Did The Dictator blink?

13 05 2018

After a barrage of criticism about his electoral campaign visit to Buriram and the Newin-Dome, candidate/The Dictator/General/Prime Minister Prayuth Chan-ocha has postponed a trip to another potential devil party lair in Sa Kaeo, at least that’s the Bangkok Post’s reporting.

It had already been reported that “veteran politician Sanoh Thienthong, whose stronghold is in the province, had told media he would greet the premier during the visit.” Naturally. And, The Dictator knows the rapacious political chameleon from his time on the border when the Army’s and Sanoh’s business interests coincided.

Some critics slammed the visit because the junta chief is campaigning while all others are banned. Well, sort of, for when The Dictator showed up in Buriram, Newin Chidchob and Anutin Charnvirakul got campaign style coverage for Bhum Jai Thai. But, then, BJT is a pro-military party.

A “government source” says the campaign stop visit is postponed because “Cambodian Prime Minister Hun Sen is not available to attend on the proposed date” for a border shindig.

Did the Boss blink? Did the criticism bite?

Probably not. The Dictator’s skin is as thick as a whale’s and he has “another provincial trip on May 23…” to canvas for votes and political alliances with local mafia capofamiglia and associated thugs.

Staying power for years to come means Gen Prayuth must stay on the campaign trail and hammer together a coalition of minor parties so that he can get the call to be the “outsider” premier.





Campaigning with the devils

10 05 2018

As all media outlets have reported, The Dictator’s “election” campaigning has been expansive and expensive. At the same time, pro-election/anti-junta campaigners are restricted and threatened.

The Bangkok Post reports that the junta’s “massive injection of development funds into the lower Northeast is not a political quid pro quo for the regime to return to power after the next election,” at least according to chief campaigner, Gen Prayuth Chan-ocha. After a Bhum Jai Thai Party-Newin Chidchob arranged mass rally, he promised 121 projects worth “more than 20 billion baht proposed by the private sector.”

That “private sector” is dominated by Sino-Thai tycoon companies and Newin’s family and allies (rather like the BJT itself). Newin himself had proposed “as much as 10 billion baht…” for his own backyard in Buriram.

It was Newin who “announced before a crowd of about 30,000 people who gathered to welcome the prime minister at his Chang Arena football stadium that at least 10 billion baht would be allocated to Buri Ram after Gen Prayut visited the province.”

That’s a pretty good indication of how government will proceed after the junta decides to hold its “election.” Power brokers – many involved in activities at the fringes of legality – manage small groups of MPs who deliver benefits and loot to the local area, patronage and paternalism are entrenched and enforced, and democratic and participatory politics undermined and made weak (even redundant).





Power and politics

8 05 2018

An AFP report reproduced by The Nation notices:

The sons of a convicted murderer, a rural “don” who has spun a fortune from football and gun-loving provincial bigwigs — as elections near, Thai junta leader [Gen] Prayut[h] Chan-o-cha is cosying up to “influential figures”, a group he vowed to expunge from politics with his coup four years ago.

Throughout his rule Prayut, the gruff ex-general whose army seized power in May 2014, has maintained one key refrain: politicians and their cronies are the cause of the country’s political instability.

Nothing brings generals and dark influences closer than the craving for power and wealth. Like an addiction, these cravings mean that truth is replaced by lies and “principles” plasticize.

Commentator Paul Chambers is cited saying “Prayut has become the ultimate hypocrite…”. After continuous politician-bashing, “now Prayut and the (junta) are using many of these same corrupt politicians to build a political party.”

Gen Prayuth and sundry minions have repeatedly lied that his campaign trip to Buriram was “normal” and “not politicking.” Everyone – and we mean every single person in the country – knows such claims amount to mountains of buffalo manure. Some of them probably realize too that Prayuth and his buddies are treating Thailand’s people and (potential) electors as blind morons, incapable of seeing the obvious.

When they see Gen Prayuth lavishing expensive promises on his hosts from the Bhum Jai Thai Party, everyone knows this is a political and electoral campaign as Prayuth prepares for a rigged “election” where he demands his political supporters get elected and then make him premier.

This is a blatant grab for power as clear as if Prayuth was having a military coup, like the one he had in 2014.

Bhum Jai Thai, led by local dark influence Newin Chidchob and billionaire Anutin Charnvirakul did their bit by delivering more than 30,000 bodies to welcome The Dictator, making him feel like a great man, and indicating that they can deliver votes when they are needed, at least in Buriram and nearby provinces.

Clipped from the Bangkok Post

Niran Kultanan, a lecturer at Buriram Rajabhat University, stated the obvious:

that the aim of the cabinet trip was to build political alliances to support Gen Prayut, as was the case during previous trips to other regions….

It [the trip] is intended to seek political gains. They know that at least 25 House seats in the lower northeastern provinces, which are the support bases of medium-sized parties, will be crucial in nominating a prime minister. And in this region, Bhumjaithai and Newin Chidchob are key….

Newin was at The Dictator’s side in Buriram. He cheered The Dictator. And why not, he will benefit enormously from The Dictator’s promises to “the people of Buriram.” After all, the promises mostly involve Newin’s projects and businesses.

Mutual back scratching, hypocrisy, lies and money are revealing of a politics that has reverted to the “good old days” of dark influences, political bidding wars, corrupt cabinets, and – Newin’s forte – massive vote buying. All of this for a rigged junta “election.”





Updated: Party pilfering II

5 05 2018

The claimed non-political/apolitical/not headhunting/not seeking support campaign cabinet/junta visit to Buriram, home of the masters of the Bhum Jai Thai Party is upon us.

Newin Chidchob and Anutin Charnvirakul are beside themselves with anticipation and preparation for the non-political/apolitical/not headhunting/not seeking support campaign cabinet/junta visit.

The Bangkok Post reports that they have arranged for 30,000 people to greet The Dictator and his junta’s cabinet on Monday. Where? Of course, in Newin’s football stadium in the town Newin essentially owns before toddling off to the motor racing circuit Newin owns.

Both stadium and circuit are sponsored by Chang Beer, meaning that the Sino-Thai monster tycoons of the Sirivadhanabhakdi family get free advertising across Thailand during the visit and their name back The Dictator.

The ridiculous claims that the visit is non-political/apolitical/not headhunting/not seeking support campaign cabinet continued, as if every Thai is considered some kind of automaton unable to recognize the theft of an “election” that is underway.

Bhum Jai Thai’s Sanong Thep-aksornnarong led the way in feigned claim that “there was nothing unusual about the mobile cabinet visit on Monday.” He lied added: “I assure you there’s no special instruction from our party leader and Gen Prayut[h Chan-ocha] wants to check the progress after a state budget of 100 million baht was approved for Thailand to hold the MotoGP here.”

Any question about why those funds were approved? Helping Newin and BJT? No, couldn’t be. Could it?

Sanong babbled on: “We don’t want to hear about MP-luring rumours because it’s not going to be easy here. We have dignity and was set up long before the new [military] party…”. True enough on timing, but its always been a party of the military and the military is rumored to have poured millions into it in 2011 in an unsuccessful attempt to prevent the election of the Puea Thai Party.

Update: The lies (the practice of communicating lies is called lying, and a person who communicates a lie may be termed a liar) associated with the the sucking sound enveloping Buriram have become infectious. Gen Prayuth has joined the chorus of obvious deception. He trumpeted these disingenuous claims:

“There is nothing special. I am not going to strike a deal with anyone. I don’t want to meet politicians,” Prayut told reporters.

“But I don’t want to prohibit politicians from welcoming me either. If you want to, do it. Do you think I can bar people from greeting me?” he added.

Presumably he doesn’t think piling money into Newin’s ventures and visiting them to be “greeted” by 30,000 of Newin’s “people” is a problem either. Perhaps The Dictator feels this is what he deserves, and Newin sure knows how to spread on the political honey.

It is as if none of these men – and so far they are all men we’ve been hearing – has an ounce of truthfulness or dignity. In fact, though, they are displaying their utter contempt and disdain for the ability of the Thai people to discern fact and fiction.





Party pilfering I

4 05 2018

Pilfering politicians has a long history in Thailand. Interestingly, as the junta seeks to peel politicians away from the major parties, Deputy Prime Minister Somkid Jatusripitak, while a “technocrat” rather than a political mastermind, gets it right when he says pilfering is a “very outdated” approach.

The Bangkok Post reports the unlikely party manipulator for the junta and his boss Gen Prayuth Chan-ocha, has “slammed political parties for criticising the government for allegedly trying to poach their members, saying they should focus instead on formulating better policies…”.

In this context, Somkid “denied that the regime would try to lure veteran politician Newin Chidchob into its fold during next week’s mobile cabinet meeting in Buri Ram…”. Somkid stated: “[d]on’t just think that this or that political camp is out to [poach politicians] to bolster its power…”.

For his part, Newin “said he is ready to receive Gen Prayut and his ministers at Chang Arena, the stadium of the football club he owns. They will reportedly be joined by up to 30,000 people.”

The report states that many are suspicious that “the regime is out to court the Bhumjaithai Party.”

Somkid denied it all, including the efforts being made to “lure Suchart Tancharoen, chief of the Ban Rim Nam group within the Bhumjaithai Party, into working with the regime.”

Newin and Bhum Jai Thai need little convincing. For example, Newin is one of the country’s most experienced vote buyers and a local dark influence, joined with the military and judiciary to overthrow an elected government in late 2008 which brought Bhum Jai Thai into the ministry. He was also an enforcer for the Abhisit Vejjajiva regime when it needed “blue shirts” to oppose red shirts in 2009. Later, Bhum Jai Thai was a proxy military party in the 2011 election.

So Somkid is right. Bhum Jai Thai, with its history as military opportunists will likely sign up with The Dictator, so there’s no pilfering. The only issue to be worked out is how much its support for Gen Prayuth will cost.





The unbelievables

25 04 2018

As a rule never receive information from military juntas as factual. Junta members, leaders and minions have no compunction about making stuff up. They may sometimes tell the truth, but they are the unbelievables.

In recent days we have seen examples of this manipulation of facts and truth.

For example, Khaosod reports that activists are incensed about judges and court officials demanding that their luxury “forest homes built … on Doi Suthep…” be maintained.

Supreme Court judge Chamnarn Rawiwannapong “suggested the protesters should let the court officials stay in their new mountain homes 10 years before assessing the environmental impact.” In other words, forget how this project was done and allow the judges to enjoy their luxury residences for a decade. Of course, by then, the protests will be forgotten and the judges and other judicial lucky ones can have their houses.

Chamnarn also argued “it’s not possible for the court to stop the construction because it already signed contracts and paid for the construction.”

Another former senior judge added to this creepy, self-centered and grasping narrative. Chuchart Srisaeng stated “that society would plunge into chaos if people allowed their emotions to guide their actions and judgement, and consider something wrong only when they did not gain any benefits from it.”

Who is getting the benefit in this? Protesters or the judges. It’s clear who is emotional and gaining benefit: the judges who worry they will miss out.

These selfish members of the bureaucratic elite cannot be believed.

Then there’s The Nation reporting ridiculous claims by The Dictator and his armed and unarmed colleagues that he’s not campaigning. Chief mouthpiece in this case is Bhum Jai Thai Party leader Anutin Charnvirakul.

Anutin “played down suggestions that party members might be headhunted after it was revealed that the junta’s mobile Cabinet would take place in Buri Ram province next month.” As the article states, “Buri Ram is a political stronghold for Bhum Jai Thai and is the base of its prominent politician Newin Chidchob, who has gained greater popularity in recent years after becoming owner of the Buri Ram football club.”

Don’t believe these military opportunists.

Newin joined up with the military and judiciary to overthrow an elected government in late 2008 which brought Bhum Jai Thai into the ministry. Bhum Jai Thai was a proxy military party in the 2011 election.

Anutin said he “would welcome Prayut to the province and he would not want anyone to link the trip to politics.” That sounds like a lie and a threat.

While some “believe they [the junta] may arrange a secret deal, Anutin said he believed Newin was already happy where he was.” He added: “I don’t believe that anyone would dare to headhunt our men…”.

Believable? Not really. The claim does not preclude a deal between the military junta and the military-loving Bhum Jai Thai.





A couple of corrections

26 03 2017

On a Sunday, as we read a few stories that continue to keep us glum about Thailand’s prospects for some political progress, as opposed to regression, we came across a couple of stories that appear to us to requires a little corrective attention.

The first is at Prachatai. Kornkritch Somjittranukit has a story on red shirt renegade Wuthipong Kachathamakul or Ko Tee as public enemy no. 1 for the old guys running the military junta. A couple of things bothered us a bit. One was mention of the 2009 Pattaya events without noting the role played by the Democrat Party’s Suthep Thaugsuban and his then new best friend Newin Chidchob who goaded and challenged red shirts with their own blue shirts, many of them being military and police in different clothes.

PDRC shooter

On the 2014 People’s Democratic Reform Committee (PDRC) seizure of the Lak Si District Office to prevent the 2 February election, mention is made of a “violent clash with Ko Tee and his supporters from Pathum Thani. The sound of gunfire came from both sides.” The latter is true but ignores something. After that event it was officially stated:

A police forensics director stated that his team’s investigation showed “39 shots have been fired from the position of PCAD protesters, and 3 shots from the direction of pro-election protesters.”

The second story is at the Bangkok Post. Editor Umesh Pandey briefly recounts the actions taken over the past few years as pro-Thaksin election winners were ditched, missing the important 2008 judicial coup. What bothered us was the headline, “Army needs to learn to be neutral.”

While the article doesn’t exactly amount that, the idea that the military could be neutral is baffling in the extreme. The military is now, after more than half a century of pro-monarchy and pro-elite military is firmly attached to the side of privilege, hierarchy, wealth and repression.