Burying Constitution Day

11 12 2018

With all of the palace propaganda going on, it was almost impossible to notice that 10 December is Constitution Day in Thailand. Of course, the anti-democrats, royalists and military junta have little time for the basic law, especially when it was delivered by the People’s Party in 1932.

Interestingly, after struggling through the royal propaganda at the top of its website, there was a story on Constitution Day at the state’s National News Bureau.

As might be expected, the story is vague.

While it observes “the importance of the administrative document,” the story declares the day one for “celebrating its 20 incarnations throughout the democratic history of Thailand.”

What can we say? This is quite simply an outlandish manipulation of several things. First, a constitution for Thailand in 1932 was revolutionary and it was, before the resurrection of monarchy under fascistic military regimes, on a par with nation, religion and monarchy. Second, only anti-democrats “celebrate” 20 constitutions. In fact, the fact of 20 charters is a dismal reflection on the ways that military dictators have smashed democracy in Thailand every time it has emerged from the monarchy-military sludge that mires the country.

The story then gets royalist, declaring that: “Constitution Day in Thailand marks the date King Rama VII graciously signed the first charter into effect on December 10, 1932.”

In fact, there was nothing gracious about it. Thailand’s first constitution was essentially anti-monarchy and the king and his royalist supporters vigorously opposed it. Initially, King Prajadhipok refused to sign it, objecting to his loss of powers. As Wikipedia has it, “the charter provoked fierce resistance from the palace.”

When it came to the 10 December charter, which replaced the “draft” document of June 1932 following the palace’s political maneuvering, it gave “the monarchy a significant increase in authority compared to the temporary charter.” Even so, royalists remained aghast about the diminution of the king’s majesty. We suspect that, if they actually read that charter, today’s royalists would be similarly shocked.

We note that this political struggle over the constitution is covered by the propaganda bureau’s claim that: “The charter placed the Kingdom’s monarch in a position of great respect.” While that’s kind of right, it deliberately censors the political debates and conflicts.

Where the story links to the current military dictatorship, it engages in a fairy tale:

The 20th constitution, drafted when the National Council for Peace and Order (NCPO) assumed power in 2014, came into effect on April 6, 2017, and is considered a restart of democracy in Thailand….

We wonder if it is only the junta that “considers” the monarchy-promoting and anti-democratic junta constitution as having anything to do with democracy.





Updated: The Dictator in full campaign mode

5 12 2018

The Dictator has been campaigning for some time. He’s been campaigning for his own transition from military dictator-cum-prime-minister at the head of a military junta to military-backed dictator-cum-prime-minister at the head of a regime produced by the junta’s rigged election.

That campaigning has increasingly come to mean stumping for the devil Palang Pracharath Party and any other mini-party prepared to support his and the junta’s transition. It is no accident that the Palang Pracharath Party is organized and headed by members of the junta and its cabinet who see nothing wrong with such cheating.

In recent days, however, Gen Prayuth Chan-ocha’s campaigning has gone to a higher gear. Not long ago Palang Pracharath “unofficially” declared their support for The Dictator as its preferred dictator into the future. At the time PPT commented that this declaration meant that Gen Prayuth is the de facto leader of Palang Pracharath and that each time The Dictator has his regime throw more money after votes, he does it for his party.

Meanwhile, Gen Prayuth has continued with his buffalo manure dissembling, saying he’s not sure which party he might allow to campaign for him to be premier after the rigged election. Everyone in the country knows he had his men set up Palang Pracharath as his vehicle for the “election.”

However, he did say: “If I am approached, I’ll consider any party which works in sync with what we’re doing now…”. Ipso facto, Palang Pracharath. That party is unlikely to “win” a majority, so Gen Prayuth also needs other like-minded anti-democrat parties. As The Dictator put it: “What I have in mind is that I will support parties which steer the country with a strategy. If other parties have better strategies than the PPRP, just present them…”.

In the last few hours, The Dictator has moved from the phony campaign to the real campaign, with a “giant billboard next to the main highway in Ratchaburi province” that promotes Gen Prayuth as prime minister.

Naturally enough, others have complained that Gen Prayuth is cheating and flouting his own law. Even the media notes that the billboard “appears to be an obvious violation of the order by Gen Prayut’s National Council for Peace and Order (NCPO) that forbids all electioneering.”

Our immediate thoughts were not only that The Dictator is openly cheating – he’s been doing that for years – but that he or one of his minions seem to feel that Britain’s embattled premier, Theresa May, is the best advertising for a military dictator. For all of her faults, she at least faces a real parliament and comes from an election. She has also been shown to be subject to the rule of parliament. None of that fits Thailand’s military leader.

The criticism of The Dictator has caused Palang Pracharath’s Somsak Thepsuthin to complain that “certain political parties of dividing public opinion by attacking Gen Prayut for trying to prolong his stay in power.” He was unhappy that The Dictator was in any way criticized.

That’s a possible pointer to the future, where a Palang Pracharath-led government would “protect” Gen Prayuth. Expect more corruption, more repression and efforts to insulate The Dictator.

Update: It is now reported that the The Dictator’s  campaign poster has been removed. This comes as the Election Commission states that it is “investigating” the poster for contravening some law or a junta decree. Nothing serious should be expected of the puppet EC.





Junta claims support from Germany, US, Australia, UK and France

3 12 2018

The state’s official propaganda outlet reports that Government Spokesperson Puttipong Punnakanta is campaigning for The Dictator.

He has bellowed that those Western countries that had had the grumpy military prime minister visit were “indicative of the world community’s trust and confidence in Thailand … [and that] premier’s overseas trips mirror the international community’s acceptance and trust in the kingdom and in the current administration.”

Those countries mentioned are Germany, US, Australia, UK and France.

They should be ashamed and their citizens should be outraged at their governments’ spineless efforts to appease a military dictator is now being used to promote his election rigging that should allow him to remain in power for years to come.





Updated: The election splurge I

2 12 2018

A couple of days ago PPT quoted Chaturon Chaisang who complained that the military junta was “going to take advantage over others until the last minute.” His comment was not just about electoral boundaries.

On cue, after splurging on rubber planters, the junta has come up with yet another way to use taxpayer money to improve the electoral appeal of its devil party.

Yesterday it was reported that the Ministry of Finance announced that the military government approved a “value-added tax (VAT) refund to shoppers who spend up to 20,000 baht … next year in a bid to boost domestic spending amid murky economic prospects.”

This decision is “expected to cost the government 6-7 billion baht in forgone revenue…”.

That comes following the junta’s 40 billion on its eponymous Palang Pracharath scheme for the current financial year, and the now “86.9-billion-baht splurge on low-income earners, the elderly and retirees” that was originally reported as 63 billion. And that’s just a fraction of the funds that the junta has poured out (for little economic impact).

Is anyone keeping track of this huge spending?

But back to the VAT handout.

When can shopping occur? 1-15 February.

When is the current most likely date for the junta’s rigged election? About a week after the shopping blitz.

Who is targeted? Sino-Thais who will spend for Chinese New Year.

Remarkably, it is reported that the puppet Election Commission “has insisted it needs to examine the law to see if the government’s proposed value-added tax (VAT) refund for next year’s Chinese New Year shopping gives a pro-government party undue political advantage ahead of the next election.”

Indeed, that sentence says it all. The suspicions are the charges.

Critics have pointed out the obvious: “that the programme is likely to allow the pro-regime Palang Pracharath Party (PPRP) to capitalise on the popularity of the refund and gain an unfair advantage over rival parties at the poll.”

Of course, similar rebate schemes and tax deductions have been offered before, but we do not recall any such scheme being scheduled a week prior to an election (while noting the date has not been officially set).

EC secretary-general Jarungvith Phumma said the “commission would take a look at the law to see if claims of an unfair advantage have substance.”

Let’s see if the puppet can cut the strings. We are not optimistic.

Update: In a remarkable state effort to pile buffalo manure as high as a Bangkok condo, Revenue Department spokesman Pinsai Suraswadi has come up with one of the smelliest piles in a while. He has stated that the so-called Shop for the Country tax deduction – that’s the now “regular” deduction allowed to shoppers, not the VAT scam mentioned above – is not meant to boost “big retailers” but rather “is largely designed to help farmers…”. This surprising claim is made because “purchases of eligible items will directly help farmers facing the low prices of their products, including tires made from domestic rubber, books, e-books, and OTOP items purchased directly from certified OTOP sellers.” All those farmers producing e-books and regular books…. Really, this and other fabrications emanating from the seemingly desperate military junta are no better than an average 4-year-old could come up with.





Wearied by the creative constrictions of junta-run Thailand

22 11 2018

Apichatpong Weerasethakul is one of Thailand’s most important and widely recognized filmmakers. In 2010, he was the winner of the Cannes Palme d’Or for Uncle Boonmee Who Can Recall His Past Lives.

Some time ago, he announced that he had decided not to show his then latest film Cemetery of Splendour in Thailand. He said that “doing so would force him to exercise self-censorship or face personal risk.”

Now, back in Thailand to receive an award, Apichatpong has said that the continuing military dictatorship in Thailand means that he “is making his next feature in Colombia…”. He reportedly stated that “he decided not to make the film in Thailand, where political discussion is stifled and he says films can be shut down on the whim of the generals.”

Apichatpong stated that: “To make a movie without addressing the urgent issue of the kingdom’s politics would be to undermine his role as a filmmaker,” adding, “I want to talk about politics, our reality, our lives…”. Of course, under the military junta, he can’t. Sadly, the director now thinks of himself as a “stranger” and a “foreigner” in his own land.





Junta shenanigans I

21 11 2018

A Bangkok Post editorial chastises the military dictatorship for what it does best: limiting freedom of expression. In this case, the Post is concerned about the rigged election:

Three months away from a possible election, the ban on political activities and basic freedoms is truly a mystery. There seems no logical reason to continue the bans. They were imposed by the National Council for Peace and Order (NCPO) in the wake of the May 22, 2014, coup. They were regularised by formal edict early in 2015. The army-controlled junta continues to state it will not lift the bans “yet” and refuses to state an ending date.

The logic the Post searches for is that of military authoritarianism and the junta’s desire to extend it on and on and on. Everyone knows this and the only really interesting question is whether there’s any chance that this rigging can be overcome.

But when the Post states that the “bans apply to everyone,” this is a distortion of the facts (as it later shows). In fact, the restrictions have been selectively – one might say strategically – applied. As far as we can tell, most parties the junta favors have been campaigning in various ways. Most restricted is the Puea Thai Party. Even some of the new anti-junta parties have fond ways to get out among voters.

So the junta intimates all, but some more than others.

The Post knows this. And, it knows that the main pressure the junta is applying is to “restrict what people, newspapers, broadcasters and internet users can say and write.”

This restriction is to allow the military – via ISOC – the bureaucracy (now junta compliant) and pro-junta political groups access to voters particularly in rural areas and places known to be strongly pro-Puea Thai, while restricting that party.

The Post also points out that there’s still “no election date.” That’s also part of the election rigging. No date, hence no lifting of restrictions.

In the editorial, the Post does recognize double standards in a broader political context:

Arguably worse than the bans of free speech, free assembly and free press has been the highly selective prosecution of alleged violators. It is safe to say no supporter of the coup, the government, the junta or the Palang Pracharath Party (PPRP) has faced censure for their activities.

It is certainly true that the “public has the right to hear all political facts and opinions from politicians and the media,” but the junta needs restrictions until it feels it can “win”/steal an election with impunity.





Two interesting reads

12 11 2018

For quite different reasons, PPT recommends two recent stories as worthwhile reads:

The first is a story at The Nation on the “cool responses and sometimes heated confrontation” that Suthep Thaugsuban is getting.

The second story is at Prcahatai and concerns Nattathida Meewangpla, charged with lese majeste and being a part of a “bomb plot.” This is an account of her arrests and detention, and while the English is not always easy to follow, it is revealing of much about “justice” under the military dictatorship.