No impeachment for MPs acting legally

15 08 2015

The puppet National Legislative Assembly has managed a collective decision that makes some sense. The puppets have been engaged in a process to consider the impeachment of 248 former members of the previous elected House of Representatives.

The allegation made by the politicized National Anti-Corruption Commission was that the MPs had somehow broken the law by amending the 2007 Constitution regarding the make-up of the Senate.  Of course, under the constitution, they were entitled to do this.

The majority of puppets voted not to impeach the former MPs, because “[i]t was their view that the former MPs had the right to amend the Constitution.” They are right.

The decision is not so remarkable when it is considered that “38 former senators had previously survived impeachment on the same grounds, so the same standard should apply.”

The puppets have sought to separate those considered critical elements of the “Thaksin regime” and others associated with the Thaksin’s parties. Thus they did earlier impeach three former Minister of Commerce Boonsong Teriyapirom, former Deputy Minister of Commerce Poom Sarapol and former Director of the Department of Foreign Trade Manus Soiploy for involvement in the rice subsidy scheme. Significantly, Yingluck Shinawatra was also impeached over this scheme. She faces criminal charges.





Military “solidarity”

10 02 2015

The Bangkok Post has a report that indicates that the military dictatorship feels most comfortable when dealing with military types. The dictators seem to think that no military man or woman anywhere in the world can have different views and that they will be sympathetic to Thailand’s junta.

Military intelligenceThe junta has stated that it “will invite all foreign military attaches based in Thailand for a briefing on Wednesday…”. Remarkably, this invitation is said to originate from the walking, talking oxymoron that is “the army’s intelligence department.”

It should be a very, very small department. However, we guess it is stuffed with rather dull royalist officers and other sycophants who have never had a critical thought.

The briefing session will allegedly provide information on Yingluck Shinawatra’s impeachment, consideration of her travel request and the bombings … near Siam Paragon…”. It is revealed that other topics discussed “will include the arrest of a suspect last week for spreading a forged statement on the [k]ing’s health, the summoning of political figures and academics to report to military officials, and the need to uphold martial law.”

Any serious military attache would already know what these dolts will trot out.





Doubling down

10 02 2015

The quiet struggle between the Thaksin Shinawatra clan and its supporters and the military dictatorship is heavily weighted in favor of the latter. After all, the military junta has lots of armed soldiers, control of the police and has plenty of overcrowded prisons. In addition, it has the courts, the puppet assemblies and so on.

There has been talk of a “deal” being negotiated between Thaksin and the junta. Yellow-shirted ideologues see bombs, student demonstrations and anti-monarchy activism as being the weapons of Thaksin and his clan. They might also see the military dictatorship’s increasing screwing down of red shirts and others as and example of the junta responding.

We could believe this. After all, Thaksin has been a skilled negotiator. That said, each “deal” that has been said to have been done in the past has ended badly for Thaksin. Think of the “deal” undone by the amnesty debacle.

In this context, the continuing attacks on the Thaksin clan seems to us at PPT to be more likely to be an example of the military seeking to expunge that group – something it was accused of failing to do following the 2006 putsch.

Khaosod reports that the politicized National Anti-Corruption Commission has decided it “will prosecute former Prime Minister Somchai Wongsawat and his deputies [former Deputy Prime Minister Chavalit Yongchaiyudh, and ‘some more Cabinet members’] for authorizing a crackdown on Yellowshirt protesters in October 2008.”

On 7 October 2008 the Somchai government “ordered police to clear Yellowshirt [People’s Alliance for Democracy] protesters who were blocking the entrance to Parliament and calling on Somchai to resign. Two people were killed…”.

As far as PPT can recall, with the help of Wikipedia, only one protester died in the skirmishes between police and a violent PAD. The second “protester” blew himself up in a car bomb gone wrong. The “investigation” involved the use of GT200 magic wands by royalist forensic “scientist” Pornthip Rojanasunand, who simply decided that the woman killed was hit by a police tear gas canister.

But the point is to punish. A spokesperson for the NACC says that it has a ton of “evidence,” and “that the agency will prosecute Somchai and his deputies in the Supreme Court’s Division for Holders of Political Office,” charged with “abuse of power.”

The NACC is pushing this case “because the Office of Attorney-General declined to take the case…”.

The queen, when she was still politically active, attended the funeral of the victim and praised her.

What has the NACC done to investigate the murder of red shirts by the military in 2010?

In line with the doubling down on the Thaksin clan, The Bangkok Post reports that a request “by former prime minister Yingluck Shinawatra to travel abroad will take a long time to process…”. More pressure is applied to her after the ridiculous “impeachment.”

The junta says it “must be careful when considering her travel requests, to avoid affecting legal proceedings…”. Of course, all they are doing is squeezing her and her clan.

The Dictator, General Prayuth Chan-ocha, appears to be promoting the doubling down. He wants to expunge popular politicians, probably so that his men and women can win any future “election.”





Tinpot dictatorship

8 02 2015

The Financial Times acknowledges that the military dictatorship is exactly that:

No one can harbour illusions about the generals who seized power last May with the claim of restoring harmony to Thailand’s long-fractious political scene. It is now crystal clear, if it was not from the very outset, that the coup leaders are part of the problem, not part of the solution.

It acknowledges that The Dictator “General Prayuth Chan-ocha and his fellow military men have imposed a dictatorship only too willing to use the powers of the state to silence critics.” Like so many others the FT seems to have hoped that a bunch of ill-educated and murderous generals would “restore democracy” to Thailand. It acknowledges that:

… this seems to be the last thing on the junta’s mind. Rather, the suspicion is it wants to stay in power long enough to oversee the delicate business of royal succession when King Bhumibol Adulyadej, ailing and 87, eventually dies. At the very least, it seeks to recast the rules such that politicians it considers irresponsibly populist can never be elected again. It is a vision of “managed democracy” that the harder-line generals in Myanmar would fully understand.

On the attempts to yet again destroy Thailand’s most popular political party, the FT acknowledges that in its “impeachment” process, “the military government has dealt in anecdote and innuendo. So far, it has not proved the scheme was anything other than a policy it did not like. This looks like political vengeance, not the rule of law.”

The FT also acknowledges that the junta is fixing the political game in its own and its supporters’ interests: “The generals’ hopes to influence the course of future democratic exercises through fixing the rules are shabby and unworkable.”

The FT says its supporters are “the elite and business community who argue that it has restored stability.” Fascist regimes always bring stability through oppression, but it is, as the FT says, a ruse: “stability built on repression is no stability at all.”





On The Economist and “sensitive” and “risky” content

30 01 2015

On 27 January, PPT mentioned an article in The Economist  on lese majeste that is only available on its website. Titled “The royal road to ruin,” it argues that the “strict lèse-majesté laws pose the gravest threat to free expression.”

We have now updated that post to include the whole article.the-economist-logo

Prachatai now reports that “The Economist emailed its subscribers in Thailand on Friday that it has decided not to distribute the 31 January issue in Thailand due to ‘sensitive content’ which results in ‘potential risk to our distributors’.” It is said that the issue contains the said article “The royal road to ruin.” However, The Economist’s website still lists this as a web-only article.

We are guessing that the articles in question may relate to two other articles, so we reproduce those here, hoping that the publisher understands that we are doing this to make their articles more widely available. Perhaps the only commentary to make is to note that The Economist seems to underestimate the military dictatorship’s repression and its fascism:

Thaksin times
Thailand’s coup-makers punish two former prime ministers

LESS than two years ago Thaksin Shinawatra, a former prime minister of Thailand and something of an establishment outsider, appeared to be winning his bitter battle against the traditional elites in Bangkok, the capital. They, led by the army, had toppled Mr Thaksin in a coup in 2006. But Pheu Thai, the party he directs from self-imposed exile in Dubai, rocketed back to power in 2011 with his sister, Yingluck, at the helm. And in November 2013 Ms Yingluck’s government promised a blanket amnesty wiping out a corruption charge preventing Mr Thaksin from returning.

The pledge proved a colossal mistake, for it galvanised Mr Thaksin’s enemies. Last May Ms Yingluck was ousted by the constitutional court and, shortly after, the army seized power in another coup. And in recent weeks the prospects for Mr Thaksin and his political movement have darkened greatly, perhaps irrevocably. On January 23rd the generals’ rubber-stamp parliament retrospectively impeached Ms Yingluck, banning her from politics; she also faces criminal charges. Her party has begged its “red shirt” supporters not to protest, for fear of giving the junta an excuse to prolong its rule. Yet the generals seem bent on eradicating the influence of Mr Thaksin, who has dominated Thailand’s political discourse since he first swept to power in 2001.

Ms Yingluck’s impeachment—ostensibly for failing to tackle fraud made possible by a costly rice-subsidy scheme—marks a new phase in the army’s rule. Right after last year’s coup, General Prayuth Chan-ocha and his fellow officers said they favoured reconciliation over revenge. By and large, elected politicians of all hues co-operated with the army, leaving journalists, academics and other activists to suffer most under martial law (a large number of dissidents are thought to be in jail). But the persecution of Ms Yingluck suggests that “the gloves are starting to come off”, says Daniel Giles of Vriens & Partners, a political consultancy. The criminal case against Ms Yingluck could mean ten years in jail—a threat that, the generals perhaps hope, will encourage her to flee the country.

Moral disorder
Whatever the generals think, smashing Yingluck Shinawatra and her brother is no cure for Thailand’s ills

FOR 15 years Thaksin Shinawatra has dominated Thai politics—and for most of that time the country’s generals and their supporters around the ailing king have tried to destroy him. The populist billionaire fled into exile two years after a coup deposed him in 2006, but his sister, Yingluck, still won an election in 2011 and ruled as his proxy, with Mr Thaksin pulling the strings from Dubai. But she was ousted last May in a constitutional wrangle—and soon afterwards the army took over. Now rampant abuses stemming from a rice subsidy programme that was overseen by her government, have led to a sham impeachment of her. Criminal charges will follow.

This time, finally, the generals and courtiers may have cornered the Shinawatras…. Ms Yingluck is in effect a hostage in negotiations with Mr Thaksin, whose position has weakened. He has lost the backing of Thailand’s crown prince, while a purge in the police force has weakened a key bastion of his support. Mr Thaksin may now sacrifice his political ambitions to safeguard his family and fortune. Some Thais will cheer, longing for calm after years of political stand-offs and street protests that often spilled into violence. But the junta’s determination to abolish democratic politics spells trouble, probably the bloody kind, in the future. It should think again.

The worst form of government, except for all the others

There was much to fault in the way Mr Thaksin ran his country, both before and after he fled abroad to avoid a jail sentence for abuse of power. With support from a poor, rural heartland in the north and north-east, neither he nor his sister paid enough heed to the interests of Bangkok’s middle classes or the southern provinces. In office Mr Thaksin favoured his own considerable business interests and weakened public institutions. He was a Berlusconi with less of the bunga-bunga. Appallingly, in 2003-04 he ordered an extrajudicial assassination programme that killed thousands of supposed drug dealers. His sister was less authoritarian but also less competent.

And yet the Thaksinite governments were probably no more corrupt than their predecessors were. Crucially, the Shinawatras did much to transform the lives of some of the country’s worse off. They built country roads, boosted education and provided health care for the poor. The old elites resented this, not least because they liked to think of the king traditionally atop an ordered hierarchy with deferential peasants at the bottom grateful for royal charity. Without putting it in so many words, Mr Thaksin implicitly challenged that dispensation, and a majority of Thais approved. But soon after he or his loyalists were back in office, the political stand-offs and the street violence would resume.

Last May the generals intervened to break the dismal cycle, claiming impartiality. They spoke of reconciliation and tried to start discussions with Mr Thaksin. But recently they have changed their minds, perhaps to please the establishment around the court of the old king. Impeaching Yingluck is only part of it. The generals are drawing up a constitution designed to keep populist parties like Mr Thaksin’s Pheu Thai from power. They intend to rule for as long as it takes to restore a supposed moral order.

This will do Thailand no good. The lesson of the past 15 years is that ever more Thais want a say in their country. Banishing the Shinawatras will not change that. The West should make clear to the generals that a constitution that bans Thailand’s most successful party from power is a step backwards. If they still go ahead, military ties should be broken. The era of Thaksin may be ending; but the democracy that he so imperfectly represented is Thailand’s only hope.





Yingluck’s demise

27 01 2015

There’s not a lot that is new in academic Kevin Hewison’s op-ed on the impeachment of Yingluck Shinawatra, but a few things worth highlighting. His article at The Conversation begins:

No-one should be surprised that Thailand’s former prime minister, Yingluck Shinawatra, has been impeached by the military-appointed National Legislative Assembly. This was one more act in a political tragedy in which elected politicians have been repeatedly defeated by the military and judiciary.

… These events were scripted, directed and produced by the military junta. Perhaps the only surprise was that Yingluck defended herself, her government and electoral democracy.

He points out that the “impeachment” was a “show trial”:

An unelected assembly, packed with generals and Yingluck’s political opponents, threw out an elected politician who had already been sacked by the Constitutional Court before the May 2014 coup. That putsch – itself illegal – ejected the elected government, scrapped the 2007 constitution and set its own rules to retroactively impeach Yingluck from a position she no longer held.

Hewison mentions Thaksin’s demise in 2006:

Not unlike her brother’s situation when he was ousted by a coup in 2006, it was Yingluck’s electoral popularity that brought her downfall. Thailand’s political elite is suspicious of elected politicians and fears that “populist” policies threaten its social, economic and political control.

On the military:

… the military wants to continue to steer political developments. There’s a good chance that the coup leader, General Prayuth Chan-ocha, will stay on as prime minister after elections….

The junta hopes that the final act in this political drama will be an election where the result will at least be a royalist and pro-military government and more likely a military-dominated one.

Whatever the outcome, it won’t be a democratic regime.





Soldiers and the destruction of politics

26 01 2015

Bangladesh is not the place one would normally consider when looking for a critique of Thailand’s military. However, Syed Badrul Ahsan, a journalist, current affairs commentator and columnist at bdnews24.com, advertised as Bangladesh’s first all online newspaper, is worth reading.

Entitled “When soldiers occupy their own countries,” the article begins:

The army-picked parliament in Thailand has impeached deposed prime minister Yingluck Shinawatra. She will not be able to take part in politics for the next five years. Worse, she now faces the threat of criminal charges being brought against her. Her ‘crime’ is as simple as it is innocent: her government gave subsidies to farmers, who have been greatly benefited by the gesture…. [B]oth Yingluck and her brother Thaksin … reached out to the underprivileged. Because they did, and despite the electoral mandate they received at the polling stations, they have paid a price.

Part of the fallout is that the army “calls the shots in Bangkok.” The author points out:

That is not surprising, given that the country has had a history of being commandeered by its soldiers in fair regularity. Add to that history the overwhelming, unquestioned place of the monarchy in Thai life. No one questions the king or the royal family, for to do so would amount to committing lese majeste. Democracy must conform to some less than democratic norms in Bangkok. Of course, the army reserves the right to step in whenever it feels it should….

The military’s pernicious role in Pakistan and Bangladesh is then discussed and the lessons expressed:

You go into the history of nations which have had the misfortune of seeing their democratic experiments thwarted by the military at given points in time…. What has happened in Pakistan and Bangladesh and now in Thailand is a malady which has consistently enervated the process of democracy in our times.

Admitting that there might be some exceptions to the rule, the author says:

It is the general legacy of military take-overs in countries around the globe which has been distressing. Soldiers demolished the elected government of Salvador Allende in Chile in 1973. In Burma, General Ne Win ousted the government of Prime Minister U Nu in 1962, a feat repeated by his uniformed successors in 1988. A clutch of colonels caused a scandal in Greece when they seized the state in a coup in 1967 and would not go until they were forced out in 1974.

And, yes, what has happened in Thailand is a scandal its soldiers cannot live down. When military officers care little about the primacy of democracy and worry not at all about the ramifications of an overthrow of governments resting on massive public support, they only cause a haemorrhaging of the structure of the state. Citizens hang their heads low in deep embarrassment.

In Bangkok, says the author:

the humiliation is not Yingluck Shinawatra’s. It is that of General Prayuth Chan-ocha. It is that of a monarchy which tolerates no criticism of it, but conveniently looks the other way when the will of the people is denied, defied, and defiled in all the brazenness of ruthless ambition.





In the parallel universe

26 01 2015

As PPT mentioned in a post yesterday, Yingluck Shinawatra denounced her show trial and retrospective impeachment. She made a call for true democracy and rule of law.

Fat chance under the royalist military dictatorship, yet her’s was a statement that seemed one of principles.

This is not the case for the Puea Thai Party, where principles seem lost and difficult to find.

Khaosod reports that a “top legal adviser to the … Party [Singthong Buachum] says he hopes the military junta will grant amnesty to … Yingluck…”.

Singthong helpfully told the military dictatorship that the “Pheu Thai Party would not mobilize its supporters to protest the impeachment or any other verdict against Yingluck.”

Is that simply throwing her to the military wolves? Maybe, but it is also in line with the gormless statements by Thaksin Shinawatra and Somchai Wongsawat in recent days.

Like them, Singthong babbled: “We want the NCPO [he means the military junta] and the government [he means the military dictatorship] to help Thailand move forward…”.

Yingluck’s statement that “Thai democracy is dead, along with the rule of law,” is entirely accurate. Singthong must be working in the parallel universe that is about clandestine elite deal-making.





International media reaction to Yingluck’s impeachment

25 01 2015

Here’s a short list of the international media reports on the military dictatorship’s impeachment of Yingluck Shinawatra. Some of them will be agency reports repeated in different outlets:

The Guardian – ‎Jan 23, 2015: Yingluck Shinawatra banned from Thai politics and faces charges

YingluckABC Online – ‎Jan 22, 2015‎: Former Thai PM Yingluck Shinawatra impeached, banned from politics for 5 years

TIME – ‎Jan 22, 2015‎: Former Thai PM Yingluck Shinawatra Impeached by Junta-Backed Legislature

The Australian – ‎Jan 23, 2015‎: Junta to impeach Thailand ex-PM

CNN – ‎Jan 22, 2015‎: Thai lawmakers vote to impeach former PM Yingluck Shinawatra

Fortune – ‎Jan 23, 2015‎: Ex-Thai PM Yingluck impeached by junta-backed lawmakers

Bloomberg – ‎Jan 22, 2015‎: Thailand’s Military Junta Impeaches and Bans Former Prime Minister Yingluck

FRANCE 24 – ‎Jan 22, 2015‎: Thai legislature votes to impeach former PM Yingluck

Huffington Post – ‎Jan 22, 2015‎: Yingluck Shinawatra, Former Thai Prime Minister, Impeached And Banned

The Independent – ‎Jan 23, 2015: Former Thai PM Yingluck Shinawatra impeached over rice subsidy scheme

Wall Street Journal – ‎Jan 23, 2015‎: Yingluck Found Guilty in Thai Impeachment Hearing

New York Times – ‎Jan 23, 2015‎:  In Targeting Ex-Premier, Thai Junta Takes a Risk

The Japan Times – ‎Jan 23, 2015: Impeached Thai ex-premier Yingluck says democracy is dead

euronews – ‎Jan 23, 2015: Thailand: Army urges respect for Yingluck Shinawatra impeachment

Sputnik International – ‎Jan 22, 2015‎: Thai MPs Vote to Impeach Former PM Yingluck Shinawatra

New York Times – ‎Jan 22, 2015‎: Former Thai Leader Impeached, Reawakening Tensions

The Japan Times – ‎Jan 23, 2015‎: Thai ex-leader Yingluck impeached, facing corruption charges

Irish Independent – ‎Jan 23, 2015‎: Ex-Thai PM Yingluck to be impeached

Gant Daily – ‎Jan 22, 2015‎: Thai lawmakers vote to impeach former Prime Minister Yingluck Shinawatra

Yahoo News – ‎Jan 23, 2015: Impeached ex-Thai PM decries ‘death of democracy’

Rappler – ‎Jan 22, 2015‎: Thai ex-PM Yingluck impeached, faces criminal charges

teleSUR English – ‎Jan 23, 2015‎: Thai Government Votes to Impeach Former Prime Minister

Sydney Morning Herald – ‎Jan 23, 2015‎: Yingluck Shinawatra, Thailand’s former prime minister, lashes out at military

SBS – ‎Jan 23, 2015‎: Thai parliament impeaches ex-PM Yingluck





Further updated: Punishing Yingluck

23 01 2015

PPT has read several articles, social media sources and received several emails about The military’s puppet Assembly (predictably) voting to impeach former Prime Minister Yingluck Shinawatra. No links to the sources, just a cut-and-paste.

Yingluck was impeached for being elected prime minister. The puppets and a legion of royalists say it was about her lack of oversight on her government’s rice subsidy, but her real “crime” for them was her popularity and for being Thaksin’s sister.

The vote is one “partisan action aimed at crippling the political machine founded by her brother, Thaksin Shinawatra, another ousted Prime Minister.” Other partisan actions will produce a constitution that will be anti-Thaksin, anti-democratic and anti-election.

Yingluck will be banned from politics for five years, but that is not enough for some, with the partisan Attorney General’s Office will “indict her on criminal charges for negligence related to losses and alleged corruption in the rice program.” That could lead to 10 years in jail. That may not be enough for others who will seek to drive her into exile.

Academic Kevin Hewison commented that the:

banning represents a show of confidence by the junta, which feels that it has broken the back of the Pheu Thai Party and the Red Shirt movement. It also allows the junta to reassert its anti-Thaksin credentials with the pro-royalist street movement that paved the way for the coup…. With Yingluck banned and Thaksin in exile, the military junta and its appointed bodies will feel more confident in gradually preparing the way for an election, probably in 2016. They will be more confident that they can be heavy-handed in changing the political rules to prevent any pro-Thaksin party having any chance to do well electorally.

Yingluck cancelled “a scheduled news conference because the military authorities had expressed concern that it might violate martial law.” She had already denied the charges and pointed to the essential unfairness of the process that was put in place and managed by her political opponents. Yingluck pointed to “a hidden agenda under an unjust practice, and [said it] is a political agenda.”

Yes, political, but hardly hidden!

She rightly pointed out that all these agencies “lacked the legitimacy to judge her because the junta terminated the constitution when it took power on May 22.”

Yingluck made some commentsat Facebook, saying she expected the Assembly to impeach her.

The idea that she can be impeached when she doesn’t hold a single position anywhere, having been thrown out just before the coup by the politicized Constitutional Court is reflective of bizarre royalist Thailand.

She stated that she insisted on her innocence. She added: “I am confident in my innocence.” Yingluck observed that “Thai democracy has died, along with the rule of law.”

She says she feels depressed because the “Thai people … have to return to the cycle of poverty, being taken advantage of and having lost the most fundamental democracy, as well as suffering the distortion of the law.”

Yingluck pledged to continue to fight to prove her innocence. She added: “… I will stand by the Thai people. We have to join forces in bringing prosperity and progress to the nation, bring back democracy and create the true fairness in the Thai society.”

Anti-democrats welcomed the pre-ordained decision.

Akanat Promphan, on his Facebook page, made inane statements about the “bravery” of the puppet Assembly, ethics and morals. He’s clearly lost his moral compass.

Update 1: The unofficial translation of Yingluck’s statement is available at the Puea Thai Party site.

Update 2: As noted above, the Attorney General has also decided to go after Yingluck, with the aim of tying her up in the courts or even in jail for months and years to come. She’s not the only one in the Shinawatra clan who is targeted. While PPT was recently disgusted by the political toadying of Somchai Wongsawat, the military dictatorship seems to have taken little notice, and the National Anti-Corruption Commission has launched a “lawsuit against former prime minister Somchai … and three others [Gen Chavalit Yongchaiyudh, a former deputy prime minister, Pol Gen Patcharawat Wongsuwon, the former police chief, and Pol Lt Gen Suchart Muankaew, the former Metropolitan Police chief] over the 2008 crackdown on People’s Alliance for Democracy protestors.” The Supreme Court is to decide whether to hear the case. The royalist elite certainly seems keen to punish those it sees as elite traitors.








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