Updated: Anti-democrat splinters

13 03 2017

About a week ago, PPT commented on the meanderings of anti-democrat Thirayudh Boonmee’s criticisms of the lack of resolve in the military dictatorship for “reform.” Those seemingly mild urging followed on the junta’s back down on the protesters from the south, one of its strongest constituencies.

Things seem to be splintering in the anti-democrat coalition that has been a powerful ally and promoter of the military coup and the military dictatorship.

The Nation reports that “[p]olice are launching a manhunt for well-known political activist Veera Somkwamkid after he published an opinion survey’s result on his Facebook wall, saying the majority people lack confidence in the Prayut administration.”

Veera has a long history of anti-democratic and ultra-nationalist activism and was aligned to the southern anti-coal protesters and he has recently poked the military on The Dictator and nepotism. Some background before getting back to The Nation story.

Veera, who is associated with thugs like the armed extremists of the Network of Students and People for the Reform of Thailand (see the photo where Veera is joined by the fascist “student” leader Nittithon Lamlua and the right-wing Iceman and coup promoter General Boonlert Kaewprasit).

VeeraAlthough Veera was briefly detained not long after the coup, he praised The Dictator, General Prayuth Chan-ocha and urged him to emulate the Chinese in “cracking down on corruption.” Veera is an admirer of China and its totalitarianism, having claimed that China was “more advanced” than some democratic countries.

Earlier still, Veera headed the Thai Patriots Network, which was aligned with the People’s Alliance for Democracy. Some may recall that he had once sought to provoke a war with Cambodia and whose release from jail in Cambodia was prompted by the military dictatorship’s willingness to create a crisis by sending Cambodian workers streaming back home in a fear campaign that was for Veera’s benefit and also effectively brought Hun Sen “into line” through a threat to the workers’ remittances.

In the story at The Nation, we learn that the have an “an arrest warrant from the Criminal Court and searched [Veera’s] … house in Bangkok’s Khannnayao district but failed to locate him.”

The arrest warrant states that Veera “violated the Computer Crime Act by posting distorted information into a computer network in defamation against the government.” The police allege that “Veera posted results of his opinion survey on his Veera Somkwamkid Facebook wall, causing damage to the reputation of the government and Prime Minister Prayut Chan-o-cha.”

While the junta is always happy to crow when there are polls indicating massive support, often with unbelievably ridiculous numbers, Veera’s stunt has The Dictator seething. We suspect that he also sees Veera as an ingrate.

Veera is said to have “claimed that the majority of the people lacked confidence in the government although the survey was carried out among just one group of people and was organised by Veera himself.”

The TCSD said “the results might be inaccurate,” and observed that “Veera is a well-known activist so the post on his Facebook wall had severely damaged the reputation of the government and the prime minister.”

The anti-democrat coalition seems to be splintering and that certainly worries the junta as much as Prayuth feels his pride damaged.

The manhunt is on. Perhaps he is on the lam with the former head of Wat Dhammakaya?

Update: Khaosod reports that Veera has been responding, stating at his Facebook account:

“I’m announcing this publicly: The police don’t need to waste their time finding me. I will meet with [investigators] on Wednesday,” Veera wrote on his Facebook, hours after police officers raided his home to look for him.

Veera said he’s willing to contest the charge in a court of law, but added that he feared security forces may abduct him before meeting with police and put him in a military prison where he might die in custody.

“I may die of a blood infection,” Veera wrote, referencing an infamous explanation given for one death in military custody in 2015. “Are we clear? A man like Veera Somkwamkid never runs away from the law. I’m ready to contest my case. But I’m not ready to be murdered.”

Doubling down on double standards

5 05 2016

PPT was interested to read a story in the Bangkok Post that reports there is yellow-shirted opposition to a “move by the National Anti-Corruption Commission (NACC) to withdraw a case against former prime minister Somchai Wongsawat, and three other senior figures who are charged with malfeasance in connection with the bloody crackdown on yellow-shirt [People’s Alliance for Democracy] protesters in 2008…”.

The report states that NACC chairman Watcharapol Prasarnratchakij set up a panel to study the legal possibilities of charging the senior figures under “Section 157 of the Criminal Code for malfeasance and dereliction of duty and related clauses in the NACC Act and the 2007 charter.”

This is a long-standing case for the NACC since then NACC boss and anti-democrat sympathizer Panthep Klanarongran “made tremendous efforts to push the case to reach the Supreme Court’s Criminal Division for Political-Office Holders.”

The Office of the Attorney-General which initially refused to indict the four defendants (“former deputy prime minister Chavalit Yongchaiyudh, former police chief Patcharawat Wongsuwon, who is the younger brother of Deputy Prime Minister Prawit Wongsuwon, and Pol Lt Gen Suchart Muenkaew, former metropolitan police chief” and Somchai). The NACC “then ignored the OAG” and went ahead with the case.

Another Bangkok Post report is about the PAD response. PAD lawyer Nithithorn Lamlua, PAD members and “relatives of those killed and injured Oct 7, 2008 at parliament, submitted the petition to Suthi Boonmee, director of the NACC’s Information and Special Affairs Office.” They oppose the case being dropped.

As we recall it, one person was killed, apparently when hit by a tear gas canister and another was blown up in his own car, which carried explosives. Some serious injuries were seen to result from PAD’s use of ping pong bombs and the use of tear gas. At the time, PAD was trying to “prevent then-prime minister Somchai from delivering his policy statement at parliament on Oct 7, 2008.”

Nithithorn stated that if the NACC dropped the case against Somchai, PAD would bring a malfeasance case against the NACC.

Carefully tip-toeing around claims that the case was being dropped because Police General Patcharawat is the younger brother of Deputy Prime Minister Prawit, Nithithorn said the family name “had nothing to do with” the case. He did say that “the government would be in trouble if this case was treated in a way to destroy the justice process.”

Panthep Puapongpan, a PAD core member, was more upfront when recognized that the NACC is a junta puppet agency when he “said he believed the NACC would not withdraw the case as doing so would destroy the legitimacy and credibility of the government because the present members of the NACC were appointed by the National Council for Peace and Order [he means the military junta].” He declared that if General Prayuth Chan-ocha and General Prawit “turned a blind eye to this matter, PAD core members would regroup to demand justice…”.

The junta is already known for nepotism, so it may well sweep this case aside.

But think a bit about this and the double standards involved.

For all of the bleating about this case being “highly sensitive,” important for fighting “corruption,” for the “reputation” of the NACC and so on, all the charges against Abhisit Vejjajiva and Suthep Thaugsuban were dropped on the basis that they had no case to answer. They ordered attacks on red shirts that resulted in hundreds of deaths and injuries.

Anti-democrat calls for absolute fascism

31 08 2014

It is clear how far Thailand has moved politically with the military coup and the establishment of a military dictatorship when the ultra-royalist, ultra-nationalist and ultra-anti-democrat Veera Somkwamkid is labeled an “anti-corruption activist” in The Nation.  PPT considers this is misleading advertising for the anti-democrats. There’s a lot that is misleading under the military boot.

Veera, who is said to be “secretary of the People’s Network against Corruption,” but who is associated with thugs like the armed extremists of the Network of Students and People for the Reform of Thailand (see the photo where Veera is joined by the fascist “student” leader Nittithon Lamlua and the right-wing Iceman and coup promoter General Boonlert Kaewprasit).Veera

Perhaps because he is a right-wing extremist, the propaganda arm of the monarchy known as the King Prajadhipok Institute had him speak at an anti-democrat-inspired seminar on “Reforming Thailand, Opposing Corruption.”

On cue, Veera praised The Dictator, General Prayuth Chan-ocha and “urged [Prayuth] to emulate the Chinese president’s policy of cracking down on corruption seriously and without exceptions, as part of his government’s fight against graft.” Veera barked that “to ensure success in reducing the problem of corruption, Prayuth needed to wield total power in the same way as China’s President Xi Jinping in the Chinese government’s policy against corruption.”

Showing his deep affection for totalitarianism, Veera claimed that China was “more advanced than some democratic countries, particularly Thailand, about sincerity in tackling corruption…”. Veera might have missed the coup, but his call is apparently for Chinese-style executions of those deemed corrupt by the politically-biased kangaroo courts in Thailand.

On China’s campaign, Professor Andrew Wedeman, a political science professor at Georgia State University notes that: “Every anti-corruption campaign is an exercise in public relations. They’re trying to build legitimacy.”That would be the Thai junta’s approach as well. If it has executions, we are betting that political opponents will be the first in line, with the reprehensible Veera shouting his support for absolute fascism.

Red shirt response

10 05 2014

Several readers chided PPT for observing in a recent post that “Red shirt protests about this so far seem feeble.” At the time we wrote that, the official red shirts were preparing a rally, well away from Bangkok to protest the Constitutional Court’s politicized decision-making. There is now an official red shirt response.

The Bangkok Post reports that Saturday’s red shirt rally was large and represented “a robust red response.” Andrew Spooner writes of the rally:

… over 100,000 pro-democracy Red Shirt activists gathered in a suburb of Bangkok to express their resistance to the Thai establishment’s moves to derail a fairer, more accountable society. That powerful and supposedly ‘educated’ Thais – like the cabal of well-groomed thugs in expensive suits who lead the PDRC/Democrat Party – are so ready to destroy Thailand’s hard fought for democratic gains whilst risking civil war, reveals them to be closer to nihilists than a credible political alternative.

He also notes what might be a warning to the red shirts – armored vehicles moving through Bangkok.Armor

According to the Post’s report, for the official red shirts, the line in the sand is not the Constitutional Court’s decision or the National Anti-Corruption Commission’s dubious decision to refer charges against Yingluck Shinawatra nor is it the Election Commission’s determination to not hold and election. Nor is it the anti-democrat’s illegal occupation of Government House or the senate’s unconstitutional actions. The line in the sand is any attempt to remove what remains of the interim government.

Jatuporn Promphan delivered a fine account of why the anti-democrats, in cahoots with the royalist elite and their tools in the judiciary and senate, are engaged in illegal actions. Yet these anti-democrats can pretty much do as they want. The sandy line is supporting the lame duck government:

Jatuporn said the UDD was ready to continue its rally for as long as it takes to support the government. The sight of tents along a four-kilometre stretch of Aksa Road, not far from a residence of His Royal Highness Crown Prince Maha Vajiralongkorn, indicated people were willing to stay for a week or longer.

He said the UDD would try to exercise full tolerance and not move anywhere yet.

“As long as the country’s democracy is not safe, we will be here,” he told reporters. If there is a coup or an unelected prime minister is installed, the red shirts will “escalate our fight immediately…”.

 Meanwhile, Suthep Thaugsuban has all but declared that he is in charge:

“The people hope there will be a new prime minister of the people by Monday. If not, we will have no choice but to take action by ourselves. We can’t allow the country to continue like this anymore,” Suthep said.

“From tomorrow [Sunday], we will issue statements. And I will read the statements inside Government House.”

Suthep is now ensconced in Government House with the armed and extremist Students and People Network for Thailand’s Reform group, led by PAD’s  Nittithon Lamlua, at his side. He is joined by PAD’s Chamlong Srimuang and his Dhamma Army, and all of the other PAD leaders. It is looking increasingly like 2008, when the elected government was overthrown with barely a whimper. Could that happen again? The events of 2009 and 2010 suggest it shouldn’t, but the path across the line in the sand seems defined.

More shootings

2 04 2014

Khaosod reports on shots fired at anti-democrats, reporting one killed. The Nation reports that the attack was on the militant “Students and People’s Network for Thailand’s Reform (STR), travelling in a three-vehicle convoy, … returning from a rally led by … Suthep Thaugsuban…”. In response, so-called STR adviser Nittithon Lamlua said:

the attack showed that police could not be trusted to protect members of his group, adding that the STR would travel with maximum self-defence capability when conducting future activities, and was ready to counter any threat.

We take it that the statement of “maximum self-defence capability” suits the interests of this extremist group, which is heavily armed. According to the Bangkok Post, the so-called students blamed red shirts:

The network and the PDRC were convinced that two red-shirt members were involved in the shooting. They said Yim Tasawang, a hardcore member of the United Front for Democracy against Dictatorship (UDD), posted his message on the Lungyim Tasawang Facebook page at 11am: ”Don’t stay close to Lung Kamnan today. There’s a report that a team led by Ko Tee has khanom (sweets) from the border waiting on their way back on the expressway.” He was referring to Mr Suthep, known now as “Lung Kamnan”.

However, the red-shirt member later denied any involvement. ”I warned you since this morning not to take the expressway. I’m not involved in this,” he said on the same page after the shooting.

PDRC spokesman Akanat Promphan said the message’s meaning was obvious and questioned the coincidence of the Facebook posting and the ambush. ”Everybody knows what khanom means,” he said and urged police to bring him and Wuthipong Kachathamkul, alias Ko Tee, in for questioning.

Mr Wuthipong, who is a red-shirt leader in Pathum Thani, did not react to the shooting.

Execution by hanging at the yardarm

16 03 2014

Everybody knows that Naval Special Warfare Command (SEAL) commander Winai Klom-in has been a mutinous supporter of the anti-democrats. So PPT wonders if it does him any harm when his strong ties to the most extreme of this movement are exposed.

Certainly, the recent report that the extremists of the Network of Students and People for the Reform of Thailand (NSPRT) has “asked the navy to review its impending transfer” of Winai is no surprise. Perhaps it is a little more startling that the extremists would “picket outside the navy headquarters” and petition the navy.

When the People’s Alliance for Democracy and student’s “adviser” Nittithon Lamlua rails that Winai should not be transferred for allegedly providing guards and perhaps even training, shooters and weapons to the anti-democrats because this is “allow[ing] politics to interfere” the alliance between Winai and the extremists is made especially clear. Nittithon fears losing a significant supporter, backer and strategist.

Winai says that if he doesn’t like his new position, he’ll quit the Navy. In the old days, mutinous naval officers faced “[e]xecution by hanging at the yardarm…”, not a gentle transfer.

Further updated: Anti-democrat shooters again on the attack

18 02 2014

There are a series of stories at Khaosod on the shootings today. These reports confirm tweets by numerous reporters indicating that shooters amongst the anti-democrat demonstrators again opened fire, this time at police.

The Bangkok Post reports on these events, also clearly identifying the shooters as amongst the anti-democrats and acting for them:

As police were firing tear gas, rubber bullets and live munitions at anti-government protesters in the area near Jor Por Ror intersection on Tuesday, they were suddenly targeted by unknown gunmen.

PPT is yet to see any reports of police firing live ammunition. If readers see such reports, email us. The gunmen are not “unknown,” with one identified by name, but with the courts rejecting an arrest warrant.

”After the gunshots by unidentified men [sic.], police stopped their operation and later retreated,” an INN reporter on the ground said. ”I didn’t see where they came from, but their shots went in the diretcion of the police,” he said.

The Post refers to the “popcorn shooter” and says he/they “returned on Tuesday for the first time since the Laksi clash on the eve of the Feb 2 elections, when a photographed hooded-man fired at red-shirts, ending the clash with protesters of the People’s Democratic Reform Committee (PDRC). This time there was believed to be more than one shooter.”

The police were acting against the extremist Network of Students and People for Reform of Thailand when three of these armed men “set free PDRC co-leader Somkiat Pongpaibul, who was being held in a police paddy wagon on nearby Ratchadamnoen Avenue after being seized by police at Phan Fah Bridge.” Somkiat is a long-time People’s Alliance for Democracy extremist who was, for a while, and Democrat Party MP.

Somkiat said “three men he did not know [sic.] freed him from the vehicle. At the same time there were sounds of gunshots and explosions, and the policemen guarding the detention vehicle took cover, allowing him to escape…”.

Samdin Lertbut, a coordinator of the Dhamma Army, explained that he presence of the men – PPT says they are trained military or ex-military men – “was the turning point…”. Another

Panthep Puapongpan, another PAD member: ”The ‘unidentified forces’ were protecting brothers and sisters of Muan Maha Prachachon,” and warned: ”State authorities now must think twice about their plans…”.

The PAD/Dhamma Army/Network of Students and People for Reform of Thailand plans are clear. As PPT predicted in a recent post, anti-democrats have almost nothing left. Violent confrontation may be something the extremists want, but that will only see them lose even more support. Clearly, they have decided on a violent insurrection.

Update 1: Grenade attack on police.

Police and grenade

Update 2: Thai Rath has a series of photos from these events / Another set here / Andrew Spooner has a take on events in Thailand / BBC report with pictures / CNN video report and attack on police / A later CNN report that gets the order of attack correct / men-in-green or popcorn shooters apparently meet with PAD and extremist Network of Students and People for Reform of Thailand leader Nittithon Lamlua / Bangkok Post has video and photos /

For the king



Updated: Threatening II

15 01 2014

In a follow-up report to our earlier post, it seems that the extremist Students and People Network for Thailand’s Reform group is still threatening substantial action, denying other claims by the main anti-democracy group. The report states:

In an attempt to increase pressure on the government, the hard-line movement Students and People Network for Thailand’s Reform (STR) yesterday confirmed it planned to blockade the Stock Exchange of Thailand and the offices of Aeronautical Radio of Thailand (AeroThai) if caretaker Prime Minister Yingluck Shinawatra did not resign.

STR coordinator Uthai Yodmanee said the group would wait until 8pm tonight – its deadline for Yingluck to step down.

Uthai elaborated that this “disruption of AeroThai’s services could cause chaos for civilian aircraft, including domestic and international passenger flights, scheduled to land in Thailand, as well as those flying through Thai airspace…”. He seemed to think this a good idea.

Meanwhile, Suthep’s lot “reaffirmed it would not seize airports, key transportation systems or the stock market.” This despite Suthep’s declaration that there be a “total shutdown of all state properties in the next few days, as well as the possibility of holding the prime minister and some Cabinet members captive to force her caretaker government to resign, to make way for a reform plan he had designed.”

Update: Siam Voices has a really excellent post on the STR. Like PPT, the post concludes that this is an extremist group. The background information is excellent and well worth a read. The only bit we feel a need to criticize is about Thai academic Aim Sinpeng who is said to have “correctly observed,” that “nationalism, anti-mega projects and anti-corruption” are “some of the main motivations” for the group and its leaders Uthai and Nittithon Lamlua.

We do agree that these are some of the motivations – although anti-corruption does not extent to their cronies – but there is a set of other quite disturbing motivations and behaviors: personalized attacks, moralistic claims, direct action to deliberately provoke violence, urban warfare, conspiracy theories, and an emphasis on “mass solidarity.”

Borrowing from Wikipedia, these men are anti-liberal, anti-communist nationalists. They are probably also closet republicans, but that is our guess. They are authoritarian in politics, interested in mass mobilization, holding a positive view of violence, and promote masculinity, youth and charismatic leadership. They attract support primarily from the far right.

Further updated: Good news, bad news

13 01 2014

So far the anti-democracy shutdown seems a relatively quiet and peaceful affair. The Bangkok Post reports reasonably good news:

The rallies on the first day of the People’s Democratic Reform Committee’s Bangkok shutdown are generally normal without any untoward incidents and it is not necessary to invoke the emergency decree, Deputy Prime Minister Surapong Tovichakchaikul said on Monday.

Mr Surapong, who supervises the Centre for the Administration of Peace and Order, said Capo had monitored the rallies at all seven locations, particularly the Lat Phrao, Victory Monument and Asok intersections.

There were a few traffic problems, but no reports of violence, he said.

“Capo would like to thank the Thai people, both in Bangkok and other provinces, for having exercised restraint in the present situation. We hope the rallies will continue to be peaceful and non-violent,” Mr Surapong said.

He said it was not predictable for how long the rallies would continue, but police had initially prepared to handle the situation for one week.

The bad news seems to be that this quietness may be cause for more extreme action by militant protesters. Khaosod reports that protesters have tried to block more intersections than the seven their leaders claimed they’d blockade. More worryingly, the Bangkok Post has reported that protesters have threatened airports.

This threat is not to the airports themselves, but to air traffic control:

… protesters from the Network of Students and People for Reform of Thailand (NSPRT) promised to blockade the entrance to Aerothai (Aeronautical Radio of Thailand) unless caretaker Prime Minister Yingluck Shinawatra steps down by Wednesday.

Aerothai is in sole charge of communications between aircraft and air traffic controllers in Thailand. Their offices on Soi Ngam Dupli in Bangkok’s Sathorn district act as a networking centre for computer systems linking air traffic control posts across the country.

Of course, blocking these communications would shut down all airports and potentially impacts flights traversing Thailand’s air space. Bangkok Pundit points out that the leader taking responsibility for this action is Nittithon Lamlua.

Indicating the control of extremists in the anti-democracy movement, the “Stock Exchange of Thailand (SET) has also been singled out as a target by protesters.”
Clearly biting the hand that feeds it and probably scaring their financiers as much as the government, the NSPRT is enamored of the faux radicalism of U.S. anti-capitalists. These pretend leftists campaign against a worldwide Wall Street conspiracy and who usually attract a tiny audience of neo-Nazis, Tea Party types, hill-dwelling libertarians and other strange radicals. NSPRT leader Uthai Yodmanee said:

the group plans to shut down the stock market because Thai investors are ignoring the current political situation. He said protesters believe the stock market is the heart of the “Thaksin regime”, since former prime minister Thaksin Shinawatra is still able to manipulate markets in the country from overseas.

That these claims are without evidence is because they are daft. But people who are attracted by such rumors and nonsense are unpredictable. At one moment they are making horrendous and barbarous sexual commentary on Yingluck Shinawatra because she is a women and they despise her with sexist references, and the next they are attacking police and other authorities in order to defeat “the system.”

Update 1: Readers might be interested in the International Crisis Group’s alert on potential conflict in Thailand.

Update 2: Despite the fact that several news outlets had direct quotes from NSPRT leaders regarding their intentions (as cited above), the main anti-democracy protest group denies everything: PDRC spokesman Akanat Promphan “gave assurances that they would not seize the airport, key transportation systems and the stock market…”. It looks remarkably like a struggle between regular extremists and ultra-extremists has broken out in the ranks of the anti-democrats.


Violence and the end of the electoral state

9 01 2014

The Nation has a headline for its interview with Nittithon Lamlua, the leader of the extremist Students’ and People’s Network for Thailand’s Reform (STR): “STR will follow a peaceful framework, student leader says ahead of shutdown“. The content of the interview suggests something far more sinister.

Importantly, though, Nittthon explains the position of his group:

The STR does not have many members, but we are strong and understand the situation. We’re willing to confront violence if state officials unleash it. Most of the members were part of the People’s Alliance for Democracy and have had experience with political struggle.

Like PAD, STR is driven by a religious-like perception of politics as a moral question: “Politics today is about good and evil, right and wrong, morality and immorality.” There’s something of Chamlong Srimuang in this.

He is asked about the STR’s penchant for violent confrontation. The answer is:

The STR is not positioned to confront violent situations, but we have analysed important strategies that would lead to direct pressure on the government. Demonstrations are not enough pressure, but at the same time, what we do will be within a peaceful framework.

In the answer to another question, this is contradicted: “We’re willing to confront violence if state officials unleash it.” As far as PPT can tell, official “violence” is considered any act by state authorities that challenges demonstrators. The STR’s violence is “not something that the STR should be worried about. To say we provoke violence is but a move to discredit people’s right to protest.” This apparently includes the right to prevent others registering for an election: “From what we see, we have achieved our goal every time, particularly at the Thai-Japanese Stadium [on December 26].”

In fact, Nittithon would prefer violent confrontation: He believes that the Prime Minister’s only “choice is to use violence in the hope that it would strike fear…”. He taunts her: “If they [detain] the leaders [of the protest movement], then the public will be deprived of an important force and it will become difficult for them to find a replacement under the current circumstances.”

The STR’s position on the military is for it to protect the demonstrators when there is violence. He adds: “The military can hasten that and reduce the loss of lives.”