Corrupt and powerful IV

6 09 2022

Yesterday, PPT’s post finished by linking to Rangsiman Rome’s comments on people in the police holding paid but non-existent positions. We added that we didn’t think this was confined to the cops. We said think the armed forces and the bureaucracy as well. And we asked who is pocketing the billions?

And, as we mentioned in that post, the Bangkok Post is taking a particular interest in the unfolding story. Today, the Post has more to say in an Editorial:

The phenomenon of “ghost recruitment” has cast a long shadow over how the government spends tax money to recruit staff to work in restive southernmost provinces.

The government cannot and must not treat this shameful phenomenon as just more of the same bureaucratic corruption. To prevent the scandal becoming a crisis, a fair and reliable probe must be launched to clear the air about recruitment practices at the Internal Security Operations Command (Isoc) — a pillar of our national security apparatus in the deep South….

We doubt that many will consider the Cold War era organization a “pillar” of anything much at all. It has been a semi-secret parallel administration that operates for the military. The secrecy associated with it and the more or less unbridled power it wields are the attributes that make it corrupt. It’s role as the military’s Gestapo means that its power and influence has penetrated all aspects of Thai politics as it works to maintain the royalist regime. To do that, its leaders are allowed to harvest the corruption crop. Just think how much loot is harvested when ISOC has 50,000 personnel – well, let’s say funded positions – in the deep south alone!

We can but wonder why the Post thinks “Isoc has handled some vital and risky missions with expertise and deserves its budget and resources.”





Updated: Corrupt and powerful II

1 09 2022

A couple of days ago, we posted on alleged maid-abusing Pol Cpl Kornsasi Buayaem. In an update, we noted that Pol Cpl Kornsasi is a mistress of on of the Big P’s brothers.

While the matter is being muddied by several claimants to the mistress, the former maid has “filed additional complaints on Tuesday against a brother of a local politician for human trafficking and forced labour.” The complaint was against “Khomsit Jangphanit, the younger brother of the Photharam municipal mayor in Ratchaburi.”

Meanwhile, “Senator Thani Onlaied and two brothers of the caretaker prime minister, Adm Sitthawat Wongsuwon [also a senator] and Pol Gen Patcharawat Wongsuwon, will be called for questioning in alleged connection with helping Kornsasi Buayaem and her maid get state jobs.”

The Post lists some of the extraordinary details:

In 2017, Ms Kornsasi was recruited by the General Staff Division of the Special Branch Bureau of the Royal Thai Police when she was 39 years old even though the maximum age for the position was limited to 35.

She also had a squad leader’s position and was later transferred to Special Branch Bureau’s 1st Division. Around the beginning of this year, she was assigned to perform temporary duty at the Internal Security Operations Command (Isoc)’s Region 4 Forward Command of the Royal Thai Army.

Mr Teerajchai [Move Forward Party list MP Teerajchai Phunthumas] said the committee will also investigate Isoc’s Region 4 Forward Command, as there was no record of her actually performing any duties there.

In this regard, the committee wanted to know if the senators, police and soldiers in question were complicit in the case, Mr Teerajchai said.

Recently, the name of a mysterious senator came to light when his name was seen with Pol Cpl Kornsasi’s name on a list of temple donors in Ratchaburi’s Muang district. The board gave their names and mentioned a 120,000 baht donation for building a temple hall.

Mr Thani is also a former member of the NLA and was also related to the high-profile hit-and-run case of Red Bull heir Vorayuth “Boss” Yoovidhya in 2012….

Meanwhile, Pol Maj Gen Udon Wongchuen, commander of the Special Branch Bureau’s 1st Division, signed an order on Aug 26, released on Wednesday to the media, saying Pol Cpl Kornsasi has been suspended from duty.

Later, Senator Thani “admitted to a previous close relationship with a policewoman whose alleged abuse of her maid has made headlines, saying they had lost contact long ago.” And, as all good political thugs do, he threatened legal action against anyone defaming him.

There’s a lot in this little saga and expect all kinds of effort to cover-up, distance, and watch those running for cover and threatening.

Update: Speculation on this case continues. The Bangkok Post tells us that “Probes have been launched to determine whether any authorities abused their power to help a police corporal, accused of abusing her maid, join the police force and land other state jobs.” This seems a rather startling statement as it is already clear that strings were pulled. The question is by how many of the aged men attracted to the woman involved. When “probes” are launched, though, as Senator Thani can affirm based on the Red Bull “probe,” these “investigations” usually cover up more than they reveal and protect the rich and powerful. However, there might be some hope in this instance as the opposition parties have smelt all the rats.





Monarchy propaganda as fake news

25 01 2022

The Bangkok Post has published palace propaganda. We know they have little choice in the matter, but we also guess the tycoons who run the paper also love this kind of fake news.

As we write this post, the story has become inaccessible. It remains a searchable story at the Post, and might come back, but there’s also an excerpt here.

With King Vajiralongkorn turning 70 later this year, the military is busy not just crushing opposition to the monarch and regime, but is promoting him and link between monarchy and military.

Reminiscent of elements of then Army commander Gen Apirat Kongsompong’s royalist rant in 2019, the Post article promotes the martial monarch.

It reports that the Royal Thai Army “will upgrade Ban Mak Khaeng Thed Phrakiat Park in Loei,” building a “sculpture of the King, and open[ing] a museum to portray the historical moment when the King, who was Crown Prince at the time, fought alongside troops against communist rebels in Ban Mak Khaeng…”.

Such a propaganda effort promotes monarch, monarchy, military and the bond between monarch and military.

The park was first constructed “by the Internal Security Operations Command (Isoc) of Loei to mark the battlefield in which [Vajiralongkorn]… joined soldiers in fighting Communist Party of Thailand (CPT) insurgents in tambon Kok Sathon of Dan Sai district” in 1976.

As the Post story notes, the “1970s was the height of the Cold War, when communist revolutions toppled governments and monarchies in Laos and Cambodia and when relations between the Thai monarchy and military were reshaped by dramatic and rapid shifts in domestic politics.” The best example of that relationship was the royalist massacre of students on 6 October 1976.

Vajiralongkorn had hurriedly returned from counterinsurgency training in Australia to be there for the massacre and he took up arms with the military to fight the battle against those identified as opponents of the military and monarchy.

The Post reports that: “On Nov 5, 1976, King Rama X, who was [a] … captain at that time, received a direct order from … King Bhumibol Adulyadej … to contain the situation [the anti-CPT fight in Loei].”

A myth in training

Lt Gen Chanvit Attatheerapong, director of the Army Tourism Promotion Agency – who knew there was such a thing – declared: “As a soldier, when the king had fought alongside army troops, it was a moment of incomparable rejoicing for us soldiers. And he [the king] is courageous…”.

It is important to both king and military to create stories of the king-as-soldier in a period when the ruling elite is reliant on  the military-backed regime.

The propaganda is myth-making as “villagers, police and soldiers who witnessed the events tell the magnificent story of the bravery of … the King.” From a soldier taking part in a fire fight, the then crown prince is re-made as a hero:

Pol Lt Suvin Viriyawat, a 69-year-old retired police officer, said the CTP insurgents had nearly managed to surround and cut off a police stronghold….

However, they never thought His Majesty the King would arrive to support his troops. Due to the mountainous area, the chopper could not land, so His Majesty the King suddenly hopped down with his seven royal guards onto the heated battlefield. “His Majesty the King said he was just a soldier, no need to be formal, just carry out our duties. He was so kind to us and ate alongside us too,” said Pol Lt Suvin.

“If His Majesty didn’t show up, around 20 survivors of the 48 might not be alive as we were surrounded with limited supplies for eight days. It was like we were drowning and His Majesty pulled us up. We survived because of him,” he said.

With such embellished stories, ISOC and the Army want to display the martial king, the brave soldiers and the people as one. Such propaganda is believed to be critical for the maintenance of the ruling elite. And, it blots out the critical role played by royals and royalists in the murder of civilians.





Further updated: “The end of Thailand as an open society”

21 01 2022

Referring to the regime’s efforts to control and delete NGOs it despises for their independent political line, a Bangkok Post editorial states the obvious: “NGOs in society might be entering a dark age.”

It observes:

The government is jumping on the bandwagon of nationalist governments, like the one in China, or those increasingly looking inward, like India’s, to tighten monitoring of foreign NGOs….

Like it or not, the anti-NGO sentiment might signal the end of Thailand as an open society, too….

So far, society has tolerated NGOs. Even if some of their campaigns touch on politically sensitive issues, the government has never expelled any NGO.

Yet the bill — which is to be tabled in parliament for its final reading soon — will become a game-changer that turns Bangkok into a second Beijing…. If passed, it will give the authorities the power to further audit and regulate NGOs.

Under military and military-backed regimes, political space has always been limited and controlled. In general terms, these regimes – including the current despots – have concentrated on locals identified as enemies of regime, status quo and monarchy. At times this has let to massive bloodletting in order to maintain the status quo of the Cold War and post-Cold War eras.

As the (usually hopeless) National Human Rights Commission points out, this backward-facing regime has made the so-called justice system a political weapon. The NHRC reports that “violations of people’s rights in the judicial process were the most common form of complaints lodged with the … NHRC … last year.” It added that the “complaints concerned the Royal Thai Police, the Department of Corrections and the Internal Security Operations Command (Isoc).”

We are unsure how the military-political agency ISOC fits into to a justice system. But this is the military’s and royalists’ Thailand.

On the ground, repression continues unabated, mostly in the name of the keystone of the ruling class, the monarchy. A recent example is the police raid on one of the truly independent publishing outfits in the country, Same Sky, publisher of Fa Diaw Kan.

Some 30 police – yes, 30 – “raided the Same Sky publishing house on Thursday, but failed to find a book deemed a threat to national security.”

They mean the monarchy.

The police were desperate to find a book “Sathaban Phra Maha Kasat and Sangkhom Thai” (The Monarchy and Thai Society). The “book contains the speech human rights lawyer Arnon Nampa delivered at a rally at the Democracy Monument on Aug 3, 2020 calling for reform of the [monarchy].”

Yes, that’s a book the authorities fear is somehow threatening to bring down the whole ruling class and its state. All very Nazi-like, or borrowing from the Post above, rather more like the Chinese Party-State versus the independent media in Hong Kong.

The hordes of brown-shirted cops “did seize mobile phones and editor Thanapol Eawsakul’s computer, to search for incriminating evidence.” Maybe they’ll just put this evidence on his machines, as they have been known to do in the recent past.

Same Sky stated: “The publishing house does not distribute the book…”. But Same Sky is popular among those who oppose the military-backed regime and has a history of critical and well-researched analysis of the monarchy.

Add this to recent efforts to further constrain the already cowed media and Thailand’s future looks like a dark age, and not just for NGOs.

Update 1: This post marks PPT’s 13th Anniversary. It is not an anniversary to celebrate. Things are getting worse and there are more political prisoners than when we began this blog. PPT remains dedicated to those who are held in Thailand’s prisons, charged with political crimes.

Update 2: Prachatai has posted on the raid targeting Same Sky and Thanapol Eawsakul. PPT has posted the English version of the book the police want here.





More 112 charges urged II

9 12 2021

A pattern has emerged. In our last post, we noted that national police chief Pol Gen Suwat Jangyodsuk had urged police superintendents to give even more attention to “national security” cases involving lese majeste and sedition.

Yesterday, Prime Minister Gen Prayuth Chan-ocha, Deputy Prime Minister Gen Prawit Wongsuwan, Interior Minister Gen Anupong Paojinda, and the leaders of the armed forces came together for an ISOC meeting “that was held to sum up its performance over the past year and to announce its action plan for 2022.”

Three army generals in 2019. Clipped from the Bangkok Post

The Internal Security Operations Command has arguably been the most critical agency collecting intelligence on the regime’s and the monarchy’s opponents. It has a nationwide organization that mirrors the civil bureaucracy. It also arranges “fake news,” including “plots” against the monarchy and builds royalist “movements” to face down “threats” from regime opponents.

It is reported that Gen Prayuth “laid down polices for the command to focus more on regional security and tackle threats to national security.” Those latter words are the code for the monarchy.

Bizarrely, Gen Prayuth described this most politicized of agencies as “not a political unit but a body supporting other agencies’ efforts to solve problems besetting the country.”

ISOC’s political role was further emphasized when Gen Prayuth urged “… Isoc and the interior minister to work together closely to address problems through democratic means, adding that dated laws and regulations should be amended to boost efficiency.”

They already do, but little of what they do can be realistically described as “democratic,” except in regime doublespeak.

The pattern being set is a division of roles, with the military and ISOC working on intelligence, using “counterinsurgency” techniques to control the provinces, while the police crack heads and wage lawfare, arresting protesters while the courts lock them up





Investigating disappearances

3 08 2021

Protesters have kept a focus on two disappearances: people and monuments.On the latter, we assume many readers will have seen Prachatai’s excellent report on its efforts to uncover the truth about the disappearance of the Constitution Defense Monument.

The story begins:

The approximately 4-metre-tall concrete monument located near the Lak Si roundabout disappeared without trace on 28 Dec 2018, even though it was situated in front of Bangkhen Police Station. However, no one has been able to answer – how did the monument disappear even when 5 months earlier it had been registered as a National Historic Site in the Royal Gazette?

The monument lauded those who lost their lives defeating the 1933 royalist rebellion led by Prince Boworadet and defending the People’s Party and its constitution.

Prachatai has used the Official Information Act to seek information from several government agencies. These efforts produced fake claims that no one in any of the agencies contacted knew anything about the removal of a very large monument of great historical importance. It is as if each of the agencies and their senior bureaucrats have had selective amnesia.

Of course, the reason for official amnesia is that the removal was probably done by the military on orders (or presumption of favorable response) from the palace and King Vajiralongkorn.

As with the disappeared, murdered, and presumed murdered activists in neighboring countries, it seems that the dull leadership of the regime, including the dullards of the military and the slow minds in the palace, believe that disappearing people and monuments that cross the official royalist historical narrative will allow those events and counter-narratives to be forgotten.

Interestingly, “[a]lthough government agencies do not know how and where the Constitution Defence Monument disappeared, there is one group of people that heard news about its relocation and went to watch events from the night of 27 into the morning of 28 Dec 2018.”

Those people know who was responsible for official vandalism:

military personnel and police officers order[ed] that no photos be taken. …[a] plainclothes military officer … claimed to be from ISOC (Internal Security Operations Command). Later, journalists and other people began to enter the area. The officials tried to prevent them from taking any photos or recording any videos. They … delete[d] any photos.

We applaud Prachatai for continuing to remember and for seeking to hold official vandals to account.





Updated: Ultra-royalist cartography

29 06 2021

In recent days there has been justified alarm regarding royalist vigilantism mapping the names, addresses and photos of about 500 people, many of them children.

Reuters reports that in this Google-based mapping some of the photos showed students in their university and high school uniforms.

Google has taken “down two Google Maps documents on Monday that had listed the names and addresses of hundreds of Thai activists who were accused by royalists of opposing the monarchy…”. According to Reuters, a spokesperson for Alphabet’s Google said “the issue is now fixed”, adding: “We have clear policies about what’s acceptable for user generated My Maps content. We remove user generated maps that violate our policies.” But these maps had received at least 350,000 views while they were available.

The maps showed the “faces of those named had been covered by black squares with the number 112, in reference to the article under the country’s criminal code [lese majeste] which makes insulting or defaming the monarchy punishable by up to 15 years in prison.”

Songklod as Fascist

Rightist vigilante Songklod

Reuters located one ultra-royalist, rightist, activist claiming to be running this vigilante operation. “Retired” army captain Songklod Chuenchoopol said “he and a team of 80 volunteers had created the maps and planned to report everyone named on them to police on accusations of insulting the monarchy.”

Songklod said that he and his team “sought to highlight those they accused of breaking that law.” He said that his “volunteers” hunt “something offensive posted on social media,” and they then log it to the map. He referred to his vigilante work as a “psychological warfare operation,” was meant “to dissuade people from online criticism of the monarchy.”

He described his “operation targeting opponents of the monarchy” as a “massive success.”

Songklod has a history of rightist/royalist activism. He was previously reported as being the “founder of the right-wing ‘Thai Wisdom Guard’ [and] spends most of his day trawling for evidence to file a case under the strict computer crimes act or other laws.” He was said to have then brought a case “against more than 100 people for sharing a post he deemed critical of the Constitutional Court.”

His history suggests that he probably has support from military groups like ISOC, which has a history of supporting rightist/royalist vigilante groups.

These vigilante operations are meant to silence critics through fear of attack and violence, an outcome seen several times in recent years.

Update: A report at Prachatai links Songklod to the so-called Thailand Help Centre for Cyber-bullying Victims. THis seems a reasonable link to rightist, royalist, child abusers.





Updated: Yet another cover-up

5 03 2021

Readers will know that Facebook recently removed 185 accounts and groups it considered part of an information-influencing operation run by the military, mainly directed to the southern conflict. The network engaged in “coordinated inauthentic behaviour.” It “included 77 accounts, 72 pages and 18 groups on Facebook and 18 accounts on Instagram…”.

Nathaniel Gleicher, Facebook’s head of Cybersecurity Policy, stated: “We found clear links between this operation and the Internal Security Operations Command. We can see that all of these accounts and groups are tied together as part of this operation.” The Facebook report said that the “network” attempted to conceal identities and coordination, and posted primarily in Thai about news and current events, including content in support of the Thai military and the monarchy.”

The dodos at the top of the military used the usual strategy: lies and denial. According to ISOC spokesman Maj Gen. Thanathip Sawangsang:

ISOC is not aware of the takedown of the Facebook accounts as reported in the news. Those were personal accounts not related to ISOC…. ISOC also doesn’t engage in operations as reported in the news. We act as a centre for coordination to provide relief and refuge to the people.

No one believes him, but that’s not the point. Political dolts everywhere have learned that lies are all that is needed to deflect criticism, begin a cover-up, and maintain the deceit.

And, like clockwork, Gen Prayuth Chan-ocha has sprung into cover-up action. The unelected prime minister, the assassin, the coup master, The Dictator and election rigger ordered an “investigation.” And who better for that task than those accused? That seems like the perfect way to cover this up. Gen Prayuth “has assigned the Royal Thai Army to investigate…”. He declared: “Facebook took action like this. It can be interpreted in many ways. We must make it clear…”. What he means is that we must cover up.

This is the second removal of military accounts associated with information operations and covert online warfare. Back then they lied and covered-up as well and nothing happened. Business as usual. We expect the same from these revelations.

Update: A reader points out that we missed an obvious point: getting the Army to investigate itself is a non-investigation. Indeed it is, but it is a tried and trusted maneuver by Thailand’s military bosses. The result is inevitably a cover-up.





King, regime and royalists

23 10 2020

King Vajiralongkorn, Queen Suthida and other members of the royal family have thrown their support behind royalists. Of course, it is natural for the royals to support those who support them. But in the current political climate, this is a statement of the palace’s position. That position is, naturally enough, to oppose those who challenge the king and his palace to reform and become a proper constitutional monarch.

We think this public statement of support for ultra-royalists ranks with previous royal political interventions such as Vajiralongkorn’s support of ultra-royalists in 1976 and the then queen’s attendance at a yellow shirt’s funeral in 2008.

Social media has several video renderings of the royals greeting an arranged crown of yellow-shirted royalists. The picture here is clipped from Andrew MacGregor Marshall’s Facebook page.

This royal outing is a part of the regime’s plan to break the protesters. In our previous post, PPT stated: “PPT looks at the “break” from protests and sees the regime gaining time for organizing rightists and royalists.”

Erich Parpart at Thai Enquirer seems to agree: “What if the removal of the emergency decree wasn’t the government backing down but mobilizing royalist forces.” He says:

The severe state of emergency decree was lifted not because Prime Minister Prayut Chan-ocha’s wanted to back down.

It was actually the first step to revitalize the People’s Democratic Reform Committee (PDRC) and mobilize extreme royalist groups against the student-led pro-democracy movement….

The prime minister, Chuan Leekpai, the house speaker, and Wissanu Krea-ngam, the deputy prime minister, are all stalling for time….

There are already PDRC members out on the streets harassing pro-democracy protestors including groups led by Tossapol Manunrat from Acheewa Chuay Chart, Police Major General Rienthong Nanna, and Suwit Thongprasert who is also known as Buddha Issara. It’s like a PDRC reunion.

They are not out and about to protect the monarchy, they are out and about to intimidate pro-democracy protestors and to protect Prayut.

In addition, there are reports that Army boss Gen Narongphan Jitkaewtae has shown his support for Gen Prayuth’s regime. Of course, many of the yellow shirt groups owe their existence to the Army and ISOC.

The messages from the king, the Army and the regime to the protesters is that they must back down. If they don’t, expect the regime to mobilize yellow shirts for violent confrontation.





False promises I

3 10 2020

Like so many of his predecessors, newly-appointed army chief Gen Narongphan Jitkaewtae has insisted his Army will not be politically engaged. He is reported as stating: “The military will not get involved in politics. I will only answer questions about the army’s affairs.”

This is a lie.

The military and especially the Army is always involved in politics. At the most basic level, Gen Narongphan automatically has a seat in the unelected Senate. That Senate maintains a regime that was put in place by the 2014 military coup and was established by the military junta’s 2017 constitution. ISOC, the Internal Security Operations Command, links the military and civilian administration making it, as Puangthong Pawakapan says, “a counter-democracy agency.”  Its well-funded operations parallel civilian agencies and has a countrywide network of agents and officials.

It is also a lie in Gen Narongphan’s own words.

He has said:

“Protecting the monarchy with absolute loyalty and supporting the government to resolve national problems and working to advance the country are honourable tasks for [the generals],” Gen Narongphan said at a ceremony to bid farewell to retiring army generals at its headquarters on Sept 23.

“We faithfully pledge to carry [Thai] ideologies and perform our duties to the best of abilities to ensure peace in society and foster national unity and support the country’s government,” he added.

Every word in this is political.

And, by supporting the monarchy, he supports the status quo and places the military as the protector of monarchy and ruling class.

Gen Narongphan is an ardent royalist who has served as commander of the Royal Guards 904, reporting to the king. He’s completed the king’s special training and is a “red-rim soldier fraternity, specially trained to serve as Royal Guards. Those who pass the elite training programme are given a T-shirt with a red rim to signify their completion of the programme.”








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