Updated:Commentary on the recent and next monarchy II

16 10 2016

A few more interesting articles have come out since our earlier post.

New Mandala has two further posts worthy of attention. One is by Christine Gray who writes about the censorship involved in writing about the monarchy. She sees the end of the reign as a chance for positive change but also an opportunity for violence, more censorship and a broth of blood.

Another New Mandala piece by anthropologist Edoardo Siani and historian Matthew Phillips. Unlike the largely trite and treacly journalism of the last couple of days, reflecting decades of subservience to palace propaganda, this post makes some excellent and important observations that go beyond grief and tears.

An oddity in the media is from the SCMP, about the Sino-Thai response to the king’s death. Writing about ethnic Chinese almost seems a throwback to decades past. That said, the king was half Chinese and he played a role in ensuring the loyalty of millions of Chinese congregated around Bangkok. Some of the views expressed are not necessarily in line with the treacly reports mentioned above.

The prince continues to be the focus of most of the critical stories that have become available. A quite extensive story at the New York Times by Alison Smale and Thomas Fuller. Readers will know many of the details of the story yet they are put together in an informative manner, including details from the little German town of Tutzing, on Lake Starnberg, where the prince appears to prefer to reside.

We noticed the comments of former foreign minister Kasit Piromya on the queenly qualifications of the prince’s current spouse, Suthida Vajiralongkorn na Ayudhya: “She’s an air hostess, very lively, highly intelligent…. She can ski, she can bike. She loves music. She knows what is good wine in Italy.”

The Wall Street Journal had an earlier report we initially missed, on the prince. There’s much well-known stuff – maybe WSJ readers need background – but also some nuggets:

Some people familiar with the situation say he is familiarizing himself with the workings of the Crown Property Bureau, one of the country’s most important landowners and the holding vehicle for much for the monarchy’s wealth.

To say the least, that is certainly an interesting observation.

Update: Andrew MacGregor Marshall has a very important “note” titled “WHAT’S GOING ON IN THAILAND? Confusion reigns as crown prince waits.” Well worth a read.





NYT and the military’s charter

7 08 2016

The New York Times wonders why a “new constitution that it [the junta] casts as an essential step toward restoring democracy” has seen the junta block “opponents from campaigning against the measure, banned election monitors and restricted news coverage of the referendum.”

It notes that “critics” say the proposed constitution will “extend the military’s influence for years to come.”

We doubt that the “vote will be the first major test of the military’s standing with the public, as much a referendum on the legitimacy of military rule as on the draft constitution” as the NYT suggests.It might have been if the event had been free and fair.

Its wasn’t, for “no matter the outcome, the junta will remain in control until it decides to hand power back to an elected government.” Even then, the military and other unelected bodies will control parliament’s actions. Military-controlled democracy is no democracy.

Sunai Phasuk, a senior researcher at Human Rights Watch, points to more than 100 arrests for referendum-related “offences.” He says: “This referendum is not legitimate…. This is a redo of a military coup, using fear and intimidation to force Thai people to grant an extension of their control of power.”

Panitan Wattanayagorn, an adviser to the junta declared himself in support of repression: “the public did not need an election campaign that could lead to more strife. Voters can decide by studying the 105-page document…”.

He’s always been a dedicated military pawn and lies about the draft. Almost no one has seen it or read it. It beats PPT why the NYT even speaks with such a dick. Perhaps only to get the expected quotes.

But he does drone: “The section on the parliamentary system [reducing its representativeness]  is quite new in many regards…. It’s an attempt to control and regulate the politicians.”

That’s true. The military and its supporters and acolytes like Panitan hate the idea that the people should freely choose their representatives in a competitive political situation they do not control.

The International Federation for Human Rights is quoted:

The draft charter creates undemocratic institutions, weakens the power of future elected governments and is likely to fuel political instability…. If approved, the charter will allow the military and its proxies to tighten their grip on power and cement their influence in political affairs.

That’s true. The aim is to retain royalist authoritarianism.





A call for US sanctions

24 03 2016

The New York Times had an op-ed by Tom Felix Joehnk, who writes for The Economist from Bangkok and  Ilya Garger, the founder of Capital Profile, a Hong Kong–based business research service.

The piece is right to observe that “since seizing power, the [Thai] junta has become increasingly erratic, incompetent and repressive.” It is right that the “economy is stagnating.” It may be right that the “threat of social unrest is rising.” It is right when it says that The Dictator wants to “ensure real power remains in the hands of the military even after a formal return to electoral democracy.”

Most of all, the authors are correct that getting “Thailand back on track is a matter largely for Thais.”

It is wrong to suggest that “America, which has been the dominant foreign player in Thai politics since World War II, can help rein in the junta’s increasingly dictatorial ways by isolating it from its support base among traditional Bangkok-based elites.”

That time has passed. The US is widely viewed in the elite as part of the Thaksin problem. The more conspiratorial among them think that the US and Thaksin want to bring down the monarchy.

But here’s a neat twist in the story, which would confirm a conspiracy for those who already distrust the US, but which says something unexpected:

Washington instead should isolate the Thai military from its traditional backers to deprive the junta of a crucial source of legitimacy and support. Acting with the European Union, Japan and other allies, America should penalize not only the generals involved in the 2014 coup, but also the civilians the government has appointed to its rubber-stamping institutions.

We have to say that we were bemused at this point, but then this:

The United States is in a strong position to do so. Wealthy Thais have shoveled assets overseas at an astonishing rate since Mr. Thaksin was brought down in 2006. Their annual investments abroad have increased twelvefold, according to the Bank of Thailand….

The call is for sanctions a la Burma. There are lots of issues with sanctions, but the authors suggest “that such measures work better when their goal is moderate and when they are used to pressure otherwise friendly governments, rather than enemies.”

We guess the question for the elite is whether the US is now an enemy or a friend?





NYT condemns junta

14 12 2015

The New York Times has an editorial condemning the military dictatorship in Thailand. No doubt it will anger the junta and ultra-royalists. It may prompt more junta-sponsored protests. We reproduce it in full:

Thailand’s Fear of Free Speech
By THE EDITORIAL BOARD DEC. 13, 2015

Since it seized power in a military coup in 2014, Thailand’s military junta, led by Gen. Prayuth Chan-ocha, has become increasingly obsessed with controlling public debate. This reached absurd proportions on Wednesday, when the Thai police announced they were investigating United States Ambassador Glyn Davies for possible violation of the country’s lèse-majesté laws that make royal insult a crime.

The investigation focuses on remarks Mr. Davies made last month reiterating the United States’ concern about efforts by the junta to curb free speech, specifically the “lengthy and unprecedented prison sentences” given to civilians by Thai military courts for violating the same lèse-majesté laws. The government should know that its decision to investigate Mr. Davies only confirms the truth of what he said.

And there is no way his well-founded criticism of the draconian efforts to curb freedom of expression can be construed as insulting to King Bhumibol Adulyadej. In fact, Mr. Davies praised the king in his remarks. But the king is 88 and ailing, and the junta appears intent on maintaining an iron grip at least until after a royal succession.

The junta has come down hard on critics. Media outlets have been raided and journalists, along with academics and politicians, have been sent to camps for “attitude adjustment.” Some of those arrested have disappeared. People have been sentenced to decades in prison for Facebook posts, and the military apparently has plans to reduce Internet traffic to a single gateway it can control.

Meanwhile, Thailand’s once robust economy is floundering, and crime has risen sharply in Bangkok. Farmers – half the country’s population lives in rural areas – are suffering after the worst drought in decades, and a third of the country is living with water rationing.

The junta is also embroiled in a corruption scandal involving Rajabhakti Park, a lavish site it built to honor Thailand’s kings. And, on Thursday, the top investigator into Thailand’s human trafficking rings, Maj. Gen. Paween Pongsirin, announced that he had fled to Australia, where he will seek asylum. He said he feared for his safety after exposing collusion between crime syndicates and Thai authorities.

The best way for General Prayuth to calm growing public frustration, and address the legitimate concerns of the United States and other allies, is to tackle Thailand’s lagging economy, clean up corruption in the military’s ranks and make progress toward drafting a constitution and holding elections for a transition to civilian rule, as the junta has promised. Open public debate is essential to that process.





Updated: The monarchy’s money

3 12 2015

Tom Felix Joehnk is a Bangkok-based journalist.His op-ed for the New York Times is likely to cause some waves. Among other things he says, in the article titled “The Thai Monarchy and Its Money,” says: “the Crown Property Bureau is an antiquated institution of entrenched privilege that operates largely in secret beyond the purview of the government.”

Other snips from the article, which will produce a denunciation and usual “explanation” that the CPB is not personal wealth and that it works for the people and nation, are:CrownProperty

The Crown Property Bureau, which manages the Thai royal family’s properties and investments, controls assets that may amount to as much as 1.9 trillion baht, about $53 billion. It is the biggest corporate group in the country and one of the biggest landholders in the capital. It is also one of the more mysterious arms of the Thai government.

Little is known about how it spends its money. It does not make its financial statements public. Six of its seven managers are appointed by the king. Although the finance minister chairs its board, the government exercises no oversight over its operations.

The Crown Property Bureau’s annual returns today probably near $840 million…. It holds more than 21 percent in Siam Commercial Bank, Thailand’s oldest and most influential bank, and 30 percent in Siam Cement Group, the country’s biggest industrial conglomerate. Its equity wing has a controlling stake in the luxury hotel group Kempinski and minority stakes in the Thailand-based subsidiaries of Honda and other Japanese manufacturers, as well as in domestic firms that run shopping malls, hotels, insurance businesses and fast-food chains.

By law, the Crown Property Bureau’s annual income may be disposed of “at the king’s pleasure.” Its returns are tax-exempt.

The article calls for reform:

The agency must be reformed, for the sake of both the country and the monarchy itself. With Thailand increasingly paralyzed by a political struggle between liberal and reactionary camps, modernizing the Crown Property Bureau would distinguish the palace as an agent for progress.

…the Crown Property Bureau should publish annual reports detailing its investments, land holdings and other assets, as well as its earnings from these assets, the use to which it puts those earnings and its operational costs. The agency should be placed under the control of officials appointed by an elected government.

The entire Thai state needs this latter reform.

The government, in conjunction with the palace, would decide the level of that financial support. It should also decide how to spend the Crown Property Bureau’s dividends.

The agency’s earnings should be partly reinvested and partly handed over to the Thai treasury. None should remain directly at the disposal of the royal family. Consistent with the law that applies to firms in Thailand, these earnings should be subject to tax.

The Crown Property Bureau’s ostensible goal today is to make investments that support Thailand’s development. This, too, must be abandoned; it is an objective best left to the government.

Lifting the secrecy that shrouds the operations of the Crown Property Bureau and placing it back under the control of the government would signal that the Thai monarchy is serious about transparency. Such a reform would send an important message of accountability to the military, politicians and businesspeople, and pave the way for an open economic system, the only kind that is truly compatible with democracy.

We look forward to the response from the military dictatorship and various royalists, both “liberal” and the madder of the monarchists.

Update: According to Khaosod, the New York Times edition printed in Thailand has again been censored. This time for the above story.

The New York Times complained of the “regrettable” lack of press freedom in Thailand today after the Bangkok publisher of its international version refused to run an article deemed too sensitive for the second time this week.

Two days after the International New York Times was published with an empty space on the front page instead of an article on the kingdom’s present economic and social malaise by longtime correspondent Thomas Fuller, today’s opinion page in Thailand was missing a critical op-ed on the role and recommended reforms of the Crown Property Bureau.

“We’ve been notified by our printer in Thailand that they will be blocking another article, an Op-Ed, in today’s International New York Times,” newspaper spokeswoman Eileen Murphy wrote in a statement to Khaosod English. “This second incident in a week clearly demonstrates the regrettable lack of press freedom in the country. Readers in Thailand do not have full and open access to journalism, a fundamental right that should be afforded to all citizens.”





Monarchist fairy tales

26 09 2015

Readers may recall the recent article in the New York Times that discussed the decline of the monarchy and its uncertain future under the military dictatorship.

As has been the pattern of recent years, when any article is not bleating palace propaganda, some official in the toadying Ministry of Foreign Affairs must reply. So it is that, in a Letter to the Editor, New York-based Consul General of Thailand Pornpong Kanittanon replies to the NYT.

As might be expected, Pornpong states: “I take exception to “With King in Declining Health, Future of Monarchy in Thailand Is Uncertain” (news article, Sept. 21).”

It seems that, in taking exception, Pornpong has found a script from 15 or 20 years ago for the “response.”

Using this dated palace propaganda, Pornpong mechanically recites that the “monarchy occupies a special place in the hearts and minds of the Thai people.” In fact, the NYT article more or less stated this.

Pornpong then cuts a page from a 20th century school book stating: “We have the monarchy to thank for keeping us an independent nation that has never been colonized by the West.” Certainly, the current monarch has no role in this, but Pornpong is making a case for monarchy rather than the current monarch.

When Pornpong turns to the incumbent, the story is that the “king works tirelessly for his people, and this is why he occupies a central place in the hearts and minds of Thais.” That’s the old propaganda line. However, the current king has barely been out of hospital for years and has been physically incapable of much “work” for about a decade.

Pornpong then engages in some dictatorspeak: “Freedom of expression is considered an inalienable right in the West. But we have seen so many cases in the world in which free speech without responsibility has brought painful consequences.”

It seems Pornpong has little knowledge of “the West.” The consul-general is simplistically making a case for considering the many cases of lese majeste as necessitating up to 60 years jail for speech and even for gestures.

The world knows that lese majeste is an indefensible nonsense. It is a political tool of fascists, military thugs and frightened royalists.





Mangling perceptions

22 09 2015

The international media is bothering the military dictatorship, not least because The Dictator is about to visit the United States.

The New York Times edition that includes a story on the monarchy’ decline has not been available in a print edition in Thailand as “its local printer in Thailand has refused to print its Asia edition because it featured an article on the ailing king.” The paper’s front-page article was considered “too sensitive.” However, it “can still be viewed online in Thailand.”

Meanwhile, in response to an editorial in the Washington Post from 16 September, “Jailed for a bad attitude,” Thailand’s ambassador has written to defend the junta and its jailing of persons alleged to be political opponents. He’s trying to manage perceptions.

Pisan Manawapat blames “deadly political violence” for having “sent the economy into contraction.”

In fact, it was the paralysis that came from months of anti-democrat protest that did that.

Those who oppose the military dictatorship are not democracy activists, but are claimed to be “[i]nciting lawlessness and divisiveness,” while Pisan bizarrely argues that it is an illegitimate military dictatorship that “hopes to craft a democracy that will be sustainable…”.

He claims, perhaps having neglected to get his story straight, that the “no vote on the draft constitution by the National Reform Council was a response by the majority of members to views expressed by major political parties and elements of civil society that opposed a draft they thought was not democratic enough…”.

Pisan seems to neglect that it is the military junta that banned public discussion of the draft and “re-educated” those who criticized the junta and its draft charter.pinocchio

He sees “democracy is a work in progress in Thailand” despite the fact that the junta cannot be criticized and political opponents are repressed. Democracy cannot be formed on such rotten foundations.

But, never mind, it is the attempt to shape perceptions that matter. Say the military dictatorship is building democracy and maybe someone will believe it.

For the U.N. audience and the American media, The Dictator will emphasize “reforms” on the “trafficking of people and wildlife as well as illegal fishing.” He will say his dictatorship is promoting “sustainable development, reducing inequality, building peace and fighting climate change.”

General Prayuth Chan-ocha is going to have a very long nose as he “shapes” perceptions of his dictatorial regime. He can compare his snout with the ambassador’s proboscis.





Dummy or dolt?

18 04 2015

About a week ago, the New York Times published an editorial on Thailand’s military dictatorship and the obvious “cynical sleight of hand, [where] Thailand’s military junta lifted martial law last week only to replace it with even more draconian powers for the ruling military junta led by Gen. Prayuth Chan-ocha.”

That claim is truthful. So is the observation that the move by the military dictatorship had “little to do with restoring democracy.” Actually, it had nothing to do with democracy.

The claim that Thailand under the fascist military regime could become a pariah state obviously stung the dictators. The result is that Thailand’s Ambassador to the U.S. Pisan Manawapat is required to respond. Defending the military dictatorship means he is either a puppet of the regime of a complete dolt. (Yes, we know it is his job, but really, defending dictators is the work of fascists, dolts and puppets.)

His response is to defend the draconian Article 44 “a set of measures sanctioned by the interim constitution.” The interim constitution was put in place by the military dictatorship. Article 44 is a set of dictatorial measures from a dictatorship.

Pisan says “these measures are actually limited in scope, governed by due process, and allow for compensation and appeals.” In fact, this is nonsense. As explained in the media, Article 44 gives The Dictator, “junta leader and Prime Minister Prayut Chan-o-cha absolute power to give any order deemed necessary to ‘strengthen public unity and harmony’ or to prevent any act that undermines public peace.”

The ambassador states that the military coup “lifted the country out of political paralysis and violence. Until then, Thailand’s version of democracy was plagued by rampant corruption, abuse of power and absence of rule of law.” That’s the anti-democrat’s mantra.

But his claim that “Thailand is now developing a sustainable democracy with checks and balances that seek to promote good governance, manage political disagreement and ensure accountability” is simply propaganda from the military dictatorship. He is referring to a draft constitution that is designed to prevent elected politicians ruling in Thailand.

Perhaps funniest claim is that “laws and amendments have been passed to better protect people’s rights and animal welfare…”. We know nothing about animals, but we have yet to see rights granted let alone protected. Pisan and the junta are delusional.





Updated: Recycling 2006 propaganda

11 07 2014

At the Bangkok Post it is reported that “Foreign Ministry permanent secretary Sihasak Phuangketkeow has urged US media to gain a better understanding of Thai politics, explaining the latest putsch in Thailand differed from coups in other countries in several ways, especially the ‘benevolent intentions’ behind seizing power.”

Sihasak has a record of switching sides, having once been an avid supporter of Thaksin and then deftly switching to the royalist side around the time of the 2006 coup and then the election of the Abhisit Vejjajiva regime. He was the one who was asked to defend lese majeste and a trail of human rights violations (murder of red shirts by his current bosses, cluster bombs, human trafficking, etc.) when he was posted to Geneva.His great ability is his English language. He now “serves as acting foreign minister…”.

So he’s a slippery and unprincipled character. Just the kind of person a military dictatorship would want to send out to defend its 2014 coup.

Sihasak landed in New York to tell “US journalists about the background of Thai politics and the coup’s motivations, as well as the junta’s three-step plan leading to democracy.” Only a deluded junta can imagine that journalists in the US covering Thailand will be fooled by a throwback junta’s Orwellian doublespeak. That his propaganda exercise was directed at “two senior representatives from The New York Times” speaks volumes for the impact Thomas Fuller’s accurate and incisive reporting has had.

Sihasak says: “I tried to explain why the National Council for Peace and Order [NCPO] had to seize power. I told them the coup was aimed at restoring peace and moving democracy forward…. It was Thailand’s last resort to bring the country back to normalcy and the coup helped maintain democracy, not destroy it…”.

Right. So the repression, crackdowns, arrests, intolerance of dissent, trashing of the law and constitution, and the implementation of a lese majeste regime is about restoring democracy (after the junta has destroyed its opposition).

The New York Times is not, we expect, so gullible as to believe such errant nonsense.

Sihasak’s recycling of 2006 justifications for the military-palace coup must amuse the journalists. He says he told them: “If there was no change on May 22, there may have been bloodshed. The army had no choice…”. Lacking ideas and justification for a coup, the military dictatorship makes it up, using words that are exactly the same as in 2006.

Sihasak reportedly also “met the Asia Society’s executive vice-president Tom Nagorski, and proposed a joint meeting on the Thai-US relationship, inviting American policy-makers, members of Congress and think tanks familiar with Thailand.”

This sounds remarkably like the deal Abhisit and his government engaged in back in 2009 and 2010. The appearance at the Asia Society by then Foreign Minister Kasit Piromya in 2009 was a disaster when he was unprepared and spoke in yellow-shirt style.  Yingluck appeared there as well after her election and had an easy task, not having to defend a pathetic unelected regime or a bunch of military despots.

Still, the junta seems to think that a bit of the ancien regime’s blarney might convince those who have had the scales removed from their eyes. Treating the foreign audience as political nincompoops is unlikely to be a viable strategy in 2014.

Update: More horse manure from Sihasak reported at the Bangkok Post. The Post says that the Sihasak reckons “United Nations agencies are still confident in Thailand’s role as a leader in the region despite the military coup…”. Sihasak “met the president of the 68th session of the United Nations General Assembly John W Ashe, the chef de cabinet of UN secretary-general Ban Ki-moon, Susana Malcorra, and president of the Economic and Social Council (Ecosoc) Martin Sajdik.” We are unsure how Sihasak came to his conclusion when the report states that all he met said that Thailand should return to democracy. That might be what the military dictatorship says but no reasonable U.N. official could believe them. The claim that “Ecosoc chairman Sajdik saw Thailand achieving success by adhering to the rule of law, justice and transparency” seems a bizarre interpretation and suggests that Sihasak is making stuff up or the report is missing something.





Notes from the news II

30 11 2013

Again, PPT is trying to link to interesting stories we can’t find the time to post on in detail.

Note 1: The New York Times comments on the current anti-government protests and states:

… [they] are the largest in the country since a military crackdown left more than 90 people dead three years ago. This time the government and the military have been strikingly restrained in their reaction. The government says this is a deliberate strategy of nonconfrontation to avoid violence.

Of course, it probably needs to be stated that the government is different. This time, instead of a reactionary Democrat Party government, it is an elected Puea Thai Party government. As if to emphasize the difference, the NYT, while noting provocation, quotes a policeman:

We have not arrested a single protester so far,” Maj. Gen. Piya Uthayo, a police spokesman, said by telephone. Arresting protesters is “not our policy,” he said.

So far, no live fire zones, no emergency decree, no massive censorship, no hysterical rhetoric.

Sadly, the Times also observes that: “… police had received intelligence reports of possible disorder in the coming days that could lead to violence. The police have been ordered to ‘protect buildings and guard against possible calamity’.”

The NYT also makes another excellent, which PPT emphasizes: ”

The protests have been a highly personalized battle between Mr. Thaksin and his allies — who have won every national election since 2001 — and a vocal minority in Bangkok and southern Thailand that says his power threatens the country’s democratic institutions.

The Times notes that Democrat Party chums Abhisit Vejjajiva and Korn Chatikavanij have joined the protests that their election-losing party promotes.

The article also mentions that the “military went out of its way on Friday to back away from confrontation.” That is our note 2.

Chamlong invades

A Bangkok Post photo

Note 2: The Bangkok Post reports that that while the military may have not wanted to confront those who entered their HQ, including the old grinning gargoyle and master political manipulator over four decades, Chamlong Srimuang, it is making statements that no professional army should ever make. But this is the Thai military. A spokesman commented:

“The army calls for protests on all sides to be carried out under the democratic system and within the rule of law,” he said in a statement read out by army spokesman Col Winthai Suwaree. “[Protesters] should refrained from [causing] division and trying to bring the army to be on their side.

So far, so good you might think, and perhaps the protesters see it as  less than supportive. However, a professional military should not be commenting on such matters.

It is followed by this:

“The army would like to inform the public that the army is the army of His Majesty the King and the people. [The army] is monitoring the situation and is prepared to help people if there are injuries or the loss of lives from protests which could lead to violence.”

At least the Army seems uninterested in shooting protesters, but that raises the issue of double standards. How come they were so keen to murder protesters in 2010? Have they learned a lesson or are they showing a bias? And what of the claim about the king. Thailand has been a constitutional monarchy for over eight decades and yet the military clings to a feudal relationship (and vice versa). Professional armies act on the lawful direction of the government. But this is the Thai military.

Note 3: The Bangkok Post reports that Suthep Thaugsuban, in declaring Sunday the day for overthrowing the so-called Thaksin regime,  has come up with a people’s committee. It says:

He also introduced a “people’s committee” including businessmen, academics, activists, workers’ leaders and retired officers to gather under one umbrella to drive the campaign. He brought 24 people to the stage — every single one of them a man.

PPT isn’t sure that the lack of women is the important point here….

Note 4: From a couple of days ago, the Bangkok Post reported on academics in support of Suthep’s anti-democratic proposals. One is the ferociously yellow-shirted Charas Suwanmala, dean of Chulalongkorn University’s Political Science Department.  Charas apparently “believes some parts of the constitution must be put on hold for Mr Suthep’s ‘people’s parliament’ and ‘dream team’ government to become reality.”

Of course it would, for even this junta-tutored constitution is insufficiently undemocratic for yellow-shirted propagandists like Charas. He referred to “the need for the democratic system to take a break.” He sounds remarkably like the 2006 military junta talking about the same thing or the dopey old men who wanted to “freeze” Thailand.

He said that “the people’s parliament and government must have a strict mission to draw up a blueprint for political reform.” We assume he means “reform” in the sense of properly fixing the system so that the rural buffaloes will not be able to vote for pro-Thaksin political parties and will accept democratic tutelage from hierarchical institutions. It all seems very 1991 or 2006. But Charas seems to be an adviser to Suthep because he knows the details of the “plan”:

The parliament will only be temporary, existing for three months at most, he said. After that, a new election should be called and the new government must implement political reform as envisaged by the representatives of the people.

Yep, an unelected committee of appointed (by whom? Suthep?) notables will draft a program that elected representatives will have to implement. So the elections are all a bit of a smokescreen for the elected representatives will only be able to implement a pre-ordained plan. Fascism anyone?