Updated: Feckless fools

29 04 2019

The Election Commission is a hastily cobbled together sham and a joke.

After the re-run of the “election” in Nakhon Pathom province, on Sunday  EC commissioner Chatchai Chanpraisri announced that “the Future Forward Party had won over the Democrat Party by 65 votes.”

The Democrat Party challenged this announcement and provided figures showing its candidate won by four votes. Today EC secretary-general Jarungvith Phumma “admitted … the Democrat account was accurate.

EC deputy secretary-general Sawang Boonmee “said the incorrect results announced on Sunday were unofficial and were made before the counting tally had been completed.”

What a mob of feckless failures this EC is. The are incompetent and stupid. That’s probably not the EC’s fault as much as the junta’s puppet National Legislative Assembly selecting hopeless incompetents for the task of ensuring the junta “won” the “election.”

Update: It seems the feckless fools are also cheats. That seems to be the implication of Future Forward’s response to the Nakorn Pathom fiasco. The party is “pressing for a poll rerun … to set the record straight after claiming Sunday’s ballot recount was riddled with inaccuracies.” As well as the inaccuracies, the party also pointed to “a 20-second blackout while the ballots were being recounted…”. Blackouts seem to have been remarkably common during vote counts.





EC blames voters for its failures

22 04 2019

An interview with the Bangkok Post by Election Commission chair Ittiporn Boonpracong is headlined “Setting the record straight.”It is nothing of the sort. Like the administration of the “election,” it is nothing short of a scam.

Where Ittiporn “admits” to flaws in the “election,” these are described as relatively minor problems that the EC can “come up with a quick but comprehensive solution to the issues.” He babbles about advance voting and fixing that. He fails to explain why the EC’s expensive taxpayer-funded study tours didn’t help identify these quite basic “issues.”

One thing that Ittiporn does “set straight” is that fact that the Election Commissioners are unqualified for their positions. Ittiporn is a former diplomat, “some are former judges” and  another ” is a former permanent secretary…”. Another is a lecturer in environmental technology and one more was a former member of the defunct National Reform Steering Assembly.

All commissioners were selected by the junta’s puppet National Legislative Assembly for being suitable for doing the junta’s work.

As to the complaints about the EC’s performance, Ittiporn is mostly dismissive, saying that while the EC ” can’t immediately provide an answer to these queries,” it can sort out and explain the anomalies given some time and investigations. He adds: “the amount of mistakes were relatively minimal and many of these mistakes cannot be blamed on the EC, or the system.”

He goes on to blame “voters.” Ittiporn says that the claims and accusations about the EC’s failures are due to mobile phones and social media.

His claims take on a bizarre yellow hue, intimating that “voters who were not previously familiar with politics with easy access to multiple sources of information, both real and fake.”

Presumably the “voters” are the usual suspects – “the “uneducate,” who are beguiled by fake news, which seems to be news that criticizes the EC. He responds: “Back in 2011, not many people had mobile phones. It is a different story today, as more and more people express their views online, without even thinking.” He adds that the criticisms are “rants”:

We have arrived at that point in history where anyone can post whatever message they want without feeling any guilt. In the past, mass media such as newspapers had to publish apologies if they run a false story. These days, social media users can just go on numerous rants online without thinking of the consequences.

After this “defense,” he cheers the military dictatorship:

As a citizen, I think it was necessary for a strong figure to step in, otherwise there would have been lots of casualties among the yellow- and red-shirted protesters. It was meant to restore peace and order.

In short, a junta supporter, made head of an EC that has been incompetent, blames voters for the problems encountered in the “election” and for criticism of the EC. He’s a remarkable dolt. But we guess the junta knew that when he was appointed.





Torture, impunity

12 03 2019

While the puppet National Legislative Assembly continues to pass all manner of legislation, working faster than it ever has, seeking to complete the military junta’s political agenda before the NLA passes into history.

At the same time, it has resisted legislation that would limit the impunity of the military’s and state’s assassins and torturers.

In a recent editorial, the Bangkok Post noted:

Shortly after it was appointed by the new military regime in 2014, the National Legislative Assembly proposed a law that would criminalise torture and the government murders known as “enforced disappearances”.

But almost 5 years later, this legislation – the Torture and Enforced Disappearance Prevention and Suppression Bill – is likely to be dropped. The Post comments:

The refusal to ban abuses and murders that are illegal in most countries and by international law is a shameful blot. Both the regime and its appointed parliament share that shame.

The editorial observes that torture is standard practice in Thailand. It also notes that another horrendous practice – enforced disappearance – has also been widely used:

Thailand has never had a law against torture. It has never legislated against the detestable crime of disappearing — murdering and hiding the bodies — critics and activists who have not broken the law.

It might have added that the military regime appears to have escalated this practice internationally for “protecting” the monarchy.

Clipped from Thai Alliance for Human Rights website

This perhaps explains why the military regime’s “supporters in the NLA have already tried to strip accountability from the pending legislation,” extending impunity. The regime, the military and the police want to be able to torture and “disappear” with impunity. Many in the ruling class agree that their henchmen should have such “powers.”

Victims, their supporters and families are left powerless and that’s how the regime, the military and the police want.





The junta’s senate

1 03 2019

The process of shortlisting senators by a military regime panel will not be difficult. That’s according to Deputy Prime Minister Wissanu Krea-ngam.

He says that’s because “[t]hey are likely to be recruited from members of various bodies who were appointed by the junta and from specialists in various professions…”. Wissanu added that those considered will be “drawn from the National Legislative Assembly as well as defunct bodies such as the National Reform Council and National Reform Steering Council.”

Wissanu revealed that “400 Senate candidates will be shortlisted by the recently established panel headed by Deputy Prime Minister Prawit Wongsuwon.” The Deputy Dictator will then pass these names to the junta. Yes, that’s right, the junta presents the names to the junta.

After the junta gets the names from the junta, it then chooses 194 unelected senators and 50 “reserve” candidates. And, of course, six seats are given to the bosses of each of the armed forces leaders, the supreme commander, the permanent secretary of the Ministry of Defense the national police chief. All of these are junta supporters, appointed by the junta.

The remaining 50 senators are also selected by the junta “from among 200 candidates who have already been shortlisted in a process supervised by the [puppet] Election Commission.”

In other words, the senate will be the junta’s people and will do the junta’s bidding.





Puppet NLA and the junta’s “work”

24 02 2019

The Bangkok Post reports that the puppet National Legislative Assembly will continue to do the military junta’s work “until May 23, nearly two months after the election and a day before the new parliament is expected to convene.”

Not a day wasted by the military dictatorship! At least not in doing the junta’s work. In fact, though, on fat salaries, junta appointees to the NLA have been moving pretty slowly over the years of their unelected tenure:

iLaw noted the NLA has sped up passing bills since late last year. From Jan 18 to Feb 18, it passed 66 bills, or 2.5 a day, compared with 12.1 per month (in four months) in 2014, 7.5 in 2015, 6.1 in 2016, 4.8 in 2017 and 6 bills a month in 2018.

If the junta’s party doesn’t “win” the rigged election, then the next government will have a devil of a time sorting through and undoing the worst of the junta’s legislation.

As reported some time ago, this “work” is being done even when the Office of His Majesty’s Principal Private Secretary has grabbed back the parliament building. This means that the NLA “will then have to gather at temporary meeting sites as construction is still continuing on the new Parliament buildings…” is incomplete.

Clearly the work of parliament is far less important that royal land grabbing.

As a footnote, it is added that “[i]f the new parliament building is still not available by May, newly elected legislators will also have to use the TOT facility at a monthly rate of 1 million baht.”





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.