Bail double standards

26 02 2021

A couple of days ago we posted on the limp response on bail by one who should do better. The observations there become even more stark as yellow shirts, found guilty of sedition, stroll away with bail while four lese majeste defendants are repeatedly refused bail and may be kept in jail “indefinitely.”

The former People’s Democratic Reform Committee leaders, including three serving ministers, given their posts as “repayment” for paving the way to the coup in 2014, were sentenced on Wednesday. As Khaosod had it, those convicted were:

… former Democrat Party executive Suthep Thaugsuban and five others on charges of insurrection for their roles in street protests against the elected government back in 2013 and 2014.

Suthep was sentenced to 5 years in prison for the protests, which culminated in the military coup that toppled Yingluck Shinawatra’s administration in May 2014. The court declined to suspend their sentences, though it is not clear as of publication time whether Suthep and others would be granted a bail release while they appeal the verdict.

Defendants who were given jail sentences alongside Suthep include Digital Economy Minister Buddhipongse Punnakanta, Education Minister Nataphol Teepsuwan, and Deputy Transport Minister Thaworn Senniam.

Buddhipongse and Thaworn were sentenced to 7 and 5 years in prison, respectively, while Nataphol got 6 years and 16 months.

In all, 25 PDRC leaders and members were sentenced for treason and sedition. Other key PDRC leaders were given jail sentences were:

  • Issara Somchai – eight years and four months
  • Suwit Thongprasert, formerly Buddha Isra – four years and eight months
  • Chumpol Julsai – 11 years
  • Suriyasai Katasila – two years

Today, the Appeals Court granted bail to at least eight: “Suthep Thaugsuban, Issara Somchai, Chumpol Julsai, Digital Economy and Society Minister Buddhipongse Punnakanta, Deputy Transport Minister Thaworn Senneam, Education Minister Nataphol Teepsuwan, Suwit Thongprasert and Samdin Lertbutr.”

But, for those who have not been convicted of anything remain in jail as further charges are piled on. They are detained pending trial which means they are detained indefinitely until the trial is over or until bail is granted.

Double standards? You bet.





The (in)justice system at work

27 06 2017

The “justice” system continues to operate in the interests of some and discriminates again others. It is a system that ensures injustice in Thailand. Far from the claims made by the military dictatorship, there is no notion of blind justice and it is a nonsense that “everyone must adhere to the law.”

In late September 2014, 72 year-old Arkaew Saelew died. He was shot in front of IT Square shopping mall in Laksi district on 1 February 2014, the night before the 2 February polls that the anti-democrats opposed. He had been confined to hospital for seven months after a bullet to the neck shattered his nerve system and paralysed him from the neck down.

He was shot as anti-democrat protesters supporting Suthep Thaugsuban sought to block the election by besieging the Laksi District Office, where poll ballots and other equipment were stored, prompting pro-government demonstrators to stage a counter rally. Arkaew had joined those supporting an election.

In a brief battle between the twos sides, pro-election demonstrators were pinned down by anti-government militants equipped with automatic rifles and bullet-proof armor. The anti-democrat gunmen were organized in military style and were careful to collect bullet casing and were cheered by the anti-democrats. Four people were seriously injured in the shooting.

At the time, anti-democrat co-leader Issara Somchai admitted that the shooters on that day belonged to his lot, saying that the man who fired a gun hidden in a popcorn bag was their man. When he was arrested, shooter Vivat Yodprasit stated “still loves and respects PCAD [Suthep’s PDRC] leader and monk Buddha Issara as ‘his own father’ and is relying on the monk to provide him with legal assistance.” He worked as a PDRC “guard.” Vivat said he worked protecting Suthep [opens a PDF].

Initially he confessed in great detail, then withdrew that, but was still convicted. Now an Appeals Court has “dismissed the charges against a suspect known as the ‘popcorn gunman’ accused of attempting to murder red shirt protesters in February 2014.” After he was convicted he also admitted to a journalist that he was a shooter at Laksi.

Initially indicted on more than ten charges “under the Criminal Code, the Gun Control Act, the Emergency Decree, and the Civil Code, for attempted murder and carrying weapons in public,” he got 37 years in jail. The “Appeal Court dismissed the charges, citing weak evidence.”

Although the charges against Vivat were dismissed by the Appeals Court, “the court did not release him. He will be kept in detention while the prosecution appeals to the Supreme Court.”





Things that make you think

15 01 2017

There lots of stuff that goes on in the junta’s Thailand that causes you to wonder and think about motivations and machinations.

PPT’s perusal of the Bangkok Post today produced two such moments.

The first Bangkok Post story had us wondering…

The first paragraph was pretty much palace propaganda-like, with the king reported as having “reiterated the importance of children, urging the government to enhance the education system as a key part of the country’s development…”.

Prayuth Puppetry

Who is the puppet?

That’s pretty standard. But then we learn that this is not the king speaking, but The Dictator, General Prayuth Chan-ocha.

Speaking at a ceremony marking National Children’s Day, The Dictator becomes the voice of the king and explains an apparently close relationship:

“… the [k]ing told me many times to give priority to children both in terms of education and the country’s development. He also wants the government to enhance the discipline of Thai children, which will result in orderliness and knowledge development of Thai people….

That sounds a lot like Prayuth’s voice rather than the king’s.It does seem a little out of the ordinary for a premier to speaking for the monarch. Is Prayuth out of line? Or are he and the king best buddies?

Just for good measure, The Dictator invokes the dead king: “During the rest of my term in office, I want all Thais to do good to follow in the footsteps of the late monarch, who was always concerned about his people…”. That is more the invocation we are used to from prime ministers.

The second Bangkok Post story is a tale of two parties and had us thinking of double standards and political machinations.

The About Politics column reflects on the floods in the south.

(Naturally enough, these floods can’t be blamed on Yingluck Shinawatra was the case in 2011. This time the culprit is not a government or a party, but the weather.)

The story praises “recovery operations” and singles out the so-called Muan Maha Prachachon for Reform Foundation.

Who is the puppet?

Who is the puppet?

This is the “foundation” established by anti-democrat boss Suthep Thaugsuban, as a post-coup vehicle for the People’s Democratic Reform Committee (PDRC) and others who temporarily or momentarily left the Democrat Party in order to engage in street activism to prevent elections and bring down an elected government.

Unlike the Puea Thai Party and red shirts, the Democrat Party and the Muan Maha Prachachon for Reform Foundation have not been sued, harassed, arrested, jailed and suppressed by the junta. After all, they did a lot to foment the coup that brought the military thugs to power.

Suthep and other “key leaders of the now-defunct People’s Democratic Reform Committee (PDRC) have sprung into action, including Chitpas … Kridakorn [Bhirombhakdi], Chumphol Julsai and Isara Somchai” have been active in the region.

Most important has been Witthaya Kaewparadai, described as “Suthep’s right-hand man in this operation.”

As is well known, Witthaya is a former Democrat Party MP for Nakhon Si Thammarat. This former MP is said to have been an asset in relief operation having “helped boost the efficiency of distribution of essential supplies.”

Like us, many readers will wonder at this. The junta doesn’t like “politicians” meddling in anything. But, then, Witthaya is also a “member of the coup-appointed [puppet] National Legislative Assembly (NLA),” and this “secures coordination among state agencies and the military which need a go-between to bring help to where it is needed.”

Readers are then told that:

Since the PDRC protests, Mr Witthaya has remained active in his constituency, but his focus has been on community work. He has founded a cycling club where members do the necessary legwork to keep fit and the brainwork by discussing problems facing their community. This cycling club is said to be the biggest in the region.

The reports goes on:Kissing soldiers

The Muan Maha Prachachon for Reform Foundation’s contribution to flood rescue and relief operations can be no less; most of the flood victims are the very same people who kept the group’s street protests going in Bangkok during 2013-2014.

In other words, the PRDC-Democrat Party are catering to their members and supporters.

Imagine what would happen if a former MP from Puea Thai who was also a red shirt was doing something similar in the north or northeast. Sedition charges would be pending!

We learn more about these double standards when the report states:

While the former PDRC leaders are out there working in flood relief operations, the Democrat Party which has a political stronghold in the region is helping quietly, staying out of the spotlight due to a political ban by the National Council for Peace and Order (NCPO).

But they are indeed working there, with the PDRC. An unnamed source says: “People think the PDRC and the Democrat Party are no different. It doesn’t matter who leads the flood relief efforts…”.

“Election” preparations and electioneering are permitted in the south. Indeed, the military and junta facilitate them.

Double standards? You bet.

These double standards are reinforced in another story, in the same column, about the problems facing Puea Thai.

The party has few resources left and former party MPs are complaining that they are being left to their own devices and resources, with little help from the party or the “party’s heavyweights.”

Party leaders are tied up in a myriad of legal actions – hundreds of them – brought by the junta.

The longer the junta delays an “election” – some now suggest 2020, only partly tongue-in-cheek – the worse it gets for Puea Thai. And don’t think the junta doesn’t know this. All the talk of cremations delaying the “election” or the king making changes will be used as excuses for no “election.” However, one thing the junta wants is for Yingluck Shinawatra’s case and related cases against Puea Thai to be concluded this year.

The junta believes these cases will cause the collapse of Puea Thai. Once that happens, the junta can better control the “election” outcome.





Further updated: Suthep re-enters politics

28 07 2015

Much of the media commentary about Suthep Thaugsuban leaving the monkhood has been about his declaration that he will no longer be involved in politics.

Suthep

A Bangkok Post photo

Suthep entered the monkhood not that long after the coup, as a kind of political exile, and after a couple of slaps from the military dictatorship on commentary he made about the coup and his People’s Democratic Reform Committee links to the military’s planning of the coup.

Like others with a penchant for mobilizing people, be it Thaksin Shinawatra, Sondhi Limthongkul or even Chamlong Srimuang, the military is suspicious of them.

Hence, Suthep’s declaration that he is not re-entering politics is something of a ruse.

For one thing, saying he is done with party politics is not saying much when the military dictatorship has sent parties to the wilderness. Parties are more or less defunct and those drafting the new constitution have tried to make them less significant into the future.

Second, during the PDRC campaign against Yingluck Shinawatra’s government, much of the rhetoric was driven by royalist notions that are anti-party and a anti-politician, so an immediate return to party politics would be a denial of that anti-democratic ideology.

Third, it is noticeable that Suthep remains politically engaged. Photographed in his PDRC livery emphasizing monarchy and nation, Suthep stated that he “plans to join a foundation that other former protest leaders have established,” allegedly “to promote vocational education and other grassroots projects.” When he states that “I will work with the Foundation of the Great Mass of the People for Reform of Thailand. I will never go back to run in an election ever again. But I will be working in civil politics alongside the Great Mass of the People for the benefit of our country.”

In a sense, this is an acknowledgement of the post-politician/post-party politics that will be acceptable to the royalist elite and the military dictatorship. Suthep has re-entered politics in a space delimited by the military.

Update 1: As if on cue, Army chief General Udomdej Sitabutr has warned Suthep to steer clear of political organizing.

Update 2: The military dictatorship’s concerns regarding Suthep’s re-entry into politics has been shown in a statement by The Dictator. General Prayuth Chan-ocha “admitted yesterday he was concerned that politician Suthep Thaugsuban … has become politically active once again.” Prayuth was expressing concern about a press conference scheduled for Thursday that “will be the first time since the coup in May 22, 2014, that 12 PDRC leaders will officially get together to continue their push for reform.” Prayuth and Suthep

As Chairman of the so-called Foundation of the Great Mass of the People for Reform of Thailand, Suthep will attend the event. So will all of the other anti-democrat leaders: Sathit Wongnongtoey, Thaworn Senniam, Issara Somchai, Witthaya Kaewparadai, Akanat Promphan, Chumpol Chulasai, Chaiwut Bannawat, Puttipong Punnakan, Sakoltee Phattiyakul, Natthapol Theepsuwan and Chitpas Bhirombhakdi-Kridakorn.

The “foundation” will consider its “strategy to support ‘reforms’ according to the six-point proposal initiated by Suthep himself…”.

 





Murder, torture and anti-democrats

15 03 2014

At Khaosod it is reported that “police have expanded the investigation over attempted murder of a Redshirt protest[er] after evidence … suggested that the case might be related to two other dead bodies found earlier this year.”

Police have said that prominent anti-democrat core leader Issara Somchai, together with five anti-democrat guards, were to face charges of “attempted premeditated murder, unlawful detention leading to grievous harms, and physical assaults.”

That victim claimed “the suspects later dumped him into Bang Pakong River east of Bangkok with his feet and hands bound together, but a group of locals reportedly rescued the man and sent him to hospital.”

Now the police say the case “might not be an isolated incident.” The case had “many similarities to recent discoveries of dead bodies in Bangkok.” They explained:

On 28 January, the police found a dead body wearing anti-government protest outfit next to the railroad in Prachachuen district, and nearly a month later, on 26 February, another dead body with anti-government clothes and accessories was found in a submerged sack near the pier of Riverside Hotel on the western bank of Chao Praya River.

The first body was later identified as Mr. Boonthiang Kham-Im, a 41-years old resident of Chaiyabhum province, while the second body remains unidentified, Pol.Maj.Gen. Thitirat said.

Coupled with Mr. Yuem’s case, all three incidents shared traces of torture, according to Pol.Maj.Gen. Thitirat. In these cases, he said, the bodies and the survivor were found with bound feet and hands, and wearing anti-government accessories, which might be planted…; Mr. Yuem has previously told police officers that the guards placed a whistle around his neck just before they dumped him into the river.

Furthermore, according to the deputy commander, investigation reveals that both Mr. Yuem and Mr. Boonthiang have ties to the Redshirts movements, raising speculation that the culprit in all three cases committed the crime out of political motive with intention to conceal the bodies afterward.

The police “have acquired CCTV footage which purportedly captured the moments the suspects arrived on a car at Rama VIII Bridge and dumped the unidentified body into Chao Praya River before fleeing the area shortly afterward.” A video of events is available here.





Guns, beating and guards

10 03 2014

The Chachoengsao Provincial Court having approved arrest warrants for anti-democrat core leader Issara Somchai, together with five anti-democrat guards on charges of “attempted premeditated murder, unlawful detention leading to grievous harms, and physical assaults.”

Issara has refused to turn himself in to investigators. He says he has more important things to do: “Let me finish the rally first and then I will fight the case…”.

The anti-democrats know from long experience, going back to the days of the People’s Alliance for Democracy, that they can thumb their noses at arrest warrants and legal cases; none of them ever go to jail and the cases drag on for many years.

Double standards make them above the law.This impunity is also seen amongst the so-called guards who work for the anti-democrats.

A report at the Bangkok Post is revealing on these guards. It quotes a former guard for Suthep Thaugsuban, who “admitted that PDRC guards sometimes need to resort to harsh approaches for the sake of security. He also admitted that all guards carry guns.”

He stated that “PDRC guards usually carry pistols and will only use them when they are attacked or authorities attempt to arrest PDRC leaders.” He states that Suthep has “dozens” of guards. He added that the guards for anti-democrat leaders are “those who are skilled in the use of weapons.” Indeed, this former guard claims he was recruited “because he can use guns…”.

There are more than “300 guards at Lumpini Park …”. The former guard suggests that, in addition to other claims that some guards are serving and former Navy Seals, “[m]any policemen also work as guards,” adding “that most of these officers, who support the anti-government protests, come from southern provinces which are the Democrats’ stronghold.”

These guards are clearly armed and dangerous. Reported at the Bangkok Post is yet another case of these lawless guards in action, using more than pistols. A taxi driver was shot and his “taxi was riddled with bullet holes, windows had been smashed and a front tyre and a rear tyre punctured. Many spent bullet cases were scattered nearby.” Of course, anti-democrat spokesman Akanat Promphan denied everything, claiming “someone in the cab opened fire into the park from Gate 2 to Gate 1, prompting a return of gunfire.” But, naturally, the anti-democrats “did not know who returned fire.”





Ordered killed

7 03 2014

Sometimes a story is worth posting in full from the original. We do this from a Bangkok Post report on anti-democrat gangsterism:

A man who claimed he was detained for five days, beaten, tied up and thrown into the Bang Pakong River by anti-government protest guards on Thursday accused protest co-leader Issara Somchai of issuing a “kill order” for him.

Yuem Nillar, 33, a security guard with a private company in Bangkok, was talking to reporters from his bed at the Police General Hospital.

“I ask [Mr Issara] one last time if he could spare my life. He said ‘no’ and must throw me in the river, whether in the Chao Phraya or … feed me to a crocodile … that’s it,” Mr Yuem told reporters when asked to give details about the alleged kill order by the co-leader of the People’s Democratic Reform Committee (PDRC).

He is having trouble breathing due to his lung being lacerated from the impact of a solid object.

Mr Yuem confirmed he could recognise Mr Issara as he saw him and heard him clearly while speaking to him.

He also said he could identify the guards involved in the incident if he sees them in person again.

Mr Issara, a former Democrat MP for Ubon Ratchathani, denied Mr Yuem’s allegation, saying the PDRC guards did not detain, torture or throw him in the river.

BeatenThe Post might have added that Issara was also Minister for Social Development and Human Security in the Abhisit Vejjajiva government. An online biography states:

He has obtained his first degree in Law from Ramkamhaeng University, Thailand; his masters degree in Social Development from the National Institute of Development and Administration (NIDA), Thailand and the Advance Certificate in Democratic Government and Politics for Executives from King Rama VII Institute of Public Administration.

HE Mr. Issara Somchai has been a professional lawyer, a local politician of Ubon Ratchathani province, and has been elected as MP for many periods since 1986.

Issara was one of the first Democrat Party members to take to the streets to bring down the elected government. Despite the linked report stating that he resigned from the executive of the party to take to the streets, he remains listed at the Democrat Party website.