Another privy councilor gone

3 03 2018

King Vajiralongkorn had no sooner arrived back in Bangkok from Germany when another privy councilor was sent packing.

Wirach (or Virat) Chinvinitkul (วิรัช ชินวินิจกุล), a former vice president and secretary of the Supreme Court and a member of the junta’s National Reform Steering Assembly was only appointed by the king on 13 December 2016. He was removed by announcement on Friday.

We await stories, announcements and rumors on why he was removed.

It is interesting to observe that some have reported that the king has been in Germany from 29 December 2017 until 28 February 2018.

Meechai the nepotist

31 10 2017

Since the 2014 military coup, there have been several cases of nepotism involving the junta and its various puppet bodies.

Back in 2016, The Dictator was defending his brother General Preecha Chan-ocha against allegations of nepotism after a leaked memo revealed that the permanent secretary for defense had secured a military post for his son Patipat (see here and here). The same Preecha was also involved in a scandal when another son received military contracts worth nearly 27 million baht and from the army region his father once commanded. Earlier, Preecha had been unable to do the arithmetic in his assets declaration and was defended by his powerful brother.

In 2015, the Association of Organizations Protecting the Thai Constitution pointed out that Deputy PM Wissanu Krea-ngam had seen his two brothers appointed to the National Reform Steering Assembly.

Also in 2015, it was reported that 70 members of the puppet National Legislative Assembly who have hired relatives to “work” with them at taxpayers expense, ranging from about 15,000 baht to 24,000 baht per month each. That amounted to around 17-18 million baht a year, not including per diems, travel and other perks.

Thailand’s dictatorship demonstrates the arrogance of unfettered power. Nepotism runs deep and no investigations are permitted.

Getting in for a slurp at the trough is Constitution Drafting Committee chairman Meechai Ruchupan. He has fed from the military boot for decades as a dedicated servant of royalist authoritarianism.

The Bangkok Post reports that Meechai’s daughter, Mayura Chuangchote, draws a monthly salary of 47,500 baht as her father’s deputy secretary on the CDC.

Like other junta nepotists, Meechai rejects that appointing his daughter as a personal assistant in a government position is nepotism.

The nepotist says that appointing his daughter was justified because “the role had to be filled by someone reliable and who could be trusted to keep the panel’s work confidential.” Of course, he trusts his daughter! No one else among 65 million Thais could possibly do the job. Sounding like someone from the 13th century, Meechai says only family can be trusted.

We can well understand that Meechai has lots of secrets and that his work for the junta must be secretive as they connive and scheme to monopolize political power.

Meechai’s keeping it all in the family follows the example of The Dictator as puppeteer.

Now for the next 20 years…

1 08 2017

The well-paid puppet National Reform Steering Assembly members have finished their work assigned by the military dictatorship.

Its final meeting was addressed by The Dictator. As he “received” its final report, he praised his men (and a few women) for their diligence in doing his bidding. The Assembly was essentially a committee of military and bureaucratic minions and a few of the usual faces associated with regressive royalist “reform.”

General Prayuth Chan-ocha claimed that their report, demanding “reform” in 190 areas over 20 years, had “stakeholder” inputs. He means the military, bureaucracy, business and royalists anti-democrats provided some suggestions.

Prayuth is reported to have “stressed the 20-year strategic plan must be carried out along with national reform…”. Oddly, he insisted that the “plan is not designed to control governments. These are tools for driving the country forward…”.

We assume he means that the military is expected to be the enforcer of “reform” into the future. Governments not directly controlled by the military will presumably be threatened by the military.

Essentially, “reform” is meant to limit elected politicians. While other countries have checks and balances, Thailand’s military dictatorship favors barriers and imbalance, with unelected anti-democrats and royalists actually running the show.

Abolish KPI

9 07 2017

It is not often that PPT agrees with the anti-democrats of the puppet National Reform Steering Assembly. But on their criticism of the hopeless and historically challenged King Prajadhipok’s Institute (KPI), we (almost) agree.

A report at the Nation says that the KPI “has been accused of promoting networking among participants of its many courses that attract the political and business elite, as well as senior bureaucrats and other important people from many circles.”

In fact, that’s documented in chapter 5 of the 2016 book Unequal Thailand [readers may finds bits of it at Google books].

One of the numerous committees at the NRSA “has called for a review of the KPI’s roles and duties, as well as a reform of its courses.”

Seree Suwanpanont, the chairman of the NRSA’s political reform committee, “said that despite its many years of existence, the KPI had failed to help improve the standard of Thai politics.”

We agree with this observation. Some time ago, PPT observed that the then constitution manager for the military dictatorship, Bowornsak Uwanno  headed up the KPI, a front organization for “Thai-style” (non-)democracy.

One may peruse the revised KPI fairy tale history to learn that the royalist construction of “parliamentary democracy with the King as the head of state” came into existence in 1932 rather than when royalist and military ideologues hit on this mangled description in recent years. One might also note that under the misapprehension that the deposed king “granted” political change rather than having it forced on him and a coterie of princes.

In fact, since we wrote that, KPI has removed the last bit. Perhaps they read us?

Most significantly, KPI is claimed to have been “established specifically to promote democracy…”. In fact, it was established by royalists to subvert democracy, and Bowornsak is the perfect and trustworthy patron of that subversion of democratic and electoral politics.

That neither Bowornsak nor his royalist organization have done anything to promote  democracy is shown by the linking of the last absolute monarch with the Institute. If it were even necessary, Bowornsak was reported in The Nation in a manner that made this crystal clear.

Instead of “reforming” the KPI, abolish it.

Repression into the future

4 07 2017

PPT marvels at the capacity of the military junta’s puppet National Reform Steering Assembly for rubber-stamping. Voting 144-1, the NRSA has decided to spend oodles more taxpayer money “protecting” the monarchy.

As part of the junta’s 20-year national strategy, the NRSA has “decided” that exceptional measures, likely to be very costly, are necessary to “protect” the monarchy from social media.

The measures accepted include a requirement that “social media users to identify themselves” and the establishment a “central social media watch centre.”

The NRSA “cited growing problems such as a lack of media literacy, abuse and the ‘irresponsible exercise’ of rights and freedom, which had had social, political and economic impacts as well as affected the nation’s ‘main institution’…”.

Forget the guff about social and economic impacts, this is about the monarchy and repressing regime political opponents.

Registration of mobile phones and linking to social media accounts will be required because it will “have a psychological effect on users and could prevent them from exhibiting undesirable behaviours online…”.

The “central social media watch centre” would operate to monitor, delete, suppress and arrest those guilty of “inappropriate” use of social media. It seems the existing “Cyber Security Coordination Centre” is insufficient as “its more than 300 officers had not been able to work effectively because they lacked the proper technology.” So more “advanced technology” is needed to “trace and examine photographs, video, audio and text on YouTube and Facebook, allowing the identification of users posting the content.”

Get ready for even more regressive “reform”

1 06 2017

The Bangkok Post reports that the puppet “National Reform Steering Assembly (NRSA) has approved a series of political reform proposals intended to form a key part of the 20-year national strategic plan.”

As usual, the puppets are acting as wooden dolls on strings, voting “158 against 2 to accept the reforms their proponents believe will pave the way for cleaning up Thai politics.” They mean roll back electoral politics and make it subject to the military and the “great” and the “good.”

The puppets babble about “good governance” and “strong democracy,” but these are simply words that conceal their anti-democratic mindset.

Illegal and repressive

30 05 2017

There can be no surprise that the draft cybersecurity bill proposed by the puppet National Reform Steering Assembly is considered by almost everyone as illegal.

But illegality seldom bothers the military dictatorship which simply transforms the illegal to legal. It has a puppet National Legislative Assembly that can be told to change any law it wants; it can order it to make laws.

The proposal is to allow the junta and any following governments to snoop on citizens and their internet, social media and other forms of communication activities without a court order.

The junta can already do this using Article 44 which “grants authority to officials in cases of emergency that would create ‘significant damages’ without immediate action.” As the report explain:

In such cases, the officials have the authority to gain access to information on communications, either by post, telephone, fax, computer, any tool or instrument for electronic media communication or telecommunications, or take any measures for the maintenance of cybersecurity with the approval of the National Cybersecurity Committee (NCSC), and then report the action to the courts.

The bill currently proposed “is an amendment to the original version drafted by the Ministry of Digital Economy and Society (DE) and endorsed last year by the cabinet.”

There’s no detailed definition of “significant damages” and the “the draft is too broad and subject to interpretation…”. That’s according to Dhiraphol Suwanprateep, a partner in the intellectual property practice at Baker McKenzie.

The bill promises that the “authorities” will be free of any judicial review, even though such reviews are weak and malleable.