Rigging, lying for Palang Pracharath’s advantage

31 01 2019

It may seem a political age ago, but it was only on Tuesday that The Dictator was reported in the Bangkok Post as having “insisted … he will not resign and will remain in power until a new government is sworn in.”

The Dictator claimed he was irreplaceable: “I won’t quit. If I quit, who can take my place?”

He might have added that staying in place while the Palang Pracharath  Party campaigns for him to be premier also means he can control funds and use them as he wishes to benefit his party. He will also be able to use dictatorial Article 44 whenever he wants.

His position on not resigning seems unchanged despite the fact that he is now officially the main Palang Pracharath candidate for prime minister.

Speaking about his political future, Gen Prayuth said he would “accept a party’s invitation to be nominated as a candidate for prime minister.”

One of his deputies, Somkid Jatusripitak, is also a Palang Pracharath nominee and a strategist for the party while still in place as a junta cabinet member.

It is pretty clear that Palang Pracharat is the junta.

When asked about its nomination of two junta members and a cabinet member who resigned as minister a day earlier, party secretary-general Sontirat Sontijirawong, who was Commerce Minister until a couple of days ago, decided to stick to form and lie.

He “denied that proposing Gen Prayut as prime minister was an attempt to extend the power of the junta beyond the election.” He went further into a dissembling swamp claiming his party “was founded in line with the democratic process and was not the political party of the National Council for Peace and Order [the military junta]…”.

Every single person in Thailand knows that Sontirat is lying. The party is nothing more than a junta device for staying in power, underpinned by its rigged constitution and electoral laws.

Another liar is Deputy Prime Minister Somkid who just a day or so ago “denied that he would be among the PPRP’s three potential candidates for prime minister.” That lie lasted about 24 hours.

But there’s a pattern here. The party is dominated by liars and cheats.

Meanwhile, there are other neglected parts of the junta’s regime that will continue to “work” right up until there’s an “election.” This is unusual, and even under the junta’s constitution, a caretaker administration is meant to be in place. But that doesn’t apply to the junta’s regime.

The National News Bureau reports that the National Legislative Assembly has been busy unanimously passing laws that will constrain normal political activity long into the future.

The most recent unanimous “vote” in the NLA was to pass a “draft Municipal Act into law on Friday.”

The law, endorsed without any objection, restricts the operations of local governance and decentralization. That’s been the junta’s aim since its coup, seeking to roll back local democracy.

The National News Bureau also reports that the NLA will only end its “meetings one week prior to the national poll.” After that, as far as we can tell from the junta’s constitution, the NLA continues in place until the day before the new parliament is convened. But if it is not meeting, then it is The Dictator and his junta who will be in control until a new government is formed, and that would be for up to two months.

So the junta has a party. That party has a government that is working for it as the junta and The Dictator control all of government for all of the “election” campaign and after the election. And, it has Article 44. That’s a huge advantage even in a situation where the junta has already rigged the rules.





Updated: More changes at the CPB

7 01 2019

There have been more changes announced for the Crown Property Bureau, the largest privately-held conglomerate and investment business in Thailand, owned by King Vajiralongkorn.

Back in July 2017 the junta’s National Legislative Assembly met in secret session to change the law on the CPB, giving the king complete control.

At that time, the legislation provided the king with sole authority over royal assets. Whereas the Ministry of Finance and its minister previously had nominal roles in managing the CPB and its board of directors, the legislation gave the king the power to appoint a board of directors for the CPB.

Since then, there have been a series of changes for the CPB, with directors sacked and other brought in as the CPB became populated by the king’s men (rather than his father’s men), CPB shares became the king’s, large tracts of urban land being taken by the CPB, and the king becoming the final arbiter in disputes over what is considered royal property.

The latest change to the board of directors is fascinating. As the Bangkok Post reports, the king appointed Privy Councilor Ampon Kittiampon and current Army commander Gen Apirat Kongsompong to the CPB.

Ampon was appointed to the Privy Council in October last year and came from the junta NLA. A few days ago, The Economist stated:

King Vajiralongkorn has also put his stamp on the privy council, a body which has a role in naming the heir to the throne, among other things. It once contained individuals who opposed his becoming king at all. Now it is stuffed with loyal military men.

Ampon is not military, but he’s loyal.

The Economist also commented on Gen Apirat: “The army, too, is receiving a royal makeover. The commander-in-chief appointed in September, Apirat Kongsompong, is the king’s man.”

Gen Apirat’s appointment seems unusual. We can’t recall serving officers being appointed to the CPB’s board. If any readers can recall a similar appointment, let us know.

What is clear is that the CPB is now the king’s CPB. It is also stuffed with military personnel – 8 of the 11 directors carry military and police ranks – with several of them having served the military junta.

Update: A reader passed this on to us. It is a statement by a military watcher: “The appointment of Wongthewan faction leader and Army Chief Apirat to the Crown Property Bureau board offers the latest indication of the Traditional Institution’s preference for Apirat over Prayut/Prawit. Growing army fissures could give rise to a counter-coup by Apirat against the junta.” PPT has no idea if this guess is correct but we would note that there are plenty of junta loyalists in the palace’s boards and that Apirat is secretary for the junta. Even so, the king is certainly punting on the future.





Election (probably) delayed IV

6 01 2019

PPT was wrong when we speculated and asked: if the king’s coronation really is a problem, why does the commentary not criticize the monarch for choosing a date that screws up elections?

Going by an ultra-royalist outburst National Legislative Assembly President Pornpetch Wichitcholchai, people are being critical of the palace.

The yellow-hued Pornpetch has “warned critics to refrain from blaming the coronation ceremony for causing a potential delay of the election.” How dare they!

He implies the king can do whatever he wants – which is increasingly true – and, supporting the junta, declares that the Election Commission “must choose the appropriate timing for the election and to make sure that it does not not affect the auspicious ceremony which, he added, would bring joy and happiness to the Thai people in general ‘because they have high respect for the Monarchy’.”

Now, apart from the now usual but still ridiculous monarchism that marks Thailand’s every move and the monarchist shibboleth, he is effectively warning the EC that it could face lese majeste accusations if it doesn’t move the election as the junta and presumably the palace wants it.

He added a comment that “the government must make sure that all the preparations related to the coronation ceremony befit a very special event.” In other words, only the junta can do this.

We can’t help wondering if this claim, which was also made by commentators to justify the 2014 coup, carries any weight with those commentators today.

In the end, blame the junta for postponing an “election” for almost five years and blame the palace for choosing a date that the know screws the election schedule.

Mutual backscratching? Who knows.





Unfree, unfair election date set (probably)

8 12 2018

With major parties boycotting its meeting at the Army Club, the military junta talked at representatives some 75 political parties, of which the Bangkok Post observed “almost none of them with even a remote chance of winning a seat…”.

The meeting saw the junta pronouncing that:

it will lift the ban on political activities on Tuesday when the Act on the election of MPs takes effect. Parties may then resume the work necessary to prepare for the general election as the Feb 24 poll date has been officially confirmed.

Well, sort of. The Election Commission still has to officially announce the date, but we shouldn’t expect anything out of the ordinary from that puppet agency. It has been ordered to make the announcement on 4 January.

On boycotting the junta’s lecture, Chaturon Chaisang of the Thai Raksa Chart Party, said his party:

shunned the meeting with the NCPO [the junta] and the EC because the regime has no business discussing the rules and preparations for the election as the matter should be left to the EC and political parties to discuss.

Of course, Chaturon is absolutely correct. But the junta cares little for rules, ethics or law.

The military junta also announced its timetable:

Election decree issued: 2 January

Official EC announcement of election date: 4 January

Candidacy applications and party lists of possible prime minister: 14-18 January

EC announcement of candidates: 25 January

Overseas voting: 4-16 February

Voting for those living outside their constituencies: 17 February

Election date: 24 February

Last day for election results announcement: 25 April

Last day for junta to finalize appointed senators: 28 April

Parliament convenes: 9 May

Junta deputy premier Wissanu Krea-ngam said that on 28 December, “the junta will stop proposing legislation to the National Legislative Assembly (NLA).” The NLA will only cease enacting legislation on 15 February, meaning just 9 days prior to the election.

The timetable is interesting in that it is exceptionally tight, disadvantaging small and new parties and challenging the bigger parties as well. At the same time, it is unlikely that overseas voters can expect ballot papers just 9 days after the announcement of candidates.

We might also worry that the two months from election day to the official announcement can be misused by the junta. The junta selection of senators, also two months after the election, will be completed after the results of the election are know, allowing the junta even more opportunity to manipulate the selection.

And, the junta stays in place throughout this period, manipulating and scheming.





More land for the king’s pleasure

6 12 2018

Khaosod reported that the “House of Parliament will close its doors for good New Year’s Eve as part of a plan to relocate the legislative seat of power to a new riverside location,…”.

This claim was made by deputy National Legislative Assembly speaker Surachai Liengboonlertchai and it is, frankly, very short on truth. We say this because it is simply ludicrous to think that anyone, even in the junta’s dumbed down administration, would plan to close the parliament building before the new building is completed. But that is what the disingenuous Surachai would have people believe.

We did think that this move shows the disdain the military junta has for parliament. After all, it populates it with puppets, so who really needs a parliament house.

But then, when it is considered that the NLA  must now “rent conference halls for sessions to be held after the current building shutters,” we got to wondering when it was stated:

The parliament in Dusit district opened in 1974 as Thailand’s second legislative assembly building. Parliament meetings were previously held in Ananta Samakhom Throne Hall and, very briefly, at the Royal Turf Club Racecourse.

Future plans for the location of the old building have yet to be announced.

We know that the former Throne Hall, the racecourse and the zoo have been accumulated by the palace, so we assumed that this was another land grab by the palace.

And so it has been. The Bangkok Post reports that “the land where the current Parliament House is situated is scheduled to be returned to the Royal Household Bureau by the end of this year…”. Apparently the palace is so desperately keen to regain the site that no extension can be considered.

This move shows the disdain the monarchy has for parliament, anything connected with 1932, and its desperation to grab back huge swathes valuable property, creating an enormous palace precinct. While the palace’s plans for the property are unknown, we suspect a huge palace will eventually be constructed.

It seems no one in Thailand is brave enough to challenge these royal land grabs.





On the junta’s senate

4 12 2018

The senate selection process belongs to the junta. This is why so few people “nominated.” To be selected, one needs to be a junta crony or one of its potential or actual political ally.

The Election Commission’s Jarungvith Phumma has said that just “7,210 people have applied to compete in the contest and the turnout is much lower than the EC expected.” It is stated that the EC expected at least 30,000 candidates. Another report has it that the EC had previously predicted “90,000 to 100,000 applicants from all over the country…”.

Confirming our view, “Chartchai Na Chiangmai, a member of the [puppet] Constitution Drafting Committee, said the low turnout could be because the candidates are not sure if they will eventually be picked by the regime.” And, many felt that the junta had already chosen its representatives for the senate. As Chartchai put it: “They [potential applicants] see no motivation for them to apply. They are sceptical [and see ] that in the end the NCPO [junta] may not appoint them…”.

As an aside, it is interesting to note that this “process” costs the taxpayer up to Bt1.3 billion.

The senate

An earlier Bangkok Post report explained that the junta is still in the process of setting up a secret committee to secretly consider the appointees for the senate.

Deputy Prime Minister Wissanu Krea-ngam said the junta “will appoint between nine and 12 people to the committee that will oversee the selection of the 194 senators.” He revealed that few of these will “come from an open selection process as there might be too many applicants, which would make vetting their qualifications difficult.” Rather, the junta will choose.

One source at the puppet National Legislative Assembly is reported as saying “[p]otential appointees include the army’s top brass, political post-holders and businessmen who have close ties to Prime Minister [Gen] Prayut Chan-o-cha, his deputy [Gen] Prawit Wongsuwan, army chief [Gen] Apirat Kongsompong and NLA president Pornpetch Wichitcholchai.” The senate is likely to look and behave like the puppet NLA.





Doubling down on double standards VII

23 10 2018

In a recent post, PPT mentioned the obvious double standard – and as a reader points out, probably a fracturing of the law – of ministers-Palang Pracharath-party-executives-cabinet-members-junta-minions having the direct support of state agencies in their “election” campaigning. The Bank for Agriculture and Agricultural Cooperatives was working with their campaign. (The Bank is 99.79% owned by the Thai Ministry of Finance.)

Gen Prayuth and the NLA

In a similar vein, the Bangkok Post reports that the puppet National Legislative Assembly is also getting involved in lopsided campaigning for the junta’s party. This development is sadly expected from the puppets.

The NLA’s vice president Peerasak Porjit has unconvincingly “denied reports … that he is helping the Palang Pracharath Party (PPRP) prepare potential candidates to stand in the election.”

Puppet Peerasak said “he has merely been making introductions” for the junta’s devil party. In fact, he’s reverting to his previous political role as local dark influence and hua khanaen vote accumulator. He’s a bit like the Khunpluem gang.

As he explained, defining this role, “he has a large circle of friends due to his line of work, adding he is a former senator for Uttaradit, ex-chairman of the provincial administrative organisation, and head of the NLA’s public relations campaign.”

He said while he gives his opinions or advice to politicians seeking to join political parties and contest the elections, he does not have a say in a political party’s internal affairs.

Like the ministers-Palang Pracharath-party-executives-cabinet-members-junta-minions, Peerasak lied when he claimed that he knew the “boundaries” between political and electoral participation and his official role as a puppet legislator.

What he knows is that by supporting the military junta’s devil party he can get away with all kinds of improper things.

The Post report states that other puppet “lawmakers are helping the PPRP shortlist election candidates.” Others are said to be “lobbying for Senate seats” which means more sucking up to the junta. We guess that’s Peerasak’s plan, transferring from the puppet NLA to the puppet Senate.

We guess this is his plan because he lied that “NLA members are experts and are qualified to join specialists from other fields to serve as senators.” Of course, their “qualifications” are in being unusually wealthy and able to cling to the junta like Remora. He happily confirmed that the military junta is “sending out any signals about NLA members who may be interested in serving as senators…”.

Double standards are the junta’s standards. Unfair and perhaps illegal advantages and embedding their minions throughout a post-“election” regime.