For another take on double standards, especially in comparing red shirts and yellow shirts, read this op-ed.





Updated: More Future Forward charges

11 03 2020

Thailand’s great and good want to obliterate the leadership of Future Forward. These upstarts are considered threats to the status quo who must be destroyed.

A few days ago it was reported that Future Forward’s former spokesperson Pannika Wanich, hated by the elite, is to be hit with lese majeste-like computer crimes law.

Last Friday she fronted inspectors of the Technology Crime Suppression Division, “accused of violating Section 14 (2) of the Computer Crime Act, which prohibits the publication of false information that could affect national security.” In other words, the monarchy.

The ludicrous accusation “stems from a 2013 Facebook post about ‘the national institution’, a common euphemism for the monarchy.”

Meanwhile, junta puppet and tool of the military-backed regime the Election Commission has decided to lay criminal charges against former Future Forward leader Thanathorn Juangroongruangkit.

Thanathorn “may face a jail term up to 10 years and a 20-year ban from politics over his media shareholding…”.

The EC accuses him of “applying to be an MP candidate knowing he was not qualified” under Section 151 of the 2018 MP Election Act.” This is the ludicrous case over buffalo manure “media” ownership.

Both cases are, like everything else judicial under the junta/post-junta regime, a political stitch-up. How much more of this manure can they pile up? This nonsense has been going on for years now. It’s corrupt and it has made the judiciary a processing terminal for the ruling elite.

Update: In an op-ed, deputy editor at the Bangkok Post, Surasak Glahan expresses the frustration of many:

With the Election Commission (EC)’s decision on Tuesday to pursue criminal charges against Thanathorn Juangroongruangkit over a much-disputed media share transfer case, many observers may have stopped questioning how Thailand’s law-enforcement system could have come this far, and started wondering whether the worst of things is yet to come.

The poll agency’s move against the leader of the disbanded opposition Future Forward Party (FFP) comes at a time when public mistrust of Thailand’s justice system has already reached its peak…

He points out the dire consequences of this politicization of the judiciary and points out the gross double standards involved.





A politically contorted judgement

25 02 2020

Criticizing the Constitutional Court can easily lead to prison as the court is protected by laws that prevent even reasonable criticism. In this context, the Bangkok Post story on a “group of 36 law lecturers at Thammasat University … issu[ing] a statement voicing disagreement with the Constitutional Court’s decision to disband the Future Forward Party (FFP) over a campaign loan” caught our collective attention.

From Ji Ungpakorn’s blog

The lecturers disputed several aspects of the Court’s judgement. Most significantly, they contended that “a political party does not meet three legal criteria that constitute a public organisation and should thus be legally defined as a juristic entity. As a juristic entity, a political party can lawfully obtain a loan.”

They also disputed the Court’s view that “the loan’s low interest rate and late-repayment fee” were an “unusual” business practice. The lecturers pointed out that “a lender and borrower were free to agree on the rate.”

That point mirrors Gen Prayuth Chan-ocha’s defense of his father’s big land deal in 2014: “Prayut said the company has the right to buy his father’s land at whatever price they see fit.”

The lecturers contend that the loan “did not qualify as a ‘donation or other benefits’ as the court ruled…”.

They also observed that “Section 72, which was used to disband the FFP, did not apply in this case since it deals with money acquired from illegitimate sources or suspected illegitimate sources such as the drug trade or criminal activities.”

They make excellent points, but the Court and regime will remain confident that their double standards and politically contorted judgement cannot be reversed.