The patronage system

24 12 2016

The puppet National Legislative Assembly’s (NLA) has been allocated a series of tasks by the junta, all meant to uproot the so-called Thaksin regime, meaning all remnants of the electoralism of the period 2001 to 2006.

Anti-democrats and the military dictators believe that Thaksin Shinawatra established an extensive patronage network in business, politics and the civil and military bureaucracy that needs to be abolished if the royalist elite and “network monarchy” is to maintain its ascendancy. They often linked patronage and vote-buying.

We at PPT had not previously heard of what The Nation calls an NLA “ad-hoc committee on how to fight the deeply-entrenched patronage system,” led, of course, by one of the top brass, Admiral Saksit Cherdboonmuang.The committee was the Admiral’s idea and was established in February.

Apparently, it has been at work developing a “367-page report with detailed proposals on how to end the domination of the patronage system in Thailand’s bureaucracy.” PPT hasn’t seen the report, but the Admiral says the ” patronage system causes damage in various dimensions. For example, it discourages many talented people from working in the government sector…”. Patronage, he says, leads to corruption.

Saksit reckons “that when it came to the delivery of government services, people … will think they just can’t go through normal channels of service delivery. They will think they need to find personal connections to get good services…”.

Anyone who has dealt with the bureaucracy will recognize this. That said, quite a few departments were much better following changes that began with the 1997 constitution. For example, getting a passport became a standardized procedure without the need to pay extras or to know someone.

The Admiral also “lamented that patronage had long been a part of the bureaucracy, pushing civil servants to prioritise personal relationships over a merit-based system.” He added:

It encourages junior officials to kow-tow to senior officials, who in turn bow to political-office holders so as to maintain beneficial relationships. In this cycle, businesspeople have also lobbied government officials and political-office holders.

Again, everyone will recognize this pattern. Having many minions makes life comfortable and is a display of power. It is also well-known that senior bureaucrats, police and military become very wealthy by their positions and their control of bureaucratic knowledge, rules and hierarchy.

None of this is new, being described long into the past by historians who describe favoritism, nepotism and corruption.

It starts when they are young

It starts when they are young

Saksit said his committee had compiled guidelines on how to stop the patronage culture from damaging the bureaucracy. These include a “ban free gifts, feasts, and bribes.” Government officials will also be “advised to avoid playing golf with people who may pose a conflict of interest.”  Reportedly, the recommendations include advice that “senior officials should reduce the number of assistants, because close work relations can also foster patronage feelings.”

Like many things in Thailand today, under the military dictatorship, this is doublespeak. There’s good patronage and bad patronage. Bad patronage is associated with nasty elected politicians. Good patronage is unmentioned, because it is a system that is based in hierarchy, military and monarchism.

It continues for university students and military recruits

It continues for university students and military recruits

As one commentator observed:

The patronage system is deeply ingrained…. The government is the parent. The people are the children…. The parent naturally has a fascist tendency to demand that the child not do this, not to do that.

This brief description fits the military dictatorship like a glove.

The last person who criticized this system of “good” or royalist patronage in any detail was probably Jakrapob Penkair.

Jakrapob, a former spokesman for ousted Prime Minister Thaksin, made a speech at Bangkok’s Foreign Correspondents’ Club of Thailand (FCCT) on 29 August 2007. Royalists declared the speech anti-monarchy and he had to resign as a minister in May 2008. Under pressure from the Abhisit Vejjajiva government, on 22 March 2010 the case was sent forward for consideration for prosecution. Jakrapob had fled Thailand a year earlier. While the lese majeste case was reportedly dropped, Jakrapob remains in exile.

And continues to the top

And continues to the top

In that speech [opens a PDF that may be considered lese majeste in Thailand], Jakrapob stated that the then (2007) political crisis represented a “clash between Democracy and Patronage system directly.” He added: “It’s a head on clash.” He traces the history of patronage in Thai history:

One of the noted examples was that Great Father Ramkamheang … proposed to have a bell hung in front of his palace and anybody with specific problems could come and ring that bell and he or his people would come out and handle the problems. That was one of the first lessons the Thai students learnt about Thai political regime that you have someone to depend upon.

When you have a problem turn to someone who can help you, so before we know it, we are led into the Patronage system because we asked about dependency before our own capability to do things.

The lesson for today is that loyalty is paramount: “If you have loyalty to the King, unquestionable loyalty to the King, you would be protected, in order to show this protection more clearly, people who do otherwise must be punished.” Hence, under the military dictatorship of royalist generals, lese majeste is considered a more dire crime than premeditated murder.

Jakrapob talks of the modern era where the “[p]atronage system is problematic because it encourages unequality [inequality] among individuals. And that’s a direct conflict to Democracy. It encourages one person into thinking of depending on the other or others. It breeds endless number of slaves with a very limited number of masters. It prevents Thailand from coming out of age.”

That’s why Thailand has so many coups; the idea is to prevent the royalist patronage system being changed or overthrown.

We don’t think the Admiral is talking about this patronage system. After all, he and all his junta buddies and every single member of the military’s officer corps benefit greatly from royalist-preferred patronage.

Red bowl farce continues

10 04 2016

The Dictator’s exorcism of the evil ghost of Thaksin Shinawatra has completely failed and the red bowl “conspiracy” haunts the military dictatorship and threatens to undermine “national security” pushing the junta towards collapse.Red bowl

That’s how the jittery junta makes it feel.

According to a Bangkok Post report, soldiers and police have pounced in Surin and “confiscated more than 500 red bowls with the signature of former prime minister Thaksin Shinawatra before they could be distributed to his supporters on Saturday.”

Like ticking time-bombs, the authorities arrived in the nick of time and used red bowl disposal experts to defuse a potentially disastrous explosion of red dippers at Songkhran.

Fittingly, these weapons of mass uprising were seized from Palangpol Mumthong, described as “a former red-shirt leader in the province…”.

Palangpol “was taken to the Sikhoraphum police station for interrogation.” Sharp as can be, the “[a]uthorities suspected that the bowls were to be distributed to other red-shirt members in the tambon for the upcoming Thai New Year water festival.”

Apparently these investigative geniuses refused to speculate on how the red shirts might have used the bowls. Certainly, though, they were likely to be up to no good. The local police chief “said the bowls were a political statement because they bore the signature of the fugitive former prime minister…”.

We assume that the Sicherheitspolizei used Article 44 to make their seizure of these plastic challenges to the authority of the military regime. It seems that in Thailand under the fascist military dictatorship, Thaksin, red bowls and political messages are all now verboten. General Prayuth Chan-ocha makes a point of never mentioning Thaksin’s name, as if the uttering of this would bring destruction to the kingdom.

Meanwhile, Palangpol was forced to sign some sort of “agreement promising to wash his hands of the red  bowls.” Hopefully he doesn’t do that using a red bowl.

There was a time when PPT had Sunday posts that were lighter and sometimes funny. We have been a little jocular in the above post, but this should not divert attention from the fact that Thailand is in the hands of a regime that is hopelessly doltish and very dangerous. That should be cause for considerable concern. Erratic regimes run by paranoiac halfwits are failed regimes.

Fascist, repressive, authoritarian, thuggish, stupid

23 12 2015

red candleThere have been some debates (and considerable nonsense) about how to identify and what to call this military dictatorship. We at PPT have used lots of descriptors – fascist, royalist, repressive, authoritarian, dictatorial, thuggish and more – and all may be applied to a regime that looks like sticking around for a considerable time.

Whatever one calls it, today’s Bangkok Post headline takes the cake, and reinforces another descriptor we have tried: this regime is dumb, dumber, doltish, dull and to get away from useful alliteration, just stupid.

Clearly, a doltish regime is also able to rule when it controls the guns and is doggedly repressive.99 percent support

The associated story states that: “The government claimed Tuesday that 99.3% of people in a poll were satisfied with its performance.” It is added that the poll was “conducted by the National Statistical Office.” Clearly, this once quite good assembler of data has also been undermined and politicized by the military junta. How else could such a Stalinist or North Koreanesque ridiculousness even see the light of day?

Thailand is run by ridiculous buffoons who can claim no skills other than the capacity for self-congratulations, royal posterior licking and adherence to hierarchy. This is not to deny that they are a dangerous bunch of ridiculous buffoons. It is their “training” in hierarchy and loyalty that makes them about as sharp as a bowling ball.

It is The Dictator at the head of this cabinet of clowns who creates the need for North Korean-style slavishness: “Gen Prayut[h Chan-ocha] said he has attached a great deal of importance to the presentation of the government’s one-year performance review and that he wanted to build a proper understanding of what happened before the coup in May last year and what followed afterwards.” By “proper” he means his interpretation. There can be no dissent.Buffoonery

The Post article includes many other “statistics,” all equally unbelievable.

The scary part for normal persons is that Thailand is, under The Dictator’s plans, to be stuck with him and his followers and legacy for more than 20 years.

Prayuth plans to outline”a 20-year national strategy blueprint to shore up reforms.” By “reforms” he means the repression of electoral politics, of all opposition and the embedding of military-royalist rule:

The 20-year strategy, based on the government’s reform policies and reform proposals from the National Council for Peace and Order (NCPO) [the junta] and the now-defunct National Reform Council (NRC), will cover security, the economy, social issues and legal and foreign affairs.

Royalists want more of this. Thailand appears doomed to decades more of this buffoonery and its associated nasty repression for a considerable period.

Spades and shovels

5 03 2015

PPT has routinely referred to General Prayuth Chan-ocha, the man who directed murderous attacks against citizens in 2010, who mutinied against the legal government in 2014, led an illegal coup and is responsible for a widespread repression of political opponents, as The Dictator.

We fear that that description, while calling a spade a spade, is insufficient. We need to shout that this military spade is a fascist shovel.

The fascist general has “explained” that the media should not “be impartial.” He “explained:

“What they should say is, first, media should report news that is factual. Second, they should support the government’s efforts to move the country forward. And third, they should help reduce conflicts in society, and create understanding about the government’s policies that give clear results. Can you not do these three or four things together, dears?”

Thailand is in the midst of another dark political era led by a military leadership of fascist dolts.


Democratic academics I / สมัชชาปกป้องประชาธิปไตย

10 12 2013

This video is about the Assembly for the Defence of Democracy (AFDD) has called “on anti-government protesters to abandon attempts to push for the establishment of a ‘fascist’ People’s Council and instead express their political views through democratic elections.”

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