“Integrity” and “”transparency”

2 08 2022

There are times when one reads newspapers and wonder if the journalists involved have recently suffered as severe head knock or if they are lazy or perhaps think that the starkness of a report damns those involved.

Take, as an example, The Nation’s report on Nok Air’s skid off a landing strip at a provincial airport. Of course, not all accidents require an emergency evacuation, but the “explanation” from Nok Air was a doozy: “Nok Air said it decided against evacuating passengers via slides immediately because the ground had many puddles due to heavy rain. Also, it said, it was worried about their safety as it was dark outside and there may be dangerous animals lurking in the area.” Do we take it that snakes, tigers, and bears are loose inside the provincial airport? Surely a truthful statement that the pilot did not consider emergency evacuation necessary might have been a competent statement?

Truth is always fraught among the elite in Thailand.

Then there’s the report, also at The Nation, that announces the results of the National Anti-Corruption Commission’s integrity and transparency assessment that “the Royal Thai Air Force, the Royal Thai Army, the Royal Thai Navy and the Supreme Command passed the criteria of 85 ITA points.” In addition, “the three main courts – the Central Administrative Court, the Court of Justice and the Constitutional Court – passed the assessment with an average score of 90.06 per cent,” while the “agencies of Parliament – the King Prajadhipok’s Institute, the Senate Secretariat and the House Secretariat – also passed the assessment with an average score of 95.55 per cent.”

No doubt many choked on their coffee or rice soup when reading this. What about secret trials, corrupt commission payments, torture, buying parties and parliamentarians, convicted drug dealers in parliament, illegal military coups, the Constitutional Court’s partisanship, and so on and so on?

As it turns out, the NACC’s ITA is largely a box-ticking effort at managerialism in administration. And, as the Bangkok Post points out, even this bureaucratic transparency washing exercise failed to meet the NACC’s own targets.

So, no, the world has not been turned upside down, except for some box-tickers. These agencies are as corrupt as they have ever been and having a military-backed regime in place just makes it all less transparent.





Updated: Dark business, wealth and the king

15 01 2022

At the end of last year, PPT posted on an odd story on dark power, the navy and self-punshment. We pointed to a whiff of royalism.

Now, Prachatai reports that Lt – Prachatai says he’s a Captain – Alongkorn Ploddee, the director of the Real Estate Division of the Sattahip Naval Base, is potentially facing lese majeste charges.

Capt Alongkorn is accused of claiming that “the King … knew him well.” In the past, several police and military officers claiming such links have been convicted under Article 112, been dismissed, and some have died.

Alongkorn “has been dismissed from service effective from 7 January.” In addition, it is stated that he “has been detained at a military camp in Sattahip, Chonburi, facing four charges and at risk of being charged with lèse majesté in a military court.”

He made his claims at a restaurant in Sattahip and earlier at a restaurant in the Ekkamai area. There, he claimed to he was in “Rama IX’s guard for 18 years. Rama X knows me well, just so you know that you are losers. I can remove you any time. No need to call anyone. I won’t go anywhere. I sit here. I’m the biggest in this country…”.

The navy also revealed that, as expected, Alongkorn was wealthy, having “at least 12 vehicles including one Isuzu, six Toyota, one Honda, one Porsche, one Ford, and two Mercedes Benz.” Reminiscent of Pol Col Thitisan “Joe” Uttanapol or “Joe Ferrari,” caught on camera suffocating a man to death. Whatever happened to that case?

It is stated that the “Sattahip Police Station has set up a committee to consider whether to charge him under the lèse majesté law.”

Interestingly, continuing the whiff of royalism, no relatives have come forward to provide bail. If things travel as they have in the past, little more may be heard of this case or of Capt Alongkorn.

Update: In another story, a similar effort to use royal connections, real or concocted, has come to light. It is reported that a complaint has been lodged “with Region 8 Police yesterday [12 January 2022] over police in Nakhon Sri Thammarat not taking any action to investigate a member of a “volunteer foundation” accused of misusing a royal insignia and a Royal Thai Police badge.” It is claimed that the unnamed “volunteer foundation” used a royal insignia, “called the ‘Phra Maha Phichai Mongkut’, and the police badge to stage checkpoints and force local residents to comply with other instructions given…”. The report adds: “The ‘volunteer foundation’ was not named in the report … but the actions described match those usually conducted by Civil Defense Volunteers, or ‘OrSor’.” PPT has posted on similar uses of royal connections previously. Several led to lese majeste convictions.





A whiff of royalism

31 12 2021

Feudal punishment associated with the palace: Pol Gen Jumpol Manmai

Is it just us at PPT or does this somewhat odd Bangkok Post story have a distinct royal whiff to it?

The report is of naval chief Adm Somprasong Nilsamai and Vice Adm Narupol Kerdnak, the commander of the Sattahip Naval Base, decising to undergo “self-punishment to uphold discipline and show responsibility after one of their subordinates committed a serious misconduct.”

That wealthy admirals, with power that cannot be challenged within the navy, should “choose” such a path seems unprecedented, almost unbelievable.

They “decided” to punish themselves after “Lt Alongkorn Ploddee, director of the Real Estate Division of the Sattahip Naval Base, has been involved in quarrels and made false claims on various occasions, ruining the reputation of the navy as a whole…”.

It seems odd that a junior officer some 7-8 ranks below the two admirals should impact them. Equally odd, is that Lt Alongkorn is listed as “director of the Real Estate Division of the Sattahip Naval Base.” We have previously questioned the navy’s commercial activities, noting that the navy has effectively become an investor and player in the Eastern Seaboard activities promoted by the regime, together with Sino-Thai tycoons.

Feudal punishment associated with the palace: Pol Maj Prakrom Warunprapha

Lt Alongkorn was shown “on video verbally abused Sattahip policemen who showed up at a restaurant for a routine inspection, saying they had ruined his happy time.” He demanded “honor”: “You don’t give me due honour…”, throwing “a glass of liquor at them and said he could put them in trouble.” This threat included name-dropping as a threat, saying “he was a friend of ‘Big Joke’, a reference to Pol Lt Gen Surachate Hakparn, the assistant police chief.” Big Joke has a record including odd events, was sacked and reinstated, and no one says why.

Feudal punishment associated with the palace: Suriyan Sujaritpalawong

In other words, Lt Alongkorn was behaving as a dark influence and a gangster. That is not unusual in the armed forces. He made his gangsterism clear when he invoked notions of territory: “Lt Alongkorn said that the police should have known that Sattahip belongs to the navy…”. In other words, they are the bosses and the territory is theirs. Other gangs – the police – trespass on the navy gang’s turf at their own risk.

As usual, Lt Alongkorn a navy disciplinary committee which will “conduct an investigation into his alleged misconduct.” Seldom does anything come of these sham exercises, except where the person involved has distressed very senior people – seems he has – or threatened the monthly take.

So what causes senior navy men to “show responsibility for the misconduct” by an underling? What causes the bosses to undergo “self-punishment for three and seven days, respectively.”

The whiff of royal involvement comes from the punishment: “The self-punishment includes shaving heads, walking long distances with a backpack, running with weights, doing menial labour and three days in confinement.” This is exactly the kind of neo-feudal punishment used by the king inside the palace. We do not know if the king is involved in this case, but it coincided with his return to Thailand from Europe. If he wasn’t involved, it shows how his neo-absolutist influence has percolated through the military wing of the palace.





Seals and frogs

30 05 2021

If one believes the palace and regime propaganda, Princess Sirivannavari is a multi-talented phenomenon rarely seen in Thailand or anywhere else in the world. Everything she fancies and tries her hand at, she’s just fantastically brilliant.

Of course, this kind of buffalo manure has also been showered on other royals, not least King Bhumibol. But, probably reflective of her “special” relationship to her father, this woman gets more propaganda manure than most.

The Bangkok Post carries yet another story that polishes this royal posterior. It tells us that the:

Royal Thai Navy has presented a navy Seals insignia to Her Royal Highness Princess Sirivannavari Nariratana Rajakanya for providing special lectures to naval academy students and initiating a project to conserve coral reefs and marine life in Thai waters.

A Navy spokesman, Admiral Chettha Chaipiem, said “the princess was a special guest lecturer for a course on diving for the conservation of coral reefs and marine life in Thailand.”

As indicated in this picture, she’s also credited with having “helped train naval academy students in scuba diving sessions.”

Of course, this is all royal backside burnishing. The Navy has divers far more skilled than a part-time, tourist diver like the princess. When she goes diving, she stays at luxury resorts, used luxury yachts, and uses the Navy to shut down all other activities in her area so she can have everything for herself and a coterie of pampered friends. Her renowned selfishness extended to demanding that an island be renamed for her. She’s never been shy about flaunting royal power or royal wealth.

But, over the years, we have come to see that Sirivannavari relishes the propaganda caress. After all, not only does she see herself as exceptionally beautiful, but she seems to accept the propaganda that she is exceptional at everything she tries.

After topping her class at Chulalongkorn University, the sycophantic Thai media claims she’s a talented designer, with her own Paris shows and has her own fashion brand. She was once a member of Thailand’s national badminton team and, just like her grandfather, received a gold medal at the SEA Games in 2007, despite the fact that she normally played on a secondary circuit. And she is also said to be an international class equestrian. And, for a while she was a diplomat.

Only the gullible and the royalist butt burnishers believe this propaganda.





Fake military

25 12 2020

The Bangkok Post tells us that the “Royal Thai Armed Forces (RTARF) is preparing a three-year operation plan for safeguarding the country’s sovereignty and national interests.”

This “plan” is said to have been “unveiled after a meeting between Chief of Defence Forces Gen Chalermpol Srisawasdi and leaders of the three armed forces and the national police chief…”. We guess they could have just chatted in the Senate as all of them have nominated seats there, to defend Gen Prayuth Chan-ocha’s regime.

Fake military

The operations plan is said to be “in accordance with the national strategic plan…”.

So what does it cover? No prizes for  guessing that this ridiculous military “plan” has little to do with anything recognizably military.

The Royal Thai Army babbles about recruitment while continuing to conscript slaves young men from poor families to “serve” the brass.

The Royal Thai Air Force will “enhance cyber technology and prepare its personnel to deal with space security.” In fact, the main activities of the RTAF is transporting VIPs, including taxpayer sponging royals. Getting the right on-board loo seems far more important than territorial defence.

The Royal Thai Navy is more interested in royals than anything else. It “plans to promote Sat Phra Racha Su Kan Phatthana Yang Yangyuen (The King’s Knowledge for Sustainable Development) among its personnel and the general public by setting up learning centres at 10 naval units across the country, including Bangkok, Chon Buri, Phangnga and Trat.”

In Thailand, the words “professional” and “military” cannot be used in the same sentence. In many ways, Thailand’s military is a fake military, focused on monarchy, politics, internal repression, ceremony and corrupt money-making.





Updates on subs, Sineenat, Kra, Boss and students

2 09 2020

Usually PPT updates its posts by adding to the original post. However, there are a number of updates for various posts over some time, so we thought we’d update them all in a single post.

Submarines: The Chinese submarine purchases might be delayed following the public outcry, but the Royal Thai Army is going ahead with more purchases. That’s if the bumbling – he got India’s flag wrong – and tone deaf Chutintorn Sam Gongsakdi, Ambassador of Thailand to India, is to be believed. He’s gone public in a big way, declaring that “Thailand’s Royal Thai Army is in the process of placing an order for 600 military trucks with Tata Motors.” He’s saying that over 600 TATA LPTA military trucks will be purchased for Thailand. No prices are provided, but a military trucks are usually purchased with spare parts, so we may assume that this is quite a significant amount of money being spent.

Sineenat: Both the New York Post and the Daily Mail reports on the former royal concubine who the king has had returned from a Thai prison to his harem in Germany. The Post’s headline is notable: “Thai king frees jailed concubine to join ‘sex soldier’ harem amid pandemic.”

Both stories build on a Bild story that produced a picture of the king – the “playboy monarch – greeting his concubine at the plane: “On Saturday morning, the king himself is said to have picked her up wearing his customary tank top at Munich Airport.” It is reported that the “king and his entourage then drove straight to the Grand Hotel Sonnenbichl in the German resort town of Garmisch-Partenkirchen…”.

The BBC reports that all of her honors and awards have now been reinstated by the king.

Kra IthmusBloomberg reports that the regime has kicked the “land bridge” back onto the policy agenda. It is no surprise at all that a Chidchob is promoting the huge project with its potentially mammoth commissions. Transport Minister Saksiam Chidchob reckons that the Malacca Strait “has become quite congested…” said in an interview with Bloomberg News last week. Yet it is probably no more congested now than it was in recent years and there have been measures to improve separation. The proposal is for “two deep seaports on either side of the country’s southern coasts, and link them via highway and rail…”. Some reports are that the move away from a canal is another “major shock to China.”

If there can’t be a canal, then other money makers are available. Not exactly a new idea. And, as Wikipedia puts it,

there the construction of a land bridge across the isthmus was started in 1993. A superhighway was built that crosses the isthmus, but as the location of the harbours at either end were undetermined, Highway 44—the only finished part of the project—does not end at the sea. The highway’s two lanes were built 150 m apart to leave space for railroad tracks and eventually also a pipeline.

The other Boss: The Bangkok Post reports that there was massive “negligence in the handling of the 2012 hit-and-run case involving Red Bull scion Vorayuth “Boss” Yoovidhya.” There was also massive corruption. Gen Prayuth Chan-ocha was quick to buffalo manure his explanation of this, blaming individuals and “saying it was not the entire justice system that failed in the handling of this case.”

Actually, the justice system has worked as it is meant to: double standards and privileges for the rich and powerful.

Warning the kids: Various warnings directed at student activists continue to urge them to be “nicer” and more “conciliatory.” There are also warnings that they must remain non-violent. In fact, it is the the state, the military and the rightists who are the main perpetrators of violence and haranguing the students suggests a failure to understand this basic fact of Thailand’s political life. When, like the linked op-ed, Martin Luther King and Nelson Mandela are cited as examples, then we wonder if the author has read much about the latter’s support for violent revolution and the former’s acknowledgement of violence.





Updated: Sub standard

23 08 2020

As many will know, more Chinese submarines are on the way for the Royal Thai Navy even when the economy is in deep trouble.

Coalition MPs sparked a public outcry on Friday by voting to purchase two more submarines as the economy sinks under the impact of Covid-19.

The subcommittee for procurement, ICT, state enterprises and revolving funds, which is vetting the annual budget bill for 2021, voted 5:4 on Friday to spend Bt22.5 billion on two more submarines.

It adds that this is part of a “planned purchase” approved by the “military-backed government of [Gen] Prayut Chan-o-cha to buy three subs from China. The first submarine was purchased in 2017 and will be delivered in 2024.”

Social media lit up.

The resulting social media storm has pushed the Navy to respond, trying to refute Puea Thai Party allegations:

An informed RTN source said Sunday that a clarification is necessary, because the opposition Pheu Thai party has given misleading information about the 22.5 billion baht acquisition.

The Pheu Thai party claims that the procurement contract, which was signed by then Navy Commander-in-Chief Admiral Luechai Rootdit, is not a government-to-government agreement and is invalid because it was not signed by the Thai Defence Minister, who is also the Prime Minister, representing the Thai Government, said the source.

It added that the Navy:

will also explain the strategic need for Thailand to have the submarines and that it does need extra taxpayers’ money, but will use only the budget, as allocated by the Government, to procure the submarines, while postponing its plan to procure surface ships and aircraft.

That will be interesting.

Update: And “interesting” it was. The Bangkok Post reports that the best Navy chief of staff Adm Sittiporn Maskasem could come up with was the statement that “the navy needed more submarines as part of its defence strategy…”. He also listed other countries in the region that had submarines, all of them ASEAN allies. It isn’t clear how allies are threatening, except that the Navy may feel it needs to keep up with its friends and neighbors, a bit like buying a new car after the neighbors display their new Benz. The Post does not mention that the Navy used a Nation TV “poll” to claim it has public support. Of course, Nation TV “polls” are nothing more than a user-pays call to its rightist viewers to support the Navy.

That recent claim that senior military appointees must be “intelligent, ethical, dedicated and loyal to the monarchy” is demonstrated to be a lie. The Navy chief is shown to be a dolt, and is hardly likely to be ethical or diligent, but may well be “loyal.”





Say no more

22 05 2020

The Bangkok Post reports:

The navy will sign a contract next month with BBS Joint Venture to build the 290-billion-baht Eastern Airport City Project at U-tapao airport which is one of five megaprojects under the government’s infrastructure development in the Eastern Economic Corridor (EEC)….

The BBS consortium, which comprises Sino-Thai Engineering and Construction, Bangkok Airways and BTS Group Holdings, offered the best return to the state at 305 billion baht under a 50-year contract.

It never ceases to amaze us at PPT that the military can engage in such business deals with barely a critical word from the media. But, hey, this is royalist Thailand under military domination.

And then there’s Sino-Thai Engineering, which has the following at its corporate website:

Wikipedia has a profile of Minister Anutin, leader of the Bhum Jai Thai Party, a key partner in the ruling coalition. Bhum Jai Thai is a party formed by Anutin’s family in alliance with Buriram’s “influential” Chidchob family. The Ministry of Transport is headed by Saksayam Chidchob, Secretary-General of Bhum Jai Thai.

Monty Python gets it right:





Military business

18 02 2020

There’s quite a lot of useful discussion of military business following the Korat shootings.

The Bangkok Post has a story on the remarkably – almost unbelievably – quick transfer of a range of land and business holdings to the Treasury:

The army has struck a deal with the Finance Ministry’s Treasury Department on the management of its commercial welfare projects and its commercial use of state land to ensure transparency and regulation compliance.

The memorandum of understanding (MoU) signed on Monday will pave the way for the transfer of state land and commercial businesses to the Finance Ministry and allow most of their revenue to go into state coffers.

Among the assets under the MoU were more than 100 petrol stations, retail shops, flea markets, boxing stadiums, golf courses, horse racing tracks and hotels — located on army land leased to it by the Treasury Department.

The Treasury Department is also expected to step in to tackle problems of encroachment on 700,000 rai of army land by the public. The illegal occupants will be allowed to continue to use the property but be required to pay rent under a three-year contract.

This is all a bit too startling to believe, not least because all other reports have been that money would continue to flow to the Army. And the, in the same report, we read:

army chief-of-staff Gen Teerawat Boonyawat said the MoU paves the way for the discussions about how these commercial entities will be managed going forward.

We hope some investigative journalists are watching and tallying this exercise.

Meanwhile, Prachatai has two excellent reports on the Eastern Economic Corridor (EEC) project. As one of the two headlines has it, “No coup, no project.”

While there’s a lot that’s wrong with the EEC, one element of it has been the land grabbing by the military and the conversion of military facilities into commercial ventures.

Much more needs to be known about the role of the military in the EEC.

And then there’s the Bangkok Post comment about Deputy Dictator PM Gen Prawit Wongsuwan:

Deputy Prime Minister Prawit Wongsuwon, … has turned a gigantic army welfare housing into the Office of the Five Provinces Bordering Forest Preservation Foundation under his long-standing chairmanship. The 75-year-old deputy prime minister defiantly disputed claims that he resides there, saying he is only using it as the foundation’s office. Is this correct? Or is Gen Prawit enjoying undeserved privileges? The army has to clarify this, too.

The military only seems to be revealing what it feels it needs to in a PR exercise. There needs to be independent oversight of exactly what’s going on.





Very (North) Korea-like

9 01 2019

It may be just us at PPT, but we feel there’s been a considerable uptick in royal propaganda in recent weeks. Perhaps it has to do with the cool season and the fact that royals seem to mainly be in-country and getting out. Or perhaps it is in tandem with the standoff over “election” timing.

PPT has tended to ignore most of this palace propaganda. As we have posted previously, much of it feels like a 1970s refrain: “Meet the new king, Same as the old king” kind of stuff. But the new king uses image and manufactured aura of the old king to his advantage, and as it is done, it continues mantras that seem cut from the North Korean cult of personality playbook.

The latest “report” is perhaps appropriately (North) Korean in that it is about the Navy and Korean vessels.

Remarkably, a serious newspaper actually parrots Family Kim-style propaganda in declaring it was “a day of overwhelming joy for the navy when Government House informed them early this month that two new ships were named by His Majesty the King in remembrance of the late King Bhumibol.”

The captain of the newly-named HTMS Bhumibol Adulyadej blubbered: “We were all overwhelmed. We never thought the vessel would be given a name that means so much…”. The ship, he said, was the “pride of the Royal Thai Navy.”

Like so many non-thinking royalists, the captain declared: “The name has been given by His Majesty the King and it means so much to the Thai people.” How does he know? He’s had it drummed into him from birth.

The fine print is that the new frigate had another name, selected by the Navy, but that’s now ditched. Of course, as many old salts know, changing the name of a vessel brings bad luck. We assume the Navy will perform all kinds of superstitious ceremonies to ward off the bad luck.








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