Old farts and their lies

19 06 2018

Old fart is sometimes considered a pejorative term. In this case it certainly is meant that way.

Constitution drafter to several military and fascist regimes Meechai Ruchupan is an old fart. He’s a continual meddler on behalf of the past.

Recently he was forced to deny that the constitution he dutifully prepared the anti-democratic charter for the military dictatorship “was written with a goal of paving the way for a government of ‘national unity’ after the next general election.”

Meechai, chairman of the Constitution Drafting Commission, then lied. Not just fibbed, but lied big time: “He declared that the junta’s constitution … was based on suggestions from public members.”

Nothing could be further from the truth.

Meechai must not be permitted to lie about the junta’s basic law.

The junta’s constitution was drawn up on the military dictatorship’s orders, based on anti-democratic ideology, written by the junta’s puppets and approved by the junta’s puppet National Legislative Assembly.

While the charter was approved in a referendum, this vote was neither free nor fair, with the dictatorship’s thugs preventing any campaign against it or any criticism.

The only major changes made were ordered by King Vajiralongkorn who took the opportunity to grab more power for himself, which the junta granted in secret sessions of the NLA.

Meechai lied again when he claimed it was impossible to scheme on an election outcome: “You can’t plot such a plan that is speculated…”.

That’s buffalo manure. The most basic reason for the2014 military coup was to ensure that pro-Thaksin Shinawatra parties could never win another election. It plotted to do this by changing the electoral rules in ways that seek to ensure such an outcome.

Meechai’s lies were piled one on another as he declared that the junta’s Constitution was written to benefit of the public. The charter was drawn up to benefit the amart, the elite, royalists, anti-democrats and the military.

Meechai’s lies are a part of a process to prevent changes being made to the junta’s constitution should all of the above fail and an anti-junta regime somehow comes to power.





Rigging the future

17 06 2018

The military dictatorship is not just seeking to rig its “election” but also Thailand’s political future. One major element of this latter rigging is the illegitimate constitution and associated laws and agencies. Another element is the so-called strategic plan that is a political straightjacket for any future government for two decades.

The junta-appointed assembly has recently resolved to establish a “committee to vet the junta’s proposed 20-year strategic plans.” Exactly what this might mean when the National Legislative Assembly is a puppet that always – always – supports the dictatorship is anyone’s guess. Our guess is that it is about providing the junta’s political straightjacket with fake legitimacy.

The NLA now has a “38-member committee to look into the details of the plans…”.

For the junta, as its legal remora Wissanu Krea-ngam told the assembled marionettes that:

having binding 20-year plans is appropriate for Thai society, as a new generation of Thai children will be born and grow up nurtured under future government policies that reflect the present junta’s plans.

He believes that is a good and noble idea, reflecting the warped political “vision” that emerges in those associated with dictatorships.

Wissanu added that “various national strategic plans … [have] room for adjustment … every five years.” By this he means that a junta-appointed “national strategic planning committee can inform the parliament and adjust the plan accordingly.”

In other words, future governments will remain under the control of a junta plan and a junta committee. Wissanu proudly declared that “the bill … would ensure that future governments cannot endorse policies that contravene the plans.”

The “national plans cover six areas devised by committees entirely appointed by the junta: national security [no fiddling with the military]; national competitiveness; human resources development; social equality; the environment and quality of life.” Most of those things might sound reasonable but all are defined by unelected puppet committees writing junta-defined and approved “plans” that seek to:

… turn Thailand into a develop country within 20 years; stress peace and order at all levels of society; reinforce loyalty to the nation, state and the monarchy; and change Thai attitudes to be more disciplined, ethical and honest.

The proposals intend, as one marionette explained it, to make “Thais … able and good…”. This stresses the anti-democratic notion of moral persons.

According to another report, the puppet NLA is going through the motions for the media and to suggest “legitimacy” but, in reality:

[u]nder law, the chamber has 30 days to decide on the plan after receiving it from the Cabinet. Unlike normal legislation that requires three readings during which the NLA could make changes, the Assembly cannot alter the strategy and can only either approve or drop it.

It is an sham assembly, providing sham legitimacy for a junta that is rigging Thailand’s political future.





“Election” news

13 06 2018

There’s much in the news about the military junta’s “election” campaigning. Just in the Bangkok Post we found four stories of the junta on the campaign trail.

The first Bangkok Post story reports that instead of dealing with political parties as it said it would, The Dictator’s legal whipping boy Wissanu Krea-ngam – he always the one sent to deal with legal news and bad news – “will meet the Constitution Drafting Committee (CDC) and the Election Commission (EC) Thursday evening to discuss preparations for the general election.”

Screw the parties that are meant to participate in the general election unless, of course, the junta like you and feeds you information.

Wissanu and that other anti-democrat since the 1970s, Meechai Ruchupan, chairman of the Constitution Drafting Committee, seem to be the junta’s finger pointers.

Even so, Meechai “said that an agenda for the talks has not yet been set.” That seems to mean that he and Wissanu have yet been given their orders.

Meechai did say that the Election Commission “will specify the date from when, legally, an election can be held,” but that’s untrue because the process of approving legislation has maximum dates but also elastic periods in it as well.

Meechai dismissed the idea that parties should be able to communicate with the public – voters – saying they should be “sending the information electronically.” The idea of prospective politicians – other than the junta – talking to voters is off limits.

Getting in on the “election” act, National Legislative Assembly president Pornpetch Wichitcholchai said: “Everything will happen next year as set out in the roadmap…”. He was “referring to the premier’s earlier statement regarding a poll next February.”

Even Wissanu doesn’t buy that claim.

The second Bangkok Post story is a bit of a re-run with the Puea Thai Party accusing “people in power” – the junta and its military minions – of “increasing their efforts to lure its politicians into their fold, asking whether this behind-doors approach is the best four years of political reform has to offer.”

The junta’s people have invited “some former Pheu Thai MPs … to meet authoritative figures to talk about switching parties in the lead-up to a general election next year.” As lures and bait, they were offered “positions, budgets and financial help during the election…”.

While some complain that this is “Thai politics is still trapped in the old cycle,” it is exactly what the junta intended by its “reform” efforts.

The junta’s vacuuming up of politicians makes James Dyson look like an amateur.

A third Bangkok Post story is about the junta’s “populist” policies. The junta is reacting to potential negative electoral impacts from rising fuel prices by subsidizing them.For gas, they’ve been doing it for some time already.

When previous “bad” elected governments did this there was considerable criticism, not least from the those campaigning against “populism” at the Thailand Development Research Institute. We await their market-friendly criticism of the junta. We won’t hold out breath.

The Energy Policy Administration Committee “will only be able to subsidise the cap until mid-July, assuming additional resources are not channelled into the fund.” That’s another junta decision to be made. It comes on top of diesel subsidies.

Almost 8 million households and vendors will benefit.That’s a lot of voters being influenced by what was called “policy corruption” when elected governments were involved.

But its not just using state funds but making huge promises almost everywhere The Dictator campaigns.

The last Bangkok Post story involves the money trail through the near north. There, the junta’s “cabinet accepted in principle Tuesday a proposal to construct a double-track railway linking Tak and Nakhon Phanom as part of the transport routes under the East-West Economic Corridor.”

That proposal goes back to the 1980s!

Junta spokesman Lt Gen Sansern Kaewkamnerd “said the proposed 902km railway development” would begin in Mae Sot and go to Nakhon Sawan on the Lao border. Presumably, scenic carriages will be used as the train runs through the mountains around Mae Sot.

No funds have been promised. Maybe in the 2019 budget, when The Dictator is still premier, “election” or not. Feasibility? Economic, environmental and social impacts? No news. It’s just an “election” pitch.

There’s also a “26.8-billion-baht road expansion proposal covering 486km for the same cluster” of towns on the route.

Another pitch was a “a proposal to build an airport in Nakhon Sawan” that would be “considered”even with so-called high-speed railway scheduled to zoom through that city. Even the junta knows this but promised some kind of airport to voters.

We are sure the “election” news will continue to mount as the junta seeks to rig the “election.”





Not criticizing The Dictator

13 06 2018

The puppet National Legislative Assembly has worked hard for the military junta. Passing laws, delaying laws, speaking the junta’s language and being loyally anti-democratic.

So deeply committed to their junta employers is this hotch-potch of lazy generals, rewarded anti-democrats and automatons that, as Khaosod reports, “[m]ore than three quarters of [all] the bills made into law by junta-appointed legislators have been passed without a single vote of opposition…”. As the report has it: “The Internet Reform Dialog group found that 77 percent of 292 bills have been passed in their third reading without a single nay…”.

One of the appointed marionettes says this is the wrong way to look at it. Wallop Tangkananuwat reckons the process of deliberation is important and that the vote represents just a decision on the NLA’s final outcome.

That may be true, but the lack of any opposing voices means that almost no bill is actually debated by the somnolent puppet legislators. Relatively few major changes to the junta’s bills, unless approved by The Dictator.

Even the Democrat Party’s Nipit Intarasombat, “an eight-time former MP with the Democrat Party, said those results would only appear normal before a parliament appointed by a dictator.” He adds: “That’s how the system work[s]. In a dictatorial system, it would be abnormal if there are voices of opposition.” He’s right.

The iLaw’s Narongsak Niamsorn says it is also a result of the simple fact that “of the current 248 NLA members, 144 are active-duty or retired military officers, 66 are government officials and 11 are from the police force. That adds up to 221 – 90 percent – of the body’s 248 members.”

It is a rubber-stamp parliament that dare not criticize the junta or The Dictator. But then the NLA has no reason to criticize, being peas of the same anti-democratic pod.





Don’t criticize The Dictator (for 20 years)

12 06 2018

Khaosod reports that the junta’s puppet National Legislative Assembly “will decide Thursday whether future civilian leaders should face criminal prosecution for not following plans left in place by the military government for the next 20 years.”

Some of the NLA marionettes believe “there is a need to make sure future governments stick to the yet to be finalized National Strategic Plan – while allowing some room for some flexibility.”

They want to establish “[c]riminal liability for future cabinet members not following the plans – which would be construed as dereliction of duty…”. That would mean removal from office.

In other words, the NLA is abetting the junta in establishing grounds and process for controlling future elected governments and for removing them without having to bother with a military coup.

This is a kind of back stop should the unthinkable (for the junta) happen and The Dictator not become premier following an “election.”

According to a draft of the bill, it would be “the junta-appointed National Strategic Plan Committee and the junta-appointed senate [that] could petition the Constitutional Court to remove politicians and agency heads if they do not implement the plan.”

The six so-called national strategies are: “national security; fostering national competitiveness; human resources development; social equity and reduction of disparity; the environment and state administration development.”

In essence, any non-junta approved elected government will be straitjacketed into a position resembling the puppet NLA.





Local elections “this year”?

11 06 2018

After essentially telling the nation that the military junta’s “election” was off the much-touted “road map,”  the Bangkok Post reports that an unnamed source says the junta was “preparing to hold local elections this year as it wants to ‘test the waters’ ahead of the national election expected next February…”.

We have doubts about this “source” and the claims. For one thing, almost no-one expects an election in February. For another, talks about local elections are not new, but have gone missing for several months. It was back in November that Wissanu Krea-ngam said local elections would be held within 45 days of bills to amend six laws relating to regional governing bodies being enacted.

We have heard little about those bills and laws. This report states that “the Council of State, which is the government’s legal advisory body, has finished scrutinising six legislative bills relating to local elections.” They would then go to the junta’s cabinet and then to the National Legislative Assembly before going through the formal approval process.

If that is true, it would mean that local elections could probably be held – if the junta so decrees – by very late this year or early next year. And, that could easily delay national elections even further.

The most recent mumbling about local elections “comes as the government [junta] is likely to reinstate several more local leaders put on suspension pending corruption probes in what is seen by critics as a ploy to achieve political aims at the general election.”

Another unnamed source, this one at the Election Commission, said the junta has ordered the Local Administration Department, which is under the authority of Gen Anupong Paojinda, “to prepare local elections as the government [junta] wanted to assess local support for the government [junta] and parties.”

As it was several months ago, local polls are seen as a way to “ease public calls for a speedy return to democracy.” According to this source, “the results of local elections will be factored in when the government [junta] makes a decision to hold the general election…”.

Given that most political parties are unable to do much at all at present, local elections would be easy for the regime to control and manipulate and would be a chance for it to promote pro-junta parties ahead of the national election it plans for them to “win.” It would also be an opportunity for the junta to ensure it has its people in administrative place for controlling national elections at the local level.

In this context, should local elections be held, the real fight will be to prevent the junta from expanding its bootprint even further at the local level.





Snoozing snaps beget screams for media “reform”

10 06 2018

We are late getting to the story of sleeping puppets at the National Legislative Assembly.

In truth, photos of snoozing members of parliament in Thailand and elsewhere is not all that remarkable. But the response of one junta-appointed legislator is worthy of attention for its raucous defense of fellow puppets in the face of criticism.

Somchai Sawaengkarn reportedly “raged at the media for showing his fellow legislators sleeping in a session deliberating the Bt3-trillion national budget…”. Parroting his funders in the junta, he jumped up and down, stamped his feet and spat that the media “distorted the work of our five rivers of power…”.

Essentially this drip is saying that there can be no criticism of the military junta nor of the useless marionettes of the junta’s “four … branches of government.” The NLA is one of those rubber-stamp branches.

Somchai’s tantrum continued: “They showed photos of NLA members sleeping via social media.” They also printed them in newspapers. How dare they! Somchai thinks that the media should fall in line with the dictatorship: “Throughout four years, I think the media is the area which never reforms itself.” He seems to want the dissidents weeded out: “Over 90 per cent are good [being junta puppets] but the rest create distortion and conflict…”. How dare they!

Who is Somchai? He is a former unelected senator, dedicated anti-democrat, anti-Thaksin campaigner for more than a decade, hard core royalist and prone to accuse opponents of lese majeste. His rant is as expected.