Updated: PADocrat video

31 05 2012

In an earlier post, PPT linked to the Democrat Party – the PADocrat Party – acting like thugs in parliament while their PAD allies rallied outside parliament. There are more videos of their parliamentary shenanigans here.

The Nation reports that the PADocrats have again been using Nazi salutes in parliament: “A group of Democrat MPs surrounded Somsak and tried to pull him out of his seat, while some started miming the Nazi salute in front of him.”

Of course, PADocrat supporters and yellow shirts like military-appointed Senator Kamnoon Sidhisamarn blamed the House Speaker for the chaos unleashed by Abhisit Vejjajiva’s Democrat Party, saying that “it looked like Somsak was unable to control his meetings, as evidenced by last night’s chaos.”

In the past, the “Democrat” Party and its allies in PAD have tried to stop parliament from the outside, but PPT believes that this is the first time that the “Democrat” Party has attempted to close down parliamentary debate in this manner.

We expect that the disingenuous Abhisit, who always claimed that parliament was important, will now blame the Puea Thai Party and other parties for the actions of his party that threaten parliamentary government as the basis of Thailand’s democracy. PAD leaders must be very happy indeed.

Update: Abhisit’s response on these events is breathtakingly predictable and at the Bangkok Post:

“The incident yesterday was not appropriate and had affected the image of the Democrat Party,” Mr Abhisit said. “But there’s no need [for the Democrats] to say sorry since we didn’t do anything illegal.”

Abhisit blamed the government.

His buddy Thepthai Senpong, the (un)Democrat MP “said he felt it was his  duty to stop the reconciliation bills, which would benefit fugitive former prime minister Thaksin Shinawatra.” He stated: “They are bills written by thieves, for thieves and I cannot let this happen…”. And he added: “I will sacrifice my honour to protect the country’s interests…”. Other PADocrats promised “more chaos” in parliament later in the week, saying “we have to do whatever it takes to halt the reconciliation bills…”. PAD will support and assist them.


An electorate of morons

5 04 2012

Democrat Party leader Abhisit Vejjajiva apparently thinks that Thailand’s electorate (and international observers) is composed of morons and dolts. After all, his recent statements at the Bangkok Post, where he is claimed to have called for a “new blueprint” to prevent “the Thai political system was being monopolised” presumably by the electorally popular pro-Thaksin Shinawatra parties, including Puea Thai.

PPT reads this statement of monopoly as being a claim that is plagiarized directly from the ultra-royalist and rightist yellow shirt groups. While he doesn’t dare use the same terminology, his perspective jives with that of, for example, People’s Alliance for Democracy leader Phipob Dhongchai who said his movement “stood ready to step out and fight against the domination of rogue capitalists over the political system.” Tul Sitthisomwong has said similar things as have his conservative ultra-royalist buddies like appointed  Senator Kamnoon Sidhisamarn, an ASTV/Manager journalist.

We guess he thinks that his audience is too stupid to notice that he is simply lifting “ideas” and slogans from the more extremist elements of royalist politics.

PPT also reads Abhisit as complaining that the electorate rejects his declining and increasingly decrepit party because of political “tricks” when he refers to “[n]ew political tools” that are “introduced to maintain a [Thaksin] political monopoly…”.

Abhisit must feel that his complaints here are explaining something about why his party loses. Perhaps he would be better served by not considering the public as morons but rather looked at the repeated electoral failures of the royalist Democrat Party in every election since 2000. Indeed, perhaps the party could look at why it almost always fails to attract voters despite being the country’s oldest party.

Abhisit then declares that one of the “new political tools” that cause his party’s repeated defeat is “populism.” He claims that “populist schemes” are just to “woo votes” rather than “to solve grass-roots economic problems.”

Huh? What was Abhisit doing at the head of the Democrat Party and as prime minister when there was an attempt to unashamedly plagiarize Thai Rak Thai/People’s Power/Puea Thai policies and to even out-populist the pro-Thaksin lot? Does he believe that people simply forget what he and his party did and promised? Whether one likes so-called populism or not, the Democrat Party seemed to be swimming in it not that long ago.

Abhisit now comes to the conclusion that “the people have become poorer with household debt rising sharply…”. If that were true, then the anti-Thaksin governments of 2006-11, including the one Abhisit led should take their share of the blame.

[As a footnote on this, see Bangkok Pundit’s recent post on household debt, and while none of us at PPT read economics at Oxford, it would seem to dismiss Abhisit’s statement.]

Abhisit now reckons that to “transcend the trap of populist policies, all sides should help design a new blueprint for the country.” What a surprise to learn that the true blue Democrat Party have “devised strategies which … could be used as a fundamental guideline for the blueprint.”

Abhisit doesn’t explain why, when in government, they had no such strategies, plans or blueprints, apart from a political strategy that drove Thailand into the company of authoritarian states.

With that in mind, it is jaw-droppingly ironic to hear Abhisit say that “Thais of different political ideologies must unite.” He must believe that the public have a contagious political amnesia.

More so when he brazenly declares:

The party will play a leading role, but it must be borne in mind that reconciliation cannot be achieved by force, intimidation or the majority vote. It also should not be used to whitewash cheating politicians.

Can it be done by an auto-whitewashing by an elitist leader who has no respect for the people or their votes?

Finally, the man responsible for blocking, censoring, and repressing on a scale that puts even some military regimes to shame, Abhisit comes up with his final conjuring trick, declaring without a hint on embarrassment that:

Politically, Thailand needs true democracy with people having complete freedom to express their views while respecting the rights of others to do so as well.

Politics is partly about memory, and PPT believes that the average person in Thailand can easily remember what Abhisit and his regime really did when hoisted to power on the shoulders of the military brass who kept hold of some of the puppet strings. As much as Abhisit and his ilk may believe it, the people are not stupid children who need elite lads to whip them into shape.

Updated: Appointing royalists to consider constitutional (non-)amendment

23 02 2012

In a remarkable report at The Nation, it is reported that the Office of the Ombudsman has appointed royalists – including some associated with the People’s Alliance for Democracy – to “study how to improve the Constitution…”. In the language of the British, this is a stitch-up. Some background first.

The alleged “experts” are appointed “because the ombudsmen were required by Article 244 of the Constitution to evaluate charter enforcement and provide advice on how to improve the charter.”  The appropriate section of the military’s 2007 constitution states:

Section 244. The Ombudsmen have the powers and duties as follows: … (3) to monitor, evaluate and prepare recommendations on the compliance with the Constitution including considerations for amendment of the Constitution as deemed necessary;

In other words, the Ombudsmen is not required to do this, as reported. A decision must be taken to do it. PPT guesses that this decision also relates to Section 245, which states:

The Ombudsmen may submit a case to the Constitutional Court or Administrative Court in the following cases:

(1) if the provisions of any law begs the question of the constitutionality, the Ombudsmen shall submit the case and the opinion to the Constitutional Court and the Constitutional Court shall decide without delay in accordance with the organic law on rules and procedure of the Constitutional Court;

 (2) if rules, orders or actions of any person under section 244 (1) (a) begs the question of the constitutionality or legality, the Ombudsmen shall submit the case and the opinion to the Administrative Court and the Administrative Court shall decide without delay in accordance with the Act on Establishment of the Administrative Courts and Administrative Courts Procedure.

We likewise guess that these appointments are part of a process that will seek to invalidate amendments to the constitution. The Bangkok Post reports: “A source at the Office of the Ombudsman said the advisory board was set up out of concern the charter’s chapter covering the monarchy may be amended.” PPT would be staggered if that were the case.

The “experts” appointed are:

Noranit Settabut, who was the chairman of the military junta-appointed 2007 Constitution Drafting Assembly (CDA)

Wissanu Krua-ngarm (sometimes Krea-ngam), a former deputy prime minister under Thaksin Shinawatra, but one of those who jumped ship and went to the support of the royalists. Since then, he has accrued a remarkable number of company directorships, perhaps as his reward. He was mentioned in a Wikileaks cable: “Prem had signaled his intentions and intimidated two cabinet members (Cabinet Secretary Borwornsak Uwanno and Deputy Prime Minister Wissanu Krea-ngam) into resigning in June. Pansak claimed that Prem had sent a clear signal by asking their view on whether constitutional provisions allowing the King to take on a political role might be invoked in the event of Thaksin’s death.”

Bowornsak Uwanno, secretary-general of King Prajadipok’s Institute and mentioned in the above cable and this one too.On his resignation as Thaksin’s government spokesman, Bowornsak spent some time in an elite temple and wrote articles extolling the wonders of monarchy and defending lese majeste as a process of rehabilitation to the royalist elite. PPT had this description of him, mentioning his record of political promiscuity.

Surapol Nitikraipot is a former rector of Thammasat University and an appointed member of the military junta’s National Legislative Assembly.

Sombat Thamrongthanyawong, rector of National Institute of Development Administration. Sombat is one of the most compromised of academics, having been harshly critical of red shirts, supportive of all post-coup governments and of yellow shirts. He has been solidly conservative, even rallying his fellow academics at NIDA to oppose those he sees as pro-Thaksin Shinawatra, including outspoken and baseless  attacks on the current government and Prime Minister Yingluck Shinawatra. Back in April 2010, he was one of the academics signing a statement opposing red shirts, along with card-carrying royalists and PAD supporters Chai-Anan Samudvanij, Charas Suwanmala and Pramote Nakhonthap. In June 2010, Abhisit Vejjajiva appointed Sombat to head a constitutional review panel. That panel did nothing and sank into oblivion except for recommending a change to the system of appointing the prime minister taht was meanrt to help the Democrat Party. Even the Democrat Party didn’t jump on that totally biased suggestion.

Thiraphat Serirangsan, former PM’s Office minister in the Surayud Chulanont government appointed by the military junta in 2006. He got his position mainly through his close relationship with self-proclaimed coup planner and well-known royalist and political manipulator Squadron Leader Prasong Soonsiri.

Charas Suwanmala is a former dean of Chulalongkorn University’s Faculty of Political Science, former member of the of the military junta-appointed 2007 CDA and one of the best-know yellow-shirted academics in Thailand. In August 2010 he supported moves to prevent students demonstrating against Abhisit. Charas is a well-known and staunch yellow-shirted academic. In April 2010 he joined with royalists including Police General Vasit Dejkunchorn, in rounding up other yellow shirts, including fellow Chula academic Tul Sitthisomwong, in demonstrating against red shirts by dressing in royalist pink. Vasit and Charas are reported to have sworn an oath before the statue of King Rama VI to protect the nation [from nasty red shirts]. Their crowd chanted royalist slogans, sang royalist songs and demanded that Abhisit not dissolve the House, which was the only red shirt demand at the time. Leaflets claiming Thaksin Shinawatra had defamed the king were also distributed at that rally.

Parinya Thewanarumitkul, vice rector of Thammasat, is generally considered reasonably independent, having been critical of the Puea Thai Party and red shirts prior to the last election and also critical of the military’s 2007 constitution.

The only two who are relatively unknown quantities, at least to PPT, are Kittisak Porakati, a law lecturer of Thammasat and Supachai Yavaprabhas, dean of Chulalongkorn University’s Faculty of Political Science. If readers know more about them, we’d be pleased to update this post.

That means that the Office of the Ombudsman has appointed seven well-known and outspoken partisan “experts,” making a mockery of the claim that “the opinions of the advisers of the ombudsman would be neutral…”. Rather, the Ombudsman appears partisan and biased.

The first meeting of this sub-committee of the PAD Ombudsman is due to be held next week. Don’t expect anything other than partisan politicking from this lot.

You get the general idea of where all this is going in The Nation, where it is reported that the political allies of the panel of “experts” is opposed to any suggestion of rewriting a constitution that was written at the behest of a military junta and is meant to be able to be revised in parliament. Indeed, the current government has won two elections (as People’s Power Party and then as Puea Thai) where it promised amendments as part of its policies.

The Nation reports that the PAD has “issued a statement opposing the ruling coalition’s attempt to rewrite the Constitution in a way that would “allow Thailand to come under the grip of parliamentary dictatorship by evil political capitalism”. That’s all PADspeak for Thaksin and its disdain for voters and elections that produce outcomes it hates. It has called a rally for 10 March.

Meanwhile, a group of 50 senators is also opposed. This is the usual suspects in the Senate, mostly appointed under junta-established rules in the 2007 constitution. They include Surajit Chiravet, Somjet Boonthanom, Kamnoon Sidhisamarn and Rosana Tositrakul. Rosana was clear: she reckoned the whole process of constitutional amendment was “to whitewash the wrongdoing of a certain former prime minister.”Like other royalists, they see rewriting the charter as “tantamount to overthrowing the 2007 Constitution.”

PAD’s words were only slightly different, viewing the “ruling coalition’s amendment as an attempt to overthrow the charter, which is an illegal act against the Constitution.” Of course, all of them simply ignore the actual provisions in the constitution for changing it in Section 291. But it isn’t the constitution they seek to “defend” but the system of elite rule under the monarchy, emblazoned in the junta’s constitution. Expect others from the anti-Thaksin alliance of the past few years to rejoin PAD and the opposition to constitutional reform.

Update: And just to remind readers that the opposition to the charter amendment is a yellow-shirt rallying point, the Democrat Party has made essentially the same points as PAD and the appointed senators in opposing change. The old team is very firmly reunited.

Updated: For ultra-royalists, Nitirat is very scary

24 01 2012

It seems that, after its second big meeting, the Nitirat group of lawyers and supporters are looking very, very scary for royalists. At The Nation, the royalist attacks are detailed.

It also seems that the idea of “proposing charter amendments that would require a new head of state to be sworn in and vow to abide by and protect the constitution before assuming his post” is just too much for royalists.

Revealingly, Army boss General Prayuth Chan-ocha demands that “the police should look into the matter and determine if there was any legal violation.”

PPT can well understand his position. After all, he is a coup planner and maker, so he has a record of not abiding by or protecting the constitution. Rather, he trashes them, trampling under his large military boot.

Prayuth seems more concerned that this suggestion by Nitirat is demeaning to the monarchy rather than “illegal.”  He says:

I have always called for people to help protect the monarchy. Everybody should lend a hand, particularly the mass media…. People should follow the law. If what they are doing is not against the law, it is fine.

Even so, his point is clear. We can only wonder why he hasn’t said the same thing about People’s Alliance for Democracy’s (probably illegal) call for a military coup to protect the monarchy. Well, no, we don’t really wonder.

Komsan Phokong is a law lecturer at Sukhothai Thammathirat Open University and a supporter of the Sayam Prachapiwat group, making him an ultra-royalist and yellow shirt. He has decided that the best way to attack Nitirat is to yell that they are red shirt, Thaksin-supporting, Thaksin-funded republicans. He doesn’t use all those words but it is what he means.

Komsan said the Nitirat proposal “appeared to be intended to reduce the status of the monarchy.” Komsan said Nitirat “seemed to campaign in a manner that complemented the ideas and desires of former prime minister Thaksin Shinawatra and his red-shirt supporters.”

In an innovation – for us at PPT anyway – an ultra-royalist has used the 1932 revolution that overthrew the absolute monarchy as a negative, horrible event. Komsan says:

This proposal is aimed at changing the political system. It is similar to that of the Khanarat, which staged a coup in 1932″ to overthrow absolute monarchy….

We understand that some ultra-royalists want to turn back the clock to an absolute monarchy. We understand that much of the history of political struggles over constitutions going right back to 1932 have been efforts to roll back change. However, using the Khana Ratsadorn (People’s Party) as a denigration is new to us.

Komsan then demanded that Nitirat

disclose the source of funds used in its active campaign for constitutional amendments and changes to Article 112 of the Penal Code involving lese majeste.

The inference is that Thaksin is funding them. Konsum says that his call “is for the sake of transparency so that people can be assured the campaign has no hidden agenda…”. We don’t have a problem with transparency, but PPT doesn’t recall Sayam Prachpiwat revealing its funding. Nor to we recall Komsan calling for PAD to reveal its big-time funders.

Jumping on the fear train, Senator Kamnoon Sidhisamarn, an ASTV/Manager journalist appointed to the Senate by the military junta’s constitutional rules and yellow shirt fanatic, agreed that “politicians” were the root of all evil and Nitirat’s proposal would lead to “parliamentary dictatorship.” That’s PAD-speak for opposing free elections.

Kamnoon then rambled on about how the king was a really good guy, unlike all the nasty politicians of the last 60 years. In other words, an absolute monarchy would be so much better.

There can’t be many countries where political debate is circling on the question of monarchy versus democracy. Nitirat seem to be scaring the hell out of the ultra-royalists by proposing a version of constitutional monarchy.

Update: Over at New Mandala there is a related post on the way the extremist yellow shirts view Nitirat and the “threat” posed by its modest proposals. In part, the vehemence of threats and name-calling is reflective of the deep malaise amongst yellow shirts who are unable to get electoral support for a ridiculously antiquated political ideology. Related, it is also reflective of a long-held suspicion of political change inculcated by military and palace ideological campaigns over the past five decades. Combined, this is potentially fertile ground for dangerous and destabilizing fascist ideas.

PAD, Chamlong and Abhisit

28 07 2010

Prime Minister Abhisit Vejjajiva still treats the People’s Alliance for Democracy and its activities with care and consideration. Not for the first time in his administration, Abhisit has demonstrated that the government and the PAD remain allies.

On Tuesday, led by former mercenary and long-time PAD leader Major-General Chamlong Srimuang, several hundred PAD-organized protesters rallied at the UNESCO offices on Sukhumvit Road. They were opposing any discussion of the World Heritage status of Cambodia’s Preah Vihear Temple and the management plan – which the government and protesters claim not to have seen – to be discussed in Brazil this week.

PPT briefly visited the rally site to listen to a few ultra-nationalist speeches and read the banners, of which quite a few were in English. Most of the people, in what was essentially a good-natured crowd, seemed to be from Chamlong’s rightist Santi Asoke-Dhamma Army group.

Chamlong stated that the plan could result in Thailand losing “more than 1.8 million rai of land to Cambodia … [and] threatened to unseat Abhisit if he failed to protect Thailand’s sovereignty.” As stated above, the plan seems not to have been seen by anyone, so Chamlong’s claims are based on previous PAD announcements and beliefs.

The more interesting things were taking place quite a long way from the rally, at Ban Pitsanulok, where Abhisit decided to meet with PAD representatives. The Bangkok Post reports that Abhisit met with “PAD’s co-leader Pibhop Dhongchai, the movement’s spokesman Panthep Puapongpan, [PAD-aligned, former Manager journalist, lese majeste activist and appointed] Senator Kamnoon Sitthisamarn and [ultra-nationalist] historian ML Walwipha Charoonroj, who leads the Preah Vihear listing monitoring network.”

At that meeting, according to The Nation, Abhisit “vowed to protect Thailand’s rights and interests…”. Abhisit declared that the plan should not even be considered. He promised PAD representatives “that his government would not accept a resolution from the Unesco World Heritage Committee that could hurt the Kingdom’s interests in any way.” He is quoted: “The resolution must not interfere with Thailand’s territory or sovereignty…. We will not cooperate if the management plan encroaches on our soil.” He promised to consider “harsh measures.” Abhisit blamed the U.N. for conflict over the World Heritage site. In fact, most of the recent conflict has had to do with PAD machinations.

Abhisit may have rejected PAD’s claim that “Thailand force Cambodian soldiers and people out of the disputed area” but told PAD that he would “not accept Cambodia’s map” of the area as it would be “a violation of Thailand’s sovereignty…”. PAD protesters were apparently pleased by Abhisit’s responses. Appointed Senator Kamnoon said “PAD and the government shared a similar view on protecting the country’s sovereignty.” He added that “he felt ‘relieved’ since the government had prepared measures to be taken against the UN agency if it ignores Thailand’s stance.” One measure seems to be non-cooperation.

Old soldier Chamlong was apparently not so sanguine and as well as threatening the government, “warned the PAD would not give up its rallies” on the issue. His view seems to be that the Cambodian claim will not be defeated, so favors more direct action. Chamlong has been antagonistic to several governments and commands limited support. However, he believes he can easily stir nationalist feeling.

At the same time, Abhisit appears to be positioning himself with other PAD leaders in a manner that will allow the government to ride with right-wing nationalism should it be stirred rather than be the target of xenophobic anger. Recall that the Democrat Party stirred such feelings when in opposition and trying to bring down the government in 2008 on this very same issue. It linked with PAD for that campaign as well. So it knows its allies very well and maintains that useful liaison. The Thai right-wing sticks together on the important issues.

Updated: Lese majeste and double standards

23 07 2010

Update: As if to prove the double standards at work, Bangkok Post opinion page columnist Veera Prateepchaikul comes out in support of Pongpat without mentioning any other lese majeste case or the yellow shirt attacks on other people related to the same case . It is interesting that Veera thnks that the “right” to make lese majeste complaints cannot yet be taken away from the population. PPT suspects this is due to the fact that the law is needed by the Abhisit regime to maintain its rule for the traditional elite.


Yesterday PPT posted regarding actor and yellow shirt supporter Pongpat Wachirabanjong being accused of lese majeste – as the police say, and accusation has been made but no charge has been made, yet. PPT noted the political nature of lese majeste cases and repeated our call that the law be abolished.

However, as a report in The Nation shows, the way lese majeste accusations are treated is yet another pointer to the deep and embedded nature of double standards in Thai society. As PPT has said previously, it seems we know almost nothing about the vast majority of lese majeste cases and convictions. We can probably assume that these are “small people” who “don’t matter” too much in the broader political debates. In other words, they lack a voice.

But when a die-hard and well-known royalist is accused, what happens? First, as we noted yesterday, the prime minister raises a question. Now that may not amount to much because Abhisit Vejjajiva has a track record of lying on lese majeste and related computer crimes cases. But his intervention was one that clearly raised questions about Pongpat’s case.

Next, the yellow-toned Senator Kamnoon Sidhisamarn sprang to his comrade’s defense, stating that “the actor’s speech at the Nataraj Awards was meant to protect the monarchy and was not within the frame of lese majeste as accused.” Kamnoon is secretary to the Senate’s adhoc committee on the protection of the monarchy, so his comment carries public impact for he is a died-in-the-wool royalist.

That committee plans to call in the “acting police chief, city police chief as well as inspectors involved in the People’s Alliance for Democracy’s airport seizure and Pongpat’s case to explain if the action taken by the police force was fair…”. Note that PAD are involved here. Its supporters in the unelected part of the senate are keen to protect their friends. They couldn’t care less about all of the other in jail, and, like the Department of Special Investigation bosses, consider them deserving of foul treatment as “evil” persons.

It seems that the police are now backing off under all the political pressure and influence. So this is probably one case PPT doesn’t need to add to its lists, but the double standard at work is just too obvious.

Meanwhile, the regime keeps hundreds of red shirts locked up…

Somkiat Tangnamo under attack

17 02 2009

Prachatai, 17 February 2009: “Chiang Mai University asked to sack dean for signing Ji’s petition against lèse majesté law” translates an important and disturbing story from Matichon (ภาษาไทย, ดู มติชน, ร้อง”สมเกียรติ”พ้นคณบดีมช. เหตุหนุนแก้กม.หมิ่นสถาบัน) that deserves to be quoted in full:

“On Feb 16, a group of teachers, personnel and alumni of Chiang Mai University’s Faculty of Fine Arts released a statement demanding the University Council to dismiss Assoc Prof Somkiart Tangnamo from the deanship of the faculty for signing Giles Ji Ungpakorn’s petition to abolish the lèse majesté law.

According to the statement, Somkiart has been severely criticized in newspapers and websites, including the alumni website, and the university’s reputation has been damaged.  Although he might claim that he acted as a member of the Midnight University (a grouping of academics active in social and political issues), it is hard for the public to understand.  So they asked the Council to dismiss him from his position because Somkiart failed to exercise good judgment and take a proper stance as Dean of the Faculty, with pride and acceptance by Thai society.

‘We want to protect the reputation of the Faculty of Fine Arts of Chiang Mai University, as all of us have firm loyalty to the nation, religion and monarchy,’ said the statement.

Fine Arts teacher Assoc Prof Pongdech Chaiyakut said that the group disagreed with what Somkiart had done and said and had nothing to do with it.”

PPT had a post regarding an attack on Midnight University by Kamnoon Sidhisamarn, a senior Manager columnist and an appointed senator, and raising questions about those academics who signed a petition regarding the lèse majesté law. We also had a post regarding a response to such attacks by Nidhi Eowsriwong from Midnight University. It seems that such attacks continue and PPT knows that other faculty at Chiang Mai University have been the subject of allegations of lèse majesté and have been investigated by university authorities. Even anonomous claims that present no evidence seem to be cause for “investigation.”

The Midnight University response is at its website, in Thai.

From exile in England, Giles Ji Ungpakorn has made this appeal, which PPT posted in full:

“In Thailand it is “a crime” to sign a petition

Supporters of the government, the PAD royalists and the military, are waging a witch hunt against Thai citizens who signed a petition for the abolition of the lese majeste law in Thailand. This law is being used by the present regime to silence any opposition. The PAD media outlet, Manager, is encouraging this witch hunt and has previously encouraged the use of violence against opponents. The Thai government is censoring hundreds of website and throwing people into jail for expressing opinions against the destruction of democracy. The excuse is always that these people have “insulted the king”.

Associate Professor Somkiat Tangnamo from Chiang Mai University, who is a prominent human rights activist and member of the Midnight University, is currently being witch-hunted by some academic staff.

Please send him messages of solidarity and make sure he receives international support: midnightuniv@gmail.com”

Kavi and HRW on human rights; Senate to meet on lèse majesté

16 02 2009

Kavi Chongkittavorn writes about the human rights issues that have had considerable attention, domestically and internationally, since the advent of Prime Minister Abhisit Vejjajiva’s Democrat Party-led coalition: abuses in southern Thailand, the ill-treatment of Rohingas and lèse majesté. The Nation, 16 February 2009: “Targeting Abhisit’s Thailand”. Related, on the Rohinga issue, see the interview with Colonel Manas Kongpan, the officer seen by many to be in charge of some of the expulsions, and his denials of mistreatment, BBC News, 13 February 2009: “Thai colonel defends expulsions”. HRW has a new comment on the south, 16 February 2009: “HR Watch: Stop Threatening Activists in the South”

Appointed senator and PAD supporter Kamnoon Sidhisamarn has suggested an extraordinary Senate meeting to discuss the lèse majesté law. Frank G. Anderson has a draft translation at New Mandala. PPT has related posts here and here.

PAD mobilizes to protect the monarchy

15 02 2009

In recent days PPT has posted reports on a climate of fear that has accompanied political developments over the past 2-3 weeks. This has been fanned by government ministers but also by right-wing and nationalist commentators, including Kamnoon Sidhisamarn, an appointed senator and  senior columnist for ASTVManager.

Now Sondhi Limthongkul, owner of the Manager and leader ultra-nationalist and royalist People’s Alliance for Democracy (PAD), is calling on his PAD supporters – those who occupied Bangkok’s airports late last year – to mobilize in Thaksin’s political strongholds in the North and Northeast. He claims that “PAD gathering in the provinces will boost the people’s morale and strengthen their love for the nation and the monarchy.”

Read about this call in Bangkok Post, 15 February 2009: “Yellow shirts to ‘invade’ red bastions”

Nidhi Eowsriwong on lesè majesté, freedom of speech, Giles Ungpakorn

12 02 2009

In an earlier post, PPT commented on Kamnoon Sidhisamarn, a senior Manager columnist and appointed senator, attacking those who had signed a petition circulated by Giles Ungpakorn before his flight. Kamnoon mentioned academics associated with Midnight University.

Now Nidhi Eowsriwong from Midnight University has responded, asserting that those who supported the petition were also supporting the principle of freedom of speech.

The article refers to “climate of fear” and to “dozens of cases are being prosecuted” and the fact that the “Thai media has kept silent.”

Read the story at Prachatai, 12 February 2009: “Nidhi: signing the petition was for the principle of free speech”