The impossibility of a free and fair election

5 11 2018

PPT has felt a little lonely over the past few years as we have repeatedly pointed out that the military junta’s “election” cannot be free or fair.

So it is that we are gratified to read in The Nation an account of a seminar that comes to the same conclusion.

“Towards a Free and Fair Election: Situation in Thai Society” at Thammasat University discussed the path to the next general election. As PPT usually has it, this is the arranged, crafted, fixed and rigged election being held by the junta, hoping it can cement its political rule. “Hoping” is likely to involve any measure necessary to steal the election.

The “speakers at a panel discussion … held the opinion that a free and fair national vote without the influence of the ruling junta seems unlikely.” As well as refusing to (so far) “lift the ban on political activities,” the junta is accused of having “extend[ed]… its control over the Election Commission (EC),” resulting in “an ‘unfair’ system.”

Sunai Phasuk of Human Rights Watch stated:

To be free and fair, there must be equal access to national media, resources, a fair election-supervising authority, as well as political freedom of electorate, candidates, and political parties…. But as freedom of expression, association and assembly – the main characteristics of a democratic society – remain blocked, Thailand should have other countries coming to observe the electoral process….

The junta has already rejected the idea of observers as amounting to an assault on the national “face.” Of course, the junta also wants not witnesses to its electoral shenanigans.

Puea Thai’s Chaturon Chaisaeng also “said he did not think the upcoming election would be a free and fair one.” He observed: “The bans on political campaigning when the election is drawing near point to a lack of democracy and fairness.”

Of course, those bans do not apply to the junta and its associated anti-democrat parties.

Gothom Arya, a former election commissioner, “also called on the EC to help prevent people in power from taking advantage over other political players in the run-up to the next election.” He accused the junta of interfering with the EC.

For PPT, it is not just a matter of the junta stopping its control of the EC, telling it what to do. The problem is that the EC is not independent and its members will “naturally” work for their bosses.

Will the junta’s election be fair? No. Will it be free? No. Could another party do well enough to “win”? Perhaps, but it seems unlikely. But even if an anti-junta party triumphs, it will be forever hamstrung and tightly restricted by the junta’s (non) independent agencies, rules, laws and a myriad of controls put in place by the military junta.





Lese majeste and the collapse of human rights

23 02 2017

Amnesty International joins Human Rights Watch in declaring human rights at a new low in the military dictatorship’s Thailand.

AI’s overview of the past year in royalist Thailand states:

The military authorities further restricted human rights. Peaceful political dissent, whether through speech or protests, and acts perceived as critical of the monarchy were punished or banned. Politicians, activists and human rights defenders faced criminal investigations and prosecutions for, among other things, campaigning against a proposed Constitution and reporting on state abuses. Many civilians were tried in military courts. Torture and other ill-treatment was widespread. Community land rights activists faced arrest, prosecution and violence for opposing development projects and advocating for the rights of communities.

Read the sorry story here.

As if to confirm the human rights decrepitude of the junta’s human rights record, the Bangkok Post reports that Jatuphat Boonpattaraksa (or Pai), accused of lese majeste for circulating a BBC story somehow deemed critical of Thailand’s king, was again refused bail.

The report states that Pai’s “family and lawyers … vowed to keep on appealing to secure bail for the 25-year-old after their seventh request was rejected by a court.”

The junta’s court reportedly “took less than 20 minutes in considering [the bail] … petition and again ruled it would not allow temporary release for Mr Jatupat…”.

That denial of bail “came even though the lawyers increased the surety from 400,000 cash to 700,000 baht and had prominent social critic Sulak Sivaraksa as a second bail guarantor, apart from Mr Jatupat’s father, Wiboon Boonpattararaksa.” The application included “letters [guarantees] from academics and people with credibility which confirmed Mr Jatupat would not flee the trial or do anything of concern.” This included senior academics like Gothom Arya and former National Human Rights commissioner Niran Pithakwatchara.

The court denied and dismissed “the defence lawyer’s argument that there is no point in detaining Jatuphat further because the case’s investigation process is already completed, the court reasoned that the suspect could try to interfere with evidence or jump bail if he is released.”

Pai is being framed by the military junta because he is identified as a troublesome anti-junta activist and his fate and jailing is considered by royalist and military thugs as a way to threaten and silence others.

His case is not unique, but Pai’s travails do show (again) how the royalist junta denies rights and destroys the rule of law. Its also indicates (again) that the courts have no independence and that the courts are partners in human rights abuse in Thailand.

In essence and in fact, lese majeste is a law that underpins dictatorship and domination in Thailand.





Updated: Dictating II

30 09 2014

A dictator is a “ruler who wields absolute authority. A state ruled by a dictator is called a dictatorship.” General Prayuth Chan-ocha is Thailand’s dictator.

Because he is a dictator, Prayuth can pretty much do what he wants. Dictators do have advisers and puppet assemblies, yet it is The Dictator who makes decisions.Prayuth

These simple facts make it sad and yet amusing when some elements of the media and academics think that the military dictatorship is some kind of reasonable government.

At The Nation it is reported that the leaking of 173 names claimed to have been selected for the National Reform Council (NRC) “clearly signify political bias and social exclusion, which could lead to unfair reform proposals that will make all reconciliation efforts fail…”.

Really, who didn’t know this, even without seeing a single name? The dictatorship has made its position clear.

One academic who seems not to have considered the military regime a dictatorship is Mahidol University “peace expert” Gothom Arya. He says”it would be impossible for a junta-appointed NRC to achieve reconciliation.” Gothom should know that this was never on the junta’s agenda. He advises “the NRC could organise events to foster dialogue and national reconciliation.” Why would the NRC do this. It knows it is a puppet council and is only there to provide a legitimation of the decisions already taken by the military dictatorship.

Gothom is right to observe that the “NRC would eventually deliver conservative proposals…”. This is not for the reason he cites – “the members chosen were known conservatives” – but because it is a puppet of the junta.

Then there’s the anti-democrats of the Democrat Party who lap at the boots of the military dictatorship. A “[f]ormer Democrat MP Attawit Suwanpakdee said judging from the names, he believed they could contribute to an effective and fair constitution.” He’s making this up, hoping that the military’s constitution will allow his party to finally win an election.

Chamnan Chaneyang, said to be an “independent law expert and a member of the Midnight University,” is far closer to the mark when he says “the purpose of establishing the NRC was for the National Council for Peace and Order (NCPO) to gain public approval and credibility, pointing out that the NRC would not have any real influence on the country’s reform.”

A former Puea Thai Party MP Amnuay Khangpha said “he wasn’t sure if the NCPO wanted to establish peace and reconciliation, or if it wanted to create another crisis.” PPT reckons they military isn’t interested in any of these options; it simply wants to control Thailand’s future for the royalist elite.

Update: In case readers were confused by the Democrat Party response to the puppet NRC, its leader, the tainted Abhisit Vejjajiva has confirmed support for it. Abhisit “urged the public to give the NRC a chance to work.” While hardly anyone takes Abhisit seriously, he felt the need declare: “For now, we should let them work and support them…”.





“The military vacation”

18 07 2014

In our previous post we referred to threats to some of those taken into detention. The threats detailed in that post were dealt to the “unknowns.” The military treats the “knowns” somewhat more carefully, whilst also threatening or implying threats.

Recently, at The Irrawaddy, there was an account of the place where many of the “knowns” have been taken: the so-called Army Club. Once recreational, it has “been transformed into something darker: the gateway into a world of military-enforced detentions for hundreds of Thai citizens summoned to hand themselves over to army custody.”

It is stated that the military’s claims that the “calling in,” the threats and so on are a “military vacation,” do not “mask the military-style approach to shepherding millions of famously free-wheeling Thais into a pen of national unity, patriotism and political harmony.”

Others like the disgusting academic prostitute Panitan Wattanayagorn, said to be “a national security expert at Bangkok’s Chulalongkorn University,” but actually an expert on nothing, applaud the military. The former acting spokesman for the failed and murderous Abhisit Vejjajiva regime, observes, with considerable satisfaction, that the military dictatorship is taking a “textbook” approach. We think the “textbook” is one that includes “fascism” in the title. This mouthpiece states:  “The strategy is to neutralize its opposition by categorizing people as troublemakers, those who cooperate and those who can be co-opted.”

The article points out that the lists of people summoned show the bias: “After all, a large swathe of those in the junta’s crosshairs are politicians, the business elite, activists, broadcasters and intellectuals directly linked or associated with Ms. Yingluck’s elder brother, Thaksin Shinawatra…”.

The “post-coup purging of ‘network Thaksin,’ as … Panitan describes it, has also extended to targeting pro-Thaksin bureaucrats in important ministries, such as defense, being transferred to ineffective positions.”

The junta’s purge and fascism seems to get the approval of another royalist scholar, “Gotham Arya, former director of research at the Centre for Peace Building at Bangkok’s Mahidol University,” who says that if people accept the military’s repression, this “new approach,” may make “reconciliation … possible.” New? He’s got his head in the sand or is suffering considerable memory loss. Even Panitan recognizes that this is old-school military fascism (and he loves it).





Royalist “compromise”

10 02 2014

A cunning bit of running interference for the royalist elite and the palace is reported at The Nation. Mahidol University lecturer Gothom Arya, called a “high-profile peace advocate,” is said to have “called for an independent royal committee to be established to launch the national reform process.”

He reckoned Prime Minister Yingluck Shinawatra should “endorse the proposal and present it to His Majesty the King so the committee was recognised by law.”

Speaking at the royalist King Prajadhipok’s Institute, Gothom “said the committee’s members would not be chosen by the government and could only be removed by the courts.”

He is reported to be:

critical of the anti-government People’s Democratic Reform Committee’s attempt to create an unelected “people’s council” to steer the country, labelling the proposal vague.

Why is Gothom taking this up? He is one of those middle-of-the-road royalists who like to be seen as “neutral arbiters.” Others of this ilk include Prawase Wasi and, until he let his guard down several times and revealed his hard anti-liberal edge, Anand Punyarachun.

Gothom may be sincere and he may be truly concerned. However, his claim that a royally-appointed committee be set up is actually no different from the other anti-democratic plan. It is no political compromise.

Appointing a royal committee would probably suit the Suthep Thaugsuban lot just nicely, because their repeated calls for royal intervention would be answered. As the report points out, like the Suthep proposal, Gothom forgot to explain “how the royal committee’s members would be selected.”

If Gothom’s suggestion is followed, it would be another royal political intervention with the same result: a turning back to the hierarchical and elitist patterns of the past.

Gothom’s history is “liberal royalist,” but see his Wikileaked comments on the coup and Thai Rak Thai as well as his membership of the junta-appointed interim National Legislative Assembly.





Wikileaks, military coup and “human rights” organizations

23 01 2012

Following our recent post regarding Human Rights Watch, PPT decided to look at a Wikileaks cable that has, amongst other things,  U.S. Ambassador Ralph Boyce talking with “civil society” actors on the impact of the coup just a month after the event.

Our reasons for moving to this cable, a little out of our planned schedule, will be clear below.

Boyce begins by noting that the embassy’s “civil society contacts” are concerned the ” imposition of martial law and restrictions on civil liberties.” He then adds that these same contacts can be considered as providing “continued support for, or at least acceptance of, the Council on National Security and the interim government…”.

Yes, that is civil society organizations supporting a coup and a military junta. That is perhaps not surprising for those who have followed Thailand’s politics over that period but probably a shock for others.

What is more surprising for even PPT is that the first member of civil society cited is none other than Suriyasai Katasila, spokesman for the People’s Alliance for Democracy. We can only imagine that Boyce was laughing as he wrote this. After all, PAD was the military’s ally in the coup. Hence, Suriyasai’s comments can only appear supportive of the military.

Next in line is a “spokesman” for the Democrat Party, a party that was also in bed with the military.  The party wanted a “faster transition back to democracy” but “recognized that the government is worried about the activities of Thai Rak Thai and diehard Thaksin supporters writ large.” The spokesman seemed to support the junta, feared Thaksin and “unrest in the countryside.”

Somchai Homla-or, the chairman of the Human Rights Committee of the anti-Thaksin Lawyers Council of Thailand, discounted this view as “overstated.” Gothom Arya, a member of the junta-appointed interim National Legislative Assembly, “agreed, and questioned how strong the popular support for TRT in the countryside really was.” Stronger than he knew, obviously.

Each of these “civil society activists” was, at that time, compromised by their position as middle-class supporters of the military and the coup.

The next person cited is “human rights activist Sunai Phasuk” who is the in-country researcher for HRW.

Sunai says that:

martial law and similar issues “puts people like me in a very difficult and uncomfortable position.” He said that as a staunch anti-Thaksin activist, he was initially relieved to see the Thaksin administration forced out, and he wants to be supportive of the interim government’s effort to restore democracy in Thailand.

But he adds that the

failure of the CNS in responding to repeated calls for lifting martial law and restrictions on civil liberties is making it impossible for him (and people like him) who want to be supportive.

Several of these yellow-shirted discussants apparently spoke of the “predominance of Prem’s men’: military and civilians associated with Privy Councillor Prem Tinsulanonda.” Gothom spoke of these appointments as “cronyism.”

HRW’s Sunai is again cited as being concerned that “the military appears to be creating a structure that will enable it to retain excessive influence throughout the coming year, and possibly beyond.”

What did he expect? Is he playing dumb? It is more likely that Sunai’s support for the coup and his hatred of Thaksin blinded him to the authoritarianism of the military that civil society organizations claimed to have been opposing for years. More convenient amnesia, this time political.

Sunai reveals that the “CNS sought the advice of members of civil society in drafting the interim constitution, they completely ignored the advice that was offered.” Of course they did.

Gothom seemed even more naive, adopting a “more wait-and-see attitude.” Perhaps he’s still waiting to see more clearly.

Boyce claims “[c]ivil society is split on whether the transition to new elections can or even should take place faster than the one year timetable the CNS promised.”

Somchai was cynical, apparently content that the military had thrown Thaksin out, but sure that the seemingly virginal military would be “approached by a lot of greedy business people, greedy politicians, and others.”

Sunai is quoted as expressing

his frustration with the military. He said that General Sonthi [Boonyaratglin] was “clueless” and the other military leaders around him are preparing “to sacrifice our freedoms for the sake of stability.” He found it increasingly evident that, while General Sonthi was in over his head and Surayud [Chulanont] struggled to set an agenda and “action plan” for his cabinet, Privy Councillor Prem is the one “pulling the strings.”

Sunai’s comments are contextualized in a deeply disturbing way. He is cited as stating:

how deeply disappointed he was in the military. He emphasized that he was close to many officers and, in fact, taught many of them in his capacity as a guest lecturer at Chulachomklao Royal Military Academy and the Royal Thai Air Force Academy. He said that he had always held the military in high regard for their sense of honor and dedication to the country. As such, he expected that the coup makers would hold true to the promises made in the hours and days following the coup to restore civil liberties and democratic civilian rule as quickly as possible.

Sunai seemed to offer advice, suggesting “that Prem needs to be informed that the perceived intransigence of the CNS in restoring civil liberties is ‘making the military look very bad’.” For a “human rights activist” who held the military in such high regard after 1957, 1973, 1976, 1992 and much much more, making the military “look bad” can hardly have been a revelation! It is that human rights amnesia again.

For Boyce, this exceptionally mild and essentially supportive criticism was disturbing, not least because his CNS buddies informants “seem genuinely and completely unaware of this undercurrent of opposition.”

Boyce then congratulated himself for pointing out the opposition to the CNS and its government. Boyce is happy enough that the “interim government still has time to dig itself out of this hole, since it seems to enjoy fairly broad support, or at least acceptance, for the time being.” Boyce is entirely supportive of the junta and its government.

For the so-called representatives of civil society, the cable is damning indictment of an apparent incapacity to understand the consequences of their support for the military’s political intervention.





Hunting red shirt backers I

28 05 2010

The Washington Post (28 May 2010)has a long story on the military-backed Abhisit Vejjajiva government’s continuing withch hunt for political opponents. It begins: “Victorious over rice farmers in flip-flops and riffraff with slingshots, molotov cocktails and a few guns, the commander in chief of the Royal Thai Army has moved swiftly to contain another menace: a golf-loving steel tycoon and maker of Nestle instant coffee.”

Funny enough, but a serious topic as the government looks likely to seek to cripple its opposition.

The report states that “Multimillionaire businessman Prayudh Mahagitsiri is now No. 21 on the latest installment of an expanding financial blacklist issued by the Center for the Resolution of the Emergency Situation…”. The whole list has 151 names on it, beginning with Thaksin Shinawatra and his family. The military-backed government wants to crush them. It also includes businessmen, politicians, lawyers and others alleged to have financed the red shirts.

Prayudh makes instant coffee and is chief executive of Thainox Stainless, a steel company. Panlert Baiyoke, owner of the Baiyoke Sky Hotel, an 88-story Bangkok landmark is also listed.

Emphasizing the military nature of the Abhisit regime, the emergency decree was signed by army chief General Anupong Paochinda. Anupong claimed to want to “root out threats to ‘national security and the safety of citizens’ and ‘get rid of this problem effectively and immediately’.”

In other words, the military and the government have joined hands in an anti-democratic alliance to crush all threats to the monarchy and, essentially, to cripple all potential opposition for years to come.

The article claims this as evidence that “Thailand’s far-from-resolved confrontation is also a clash within Thailand’s elite.” It cites historian Chris Baker as saying that the conflict is an “ideological conflict mixed up with a business conflict.”

We can see the point, but PPT feels that this spin is one that tries to make too much of business. Businesses try to pick winners in momentus conflicts, and we wouldn’t be surprised if some businesses supported both sides in the conflict. We can think of Mao’s comments on the role of the “national bourgeoisies” in this context. But, the focus is the conflict and the issues it throws up.

The author gets this right when he notes: “Some of those on the blacklist sympathized with the red shirt cause, which boiled down to a demand that the government quit and call early elections…”.

Following comments made by PPT several days ago and over several months,  Chulalongkorn University’s Thitinan Pongsudhirak is cited as saying that “[a]rrests, censorship and the financial inquest have put Thailand on a slippery slope….The creeping fear is that this could become a witch hunt. The question is: Who is next?”

Indeed. However, as we noted, this slipping began as soon as the Abhisit government was shoe-horned into place by closed door deals brokered by shifty politicians, the military brass and by the filthy lucre of specific businessmen. We have also seen this government associated with assassination, murder and mayhem (think 10 April). It may not be at the bottom yet – gulags for political prisoners and torture perhaps? – but the bottom is in sight.

The dolt acting government spokesman Panitan Wattanayagorn lies agin in this article, making the truly ludicrous claim that the government is not engaging in a political vendetta. He says the money probe is “not a tool for political conflict.” Rather, it is “a response to a security threat.” Right, security has nothing to do with politics when you represent the party that controls political power at the behest of the military and palace. And then the fool comes up with the same claim that Thaksin made when he was engaged in politicized investigations of finances of opponents: “People who have nothing to hide have nothing to worry about…”. This man’s gall and stupidity is impossible to swallow.

The dedicatedly repressive government “has given no evidence of misbehavior by Prayudh other than a long association with Thaksin.” The same is true for almost everyone else on the list.

The witch hunt has gone beyond business to include anyone the government thinks might support red shirts. It needs no evidebnce to harrass, intimidate and even jail. It is a government without any legal controls on it.

So we have long-time peace and human rights advocate (and liberal royalist) Gothom Arya being vilified as a red shirt supporter for helping to arrange the sanctury at Wat Pathum Wanaram that was fired on by government troops, as medics worked on the wounded. Such an action by a well-meaning person are now considered almost criminal and gets the yellow-shirted media and the bloggers frothing at the mouth with rage. They are disgusting in their baying for retribution and blood.

This is a witch hunt that is likely to easily get out of hand and is going to destroy many good and innocent people. This will be Thailand’s first civilian regime dripping blood.





Updated: The witch hunt is on

25 05 2010

Where do we begin…. A few days ago PPT stated that repression would be increased in Thailand. Sadly, we were correct. We have already posted on the arrests of red shirt leaders and Prof. Suthachai Yimprasert. And it isn’t just Thais being arrested.

The dragnet is extending across the country. Thaksin Shinawatra has been charged as a terrorist (Bangkok Pundit has more). For all of Thaksin’s faults, a terrorism charge is clearly political. Yellow shirts are apoplectic about the red shirt leaders who they claim are living in luxury while arrested (scroll down to Tuesday, May 25, 2010 at 2bangkok.com).

Red shirts are being rounded up in the provinces. Who knows how many have been arrested to date.

But it is more than this. People who are believed to be red shirts are being “outed,” including university applicants who are being rejected because they are accused of being “red” or “anti-monarchy.” There are attacks on CNN, the BBC and other international media (see Bangkok Pundit on this also).

Even moderate academics are being attacked by frothing at the mouth yellow shirts. Regular PPT readers will know that we believe The Nation’s Thanong Khanthong to be certifiable,a nd his latest blog, attacking a too dovish Gothom Arya as an almost red shirt takes the cake. It is serious though. This is a witch hunt. Real lives are threatened. It can’t be long now before a foreign academic is arrested as an enemy of the Thai monarchy.

Abhisit Vejjajiva is leading a government that is dominated by militarists and monarchists; it is a dangerous government.

Update: Two foreigners are amongst the red shirts arrested.





With 5 updates: High tension in Bangkok

24 04 2010

Further to our two most recent posts, PPT has had a flurry of emails suggesting that talks have broken down as the Abhisit Vejjajiva government has decided to crush the red shirts. Tension is very high and the red shirt leadership is urging supporters to be prepared.

Abhisit has personally rejected negotiations: “Thai TV says Prime Minister Abhisit Vejjajiva has rejected protesters’ demand he dissolve Parliament in 30 days to end a political crisis that has paralyzed the country.”

Update: “Thai Prime Minister Abhisit Vejjajiva on Saturday rejected scaled-back demands that he dissolve Parliament in 30 days, prompting anti-government protesters to pull out of negotiations to end the political crisis gripping the country. The breakdown dashed hopes for an imminent peaceful resolution to the deadlock, which has been punctuated by increasing hostility and bloody street violence.”

Al Jazeera reports: “Abhisit Vejjajiva, the Thai prime minister, has rejected an offer of compromise with so-called red shirt protesters who have rallied for the dissolution of government for the past six weeks.” It is added that: “Abhisit said that he could not accept the offer because the red shirts ‘use violence and intimidation’. He said: “The 30-day ultimatum is not an issue. The dissolution [of parliament] must be done for the benefit of the entire country, not just for the red shirts, and it must be done at the right time…”.

It looks like the hardliners have had a victory within the government and that the ever stubborn Abhisit has had his way.

Update 1: The Bangkok Post has Abhisit saying this of the red shirts’ proffered compromise: “No, I reject it.”

In The Nation,  Thammasat University historian Thanet Aphornsuvan said that “the principles of non-violence may not be enough to prevent them from ‘being crushed by the Army’,” and added that “this was because the same method – an appeal for non-violence – had never worked in the past in Thailand.”

Reflecting his pessimism on negotiations, Gothom Arya of Mahidol University said in the same article of Prime Minister Abhisit:  “Peace is in his hands. It’s up to him to make it, alive or dead…”. He seemed pessimistic however.

Update 2: The Bangkok Post reports on an important piece being put in place prior to a crackdown on the red shirts. Recall that army chief Anupong Paojinda has long said that he would reject an unlawful order to crackdown on the red shirts and that earlier in the week the Civil Court issued a ruling on the legality of a crackdown that was interpreted in different ways. Now the Post reports that to “erase public doubt, Thailand’s Civil Court on Saturday said the Centre for the Resolution of the Emergency Situation (CRES) can indeed disperse anti-government protesters now occupying Bangkok’s prime business district ‘if necessary’, but emphasised that it must be ‘carried out in line with international standards’.”

Now even when the state kills people it claims to have done so “in line with international standards.” Perhaps this provides Anupong with the legal basis for action against the red shirts.

Another part of the government’s actions against the red shirts and preparing for a crackdown likely involves unstated “evidence” against red shirts in alleged violent acts. This is a common action in previous military actions that have led to bloodshed. A member of the opponents’ camp is pushed forward, in custody, and is said to have spilled the beans. This time, it involves an actor and the Department of Special Investigation. PPT has pointed out previously that DSI has been highly politicized. Now DSI has taken to parading alleged criminals and holding news conferences and television spectacles making grand and unsupported accusations. The Nation has an account of the arrest and interrogation of Methi Amornwuthikul, who is claimed to be a “prominent red shirt.” Methi is a red shirt, but an odd character and was previously in the media for his semi-nude modeling and more recently for swinging punches at a Puea Thai Party campaign worker (see the video of the latter incident here).

With yellow shirts, now in multi-colors rallying each day in numbers as high as 10,000 to 15,000, most of the elements for a crackdown that can be “justified” are in place. The threat to crush the red shirts appears ever more likely to be put in train. PPT assumes that the okay from the palace is already in place.

Update 2: The Nation leads with the Methi story and red shirt denials. The critical point for PPT is, however, the use of the alleged confession, with Democrat Party spokesman Buranaj Smutharaks claiming that “Methee’s confession confirmed a belief that acts of sabotage on April 10 were committed by the red shirts, not a ‘third party’.” The government’s role in killings and injuries is now totally whitewashed for the Democrat Party and the public is expected to believe – and many yellow shirts will – that the red shirts killed their own.

Update 3: Like many others, PPT is hearing many rumors of what caused the proposed negotiations/compromise to fall apart. On story has to do with Sukhumbhand Paribatra talking and reaching something of an agreement with red shirts and, it is said, Thaksin Shinawatra in Brunei. That fell apart because of hardline resistance from the yellow-shirt wing of the Democrat Party including Korn Chatikavanij, some close to the palace – guess who – and some in the military who want to crush the red shirts. They see this as the final battle. Part of the agreement was said to involve a “national government” that was to quickly amend the constitution. Abhisit would not have been interim prime minister, and he is said to have opposed that.

Abhisit remains ensconced with the more militant of the commanders of the armed forces, while Anupong remains against the use of force, fearing a large body count and seeing Bangkok’s major shopping and hotel area burned to the ground. It is said that it is unlikely that he can hold out much longer against the hardliners.

Update 4: Thailand’s Troubles has two posts on events of the 23rd and 24th.

Update 5: There’s more in the Bangkok Post on what Abhisit said of the red shirt offer to compromise. He said: “I am not sure whether it is a serious offer. But I am confident that is not an answer for the country’s problems. I don’t get it…”. Abhisit added that “[d]issolving the House in 30 days would ‘solve nothing…. I see it as an attempt [by the red shirt leaders] to create a new image for themselves, particularly among the international community given that they were engaged in violence in the past few days…”. The government was said to be “sticking by its offer that the House should be dissolved in the next nine months.”

Abhisit is not saying anything different from his comments after the first televised discussions with the red shirts. It is just that he is now surrounded by those demanding the red shirts be crushed.

The reference to international opinion is interesting, for government is busily chasing the “international community,” hoping to get time with senior U.S. State Department officials currently in the region and again enlisting Surin Pitsuwan, who is supposed to be heading up ASEAN but seems to be working for the Thai government.

Abhisit and Anupong are to appear together on television on Sunday amidst rumors that they still do not agree on a crackdown, with Anupong urging a political compromise.