Rising anger

12 06 2020

Two of the regime’s toady parties are in disarray and the Puea Thai opposition party is also having problems. This reflects the fact that political tensions are rising. Not only that, there seems to be rising anger against the military-backed regime and its symbiotic relationship with an erratic and absent king.

Some of this anger reflects disgust over the apparent enforced disappearance of Wanchalearm Satsaksit. As Thai PBS points out, he’s “not the first activist living in exile in a neighbouring country to mysteriously disappear since the 2014 military coup, and he may not be the last. It says that there are “at least 104 Thai political dissidents have sought refuge in other countries for coup-related reasons since the May 2014 military takeover.”

But Wanchalearm is the first of these activists who is not tagged as anti-monarchy, although the regime and its deep yellow supporters are trying to alter that. Wanchalearm is anti-regime. The reason he fled Thailand is because “after the 2014 coup, … he was summoned by the military. The National Council for Peace and Order (NCPO) regime lodged a complaint when he failed to respond.” The regime then “issued an arrest warrant for Wanchalerm in June 2018 for allegedly violating the Computer Crimes Act…”.

 

Since the coup, the regime as junta and now as a post-junta military-backed regime, it has been repeatedly stated that the authorities are actively tracking down these exiles. Bigwigs like Gen Prawit Wongsuwan has often stated that his regime has been asking Lao and Cambodian officials to deport/extradite anti-monarchists and anti-regime critics.

 

Ii is probably no coincidence that, soon after the lese majeste law was put on hold by King Vajiralongkorn, “at least nine Thai activists who sought refuge in Laos, Cambodia or Vietnam, including Wanchalerm, have disappeared for unknown reasons and some were later found dead…”. (The report lists them. Note that the Thai Enquirer report below says 13 have disappeared.)

 

None of these cases has been resolved and the regime goes full Sgt Schultz – they know nothing. Worse, it does nothing. It allows the fear to fester and that fear is also associated with the king, who is widely believed to be a beneficiary of these disappearances and deaths.

 

But, as noted above, Wanchalearm’s case allows for a broader response within Thailand, with the dead weight of lese majeste missing. The report notes that:

 

Pressure from his family, local and international rights advocates, academics, student activists, politicians and several celebrities is mounting on both Thai and Cambodian governments, demanding that they investigate Wanchalerm’s abduction. On Tuesday, the Cambodian government … agreed to launch an investigation into the case.

 

Meanwhile, Gen Prawit “said that he had instructed the Foreign Ministry to look into the case…”. They won’t do anything.

 

Outside the regime, “Wanchalerm’s abduction has caught the attention of Thai citizens and netizens, with the hashtag #SaveWanchalerm trending on Twitter with more than 400,000 retweets last Friday.” Many have raised their voices. For example:

 

Former human-rights commissioner Angkhana Neelapaijit has called on both the Thai and Cambodian governments to join forces in uncovering the facts of what has happened to Wanchalerm and making them public.

 

“Though he is in self-exile in Cambodia and holds opinions that are different from the government’s, as a Thai citizen, he should not be ignored otherwise the government may be suspected as an accomplice [in his disappearance],” she posted on Facebook.

 

Students, activists and ordinary citizens have gathered demanding information.

 

Even some who have opposed anti-monarchists are having second thoughts. The Thai Enquirer’s Cod Satrusayang, a monarchist in 2013, has decried the regime’s efforts to stigmatize Wanchalearm as involved in marijuana (so is the regime). He adds: “the fact is, the establishment will not stop trying to assassinate his character until there is enough reasonable doubt to dissipate the kidnapping rumours.”

Cod also says what everyone thinks: the disappearance of activists “who were critical of the establishment and the military … is too much of a coincidence to be random.” He adds: “It is likely that Thai security forces had some role in his disappearance.”

He laments that royalist, regime-loving hacks have celebrated Wanchalearm’s disappearance and created rumors to discredit him.

Is it a coincidence that this disappearance and the lese majeste-like charges against a young Twitter user come when the king is furious that he is being targeted in Germany? We are sure he blames exiles for his serenity in Bavaria being compromised.





Updated: Murderous monarchists III

22 01 2019

Back when the handcuffed, disemboweled bodies, filled with chunks of cement, found on the banks of the Mekong, the victims of murderous monarchists, we posted on an unconfirmed report of three bodies having been found.

Two of the bodies have been identified as aides to anti-monarchist Surachai Sae Dan. The three were “disappeared” late in December from a house in Laos where the three were in exile.

Khaosod has a story seemingly confirming that a third body was found in the river, and then that it “disappeared.” The report states:

Coming after two mutilated bodies recovered from the river were identified as aides of a missing prominent anti-monarchist, the photos show what appear to be a third body that can no longer be accounted for.

The third body was found by a villager on 27 December and reported to police. A navy patrol arrived and took photos, but when police arrived, the body was gone.

The local headman “was instructed by security forces not to talk about what happened.”

It is looking like the suspension of the use of lese majeste charges has been been replaced by abduction, torture and murder.

Update: The Bangkok Post reports that police have confirmed that the bodies of the tortured and murdered two are the aides to Surachai. One line in the report jumped out: “The murdered men are believed to be the victims of more political killings of accused lese majeste suspects tracked down and killed inside Laos.” Clearly, the perpetrators are assumed to be representatives of the Thai state, torturing and murdering. It is also implied that these murders are targeting critics of the monarchy. It is a dark state that uses abduction, torture and murder, yet these have long been defining characteristics of the murderous military. When they work for a vindictive palace, acting with impunity and with no consideration for domestic or international law, the future looks as bleak as some had predicted back in 2016.





Murderous monarchists II

22 01 2019

Yesterday we posted on the handcuffed, disemboweled bodies, filled with chunks of cement, found on the banks of the Mekong, and how one of the victims was likely Phoo Chana, a 57-year-old who had fled Thailand after the 2014 coup and lived in exile in Laos, working with Surachai Sae Dan (Danwattananusorn).

Surachai, Phoo Chana and Kasalong all went missing at the same time. Their enforced disappearance was probably the work of murderous monarchists, acting under orders. We assume that the orders to torture, murder and dispose of the bodies probably originated high up in Thailand.

It is now confirmed that the second tortured and mutilated body is that of Kasalong. Khaosod reports that “a source at the Forensic Science Institute … speaking on condition of anonymity, confirmed Tuesday that DNA testing has linked the second body … to a man known as “Comrade Kasalong…”.

This also means that Surachai was probably also tortured and murdered.

The real identities are not publicly known but both were red shirts working with Surachai.

It seems that at least five anti-monarchy Thais have been “disappeared” and probably killed.

The viciousness of the murders brings to mind the work of rangers and Border Patrol Police in earlier times but also reminds one of rumors of cruelty and murder in the 1990s linked to high places.

In the report of this particular murder, “Police in Nakhon Phanom, where one of the bodies was recovered, vowed Tuesday morning to find those responsible.” Presumably they will be sleuthing in Bangkok.





Murderous monarchists I

21 01 2019

It seems increasingly likely that the handcuffed, disemboweled bodies, filled with chunks of cement, found on the banks of the Mekong, are the victims of murderous monarchists, probably acting under orders. The orders to torture, murder and dispose of the bodies probably originated high up in Thailand.

Khaosod reports that the “son of one of three missing republicans said Monday that police have concluded that a mutilated body found in the Mekong River was his father.” Phoo Chana and Kasalong went missing at the same time that Surachai Sae Dan (Danwattananusorn) was disappeared late last year.

The Institute of Forensic Science has conducted a preliminary DNA test and the results identified him as Phoo Chana, a 57-year-old who had fled Thailand after the 2014 coup and lived in exile in Laos, working with Surachai.

Several other anti-monarchists have been disappeared and are presumed to have been murdered.

Fear among dissidents overseas is now rife. Indeed, that is exactly what the enforced disappearances are meant to achieve, for fear breeds silence.





Updated: Sulak’s lese majeste charges dropped

17 01 2018

Sulak Sivaraksa is one of the few in Thailand who has been able to defeat lese majeste charges. He’s done this repeatedly. And he’s just done it again.

Over the years, since at least 1984, Sulak has faced repeated rounds of lese majeste charges and has spent time in jail.

It is reported that one of the most bizarre of these cases – lese majeste and computer crimes – has been dropped by a military court. The charges related to his questioning, several years ago, whether an ancient story of 17th century King Naresuan’s elephant battle with a Burmese royal was real or a legend.

Sulak stated that “the military tribunal dropped the charge without explanation.” However, Khaosod reports “Maj. Gen. Choedchai Angsusingha, chief military prosecutor, said the case lacked sufficient witnesses to prosecute Sulak…”.

The critic’s capacity to get off such charges is uncanny, especially when hundreds of others fail and many are essentially forced to plead guilty. He’s also adept at getting bail while facing the charges, something precious few others get.

Certainly, one of Sulak’s strengths is the huge international support he receives, through long-established networks of religious and social activists. He’s also got considerable cross-color support in Thailand from academics, NGOs and activists who have associated themselves with Sulak’s work over several decades. Even the junta is reluctant to challenge such a spectrum of opinion-makers. Finally, Sulak is also a self-declared conservative and monarchist. Perhaps that’s why he chose to have this reported: “Sulak said he credited the mercy of King Rama X for the case being dropped.”

Update: Prachatai has a critical op-ed on this case, related to some of the issues we raise in our last paragraph. Well worth reading. The picture of Sulak Sivaraksa receiving an honorary doctorate from King Vajiralongkorn on 1 December 2017 at Thammasat University is clipped from the story.





On dictatorship

27 11 2016

This from the Bangkok Post:

Foreign media and observers continue to regard our present government as a “dictatorship.” They have ignored [the] Prime Minister[‘s] … explanation about the necessity for building a democratic society on a stage-by-stage basis.

The Bangkok Post was supporting a dictatorial regime in an editor’s comment on a story from 25 November 1976. Little would appear to have changed from the period of the dictatorial and palace-picked prime minister and monarchist Thanin Kraivixien to the period of the self-appointed and palace-endorsed prime minister and monarchist General Prayuth Chan-ocha.

The story, however, is of the rightist and youthful Interior Minister and palace favorite Samak Sundaravej and his approach to “establishing” what he called “democracy” in Thailand, in line with Thanin’s 12-20 year plan of stage-by-stage political change. There was an appointed assembly and elections were seen as “divisive.”

Prayuth has few youthful types in his military-based “government” but he has plenty of rightists and royalists. And he has a 20-year stage-by-stage plan. Prayuth’s military junta also has a puppet parliament of military appointees and views elections as dangerously divisive.

But there’s a difference. Samak stated (clicking opens a PDF of a 1976 press clipping):

Democracy of the past began at the Ananta Samaggom Throne Hall (traditional site of Parliament). lt then tried to seek roots in the villages. That was why it was unstable…. Democracy has to begin at the village council, then move up to the district council, the provincial assembly and then the House of Representatives.

Samak went on to declare: “We are now building up democracy from the villages.”

That sounds nothing like the current regime under The Dictator. No “bottom-up” democracy for them for they have learned that villagers simply cannot be trusted. Those at the local level don’t know what’s good for them and elect governments associated with Thaksin Shinawatra. These uppity villagers even dare to think that they should have some say in government, which is the preserve of the great and the good (and those of the military brass who don’t happen to fit these categories).

In fact, though, the comparison is false. Samak was no democrat in 1976. Reading the story it is clear that the “democracy” he boosts is, like Prayuth’s, no democracy at all. It remains top-down, with officials involved all along, directing, managing and funding a bureaucratized village planning process that knits neatly into the preferred hierarchical model of Thailand’s administration and politics. Anti-democracy and authoritarianism runs deep among the great, the good and the military brass.





Further updated: Mobs and censorship

16 10 2016

The death of the king has allowed for even greater censorship, especially related to the monarchy.

It seems that there is a view among the junta’s bureaucrats that foreign reports aren’t fitting their royalist worldview, with the Ministry of Foreign Affairs (opens a 1-page PDF) admonishing the generally rather supine foreign media.

And, at Prachatai it is reported that the authorities have demanded that internet service providers “set up 24/7 monitoring centres to search for ‘inappropriate content’ across all social media platforms including Youtube, Facebook, Line and Twitter.” If ISPs fail to comply they will be prosecuted.

The NBCT order has essentially turned ISPs into state snoops and asks all internet users to act as vigilantes for the monarchy.

The risk is that such state encouragement of militant monarchists eliminates whatever space was available for different views, creates mobs and prompts violence. We have already seen two mob actions where rabid royalists seemed intent on at least having lese majeste charges laid against individuals and at worst wished to do them harm.

Update 1: It is interesting that there are now three reports of royalist mobs going after persons they believe are not royalist enough. All three are from the south, the home of the (anti)Democrat Party and a region where royalist hysteria has been heavily promoted in recent years, not least by the Democrat Party and the military. Using Facebook and ‪#‎shamethailand, scroll down and you see a video of a young woman being publicly humiliated by a mob. Of course, royalist mobs have gotten violent in the past.

Update 2: The reports of attacks on those deemed not to be in mourning, not dressed in monochrome or who post something on social media considered “inappropriate” have mounted. It appears that gangs of royalists are easily mobilized via social media or SMS. One report even mentions a critic being hunted in Europe by mad monarchists. Several well-known critics of the monarchy living overseas have reported that their Facebook accounts are flooded by vitriolic royalists.





Rightist, royalist and daft monk

2 10 2015

“Daft” is a useful English expression. It is excellent for characterizing the royalist machinations of the political monk Buddha Issara.

The Bangkok Post reports that the royalist monk led anti-democrats and pro-coup groups to the U.S. Embassy to protest actions they perceive as “anti-monarchy” by the United States government and Human Rights Watch.

The rightist monk declared the U.S. Embassy politically biased: “The US embassy has met several red-shirt activists but they did not visit us at the [anti-democrat] People’s Democratic Reform Committee [PDRC] stages, so we are here to explain our stance to them…”.

During the PDRC protests, it arranged for several demonstrations at the U.S. Embassy as the anti-democrats decided the United States government was pro-Thaksin Shinawatra. This view drew on a rabid libertarian and anti-Americanism associated with former leftists who supported the anti-democrats and circulated in yellow-shirt emails and in social media.

Buddha Issara and ultra-royalist Rientong Nan-nah, “leader of the People’s Organisation for Royal Thai Monarchy Protection”, a fascist organization, met U.S. Embassy representatives.

The mad monk declared: “We want them to expel Sunai Phasuk from the HRW as this person has always expressed unfair and biased comments against Thailand…”.

By “Thailand” he seems to mean to royalists and anti-democrats. Sunai is a Thai and works for HRW. His support for the 2006 coup is seen in Wikileaks cables.

At the same time, Sunai has been critical of red shirts, yellow shirts, lese majeste, Thaksin Shinawatra, the current military dictatorship and various anti-democrat groups. It seems that this work for HRW is considered insufficiently royalist.

Buddha Issara alleged Sunai “took sides with one political group…”. As PPT posts over several years show, this is a blatant lie.

The monk accuses Sunai of “moaning when the red-shirt Peace TV was shut down but not caring how many casualties the PDRC suffered, criticising the lese majeste law so he must be in the same gang as the Nitirat group [of academics], which is politically lopsided and critical of the beloved institution.”

Lying and incoherence can be added to Buddha Issara’s fascism, thuggish acts and acts of extortion.

The monk made claims that are revealing of his warped rightist view of politics: “Of course, the American diplomats said they could not meddle with an NGO, but the HRW is based in their country, so they can take action…”. He seems to think that politics in the United States operates as it does under military dictatorship in Thailand. He also seems unaware of the status of HRW:

We are a fully independent non-governmental organization, supported by contributions from private individuals and foundations worldwide. In order to maintain our independence, we accept no money from any government, directly or indirectly.

Buddha Issara said “his demonstration was not a political one like those of other groups at the Democracy Monument which are still calling for elections, so he believed the government understood the feelings of ‘loyal subjects’.” PPT it sure that he is correct in assuming that the military dictatorship supports his activism; after all, the military protected and supported the anti-democrats on the streets in 2013-14.

Singing royal songs, the monarchist monk declared that his fascists is “the voice of the Thai people that Washington should take heed of…”.

He declared that “no one should support people who want to amend the lese majeste law or defame the Thai monarchy, or else they would be considered as interfering in Thai domestic affairs.”

Interfering in the domestic affairs of the United States, however, seems acceptable for these royalists, with Rienthong stating that he had “submitted to the US embassy the names of some people who he claimed had committed lese majeste and still live in the US.” He declared: “We will give them more names and organisations and will ensure the US won’t allow those people to sabotage the revered institution…”.

Rightists and royalists tend to be nasty and dangerous nationalists. They also tend to be ignorant and daft.





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.





On May 1992, part II

18 05 2015

In part I, we posted on a speech by the notorious royalist poseur Bowornsak Uwanno, who misused the occasion of a remembrance of the military’s murder of democracy and murder of civilian in May 1992.

In another report at The Nation on a memorial event, it is stated that “politicians and political groups yesterday attended a memorial service to remember those who lost their lives in the Black May 1992 political uprising.” It seems to us that the military dictatorship tried to manage this event as it was attended by “representatives of the junta-appointed agencies known as the ‘Five Rivers’. They included Prime Minister’s Office Minister Panadda Diskul, National Legislative Assembly (NLA) vice president Surachai Liengboonlertchai, Ekachai Sriwilat[,] Prasarn Marukpitak and Rosana Tositrakul members of the [puppet] National Reform Council (NRC).”

Even if any of this lot had any reason to be there, it seems they have forgotten the meaning of 1992. All are rabid monarchists and pro-military flunkies. Rosana is a strident yellow shirt who has supported all anti-democrats since 2004. Surachai is one of Rosana’s allies in the anti-democratic Group of 40 Senators, mostly unelected after 2007, who are ultra-royalists and deeply yellow. So is Prasarn. Panadda is a devoted royalist, specialized in self-promotion and a dedicated restorationist, committed to dictatorship and absolutism. They insult the memory of the dead.

Amongst attendees, there were some with a real connection to the events in 1992, including “red-shirt co-leader of the United Front for Democracy against Dictatorship (UDD) Jatuporn Promphan and yellow-shirt co-leader of the People’s Democratic Reform Committee Pipop Thongchai.”

That the Democrat Party sent representatives is also insulting of those who died in 1992 for the Party was prepared to deal with the military then, if it got them close to power. Nothing much has changed.

The egregious Panadda said that the “incident” in May 1992 – he means the massacre of civilians – “showed the public’s will to achieve democracy.” It did, but to disgrace that resolve by linking it to The Dictator and self-appointed Prime Minister, General Prayuth Chan-ocha, and to claim that this vandal of democracy “had recognised the people of Thailand’s wish to see real democracy in the country…” is disgusting.

Rosana is as bad, saying that May 1992 “occurred because all the heroic people wanted to see reform of the political system without any influence. They hoped that the election would lead to the development of a strong democracy and that it would not result in a coup.” She’s lost in a make-believe history and she manages to link an anti-military uprising to the 2006 and 2014 military putsches, which she enthusiastically supported.

For those wanting a useful summary of the events of the time, not least as an antidote for the tripe served up by military flunkies, this PDF, available for free download, is not a bad place to begin.