Rolling back 1932 I

19 07 2017

The period since the accession of King Vajiralongkorn has seen a very rapid unwinding of arrangements regarding the relationship between crown and state that were put in place following the 1932 Revolution. In fact, these were relations were to establish a separation of state and crown, not least in terms of the state’s funds and the those of the crown and the monarch.

The military junta’s agreement that King Vajiralongkorn could have total and personal control of the Crown Property Bureau is just the most recent of the changes that have granted extensive control of power and wealth to the monarch not seen since 1932.

A few days ago, Peter Morris had a story at Ozy on the events and impact of 1932. Readers might find this article of use in understanding what it is that King Vajiralongkorn is winding back.

Over the years, it has been widely assumed that Vajiralongkorn was little more than a dumb hedonist. The efforts he has made to challenge decades-old arrangements that have long annoyed the royal family suggest that he has imbibed the anti-1932 bile that has circulated in the family. He’s showing that he follows a line of royal relatives who plotted and schemed against the People’s Party and its legacy.





Overthrowing royalist regimes

24 06 2017

The 24th of June is an important day. On that day in 1932 the People’s Party (khana ratsadon) executed its well-planned Revolution. It was the first time that Thais overthrew royal power.

It is an important day for those who have long struggled to establish parliamentary democracy in the country.

It is also important for anti-democrats and royalists. They have opposed and successfully rolled back the changes the People’s Party implemented 85 years ago. They want to expunge and erase the memory of anti-monarchism in Thailand. To do this, since the 1940s, they have worked in alliance with an increasingly ultra-royalist military.

24 June  used to be celebrated. In recent years, however, the event is barely noticed among the cacophony surrounding the celebration of various historically insignificant royal anniversaries made big and expensive.

For many years, the royalist aim has been to diminish the significance of the events of 1932 and to forget all but their bankrupt discourse that King Prajadiphok was the real democrat. Of course, he wasn’t, and supported several efforts to overthrow the new regime.

The 2017 constitution and the changes demanded by King Vajiralongkorn represent a further rolling back of the People’s Party notion of people’s sovereignty. It is no surprise to see that, after supporting the removal of the 1932 plaque around the time that the junta’s constitution was promulgated as a royal event, the military dictatorship has banned any gathering at that spot today.

We invite readers to consider the People’s Party Announcement No. 1, which would probably be considered lese majeste if uttered or published today. The announcement is attributed to Pridi Phanomyong.

Overthrowing a royalist regime is as important in 2017 as it was in 1932.

ANNOUNCEMENT OF THE PEOPLE’S PARTY NO. 1 (1932)

All the people

When this king succeeded his elder brother, people at first hoped that he would govern protectively. But matters have not turned out as they hoped. The king maintains his power above the law as before. He appoints court relatives and toadies without merit or knowledge to important positions, without listening to the voice of the people. He allows officials to use the power of their office dishonestly, taking bribes in government construction and purchasing, and seeking profits from changes in the price of money, which squanders the wealth of the country. He elevates those of royal blood (phuak chao) to have special rights more than the people. He governs without principle. The country’s affairs are left to the mercy of fate, as can be seen from the depression of the economy and the hardships of making a living – something the people know all about already.

The government of the king above the law is unable to find solutions and bring about recovery. This inability is because the government of the king has not governed the country for the people, as other governments have done. The government of the king has treated the people as slaves (some called phrai, some kha) and as animals. It has not considered them as human beings. Therefore, instead of helping the people, rather it farms on the backs of the people. It can be seen that from the taxes that are squeezed from the people, the king carries off many millions for personal use each year. As for the people, they have to sweat blood in order to find just a little money. At the time for paying government tax or personal tax, if they have no money, the government seizes their property or puts them on public works. But those of royal blood are still sleeping and eating happily. There is no country in the world that gives its royalty so much money as this, except the Tsar and the German Kaiser, in nations that have now overthrown their thrones.

The king’s government has governed in ways that are deceiving and not straightforward with the people. For example, it said it would improve livelihood in this way and that, but time has passed, people have waited, and nothing has happened. It has never done anything seriously. Further than that, it has insulted the people – those with the grace to pay taxes for royalty to use – that the people don’t know as much as those of royal blood. But this is not because the people are stupid, but because they lack the education which is reserved for royalty. They have not allowed the people to study fully, because they fear that if the people have education, they will know the evil that they do and may not let them farm on their backs.

You, all of the people, should know that our country belongs to the people – not to the king, as has been deceitfully claimed. It was the ancestors of the people who protected the independence of the country from enemy armies. Those of royal blood just reap where they have not sown and sweep up wealth and property worth many hundred millions. Where did all this money come from? It came from the people because of that method of farming on the backs of the people! The country is experiencing hardships. Farmers and soldiers’ parents have to give up their paddy fields because cultivating them brings no benefit. The government does not help. The government is discharging people in floods. Students who have completed their study and soldiers released from the reserves have no employment. They have to go hungry according to fate. These things are the result of the government of the king above the law. It oppresses the minor government officials. Ordinary soldiers and clerks are discharged from employment, and no pension is given. In truth, government should use the money that has been amassed to manage the country to provide employment. This would be fitting to pay back the people who have been paying taxes to make royalty rich for a long time. But those of royal blood do nothing. They go on sucking blood. Whatever money they have they deposit overseas and prepare to flee while the country decays and people are left to go hungry. All this is certainly evil.

Therefore the people, government officials, soldiers, and citizens who know about these evil actions of the government, have joined together to establish the People’s Party and have seized power from the king’s government. The People’s Party sees that to correct this evil it must establish government by an assembly, so that many minds can debate and contribute, which is better than just one mind.

As for the head of state of the country, the People’s Party has no wish to snatch the throne. Hence it invites this king to retain the position. But he must be under the law of the constitution for governing the country, and cannot do anything independently without the approval of the assembly of people’s representatives. The People’s Party has already informed the king of this view and at the present time is waiting for a response. If the king replies with a refusal or does not reply within the time set, for the selfish reason that his power will be reduced, it will be regarded as treason to the nation, and it will be necessary for the country to have a republican form of government, that is, the head of state will be an ordinary person appointed by parliament to hold the position for a fixed term.

By this method the people can hope to be looked after in the best way. Everyone will have employment, because our country is a country which has very abundant conditions. When we have seized the money which those of royal blood amass from farming on the backs of the people, and use these many hundreds of millions for nurturing the country, the country will certainly flourish. The government which the People’s Party will set up will draw up projects based on principle, and not act like a blind man as the government which has the king above the law has done. The major principles which the People’s Party has laid out are:

1. must maintain securely the independence of the country in all forms including political, judicial, and economic, etc.;
2. must maintain public safety within the country and greatly reduce crime;
3. must improve the economic well-being of the people by the new government finding employment for all, and drawing up a national economic plan, not leaving the people to go hungry
4. must provide the people with equal rights (so that those of royal blood do not have more rights than the people as at present);
5. must provide the people with liberty and freedom, as far as this does not conflict with the above four principles;
6. must provide the people with full education.

All the people should be ready to help the People’s Party successfully to carry out its work which will last forever. The People’s Party asks everyone who did not participate in seizing power from the government of the king above the law to remain peaceful and keep working for their living. Do not do anything to obstruct the People’s Party. By doing so, the people will help the country, the people, and their own children, grandchildren, and great-grandchildren. The country will have complete independence. People will have safety. Everyone must have employment and need not starve. Everyone will have equal rights and freedom from being serfs (phrai) and slaves (kha, that) of royalty. The time has ended when those of royal blood farm on the backs of the people. The things which everyone desires, the greatest happiness and progress which can be called si-ariya, will arise for everyone.

Khana Ratsadon

[People’s Party]

24 June 1932

 





Reasons to think about 1932

20 06 2017

As the anniversary of the 1932 revolution draws closer, the palace and the military dictatorship must be getting twitchy.

First, there’s the speech by the now aged Octobrist, Seksan Prasertkul. He was widely reported after a speech at Thammasat University, honoring Direk Jayanama, a member of the Khana Ratsadon that overthrew the monarchy in 1932.

Seksan seems to have caught up with PPT (sorry, couldn’t resist), saying that the military junta “is systematically laying down the foundations to allow its power to take deep root in Thai politics and overshadow the role of elected politicians in the future…”.

He sees something he calls a “state elite” branding “politicians who sought power through elections as bad people,” and seeking to stay in place itself. He says the “Thailand 4.0 banner, the Pracharath state-and-people cooperation scheme, the national strategic plan, and the current constitution to change Thai politics and keep political power in the hands of the ‘state elites’ and bureaucrats for at least 9-10 years…”. We have been saying that for more than three years (sorry, couldn’t resist).

He says that “the bureaucrats” are Thailand’s “old power” before  Thaksin Shinawatra came along. In a report at The Nation, Seksan is reported as saying that state elites and their “norms have been challenged or at some point eroded by globalisation and capitalism. With the writing of new rules and regulations, the new charter has become the tool they use to rearrange power relationships in the society.”

That’s kind of right, but there is no link between capitalism and an open society. Thailand’s middle class has demonstrated this and so have China and Singapore. Thailand’s capitalists have lined up behind the old elite that is broader than “state” officials. Missing that is risking missing the story of 21st century Thailand.

He is right to warn that “[i]f political parties cannot think of anything better than to challenge state elites or don’t dare touch the neo-liberalism model, or don’t dare to think differently on big issues, it’s no use our having these political parties because they will only be groups of power seekers.”

Look at them lining up for the junta’s rules and the junta’s “election.”

The second story is Thongchai Winichakul at Prachatai. When he talks of rule by law, he’s pointing to a point we have been making for several years (sorry, couldn’t resist).

Thongchai, ever the clever commentator, notes that the “months of May and June mark several key milestones in Thai history. There is June 1932 (the People’s Revolution) and June 1946 (the assassination of King Rama VIII), the two bloody crackdowns in May 1992 and 2010, and the coup in May 2014.”

He’s right to say that “the revolution of 1932 is not yet finished, not merely in with regards to the political system, but with regards to the establishment of the rule of law.”

What we’d emphasize, though, is that 1932 was an event that unleashed a struggle that has gone on since. The royalists have worked for more than eight decades to roll back the changes of 1932. What the junta has put in its constitution is a system of government that the royalists (and the royals) have tried to establish again and again. Now they think they have succeeded.

The 2017 constitution is the political victory of the royalists. Accepting it as the rules of the political system is a capitulation to the anti-democratic royalists of 1933, 1947, 1957, 1976, 1991, 2006 and 2014.

Only a people’s movement recognizing people’s sovereignty can defeat the anti-democrats.





Chipping away at 1932

12 01 2017

Several times since we began in 2009, PPT has marked the 1932 Revolution by reprinting the first announcement of the khana ratsadon or People’s Party.

Democracy Monument, BangkokIn recent years the anniversary of this event is barely noticed, buried by a the celebration of various historically insignificant royal anniversaries. While there has been a long-term effort to erase 1932 from school books and the public mind, under the military junta there has been a determined efforts to make invisible an event it consider horrendous for reducing royal powers and granting sovereignty to common people. Moreover, the junta and palace have been writing laws that reverse important changes made in 1932, not least in limiting the powers of the monarchy under the constitution.

One of the nominated changes is to allow the king to decide if he needs a regent when he is flitting back and forth to his home outside Munich.

The current order by the king to change aspects of the draft constitution, “approved” in a “referendum,” is an example of how the very notion of a constitutional monarchy is being rolled back.

The junta may have been surprised by the king’s demands, but they are unwilling to tell him to go to hell. That could be because they are in dispute with the king but feel he should get his way for the moment. It might be that the junta is happy enough to have General Prem Tinsulanonda lose some influence. It may be that the junta wants to further delay an “election” and this is their excuse. It could be that the junta may feel that its legitimacy depends entirely on the monarchy. It might be that the junta believes that a feudal Thailand a la pre-1932 is appropriate for a 21st century Thailand. Or it might be all of these.

Whatever is going on, it’s clear the junta has asked how high the king wants it to jump. It is rushing ahead with the demanded changes.

The Nation reports that quotes junta lawyer Wissanu Krea-ngam as sayin: “Now, … the situation in the country has changed, so they will have to be amended to meet the situation. Otherwise, we will be using principles that were written in 1932…”.

He’s clear on what’s being done here. As a reminder, in 1932, Article 5 stated:

If there is any reason that the king is unable temporarily to carry out his duties, or is not in the capital, the Committee of the People will execute the right on his behalf.

How things have changed and they’ll change further in the next few days.

Readers might ask why the junta wasn’t getting the king’s view as it developed its constitution. Wissanu says: “The clauses to be amended were not paid attention to before the referendum, because drafters had only copied them from the previous constitution.” Yet, you would think a royalist regime would have been talking with the soon-to-be-king. Maybe he was more interested in his concubines and fake tattoos than the work of rolling back 1932 constitutionalism. Perhaps he only realized the potential problems of the regency when Prem got the job back in October.

The chief of the charter drafters, Meechai Ruchupan might have been a bit contrite about causing the king some angst, but he’s still talking draft constitutions and says the proposed “amendment would give the [k]ing the option of either appointing or not appointing a regent should he not reside in the Kingdom.”

Another of the royalist dopes, Somchai Sawaengkarn, of the puppet National Legislative Assembly (NLA), ignoring constitutional history and practice,  babbled about it not being “necessary to name a regent because modern communication methods have made it easy and convenient to work remotely. The charter should be amended to meet this environment…”.

In another report, Meechai blathered that the demanded changes were “in line with proposed changes to the charter sought by the government…”. That is so nonsensical that it suggests he’s lost his marbles or is a great liar. It could be both. If the changes were “in line,” why the seeming panic and back-filling now?

Recalling Article 5 from 1932, this is what the same article looks like in the draft constitution:

16. Whenever the King is absent from the Kingdom or unable to perform His functions for any reason whatsoever, the King will appoint a person as the Regent and the President of the National Assembly shall countersign the Royal Command.

If this is to change, what does it mean for related articles? The other relevant articles state:

17. In the case where the King does not appoint the Regent under Section 16, or the King is unable to appoint the Regent owing to His not being sui juris or any other reason whatsoever, the Privy Council shall submit the name of a person suitable to hold the office of the Regent to the National Assembly for approval. Upon approval by the National Assembly, the President of the National Assembly shall make an announcement, in the name of the King, to appoint such person as the Regent.

18. While there is no Regent under Section 16 or Section17, the President of the Privy Council shall be Regent pro tempore. In the case where the Regent appointed under Section 16 or Section 17 is unable to perform his duties, the President of the Privy Council shall act as Regent pro tempore….

Our immediate question is what happens if the king dies or is badly injured and can’t appoint a regent? Another crisis and military intervention to again fix the rules and manipulate constitutional principles and practice?

The new king may well end up creating a republican military that “remembers” what motivated the end of the absolute monarchy in 1932. That would be positive in the long run….





Junta’s convenience and law

1 07 2016

At PPT we’ve recently had several posts that have commented on aspects of the militarization of the law under the military dictatorship as well as its concoction of “laws” that serve its interests, mainly by allowing the ready repression of opponents.

The Bangkok Post recently reported on how such circumstances are manipulated for junta convenience for the web. Sawatree Suksri, a law lecturer at Thammasat University and member of Nitirat observes that website administrators have their pages “shut down by authorities [and] do not have a fair chance to defend their rights in court…”.

Officially, a court order is required to shut down a web page or site, but seldom do the authorities bother with a legal case. Sawatree states that:

In most cases, state agencies demanding the removal of specific content do not file legal charges against the administrators. They simply gather evidence and forward their request to the court, which will in turn issue an order….

This process allows no opportunities for the legality of the closure to be challenged.

She noted that a “page from the Nitirat website has been blocked for the past two years. Still, no formal complaint has been lodged against us.”

That page” contained a transcript of the Khana Rasadorn’s declaration when they abolished the absolute monarchy in Thailand in 1932, which was simply a piece of historical evidence,” but it had been blocked.

Nitirat was unable to “appeal against the court’s decision because there had been no hearing. As it was a court order rather than an administrative order, they could not file a complaint with the Administrative Court.”

Just one more example of how the junta manipulates law is a tool for repression, usually with the connivance of the judiciary and military courts.





Updated: On June 24 and the monarchy

24 06 2016

June 24 is an important day. On that day in 1932 the People’s Party (khana ratsadon) executed its well-planned Revolution. It marks the overthrew absolutist royal power.

This date used to be celebrated. In recent years, the event is barely noticed among the cacophony surrounding the celebration of various historically insignificant royal anniversaries. Of course, for many years, the royalist aim has been to diminish the significance of the events of 1932 and to “forget” all but their false claim that King Prajadiphok was the “real democrat.”Pridi

We invite readers to consider the People’s Party Announcement No. 1, which would probably be considered lese majeste if uttered or published today. The announcement is attributed to Pridi Phanomyong. It remains available from the Pridi/Phoonsuk website.

In addition, we link to two posts on the monarchy in Thailand today, each taking different views on the role of the monarchy under the military dictatorship. The first is by “Llewellyn McCann” at New Mandala and the second is from Ji Ungpakorn at Uglytruth-Thailand.

Update: Political repression associated with this anniversary is not unexpected. At the small 1932 Revolution Memorial, located in the middle of a royal plaza, meant to overpower the 1932 memorial, it was reported that an unknown man “denounced the revolution, saying that it was an event that caused damage to the Thai monarchy and religious institutions.” This was as students and others were gathering to commemorate the event that royalists want expunged from their Thai history.

When those remembering 1932 assembled, “police officers briefly detained Sirawit Serithiwat, a prominent anti-junta activist, who led a number of people to commemorate the 1932 Revolution at the memorial to the revolution…”.

Lak Si monument

Lak Si monument

Others, mostly from from Ramkhamhaeng and Kasetsart universities, gathered at the Lak Si monument, which commemorates the defeat of the restorationist rebellion led by Prince (and General, what else?) Boworadej in 1933. Police officers detained students at this event too.

Seven activists were arrested. They were from the two universities and Chanoknan Ruamsap, a youth activist from the New Democracy Movement (NDM) was also arrested. According to reports, the “police accused the seven of violating the junta’s ban on political gatherings and on Saturday will request permission from the Military Court to detain them.”

1932 continues to drive some aspect of royalist and reactionary politics for the military junta.





Updated: Erasing 1932

24 06 2015

Pridi

Back in 2009 on 24 June, PPT marked the 1932 Revolution by reprinting the first announcement of the khana ratsadon or People’s Party. The announcement is attributed to Pridi Phanomyong. We do so again today.

In 2009 we noted that in recent years the anniversary of the event was barely noticed amongst the cacophony surrounding the celebration of various historically insignificant royal anniversaries. More recently the determined royalist efforts to erase an event they consider horrendous for reducing royal powers and granting sovereignty to common people has made the anniversary less significant. Of course, for many years, the royalist aim has been to push the events of 1932 from the public agenda and to “forget” that the 1932 overthrow of the absolute monarchy. To a certain extent, red shirts reclaimed the legacy of 1932 in opposing the amart, but this was short-lived.

Today, under the military dictatorship has decreed that the anniversary should not be “used” as a political act. In other words, the dinosaurs running “modern” Thailand prefer a feudal Thailand.

As we did in 2009, we invite readers to consider the People’s Party Announcement No. 1, which would probably be considered lese majeste if uttered or published today.

PPT has extracted and lightly edited this document from the excellent book Pridi on Pridi, translated by Pasuk Phongpaichit and Chris Baker, and published by Silkworm Books. It is available from the Pridi/Phoonsuk website.

ANNOUNCEMENT OF THE PEOPLE’S PARTY NO. 1 (1932)

All the people

When this king succeeded his elder brother, people at first hoped that he would govern protectively. But matters have not turned out as they hoped. The king maintains his power above the law as before. He appoints court relatives and toadies without merit or knowledge to important positions, without listening to the voice of the people. He allows officials to use the power of their office dishonestly, taking bribes in government construction and purchasing, and seeking profits from changes in the price of money, which squanders the wealth of the country. He elevates those of royal blood (phuak chao) to have special rights more than the people. He governs without principle. The country’s affairs are left to the mercy of fate, as can be seen from the depression of the economy and the hardships of making a living – something the people know all about already.

The government of the king above the law is unable to find solutions and bring about recovery. This inability is because the government of the king has not governed the country for the people, as other governments have done. The government of the king has treated the people as slaves (some called phrai, some kha) and as animals. It has not considered them as human beings. Therefore, instead of helping the people, rather it farms on the backs of the people. It can be seen that from the taxes that are squeezed from the people, the king carries off many millions for personal use each year. As for the people, they have to sweat blood in order to find just a little money. At the time for paying government tax or personal tax, if they have no money, the government seizes their property or puts them on public works. But those of royal blood are still sleeping and eating happily. There is no country in the world that gives its royalty so much money as this, except the Tsar and the German Kaiser, in nations that have now overthrown their thrones.

The king’s government has governed in ways that are deceiving and not straightforward with the people. For example, it said it would improve livelihood in this way and that, but time has passed, people have waited, and nothing has happened. It has never done anything seriously. Further than that, it has insulted the people – those with the grace to pay taxes for royalty to use – that the people don’t know as much as those of royal blood. But this is not because the people are stupid, but because they lack the education which is reserved for royalty. They have not allowed the people to study fully, because they fear that if the people have education, they will know the evil that they do and may not let them farm on their backs.

You, all of the people, should know that our country belongs to the people – not to the king, as has been deceitfully claimed. It was the ancestors of the people who protected the independence of the country from enemy armies. Those of royal blood just reap where they have not sown and sweep up wealth and property worth many hundred millions. Where did all this money come from? It came from the people because of that method of farming on the backs of the people! The country is experiencing hardships. Farmers and soldiers’ parents have to give up their paddy fields because cultivating them brings no benefit. The government does not help. The government is discharging people in floods. Students who have completed their study and soldiers released from the reserves have no employment. They have to go hungry according to fate. These things are the result of the government of the king above the law. It oppresses the minor government officials. Ordinary soldiers and clerks are discharged from employment, and no pension is given. In truth, government should use the money that has been amassed to manage the country to provide employment. This would be fitting to pay back the people who have been paying taxes to make royalty rich for a long time. But those of royal blood do nothing. They go on sucking blood. Whatever money they have they deposit overseas and prepare to flee while the country decays and people are left to go hungry. All this is certainly evil.

Therefore the people, government officials, soldiers, and citizens who know about these evil actions of the government, have joined together to establish the People’s Party and have seized power from the king’s government. The People’s Party sees that to correct this evil it must establish government by an assembly, so that many minds can debate and contribute, which is better than just one mind.

As for the head of state of the country, the People’s Party has no wish to snatch the throne. Hence it invites this king to retain the position. But he must be under the law of the constitution for governing the country, and cannot do anything independently without the approval of the assembly of people’s representatives. The People’s Party has already informed the king of this view and at the present time is waiting for a response. If the king replies with a refusal or does not reply within the time set, for the selfish reason that his power will be reduced, it will be regarded as treason to the nation, and it will be necessary for the country to have a republican form of government, that is, the head of state will be an ordinary person appointed by parliament to hold the position for a fixed term.

By this method the people can hope to be looked after in the best way. Everyone will have employment, because our country is a country which has very abundant conditions. When we have seized the money which those of royal blood amass from farming on the backs of the people, and use these many hundreds of millions for nurturing the country, the country will certainly flourish. The government which the People’s Party will set up will draw up projects based on principle, and not act like a blind man as the government which has the king above the law has done. The major principles which the People’s Party has laid out are:

1. must maintain securely the independence of the country in all forms including political, judicial, and economic, etc.;
2. must maintain public safety within the country and greatly reduce crime;
3. must improve the economic well-being of the people by the new government finding employment for all, and drawing up a national economic plan, not leaving the people to go hungry
4. must provide the people with equal rights (so that those of royal blood do not have more rights than the people as at present);
5. must provide the people with liberty and freedom, as far as this does not conflict with the above four principles;
6. must provide the people with full education.

All the people should be ready to help the People’s Party successfully to carry out its work which will last forever. The People’s Party asks everyone who did not participate in seizing power from the government of the king above the law to remain peaceful and keep working for their living. Do not do anything to obstruct the People’s Party. By doing so, the people will help the country, the people, and their own children, grandchildren, and great-grandchildren. The country will have complete independence. People will have safety. Everyone must have employment and need not starve. Everyone will have equal rights and freedom from being serfs (phrai) and slaves (kha, that) of royalty. The time has ended when those of royal blood farm on the backs of the people. The things which everyone desires, the greatest happiness and progress which can be called si-ariya, will arise for everyone.

Khana Ratsadon
[People’s Party]
24 June 1932

Update: Prachatai has a series of reports regarding the 1932 anniversary, all worth reading: Anti-coup activists and the police, arresting an activist in hospital and remembering 1932 under surveillance.





More fanatical monarchism

9 08 2014

Monarchism has underpinned all governments since 1957. It has been required since General Sarit Thanarat crushed the last of the Khana Ratsadon and any others who favored a politically restricted monarchy. Strikingly, when monarchism has become ultra-royalism, it has been the regimes closest to the palace that have been most fanatical. Think of the right-wing palace fascism of privy councilor Tanin Kraivixien in 1976-77, the Abhisit Vejjajiva regime of 2008-11, and now the military dictatorship under The Leader, General Prayuth Chan-ocha.

Prayuth’s reign dictatorship is already emerging as one of the most hardline and reactionary of this selection of ultra-royalist regimes. Here are some recent examples of the nature of the regime.

At Khaosod it is reported that the newspaper has been forced into outspoken self-censorship. We understand that this hardly makes sense, but look at the editorial Khaosod has published.

Khaosod English states it had to make changes “to a recent article about an anti-royal video posted on youtube last week.” The editors removed some rather innocuous direct quotes in the original posted article, fearful of the lese majeste law. The editorial stated that as “a news agency based in Thailand, Khaosod English is obliged to comply with Thai laws. However, we always strive to find a balance between the boundary of the law and our strong commitment to an objective, accurate news reporting.”

That is a moving boundary, moving mostly to the right, and a boundary that is almost impossible to locate, meaning that self-censorship is the rule, and it becomes more extensive under repressive lese majeste regimes like that of the curent military dictatorship.

Also at Khaosod, the nature of the royalist nature of the regime is further revealed in story headlined, “Hardline Royalist Elected Head of NLA.” By NLA is meant the puppet assembly, handpicked by The Leader. That The Leader’s choice as head of the puppet assembly was “unanimously” voted into the position tells you a great deal about how slavishly loyal this “assembly” is. No independence, no thought, no representation. Asia Sentinel has a useful article on this “lap dog.

The one chosen as The Leader’s boss of the puppet assembly is Pornpetch Wichitcholchai, a former Supreme Court judge. Judges are, by definition, ultra-royalists who leave snail trails on the path when they slither off to the palace.Snail Trail

The last time he was a member of a puppet assembly after the 2006 coup, Pornpetch wanted tougher lese majeste laws. Yes, sentences of 15, 20 and 30 years are simply insufficient when protecting the royalist elites wealth and political power.

Khaosod states that his proposal back then was to expand Article 112’s coverage to “cover members of the Royal Family, the Head of Privy Council, all of the Privy Councilors, and ‘any person who has been appointed a representative of His Majesty the King’.” He also “suggested granting judges the power to outlaw media coverage of ongoing lese majeste trials.” Pornpetch reportedly withdrew his bill “because he was told to do so by the Privy Council…”.

This time, as the slave of The Leader, Pornpetch has said that choosing a premier is not something that is urgent for the puppet assembly. ho need a prime minister when you have an all-powerful and palace-sanctioned dictator.

Meanwhile, getting right down to the most important things, Prayuth has barked about lese majeste (again). Perhaps he’s been excited about the queen’s birthday and the lavish spending to “celebrate” yet another propaganda moment. More likely, he has been enraged by the video calling for the king to abdicate and return power to the people.[clicking opens a YouTube video, banned in Thailand]

The Leader identified some of those he considers opposed to the monarchy and who he wants locked up for decades. He said, in a televised address: “Let me name them,” he said. “[They are] Chupong Theetuan, Anek Chaichana, Saneh Thinsaen, Amnuay Kaewchompoo and Ong-art Thanakamolnan.” PPT has no links for Ong-art or Saneh. Each of the named men is reported outside Thailand. Prayuth warned that he’s hunting more.

Just for good measure, The Leader, joined by even some of his blogosphere “enemies”, decided to condemn Kritsuda Khunasen for claiming she was tortured while in Army detention. He said the claims were untrue and just meant to attack his military dictatorship. Why should anyone believe Prayuth on this? It makes little difference, for under the dictatorship, the military can do what it wants and there is “no plan to investigate the issue.”

At the Wall Street Journal it is pointed out that Prayuth is in firm control. It observes: “The point of this tight control is to rig Thailand’s future political system to prevent supporters of former Prime Minister Thaksin Shinawatra, who the majority of Thai voters support, from forming a future government.” This is too soft and and too narrow. Even The Economist is remarkably weak in identifying military authoritarianism for what it is: a dictatorship. Thailand’s military dictatorship is winding back to a Premocracy, denying democracy, and cementing the foundations of the royalist state.

 

 





On parliament and people

24 06 2013

It is perhaps fitting that PPT’s 4,000th post comes on 24 June, the day when the Khana  Ratsadon or People’s Party ended the personalistic rule of the monarchy in Thailand in 1932.

The initial constitution soon followed this event, in July 1932. King Prajadhipok, the toppled king was aghast and hastily scrawled “provisional” on it yet it is the version that most clearly reflected the view of the revolutionists and Pridi Phanomyong. They said:Pridi

Article 1: The supreme power in the country belongs to the people.

Article 4: The person who is the king of the country is King Prajadhipok. The succession will proceed in accordance with the Royal Household Law on the Succession of 1924 and with the approval of the Assembly.

Article 5: If there is any reason that the king is unable temporarily to carry out his duties, or is not in the capital, the Committee of the People will execute the right on his behalf.

Article 6: The king cannot be charged in a criminal court. The responsibility for a judgement rests with the Assembly.

As we do every year, PPT invites readers to read or re-read the People’s Party Announcement No. 1.  PPT has extracted and lightly edited this document from the excellent book Pridi on Pridi, translated by Pasuk Phongpaichit and Chris Baker, and published by Silkworm Books. It is now available from the new Pridi/Phoonsuk website.

Memorial of the Revolution on the Royal Plaza: "...ณ ที่นี้ 24 มิถุนายน 2475 เวลาย่ำรุ่ง คณะราษฎร ได้ก่อกำเนิดรัฐธรรมนูญ เพื่อความเจริญของชาติ"; "...here, in the dawn of 24 June 1933, the Khana Ratsadon has brought forth a constitution for the glory of the nation" (From Wikipedia)

Memorial of the Revolution on the Royal Plaza: “…ณ ที่นี้ 24 มิถุนายน 2475 เวลาย่ำรุ่ง คณะราษฎร ได้ก่อกำเนิดรัฐธรรมนูญ เพื่อความเจริญของชาติ”; “…here, in the dawn of 24 June 1933, the Khana Ratsadon has brought forth a constitution for the glory of the nation” (From Wikipedia)

ANNOUNCEMENT OF THE PEOPLE’S PARTY, NO. 1 (1932)

All the people

When this king succeeded his elder brother, people at first hoped that he would govern protectively. But matters have not turned out as they hoped. The king maintains his power above the law as before. He appoints court relatives and toadies without merit or knowledge to important positions, without listening to the voice of the people. He allows officials to use the power of their office dishonestly, taking bribes in government construction and purchasing, and seeking profits from changes in the price of money, which squanders the wealth of the country. He elevates those of royal blood (phuak chao) to have special rights more than the people. He governs without principle. The country’s affairs are left to the mercy of fate, as can be seen from the depression of the economy and the hardships of making a living – something the people know all about already.

The government of the king above the law is unable to find solutions and bring about recovery. This inability is because the government of the king has not governed the country for the people, as other governments have done. The government of the king has treated the people as slaves (some called phrai, some kha) and as animals. It has not considered them as human beings. Therefore, instead of helping the people, rather it farms on the backs of the people. It can be seen that from the taxes that are squeezed from the people, the king carries off many millions for personal use each year. As for the people, they have to sweat blood in order to find just a little money. At the time for paying government tax or personal tax, if they have no money, the government seizes their property or puts them on public works. But those of royal blood are still sleeping and eating happily. There is no country in the world that gives its royalty so much money as this, except the Tsar and the German Kaiser, in nations that have now overthrown their thrones.

The king’s government has governed in ways that are deceiving and not straightforward with the people. For example, it said it would improve livelihood in this way and that, but time has passed, people have waited, and nothing has happened. It has never done anything seriously. Further than that, it has insulted the people – those with the grace to pay taxes for royalty to use – that the people don’t know as much as those of royal blood. But this is not because the people are stupid, but because they lack the education which is reserved for royalty. They have not allowed the people to study fully, because they fear that if the people have education, they will know the evil that they do and may not let them farm on their backs.

You, all of the people, should know that our country belongs to the people – not to the king, as has been deceitfully claimed. It was the ancestors of the people who protected the independence of the country from enemy armies. Those of royal blood just reap where they have not sown and sweep up wealth and property worth many hundred millions. Where did all this money come from? It came from the people because of that method of farming on the backs of the people! The country is experiencing hardships. Farmers and soldiers’ parents have to give up their paddy fields because cultivating them brings no benefit. The government does not help. The government is discharging people in floods. Students who have completed their study and soldiers released from the reserves have no employment. They have to go hungry according to fate. These things are the result of the government of the king above the law. It oppresses the minor government officials. Ordinary soldiers and clerks are discharged from employment, and no pension is given. In truth, government should use the money that has been amassed to manage the country to provide employment. This would be fitting to pay back the people who have been paying taxes to make royalty rich for a long time. But those of royal blood do nothing. They go on sucking blood. Whatever money they have they deposit overseas and prepare to flee while the country decays and people are left to go hungry. All this is certainly evil.

Therefore the people, government officials, soldiers, and citizens who know about these evil actions of the government, have joined together to establish the People’s Party and have seized power from the king’s government. The People’s Party sees that to correct this evil it must establish government by an assembly, so that many minds can debate and contribute, which is better than just one mind.

From Wikipedia

From Wikipedia

As for the head of state of the country, the People’s Party has no wish to snatch the throne. Hence it invites this king to retain the position. But he must be under the law of the constitution for governing the country, and cannot do anything independently without the approval of the assembly of people’s representatives. The People’s Party has already informed the king of this view and at the present time is waiting for a response. If the king replies with a refusal or does not reply within the time set, for the selfish reason that his power will be reduced, it will be regarded as treason to the nation, and it will be necessary for the country to have a republican form of government, that is, the head of state will be an ordinary person appointed by parliament to hold the position for a fixed term.

By this method the people can hope to be looked after in the best way. Everyone will have employment, because our country is a country which has very abundant conditions. When we have seized the money which those of royal blood amass from farming on the backs of the people, and use these many hundreds of millions for nurturing the country, the country will certainly flourish. The government which the People’s Party will set up will draw up projects based on principle, and not act like a blind man as the government which has the king above the law has done. The major principles which the People’s Party has laid out are:

1. must maintain securely the independence of the country in all forms including political, judicial, and economic, etc.;
2. must maintain public safety within the country and greatly reduce crime;
3. must improve the economic well-being of the people by the new government finding employment for all, and drawing up a national economic plan, not leaving the people to go hungry
4. must provide the people with equal rights (so that those of royal blood do not have more rights than the people as at present);
5. must provide the people with liberty and freedom, as far as this does not conflict with the above four principles;
6. must provide the people with full education.

All the people should be ready to help the People’s Party successfully to carry out its work which will last forever. The People’s Party asks everyone who did not participate in seizing power from the government of the king above the law to remain peaceful and keep working for their living. Do not do anything to obstruct the People’s Party. By doing so, the people will help the country, the people, and their own children, grandchildren, and great-grandchildren. The country will have complete independence. People will have safety. Everyone must have employment and need not starve. Everyone will have equal rights and freedom from being serfs (phrai) and slaves (kha, that) of royalty. The time has ended when those of royal blood farm on the backs of the people. The things which everyone desires, the greatest happiness and progress which can be called si-ariya, will arise for everyone.

Khana Ratsadon
[People’s Party]
24 June 1932

Readers interested in earlier PPT posts on Pridi can click here. For posts on 1932, click here. and here.





Blocking history

16 12 2012

Prachatai reports that the Nitirat’s website has been blocked. Specifically, he Ministry of Information and Communications Technology has blocked the page that reproduces the Declaration of the People’s Party in 1932, issued when it overthrew the absolute monarchy.Pridi

PPT knows that the blocking by MICT and by ISPs is often not very consistent, but in this case, it seems that a choice to block one page has been made, and that this amounts to blocking history. We imagine that some loopy ultra-royalist has read the People’s Party announcement, attributed to Pridi Phanomyong, as threatening to the monarchy and reported the page to MICT. The blocking is indicative of the ideological power wielded by the royalist state in “protecting” the monarchy. No one can protect it from history.

The document is reproduced below (with the English translation already posted at PPT):

ประกาศคณะราษฎร ฉบับที่ ๑

ราษฎรทั้งหลาย

เมื่อกษัตริย์องค์นี้ได้ครองราชสมบัติสืบต่อพระเชษฐานั้น ในชั้นต้นราษฎรได้หวังกันว่ากษัตริย์องค์ใหม่นี้จะปกครองราษฎรให้ร่มเย็น แต่การณ์หาเป็นไปตามหวังที่คิดไม่ กษัตริย์คงทรงอำนาจอยู่เหนือกฎหมายตามเดิม ทรงแต่งตั้งญาติวงศ์และคนสอพลอไร้คุณงามความรู้ให้ดำรงตำแหน่งที่สำคัญๆ ไม่ทรงฟังเสียงราษฎร ปล่อยให้ข้าราชการใช้อำนาจหน้าที่ในทางทุจริต มีการรับสินบนในการก่อสร้างซื้อของใช้ในราชการ หากำไรในการเปลี่ยนราคาเงิน ผลาญเงินทองของประเทศ ยกพวกเจ้าขึ้นให้สิทธิพิเศษมากกว่าราษฎร ปกครองโดยขาดหลักวิชา ปล่อยให้บ้านเมืองเป็นไปตามยถากรรม ดังที่จะเห็นได้ในการตกต่ำในการเศรษฐกิจและความฝืดเคืองทำมาหากิน ซึ่งราษฎรได้รู้กันอยู่ทั่วไปแล้ว รัฐบาลของกษัตริย์เหนือกฎหมายมิสามารถแก้ไขให้ฟื้นขึ้นได้ การที่แก้ไขไม่ได้ก็เพราะรัฐบาลของกษัตริย์เหนือกฎหมายมิได้ปกครองประเทศเพื่อราษฎรตามที่รัฐบาลอื่นๆ ได้กระทำกัน รัฐบาลของกษัตริย์ได้ถือเอาราษฎรเป็นทาส (ซึ่งเรียกว่าไพร่บ้าง ข้าบ้าง) เป็นสัตว์เดียรัจฉาน ไม่นึกว่าเป็นมนุษย์ เพราะฉะนั้น แทนที่จะช่วยราษฎร กลับพากันทำนาบนหลังราษฎร จะเห็นได้ว่าภาษีอากรที่บีบคั้นเอาจากราษฎรนั้น กษัตริย์ได้หักเอาไว้ใช้ส่วนตัวปีหนึ่งเป็นจำนวนหลายล้าน ส่วนราษฎรสิ กว่าจะหาได้แต่เล็กน้อย เลือดตาแทบกระเด็น ถึงคราวเสียภาษีราชการหรือภาษีส่วนตัว ถ้าไม่มีเงินรัฐบาลก็ใช้ยึดทรัพย์หรือใช้งานโยธา แต่พวกเจ้ากลับนอนกินกันเป็นสุข ไม่มีประเทศใดในโลกจะให้เงินเจ้ามากเช่นนี้ นอกจากพระเจ้าซาร์และพระเจ้าไกเซอร์เยอรมัน ซึ่งชนชาตินั้นได้โค่นราชบัลลังก์เสียแล้ว

รัฐบาลของกษัตริย์ได้ปกครองอย่างหลอกลวงไม่ซื่อตรงต่อราษฎร มีเป็นต้นว่าจะบำรุงการทำมาหากินอย่างโน้นอย่างนี้ แต่ครั้นคอยๆ ก็เหลวไป หาได้ทำจริงจังไม่ มิหนำซ้ำกล่าวหมิ่นประมาทราษฎรผู้มีบุญคุณเสียภาษีอากรให้พวกเจ้าได้กิน ว่าราษฎรรู้เท่าไม่ถึงเจ้านั้นไม่ใช่เพราะโง่ เป็นเพราะขาดการศึกษาที่พวกเจ้าปกปิดไว้ไม่ให้เรียนเต็มที่ เพราะเกรงว่าราษฎรได้มีการศึกษาก็จะรู้ความชั่วร้ายที่ทำไว้และคงจะไม่ยอมให้ทำนาบนหลังคน

ราษฎรทั้งหลายพึงรู้เถิดว่าประเทศเรานี้เป็นของราษฎร ไม่ใช่ของกษัตริย์ตามที่เขาหลอกลวง บรรพบุรุษของราษฎรเป็นผู้กู้ให้ประเทศเป็นอิสรภาพพ้นมือจากข้าศึก พวกเจ้ามีแต่ชุบมือเปิบและกวาดทรัพย์สมบัติเข้าไว้ตั้งหลายร้อยล้าน เงินเหล่านี้เอามาจากไหน? ก็เอามาจากราษฎรเพราะวิธีทำนาบนหลังคนนั่นเอง ! บ้านเมืองกำลังอัตคัตฝืดเคือง ชาวนาและพ่อแม่ทหารต้องทิ้งนา เพราะทำไม่ได้ผล รัฐบาลไม่บำรุง รัฐบาลไล่คนงานออกอย่างเกลื่อนกลาด นักเรียนที่เรียนสำเร็จแล้วและทหารที่ปลดกองหนุนไม่มีงานทำ จะต้องอดอยากไปตามยถากรรม เหล่านี้เป็นผลของรัฐบาลของกษัตริย์เหนือกฎหมาย บีบคั้นข้าราชการชั้นผู้น้อย นายสิบ และเสมียน เมื่อให้ออกจากงานแล้วไม่ให้เบี้ยบำนาญ ความจริงควรเอาเงินที่กวาดรวบรวมไว้มาจัดบ้านเมืองให้มีงานทำจึงจะสมควรที่สนองคุณราษฎรซึ่งได้เสียภาษีอากรให้พวกเจ้าได้ร่ำรวยมานาน แต่พวกเจ้าก็หาได้ทำอย่างใดไม่ คงสูบเลือดกันเรื่อยไป เงินมีเท่าไหรก็เอาฝากต่างประเทศคอยเตรียมหนีเมื่อบ้านเมืองทรุดโทรม ปล่อยให้ราษฎรอดอยาก การเหล่านี้ย่อมชั่วร้าย

เหตุฉะนั้น ราษฎร ข้าราชการ ทหาร และพลเรือน ที่รู้เท่าถึงการกระทำอันชั่วร้ายของรัฐบาลดังกล่าวแล้ว จึงรวมกำลังตั้งเป็นคณะราษฎรขึ้น และได้ยึดอำนาจของรัฐบาลของกษัตริย์ไว้แล้ว คณะราษฎรเห็นว่าการที่จะแก้ความชั่วร้ายก็โดยที่จะต้องจัดการปกครองโดยมีสภา จะได้ช่วยกันปรึกษาหารือหลายๆ ความคิดดีกว่าความคิดเดียว ส่วนผู้เป็นประมุขของประเทศนั้น คณะราษฎรไม่มีประสงค์ทำการชิงราชสมบัติ ฉะนั้น จึงขอเชิญให้กษัตริย์องค์นี้ดำรงตำแหน่งกษัตริย์ต่อไป แต่จะต้องอยู่ใต้กฎหมายธรรมนูญการปกครองของแผ่นดิน จะทำอะไรโดยลำพังไม่ได้ นอกจากความเห็นชอบของสภาผู้แทนราษฎร คณะราษฎรได้แจ้งความเห็นนี้ให้กษัตริย์ทราบแล้ว เวลานี้ยังอยู่ในความรับตอบ ถ้ากษัตริย์ตอบปฏิเสธหรือไม่ตอบภายในกำหนดโดยเห็นแก่ส่วนตนว่าจะถูกลดอำนาจลงมาก็จะชื่อว่าทรยศต่อชาติ และก็เป็นการจำเป็นที่ประเทศจะต้องมีการปกครองอย่างประชาธิปไตย กล่าวคือ ประมุขของประเทศจะเป็นบุคคลสามัญซึ่งสภาผู้แทนราษฎรได้ตั้งขึ้น อยู่ในตำแหน่งตามกำหนดเวลา ตามวิธีนี้ราษฎรพึงหวังเถิดว่าราษฎรจะได้รับความบำรุงอย่างดีที่สุด ทุกๆ คนจะมีงานทำ เพราะประเทศของเราเป็นประเทศที่อุดมอยู่แล้วตามสภาพ เมื่อเราได้ยึดเงินที่พวกเจ้ารวบรวมไว้จากการทำนาบนหลังคนตั้งหลายร้อยล้านมาบำรุงประเทศขึ้นแล้ว ประเทศจะต้องเฟื่องฟูขึ้นเป็นแม่นมั่น การปกครองซึ่งคณะราษฎรจะพึงกระทำก็คือ จำต้องวางโครงการอาศัยหลักวิชา ไม่ทำไปเหมือนคนตาบอด เช่นรัฐบาลที่มีกษัตริย์เหนือกฏหมายทำมาแล้ว เป็นหลักใหญ่ๆ ที่คณะราษฎรวางไว้ มีอยู่ว่า

๑.จะต้องรักษาความเป็นเอกราชทั้งหลาย เช่นเอกราชในทางการเมือง การศาล ในทางเศรษฐกิจ ฯลฯ ของประเทศไว้ให้มั่นคง

๒.จะต้องรักษาความปลอดภัยภายในประเทศ ให้การประทุษร้ายต่อกันลดน้อยลงให้มาก

๓.ต้องบำรุงความสุขสมบูรณ์ของราษฎรในทางเศรษฐกิจ โดยรัฐบาลใหม่จะจัดหางานให้ราษฎรทุกคนทำ จะวางโครงการเศรษฐกิจแห่งชาติ ไม่ปล่อยให้ราษฎร อดอยาก

๔.จะต้องให้ราษฎรมีสิทธิเสมอภาคกัน (ไม่ใช่พวกเจ้ามีสิทธิยิ่งกว่าราษฎร เช่นที่เป็นอยู่)

๕.จะต้องให้ราษฎรได้มีเสรีภาพ มีความเป็นอิสระ เมื่อเสรีภาพนี้ไม่ขัดต่อหลัก ๕ ประการดังกล่าวข้างต้น

๖.จะต้องให้การศึกษาอย่างเต็มที่แก่ราษฎร

ราษฎรทั้งหลายจงพร้อมกันช่วยคณะราษฎรให้ทำกิจอันคงจะอยู่ชั่วดินฟ้านี้ให้สำเร็จ คณะราษฎรขอให้ทุกคนที่มิได้ร่วมมือเข้ายึดอำนาจจากรัฐบาลกษัตริย์เหนือกฎหมายพึงตั้งอยู่ในความสงบและตั้งหน้าหากิน อย่าทำการใดๆ อันเป็นการขัดขวางต่อคณะราษฎรนี้ เท่ากับราษฎรช่วยประเทศและช่วยตัวราษฎร บุตร หลาน เหลน ของตนเอง ประเทศจะมีความเป็นเอกราชอย่างพร้อมบริบูรณ์ ราษฎรจะได้รับความปลอดภัย ทุกคนจะต้องมีงานทำไม่ต้องอดตาย ทุกคนจะมีสิทธิเสมอกัน และมีเสรีภาพจากการเป็นไพร่ เป็นข้า เป็นทาสพวกเจ้า หมดสมัยที่เจ้าจะทำนาบนหลังราษฎร สิ่งที่ทุกคนพึงปรารถนาคือ ความสุขความเจริญอย่างประเสริฐซึ่งเรียกเป็นศัพท์ว่า “ศรีอาริย์” นั้น ก็จะพึงบังเกิดขึ้นแก่ราษฎรถ้วนหน้า

คณะราษฎร

๒๔ มิถุนายน ๒๔๗๕








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