It’s getting darker I

22 11 2017

The lights are dimming everywhere and Thailand’s lights have been starved of wattage for the years since the 2014 military coup.

The Dictator is in charge of turning the lights off, and he looks like he’s going for candle power.

The Bangkok Post reports that the military dictatorship has demanded that the Computer Crimes Act “be rigorously enforced against online media that distort facts and disseminate ‘fake reports and hate speech’.”

Thanks Donald and the alt-right for that idea, a redoubt of fascists. It means that General Prayuth Chan-ocha feels free to claim that any news story he dislikes is now considered “fake.”

The Dictator demands order: “society needs to function in an orderly fashion. No matter who you are, if you twist the facts, write what is not true or incite hatred, you will face legal action…”.

That’s a lie (or perhaps fake). We know that the military, the junta and their spokesman twist facts, speak untruths and incite hatred of their opponents and most especially those they accuse of lese majeste. None of these liars will face legal action because they control and manipulate whatever law the junta decides to invent (like Article 44).

The Dictator especially pointed to “his political critics [saying they ]were not immune.” He seemed to have Voice TV in his sights.

He’s been especially ticked off by speculation over his cabinet reshuffle. That seems stalled, somewhere between the junta and the palace. There’s still some horsetrading being done.

Government spokesman and perpetual purveyor of fake news, Lt Gen. Sansern Kaewkamnerd said “the intention is not to monitor media who play by the rules but to monitor online media and netizens whose identities are usually unknown and operate in the dark.”

This suggests that the military junta is keen to wipe out all critics. It also suggests that another lese majeste crackdown may on the cards.

Lt Gen Sansern revealed that The Dictator demanded that “every ministry and the Government Spokesman Bureau … compel agencies under their authority to be vigilant in monitoring social media and online news entities that publish information relating to the government’s work.”

The Nation adds that The Dictator is concerned about any news or commentary that criticizes the junta’s performance and mentioned the “online dissemination of information ‘deemed controversial to national security’.” That’s usually code for the monarchy.

In making these demands, The Dictator claimed to be relying on recommendations by the King Prajadhipok Institute, which once claimed to support “democracy,” but is a royalist and anti-democrat agency.

The proposed political loosening was fake news. What we are really getting is deep, deep darkness.





Prayuth fumes, wants attention

8 09 2017

Most readers will have seen the story of The Dictator, General Prayuth Chan-ocha’s temper tantrum when a survey by King Prajadhipok Institute claimed that “former premier Thaksin Shinawatra had a higher credibility rating while in office than Prayut has now.”

The Dictator’s notoriously short fuse was lit and he exploded.

The data and the details of the survey are not all that interesting except for a military dictatorship thinking about how it might manufacture an “election” where its people, not Thaksin’s, “win.”

What is interesting are The Dictator’s comments on Thaksin and (the still missing) Yingluck.

Prayuth lambasted the media: “I am so over him. But you [the media], you’re not. And you keep reporting [news] about him…”.

He went on to say that he was “over” Yingluck as well. He reckons they all create “conflict.” He blamed the media for political conflict: “He asked whether the media was trying to provoke the people again.”

He then began to lie, saying “he just wanted justice to prevail.” Anyone who watches Thailand’s politics knows that, under the junta, its justice is no justice at all. It is all double standards and impunity.

What he apparently means is that his junta is now using the judiciary as its main weapon deployed against Thaksin and Yingluck. He thundered: “Do you get that there are wrongdoings there? Please report so…”.

“Clearly upset,” Prayuth demanded that the media forget the conflicts of domestic politics and focus on good stories about his regime. And, more importantly, he wanted the media to focus on him:

“Don’t think that I do not follow your [the media] work. I always do. But I only read what matters and I skip the nonsense,” Prayut said.

Before leaving he added: “I want to know why you never asked whether I’m tired, whether I will be back, where I have been. But don’t ask me now. It’s too late. I’m back here and the first thing I get is these questions. It’s you that never get over them.”

Such childish egotism seems definitional of the psychology of dictators:

They see themselves as “very special” people, deserving of admiration and, consequently, have difficulty empathizing with the feelings and needs of others … Not only do dictators commonly show a “pervasive pattern of grandiosity,” they also tend to behave with a vindictiveness often observed in narcissistic personality disorder.





Abolish KPI

9 07 2017

It is not often that PPT agrees with the anti-democrats of the puppet National Reform Steering Assembly. But on their criticism of the hopeless and historically challenged King Prajadhipok’s Institute (KPI), we (almost) agree.

A report at the Nation says that the KPI “has been accused of promoting networking among participants of its many courses that attract the political and business elite, as well as senior bureaucrats and other important people from many circles.”

In fact, that’s documented in chapter 5 of the 2016 book Unequal Thailand [readers may finds bits of it at Google books].

One of the numerous committees at the NRSA “has called for a review of the KPI’s roles and duties, as well as a reform of its courses.”

Seree Suwanpanont, the chairman of the NRSA’s political reform committee, “said that despite its many years of existence, the KPI had failed to help improve the standard of Thai politics.”

We agree with this observation. Some time ago, PPT observed that the then constitution manager for the military dictatorship, Bowornsak Uwanno  headed up the KPI, a front organization for “Thai-style” (non-)democracy.

One may peruse the revised KPI fairy tale history to learn that the royalist construction of “parliamentary democracy with the King as the head of state” came into existence in 1932 rather than when royalist and military ideologues hit on this mangled description in recent years. One might also note that under the misapprehension that the deposed king “granted” political change rather than having it forced on him and a coterie of princes.

In fact, since we wrote that, KPI has removed the last bit. Perhaps they read us?

Most significantly, KPI is claimed to have been “established specifically to promote democracy…”. In fact, it was established by royalists to subvert democracy, and Bowornsak is the perfect and trustworthy patron of that subversion of democratic and electoral politics.

That neither Bowornsak nor his royalist organization have done anything to promote  democracy is shown by the linking of the last absolute monarch with the Institute. If it were even necessary, Bowornsak was reported in The Nation in a manner that made this crystal clear.

Instead of “reforming” the KPI, abolish it.





More “good” person nonsense

3 06 2017

One of the problems of Thailand’s politics is that there are a few aged men who think they know everything better than anyone else. Most of them have been cast as “liberals” but the fact is that most are royalists first and then conservatives second. Some of them are authoritarian, vile and nasty.

They are used to being heard partly because Thailand’s culture has respect for the aged, even when they are fruitcakes. They are often heard because they are aligned with the powerful, including the military and the palace.They think of themselves as “great” and “good.”

So when the Bangkok Post reports a meeting attended by executives of media organisations like “the National Press Council of Thailand, the Thai Journalists Association, the Thai Broadcast Journalists Association, the Isra Institute and the Thai Press Development Foundation” coming up with ideas about “training members of the media to ensure they are not influenced by politicians or big business” you start to wonder.

You wonder first because several of these organizations have been remarkably biased in their reporting of political events in recent years. Second, that so-called prominent social thinker Prawase Wasi “has thrown his support behind a proposal to set up an institute” for this purpose suggests that it is just another old man’s nonsense idea that imposes views based on a hatred of people’s sovereignty.

The greatest control of the media is by business interests. After all, the media is a business and its mostly owned by businesses. So unless the proposal is to nationalize the media, this seems silly. The next most significant control of the media over time has been by the military. And then there’s the control over palace propaganda that prevents real reporting about that business conglomerate and social institution.

Prawase reckons an “institute to train at least 1,000 reporters to a high standard will be set up in three years…”. You can bet it will look like other “great” and “good” organizations like the King Prajadhipok Institute. KPI is a royalist joke and reality and history bending propaganda school.

Thai journalism has its ups and downs, but so does the media everywhere. Making it more royalist and more conservative is hardly a recipe for independence or better reporting.





Political vandalism and the control of history

23 04 2017

1932 plaqueThe political theft of the 1932 plaque has had unintended consequences.

The thief-in-chief was seeking to remove a perceived threat to the new reign and the junta’s constitutional basis for authoritarianism.

One unintended consequence has been to shine a light on 1932. The understanding of that time and the revolution that ended royal absolutism has been “controlled” by royalists for a considerable time. Think of the King Prajadhipok Institute and its mangled version of history. (If the KPI “The history” and “About KPI” seem reasonable, then you are a victim of the royalist control of history.)

Over the past couple of days, the Bangkok Post has had several op-eds that have posed questions about the received “history.” Each deserves attention. We’ll just quote some bits and pieces.

The first is by Wasant Techawongtham. He begins:

The switcheroo involving the 1932 Revolution memorial plaque seemed at first to be a simple act of theft or vandalism. But once the matter was brought to the attention of the authorities, things rapidly spiralled into the realm of the surreal.

And the more people try to make sense of it, the murkier it becomes.

He points out the quite banal and seemingly inexplicable initial responses from the junta:

Both government [junta] spokesman Sansern Kaewkamnerd and National Council for Peace and Order [junta] spokesman Winthai Suvaree, who can normally answer anything the press might throw at them, were lost for words.

The Dusit district chief who has jurisdiction over the area knew nothing about it either. The Fine Arts department chief not only did not know anything about the switch but claimed — rather hilariously, I should say — that the plaque was neither an artefact nor had any historical value.

The police not only did not know about it but would not accept complaints to look into the matter, claiming — I’m not sure whether I should laugh or cry here — that no one owned the object, and therefore no one could file a complaint. Huh?

You have to ask yourself: Is this for real?

The plaque was installed there for only 80-plus years and is associated with arguably the most significant political development in modern Thai history.

He refers to more ridiculousness by the junta and its minions before observing:

The silliness in this country knows no bounds. But this latest episode really takes the cake.

This really worries me. The Thai people under this military regime are already under orders not to think or speak their mind. But now we are supposed to not see or hear as well.

George Orwell would love to have written such a story.

We seem now to be living in another dimension where reality is distorted out of all proportion and truth is anything the powers-that-be say it is.

A second op-ed is by Ploenpote Atthakor. She begins:

… the plaque, which marks one of the most important incidents in modern Thai history, is a hot potato politically.

But though I fully sympathise with those inflamed by this apparent act of “political vandalism”, the extent of the public outcry has surprised me. Like those who are up in arms, I also wish the plaque, which marks the political transition from absolutism or constitutional monarchy, had stayed at its original site.

I believe Prime Minister Prayut Chan-o-cha, who has ordered a probe into the case, will never give a full account of what has happened. Nor could he restore the original plaque to its rightful place….

She seems to believe she cannot say why this is. The vandal-in-chief is beyond criticism. The Dictator is beyond criticism.

She continues by noting the failure of people to understand 1932 or to respect its symbols. Likewise, she does not point to the royalist hold on “history” as the reason for this. It is fine to opine about “the people” being “ignorant,” but the reasons for their alleged ignorance need to be explained. But she sees a silver lining:

… its sudden disappearance has triggered an interest in this particular period of Thai history like never before. The people who removed it probably didn’t expect that.

The third op-ed is by Kong Rithdee. He begins:

Who controls the past, controls the future. Who controls the present (tada!) controls the past. In summary, the military, like quantum physicists or mad sorcerers, controls time: The past, present, future, ad infinitum.

Through their coups, their fantasies and their laws, they control history — meaning the things that have happened or they want us to believe have happened. They also want to control the making of history — history as work in progress — meaning the shifting of glaciers and governments, the removal of memory and the manufacturing of dreams. Through the new 20-year national strategy bill, they also want to control the laying of future laws that will govern our life until eternity….

Much has been pondered about the missing plaque marking the 1932 Siamese Revolution. The erasing of history, an elusive heist, a voodoo ritual? Take your pick, for it looks like the burglary of the artefact is going down as one of the greatest puzzles of modern times. The sorcerers know they can’t change the past, even with chicken blood or powerful mantras, so they feel a need to change the record of the past — the imperfect past written by the revolutionaries who transformed the country into a constitutional monarchy.

He can’t get into the palace’s role although he could look at the role of royalist “historians” in the service of palace and military, writing “politicians” and the anti-royalists out of “their” history that is now “the” history. Or maybe he can, by allusion:

With the new plaque discreetly put in place of the original one, a palimpsest of history is being constructed before our eyes by the hand that appears firm, inexorable, invisible. So invisible that even the CCTV cameras (which only function when you’re speeding) lost all trace of what happened. The ghost did it. Again.

Some might see the ghost as a devil. He concludes:

The mark of dictatorship is when someone controls our life and our choice — that’s harder now because modern dictatorship still operates under capitalism, a system that values choice.

So it’s true dictatorship when someone attempts to control the concept of time — the mad aspiration to rule history and lay siege to the past, present and future while preventing us, the true holders of destiny, from writing our own parts. The clock is ticking but time is frozen. It’s not, as they often say, Orwell’s 1984.

This is a dystopian sci-fi, a country beyond Brave New World.

 





Updated: The constitution and the king’s coup

10 04 2017

The New York Times carries an op-ed by David Streckfuss. It is titled “In Thailand, a King’s Coup,” and we guess it will be blocked here in Thailand before too long.

We are not sure we agree with all of it, but will comment later.

Update: Streckfuss is like everyone else. He’s reading royal and military tea leaves and trying to work out what is going on. We can’t do anything different. His hypothesis seems to be that the the changes the king demanded of the junta’s constitution might represent a slap to the military. We are not so sure.

He’s not entirely right when he says that one changes “allows the king to name a regent to act on his behalf, including when he is traveling outside Thailand. This strips the Privy Council, a royal advisory group known to support the junta, of its traditional authority to act in the king’s place on such occasions.”

This isn’t correct. In previous constitutions, the king has had the right to appoint a regent. The change that impacts the Privy Council is that the new constitution removes the Privy Council President’s role of acting as regent when there’s a void. Grand old political fiddler General Prem Tinsulanonda may not like that, but he’s frail and on the way out.

There’s also the capacity for the king to nominate a person or a group to act as regent. We are not sure how this might work.

Another change is that the king doesn’t have to appoint a regent when he’s (often) away. That is giving him a power he didn’t have before but which is an acknowledgement that the new king intends to be away a lot.

Most of the other changes are a rolling back to earlier arrangements.

Then there’s the hypothesis that the king has a political “clean slate” and that this may result in some kind of association with a more democratic Thailand, as Streckfuss has it, the king might “foster a somewhat more open political atmosphere…”.

Don’t hold your breath. For a start, the prince-cum-king does not have a “clean slate.” Anything but. He has been manipulative in events since his father became unable to do much. Think of his efforts to have the now disgraced Jumpol Manmai made police chief.

To date, over 64 years, PPT hasn’t seen any evidence that Vajiralongkorn is going to be a democratic king. We would be very surprised if he turns out to be this, but we’d welcome that almost as much as a democratic republic.

There’s no doubt that Streckfuss is right when he sees the proclamation of the junta’s constitution on Chakri Day as significant. But what, exactly, is the significance? Is it that constitutionalism resides in the monarchy? Is it that “[t]ying the promulgation of the Constitution to Chakri Day is significant …[as it] seems to signal that constitutions are a gift to the people from the monarchy…”.

That’s also a misreading. In fact, royalists have made this point since 1932. That’s why Thailand has the daftly rendered King Prajadhipok Institute, as if the king targeted in 1932 was the real founder of democratic constitutionalism in Thailand. That certainly is an ideological misrepresentation.

We can think of another rendering: if the constitution was granted by the king and on Chakri Day, will it constitute lese majeste if anyone criticized it or wants to change it?

(We must add that Streckfuss is wrong that the previous king criticized the lese majeste law.)





Undemocratic Bowornsak

27 08 2015

It is appropriate that the chief hired lawyer and constitution mangler for the military dictatorship, Bowornsak Uwanno,  also heads up the King Prajadhipok Institute, which is a front organization for “Thai-style” (non-)democracy.

One may peruse the recently revised KPI fairy tale history to learn that the royalist construction of “parliamentary democracy with the King as the head of state” came into existence in 1932 rather than when royalist and military ideologues hit on this mangled description in recent years. One might also note that under the misapprehension that the deposed king “granted” political change rather than having it forced on him and a coterie of princes.

Most significantly, KPI is claimed to have been “established specifically to promote democracy…”. In fact, it was established by royalists to subvert democracy, and Bowornsak is the perfect and trustworthy patron of that mangling of democratic politics.

That neither Bowornsak or his royalist organization has nothing to do with the promotion of democracy is shown by the linking of the last absolute monarch with the Institute. If it were even necessary, Bowornsak is reported in The Nation in a manner that makes this crystal clear.

The draft charter is aimed, Bowornsak asserts, “at getting Thailand back on its feet with a five-year ‘transitional’ democracy, rather than trying to inflict another ‘mature’ democracy on the country…”.

Conveniently forgetting that it is boss who most recently trashed the electoral system and the constitution, neglecting that it has been his royalist and military allies who have trashed every effort to establish electoral politics, Bowornsak blames everyone else for the way “… things fell apart…”. Mimicking his boss, The Dictator, Bowornsak crows: “I would like to ask if we still want it – a Western-style full-fledged democracy?”

BootlickerHis answer, demonstrated in his boot-licking of military fascists, is clear.

He reckons the puppet Constitution Drafting Committee “tried … to find a democratic model that fits the country’s situation…”.

Bowornsak says this “search” was because the “country has been facing the plague of corruption as well as a deep division that finds no end, significantly because of a Western full-fledged democracy.” It is that “democracy,” he fantasizes, that has caused the “the government fall under a military regime.”

 

Like his bosses, he thinks the Thai people are infantile, and need a “transitional democracy” before allowing “it grow into an adult one when the time was right.”

Like his military boss, Bowornsak criticizes “politicians” for daring to express a view on his draft (military) charter. He attacks their “tone of voice” when he means they should shut up and accept military-royalist dictatorship, paternalism and hierarchy.

Fascists will be fascists.





Hired hands and the constitutional fix

29 03 2015

The military dictatorship’s propaganda machine is cranking up on the draft constitution, which seems anything but draft at present with Lt. Gen. Navin Damrigan, recently added [some of these links open PDFs] director of an advertising company, former military attache in Washington, former staffer at the Office of the National Security Council and now a member of the puppet Constitution Drafting Committee and puppet National Reform Council being given space in the Bangkok Post to promote the junta and anti-democrat perspective.

We suspect that the long op-ed in the Post is from the event mentioned below.

For all of his talk of democracy, equality, citizenship and rights – although we doubt he wrote the piece in the Post himself – Navin’s proclaimed task has been to dismantle the “Thaksin Shinawatra political network.”

The commentary under Navin’s name is a carefully crafted explanation for the junta’s constitution yet still includes all of its anti-democratic elements: a justification for martial law, the claim that inequality results from the actions of politicians and the people (!), functional constituencies for the Senate, a rejection of electoralism, blaming the people for “poor” electoral choices, the institutionalization of national security at all levels of politics allowing for military oversight, the weakening of elected representatives and the (re)creation of weak, divided and ineffectual party politics and coalition government, and so on.

The inequality stuff is simply bizarre in Navin’s account. While some of the data is correct, he blames those who suffer inequality for inequality.

Meanwhile, at The Nation, junta hired hand and military-appointed Constitution Drafting Committee president Borwornsak Uwanno has been ordered in front of foreign diplomats to convince them of the need for the military dictatorship’s constitution.

Predictably, while working for the junta, Bowornsak has used his King Prajadhipok Institute’s links to speak before the 4th KPI International Club Activity event on “The Path to New Constitution of Thailand.”

Like Navin, Bowornsak bleated “that the country needed to draft its 20th constitution because politicians took advantage of the 1997 Constitution’s emphasis on stable government and strong political parties to forge authoritarian regimes.”

This is, of course, factually incorrect. No elected government became authoritarian during the recent past. Thaksin might have liked to move in that direction and might have tried to influence independent agencies, but neither his government nor the pro-Thaksin governments nor, for that matter, the Democrat Party administration of 2008-11 were authoritarian in the way that the military regimes of 2006-7 and the current junta have been. Borwornsak is simply mouthing the anti-democrat mantras of recent years. These mantras have been associated with fascist political ideas and demands for military and royal political intervention. Neither the military nor the royals are anything other than hierarchical and supportive of authoritarianism.

Only about 30, mostly low-level, diplomats showed up at the forum.

Refreshingly for this hired lawyer, Bowornsak actually does explain why the royalist elite has been so politically unhappy with elected regimes. He explains, “We [he means the royalist elite] thought in 1997 that we needed to empower strong government and political parties [but] we got governments that were too strong, who dictated [terms] to the Parliament and attempted to control watchdogs and independent agencies…”. The royalist elite that sought to control much of the development of the 1997 constitution wanted to end the constant cycling of coalition governments driven by the need to raise money for short-cycle elections.

The result was strong governments under Thaksin and his ilk, and royalist realizations that strong elected governments were likely to undermine the elite’s capacity to get what it wanted from politics. Or, in Bowornsak’s words: “As a result, the situation has changed, and there are reasons for change and we need to rethink.”

Oddly, he is not reported to have said anything about the 2007 constitution, which he also helped author, devised by a military regime following the 2006 putsch. In fact, this constitution also failed the elite because it allowed a pro-Thaksin party to be elected to government.

Borwornsak has been part of the hired help for elected politicians like Chatichai Choonhavan and Thaksin and for two military juntas, indicating his capacity for duplicity and his desire for influence, personal recognition and even a bit of loot. It is thus remarkable that this man has the audacity to tell the diplomats that “politicians have been notoriously untrustworthy, non-transparent, and seemingly lacking morality and ethics, and honesty.” Bowornsak might look in the mirror.

The idea that it is politicians – and he means elected politicians – are the ones who are corrupt ignores the massive corruption associated with the royal house and its hangers-on. It is deliberately blind to the capacity of business tycoons for corrupt deals with state agents, including involvement in slavery, the exploitation of workers, murder, extortion, land-grabbing, smuggling, the destruction of the environment, and much more. It ignores the self-disclosed corruption of his current bosses, almost all of whom are unusually wealthy, as have been almost all military bosses for several decades. It ignores the rampant nepotism of the Committee and Council that he is a part of.

Borwornsak joked that Thailand, with its 20th constitution in drafting, is not a record holder, mentioning the Dominican Republic, Venezuela and Haiti had drafted more constitutions, neglecting to note that Thailand is the “record holder” for Asia or that the military and royalists have responsibility for the trashing of Thailand’s constitutions and most of the resulting constitution drafting exercises. They never seem to have been able to get it right, not even with Bowornsak as scribe.Evolution_of_Thai_constitutions_1932-06

Navin is quoted, saying that “the public” should “protect this [military-directed] constitution as if their life depended on it” because it promoted “citizen rights.” Interestingly, these “rights” are either congruent with the 1997 constitution or added in order to keep elected governments unstable (allowing the elite to rule). None of these “rights” allow for the mitigation of the inherent undemocratic and unrepresentative nature of the draft constitution (as explained by Navin in the op-ed mentioned above).

Unfortunately, the report ends with an epithet: “There were no critical questions from diplomats during a question and answer session.”





Regime challenges

25 11 2014

Readers following Thailand’s politics will recognize that there have been a series of events that have challenged the military dictatorship in recent days. These events may be suppressed, but they represent a turn in events, as anti-coup activists are not simply going away, as the regime had hoped.

Many of these activists are relatively young students. They have used three-finger salutes, social media and a a range of activities to directly challenge the junta and its royalist regime. They are seemingly inviting arrest by the jittery authorities. They seem unafraid of the prospect of police or military action against them.

The most recent example is of university students at Thammasat University’s inner city campus. At least eight students distributed leaflets at the campus celebrating the return to Facebook of prominent historian and monarchy critic Somsak Jeamteerasakul, who went into hiding after the 22 May coup and who has apparently fled to France.Leaflet

Police swiftly arrested eight students for distributing the leaflets. According to Khaosod, the leaflets included “an excerpt from a poem by the late historian and activist Chit Phumisak, who was summarily executed by authorities in 1966,” which had been cited by Somsak on Facebook. It stated: “Even in the ruthless era when evils rule the country with their guns … people are still people.”

The student activists were members of the League of Liberal Thammasat for Democracy (LLTD), described as “an anti-coup student group based in Thammasat.” This group has been a persistent and brave opponent of the military dictatorship.

Prachatai reports that: “One of the detained students is Natchacha Kongudom, a Bangkok University student who was previously arrested for flashing the forbidden ‘three finger salute’ in front of Siam Paragon cinema in Bangkok downtown on 19 November.”

Persistent challenges to the military and royalist regime by brave young students are emblematic of a broader change that has wafted through Thailand in recent decades and suggests a rejection of the hierarchical traditions of monarchy and military that may well become louder and will resonate more widely as the regime seeks to re-embed authoritarian structures.

In responding, the military dictatorship has urged that protests be curtailed. General Prawit Wongsuwan babbled about “opinion surveys that show most people disapprove of anti-coup protests.” Prawit asked that protesters keep quiet for a year: “We only ask for one year to achieve our mission…”. Meanwhile, The Dictator has directed the National Reform Council (NRC) and the King Prajadhipok Institute to “allow students to participate in the reform process by expressing their views and knowledge.” This seems like his attempt to direct student opposition into the junta’s controlled environment.

 





Ultra-monarchism

10 11 2014

Many royalists have been unhappy in recent years, considering that the monarchy has been under threat from opponents but also by the decline of the health of the king and queen, which prevents them from their former political activism.

Others have been unhappy because they assess that electoral democracy undermines the “cultural” constitution of Thailand that is modified absolutism best represented by Thai-style democracy. Many of these quite extreme monarchists see that all of the political “trouble” goes back to 1932.

This is seen in a report at Khaosod, where it is revealed that “[s]everal prominent academics have proposed reviving the Supreme Council of the State, a decision-making body that superseded all three branches of government during Thailand’s last days as an absolute monarchy.”

One of those cited is Chulalongkorn University political scientist Panitan Wattanayagorn, who qualifies as a professional spokesperson rather than an academic. He  reportedly stated “that including a Supreme Council in the new Constitution could help secure a ‘balance of power’ between different branches of government.”

Panitan said that a royal council would join the administrative, legislative and judicial branches in “balancing power.” In Panitan’s world, though, the balance is weighted: “It will be the fourth balance of power…. Under this system, the Supreme Council will wield the biggest power as a sovereign governing body.”

The panel where this royalist spokesperson expounded his reactionary views was “co-hosted by the conservative think-tank King Prajadhipok Institute and the National Reform Council (NRC)…”. The KPI boss and chairman of the military junta’s Constitution Drafting Committee (CDC), Bowornsak Uwanno, who stated that this was not a KPI proposal but that it was “only a suggestion by Surapol.” He meant royalist Rangsit University’s Surapol Sriwitthaya.

Remarkably, even bizarrely, Surapol said “Chinese political philosophy” as an inspiration for his proposal. He cited republican Sun Yat-Sen, Montesquieu and King Prajadhipok in late 1920s.

One of the reasons cited for the 1932 revolution was complaints that Prajadhipok’s council “was stacked with top palace princes and [was] accused by critics of failing to impose any real reforms.”

You get the picture…. Reading the story shows that royalists are trying to “balance” a system that removes as much power as possible from elected politicians, demeaning votes and elections.