Updated: “New” government

11 07 2019

King Vajiralongkorn has endorsed The Dictator’s cabinet list.

One of the “stories” is how, as expected, many of the junta’s henchman have transitioned into the “new” government:

Prayut will also double as Defence Minister, a key position currently held by General Prawit Wongsuwan, his deputy in the outgoing government.

Prawit will retain his position as a deputy prime minister and is expected to also be in charge of security affairs.

The new Cabinet also has eight other ministers who have worked with Prayut and Prawit in the current post-coup government: Somkid Jatusripitak, Wissanu Krea-ngam, General Chaichan Changmongkol, Uttama Savanayana, Don Pramudwinai, Suvit Maesincee, Sontirat Sontijirawong and General Anupong Paojinda.

But the biggest story is undoubtedly going to be about an army man and mafia figure, reported by AFP, 9 Sep 1998, and now being circulated in Thailand:

BANGKOK, Sept 9 (AFP) – Eighteen middle-ranking Thai military officers are being investigated for links to an international heroin trafficking operation, the supreme commander of Thailand’s armed forces said Wednesday.

General Mongkol Ampornpisit said the officers had been re-admitted into the military in the past two years and the scandal, the latest in a series to rock the Thai military, had prompted him to order that all recently re-admitted officers have their backgrounds checked.

“I have submitted the names of all re-admitted officers for the last two years to have their criminal backgrounds checked with the police,” General Mongkol told reporters, without elaborating on the heroin trafficking allegations.

He said he hoped the move to vet officers would help contain one of the biggest scandals to hit the Thai military establishment in many years.

The revelation of the heroin investigation follows another scandal involving an army captain at the centre of a murder probe, who had previously served a jail term in Australia for drug trafficking.

Mongkol conceded the military had been lax when re-admitting Captain Patchara Prompao into the armed forces after he was fired twice and convicted of narcotics trafficking.

Patchara is now in detention awaiting trial in a civilian court after he surrendered to police on Monday to face charges that he raped and then beat a male academic to death.

In June, amid a drive was to make the armed forces more accountable, the government demanded the military disclose the contents of secret bank accounts they had been allowed to keep.

Earlier this year the armed forces were accused by opposition politicians of involvement in vast illegal logging operations in northern Thailand.

It is also Thammanat who was reported in 2016 as being among more than 6,000 “influential criminal figures” being targeted by the junta in a nationwide crackdown. Back then it was Gen Prawit who stated that “[s]tate officials, police and military officers found to be involved with ‘dark influences’ must also be dealt with…”. Gen Prawit was reportedly in charge of “suppressing influential criminal figures.”

At the time it was considered that the regime’s political opponents were being targeted, a claim Prawit denied. When asked about specific individuals on the list – “former army specialist Gen Trairong Intaratat, better known as Seh Ice, and Capt Thammanat Prompao, a former close aide to Gen Trairong…” – Gen Prawit said “police will explain the offences they have allegedly committed.” He added that the two “might have done nothing wrong, but their aides might have…”. The report continued:

Gen Trairong, said to have close ties to ousted prime minister Thaksin Shinawatra, was among four people mentioned in a leaked document from the 1st Division, King’s Guard.

The three others named in the document are Karun Hosakul, a former Pheu Thai Party MP for Bangkok’s Don Muang district; Capt Thammanat Prompao, said to be involved in several enterprises including lottery ticket distribution; and Chaisit Ngamsap, alleged to be connected to illegal activities in the Mor Chit area of Bangkok.

Gen Trairong and Capt Thammarat have denied the allegations.

In the same report, Gen Prayudh is reported as saying:

… those who break the law must be punished…. In the future, these people may support politicians. They must not be allowed to break the law and use weapons against people. Today, we must help to clear up the mess to make our country safe….

It seems that the once pro-Thaksin Thammanat has metamorphosed into a pro-junta man and the politicians he’s supporting are Prayuth’s and he’s now so trusted that he’s a deputy minister!

With 3 updates: Pravit out of The Nation

16 09 2015

Pravit Rojanaphruk has let it be known that he has left The Nation. We understand he will appear on the BBC at 8 p.m. Bangkok time. Should be an interesting interview.

Update 1: Earlier, The Nation reported that the military junta had released Pravit, Karun Hosakul and Pichai Naripatapan “after getting them to sign an undertaking to desist from any move or expression of opinions opposing the junta’s road map.”

Pravit reportedly “signed an agreement not to lead, participate or assist any anti-coup movement. The NCPO also filed a pending police complaint against him, which would be activated if he violates the NCPO’s order again…”.

The Dictator and Prime Minister Prayuth Chan-ocha said the released detainees “have to comply with the pact in relation to some personal activities, such as informing the NCPO when planning to travel abroad.” In addition, he affirmed that the junta “has the authority to freeze their bank account if it finds their movements suspicious.”

He warned that if they don’t do as they are ordered, “they have to go to court. There’ll be no more negotiation…”.

This is part of a pattern of ever-deepening repression.

Update 2: Prachatai has more on Pravit’s departure from The Nation. Pravit says “he was forced to quit his job at The Nation Newspaper after he was detained incommunicado by the military.” The pressure on him came from “The Nation Group pressured him to resign due to pressure from the audience.” The “audience” is described as mostly “right-wing, pro-coup royalists…”.

Update 3: PPT is unable to discover if Pravit did appear on the BBC. However, there is a BBC story about his departure from The Nation, where it is reported:

… his belief in democracy remained unchanged. The media had a responsibility to ensure that Thais do not think of military rule as a “normal situation”….

Lack of understanding

15 09 2015

In a report at Khaosod on the detention and release of journalist Pravit Rojanaphruk there is some detail from deputy junta chairman General Pravit Wongsuwan that is revealing of the military dictatorship’s warped view of the world.

General Pravit states that he ordered the detention of Pichai Naripatapan, Karun Hosakul and journalist Pravit:

I summoned them because there was criticism. I can summon anyone today, if that person doesn’t understand us and continues to cause conflict and confusion in the society…. We will explain things to them. That’s all. There’s no other reason for summoning.

General Pravit considers that it is the misunderstandings of regime opponents that causes “conflict.” Of course, as a military thug, he really means that “misunderstanding” is any criticism of him or the dictatorship.

When a reporter said that journalist Pravit insisted that the military dictatorship is illegitimate, General Pravit angrily retorted:

How can we be illegitimate? What’s done is done. We do things, everything. … I ask you, has Mr. Pravit been doing the right thing all this time? Don’t say that name to me. I and he share the same name, but our behavior is very different.

You get the picture.

In fact, the misunderstanding underpins the junta and its regime. It took illegal actions to grab power, creates laws that provide it with amnesty and impunity and it concocts a political ideology that is a relic of past military dictatorships.

Updated: On Pravit’s detention (and release)

15 09 2015

The Asian Human Rights Commission has released an important statement on the secret detention of moderate journalist Pravit Rojanaphruk:

September 14, 2015

THAILAND: Incommunicado detention of journalist by the junta

The Asian Human Rights Commission (AHRC) is gravely concerned to have learned that Pravit Rojanaphruk, journalist for the Nation newspaper and freedom of expression advocate, is being detained in an undisclosed location by the National Council for Peace and Order (NCPO). The conditions of his detention are arbitrary and a clear derogation of the Government of Thailand’s obligations under the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (ICCPR). The AHRC views his incommunicado detention as a warning sign of the deepening human rights crisis in Thailand.

According to information provided to the AHRC, Pravit Rojanaphruk was summoned by telephone call to report to the First Army Region base in Bangkok at 2 pm on Sunday, 13 September. Although he requested details on the nature of the summons, the military did not provide any additional information. He reported himself to the entrance of the base at the requested time, and was then told to give his mobile telephone to the lawyer from Thai Lawyers for Human Rights (TLHR) who accompanied him. Pravit was next taken inside the base alone and the lawyer was asked to leave. The military officials present at the entrance refused to provide any information about where Pravit was being taken or when he would be released. Despite additional attempts by TLHR to ascertain Pravit’s location on 13 September, the only information provided by the officials at First Army Region base was that he had been taken to an unknown location by another military unit.

On Monday, 14 September, Colonel Winthai Suvaree, spokesperson for the NCPO, acknowledged that Pravit Rojanaphruk was being held. He said that Pravit and others have been summoned to the First Army Region base primarily as a result of “presenting information that is not in line with the preservation of peace and order.” In addition to Pravit, two former Phue Thai Party politicians, Phichai Naripatapan and Karun Hosakul, are also known to be currently arbitrarily detained by the junta. Colonel Winthai further noted that all of the actions are being carried out sincerely by the officials and are based on reasoned evidence and without any intention to create confusion or conflict in society. Colonel Winthai did not provide information on where Pravit was being held or when he would be released, but noted that he was currently “ …being processed by the officials. How long it will take will depend on the results of the investigation, his cooperation, and the evidence held by the officials” (Matichon, 14 September 2015).

The arbitrary detention of Pravit Rojanaphruk comes after fifteen months of military rule following the 22 May 2014 military coup by the NCPO led by General Prayuth Chan-ocha. Since the coup, there has been a precipitous decline in the protection of human rights. There have been severe restrictions placed on freedom of expression and political freedom, ongoing formal and informal summons to report to the junta for alleged “attitude adjustment,” extensive use of arbitrary detention, the activation of military courts to process crimes against the crown and state, and the creation of a general climate of fear detrimental to human rights and the rule of law. Although martial law was revoked on 1 April 2015, NCPO Order 3/2558 issued under Article 44 of the 2014 Interim Constitution was used to replace the provisions granted by martial law, including the authority to arbitrarily detain individuals for up to seven days. As under martial law, those detained can be held at irregular places of detention, including permanent or temporary military bases or other sites designated as places of detention. Detention in irregular places means that the possibility for rights violations, including torture, forced disappearance and extrajudicial execution is greatly increased.

This is the second time that Pravit Rojanaphruk has been arbitrarily detained by the junta. He was summoned and detained for the first time shortly after the coup, when Order No. 6/2557 demanded that he report himself to the Army Club on Thewet Road on 24 May 2014 (AHRC-STM-100-2014). He was then detained for seven days before being released. Like others released from detention by the NCPO, under Announcement No. 39/2557, Pravit was compelled to sign a statement agreeing to a number of conditions, including that he would not exercise his fundamental human rights to free expression or assembly, or leave the country without permission of the junta.

The continued arbitrary detention and constriction of freedom of expression by the NCPO are clear derogations of Thailand’s responsibilities as a state party to the ICCPR. In particular, the incommunicado detention of Pravit Rojanaphruk and others is a violation of the obligations under Article 9, which provides specifically that, “1. Everyone has the right to liberty and security of person. No one shall be subjected to arbitrary arrest or detention. No one shall be deprived of his liberty except on such grounds and in accordance with such procedure as are established by law. 2. Anyone who is arrested shall be informed, at the time of arrest, of the reasons for his arrest and shall be promptly informed of any charges against him. 3. Anyone arrested or detained on a criminal charge shall be brought promptly before a judge or other officer authorized by law to exercise judicial power and shall be entitled to trial within a reasonable time or to release…” The AHRC would like to emphasize that there is no legal basis for the detention of citizens without charge because they do not share the same political opinions as the junta.

At this time, Pravit Rojanaphruk’s location and safety are unknown. The Asian Human Rights Commission calls on the NCPO to immediately release Pravit Rojanaphruk and all citizens being arbitrarily detained without charge. The AHRC unequivocally condemns the coup in the strongest terms and wishes to express grave concern about the ongoing decline of human rights protections it has engendered. Further, the AHRC calls on the NCPO to recognize that tolerance for different ideas and dissent are part of building a polity grounded in human rights and the rule of law. To think differently than the junta and defend human rights are not crimes.

Update: The Bangkok Post reports that Pichai Naripatapan, Karun Hosakul and Pravit Rojanaphruk have been released from the junta’s detention. It seems that at least one has “agreed” to the junta’s terms – essentially to shut up and not criticize the junta or its policies. The Post report has details of the iitimidation of others.

More threats

14 09 2015

After having detained journalist Pravit Rojanaphruk, the military goons have told the world that the detained politicians Pichai Naripatapan and Karun Hosakul are “are in military-supervised detention at an undisclosed location…”.

The military have dissembled. The detainees are “fine,” they say, and have not been harmed. They are only held for a little “attitude adjustment.”

Translating from juntaspeak, these men are being held because they have been “critical about the government and the NCPO [the junta].” That’s it. Say anything the the thin-skinned generals don’t like, and you are in danger.

The generals say that “politicians have been asked to agree to stop making remarks which run counter to national reconciliation and could re-ignite social conflicts. If they agree, they will be released.”

Translating from juntaspeak, saying anything the erratic generals don’t like is inciting “conflict.”

In fact, it is the generals who should be locked up, for their coup was illegal. That won’t happen, and the future is filled with increased repression for the junta promises tougher measures against those who resist The Dictator’s prescriptions, He only allows “recommendations but not criticism…”.

On this pattern of repression following the dumping of the charter, readers may find academic Kevin Hewison’s musings at Asia Sentinel of some interest. He argues that the charter was ditched becaue the junta is fearful that it hasn’t engaged in sufficient repression.

Obey the junta

13 09 2015

In confirming that Puea Thai Party member Karun Hosakul is in military custody for a period of “re-education,” The Dictator “has confirmed that legal action will be taken on anyone expressing opinions that could lead to unrest and instability in the country.”

General Prayuth Chan-ocha said that Karun was detained “on charges of stirring unrest in the country…”. It seems that Karun has different ideas from those held by the military dictatorship, so this is “likely causing misunderstandings as well as not having respect for the [junta’s]  law.”

Such detentions are likely to increase as the military junta seeks to obliterate all “misunderstandings.”

Dump the charter for more repression

11 09 2015

You cannot oppose me – self appointed premier, The Dictator, General Prayuth Chan-ocha

One of the emerging facts about the dumping of the draft charter is that The Dictator and coupmaker Prayuth is going to take an even stronger line in disciplining and repressing anyone considered an opponent.Spot the snake

Khaosod reports that an angry Prayuth:

… warned that his regime, which seized power from the Pheu Thai-led government last May, will escalate its measures against politicians who continue to criticize his government through passport cancellations, military detention, prison terms and even “taping their mouths shut.”

This outburst, typical of the erratic general, comes as the Puea Thai Party’s Pichai Naripatapan “was taken into indefinite military detention” and Karun Hosakul was reported to have been detained. Both have been mildly critical of the military dictatorship. Last week the military junta revoked the passport of another critic, Chaturon Chaisaeng, a former Puea Thai minister.

In another Khaosod report, the chilling nature of the extended repression is made abundantly clear.

Former minister Pichai’s “latest detention in an army camp – said to be his seventh since the coup – will only end when it deems him to be ‘cooperative’.” It is added that soldiers took Pichai from his home and “placed him in indefinite military custody at an army camp for ‘attitude adjustment’ due to his criticism of the junta’s economic policies…”. Last Tuesday, “Pichai wrote online that the recent delay to returning Thailand to civilian rule would damage the economy and open the kingdom up to sanctions from democratic nations.”

He’s right about the economy. But so far, now “democratic” nation has scolded the military for its actions in extending its dictatorship, so sanctions are unlikely.

The military junta cannot accept any criticism from those it sees as opponents, with Army chief thug General Udomdej Sitabutr saying Pichai is in custody because “his opinions do not match and comply with the way that we have agreed upon.”

More Prayuth quotes from Khaosod demonstrating his erratic behavior, paternalism and his desire for increased repression:

If the opinions appear to challenge the state power, can it be allowed?

How many days can my power detain him [Pichai]? Is it seven? I don’t know. It’s up to the conclusion of the interrogators. That’s how they are taught: The sooner the [detainees] confess, the faster it’s over. If they do not confess, then the case will go on.

I will deliberate on this myself. Whether there will be harsh or soft measures is up to me.

I don’t know what they [MICT] can do, because these websites are based abroad. We can only do something about websites in our country, and we are doing something. If these websites are from abroad, how can we shut them down? … In legal terms, they don’t have 112 [lese majeste law]. They don’t have that kind of law.

I’m just going to tape their mouths shut. We are working on this matter. The media doesn’t have to ask everything every day. Don’t force the prime minister to order everything. And as for politicians and political parties that keep talking these days, I beg you, if you don’t slander me with your words, I will leave you alone. But if you still attack the government, let me ask you, who will let you do that? Especially my type of government. No one can speak like that.

If you are parents with kids, and your children say that kind of thing to you, will you let them? I am not their parent. But let me ask you, if your children disobeyed your order, would you tolerate that? Those people who like to break the laws, they cannot do that to me.On your arse

If they won’t learn, they will be jailed again and again. That’s all. How hard can be it? If they do something wrong again, they will be jailed again.

Reporter: Is this an attempt to discredit you before you travel to the United Nations Assembly?

When I go abroad, no one shows disgust at me. And when I go abroad, I have someone taking care of the country for me. I am not afraid. If I am afraid, I wouldn’t be standing here.

The media never helps me. They only [criticize] me.

Think carefully: People whose cases are still in the justice system, should you write news for them? You don’t even know if they are going to jail. Why are you helping them? People who fled convictions, who fled abroad, who support anti-monarchy activities, why are you still talking to them? You don’t love the monarchy? You don’t love the country? You question me and make me angry. Society will pressure me. And how can we live like this? We won’t have happiness.