Republicanism and those shirts III

13 09 2018

More details are becoming available about the alleged republican movement that the junta says is not a threat to the monarchical state but claims it has been watching it for years.

The Bangkok Post reported that police charged Wannapa, a woman taxi motorcyclist, “with illegal assembly and sedition for possession of T-shirts the government has linked to an anti-monarchist movement.”

This reporting is a bit hard to follow. We are not at all sure what “illegal assembly” means in this case, unless this is the ancient ang yee charge. The sedition fits with the regime’s efforts – as we see it – to reduce the international damage that comes each time it uses lese majeste charges. In fact, though, the sedition law is more draconian even than lese majeste.

Wannapa has denied all charges and it was her mother who was hawking the shirts.

The police sought to detain her further, but she made bail (see below).

It was the junta, the “National Council for Peace and Order [that] handed her over to the CSD on Tuesday evening.” It was the junta, “NCPO officers [who] arrested her in Samut Prakan province in possession of black T-shirts with a small chest emblem said to represent the so-called Thai Federation movement, which Deputy Prime Minister Prawit Wongsuwon referred to as an anti-monarchist movement.” Here, junta/NCPO means the military.

Wannapa’s lawyer Pawinee Chumsri of Thai Lawyers for Human Rights, “said her client denied the charges. She had never been a member of any political movement and did not know the meaning of the small rectangular logo on the shirts…”. She was “distribut[ing] the shirts on instructions from her mother, the lawyer said. Her mother paid her to transport the shirts. The military seized 400 of the T-shirts from her…”.

Her client used the internet only to watch cartoons and movies and listen to music, and did not visit any political websites, the lawyer said.

Another Bangkok Post report states that while initially reporting that Wannapa had been denied bail, the Criminal Court has granted bail on Wednesday. Her bail was set at 200,000 baht.

This report says she was “charged … for violating the constitution and sedition as well as an act of running an illegal organisation.”

Perhaps the constitution bit is Section 1, “Thailand is one and indivisible Kingdom.” But if there weren’t double standards in Thailand, this could hardly be a serious charge. After all, the current regime trashed a whole constitution in its coup in 2014.

Police now say that “Wannapa received the T-shirts from her mother Somphit Sombathom, who is a member of the movement and is still at large in Laos.” They say Wannapa had distributed about 60 shirts and had another 400 shirts that were confiscated.

Police also confirmed that “three other suspects, including a man named Kritsana Asasu, were earlier arrested by authorities for their alleged involvement in the movement.” It is not clear where they are or what charges they face.

Police alleged that the Organization for a Thai Federation “acts against the National Council for Peace and Order and has the objective of overthrowing the current political regime of the country to a federated republic.”

The junta is making some efforts to get political gain from these arrests, linking the “movement” to both the official red shirts and “people behind the movement … in Laos, some European countries and the United States.” It’s a big net, not unlike other plots the junta has “discovered,” it is the same characters they want to tar and feather.

It seems to us that the junta’s penchant for “revealing” plots is mainly to cause “fear” mainly on the part of its supporters and to “prove” that repression remains “necessary.” At the same time, the junta is promoting a more widespread awareness of republicanism.





Ultra-royalism means ultra-stupidity

10 02 2018

The ultra-royalism that has infected Thailand since about the time of the 2006 coup has resulted in bizarre lese majeste cases and equally outlandish behavior by royalists as they manage their “loyalty.”

The latest royalist peculiarity involves Chanthaburi governor Withurat Srinam who has offered his resignation for his misuse of a “royal” word.

The governor has “come under fire after putting the royal term in two of his orders to officials in preparation to receive ministers during a mobile cabinet visit in Chanthaburi on Monday and Tuesday.” He is reported to have used the word rab sadet, meaning to receive, for The Dictator and his junta cabinet.

In most constitutional monarchies there is no “royal language.” But Thailand is an oddity. And the politicization of the monarchy both by ultra-royalists and opponents of the military and monarchical state has made things royal more important and “sacred” than they have been for more than a century. Ultra-royalists patrol the narrow boundaries of “loyalty.”

So in this strange world of ultra-royalism and neo-feudalism, we now find Interior Ministry permanent secretary Chatchai Promlert having to decide whether to “approve the resignation…”.

That decision also puts him in the firing line. Ultra-royalists may detect insufficient loyalty should he make a sensible decision and tell the governor to get back to work.

That senior officials should even have to deal with such antediluvian buffalo manure is a measure of how far Thailand has fallen into a royalist abyss.





Seeking impunity

2 06 2013

With the Army insisting on its innocence, it has responded to the recent court inquest on the death of Fabio Polenghi, a photo-journalist killed in the military’s clearing of red shirts on 19 May 2010.

A report in Khaosod states that the inquest finding that Fabio was killed by a military bullet fired from the direction of the troops “was the first official act which linked the military′s role to death of Mr. Polenghi, after 3 years of silence and denial.”

Almost immediately, however,  Army spokesman Colonel Wintai said  that:army-snipers

… [while] the bullet may have been fired from the military position at the time, but the security forces had not taken control of all highrise buildings in the area, suggesting that Mr. Fabio might have been killed by unknown militants who took shelter in such buildings.

This claim is a fiction – “Col. Wintai′s remark contradicts with the court inquest which indicated that no other armed elements are believed to be involved in Mr. Polenghi′s death” – it this is the Army brass narrative  maintained since it murderous crackdown.

The Army has always had impunity when it has murdered Thai citizens and the creation of disingenuous accounts is a part of that process, no matter  that the evidence shows snipers, live fire zones and so on.

Colonel Wintai made the brass’s fictional account more bizarre when he said that:

A guardian photo

A Guardian photo

the military had not fired their weapons around the time of Mr. Polenghi′s death. As for numerous videos suggesting otherwise, Col. Wintai dismissed them as propaganda “spread by ill-intentioned people” who want to defame the military.

In other words, the Army says believe our nonsensical claims and reject the evidence.

Wintai joins the Army’s tale with the Democrat Party narrative that is designed to protect then premier Abhisit Vejjajiva and his deputy Suthep Thaugsuban who ordered the murderous crackdown. He says:

Shooting red shirts

Shooting red shirts

The footage only show events in which the personnel exchanged fire with armed militants who obstruct our operation in the area. This happened long after Fabio′s death….

There is much video evidence and many witness accounts that contradict this fabrication.

Of course, the Army is never prepared to provide any evidence in courts as it seeks to maintain its capacity for murdering civilians in defense of itself and the monarchical state.





The curious situation of lese majeste

27 11 2011

The incredulity over the sentencing of Ampol Tangnopakul to 20 years in jail for lese majeste and computer crimes involving allegedly derogatory remarks about the monarchy in text messages remains.

Voranai Vanijaka, one of the Bangkok Post’s most widely read columnists, has a curious account of Ampol’s case in his column. It is curious because of the extreme lengths that journalists in Thailand must go for fear of infringing laws that “protect” both monarchy and the courts.

Self-censorship on the monarchy is a given for all journalists because of the fear of becoming yet another lese majeste victim and facing the purgatory of an overcrowded and unhealthy jail for years and years. There is no freedom of speech when it comes to the monarchy.

Add to that the threat from the courts. As Voranai puts it: “In Thailand, a court’s verdict is final. It’s infallible in the eyes of the law and criticising a verdict is illegal and carries both a fine and jail sentence. The universal right of freedom of speech suffers as the logical consequence of this.”

So Voranai sets out the case that was made against Ampol, showing how flawed the process was. For more details than Voranai has, there are case notes on each day of the trial here.

Then Voranai asks a truly important question: “So why is it that both sides of the political divide, while claiming to champion freedom and democracy, are so adamant about lese majeste and computer crime?” The answer is critical for the future of Thailand’s politics.

Voranai’s ponderings are reasonable, as far as they go: “Perhaps one reason is that one political camp has always flown the banner of defending the institution, and was determined to prove it. The other camp has been accused of anti-monarchy acts, and might want to prove otherwise. After all, both the Democrats [sic., these are no democrats, but a party misusing the name] and PAD [People’s Alliance for Democracy] leader Sondhi Limthongkul have challenged the Pheu Thai government to get tough on lese majeste. The Democrats have gone as far as to propose that Thailand block Facebook and YouTube.”

Yes, the Democrat Party has been, from conception, a royalist party. Democracy has only mattered for this party so long as “democracy” doesn’t threaten a state that has been built on the revival and exultation of the monarchy. For a time this party was viewed as opposed to the military, but that was only when the military was considered a bastion of anti-monarchism. “Democracy” for the Democrat Party is an elite fashioned and elite managed political option. They fear that anything other than a elite-commanded “democracy” will threaten not just the monarchy, but wealth, position and, of course, elite domination.

By determining a coordinated anti-Puea Thai government strategy with the PAD, the Democrat Party must see that is has hit on a win-win stratagem. They may bring down the government by accusing it of being disloyal to the monarchy. If not, they win anyway because, in its efforts to prove its loyalty, the Puea Thai government will do the work of the royalists for them. That work entrenches the very system that the royalists and Democrat Party have constructed over the past six decades. By further entrenching the monarchical state the ruling elite wins as its whole foundational edifice is strengthened. That’s the hope and plan.








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