Waiting and waiting for the NACC do something … anything

13 06 2018

At the risk of being mischievously accused by The Dictator and his Deputy Dictator of having “doctored” a photo – we haven’t – and causing panic – it won’t – we ask again about news of the Deputy Dictator’s case.

We at PPT know that asking is enough to cause him a loss of face and great anger, but the case looks so much like a cover-up that we must ask.

We have been scouring the news to find what the National Anti-Corruption Commission has decided on Gen Prawit Wongsuwan’s jewelry and luxury watch case.

Our search has come up with nothing.

It seems that the NACC is just hoping that the whole scam of millions of baht of “borrowed” watches just goes away with time. That’s an old strategy used to provide impunity to the corrupt high personages in Thailand. Well, those who are on the “right” side.

The NACC has been compromised and hopeless on its boss’s case from the beginning.

Will it ever make a decision on this case? Even a bad one? While it may hope that it will never have to, it should not be permitted to provide impunity for corrupt “good” people while using the law to harass and repress its opponents.





Bribes? What bribes?

9 06 2018

The Bangkok Post pointed out the paradox. It reports that “Thai Airways International Pcl (THAI) will undertake maintenance and repair of Rolls-Royce Trent engines and expects additional revenue of up to 5 billion baht in 2020 from the business…”.

Given that Trent engines have had some problems, a problematic relationship between Thai Airways and Rolls Royce seems sadly appropriate.

What’s that relationship? As the Post explained:

The press release announcing the new tie-up made no mention of the scandal revealed two years ago showing that Thai government officials [and others, allegedly including Thai Airways executives] had received Rolls Royce bribes to buy the firm’s engines.

Thai Airways and Rolls Royce executives are reported to have ignored the connection and relationship.

In fact, they have done far more than this. Recall that the Bangkok Post previously reported that “Rolls-Royce has refused to supply information about its bribery admission involving Thai Airways International (THAI) with the national flag carrier’s probe panel.” That sounds like collusion.

For details of investigations elsewhere, visit here and here. In Thailand, of course, the junta “has taken no action and the National Anti-Corruption Commission (NACC) has been silent…”.

It is business as usual.





On the EC and an “election”

6 06 2018

Don Pramudwinai works for the military junta. He’s the Minister of Foreign Affairs hired to give the military dictatorship a civilian face in its international dealings. He’s one of the few civilians in the junta’s cabinet.

He got his position because he has been important in converting the Ministry into a nest of anti-democrats clad in yellow. He’s also been defined by anti-democrats as one of the “good” people.

So it was something of a surprise when the Election Commission decided he may have breached rules in the junta’s 2017 Constitution

But, as reported by the Bangkok Post, the junta says this “good” minister “will not yet have to give up his post despite the ongoing controversy surrounding his wife’s shareholdings.” Not unless the Constitutional Court decides to stand him down.

Gen Prayuth Chan-ocha has declared he’s not going to reshuffle his cabinet.

The irony of this case is that a so-called good person is caught in rules the junta’s puppets designed to limit elected politicians in any future civilian government as they schemed on how to destroy the Shinawatra clan.

Another complicating factor is that the complaint came from a Puea Thai Party member. This means that the case comes to be defined as good vs bad people in the eyes of the junta, anti-democrats and the minister himself.

This paradox causes a Bangkok Post editorial to find, as the junta has, in Don’s favor. The Post prefers not to wait for the Constitutional Court. That’s not a particularly smart approach for a newspaper that has supported rule of law and the justice system.

Haughtily, Don has decided he’s done nothing wrong either and seems miffed that he should be accused by people he hates.

This amounts to little more than another sideshow in the political poking of the junta. In addition, it helps the junta by taking attention away from bigger issues: Gen Prawit Wongsuwan’s luxury watches (nothing heard from the National Anti-Corruption Commission on that), election rigging, the extra-judicial murder of Chaiyapoom Pasae, and so on.

Meanwhile, the “election” issue drags on.

The EC says it will “ask” the junta “to lift the ban on political activities if Tuesday’s meeting of the Constitutional Court backs an NCPO order on the political parties law.” It has done that so as everyone knows, there is no junta-imposed legal barrier to lifting its ban.

As an aside, it would have been unheard of for the Constitutional Court to decide against the junta. It could decide against Don, but that’s unlikely. Even if it did, he’s a civilian, so expendable for the military dictatorship.

Lifting the ban won’t change a huge amount the activities of the junta and its minions. It will still spy on and seek to disrupt the political parties it defines as enemies. It will continue to use the massive resources of the state and the military to campaign for a junta-preferred outcome to the rigged election.





Updated: Selectivity in the judicial system

22 05 2018

“Selectivity in the judicial system” is another way of expressing the notion of double standards. Several recent stories in the Bangkok Post highlight the junta’s continued emphasis on legal mechanisms to selectively repress its political opponents.

The first Bangkok Post story is about a civil court having “temporarily disposed of a civil case against Suthep Thaugsuban and 39 others for impeding the 2014 general election, pending the outcome of a criminal case against them.” Essentially, the court decided to ease the pressure on Suthep while other criminal cases are ever so slowly sorted out.

One of the oddities of this case is that it is brought by the EC which itself managed to impede the election through the decisions and actions of its then members.

A second Bangkok Post story tells of Puea Thai’s Watana Muangsook, Chaturon Chaisang and Chusak Sirinil being “charged on Monday with sedition for holding a press conference” that criticized the military dictatorship. It is the military that filed the case.

The notion that rights that even appear in the junta’s own constitution are ignored by the junta to claim sedition for relatively mild criticism is yet another example of double standards.

Five other party leaders were charged with violating the ban on gatherings for attending the press conference.

Pheu Thai’s secretary general Phumtham Wechayachai was mild in his response to the charges: “This government abuses the laws. They use laws to prevent people from investigating (them)…”. He added that none of those charged had broken the law.

But that’s the point. Under a military dictatorship the law is whatever the junta decides it will be.

Phumtham asked why it was that speaking “about the government’s performance for the last four years and how unsuccessful they are” should constitute an attempt to overthrow the regime or to incite insurrection.

Well, again, the dictatorship can decide what it wants. There’s no “legality” involved, just the whim of The Dictator. In this instance, Gen Prayuth Chan-ocha, campaigning vigorously to defeat parties that may not campaign, sees a chance to stick yet another dagger into the country’s most successful political party.

And finally for this account of double standards, the third Bangkok Post story is of three junior officials being charged by the National Anti-Corruption Commission (NACC) “the illegal purchase of Alpha 6 narcotics detectors 10 years ago.”

In fact, these devices are more or less the same at the GT200. Both are devices shown to have failed and to be scams, but widely purchased by official agencies including the military. Some 1,358 GT200 and Alpha 6 detectors worth 1.137 billion baht were bought by various agencies. Their use was vigorously defended by senior Army officers, including Gen Prayuth, and Army spokesmen

Five years ago, following convictions in the UK on these scam devices, PPT asked: will the Thai military brass and bosses of other agencies that purchased – often at inflated prices – will also be held accountable. The answer seems clear: not when the military runs the show.

Double standards and legal selectivity rule. Ask Deputy Dictator Gen Prawit Wongsuwan. One of his “borrowed” luxury watches costs more than an Alpha 6 at inflated prices. Maybe there’s a connection?

Update: We are pleased to note that the Bangkok Post has an editorial that takes up most of the points we made above.





Somyos and his money

13 05 2018

It was less than a week ago that wealthy former police chief Somyos Pumpanmuang was mentioned in a post. Of course, long-time readers will know that we have been posting on his unusual wealth since it was revealed in 2014.

Back in 2017, we asked about the Police General’s positions and wealth. Somyos is head of the Thailand Football Association, an organizations neck-deep in accusations of corruption for many years. He had long business relationships with mining companies, and at the time of his retirement as Thailand’s top cop, was one of its wealthiest policemen. Somyos was known to have ordered police to support companies he had previously worked with. He was so wealthy that he gave rewards to cops out of his “own” bag of money. And we asked: Has he ever been taxed?

Somyos then got caught up in a scandal as one of his “friends,” from whom Somyos seems to have garnered considerable loot, has his upscale massage parlor raided,

It is now reported that 40 individuals, including  Somyos, “are being interrogated by the Department of Special Investigation (DSI) for engaging in financial transactions with the owner of Victoria’s Secret massage parlour.”

The former Police General’s claimed buddy Kampol Wirathepsuporn is suspected of money laundering and human trafficking.

Pol Gen Somyos has stated that “he had borrowed 300 million baht from his ‘old friend’.” That was “while he was a national police commander.”

The National Anti-Corruption Commission, populated by two other police generals, says Pol Gen Somyos had “offered a clarification over the 300 million baht, but would not discuss further details.”

The NACC seems most uninterested in the unusual wealth of dozens of people associated with the junta who display unusual wealth.

None of their assets declarations “explained” their unusual wealth but revealed (some of) it.

Somyos, in “his first assets declaration as a former NLA member did not show the 300-million-baht debt.” In fact, Pol Gen Somyos listed his and his wife’s assets at about 358 million baht, with debts listed at 3.3 million baht.

As the NACC has repeatedly shown, it is unwilling to investigate superiors and junta buddies. Will any body take this up?





Updated: Still watching and waiting

11 05 2018

A Timeline (from the Bangkok Post)

A couple of days ago we posted on how quiet the National Anti-Corruption Commission (NACC) had become very, very quiet on Gen Prawit Wongsuwan’s luxury watch “investigation.”

The NACC has now been pushed by activists to state that the “probe into the luxury watches allegedly owned by Deputy Prime Minister [Gen] Prawit … is still ongoing and is not being stalled…”.

As ever, though, the NACC secretary-general Worawit Sookboon said “it is unlikely the commission will meet this month’s deadline to wrap up the case.”

So far, the NACC has met none of its self-imposed “deadlines.” Nor has the Deputy Dictator met NACC “deadlines.”

Now the NACC says the “investigation requires another two to three months…”.

So the saga goes on and on. But that’s the plan. The NACC and the Deputy Dictator figure that they can just wait for the heat to finally go and they walk away from the cover-up “investigation.”

The NACC’s Worawit said, as he did months ago, that “the speed of the probe depends on how quickly luxury watch dealers respond to NACC requests for information about the 22 watches seen worn by Gen Prawit…”.

We can only guess that the dealers have been ordered/told/threatened/encouraged not to respond.

Worawit added that “it is not complicated verifying the 22 watches’ owners via the serial numbers, it takes time repeating the same process for each watch…”.

He did respond to the activists who demanded investigations to include all witnesses, saying that “questioning of witnesses, including the children of Pattawat Suksriwong, the late close friend of Gen Prawit, is completed…”.

Presumably that has produced receipts for the purchase of each watch and the tax paid. Yeah, right.

Update: The Bangkok Post has an editorial that makes all the obvious points. It notes that the NACC’s claim for delays is not at all convincing. This is also worth repeating:

The latest delay to the probe revealed this week will come as no surprise to the public but disgraces both Gen Prawit and the National Anti-Corruption Commission (NACC), which has six of its nine commissioners appointed by the current regime. This unnecessary and unconvincing delay has deepened the public’s mistrust in the agency’s integrity and independence, and in Gen Prawit’s claim.





NACC on watch

9 05 2018

It was only a couple of days ago that PPT mentioned how very quiet the National Anti-Corruption Commission had been since Gen Prawit Wongsuwan told them his luxury watch case was over. We assumed then that the NACC has done as it was ordered and there’s no case for the boss to answer.

Interestingly, a couple of activists have raised the watch case again. Akechai Hongkangwarn and Chokchai Phaiboonratchata have asked that “the NACC to summon Jiraphan and Jutiphon Suksriwong, daughters of Pattawat Suksriwong, for questioning over the luxury watch scandal.” Pattawat is the dead businessman Gen Prawit claims to have “borrowed” a score of expensive watches from.

The two activists, with considerable merit, “said that since Pattawat had died, his two daughters should clarify whether the watches in question belonged to their late father as claimed by Gen Prawit.” It seems the NACC has neglected these women, while hoping the case will just go quiet and go away.

We can’t wait to hear the NACC response.