Feudal plaudits

22 02 2018

Some time ago, PPT posted on the king’s ordering celebrations of winter that took on a feudal tone. That post mentioned that the public was encouraged to wear “traditional clothes” and 19th century fashions. We were not aware that there was a dress competition.

Khaosod reports on that competition. It says that Culture minister Vira Rojpojchanarat made awards for the best costume.

In a regime that is unable to understand notions like nepotism, conflict of interest, corruption but which understand hierarchy and feudal notions of “good people,” deciding on the winners was not a difficult task. For Vira, if there were no royals in the competition, then the award had to go to the next level of the “good” and the “great.” He decided to give “awards to five fellow cabinet members and spouses including junta chairman [Gen.] Prayuth Chan-ocha and his wife Naraporn Chan-ocha.” Other winners were Vira’s colleagues “Deputy Prime Minister Wissanu Krea-ngam, Finance Minister Chutima Bunyapraphasara and Deputy Prime Minister Somkid Jatusripitak.”

Some might draw some meaning from the awards going mainly to non-military cabinet members.

Gen Prayuth and his colleagues dressed up to answer the king’s call, so obviously, as the top dogs, they deserves the prizes. See them in all their vainglory in the pictures at Khaosod.





Ultra-royalism means ultra-stupidity

10 02 2018

The ultra-royalism that has infected Thailand since about the time of the 2006 coup has resulted in bizarre lese majeste cases and equally outlandish behavior by royalists as they manage their “loyalty.”

The latest royalist peculiarity involves Chanthaburi governor Withurat Srinam who has offered his resignation for his misuse of a “royal” word.

The governor has “come under fire after putting the royal term in two of his orders to officials in preparation to receive ministers during a mobile cabinet visit in Chanthaburi on Monday and Tuesday.” He is reported to have used the word rab sadet, meaning to receive, for The Dictator and his junta cabinet.

In most constitutional monarchies there is no “royal language.” But Thailand is an oddity. And the politicization of the monarchy both by ultra-royalists and opponents of the military and monarchical state has made things royal more important and “sacred” than they have been for more than a century. Ultra-royalists patrol the narrow boundaries of “loyalty.”

So in this strange world of ultra-royalism and neo-feudalism, we now find Interior Ministry permanent secretary Chatchai Promlert having to decide whether to “approve the resignation…”.

That decision also puts him in the firing line. Ultra-royalists may detect insufficient loyalty should he make a sensible decision and tell the governor to get back to work.

That senior officials should even have to deal with such antediluvian buffalo manure is a measure of how far Thailand has fallen into a royalist abyss.





Sulak, lese majeste and double standards

26 01 2018

Two prominent intellectuals, both aged, have been in the news of late. The different paths of their cases say something more about the double standards operating in the justice system.

The first is Sulak Sivaraksa, and we have posted on his case, here and here. Sulak has recently been reported as “explaining” his actions on his most recent lese majeste case and how the charge came to be dropped.

He has written that he “had no other choice but to petition the King to encourage the junta to end a prosecution against him for lèse majesté.” He refers to something he calls “royal grace” being involved. What he seems to mean is that the king told the junta “to end the lawsuit…”. This is not the first time that the palace has been involved in dropping charges against Sulak. The publicity his cases have generated are damaging for the throne although, as a reader who was involved tells us, the palace liked to let it be known that it was lenient because Sulak was a little mad.

The junta initially ignored or rejected pleas, many of them international, leaving Sulak “no choice but to ask Rama X for help.”

Sulak, who has previously taken a partisan approach to the law, claiming that the law should be used against those who do not have the interests of the monarchy at heart, this time “urged the junta to release those convicted under Article 112 during the late King Bhumibol Adulyadej’s reign.” But not the new king’s reign? Odd, as we thought he had supported Jatuphat Boonpattaraksa.

On the day he was acquitted, Sulak told media that, “I believe the barami (glory) of the King protected me. The King did so many things behind the scenes. In my case, if not for [the King’s] barami, I would not be freed, because the Prime Minister is a jerk and is someone who never thinks of doing anything courageous. He is scared. If not for royal barami, my case would never end.”

Bottom line: he got off. We would like to see other lese majeste victims treated in this manner.

The second is Charnvit Kasetsiri, a former rector of Thammasat University and a long-term junta critic. Police have issued a summons for “sharing a fake news report about a purse of Prayut[h Chan-ocha]’s wife.”

On 23 January, police from the Technology Crime Suppression Division summoned Charnvit Kasetsiri to report to police today. As the report explains, “Charnvit was accused of disseminating forged computer data likely to cause damage to a third party, a violation the Computer Crimes Act. If found guilty, he will face up to five years in jail, a fine of up to 100,00 baht, or both.”

The accusation involves a social media discussion that saw Naraporn Chan-ocha accused of carrying a two-million-bath Hermes handbag, “while it is, in fact, a product of Thailand’s Royal Folk Arts And Crafts Centre and costs no more than 10,000 baht.”

Bottom line: The junta can lie its pants off (think election dates) but sharing a post (later corrected) about The Dictator’s wife is a crime.

We think the charges against Charnvit should be dropped too. Will they be dropped or is this just another effort to silence critics (of the “wrong” kind)?

The justice system now operates with double standards at the core of its feudal-like operations.





Mad monarchists off the leash

25 01 2018

As has been the case in Thailand for several decades, whenever the political temperature rises, monarchists become politically aggressive. In fact, Thailand’s modern history could be rewritten on the theme of royalists versus the people. In almost every instance in the past 50 years or so, it has been the minority of monarchists who have eventually triumphed, often with the support of a royalist military more than willing to massacre opponents in the name of nation, religion, monarchy and the protection of the neo-feudal social order.

There’s no doubt that the political temperature is now rising. The focal point is General Prawit Wongsuwan’s watches. There’s also no doubt that military junta views this as a story it needs to silence. It has real trouble doing this with its anti-democrat “allies.” It has less problem threatening its “real” opponents, seen as red shirts and Thaksinites.

Khaosod reports that activist Akechai Hongkangwarn, threatened a few days ago, has been assaulted by a man identified as Rittikrai Chaiwannasan. While earlier taken away by police, he seems to have been quickly released and continued on his stalk of Akechai and physically assaulted him.

Akechai was “returning from holding a protest to denounce the deputy prime minister over a series of undeclared luxury watches” when assaulted. He says his attacker beat him, “repeatedly punched him in the face, causing him minor injuries.” He adds that the thug shouted, “You anti-monarchist” and “you are doing it for redhirts…”.

Akechai is convinced the junta and its allies are behind the attack, which he says was “well-planned and involved more than one person as the man knew the time and place he was getting off [the bus].” He asks: “I wonder why they have to resort to this level of violence…”.

In fact, it is standard practice and not dissimilar from earlier attacks on those thought to be “anti-monarchist.” In the past, many such attacks were planned in the military and specifically by its Internal Security Operations Command or ISOC.





Updated: Karma lese majeste

10 01 2018

Royalist and anti-democrat monk Buddha Issara has found it necessary to attend “the Crime Suppression Division to try to clear the air over accusations he violated the lese majeste law.”

Buddha Issara and friend

Of course, PPT doesn’t approve of any use of this feudal law. However, feudalists mike consider the role of karma in Buddha Issara’s travails.

The monk was concerned that “police investigators came to interrogate people at Wat Orm Noy” where he is abbot and that “police are preparing to raid the temple.” This caused him to report to the police, lawyer in tow.

It was in April 2017 that “Wichai Prasertsutsiri, coordinator of an organisation that promotes Buddhism” made a lese majeste complaint. His complaint is that the monk  produced amulets some “eight years ago bearing the emblem of … King Bhumibol…”.

The complainer reckoned that the monk didn’t have proper permissions. He also barked that “some of the monk’s blood was allegedly used during the blessing ceremony, which was considered inappropriate.”

Feudal rites beget a feudal response.

Update: Khaosod tells us that police are investigating but “have yet to name any suspect” in the case. The police denied a raid was planned. Col. Phumin Pumpanmuang, a commander of Crime Suppression Division, said: “He keeps talking like this. The media already knows how he is. You know he’s been like this for a long time…. Whatever he wants to speak, it’s his rights.”





A feudal king

9 01 2018

King Vajiralongkorn is reported by Reuters to have “ordered the organization of public events such as weekend music concerts aimed at ‘bringing happiness to the people’.”

Ordering officials around by a “constitutional” monarchy is an interesting concept. Junta bosses do it, but they are the bosses while the king isn’t meant to be ordering people around.

With both military regime and monarch ordering happiness, the population must be rolling in the aisles.

His latest pre-coronation order is for “a history-themed festival for the public…”.

It is no surprise to learn that the “festival” will be held “at the Royal Plaza,” described in the report as “a public square in Bangkok,” since the king took the throne it has become far less public and much more royal while erasing 1932.

In this context, the king’s order is for a throwback festival his father but most especially to the height of absolutism under King Chulalongkorn: “[t]he festival will include gardens, fountains, and historic-looking structures” and “the public will be encouraged to wear traditional Thai clothes and 19th century Thai fashions.”

It is clear the king’s political preferences are for a return to feudal absolutism.





The “justice” system

14 12 2017

We at PPT have long posted on the injustices, illegal actions and double standards of the justice system. Usually our posts on this topic have to do with the manipulation of the lese majeste law for political ends. Sometimes we have posted on the other “legal” means that the junta has used to jail and silence those it considers political opponents,  or “dangerous” for the “reputation” of the military.

In this post, however, we look at the unexplained treatment of a suspect charged with “participation in premeditated murder, attempted murder and fatal bombing” that resulted in the death of 20 and injuries for 120 at the Erawan Shrine in 2015.

These charges did not prevent the “Bangkok Military Court on Wednesday released Wanna Suasan, the Thai suspect in the 2015 Erawan Shrine bombing, on bail of 1 million baht on the condition she remains in the country” and doesn’t tamper with evidence or witnesses.

This is is stark contrast to lese majeste cases where almost no one gets bail from the courts. Clearly, in the justice system, being accused of insulting a royal, a dead king, a dead king’s dog or a historical royal figure counts for far more than premeditated murder and terrorism. The justice system operates as a feudal institution.

As an important aside, recall that one of the reasons for the EU capitulation on Thailand was this:

The Council notes the decision of the Thai military leadership to phase out the practice of prosecuting civilians before military courts for a number of offences since 12 September 2016, including for offences against internal security and lèse majesté offences. The Council urges the Thai authorities not to prosecute civilians before military courts including for lèse majesté offences committed before 12 September 2016.

Naturally enough, the junta can simply ignore human rights issues and continues to use military courts. The “out” for the EU seems to be the date it notes.