Shaky regime

17 06 2019

Facing legal challenges that can only be pushed aside if remarkable double standards are applied in the judicial system, the junta-spawned government-to-be is in a spot of bother that could become a major threat to the regime the junta is trying to put in place.

Of course, legal double standards have been the norm for much of the time since the 2006 military coup, so nothing can be ruled out. However, if the 41 MPs currently being challenged for media shareholdings on which the Election Commission and Constitutional Court moved with lightening speed when Future Forward members were involved, are laundered by those institutions, then the junta’s regime-in-the-making will be in serious trouble (except with the rusted-on yellow shirts and other anti-democrats).

A point to note, as pointed out by the linked story is that these cases should not be compared with that of Future Forward’s Thanathorn Juangroongruangkit (except perhaps on the speed with which his case was processed). Rather, the comparison should be with disqualified candidate Phubet Henlod, a Future Forward candidate in Sakhon Nakhon’s Constituency 2. His candidacy was withdrawn by an order of the Supreme Court’s Electoral Affairs Division on March 19 because he was a partner-manager of a company, Mars Engineering and Service, which registered as perhaps, one day, having an interest in the media business.

If, as Wan Noor claims, the junta’s regime is in trouble, what might happen. Readers will know that PPT doesn’t engage much in crystal-balling, but there is another story that offers some things to consider.

Gen Apirat

It will come as no surprise that a source said to be close to Gen Prayuth Chan-ocha states that The Dictator will “rely on the unity of the armed forces, which have done a good job over the past five years in backing him.” If Gen Prayuth does become Defense Minister, then he will work closely with rabid royalist and anti-Thaksin Shinawatra Army boss Gen Apirat Kongsompong.

The anonymous source, reckons that Gen Prayuth “is highly unlikely to face any coups.” Not only has Gen Apirat been a member of the junta, but his  “allegiance and support for Gen Prayut” has been strong. The source also mentions that “internal structural changes — in which key units for coup-making are transferred — [mean] any military intervention is almost ruled out.”

For PPT, that last point is unlikel;y to prevent a coup if the Army commander ordered it. But all of this seems beside the point. What is more likely is a coup in support of Gen Prayuth if his government is unstable and unable to work as if it is a junta.

The story continues and observes that Prayuth’s “civilian” government “will depend on the army’s Internal Security Operations Command (Isoc), which has the resources and the Internal Security Act to enable it to continue the kind of repression that has gone on over the past five years. The source added that “military tactics will be deployed to make the Prayut administration stay in power as long as possible and help him prepare for the next round of elections.”

We are already seeing that thuggishness used against opponents.

To keep his government in place via parliament, “[c]abinet reshuffles, money and lawsuits are also on the table.” Don’t rule out military threats; these have been used extensively in the past, including during Gen Prem Tinsulanonda’s government, when senior politicians like Kukrit Pramoj were intimidated.

What’s missing in this discussion – of course! – is any consideration of the palace. Gen Prayuth must work especially hard to satisfy and satiate King Vajiralongkorn. If he fails in this, he’s dead and so is his government (if he ever forms it).

Junta, ISOC and the “election” outcome

8 05 2019

With the military junta about to complete its transition from military dictatorship to military-backed government, with the unelected Senate about to be named and the gaggle of party-list seats also about to be announced, a couple of lines in a story in the Bangkok Post caught our eye:

One of the NCPO’s greatest achievements is that it has been able to maintain peace and order during the past five years, he [Gen Prayuth Chan-ocha] said.

The prime minister said that the NCPO plans to hand over its tasks to the Internal Security Operations Command (Isoc) when it steps down from power. Isoc will be restructured to accommodate this, he said.

What that means is that ISOC will now be responsible for political repression throughout the country. Its impunity and carte blanche mandate suggest that those who favor freedom and democracy should be very afraid. ISOC has been arresting torturing and murdering regime opponents for decades.

Using “loyalty” against Future Forward

2 04 2019

Readers will no doubt recall that, prior to the junta’s “election,” there were a blizzard of complaints to the Election Commission regarding the Future Forward Party. The allegations included claims that Future Forward was insufficiently royal or even anti-monarchy.

At the time, we speculated that the junta’s polling, usually done by military agencies like ISOC, was showing that Future Forward was doing better than anyone had thought possible.

Now that it has done that well and has aligned in a possible coalition with pro-Thaksin Shinawatra parties, the dirty tricks deepen. The yellow social media campaign against Future Forward has been especially nasty and pervasive. It is almost as if the yellow lot hate Future Forward more than Puea Thai.

Thai PBS reports that Future Forward party secretary-general Piyabutr Saengkanokkul has been forced to defend “himself against allegations that he made comments hostile to the Thai Monarchy.”

Piyabutr said that the allegation stemmed from some “doctored” parts of an academic lecture on “Politics, Justice and Monarchy” back in February 2013.

He declares that the “allegedly hostile” were concocted and that “he had not mentioned the Thai Monarchy…”. Rather, he had:

talked about the principle of having a Constitution by explaining that, in accordance with the international democratic system, the Monarchy must be above and should not get involved in politics and that the position of the Monarch, which is inherited, must be in line with the democratic system.

Piyabutr made the obvious point “that his accusers … intended to engender hatred towards him.” Of course they do. That’s how the monarchy is used to oppose democrats and democracy.

Interestingly and bravely, Piyabutr explained how lese majeste has been used:

… over the past 14 years, charges of lèse majesté have been abused to cause social disunity and mutual hatred between people, providing excuses for the military to seize power.

He then made a statement that will confuse his opponents:

In a democracy, we can prefer different political parties or politicians.  We can compete politically within the rules without using the Monarchy to attack one another or cause hatred….

The confusion for the yellow opponents will be that they do not understand or want a democracy.

Piyabutr was responding because another of those manufactured “civil society” groups has complained to the Election Commission. Calling itself the “Political Civic Group,” the concocted group has petitioned the EC to dissolve Future Forward Party “for trying to subvert the monarchy.”

The self-declared “president” of the “group,” Surawat Sangkharoek, “submitted pictures and video clips of the party’s rallies to the EC as evidence to back up the group’s claim…”.

Surawat madly claimed that the “EC should acknowledge the FFP as a threat to national security and the monarchy…. The party is a den of anti-monarchists, whose members have used anti-monarchy rhetoric to instigate hatred against the revered institution…”.

We have an uncomfortable feeling that the EC might act against Future Forward in order to steal the election for Palang Pracharath, The Dictator and the junta.

The Dictator and his Election Commission

2 02 2019

The Nation recently had a story that provided remarkable evidence of the Election Commission’s subservience to the military junta.

The EC has announced that The Dictator, Gen Prayuth Chan-ocha “can still hold mobile Cabinet meetings despite political parties and members of the public saying it gives him an unfair advantage in the election.” More to the point, despite the fact that he is a prime ministerial candidate for his devil party, Palang Pracharath.

One of the junta’s puppets at the EC, deputy secretary-general Nat Laosisavakul said that  the General, “in his capacity as premier, can continue performing his public administration duties, including holding mobile Cabinet meetings in different provinces.”

As every single person in Thailand knows, these meetings have been nothing more than campaign stops for the devil party. Even the EC admits this:

Given the blurred line between working on a field trip and conducting an electoral campaign, Nat admitted that there was a matter of ethical appropriateness to be considered.

Ethics? He’s talking about Thailand’s military! Ethics is a foreign and incomprehensible word for these murderous bastards.

But what of The Dictators’ weekly harangues on television? Apparently, the EC “remains unsure about what decision it should make in relation to Prayut’s weekly television address.”

We guess they are waiting for Gen Prayuth to instruct them.

Really, this is pathetic and so blatant that we wonder if the EC shouldn’t just be folded into the ISOC.

To find out what the EC should be doing, “Nat met with Deputy Prime Minister Wissanu Krea-ngam … to discuss the roles and responsibilities of state servants during the upcoming election. It was speculated that the two might also discuss what Prayut could or could not do when he becomes an official electoral candidate.”

We guess he can do whatever he tells the EC he wants to do.

The junta’s election is the junta’s election. It is their election to do whatever they want.

The king’s forces and their X-men

20 01 2019

The noise level on the king’s failure to sign the royal decree that is required for an election is beginning to increase. Much of the increased volume seems to have to involve the military.

An AP report on last week’s Armed Forces Day parade has Army Commander Gen Apirat Kongsompong making what is said to be “routine exhortations of loyalty to the king and the country.” It might be “routine” but the times are anything but routine and Gen Apirat is the king’s man.

His “routine” speech could have been made in 1885: “We will sacrifice our physical and mental strength to protect the country and revere the king, and look after the people…”. Royalist, paternal and completely ignoring government.

The report also recalls that it has been Gen Apirat threatening those demanding an election date.

This is important given that the military seems to have (re-)mobilized groups to oppose the pro-election activists.

On this, the Bangkok Post reports that pro-election activists were “denounced” by “students” at Ramkhamhaeng University. Some of the pro-election activists were fearful and backed away, while others moved the rally to Thammasat University from the area of the Democracy Monument.

A group calling itself “Unity Before Elections was attempting to organise a rival demonstration in a bid to silence…” the pro-election activists.

Groups with military links, the “Council of Ramkhamhaeng University Students and the Network of Ramkhamhaeng Students Protecting the Institution [monarchy] and the People” demanded that the pro-election activists cease “fomenting conflict…”.

Invoking the monarchy, Kittipong Thaenkhun, described as being president of the Council, said pro-election activism was wrong “as the country prepares for the coronation of Rama X…”. He added that: “Imposing a deadline for the royal decree to come out…” was “inappropriate.”

Another Bangkok Post report says the group’s statement declared that “no one should be trying to stir unrest as the country was about to witness a very important royal ceremony — the coronation…”. It added that the “royal decree was the prerogative of … the King and it was highly inappropriate for anyone to demand to know when the decree would be issued.”

Khaosod reports that “[i]t is unclear who’s behind the group.”

However, pro-election protest leader Sirawith Seritiwat said he “believes the counter-protesters are agent provocateurs organized by the military to incite violence.” He linked them to the Internal Security Operation Command.

The Unity before Election group is led by Pansuwan Na Kaew, “a former leader of a faction supporting the People’s Democratic Reform Committee…”.

These self-proclaimed X-men are doing the military’s work.

All that corruption

7 11 2018

We were interested in a couple of recent stories about corruption and the implications of conflicts of interest.

One was the story about an odd admission of corruption and drug dealing in the military’s Internal Security Operations Command. In it, “Army chief Apirat Kongsompong vows to dismiss Internal Security Operations Command (Isoc) officers found guilty of drug offences.” Grumbling that anti-drugs campaigns were failing, the new Army boss stated:

There is a need to also look at the command, which is a key agency in the state’s anti-drug campaign, and find flaws in the implementation of drug busting measures, for which some Isoc officers are to blame.

That’s quite an admission not least because ISOC has a role in fighting corruption. Based on Gen Apirat’s sudden revelation, that role is a bit like putting Billy Bunter in control of a bakery.

But what really caused us confusion is the fact that ISOC is critical for the stealing for the junta’s “election.” Does this mean that Gen Apirat is working against the junta?

A second story relates to the indigestion of state officials regarding the so-called controversy about a new regulation announced by hopeless puppet National Anti-Corruption Commission “that requires senior civil servants to declare their assets and liabilities…”.

It is well-known that senior civil servants are generally on the take, so we can understand their fright. But, then again, the NACC doesn’t go after unusually rich so long as they are loyal to the junta. Just think of all those self-declared unusually rich in the National Legislative Assembly or the Deputy Dictator and all his luxury watches.

The thing that caught PPT’s eye was the note that the “immediate concern is that university council members affected by the new rule are set to quit their jobs…”. It seems that universities “fear it will lead to university council members leaving their positions in droves.”

Why’s that? It is revealed that “[m]any people from the private sector sit on university councils and are reluctant to declare their assets.”

Okay, that makes sense. Of course, unlike the self-declaring unusually wealthy, business people don’t want anyone to know how wealthy they are, how much tax they avoid and how many bribes they pay for police, military and civil servants.

When the military is on top XXVIII

5 10 2018

The junta and the Army have inserted themselves into a land dispute. that goes back years and decades.

In the middle of a public meeting and seminar, discussing “unjust land expropriations within three Eastern Economic Corridor provinces,” [that’s the junta’s big plan] being held at Tambon Yothaka, local affected people, land rights activists and the Thai Society of Environmental Journalists found their meeting invaded by “military personnel from Infantry Division 11, high-ranking officers of Chachoengsao Provincial Internal Security Operation Command (Isoc) and the NCPO.” That’s the junta.

The Army “had notified local people beforehand,” but as the troops descended, the “seminar was suddenly paused and then taken over by the commander of Infantry Division 11 and the NCPO representative in Chachoengsao, Maj-General Worayuth Kaewwiboonphan, along with the deputy director of Chachoengsao Isoc, Maj-General Panit Siriphala.”

The land dispute is between between the residents of Tambon Yothaka in Chachoengsao’s Bang Nam Priew district and the state and military.

Explaining the intervention, Maj-Gen Worayuth said the troops were deployed “to broker a peaceful resolution to the conflict over 4,000 rai of land in four villages in Tambon Yothaka between the members of old communities and the rightful land owner, the Royal Thai Navy (RTN).”

Maj-Gen Worayuth went on to “explain” that there was no “land-grabbing … by wealthy investors for industrial expansion within the EEC provinces” but an effort by the Navy to use the land. He said the Navy agreed to rent lad to the farmers once they gave it back.

He pointed out that despite the Navy having secured the rights to revoke rental agreements on the disputed land, the NCPO and the Army had negotiated with the Navy that the affected tenants be allowed to continue leasing 300 rai of land. He therefore “asked” locals “to refrain from arranging public gatherings and organising protests over the … issue.” Most especially, they should not rally in Bangkok.

Apparently, the Navy purchased 4000 rai of land back about 1948 and people have used it ever since. It isn’t clear in the report who paid for the land back then.

Locals rejected Maj-Gen Worayuth’s call and demanded that the Navy negotiate with them. They have been ordered to vacate the land.

This is how Thailand “works” under a military dictatorship.