Nitirat and the referendum

26 07 2016

Nitirat, which some time ago issued an analysis of the flawed military charter, recently held a meeting Thammasat University that made demands of the military junta.

The Bangkok Post reports that Nitirat and others demanded a more participatory charter-drafting process. More interestingly, they also demanded that the “regime must step down and let the people take part in a process to draw up a new constitution if the draft charter is shot down in the Aug 7 referendum…”.

The call was from “[f]orty-three civil, academics and student groups [which] also issued a statement opposing the draft charter.”

Piyabutr Saengkanokkul, a Thammasat University law lecturer and member of Nitirat, “told the seminar the regime must relinquish its power and must not be involved in the process to draft a new constitution if the draft charter is voted down.” He added that, if the referendum fails, the “2014 interim charter … must be abolished and replaced by an interim charter drawn up by the public to pave the way for the general election.”

His colleague Worachet Pakeerut warned that it is still “unclear if the referendum will take place as planned given that the leader of the National Council for Peace and Order [junta] has power under Section 44 … to decide whether to postpone the referendum.”

One journalist stated:

… it was Nitirat group leader Mr Worachet who stole the show not just for explaining clearly how the draft charter is undemocratic but also for rekindling the fight for democracy and rule of law that seems to have weakened after years of repression.

If the regime was watching how people reacted to Mr Worachet’s speech — the standing ovation and cheers — it should be worried, very worried.

The response on Worachet’s role initially came from Deputy Prime Minister Wissanu Krea-ngam. He declared that the law professor “might be prosecuted under the Referendum Act for campaigning for ‘vote no’.” Wissanu said that Worachet “told the audience while he was on stage that they should vote against the draft constitution, which could be viewed as a violation of the Referendum Act.”

In his speech, Worachet also remarked, that: “If the draft charter fails to pass the referendum, the legitimacy of the NCPO will be called into question…”.

Our view is that “win” or “lose,” the junta, its draft charter and the referendum are all illegitimate. At the same time, we agree with the groups at the seminar that a No vote is necessary as well as a close watch on the junta “fixing” the result.

Junta’s convenience and law

1 07 2016

At PPT we’ve recently had several posts that have commented on aspects of the militarization of the law under the military dictatorship as well as its concoction of “laws” that serve its interests, mainly by allowing the ready repression of opponents.

The Bangkok Post recently reported on how such circumstances are manipulated for junta convenience for the web. Sawatree Suksri, a law lecturer at Thammasat University and member of Nitirat observes that website administrators have their pages “shut down by authorities [and] do not have a fair chance to defend their rights in court…”.

Officially, a court order is required to shut down a web page or site, but seldom do the authorities bother with a legal case. Sawatree states that:

In most cases, state agencies demanding the removal of specific content do not file legal charges against the administrators. They simply gather evidence and forward their request to the court, which will in turn issue an order….

This process allows no opportunities for the legality of the closure to be challenged.

She noted that a “page from the Nitirat website has been blocked for the past two years. Still, no formal complaint has been lodged against us.”

That page” contained a transcript of the Khana Rasadorn’s declaration when they abolished the absolute monarchy in Thailand in 1932, which was simply a piece of historical evidence,” but it had been blocked.

Nitirat was unable to “appeal against the court’s decision because there had been no hearing. As it was a court order rather than an administrative order, they could not file a complaint with the Administrative Court.”

Just one more example of how the junta manipulates law is a tool for repression, usually with the connivance of the judiciary and military courts.

Nitirat on the junta’s constitution II

10 06 2016

NitiratBack in early April we posted on Nitirat’s take on the junta’s constitution. Nitirat’s take on the draft charter was critical, detailed and lengthy.

Prachatai has now published Declaration of the Khana Nitirat: The Draft Constitution and the Referendum. This is a detailed assessment of the military’s draft charter that we do not propose to summarize; it needs to be read in full.


7 06 2016

On 4 June 2016, Same Sky Books or Fa Diaw Kan live streamed a seminar on the launch of a new book on constitutions (เสวนา “รัฐธรรมนูญ” ในโอกาสจัดพิมพ์หนังสือ รัฐธรรมนูญ: ประวัติศาสตร์ข้อความคิด อำนาจสถาปนา และการเปลี่ยนผ่าน).

While all in Thai, we thought readers might be interested, including the participation of Nitirat-connected academic lawyers and other academics. It is a 4 hour video…. There are individual clips for each of the speakers also available.


Updated: Academics say no

17 04 2016

The Bangkok Post reports that a “group of academics has slammed the draft constitution, saying it weakens the parliamentary system and restrict people’s rights and liberties.”

This is not unexpected following Nitirat’s rejection of the military’s draft charter.

This group of academics considers itself “a network of academics for citizens’ rights” and spoke at Thammasat University. According to the Post they are: “Anusorn Unno, dean of Thammasat University’s faculty of sociology and anthropology, Pichit Likitkijsomboon, from Thammasat University’s faculty of economics, Decharut Sukkumnoed, from Kasetsart University’s faculty of economics, and Puangthong Pawakapan, a political science lecturer at Chulalongkorn University.”

Their statement opposing the draft charter was clear:

  • the draft charter curtails the people’s rights and liberties
  • this draft constitution was only for the benefit of a certain group of people
  • the draft will weaken the parliamentary system
  • it paves the way for an unelected “outsider” to be prime minister
  • the draft destroyed the rule of law regarding power separation
  • it allows the state to infringe on people’s rights by acting in the name of national security
  • amendments will difficult or impossible

The group called on the junta “to return power to the people by calling an election as soon as possible if the draft charter fails to pass the referendum, and allow the parliament which takes shape after the election to draft a new constitution and carry out reforms based on fully-fledged democracy.”

Update: A reader suggests moving beyond academics:

1. Starting any time now, the people openly draft their own charter, publicize it in well-identified versions, hold elections in every village until one version gets an absolute majority of eligible citizens’ votes.
2. After the Repudiation on 7 August, the people hold demonstrations throughout Thailand against the dictatorship – ประยุทธ์ออกไป ! – filling the jails to overflowing.
3. After the Repudiation on 7 August, the people hold a general strike until Prayuth and his cronies are gone
4. 1,2,3 above in serial combination.

There needs to be a call – by word of mouth, via Facebook, in handouts, on posted sheets, … that this is the final confrontation between the people and the Army, to banish the Army from politics forever and a day, and to establish the rule of law, based upon the peoples’ constitution.

“Dirty tricks,” propagandizing and truth

15 04 2016

The Constitution Drafting Committee (CDC) has demonstrated that it is not just a puppet outfit but also a junta tool. Of course, it is inhabited by military acolytes and anti-democrats, so this is no surprise. However, a recent story at the Bangkok Post reveals the deep relationship between the military and the CDC that could only be fully understood by those skilled in parasitology.

The CDC is about to go on the road to propagandize for the illegitimate charter which it drafted under the tutelage of the military dictatorship. The CDC will “work with the Interior Ministry, the Defence Ministry, the Public Health Ministry and the Social Development and Human Security Ministry to create a nationwide network of volunteers to educate the public about the draft charter, with their operation covering the village, district, and provincial levels.” This is nationwide and deep propaganda designed to push Thailand further down the authoritarian road.

Military puppet Meechai Ruchupan, who was responsible for ensuring that all military directives on the charter were met, is asking the junta for “protection during a campaign to educate the public about the draft constitution…”. In fact, there is no “education” involved. This is simple and simplistic propaganda for anti-democracy and the extension of military dictatorship.

Meechai and hat

A propagandizing whiner

Despite the reality that Thailand is a military and police state, with the whole of the huge bureaucracy also under military control and at its beck and call, the aged Meechai expresses concerns about “security.” He wants more “protection.”

In fact, what he fears is, in his and the Post’s words, the “risk of disruption if political parties do not play by the rules and lack political principles…”.

Principles? Really? Like the principles of the military that repeatedly throws out elected governments and willingly murders citizens considered opponents? Those kinds of “principles”? Or the principles of those who jump into bed with each and every military regime over the past four decades? Those “principles.” Seriously, Meechai cannot even comprehend the word and its meaning.

Meechai whines “about the potential risk of disruptions by opponents resorting to ‘dirty tricks’.”

This is patently ludicrous. No one needs to use “dirty tricks” on this draft charter. The dolts serving with Meechai have recorded such an anti-democratic and regressive document that merely reading out bits of it are sufficient to condemn it and damn those who transcribed the junta’s desires into a draft constitution. Truth about the charter is all that is necessary to condemn it.

The CDC is not only propagandizing for the junta but has “set up a team to monitor social media” that will hunt down and report those it considers a threat by providing “inaccurate information” and engaging in “dirty tricks” that will cause “misunderstanding.” The aged praetorian prefect declared “[s]ome misinformation has been spread by academics…”. We assume he’s ratting on Nitirat, a group that actually produced a thoughtful and accurate critique of the military’s draft charter.

The ancient man of the military also expressed concerns about the legislation to prevent criticism of the DOA charter. Once the bill becomes law, the CDC is going to seek to strengthen it. Ten years in jail seems insufficient to this lot who fear “any disruptions.”

These are fascists working for a fascist military dictatorship.

Nitirat on the junta’s constitution I

9 04 2016

Nitirat has been quiet for some time. Its website shows its last post was 20 May 2014, two days before the coup. The junta’s constitution seems to have changed this.

For those who read Thai, the group’s take on the draft charter is here. The criticisms made of the charter are detailed and lengthy.Nitirat

For those using English, The Nation reports that Nitirat “objects to multiple aspects of NCPO-driven draft [charter].”

The statement noted several flaws:

  • the draft would allow the the junta “to continue to wield absolute power through Article 44;”
  • the allocation of senate seats to the military brass and the police chief meant the junta would continue to influence administration;
  • a senate that is junta selected would facilitate the junta’s role in administration; the impunity granted to the junta “from taking responsibility for any of its actions before or after the charter takes effect” is a travesty;
  • the “single-ballot election system, saying it would distort the intentions of voters;”
  • the” indirect election of senators” means the senate is disconnected from the people and is undemocratic;
  • an elected government “would not have the power and independence to make policy and run the country…”;
  • the “Constitutional Court and independent agencies were also allocated too much power because they would have the authority to check the Lower House, the Senate and the Cabinet…”;
  • in a remarkable innovation, the “court also would have the power to call a meeting of Parliament, the prime minister, the Supreme Court president, the Administrative Court and other relevant bodies to make decisions on issues not covered by the charter.”
  • amendments to the charter are difficult, “requiring the votes of more than half of the Lower House and more than one-third of the Senate, while the Constitution Court would have a supervisory role…”.

All that shows that the charter is the junta’s plan for the military and “good people” – i.e., anti-democrats – to maintain an authoritarian Thailand for years to come.

Rightist, royalist and daft monk

2 10 2015

“Daft” is a useful English expression. It is excellent for characterizing the royalist machinations of the political monk Buddha Issara.

The Bangkok Post reports that the royalist monk led anti-democrats and pro-coup groups to the U.S. Embassy to protest actions they perceive as “anti-monarchy” by the United States government and Human Rights Watch.

The rightist monk declared the U.S. Embassy politically biased: “The US embassy has met several red-shirt activists but they did not visit us at the [anti-democrat] People’s Democratic Reform Committee [PDRC] stages, so we are here to explain our stance to them…”.

During the PDRC protests, it arranged for several demonstrations at the U.S. Embassy as the anti-democrats decided the United States government was pro-Thaksin Shinawatra. This view drew on a rabid libertarian and anti-Americanism associated with former leftists who supported the anti-democrats and circulated in yellow-shirt emails and in social media.

Buddha Issara and ultra-royalist Rientong Nan-nah, “leader of the People’s Organisation for Royal Thai Monarchy Protection”, a fascist organization, met U.S. Embassy representatives.

The mad monk declared: “We want them to expel Sunai Phasuk from the HRW as this person has always expressed unfair and biased comments against Thailand…”.

By “Thailand” he seems to mean to royalists and anti-democrats. Sunai is a Thai and works for HRW. His support for the 2006 coup is seen in Wikileaks cables.

At the same time, Sunai has been critical of red shirts, yellow shirts, lese majeste, Thaksin Shinawatra, the current military dictatorship and various anti-democrat groups. It seems that this work for HRW is considered insufficiently royalist.

Buddha Issara alleged Sunai “took sides with one political group…”. As PPT posts over several years show, this is a blatant lie.

The monk accuses Sunai of “moaning when the red-shirt Peace TV was shut down but not caring how many casualties the PDRC suffered, criticising the lese majeste law so he must be in the same gang as the Nitirat group [of academics], which is politically lopsided and critical of the beloved institution.”

Lying and incoherence can be added to Buddha Issara’s fascism, thuggish acts and acts of extortion.

The monk made claims that are revealing of his warped rightist view of politics: “Of course, the American diplomats said they could not meddle with an NGO, but the HRW is based in their country, so they can take action…”. He seems to think that politics in the United States operates as it does under military dictatorship in Thailand. He also seems unaware of the status of HRW:

We are a fully independent non-governmental organization, supported by contributions from private individuals and foundations worldwide. In order to maintain our independence, we accept no money from any government, directly or indirectly.

Buddha Issara said “his demonstration was not a political one like those of other groups at the Democracy Monument which are still calling for elections, so he believed the government understood the feelings of ‘loyal subjects’.” PPT it sure that he is correct in assuming that the military dictatorship supports his activism; after all, the military protected and supported the anti-democrats on the streets in 2013-14.

Singing royal songs, the monarchist monk declared that his fascists is “the voice of the Thai people that Washington should take heed of…”.

He declared that “no one should support people who want to amend the lese majeste law or defame the Thai monarchy, or else they would be considered as interfering in Thai domestic affairs.”

Interfering in the domestic affairs of the United States, however, seems acceptable for these royalists, with Rienthong stating that he had “submitted to the US embassy the names of some people who he claimed had committed lese majeste and still live in the US.” He declared: “We will give them more names and organisations and will ensure the US won’t allow those people to sabotage the revered institution…”.

Rightists and royalists tend to be nasty and dangerous nationalists. They also tend to be ignorant and daft.

Worachet at the military court

28 05 2015

Prachatai reports that Nitirat’s Worachet Pakeerut has appeared before a military court. On Tuesday, “the first witness hearing in the case where Worachet … is accused of twice defying the coup makers’ orders to report in” following the May 2014 coup.

Worachet is accused of defying the military junta’s NCPO Orders No. 5/2014, issued on 24 May 2014, and No. 57/2014, issued on 9 June 2014.

The court hearing was attended by “[o]bservers from Thai and international human rights organizations and the US and German Embassies came to observe the trial.”

Worachet faces a maximum jail term of four years.

Under the military dictatorship, appearances before military courts by civilians has become common. Military courts do not operate under “normal” law and may be influenced by military hierarchies.

Academic and other stuff of interest

18 03 2015

Several readers have alerted PPT to some recent publications.

The first is a new article at the Journal of Contemporary Asia website by Duncan McCargo and Peeradej Tanruangporn. It examines the Nitirat group, who have intervened in legal issues resulting from the country’s decade of coups and protests. “Branding Dissent: Nitirat, Thailand’s Enlightened Jurists” examines, according to the abstract:

… the political role of a group of academic lawyers based at Thammasat University who have been seeking to reform various aspects of the Thai legal and judicial system. The seven-member group started out by criticising the illegality of the 2006 coup. After the 2010 crackdown against redshirt protestors, the group named itself Nitirat and started to hold seminars, draft legal proposals, and campaign to amend various laws. Nitirat has repeatedly challenged the legal and constitutional underpinnings of three key elements of the Thai state: the judiciary, the military, and the monarchy. In doing so, the group has gained a mass following, drawn mainly from those sympathetic to the “redshirt” movement which broadly supports former Prime Minister Thaksin Shinawatra. Informally led by scholar Worajet Pakeerat, Nitirat has created a popular branding which is reflected in huge audiences for public events, and the sales of souvenirs. The article aims to answer the following questions: How does Nitirat combine the roles of legal academic and political activist? How does it differ from the traditional mode of Thai public intellectuals? How significant is the Nitirat phenomenon?

The article is behind an expensive pay wall.

The second article is “Thailand: Contestation over elections, sovereignty and representation,” by Kevin Hewison, and is behind the pay wall at the journal Representation. The abstract states:

Thailand’s politics in the early twenty-first century has seen considerable contestation. Underlying the street protests, military interventions and considerable bloodshed has been a struggle over the nature of electoral politics, popular sovereignty and representation. The military and monarchy have maintained a royalist alliance that opposes elections, popular sovereignty and civilian politicians, proposing Thai-style democracy as an alternative. Those who promote elections and popular sovereignty argue that these are a basis for democratisation.

The third publication is free and is a book review. The review is by Michael Montesano and looks at Innovative Partners: The Rockefeller Foundation and Thailand, published by the Foundation, allegedly detailing its 100 years of collaboration with mainly military regimes and royal interests. The blurb for the book, which can be downloaded for free, states:

For nearly a century, the Rockefeller Foundation and its Thai partners have been engaged in an innovative partnership to promote the well-being of the people of Thailand. From the battle against hookworm and other diseases to the development of rice biotechnology and agriculture, the lessons learned from this work offer powerful insights into the process of development. On the occasion of its centennial in 2013, the Rockefeller Foundation has commissioned a history of this innovative partnership.

The book is packed with royals and conservative royalism. It promotes minor royals as important and tends to ignore civilian politicians as if 1932 didn’t happen. This is another example of how royals capture and use willing foreign institutions to promote royalist ideology and control. The Foreword is by royalist scholar and anti-civilian politician activist Prawase Wasi. In one sense, though, the detailing of the links between the Foundation and the monarchy is revealing, if nauseating.

%d bloggers like this: