Further updated: It’s still a military regime I

12 05 2020

Gen Prayuth Chan-ocha appears far more comfortable when ruling under an emergency decree. Parliament is not his thing and with it not meeting, its (limited) significance is reduced to invisibility. And, the virus crisis has (further) reduced the (limited) scrutiny he gets from the (tame) media; less than during the full-on military dictatorship.

The Dictator’s comfort zone – within the hard shell of the military – is showcased in a Khaosod report. In an odd move, Prime Minister Gen Prayuth “ordered a public survey to gather opinions on whether the emergency decree should be lifted, officials said Monday.”

It does seem strange that a “strongman” feels the need “survey” public opinion on a topic that has generally been considered a matter of science and public health. But we do know that the military junta used “surveys” to “assess” public mood. These surveys were usually conducted by the military and related bodies.

And so it is now:

National security official Gen. Somsak Rungsita said the survey will be conducted by the National Intelligence Agency and the Internal Security Operation Command. It will cover questions regarding the next phase of business reopenings and public opinion on emergency decree, he said.

Yes, the emergency decree. If those junta/military-backed agencies show that “people” are “happy” for the generals and their minions to bungle on under strict controls, then we might expect the emergency decree to be extended beyond the end of May.

Reassuringly, and suggesting that the “survey” is something of a smokescreen, Gen Somsak declared: “The decree has to be eventually revoked. It can’t stay forever…”. In the usual idiotic manner of generals, he added: “Please don’t link it to politics since the enactment of emergency decree is purely for the health of citizens.” Of course, it isn’t all about health.

Even the Democrat Party’s Ong-art Klampaiboon dared suggest that “the government” of which he is a part but in which his party has no influence, “should assign academics to conduct the questionnaire instead of intelligence agencies.” We’d ask why a competent government even needs a survey unless it is to justify more unaccountable (military) rule.

Update 1: The regime has now denied the above report despite it being clear that the earlier reports were accurate. National Security Council secretary-general Gen Somsak Roongsita has stated “Gen Prayut[h] … does not have a policy and has not issued an order” to carry out a survey on the issue…”. Ho hum.

Update 2: Ho hum indeed! Khaosod reports that Gen Prayuth has squashed talk about the emergency decree being lifted at the end of May. The report states:

National Security Council sec-gen Gen. Somsak Roongsita also told the media on Monday that it is “highly likely” that Thailand’s State of Emergency will end on May 31, citing surveys by two intelligence agencies.

“Both agencies were quite satisfied with the overall public health and safety situations,” Somsak said. “[They] believed that the general Thais have good understandings of the need for social distance at the time of the pandemic outbreak.”

Gen Prayuth seems to want the decree in place for longer, claiming health concerns. As usual, it is confusion erring on the side of repression.





Stealing an “election” VI

3 05 2018

The Bangkok Post recently reported that The Dictator gave an “assurance” of an “election” saying this “should satisfy those threatening to stage a prolonged rally on Saturday” calling for an election.

However, the activists and The Dictator seems at odds, with the former wanting an election this year and General Prayuth Chan-ocha saying it would be 2019.

For good measure, while threatening the activists, Gen Prayuth opined:”Please, the country is doing well. After we announced a prospective election date for early next year, no other countries raised an objection. We’re following through [with the election roadmap].”

In fact, when The Dictator says, “Do not worry that the election will be delayed again. I have no intention of doing that…”, we sort of agree with him. It seems that the junta’s plans are falling into place, allowing it and devil parties to steal the “election,” and if there are no major “issues,” we tend to think the sham election will proceed.

A measure of the junta’s election preparedness is seen in the damage done to existing political parties. Part of the plan for stealing the “election” involves weakening them. It looks like there’s been considerable success.

Democrat Party deputy leader Ong-art Klampaibul revealed “that only 100,000 of the … Party’s 2.5 million members reconfirmed their memberships with the party by midnight on Monday.” He blamed the junta’s orders for having “caused myriad problems for party members…”, saying, “[w]hat is happening now is the NCPO [junta] is showing its desire to destroy political parties…”.

The Puea Thai has a similar junta-induced problem: “Chaturon Chaisang told the Bangkok Post that about 10,000 of the party’s 130,000 members had reconfirmed.”

Chaturon said said the junta had “undermined the credibility of the parliamentary system.”

The junta believes it is already “winning” its “election.”





On Democrat Party hypocrisy

24 09 2017

The Democrat Party has a long history of political hypocrisy. For most of its history, it has been conservative, royalist and cooperative with military regimes. There have been brief periods where it has attempted to be a democratic Democrat Party, but these periods appear as aberrations.

(For an official history of the Democrat Party, written as fairy tale, see here.)

Under Abhisit Vejjajiva, who has led the party since March 2005, it has become a raucously anti-democratic party, losing all elections that it did not boycott, damaging parliament, supporting and leading anti-democratic street protesters, happily boostering two military coups and presiding over the gunning down of red shirt protesters.

On the latter, on the 2010 massacre, after getting off murder charges again and again, Abhisit’s ego seems to know no bounds. In a display of narcissistic hubris, Abhisit was reported as miffed that red shirts were pressing on with trying to get the 2010 murders properly dealt with. He “hit back against the red shirts, urging them not to turn the loss of life suffered in the 2010 crackdown under his administration into a ‘political game’.”

A “political game”? As far as we can tell, it is only Abhisit and his ilk who have treated the murders as a political game.

Then, remarkably and unbelievably, Abhisit said “he felt sympathetic towards relatives of the victims who wanted to know the truth in order to see justice…”. Not only does that feel like a blatant lie, but the former prime minister then doubled down with a statement he used intentionally for the purpose of deception.

He declared that these red shirts – those who had lost relatives to military bullets – “had not opposed the controversial blanket amnesty bill when it was tabled by then-Pheu Thai MPs and supported by the Yingluck Shinawatra-led government, even although the proposed measure would have granted amnesty for those who were involved in the crackdown.”

This is what the United Front for Democracy against Dictatorship declared at the time:

Speaking on the eve of the final House debate Thursday on the controversial bill, UDD chairwoman Thida Thavornseth on Wednesday reaffirmed the red-shirt movement’s opposition against the blanket amnesty. She said that the UDD did not want the amnesty to cover both Abhisit Vejjajiva and Suthep Thuagsuban whom the movement held accountable for the deaths of red-shirt protesters in May 2010.

Mrs Thida said that the Pheu Thai party would have to be responsible for any consequences which follow after the endorsement of the bill by the House….

Abhisit has lied (again).

He’s not the only member of the Democrat Party prone to lies and flights of fantasy.

Ong-art Klampaibul, a deputy leader of the Democrat Party, recently babbled about an “election” held under the military junta. He said: “I hope the people’s voice will be respected this time…”.

Of course, it has been the Democrat Party that has refused to accept each election result since 2005. He probably meant to say that he hopes that his failed party can ride on the military’s coattails to a position in a military-dominated government.





Thirayudh’s tattlings and the anti-democrat agenda

7 03 2017

We at PPT have to be honest and admit that we have never felt much interest in (faux) academic Thirayudh Boonmee or his mental meanderings. The feelings are probably mutual.

That said, we do acknowledge that, as an Octoberist, there remain people willing to listen to his rambling “advice” to Thailand’s elite. Most significantly, he tends to reflect the musings of the deeply yellow gaggle of anti-democrats.

A couple of days ago, at The Nation Thirayudh was described mischievously, as a “[p]olitical expert and independent scholar,” rather than retiree and political pundit. For the anti-democrat crowd, he “criticised the post-coup regime for what he viewed as its failure to undertake national reforms, warning of a possible decline in public faith in the government.”

That is likely to bother the military junta mostly because Thirayud speaks to the junta’s civilian constituency, despite the fact that his “briefing” sponsored by the Election Commission and was “at the Government Complex in Bangkok’s Chaeng Wattana area.”

He is urging the junta to maintain its anti-democrat “mandate” and push it further. This is why he wants the military “to stick to its promised ‘road map’ for a return to democracy.” Thirayudh knows that the “return to democracy” means the restoration of elite models of “guided democracy” that is no democracy at all.

This is why Thirayudh “expressed support over the use of absolute power under Article 44 of the interim charter, saying that it was in tune with the nature of Thais who are prone to accept authoritarianism.”

More than this, he demanded that the regime use Article 44 more. He argues the regime “should exploit it to its best use, but not abuse it.” His point is to push back against those “liberals” who are wavering on the regime’s authoritarianism.

You get the picture. The elite rules and exploits because the “nature” of Thais is to accept exploitation, murderous military regimes and repression. He ignores the long history of Thai rejection of these rulers and their schemes.

Thirayudh is worried that “the direction of politics currently leaned towards conservatism and there was little hope of reforming the power structure.” He is worried that the “present powers were civil servants [sic.] who would lose power once the reform was implemented.”

He believes the military regime has won and that those who lost just need to accept this and Thailand will be just right. But the regime needs to move to its guided democracy:

They [those supporting The Dictator] seem to have some accomplishments, but still there is no hope in the reform…. Moreover, they show the intention to support [General Prayut] to stay in power so they can, too. But things will get more difficult and the whole thing may collapse if they stay in power longer than [they promised] in the road map.

Thirayuth warns The Dictator and his regime that “the public’s confidence in the government had been shaken. Hence, it must do the right thing and keep its vow to hold an election as well as be prepared for issues to come after the poll by focusing on reform of the power structure and fighting graft.”

He worries that if The Dictator and his regime hang on, that a new 1992 may emerge, again unleashing the masses in politics.

In another Bangkok Post story, the (anti-)Democrat Party is reported to have backed Thirayudh, “saying the social critic pinpointed the problems and highlighted the failure of the government’s approach to them.”

Democrat deputy leader Ong-art Klampaibul “said the government needed to listen to Mr Thirayuth, no matter how harsh his opinions might be.”

Regarding reform, Ong-art declared “the people so far have not experienced any tangible outcomes…”. He added that after “three years in power, the government has only just started its bid for national reconciliation…”.

Junta spokesman Lt Gen Sansern Kaewkamnerd has already “rejected” Thirayudh’s “criticism,” asking for the critic to be “useful” by providing “practical solutions to the problems rather than preach about theories and principles.”

In fact, the point of Thirayudh’s intervention is to push the junta to increased “reform.” Like them, he is an anti-democrat, but he is opposed the embedding of military dictatorship. He wants guided democracy.

Increasingly, as Sansern expresses it, the junta wants more and more time for “reform.” He says: “It was not easy to achieve its desired results in such a short period because many of the country’s problems had been left unresolved for a long time.”

They have been supported by others from the Democrat Party. Supachai Panitchpakdi is a  politician who failed to gain top spot in his party and has led an undistinguished career in high-profile international organizations.

His name often comes up when “national governments” are discussed and we can’t help wondering if the ever-eager for top position Supachai sees another opportunity if the military is to get itself a party for an “election.”

He’s now serving the junta, and its members will feel happy that Supachai has supported them against Thirayudh’s mild criticisms. We guess that’s why they hired him.





Control everything II

2 05 2016

Seeking to control the outcome of the charter referendum is another example of the military dictatorship’s craving for total control of everything.

As we have said before, the junta believes it can engineer an outcome, and no matter how fraudulent, believes it will be able to claim “legitimacy.”

Hopefully, whatever the military does, the people make sure that the outcome is seen as a military fraud.

One aspect of the murderous military’s measures to manufacture consent for the charter is in the “rules” it has made “law” on how, when, where and tone of commentary on the military’s anti-democratic draft charter.

The extent of this is seen when even an acknowledged anti-democrat has finally deciphered the military dictatorship’s plans. The democratically disreputable Democrat Party has fidgeted over the charter, but in recent days its deputy leader Ong-art Klampaibul has declared that “the circumstances surrounding the referendum were nothing short of the people being ‘held hostage’.”

The puppet Election Commission has made all charter commentary illegal except that where “people voiced their opinion with no intention of influencing the public on how to vote either way…”. That is, unless it is the regime and its supporters who babble on about how wonderful the charter is.

As Ong-art described it: “the CDC, the state agencies, could disseminate the content of the charter without being accused of trying to persuade the public to vote for the draft.”

Meanwhile, critics face threats, arrest and harassment.

The threat and reality of the military junta’s repression is that any critic – a position to be determined by the junta and its puppets – will mean “critics who will face lengthy court cases” and perhaps years in a junta jail.

This is truly a fascist dictatorship at work, run by toadies and thugs.





Anti-democrats support junta’s constitution

28 03 2016

In a recent post on the upcoming charter referendum, PPT stated: Expect celebrities, palace-connected personalities, Sino-Thai tycoons and “statesmen” to be mobilized as happy supporters of the military junta’s charter.

What we neglected to that list was the anti-democrat contingent.

The Bangkok Post reports that “Democrat deputy leader Ong-art Klampaibul cautioned the military regime on Sunday not to force the charter drafters to make any last-minute changes to the draft to keep what remains of its legitimacy intact.”

This initially sounds like a piece of opposition to the junta. But let’s look at this a bit more closely. All he says is that no more demands should be made. In this sense he is supporting the current draft charter, the junta’s charter.

He urged people “to focus on specific issues the CDC has tried to address.” He emphasized something he thought was about “rights and civil liberties, checks and balances between the legislature and the executive, mechanisms to reign in corruption and abuse of power, the balance of powers between the three branches and the groundwork for national reforms.”

Ong-art “called on all sides to put public interest before their own when discussing the constitution ahead of the referendum.” In other words, vote for the current draft charter, the junta’s charter.

He blathers about allowing “freedom of expression to guarantee the referendum outcome, no matter how it turns out, will be acceptable.” This is the start of the process of legitimizing an illegitimate charter, the junta’s charter.

Ong-art’s comments must have resonated with “Suriyasai Katasila, deputy dean of Rangsit University’s Social Innovation College…”. (The idea that Suriyasai is a dean of anything in a university is simply bizarre, but this is PAD’s Rangsit University, a hive of anti-democrat activism.)

He supports Ong-art’s view, urging a concentration on “core elements in the constitution,” not the plans for embedding military rule (what he calls “provisional clauses on ‘special mechanisms during the transitional period’…”.)

Expect more of this.





The anti-democrats and the junta

14 03 2016

The military junta appears in more political trouble than it has been since seizing power in May 2014. Like most other military leaders who have a chance at pushing the nation about, this lot have come to enjoy the power and influence.

The junta head honchos are looking so desperate to stay in power that even their political allies among the anti-democrats are looking somewhat jaundiced – a pale yellow.

The Nation reports that the junta is getting support from its flunkies but that other (former?) allies are leaning away. It quotes Suriyasai Katasila, former People’s Alliance for Democracy co-leader, who wryly observes that the junta is “so interested” in “designing special mechanisms, namely selected senates, that the public has grown sceptical about its promises to relinquish power.”

He backs the reform agenda pushed by the son of PAD, the People’s Democratic Reform Committee,  saying the junta “should instead come up with concrete reform plans, set clear missions, steer the reforms and encourage various segments of the public to cooperate.” In other words, set the “reform” agenda and move on.

At the Bangkok Post, the deeply yellow columnist Veera Prateepchaikul lists a litany of junta demands and failures, stating:

… the proposed five-year transition period will be challenged. Sooner rather than later, the junta will realise it should stick to the original roadmap and return to the people the right to have a say in their own future.

He means an election, the very mechanism he opposed not that long ago.

Also suddenly wanting an election are senior members of the Democrat Party, renowned for both losing elections and boycotting them.

Deputy leader Nipit Intarasombat urged Constitution Drafting Committee chairman Meechai Ruchupan stick with the current draft charter and “principles.” We are not sure how Nipit would judge “principles” but he seems content with the anti-democrat “reform” agenda adopted by the CDC.

He seems worried that the military will stay on warning of “heavy public resistance if it [the CDC] gave in too much [to the junta], which would carry grim prospects for the charter referendum at the end of July.”

Another Democrat Party leader, Ong-art Klampaibul warned the junta to “listen to reason and not impose their will on the CDC.” He’s happy with the undemocratic notion of functional constituencies, “considered an indirect election, [“electing”] 200 senators from 20 social groups, 10 from each, [which] would vote across the groups to elect members of the Upper House.”

The anti-democrats seem to feel that they have a “suitable” constitution that will prevent true popular representation but fear the weight of the men in green.





Protecting the judiciary

26 07 2015

It has become increasingly common for the judiciary to “protect” itself. This “protection” appears to have originated as the red shirt movement developed and became critical of the obvious double standards displayed by the judiciary following the 2006 palace-military coup.

The judiciary has been manipulated to become an important arm of the royalist elite in maintaining its rule, taking on some of the work of the king as he allocated it more responsibility in dealing with the elite’s perception of threats from electoral politics.

A recent example of this self-protective behavior is the Supreme Court’s decision to uphold a “one-year prison term, without suspension, imposed on Pheu Thai Party spokesman Prompong Nopparit and former party MP Kiat-udom Menasawat for defaming former Constitutional Court president Wasan Soypisudh.”

Wasan’s defamation lawsuit “said they wrongfully accused him during a press conference on June 8, 2010, of acting inappropriately and lacking judicial ethics and impartiality.” We have more on Wasan’s bias below.

Earlier, the Criminal Court had “found the pair guilty of defamation and sentenced them to one year in prison, suspended, and fined them 50,000 baht.” Wasan and several of his royalist buddies were enraged and the Appeals Court “lifted the suspension, ruling the defendants had intentionally insulted the judge and discredited the judiciary, despite being well-educated and holding political positions. The Supreme Court upheld that decision.”

As if to emphasize double standards, the “Supreme Court overruled an Appeals Court ruling and acquitted former deputy prime minister Suthep Thaugsuban … of defaming Prommin Letsuridej, a former executive of the now-defunct Thai Rak Thai Party in 2006. The court also upheld the prior acquittal of former prime minister Abhisit Vejjajiva and Ong-art Klampaibul of the Democrat Party on similar charges.”

Back to Wasan. He was, until 2013, a politicized judge at the head of a politicized Constitutional Court. PPT has had several posts on his activities. The Constitutional Court has been irretrievably biased in favor of the royalist elite. This court has been shown to be corrupt and colluded with members of the elite, including in the palace. The Constitutional Court repeatedly acted as the judicial arm of the royalist elite, most notably in its actions to dissolve various pro-Thaksin Shinawatra parties and politicians and in its protection of favored parties and groups. Its actions to stymie legal constitutional change have been some of the most biased and ludicrous cases ever seen in Thailand.

The court’s politicized decision-making has been central to the political conflicts of the past decade and Wasan has even stated the biases of the court:

At a seminar on the court’s role in keeping the balance in Thai politics, he referred to the court’s resolution to dissolve the People Power, Chart Thai and Matchima Thipataya parties [the 2008 judicial coup]. If various groups had not staged so many rallies at the time, the decision might have been different, he said. “If the country at that time had been peaceful, the government and the opposition could have joined hands, the country could have moved forward, and I believe most of the judges would have decided not to dissolve the parties,” he said. “But the country at that time was chaotic and the Constitution Court had to use its judgement to maintain law and order,” he said, adding however that the court was under no pressure.

Wasan did more than any other judge to politicize the Constitutional Court. His politicized career included strong connections with  the Democrat Party, having interned with  are long. The report states the royal leader of the early Democrat Party, Seni Pramoj.

As a Supreme Court judge, it was Wasan who dished out the two-year imprisonment term on Thaksin for allegedly assisting his wife in the Ratchada land purchase deal.

He also played a role in stripping red-shirt leader Jatuporn Promphan of his parliamentary election victory by ruling that his incarceration on bogus charges meant he was ineligible.

Was he defamed? Not if it is considered that the defendants told the truth about a corrupt and biased judge. Yet the judiciary wants to protect its capacity for politicized interventions.





Democrat Party floundering

13 08 2013

The Democrat Party has always relied on “old elite” methods when it comes to international image. It figures that international allies will forever consider it democratic simply because it uses the name and considers that all of Thailand’s old men at the top provide the “right” links for it in getting international support. It also feels that as it has a couple of lads who speak good English and have old elite connections in England and supporters knitted into the royalist fabric of the U.S. alliance, that it will always do well.

Hence, when it supported the military, became very royalist and unleashed murderous attacks on civilians it felt that claiming all of this was “democratic” and under the “rule of law,” old friends would understand. They didn’t. And Abhisit Vejjajiva’s forays overseas to “explain” all of this were dismal failures. When he was supported by the usually ill-prepared Kasit Piromya, farce usually resulted.

Making things worse for the floundering Democrat Party, Yingluck Shinawatra’s election landslide saw her electoral legitimacy sanctioned by international leaders. More galling for the toffs at the Democrat Party, Thaksin Shinawatra seems to have been adroit in getting access to international leaders.

When the Puea Thai Party government invited “several international figures who have played prominent roles in promoting democracy and reconciliation” to a meeting in Bangkok, the Democrat Party hastily responded. At the Bangkok Post it is reported that the Party “plans to counter the government’s move to invite international figures to join a unity forum.” It is rushing to see “former British prime minister Tony Blair and former UN secretary-general Kofi Annan to try to dissuade them from becoming ‘tools’ of the Pheu Thai-led government,”

Chavanond being a spokesman (a Bangkok Post photo)

Democrat Party spokesman Chavanond Intarakomalyasut lamented that Blair and Anand “might be used as tools or presented as a stamp of approval for the government-sponsored amnesty bill…”. He added that their presence would “whitewash the crimes of those who vandalised Bangkok buildings in the 2010 red-shirt rallies, and those who insulted the monarchy…”.

It seems that Abhisit has assigned Kasit, Korn Chatikavanij, and party MPs Ong-art Klampaibul and others “to meet ambassadors and submit open letters to international organisations based in Thailand to explain to them that the government is abusing its power by pushing for an amnesty bill.” In addition, the Party “will translate the reports by the Truth for Reconciliation Commission (TRC) and the National Human Rights Commission into English to distribute to foreign agencies.”

Is anyone listening to them?





Democrat Party desperation

1 03 2013

The election for Bangkok governor is a major test for the tainted Democrat Party. The current leadership of the appears desperate for a win despite the fact that they wanted someone other than the princely incumbent Sukhumbhand Paribatra to stand for them. Sukhumbhand threatened to stand as an independent if his party went with another candidate and the party realized that this would mean a certain loss, even if his performance as governor has been lackluster.

So it is that The Nation reports an interview with Democrat Party election director Ong-art Klampaibul that produces some remarkable nonsense. Of course, we have to assume that The Nation reports accurately….

In his interview, Ong-art apparently “admitted that it was tougher for an incumbent candidate to retain his seat in comparison to new faces. He explained that a new face would always have an advantage because people will have already seen the incumbent’s performance, while people would want to test a newcomer.” Well, yes, an if the “old face’s” performance has been poor, then they might also vote for a “new face.” The idea that voting based on (poor) performance is a negative for the Democrat Party does, however, appear to have been proven in past elections.

Still, Ong-art reckoned that Sukhumbhand had a chance of re-election because “the Democrat Party had mobilised its MPs and high-profile members to beg for support so the incumbent Sukhumbhand can complete his unfinished projects.” “Beg” is an interesting term.

Ong-art then meandered into relationships and argued against voting for a Puea Thai candidate just because he can work with the national government. He argued that:

… previous Bangkok governors, who were from the Democrat Party, had no problems working with the state government over the past eight years, citing governments led by Thaksin Shinawatra, Surayud Chulanont, Samak Sundaravej and Somchai Wongsawat. He added that Sukhumbhand only had problems with the Pheu Thai-led government over the past six months or so….

The thread here seems to be that voting for a Puea Thai candidate who can work with the government is not a good idea, even though the ability of former Democrat Party governors to work with the national government is sold as a positive. Yet he then says: “this so-called seamless cooperation will never be real…”. So it wasn’t real when he claimed it was for his party? It appears Ong-art missed that class on logic at university.

He then went on to his big sell, saying that he “hoped Bangkokians would come out in full force to vote for Sukhumbhand Paribatra and relay the message that they do not want the entire country to be controlled by just one family.” He added: “This election has special significance because it will decide whether Bangkokians are willing to give all the power to Pheu Thai, a certain group of people or a single family…”. He means the Shinawatra family.

Ong-art proudly pointed out that:

the party has created a new set of pink stickers to put on Sukhubhand’s campaign posters to try and win more support. The stickers carry messages like: “I work hard for Bangkokians”, “I’m honest, not a cheat”, “This Democrat stays put for Bangkokians” and “Joining forces against monopoly”.

Is it just us or does this sound like Democrat Party desperation? Perhaps they realized that failed tactics from their rout in the July 2011 election campaign and a tainted party leader still weren’t working. Maybe.