Anutin defends Siam Bioscience

13 08 2022

In a report at the Bangkok Post, Health Minister Anutin Charnvirakul is reported as “defending” the monarch’s Siam Bioscience. He is reported this way:

He rebuffed criticism made earlier by former Move Forward Party leader Thanathorn Juangroongruangkit that the ministry’s vaccine policy put an undue amount of trust in Siam Bioscience, given that the company had never produced such a vaccine before…. The minister pointed out that Siam Bioscience received a licence to produce a viral-vector vaccine from the UK-based AstraZeneca company.

Clipped from The Rand Blog

As usual, though, there’s no data or information about Siam Bioscience. How much vaccine has it produced? How much was used in Thailand? How much was exported? How much taxpayer money was provided to the king’s company?

Does any reader know of such data?

What we do know is that in most countries, such political contention would be entirely normal. But not in Thailand. Thanathorn is hit with a lese majeste charge that could land him in prison for 15 years. “Protecting” the monarchy seems to also mean “protecting” the king’s companies. It helps that the law also “protects” the regime from criticism.





Bent law enforcement and warped institutions

7 08 2022

Rotten to the core

The legal system from police to the highest court is rotten to the core.

Prachatai reports that after 7 years, “the public prosecutor has decided to indict activists from the New Democracy Movement (NDM) and the Dao Din group on charges of sedition for an anti-junta protest in front of Pathumwan Police Station on 24 June 2015.”

There were 17 people “charged for participating in the 24 June 2015 protest, including activists Jatupat Boonpattaraksa and Chonticha Jaengrew, activist-turned-Move Forward Party MP Rangsiman Rome, and Thanathorn Juangroongruangkit, leader of the now-dissolved Future Forward Party.”

On 4 August 2022, that the public prosecutor decided to indict 10 of the activists 7 years after the protest and 3 years after the charges were filed. They were later granted bail using a security of 70,000 baht each.”

Meanwhile, the well-connected rich and powerful get away with murder.

Prachatai also reports that the royalist judiciary via its Judicial Commission has unanimously ruled to remove judge Wichit Leethamchayo from the Supreme Court “after he was found to have joined pro-democracy protests…”.

It seems that “right-wing groups accused him of showing support for pro-democracy protests on at least two occasions in 2021.” Ultra-royalist Maj Gen Rientong Nan-nah “filed a complaint with the Judicial Commission in March last year accusing Wichit of showing ‘anti-monarchy behaviour’ in front of the Supreme Court on 13 February. Rienthong also claimed that Wichit posted anti-monarchy comments on Facebook using the name Wichit Lee.”

The Commission agreed, with “judges on the Commission called out his ‘anti-monarchy’ stance.”

As the report notes, this judiciary is biased. Judge Methinee Chalothorn, who was appointed President of the Supreme Court in September 2020, has been seen in published photos attending “a right-wing anti-government PDRC protest which led to the military coup in 2014.” Of course, she’s not been censured as supporting the right, ultra-royalists is second nature for most judges. In fact, it is revealed that:

the Judicial Commission’s minutes confirming that it had acknowledged Methinee’s participation in the anti-democracy protest in July 2020, 3 months before the appointment of a new President of the Supreme Court in October. Yet the Commissioners voted 13-1 to approve her appointment with several judges giving the opinion that being at a protest site does not mean that she showed support for the protest. Worasit Rojanapanich, an external examiner for the Commission, said that her participation was “graceful” for a judge because she acted out of love for the nation and the monarchy.

Clearly monarchism and the monarchy has crippled the judiciary. Its royalism is the reason for denied bail, the avalanche of 112 convictions, and endless double standards.

And royalism is infecting other institutions, with Prachatai reporting that the “unelected Senate has voted 146-38 not to appoint Prof Arayah Preechametta to the National Anti-Corruption Commission (NACC). The meeting minutes are confidential, but Isara News cites an anonymous source in the Senate claiming that the candidate was not approved because his ideas were contrary to the conservatives.” By “conservatives” is meant royalists, ultra-royalists, and supporters of the military/monarchy-backed regime.

Isara News cited an anonymous source in the Senate claiming that during the meeting it was mentioned that a person filed a complaint against Arayah because he had political ideas in opposition to the conservatives. The Senate eventually voted to reject Arayah on the basis that he was insufficiently right-wing. Presumably the unelected swill want “trusted” compatriots making the “right” decisions.





Dangerous, barking mad royalist

17 07 2022

Thaiger reports that Tossaporn Srirak a former Puea Thai Party MP faces a sedition charge following a complaint made to police by ultra-royalist Sonthiya Sawasdee, a saying he is “former adviser to the House committee on law, justice, and human rights.” By our reckoning the quite looney Sonthiya knows nothing of justice or human rights, but is an active lawfarist.

He believes that wondering aloud if the troubles on the streets of Sri Lanka, due to food and fuel shortages, forcing the nation’s president, Gotabaya Rajapaksa, to flee for his life and UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson’s troubles was facing Thailand under the General amounts to sedition, “whipping up hate against the PM Prayut Chan-o-cha…”.

The mad monarchist “urged police to launch an investigation into Tossaporn because he believes his Facebook post ‘Do you want it like the UK or Sri Lanka?’ could be interpreted as a call for unlawful insurrection against PM Prayut and his government.”

Of course, Sonthiya has a long record of taking up royalist and rightist causes. Back in 2015, Sonthiya, then reported to be “a representative of a political group called the Federation to Monitor the Thai State,” filed a complaint with the Crime Suppression Division against then US Ambassador Glyn Davies for a talk at the Foreign Correspondents’ Club of Thailand where he expressed concern about “the lengthy and unprecedented prison sentences handed down by Thai military courts against civilians for violating the lese majeste law…”. He added that “[n]o one should be jailed for peacefully expressing their opinion…”. Sonthiya screamed lese majeste.

In 2018, it was a madder Sonthiya who demanded the Election Commission to investigate the newly-formed Future Forward Party and whether it might amend the lese majeste law.He said Article 112 was off limits.

He was especially “busy” in 2021, trying to see off the calls for reform, including to the feudal monarchy. In April, Sonthiya urged police to investigate Jatuporn Promphan for lese majeste following a speech to a protest for the Sammakhi Prachachon Pheu Prathet Thai (People’s Unity for Thailand). The protest was about ousting the General, but Sonthiya thought anti-monarchism was at work, presumably because Gen Prayuth is a royalist and his regime a lackey for the palace.

Then in May, by then Palang Pracharath Party member, Sonthiya demanded that the Criminal Court review its decision to free lese majeste detainee Parit Chiwarak on bail after the protest leader was accused of violating his bail conditions in a social media post.

By July, Sonthiya was working a tag-team with red shirt traitor and now regime flunky Seksakol [Suporn] Atthawong to bring charges against opposition politician Sudarat Keyuraphan for “wrongly accusing the government of poorly managing the Covid-19 crisis.” This was deemed not a fact but defamatory.

And, in November Sonthiya was (barking) mad that Miss Universe Thailand Anchilee Scott-Kemmis for standing on what looks like a Thai flag in a picture released online in a promotional campaign before Anchilee competed in the 70th Miss Universe pageant in Israel. Sonthiya wnated her investigated for breaching the 1979 Flag Act and a PM’s Office announcement banning the use of national flags for commercial purposes.

The problem with mad monarchists is that they are often taken seriously by royalist regimes, police, judges, and prosecutors.





Parliamentarians under threat

3 12 2021

A couple of days ago we posted on a then upcoming launch of an ASEAN Parliamentarians for Human Rights report.

The report is now available and it makes grim reading. Today, authoritarian repression hangs over the region like the annual haze, choking the vestiges of democracy and restricting political freedoms.

Get the report Parliamentarians at Risk: Reprisals against opposition MPs in Southeast Asia in 2021 and read it. There’s a chapter on Thailand.

The launch press release emphasizes that: “The number of Members of Parliament (MPs) detained in Southeast Asia has dramatically risen this year, from just one in 2020, to 91 in 2021…”. In addition, there have been “threats to lawmakers for doing their jobs, as well as orchestrated campaigns of judicial harassment and disinformation, aimed at both discrediting and silencing them…”.

On Thailand, the release states:

… the government and its allies continued to level trumped-up criminal cases against Move Forward Party (MFP) lawmakers, while opposition MPs were also the target of widespread abuse online, often through highly coordinated “information operations” orchestrated by state-affiliated actors.

In the report, the “systematic judicial harassment against the Move Forward Party” is detailed, along with the regime-inspired “threats and coordinated online disinformation campaigns.”

The chapter on Thailand concludes:

The continued harassment against the MFP lawmakers and former lawmakers of the FWP [Future Forward Party], whether through the judiciary or through online targeting, appears to be part of a concerted and systematic effort by the government to discredit and silence the party. Despite the personal costs involved and the ever-present threat of arrest and even imprisonment, its MPs have continued to challenge the role of the military in Thai politics and promote a human rights agenda in parliament. The most recent example of this is the proposed Prevention and Suppression of Torture and Enforced Disappearance Act, which is currently being debated in parliament.





Further updated: Absurd court reaffirms its royalist credentials

11 11 2021

Section 49 of the junta’s constitution states:

No person shall exercise the rights or liberties to overthrow the democratic regime of government with the King as Head of State.

Any person who has knowledge of an act under paragraph one shall have the right to petition to the Attorney-General to request the Constitutional Court for ordering
the cessation of such act.

In the case where the Attorney-General orders a refusal to proceed as petitioned or fails to proceed within fifteen days as from the date of receiving the petition, the person making the petition may submit the petition directly to the Constitutional Court.

The action under this section shall not prejudice the criminal prosecution against the person committing an act under paragraph one.

From Ji Ungpakorn’s blog

The Constitutional Court surprised no one yesterday with its absurd decision that those calling for reform of the monarchy were seeking to overthrow the political system and the monarchy. Its ruling, following the first paragraph above, was all the more bizarre given that many of the reforms were a call for the status quo ante of the previous reign and of the post-1932 regime.

The Court ruled on a petition from Natthaporn Toprayoon, a former advisor to the ombudsman, who prompted the court to rule on whether “public statements, made by leaders of anti-establishment groups concerning the monarchy at Thammasat University’s Rangsit campus on August 10th last year, amount to an attempt to overthrow the constitutional monarchy.”

Clipped from Prachatai

Even among the deranged among royalists, Natthaporn stands out as quite mad. His earlier efforts with the Constitutional Court in 2019 involved a bizarre claim that the Future Forward Party was attempting to overthrow the same “democratic regime with the king as the head of state” under the very same Section 49. The lame lawyer claimed, among many odd things, that party members were “anti-monarchy and anti-religion, is that they are part of the Illuminati.” In other words, the FFP was a part of a (fictitious) global anti-monarchist conspiracy. Many mad monarchists believed this rubbish. That action failed, so he took the same nonsense to the Election Commission, claiming an “alleged violation of the Political Party Act.”

This time, the Constitutional Court, by majority (8-1) decision:

ruled that the calls for monarchy reform and monarchy-related activities organized by Anon Nampa, Panussaya Sitthijirawattanakul, Panupong Jadnok and associated organizations were, are and will be abuse of constitutional rights and liberties as they are intended to ‘overthrow’ the democratic form of government with the King as Head of State.

Remarkably, the court determined “hidden” intentions and “inferred” meanings:

The Court ruled that Anon’s speech and Panussaya’s statement at the 10 August 2020 protest, and their participation in the protests afterward and other symbolic actions have the hidden intention of overthrowing the regime, which would cause public disorder and unrest in society….

The word ‘overthrow’ can be inferred from actions that cause a serious threat to the constitution and regime in a decisive and irreversible manner that completely obliterates them.

The court considered the demand for the repeal of Section 6 of the constitution “which guarantees the monarch’s authority, as Head of State, which no one can accuse or violate is an explicit act with an intent to annihilate the monarchy.”

Rather, the demand was:

Abolish Article 6 of the constitution, which dictates that no one can make legal complaints about the king. Add an article to give the parliament power to perform checks and balances on the king, similar to the Khana Rasadon’s constitution.

This is a call to reform and a return to a previous status quo. As an op-ed at Thai Enquirer states: “If you carefully listen, what they are asking for is the modernization of the royal institution so that it can continue to peacefully exist along with the development of a democratic system.”

And the court objected to the tone of speeches:

To demand such changes and make such attacks in public, by claiming that it is an exercise of rights and freedoms according to the Constitution, not only is bad conduct, with rude words spoken, but also violates the rights and freedoms of other people who think differently….

For good measure, the court trotted out the palace and military propaganda line on the role of the monarchy in Thailand’s history. Essentially they accused the reform movement of being offensive to (ruling class) Thai culture.

The court also ordered the three respondents and others to end their movement: “The three respondents, other organisations and networks must cease their actions…”.

The ruling carried no penalty for the three respondents but it potentially unleashes a cascade of royalist repression and cases for the royalist courts that, the regime and palace appear convinced will be the end of the monarchy reform movement.

It is worth noting that, like the hurried and politicized dissolution of several parties in the 2008 judicial coup, the court dispensed with witnesses. As Prachatai explains:

Thai Lawyers for Human Rights (TLHR) stated that, despite a request by lawyers for the three activists for them to be summoned for an inquiry along with several other witnesses to give them the opportunity to defend themselves, the ruling was made without examining witnesses and based only on the complaint itself, the objection to the complaint, and documents that the Court requested from the Office of the Attorney General, Khlong Luang Police Station, the Royal Thai Police, the National Security Office, the National Intelligence Agency, and Thammasat University.

The Court then ordered the inquiry concluded, claiming that it has enough evidence to issue a ruling.

TLHR also said that, in addition to the three activists themselves, they had requested that several academics be summoned as witnesses. They had planned to summon historians Nithi Eoseewong and Charnvit Kasetsiri to testify on Thai political history, and legal scholar Khemthong Tonsakulrungruang to argue that the activists’ actions do not qualify as using their rights and liberties to overthrow the democratic regime with the monarch as Head of State.

They also planned to summon writer Sulak Sivarak to speak about the role of the monarchy in Thai politics and President of the 1997 Constitution Drafting Assembly Uthai Pimchaichon to speak on the intention of Section 49 of the Thai Constitution, which is modelled after the same section in the 1997 Constitution.

None of the aforementioned witnesses were given a chance to testify.

On the ruling, Natthaporn gloated: “The ruling today is a starter, that peace will finally be returned to society…”. He claimed the ruling bans all activities that might be construed to threaten the monarchy. His next target is the Move Forward Party: “He said the court’s decision would lead to the Election Commission deciding whether to move for the disbandment of the Move Forward Party. Mr Natthaporn claims the party supported the protests.”

In an interview cited by Prachatai, academic lawyer and former FFP member Piyabutr Saengkanokkul saw three impacts from the ruling:

Firstly, the ruling’s broad interpretation of the law has closed the door for those who want to reform the monarchy.

Secondly, the ruling prohibits many acts, both those which have been done and those not done. This will allow those who oppose proposals for monarchy reform to flood the courts with petitions similar to the one today. Civil society organizations and political parties that rally for the amendment or abolition of the royal defamation law might be affected by this.

Thirdly, this order to gag people will not bring about reconciliation between those who think differently. It will exacerbate tensions between the old and the new generations who have different ideas about the monarchy.

“If you don’t want to enter the red zone, then don’t do it. Don’t speak. Don’t touch. Don’t do anything. Then, you will be in the safe zone. Your party won’t be disbanded. Your MPs can stay. Criminal charges won’t touch you. In public rallies, you mustn’t speak about this. Just talk about ousting Prayut. Don’t speak about these [monarchy] issues and you will be safe.”

Indeed, this decision will, despite the wording of Section 49, will be used to lock up protest leaders and it will provide justification for a regime purge of those it can now say are anti-monarchists.

Finally in this absurdist “legal” world of the country’s protectors of the status quo, we must go back to the Thai Enquirer and its comments:

Asking for the amendment of the lese-majeste law is not treasonous in any way. Overthrowing an elected government by a military coup like what General Prayut Chan-ocha and his friends did in 2014 was.

It was also unconstitutional and unlawful. But the courts have regularly sanctioned military coups. The op-ed lists other unlawful acts sanctioned by courts:

Jailing and persecuting elected parliamentarians….

Arresting, cracking down, violently using force against unarmed protesters….

Shutting down public debate, installing an unelected senate, using the judiciary to go after dissidents….

Abducting and murdering political activists….

The op-ed concludes:

The verdict was almost like the final nail in the coffin of space for fair discussions in our society. And it was perpetrated by the same court system that has done nothing for the last six years but carry out the junta’s whim and reinforce the junta’s rule.

Update 1: Usefully, Prachatai has provided a translation of the Constitutional Court’s decision. Read it in all its bizarre detail.

Update 2:The Constitutional Court has defended not hearing evidence, saying it was too late and that the investigation was complete. Interestingly, in its decision, the court does not refer to any evidence that was not from the complainant or an official security agency.





More 112-Siam Bioscience madness

20 08 2021

As we have posted several times, as social media has discussed, and as even the mainstream media has reported, as far as can be determined, the Siam Bioscience contract to produce AstraZeneca’s vaccine has been something of a disaster. Recent reports of Thailand’s regime begging AZ does from other countries seem to confirm this.

With so much secrecy and opacity, like the activist from the United Front of Thammasat and Demonstration in January, its seems that “Vaccine Monopoly is PR for the Royals.” Our guess is that handing a contract and state funds to a small and inexperienced company has been the root of the vaccine chaos.

Of course, that was the king’s company. Probably the reason for doling out the contract and the loot to this minor company was to eventually bring glory to the monarch and monarchy. That’s failed. But, “protecting” the monarchy, the company, the contract and the regime remains high on the agenda.

So it is that lese majeste lunacy deepens. It was Thanathorn Juangroongruangkit who was one of the first to express concern about the contract. Back in January 2021, the Progressive Movement leader “slammed the government for its tardiness in providing Covid-19 vaccines and pointed out that the company tasked with manufacturing the vaccine locally is owned by the King.”

Thanathorn

Thanathorn concluded that “the government has been careless in negotiations for the vaccine…”. He pointed out that Siam Bioscience “is tasked with producing 200 million doses per year. Of this, 176 million will be sold to other countries in the region, while the remainder will be sold locally.” He added that the regime “has announced it will give Siam Bioscience Bt1.44 billion for the project.”

He claimed Siam Bioscience was only “established in 2009 with an authorized capital of Bt48 billion, but over the past 11 years, the corporation has made losses worth Bt581 billion…”.

And, he “pointed out that Siam Bioscience was only added to the plan in the second quarter of 2020 – when anti-establishment protesters began holding their rallies.” This, he said, may make the “AstraZeneca-Siam Bioscience deal is politically motivated.”

Like Pavlov’s dogs, the regime immediately slapped Thanathorn with Article 112 and sedition charges. More followed. And now even more. The madness never ends.

The former leader of the now dissolved Future Forward Party has been a prime target for political harassment since that party did well in the junta’s 2019 election, but the lese majeste charges make it clear that harassment is insufficient and that the regime wants to erase him as a political leader.

Currently in France, it is now reported that Thanathorn “is facing two additional lese majeste charges over a statement he made earlier this year about the production of the AstraZeneca coronavirus vaccine by the monarchy-owned Siam Bioscience Group.” He says he “will return to Thailand to hear the charges…”.

His lawyer, Kritsadang Nutcharas, said “his client is charged with lese majeste and entering data that harmed the kingdom’s security in relation to comments made during a Jan 18 livestream about the vaccine.” Apparently, he “was also summoned on Aug 10 by Phahon Yothin police over another lese majeste charge filed by Thossapol Pengsom, a legal adviser to the ruling Palang Pracharath Party…”.

In the midst of a virus crisis, the monarchy’s prestige and secrecy comes first, second and third. Fighting the virus lags. Madness.





Updated: Going for broke

31 03 2021

The regime apparently thinks it is strong enough to go for broke on lese majeste and nail its prime target Thanathorn Juangroongruangkit. Given that it was actions against Thanathorn and the Future Forward Party more than a year ago that set off anti-regime protests, this move represents the regime’s victory lap.

ThanathornThanthorn has appeared before police to acknowledged the Article 112 charge filed by the regime.

Now chairman of the Progressive Movement, he “went to Nang Loeng Police Station in Bangkok on Tuesday morning to acknowledge the charge involving his Jan 18 Facebook Live criticising the government’s vaccine procurement plan.”

In speaking with reporters, Thanathorn said “he was confident he had not said anything that tarnished the institution and the clip was his effort to sincerely check the government.” He claims nothing he said contravened the Article 112.

Additionally, he faces “sedition and computer crime charges involving the clip.”

In reality, Thanathorn must be worried, even if the charge is fabricated. But fabricated lese majeste charges have been used to lock up and/or harass several others in the past. Who can forget the ludicrous 112 charge against Thanakorn Siripaiboon in 2015 for allegedly spreading “sarcastic” content via Facebook which was said to have mocked the then king’s dog. Thanakorn finally got off in early 2021, but had endured seven days of interrogation and physical assault at an Army camp and three months in prison.

Thanathorn is the main target of ultra-royalist hatred and fear, and they have been urging the regime to lock him up. They see him as the Svengali behind the anti-regime protesters and rising anti-monarchism, refusing to believe the protesters can think for themselves. The regime sees Thanathorn as a potent political threat. They have threatened and charged him with multiple offenses, disqualified him from parliament, dissolved the political party he formed, and brought charges against his family.

By targeting Thanathorn, the regime seems to believe that it is now positioned to defeat the protesters and to again crush anti-monarchism. But, it is a repression that remains a gamble.

Update: Rabid royalists are joining the regime in going after actress Inthira “Sai” Charoenpura and activist Pakorn Porncheewangkul “over donations they received in support of the protest movement.” They are “facing possible tax and anti-money laundering probes over their acceptance of public donations in support of the Ratsadon protests.” It is anti-democrat Watchara Phetthong, “a former Democrat Party MP,” who has “petitioned the Revenue Department and the Anti-Money Laundering Office (Amlo) asking them to investigate Ms Inthira and fellow activist Pakorn…”.





Mad monarchist at it again

3 02 2021

Nathaporn (clipped from The Nation)

Mad monarchist conspiricist, royalist and lawyer Nathaporn Toprayoonis at it again. It is reported that he has submitted a petition to the Election Commission (EC) to dissolve the Move Forward Partyas he considers the party has engaged in “actions he deems hostile to democracy with the king as head of state.”

Nathaporn had earlier asked the Constitutional Court to dissolve the Future Forward Party with bizarre claims that the party was a secret society associated with the (fictitious) “Illuminati” global conspiracy. That claim was dismissed, but dissolving of Future Forward soon followed on other bogus grounds.

Nathaporn is a former advisor to the Chief Ombudsman and has previously acted as a lawyer for the People’s Alliance for Democracy, the Thai Patriots Network and other right-wing royalist groups.

In his new complaint, Nathaporn reflects the views of the establishment, so we’d guess that his petition might get some traction.

He claimed members of the party “encouraged and supported youth-led protesters by using their positions as MPs to bail them.”He added: “It’s clear the party was in cahoots with the demonstrators…”.

Like other rabid royalists, the party’s stand on Article 112 is considered anti-monarchy. He believes he has “evidence showing the party had breached Sections 45 and 92 of the Political Parties Act, which prohibit a party from promoting or supporting anyone in creating unrest or undermining good morality of people, and to oppose the rule of the country, respectively.”

He revealed that he had also “submitted a petition with the Constitution Court questioning the legitimacy of the party’s role in trying to rewrite the constitution and planned to file a similar complaint with Parliament.”

When the establishment gets monarchy mad, they do mad things.





A junta win

28 12 2020

One of the main aims of the long period of junta rule was to produce rules and manage politics in a manner that wound back the clock to a pre-1997 era of electoral politics.

Their efforts meant that the post-junta regime could finagle a national election “victory” and make use of the junta-appointed Senate to ensure that Gen Prayuth Chan-ocha could continue as prime minister. At the same time, the regime had delayed and delayed local elections so that it could ensure that it had measures in place that prevented national election-like “surprises.” Of course, it also used the Army and ISOC to control civilian administration and arranged for the Future Forward Party to be dissolved.

When the post-junta regime got around to local elections, the result provided evidence that the electoral wind back had been successful.

While initial commentary focused on the “failure” of Move Forward. In fact, while the party didn’t win any Provincial Administrative Organization chair positions, its candidates took more then 50 PAO seats and received 2.67 million votes.  This was on a voter turnout of just over 62% – low compared to the national election.

As time has gone on, commentators have become more incisive in assessing the results. Thai Enquirer wrote of a return to old-style politics, with political dynasties controlling local politics. A Bangkok Post editorial also focused on these factors, commenting: “About 40% of the winners of the PAO elections, Thailand’s first local elections in some seven years, are old faces, with the ruling Palang Pracharath Party making a big sweep in more than 20 provinces, followed by Bhumjaithai, almost 10, and Pheu Thai, nine.”

Recently, Peerasit Kamnuansilpa is Dean, College of Local Administration, Khon Kaen University writing at the Bangkok Post, has explained the big picture. He asks: “Are these elections really meaningful?” He concludes: “The net result is business as usual for PAOs, and Thailand will still be the prisoner of a highly centralised local administration.”

Helpfully, Peerasit lists the reasons for the failure of local democracy, all of them focused on junta/post-junta efforts to turn the clock back. He observes that the junta/post-junta has co-opted “local governments to become agents of the central government…”. He explains:

Following the 2014 coup, the National Council for Peace and Order (NCPO), under then-army chief Gen Prayut Chan-o-cha upended a foundation of Thai democracy by issuing an order to suspend local elections. The politically powerful junta then began to co-opt all locally elected politicians and local government officials to become centrally appointed representatives of the central government.

This process began with NCPO’s Order Number 1/2557, in which one prescribed role of the locally elected leaders was to become partners of the military junta in restoring peace and order to the country. This made them complicit in undermining local governments in exchange for being able to legitimately keep their positions for an unspecified period of time without having to undergo the process of competing with other local candidates to secure the consent of the local citizens to allow them to serve. In other words, if they played ball with the junta, they would not need to face elections.

This “co-optation was then delegated to the Interior Ministry. This change obligated the leaders and the executives of all local governments to be accountable to the central government, thus becoming de facto representatives of the central government. Consequently, local leaders then had an allegiance to the powers in the central government.”

His view is that a promising decentralization has been destroyed: “In effect, the central government is — and has been — committed to failure from the beginning, by creating weak local government organisations.”

The people are not fooled and he reports data that “revealed that, when compared to other types of local governments, the PAOs were perceived as less beneficial than all other types of local governments within the surveyed provinces.” PAO level government is a processing terminal for the regime:

… PAO’s primary function has remained: serving as a conduit of budget allocation to be “authorised” by the provincial governor. This budgetary control by the governor is actually a smokescreen for influence by the central government of 76 provincial budgets, accounting for a very large amount of funding.

While yet another decline in Thailand’s democracy can be lamented, the fact remains that this is exactly what the junta wanted when it seized power in 2014.

 





Updated: Confrontation looms

25 11 2020

The use of lese majeste and the multiple threats of arrest today have mounted. The regime has seemingly calculated that the events at police headquarters and the royal family’s PR blitz and its “demonstrated generosity,” that a crackdown on protesters targeting the king and his wealth may not earn them “too much” public derision.

Police and military are preparing for tonight’s rally at the Crown Property Bureau. Razor wire is up and the so-called “royal” exclusion zone established. That the military has been active with helicopters suggests preparations for a confrontation.

Thai PBS reports that “increased helicopter activity, heard over several areas of Bangkok on Monday night,” and “which went on for hours” was described  by Army Chief Gen Narongphan Chitkaewtae as “part of security arrangements for the motorcade of … the King and Queen…”. We fear it is preparations for tonight, especially when he added that while “it is the police’s responsibility to deal with the rally,” the army is prepared to “help” if “there is a request from the police.”

The Free Youth have also upped the anty, publishing this statement:

Meanwhile the regime is doubling down. Neo-fascist member of the Democrat Party coalition party, Deputy Transport Minister Thaworn Senniam declared that the regime arrest Progressive Movement’s Thanathorn Juangroongruangkit and Piyabutr Saengkanokkul for being responsible for the uprising and anti-monarchism.

He “explained”:

“As a Thai citizen and a Democrat MP, I will perform my duty to protect the Nation, the Religion, the Monarchy and the democratic system with the King as the head of state,” said Thavorn, claiming that 90 percent of the Thai population agree with him.

As “evidence” he “showed the media today a video clip of Piyabutr giving a speech at the University of London, on the topic of “Is Thailand in a Deeper State of Crisis?” on June 11th, 2016.” Yes, that’s more than four years ago.

On Thanathorn, Thaworn says that “in several speeches, has stressed the need for reform of the Thai Monarchy, adding that the founding of the Future Forward Party, which was dissolved by the Constitutional Court, was intended to achieve that goal.”

He went on to accuse “Thanathorn and Piyabutr of spending more than eight months brainwashing and inciting hatred of the Monarchy among Thai youth, with the intention of turning the protests into riots and, eventually, civil war.”

In fact, Thaworn is simply reflecting the views of ultra-royalists and rightists who are baying for blood.

It will be a difficult evening as the regime, at this point, seems to have drawn its line in the sand and the rally is likely to test that.

Update: As has happened previously, the anti-government protesters have changed their rally site, reducing the prospect of a clash. The new location is related as the rally will be at the Siam Commercial Bank HQ, with the king being the biggest shareholder in the bank.

We are not sure that the change was to avoid a clash and the inordinate efforts the regime had taken to seal off the area around the CPB, or just a prank to make the regime expend effort and look a bit silly.

The regime has barricaded the area around the CPB, with “[r]olls of razor wire and steel barricades…”, mainly shipping containers stacked end-to-end and two high. These efforts caused huge traffic jams. In addition, “[s]oldiers in plain clothes were seen deployed around the CPB…”.








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