Memes, communism, and a republic

8 12 2020

Thailand’s social media and its mainstream media is awash with hysterical commentary about ideas, logos, and republicanism. We will present some examples.

At the usually sober Khaosod, Pravit Rojanaphruk is worried about what he thinks are “drastic ideas.” One such idea comes from the mad monarchist

Warong Dechgitvigrom, leader of royalist Thai Phakdee group, made a counter move. The former veteran politician proposed that absolute power be returned to the king, “temporarily.”

“Isn’t it time for royal power to be returned temporarily in order to design a new political system free from capitalist-politicians for the benefit of the people and for real democracy?” Warong posted on his Facebook page.

In fact, though, Pravit spends most of his op-ed concentrating on “Free Youth, a key group within the monarchy-reform protest movement, [that recently] sent out a message to its followers on social media urging them to discuss the idea of a republic.”

Pravit thinks that both sides are getting dangerous:

It’s clear that the majority of the Thai people, over 60 million, have not expressed their views on the on-going political stalemate.

It’s time for them to speak and act. Continued silence would be tantamount to forfeiting their role as citizens in determining the future course of Thai society. If the silent majority do not speak or act soon, there may be no other options but to allow demagogues of different political stripes to dominate and plunge Thailand deeper towards conflicts and confrontations.

In fact, conflict is normal in most societies, and in Thailand it is mostly conservatives who bay for “stability,” usually not long after slaughtering those calling for change and reform. And, neither Warong’s monarchical rule nor the call for a republic are new. They have been regularly heard in Thailand over several decades. But we do agree that one of the reasons these ideas have resurfaced now is because of the political stalemate, bred by the refusal of the regime to countenance reform. We might also point out that when the silent majority has expressed its preferences in recent years – say, in elections that were not rigged – their preferences have been ignored by those with tanks.

Republicanism has been a topic for a considerable time. Academic Patrick Jory states: “republicanism is deeply ingrained in Thailand’s political tradition. In fact, Thailand has one of the oldest republican traditions in Asia.” Republicanism was around under the now dead king as well. In the late 1980s Gen Chavalit Yongchaiyudh was disliked in the palace and was believed to be a republican for his statements about Thailand’s need of a “revolutionary council” (sapha patiwat) in 1987.

For PPT, republicanism has been regularly mentioned in our posts from almost the time we began in early 2009. Often this was in the context of royalists and military-backed regimes accusing Thaksin Shinawatra of republicanism. This was a theme during the Abhisit Vejjajiva regime, with Suthep Thaugsuban often banging this drum. Back in February 2009, it was said that “Bangkok swirls with rumours of republican plots.” There was the Finland Plot and, later, the Dubai Plot.

One statement of plotting and republicanism came from royalist scholar and ideologue, the now deceased Chai-Anan Samudavanija. Presciently, he worried in 2009 that if the republicans expanded, the monarchists have little in their arsenal [army, tanks, guns, prisons, judiciary, lese majeste??] with which to counter-attack. He considered the monarchists’ arguments as only holding sway with the older generation, while the under 30s seem uninterested in nation and monarchy. He seemed to think the regime was a house of cards.

There was considerable debate about republicanism in Thailand in 2009. Nor should we forget that, in 2010, there was a spurt in republican feeling, a point obliquely made by Pravit back then. Republicans have cycled through PPT posts: Ji Ungpakorn and Rose Amornpat are examples. And no one can forget the idea of the Republic of Lanna.

Perhaps ideologues like Veera Prateepchaikul, a former Editor of the Bangkok Post, could recall some of this long and important debate and conflict. No doubt that his “it can never happen” was also a refrain heard around Prajadhipok’s palace (or maybe they were a little smarter) and in Tsarist Russia.

Meanwhile, at the Thai Enquirer (and across social media) there’s a collective pile-on to point out how silly/dangerous/childish/unsophisticated the the pro-democracy Free Youth were to come up with a new logo that uses a stylized R (sickle) and T (hammer) for Restart Thailand. Many of the armchair commentators, including local and foreign academics, suddenly become experts on protest strategy and many of them seem very agitated.

Fortunately, Prachatai has the equivalent of a calming medicine, showing how the young protesters have played with symbols, redefining, re-engineering and using irony and parody. We recall, too, that red shirts and other opponents of the military-monarchy regime are regularly accused of being communists – think of 1976 and that the current opposition, attacked as communists in 2019.

Put this together with threats and intimidation: lese majeste, intimidation, lese majeste, gross sexual assault and intimidation, lese majeste, and royalist intimidation and maybe, just maybe, you get a better picture of what’s going on.

Updated: Royalist plotting

19 09 2019

Among others, Khaosod noted the “report” that was “seen on PM [Gen] Prayuth Chan-ocha’s desk during a parliament session on Wednesday” when he did not respond to his unconstitutional oath.

That official document is apparently titled “Network Plotting to Destroy the Nation…”. Initially, “Government spokeswoman Naruemon Pinyosinwat said the report was compiled by officials who work on ‘national security issues,’ but declined to elaborate, saying the content is ‘classified’.”

Khaosod observed that the “report’s cover photo appears to show the aftermath of a recent bomb attack in Bangkok.”

The Bangkok Post has more detail, translating the report’s title as “network of elements sabotaging the nation…”. Its anonymous “source within the government” disclosed that the report was “prepared for a briefing by intelligence and security agencies,” with “the elements” claimed to be “sabotaging the nation” are “political figures whose acts are deemed to offend the high institution of the monarchy.”

In other words, as has been since the period leading up to the 2006 military coup, the royalist military and its supporters are concocting yet another “plot” against the monarchy. This follows concoctions like the Finland Plot and the infamous anti-monarchy “plot” and “diagram” under the royalist military-backed Abhisit Vejjajiva regime.

The anti-monarchy plot diagram

Deputy Prime Minister Gen Prawit Wongsuwan has confirmed that it “has information about a network…”.

As the Post observes, no names have been mentioned, but Army boss Gen Apirat Kongsompong “had previously mentioned some groups which he believed intended to harm the country…” and referred to “a movement which was trying to provoke a civil war between ‘pro-democracy’ and ‘pro-junta’ factions.” He was essentially attacking the Future Forward Party.

And it was only a few days ago that the Criminal Court ruled that ultra-royalist prince Chulcherm Yugala, who declared the Future Forward Party dangerous republicans “seeking to overthrow the monarchy,” had not libeled that party.

Quite obviously, the military, its ISOC – an “intelligence” agency – and the regime is going to use the monarchy against democratic and parliamentary opposition.

Such plotting by the regime may be dismissed as the musings of old generals who crave power and serve the ruling class.

However, such maniacal plotting in the military and probably in the palace has real and terrible consequences such as military coups, lese majeste, jailings, bashing of opponents, enforced disappearance and torture and murder.

Clipped from Thai Alliance for Human Rights website

Even in recent days, the family of victims of such accusations have been harassed by the regime thought police. Kanya Theerawut, the mother of missing political refugee Siam Theerawut, disclosed “that the Rights and Liberties Protection Department [a useless part of the Ministry of Justice] … told her not to take her son’s case to the UN, as it could ruin the country’s image.” We think the regime has done plenty to ruin Thailand’s image. She was also “visited and questioned by Special Branch officers…”, which is a standard regime means of intimidation.

It is the royalist plotting that is most intense and most deranged. It is also hugely expensive. This regime plotting is far more dangerous than anti-monarchists.

Update: A reader points out that the report on the political harassment of Kanya came just a couple of days after Shawn Crispin at Asia Times erroneously claimed: “Political scores are being aired and contested in the open, not through late-night police state knocks on the door…”. Like the reader, we are confused as to why a journalist would want to whitewash the current regime’s political repression.

Updated: Yet another anti-monarchy “plot”

3 10 2017

Thailand’s recent politics has been awash with rightist and royalist claims of “plots” against the monarchy. The military dictatorship claims to have “discovered” another such “plot.” This time the plot is claimed to be a plan to disrupt the funeral for the dead king.

PPT can only express disdain for this political ploy and we can only wonder if anyone still believes such nonsense. As much as we’d like to see an an anti-monarchy plot in Thailand, we haven’t seen any evidence that there is one in the works now.

One of the first “plots” was the entirely concocted “Finland Plot.” The claim peddled by many associated with the People’s Alliance for Democracy and fabricated by notorious royalist ideologue Chai-anan Samudavanija and others. It claimed that Thaksin Shinawatra and former left-wing student leaders had met in Finland and come up with a plan to overthrow the monarchy and establish a communist state. These inventions were published in the Sondhi Limthongkul-owned newspapers and repeated many times by PAD.

As bizarre as this nonsense was, Wikipedia notes that the allegations had an “impact on the popularity of Thaksin and his government, despite the fact that no evidence was ever produced to verify the existence of a plot. Thaksin and his Thai Rak Thai party vehemently denied the accusations and sued the accusers. The leaders of the 2006 military coup claimed Thaksin’s alleged disloyalty as one of their rationales for seizing power.”

Back in 2015, even the politicized courts held that ultra-royalist Pramote Nakornthap had defamed Thaksin with these concoctions. Not surprisingly, many ultra-royalists continue to believe this nonsense.

The anti-monarchy plot diagram

Equally notorious was the anti-monarchy “plot,” replete with a diagram, that the Abhisit Vejjajiva government concocted when faced with a red shirt challenge in April 2010.

The government’s Centre for the Resolution to Emergency Situations claimed to have uncovered a plot to overthrow the monarchy and said “intelligence” confirmed the “plot.” Indeed, the bitter Thawil Pliensri, the former secretary-general of the National Security Council “confirmed” the “plot.” The map included key leaders of the United Front for Democracy against Dictatorship, members of the Puea Thai Party and former banned politicians, academics and hosts of community radio programs. Then Prime Minister Abhisit welcomed the uncovering of the “plot.”

CRES spokesman and then Colonel Sansern Kaewkamnerd, who just happens to be the current dictatorship’s chief propagandist, repeatedly declared this plot a red shirt effort to bring down the monarchy.

We could go on, but let’s look at the current “plot,” which not coincidentally comes from the same military leaders who were in place in when the above “mapping” of a republican plot was invented. It is the same coterie of coup plotters (and that was a real plot) that repeatedly accused Ko Tee or Wuthipong Kachathamakul of various anti-monarchy plots and he was “disappeared” from Laos, presumably by the junta’s henchmen-murderers.

In the new “plot,” Deputy Dictator General Wongsuwan has declared:

Anti-monarchy cells are conspiring to disrupt the funeral of His Majesty the Late King this month, deputy junta chairman Prawit Wongsuwan said Monday.

Gen. Prawit described the alleged agitators as those who “have ill intentions toward the monarchy.” Although he gave no details, he said full-scale security measures would be implemented throughout the rites to place over several days culminating with the Oct. 26 cremation.

Prawit added that “[a]uthorities have learned of threats inside and outside the country, especially from those who oppose and have negative thoughts about ‘the [royal] institution’…”. He put “security forces” on “full alert.”

Careful readers will have noticed that the first mention of this “plot” came from The Dictator General Prayuth Chan-ocha almost two weeks ago.

Army chief General Chalermchai Sitthisart “refused to elaborate in detail on the supposed threat in the latest intelligence report” but still declared that “[t]hose involved were among the ‘regular faces’ abroad wanted on lese majeste charges, but who still incite negative feelings towards the monarchy among supporters through social media.”

The fingerprints on this concoction are those who have regularly invented plots for political purposes. That’s the military. They read all kinds of social media and put 1 and 1 together and come up with anti-monarchy plot.

We tend to agree with Pavin Chachavalpongpun, who is reported as saying:

The cremation provides an opportunity for the security forces to strengthen their position politically using critics of the monarchy as an excuse to increase the state’s heavy handed policy to control society more tightly…. Critics of the monarchy hardly pose a threat considering how much they have been suppressed since the coup….

The cremation and the coronation that will follow are critical political events for the military dictatorship. They want to be seen to be ensuring that everything runs smoothly for both events as the junta moves to stay in power, “election” or “no election.”  Finding a “plot” can make them look even more like the “protectors” of the monarchy.

Update: We don’t know why, but Khaosod’s most recent report on this “plot” seems to be supportive of the the junta’s claims. The claims this report makes amount to little more than reporting chatter. Similar chatter has been around for some time, encouraging individual acts that do not amount to anything like rebellion or disruption.

Some of the material that has been circulated may well derive from the state’s intelligence operatives seeking to disrupt and identify red shirts.  The thing about concocting a plot as a way to discredit your opponents is that there has to be elements in it that seem, at least on a initial view, feasible and believable. That was the point of the diagram produced above, naming persons known to be anti-monarchy. Putting them in a plot is something quite different.

What a story!

20 03 2017

The junta’s minions have come up with a remarkable story regarding the weapons “seized” in Pathum Thani.

In our earlier post we did express some skepticism about the report and added a note about Thai Rath saying the weapons were for an assassination plot. We expressed skepticism about that claim as well.

There has been a lot of skepticism, and not just from us. (The yellow-shirted royalists and anti-democrats believe all the stories.)

So the junta has come up with a story of a “plot” that suggests a remarkable effort to weave together a range of moral and political panics by the junta and among its anti-democratic supporters.

We cannot say that there is nothing in the “plot” claims – after all, all “plots” have to have some aspect to them that will convince true believers to believe. However, the royalists and anti-democrats have concocted a remarkable number of plots over the past decade to justify their political actions. Think of the Finland Plot, the infamous republican plot diagram and the “Khon Kaen model.” None of these has ever been shown to be other than a political concoction.

More recently, there was the claimed republican plot to murder The Dictator. We mention this, because it seems that the junta is using this to weave its current plot:

Police believe the huge cache of mostly military weapons retrieved on Saturday were intended to be used against authorities who had laid siege to Wat Phra Dhammakaya, including a plot to kill Prime Minister Prayut Chan-o-cha.

Add to this remarkable aggregation of Wat Dhammakaya and a plot to assassinate The Dictator, the weapons are located at a “house linked to hardcore red-shirt leader Wuthipong Kochathamakun, alias Kotee.” Then stir in a claim that “some of the seized weapons had been taken from soldiers during the violent red-shirt political rallies in mid-town Bangkok in 2010.”

Even the words in that quote are meant to reinforce the notion that red shirts are still “violent” and a political problem.

The cops reckon that the “weapons were being prepared for a potential attack against officers that had surrounded and were searching Wat Phra Dhammakaya in Pathum Thani’s Khlong Luang district…” and “were prepared to ‘harm or assassinate’ … Gen Prayut…”.

A police chief says that something he called “[a]n investigation” that “found people in Kotee’s group were preparing to use weapons to assassinate the government’s leading figures including Gen Prayut…. We found a rifle with a scope. We guarantee that this is not to shoot at birds but was going to be used to assassinate the leader of the country…”.

That’s a remarkably frivolous piece of evidence gathering and imaginative supposition.

He goes on: “If the government uses forces to suppress people in Wat Phra Dhammakaya, the armed group would be ready to help the temple and hurt officers.”

Evidence? It seems that “police and the DSI have always suspected that political groups have operated in Wat Phra Dhammakaya and intelligence from both agencies points to allegations they had tried to cause unrest.” Confirming this for the authorities, “[0]fficials found people in Mr Wuthipong’s network had been entering and leaving the temple prior to the siege and had been meeting him in the neighbouring country [Cambodia].” In fact, of the nine people so far arrested, the police say “[o]ne … was found to have showed up to the temple before…”.

It is a flimsy story. But there’s more: “Pol Gen Chakthip [Chaijinda] said Mr Wuthipong has played a role in inciting people to fight against the monarchy, and he is a supporter of Wat Phra Dhammakaya.”

And still more: The nine “suspects” had “joined the 2010 red-shirt political rally in central Bangkok.” The implication that the public is meant to draw from this is that the suspects might be “men in black.”

So far there’s red shirts, republicanism, Wat Dhammakaya, assassination, war weapons, men in black and monarchy involved in the plot. What more could there be? How about the frustration of the regime unable to extradite those they hate?

While Ko Tee has denied the arms belonged to him, the cops admit he’s been on the run since early 2014 (not since the coup as we said in our earlier post). “Pol Gen Chakthip said police had tried to contact … Cambodia … for Mr Wuthipong’s extradition, but had received no helpful reply.”

Now the police can claim that Ko Tee “allegedly played a leading role in gathering weapons to support the temple and as such must be considered a threat to national security…”. This “plot” will presumably help with gaining his extradition.

The next step for the police will be to parade the “suspects” before the media where they will presumably admit their guilt and “confirm” the “plot.” They may even be made to re-enact some “crime.” That’s the pattern.

Not making it up

13 04 2014

In our last post we vented some frustration with poor and spineless reporting that allowed royalists to appear as something other than political animals intent on saying anything that can bring their side advantage in their struggle to maintain political and economic power and privilege. In this post, we refer to material that could not possibly be made up, but which uses falsified and misleading information as if it were legitimate.

Chavanond being a spokesman (a Bangkok Post photo)

Chavanond being a spokesman (a Bangkok Post photo)

In a report at The Nation, the failed Democrat Party’s loudmouth-in-chief, rants on about Wuthipong Kachathamakul, who has been forced to go into hiding for apparently declaring that the king is and has been an enemy of democratic reform in Thailand. The Democrat Party, acting as judge, chief prosecutor and police detective, declares that Ko Tee is “hiding under the protection of an influential figure in the Northeast.”

Chavanond babbled that “it was time police proved that they were law enforcers and not servants of politicians.” He reckons the police “would be able to nab both Wuthipong and Ekkapob Luara, aka Tang Acheewa, who is wanted for alleged lese majeste offences following a speech he gave at a red-shirt rally last year.”

Recall that this is from a party that when in government ranted about “men in black” but produced no evidence of any worth about them and seemed unable to locate any even with the support of the Army. Recall that this is the party that when in government committed gross acts of violence against protesters and threw hundreds in jail. Recall that this is the party that when in government implemented a vast censorship campaign against political opponents.

Chavanond, as spokesperson for this party then resorted to complete dishonesty and nonsense when he “called on the police to get information about the plot to topple the monarchy from Department of Special Investigation (DSI) director-general Tarit Pengdith, saying Tarit had knowledge of the plot and links within the Pheu Thai Party.” Further:

He said police should start probing the alleged plot against the monarchy by looking into the case of Wuthipong. “If police are reluctant to take necessary action for fear of negative consequences to vested interest groups, the country will continue to face political conflict,” he said.

PPT imagines that the royalist party refers to the crazy diagram it drew up when Suthep Thaugsuban was in government, and which was meant to be a central element of a witch hunt against even more of the royalists’ political enemies. It was a concoction and nobody except diehard and foolish royalists took it seriously. Chavanond was one of them.

Chavanond is a genuine article, making nonsensical statements he must believe, but using concocted and recycled trash. What next? The Finland plot?

The anti-monarchy plot diagram

The anti-monarchy plot diagram


This is for the king III

3 02 2014

Our third post in this series is prompted by a story at the Wall Street Journal. This account is of anti-democrat boss Suthep Thaugsuban masterminding the concoction – yes, we know we are using this word a lot – of yet another republican conspiracy that attempts to make use of the monarchy against Thaksin Shinawatra.

Suthep is a master of these conspiratorial claims, none of which have ever been proven to have any facts associated with them in the past.

Protest leader Suthep Thaugsuban answers questions during a news conference in BangkokTo be sure, perhaps more than any politician since Pridi Phanomyong, Thaksin has cause to be a republican. The royalists and the palace have certainly sent plenty of trouble his way.

Suthep has been dogged in his claims of Thaksin-led republican plots for several years. He’s mentioned the Finland Plot, manufactured by PAD ideologues, referred to a Taksin Plan, and presided over the bizarre and concocted diagram of an anti-monarchy plot headed by Thaksin.

The anti-monarchy plot diagram

The anti-monarchy plot diagram

Perhaps desperate, Suthep has been at it again.

On Saturday, the WSJ says Suthep targeted Thaksin with yet another accusation that Thaksin is “organizing a militant group including several former communist leaders with a mission to overthrow the revered monarchy.”

Suthep mischievously added: “The intention was to transform Thailand into a republic with himself as President Thaksin…”.

As the WSJ says, this “is incendiary stuff in Thailand,” but then so many people have heard it so often from Suthep that they may just mentally file it under “deranged conspiracy theory.” The WSJ notes that Thaksin repeatedly denies these accusations. It adds:

Suthep’s decision to voice the allegations underscores the stakes which the country’s political power brokers are playing for as the king enters what could be the twilight of his reign.

“Could be”? What? He’s going on forever? Sure, Thais who have been indoctrinated about the king’s political and moral role may be worried by succession, but if that process is now fraught with uncertainty, then the palace can only blame itself for screwing up  the succession by its open involvement in politics on the anti-democrat side.

Suthep at the Bangkok Post

27 01 2014

Suthep Thaugsuban has been interviewed at the Bangkok Post. There’s a lot of rather surprising stuff in it, suggesting that Suthep is beginning to believe his own propaganda.

The government of Ms Yingluck Shinawatra will try to hold an election this Sunday. The Pheu Thai Party may win more than 400 House seats because this election, in fact, has Pheu Thai as the only actual contender. Other political parties play supporting roles and they can transfer their votes to one another.

It is not at all clear to us what he means when he claims that parties “can transfer their votes.” Anyone who can enlighten us, please do. That the Puea Thai Party can win “more than 400 seats” can only be blamed on the Democrat Party, which has refused to stand candidates (again).

If Pheu Thai wins a decisive amount of seats, it can use the election to claim its legitimacy to continue with national administration.

Again, blame the Democrat Party. They could have run a Vote No campaign, but didn’t. They could have taken on Puea Thai, but they are electoral failures.

We will have another huge campaign before polling on Sunday [to stop people voting]. We may campaign in front of polling units but we will not block the election. Voters may find it difficult to enter polling units. The main objective of the PDRC is to prevent the government from proceeding with this election.

Not blocking but preventing people from voting? No difference really. Same anti-democratic stance. Here they are in action, assaulting a little old lady trying to vote and far more violence was used elsewhere:

When asked about the possibility of a postponement of the election, Suthe is clear: “A postponement of one year or one year and a half will do.

On the warping of reality:

The government will fight to its last. Pol Lt Col Thaksin will not compromise but will fight until the last minute. I learn that Pol Lt Col Thaksin wants a civil war. They take action and make challenges every day to provoke the military to stage a coup but we do not want one. I was informed that Pol Lt Col Thaksin will arrive in Cambodia in a few days to give direct commands.

What is the evidence for this claim about civil war? Is Suthep just making this up like the other plots “revealed”/concocted in the past? Think Finland Plot and the anti-monarchy diagram of a supposed republican plot? PDRC concerned about any possible violence?

Then this:

We are seriously worried about violent attacks by foreign armed men. I coped with them in 2010. Soldiers’ posts were attacked. We know they are professionals. However, I am glad the military are alert. Those who are patriots will not let any party use armed foreign forces to kill Thai people.

We do not believe that Suthep has made this claim previously, linking 2010 – does he mean mysterious men-in-black? – to foreign insurgents.
If nothing else, this claim reveals the very close links with Rear Admiral Winai Klom-in, who made the same evidence-less claim a few days ago.

In any case, this claim might be compared with another. At Khaosod it is reported that:

Chinnarat Karnchanavichian was arrested at a police checkpoint in Pathum Thani province in the early hours of 25 January, after police uncovered a number of weapons and military hardware in his vehicle.

The search on his vehicle reportedly turned up 1 AK-47 rifle, 60 rounds of AK-47 ammunition, 1 RPG launcher with ammunition, 2 pocket knives, 1 cellphone, 2 safety helmets, 1 grenade, 22 caltrops, 1 flashlight, and a set of military camouflage uniform.

Mr. Chinnarat told police he had been hired by a military officer to deliver these weapons to another agent on Rangsit-Nakhon Nayok Road in exchange with 5,000 baht reward….

[A] high-ranking police officer said the police have received reports that Mr. Chinnarat might be one of the armed militants involved in the spree of violence in Bangkok in recent weeks, such as the grenade attacks and shootings on anti-government protesters.


Promoting PADist propaganda

20 11 2013

The Faculty of Political Science at Chulalongkorn University is home to some of Thailand’s most outspoken yellow-shirted academics. As a result, it is not surprising that it would host one of its former “stars” and People’s Alliance for Democracy ideologue Chai-anan Samudavanija who wrapped himself in academic credentials to unleash yet another political attck on the representative parliamentary system.

Back in 2009, PPT commented on Chai-Anan:Chai-Anan

Chai-Anan Samudavanija, formerly a political scientist at Chulalongkorn University, is a long-time ally of Sondhi Limthongkul. He was also a supporter of Thaksin Shinawatra for a considerable time, and seemed to stay longer than Sondhi. Chai-Anan jumped ship when the People’s Alliance for Democracy was in Sondhi’s hands. Chai-Anan is also close to the palace, as director of Vajiravudh College and a member of the Royal Institute.

Chai-Anan has been a regular commentator at ASTV and his columns have been rather incendiary whenever the political temperature has risen over the last couple of years.

In another post, we pointed out that Chai-Anan was one of those who promoted the infamous PAD propaganda claim of a “Finland Plot” that linked Thaksin Shinawatra to a republican plot involving former communist activists. This pre-2006 coup device was meant to further establish the palace-Thaksin battle lines.

The Nation reports that Chai-anan is again allocated the job of propagandizing for palace, Sondhi and PAD against Thaksin, a task he relishes. As chairman of his own Institute of Public Policy Studies, long funded by PAD leader Sonthi Limthongkul, Chai-Anan has engaged in some some dubious name-calling and attacked representative politics in a manner that should again shame the Faculty of Political Science at Chulalongkorn University.

He blamed Prime Minister Yingluck Shinawatra for”the resumption of political turbulence” due to a claimed “lack of leadership,” saying “The prevailing political crisis has occurred because the country has a leader with low intellect who is a puppet of another…”.

Apart from repeating the base and misogynist charges made by Abhisit Vejjajiva not that long ago – we imagine that Abhisit gets his ideas from propagandists like Chai-Anan – the royalist repeats PAD’s disdain for electoral and representative politics:

Past protests erupted to oppose military dictatorship, he said, adding that this time around protests persist despite the existence of democratic rule and an elected government…. He called for a rethink of the political system, arguing that elections do not guarantee a government’s legitimacy, due to rampant vote buying…. “The elected government’s credibility is at its lowest ebb; protesters carry on their activities despite the [government’s] pledge to abandon the push for amnesty,” Chai-anan said.

There are a number of points that could be made about this remarkably trite and biased set of assertions. We make just two.

First, to link “democratic rule” and demonstrations is a clanger of high schoolboy proportions. Collective action worldwide is associated with all regime types, with the possible exception of the most iron-fisted, and the capacity to demonstrate against an elected government has even been touted by PAD as a measure of “democracy” in Thailand. In other words, the causality suggested by Chai-Anan between protests and elected government is absent.

Second, allegations of vote buying are a long-held PAD belief that is meant to delegitimize the electoral process. In the 2011 election, PPT has no doubt that the Puea Thai Party would have won the election without spending more than a few baht. Vote-buying in 2011 (and with the junta’s 2007 constitution referendum) was mostly associated with parties supported by Chai-Anan’s friends in the military who clearly wanted the Democrat Party and its allied parties in parliament. Perhaps that vote-buying undermines the legitimacy of elections, but Thai voters have shown a remarkable determination to have their voice heard in recent years, and most especially since the coup.

Of course, Chai-Anan, as a card-carrying member of the royalist elite, could not let his propaganda moment pass without joining the “bloods” in their harping on the monarchy and the destruction of the world as they believe they know it. He asserted:

… that amid the crisis, the fabric of society was being torn asunder by an unprecedented movement to attack the monarchy…. The country is facing a precarious dilemma, he said, as loyalty to the King, once seen as the nation’s unifying force, is being undermined while the government leader is being propped up as a puppet, he said.

This is a yet another rehearsal of the Finland Plot claims: Thaksin is destroying the king and the monarchy. Chai-Anan and other royalists are keen to re-make this claim again and again as they believe that the monarchy’s propaganda provides a basis for the rejection of electoral politics and is their foundation for political struggle.

Secret plots revealed

2 04 2013

Thanks to The Nation and the lads from the Green Politics group, a People’s Alliance for Democracy spawn, a secret has been revealed. (We don’t think it is an April Fools’ Day spoof because the PAD lot lack a sense of humor.)

The Green-cum-yellow lot have decided that they will “print [a] book on ‘plot to siphon off public funds’…”. Suriyasai Katasila, who runs this front outfit declares that the book will also expose a “plan by Pheu Thai to seize control of the entire country…”.

Heavens to Murgatroyd, another plan or plot! Remember the Finland Plot? The anti-monarchy plot? The Dubai Plan? And the Taksin Plan?

The group claimed the Bt2-trillion loan bill for developing transportation and other infrastructure is meant to give Puea Thai total control.

Not to be outdone, the (anti)Democrat Party has declared that any of the proposed “changes to the content of the charter spell danger for the country…”.

Such despicable plots will undoubtedly end up having as much veracity as the others mention above. That is, zero credibility from groups that are as inventive as they are disingenuous.

Updated: Using the monarchy (again)

27 04 2010

The Thai media is full of stories about “The Plot.” As Thai Rath and the Bangkok Post have it, the “Centre for the Resolution to Emergency Situations claims to have uncovered a plot to overthrow the monarchy.” CRES loudly proclaims that a “network behind the plot” happens to include “key leaders of the United Front for Democracy against Dictatorship, members of the Puea Thai Party and former banned politicians, academics and hosts of community radio programmes.”

This claim is apparently confirmation of Prime Minister Abhisit Vejjajiva’s statement that “CRES had put together the pieces of the ‘political jigsaw’.” Abhisit said that the people involved “could face legal action.” Abhisit let us know – as if it was some kind of surprise – taht he and the “armed forces have long suspected the UDD rally had a higher purpose than just forcing a dissolution of the House of Representatives.” Well, yes, they had said this dozens and dozens of time.

CRES spokesman Colonel Sansern Kaewkamnerd confided that the red shirt “demonstration, which started in mid-March, had attacked the higher institution through UDD leaders and the red shirts’ media.” Does he think most people have been living under a rock and haven’t heard these accusations from the premier and his spokespersons before? Bangkok Pundit has a diagram of the plotters that Sansern gave out, but PPT can’t read it. Just viewing it gives the picture of the complicated plot. PAD used to produce similar propaganda graphics of Thaksin’s octopus like networks. [Update: Pundit has now updated the chart with a clearer version, together with English translations. ]

The “plot” line is one that has been used before – think Finland plot and the Dubai plot in November 2009. How is this plot different to the Dubai plot? Why should anyone believe the claims?

We can poke fun at the antics of a desperate government, but this is serious, serious stuff. Now that Abhisit has decided to claim a plot – again – he is doing two related things. First, he is showing that the government is in serious trouble and they must resort to the ultimate “bottom line” and desperate accusation. Second, he is hoping that such a claim can bring out the right-wing and yellow-shirted in alliance with the government in order to show a united front in crushing the red shirt traitors. Desperation is likely to breed extremism.