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.

Supoj’s corruption

19 10 2018

It wasn’t that long ago that PPT mentioned the “missing” case of Supoj Saplom. Then we said:

Everyone know the Ministry of Transport is a cash cow for officials and their ministerial bosses. It has been that way for a very long time. Add on transport infrastructure and the whole area is awash with cash and corruption.

Who can forget the case of Supoj Saplom that came to light in late 2011. As floods bore down on Bangkok, Supoj worried that all of his ill-gotten gains might get water-logged, so he had all of his cash moved to an upper-level room in his house. When a gang of tipped-off burglars found the loot, there was so much cash they claimed they couldn’t carry it all away. One of the blue-collar crooks claimed the gang found 700 million to 1 billion baht in cash stuffed into bags.moneybags 1

The story of the white-collar crook’s loot was a sensation for a while and then faded. He was alleged to have accumulated the money as permanent secretary at the Ministry of Transport and chairman of the State Railways of Thailand. Earlier he was Director of the lucrative Highways Department.

The burglars were all jailed. Supoj was convicted of something and jailed for 10 months, but presumably was bailed awaiting an appeal. We can’t find anything else in the media records post-2017.

Now we learn that Supoj has been “found unusually rich …[and] has been sent to prison for 10 months for filing false asset declarations, after losing his appeal.” So our guess was right.

Supoj Saplom went off to the “Bangkok Remand Prison on Thursday after a judicial appeal panel of the Supreme Court for politicians and state officials upheld an earlier court ruling.”

The court managed to mangle things, just deciding that “as a high-ranking official, Supoj had not set an example for others when he failed to declare assets worth over 20 million baht.” That figure sounds remarkably low.

The 20 million sounds odd in the context of a civil court seizing more than 65 million from him. Even that seems low for a person in his position.

None of the unusually wealthy in the junta’s puppet National Legislative Assembly have ever been investigated.

How to “win” an “election” III

13 08 2018

On its webpage, the Bangkok Post says: “Unnamed, influential power holders tell legislature members to be quiet and stop attempts to change the selection process of election monitors.”

In its story, the Post states that those National Legislative Assembly (NLA) members who are “seeking a legal amendment on the selection of inspectors is being lobbied to back down…”.

Who could the ” influential power holders” be? After all, The Dictator supported them. Or at least he did a few days ago.

Now, someone or some people are telling the NLA members “to review their move out of concerns that it will trigger criticism because the amendment plan involves an organic law.”

We are not sure we follow the “argument” being made, but it seems that this is not about worries that the junta’s “election” may be delayed.

Rather, it seems that the unnamed powers worry about “precedent.” The concern is that if this NLA can change an organic law, nasty politicians may have a precedent for “seeking to amend the election of MPs law to do away with election primaries.”

As we understand it, even under the junta’s anti-democratic constitution, MPs are empowered to do this. However, the “unnamed powers” don’t want this to be morally possible.

So the “unnamed powers” sound like those who have had “independent agencies” and the puppet judiciary bring charges against MPs under the Yingluck Shinawatra government for engaging is constitutional activities such as seeking to change the charter.

Is this the Deep State, some form of the “network monarchy” or some other group that can bring enormous pressure?

Delusion and reality

10 08 2018

A report in the Bangkok Post suggests that the military junta is delusional. But we don’t think they are, at least not on this one. Rather, the junta’s minions at the National Legislative Assembly, are exceeding themselves in fabricating news, piling buffalo excrement mountain high. As we posted yesterday, the NLA, in doing the junta’s bidding and scrapping the (old) Election Commission’s selections for poll inspectors. It is clear that the junta, after falling out with the (old) EC, wants these appointments to be of their men and women.

As this move has been controversial, the dolts at the NLA’s Secretariat claim to have conducted an online poll on the move. Guess what? It “shows 100% of respondents support a bid by some NLA members to seek legal amendments to nullify the selection of poll inspectors — a move which could further delay the general election expected early next year.”

By Thursday, every single one of about 6,800 people who went to the site “voiced support for the proposed amendments which will effectively scrap the entire process…”. We actually believe this because we’d think the junta and the NLA mobilized soldiers, their cyber-snoops and other supporters to go to the site and “vote.”

Such stuffing of the “ballot box” may be a last ditch strategy for the junta when it comes to the “election” that may be held some time in the future. In making this prediction, we were reminded of some comments in a recent story by Shawn Crispin at the Asia Times Online, who was also betting on a “May election.”

Crispin points to “local media … awash with reports that the newly formed, pro-junta Palang Pracharat Party has poached politicians from both Peua Thai and the Democrats, with some local papers suggesting that either party could collapse under the weight of the supposed defections.” The Palang Pracharath lot reckon they have the “election” sown up under the junta’s rules. The report cites “Suchart Chanataramanee, the party’s co-founder and [Gen] Prayut[h Chan-ocha]’s military academy classmate, [who] has boldly predicted Palang Pracharat will win the next polls, though not with a majority. If no party wins an outright majority, the military-appointed Senate lends its vote to picking the next premier, a scenario that favors Prayut.”

But Crispin questions whether “the junta believes it is luring enough vote-winning politicians, as well as its own propaganda touting Prayut’s supposedly strong grass roots popularity, to finally hold long-delayed elections…”. He adds that “most independent analysts believe it will resoundingly lose.” He cites some statistics:

Reasons abound to doubt recent rosy pro-junta projections. Suan Dusit, a local pollster, showed in June that 55% of respondents saw Peua Thai as the country’s top party, with the Democrats at 34% and Palang Pracharat at a mere 17%. A National Institute of Development Administration survey in May also showed Peua Thai outpacing Palang Pracharat, though by a narrower 32% to 25% margin.

Polls conducted by the Internal Security Operations Command (ISOC), a military spy agency, have consistently shown that Peua Thai would resoundingly win new polls, a person familiar with the surveys told Asia Times. Those results haven’t changed even with Prayut’s recent populist-style forays upcountry, the same source says.

Crispin then wonders whether there will be an election, saying the junta “still has election escape routes…”.

One is the king’s coronation, and that hasn’t been announced.

Another is that the king could ask for amendments to the election laws.

Then there’s the unnamed “official close to the premier [who] says some in the junta remain reluctant to hold elections that could tilt towards instability while Thailand holds next year’s rotating chairmanship of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (Asean), a statesman role Prayut would apparently relish as a prestigious capstone to his tenure.”

And there are others not mentioned: the junta may just decide to stay on; the junta could create instability so it can stay on; the election inspector fiasco could delay the poll; the queen might die and require a military-managed funeral; the junta could hold an election and cheat and manipulate to win it (the Cambodia model); and so on.

Whatever excuse, with Thaksin Shinawatra criticizing the junta and declaring his forces will win the long struggle, the junta will be considering all its anti-democratic options.