Updated: Brain fades and prejudice

10 07 2021

Sometimes in times of crisis there are people who rise to great heights. But there are others who dredge the depths of inanity. Thai bureaucrats tend to be of the latter category, relying on notions of nationalism, racism, and misrepresented “Thainess.”

In recent days, two reports caught PPT’s attention as ranking as prejudiced dumb ideas.

The first came when local authorities in Tak “imposed a night curfew on migrant workers in Mae Sot district…”. The province’s communicable disease committee, which is headed up by Governor Pongrat Pirom, decided that, “to help curb the spread of Covid-19,” a 8pm-4am curfew was required.

But, not for Thais who were simply “asked to refrain from travelling at night…” and “asked Thais to stay home from 11pm-4am.”

That suggests something other than health concerns driving decisions. And, the factories where the migrants generated the profits remained operational.

The second story was from the northeastern province of Ubon Ratchathani.  It reports that Centre for COVID-19 Situation Administration Spokesman Dr. Taweesin Visanuyothin has proposed a “model” for local quarantine in the province “to accommodate native residents infected with COVID-19 and who develop mild symptoms.”

The “idea” is that farmers can isolate in in rice field huts.Rice field hut

CCSA Spokesman Taweesin said the “model” is one that:

utilizes the vast farm lands in the Northeast to shelter young native residents, returning home from the cities to receive treatment in a natural environment. People in their communities or family members will provide them with food and drinking water during their stay.

“Natural” without medical care, walls, toilets, washing facilities, no electricity, but if you are lucky, they might have a mosquito net.

Sounds like another Bangkokian looking down on the “uncivilized” in the northeast. We might hope that these are brain fades. But probably not and reflective of deep seated prejudices.

Update: For an account of the policy- and prejudice-induced difficulties facing migrant workers in Mae Sot, see this account. We wonder about the statement that the “Thai Health Ministry reportedly announced on June 28 that it would not provide free medical care for Myanmar migrant workers.” We wonder because it wasn’t that long ago that it was argued by local health authorities that they were duty bound and legally bound to provide care.





Us and Them

13 05 2021

Over the virus era there has been increasing attention to borders all around the world. Some places have had downright racist responses, such as in the new hermit kingdom, Australia.

In Thailand, recent attention has been to the “threat” posed by migrants. Quoting “medical professionals,” the Bangkok Post headlines: Porous borders ‘our biggest threat’

While we understand the borders “argument,” this approach encourages chauvinism and xenophobia. Think of the horrid decision to lock migrant workers in their poor housing a couple of months ago. At the same time, the borders threat argument actually obscures the real threat.

Saksayam

Virus minister. From The Nation

For PPT, that threat is from the rich and powerful. As far as we can tell, every major outbreak in Thailand has had a lot to do with these groups, acting with impunity. Even the most recent outbreak in Bangkok has been tracked to the bars frequented by the wealthy Bangkok, attended by the high and mighty, including ministers and ambassadors. The former has seen a Ministry of Transport cluster.

As we look back at other clusters, they result from corrupt military (boxing stadiums) and other corrupt practices from the past that have continued during the virus crisis (gambling and people trafficking). Such activities have always required official “support” and have long made officials wealthy.

Migrant workers are critical for some important industries in Thailand; industries that generate enormous profits:

An estimated 400,000 migrants work in Thailand’s seafood processing sector in the province of Samut Sakhorn. Thailand produces approximately 40 per cent of global canned tuna, as well as frozen shrimp and other seafood products.

Trafficking migrants and greasing the wheels of bureaucracy generate wealth to police and bureaucrats. The military has long been involved in this business. This means the threat to Thailand is from those who rule and profit with impunity.





Virus doublespeak

20 12 2020

We at PPT are not medically trained or epidemiologists but as laypersons interested in human rights, we were stunned by a report at Thai Enquirer.

The outbreak in Samut Sakhon is among workers employed in the fisheries industry who live in crowded and unsanitary dormitories. It is reported:

The government said that they would isolate the dormitories where the migrant workers were …[living] but would provide healthcare and other necessities. The government said Thais living in the dormitories would be evacuated and moved to local hospitals.

Photos show razor wire being put up around the dormitories and the seafood market.

Government Spokesman Dr Taweesin Visanuyothin said this was not about “blaming” migrants – it is – and that human rights were being maintained – they aren’t.

Taweesin said Singapore had shown:

how to isolate and quarantine a foreign work force. Singapore saw a mass break out in foreign workers dormitory with workers living in close proximity to one another. The city-state managed to isolate and quarantine the work force but faced some criticisms from rights groups.

And how did things go for migrant workers in Singapore? A Reuters report explains that:

Nearly half of Singapore’s migrant workers residing in dormitories have had COVID-19, according to the government, indicating the virus spread much more widely among those living in these accommodations than the official case tally shows.

The rate in the dormitories for migrant workers was 47%. The rate for those outside the dormitories was just 0.25%.

If that’s the model, human rights count for nothing. Singapore should be condemned, and so should Thailand if it takes this discriminatory route.





Defining 2019

1 01 2020

Several recent topics, actions and reports have defined 2019 under the junta, its military-backed “elected” government and the ever more powerful monarchy:

Law for the rich and powerful

Suchanee Cloitre (clipped from LePetitJournal.com)

Reporters Without Borders has condemned a “draconian two-year jail sentence that Thai journalist Suchanee Cloitre … received for allegedly defaming an agribusiness company [Thammakaset] in … Lop Buri in a tweet more than three years ago…”.

This is the maximum sentence given and its for an old tweet in an old case, where the journalist for Voice TV told the truth – the company was treating its workers as if they were slaves.

Her tweet was about a court “ordering Thammakaset to compensate 14 migrant workers who had been forced to work up to 20 hours a day on the company’s chicken farms while being paid less than the minimum wage and no overtime.”

When she referred to “slave labour,” the company sued.

In criminal defamation cases, truth is irrelevant. These cases flutter about like confetti as the rich and powerful use their law to silence critics. This includes the current regime. The media is so cowed by such cases that almost no one is prepared to tell the truth.

Going backwards

Khaosod reports on yet another effort directed by King Vajiralongkorn to erase all symbols of the 1932 revolution. This is the latest in a string of secret, then semi-secret and now brazenly open efforts by the palace to de-memorialize 1932 and replace it with symbols of the monarchy.

History is being re-constructed as we watch.

In this instance, memorials to two leaders of the 1932 revolution – Phraya Phahol Pholphayuhasena and Field Marshal Plaek Pibulsongkram – “are due to be removed from public view…” at a military base in Lopburi.

Apparently, the statues will be sent to a museum. We fear they will be destroyed.

It is no surprise that the statues will be replaced by “a new statue depicting the late King Bhumibol…”. No one will be permitted to contest the palace’s actions. A military spokesman stated that the two statues were “commoner statues [and] have to make way for the new [royal] statue…”.

In addition, the military base which “bears the name of Phahol Pholphayuhasena, will also be renamed to King Bhumibol Base per an instruction from the current monarch…”.

When will Thais stand up for their history?

Royal Household Bureau via Khaosod

An op-ed writer in Manila has bought the monarchist nonsense piled high in Thailand. He seems to believe that Thailand is “stabilized” by a “revered” monarchy.

Vajiralongkorn hopes this monarchism infects the citizens of Thailand to facilitate his reign, rule and grasping.

So far, he’s getting his way. And the king seems very intent on getting his way: land, money, laws, constitution, wives (who come and go) and much more. The more he gets the more he wants.

The missing … and “protecting” monarchy and regime

Vajiralongkorn and his henchmen in the military seem to have gotten his way on disappearing some of his opponents – probably meant as a “message” to anyone who dares speak against the monarchy. They should not be forgotten.

Clipped from Thai Alliance for Human Rights website

When they are not being murdered, political opponents are bashed .It is this regime of fear seems to have replaced the use of lese majeste.

Clipped from VOA News

We feel that this strategy has been devised by the palace in an effort to maintain both monarchy and military-backed government.

Regime gangsters

All of this “protection” serves monarchy and regime well (at least for the moment).

After manufacturing an election “victory,” the razor-thin majority that allowed the military junta to steal government, it has protected ministers and members who are needed to maintain the huge, unwieldy and Election Commission manufactured coalition.

Perhaps the best example of protection is deputy minister Thammanat Prompao, a convicted heroin smuggler. He also flaunts fake university degrees. But he’s not just a political fixer for the government’s Palang Pracharath Party who is being protected. He claims connections to the top.

When under arrest in Australia, he “told police he had worked as a bodyguard for the then crown prince of Thailand, had been an army spy…, and ran a side business while serving as an assistant to a top general.” That’s how it works in Vajiralongkorn’s Thailand.

Then there’s Palang Pracharath MP Pareena Kraikupt and her father. Her recent case of acquiring and using land that is supposed to be for poor farmers and/or national park seems unlikely to go anywhere as a cover up goes on.

The only thing keeping the issue in the cowed media is her father’s penchant for hit-and-run driving and mad media conferences, filled with lies. Once he’s quiet, watch Pareena squeeze out of her own problems. The regime prefers no criticism of it or its MPs.

Again, the rich and powerful can get away with murder (probably literally in Thammanat’s case), heroin smuggling, theft and other misdemeanors.

Make overs for the evil

Perhaps the weirdest of all news reports in late 2019 was when local “anti-corruption agencies awarded the Thai army for having the highest score on transparency and integrity among government agencies at an event held to commemorate the International Anti-corruption Day on Dec 9. It scored 97.96 points out of 100.” Weird, unbelievable and very silly. However, the point is the whitewashing. The powerful seem to relish whitewashing almost as much as it relishes ill-gotten gains.

Eating the state

Corruption is a bit old-hat these days as there are plenty of ways to feed at the breast of the private sector as it exploits the state and Thai taxpayers.

We couldn’t help noticing that on 15 December it was reported: “Airports of Thailand (AoT) is likely to scrap bidding to run duty-free pick-up counters at Don Mueang airport after only one company [King Power] expressed interest in the contest.” Of course, AoT didn’t. A few days later it was reported that the “board of Airports of Thailand Plc has awarded a 10.5-year duty-free concession at Don Mueang airport to King Power Duty Free Co, which offered a yearly 1.5-billion-baht minimum return…”. King Power, the current monopoly duty free store at all airports now has new 10-year contracts for all those airports.

There must be many in various military and state offices – right to the top – who will benefit from these new contracts.

Somehow we doubt that 2020 will be better than 2019.





Military traffic

23 07 2017

There are several stories going around that congratulate the military regime for finally managing to get some of the bigger human traffickers into court and having them convicted with long sentences.

The regime has attempted to get its “ranking” up in the annual U.S. report on human trafficking.

The Asia Times has some of the detail on the case that finally saw some of the bigger fish in what it calls a “brutal trade” brought to court. In all, of the 103 people charged, 62 people were convicted of human trafficking and other crimes.

The details of this gang of traffickers, led by officials, are grim. Correctly, the report notes that the “[c]amps set up by traffickers in the jungle on the Thai-Malaysian border to hold Rohingya and other ‘boat people’ existed for many years prior to government crackdown in mid-2015 that curtailed the brutal trade…”.

One estimate is “that more than 500 people died in the camps where the people in this particular trafficking chain were held, and that the camps were probably there for at least five years or more.”

The most senior official caught in this ring is “Lieutenant General Manas Kongpaen … who was sentenced to 27 years jail…”. As the report notes, it was Manas, then a Colonel, who “was involved in the notorious ‘pushbacks’ affair in December 2008 and January 2009, when vessels carrying hundreds of Rohingya were towed back into the Andaman Sea and set adrift.”

Remarkably, “Manas admitted using funds from the International Organization of Migration (IOM) to help pay for the ‘pushbacks’, which sparked a global furore, as hundreds were believed to have died at sea.”

At the time, during the Abhisit Vejjajiva administration, the government vehemently denied a push-back policy and ignored the rise of human trafficking gangs. Manas was promoted two ranks after this time. Manas was widely reported and defended his actions. The BBC noted that Manas was “the regional commander of the Internal Security Operations Command.” That report added that he was also “one of three officers blamed by a Thai court for a massacre of Muslims five years ago.”

The IOM is now “investigating whether Lt-Gen Manas … could have diverted any money from IOM humanitarian projects and used it to fund a criminal operation to tow boats out to sea.” It is also possible he used funds from IOM and, more likely, from the state for funding his own camps.

The report also reminds readers that journalists and Chutima Sidasathian and Alan Morison who documented human trafficking were challenged by the Royal Thai Navy who brought a defamation case against them.

The pressure to cover-up was huge, with one senior policeman decamping to Australia and never returning.

At the time, the Army and The Dictator declared “none of its officers are directly linked to the illegal activities.” The police admitted they were afraid to go after Manas.

As Morison explained, “Everyone knew about it. And few people thought it was wrong. We were shown big houses in Ranong and Kuraburi, where locals claimed they were constructed from the proceeds of trafficking.”

One big shot in jail does not change the system of exploitation and corruption. Recall the Saudi gems heist saw senior police jailed yet the police have remained a corrupt organization.





When the military is on top IX

6 07 2017

The Bangkok Post had an interesting story on the military dictatorship’s failed migrant labor “policy.” Interesting, not so much for The Dictator’s lame excuse that the new, ill-considered and damaging law was to demonstrate to the rest of the world that Thailand is serious about human trafficking, but for a couple of embedded links.

Before that, however, we should recall that the junta has a poor history on migrant workers. Soon after its illegal military coup in 2014, it issued Order No. 59/2557 and Order No. 60/2557, dated 11 June 2014, regarding the administration of migrant workers.

At the time, the official attacks on migrants that resulted saw hundreds of thousands heading for the borders or being arrested and thrown across borders. PPT then stated:

Military dictatorships are notorious for the impunity they enjoy and the excesses this permits. After all, no laws except their laws, no constitution, no “independent” agencies or media, and no opposition. Thailand’s current junta is no different from the variously nasty, savage and corrupt juntas of the past.

It seems the junta learned nothing from that early policy shambles. A junta spokesperson was cited at the time:

This spokesperson mumbled something about migrants fleeing and being trucked and dumped at the border “that because of the rumours,” and saying that “some businesses were concerned and sent the foreign workers back home.” This is the usual horse manure that flows from those with no law to control and guide them, and has been Army-speak for decades. She makes it even worse when she says “the harvest season had also begun, prompting some to return home to help their families.” Clearly the dictatorship’s spokesperson believes she speaks to a nation of morons.

The junta still thinks that and has essentially done the same thing three years later.

But back to the links in the Post story. The first of the links is to a story on 4 July on the business reaction to the “new” migrant worker policy. While some businesses worried, the report stated that ” leading Thai companies say they have seen no effects from the new foreign labour law.”

The second link is to a story “[b]usiness leaders on Tuesday hailed the government’s decision to invoke the powerful Section 44 of the interim charter to delay enforcement of the new controversial labour regulation law…”.

That’s the political point. Under a military dictatorship, capitalists suck up to the regime and praise almost everything it does, even when a flawed policy is implemented one day and withdrawn the next. They have to be careful if they criticize the dictatorship for fear that their huge profits may be targeted by the military thugs. Praise is preferred.





Policy shambles

5 07 2017

The Bangkok Post reports that the “attempt to rein in over-the-top (OTT) service operators is in shambles after the national telecom regulator abruptly announced Wednesday it is scrapping the planned regulations that would force OTT companies worldwide to register for tax purposes.”

Other current policy shambles includes the military junta’s “policy” on migrant labor and police “reform.”

When a country is in the hands of lawless totalitarians, they can do whatever they like. When what they like is wrong, bizarre or mad, they can still do it.

On the OTT debacle, it is now said the “National Broadcasting and Telecommunications Commission (NBTC) board, the widely-criticised framework had several weak points and will be replaced with a new one.”

In fact, the draft legislation was page after page of nonsense meant to protect the junta and the monarchy in a way that threatened disruption to communications and business on a huge scale. Mad monarchists have no vision or capacity for reasonable thought.





Hypocrisy

13 05 2016

The following from Human Rights Watch in Geneva:

The Thai government’s pledges to the United Nations Human Rights Council to respect human rights and restore democratic rule have been mostly meaningless, Human Rights Watch said today. Thailand appeared before the council for its second Universal Periodic Review (UPR) in Geneva on May 11, 2016. The UPR is a UN examination of the human rights situation in each country.

On February 12, the Thai government submitted a report to the Human Rights Council, saying that it “attaches utmost importance to the promotion and protection of human rights of all groups of people.” However, the National Council for Peace and Order (NCPO) junta has severely repressed fundamental rights with impunity, tightened military control, and blatantly disregarded its international human rights obligations.

“The Thai government’s responses to the UN review fail to show any real commitment to reversing its abusive rights practices or protecting fundamental freedoms,” said John Fisher, Geneva director. “While numerous countries raised concerns about the human rights situation in Thailand, the Thai delegation said nothing that would dispel their fears of a continuing crisis.”

The NCPO junta, led by Prime Minister Gen. Prayut Chan-ocha, has engaged in increasingly repressive policies and practices since taking power in a May 2014 coup. Central to its rule is section 44 of the 2014 interim constitution, which provides the junta unlimited administrative, legislative, and judiciary powers, and explicitly prevents any oversight or legal accountability of junta actions.

Instead of paving the way for a return to democratic civilian rule as promised in its so-called “road map,” the junta has imposed a political structure that seems designed to prolong the military’s grip on power. A draft constitution, written by a junta-appointed committee, endorses unaccountable military involvement in governance even after a new government takes office.

The government has enforced media censorship, placed surveillance on the Internet and online communications, and aggressively restricted free expression. It has also increased repression against anyone openly critical of the junta’s policies or practices. For example, in April, military authorities detained Watana Muangsook, a former minister, for four days for posting Facebook comments opposing the draft constitution, for which a referendum is scheduled for August 7.

Since the military takeover, the government continues to prosecute those it accuses of being involved in anti-coup activities or supporting the deposed elected government. At least 46 people have been charged with sedition for criticizing military rule and violating the junta’s ban on public assembly. On April 28, eight people were arrested and charged with sedition and computer crimes for creating and posting satirical comments and memes mocking General Prayut on a Facebook parody page.

The government has made frequent use of Thailand’s draconian law against “insulting the monarchy.” The authorities have brought at least 59 lese majeste cases since the May 2014 coup, mostly for online commentary. On December 14, 2015, the junta brought lese majeste charges in military court against a man for spreading sarcastic Facebook images and comments that were deemed to be mocking the king’s pet dog. Military courts have imposed harsh sentences: in August 2015, Pongsak Sriboonpeng received 60 years in prison for his alleged lese majeste Facebook postings (later reduced to 30 years when he pleaded guilty), the longest recorded sentence for lese majeste in Thailand’s history.

Since the coup, the junta has summoned at least 1,340 activists, party supporters and human rights defenders for questioning and “adjusting” their political attitude. Failure to abide by an NCPO summons is a criminal offense subject to trial in military courts. Under junta orders, the military can secretly detain people without charge or trial and interrogate them without access to lawyers or safeguards against mistreatment. The government has summarily dismissed allegations that the military has tortured and ill-treated detainees but has provided no evidence to rebut these claims.

The government has increased its use of military courts, which lack independence and fail to comply with international fair trial standards, to try civilians – mostly targeting political dissidents and alleged lese majeste offenders. Since May 2014, at least 1,629 cases have been brought to military courts across Thailand.

Thailand’s security forces continue to commit serious human rights violations with impunity. No policy makers, commanders, or soldiers have been punished for unlawful killings or other wrongful use of force during the 2010 political confrontations, which left at least 90 dead and more than 2,000 injured. Nor have any security personnel been criminally prosecuted for serious rights abuses related to counterinsurgency operations in the southern Pattani, Narathiwat, and Yala provinces, where separatist insurgents have also committed numerous abuses. The government has shown no interest in investigating more than 2,000 extrajudicial killings related to then-Prime Minister Thaksin Shinawatra’s “war on drugs” in 2003.

Thai authorities as well as private companies continue to use defamation lawsuits to retaliate against those who report human rights violations. The authorities have also brought trumped-up criminal charges against human rights lawyers to harass and retaliate against them. For example, on February 9, Bangkok police brought two charges against human rights lawyer Sirikan Charoensiri connected to her representation of pro-democracy activists in June 2015. There has been no progress in attempts to bring to justice perpetrators in the killing of land rights activist Chai Bunthonglek in February 2015, and three other activists affiliated with the Southern Peasants’ Federation of Thailand, who were shot dead in 2010 and 2012.

In November 2015, an international accrediting body recommended downgrading the status of Thailand’s National Human Rights Commission based on concerns about its ineffectiveness, lack of independence, and flawed processes for selecting commissioners.

Thailand signed the Convention against Enforced Disappearance in January 2012 but has not ratified the treaty. The penal code still does not recognize enforced disappearance as a criminal offense. Thai authorities have yet to satisfactorily resolve any of the 64 enforced disappearance cases reported by Human Rights Watch, including the disappearances of prominent Muslim lawyer Somchai Neelapaijit in March 2004 and ethnic Karen activist Por Cha Lee Rakchongcharoen, known as “Billy,” in April 2014.

Although Thailand is a party to the Convention against Torture, the government’s failure to enact an enabling law defining torture has been a serious impediment for enforcement of the convention. There is still no specific law in Thailand that provides for compensation in cases of torture.

Thailand is not a party to the 1951 Refugee Convention and its 1967 Protocol. Thai authorities treat asylum seekers as illegal migrants subject to arrest and deportation without a fair process to make their claim. The Thai government has forcibly returned refugees and asylum seekers to countries where they are likely to face persecution, in violation of international law and over protests from the UN refugee agency (UNHCR) and several foreign governments. These include the deportation of two Chinese activists to China in November 2015 and 109 ethnic Uighurs to China in July 2015.

Thai authorities have regularly prevented boats carrying ethnic Rohingya from Burma from landing, providing rudimentary assistance and supplies and returning them to dangerous seas. In May 2015, raids on a string of camps along the Thailand-Malaysia border found Rohingya had been held in pens and cages, abused, and in some cases killed by traffickers operating with the complicity of local and national officials. Thailand hosted an international meeting to address the thousands of Rohingya stranded at sea. However, unlike Malaysia and Indonesia, Thailand refuses to work with UNHCR to conduct refugee status determination screenings for the Rohingya, and instead holds many in indefinite immigration detention.

The Thai government has stepped up anti-human trafficking measures. However, migrant workers from Burma, Cambodia, and Laos remain vulnerable to abuses by traffickers facilitating travel into Thailand, and employers who seize workers documents and hold workers in debt bondage. New temporary ID cards issued by the Thai government to migrants severely restrict their right to movement, making them vulnerable to police extortion. Trafficking of migrants into sex work, bonded labor, or onto Thai fishing boats for months or years remains a pressing concern.

“No one should be fooled by the Thai government’s empty human rights promises,” Fisher said. “UN member countries should firmly press Thailand to accept their recommendations to end the dangerous downward spiral on rights by ending repression, respecting fundamental freedoms, and returning the country to democratic civilian rule.”





Further updated: No sense and nonsense

27 12 2015

When the military are in charge, a new “logic” takes hold. Hierarchy, impunity and power lead not just to arrogance but to some quite nonsensical media events.

For example, just a few days ago we had the military junta telling the world that it had 98-99% support for almost everything it did. No sensible person believes this horse manure, except for those in the junta who thought it a great idea to disseminate such claims.

Adding to the view that Thailand is in the control of dangerous dimwits, the police have piled cartloads of organic, brown fertilizer onto the junta’s compost. Sadly, the story at the Bangkok Post is about the death sentences handed out to two Burmese migrant workers for the murder of two British tourists.

Appeals are pending and there’s been plenty of reporting about police incompetence, torture and more. The government in Myanmar has expressed concerns about the case both before and since the the verdict, and there have been demonstrations of hundreds and perhaps thousands in Myanmar.

So what do the police in Thailand do? They hold a media event and make extraordinarily daft claims.

They say that the “protests against the death sentences handed down in the Koh Tao murders might be politically motivated and have ill intentions.” Pol Maj Gen Piyaphan Pingmuang said the “protests in the Koh Tao case were suspicious.”

Clearly not a genius, Pol Maj Gen Piyaphan isn’t reported to have explained what the “motivations” might have been, what kind of “ill intentions” were in play or why the demonstrations were “suspicious.”

Despite lacking explanation and apparently without a shred of evidence, Piyaphan declared that “[s]ome groups” were using the verdict “as an opportunity” and he warned that “general people should not fall victim to the movement or let the issue be politicised…”.  He “warned that the issue could have an impact on international relations.”

PPT doubt the policeman has no real idea who he is threatening. Perhaps it is the international media. It could be the Myanmar government and people, stirring so-called historical enmity. Whoever it is is, Piyaphan is doing his bit to convince the rest of the world that Thailand is indeed in the hands of dangerous dimwits.

Update 1: As if to prove the point we made above, General Prayuth Chan-ocha has also released a similar bilious nonsense. Reported as “visibly angry,” The Dictator “lashed out on Monday at protesters who took to the streets of Yangon…”. Yes, he was criticizing protests in another country. He said “critics should respect the verdict and that Thailand’s justice system would not bow to public pressure.” Maybe he can have them arrested for sedition or lese majeste.

Update 2: Angry police have again declared – despite denials from the Myanmar government – that there is an instigator of protest or maybe more. The police chief seemed befuddled and declared that protest instigators might be in Thailand, saying, “In Thailand police are preventing it [protest]…”, adding:

Police are looking for the people who instigated it. I ordered all units related to security, especially the Special Branch division, to find the groups that are behind the demonstrations by Myanmar people … admitting he had “no idea” who the supposed instigators are or if they are even in Thailand.

Keystone cops.





Missing the boat

21 05 2015

The Bangkok Post begins a story on boats and the human disaster of large-scale trafficking and slaving with this:

Thailand is prepared to help the thousands of boat people in the region only by extending humanitarian assistance, despite Malaysia and Indonesia agreeing to provide temporary shelter, Prime Minister Prayut Chan-o-cha says.

“Thailand is midway, so we have more problems [than other countries]. In terms of policy, we agree to help but all remains to be discussed,” he said.

The country will provide humanitarian assistance to irregular migrants, but not allow them to stay on Thai soil, he said Wednesday.

Like us, most readers probably don’t understand The Dictator’s contradictory dictum. Thailand isn’t “midway,”but is a major node in trafficking, with significant involvement of corrupt official and military, all of whom have enriched themselves by the suffering of those being trafficked. This case is just one of many; think of Burmese migrants and their huge movement into Thailand and how this has enriched so many. Think of the camps controlled by the military from the 1970s to the 1990s. And there’s more. Using people in these ways has been normalized for the rich and powerful.

What we do understand is this photo:

Thailand missing

Yes, that is the Thai flag on the right. The puppet Minister of Foreign Affairs, General Tanasak Patimapragorn is missing. Why? The report states “he had to first refer back to whether the move would be allowed by Thai ‘domestic laws’.” Naturally, he had to refer any decision to The Dictator. Equally naturally, he has to be careful about the powerful interests involved in human trafficking.

A PR disaster for sure, but more significantly, a humanitarian disaster.