Crumbling under the post-junta regime

11 07 2020

It may seem somewhat surprising that all major political parties appear to be in some turmoil.

Recent articles tell of the governing Palang Pracharath Party in turmoil with the consolidation of power by the army wing of the ruling party, with the exodus of four “technocratic officials sidelined by the party that is increasingly dominated by members with military ties.”

Then there are repeated reports of rifts in the hopeless Democrat Party and that it is losing electoral credibility in the south and has several breakaway parties led by former disgruntled senior members, all of whom strike us as hopeless and merely trying to ride the small party wagon to collect the dregs of the junta’s party system.

And, there are reports of the decline of the Puea Thai Party is in deep trouble, with all of its main leaders left out of parliament thanks to the junta’s constitution and the Election Commission, acting for the regime. Of course, Gen Prawit Wongsuwan keeps trying to entice Puea Thai MPs across to the dark side.

We may also recall that opposition Future Forward was gutted by the Constitutional Court, acting for the regime and that the remaining MPs remain rudderless.

In our view, with the military types consolidating its grip, Palang Pracharath looks more like a party of factions that are kept under control with money, cabinet positions and constant shepherding. This doesn’t necessarily make it stronger, but if the opposition is crumbling and unable to capitalize on these schisms, rifts and associated corruption, then unelected dolts like the current generals are likely to be able to hold together their rule.

As an aside, this “technocrats” versus green men is a narrative seen in several stories and we’d say it is an odd claim. A technocrat is usually defined as a person “appointed on the basis of their expertise in a given area of responsibility, particularly with regard to scientific or technical knowledge.” When we look at the “technocrats” leaving government, this definition applies only vaguely to one of them. Kobsak Pootrakool has a PhD in Economics from MIT and worked at the Bank of Thailand and the Stock Exchange of Thailand before becoming a banker. But the other three are political hacks rather than technocrats. Sontirat Sontijirawong with an MBA, has worked in packaging for business and for most of his career has spent his time as an “adviser” or committee member in relatively minor posts. Uttama Savanayana was trained as an engineer and also has a PhD in management but has spent the last 20-25 years administering and advising. Suvit Maesincee also has a PhD in management, having trained as a pharmacist, and has spent most his career sitting on boards.

In other words, journalists and commentators might want to look more carefully at the reasons why such men are referred to as “technocrats.” Does it have something to do with the regime having so few technically qualified persons in a cabinet dominated by army figures, politically-acceptable royalists, local mafioso and a convicted heroin smuggler?





Obscene inequality

21 04 2019

Agence France-Presse has an interesting report on the fabulously wealthy in Thailand. It begins by noting that Thailand “has 50 billionaires – ninth in global rankings – [while] 14.5 million people live on welfare…”.

It adds that wealth – or inequality – was “a hot election issue this year…”. In fact, PPT can’t think of an election this century where the inequality of wealth has not been an issue. Thailand has long been at the top of Southeast Asia’s inequality rankings, going back to when estimates were first made in the early 1960s.

The hook for the AFP story is the absurdity of the ridiculously rich playing and watching polo that witnesses “teams of jodhpur-clad Argentines and moneyed Asians gallop onto the flawless field in Chonburi as spectators spill from a pavilion – glasses of champagne in hand – for the final chukka.”

The so-called sport of kings is obscenely expensive limited to royals and the obscenely rich. We have mentioned it in a couple of posts. As well as the King Power Srivaddhanaprabha family others in jodhpurs include naturalized billionaire Harald Link. Polo allows Thailand’s hugely wealthy to hobnob globally with royals and the obscenely rich. That includes the British royals, Brian Xu, of Shanghai Marco Stationery and Sultan Abdullah Sultan Ahmad Shah now the Malaysian king.

The article notes that Thailand is home to polo because “royalty, wealth and elite networks are cross-hatched into the social fabric.”

Interestingly, the article cites Kobsak Pootrakool of the junta’s  Phalang Pracharath Party, lamenting the huge inequality in the country. He states that “[t]he top 20 per cent own 80 per cent of wealth…”. He should know as most of the very wealthy support his side of politics.

It’s actually even more skewed that that. The Credit Suisse Global Wealth Report had 1% of the richest Thais controlling 66.9% of the country’s wealth in 2018. And that probably doesn’t include a calculation for the obscenely rich monarch.

In contrast, as the report observes, “[m]ore than 14.5 million Thais qualify for welfare, with most of them earning less than US$1,000 a year.”

The report also notes that a feature of Thailand’s politics is the military coup, usually “with the support of much of the Bangkok-based elite, who underpin the kingdom’s sharp hierarchy and bristle at economic and political challenges from below.”

It is wryly observed that “[c]ash … cascades down family-run businesses, whose monopolies are inoculated against competition by friends and family in politics and generous tax breaks, while generals sit on company boards.”

The military’s task is to ensure the poor do not rise. When they have, it has jailed, beaten and murdered them.

Future Forward’s Thanathorn Juangroongruangkit, himself a scion of huge wealth, declares: “Inequality won’t be solved … unless that clot of power and money is removed,” warning that inequality is “a threat to stability in the country.”

We doubt that many in the polo set and their hi-so brethren care much at all, recognizing that their wealth depends on the state’s largess and the capacity to exploit workers at will and destroy the environment.

That allows the obscenely wealthy to party obscenely, collect palatial condominiums and super cars by the score, travel the world and buy a “justice” denied the poor.





Only 4 cheating ministers resign

29 01 2019

After months of unethically founding and holding positions in the pro-junta Palang Pracharath while being in the junta’s cabinet, allocating funds to projects and vote-enhancing programs, four of the cheating ministers have finally resigned from cabinet.

Commerce Minister Sontirat Sontijirawong, Science and Technology Minister Suvit Maesincee, Industry Minister Uttama Savanayana and PM’s Office Minister Kobsak Pootrakool finally resigned to take up political roles.

But what about their boss and political brain Somkid Jatusripitak? He’s still coming up with vote-winning schemes for taxpayer funds.

And how much will it matter when the rest of the cabinet is working for the devil parties and Gen Prayuth Chan-ocha for premier?





February or May? Still rigged

14 11 2018

Not that many hours ago we posted on the likelihood that the military junta’s rigged election might be further delayed until May. We did that along with several other media outlets.

The junta has reacted saying it is still planning for 24 February. Deputy Slitherer Wissanu Krea-ngam said “there was no reason to delay the general election again…”. He then added: “So far there is no reason [to postpone the polls] and there’s no chance the EC [Election Commission] will not be ready. If the elections are delayed, it will be because of others…”.

Meanwhile, devil party Palang Pracharath has opened for anti-democrat members. The Nation reports that just 121 signed uo on the first day. We assume this number is so low because, in line with its hierarchical bosses, the junta sycophants only signed up “big names.”

Slithering into the party and oblivious to calls for something like ethical standards, were three serving Cabinet members. They were: Industry Minister Uttama Savanayana, who is the party leader; Commerce Minister Sontirat Sontijirawong, the secretary-general; and Prime Minister’s Office Minister Kobsak Pootrakool, the party’s spokesman.

Among others lining up to lick military boots was Nida Poll director Napong Noppaket. Yes, the man who produces poll results each week. Now we understand why the Nida polls are so suspect.

Uttama confirmed that he will be nominating The Dictator as his party’s candidate for prime minister following the election.

The election, whenever it is finally held will be rigged.