Reaction to the NACC’s Prawit decision II

29 12 2018

The Nation reports “widespread criticism after the [National Anti-Corruption Commission] commissioners decided to drop charges against [Gen] Prawit [Wongsuwan]’s controversial collection of 22 luxury watches…”.

A Bangkok Post editorial states the NACC ruling “is unconvincing and dubious due to its weak rationale behind the decision and and its half-baked probe into the case.” It adds that “given its half-hearted commitment to pursue the case in the first place, the public has reason to suspect that the intention was to let the deputy prime minister and defence minister off the hook easily.”

Interestingly, the Post points to a similar case where an official was convicted:

In 2011, when it probed former transport permanent secretary Supoj Saplom’s possession of an undeclared asset, a 2.9-million-baht car, which he claimed belonged to a friend, the NACC ruled against him, saying such high-value lending was not possible. It also ruled that Supoj was guilty because he was the one who actually used the car, even though the registration papers stated that his friend was the owner….

Conveniently for Gen Prawit and the military junta, the NACC now seems to have reversed itself and it now says that holding and using watches worth millions is okay.

Other reactions:

Anti-corruption activist Srisuwan Junya … issued a statement … alleging malfeasance on the part of the five commissioners who had found Prawit innocent and declared he had gathered 20,000 signatures to get them sacked.

Activist Veera Somkwamkid said … he will file [a] lawsuit against the NACC for letting Prawit walk free.

Meanwhile, Puea Thai Party deputy spokesman Wattanarak Suranatyut asked if others face a similar situation do they now just say the valuable item is “borrowed” from a “friend“?

The Democrat Party’s Charnchai Issarasenarak said “the NACC appeared to have found an excuse for General Prawit, instead of finding facts regarding the controversial collection.” He added: “The NACC was incapable of finding facts about the 25 watches. This is a disgrace for the agency and could end up being a catastrophe for it…”. Worse for the NACC, Charnchai”accused the NACC of lying to the public by claiming it could not find out who had bought these watches.”

In another Bangkok Post report, Khattiyaa Sawasidipol, deputy spokesperson of Thai Raksa Chart, said “the NACC’s resolution would allow people suspected of assets concealment to cite being on loan as an excuse.”

In The Nation’s report, the NACC is reported as “defending” its decision. NACC secretary-general Worawit Sukboon insisted its decision was “based on evidence shown in the case file…”.

That is about as weak as it can get. However, it matters little for the puppet NACC. It does as it is told and then returns to its protective shell – the military junta.





No remembering allowed I

13 05 2017

The junta continues to try to censor and repress, several times going into royalist overload in its efforts.

Part of its work is to effectively change history. Whether it wanted to or not, the theft and vandalism of the 1932 plaque caused the dictatorship to line up with their king in saying the past is best forgotten (in fact) and replaced with mythical legends about good kings and the current one (the silk purse-sow’s ear notion).

Other facts are simply ignored. What happened to the murdered Chaiyapoom Pasae? Best forgotten and swept under a military tarpaulin. And so on, ad infinitum.

While on history and this regime, or at least the devils running it, those people killed in 2010. Either they were republican dupes of a Svengali or they can be swept aside as deserving of death as bad people (or both).

It is no surprise to learn from The Nation that the military junta has prevented a “commemoration of late Maj-General Khattiya Sawasdipol…”.

Known as Seh Daeng, he was murdered with a single sniper shot to the head “during the 2010 red-shirt demonstrations against the Abhisit [Vejjajiva] government…”. As the high buildings were occupied by government troops, it may be assumed that the shooter was ordered to take out Seh Daeng by the Abhisit regime and military leaders including General Prayuth Chan-ocha and General Anupong Paojinda.

Former deputy prime minister Chalerm Yubamrung “claimed in 2012 that a group of senior police officers were behind the assassination…”, although we’d bet it was military snipers.

Colonel Winthai Suvaree, a spokesperson for the military junta “insisted that there was no attempt to thwart the family’s commemoration plan, but the event could be considered politically motivated,” so it was banned.

Seh Daeng’s daughter is unimpressed with the junta’s call for “cooperation” and forget about the commemoration of his murder.

She “insisted she would today go to Sala Daeng intersection on Silom Road in the capital to lay flowers and light candles to commemorate her father at the location where he was fatally wounded by a sniper.”

Ms Khattiyaa said she received a phone call from a police officer on Thursday, who said he was instructed by the army to ask about what she intended to do to mark the seven-year anniversary of her father’s death.

She “questioned why authorities want to prevent her and her sister from expressing gratitude and commemorating their father.”

Military dictatorship spokesman, and probably involved in the planning of the sniper attack, Lt Gen Sansern Kaewkamnerd said “in ordinary merit-making ceremonies, the NCPO [junta] always gives permission if the activities have no political implications.”

We assume he means ceremonies already deemed “political” for we doubt other merit-making  needs junta approval. But perhaps we have missed another expansion of the use of the junta boot.

Junta spokesman Winthai reckoned the fire-breathing anti-red shirts at the 1st Army Region are the ones swinging the boot in this case.

You get the picture. A couple of women are considered political threats to the junta because they might just challenge the junta’s history of Thailand or cause people to remember.





Deaf

2 11 2013

ThaksinThaksin Shinawatra and the leadership of the Puea Thai Party appear politically deaf:

From The Nation: … relatives of those killed in the April-May 2010 crackdown and the so-called progressive wing of the red shirts reacted with a sense of betrayal and deep anger against the party and ousted and convicted former prime minister Thaksin.

Phayaw Akkahad, mother of slain nurse Kamolkaed Akkahad, said she felt betrayed by Thaksin but vowed to fight on until those responsible are brought to justice.

“What Thaksin did today was an act of betrayal against the people. Thaksin became ungrateful to the 15 million people who voted for him,” said Phayaw, sounding noticeably upset. She said she and other relatives of those killed in 2010 would soon call a press conference, and insisted that she would not give up calling for the end to the immunity even if she had to fight alone.

A group of 20 red-shirt university students led by Panitan Prueksakasemsuk, son of lese majeste convict Somyos Prueksakasemsuk and a senior law student at Thammasat University, staged a protest in front of the Pheu Thai Party headquarters. Organising a play mocking Thaksin under the title “Stepping on Dead Bodies to Return Home”, Panitan told The Nation that his feelings towards Thaksin had changed and the development demonstrated that most politicians cannot be trusted.

The red-shirt movement, said Panitan, is now divided over the issue, but the blame must be placed squarely on Thaksin and the Pheu Thai Party and not on those who oppose the blanket amnesty, he stressed.

Sombat Boonngam-anong, Red Sunday group leader, said he would try to muster 10,000 red shirts on November 10 to demonstrate against the bill. Sombat acknowledged that there was nothing opponents of the bill could do to stop the parliamentary process but added that the red-shirt movement must reform itself.

Sombat said that perhaps Thaksin knew something that the public at large did not. Some red shirts have speculated that a deal had already been struck by the elite on both sides of the political divide to ensure immunity and exoneration for all key figures.

Also from The Nation: “Other red-shirt MPs might have their own reasons to comply with the party’s resolution, but I can’t let those who ordered the killing of people to go scot-free. So, I have abstained and fear that the red shirts will lose faith in the Pheu Thai Party for letting murderers go unpunished.” Weng Tojirakarn, Pheu Thai party-list MP and red-shirt leader

“A lot of red-shirt people cannot tolerate seeing murderers go unpunished. The DAAD and the Pheu Thai are still brothers, but we are free to make our own moves … The people will take a stand on the main road, because we know that it is a dead-end soi that Pheu Thai is luring us down. We will not enter this soi, but will wait at the mouth.”

Jatuporn Promphan, a leader of the Democratic Alliance against Dictatorship (DAAD)

“I am very unhappy that the House panel changed this bill because I lost my father, and others have lost their relatives. Now the wrongdoers will never be punished, so you all have blood on your hands. Nobody in this House has lost a relative other than me. I want to use this chance to try and bring the ones who killed my father to justice… I call on the panel to review the bill and bring justice.”

Khattiya Sawasdipol, Pheu Thai party-list MP

Kong Rithdee at the Bangkok Post: All exiles, or at least most of them, want to come home. That’s a given. But how they come home – sauntering down a red carpet or forcing their vengeance through the padlocked gate like rabid rottweilers – is a bigger test of courage and integrity of political exiles.

The flawed amnesty bill that would grant mass impunity to those who deserve trials and that would bring Thaksin home is now in the Senate – after the absurd marathon 19-hour parliamentary session that lasted until 4am yesterday, a proof of desperation on the part of Pheu Thai MPs who pushed the bill despite protests against it from all colours.

The ex-PM has the ball, but which narrative is he plotting for himself?

Thaksin was overthrown by unlawful forces, not at gunpoint but pretty close, but the real story is how he’s conspiring to return. That, and not the exile, will be a measure of his true self….

The scariest precedent however – I guess this is what’s on a lot of people’s minds, though no one speaks about it at the moment – is the tempestuous exile and return of Field Marshall Thanom Kittikajorn. Driven out after the Oct 14, 1973 uprising, Thanom’s return to Thailand as a novice monk three years later led to the horror of Oct 6, 1976, when right-wing factions massacred students at Thammasat University in a brutal episode that laid bare to witnesses not just the crime of murders, but of institutionalised hatred.





Parliament violated (again)

21 08 2013
BP photo

A Bangkok Post photo

Yesterday we posted that the inaptly named Democrat Party had abandoned parliamentary politics to concentrate on street politics. It seems that they have now confirmed this abandonment with yet another bout of violence and thuggery within the parliament.

The Nation reported “scuffles” as Democrat Party members abandoned parliamentary procedure. It also reports that:

Pheu Thai MP Khattiya [Khattiyar] Sawasdipol and Democrat MP Nattaya Benchasiriwan yesterday traded strong words over the phrase “gibbon screaming”, which Khattiya had used to describe the behaviour of the opposition MPs…. She had said the opposition MPs sounded like gibbons, which made the Parliament sound like a zoo.

She was being polite. The Democrat Party blames others for their terrible behavior.

The Democrat Party’s thuggery, threats and screams are shown in the Bangkok Post.

Khaosod had a hard-hitting report, noting that the unDemocrats were opposing constitutional change that would have meant a fully-elected senate. The thuggery was because, showing their leader Abhisit Vejjajiva a serial liar, most of them wanted appointed senators rather than elected senators.

Abhisit’s people threatened the House speaker and attacked police:

After numerous fisticuffs and heckling and time-outs throughout the 12 hours session, the debate was finally brought to a close at around 21.40…. The sense of desperation was clearly in the air.

Part of the reason for the Democrat Party desperation is that their:

ongoing anti-government protests led by the People′s Army Against Thaksin Regime at Lumpini Park is also becoming more and more irrelevant, its participants thinning each day and its momentum lost.

The call for a coup is their last resort, says Khaosod.

Readers may know that this is not the first time the Democrat Party has used violence in the parliamentary chamber. Our earlier post on this is here, where we called it the PADocrat Party.

A Bangkok Post photo showing a Democrat Party member grabbing a policeman's throat.

A Bangkok Post photo showing a Democrat Party member grabbing a policeman’s throat.





Real royal news

1 08 2013

As almost everyone knows, the king has been ensconced on a floor of Siriraj Hospital for almost four years. The queen has been hidden since her stroke in July 2012. Hence, this is really big news:

Their Majesties the King and the Queen will leave Siriraj Hospital at 4pm today for Klai Kangwon Palace in Prachuap Khiri Khan’s Hua Hin district.

Provincial governor Veera Sriwatanatrakul said local authorities and residents were very excited to welcome Their Majesties.

His Majesty was admitted to the hospital in Bangkok in September 2009 with a respiratory condition while Her Majesty was treated for an irregular heartbeat in 2012.

The question is: why move now? As we noted some time ago, whenever there are important political events, the king has been seen and has intervened. He has emerged from hospital in concert with political events. This means that the present move – and it is the most significant – must inevitably be related to political events. We note three reports, all from The Nation, that would lead people to conclude that the royal departure for Hua Hin is related to politics.

First, yellow-hued media pundits are predicting a potentially violent showdown. An op-ed at The Nation summarizes the detail:

As the new parliamentary session approaches, the political situation is becoming intense. Detractors and rivals of the government are taking to the streets after having waited for two years, since the ruling coalition came to power.

The government has been accused repeatedly of corruption, favouritism, unfair treatment, double standards and acting for the benefit of former PM Thaksin Shinawatra. The apparent goal is to undermine the government’s legitimacy in running the country.

Then this:

A group of militant anti-government protesters have been trained by former Army captain Songklod Chuenchuphol, in the same way as the late red-shirt strategist Maj-General Khattiya Sawatdiphol did, ahead of the red shirts’ major rallies in 2010.

Of course, Khattiya was a maverick, at times disowned by the official red shirts and, in fact, did little “training.” He was cut down by a sniper.

The op-ed predicts violence.

Second, the government has invoked the Internal Security Act (ISA) in three Bangkok districts in preparing for the parliamentary debate on an amnesty bill. This suggests the government is also expecting a showdown that may be violent. Interestingly, though, the People’s Alliance for Democracy (PAD) “announced yesterday it would not take part in protests against an amnesty bill…”. This is probably a feint, allowing its supporters to participate while keeping “the group’s leading figures and supporters [who] have been banned by the Criminal Court from taking part in such events” out of jail.

Red shirts are also being mobilized, suggesting the potential for clashes. Jatuporn Promphan explained: “The current situation is not normal. If we take a misstep, we will face the same fate as we did before…”.

Third, the usual “little bomb” marker of potential conflict has been established. The Nation reports that a “hand grenade was hurled at the house of Vice Admiral Pajun Tamprateep, a close aide to Privy Council President Prem Tinsulanonda, in the early hours of yesterday. It did not explode and its safety pin had not been removed.”

All of this suggests that royal preparations are also under way for what might become a major political showdown.





Remembering 2010

19 05 2013

As another anniversary of the Abhisit Vejjajiva regime’s army-led crackdown on red shirts is upon us, it is worth recalling that it is only a year or so ago that the Department of Special Investigation reported its investigations of the deaths.

DSI stated back then that state authorities “may be responsible for the deaths of at least 25 people…”.

Since then, while the DSI under the Yingluck Shinawatra has made some moves towards having Abhisit and Suthep Thaugsuban held responsible, it seems the army brass is again sitting in the world of unconscionable impunity (more on this below).

A series of recent reports reflect on the tragic events of 2010 and on the events since.

At the Red Shirts blog, it is reported that on 12 May 2013, a hearing finally:

took place at the Bangkok Criminal Court on the investigation and autopsy reports concerning 6 corpses found inside the Pathumwan Temple grounds. These victims were shot dead during the government suppression of the UDD protest on May 19, 2010.

Police investigators found bullet holes and:

reported that many more bullet holes could be found all over the temple grounds. Bullet holes were found on a metal sign in front of the temple, on the wall of the temple, on the advertisement sign under the BTS sky train, on the sky walk connecting the sky train stations, on the overpass and many more on the concrete platforms of the sky train.

Soldiers denied investigators access to the sky train tracks and the sky walk area.

Police ballistic analysis showed “23 bullet holes found on the temple grounds and Rama 1 Road …indicated that these shots had been fired from a higher angle and definitely not from a horizontal line of fire.” There was no evidence reported of shots from inside the temple.

At the Bangkok Post it is reported that the “parents of a boy who was killed as security forces moved in to clear the Ratchaprasong area … claim …  not enough is being done to find the people responsible for their son’s death.”

Pansak Srithep, was the father of 17-year-old Samapan, his only son. Samapan was killed on Ratchaprarop Road, where several people were shot dead. Pansak said “it has been draining for him and other families of those killed during the unrest to struggle to find witnesses willing to appear in court.”

Pansak “wants the government … to do more to help, and said investigators could do more to help with the court cases.” He claimed the Yingluck government “lacked the will to help…”.

The Bangkok Post states that there are currently “37 cases are at the initial inquest stage,” while “[a]nother 15 cases, including the death of Japanese cameraman Hiroyuki Muramoto and six deaths at Wat Pathum Wanaram, are at a stage where authorities are still determining if the security forces were responsible.” Another four cases “are awaiting a decision from prosecutors as to whether they will proceed,” and five others, “including that of Maj Gen Khattiya Sawatdiphol, known as Seh Daeng,” are at initial stages of police investigation.

The family of Kamolkate Akkahad, a medic shot at Wat Pathum Wanaram, are “also dismayed by the slow progress…”. They “will not join the main [official red shirt] stage during the event on Sunday.”army-snipers

At Prachatai it is reported that on 29 April, “the Criminal Court began an inquest into the deaths of Mana Saenprasoetsi and Phonsawan Nakhachai who were shot at Bon Kai on Rama IV Rd on 15 May 2010…”. They were two of 16 killed at this location, where video evidence shows army operations, including snipers.

Mana “was fatally shot in the back of the head near the mouth of Soi Ngam Duplee … while he was trying to help people who had been shot there.” Phonsawan, who was assisted by Mana later succumbed to his stomach gunshot wound.

Mana’s  mother Naree stated he was shot “while holding a red-cross flag in his hand”and helping two others who had been shot.

Soon after his death, the authorities (mis)used photos of Mana to justify actions that took place some distance from where he was shot.

Another story at the Bangkok Post directs attention to red shirt dissent on the Puea Thai government’s amnesty push:

Some red shirts see the proposal championed by Deputy Premier Chalerm Yubamrung as a betrayal because it would cover senior Democrat Party figures who were in government when the military crackdown on the Bangkok rally took place three years ago Sunday.

Of course, the anti-Thaksin Shinawatra lot oppose amnesty as a move to bring the man home. Thaksin is due to address supporters via videolink this weekend.

As PPT has stated several times, a blanket amnesty “would simply perpetuate the culture of impunity in Thailand, where senior figures rarely take responsibility for anything…”. The report adds:

Prominent scholars have been criticising the Pheu Thai flip-flop in social media forums. They include Nitirat Group core member Piyabutr Saengkanokkul; Thammasat University scholars Kasian Tejapira and Somsak Jeamteerasakul. Hard-core red-shirt activists Nithiwat Wannasiri, Jittra Kotchadet and Suda Rungkuphan also oppose the Chalerm plan.

 They say the party is betraying the red-shirt rank and file, as if a hundred deaths and a thousand injuries were simply the price to pay for the party’s compromise with the old establishment for the sake of its own survival.

PPT reiterates that those responsible for the murder of civilians must be brought to justice as an important step to rooting out the culture of impunity that state officials and the military has when murdering civilians.





Hate

9 11 2012

One of the striking things about the mass of news reports regarding an alleged plot to assassinate Thaksin Shinawatra has been how adamant the mainstream media has been that these rumors must have been manufactured by Thaksin for political gain. This seems reminiscent of the line run when Thaksin was premier and there were several alleged assassination plots against him.

Kultida Samabuddhi is Deputy News Editor at the Bangkok Post and while she joins the throng of doubters, she has a different take, suggesting reasons why Thaksin should be worried. Oddly, she doesn’t mention the earlier assassination plots against Thaksin, but she does mention the assassination of Khattiya Sawasdipol by a sniper’s bullet to the head. These “lessons” aside, she comments:

After news about Thaksin’s planned visit to Tachilek broke, a People’s Alliance for Democracy (PAD) commentator said he wished minority groups in Myanmar would do “a favour to Thailand” by killing the former premier.

When Mr Panthongtae said he and his two sisters would reunite with Thaksin at the border town, a female host of ASTV’s news talk programme said: “Good. Let them go, so they will [die] together there.”

The desire to see Thaksin die has dominated ASTV satellite television broadcasts over the past several days.

This rejection of extreme hate is lodged in a story where Kultida, a PAD supporter, still feels the need to justify PAD’s politics. Yet so much of that politics is built on hatred and maintaining it.





Bangkok Post misleads (again)

17 10 2012

At the Bangkok Post website, the headline is “B1m bounty put up for men in black,” followed by this: “DSI offers cash lure to solve five key cases.” As far as we can tell, both are wrong, and the first is probably deliberately misleading and reflective of the Post’s political bias.

The first line of the story is also misleading and biased: “The Department of Special Investigation (DSI) has offered a bounty of 1 million baht for anyone who provides information leading to the arrest of ‘men in black’ suspects linked to the 2010 political violence.”

That the Post is concocting its headlines is seen in the detail of the story, where it is stated that, first, there are seven cases, not five. Second, when the the cases are listed, the very first one is: “The case of Maj Gen Khattiya Sawasdipol, who was shot to death near Silom subway station…”. PPT has never heard any suggestion that “men in black” acted as snipers to kill Seh Daeng. Nor has any claim of “men in black been associated with the murder of Fabio Polenghi, another of the listed cases.

While a couple of the other six cases have been linked in various reports to the mysterious “men in black,” certainly, this story is not about a reward that is solely about cases related to allegations of “men in black.” The Bangkok Post is allowing its yellow colors to be clearly seen in this a politicized beat up.

 





With a major update: Democrat Party men in black I

13 10 2012

Members of the Democrat Party have dressed as so-called men in black in what The Nation reports as “a mobile rally in Bangkok to raise awareness of the role of the so-called men in black during the political strife in 2010.” In fact, the Democrat Party, urged on by its leader on by Abhisit Vejjajiva has done little more than show its continuing disdain for the people murdered by the Army when it was the party of government. This “rally was meant to publicize another event at Lumpini Park where Abhisit has promised to provide more information on political violence.

As PPT noted before, we once attended a political rally organized by this party when it promised to unveil new evidence about “men in black,” only to find them inexpertly cobbling together YouTube video that had been available for months. Nor is this the first time that a convoy has been organized by the party. The last we recall was during the 2011 election, when then Deputy Prime Minister Suthep Thaugsuban went on one to try to stem the popularity of the Puea Thai Party by “reminding” voters of 2010’s political violence.

On that occasion, it was the Bangkok Post trumpeting in support of the Democrat Party, with an op-ed lamentably asking, “Do we remember the burning of Thailand?” That op-ed began by explaining the surprise of amongst the elite that Puea Thai was so popular and admonishing the Democrat Party for not reminding people of these “heinous and treasonous” acts. PPT assumes that the Democrat “men in black” rally is based in a similar realization that the party continues to be flailing and drowning with a leader who is politically damaged goods.

This small Democrat Party “rally” was little more than a stunt as a few “participants” drove to what they claimed were “key sites … where men dressed in black appeared to intervene in crowd-control operations aimed at the 2010 red-shirt rallies.”

Note that The Nation’s “report” is little more than a Democrat Party handout, with its use of terms like “crowd-control operations” that were, in fact, Army live-fire zones involving the heavy use of snipers.

The Democrat Party claims that “men in black” appeared at “34 spots around the capital and took part in the political violence.” Interestingly, the Democrat Party “rally” shows that “men in black” can be easily “created” by anyone, as being a “man in black” means nothing more than wearing a black balaclava and a jacket and carrying a weapon like those used by the Army.

Perhaps the most disgusting element of the Democrat Party’s stunt was its call at Wat Pathum Wanaram, where medical workers were gunned down by the Army, and the party’s claim – one made by the Army – that “men in black at the temple had triggered violent clashes with security forces, resulting in casualties and the deaths of civilians.” That this is a lie is shown by numerous accounts by journalists present at the time. The idea that this temple event “triggered” any violence by the military is simply nonsense. Even a claim that the military’s use of deadly force in April and May 2010 is not supported by the evidence so far produced by any of the reports produced on the violence.

They will continue to seek to muddy the waters when they “rally”at Lumpini Park to” disseminate information relating to the violence involving the red shirts.” PPT believes that the “information” will be the same they “disseminated” in 2011, when trying to damage the Puea Thai Party’s huge popularity.

The Democrat Party seeks to exonerate itself from culpability in the murder of citizens when Abhisit, Suthep headed the government. We recall Suthep’s earlier claims that red shirts got themselves killed by running in front of bullets. That was sick too.

Update: As predicted, the Democrat Party came up with nothing new in their “rally” at Lumpini Park. At least that is what we get from media reports. The biggest claim they made is that Thaksin Shinawatra was behind the so-called men in black. That is exactly the claim made in Suthep made in June 2011 when he stated that every single person killed on 10 April was shot by Black Shirts in the pay of Thaksin.

The Democrat Party in power didn’t manage to locate any man in a black and get him through the courts and their histrionics fail to explain why so many red shirts were killed unless one accepts their claim that men in black were killing red shirts (when they have earlier claimed that they supported red shirts). The failure to get men in black to court is even more remarkable when Army chief General Prayuth Chan-ocha now claims “that the army had information about the black-clad men who attacked security forces on April 10, 2010.”

Korn Chatikavanij added to the illogical claims of his brethren with a concocted nonsense that the government hadn’t ordered snipers to kill Khattiya Sawasdipol, because if they had they would have used snipers to kill more red shirt leaders. Bizarre.

Suthep was reportedly had “tears rolling down his face” as he recalled the deaths of soldiers (not the large numbers of civilians) who died and as he whined that “the Pheu Thai government was trying to unfairly prosecute him and Mr Abhisit for the crackdown.” He would never have expected to have been challenged on his decisions and orders when in power.

Interestingly, none of the reports we could find stated how many people attended the “rally.” We found it in another Bangkok Post report: 2000 attended.





Further updated: Reporting the TRCT report

17 09 2012

The New York Times has a different angle on the reporting of the Truth for Reconciliation Commission of Thailand’s report released today than seen in several Thai newspapers, where the story has been about so-called men in black.

In this report they are mentioned, but the focus shifts to the use of a sniper to assassinate Maj-Gen Khattiya Sawasdipol, shot while being interviewed by Thomas Fuller of the NYT. There is no surprise that the report says he “was assassinated by a sniper most likely located in a building controlled by the authorities.”

The report cites Sunai Phasuk of Human Rights Watch, who praises the report “as balanced” with “neutral evidence and forensic science.” Sunai adds: “This is the first report in modern Thai political history that investigates violence from all sides…”. Sunai is also quoted in another report, at The Nation (see link below), as saying this was an “impartial inquiry.”

We might note that HRW produced its own report, which Sunai appears to be ditching. PPT is keen to see the forensic evidence because that was entirely missing from the HRW report. At the same time, claims about impartiality should be tempered by the knowledge that the TRCT was established by the Abhisit Vejjajiva administration. Few of its members can be considered impartial on the political conflicts of recent years. That comment doesn’t mean the report can be rejected out of hand. But nor should Sunai be simply lauding the report; it has to be critically assessed.

The NYT report has another interesting comment, observing that “the head of the commission, Kanit Nanakorn, called on Thaksin Shinawatra … to ‘sacrifice’ and withdraw from politics.”

This is a suggestion that has to be read for what it doesn’t say. Kanit’s call is for Thaksin, Thailand’s most popular elected leader ever to step aside. Pro-Thaksin parties have won every election since 2000, usually by a substantial margin. Yet Kanit wants him to stay out of politics.  Kanit seems to think that Thaksin,  because the elite hates him, needs to sacrifice himself. Where’s the impartiality that Sunai lauds? Should the king, queen, Prem Tinsulanonda and the military also stand aside from politics (not that they have been elected)?

The commission’s report gets very partial when it demands that: “All parties must express a clear intent to venerate the monarchy as being above all political conflicts…”. The call seems to be that the monarchy is critical for Thailand. It isn’t, but it is critical for the royalist state and its rule.

At The Nation, the argument seems to be that the TRCT report has to be venerated
for its “impartiality,”  warning that “people should not use the findings to create more rifts.”

However, some prominent red shirts, such as academic Suda Rangkupan, said the report contained more falsehoods than truths. “Who are the killers? No conclusion has been reached about the men in green,” she said, referring to the Army. “There is more false information than fact. It will be the beginning of another round of conflicts.”

As noted above, the TRCT report should be examined and critically considered, not lauded and praised just because the Abhisit Vejjajiva government’s carefully selected commission has finally reported.

Update 1: A reader tells us that the paper edition of the International Herald Tribune in Thailand today stops its report from the NYT at the phrase “vacuum of moral authority” thus leaving out reference to the comments about venerating the monarchy noted above and the need to review the lese majeste law (something PPT should have added above as well).

Update 2: The TRCT report, in a 276-page PDF, is available for download, in Thai.