Supporting feudal monarchism

8 02 2017

We know that the military dictatorship has little sense of irony. It seems part of the UN has caught the lack of irony disease. That lack of perception means that, as it has done previously, UN offices manage to collude in creating and reinforcing feudal monarchism in Thailand.

pattyWe say this based on a report in the Bangkok Post that “… the King’s daughter … Princess Bajrakitiyabha Mahidol is to become a goodwill ambassador for the rule of law in Southeast Asia, the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime announced on Wednesday.”

The irony of appointing a royal, protected by a feudal law and from a country ruled by a military dictatorship that illegally seized power and now uses military courts and thumbs its nose at rule of law, in favor of rule by law, seems lost on this UN office.

In fact, UNODC regional representative Jeremy Douglas is quoted as stating: “She doesn’t see herself as above the law and is interested in helping out to advance justice reform…”.

In fact, she is above the law. While in its written form the lese majeste law does not apply to her, every Thai knows that, in practice, she is “protected,” just like dead kings and deceased king’s dogs.

How a feudal “princess would help to promote justice reform” in “Thailand as well as the rest of Southeast Asia” is not clear. After all, her experience is of Thailand’s compromised and politicized “justice” system.

Yes, we know she allegedly has “a special interest in prison issues, particularly women in prison,” but even the UNODC website has little about this since this “interest” was happened upon back in 2008-9.

In an earlier post, we speculated that palace’s need to reorient its propaganda to promote the new king and his (official) family. As in the past, UN offices are targeted in this effort to promote feudal institutions.





The patronage system

24 12 2016

The puppet National Legislative Assembly’s (NLA) has been allocated a series of tasks by the junta, all meant to uproot the so-called Thaksin regime, meaning all remnants of the electoralism of the period 2001 to 2006.

Anti-democrats and the military dictators believe that Thaksin Shinawatra established an extensive patronage network in business, politics and the civil and military bureaucracy that needs to be abolished if the royalist elite and “network monarchy” is to maintain its ascendancy. They often linked patronage and vote-buying.

We at PPT had not previously heard of what The Nation calls an NLA “ad-hoc committee on how to fight the deeply-entrenched patronage system,” led, of course, by one of the top brass, Admiral Saksit Cherdboonmuang.The committee was the Admiral’s idea and was established in February.

Apparently, it has been at work developing a “367-page report with detailed proposals on how to end the domination of the patronage system in Thailand’s bureaucracy.” PPT hasn’t seen the report, but the Admiral says the ” patronage system causes damage in various dimensions. For example, it discourages many talented people from working in the government sector…”. Patronage, he says, leads to corruption.

Saksit reckons “that when it came to the delivery of government services, people … will think they just can’t go through normal channels of service delivery. They will think they need to find personal connections to get good services…”.

Anyone who has dealt with the bureaucracy will recognize this. That said, quite a few departments were much better following changes that began with the 1997 constitution. For example, getting a passport became a standardized procedure without the need to pay extras or to know someone.

The Admiral also “lamented that patronage had long been a part of the bureaucracy, pushing civil servants to prioritise personal relationships over a merit-based system.” He added:

It encourages junior officials to kow-tow to senior officials, who in turn bow to political-office holders so as to maintain beneficial relationships. In this cycle, businesspeople have also lobbied government officials and political-office holders.

Again, everyone will recognize this pattern. Having many minions makes life comfortable and is a display of power. It is also well-known that senior bureaucrats, police and military become very wealthy by their positions and their control of bureaucratic knowledge, rules and hierarchy.

None of this is new, being described long into the past by historians who describe favoritism, nepotism and corruption.

It starts when they are young

It starts when they are young

Saksit said his committee had compiled guidelines on how to stop the patronage culture from damaging the bureaucracy. These include a “ban free gifts, feasts, and bribes.” Government officials will also be “advised to avoid playing golf with people who may pose a conflict of interest.”  Reportedly, the recommendations include advice that “senior officials should reduce the number of assistants, because close work relations can also foster patronage feelings.”

Like many things in Thailand today, under the military dictatorship, this is doublespeak. There’s good patronage and bad patronage. Bad patronage is associated with nasty elected politicians. Good patronage is unmentioned, because it is a system that is based in hierarchy, military and monarchism.

It continues for university students and military recruits

It continues for university students and military recruits

As one commentator observed:

The patronage system is deeply ingrained…. The government is the parent. The people are the children…. The parent naturally has a fascist tendency to demand that the child not do this, not to do that.

This brief description fits the military dictatorship like a glove.

The last person who criticized this system of “good” or royalist patronage in any detail was probably Jakrapob Penkair.

Jakrapob, a former spokesman for ousted Prime Minister Thaksin, made a speech at Bangkok’s Foreign Correspondents’ Club of Thailand (FCCT) on 29 August 2007. Royalists declared the speech anti-monarchy and he had to resign as a minister in May 2008. Under pressure from the Abhisit Vejjajiva government, on 22 March 2010 the case was sent forward for consideration for prosecution. Jakrapob had fled Thailand a year earlier. While the lese majeste case was reportedly dropped, Jakrapob remains in exile.

And continues to the top

And continues to the top

In that speech [opens a PDF that may be considered lese majeste in Thailand], Jakrapob stated that the then (2007) political crisis represented a “clash between Democracy and Patronage system directly.” He added: “It’s a head on clash.” He traces the history of patronage in Thai history:

One of the noted examples was that Great Father Ramkamheang … proposed to have a bell hung in front of his palace and anybody with specific problems could come and ring that bell and he or his people would come out and handle the problems. That was one of the first lessons the Thai students learnt about Thai political regime that you have someone to depend upon.

When you have a problem turn to someone who can help you, so before we know it, we are led into the Patronage system because we asked about dependency before our own capability to do things.

The lesson for today is that loyalty is paramount: “If you have loyalty to the King, unquestionable loyalty to the King, you would be protected, in order to show this protection more clearly, people who do otherwise must be punished.” Hence, under the military dictatorship of royalist generals, lese majeste is considered a more dire crime than premeditated murder.

Jakrapob talks of the modern era where the “[p]atronage system is problematic because it encourages unequality [inequality] among individuals. And that’s a direct conflict to Democracy. It encourages one person into thinking of depending on the other or others. It breeds endless number of slaves with a very limited number of masters. It prevents Thailand from coming out of age.”

That’s why Thailand has so many coups; the idea is to prevent the royalist patronage system being changed or overthrown.

We don’t think the Admiral is talking about this patronage system. After all, he and all his junta buddies and every single member of the military’s officer corps benefit greatly from royalist-preferred patronage.





What drives the junta?

22 09 2016

We know that the military junta is driven by 19th century notions of monarchism, Thainess and hierarchy. Those beliefs have led to several murderous attacks on civilians and years of degenerate military rule.

At the same time, recent reports point to some of other notions that drive the junta.

Several reports in recent days remind us that the military and the current junta are driven by nepotism and corruption. Military dictators have always managed to become “unusually wealthy,” enriching their families and followers along the way. The junta defends its own in such matters and, as was the case under past military regimes, allegations of nepotism and corruption are seldom allowed to stick.

The military junta is also driven by revenge, often steamrolling law and procedure in the process. A recent report demonstrates this in the case of the desperation to punish Yingluck Shinawatra and her brother. Among others, the National Anti-Corruption Commission is “investigating” former prime minister Yingluck in 15 cases.

Supa Piyajitti is chair of 6 of the sub-committees investigating allegations against Yingluck. In another, Vicha Mahakhun, a former NACC member is chair of a sub-committee. Both Supa and Vicha “testified for the prosecution in the Supreme Court’s Criminal Division for Holders of Political Positions in the rice-pledging case.”

The military regime’s desire for revenge leads them to appoint compromised investigators.

More recent reports demonstrate that the military regime is also driven by fear. They fear (and loathe) political opposition.

Nuamthong, taxi and tankPrachatai tells us that the regime prohibited the commemoration of Nuamthong Praiwan’s suicide. He was the taxi driver who opposed the 2006 military coup, making his own death a protest against military intervention.

Also at Prachatai, we learn that the fearful regime’s “[l]ocal officials in the restive Deep South … have barred civil society groups from hosting an event celebrating World Peace Day, despite having previously granted permission to the event.”

Monarchism, Thainess, hierarchy nepotism, corruption, revenge and fear. Quite a list, and we reckon readers could add to the list.

 

 





No original thought

30 09 2015

One of the things about being a royalist is that one has standardized answers for all issues and not an original thought is ever possible (or necessary). Rather, there is simply a slavish adherence to feudal ideology and nonsensical notions.

The Bangkok Post has published a translation of royalist General Prayuth Chan-ocha’s speech at the United Nations Sustainable Development Summit 2015.

Prayuth is not known for his environmentalism. Indeed, his military dictatorship has been giving armed support to mining companies against villagers and has been throwing poor farmers off their land to create space for Special Economic Zones. At the U.N. he suddenly became concerned for the environment, saying:

We can continue on the path of rampant consumerism and maximise growth at all costs. Or we can choose to live sustainably, focusing on quality, moderation and balance in our lives. We can choose to respect nature, rather than viewing it as merely a commodity to be exploited.

That might be reasonable and sensible, but then The Dictator comes up with this nonsense:

What I have just said derives from His Majesty the King’s sufficiency economy philosophy. This philosophy — with its emphasis on reason, moderation and building resilience — saw us through several crises, including the 1997 financial crisis and the 2004 tsunami. It also helped Thailand achieve nearly all the MDGs, and guides our 2015-2020 vision and the forthcoming national economic and social development plan.

The king is the reason for everything in Prayuth’s royalist world. Of course, he’s making this stuff up (and writing all people and Thaksin Shinawatra out of his history). Prayuth has a delusional existence and forces the people and country to inhabit it as well.

As a report in The Nation makes clear, sufficiency economy is being banged and shoved into policy and appears to require “[g]reater economic self-reliance [that] will return … Thailand towards becoming the Land of Smiles once again…”.

In a junta newsletter, said to have been distributed to the public, and titled “From the Heart of the Prime Minister,” Prayuth demands that “Thais to become more self-reliant economically.” He wants people to “have enough food on the table” and to be able to “sleep.”

The Dictator reportedly stated that he wanted to return Thailand to the past, to again “become ‘Smiling Siam’ that is known to the world…”. Snarls not smiles under the military dictatorship and Siam? Back to the 1930s? Absolute “democracy” or monarchy, absolute sufficiency and absolute nonsense.





Judiciaries against justice

25 01 2015

Several times in recent years, courts in Thailand have demonstrated a disregard for the law.

As well as their capacity for repression and murder, military regimes in Thailand use the law but are not governed by it.

no-justiceIn addition to being highly politicized and royalist, the judiciary is prone to bribery and corruption, undue palace influence and operates on blatant double standards, including a bias for the rich. When it comes to lese majeste cases, the application of the “law” is inexplicable except by reference to the judiciary’s complete subservience to royalism. For example, despite the fact that Article 112 is specific on who is covered, judges have extended its application to long dead kings and have heard cases in secret.

When it comes to military courts these issues are compounded. Military courts sometimes don’t even appear to know the laws of the land.

In this context, a report at Prachatai is of interest. Bangkok’s Military Court has reportedly “dismissed a petition submitted by a prominent red-shirt figure [Sombat Boonngamanong] questioning whether the jurisdiction of the military court over civilian cases violates the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (ICCPR).”

PPT wouldn’t think that the military court would agree with the claim, but its response was even more emphatic than we expected.Sombat

Sombat is charged with twice failing to report to the junta, “instigating rebellion against the coup-makers under Article 116 of the Criminal Code, and importing computer content related to offences against national security under Article 14 (3) of the Computer Crime Act.”

The Military Court rejected the notion that it allow “the Constitutional Court to interpret whether the junta’s Announcements No. 37/2014 and 38/2014 on the jurisdiction of the military courts violate the ICCPR.”

The court “simply dismissed the request.” Parading those accused of political crimes before military courts makes Thailand a banana republic monarchy.





Dictating III

1 10 2014

According to one definition, a military dictatorship is:

a form of government different from civilian dictatorship for a number of reasons: their motivations for seizing power, the institutions through which they organize their rule, and the ways in which they leave power. Often viewing itself as saving the nation from the corrupt or myopic civilian politicians, a military dictatorship justify its position as “neutral” arbiters on the basis of their membership within the armed forces. For example, many juntas adopt titles, such as “National Redemption Council”, “Committee of National Restoration”, or “National Liberation Committee”. Military leaders often rule as a junta, selecting one of them as the head….Prayuth

Military juntas are keen to ensure compliance with their political views. This is as true today for Thailand’s current junta as it was for some of its predecessors, of which there have been many. Today the junta seeks to turn back the political clock, repressing, controlling and “re-educating.”

On the latter process, The Isaan Record reports from the Northeast, seeking to ensure that red shirts are returned to the “safety” of early 20th century monarchism and ultra-nationalism, led by the preachers of the military junta.

The Isaan Record reports on the indoctrination in one village as a military unit told the villagers:

How was it that we kept a hold on our country and avoided being colonized by another country? It was because our king protected our nation…. If any outsiders come to destroy our country, we will fight until we die. We need to protect our land and we need to love each other as a united country.

Of course, the villagers know this line. It has been the mantra of military dictatorships and royalist governments for decades. It is what they have been repeatedly told in schools and in the mainstream media.The military obviously believes that red shirts have been “misled” whereas others might say they have had their eyes opened.

These activities are part of 3-day indoctrinations “in villages across Isaan.” Known as the “Project to Strengthen Stability at the Village Level,” as would be expected, it is organized by the Internal Security Operations Command (ISOC), formed during the period of counter-insurgency in the 1960s.

ISOC does exactly as anyone who was around in 1966 would recognize. Saluting the national flag, chanting “the truth,” listening to military types lecturing on “the importance of the monarchy in Thailand,” and watching nationalist films. In this case, “The Legend of King Naresuan.”

A “trainer” explains the program: “The intention of the event is to dispense with the colors in the community and provide a unity program…”. This trainer explained that these events “had been 80% successful.” His measure of “success” is easily seen when asked if “any participants expressed opposition to the coup or military government…”. His reply: “They wouldn’t dare!

What did villagers and community leaders say? One observed:

“All we want is democracy and there’s never going to be more democracy that results from a coup…. No government born out of a coup has ever governed democratically.”

The report adds that “nearly all the villagers present were Red Shirts who no longer feel free to express their political views.” A leader states the military wanted to “ensure that people don’t oppose them.”

It gave little attention to the villagers’ political or economic concerns. When the indoctrination did turn to farming, it was to promote the military’s version of the ideological “sufficiency economy” attributed to the king.

It is confirmation of the military-monarchy alliance that is fundamentally anti-democratic.





More monarchical madness

14 09 2014

Vocativ describes itself to be “a new type of media company, bringing audiences hidden perspectives, unheard voices and original ideas from around the world via the Deep Web…. Combining cutting-edge technology with bold journalism, Vocativ’s team examines a world of raw, vital information hidden deep within the digital space, unearthing fresh insights, concealed subcultures and rising trends early in their evolution.”

Its latest piece on Thailand is not really new or presenting anything hidden, at least not for readers of PPT. That said, its hipster style might reach a new audience, and it does have a picture evocative of the protection of a family that does look a bit like it is preparing for a part in The Walking Dead, and that picture is rather dated.

Walking dead

The story begins by advising that: “Insulting the Thai king is illegal, and the authorities there are stepping up their game to arrest people for royal Internet snark.” Actually, insulting the king, the queen, the heir apparent, regent and dead kings usually all result in jail terms, and PPT guesses that The Dictator wants to expand this already broader than the existing law definition of royals covered by the draconian law.

Sending out tweets “calling out the head of state as a total dick” are banned in Thailand, “where they’re getting more serious than ever about dissing the king.” The hipster reporting continues:

The country has something called lèse-majesté, a law that means if you are audacious enough to insult the king, it becomes a really big deal. Like a punishable-with-jail-time-of-50-years big deal. Like a censor-the-entire-Internet-until-you-find-all-the-king-burns big deal.

Thai authorities now plan to use a fancy, but unspecified, “surveillance device” to help them in their quest to dig out web users who badmouth royalty. Beginning Sept. 15, the government will use the device to target keywords related to lèse majesté and potentially use secured protocols to monitor communications, unconfirmed reports told Prachatai, an independent Thai news site.

The report goes on to acknowledge that “[s]elf-censorship among journalists is already rife. An editor of a national Thai newspaper told his staff not to browse any sites at work that may have anything to do with lèse majesté…”.

It refers to the case in July “when John Oliver called the crown prince of Thailand a ‘buffoon’ and made fun of a home video of the royal and his wife at a birthday party [opens a video banned in Thailand] for their pet poodle named Foo Foo.” It says that: “Thailand fought back, putting him on an official government list of international threats.”

The military dictatorship is bonkers for monarchy and this results in even more lese majeste madness:

Thai authorities have blocked tens of thousands of websites because of slander. The government banned YouTube in 2007 for two days just because one guy posted a video with an image of the king juxtaposed to an image of feet, an offensive symbol in Thai culture. And during the past few months, the censorship has gotten worse. The military junta that took power in May after months of protests passed a law on May 29 called “On the Control and Surveillance of the Use of Social Media,” making it legal to surveil all Thai Internet users. Now a device specifically running keyword searches to seek out lèse majesté breaches could be the government’s top weapon against Thai citizens who just want to get in on the king-slamming game.

And then the results of monarchy madness:

Recently, more lèse majesté cases than ever before have been brought to court. From January 2006 to May 2011, there was a 1,500 percent increase in cases involving royal insults. Whereas there were only four such cases in all the years between 1990 and 2005, that number in 2010 blew up to at least 400. In 2012, according to FreedomHouse, Thai courts blocked almost 21,000 URLs, thousands of which were taken down because of anti-royal content. Just 5,000 URLs had been blocked the previous year.

The Dictator, General Prayuth Chan-ocha promises even more mad monarchism and the result is more looney lese majeste. All of this means more cases, more jailings, more censorship and the result is an ever weakened monarchy.