Further updated: Behind the “plot”

5 12 2017

The Nation reported about a day ago that The Dictator reckons the “discovery” of one set of rusted weapons and another set of brand spanking new ones were of a batch that “belonged to Ko Tee or Wuthipong Kachathamakul.

General Prayuth Chan-ocha also predicted that there might be more weapons to be found, and we guess he should know.

In our earlier post we suggested that this sudden “discovery” might have been a sign of political desperation, another excuse to delay elections or testing the gullibility of the media and population. We now think these might all be reasons for the discovery but we also think we missed the most likely explanation.

But some more contextualization from a report in the Bangkok Post.

It is stated that “[w]arrants for the arrest of five people, including former PM’s Office minister Jakrapob Penkair and former 3rd Army deputy chief Maj Gen Manas Paolik, for their alleged links with the recent discovery of a huge [sic.] arms cache in Chachoengsao will be sought…”. The other “suspects” are Watana Sapwichien, Somjet Kongwatana and Chaiwat Polpho (Peak Kalamae).

In other words, it is being cast as a red shirt plot.

Oddly, “Watana was said to have reported to the Army Air Defence Operation Centre 1 in Pathum Thani on Friday. He has been taken into custody at the 11th Military Circle.”

Even odder still, it seems that Watana “was earlier arrested in 2014 for allegedly conspiring to possess firearms and explosives.” Read this and wonder if this isn’t the usual stitch-up:

His arrest was announced in the joint police and army press briefing on Aug 13, 2014.

According to the briefing at that time, Mr Watana’s arrest was made following the apprehension of Mr Somjet, who was accused of supplying weapons, including M79 grenade launchers and RGD 5 grenades, to people during demonstrations by the now-defunct People’s Democratic Reform Committee (PDRC).

Mr Somjet allegedly told officers at that time he had delivered the weapons to Mr Watana, who would distribute them further. Mr Watana then allegedly confessed to the charges.

Mr Watana allegedly told police during that time he received weapons from Mr Somjet and handed them to Mr Chaiwat, who would carry out attacks in various places.

Mr Watana allegedly also told police that he had dumped some of the weapons in Ayutthaya’s Lat Bua Luang district for fear of being arrested.

The strange bit is that, if they were arrested in 2014 on such serious charges, why are they wandering around now? Are they working for ISOC? Are they connected to Ko Tee or were they the men providing “evidence” against him in the earlier weapons “find.”

But here’s what we think is really going on. The junta may get away with deception, tarnish red shirts further and delay their “election,” but we noted that one report stated Jakrapob was thought to be “hiding” in Cambodia.

Then we recalled our post on trouble for dissidents. We think the “sudden” discovery is possibly one element in an effort to extradite exiled red shirts from Cambodia.

Update 1: The junta has provided a kind of “reply” to some of our comments above, as reported in the Bangkok Post. It may be a coincidence that as this report emerged, so did the sentencing of the man who admits to bombing the Army hospital, stating that he “despised the military-led government.” In addition to “a total of 27 years in prison [reduced] because he cooperated,” he was “fined 500 baht, reduced from 1,000 baht, for carrying the bomb in a public place.”

That sentence is revealing when it is considered the junta has launched a “probe … to determine why one [Watana] of the five men allegedly linked to a huge [sic.] arms cache … was released early from prison after a weapons conviction in 2014…”. The report continues:

Watana was earlier arrested on Aug 13, 2014 for allegedly conspiring to possess firearms and explosives. The suspect allegedly told officers at that time he handed weapons to another man, who would carry out attacks during demonstrations by the now-defunct People’s Democratic Reform Committee (PDRC).

A police source said Watana had links to the red-shirt United Front for Democracy against Dictatorship (UDD).

Doubts have been raised as to the effectiveness of the punishment in relation to the 2014 offence as he is now suspected of having committed a similar transgression just three years later.

They don’t know? Seriously? That beggars belief. We also loved the picture of the “discovery” of weapons in 2014, which we reproduce below from the Bangkok Post.

This is a “diver”? Seriously? Interestingly, these weapons – not rusty – were also under water.We can only marvel at the capacity of the police and the junta for these marvelous “discoveries.”

Update 2: The Nation reports that not only has Jakrapob angrily denied the charges but more information on Watana. The latter “was summoned and detained for questioning on December 1 and released on Thursday…”. He was said to have “provided authorities with useful information…”. It is added that Watana “was convicted of crimes in 2014 related to military weapons and sentenced to 40 months in jail. Because of his confession, his jail term was commuted to 20 months and he had just completed the term.” This is a highly dubious story.





Sticky political fingers

3 12 2017

The military junta simply doesn’t want to give up its political power. After the remarkable “discovery” of a small cache of rusty old weapons, the guffaws of political disbelief caused the regime to immediately find some more weapons, sitting in another field just awaiting “discovery.” Noticeably, this cache was bright, shiny and new, as if they had just come out of the Army’s stores.

Of course, these weapons were immediately linked to missing/dead red shirt Wuthipong Kachathamakul or Ko Tee.

And, predictably, the junta had yet another reason for maintaining political repression. Deputy Dictator General Prawit Wongsuwan, always the first to bark about “delays,” declared that the “country is once again ‘being targeted for an attack’.” Presumably the “attackers” needed some time to clean and polish all “their” rusty arms.

Prawit trumpeted the “find” as fitting with “intelligence” reports that “indicated that ‘some movements’ had started, which could make it difficult to lift its ban on political activity.”

Blah, blah, blah. This is errant nonsense. And that’s not just us but the view of Bangkok Post Editor Umesh Pandey and several political parties. As Umesh says, “[o]nce again the military government seems to be finding every excuse to try to curtail political parties…”.

It is more than this, though. This is a regime that has set the “rules” for politics into the future – and all the rules favor its military politicians – and intends to maintain its direct political stranglehold with its sticky, manicured fingers. Only the overthrow of this regime  can rid the country of these evil dictators and their anti-democratic rules.





Updated: Another “plot”

1 12 2017

Whenever the military dictatorship feels a bit of political pressure it comes up with some king of red shirt “plot.”

Hey presto, there’s another one. Suddenly, the cops have found “war weapons” under water in a rice field looking a bit like a swamp.

Clipped from Bangkok Post

The “weapons,” already “investigated,” were to be used by “political elements” who “were prepared to bring the weapons to Bangkok to incite strife…”. The police added that “several firearms and rounds of ammunition came from the same sources and matched the evidence collected by police from scenes of unrest and from people arrested during the 2014 political turmoil…”. They even claim to know the person responsible.

Wonderful investigations and forensics. After all, the rusty junk had been under water for months. Exactly which “political elements” store their weapons in such a manner?

Clipped from the Bangkok Post

Will anybody believe this? Is it a sign of political desperation? Or just another part of an excuse to delay elections because of “unrest”? Or just testing the gullibility of the media and population?

Update: Remarkably, given that he was forcibly disappeared and probably murdered, Deputy Dictator General Prawit Wongsuwan has linked the underwater weapons to Wuthipong Kachathamakul or Ko Tee. Equally remarkably, Prawit “told reporters today that the armaments appeared to be from the same cache of weapons soldiers found in a residence linked to Ko Tee in March.” Those weapons were linked to an alleged assassination plot against The Dictator.





Trouble for dissidents

30 11 2017

The military dictatorship has been particularly challenged by having to deal with dissidents who decamped following the 2014 military coup for Laos and Cambodia.

We know that the group located in Laos has been troubling for the junta and it has repeatedly sought to convince the Lao government to send Thai dissidents back. Frustrated, the junta is the likely culprit in the still “unexplained” enforced disappearance/murder of red shirt Ko Tee in Vientiane.

However, it is Cambodia that has been a safe haven for many red shirts and has challenged the junta, who have been suspicious of Hun Sen as pro-Thaksin Shinawatra.

Now it seems that the junta may have an opening. The Phnom Penh Post reports that

Prime Minister Hun Sen on Sunday raised the spectre of Thailand deporting members of the now-dissolved opposition Cambodia National Rescue Party who have fled the country….

Hun Sen declared that “Thai Prime Minister Prayut Chan-o-cha should … ‘chase’ those people ‘staying in Bangkok’, in an apparent reference to ex-CNRP members who have fled.”

As Hun Sen destroys his opponents he will be keen to see those in Thailand deported. He is likely to be willing to make deals with Thailand’s military junta.





Only double standards I

3 11 2017

We have pointed to the double standards that operate in Thailand hundreds of times. So many times, that it seems that double standards are the only standards used by the military dictatorship and its puppet agencies, including the judiciary.

Two recent examples involve judicial action against student activists and, somewhat differently, in actions against provincial governors for royal funeral failures.

In the first instance, the Bangkok Post reports that a Khon Kaen Court has found student activist Sirawith Seritiwat guilty of contempt of court. He was sentenced to six months in jail, suspended for two years, and fined 500 baht, put on probation for one year and ordered to do community service for 24 hours.

Another six activists of the anti-coup Resistant Citizen and Dao Din groups were put on probation for one year and ordered not to assemble or organize similar activities. They were also put on probation for six months.

Their “crime” was to gather on 11 February near the court “to show support for Jatupat Boonpattararaksa. They held ‘Free Pai’ posters in the court’s compound.”

On the face of it, this sentencing may seem rather similar to the case of anti-democrats sentenced a few days ago. But that is indeed superficial. These students – seven in total – were engaged in a peaceful and quiet show of support for a friend who was charged in a ludicrous lese majeste farce case before a kangaroo court.

The anti-democrats – more than 100 of them charged – were involved in a threatening and violent occupation of PTT building during anti-democrat street rallies in 2014, causing considerable damage.

There’s little comparison that can be made between the two sets of sentencing, except for the double standards and political persecution.

Then there’s the case of two provincial governors who are “facing a formal investigation into their alleged mishandling of dok mai chan (sandalwood flower) laying rites during the late King’s cremation ceremony on Oct 26, while three district office chiefs in Bangkok have been transferred to inactive posts for similar reasons.”

Because this is monarchy stuff, Interior Minister General Anupong Paojinda sprang into action, setting up investigations to be completed within seven days. This apparently all based on social media and newspaper reports. The accused are alleged to be guilty of “poor management.”

The double standard is the response. Monarchy stuff, even rumors, lead to official action within hours.

Compare this with murders, graft, nepotism, torture, enforced disappearances, and more, all associated with the military, the junta and the elite. In these cases almost nothing happens (apart from cover-up). Think of:

  • The the missing/stolen/vandalized and enforced historical lobotomy of the “missing” 1932 commemoration plaque and its associated lese majeste cases.
  • Military murders remain unresolved, with a recent tragic example of Chaiyapoom Pasae, shot by troops in very opaque circumstances and with the “investigations” adding farce to tragedy.
  • And who killed Ko Tee in Laos?
  • The ongoing corruption and pathetic excuses for abysmal decisions from former Army boss and Interior Minister General Anupong Paojinda.
  • The nepotism of generals, constitution drafters and other puppets and grifters.
  • There’s plenty of land and infrastructure deals and shady, opaque stuff going on. And in the corruption in-tray there are all those cases around Rolls Royce that have never seen an out-tray. Just stalling, burying, hiding.

As we said, double standards are the only standards.





Updated: After the funeral, more of the same

30 10 2017

The funeral is officially over but the hagiographical syrup and royalist nastiness and threats continue to flow.

As in other periods where ultra-royalism is boosted by the military state, it becomes dangerous for anyone who might dare to express different opinions.

The military regime may also be emboldened by the continued rise of ultra-royalism, which obviously feeds into its political ambitions when it decides to call its “election.” Presumably the coronation will add to all of that political use of royalism.

In the meantime, we might also expect cowed and submissive politicians to become warily more active.

A Bangkok Post editorial has a bet each way. It drips royal loyalty for a couple of paragraphs, observing what should be obvious: “The expiration of the mourning period returns the country to a semblance of normality…”.

It strokes the military dog:

The members of the government under Gen Prayut deserve a respectful thank you for their care and attention to the events brought to a grief-stricken climax last Thursday. The preparations for the funeral of the great King Bhumibol Adulyadej provided impeccable grace, and splendour remarked on around the world. When he seized power three and a half years ago, Gen Prayut promised to unite Thais. Last week, Thai people were united as never before.

In fact, the funeral was fitting in that it marked a crescendo of military-backed monarchism that has defined one of the most politically repressive eras in Thailand’s modern history, with that repression being in the name of the monarchy and claimed to be protecting it.

The funeral was fittingly militarized but few have bothered to think about what this means for Thailand going forward (well, backward, under the junta).

(If one watches the Ananda Mahidol funeral and compares it with the recent event, the military dominance and precision of the latter is clear.)

The Bangkok Post then reminds the junta and its readers that the “funeral occurred in the midst of political questions which now will return to the fore.”

It adds that several of these “questions” are “urgent.”

It lists:

These include the running scandal of Rajabhakti Park‘s improvement plan. The Prachuap Khiri Khan site of the massive statues of the seven great kings has been under a cloud from its inception. The latest controversy is a two-part “improvement”. These consist of what seem to be the most expensive 52 toilets ever installed at a government-supported facility, and five shops. These will cost yet another 16 million baht in “donations” — a word which has become synonymous with “scandal”. In countering the allegations about massive overspending, army chief Chalermchai Sitthisad said the military is ready to disclose full financial details about the project which was investigated once by the National Anti-Corruption Commission (NACC). He should realise the public anticipates getting the details.

Then there is the ongoing corruption and pathetic excuses for abysmal decisions from former Army boss and Interior Minister General Anupong Paojinda. His latest mess is over  laser, speed-detection guns at hugely exorbitant prices.

But, really, is that it? Of course not. As the Bangkok Post itself reports, “[l]ocals in eastern Thailand are opposing the National Council for Peace and Order (NCPO)’s [the junta] order to reorganise city planning in Chachoengsao, Rayong and Chon Buri provinces to bring it in line with the government’s Eastern Economic Corridor (EEC) policy.”

There’s plenty of other land and infrastructure deals and shady, opaque stuff going on. And in the corruption in-tray there are all those cases around Rolls Royce that have never seen an out-tray. Just stalling, burying, hiding.

But what about the political repression that has juveniles charged with lese majeste. There is the old man potentially charged with lese majeste for comments about legendary events. And there is the law student, singled out by the military dictatorship for lese majeste for sharing a BBC Thai story that was also shared by several thousand others. What of the mothers and others jailed for scores of years on pathetic lese majeste charges? Protection of the monarchy means crushing many and threatening everyone.

Then there’s the missing/stolen/vandalized and enforced historical lobotomy of the “missing” 1932 commemoration plaque and associated lese majeste cases.

Military murders remain unresolved, with a recent tragic example of Chaiyapoom Pasae, shot by troops in very opaque circumstances and with the “investigations” adding farce to tragedy.

And who killed Ko Tee in Laos? We can all guess but probably the assassins, speaking Thai, will never be revealed. That’s the impunity that official murders enjoy.

We could go on and on and on…. After all, the ninth reign saw thousands of state crimes against the people.

Update: Readers will be interested in two views of the events and legacy of the ninth reign at New Mandala. Both are reasonably tame and the first quite lame.





Updated: Yet another anti-monarchy “plot”

3 10 2017

Thailand’s recent politics has been awash with rightist and royalist claims of “plots” against the monarchy. The military dictatorship claims to have “discovered” another such “plot.” This time the plot is claimed to be a plan to disrupt the funeral for the dead king.

PPT can only express disdain for this political ploy and we can only wonder if anyone still believes such nonsense. As much as we’d like to see an an anti-monarchy plot in Thailand, we haven’t seen any evidence that there is one in the works now.

One of the first “plots” was the entirely concocted “Finland Plot.” The claim peddled by many associated with the People’s Alliance for Democracy and fabricated by notorious royalist ideologue Chai-anan Samudavanija and others. It claimed that Thaksin Shinawatra and former left-wing student leaders had met in Finland and come up with a plan to overthrow the monarchy and establish a communist state. These inventions were published in the Sondhi Limthongkul-owned newspapers and repeated many times by PAD.

As bizarre as this nonsense was, Wikipedia notes that the allegations had an “impact on the popularity of Thaksin and his government, despite the fact that no evidence was ever produced to verify the existence of a plot. Thaksin and his Thai Rak Thai party vehemently denied the accusations and sued the accusers. The leaders of the 2006 military coup claimed Thaksin’s alleged disloyalty as one of their rationales for seizing power.”

Back in 2015, even the politicized courts held that ultra-royalist Pramote Nakornthap had defamed Thaksin with these concoctions. Not surprisingly, many ultra-royalists continue to believe this nonsense.

The anti-monarchy plot diagram

Equally notorious was the anti-monarchy “plot,” replete with a diagram, that the Abhisit Vejjajiva government concocted when faced with a red shirt challenge in April 2010.

The government’s Centre for the Resolution to Emergency Situations claimed to have uncovered a plot to overthrow the monarchy and said “intelligence” confirmed the “plot.” Indeed, the bitter Thawil Pliensri, the former secretary-general of the National Security Council “confirmed” the “plot.” The map included key leaders of the United Front for Democracy against Dictatorship, members of the Puea Thai Party and former banned politicians, academics and hosts of community radio programs. Then Prime Minister Abhisit welcomed the uncovering of the “plot.”

CRES spokesman and then Colonel Sansern Kaewkamnerd, who just happens to be the current dictatorship’s chief propagandist, repeatedly declared this plot a red shirt effort to bring down the monarchy.

We could go on, but let’s look at the current “plot,” which not coincidentally comes from the same military leaders who were in place in when the above “mapping” of a republican plot was invented. It is the same coterie of coup plotters (and that was a real plot) that repeatedly accused Ko Tee or Wuthipong Kachathamakul of various anti-monarchy plots and he was “disappeared” from Laos, presumably by the junta’s henchmen-murderers.

In the new “plot,” Deputy Dictator General Wongsuwan has declared:

Anti-monarchy cells are conspiring to disrupt the funeral of His Majesty the Late King this month, deputy junta chairman Prawit Wongsuwan said Monday.

Gen. Prawit described the alleged agitators as those who “have ill intentions toward the monarchy.” Although he gave no details, he said full-scale security measures would be implemented throughout the rites to place over several days culminating with the Oct. 26 cremation.

Prawit added that “[a]uthorities have learned of threats inside and outside the country, especially from those who oppose and have negative thoughts about ‘the [royal] institution’…”. He put “security forces” on “full alert.”

Careful readers will have noticed that the first mention of this “plot” came from The Dictator General Prayuth Chan-ocha almost two weeks ago.

Army chief General Chalermchai Sitthisart “refused to elaborate in detail on the supposed threat in the latest intelligence report” but still declared that “[t]hose involved were among the ‘regular faces’ abroad wanted on lese majeste charges, but who still incite negative feelings towards the monarchy among supporters through social media.”

The fingerprints on this concoction are those who have regularly invented plots for political purposes. That’s the military. They read all kinds of social media and put 1 and 1 together and come up with anti-monarchy plot.

We tend to agree with Pavin Chachavalpongpun, who is reported as saying:

The cremation provides an opportunity for the security forces to strengthen their position politically using critics of the monarchy as an excuse to increase the state’s heavy handed policy to control society more tightly…. Critics of the monarchy hardly pose a threat considering how much they have been suppressed since the coup….

The cremation and the coronation that will follow are critical political events for the military dictatorship. They want to be seen to be ensuring that everything runs smoothly for both events as the junta moves to stay in power, “election” or “no election.”  Finding a “plot” can make them look even more like the “protectors” of the monarchy.

Update: We don’t know why, but Khaosod’s most recent report on this “plot” seems to be supportive of the the junta’s claims. The claims this report makes amount to little more than reporting chatter. Similar chatter has been around for some time, encouraging individual acts that do not amount to anything like rebellion or disruption.

Some of the material that has been circulated may well derive from the state’s intelligence operatives seeking to disrupt and identify red shirts.  The thing about concocting a plot as a way to discredit your opponents is that there has to be elements in it that seem, at least on a initial view, feasible and believable. That was the point of the diagram produced above, naming persons known to be anti-monarchy. Putting them in a plot is something quite different.