Thinking about the ruling class II

1 11 2020

Doyen of Thailand’s conservative ruling class, former Prime Minister Anand Panyarachun has descended from his throne to offer his advice on how to deal with anti-regime/anti-monarchy protesters. An aged former prime minister who served a military junta and then was put in place by the then king in an arguably unconstitutional move should add to considerable doubt about his credentials for commenting on monarchy and constitution. But he does.

According to Thai PBS, he “blamed Section 272 of the Constitution, which enables senators to vote in the election of the Prime Minister, as the source of today’s political conflict.” He doesn’t think that the charter needs too much change. Anand added “that lèse majesté, or Section 112 of the country’s Criminal Code, should be decriminalized, subjecting offenders to civil liability only with fines commensurate with the act committed.”


He reckons that the current round of protests is “a conflict between generations.” His view suggests that the young are misled: “There is a generation that depends on various Internet platforms for communication, which leads to misunderstanding, unlike face-to-face dialogue.”

In his pontification, Anand said that, “unlike people who view it as a crisis, he thinks it is not unusual, saying that Thailand has been down this path countless times during the past 88 years of democratic governance,” referring to the “vicious cycle” that leads to a military coup.

To PPT what we hear from Anand is classic ruling class – fiddling around the edges without dealing with the problems. Lese majeste is an issue but not the monarchy problem. The problem is that the monarchy has aggregated economic and political power that means it operates in a quasi-absolutist manner. The demonstrators want the monarchy brought under a (new, democratic) constitution. And the appointed Senate is an issue but not the problem. The problem is a rigged constitution and a rigged electoral process, all backed by the military.

Anand does get it closer to right when he “warned that using laws and regulations to deal with young people will not solve anything…”. But he’s supported the politicization of the judiciary for years, since his dislike for Thaksin Shinawatra manifested itself and had Anand supporting a coup.

Indeed, Wikileaks tells us that Anand supported the 2006 coup and the ousting of Samak Sundaravej. In 2014 he (repeatedly) supported anti-democrats, including boosting Suthep Thaugsuban. This was in a context where he also rejected Yingluck Shinawatra and here earlier attempts at reconciliation and repeatedly attacked her government. We have little doubt that, based on his record, Anand had a role in encouraging the most recent coup.

In all of this advice-giving, Anand sounds a bit like a broken record.

Thai PBS reports that Gen Prayuth Chan-ocha responds to Anand, saying he is “listening to the voices of anti-government protesters…”. The question is what has he been hearing. Like Anand, he babbles about “mutual understanding” as his minions arrest and jail anti-regime protesters by the score. His other response is to use his illegitimate majority in parliament to “manage” and delay dealing with anything other than seeing the protesters off.

Interestingly, as the Thai Enquirer reports, it was royalists who pointed out Anand’s effort to avoid monarchy reform. The mad monarchist Warong Dechgitvigrom commented: “You can hear the mob when they are calling for the PM to resign but do you hear or see when they are insulting the King?” Chaiwut Thanakamanusorn, a Palang Pracharath Party MP said: “The true target of the protestors is not in the change of PM but to change something that is higher than the PM, therefore, the resignation of the PM will not fix the problem…”.

Different monarchists see different ways of resolving the “crisis.” The conservative Anand throws the protesters a bone while the mad monarchists want to kill the “dog.”

“Listening” to anti-democrats

14 05 2014

Listening to anything that the anti-democrats is risky. For a start, they make stuff up. But let’s look at who is listening to them and what the current calls are.

At the Bangkok Post the reports are of the anti-democrats still calling for the Senate to break the so-called political impasse. We note that Suthep Thaugsuban’s self-imposed deadline of last Monday for the Senate to act has passed, but his idea of deadlines and “last” seem flexible.

The Post calls this “analysis”:

Without the House of Representatives and parliament president in charge of parliamentary affairs, the Senate is the only functioning legislator. The PDRC is counting on the institution to invoke Section 7 of the charter and nominate an interim prime minister for royal endorsement, a move it believes will lend legitimacy to the group’s call.

In fact, it is tripe and nonsense. The constitution is clear on the role of the senate when the House has been prorogued:

Section 132. During the expiration of the term or the dissolution of the House of Representatives, the Senate shall not hold its sitting except in the following cases:

(1) a sitting at which the Senate shall act as the National Assembly under section 19, section 21, section 22, section 23 [all to do with the monarchy and succession] and section 189 [a declaration of war], and the votes taken shall be based on the number of senators;

(2) a sitting at which the Senator shall consider of a person for holding office under the provision of this Constitution;

(3) a sitting at which the Senate shall consider and pass a resolution removing a person from office.

So the Post is engaging in anti-democrat myth-making, and even cites the yellow-shirted, stage monger anti-democrat Sombat Thamrongthanyawong, who is said that the anti-democrat’s anti-constitutional demands on the senate is “to ensure its campaign for political reform sticks to the charter.” As we noted above, this is an anti-democrat fairy tale. Or to state it more bluntly, it is a lie.

Sombat’s lie is that “the Senate the only functioning legislator that can solve the crisis and it has been careful with its approach in order not to stir up accusations it is calling for unconstitutional changes.” It is a lie and it is unconstitutional.

Despite this, and apparently defying the constitution – which derives from the last yellow-shirted and military intervention – “Deputy Senate Speaker Surachai Liangboonlertchai … rose to the occasion as he hosted an informal discussion among senators to find a solution to the crisis.” He can talk all he wants, and the Post can promote this nonsense as something heroic, but it is all based on a lie. He is doing the work of the anti-democrats, supported by the so-called”Group of 40 Senators” who are ultra-royalists and deeply yellow.

Surachai’s connivance in unethical and unconstitutional behavior is seen in his decision “not to resign as the first deputy Senate Speaker when he contested the Senate Speaker post last Friday…. Mr Surachai could not take a chance with the caretaker government, which might try to stall his appointment.”

Anti-democrats united - CopyAlso at the Bangkok Post, it is reported that it was Surachai who granted “permission for People’s Democratic Reform Committee (PDRC) leader Suthep Thaugsuban to enter parliament premises and hold a closed-door discussion with him…”. More than that, the Post describes Surachai as offering a “gracious welcome.” It is kind of mad that anti-democrats stroll the floors of parliament, which, apart from the appointed dross of the senate, is meant to be about elections and representation.

But then it is probably symbolic that the anti-democrat boss should do this when the mostly unelected senators (only 86 senators attended) are discussing unconstitutional and unlawful actions.

Suthep even demanded that he be allowed to speak to senators, and the usual band of anti-democrat senators apparently supported this. Even Surachai seemed to reason that this would be a dopey political move and “agreed to meet for talks with Mr Suthep and other PDRC co-leaders in a reception room behind closed doors.”

Getting back to matters “constitutional,” the unelected Senator Paiboon Nititawan seemed unaware of the basic law, saying the “Senate, as the only legislative body remaining, is duty-bound to find a way out of the conflict,” and insisting that it appoint a new premier.

Meanwhile, in yet another report at the Bangkok Post Army boss Prayuth Chan-ocha has said he’s not necessarily taking old men’s advice, but lauded these meddling has-beens “for at least proposing a way out, unlike people who seek only to blame others without regard for the damage being caused to the country.” This general is praising these old men, led by General Saiyud Kerdpol, a former counterinsurgency soldier and buddy of Privy Council President and former General Prem Tinsulanonda for using the king’s constitutional role unconstitutionally (also see these interviews on this). That is, the proposal to use Article 7:

Whenever no provision under this Constitution is applicable to any case, it shall be decided in accordance with the constitutional convention in the democratic regime of government with the King as Head of State.

For proposing the unconventional – indeed, unlawful – the “army chief said he admired the Rattha Bukkhon [old men] group for its loyalty to the royal institution and its good intention in trying to restore peace to the country.”

It gets worse when the old men, other anti-democrats and the great unelected get together. Khaosod reports that the senate’s Surachai has demanded that the interim government which is awaiting the Election Commission to do its lawful duty and schedule an election, present a “new solution.”Surachai appears to say this should be a response to the (unlawful) actions by the senate and other anti-democrats. He states that “Article 7 might be invoked if the government does not present its own solution to the ongoing political crisis.”

As Khaosod points out, “Surachai’s comments appear to ignore that the caretaker government has consistently offered elections as a solution for resolving the country’s protracted political crisis.” In fact, this is not a solution for anti-democrats, so it simply does not enter their pantheon of (anti-democratic) solutions for the crisis they have largely created.

One reader tells us “there is no law in Thailand,” and we are tempted to agree. One thing is certain, and that is that the anti-democrats couldn’t give a toss for the country’s basic law, even when it is a constitution they designed and manipulated. For them, its their rules or what they say are the rules, and nothing else matters.

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