Money and power

21 03 2018

The military dictatorship’s “election” campaigning is intensifying. It is a campaign to strengthen the regime, whether it goes to an “election” or just remains in power through “election delays.” The intensity of the campaign and related action suggests a regime feeling stressed and worried about its capacity to retain power.

As we have noted several times, the military regime has been pouring money into the electorate. Its latest effort involves a plan to “inject 30 billion baht into more than 82,000 villages nationwide…”. This effort reeks of the so-called populism that the regime once criticized but has readily embraced as a means to retain power.

In fact, the regime has a “supplementary budget of 150 billion baht approved in January by the cabinet to spur the grassroots economy.” In other words, the 30 billion is just a part of the regime’s new “election” fund. Its going to rain money, especially in rural electorates.

The National Legislative Assembly will shortly endorse the supplementary budget with the regime urging NLA deliberation now, declaring “it is essential to disburse funds that can spur investment and the economy in general under the government’s Pracharath people-state partnership scheme.” That’s just one of the junta’s electoral campaigning fund.

Meanwhile, Gen Prayuth Chan-ocha continues his personal campaign for nomination at prime minister following the junta’s “election,” should it decide to allow one. He’s visiting the northeast.

While campaigning, The Dictator still had time to use Article 44 to sack anti-election election commissioner Somchai Srisutthiyakorn. Somchai is a bright yellow election commissioner who has come to clash with the junta because he wants to keep his job but the regime is dismissing all commissioners. Presumably the junta finds the current commissioners, already under-strength, a little too unpredictable when it comes to its delayed “election.”

Somchai paints himself as a martyr, declaring: “It’s been an honour to reveal the face of the NCPO.” In fact, Somchai had a large role in preparing the political ground for the 2014 military coup, and feels the regime should be rewarding him, not appointing a new EC. He should be apologizing for his role in bringing the military dictatorship to power.

Then there’s the military arm of the junta. Army boss and junta member Gen Chalermchai Sitthisart has gone a bit crazy after Nitirat member Worachet Pakeerut raised the specter of a 1992-like uprising if The Dictator becomes an outsider premier following an “election.” Gen Chalermchai demands that no one speak of The Dictator’s political desire.

No CPT allowed

19 03 2018

No, it isn’t the 1970s, but the thought of a new Communist Party of Thailand is scary for the “authorities.”

Election Commission deputy secretary-general Sawaeng Boonmeehas “rejected new party pre-registration for the Communist Party of Thailand, citing that it was unconstitutional and undemocratic…”.

Obviously, in the late 2010s, this rationalization for 1970s-like fear and loathing, is simply nonsense.

The notion that it is “undemocratic” for the CPT to “pre-register” as a party to compete in the junta’s “election” is simply a reinforcement that it is a junta-organized and managed “election” that is undemocratic.

Yes, no, maybe

14 03 2018

The Deputy Dictator has “confirmed a general election will take place according to the nation’s [he means the junta’s] development Road Map…”. At the same time he “denied any knowledge of a political party backing the current prime minister [he means The Dictator] to continue in politics.” He also denied a move to have Gen Prayuth Chan-ocha become a party adviser to the Palang Pracharat Party.

As usual, all of this is not worth the effort we have made in typing it. There remain “threats” to the junta’s election (non-) timetable. Then there’s Col. Suchart Chantaramanee, who served on a Prayuth-appointed reform body until July, and is now head of the Palang Pracharat Party who has stated that he “wants regime chairman Prayuth … directly involved in a top role – whether formally or informally.”

So that’s a yes, no and a maybe.

No limits

13 03 2018

Leading legal limpet, sucked onto the body of the junta, Deputy Prime Minister Wissanu Krea-ngam has declared that The Dictator can do whatever he wants (so long as he controls the next regime).

Wissanu affirms that General Prayuth Chan-ocha “can be an adviser or member of a political party because no law forbids it…”. He added that The Dictator “could not run in an election unless he resigned as prime minister…”.

We had never imagined that the hierarchical and egotistical general was going to stand in the junta’s “election.” The plan seems to be that he will be invited by pro-junta parties following an election and assuming the pro-junta parties can get together with the junta’s Senate.

Abhisit to deal with devil parties

10 03 2018

In an move that was never in doubt, the “leader” of the Democrat Party Abhisit Vejjajiva has confirmed that “his” party “will definitely not be working with its arch-rival Pheu Thai Party in the next government…”.

By explicitly ruling out any alliance with the Puea Thai, Abhisit is implicitly ruling in and alliance with one or more of the pro-military devil parties.

To cement his reputation as an anti-Thaksin anti-democrat, Abhisit “declared” Puea Thai as “unable to detach itself from ‘Thaksinocracy’…”. As the report notes, that’s “a term coined by opponents that refers to a Thaksin-ruled autocracy which breeds conflicts of interest and irregularities in implementing public policies.”

Abhisit said “the Democrat Party has fought against Thaksinocracy for almost 20 years, and so will definitely not be working with Pheu Thai after the next election…”.

Then, to proclaim his anti-democrat leaning to devil parties, he said: “If the [Democrat] party were to join hands with anyone, it would need to do so in the best interest of the country…”.

This is a devil party call because an (always unlikely) coalition with Puea Thai would have been anti-military.

The report notes that Abhisit’s decision to speak now was to appease supporters who were with the anti-democratic People’s Democratic Reform Committee. We have no doubt that the potential for a Suthep Thaugsuban devil party taking members from the Democrat Party was a serious concern for the grandees of the Democrat Party.

As almost always in its long history, the Democrat Party is choosing conservative anti-democracy.

Updated: Pro-election junta vs. pro-election activists

9 03 2018

Not all elections are equal and nor are calls for elections considered equal. In the land of the double standard, consider the cases of “pro-election” protesters and the (now, for the moment) “pro-election” junta.

The Nation reports that some 50 “pro-election protesters have reported themselves to police and denied all charges filed against them.” Forty-three reported en masse on Thursday and seven others had reported earlier. It remains unclear if prosecutors will indict them for their 10 February rally calling for an election in November, as previously “promised” by The Dictator.

These pro-election people are “charged with violating a junta ban on political gatherings and the law on public assembly.”

Meanwhile, the junta’s puppet National Legislative Assembly has passed “two organic bills on electing MPs and selecting senators…”. That should help clear the way for an election well before the end of this year (90 days to royal assent + 150 days to election). In other words, in an odd way, the junta’s NLA is pro-election. (Yet the NLA has also delayed any “election” until February.)

The NLA’s anti-election baton is now likely to be passed elsewhere.

The linked article says that many “critics are still fretting about further possible delays…” beyond February. It could be that the “Constitutional Court elects to challenge the legality of the two bills.” A big rumor on some social media is that the queen is on her last legs, and her death could cause a long delay.

Update: Thai PBS reports that “[p]ublic prosecutor has decided not to prosecute 28 pro-election demonstrators, reasoning that their prosecution would not be in the public interest.” That decision has to be ratified by the Office of the Attorney-General.

Two protesters had already “confessed” before this decision and have been fined and sentenced to a six day suspended jail term each. The report states that the “case against the nine leaders [of the protest for elections] are still ongoing.”

Worried by the new

8 03 2018

We at PPT might be revealing our collective greying but we haven’t paid too much attention to the young phenoms threatening to enter politics and to shake up the system.

We were watching the reporting about the party-to-be (maybe) associated with businessman Thanathorn Juangroongruangkit and law professor Piyabutr Saengkanokkul and thinking about the new parties associated with political newcomers.

We thought of the enthusiasm for business people considering political campaigns following the military-perpetrated massacre of May 1992. They looked at existing parties and the Palang Dharma Party was often mentioned as attractive for “new-style” politicians. Interestingly, Thaksin Shinawatra was mentioned in the Bangkok Post (1 July 1992) as “reportedly preparing to run in the election for the Democrat Party.” We also thought of Thai Rak Thai in 2001. Then it was the new party, with new ideas. It also had enormous backing from business and operated under new rules set by the 1997 constitution. And we thought of the short-lived Mahachon Party led by Anek Laothamatas, said to draw on civil society and new ideas.

So new parties come and go.

But the thing that has caught our attention with Thanathorn’s recent efforts is the way his PR has quickly gotten under the skin of The Dictator and his military regime.

The Bangkok Post reports that Deputy Prime Minister Wissanu Krea-ngam has revealed that the military junta he obediently serves is warning and watching “new-generation politicians.”The junta is keen to limit their operations, threatening them with charges if they engage in “political activities and election campaigns.”

The military bootlicker was specifically threatening Thanathorn who “gave an interview aired on’s Facebook Live account on Monday.”

Because the junta is full of political troglodytes who fetishize hierarchy, it naturally feels challenged by young upstarts. It also has a knee-jerk reaction against Thanathorn that constructs him pro-Thaksin. This is because he is a nephew of former transport minister Suriya Jungrungreangkit, a former member of the defunct Thai Rak Thai Party…”.

But most worrying for the junta is that “Thanathorn’s interview drew more than 100,000 views and was shared more than 3,000 times, with viewers making comments and asking him questions.” Questions! Wow, that’s challenging for the trogs. When he says that an “election can no longer be delayed and the Pheu Thai Party would likely win…” the regime must be getting angry and vindictive.

That Thanathorn seems to be thinking of an alternative to Puea Thai is ignored because the junta’s own strategy is to set up and/or support a swathe of pro-junta proxy parties because it knows that its own new political rules mean that a coalition is the mostly likely outcome of the junta’s “election.”

When Thanathorn says “the military should now stop meddling with politics” and that “[c]oups did not benefit the country’s future…” he’s marked as a junta opponent.

The junta will work assiduously to undermine any group or party it views as oppositional. We might expect a roll out of treason, sedition and even lese majeste accusations.