Further updated: Political custard congeals

20 01 2013

PPT has repeatedly noted how the political opponents of the Yingluck Shinawatra government and everything associated with Thaksin Shinawatra congeals around particular causes. While the yellow-hued lot have had their differences over various ultra-nationalist causes like Preah Vihear, the Democrat Party has now come into a gooey political mix with the People’s Alliance for Democracy and other “patriotic” – read xenophobic – groups to demand that the Foreign Ministry “protect Thailand’s national interest.” This refers to a small piece of land that has long been disputed by Thailand’s xenophobes despite a World Court decision in 1962 that went against the then military xenophobes.Yellow, gooey custard

Like the other ultra-nationalists, the Democrat Party and their vacuous – meaning devoid of any original idea – leader Abhisit Vejjajiva believe that Thailand will lose the “clarification case” at the Court, brought by the Cambodian government. Hence they are huffing and puffing about Thailand needing to “formally reject Phnom Penh’s claim that Thailand had intruded on Cambodian territory around Preah Vihear temple…”.

Abhisit supported the Thai Patriot Network, “which plans a rally … against the ICJ’s pending ruling, has the right to express its opposition to the court’s jurisdiction on the issue.” Of course they have the right, but Abhisit should be principled in rejecting ultra-nationalist maneuvering; he can’t because he lacks principles and hopes that demonstrations will further congeal the yellow custard opposition in trying to bring down the elected government.

Joining Abhisit in supporting the so-called Thai Patriot Network is the deep freeze political failure General Boonlert Kaewprasit of the yellow-shirted royalists of the Pitak Siam group. Of course, all of these groups are pretty much one and the same, but the media reports them as separate even when their political campaigns are coordinated. Boonlert says he “would not take part in the rally” but he handed over a list of 80,000 names from Pitak Siam to the other lot so they can mobilize together.

As far as we understand it, the Court’s decision is not for several months yet, so this mobilization is more about anti-elected government activism than anything else.

Update 1: A reader admonishes PPT for not pointing out that the Ministry of Foreign Affairs has also dived into the custard, rejecting the Court’s authority on this case.

Update 2: The Nation reports that the congealing of yellow/ultra-nationalist political forces continues, although the Thai Patriot Network only managed to rally several hundred supporters opposing the jurisdiction of the International Court of Justice. That demonstration was headed by PAD’s Chaiwat Sinsuwong. Chaiwat’s gaggle of mostly elderly protesters told the U.N. that it rejected ICJ jurisdiction and that “Thais were against the government and politicians who ‘betrayed’ the nation by handing over national interests to others.” There’s a social science thesis in this conception of “nation.” He claimed to have 1.2 million signatures opposing any ICJ ruling. The demonstrators also pressured the Army and then the Supreme Court “demanding that the head of the judiciary balance the government’s power to stop it from giving the country’s sovereignty away.” The latter visits were to allies, pushing them to take positions in the political-dispute-in-the-making.

Remarkably, Army boss General Prayuth Chan-ocha then chose to speak for the Army and government, saying that “the Army and the government were waiting for a ruling of the ICJ before planning the next move.” He added a rejection of the ICJ when he stated “… he preferred bilateral talks with the Cambodian government on how to settle the dispute over the plot near the Preah Vihear Temple.”

The congealing continues.


Updated: PAD vs. Prayuth

15 01 2013

The much-hyped dispute between Army chief Prayuth Chan-ocha and the People’s Alliance for Democracy ended almost as fast as it began. This means that those touting a final end to the alliance of neo-fascist, ultra-nationalist royalists and the military (who can be described in the same terms) might have to recalibrate their measurement of “end.”

Not only did Prayuth issue a public apology to the ASTV/Manager for his boys protesting Prayuth’s soundness and goodness outside the ASTV offices for a couple of days, but the PAD ranters ASTV were ever so nice in accepting the apology and praising the Army. On top of that, the Army boss “said he was also sorry about his moodiness recently…”, referring to his “irritating behaviour.”

Prayuth claimed that the “soldiers who went to the ASTV-Manager office … asked for permission [before going],” meaning that they were given the green light by the Army brass, which contradicts Prayuth’s claims that these were insulted/offended soldiers. He added that “they did this outside office hours, so they have not done anything wrong.” PPT assumes that “office hours” means “on duty” unless these were all Army pencil pushers usually saddled to a desk.

Prayuth then promised: “I will never bar ASTV reporters from doing their job, and when I mentioned the newspaper, I did not blame any particular person. I apologise if my ‘soldier-like’ remarks [made the newspaper] feel insulted.” Wow! The tough guy is brought down to terra firma and has had to gulp down a huge amount of pride. We wonder who has sent out the order for the apology?

In response, the ASTV/Manager lot “thanked Prayuth for his apologies” and “said it appreciated the military for protecting the country from the threats of political ideology as well as the violence in the South, and for its help during the 2011 flood crisis.”

ASTV/Manager is a fount of extremism, punctuated by sprouts of misogyny, racism and political fascism and it is also crucial for the royalist political camp, even if some of the less extremist royalists sometimes find it hard to accept its neo-fascism. It is a crucial ally in the war to prop up the royalist state and royalism. So we assume that Prayuth has had to kowtow to the bigger interest and the bigger bosses.

That’s our take. However, there is another pro-PAD version of events doing the rounds of the social media that the yellow lot at The Nation have taken up and advanced from rumor to news by suggesting that the protesting soldiers were pro-Thaksin Shinawatra soldiers driving a wedge between Prayuth and his PAD allies. It reports this: “Based on his remarks, it is clear he [Prayuth] is in the middle of crucial negotiations with the PAD. And he wants to reject whatever proposal it has advanced to him…. Further, the proposal is so sensitive to the fate of the government that he had no choice but to make his reply public in order to dispel any doubts on how he would steer the Army.” The Nation reckons that PAD were wanting the Army to bring down the government following an upcoming International Court of Justice ruling.

Update: For an earlier account that remains very useful, see Asian Correspondent.

Thaksin-Yingluck strategy has failed II

7 01 2013

Several times PPT has posted skeptically about the political strategy adopted by Thaksin and Yingluck Shinawatra in dealing with their opposition. Essentially, their strategy is to stay in the government’s seats for four years, no matter what.  To do that, the Puea Thai government has appeased the military, monarchy, royalists and others. Whenever the government has proposed anything that has resulted in rising opposition or criticism, it has withdrawn.

We see this strategy at work on the issue of constitutional amendment. While the United Front for Democracy against Dictatorship strategy for 2013 lists constitutional reform as a priority –  “The UDD is unwavering in its conviction that the government must proceed with a third reading of the charter amendment bill” – it seems the government is in full retreat. Yingluck reportedly says: “We will need to take a step back and talk it out to find the causes [of the problems], but not to create more divisiveness. Otherwise [the problems] will never come to an end…”.

All it seems to take is a few determined royalists ranting about a government policy and the government is seen reversing, seeking a safe parking place. So when a royalist bully with palace connections like coup plotter Prasong Soonsiri claims that “wholesale charter amendment is prohibited and a referendum to decide if it should proceed is probably unconstitutional” his views are sufficient for the Thaksin-Yingluck retreat strategy to be implemented. (The current undemocratic constitution, born of the 2006 military coup, is largely Prasong’s work as he was the chair of the drafting committee and repeatedly called the document an anti-Thaksin charter and demanded military action against those opposed to it and the sham referendum.)

The flaw in the Thaksin-Yingluck strategy is that opponents – yellow shirts, military brass, ultra-royalists, palace figures and the Democrat Party – now know that they can use it to get what they want. So it is that the People’s Alliance for Democracy is opposing the authority of the International Court of Justice on Preah Vihear. This in itself is not triggering another retreat, but as this position is reinforced by other xenophobes and ultra-royalists, the risk is government capitulation.

Hence it is no surprise that the “so-called Group of 40 Senators said the Pheu Thai government would have to inform the International Court of Justice (ICJ) that it had no authority to make a ruling over the dispute — and Thailand would not accept a ruling or order of the court that would affect sovereignty over the disputed plot.” This is the usual group of mostly unelected senators that oppose everything the government does. They know that a bit of agitation can get them their way when all the government desires is longevity.

If more opposition weight is added to this co-ordinated PAD-military junta demon seed senators – the same lot who, with Prasong were championing Pitak Siam – then expect the government to be looking for a retreat.


4 01 2013

People’s Alliance for Democracy is an odd moniker for the leadership of a gaggle of ultra-nationalist, ultra-royalist demagogues. Their followers are an odd mix of religious zealots and mad monarchists. Their politics is a cocktail of feudal nonsense about royal power and antediluvian ideas that reject notions of democracy and representation.

PAD leaders have long stoked hatred of Cambodia over the Preah Vihear temple complex and the 1962 International Court of Justice decision that went against the desires and interests of the Thai military junta of the time and the xenophobia it had stoked. Yes, they advocate against a decision made 50 years ago.

In 2013, PAD leaders have gotten together in a Jurassic zombie-like performance demanding that the Government of Thailand to oppose the ICJ’s pending interpretation of the 1962 decision.

PAD zealots

PAD zealots

The Cambodian government has gone to the ICJ because of continuing tension over Preah Vihear as the Thai military and PAD zealots have repeatedly sought to challenge the ruling on the ground, with several armed clashes in recent years. PAD now demands that the Thai government repudiate the ICJ and “refuse to recognise the court’s pending ruling.” PAD doesn’t know what the ruling will be, but says that “if Thailand fights the case and loses, it is likely to lose the disputed area.” The zealots will be unhappy and they prefer military confrontation and fighting that saw the Abhisit Vejjajiva regime using using cluster bombs to make its territorial demands.

PAD wants the government to declare that “the ICJ has no authority to intervene in the dispute and it does not accept the ICJ’s jurisdiction.” Of course, PAD wants the Thai military to continue to be in place at the complex and opposes “the ICJ’s injunction which orders demilitarisation of the disputed area, saying compliance is unnecessary when the ICJ’s jurisdiction is not accepted.”

Of course, the militaristic types in PAD, urged on by former mercenary Chamlong Srimuang, believe that an appearance that Thailand has “lost” territory (that it hasn’t had) will be a boon for PAD’s tired leadership in building support for yet another push to oust an elected government.

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