CIA documents released and accessible

22 01 2017

The automatic declassification provisions of US Executive Order 13526 (formerly EO 12958, as amended) require the declassification of non-exempt historically valuable records 25 years or older. At the CIA this meant that it maintains a program operating out of the CIA Declassification Center to review records under the purview of EO 13526 before they reach their automatic declassification deadline.

Since 2000, if one visited the National Archives College Park, Maryland in the USA, the CIA had installed and maintained an electronic full-text searchable system named CREST (the CIA Records Search Tool), with about 11 million pages of data.

However, in January 2017, the CIA published the records of the CREST collection online, and they can be searched and downloaded online.

Helpfully, Andrew MacGregor Marshall has done a bit of a search through the material and provided his initial impressions, especially searching for material related to the monarchy and posted. Readers will surely find this of interest

One document we at PPT found of considerable importance is in regard to General Sarit Thanarat’s 1957 military coup. A few pages into the report, it provides what we think is a first-hand corroboration of the king’s involvement. It has always been known that the young king found Sarit a father figure and supported him, as Sarit supported him and the monarchy. This document says something more:

king-and-1957-copyHe did not become disillusioned with Sarit or the military and the military-monarchy political partnership was born. That the king played “an active role in the events leading to and subsequent to the army coup” is a revelation that blows another hole in the palace’s now shredded propaganda that the king was “above politics.”

Not mentioned by Marshall in his post is another document PPT found interesting for its resonances with recent events:

khuang-1khuang-2Khuang was a founder of the Democrat Party in 1946, which was then, and is now, a royalist party of anti-democrats. After the shooting death of King Ananda Mahidol in 1946, it was Khuang and the Democrat Party that accused Pridi Phanomyong of having been a mastermind of the king’s death, leading to Pridi’s exile until his death. The palace and royals hated Pridi for his role in the 1932 revolution and they never forgave him.

However, it is the phrase that Thailand “would never be secure until Pridi and his chief followers were eliminated” that caught our attention. We guess that similar words have passed around the yellow-shirted cabals and we would assume that General Prem Tinsulanonda and the 2014 coup leaders said very similar things with Thaksin Shinawatra now the mortal enemy of their royalist Thailand.





Democrat Party extremism

31 08 2012

Veera Prateepchaikul had an interesting op-ed at the Bangkok Post a few days ago. It indicates how the Democrat Party, while always royalist, has moved to a more radical ultra-royalist position in recent years, most notably under the “leadership” of Abhisit Vejjajiva.

Bhichai Rattakul has been one of the Democrat Party’s patrician leaders for many years. He knew Khuang Aphaiwong, one of the founders of the party, and claims that Khuang, also a member of the 1932 People’s Party and who claimed royal lineage in Cambodia. A bit like Abhisit much later, Khuang became prime minister for a third time in 1947 following a military coup, and it was the military and royalists who hoisted him to the position. Bhichai claims Khuang encouraged him into politics, and from 1969, served 9 terms in parliament. He was head of the Democrat Party for 9 years and served as parliamentary president and House speaker. He held several ministerial appointments over the time he was in parliament.

This all means that Bhichai is Democrat Party through and through. He’s now 87 years old and remains the deputy chair of the Democrat Party’s policy advisory group. Hence, it is easy to imagine the surprise in the party when Bhichai appears on the pro-Thaksin Shinawatra VoiceTV to criticize his own party.

One of Bhichai’s criticisms was that “he was frustrated by the colour-coded political impasse of the last few years and tried to do something about it – but his own party blocked his efforts.” He went on to criticize the Democrat Party over what Veera mistakenly calls “an unruly incident involving Democrat MPs in the House of Representatives on May 30.”

It wasn’t an “unruly” incident, it was a violent disruption of parliament that included an assault on the House Speaker while parading Nazi salutes. Abhisit, who goes on about the “rule of law,” defended his party by saying they didn’t break the law, so it was okay. At the time, in The Nation, Abhisit “explained” that his party: “had no choice but to be rude [sic.] in order to block a dangerous legislative move that could bring the country to ruin…”. He added: “Insolence [sic.] on the part of the Democrats was unavoidable because they were denied the right to speak on the House floor…”. Abhisit, by defending the thuggishness by his less than democratic party, showed no leadership or principles. Then, PPT commented:

What has been most startling this week is the manner in which Democrat Party politicians have behaved in parliament. With physical attacks on other parliamentarians, extreme rancor, and several Nazi salutes, they have shown a disdain for parliament, parliamentary practice and process, and for the democratic politics of which parliament is a most significant institution.

It is this behavior that caused Bhichai to criticize his party and demanded that it “make an apology.” The response from the so-called Democrat Party and its supporters was intense:

Shortly after the interview was broadcast and posted on the social media, the savage criticism began. He was accused of having been bought by former prime minister Thaksin Shinawatra, of betraying the party and of being a chameleon.

Veera says that the aged politician “appears unperturbed by the offensive remarks” and that he went on to be interviewed in Matichon. While he claimed Abhisit did have some principles – PPT hasn’t seen them – he was also critical. Essentially, Bhichai seems to say that Abhisit is ignoring the older, more liberal, members of the party. Essentially Abhisit has thrown his lot in with the extremists in the party who support the ultra-royalists.

Explaining how Abhisit rejected reconciliation, Bhichai explained a plan “about it two years ago” when he had consulted a few “higher ups” about bringing Thaksin back to Thailand. This deserves citing in full:

Then he elaborated on his plan, which he claimed Thaksin accepted, which was as follows: He would fly there to meet Thaksin and would convince him to accept the two-year jail term imposed by the Supreme Court’s Criminal Division for Holders of Political Positions and they would then both fly back to Thailand together.

Upon arrival in Thailand, they would travel together to Siriraj Hospital for an audience with HM the King, in Thaksin’s capacity as a former prime minister, and seek a royal pardon. If an audience was not granted, Mr Bhichai would have promised to ask senior palace officials to accept a bouquet of flowers from Thaksin as well as his petition for a royal pardon.

After that, both would travel by car to Bang Kwang maximum-security prison. Mr Bhichai said he would have spent time in prison with Thaksin, but in another cell, until a royal pardon was granted. This was a guarantee to the ex-premier that his days in prison would be limited, not the full two years of the sentence imposed by the court.

He felt the deal was a win-win solution to Thailand’s protracted political conflict.

Bhichai says that this was acceptable to Thaksin, but then Prime Minister Abhisit rejected it. Abhisit said that there could be no pardon and that Thaksin’s “conviction must stand.” The result, according to Bhichai, is that the Democrat Party gave Thaksin no “way out.” And, with a no compromise position, Abhisit and the Democrat Party left themselves no “way out” either.

Bhichai’s approach to political compromise is seen as anachronistic by the now extremist Democrat Party and the criticism of his “revelations” has been unending.

 





Organizing the anti-red shirt movement

1 04 2010

PPT understands that there are a lot of red shirts who continue to have faith in Thaksin Shinawatra. Likewise, we understand that there are numerous people who hate Thaksin. Many of these people don’t need to be organized with funds from their respective sides to demonstrate their love or hate. As the mainstream media continually points out, some are organized and funded. However, this claim is usually only made for the red shirts. PPT is continually amazed at how dumb or just ridiculously biased that media is when it comes to Thaksin opponents.

Pravit Rojanaphruk has argued that the mainstream media displays bias but also displays elitist attitudes. PPt thinks they are also sometimes racist attitudes towards “country bumpkins” who are dark-skinned, lazy and stupid. Racism and class warfare – and it is these same people who say class analysis is misplaced for Thailand. Such arrogance is breathtaking.

PPT wants to look briefly at the sudden flood of stories over just a few days claiming the rise of an anti-red shirt movement, while also claiming this “movement” is somehow unbiased, neutral or representatives of the “silent majority.” The most recent of these stories are in the Bangkok Post and The Nation on 1 April 2010. They amount to either exceptionally poor journalism or are simply propaganda.

The Nation writes of a “rapidly expanding network of academics, businessmen and civic-society organisations has urged peace-loving citizens to join forces tomorrow in a bid to counter the red-shirt protesters.” The Bangkok Post tells its readers that the Federation of Thai Tourism Association opposing the red shirt rally. Apparently the “federation insisted yesterday it was not taking sides but it could not stand still while the country was in limbo.” The Post also writes of another group called “People Who Love Peace” who have “issued a statement voicing their disagreement with the red shirts’ demand for a dissolution of the House and what it said was an attempt to amend the constitution to whitewash wrongdoers.”

Sounds like the development of a “movement.” But is it something more? It is widely known that Kraisak Choonhavan, Panitan Wattanayagorn and other members of the Democrat Party have been reported to be working together with these groups to arrange protests and to assist them with strategy.

The venue for one of the organized rallies is to be Chulalongkorn University. In recent years, the administration of the university has become the major academic bastion of yellow shirts and other royalists, and the links between the palace and the university have been greatly enhanced. The administration is unashamedly politically aligned to royalists and the Democrat Party. Imagine then allowing a red shirt meeting!

A spokesperson for the event at Chulalongkorn is Three-dao Aphaiwong, a lecturer, who says that the 2 April “rally was aimed at all citizens, businessmen and civic-society organisations who support the cause of peaceful conflict resolution. She stressed that the movement was non-partisan and “color-blind” as far as the current political rifts were concerned.

A “council of civic-society organisations in Bangkok” is also attending. It is made up of “1,800 self-defence, civil-rights and other communities in Bangkok.” These groups are already shown (www.prachatai.com/english/node/1688) to have been strongly associated with People’s Alliance for Democracy activists.

What are the objectives of the unbiased, peace-loving, color-blind “movement”? Here they are:

* “A show of unity for peace against some groups of people.”

* “People who have occupied public roads and the right of way are asked to disperse, as Bangkok residents have been held hostage by their fight against the government in the past several weeks.”

* “People who have insulted the monarchy are asked to stop doing so.”

* “the movement is against a House dissolution at an inappropriate time.”

* “The movement is against amending the Constitution to benefit wrongdoers.”

No bias there…. Just the platform of PAD and the Democrat Party combined. At least the Bangkok Post manages to see this coalition as anti-red shirt.

Color blind means wearing pink: “Please wear pink. (If that is inconvenient, please wear any colour except red),” said the organizers. Pink is the Chulalongkorn University’s color and it is also the currently most popular color for royalists.

The unbiased Three-dao Aphaiwong is, in fact, closely aligned to the PAD (see this web page, in Thai, where anti-Thaksin activities are prominently listed). It is appropriate that the family name Aphaiwong is included here. The lords of Battambang are well known politicians and business people. Thira Aphaiwong is vice president of the Bangkok Bank. Khuang Aphaiwong was one of the founders of the Democrat Party and its first leader. Ironically, his third term as prime minister and first at the head of the Democrat Party began following the 1947 military coup and produced the most royalist government and constitution since 1932. Abhisit Vejjajiva might see some relationship to his own rise to the premiership.

So these groups are not necessarily independent, unbiased or organic. The mainstream media should not paint these groups in these terms when they are biased, royalist and yellow. PPT knows that there are true believers on the yellow/pink side. But at the same time, reporters should not be seen to be playing fast and loose with facts and unashamedly promoting “their side.” Is there a risk that this elitist opposition to red shirts, with military support and media connivance is mining a deep-seated fascism lurking amongst particular right-wing groups?








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