“Men in black”

2 03 2015

Prachatai reports that a case being brought by the police against so-called men in black has been sent back to prosecutors and the police.

The criminal court has postponed a deposition hearing for five suspects alleged to have been “involved in the violence during the military crackdown on redshirts on 10 April 2010…”. The reason for this is that there is a lack of evidence on the terrorism charge they face and because the public prosecutor and the Department of Special Investigation that has been responsible for the case seem unable to agree on what they are doing.

These suspects, all male, were arrested and charged with “with offences of possession of unauthorized and illegal weapons of war, such as M79 grenade launchers, M16s, HK33s and explosive devices.”

After their miraculous arrest more than four years after the events, the police arranged a press conference on 11 September 2014 so that the five could confess that they were indeed men in black. About a month later, all five recanted saying “they were tortured to confess while under detention by the military.” Torture of suspects by the military and the police is common in Thailand.

The five have been detained ever since, being unable to raise bail. Even if they could, the chances are that they’d be refused bail. After all:

… Punika Chusri, the only female suspect who was not involved in the case, but was merely accused of sitting in the same vehicle as the four other defendants during the incident. However, the court declined the bail request citing flight risk despite the fact that she was not arrested, but voluntarily reported to the police in early September.

The whole case should be viewed skeptically. No sooner had Thailand’s top cop shouted that he had captured the men in black who killed soldiers in April 2010, than he was backpedaling faster than a trick cyclist.

Police General Somyos Pumpanmuang had proudly declared that exiled red shirt Kritsuda Khunasen was involved in money and weapons transfers to the alleged men and women in black he had arrested. Almost immediately he was forced to withdraw the claim. At the time, Khaosod reported the obvious:

The retraction of the link between the Blackshirt suspects and the murder of Col. Romklao is only the latest inconsistency to puzzle observers and raise questions about the accuracy of the police investigation.

Yet when the military dictatorship holds power, even dubious cases can go forward, keeping these alleged “terrorists” locked up for months. This is the military dictatorship that claims to be moving towards democracy. Can these democracy dunces even spell the word?

Revised: 2010 justice or the end of old politicians?

27 02 2015

Back in 2010 when the Abhisit Vejjajiva government planned the crackdown on red shirt protesters, the military commanders of the murderous operation were Generals Prayuth Chan-ocha, Anupong Paojinda and Prawit Wongsuwan.

Khaosod reports that the National Anti-Corruption Commission “has begun impeachment procedures against former Prime Minister Abhisit Vejjajiva and his deputy Suthep Thaugsuban for authorizing a military crackdown on Redshirt protesters in 2010 that left over 90 people dead.”

While we welcome any legal measures that give attention to the military’s murder of its own citizens in 2010, we remain bemused by the notion that a former premier can be retrospectively “impeached” years after they have left office.

The NACC states that Abhisit and Suthep “should be charged” with “abuse of power” for “failing to stop” the use of “excessive violence” in the crackdown on red shirts. The junta puppets in the National Legislative Assemblywill consider the cases and the leaders of the Democrat Party led government could be banned from politics for 5 years.

For us this is insufficient. The two former leaders of the (anti)Democrat Party and its military commanders should face a murder trial.

We note that Suthep has been in a monastery since the coup, “avoiding politics.” We can only guess that there were reasons for this hide related to the military’s renewal of its political mandate via the coup.

Interestingly, on the “men in black” that the military and Abhisit and Suthep have always claimed, with almost no evidence, caused some or all of the deaths, the NACC says the red shirt protest area “was not wholly composed of violent or armed elements, but also demonstrators without weapons, and other civilians who were not related to the rallies.”

It also noted “previous court inquests that have attributed the deaths of some civilians to security officers.”

Khaosod also reports that Abhisit whined that military commanders should be questioned about their role.

Remarkably, The Dictator, General Prayuth, has said that”he is willing to provide testimony to Thailand’s anti-graft agency about his role as a top army commander in the 2010 military crackdown…”. As far as we can recall, he’s never been “willing” before, and has been downright hostile to any investigation.

Prayuth was asked if the “investigation will affect the reputation of the military,” and he responded with his usual line: “How will that affect the military? The officers were performing their work.” He then got excited about men in black, demanding very loudly:

“I want to ask you about this fact: were there armed people among the civilians? Were there? Answer me loudly. Were there Blackshirts among the Redshirts? Did they shoot at the soldiers? If so, then it’s over.”

No one seems to have ever identified, arrested or investigated a man in black.

We can’t imagine the NACC doing this investigation without the permission of the military dictatorship. So what is going on?

We do know that the military leadership hates all civilian politicians. It is particularly concerned about pro-Thaksin Shinawatra politicians because they win elections. However, it also dislikes those who can mobilize people, like Suthep. We also know that the military dictatorship also wants to clear the political decks to smooth the path to military-dominated politics in the future. Is this the way they do it?

Updated: Torture and the military

13 10 2014

Late last week, PPT missed a revealing article at Prachatai that has been pointed out to us by a reader. The article sets out the use of ill-treatment and torture by the military.

Groups of anti-coup student activists in Bangkok and Mahasarakham were “allegedly blindfolded, threatened with being killed and suffered minor assaults.”

Earlier, Kritsuda Khunasen “claimed that the military subjected her to blindfolding, beatings, sexual harassment, and suffocation.”

The military denied these allegations.

Later, the “Thai Lawyers for Human Rights revealed … that at least 14 people were allegedly tortured physically and psychologically by the army…. The torture allegations included beatings and electrocution.”

More denials.

Prachatai has now interviewed three people “who were arrested after the 22 May coup d’état and were allegedly tortured during detention.” Their “accounts of alleged torture include electric shocks to the genitals, suffocation, continuous beatings all night, and detention in a hole in the ground, while the hole was being filled.”

This will be denied by the military and police. However, the fact is that torture is standard practice in Thailand. As just one example of many, see this Amnesty International Report. The report notes that ” torture and other ill-treatment, and the lack of accountability for torturers, remains sufficiently frequent and widespread that it cannot be dismissed as the work of a few errant subordinates in isolated instances.”

Update: Readers will find these reports from the past couple of days provide more evidence of the widespread use of torture.

The first is from Prachatai:

Five suspects, accused of being the ‘Men in Black’, recanted their confessions, and said their confessions were made under duress due to alleged torture and ill-treatment during military detention, according to their lawyer. The police accused them of using illegal weapons during the political violence in April 2010, according to their lawyers….

[Their lawyer] Winyat said the suspects have just retracted their statements because they had only just secured legal representation. The five were arrested and detained under martial law. During pre-charge detention, they could not contact their families or lawyers and were allegedly ill-treated.

After they agreed to confess, the military handed them to the police and the police held a press conference….

The second is from The Nation, reproduced in full:

In a rare move, three major human rights groups yesterday jointly criticised Thailand for denying redress to an alleged victim of torture from the deep South.

Human Rights Watch (HRW), Amnesty International (AI) and the International Commission of Jurists (ICJ) issued a joint statement Monday calling for the Prayut Chan-o-cha government to comply with its international human rights obligation to provide remedies and reparation to victims of torture or other ill-treatment.

On October 7, Pattani Provincial Court ruled that Hasan Useng, an alleged victim of torture and other ill-treatment by the state was not entitled to judicial remedies and reparation under Article 32 of the Kingdom’s 2007 Constitution because the National Council for Peace and Order (NCPO) terminated the charter after the May 22 coup.

The petition was filed by Hasan Useng’s sister on May 2, before the coup took place, however. The allegation involved Hasan Useng being taken to the Inkhayuthaborihan Military Camp in Pattani in April where “military personnel allegedly kicked him and ordered him to do several hundred push-ups and jumping jacks on the hot concrete with his bare feet”.


UDD finds some voice

18 09 2014

Following the May military coup, the United Front for Democracy against Dictatorship has been very quiet. Some of this has to do with the extent of the military crackdown and the power of the military dictatorship. Yet some of it is a failure of organization and capacity on the UDD’s part.

At last, though, the UDD leadership has done something that can be considered political. Ever so carefully, they have confronted Thailand’s acting police chief the sel-promoting Somyos Pumpanmuang on his circus-like parade of “men in black” last week.

UDD leaders Jatuporn Promphan, Thida Tawornsate Tojirakarn, Weng Tojirakarn and some red shirt lawyers met with Somyos regarding an open letter the group submitted “asking that investigators strictly work within the law” when dealing with the MiB cases.

That may seem lame to many as Somyos is about as politically biased and unprofessional in his police work as could be imagined, but the point is made.


No attempt to link to red shirts in this!

The UDD leaders “complained in the letter that information initially released by police at a their Sept 13 press conference led the public to think that the suspects had caused the death of Col Romklao … and four other soldiers during a clash between the military and red-shirt protesters at the Khok Wua intersection on April 10, 2010.”

Speaking after a meeting with the UDD leaders, the top cop and former mining company director said “police had never named any group as being behind the five ‘men in black’ arrested last week.” He added that “he never asserted they were responsible for the death of then-Col Romklao…”.

That’s a fabricated untruth. He had them dressed up and took them out to “scenes of the crime” and forced them to re-enact their alleged crimes. He had red ribbons tied to the alleged MiBs.

No one can ever believe this man.

When Somyos bleats that “all the suspects would be treated with justice,” you know he is concocting this for he has already thrown the book of justice out the window in his fancy dress party for alleged MiBs.

Remarkably, Jatuporn reckoned “he was satisfied with the deputy police chief’s explanation.” He should have expressed appropriate skepticism of the lying general. At least the UDD complained that the ridiculous antics of Somyos and other cops were “intended to lead the public to believe the political violence in 2010 and 2014 was linked, without giving providing evidence.”

MiB madness

15 09 2014

The men in black soap opera continues. The most recent intervention we have seen is by the anti-democrat member of the Democrat Party, Thaworn Senniam, who was last in PPT as a leader of the anti-democrat thugs who were armed and dangerous in 2013-14.

He is reported at The Nation claiming to know who some of the phantom-like men in black are. He even claims to have been in negotiation with them.

In the report, “Thaworn claimed to have been approached by four of the armed militants who took part in the violent – sometimes deadly – attacks during the 10 weeks of street protests by red shirts protesters against the Democrat-led government led by Abhisit Vejjajiva four years ago.” It seems that, at the time, Thaworn was deputy interior minister. His claim is that these mysterious men in black “demanded Bt5 million each from him in exchange for ‘telling the truth’ and identifying the people who hired them.”

This claim seems remarkable enough. Here’s a senior government minister saying he was involved in negotiations with people the police and military were supposedly hunting, but he “rejected the offer, as the requested sum was too high.” And then this: “Thaworn said the men who approached him were a different group than the five suspects who were arrested earlier this week…”.

Clearly Thaworn was in direct contact with alleged murders and yet he rejects them as too expensive! Really? If this is a real story, shouldn’t he have been more law-abiding and rigorous than this? And, why is he making his legal and moral failure public?

The answer to first question could be that he is making this up. Or it could be that he is naturally dumb. Readers can think of more answers. The answer on the second question is easier. Thaworn is making a claim that the “recent arrests and the people who approached him were proof that the ‘men in black’ did exist…”.

In a footnote to the story, despite police claims that they had a ton of evidence against the four men and one woman they have arrested and dressed up at men in black (and they only rigged this for the men), the police have gone back to the courts to seek a further “12 days while police investigate the case.” The police claim they need “more time to question the suspects in order to determine their accomplices.” One of the men has already been in custody since 5 September.

With a major update: Suspicion

13 09 2014

There have been a remarkable number of reports in various media in recent days of the miraculous police action that has netted one woman and four men alleged to have been “men in black” and claimed to have “confessed” to attacking military and other targets in April 2010.

This is not the first miracle worked by the police since the May 2014 military coup. The miracle worker was, in several such cases, the gold miner businessman and now police boss General Somyos Pumpanmuang. Several of the cases seemed to fade as fast as the miracle was produced.


A Bangkok Post photo

If that isn’t reason enough for some skepticism, the sight of the police dressing the detainees in black clothing, attaching red armbands and ribbons to them, forcing them to wear balaclavas, and having them “re-enact” alleged “crimes,” including taking them to the streets and having them pose with grenade launchers and assault weapons is completely bizarre and legally fraught.

The first report PPT saw was in the Bangkok Post, where the police already had the detainees were already in fancy dress.

Despite the fact that, at the time the so-called men in black were “identified” as “responsible” for actions against the Abhisit Vejjajiva regime the police and military were under the control of pro-Abhisit commanders, no suspects were captured and convicted and there were precious few video or photo images of the MiBs.

They lived on in military and royalist lore as “responsible” for all the killings in 2010. As The Dictator, General Prayuth Chan-ocha and other military brass have said many times, the military did not kill anyone. The courts have disagreed with this in several cases. Even when anti-democrats were violent in 2013 and 2014, they blamed mysterious MiBs. Such claims were demonstrated to be false, concocted for political purposes and to take the heat off the violence of the royalist anti-democrats.

This is not the first time that authorities have claimed to have identified the “perpetrators.” A sub-committee of the Truth for Reconciliation Commission headed by the compromised Somchai Homlaor stated that it had “identified” MiBs. We posted:

In its report on the 2010 Battle for Bangkok, Somchai Homlaor, who headed the investigating sub-committee, said the commission had “found connections between the ‘men in black’ and security guards of the United Front for Democracy against Dictatorship in at least two clashes with authorities at Kok Wua intersection near the Democracy Monument and the Pratunam area on April 10, 2010.” He adds that “many” of the men in black “were found to be close to Maj Gen Khattiya…”. He added that the commission did “not have evidence to conclude whether they had a connection with UDD key figures…”.

If they did, there was little follow-up and no naming of names.

Prayuth once reportedly stated: “I do not know whether there were men in black or not, but soldiers and police were injured and killed in those clashes…”. The Democrat Party and Abhisit have been sure, and have repeatedly campaigned about MiBs, but their government never found any. Abhisit has repeatedly claimed that MiBs were responsible for all deaths.

That first report in the Bangkok Post stated that the recent arrests saw Somchai Sawaengkarn resurrected the claim that it was only MiBs who were responsible for “killing of soldiers and civilians during political unrest in 2010…”. He added that the arrests might “lead to the identification of those responsible for masterminding the violence…”. He essentially means Thaksin Shinawatra, who he blames for all Thailand’s ills including heavy rainfall. Somchai is of dubious character: a member of the puppet National Legislative Assembly, he was also an unelected senator. He is a huge supporter of anti-democrats.

The police claimed that all “five suspects have admitted involvement in the violence that led to the killing of soldiers near Democracy Monument in April 2010.”

The report states that these suspects “were taken into custody on Tuesday but the arrests were only made public yesterday. They have all been charged with illegally carrying and using guns, bullets and bombs.” In fact, one of those arrested was a “red shirt activist who went missing after he was arrested by soldiers last week…”. He was “arrested by soldiers on 5 September and held incommunicad0 for almost a week while the military denied having him in their custody, the US-based Human Rights Watch (HRW) reported on Wednesday.”

The police also implicated now-exiled red shirt activist Kritsuda Khunasen saying that the raids on her house “found clear evidence relating to the transfer of large sums of money to the five suspects, although he declined to reveal how much.”

Within hours, the police and the military dictatorship has sought to condemn those arrested. Police General Somyos also defended his arrest of the suspects. He said he has “solid evidence,” but didn’t say anything much about it.

Somyos declared that he “would not argue with red shirts who insisted there were no ‘men in black’ among their ranks.”

Meanwhile, The Dictator stated that he would not comment on the case. As usual, though, he was unable to control himself. He “warned people behind the fatal attacks during the political unrest to … turn themselves in because he has all of their names in his hands.”

He claimed to have “the names of the supporters and financiers of the violent attacks in 2010 as well as those in 2013 and this year, and he urged them to report to authorities. Some are inside the country and some had fled abroad,” as if to blame red shirts yet again. He promised to prosecute and name “those who provided support for the acquisition of such weapons, including their financing…”.

Update: Somewhat belatedly, the mainstream media has decided to raise questions about facts and process involved in this case. As is usual in the Bangkok Post, it has a story that cites a single anonymous source as if that source is unimpeachably reliable. That source claims: “The DSI source said the agency has files on all of the alleged ‘men in black’, but the probe ground to a halt when the Yingluck Shinawatra government was elected in July 2011…. A ‘powerful politician’ in the since-deposed government laid out a guideline for the DSI that the so-called men in black did not exist and there was no armed element, the source alleged.” This is initially plausible, but only until one asks why the DSI did not act against these suspects when the Abhisit regime was in control and backed by the military?

The claim comes as “rights groups label … a press conference in which the suspects were forced to dress in black paramilitary attire as a publicity stunt likely to rob them of the chance of a fair trial.”

The People’s Information Centre pointed out that “there was no compelling evidence linking them to the nine deaths on Din So Road…”. It adds that “[t]hree of the four military casualties … on Din So Road were as a result of grenade blasts, according to … an inquest, not from gun fire as claimed by police on Thursday.”

As noted above, the police have accused exiled red shirt Kritsuda of financing the suspects. She has responded that, at the time of the events, she was 23 year-old. She asks General Somyos: “How can you accuse me without feeling ashamed of yourself?”At the conclusion of this Post story there is a brief mention of how the police decided to track those they now say are guilty: “Soldiers ‘remembered him’ [one of the suspects] from when he and the others allegedly rode in a van past an army Humvee on April 11, 2010.” On that day, the soldiers were in disarray and retreated when they tear-gassed themselves and when faced with red shirt resistance. They fled leaving behind weapons and other equipment. It seems dubious at best that memories of that day could be clear.

The Bangkok Post also has an editorial that comments on the case. It states: “The presentation of the suspected ‘men in black’ last week raises more questions about justice in Thailand under the military regime than it answers.” It continues to raise questions about dressing the men up and having them “re-enact” events that they may not have been involved in. It says: “The questions raised by this series of events are myriad and troubling…. The use of re-enactments is troubling and would be considered highly prejudicial in a legal system that relied on juries.”

On the arrests it asks: “what was that evidence? Who handled the interviews? How can we be certain the confessions were genuine?” It adds that the “suspects are still just that — suspects. They are all entitled to the presumption of innocence and a fair trial and they are entitled to be treated equally under the law.”

Of course, under the military dictatorship, the law is but a tool for those who rule.

Oddly, when the Post editorial concludes, it does so in a curious manner: “The families of those killed by the men in black in April 2010 deserve to know the right people have been brought to justice, and that can only happen in an open, transparent and accountable system.” In making this statement, it is neglecting the red shirts who were murdered by the military commanders who now rule the country.

Promoting anti-democrats

23 02 2014

The Bangkok Post has managed to produce two major articles that promote anti-democracy in Thailand. One asks a reasonable question but ends up lauding of murder by anti-democrats and the other is an intervention and strategy document by a regular commentator on Thailand’s politics who usually paints himself as a “democrat,” but does nothing more than support the anti-democrats. The two pieces are mutually reinforcing and are surrounded by a series of other op-eds and articles that seldom as critical questions.

The first story has a headline “Who’s popping the popcorn?” In using this headline, the story is immediately adopting the rhetoric of the anti-democrat stage that has hailed the armed men, operating in military-like coordination, providing much of the firepower for the anti-democrat extremists, and apparently responsible for most of the deaths to date in this 3-month long “protest” to bring down the elected government.

But let’s begin with the one useful section of the report, where the possibility that soldiers are the shooters is raised:

While army chief Prayuth Chan-ocha has maintained his neutrality during the political conflict, he has bluntly spoken out against hard-core red-shirt supporters such as Ko Tee, or Wutthipong Kotchathammakhun, who accused the military of trying to hunt him down and assassinate him.

It should be noted that Gen Prayuth also sent a company of troops from the Burapha Phayak regiment at the 2nd Infantry Division of the King’s Guard based in Prachin Buri to maintain order at Phan Fa Bridge following the deadly clash.

Also, the army recently told its legal experts to look into the possibility of taking action against Thammasat University history lecturer Somsak Jeamthirasakul for allegedly posting inappropriate messages about the monarchy on Facebook. The academic’s house was recently hit by gunshots.

Piling one paragraph on another is suggestive of the military’s deep involvement. That is a question that needs to be raise again and again.

But the story is marred by a continual repetition of anti-democrat stage propaganda: “Who the unidentified forces are protecting the anti-government protesters of late is anyone’s guess,” the report says. For PPT this is simply a fabricated statement. It repeats the line propagated by Suthep Thaugsuban and others to protect themselves from further murder charges. It is a disingenuous claim that is meant to portray murderers as angels of mercy, to portray evil as good. As we have noted previously, Suthep has a track record of using brute and lethal force to get his way. That the Post lauds his actions (as it did in 2010) says a considerable amount about the newspaper’s politics.popcorn1

The next line in the story reproduce a “theory” which is actually a rumor: “Some groups, including the protesters themselves, believe the armed forces are secretly providing protection for the People’s Democratic Reform Committee (PDRC).” It continues: “The theory holds that these so-called ‘popcorn warriors’ are soldiers safeguarding protesters from ‘foreign forces’ or “men in black” who clashed with soldiers during the 2010 violence and may have come back again to target the protesters.”

This is such a cobbled together pile of nonsense that it is difficult to know where to begin. The “foreign forces” –  Cambodians – claim is horse manure, and has been refuted time and again. That the protest leaders make this stuff up for hyper-nationalists in their crowd is simply evidence of the fascism of those leaders. To reproduce manufactured fertilizer as a “theory” is base journalism.

Making the claim about “men-in-black” reproduces Democrat Party claims – mainly made by Suthep in 2010 – that there were such men operating “amongst red shirts.” Even if PPT were to think there were some MIBs amongst the red shirts, we have yet to see convincing evidence. Suthep has never produced any evidence for these claims and when in government, he and his cronies were unable to explain how it was that allegedly large numbers of MIB were simply able to disappear. Now, he claims that MIBs are with him, raising questions regarding 2010 and who the MIB belonged to then!

Yet in the current situation, there is very clear evidence, including photographs from which some of the killers identified by police. Why is the Post not getting at this? Why is it insisting that these identified killers are “unknowns”? Is it because the story is meant to create a myth and a situation where known killers have impunity because they support anti-democrats?

This line of myth-making continues: “The ‘popcorn warriors’ were thought to have returned on Tuesday…”. The Post itself has reported this, so why is it “thought”? It is a verifiable fact, and the earlier report in the Post is then reproduced. “Thought”? What is this nonsense?

And what does the Post say about the killers?: “Their exploits have drawn praise and admiration from the protesters.” While this does tell readers that the anti-democrats are fully engaged in murder and mayhem, it does little to ask why the anti-democrats have taken this violent route from the very first incident in late November.

Where is the critical journalism that would ask questions, seek evidence and draw conclusions? Why rumor, innuendo and propaganda?

The second story at the Bangkok Post, Thitinan Pongsudhirak has another op-ed that provides some strategy advice seemingly drawn from the old men who think they run Thailand. Thitinan seems to position himself as an old man in the making. He certainly and quite suddenly seems to have become a spokesperson internationally for a grand coalition of the old (royalist) men:Thitinan

As caretaker Prime Minister Yingluck Shinawatra comes under mounting pressure from the gathering forces arrayed against her self-exiled and convicted brother, former prime minister Thaksin Shinawatra, something will soon have to give. Thailand’s prolonged political standoff has crippled Bangkok’s central business district and placed Thailand in an economic free fall. At issue going forward is how much longer Ms Yingluck will last, how she is dislodged, what comes after, and whether a grand realignment takes place to marginalise Thaksin and move Thailand beyond him.

That is the old men’s line, propagated behind closed doors, worked out by the real ruling elite, in opaque ways that reject electoral democracy just as surely as the anti-democrats do. Think for a moment. The electorate got over a coup and went beyond it. The electorate made a clear choice in 2001, 2005, 2008 and 2011. It is a minority that now worries about an “economic free fall” they have created by their support of the anti-democrats. Why is it considered useful for a shadowy clique of royalists to come up with a nonsense notion of a “grand realignment” when they are the only political victors from such a hastily cobbled together political sham?

Thitinan provides some of the evidence of this opaque group’s machinations when he says the “latest judicial ruling by the civil court to uphold the emergency decree while prohibiting the government from using force to disperse protesters … was unsurprising. It fell in line with other decisions by the Constitution Court that have been more supportive of the PDRC than the Yingluck government, including the rejection of arrest warrants against protest leaders.”

Exactly, it is a conspiracy of the elite. Why doesn’t Thitinan explain that the very same courts made decisions to support Abhisit Vejjajiva’s government in 2010 that were diametrically opposed to this one. Why doesn’t he point out the double standard? Presumably he supports it in the interests of the old men lurking in the shadows.

He mentions a string of decisions by legal and pseudo-legal organizations in Thailand that have extended the double standards: the “Election Commission’s … foot-dragging” and politicized decisions by the National Anti-Corruption Commission and the ridiculously biased National Human Rights Commission. Where’s the criticism of this blatant creeping coup?

Yingluck might be a “lame duck” but Thitinan’s advice that “her caretaker administration … retake the offensive and start to look and feel like a functioning government again,” is about as useless as udders on a bull, and he knows that all of these agencies will pounce if she tries to “disburse budget funds, initiate policy directions, and reclaim occupied areas of Bangkok.” What kind of a political scientist makes such demands and then acknowledges that she “is now a sitting duck”? He says that the “writing is on the wall, and a déjà vu from 2008, when two proxy governments of Thaksin were ejected from office, suggests a similar fate for the caretaker Yingluck government.”

Of course that is correct, but what does Thitinan say? He advises the “watchdog agencies” to oust Yingluck’s government ousted without relatively persuasive legal and constitutional basis…”. Only relatively because this, he says, is the way to avoid a “post-Yingluck backlash from upcountry red-shirt supporters…”. So get rid of her and her elected government, but “a decent interval is needed for due process…”. Naturally, there is unlikely to be any “due process.” What he’s saying is essentially the anti-democrat stage line: the 2006 coup and the 2008 judicial coup failed; now we need to uproot the “Thaksin regime.” There’s unlikely to be little that is legal or constitutional about such a process.

Thitinan finally says that making these observations “does not condone the process.” Of course it does! His view is clear:

Thailand is now in a familiar conundrum. Another elected government from Thaksin’s power bases, haunted by corruption allegations and hounded by critical policy missteps, is being overthrown not in parliament, but in the streets and in the corridors of the judiciary and other watchdog agencies. The last time this happened, in December 2008, it begot the red-shirt demonstrators because Thaksin manipulated them and because they were effectively disenfranchised.

This time must be different.

And this is the old man line:

If Ms Yingluck is deposed in a similar fashion, the caretaker government that comes after her must be inclusive [the Anand Panyarachun technocratic solution perhaps?] Thailand does not lack human talent but it must come up with a broad-based, multi-partisan [sic.] government that features not only Thaksin’s opponents but also includes some of the more palatable members of the Thaksin side. [This is real elitist nonsense that can only come from the mouths of the old men]

Let’s get rid of Yingluck, the elected premier, and her elected government in an undemocratic manner, but let’s make it palatable.

Part of this elitist nonsense is the claim that the “rice scheme, in particular, has opened the eyes of PDRC protesters and all sorts of anti-Thaksin groups to the plight of the farm sector.” Revealingly, he states: “It is poignant to see the outpouring of sympathy for farmers from myriad rank-and-file PDRC supporters in their street rallies and in social media.”

Thitinan has probably never seen a real village except from the inside of an airconditioned car or on television. He probably has maids and other minions from the countryside, so he feels empathy for the servants too. He mistakes political convenience for “sympathy.” He seems to suffer memory loss as well. This is fake charity and false empathy from a bunch that has denigrated and exploited farmers for decades and in recent years has derided them as dolts and vote-sellers is simply swept aside and the racist and fascist anti-democrats have suddenly become the promise for “a grand realignment is premised on respecting and accepting rural voices into the mainstream fold…”

He wants these anti-democrats tio understand that “budding empathy” might be “broadened.” To what end? To wean these rural buffaloes off their Thaksin addiction: the upcountry lot “have toiled under Thaksin’s shadow for lack of a better alternative.” This is an updated Wikileaks version of the palace story from 2006, when Privy Council President Prem Tinsulanonda stated that Thaksin’s appeal to provincial people was doomed:

The people upcountry liked Thaksin and voted for him, but they didn’t revere him. After seeing the adoring crowds on June 9, a million people in their yellow shirts who waited for hours in the heat just to catch a glimpse of their King, Thaksin should understand that he cannot rival the King for the people’s affection, Prem concluded.

It seems that neither Thitinan nor Prem  before him are able to grasp the nature of the changes in attitudes and politics that had taken place since 2001. Politics in the current era is not about sympathy or empathy – only a few will remember Prem’s failed  “Year of the Farmer” that was devoid of any real policy? It is about getting policy right, appealing to a more informed electorate that is switched on to elections, connected by mobile and smart phones and far more aware of broader political interests than they were even a decade ago. No deal cobbled together in the shadows by wannabe kings is going to be able to change that. Those people beyond the airconditioning understand politics and are engaged by it. There’s almost no chance of winding this back.

Thitinan seems to be headed the same way as so many “academic” commentators in Thailand: they become the elite’s handmaidens. The handmaidens of the elite are anti-democrats.

The Laksi tale

11 02 2014

The anti-democrats took a while to get there, but they have now managed to get a story about their Laksi shooters that they all seem to agree on. The Laksi shooters who fired at least three dozen rounds at red shirts were … drum roll … get ready for it … well, “men-in-black.”

Yep, the Bangkok Post reports that after admitting the shooters were theirs, then denying it, then admitting that some were, they finally have a story that they are going to stick with. The Post, helping the anti-democrats get their story straight, states that anti-democrat co-leader Issara Somchai, and the original source admitting that the shooters belonged to his lot, now says that “the man who fired a gun hidden in a popcorn bag, reportedly to protect protesters during the Laksi shoot-out, is a military man.”

That much is almost certainly true.


Issara now says that he has “talked to many people” and they have “told him the man in black was probably a ‘soldier coming to help’.”

“Coming to help” the ant-democrats by shooting unprovoked at red shirts.

Issara is now saying that the ”men in black” are anti-democrats. Are they the same men-in-black allegedly “coming to help” them in 2010?

Issara said “his group was sprayed with gunfire as it approached the intersection.” Most witness accounts say this is horse manure.

Issara “explains” that “some of his supporters who carried pistols were forced to fight back out of fear for their lives…”. So far the evidence suggests almost all the firing was from the anti-democrats and at red shirts, so we call this claim horse dung also.

The audacity of this gunman was remarkable revealing his face along with his weapon and military gear.

In the end, we have the story: the shooter is a man-in-black, a soldier and “helping” the anti-democrats.

Updated: Conjuring untruths

3 02 2014

When Abhisit Vejjajiva and Suthep Thaugsuban were at the head of the Democrat Party-led administration that was establishing live fire zones and sending snipers out to cut down red shirt protesters, we often blogged about the straight-faced lies that pseudo-academic and acting spokesman for them, Panitan Wattanayagorn, was able to conjure. He seemed to think it was great fun.

Some things never seem to change. Despite photos, videos and reporters accounts, and in the face of statements by their own people, in its latest press release, its spokesman has conjured this:

Group of armed men at Lak Si are not PDRC guards

Addressing yesterday’s shooting at Lak Si, PDRC spokesperson Akanat Promphan confirmed that the group of armed men appearing in media are not PDRC security guards.

We are guessing that the emphasis here is on the word “guard.” Perhaps he means they were just rank-and-file gun-toting members of the “unarmed” protesters?

“Issara Somchai, the PDRC core leader at Latphrao stage, has confirmed that these individuals are not PDRC security guards,” said Akanat.

Do we assume that this same Issara’s statement in an interview with the the Democrat Party’s BlueSky propaganda arm, when he “admitted that the shooting had damaged the PDRC’s image, but said it was in self-defence against firing from the red shirts,” was a lie? Or is it Akanat lying now? Issara went further:

“I sympathise with them,” he said, referring to those using guns. “They had the right to defend themselves. They were escaping from death threats and protecting their lives. They had only small weapons.”

Shooter 10Akanat went on with his concoction:

“Our guards must carry black, PDRC-issued identification badges on their person at all times. The pictured men did not have PDRC badges.

Right…. when the extremists start shooting, they are going to be wearing ID cards.

Their only means of identification were green armbands which are not issued by the PDRC. Media accusations that these individuals were PDRC security guards are based on the fact that they wore green armbands even though these are neither issued nor required by the PDRC.”

“Individuals wearing armbands could be anyone,” continued Akanat, “And the armbands could come from anywhere. We are currently investigating the identity of these individuals and therefore urge members of the press to examine and accurately report the facts.”

So presumably Akanat and his lot, which produced almost no evidence, photographic or otherwise, of alleged red-shirt-linked “men in black” in 2010 can now say the same for these mysterious men? They could have been anyone.

Actually, there is now far more evidence available on anti-democrat shooters than was ever produced for so-called men in black, who were meant to be everywhere in 2010.

It is all rather tiresome having to deal with lies like these. In fact, Issara should be commended for speaking the truth on his own propaganda outlet.

Akanat, who went on to attack foreign media for reporting events in ways that the anti-democrats didn’t like, is to be condemned for producing blatant lies and propagating them with a straight face. But then he is acting in a long tradition of disingenuous spokespersons for the Democrat Party and its extremists.

Update: Thai E-News has done a great job of collecting all of the video and photos.

With 5 updates: They are unarmed…

1 02 2014

Pornpimol Kanchanalak at The Nation: is always good for a bit of propaganda and more. In a recent op-ed, she said supported the anti-democrats, amongst other things claiming:  “But for crying out loud, they are unarmed.”

Shooter 1Well, maybe not… In fact, the so-called “students” amongst the extremists of the anti-democrats have been armed all along.

Below we add some pictures that are on various social media sites and claimed to be of events at Laksi today, where 5-7 people were injured, some shot. As far as we can tell from the social media sites, the pictures are of the anti-democrats at work, but we can’t confirm this:

Shooter 3Shooter 2Shooter 9 Shooter 10 Shooter 8 Shooter 7 Shooter 6 Shooter 5Update 1: The BBC has an extensive print and video report of the violence, with numerous images in the video report of heavily armed individuals. CNN also has a long report.

Update 2: Readers point out that the 4th photo above shows a policeman firing (but it is not clear who the target was), and that Reuters has identified the gun in the bag man as an anti-democrat. Other readers note that yesterday the anti-democrats wore red in various rallies, making it almost impossible to determine who were real red shirts. And, journalists have complained that anti-democrats wear armbands the same color as those as journalists. Is all of this a tactic?

Update 3: Another reader adds that the anti-democrats have also been men in black:

Black shirtUpdate 4: From the Bangkok Post:

Issara Somchai, a core member controlling the anti-government base at Lat Phrao intersection, in an interview with the BlueSky satellite news station, admitted that the shooting had damaged the PDRC’s image, but said it was in self-defence against firing from the red shirts.

”I will remind demonstrators of our non-violence means,” he said.

”I sympathise with them,” he said, referring to those using guns. ”They had the right to defend themselves. They were escaping from death threats and protecting their lives. They had only small weapons.”

Update 5: Thai E-News has done a great job of collecting all of the video and photos.

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