Why has the EU capitulated?

13 12 2017

We are not sure why the European Union has, as reported at The Nation, “agreed to resume political contacts” with Thailand and “at all levels,” Which means it will deal with the military junta.

More than three years the EU suspended ties “in protest at the military coup in Bangkok.”

The EU claims that “developments in Thailand this year, including the adoption of a new constitution and a pledge by junta chief Prayut Chan-O-Cha to hold elections in November 2018,” now mean that it is “appropriate” to resume ties.

That is, of course, errant nonsense. If anything, the entrenchment of military political power and its repression have increased in 2017.

We figure that trade is the reason for dealing with the murderous and corrupt devils running Thailand.

Naturally enough, as The Nation reports, the junta and its minions are ecstatic as this “recognition” is a very public justification of military dictatorship.

With the Trump administration cashing in on dictatorship, following the Chinese, we guess the Europeans consider trade trumps human rights.

On Constitution Day

10 12 2017

Constitution Day remains a holiday, but most of the meaning of the event has been drained away by palace propaganda aided and abetted by decades of royalist governments.

Pravit Rojanaphruk at Khaosod asks: “what’s really left to really celebrate?” It is a good question.

Eight and a half decades after the 1932 revolt put the “constitutional” into constitutional monarchy, the kingdom has seen too many charters discarded. The current one is No. 20. Divide that by 85 years, you get an average lifespan for Thai constitutions of just slightly over four years.

An average car is more durable. A typical refrigerator is going to get more use.

He argues that almost no one in Thailand “a strong attachment to the Thai constitution.”

That’s only partly true. There are those who have an attachment to the first 1932 constitution. That is the one that represented the spirit of 1932 before the royalists began rolling it back and replacing people’s sovereignty with royalism.

Of course, there’s no reason to celebrate the junta’s 2017 Constitution. This document is the spirit of military despotism, paternalism and anti-democracy. We at PPT would celebrate this military charter cast into history’s dustbin, along with the aged flunkies who crafted it.

One Bangkok Post story that caught our attention for Constitution Day concerns a group of political activists who “will petition the Constitutional Court to lift one of the junta’s orders on the grounds that it is an outright violation of the constitution.”

Violating constitutions is pretty much stock-in-trade for the junta.

The Democracy Restoration Group of the New Democracy Movement, Thai Lawyers for Human Rights and “representatives of people affected by NCPO Order No.3/2558 announced the move at Thammasat University on Saturday.”

That order “bans freedom of assembly and empowers soldiers to summon any person to testify and to detain people for up to seven days, among others.”

The activists seem determined to keep the pressure on the junta for its illegal rule.

And then there was another Bangkok Post story – indeed, an editorial – that seemed to fit Constitution Day for its gentle push-back on the royal re-acquisition of the old zoo, consolidating royal property and privatizing it.

It begins with what seems like a justification for the new zoo which is expected to begin construction around 2019. But then it carefully changes tack, referring to “a few concerns about the new site.” Distance, entrance fees,  lack of public transport. It then gets really interesting:

One key question remains about the future of the old Dusit Zoo after the relocation is completed….

But the [zoo] agency should be aware that any decision on the future of the zoo should be based on the history of the place.

Acknowledging that history, the Post calls for the old zoo to become “a botanical garden or a park for public use.”

That’s a rare call in a neo-feudal military dictatorship.

Cowardly and prickly

8 12 2017

Peau Thai Party deputy spokeswoman Sunisa Lertpakawat has made some basic and obvious criticisms of the military regime.

According to the Bangkok Post, she has “posted several messages on her Facebook page, criticising the junta on several issues.” After more than three years of absolute control, the junta finds any kind of criticism challenging. In fact, the generals find it demeaning, believing that because they are top dogs, no one can be permitted to criticize them. The critics are but dust under their military boots.

Sunisa made comments about the string of deaths of soldiers and cadets usually beaten and kicked by officers. In another post she lambasted the junta for taking charitable donations for hospitals rather than funding them from the state’s budget. Sunisa also criticized The Dictator for his denigration of rubber farmers in the south.

These are all stories that have had considerable media attention, but the generals, behaving like princelings, can’t abide anything they see as criticism from the Pueau Thai Party.

The prickly junta has now filed a case against her.

Burin Thongprapai, an army staff judge advocate, on Wednesday lodged a complaint against Lt Sunisa at the Technology Crime Suppression Division (TCSD), accusing her of importing false information into a computer system in violation of the Computer Crime Act and the Criminal Code.

Col Burin acted on behalf of the NCPO, which issued an order on the same day to press charges against her.

Sunisa responded appropriately to the junta’s childish bullying:

“If Gen Prayut orders his subordinate to file charges against me because I made too harsh criticisms against them, it means Gen Prayut is not suitable to be the prime minister — he is too cowardly to listen to other people’s opinions.”

These generals consider themselves above the rest of the population. They are despots demanding order and submission.

The king’s speech

6 12 2017

Several days ago Khaosod provided an unofficial translation of the speech made by the king when “18 new [sic.]members were granted an audience with [the]… the [k]ing to swear their oaths, as the law requires.”

Given that we seldom get a speech reported from Vajiralongkorn it is worth considering.

The new cabinet also convened “a traditional group photo in front of Government House” which has led to debate and criticism of Deputy Dictator General Prawit Wongsuwan for wearing a watch worth more than four times his annual salary. Generals are often obsessed by expensive watches.

But back to what Khaosod called the king’s “most high-profile public address thus far in his reign, which he used to urge the new cabinet to work for the nation’s three highest institutions: nation, religion and monarchy.”

His support for the junta was clear:

I’d like to use this opportunity to bless you with strength of mind and body, and the wisdom to perform the duties for which you have sworn your oath. In short, they are: national security, happiness and safety of the people, and reputation and culture of our country, which has a long history and culture, along with the three sacred institutions that have always protected the nation.

He sounded a bit like his father with encouragement for the dictatorship:

In your work, naturally you will encounter problems, difficulties and mistakes. This is what has always been throughout history. But if you use your wisdom, alongside spirits and good dedication, you will know how to overcome any difficulty, mistakes and obstacles that may happen. Because happiness of the public and security of the nation and the people are important to Thailand.

His obsessive–compulsive need for order was on display:

There are many ways to work, it’s important to have dedication and resolve to serve the people, the country and the highest institutions of the nation. The people want to be happy. The people want to have confidence and security, and they are willing to walk in the right direction. Therefore, the cabinet has a duty to steer, safeguard and protect our nation.

The link between palace and the military thugs remains important to both.

Updated: Another “plot”

1 12 2017

Whenever the military dictatorship feels a bit of political pressure it comes up with some king of red shirt “plot.”

Hey presto, there’s another one. Suddenly, the cops have found “war weapons” under water in a rice field looking a bit like a swamp.

Clipped from Bangkok Post

The “weapons,” already “investigated,” were to be used by “political elements” who “were prepared to bring the weapons to Bangkok to incite strife…”. The police added that “several firearms and rounds of ammunition came from the same sources and matched the evidence collected by police from scenes of unrest and from people arrested during the 2014 political turmoil…”. They even claim to know the person responsible.

Wonderful investigations and forensics. After all, the rusty junk had been under water for months. Exactly which “political elements” store their weapons in such a manner?

Clipped from the Bangkok Post

Will anybody believe this? Is it a sign of political desperation? Or just another part of an excuse to delay elections because of “unrest”? Or just testing the gullibility of the media and population?

Update: Remarkably, given that he was forcibly disappeared and probably murdered, Deputy Dictator General Prawit Wongsuwan has linked the underwater weapons to Wuthipong Kachathamakul or Ko Tee. Equally remarkably, Prawit “told reporters today that the armaments appeared to be from the same cache of weapons soldiers found in a residence linked to Ko Tee in March.” Those weapons were linked to an alleged assassination plot against The Dictator.

Censoring opposition

28 11 2017

The military dictatorship allows little criticism of its operations. The Dictator is short-tempered when it comes to critics and has locked up several people who have made rather tame criticism.

We sometimes think he’d prefer that critics undergo harsh “military discipline.”

When it comes to the media, General Prayuth Chan-ocha can go off like a large firework. It wasn’t that long ago that he demanded that the Computer Crimes Act be even more rigorously enforced and especially against online media.

At about that time, the military regime again went after satellite station TV 24, which it considers oppositional. The puppet National Broadcasting and Telecommunications Commission said the station’s “Sharp News” and “Green Light Thinking” programs “had violated agreements made with the regime despite prior warnings.”

The NBTC put the station off the air for 30 days. The NBTC provided no information on how the programs offended the junta. However, it has previously ordered Spring News, Peace TV and Voice TV off the air for programs deemed “critical of the ruling junta.” Each outlet is considered by the junta to be pro-Thaksin Shinawatra, like TV 24.

Political repression is deepening.

Marking its political territory

19 11 2017

A Bangkok Post editorial declares that the “Prayut Chan-o-cha government” or, more accurately, the military dictatorship, “has this week made itself look increasingly like the highly authoritarian administration of Chinese President Xi Jinping — intolerant to dissent and obsessive about repression.”

Really? Only this week? And, despite the authoritarianism of the regime in China and its increasing elevation of Xi, it remains a civilian government.

The Post is referring to the junta’s “latest move to tighten surveillance of certain groups of people could further infringe on their personal liberties,” and declares that the regime’s “branding of these groups as ‘high-risk political elements’ is needlessly overdone and generates concern about what its next steps may be.”

In fact, and as the Post admits, the regime has been doing this since it seized power in a coup in May 2014. Then, its political repression was deeper than it is now.

The regime, says the Post, “seems to be trying to fear-monger by planting seeds of doubt about threats to safety and the risk of ‘disturbances’ in the public’s mind.”

Its present moves are a mopping up of limited opposition, further silencing the few dissident voices. It is also an effort to provide (weak) justifications for continuing its dominance of all other political groups. It is animal-like behavior as a dominant beast marks its territory and is intolerant of all others.

And, as the Post observes, “the timing of the surveillance mission and the government’s questionable motive for spreading news about its fear of ‘unrest’ have set a grim tone for Thailand’s already dim-looking political future…”. Marking its territory is also likely to be “be used as grounds for the regime to tighten its grip on power, to keep the political ban in place and delay the poll, and, at the very worst, to widen its suppression of its critics and opponents.”

While the Post says “there is no reason for the state to mobilise such resources for surveillance purposes,” that misses the junta’s psychology as a military dictatorship. Its animal instincts mean that it is wary and savage in protecting its political territory.