Election commissioners made “legal” II

19 08 2018

Remember all that kerfuffle over the past week or so about election inspectors? First the National Legislative Assembly was going to change a law to allow the new, then unconfirmed Election Commission members – well, some of them – to select election inspectors. NLA people, initially supported by The Dictator, said this was necessary because the old commissioners had done the selecting and the junta no longer trusted them. They might have made appointments that didn’t suit the junta. Then “pressure” came from somewhere and it was decided not to do anything because changing law might encourage naughty politicians to do the same in years to come, if the junta ever decides to have an election.

At the same time, the new commissioners, not yet officially appointed, were making decisions about who should lead them, seemingly in ways that was unconstitutional.

All very messy and complicated.

But now those 5 of 7 commissioners have been officially appointed, what’s their first job?

Thai PBS reports that the “five new members of the Election Commission officially assumed their duty today [Friday] and the first major task awaiting them is how to deal with the fate of the 616 election inspectors appointed by their predecessors.” It reports that they immediately had a meeting to discuss the 616 inspectors and that it’s expected “the new election commissioners will go through the list and strike out those who they believe are not qualified.”

By “not qualified” we assume that this designates inspectors who can’t be trusted to do the junta’s bidding when an election is held, sometime in the future.

So there was no need to change the law in the NLA because the new, junta-approved Election Commissioners can do the junta’s bidding on this anyway.

Reporting truth on AMLO and the rigged election

17 08 2018

The Nation has some interesting comments on the events at AMLO.

Policeman Romsit Viriyasan “was abruptly removed from his top post at the Anti-Money Laundering Organisation (AMLO) largely because he failed to expedite a number of long-delayed politically sensitive cases, especially since the general election is looming…”.

The Dictator issued the transfer order under the power of Article 44, which allows him to do pretty much anything he wants.

Gen Prayuth Chan-ocha used his unbridled power and then said, unbelievably, that “… Romsit had done nothing wrong…”. He’d been in the AMLO job since 29 June 2018.

Prayuth added that AMLO’s boss had been changed “to make the agency more efficient.” This “abrupt removal followed the August 14 meeting of the National Council for Peace and Order (NCPO) [the junta] chaired by Prayut and attended by deputy PM Prawit Wongsuwan, who had reportedly said there was a top-level discussion on AMLO’s leadership change.”

The Nation observes that the removal was “rather unusual.” That’s too bland. This action by The Dictator is “rather usual” in the sense that almost everything the junta does now is highly politicized in the sense that it is meant to consolidate its position going forward.

As The Nation explains, for the junta, “the top AMLO post is crucial, especially in view of the looming general election due some time next year. Hence, the AMLO secretary-general has to be someone who can take immediate action to speed up pending cases that are politically sensitive.” That is, the junta needs to finish off some important political opponents before an rigged election can be held and it can win it.

Apparently, “Romsit had not expedited several pending [political] cases, citing legal and other constraints, which prompted the premier to have him moved to an inactive post in the PM’s Office.”

One case in particular is that against Panthongtae Shinawatra, son of former premier Thaksin, which the junta claims involved “wrongdoing in the state-owned Krung Thai Bank loan fraud case.” But, in addition, the junta wants AMLO to “play a powerful oversight role in the upcoming general election regarding the flow of funds that are used by politicians during the elections.” In other words, AMLO has to be a part of the election rigging, and The Dictator didn’t trust Romsit to do the job he’d be given by the junta.

hHe Nation concludes: “So, there will soon be a replacement as the Prayut government gets ready to hold general elections next year.” Yep, that’s the rigged election (which will only be held when the junta is sure its lot can triumph.

Free (no) and fair (no) “elections”

14 08 2018

While we at PPT often appreciate the broader sentiments expressed, there are times when we wonder whether editorial writers have the memories of goldfish.

An editorial at the Bangkok Post set us wondering again when it stated “[t]he three years of excuses for delaying a free and fair election have run out.” 

Hey! Bangkok Post people! The military junta that has established a military dictatorship has never had any intention of allowing their “election” to be free or fair. You know this! SO why make false statements?

From the moment of the military coup in May 2014, the aim was to ensure that there could never be another election that permitted pro-Thaksin Shinawatra parties to form another government. By definition, by design and by repression, there could not be a free and fair election. That’s why the junta doesn’t want to set an election date and keeps delaying, for more than four years.

But you Bangkok Post people know this. You know that The Dictator “harshly enforces a ban on political activity” while he “himself is seen to be openly canvassing support for his own campaign.” That’s not free or fair.

You know that Gen Prayuth Chan-ocha craves power and wants to stay on a premier for years and years. That can’t be free or fair.

The Dictator is not “skirting [skating?] very close to the line where Thais and foreign friends will describe any future election as neither fair nor free.” Gen Prayuth is well beyond that. The rules for the election, which pre-date the current manipulations, were never meant to be free or fair; they were meant to rig an outcome.

So stop all this babble about free and fair elections and say what they will be (whenever the junta chooses to hold them): unfree and unfair elections. They will be rigged elections.

How to “win” an “election” III

13 08 2018

On its webpage, the Bangkok Post says: “Unnamed, influential power holders tell legislature members to be quiet and stop attempts to change the selection process of election monitors.”

In its story, the Post states that those National Legislative Assembly (NLA) members who are “seeking a legal amendment on the selection of inspectors is being lobbied to back down…”.

Who could the ” influential power holders” be? After all, The Dictator supported them. Or at least he did a few days ago.

Now, someone or some people are telling the NLA members “to review their move out of concerns that it will trigger criticism because the amendment plan involves an organic law.”

We are not sure we follow the “argument” being made, but it seems that this is not about worries that the junta’s “election” may be delayed.

Rather, it seems that the unnamed powers worry about “precedent.” The concern is that if this NLA can change an organic law, nasty politicians may have a precedent for “seeking to amend the election of MPs law to do away with election primaries.”

As we understand it, even under the junta’s anti-democratic constitution, MPs are empowered to do this. However, the “unnamed powers” don’t want this to be morally possible.

So the “unnamed powers” sound like those who have had “independent agencies” and the puppet judiciary bring charges against MPs under the Yingluck Shinawatra government for engaging is constitutional activities such as seeking to change the charter.

Is this the Deep State, some form of the “network monarchy” or some other group that can bring enormous pressure?

How to “win” an “election” II

13 08 2018

It isn’t just PPT wondering about the desperation rigging of the junta’s already rigged “election.” Khaosod examines some of the concerns:

As the junta backs efforts to rewrite laws, overturn norms and stack the deck with loyalists, whispers that it could attempt to subvert next election are growing louder.

PPT hasn’t been whispering, we’ve been shouting for many months.

But fear not, the man who became secretary general of the Election Commission after his predecessor was fired by the junta leader, Police Col. Jarungvith Phumma says his “independent” agency won’t be “involved in manipulating the vote in favor of junta leader Gen. Prayuth Chan-ocha, who seems intent on remaining in power.”

This is the EC that has seen “the dismissal of all commission members, the firing of its outspoken former chairman and a bid to select voting inspectors by junta-appointed lawmakers.”

And, as Khaosod points out:

The only time the public has cast a ballot in over four years was far from a healthy democratic exercise. For the August 2016 referendum on the new junta-backed constitution, campaigning against it was criminalized, virtually no monitors were allowed to observe and an unusual vote-tallying system was put in place.

Junta opponents worry about “bogus voters, tallies or trashed ballots.” Others point to “false vote counting at polling stations, ghost voters and tampering with the electronic process of aggregating the final vote count.”

While “Pongsak Chanon, the Thai coordinator for the Bangkok-based Asian Network for Free Elections” thinks “the proliferation of smartphones and cameras” prevent outright fraud, we think he’s wrong. The junta will do whatever is required to get the result it wants. When he says “it’s hard to cheat systematically” he’s forgetting all the rigging that’s already gone on, with more to come. Think of Cambodia.

Those who think the EC wouldn’t dare engage in massive fraud are living in a fantasy world. They have already engaged in a massive manipulation of voting rules.And, the junta is certainly prepared to do whatever it feels needed. Think of the constitution referendum.

The elite forces that have manipulated the judiciary and murdered with impunity has little to fear. At present, the junta’s plan is to “win” without being ballot box stuffing gross, but, if necessary, it will do what it thinks necessary.

How to “win” an “election” I

13 08 2018

A few days ago, PPT posted on the strategies the military junta may use to keep delaying its “election.” One thing we added was that the junta could hold an “election” and cheat and manipulate to win it (the Cambodia model).

All of this discussion was motivated by reports that the Puea Thai Party remained the most electorally popular party in the country. This despite all the repression and money the junta has used to make itself and its preferred parties “popular.”

Of course, we should have mentioned a longer term strategy that the junta has had percolating in the background all along: ban Puea Thai or decimate it by banning dozens of its politicians from contesting an “election.”

We were reminded of this strategy by a report at the Bangkok Post. As the junta and its allies have been filching “members” from Puea Thai – this report says at least 50 – it has talked, threatened, teased these defectors with various “offers.” Widely reported have been offers of favorable treatment in legal cases.

The report refers to so-called graft investigations by the National Anti-Corruption Commission. (Such cases are what the junta uses the NACC for; it is not interested in cases against the junta, only in the cases against the junta’s opponents.)

It seems there are two such political cases against Puea Thai that the NACC can rule on when the junta tells it to pull the trigger.

One “investigation” is a quite ridiculous case that seeks to ban politicians for a endorsing for a vote in parliament a bill that was quickly withdrawn. This voting is termed ” abuse of authority.” Under the Yingluck Shinawatra government, these then-MPs endorsed the amnesty bill.

The second case is about the 1.9 billion baht compensation the Yingluck government made available to all victims of violence during political protests from 2005 to 2010.

Opponents declared that these funds were mainly for “red-shirt protesters that support the party.” Perhaps that was because, attacked by the military, it was mostly red shirts who were killed and who suffered the more severe injuries. But the point was that all were eligible.

What the NACC “will look into [are] claims that compensation was not paid out in line with the 1959 Budget Procedures Act, causing more than 1.9 billion baht in damage to state coffers.” That’s every single baht of the funds in a case that can be determined whenever the junta needs to ban Puea Thai and/or its former MPs (who don’t do deals with the junta).

That case against more than two dozen former MPs “will come to a final verdict and forward it to NACC’s main board next month.”

On (no) elections

11 08 2018

Alan Dawson at the Bangkok Post on an important milestone for The Dictator and his “election” (no) plans:

… in Thailand, there is no election date, a lame duck Election Commission, a harshly stressed ban on all political activity even by the coup-enabling friend Suthep Thaugsuban, open harassment of loyal opposition, a system of election monitors in uproar and total lack of voter-education on completely new proportional voting while the general prime minister campaigns relentlessly with carefully picked, adoring crowds….