Ministers in tepid water

14 01 2019

We are slow in posting on this story, partly because there wasn’t much media attention to it.

However, Thai PBS and the Bangkok Post did mention it in a little more detail than other outlets.

It noted that the Election Commission sent cases involving three serving junta cabinet members and a former minister to the Constitutional Court. Going to the Court could mean very little as it is essentially a puppet agency, so that’s why instead of headlining ministers being in hot water, we think it is tepid water.

Following a complaint in February 2018 by Peua Thai Party’s legal advisor Ruangkrai Leekitwattana who petitioned the EC to look into the shareholdings of the four individuals following their assets declarations.

After 11 months, the EC found fault with the four “for holding shares in companies granted business concessions by state agencies in violation of the Constitution.” The four are former Prime Minister’s Office Minister M.L. Panadda Diskul, Science and Technology Minister Suvit Maesincee, Education Minister Teerakiat Jareonsettasin, and Deputy Transport Minister Pailin Chuchottaworn.

The Constitutional Court must now decide “whether they should be disqualified for conflict of interest for their share holdings in violation of sections 184 and 186 of the Constitution.”

Ruangkrai’s petition claimed:

… ML Panadda had 6,000 shares of Airports of Thailand Plc, operator of Suvarnabhumi, Don Mueang and other airports. Although ML Panadda no longer was a minister, a guilty ruling means he will be banned from holding office for two years.

Mr Suvit had 90,000 shares of Global Power Synergy Plc (GPSC), a holding company of power-generation subsidiaries of PTT Plc, who holds state energy concessions.

Mr Pailin, a former CEO of PTT Plc, also had 5,000 shares in energy giant PTT Plc and more in its subsidiaries — GPSC (50,000 shares), IRPC Plc (240,000), PTT Global Chemical Plc (60,000) and Thai Oil (40,000). He also had shares in three other companies — Gulf Energy Development (300,000 shares), Banpu Power (10,000) and Intouch Holding (26,000).

Dr Teerakiat had 5,000 shares of Siam Cement Plc.

The case continues to confirm that cabinet ministers under the military junta consider they have impunity.

When they declared their assets, Panadda was the wealthiest cabinet member, with assets of 1.3 billion baht or almost US$40 million, Suvit had assets conservatively valued at 73.4 million, and Teerakiat has assets of 44 million baht. Pailin’s assets were reported at 179.1 million baht and his shares in the companies listed above are today worth more than 38 million.

Suvit’s case is somewhat more interesting than the others as he is Palang Pracharat’s deputy leader and simultaneously and unethically also a cabinet minister. If he is banned, the party also faces scrutiny. His response to the referral was to say “he was not worried with the Constitutional Court’s proceedings because they would not affect his work in the government or his political work with the Palang Pracharat party.” Such pomposity comes from knowing he is more or less untouchable. He did add that “his work in the Science and Technology Ministry was almost completed and he would quit the cabinet at the right time to spend full time in politics.”

Pailin’s response was a bit more to the point, claiming “that he had already transferred all his shares to a private fund before he assumed cabinet portfolio and that he had nothing to do with the management of the shares.”

We await the Constitutional Court’s timely decision, but will not hold our collective breath.

Ultra-royalists on the warpath

4 11 2017

In a post on lese majeste just a few days ago, we observed that the dead king’s funeral provided another opportunity for ultra-royalism to reach yet another high point. Unfortunately, it only took a few days for this to be reinforced.

Watch this video of the BBC’s Jonathan Head as he speaks to Narisa Chakrabongse, the great-granddaughter of King Chulalongkorn, who was King Bhumibol’s grandfather. This was on 25 October.

According to some ultra-royalists, this interview constitutes lese majeste.

A youth group we haven’t heard of before, calling itself Young Thai Blood has demanded the dismissal of Head for what they consider was a questioning royalist propaganda (rather than reinforcing it).

We couldn’t help wondering about the rightist congruence on identification, from the Hitler Youth – “Blood and Honour” – to the Unite the Right rally in the US and their use of “Blood and Soil,” adopted from Nazi Party ideology.

Such references suggest the group probably has links with security agencies in Thailand and is likely a creation of those agencies. Interestingly, though, social media comment suggests that the original complaint came from a disgruntled expatriate.

As usual, when the boys of Young Thai Blood claim “Thai blood” for themselves, it is not clear that they really mean “blood.” Rather, it seems they mean a state of mind encased in a body located in the country now called Thailand.

These ultra-royalist dunces rallied on 2 November 2017, and “filed a petition at the British Embassy in Bangkok, urging the UK government to dismiss Jonathan Head, South East Asia Correspondent for BBC News.”

Obviously, these lads don’t are confused and understand that the “BBC is a statutory corporation, independent from direct government intervention…” and that they should have addressed the BBC rather than the Embassy. They blustered and made demands:

Young Thai Blood stated that Head’s question created a misunderstanding about the late King. The question [about the genuineness of love] allegedly reflected the BBC journalist’s lack of knowledge about Thai culture, despite Head having been stationed in Thailand for many years. In addition to calling for Head’s dismissal from the BBC, the group asked for an official apology to all Thai people for having disrespected their beliefs and culture.

“As young people who have Thai blood, we therefore call on the UK government to consider the action of the reporter of the BBC Thailand office and terminate his duty in Thailand, and for the office to publish a statement of apology to Thai people throughout the country,” said Petchmongkol Wassuwan, the group’s representative.

Like all ultra-royalists, they claim to speak for all Thais rather than themselves or their group.

Ominously, these ultra-royalist babblings were supported by M.L. Panadda Disakul, a prince and the Deputy Minister of Education, who says that “Head does not understand Thai history, culture or social etiquette, which should be basic knowledge for any correspondent working in Thailand.” He means that all foreign correspondents should shut up about the monarchy except when producing the same trip that emanates from palace and state propaganda agencies. The princeling called for Head’s expulsion: “He should go back and rest in his home country first…”.

Such rightist rants fit well with the monarchy-military alliance that is seeking to dominate Thailand well into the future.

With 6 updates: Another lese majeste suspect dies in custody

9 11 2015

As expected, Mor Yong or Suriyan Sujaritpalawong has died while in military custody. We say “expected” because his death was anticipated from the time that Police Major Prakrom Warunprapha, caught up in this latest lese majeste purge, died while in military custody, with the military junta claiming he committed suicide by hanging himself.Suriyan

Update 1: The Nation reports that “Justice” Minister General Paiboon Koomchaya waited until Monday to announce Suriyan’s death, apparently late on Friday 6 November. He is said to have died at the prison hospital of “septicemia.” As with the death of Prakrom, a hasty autopsy has already been conducted. We suspect murder.

Update 2: The Bangkok Post reports that Vittaya Suriyawong, the director-general of the Corrections Department, issued a statement on the circumstances of Suriyan’s death.

The statement said at 9pm on Saturday guards on duty at the temporary prison at the 11th Military Circle in Bangkok where Suriyan was detained found him lying in his cell with laboured breathing….

By the time they took him to the Corrections Department hospital in Chatuchak district at 10.20pm, he did not respond and his pulse could not be detected. His pupils dilated by 4mm and did not respond to light.

Readers will recall that the same director dismissed earlier reports that Suriyan was ill. He said he was faking it.

The statement declares that:

The Institute of Forensic Medicine under the Police General Hospital, having performed an autopsy on him, established on Sunday the cause of death was “respiratory and blood circulation failures due to bloodstream infection…”.

The director states that Suriyan was already sick for two days: “he had high fever, coughed and was agitated on Thursday and Friday. The military medical unit gave him some pills and told him to rest before the guards found him unconscious.”

“Some pills”? Perhaps he was poisoned? Perhaps tortured? We will probably never know. What we do know is that his claims of military involvement in his case was exceptionally embarrassing and threatening for the junta. Who wanted him dead?

The rest of the report seems full of claims that seem unlikely to ever be verified:

“Doctors said some air-borne viruses could cause an acute respiratory failure and high-risk patients are the elderly, diabetic people and persons on steroid.

“In Suriyan’s case, it’s possible his immune system was weak as indicated by the Oct 22 x-ray results, which showed he had a fatty liver,” Mr Vittaya explained….

“Our assumption is he was infected by a germ that caused bloodstream infection and this led to the respiratory failure and quick death,” Mr Vittaya said.

Suriyan’s death has been expected, but now that it has happened suggests that the damage he was doing or might have done outweighed the risk of getting rid of him. We are guessing, but so is every other commentator. The military dictatorship will try to prevent speculation and cover up.

Update 3: An updated story at The Nation adds a little more to the story of the death in custody and on Suriyan. The Minister for “Justice” advises that a death certificate “has been issued.” The idea seems to be to get the cover up going as soon as possible. The Minister says they are “waiting for his relatives to reclaim the body.”

Suriyan’s Facebook page claims that “he was born Suriyan Ariyawongsopon in Trang province but changed his name in 2008 after the family name was bestowed by His Royal Highness the Crown Prince [Vajiralongkorn].”

As a famous astrologer, he “became a committee member of several social agencies, including the National Council on Social Welfare of Thailand and the Thai Buddhist Association of Thailand under Royal Patronage as well as in government agencies such as the Justice Ministry.”

The report states that “Mor Yong’s last public appearance, before his arrest on October 14, was when he co-chaired a meeting with PM’s Office Minister Panadda Disakul at the Public Relations Department on the ‘Bike for Dad’ event that will be held on December 11.”

Update 4: Social media reports are that Suriyan’s was quickly cremated on Monday, just hours after the announcement of his death. The cremation of those who die in custody means that no proper investigation can be conducted into the circumstances of the death.

Update 5: Khaosod has a story on Suriyan’s death. It states that its “story has been updated to reflect statements from officials regarding the timing of Suriyan’s death. He is said to have died on Saturday night.” The military regime is having trouble getting its story straight.

Update 6: The Bangkok Post has an updated report on the amazing revelations of 9 November, that backgrounds Suriyan and includes a table of the events in the lese majeste case and the two deaths of suspects in military custody. Gen Paiboon Kumchaya is quoted as “explaining” that Suriyan “was suffering from health problems and stress after his arrest. The suspect was taken to hospital once during his detention and medics were assigned to the prison.” As if to justify two deaths, the general states: “Several suspects had health conditions when they were detained. We don’t know which illnesses they suffered from. In this case he had a lot of stress…”. We will never know what caused the “stress.” Torture? Poison? Threats and intimidation?

Interestingly, the Post story includes a note on the last surviving suspect arrested in mid-October, Jirawong Wattanathewasilp. It says that “Jirawong will reportedly be taken to court on Thursday so authorities can apply for a third detention period.” Will he appear? Or is he “unwell” or worse?

The Dictator craves power

9 06 2015

Khaosod has a story on the faux protests of The Dictator. No, he proclaims, “he is not concerned with holding on to power or any office. He is only focused on to his responsibility for the country.”

Poppycock. After running a coup, trampling a constitution and proclaiming himself Prime Minister, Prayuth Chan-ocha covets power for himself and because the royalist elite wants him to maintain the repression required to see off popular challenges to its economic, social and political power.

He’s being coy because his continuation as an unelected autocrat requires displays of support for dictatorship, not unlike Nazi rallies.

So he decorously claims he “does not wish to be asked about whether he will delay elections and stay in power for two more years…”. But he loves the manufactured support: “The Prime Minister thanks the people for showing him support and seeing this government’s dedication in working for the country…”.

Yet, at the same time, the fascist monk Buddha Issara has already presented 50,000 signatures claimed to have been collected “in support of delaying elections for two more years so that junta chairman Gen. Prayuth Chan-ocha can stay in power until his reform program is completed.”

Prayuth delegated Panadda Diskul, a Minister of the Prime Minister’s Office, to accept the petition on hisbehalf.

We expect the delay to be announced once Prayuth feels he has promoted and received sufficient “support.”

On May 1992, part II

18 05 2015

In part I, we posted on a speech by the notorious royalist poseur Bowornsak Uwanno, who misused the occasion of a remembrance of the military’s murder of democracy and murder of civilian in May 1992.

In another report at The Nation on a memorial event, it is stated that “politicians and political groups yesterday attended a memorial service to remember those who lost their lives in the Black May 1992 political uprising.” It seems to us that the military dictatorship tried to manage this event as it was attended by “representatives of the junta-appointed agencies known as the ‘Five Rivers’. They included Prime Minister’s Office Minister Panadda Diskul, National Legislative Assembly (NLA) vice president Surachai Liengboonlertchai, Ekachai Sriwilat[,] Prasarn Marukpitak and Rosana Tositrakul members of the [puppet] National Reform Council (NRC).”

Even if any of this lot had any reason to be there, it seems they have forgotten the meaning of 1992. All are rabid monarchists and pro-military flunkies. Rosana is a strident yellow shirt who has supported all anti-democrats since 2004. Surachai is one of Rosana’s allies in the anti-democratic Group of 40 Senators, mostly unelected after 2007, who are ultra-royalists and deeply yellow. So is Prasarn. Panadda is a devoted royalist, specialized in self-promotion and a dedicated restorationist, committed to dictatorship and absolutism. They insult the memory of the dead.

Amongst attendees, there were some with a real connection to the events in 1992, including “red-shirt co-leader of the United Front for Democracy against Dictatorship (UDD) Jatuporn Promphan and yellow-shirt co-leader of the People’s Democratic Reform Committee Pipop Thongchai.”

That the Democrat Party sent representatives is also insulting of those who died in 1992 for the Party was prepared to deal with the military then, if it got them close to power. Nothing much has changed.

The egregious Panadda said that the “incident” in May 1992 – he means the massacre of civilians – “showed the public’s will to achieve democracy.” It did, but to disgrace that resolve by linking it to The Dictator and self-appointed Prime Minister, General Prayuth Chan-ocha, and to claim that this vandal of democracy “had recognised the people of Thailand’s wish to see real democracy in the country…” is disgusting.

Rosana is as bad, saying that May 1992 “occurred because all the heroic people wanted to see reform of the political system without any influence. They hoped that the election would lead to the development of a strong democracy and that it would not result in a coup.” She’s lost in a make-believe history and she manages to link an anti-military uprising to the 2006 and 2014 military putsches, which she enthusiastically supported.

For those wanting a useful summary of the events of the time, not least as an antidote for the tripe served up by military flunkies, this PDF, available for free download, is not a bad place to begin.

New year barbs I

1 01 2015

Songkran Grachangnetara writes an op-ed every so often for the Bangkok Post, and he’s been getting more interesting of late. A couple of days ago he had some festive “wishes” for “a few people and institutions to give them a much needed gift and wish them luck for the approaching new year.”

His first wish was to “one of the most embarrassing organisations in Thailand” – and there is a long list –  the “Election Commission (EC), headed by Somchai Srisutthiyakorn, which recently said his agency would file a lawsuit against those deemed accountable for the 3.8 billion baht cost of the voided election of Feb 2, 2014.” Songkran gets right to the point:

This is a lawsuit so absurd it is making Thailand a laughing stock. My gift to Mr Somchai this New Year is a mirror. The EC’s behaviour during the February elections was nothing short of disgraceful, because although 23 million Thais, including myself, went to cast a ballot that day, numerous EC officials in certain southern constituencies didn’t even bother to turn up and man the voting booths as duty dictates. So if Mr Somchai is looking for someone to sue for damages, I suggest he look in the mirror and start with himself and the organisation he claims to lead.

The second wish is to the National Anti-Corruption Commission. He says:

… I’m buying all of them an i-watch — because they don’t seem to be able to tell time. Yes, I realise they have done an excellent job by putting the rice pledging investigation of former prime minister Yingluck Shinawatra on “easy pass” towards a guilty verdict by the courts, but why the Democrat Party’s own rice scheme was put on the backburner for a few years (until the acquittal just over a week ago) has yet to be made clear to the public.

Moreover, in April 2013 the NACC took over a case from the DSI, launching a graft probe into the police stations fiasco, involving then deputy prime minister Suthep Thaugsuban and several high-ranking police officers. But after setting up panels and nearly two years of investigations, a case has yet to be filed for this scandalous and wasteful scheme.

The third wish is to the police. He points out the obvious, saying: “… [the p]olice have consistently acted against the public interest and shown themselves to be a serious menace to civilised society.” Oddly, though, Songkran seems to think that there is a crackdown on police corruption under the junta, missing the fact that there’s a reorganization of corruption under the junta, extending to the palace.

He also gets mixed up on  PM’s Office Minister ML Panadda Diskul, but we’ll leave that to get to Panadda’s buddies in the Democrat Party, who also get a festive greeting from Songkran. Despite the military dictatorship seeking to “change our electoral system, the constitution, taxation and education — to mention just a few things,” the Democrat Party “remains totally untouched and completely unfazed.” He goes on:

Despite consistently losing general elections to Thaksin Shinawatra-backed parties in recent times, the Democrat Party, it seems, thinks the most effective strategy for winning the next general poll is to run with the same tired leader, keep the same rigid party structure and regurgitate the same old strategies.

Then he gets off track, burbling about “good people” in the party, even mentioning the reprehensible Korn Chatikavanij and babbling about the “good name” of the king. Oh well, four out of six is not too bad under the military dictatorship.

The royalist and Chiranuch’s trial

9 09 2011

PPT hasn’t been posting on the trial of Prachatai’s Chiranuch Premchaiporn on computer crimes charges. The main reason for this is because Freedom Against Censorship Thailand’s C.J. Hinke has been providing a daily commentary:  Day 1, Day 2, Day 3, Day 4, Day 5, Day 6, Day 7, Day 8. The reason for this PPT post is to draw attention to the Day 9 account.

In that post, Hinke states that the sole accuser, who prompted the police to investigate was M.L. Panadda Disakul, a minor prince now said by the Bangkok Post to be governor of Chiang Mai. The prince did not file a charge and was not called as a witness.

Both the FACT and Post accounts are worth reading.

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