Looking right

1 08 2021

There’s a lot of social media attention to political instability. There’s even rumors of a coup continuing to circulate.

In the English-language press, Chairith Yonpiam, assistant news editor at the Bangkok Post, wonders about Gen Prayuth Chan-ocha’s future as premier. He points to the “harsh words by MC [a princely title] Chulcherm Yugala, a staunch royalist, against the Prayut Chan-o-cha government, denouncing its poor handling of the Covid-19 outbreak…”. Chairith reckons that the old prince’s words “have stunned political observers and supporters of the prime minister” as the “prince’s criticism has triggered wild speculation over a possible new prime minister endorsed by the palace.”

Chulcherm reckoned “he would even consider joining the pro-democracy movement after its high-profile series of street protests, should its leadership drop their anti-monarchy stance.” Other rightists have been urging this as well, even in a poorly written and anonymous political piece in the same Bangkok Post.

Much of this speculation and urging reflects a perception that Gen Prayuth’s failures threaten the the royalist regime the Palang Pracharath Party. The rightists seem to be moving to a position where Gen Prayuth might be sacrificed in order to save the rightist-military-monarchy regime. As Chairith puts it:

It could be argued that a palace-endorsed PM is the last hope for the right-wing conservative camp in their efforts to maintain power. But having an outside PM rise to power via non-parliamentary means — once an accepted solution to political crises — would be an anachronism in this day and age.

Apirat (r)

The betting seems to be that the alternative premier is Gen Apirat Kongsompong, now a palace groveler-in-chief. But, his ascension would again demonstrate all that is wrong with the monarchy, even if the rightist-royalists may paint the change as another case of a monarch intervening to stem a crisis.At the same time, Gen Apirat is as hopeless as Gen Prayuth, with many of the same characteristics, suggesting that Tweedledum would be replacing Tweedledee, but that’s what the rightist-royalists seems to want.

Meanwhile, General Prayuth says he’s going nowhere. He’s “insisted he will neither resign nor dissolve the House as the country struggles to contain Covid-19… [and] warned politicians [MPs] not to exploit the crisis and incite hatred as that will only worsen the situation.” But it isn’t MPs who are his problem. It’s those who have been his ideological allies.





No change, more repression

10 07 2019

Despite claims that the military government is ending, it remains in place, essential a government of the junta, headed by the junta’s prime minister who will also be the post-junta/junta-backed prime minister.

The (almost) end of the rule by junta government has some useful attributes. For example, as reported by the Bangkok Post, Gen Prayuth Chan-ocha issued a decree stating:

The NCPO [junta] issued announcements and orders to facilitate administration and national reform and to promote unity and reconciliation among people. Now that the implementation of some of them have been completed, they no longer serve a purpose….

All offences under the NCPO orders, whether committed before or after this order takes effect, will be in the jurisdiction of the courts of justice [not military courts]. The cases being tried by the military court will also be transferred to the courts of justice….

And, despite having used Article 44 just yesterday, Gen Prayuth says he won’t use it again.

Even so, “[s]ome special laws enacted by the junta’s absolute power will stay in place even after the new government takes over…”. As has been noted previously, however, many of the activities of the junta have been sucked up into the military and in particular, the Internal Security Operations Command.

As the Bangkok Post notes in an editorial about recent attacks on activists and repression and threats to opponents, this is the style of “rule of a repressive military regime, not a civilian one.”

It notes that “state surveillance on activists remains ongoing and the same kind of heavy-handed suppression of political dissent can be expected under the new civilian government,” confirming that the junta “has already ensured that such a campaign will be led by the military … [and] Isoc…”.





Further updated: Who knew?

27 06 2019

A couple or three stories caught our attention as they suggested we at PPT are either dopes or strange things are going on.

First, we read that the “Defence Ministry has launched a project to upgrade military courts nationwide to boost public confidence in them.” We weren’t aware that there was a nationwide system of military courts. We had thought that they were (“normally”) limited to dealing with military stuff.

The junta changed that, but we thought the these courts would be put the courts back in their box, only being brought out again after the next coup. But, no, there’s going to be an effort to “improve public trust in military courts…”. Seriously? It seems so. And the models? Already existing corrupt and hopeless military courts. It looks like they are being prepared to replace civil courts! Well, probably not, but you get the spin being pedaled by the creeps in uniform.

Second, despite the fact that there’s no government and no ministers seems to not stop House of Representatives is meeting in its temporary digs. We guess this is because it is a place to take pot shots at the junta and The Dictator. However, is this the way Thailand operates, with a complete disjuncture between reality and practice?

Third, we are staggered that Big Joke is back! Sacked in April and hurriedly disappeared for a while, Pol Lt Gen Surachate Hakparn is back!

Heck, it was only Monday when both Gen Prawit Wongsuwan and Pol Gen Chakthip Chaijinda said Surachate would not return to any work with the police. But there he is! So, the questions multiply? Why was he sent off in the first place with closed mouths all round? Who ordered it? Who’s now allowing him back, indeed, pushing him back? How has this been manipulated? What have been the lubricants? Money? Threats? What is going on?

Update 1: Oops, before we even posted this, the Big Joke continues. He’s gone again:

Police Commission has resolved to remove sacked immigration chief Surachate Hakparn from a police sub-committee following mounting pressure.

Deputy Prime Minister Gen Prawit Wongsuwon on Wednesday chaired a meeting of the commission to consider the appointment of Pol Lt Gen Surachate, nicknamed “Big Joke”, to the police sub-committee responsible for laws and regulations.

National police chief Pol Gen Chakthip Chaijinda, his deputy Pol Gen Wirachai Songmetta and representatives from concerned agencies attended the meeting, which lasted about 40 minutes….

The meeting resolved to remove Pol Lt Gen Surachate’s name from the police panel responsible for laws and regulations. Pol Col Mana Phochuay, deputy commander of the Metropolitan Police Division 8, was asked to fill the slot due to his knowledge in legal affairs, and he accepted the job, said Pol Gen Wirachai.

The deputy police chief said the change was made over concerns about suitability for the position….

Who knew? What a bunch of jokers, and not just Big Joke.

Update 2: One thing that came out of the Assembly meeting was a useful needling of The Dictator. 102 MPs: “petitioned House Speaker Chuan Leekpai to ask the Constitutional Court to consider whether Prime Minister Prayut Chan-o-cha should serve as premier, saying his status as NCPO chief may violate the charter.”





Updated: Rung Sila bailed

11 06 2019

Prachatai reports that lese majest detainee Rung Sila (Sirapop Kornaroot) has been released on bail, having been incarcerated since 24 June 2014, soon after the junta seized power in an illegal military coup.

That’s almost five years in jail while his in-camera “trial” dragged on since it began on 24 September 2014. His detention at Bangkok Remand Prison is “the longest time for a person currently charged or serving a prison sentence under Article 112.”

We earlier noted that the UN’s Human Rights Council had already declared his detention arbitrary and views his trial as unfair.

Essentially, he has been held for so long because he has refused to plead guilty. In recent years, keeping people accused of lese majeste in jail until they plead guilty has been a form of lese majeste torture.

Late today the Bangkok Military Court allowed bail and he was released at about 7.30pm.





Release Rung Sila

7 06 2019

The United Nations, FIDH and Thai Lawyers for Human Rights have all urged that the military government “immediately release lèse-majesté detainee Siraphop Kornaroot [Rung Sila], in accordance with a ruling made recently by a United Nations (UN) body [Human Rights Council, Working Group on Arbitrary Detention}…”.

He’s “been detained for almost five years on charges under Article 112 of the Thai Criminal Code – one of the world’s toughest lèse-majesté laws – and Article 14 of the 2007 Computer Crimes Act.”

His “trial” before a military court, in secret, in September 2014 and after 20 previous court hearings the next hearing is on 10 June.

He has been repeatedly refused bail. In other words, this is another example of lese majeste torture, seen in several cases, where the regime and courts and probably the palace demand a guilty plea.

The Human Rights Council has already declared his detention arbitrary and views his trial as unfair.

Rung SIla is the eighth lese-majeste detainee whose detention has been declared arbitrary by the UN since August 2012.





Erase the junta’s “law”

29 04 2019

Prachatai recently reported on an important intervention by the International Commission of Jurists, seeking to “the repeal or amendment of Head of the National Council for Peace and Order (NCPO) and NCPO orders and announcements in line with Thailand’s international human rights law obligations.”

While this approach to the Council of State is likely to be ignored, it is responding to Ministry of Foreign Affairs advice that the Council of the State “had been tasked to review the necessity and relevance of announcements, orders, and acts of the NCPO and of the Head of the NCPO (HNCPO) in February 2019.” That review is responding to “Thailand’s declaration to the UN Human Rights Committee in its Follow-Up to the Concluding Observations of the Committee, submitted on 18 July and published on 10 August 2018.”

To read the ICJ’s recommendations, download its 15-page document. Importantly, it urges:

… that Thailand immediately end the use of special powers, including those enshrined under Article 44 of the 2014 interim Constitution, and retained through Article 265 of the 2017 Constitution.

And, it goes on to list the junta’s contraventions of the country’s international obligations: military involvement in civilian law enforcement, arbitrary detention and arrest, lack of judicial oversight for detainees, the inability to legally challenge detention, the use of military courts, the restriction of peaceful assembly, restrictions on the media, and the infringement of community and environmental rights.





The military court and Thanathorn

9 04 2019

According to Khaosod, the military junta has again defended its use of military courts.

Of course, this is because the sudden charges, including treason, against Future Forward Party leader Thanathorn Juangroongruangkit are to be heard by a military court.

Col. Winthai Suvari, spokesman for the junta, “insisted … on the fairness of the junta’s order to try civilians charged with violating security laws in military courts.”

For background on this “fairness” under the junta, see the iLaw article, “Top 5 memorable works of the Military Court.” On the very significant differences between civil and military courts, where the latter deny many of the rights that the accused have in the former, see “Military Court in Thailand under NCPO regime.” And for more detailed information on the military court, see “Military Rule: The Military Court – We only follow orders.”

Under the junta, almost 2,000 people have been tried in military courts.The junta has used military courts precisely because these courts make it easier to convict people because their normal civilian rights and the usual procedures of civil courts are not followed.





Suppressing information on lese majeste trials

24 10 2018

Our second post on information missed earlier is from Thai Lawyers for Human Rights and is about a Military Court’s direction to suppress publication of witness testimonies and court dockets in the case against lese majeste detainee Thanakorn:

The Bangkok Military Court has conducted a hearing on a probable case against Anon Nampa, an attorney on 3 October 2018 at 13.30. It stemmed from the publication of evidence given by the prosecution witness, Maj Gen Wijarn Jodtaeng, in the case against Mr. Thanakorn (last name withheld) who was accused of sharing Rajabhakti corruption diagram and clicking ‘like’– deemed offensive to a royally adopted dog. The Court also ordered Anon Nampa to inform the Thai Lawyers for Human Rights (TLHR) to have the information removed from the published article “Military official, who reported the case against a person for sharing Rajabhakti corruption diagram and clicking ‘like’– deemed offensive to a dog, actually did not know how to use Facebook, but he insisted that by just clicking ‘like’ on a page offensive to the monarchy is in itself the commission of royal defamation” (http://www.tlhr2014.com/th/?p=8950). The article to be removed by the Court’s order has been published on TLHR’s website. The Thai Lawyers for Human Rights (TLHR) who is not a party in this case, would like to take this opportunity to explain to the public as follows;

1. The Thai Lawyers for Human Rights (TLHR) has been providing legal and litigation assistance to vulnerable people whose rights have been affected by the exercise of the state power as a result of the coup in 2014, including cases concerning the freedom of expression and cases of civilians who are prosecuted in the Military Courts.

According to the statistics collected by the Judge Advocate General’s Department, from 25 May 2014 to 30 June 2018, civilians have been indicted with the Military Court in over 1,723 cases and at least 281 cases are pending the review. TLHR has been assisting in 58 cases in which the civilians stand trial in the Military Court, of which 12 cases have been “secretly” conducted by the court’s order. Furthermore, the Military Court also prohibited any observer from recording the court proceeding. Recently, the Military Court banned a public dissemination of dockets in two cases, namely, the case concerning a call for election on 24 September 2018, and the case against Mr. Thanakorn on 3 October 2018.

2. According to Section 30 of the Civil Procedure Code, “The Court shall have power to give to any party or any third person present in the Court such directions as it may deem necessary for the maintenance of order within the precincts of the Court and for the fair and speedy carrying out of the trial.” Nonetheless, the latest direction to suppress the public dissemination of the docket in this case is unrelated to the maintenance of order within the precincts of the Court. Besides, the dissemination of the docket shall not affect the justice to be served in the case. Thus, it cannot be deemed a violation to the Section 30 of the Civil Procedure Code.

3. A public trial is one of the core elements to ensure the right to the fair trial according to the Article 14 of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (ICCPR). As a state party to the Convention, Thailand is obliged to implement its provisions. According to the principle, a person is entitled to a fair and public trial. The public trial does not only involve those in the court room, but it must be open and accessible to every individual.

Moreover, the public trial can ensure the transparency of the justice process and can guarantee the rights and the freedoms of the people. Therefore, apart from being important in itself, the public trial is an entitlement– necessary to ensure other elements that constitute a fair trial and to build trust in the justice process among the public.

4. TLHR has been reporting details of every hearing that the Court did not order the trial to be conducted secretly and suppressed the dissemination of the docket. The information has derived from a summary of evidence given in the Court and from the trial observation.

The publication of contents summarized from the witness testimonies is not tantamount to the publication of the court documents. After all, such publication has been granted a consent by the defendants. This is to ensure transparency in the justice process, particularly the trial of civilians in the Military Court, where the defendants are supposed to enjoy less safeguards that protect their right to fair trial, compared to trials in the Court of Justice.

Therefore, the dissemination of information concerning the court proceeding does not only affect the trial, but also helps gracing the image of the Military Court itself. It is a better alternative than ordering the hearing to be secretly conducted and the suppression of the docket dissemination.

TLHR is determined to provide legal assistance to civilians tried in the Military Court and to inform the public of related information. This is to ensure the transparency and the safeguard of the right to the fair trial amidst the extreme deterioration of democracy and the rule of law.

With respect in people’s rights and liberties

Thai Lawyers for Human Rights (TLHR)





Prawet’s jail term ends

28 08 2018

The cases associated with the Stolen History 6 and especially with human rights lawyer Prawet Praphanukul have been unusual, even by the standards of this military dictatorship.

After having been charged with various “crimes,” including lese majeste, and fighting them in a brave and determined way, on 27 June 2018,  Prawet was found guilty of sedition and sentenced to 16 months in prison. Oddly and without explanation, his lese majeste charge disappeared.

The good news is that Prawet has now finished his sentence. On 26 August 2018, Prawet was released from Bangkok Remand Prison

The not so great news is that, following his release, Prawet said his case may not be over as military prosecutors are appealing the case.





Updated: Manipulating laws

1 08 2018

PPT has had numerous posts since the (illegal) 2014 coup on how the military junta abuses the law. These posts have included the political use of courts, using military courts, abuse of lese majeste, impunity,  corruption ignored, and more.

One of the defining characteristics of military dictatorship is the political use of law: what the dictatorship does is legal (or ignored) and what opponents do is illegal.

Two recent reports highlight these double standards.

In the first, with just 5 of the 7 new members of the Election Commission selected and approved, the mini-EC is to meet “to select a new chairman Tuesday, although some experts have warned such a move could be illegal.”

In the junta’s 2017 constitution, the EC is mentioned dozens of times as having particular roles to play in all things electoral. It is a necessary for the EC to be in place and operating for elections to take place.

With just five members approved by the puppet National Legislative Assembly but, “whose appointments have yet to be submitted for royal endorsement,” this non-EC  “will meet to discuss how to choose the EC chairman and then proceed with choosing someone — probably from among their own ranks.”

We say “non-EC” because Article 222. “The Election Commission consists of seven commissioners appointed by the King upon the advice of the Senate…”. (In the first instance, with no Senate, it is the NLA.)

That is, not just 5 as-yet-unapproved members.

Confirming the position is only held after appointment by the king, Article 223 states: “The Election Commissioners shall hold office for a term of seven years as from the date of appointment by the King…”.

In other words, any actions taken by cannot be considered legal (unless the junta deems it legal).

The “secretary-general of the National Legislative Assembly (NLA), insisted the action would not contravene Section 12 of a law governing the poll agency, as some have suggested.” Perhaps he’s also thinking of Article 223 which also states:

During the period in which an Election Commissioner vacates office prior to the expiration of the term and an Election Commissioner has not yet been appointed to fill the vacancy, the remaining Election Commission may continue to perform duties. However, if there are fewer than four Election Commissioners remaining, the Election Commission may carry out only an act which is necessary and unavoidable….

Yet is is not clear that selecting a chairman is “necessary and unavoidable.” It is even less likely that this can be done by EC commissioners who have not been appointed by the king.

Law professor and constitution drafter Jade Donavanik has “warned that picking a chairman from among the EC members could be a breach of the law.” He claims the “law states that the first chairman to be named since it was enacted can only be chosen after all seven election commissioners have been installed.”

By choosing a chair before being officially appointed and without two commissioners is clearly dubious. The idea that two foundation commissioners are deprived of the right to participate in selecting a chairman or from being chairman is also dubious.

There are various ways of considering how this dubious process impacts the junta. If the EC awaits the two other commissioners being appointed and also awaits the royal endorsement, then presumably the “election” is delayed further. That might suit the junta. But, then, it might be that the EC and its selected chairman, if done by the 5 commissioners (whether royally appointed or not), can be challenged in the courts and the whole “election” process thrown out. That might suit the junta. But if the junta does think it is ready for its “election,” then it may want it to go ahead.

In the end, the junta will probably decide what it wants and make that legal.

The second story involves the junta itself filing a computer crimes charge against Thanathorn Juangroongruangkit, leader of the Future Forward “Party” (still to be approved as a party by the EC).

The “accusation came after Mr Thanathorn and two others broadcast live on ‘The Future We Want’ and ‘Thanathorn Juangroongraungkit’ Facebook pages.”

What has caused the junta to get prickly? It seems the Facebook broadcast involved “commentators allegedly implicat[ing] the NCPO [junta] when they talked about the luring of former MPs by using the lawsuits against them as a bargaining chip.”

That point has been made by several others, including Abhisit Vejjajiva.

It is also suggested that the “commentators also asked their Facebook followers to sign up to ‘revamp the judicial system’.” That must be the junta’s judicial system.

On the first concoction-cum-complaint, as Thanathorn makes clear, ” it’s common knowledge. I have no intention to accuse or tarnish the NCPO but its action shows it had really done it and views us as an enemy.” He added that he also had “first-hand information on such offers from a number of ex-MPs who were approached.”

The junta, operating illegally through intermediaries who are recruiting for the junta’s Palang Pracharath, maintains the fiction that it is not doing this. Everyone can see it, it is widely reported, but the junta demures.

The junta’s minion Col Burin Thongprapai, who filed the complaint two weeks ago, states: “Mr Thanathorn mentioned the NCPO, which is a distortion of facts and an accusation against the NCPO. It’s also an attack on the judicial system.”

He said the junta had ordered-asked the police to take action.

The law can be whatever the junta wants t to be and it uses it freely and abusively to eliminate and hobble its political opponents. But that’s what you get when you have an arrogant and corrupt military dictatorship.

Update: The (non-)EC went ahead an “elected” a chairman. Now we await the ramifications. Maybe it will be like “investigating” the Deputy Dictator and will melt to nothingness? According to another report, junta minions explain the “need” for a chairman as urgent because of the “need” for an “election” sometime “soon.”

Meanwhile Thanathorn is defiant of the junta. He has rejected the charges against him, saying “he would continue making comments on political issues in his regular online broadcasts through his Facebook fan page.” He added, “It’s the right of everyone…”. Using the term “right” places him in conflict with the junta which prefers duties and obedience to rights. And, stating the obvious, Thanathorn said: “The NCPO used its power to suppress the public who have political views that differ from its own…”.








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