Commentary on the junta’s rigged election I

19 10 2018

There have been several recent articles on the junta’s rigged election. We will look at some of these in this and further posts.

PPT kind of liked a piece at Deutsche Welle that begins with a statement of fact that has been neglected by other media: “Thailand’s military government says it wants to hold elections early next year, after the generals cemented their control over the state and its institutions.”

Academic Wolfram Schaffar says there’s “growing discontent even among sections that have been traditionally close to the military” over its repeated failure to keep its promises on elections and to stick in power.

We are not convinced that the 2014 military coup was “met with widespread approval,” or that the DW characterization of the period prior to the coup is accurate.

It is on stronger ground when quoting Schaffar as saying that the “military took over not to repair democracy, but to stay in power indefinitely…”, or at least to ensure that no real electoral democracy emerged.

It notes the rigging of the rules via an anti-democratic constitution, approved in a rigged referendum where “all sorts of restrictions were imposed, including barring any public discussion over the constitution as well as curtailing the freedom of expression, assembly and the press.”

The resulting rules mean “a weakening of the Thai parliament and strengthened the hand of the prime minister.” Schaffar says the “military is now closely intertwined with the country’s political bodies and institutions…”.

He correctly observes that the “next elections will not be free and fair.”

DW also notes that the “military stands above everything and will likely retain its dominant position…”. It also notes the unfairness of the current regime that campaigns for elections while banning its opponents from organizing and campaigning.

Free election? No. Fair election? No.

Slimy Prayuth

17 10 2018

When we saw the Bangkok Post story: on the Tham Luang cave kids “meeting” The Dictator, we have to say that we found the whole thing slimy.

We have said several times that the rescue effort was fabulous. However, as The Dictator seeks every possible advantage, exploiting the rescue and the kids strikes us as another step too far.

The 12 kids and their coach “paid a courtesy call on Gen Prayut at Government House…”.

Gen Prayuth Chan-ocha “gave them souvenirs and thanked them for bringing fame to Thais and the country. The team had been internationally recognised.”

That’s his concern. “Fame” for the country under the military dictatorship.

Election Commission a farce

16 10 2018

The Election Commission has again demonstrated its puppet status with the military junta and The Dictator.

EC chairman Itthiporn Boonprakong “has insisted Prime Minister Prayut Chan-o-cha’s newly pushed social media ‘campaign’ is not electioneering, a move that flouts the regime’s order at present.”

Itthiporn says this despite also commenting that “the EC has yet to thoroughly discuss it [the issue].”.

The EC chairman did say that his agency “is gathering information related to the activities of political parties and elections and is obligated to inform parties if they commit any violations.”

He means all parties that are not pro-junta.

The EC is a farce.

When the junta rigs elections II

16 10 2018

It is reported that criticism of the junta’s ministers doubling as Palang Pracharath Party leaders and officials is continuing. And so it should. The double standards of this regime are huge.

Ordered to vote

Puea Thai has “cried foul over four ministers … [and] whether the pro-government party has been given leeway to conduct political activities which are still banned for everyone else.”

Indeed, the ministers have been meeting civic groups and brazenly campaigning. Junta supporters can do what they want as part of the junta’s rigging of the “election.”

Even the Bangkok Post says “Palang Pracharath is seen as having effectively begun campaigning while other parties are still only limited to some activities such as membership registration.”

The puppet Election Commission reckons the Palang Pracharath ministers can give interviews and conduct party business at their ministerial workplaces.

That’s exactly what we have come to expect of this junta agency.

Updated: Scurrilous scoundrels

15 10 2018

Two scoundrels appear in separate stories at Thai PBS. One is on The Dictator and the other is another anti-democrat, Suriyasai Katasila. We won’t waste much space on them except to point out their untruths.

We can begin with Gen Prayuth Chan-ocha. As big boss at the military junta, he has banned “politicians” and political parties from using social media. So what’s the deal with The Dictator’s deputy secretary-general for political affairs announcing that The Dictator “and his aides would administer the [boss’s Facebook] page, IG [Instagram] and Twitter accounts as well as the website of the prime minister.” Everyone knows that The Dictator is campaigning and now he’s the only politician permitted to campaign in public and with social media. Double standards? Of course. Crooked? Of course. Rigging the election? Naturally.

Then there’s the yellow ideologue and pretend academic Suriyasai. His self-assigned role is to speak for “the people.” The problem is that the people ignore him and the things he says about them are nonsense. He said “people have more expectations on the next election than the previous ones because they want politics to help solve problems the country is facing.” He means yellow shirts. Sensible people know that the outcome of the elections, when held, will be more military domination (see above). He added that “people are fed up with politics and do not trust politicians…”. This is nonsense. The evidence of voter turnout is that the last two elections had turnouts at record rates of 80-88%. Of course, Suriyasai and his ilk prefer the military’s voice to voter voice and rigged elections to free and fair elections.

Both anti-democrats are scurrilous scoundrels.

Update: A reader chastises us for being too eager to criticize The Dictator. After all, that reader says, many other politicians have Facebook and other social media accounts. That’s true, but those politicians didn’t establish them all in one day in anticipation of winning an election (whenever it is decided it will be held) and after almost five years after seizing power in a military coup. Nor are they permitted to use these accounts for election campaigning. Indeed, some have been charged for doing this.

When the junta rigs elections I

15 10 2018

What happens when the military junta is rigging an election? PPT has had a heck of a lot of posts on this already. Even so, we think it time to begin a series of posts.

One thing that junta has done is arranged a series of puppet organizations that are sometimes inaccurately referred to as “independent.” They are not independent of the junta. Indeed the reason persons get appointed to such puppet outfits is because of loyalty to the junta and those around it.

The Election Commission is one of these puppet organizations.

EC secretary-general Pol Col Jarungvith Phumma has “explained” that the EC warned the Future Forward Party against receiving contributions from supporters. In doing this, it was working for the junta.

Jarungvith now “clarifies” that “[p]olitical parties are allowed to receive donations…”, BUT the parties “need to seek approval from the National Council for Peace and Order (NCPO)…”. That’s the junta.

The receiving of contributions is considered legal by the Revenue Department and under the organic law on political parties. But none of that trumps the military junta.

So, in the wash-up, no party is permitted to accept funds or raise funds WITHOUT the junta’s permission. Rigging? You bet! A dependent EC? You bet!

As it turns out, some the FFP’s revenue was not from contributions but “from souvenir sales…”. Presumably they need junta permission for that too. (In fact, FFP now says it only received funds from the sale of products and membership fees.)

Jarungvith added that “parties that wish to seek donations can seek permission from the NCPO through the EC…”.

In essence, the EC is the junta’s processing terminal on rigging the election.

As part of that, that the EC “has set up tambon democracy promotion centres to boost public understanding about the democratic system ahead of the polls…”. We have no idea what that means, but we guess that, as a junta processing terminal on rigging the election, then there’s likely to be a promotion of the junta’s version of (non) democracy.

More “populist” spending

13 10 2018

The junta has spent a king’s ransom on its “populist” programs as The Dictator campaigns for his supporters to “win” the rigged election. PPT has posted again and again on the schemes it has implemented in an effort to defeat the Puea Thai Party and to hoover up its former MPs and its supporters. One of the principal authors of these schemes is a former Thaksin Shinawatra minister, Somkid Jatusripitak.

The latest scheme is one targeted at a particular group: motorcycle taxis.

As is well known, motorcycle taxis were strong Thaksin supporters and were also important for the red shirt movement, so dragging them to the junta’s side is a critical mission for the vote strategists around The Dictator.

We also know, thanks to Claudio Sopranzetti and his book Owners of the Map, that military intelligence moved quickly following the 2014 coup to co-opt leaders of motorcycle taxi riders.

All of this means that there’s no surprise in the latest shoveling out of taxpayer funds for electoral gain is directed to each and every rider:

Motorcycle taxis nationwide will receive a discount on gasohol 95 of three baht per litre by December in a bid to manage the effects of higher global oil prices, says Deputy Prime Minister Somkid Jatusripitak.

The discount price will be administered through the state-owned oil and gas conglomerate, PTT Plc, whose petrol stations will take part in the programme.

Funding sources could include PTT, the State Oil Fund and the welfare smartcard scheme.

Registered motorcycle taxis nationwide number 200,000, with half of those in Bangkok.

One surprise in this is that PTT is supposed to be a public company. While the state continues to hold 51% of the company, investors probably didn’t put their money into PTT thinking that it would simply respond to the diktats of the military dictatorship.

This adds to other subsidies and schemes that are meant to bolster support for the junta and, in this case, is a lubricant for undoing links between Puea Thai and particular groups of political groups.