Another believe it or not story

13 02 2018

Skepticism alert! Whenever we see a report from the military dictatorship claiming it has busted political opponents with bombs, we are necessarily skeptical.

The most recent report in the Bangkok Post demands skepticism.

For one thing, the sudden “discovery” of a cache of bombs comes at a time when the junta is under great pressure, with the Deputy Dictator’s watch scandal, protesters appearing on several fronts and delays to (rigged) elections. Finding a “threat” just now is ever so convenient.

Then there’s a whole bunch of “coincidences” that seem just too lucky by half.

Pol Capt Somphot Suebwongsakon, duty investigator at Pak Kret police station said that the discovery of explosives was reported about 8.30pm on Monday evening by a condo cleaner who just happened to be working late.

This woman was cleaning the room for a new tenant. It was getting a new tenant because the existing tenant Kritchapol Poolsil, 53, a former soldier from Yala, who had rented the room for at least five years, “had not paid the rent,  electricity or water bills for so long the owner found a new tenant to replace him.

Police “found an untidy room with items scattered around it, including a bag sitting in one corner. The room appeared to have been unused for a long time.”

Inside that bag the police found an M26 grenade. They also located “four homemade ping-pong bombs, two small pipe bombs and more than 20 giant firecrackers.” More incriminating “evidence,” seen in television coverage, was a bunch of red shirts.

Then a remarkable bit of luck: “Around 10pm, police spotted a man walking in the direction of the room being searched suddenly turn back and walked away. When police followed him he began to run away.” After a very long time, Kritchapol suddenly showed up at his apartment!

Kritchapol was immediately “confessed” that the bombs were his and that he was “working for fugitive Wuthipong ‘Kotee’ Kochathamakun, a leader of a group of hard-line members of the red-shirt United Front for Democracy against Dictatorship (UDD) who is wanted for lese majeste.”

We had long believed that Thai commandos had abducted Ko Tee in Laos and “disappeared” him.

All in all this was a huge coincidence of luck for the regime!

It could all be true, but it just seems so unbelievable. An d the coincidences seem too convenient, just as The Dictator fumes about Thaksin and Yingluck and activists he identifies operating with “impure purposes,” seeking “to create conflicts, mistrust or unrest…”.

The junta has regularly  come up with arms and bomb finds, all linked to “red shirts.” Usually these finds just melt away after political advantage has been made.

Finding allegedly red shirt bombs associated with a (missing) republican opponent just seems really very convenient for the military dictatorship.





The hunt for dissidents

21 12 2017

Almost a month ago PPT posted on potential trouble for Thai dissidents in Cambodia. At the time, we noted that the military dictatorship has been particularly challenged by red shirt 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.

In a sign that Thailand continues to pressure Laos on this, the two nations have seen defense minister agree “to increase bilateral cooperation against people threatening the other’s security…”. As much as Thailand’s military dictatorship might bleat about cross border trafficking, the primary aim of this “cooperation” is to get red shirts back from Laos and jail them in Thailand. In a human rights climate where authoritarians have a political picnic, this trade in dissidents is likely to expand.

Deputy Prime Minister, Defense Minister and Minister for Time, General Prawit Wongsuwan and Lao Defense Minister Chansamone Chanyalath met in Vientiane and “discussed improving cooperation on overall security issues and agreed to seriously increase cooperation against illicit drugs and ‘groups of people who threaten the security‘ of either country…”.

They agreed they “would take serious action against people threatening the other’s security, and exchange intelligence reports for the purpose.”

That’s bad news for the dissidents currently based in Laos.





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.