An amnesty for rightists?

12 11 2022

As readers will recall, the Move Forward Party recently suggested an amnesty for political cases and gave its support to amending Article 112. Royalists have been trying to silence the party.

The Bangkok Post reports that the “New Palang Dhamma Party (NPDP) announced … it would propose a bill to grant amnesties to people charged and prosecuted in political cases.” It plans to “lobby coalition government MPs and Prime Minister Prayut Chan-o-cha for support.”

NPDP leader and list-MP Dr Rawee Machamadon said the proposed bill would mean that “anyone who committed political offences from Sept 19, 2006, to Nov 30 of this year during political demonstrations would be forgiven in criminal cases and freed of liability in civil lawsuits.”

Hooray you might say! But no, Rawee said “the draft law would not cover those found guilty of graft and other forms of corruption; serious criminal offences such as the shooting of state officials; or violations of Section 112 of the Criminal Code, known as the lese majeste law.

We are left wondering what kind of amnesty this is. There’s an answer: royalist dinosaur, “Pibhop Dhongchai, former leader of the now-dissolved yellow-shirt People’s Alliance for Democracy (PAD), on Wednesday backed the bill on his Facebook page.” He’s keen for his lot to be granted amnesties but not the other lot who he views as anti-royalists.





Silencing MPs on 112

6 11 2022

Prachatai reports that yet another ultra-royalist vigilante group is seeking to silence critics of the lese majeste law. This time, they are targeting an elected member of parliament for a speech made in parliament, later posted online.

Move Forward party MP Amarat Chokepamitkul recently “posted a video clip on Twitter of herself speaking about court neutrality issues in royal defamation [Article 112] cases.”

Amarat. Clipped from Prachatai

The “King Protection Group posted on its Facebook page on Thursday (3 November) that its President Songchai Niamhom went to Phatthalung Provincial Police Station to file a royal defamation [lese majeste] and sedition complaint against Amarat, claiming that she defamed the monarchy in a Twitter video of herself speaking during Wednesday’s parliamentary session.”

In her speech, Amarat “discussed the court’s neutrality when dealing with royal defamation cases and how courts refused to summon documents to be used as evidence in these cases, such as records of King Vajiralongkorn’s travel to and from Germany and records of the transfer of shares in Siam Commercial Bank.”

In the meeting, conservative House Speaker Chuan Leekpai “told her to keep her discussion to what benefits the public and not to talk about the monarchy. He eventually cut off her microphone.”

As is usual, the “the police accepted Songchai’s complaint and said that they will investigate the matter and submit the case to their superiors.” That usually leads to a charge.





Abolish the feudal law

3 11 2022

According to a Thai PBS report, the Move Forward Party “push to amend the draconian lèse-majesté law” is hitting headwinds from the usual suspects.

As PBS has it, the “reformist party appears to be alone in its effort, with most other political parties insisting they will not seek changes to Article 112 of the Penal Code on royal insults.” The other parties are again demonstrating that they are spineless.

Politicians meet on lese majeste law

That said, Puea Thai is yet to declare its hand.

Royalists have threatened Move Forward with dissolution, accusing “it of seeking to undermine the constitutional monarchy.” Of course, that is complete nonsense, but these conservatives deal in nonsense and buffalo manure.

Already, a “complaint was lodged with the Election Commission (EC) requesting a probe into whether Move Forward had violated the Political Parties Act.”

Move Forward “amendment would do away with severe penalties and prevent the law from being arbitrarily used for political advantage or stifling dissent…”.

Move Forward’s Chaitawat Tulathon says that, despite the threats: “Staying idle and quiet would have prompted the question, why does this party exist? We know well that our popularity will be affected if we go ahead with this push…”.

Chaitawat justifiably observed that politicians “lacked ‘political courage and ethics’ to do what should be done. ‘They are hiding behind the cloak of loyalty to the monarchy so as to achieve political power’…”.

Abolish the feudal law!





112 reform

29 10 2022

It is reported that the Move Forward Party has reiterated its “unwavering” policy support for the”amendment to the draconian lese majeste law.”

Apparently, the party was responding Bhum Jai Thai Party semi-leader and Deputy Prime Minister/Health Minister Anutin Charnvirakul and Chart Thai Pattana Party leader and Natural Resources and Environment Minister Varawut Silpa-archa who recently declared they were opposed to any effort to amend the law.

Parit Wacharasindhu announced that the party “will resolutely put forward concerted moves to amend the lese majeste law, also known as Section 112 of the Criminal Code, in order to uphold social and political justice and foster constructive relationship between the people and constitutional monarchy.”

Parit said the “law has been abusively and unjustly enforced by one party’s political opponents under the pretext of maintaining the highly-placed honours and prestige of the monarch and royal household.”

Interestingly, he also pointed to “some corruption-riddled government projects under the excuse of running what may be officially called ‘royal honour-celebrating projects’.”

The Move Forward Party is proposing limited reform: a maximum of  one year in jail or a maximum of 300,000 baht in fine for Article 112 convictions.

Abolition of the ridiculous law would be much better.





Rich people and “justice”

14 08 2022

It seems like the expiration of yet another charge facing Vorayuth “Boss” Yoovidhya has caused the regime some grief. So much so that it has wheeled out its chief legal huckster Deputy Prime Minister Wissanu Krea-ngam.

He has babbled about authorities stepping up efforts to locate the rich fugitive and bring back  to face punishment. Of course, nothing could be further from the truth, as 10 years of stalling, bribery, influence, looking away, and doing nothing have shown.

Wissanu was, in fact, “responding to a question during a parliamentary session from Theeratchai Panthumas, a Move Forward Party MP, who asked about progress in the case.” Prsumably Wissanu felt the need to come up with the usual nonsense.

His exact words are quoted: “Authorities will use all means and channels available and work with other countries to bring him to justice…”.

Apparently, the hopelessly biased National Anti-Corruption Commission “is also considering whether to launch an inquiry against 15 people, including police officers and soldiers, for their alleged role in obstructing justice in the case.” Wow. It has only taken a decade to get to this point!

The pursuit of Vorayuth has been a farce from the beginning. Most Thais understand that the rich and the “good” get a different justice from the average person. What the average person gets is a sad joke.





Bent law enforcement and warped institutions

7 08 2022

Rotten to the core

The legal system from police to the highest court is rotten to the core.

Prachatai reports that after 7 years, “the public prosecutor has decided to indict activists from the New Democracy Movement (NDM) and the Dao Din group on charges of sedition for an anti-junta protest in front of Pathumwan Police Station on 24 June 2015.”

There were 17 people “charged for participating in the 24 June 2015 protest, including activists Jatupat Boonpattaraksa and Chonticha Jaengrew, activist-turned-Move Forward Party MP Rangsiman Rome, and Thanathorn Juangroongruangkit, leader of the now-dissolved Future Forward Party.”

On 4 August 2022, that the public prosecutor decided to indict 10 of the activists 7 years after the protest and 3 years after the charges were filed. They were later granted bail using a security of 70,000 baht each.”

Meanwhile, the well-connected rich and powerful get away with murder.

Prachatai also reports that the royalist judiciary via its Judicial Commission has unanimously ruled to remove judge Wichit Leethamchayo from the Supreme Court “after he was found to have joined pro-democracy protests…”.

It seems that “right-wing groups accused him of showing support for pro-democracy protests on at least two occasions in 2021.” Ultra-royalist Maj Gen Rientong Nan-nah “filed a complaint with the Judicial Commission in March last year accusing Wichit of showing ‘anti-monarchy behaviour’ in front of the Supreme Court on 13 February. Rienthong also claimed that Wichit posted anti-monarchy comments on Facebook using the name Wichit Lee.”

The Commission agreed, with “judges on the Commission called out his ‘anti-monarchy’ stance.”

As the report notes, this judiciary is biased. Judge Methinee Chalothorn, who was appointed President of the Supreme Court in September 2020, has been seen in published photos attending “a right-wing anti-government PDRC protest which led to the military coup in 2014.” Of course, she’s not been censured as supporting the right, ultra-royalists is second nature for most judges. In fact, it is revealed that:

the Judicial Commission’s minutes confirming that it had acknowledged Methinee’s participation in the anti-democracy protest in July 2020, 3 months before the appointment of a new President of the Supreme Court in October. Yet the Commissioners voted 13-1 to approve her appointment with several judges giving the opinion that being at a protest site does not mean that she showed support for the protest. Worasit Rojanapanich, an external examiner for the Commission, said that her participation was “graceful” for a judge because she acted out of love for the nation and the monarchy.

Clearly monarchism and the monarchy has crippled the judiciary. Its royalism is the reason for denied bail, the avalanche of 112 convictions, and endless double standards.

And royalism is infecting other institutions, with Prachatai reporting that the “unelected Senate has voted 146-38 not to appoint Prof Arayah Preechametta to the National Anti-Corruption Commission (NACC). The meeting minutes are confidential, but Isara News cites an anonymous source in the Senate claiming that the candidate was not approved because his ideas were contrary to the conservatives.” By “conservatives” is meant royalists, ultra-royalists, and supporters of the military/monarchy-backed regime.

Isara News cited an anonymous source in the Senate claiming that during the meeting it was mentioned that a person filed a complaint against Arayah because he had political ideas in opposition to the conservatives. The Senate eventually voted to reject Arayah on the basis that he was insufficiently right-wing. Presumably the unelected swill want “trusted” compatriots making the “right” decisions.





Holding up the keystone

28 07 2022

This is the royalist silly season, when they get in a lather of joy and watch eagle-eyed for any “threats” to their beloved monarchy. This is all about keeping a crumbly keystone in place: the ruling elite’s keystone.

Propaganda about the palace becomes even more unbelievable than usual and the self-appointed guardians of the ruling class become especially watchful.

So it is that Sonthiya Sawasdee is at it again, finding threats to the monarchy coming from all directions. It was only a week ago that he decided the military-monarchy regime needed to be protected from comparisons with Sri Lanka, leading to a mad claim of sedition. Sonthiya’s other royalist barking was linked in that post.

Now he’s decided that parliamentarians of the opposition variety need more taming. Of course, his target is the usual suspects from Move Forward and the progressive movement. Prachatai reports that Sonthiya has made a complaint to the National Anti-Corruption Commission over an alleged “serious ethical breach.”

He was not amused when said Move Forward MPs held photos of two activists currently imprisoned under Article 112. The act did not bring down the house, even in the seemingly shoddily constructed parliament building, but Sonthiya spied an attempt to bring down the sky.

He complained that the whole party is at fault. He claims “raising portraits of Article 112 prisoners, that’s a serious ethical breach.”

To reasonable people, it is not clear how this is a breach, but Sonthiya is not reasonable and seems to believe that attacks on 112 are attacks on the palace.

Sonthaya and his brethren worry that any chips being taken out of the keystone will bring the whole thing down and with it their access to small pieces of power, nepotism, impunity, and rewards.





Regime cyber-spying

22 07 2022

In commenting on the regime’s Pegasus hacking of his phone, Prajak Kongkirati, an academic at Thammasat University, told VOA News: “It’s very scary…. It’s like the 1984 novel,” referring Orwell’s dystopian novel about the surveillance state. He added: “But this is in real life, it’s really happening.”

The team that outed the spies is “continuing to search for more targets…”.

Yingcheep Atchanont, iLaw’s program manager, stated: “So far we have only some names in our heads that we think they should be checked, but I know there are more people who can be targets…. We believe that if the government possesses this weapon, the victims will be much more.”

In fact, Prachatai has already reported that Phicharn Chaowapatanawong “a Move Forward Party MP has claimed 5 more victims of state-sponsored spyware attacks using Pegasus. 3 are his party colleagues and 2 are core figures in the Progressive Movement, a splinter group from the dissolved Future Forward Party. Most attacks were timed to coincide with bold speeches in parliament.” They are:

  • Bencha Saengchantra, MFP MP, attacked three times,
  • Chaithawat Tulathon, MFP Secretary-General and MP, attacked once
  • Pakorn Areekul, former activist and former MFP MP candidate, attacked twice,
  • Pannika Wanich, Progressive Movement spokesperson, attacked twice,
  • Piyabutr Saengkanokkul, Progressive Movement Secretary-General, attacked eight times.

 





Updated: Thanapol arrested

30 06 2022

Thai Newsroom reports that on 29 June 2022, Technology Crime Suppression Division police arrested Fa Diaw Kan Publishing House editor Thanapol Eawsakul. He is charged with “disclosing documents and other material related to national security and violating the Computer Crime Act…”.

Clipped from Prachatai

The police took Thanapol to Technology Crime Suppression Division headquarters “without waiting for a lawyer to show up but a lawyer is now following up the case.”

In January 2022, “more than 30 policemen had brought a warrant to search the publishing house and in doing so went through the books and confiscated mobile devices and computers belonging to Thanapol.”

Later, on Facebook, Thanapol explained the situation (with apologies for hurried translation).

He explains that it has more or less been normal for the police to “visit” the offices of Fa Diaw Kan since the journal was established some two decades ago. Following the 2014 military coup, the “visits” increased, then dropped off around the time of the 2019 election, but then expanded again as the monarchy reform-democratization movement expanded. In this latter period, the police became interested in various books published by Fa Diaw Kan, most of them associated with aspects of the monarchy, historical and contemporary.

This heightened police “interest” meant that Thanapol was being closely monitored.

On 21 November 2020, Thanapol posted a message about a National Security Council document ordering to tracking down of a former ambassador. The police filed a complaint on 31 December 2020 and then went quiet.

On 20 January 2022, some 30 police and officers from the Technology Crime Suppression Division searched the publisher’s office, seizing including Arnon Nampa’s The Monarchy and Thai society (which is not a Fa Diew Kan book), computer equipment and Thanapol’s mobile phone. The officers presented two search warrants and an order granting access to computer data, issued by the Nonthaburi Provincial Court.

On 18 April 2022, the Technology Crime Suppression Division said the earlier document seized was classified and disseminated illegally. An arrest warrant was sought even though Thanapol had agreed to report to police. He says: “On June 23, 2022, I made an appointment to go to the TCSD on July 4, 2022 at 1 p.m., but during that time, on June 28, the TCSD requested the court’s approval to issue an arrest warrant….  As a result of issuing an arrest warrant, The police came to arrest me today, 29 June 2022, when I was taken to the police station and to the TCSD…”.

Lawyers from Thai Lawyers for Human Rights and efforts by Move Forward Party, MP Rangsiman Rome led to bail being granted.

So far, few details of the charges are available.

Update: Thai Enquirer has a story on the arrest and bail.





Targeting Move Forward

29 06 2022

The military-royalist regime rigged the 2019 election. As its political stocks plummet, the regime and its allies are continuing to work on yet another unlikely election victory.

While the Move Forward Party has been cleared of serious charges that might have led to its dissolution, there is still much effort going into a ban before the next election.

As Thai PBS reports, the Election Commission somewhat unexpectedly rejected former adviser to the Ombudsman Natthaporn Toprayoon’s fabricated complaint “accusing Move Forward of taking actions between August 2020 and January 2021 that were aimed at overthrowing Thailand’s rule of democracy with the King as head of state.”

According to the report, Natthaporn’s “petition outlined 10 actions by the party’s MPs and executives, including party leader Pita Limjaroenrat and secretary-general Chaithawat Tulathon, that he claimed had breached Articles 45 and 92 of the Political Parties Act, which prohibits political parties from encouraging or supporting anyone to create unrest, undermine social order or oppose the laws of the country.”

Natthaporn essentially accused Move Forward of anti-monarchism. He blasted “party MPs [for] using their positions to bail out arrested protesters accused of lese majeste or sedition” and he complained that “the party’s support for NGO iLaw’s draft bill to amend chapters in the Constitution regarding the monarchy and integrity of the Kingdom, as well as the party’s resolution seeking amendments to Article 112 of the Penal Code or the lese majeste law” were moves against feudalism the monarchy.

He was following up on his earlier successful petition that the Constitutional Court accepted, making monarchy reform treasonous.

The quite mad Natthaporn’s response to the complaint being ditched was to threaten “to sue the election commissioners and seek a ruling on whether their decision to dismiss the complaint was lawful.”

But there’s more to come:

Along with pressure from Natthaporn, Move Forward is also facing other complaints seeking its disbandment, including one filed by Ruangkrai Leekitwattana, a politician from the ruling Palang Pracharath Party. In August last year, he filed a petition with the EC to disband Move Forward on grounds that its proposal to reduce the budget allocated to the crown for 2022 was a hostile act against the Thai democratic regime with King as head of state.








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