When the military is on top XIV

23 02 2018

When the military is on top it makes stuff up that almost no one believes but the regime expects the population to accept, no matter how nonsensical the claim.

In a recent report, Interior Minister General Anupong Paojinda has claimed that “[a]bout a million people joined the ‘Thai Niyom’ program launched by junta chairman [Gen] Prayuth Chan-ocha on its first day…”.

Gen. Anupong proudly declared that: “In each village, about 100 people joined…. Excluding Bangkok, the number [of people who joined] is nearly one million.”

As the report adds, “[n]o data were provided to support the claim.”

Given that there are some 80,000 villages in Thailand, even excluding Bangkok, the arithmetic seems a bit off. But one million is still a lot of people to mobilize in a single day, even for a military dictatorship. Is it believable?

If it is, then it is an expression of the capacity of the regime to dispatch soldiers to thousands of villagers and round up one million people. This is a frightening demonstration of military power and the capacity that power delivers for reaching down into communities.





Dictatorship permeates universities

16 02 2018

We have previously posted on the takeover of university administrations by royalists and ant-democrats. The motivation for this concerted effort at control was to prevent students becoming political activists who challenge royalist and military regimes.

The most recent example of this reactionary administration comes from Khon Kaen University, often described as an island of yellow in a sea of red.

Despite two rulings by courts that the People Go/We Walk march should be unhindered, administrators have “denied a request to host an academic seminar on the last day of the ‘We Walk’ long march tomorrow…”. The administrators say this is “to protect the university’s reputation…”.

We guess they mean their reputation with the military dictatorship.

It is reported that the university administrators felt the need to “consult” with the military on their decision.





More on elections and U.S. policy

9 02 2018

Yesterday we mentioned Gen Joseph F Dunford, Jr, Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, the US Department of Defense and how delighted he said he was that Thailand’s military dictator was babbling about “democracy.”

U.S. Ambassador Glyn Davies is now in on the act, but a little more nuanced in his approach. He is quoted as saying: “American policy remains much as it has been. We believe that democracy is the great way to keep working together…”. But nodding to the realities of working under the Donald Trump administration, he adds: “[Between] old and new administrations there will be a different emphasis put on issues … but I think for the most part, our relationship and priority will be balanced on strategic interests … and on our principles that will continue under any administration.”

In our words, a return to electoral politics in Thailand would be welcomed, but the reality is the White House doesn’t really care.

Davies made his comments at at an exhibition marking 200 years of Thai-US relations. Davies says that his favorite piece in the exhibition is a “golden cigarette case that King Rama VIII gave to former US president Franklin Roosevelt in 1945 to convey a covert message to Washington…”. Now, this is a Thailand-ism demanded by self-censorship. As the somewhat garbled report makes clear, it was the regent Pridi Phanomyong who dispatched the gift, with an OSS officer. The young king was ensconced in Switzerland.

Given the loathing for Pridi in the palace and royalist circles, this being the favorite piece may well be seen as an implicit poke at anti-democrats and military dictators.

While on dictators, The Dictator is quoted in the first report above:

“I insisted that we would move forward to democracy. The US also understands our necessity,” [General] Prayut[h Chan-ocha] said. “I also told the US that Thailand has its own problems. We’ll have to have measures to ensure the country becomes firmly democratic in the timelines,” he continued. “That could be designated by either me or by laws.”

To us that sounds like a declaration of ongoing dictatorship.





Elections?

8 02 2018

We read in the Bangkok Post that The Dictator has met with Gen Joseph F Dunford, Jr, Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, the US Department of Defense.

We also read that Gen Prayuth Chan-ocha told Gen Dunford that “the government [he means military junta] is sticking by its roadmap to the next election while the legislative branch is working on the laws related to the poll.” The Dictator added, via a mouthpiece, that he “insists on the national reforms that will lead Thailand to a strong and sustainable democracy…”.

That’s become the usual buffalo manure from The Dictator. His “roadmap” is the road to nowhere. The roadmap has been redefined at least four times since the 2014 military coup. It is a an imaginary map that changes according to the whims of the military dictatorship.

We are used to this nonsense from the self-centered who wants to hold power forever.

But what is somewhat surprising, although not too much surprises when it is related to Donald Trump’s administration, is that Gen Dunford seems a cloth-eared dunce. He is reported as saying: “I’m very encouraged as I come to Thailand by the commitment of its leadership to democracy. And that commitment to democracy is going to allow us to move forward and deepen our relationship in the future.”

Democracy? They don’t know the meaning of the word. Perhaps it is not understood in Washington either. General Dunford should be able to recognize soldiers even when they wear business suits. Thailand is a military dictatorship run by corrupt thugs.





Prawit digs in

5 02 2018

General Prawit Wongsuwan, the Deputy Dictator, isn’t going anywhere.

Confirming himself as the target for increasing anti-junta action, Prawit has let it be known that millions of baht’s worth of luxury watches is no reason for one of the “great” and the “good” to consider public opinion.

Defense Ministry Spokesman Lt Gen Khongcheep Tantrawanit said Prawit “does not plan to resign and is determined to continue working in the interests of national security and public safety…”.

When it is added that “Gen Prawit was healthy and of good morale, and he would continue to devote himself to his role…” we assume this means that the junta and the military are prepared to stand (and fall) with their elder brother. Yet when the spokesgeneral has to confirm that “the armed forces remained united,” we have to wonder.

The junta is making it clear that the only way to move it is to oppose it and push it out.





The lawless regime

4 02 2018

PPT has long pointed to the lawlessness of the military dictatorship. It was an illegal and subversive act – a military coup – that brought it to power. The junta then enacted its own decrees and made itself and its illegal actions “legal.” Since then, the junta has regularly ruled by decree and martial law, used military courts for civilians, acted against its own constitution, failed to provide evidence in murder and torture cases, used the dubious and draconian lese majeste as a weapon against political opponents, concocting cases, arrested people on bogus charges, abducted others and much more.

As the regime digs in against political opponents (and even some supporters gone bad) it is now ignoring the courts it has previously able to direct as puppets. All in the cause of maintaining the military dictatorship and covering-up General Prawit Wongsuwan’s corruption on luxury watches.

Prachatai reports that “[d]espite a recent ruling from the Administrative Court ordering the authorities to facilitate the civil rights march, local authorities in Nakhon Ratchasima have pressured the civil rights march to leave the area two days earlier than planned.”

On 1 February 2018, about 10 local government officials visited participants in We Walk, A Walk for Friendship at a temple in Nakhon Ratchasima and asked them to leave the temple earlier than planned.

According to Eakachai Issaratha, one of the marchers, the participants planned to stay for three nights at Wat Non Makok temple in Non Sung District before continuing their journey to Khon Kaen and the abbot of the temple had agreed to shelter them. However, about 10 local government officials visited the temple and told the march organisers that they could stay for only one night.

The officials claimed that there was a resolution from a meeting of soldiers, police officers, district officials, village heads and subdistrict heads, to allow them to stay for only one night. The marchers could not stay in the area for 3 nights, because the district and provincial officials felt uncomfortable.  The decision to let them stay in the area was not for the abbot alone to make, but rested also with the local administration.

It seems the junta and its minions can just ignore the Administrative Court and its ruling that the We Walk march should continue under a notion of the right to freedom of assembly and its order that the authorities should not to obstruct the march.

Lawless regimes are dangerous.





Updated: Digging in or grave-digging? III

3 02 2018

Yesterday, students claimed that “political mockery involving luxury watches and military figures” was a no-go area during the 72nd Chulalongkorn-Thammasat football match scheduled for today:

Latthaphol Yimlamai, a Thammasat University (TU) student who is president of the university’s political mockery group, said a high-ranking military officer had prohibited them from using Deputy Prime Minister Prawit Wongsuwon’s luxury watches as a theme in TU’s parade mocking politicians, a traditional highlight of the annual football event.

Effigies of military leaders were also prohibited, as was the mentioning of names of those figures and agencies. An inspection on all effigies would be conducted at 9am before the match, the third-year political science student said.

He said the group was informed of the taboo issues after executives of the TU Alumni Association had been summoned by military officers on Wednesday to discuss the parade’s themes.

… The preparation of the parade at TU’s Rangsit campus in Pathum Thani has been monitored by military officers, he said.

The junta immediately “denied” the claim.

In “denying,” Col Winthai Suvaree said “it was hoped they planned no activities that would cause disunity.” In his “denials,” he stated that the junta’s thug-minions “normally ask organisers of the … match not to allow any activities that would affect the image of any individual or organisation and cause public misunderstanding and hatred in society.”

These denials sound rather like affirmations. In any case, police have already arrested others for the kinds of things the students were denied/allowed to do. In a report that reflects the surreal world of junta politics and “rule of [junta] law,” it is reported that:

Bangkok police have arrested four activists who performed a mime mocking the deputy junta head in public. The four have been fined for violating the public assembly law, which prohibits a public gathering of five people or more.

Yes, we realize that 4 ≠ 5 but it seems that nothing adds up under the junta (unless it is the cost of luxury watches). From a pro-democracy group called Young People for Social-Democracy Movement, the four activists were arrested after performing a “mime mocking the corruption allegations of Deputy Prime Minister Gen Prawit Wongsuwan” on a skywalk near the Victory Monument.

As the junta digs in its flailing about looks increasingly like the dance of the desperate. You can, you can’t, 4 = 5, making up law, and surreal and bizarre politics. How much more?

Update: Currently circulating on social media: