Masters of repression I

14 07 2021

Thai Lawyers for Human Rights have published their June update. It makes for sorry reading, from using the virus emergency decree for political repression to the use of lese majeste against political activists.

According to the TLHR “at least 695 people in 374 cases have already been affected as a result of their political involvement and opinions since the ‘Free Youth’ rally on 18 July 2020 until the end of June 2021.” This includes “43 youths of under 18 years old…”.

In total, lese majeste charges have now been laid against more than 100 people.

Contempt of court and insulting the court cases case have grown. For the former, there have been at least 18 people in 14 cases “for participating in assemblies criticizing the judiciary since the Free Youth Rally until the end of May 2021.” Strikingly, “the Court can conduct a contempt trial and pass a judgment directly bypassing the investigation or prosecution process.”

TLHR also reports that the courts have routinely “imposed overly strict measures in courtrooms, including limiting the number of audience or requiring a preapproved permission. In all trials, the Court forbade notetaking claiming it was to keep order.” Such measures “were likely to undermine the principle of a free and fair trial.”

In addition to court and judicial processes, TLHR states that “[s]tate authorities continuously monitor and harass people who posted monarchy-related content and political activists…”. In June alone, the “authorities approached least 18 citizens who expressed monarchy-related or political opinions at their homes. These incidents occurred in all of the regions of the country…”.

TLHR also found that “at least 511 people in 162 cases had been accused of breaching the Emergency Decree provisions…”.

The regime may not be very good at virus mitigation, but it is highly skilled in acts of political repression.





Trampling legal rights

27 06 2021

Our readers will know that the royalist courts have, for some time, abandoned most pretenses of so-called blind justice, observing the constitution, or even following the law as it is written. But the (in)justice system extends further than the courts.

A recent statement by Thai Lawyers for Human Rights discusses breaches of confidential attorney-client by the Department of Corrections.no-justice

On 16 June 2021, Parit Chiwarak “raised his concern regarding the practice of eavesdropping on confidential attorney-client conversations in prison and proposed that … [a Parliamentary] Committee launches an inspection on the Department of Corrections’ conduct.”

Immediately, Corrections Department director-general Ayut Sinthoppan responded that:

Section 9(5) of the Rules of the Department of Corrections on Visit, Contact with Prisoners, and Study Visit to or Contact with Prison, B.E. 2561 (2018) clearly prescribes that an external party authorized to visit or contact prisoners must consent to have prison officials listen to their conversations, take photos and audio recordings, cut off communication if the conversation is considered inappropriate.

He added that “if a lawyer wants to keep the conversation with a prisoner confidential, they must inform a prison official.”

TLHR considered this statement as “an admission that the prison has been using its authority under the Department of Corrections’ rules to eavesdrop and record most conversations between attorneys and their clients in prison” and that “confidentiality is only occasionally permitted as a rare exception.”

TLHR observed that this is a serious “violation of the right to access counsel per Article 14 of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (ICCPR),” to which Thailand is a State Party and has obligations to comply with the ICCPR’s provisions. Furthermore, it contradicts Section 7/1(1) of Thailand’s Criminal Procedure Code, which guarantees the rights of the arrested and suspects in detention or imprisonment to meet and consult with their lawyer tête-à-tête.

In addition, Article 61 of the Corrections Act B.E. 2560 (2017) states, “The prison shall arrange a place for prisoners to have a tête-à-tête meeting and consultation with their lawyer or persons to be appointed as their lawyer as specified in the rules of the Department of Corrections.” This provision ensures the right to meet a lawyer confidentially without imposing any restrictions on such a right.

Furthermore, the Rules of the Department of Corrections on Visit, Contact with Prisoners, and Study Visit to or Contact with Prison, B.E. 2561 (2018), which is a subordinate law, provide separate rules for external parties and lawyers. Section 9 in Part 1 allows the Department of Corrections to record the conversations between the external parties and prisoners. In contrast, Part 2 did not grant the same power in the case of attorney-prisoner communications. Section 19 states that the rules in Part 1 could be enforced mutatis mutandis. Nonetheless, it is still illegal to record attorney-prisoner conversations because that rule violates Article 61 of the Corrections Act B.E. 2560 (2017), whose status is higher than the Department of Corrections’ Rules in the legal hierarchy.

“Eavesdropping on attorney-client conversations does not only violate the right to fair trial and Article 61 of the Corrections Act B.E. 2560 (2017). It also seriously jeopardizes the entire justice system. The statement from the Director-General of the Department of Corrections, which cited Rules of the Department of Corrections on Visit, Contact with Prisoners, and Study Visit to or Contact with Prison, B.E. 2561 (2018), is unacceptable. The right to have confidential access to a lawyer is a fundamental principle of criminal law, which could not be precluded as an exception under any Rules. It also should not be the lawyer’s duty to request for the guarantee of this right.

Therefore, TLHR calls for the Minister of Justice, Lawyers Council of Thailand, National Human Rights Commission, and other relevant agencies to investigate this matter and take steps to amend the said Rules because any persons facing a charge must be entitled to their right to consult with their lawyer confidentially. If the justice system could not guarantee this right, such a failure could adversely impact their ability to fight the lawsuit, hindering their full ability to defend themselves in court effectively,” said Yaowalak Anupan, Chief of TLHR.

Thai Lawyers for Human Rights

18 June 2021





Still on the lam

16 06 2021

The 2012 hit-and-run case involving tycoon scion Vorayuth “Boss” Yoovidhya of Red Bull fame, when he killed a policeman while driving his luxury sports car while intoxicated is back in the news.

The Bangkok Post recently reported that, after all these years, the National Anti-Corruption Commission (NACC) is considering whether it mightlaunch an inquiry against at least 10 people for their alleged role in delaying justice…”. That means those officials who helped Boss and his associates tamper with witnesses and smooth his escape from the country to enjoy the high life on the lam.

It is not the NACC that has been investigating. According to spokesman Niwatchai Kasemmongkol it is the findings of an:

independent panel headed by former NACC member Vicha Mahakun [that] indicated a number of people, including several police officers and public prosecutors, played a big role in getting prosecutors to drop criminal charges against Mr Vorayuth.

That report was “taken up by a NACC sub-committee, which in turn recommended the NACC to launch a more detailed investigation into individuals which the Vicha panel believed had intentionally acted to derail the justice process.”

That’s the report. Will it do anything? Or is it just another stalling tactic? After all, as everyone knows, Vorayuth and his lawyers repeatedly postponed his court appearances before he fled abroad.

Vorayuth Red Bull

An AFP photo clipped from ChannelNews Asia

While Vorayuth was on the lam, “a speeding charge against him was dropped after its one-year statute of limitations expired in 2013…. Meanwhile, a second charge — failing to stop to help a crash victim — expired on Sept 3, 2017.”

Only a cocaine use charge and a reckless driving causing death charges remain. The former expires in September 2022 and the latter in 2027. Previously, the Office of the Attorney General had recommended dropping the reckless driving charge. It was the public outcry over that that saw Vicha’s panel put together.

Somehow, we feel that justice will never be served. In Thailand, for the rich, justice and injustice are commodities.





Penguin and Ammy bailed

12 05 2021

Prachatai reports the good news that the Criminal Court approved bail requests for activist Parit Chiwarak – Penguin – and singer Chaiamorn Kaewwiboonpan – Ammy the Bottom Blues.

The court issued a press release stating that:

Penguin and Rung

Parit with Panusaya in an earlier photo. Clipped from The Nation

the pair were released on Tuesday on a security of 400,000 baht for Parit and 250,000 baht for Chaiamorn on condition that they report to the court as assigned, they do not commit, or attend any activity that may cause public disorder or damage the institution of the monarchy, and they do not travel abroad without the court’s permission.

According to the report:

Parit’s bail security covered in equal amounts 2 cases from his participation in the protests on 19 September 2020 and 14-15 November 2020. 200,000 baht of the security for Chaiamorn covered the 19 September protest and 50,000 baht covered the case of setting fire to the King’s portrait at Klong Prem Prison.

Bail was granted at 18.20, some three hours after the court finished its hearing of the applications for Chaiamorn and Parit. Such delays continue to suggest that the courts are taking orders from elsewhere.

Ammy

An earlier photo of Ammy

Parit has been in pre-trial detention “for 92 days before being released on bail at the tenth attempt.” He had been on a hunger strike for 57 days, protesting the refusal of bail.

Chaiamorn had been detained for 69 days and released on his eighth bail application.

Penguin was released from the prison hospital. Prior to that “police officers from Mueang Roi Et Police Station showed up to arrest him on another charge. The lawyers managed to secure 200,000-baht police bail.”

In addition to the charges on which he bailed, Parit faces at least another 20 more lese majeste charges.





Justice denied

1 05 2021

Wasant Techawongtham at the Bangkok Post has a direct and useful op-ed on the (in)justice system and the contortions required of judges who ignore law and constitution. It is worth reading in full. Here are some bits we think need emphasis.

A request for bail for pro-democracy protesters languishing in jail was rejected for the ninth time on Thursday.

Oddly, the decision by an Appeal Court judge was delivered after hours in one terse sentence as a throng of angry young protesters gathered on the steps of the court house.

One imagines that the delay was caused by the judge needing to get his orders, and we suspect that those orders were considered at the very highest level.

No justice

A number of legal experts have watched the cases with dismay. The infringement of the jailed activists’ rights and the court’s multiple bail denials trouble them.

On bail:

Prinya Thaewanarumitkul, a law professor and a vice rector of Thammasat University, argues that denying bail for cases still pending trial should be the exception, not the norm.

According to the constitution and Article 107 of the Criminal Code, an accused must be assumed innocent during a trial and granted bail unless conditions exist as stipulated by Article 108/1.

Said conditions include: (1) if the accused poses a flight risk; (2) if the accused could interfere with witnesses or evidence; (3) if the accused poses harmful threats; (4) if bail guarantors or bonds are not trustworthy; and (5) if temporary release poses obstacles or harm to ongoing official investigations.

Other reasons often cited to deny bail, such as the charges in question incurring severe penalties, the accused’s conduct is serious, or the accused could repeat the offences, if released, do not fall within the parameters of the law.

Wasant refers to “practices used by the authorities against the jailed protesters [that] are disturbing“:

…Posting a prison official in the room where the lawyer and his client discuss their case is evidently beyond the pale.

Breaches of lawyer-client privilege even took place within the court room as officials insisted on inspecting documents passed between the lawyers and their clients.

One of the most troubling developments … is the barring of all persons, including the mothers and close relatives, except the lawyers and their clients from the court room in recent hearings.

He goes on to refer to “”legal shambles,”the “oppressive weight of an unfair system bent on breaking their spirits and subjugating them…”. It is a system that is unable to dispense justice.





Free Penguin and Rung

26 04 2021

Tyrell Haberkorn and Thongchai Winichakul of the University of Wisconsin-Madison have a call for the release on bail of political prisoners Parit “Penguin” Chiwarak and Panusaya “Rung” Sithijirawattanakul. It is at NikkeiAsia. Read it in full.

Clipped from The Nation

The two have “gone on hunger strike while being detained ahead of their trials in late May for alleged lese-majeste. The pair are refusing nourishment to protest the denial of their right to bail.”

Penguin began his partial hunger strike on 15 March 15 and Rung joined him 15 days later: “The risk to their health grows with each passing day.”

The authors note:

…these activists have not actually insulted, defamed, or threatened the monarchy. Instead, they have dared to call for an open and frank discussion on the place of the monarchy in Thailand — particularly with respect to its relationship with the law, the judiciary, the military and its assets.

Parit faces at least 20 counts of violating Article 112, and Panusaya at least nine. Their sentences for speeches at peaceful protests and social media posts could break records — evidence how afraid the state and the palace are of such discussions.

They point out that the “right to bail is guaranteed under Thai law and by Thailand’s international human rights obligations, but it is routinely denied in Article 112 cases on the grounds of national security and the fact that the harsh penalty makes flight more likely.” By denying bail, they say,the regime “has effectively shut down the protest movement, and instilled fear in those who dare to dissent.” And, authoritarianism deepens.

They conclude:

As each application for bail is denied, it becomes more evident that preventing citizens from openly discussing the monarchy and its role in the Thai polity are to the authorities more important than the lives of citizens. Parit, Panusaya and all the other political detainees must have their bail rights restored.





Penguin’s defiance

20 04 2021

As silent protests against the incarceration of lese majeste victims, Penguin or Parit Chiwarak has shown more defiance as he rejects the (in)justice system.

Thai PBS reports that:

Thailand’s anti-establishment Ratsadon leader Parit “Penguin” Chiwarak declared, before judges of the Criminal Court today (Monday), that he does not recognize the judicial process and will not attend his trial because he has not been accorded justice and granted bail to enable him to find evidence in his defence.

He also directed his lawyers to stand down. His lawyers explained that as “Parit had decided not to be part of the justice process and so the lawyers were of no use.”

Parit

In his defiance of the royalist judiciary, he “refused to take part in a Criminal Court session on Monday that was examining evidence in the lese majeste case against him.”

Parit, on a partial “hunger strike for 30 days, arrived in court in a wheelchair and attached to drips.”

He “refused to accept the 32 witnesses presented by the prosecution and also insisted that his detention was unfair…”, saying that “his detention had prevented him from mounting a full legal defence and that rendered the judicial process unjust.”

Penguin declared that “he would continue to refuse to acknowledge the entire legal case against him until he was released on bail.”

Several other activists – those not in jail – and his family have expressed concern for Penguin’s declining health.

The court rejected another bail request put by his family.





The rich get away with murder

28 07 2020

It is reported that “police have opened an internal investigation after charges were dropped against the billionaire Red Bull heir … amid outrage over a perceived culture of impunity for the rich…”. We see this as nothing more than a part of a continuing effort to kid the public that the police are interested in justice. It is also about the regime’s “management” of discontent.

While in a source PPT doesn’t usually read, we felt that Benjamin Freeman’s op-ed was useful in reflecting on the question: “Why do the rich and powerful get away with murder?

Commenting on the Red Bull-Vorayuth Yoovidhya saga, Freeman states: “And so it goes in a country where the rich and powerful can get away with murder — literally so, as this case indicates.”

The author agrees with Pol Col Kissana Phathana-charoen who explained that dropping charges against the rich, Ferrari-driving, coked-up Vorayuth did not mean that the police were “applying double standards…”. Freeman observes:

We have to take him at his word. In order for there to be double standards, there need to be some real standards in the first place. But what exactly are the standards of Thailand’s law enforcement and judicial system?

Strikingly, he links (in)justice to broader political events:

This is a country, after all, where a citizen can be sentenced to long years in prison merely for exercising freedom of speech by making critical comments about the government or the monarchy on social media on grounds that doing so undermines national security.

Meanwhile, the generals that spearheaded a military coup to overthrow an elected government in 2014 not only do not need to fear any prosecution for what was an act of treason by international standards but they remain in charge of the country, acting as they please.

Freeman explains:

The system of justice in Thailand has long stayed mired in a regressive state where the laws apply only to those who don’t have enough money or influence to be able to flout them at will.

The result is a vastly unequal society where the “little people” remain under the thumb of the rich and powerful who can do as they please with no one to hold them to account.

He might have added that this inequality of wealth, power and justice is exactly what the tycoons want and is why they support dictators, military and monarchy.





Updated: Red Bull facts

27 07 2020

A story at Thai Enquirer notes that:

Red Bull’s parent company in Thailand, TCP Group, released a public statement distancing itself from Vorayuth Yoovidhya who was revealed this week to have been acquitted for a traffic incident which left a police officer dead.

It adds:

The case also sparked scrutiny of Thailand’s large income divide, the Yoovidhya family is estimated to be worth $13.1 billion in a country where the average daily income is slightly more than 10 dollars per day.

Red Bull’s parent conglomerate TCP Group, facing a social media boycott, stated:

TCP Group would like to clarify that Mr. Vorayuth Yoovidhya has never assumed any role in the management and daily operations of TCP Group, was never a shareholder, nor has he held any executive position within TCP Group….

It is almost impossible to verify these claims for a private company that operates in a remarkably opaque manner.

Noting that, in 2002, the family-run “Red Bull GmbH produces the world’s leading energy drink. More than a billion cans a year are sold in nearly 100 countries,” Reference for Business states that “Red Bull holds a 70 percent share of the world market for energy drinks…”.

Known as Krating Daeng in Thailand, it has been “produced since the early 1970s by the T.C. Pharmaceutical Co., founded in Thailand in 1962 by Chaleo Yoovidhya [Xǔ Shūbiāo] …. T.C. Pharmaceutical eventually formed the subsidiary Red Bull Beverage Co. Ltd…”. Dietrich Mateschitz was the foreign partner in Red Bull GmbH who worked for Blendax, a German manufacturer of toothpaste that Chaleo marketed in Thailand.

As a private company in Thailand and internationally, there is almost no information on the company. But, we know: “Today, Red Bull GmbH is 51 percent controlled by the Yoovidhya family, who own the trademark for the drink in Europe and the United States of America…”. The only public information about the parent company in Thailand is a list of six members of TCP’s board of directors. Five of the six listed are named Yoovidhya. The sixth and Chair of the Board, Pavana Langthara, is one of Chaleo’s daughters.

An AFP photo clipped from ChannelNews Asia

Back in 2012, when Vorayuth killed the policeman, it was widely believed Vorayuth would go free:

Vorayuth Yoovidhya, a grandson of the late founder of Red Bull, billionaire Chaleo Yoovidhya, had initially fled the scene but later confessed to hitting the policeman, police said. He was released hours later on 500,000 baht ($16,000) bail.

Though Vorayuth has yet to appear in court, there seemed little faith among the public that justice would be served.

“Jail is only for the poor. The rich never get punished. Find a scapegoat,” said one of a stream of comments posted on the popular Thai website, Panthip.com.

It was also reported that Vorayuth “tested positively for cocaine in his blood…”.

Where did Vorayuth flee to after the crash?

Police took Vorayuth Yoovidhya, 27, for questioning after tracing oil streaks for several blocks to his family’s gated estate in a wealthy neighborhood of the Thai capital.

The family prevented police from accessing the compound for some time, allowing covering-up to begin. Recall that the cover-up began when a police investigator “initially tried to cover up the crime by turning in a bogus suspect.”

Then the family sought to pay off the dead policeman’s family: they “struck a deal that will pay the officer’s siblings less than US$100,000.”

In other words, TCP/Red Bull is a Sino-Thai family-owned, private company completely dominated by the Yoovidhya family. For the family to claim that Vorayuth is not on the board or in management is a nonsense. He is, as he was long-described, an heir to the family fortune, made from Red Bull. His family stood by him early in the legal processes and it would be absurd to think the family did not know of his legal tactics and evasions.

In another “fact check,” we noted a Thai PBS report that Constitutional Court judge Thaveekiart Meenakanit “urged Thailand’s Prime Minister Prayut Chan-o-cha to investigate alleged mishandling, by the police and the public prosecutors, of the Red Bull heir hit and run case…”.

Obviously, the case is not constitutional, but the judge worried that “Thailand’s justice system has been rendered meaningless, after the prosecutors’ decision to drop the charges against the suspect and the police’s failure to challenge that decision.”

The judge fretted that it “the suspect was spared prosecution, apparently because of his economic and social status, is unprecedented and incomprehensible.”

We wonder if Thaveekiart has been asleep fro the past 15 years? Has he missed the double standards applied to red shirts? Has he missed the way the poor are locked up and the rich go free all the time? Has he slept through his own court’s politically-biased decisions? Has he snored through the massive impunity enjoyed by the murderous military?

The judge is right that “the majority of the people now see that the law is no longer sacred or to be respected” but he’s a decade and half late in recognizing it. But when he says that the current regime “can now only lean on law and order to justify its existence…”, he’s completely out of touch. The regime’s existence depends on the illegal 2014 military coup.

While sleepy, his point that this travesty of (in)justice “is the beginning of the end of the Government…” reflects the manner in which the royalist regime has relied on the judiciary to legitimize its rule. He’s warning that allowing the Red Bull lot to get away with murder is threatening to the regime’s claims to legitimacy, even if we know that legitimacy is based on double standards and impunity.

Remarkably, the judge explained “that many people believe that the Prime Minister’s reported acceptance of a 300 million baht donation from the Red Bull empire a few months ago, might be related to the decisions of the prosecutors and the police concerning the case.”

Now, that’s a question worth asking!

How high can the junta pile it?

Update: Helpfully, in an op-ed at the Bangkok Post, Ploenpote Atthakor that the buffalo manure that passes for justice in this case is “the rule not the exception.” She adds: “I need not tell you why there are such blatant double standards. If I do, I’ll only end up sounding like a broken record…”.

Meanwhile, following Thaveekiart’s advice, Prime Minister Gen Prayuth Chan-ocha has ordered “an inquiry into the prosecution’s decision to drop a reckless driving charge against Red Bull scion Vorayuth Yoovidhya following public outrage over the news…”. Yet he betrayed his affinity for the filthy rich when he doled out buffalo poo by calling “on critics and media outlets not to seize on the controversy and distort facts or cause misunderstanding…”. The only misunderstanding seems to be among the relevant authorities! Laughably, he declared “he has never intervened in the justice administration process and the prosecution works under no political pressure…”.

Posterior covering reigns, with the prosecutors and Office of the Attorney General leaking:

New specialist and motorist witnesses who made statements that Vorayuth “Boss” Yoovidhya did not drive his Ferrari over the speed limit and that the policeman who was killed abruptly cut in front of his vehicle are the key factors which convinced prosecutors to drop charges against the Red Bull scion.

In a leaked document outlining public prosecutors’ reasoning for their decision to drop the charge against Mr Vorayuth of reckless driving causing death, information from the new witnesses was given more weight than previous evidence, including forensic results.

It is astounding to think that after eight years of being unable to find Vorayuth, the authorities found new “witnesses.” To add to the “story,” the prosecutors blamed the victim.

Why the Office of the Attorney-General has now “set up a seven-member fact-finding panel to investigate the decision, by Thailand’s Office of Special Prosecutors for Criminal Litigation, to drop charges” seems bizarre when “Nate Naksuk, chief justice of the Department of Appealate Litigation in his capacity as acting attorney-general, signed the order to drop the charge.”





Masks and managing media

13 04 2020

Khaosod reports that there’s considerable online support for the whistle blower Facebook page that exposed a mask hoarding scandal. Why is the support needed? Of course, because the hopeless police are seeking to charge the owner of the site.

One of those near useless political police, Pol Maj Gen Panya Pinsuk, who doubles as political puppet and deputy chief of the Central Investigation Bureau, said:

A puppet cop

investigators are seeking the owner of the Facebook page “Queen of Spades” after it posted photos showing what appeared to be a sale of up to 200 million face masks to buyers in China admit an acute shortage in the country.

Police said the posts, which implicate businessman Sornsuvee Puraweeratwatcharee in the alleged deal, are false.

The (not) super sleuths claim that by posting information from Sornsuvee, they page posted “false information.” And, as the ridiculous police state: “Therefore, the page is punishable under the Computer Crime Act.”

Why is this “false information”? Well, it seems because “Sornsuvee later said that he didn’t actually possess 200 million masks and claimed that he was boasting to attract investors.”

The corrupt cops seem intent on demonstrating time and time again that there is no justice in Thailand.

Naturally enough – for the political police – the events involved the now invisible Deputy Minister for Agriculture, inveterate liar and convicted heroin trafficker Thammanat Prompao.

The cops claims get more tortuous in terms of law and logic: “Metropolitan police’s chief investigator Santi Chainiramai said Sornsuvee is only a middleman in the mask hoarding ring which is linked to Paradonraphab Party’s chief strategist Phanyot Akkhara-amornpan.”

But not a word on Thammanat!

The cops say that “Phanyot set up a company called Thai Health International to illegally sought the masks from Sornsuvee before repacking and selling them at higher prices.” All the mask dealing, they say “yield[ed] more than 14 million baht in cash.”

Yes, Phanyot and Sornsuvee were dealing in masks and profiteering. Both are well-connected to political leaders. But the dopes in uniform must crack down on those who expose the crime. This is what people now expect from the police and regime.

And, as expected in the (in)justice system, Phanyot was arrested on Wednesday and released on bail on the same day.

What happend to aide to minister Thammanat, Pitinan Rak-iad, who was shown in a video on the offending Facebook page, “discussing the sale of masks with Sornsuvee.”

Convicted heroin smuggler

Nothing it seems. He’s “distanced himself from the allegations, saying that it was merely a negotiation which has nothing to do with the controversial stockpile.” Of course, like his boss, Pitinan is unable to speak any truth.

As for Thammanat, after claiming he had the virus and was going into hiding, which he said was isolation.

Meanwhile, the Thai Enquirer has a story on a “high-priced international ‘public strategy firm’ [that] has been sending out press releases defending the Thai government’s coronavirus response.”

Mercury LLC has apparently been hired to provide some order to the regime’s inept and contradictory virus response. Seemingly engaging in propaganda and fake news, Mercury claims that the regime “has kept infection rates low through a combination of top-down government measures, bottom-up social changes,” and as the report points out, “most strangely” that there have been “high levels of testing.”

In fact, Thailand’s rate of testing is 1,030/1 million of population. That’s lower than Vietnam and Malaysia, among others. According to the report, “Thailand has only conducted 71,860 tests since the outbreak began despite having the capacity to conduct 20,000 tests per day.”

Despite Mercury’s claims for the regime, no one admits to hiring them.