Updated: Know Gen Prayuth

1 04 2021

It has long been known that Gen Prayuth Chan-ocha is thin-skinned. Some of this is in his nature but much of it is learned behavior. As a senior military man, he has become used to deference, order, and hierarchy. He’s also a royalist and loyalist, which reinforces his notion of “good order.”

As such it should be no surprise that the General has ordered a “Thai reporter, working for a Japanese news agency, … temporarily banned from Government House, because of her alleged negative attitude towards the working environment there.”

The ban was later “explained” as resulting from “the woman involved released misinformation.”

In fact, though, it followed a press conference by The (semi-)Dictator on Tuesday when he told “the reporter in question, who was sitting crossed legged with one leg pointing at the podium, to sit differently.” Natthareeya Thaveevongs, the director of the Office of the Spokesman for the PM’s Office, “later explained that the reporter’s posture was not normal…”.

Obviously, Gen Prayuth took offense: “PrayuthThe way the reporter had sat upset the prime minister…”. So, apparently, had her tough questioning.

The reporter tweeted:

“The prime minister wasn’t happy a reporter sat cross-legged. Who’s that? Who raised her foot before the premier? Yes, I did. LOL. I was warned. One must sit with both legs pressed tightly together.”

It is also reported that:

the reporter also wrote in a satirical tone on social media about chasing after news at Government House. She likened her position as a reporter waiting for cabinet ministers to emerge from the main building to a dog being shut out of the cool air of a 7-11 convenience store.

Natthareeya later claimed the “ban had nothing to do with the inappropriate posture, nor had it anything to do with the reporter’s tough questions during the press conference,” but this is clearly not true.

Unhelpfully but also expected, the chair of the ethics committee of the often hopeless Thai Journalists Association said that:

although women sitting cross-legged is treated as normal these days, the Thai custom of being respectful towards people of seniority remains unchanged and reporters should treat senior figures with respect, through proper attire and conduct.

Old men with old ideas are ruining Thailand’s future.

Update: Thanks to a post by Andrew MacGregor Marshall, it seems that the reporter mentioned above was involved in another event last Sunday. Thai Enquirer reported that:

A reporter had a rubber-bullet gun thrust at her by a riot policeman during protests at the weekend, the latest escalation against journalists by Thai security forces against journalists working in the field.

Kamonthip, a reporter for a Japanese newspaper, was documenting the scene a couple of hours after riot police arrested peaceful protestors in front of Government House.

“I was one of the last reporters near the police line,” she told Thai Enquirer Monday. “The police were telling press to move back and get on the sidewalk.”

As she was trying to comply, “a group of riot police shouted at me to stop filming,” she said. “I asked why I was not being allowed to document, and why they needed to use guns to clear the area.”

“I stopped recording and got onto the sidewalk, and one of the police officers came in to talk to me. The same police that was in the video with the gun came in very close and I felt something hard on my shoulder. When I looked I saw the muzzle of the gun pointing at me. The police that came to talk to me separated us and was apologizing and saying nothing happened”….

She said she was clearly identified as press by the front and back of her vest, a neck tag, and a white armband.

Clearly Gen Prayuth and his minions see here as both “culturally” and politically suspect.





Making the neo-feudal royal family

27 08 2019

It is said that the king long ago claimed that his royal family would be more like feudal royal families of the 19th century.

That may apply to the structure of the family – a queen and several concubines, each ranked and perhaps rising to queen as well – but the publicity associated with official senior concubine Sineenat Wongvajirapakdi looks more like a Hello magazine approach to royalty. “Celebrating” neo-feudalism in this manner is likely a means to promote the king’s popularity and to embed neo-feudalism.

So it is that the official tract about her is very … well … royal. The Bangkok Post has it as follows:

The King bestowed the title of Chao Khun Phra Sineenart Pilaskalayanee on Maj Gen Thanpuying Sineenart Wongvajirapakdi on July 28.

Born on Jan 26, 1985, in the northern province of Nan, she received her primary education at Rajapiyorasa Yupparachanusorn School in Nan’s Tha Wang Pha district before completing her secondary education at Thawangphapittayakhom School in the same district.

In 2008, she obtained a bachelor’s degree in nursing science from the Royal Thai Army Nursing College.

She went on to take several military training courses, graduating in jungle warfare in 2015 and a course offered by the army’s Command and General Staff College in 2017. Meanwhile she completed the Special Warfare School’s airborne training programme in 2015 and then the Marine Corps School airborne programme in 2017.

She graduated from the Royal Thai Air Force’s Flying Training School, and also joined the private pilot licence programme at the Jesenwang flying school [maybe this one] in Germany.

She has been serving as His Majesty the King’s bodyguard since 2017.

Presumably his wife – the most recent one – has agreed to this arrangement or must be accepting of it in the neo-feudal palace.

The photos that have been released seem rather more in the Hello style where the new rich and royalty rub shoulders across the pages, mixing the trashy, the feudal and the rich and sometimes a mix of all in the same story. One of the points of Hello-like publications is to make the fabulously rich seem less remote and even less feudal. The Thai-language version of Hello seems to also fit this model while seemingly doing more to emphasize hierarchy.

In making the neo-feudal more acceptable, it is noticed that concubine Sineenat is shown as talented – which royal isn’t? – capable and something of a fit match for the king as athletic, a pilot and a military woman. She is made to appear as a kind of woman copy of the king as they do the same things and dress identically.

Royal Household Bureau via Khaosod

She even fits the scanty clothing model of the king’s perfect woman, which was seen in the lewd video of him and former third wife, Srirasmi and then in the odd skimpy clothing paraded several times in Germany. In the most recent photos, Sineenat is shown as skimpily dressed while piloting a light aircraft.

Clipped from Reuters report

In other photos of her as military woman, she’s uniformed, but we don’t imagine that perfect makeup and diamond earrings are standard for the military.

While a Reuters report states that these were “unusually candid pictures,” but it is clear that the unusual (for the last almost 100 years) is being made usual. Don’t be surprised if Sineenart is promoted to queen.

The point of all of this seems to be to reinforce Thailand’s turn to neo-feudalism in the 10th reign.





Army generals and their servants

28 02 2019

Not unexpectedly, The Dictator-junta leader-former Army boss-self-appointed prime minister-prime ministerial candidate-Gen Prayuth Chan-ocha and his Army commanders are on the same page when it comes to protecting the military.

The Nation reports that Gen Prayuth, maybe speaking as prime minister, maybe as junta boss or maybe as Candidate Prayuth, has declared that like an industrial free trade estate, “investing in soldiers is important and expenditure on military affairs cannot be seen as a financial gain or loss.”

He’s responding to campaign speeches by several political parties stating that the military’s budget could be trimmed and military conscription ended.

The Dictator views the suggestions, coming from “Pheu Thai, Future Forward and Seri Ruamthai parties” as an attack on the military and part of an anti-military political push.

Not explaining how conscripts are trained and how mission-ready they are, Gen Prayuth declared: “The country can call troops out any time of the day for a mission. If you downsize the armed forces, who will help out in times of disaster?”

The general was campaigning/visiting “with several Cabinet members to the Vidyasirimedhi Institute of Science and Technology and the Kamnoetvidya Science Academy in Rayong province to follow up on education progress during his government’s tenure.”

He wondered how Thailand’s borders could be “watched/protected” by a slimmed military.

Predictably, The Dictator was vigorously supported by the Defense Ministry which “leapt to the defence of military conscription, insisting there would be a shortfall of troops if only voluntary recruitment is adopted.”

Ministry spokesman Lt Gen Khongcheep Tantravanich said:

400,000-500,000 males are selected for conscription each year but just 100,000 are drafted. He said only 46% of eligible young men volunteer for service. Moreover, just under a third of all drafted men request to have their military service postponed, leaving 70,000 in service….

It isn’t entirely clear what contribution involuntary conscripts have on the size of the military. Adding together Wikipedia data, we find the total size of the military establishment is 326,000, although a Bangkok Post graphic suggests that there are just 127,000 in the Army, whereas the estimate at Wikipedia is 210,000. Another Wikipedia page has an estimate of 360,000 active personnel, 245,000 reservists and 94,000 paramilitaries for a total of almost 700,000.

What is even more opaque is the number of generals. Most estimates put this at around 1,700. Guess that those generals, when not golfing or gulping from the public trough, need the services of conscripts.

Even Lt Gen Kongcheep had to admit that the “conscripts end up running personal errands for generals…”. An senior Navy officer living close to one of the PPT lot regularly has 5-8 uniformed “sailors” running errands, cooking for his family at their apartment, washing their cars, cleaning the apartment, and so on. They are servants and slaves.

We doubt this pattern prepares conscripts for “going to war.”

Also important for the broader interests of the ruling class, Lt Gen Kongcheep states that the usually lower class “conscripts acquired discipline and good ideology during their time in service … so they will be quality citizens after they are discharged”. He means they are indoctrinated with notions of royalism and hierarchy sufficient for them to “go to war” with protesting citizens.

The vast majority of serving and retired generals and few in the ruling class want a professional military. They prefer a politicized military.

Ruling class ideologues and professional military posterior polishers like “Panitan Wattanayagorn, an adviser to Deputy Prime Minister Prawit Wongsuwon, [who] said conscription is a patriotic Thai tradition.” That so-called tradition only goes back to the mid-1950s.





A uniformed hierarchy

13 01 2019

It was easy to miss or to dismiss: a private school decided to let its students wear whatever they wanted, one day a week, for six weeks or so. By this, they meant that, on the day, students were not required to wear a uniform.

Uniforming them early

It is common to see Thais in uniform. Royals have hundreds of them, even for pets.

This reflects a society that is rigidly hierarchical and that has been militarized. School students are regimented and uniformed at every level of education from kindergarten to university.

The school said the one-day exercise was so students could “wear casual clothes to express their individuality and creativity…”. Such notions are anathema to Thailand’s ruling elite and especially to military types.

Presumably they are also somewhat surprising for average Thais who have internalized militarized notions that uniforms make for an orderly society.

Training “good” royalist lads at Vajiravudh College

Roger Crutchley usually writes a Bangkok Post column that humorous reflection on an older Thailand. This week, however, he reflects on the uniform “revolution.” He observes:

Reports that Bangkok Christian College is allowing students to wear casual clothes once a week might seem a trivial tale, but it could cause a few ructions in Thailand. This is a country where even university students wear uniforms and any thoughts about breaking out from this conformity are frowned upon. After all, it might spark “self-expression” which will send shudders down the spine of the education establishment. The next thing they know, students even might start asking meaningful questions.

Orderly and uniformed

Morally unacceptable but still a uniform

The policing of school uniforms in Thailand has been more rigorous than teaching the basic subjects. Regimenting students – uniform, hair cuts, parroting fascist slogans and inculcating hierarchical values and subservience – is, for many in the ruling class, absolutely critical for the maintenance of their privilege. It is as if policing uniforms is necessary for maintaining a moral, upright and ordered nation.

Unacceptable uniforming causes moral panic.

But even unacceptable uniforms seem superior to no uniform at all. No uniforms seems to mean the collapse of the world as the ruling class knows it.

Prachatai reports that following the first day of the Bangkok Christian College experiment, the Ministry of Education have sprung into action and want to “halt the experiment and stop other schools from copying it even though the rules say it is OK.”

No rules broken, except for the rule of hierarchy that all Thais are forced to inculcate and follow. To maintain hierarchy,

Maintaining hierarchy

The Office of the Private Education Commission (OPEC) has sent an official letter to Bangkok Christian College, a famous private school, asking it to review its initiative. Mr. Chalam Attatham, Secretary-General of OPEC, said that OPEC is worried about discipline, orderliness, the expense for parents, teachers’ responsibility, the Thai social context and social problems that might arise.

Chalerm wanted the school to restore order and maintain the hierarchy. He opined:

Bangkok Christian College must consult its board and report back to the Ministry of Education, because what students can wear in private schools still comes under the 2008 MOE Uniform Rules. We understand that the school’s executive team and teachers have consulted each other and want to do research on student uniforms for 6 weeks, but we want them to look deeper than that into what effects it will have during the experiment. After all, the MOE, if anything happens, has to reconsider this. If other private schools want to do anything, they should think carefully about the consequences of their actions. A school board has to be strong about this….

The junta’s Education Minister Teerakiat Jareonsettasin immediately jumped into the fray. After all, he knows what uniforms are about as he wears them and serves men wearing them. He reinforced the hierarchy, saying:

The reason we must have uniforms is because wearing uniforms is a matter of tradition and culture since the time of Rama V, who said that apart from setting discipline, having student uniforms narrows the gap between the rich and the poor.

Discipline, tradition, hierarchy, maintaining the social, political and economic power of the ruling class. Of course, the military knows how to deal with recalcitrant students and has, several times, violently intervened to maintain those values of the ruling class.

Students in 1976 (a Lombard photo)

The current military junta has maintained strict control of universities and has changed the curriculum in schools to maintain its “values.” This has involved “training” students with military discipline.

Controlling students

In fact, one of the junta’s tasks in “returning happiness” to the people has been to reinstate “orderliness.” Erasing challenges to the monarchy – the institution at the top of the hierarchy – has been critical. The military knows that monarchists are more submissive to the hierarchy.





Vampires and zombies

26 11 2017

A couple of days ago PPT posted on the latest death of a military recruit. Sadly, there have been many.  In that post we observed that violence is an important element of the military’s establishment of social order and, most importantly, imprints the hierarchy of power that marks the military. It creates dictators who stride the country as (illegitimate) rulers just as it crushes the lower ranks, and makes them zombies, providing obedience to the bosses no matter what their corruption or the callous orders they make.

That’s all we have to say on this because the Bangkok Post’s Kong Rithdee has an important op-ed that everyone should read. A couple of previews:

We thought this country was many things — a country of smiles, of crooks, of crooked smiles, of corrupt politicians and coup-addicted soldiers, of might and military men. Now we’re also a country of vampires….

First thing first, what the public want to see now is simple: Somebody must be suspended or sacked, then investigated by an impartial party. Somebody must be — this is so simple! — responsible. In a civilised society, we couldn’t possibly ask for anything less than this. Unless we’re not that kind of society….

And yet an even less simple thing to ask, especially when the military, the government and nearly everyone in power are almost the same people, is for the army to come to terms with the fact that too many conscripts and cadets have died in suspicious circumstances — three this year and more in the past few years — and something must be done. Unless, of course, such violence — institutional violence condoned and elevated to a point of pride — is the norm, the culture, the standard operating procedure, and death in training is not something to waste time or tears thinking about….

The worst part, however, is that such violence is really the culture…





No laughing matter

13 05 2017

The military junta has laid its bets on King Vajiralongkorn for ensuring the future of the monarchy and the system of hierarchy, privilege and wealth it underpins.

Nothing about the king can be a laughing matter.

Yet the junta knows the king is erratic and demanding, as well as odd in his demands and personal foibles. He’s also showing he’s a political neanderthal, which might be expected of a monarch, but when combined with his other traits and limited intelligence, that makes him dangerous and unpredictable.And probably not very funny.

Some of that may have said about his father, but that king was young and subject to controls by the military, mother and old princes. Once the palace propaganda was put in place for that king, in the popular imagination, he became a polymath and a savvy politician.

By the time the military was firmly in the hands of leaders who got to the top simply by their capacity for royal ego polishing, the king and palace became a locus of political power.

That’s why the dictators have been so desperate to ban and erase all of the foibles associated with Vajiralongkorn. That’s not easy when he spends a lot of time overseas, behaving oddly. Seeking a kind of Chinese firewall without the investment, the military junta is trying to bully ISPs and international corporations into doing their censorship.

Yet that is making the situation worse. Ham-fisted censorship makes a nonentity king reigning in a relatively small and unimportant country become international news of the tabloid variety.

Among a range of other channels, VICE News recently got interested, stating:

Facebook has blocked users in Thailand from accessing a video that shows the country’s king strolling through a German shopping mall wearing a crop-top revealing his distinctive tattoos, accompanied by one of his mistresses.

Asking what was in the video banned by Facebook, VICE posted it. The report states the king was filmed while shopping at:

Riem Arcaden mall in Munich on June 10, 2016….  The video shows Vajiralongkorn walking through the shopping mall, with a woman who is believed to be one of his mistresses, Sineenat Wongvajirapakdi, aka Koi. The king’s bodyguards are also visible in the video.

The junta “banned” Andrew MacGregor Marshall, Pavin Chachavalpongpun and Somsak Jeamteerasakul for posting some of this kind of material and then rushed about arresting seven people in Thailand and accused them of sharing posts or liking them when they were considered by the junta as defaming of the king. Odd that, for the king is the one dressing up as some kind of anime character and prancing about public places with a concubine.

This has caused even wider publicity to royal shenanigans and the junta’s remarkable desperation to defend the king’s “honor” and “reputation.”

The junta holds few good cards, but is betting even more of its treasure on the “protection” of the king. They prefer to show him dressed in full military uniform, accompanied by a uniformed woman who is, at least for the moment, his official consort or the No. 1 wife.

Meanwhile, in the king’s preferred home, in Germany, the publicity provided by the junta’s actions, arrests and threats to Facebook have brought considerable attention to the royal immigrant ensconced in Tutzing (when he’s in Munich).

That leads to television reports that make the king appear weird, guaranteeing even more scrutiny and sharing; exactly what the dopes at the junta think they are preventing.

Even without German, a viewer gets the message. The junta doesn’t. For them, covering up for the king is no laughing matter. It is protecting their bread and butter, and they want lots of it on their plates.





Planking for dead monarchs

6 05 2017

Planking was a short-lived fad that had dopes worldwide posting photos of themselves and others prostrated and face down in various spots and situations.

Not in Thailand, where it is an enforced “display” of “loyalty” to dead and living feudal potentates.

Activist Netiwit Chotiphatphaisal, recently elected to head the Chulalongkorn University Student Council, has said that he might campaign for students to be able to decide whether to abide by the royalist university’s demand that students prostrate themselves before the statue of King Chulalongkorn at an annual ceremony.

The idea of belly-flopping before a statue of a dead king who just happens to be the king who ruled that his subjects didn’t need to prostrate themselves, seeing the practice as feudal and uncivilized, is weird in itself. But, then, the administrators want to enforce hierarchy just like their allies in the junta.

Now Netiwit has been chastised by The Dictator, who is a big fan of the royal belly-flop.

General Prayuth Chan-ocha sent a message to Netiwit and to the Chulalongkorn administrators when he said the idea that students to be given the choice was a terrible idea. He warned: “This could tarnish the reputation of the institution…”. He referred to the royal planking as a “good tradition.” He said prostration was “charming.” Charming like torturing Army recruits, perhaps, as it maintains the appropriate social order and required hierarchy.

Good traditions, he said, need to be preserved, as they were “charms” of the country. He displayed his historical ignorance by declaring prostration a display that showed people “proud of our good history and it should be preserved.”

It would be useful if Prayuth could actually read and understand the history of King Chulalongkorn’s decision on prostration. We can help, quoting from Wikipedia:

In 1873, the Royal Siamese Government Gazette published an announcement on the abolition of prostration. In it, King Chulalongkorn declared, “The practice of prostration in Siam is severely oppressive. The subordinates have been forced to prostrate in order to elevate the dignity of the phu yai. I do not see how the practice of prostration will render any benefit to Siam. The subordinates find the performance of prostration a harsh physical practice. They have to go down on their knees for a long time until their business with the phu yai ends. They will then be allowed to stand up and retreat. This kind of practice is the source of oppression. Therefore, I want to abolish it.” The Gazette directed that, “From now on, Siamese are permitted to stand up before the dignitaries. To display an act of respect, the Siamese may take a bow instead. Taking a bow will be regarded as a new form of paying respect.”

In fact, Prayuth wants prostration for all the reasons the king abolished it.

We have no problem with Prayuth rubbing himself along the ground, but forcing others to do it is oppressive, harsh and does little to elevate his dignity.

But here’s what’s worse than this. Prayuth’s historically false claims were made “in a keynote speech at Mahidol University on the roles of Thai universities.”

That any university considers Prayuth worthy of addressing its academics and students is an insult. We are sure that does not occur to the royalist anti-democrats who control all of Thailand’s universities.

Netiwit responded: “Who is the nation’s embarrassment?” He went on to say that “in the eyes of young people like him, Prayut had tainted the country’s reputation for more than three years after staging the 2014 coup and restricting human rights.”

Netiwit added some home truths that will enrage The Dictator: “He should respect the rules of the country. If he has political ambitions, he should form a political party…. By staging the coup, he did not abide by the rules.”





Loot and hierarchy make coups

6 05 2017

Khaosod has an unusually long story on the Chinese submarines and Navy propaganda on them. It is a story worth reading on debates over submarines and the quite simplistic statements from a recently retired admiral responsible for submarines.

Yes, we know that Thailand hasn’t got subs, but the story begins: “For seven years, Adm. Suriya Pornsuriya commanded a submarine division which didn’t have a single submarine.”

Yes, indeed! Thailand has Navy officers paid to be responsible for non-existent infrastructure.

In introducing Admiral Suriya, PPT was struck by asides about his lifestyle as a recently retired official. It says a lot, in a few words, about the reasons Thailand’s military is so utterly hopeless.

Not only do senior ranks become remarkably and unusually wealthy, but they get to use lower ranks as slaves.

The report says: “now retired at 61, said from his home, which boasts its own soi and a staff of army recruits.” It continues: “Suriya spoke from the living room in one of many residences in his estate.”

Suriya owns a suburb! Many residences. Many slaves.

These are the things that every military coup protects. This is why military officers crave hierarchy. And they legitimate it by being attached to the monarchy.





A couple of corrections

26 03 2017

On a Sunday, as we read a few stories that continue to keep us glum about Thailand’s prospects for some political progress, as opposed to regression, we came across a couple of stories that appear to us to requires a little corrective attention.

The first is at Prachatai. Kornkritch Somjittranukit has a story on red shirt renegade Wuthipong Kachathamakul or Ko Tee as public enemy no. 1 for the old guys running the military junta. A couple of things bothered us a bit. One was mention of the 2009 Pattaya events without noting the role played by the Democrat Party’s Suthep Thaugsuban and his then new best friend Newin Chidchob who goaded and challenged red shirts with their own blue shirts, many of them being military and police in different clothes.

PDRC shooter

On the 2014 People’s Democratic Reform Committee (PDRC) seizure of the Lak Si District Office to prevent the 2 February election, mention is made of a “violent clash with Ko Tee and his supporters from Pathum Thani. The sound of gunfire came from both sides.” The latter is true but ignores something. After that event it was officially stated:

A police forensics director stated that his team’s investigation showed “39 shots have been fired from the position of PCAD protesters, and 3 shots from the direction of pro-election protesters.”

The second story is at the Bangkok Post. Editor Umesh Pandey briefly recounts the actions taken over the past few years as pro-Thaksin election winners were ditched, missing the important 2008 judicial coup. What bothered us was the headline, “Army needs to learn to be neutral.”

While the article doesn’t exactly amount that, the idea that the military could be neutral is baffling in the extreme. The military is now, after more than half a century of pro-monarchy and pro-elite military is firmly attached to the side of privilege, hierarchy, wealth and repression.





More militarization

2 01 2017

The militarization of politics is a seemingly a worldwide trend. In Thailand, of course, it has been the norm for more than eight decades. Thailand’s military dictatorship has seen the military brass in charge of pretty much everything.

Military men in Thailand are not known for their intelligence. Rather, they are characterized by their dimwitted approach to anything challenging, their unbridled capacity for murderous action against opponents and their jellybacked contortions in the hierarchical society they have shaped.

With this in mind, PPT always gets wondering when a relatively new jellyback begins to get lippy on politics and the military. It might be just because it is new year, but PPT couldn’t help but notice a series of Bangkok Post reports all citing Army chief General Chalermchai Sitthisart. Why is he suddenly talking and considered newsworthy? What do his bosses in the junta think about this?

The first story is the most unlikely, but suggestive of the potential for conflict within the military. Yes, we know that the story is sold as the Army chief wanting to reduce conflict within the military brass, but the opposite seems more likely. Chalermchai states that he “adheres to the merit system, a mechanism employed to prevent problems associated with frustration over promotions seen as unfair by some.”

No Army commander has ever used a merit system, so this will upset the existing cliques, including the murderous “Burapha Phayak (Tigers of the East) … the faction of army officers who had served at the 2nd Infantry Division of the Queen’s Guard based in Prachin Buri” and the Wong Thewan faction that links to the “1st Division of the King’s Guard in Bangkok.”

Officers trained in quelling domestic political passions and ass-licking in palace circles will find the notion of “merit” threatening. Our guess is that Chalermchai may be seeking to limit the promotions of those officers considered close to the king.

The second story relates to “southern unrest.” He predicts a decline in violence over the next couple of years. However, his reasons for this claim are unclear. We wonder how he feels about the coordinating role of General Udomdej Sitabutr, a former Army boss, to run things in the south? Chalermchai’s position is likely undermined. Not unrelated, the conflict in the south is a huge money spinner for the Army, and this move involving Udomdej may siphon those funds elsewhere.

The third story is the most bizarre. General Chalermchai is reported to have “expressed confidence no coup would be staged to challenge the election results no matter who wins, saying the rules would be respected.” PPT had not heard any rumors of a potential coup, so we wonder why Chalermchai was motivated to speak?

In addition, the result of the junta’s “election,” now more likely in 2018 than 2017, is not in doubt. The junta will not allow a result it does not want and desire. So, who in the Army would be dissatisfied with the outcome? Who are the junta’s military opponents?

As it turns out, his response was to a question about what the Army would do if “the old political clique [a pro-Thaksin party] won a mandate to form a government.” That is simply not going to happen, so Chalermchai’s response is more than necessary. Why’s that?

He did go on to warn about political discontent: “It is useless to create trouble because it could give a reason to the NCPO [the junta] to extend the roadmap.”

It is always troubling when military types begin talking about coups and politics. Their heavy boots trample all and when more than one set of boots is dancing, many others risk being trodden on and being bumped aside.