Worried by the new

8 03 2018

We at PPT might be revealing our collective greying but we haven’t paid too much attention to the young phenoms threatening to enter politics and to shake up the system.

We were watching the reporting about the party-to-be (maybe) associated with businessman Thanathorn Juangroongruangkit and law professor Piyabutr Saengkanokkul and thinking about the new parties associated with political newcomers.

We thought of the enthusiasm for business people considering political campaigns following the military-perpetrated massacre of May 1992. They looked at existing parties and the Palang Dharma Party was often mentioned as attractive for “new-style” politicians. Interestingly, Thaksin Shinawatra was mentioned in the Bangkok Post (1 July 1992) as “reportedly preparing to run in the election for the Democrat Party.” We also thought of Thai Rak Thai in 2001. Then it was the new party, with new ideas. It also had enormous backing from business and operated under new rules set by the 1997 constitution. And we thought of the short-lived Mahachon Party led by Anek Laothamatas, said to draw on civil society and new ideas.

So new parties come and go.

But the thing that has caught our attention with Thanathorn’s recent efforts is the way his PR has quickly gotten under the skin of The Dictator and his military regime.

The Bangkok Post reports that Deputy Prime Minister Wissanu Krea-ngam has revealed that the military junta he obediently serves is warning and watching “new-generation politicians.”The junta is keen to limit their operations, threatening them with charges if they engage in “political activities and election campaigns.”

The military bootlicker was specifically threatening Thanathorn who “gave an interview aired on The101.world’s Facebook Live account on Monday.”

Because the junta is full of political troglodytes who fetishize hierarchy, it naturally feels challenged by young upstarts. It also has a knee-jerk reaction against Thanathorn that constructs him pro-Thaksin. This is because he is a nephew of former transport minister Suriya Jungrungreangkit, a former member of the defunct Thai Rak Thai Party…”.

But most worrying for the junta is that “Thanathorn’s interview drew more than 100,000 views and was shared more than 3,000 times, with viewers making comments and asking him questions.” Questions! Wow, that’s challenging for the trogs. When he says that an “election can no longer be delayed and the Pheu Thai Party would likely win…” the regime must be getting angry and vindictive.

That Thanathorn seems to be thinking of an alternative to Puea Thai is ignored because the junta’s own strategy is to set up and/or support a swathe of pro-junta proxy parties because it knows that its own new political rules mean that a coalition is the mostly likely outcome of the junta’s “election.”

When Thanathorn says “the military should now stop meddling with politics” and that “[c]oups did not benefit the country’s future…” he’s marked as a junta opponent.

The junta will work assiduously to undermine any group or party it views as oppositional. We might expect a roll out of treason, sedition and even lese majeste accusations.





Supporting the junta’s political agenda

3 03 2018

New political parties are emerging from the junta’s primeval electoral rules slime.We apologize for all the square brackets and inverted commas that follow, but these are necessary to indicate the contrived nature of politics arranged by the military dictatorship.

According to a Bangkok Post source at the Election Commission, several parties “want their party names to include the words ‘Pracharath’ (people-state partnership) or ‘Thai Niyom’ (Thai-ism) — from the government’s [they mean the junta’s] key [populist-electoral] development schemes which are now becoming popular catchphrases among the people [sic.].”

In other words, following the junta’s lead and its rules, a bunch of parties look like forming to support the junta and its dismal political objective of maintaining “Thai-style democracy” – i.e. no democracy at all – into the future.

These “parties” – really just junta factions and political opportunists – reckon that the junta’s dishing out of populist-electoral cash will have an “impact on voters as there are many who benefit from these projects.” The “parties” also want voters “to believe that the newly-registered parties have the backing of the government…”. Some do and others are hoping that they can suck up the loot that might result from a military-backed coalition government following an “election.”

The EC source particularly pointed to survey “parties” set up with the “clear intention of supporting the National and Council for Peace and Order (NCPO) [the junta]…”. These are the devil or Satan parties.

One is the Pracharath Party “which is speculated to include key figures from the government [junta + a few trusted anti-democrat civilians] and the NCPO [the junta – those civilians]. Speculation is rife that Deputy Prime Minister Somkid Jatursripitak, who is the head of the government’s economic team, will be the party leader.” Somkid is one of those +/- civilians.

Then there’s the “Muan Maha Pracha Chon Party pushed by Suthep Thaugsuban, former leader of the defunct People’s Democratic Reform Committee is also meant to back Prime Minister [Gen] Prayut Chan-o-cha [The Dictator] to return as an outsider prime minister after the general election…”. Recall Suthep’s faux denial but remember his long alliance with the junta and the military coupsters.

Former senator and extreme yellow shirt Paiboon Nititawan is establishing a devil party to be “registered as the People Reform Party and will also support Gen Prayut making a comeback as premier.”

Then there are a bunch of hope-to-be-Satan-parties. These are micro-parties that have a hope of “joining an NCPO-sponsored government after the election.” They are presumably setting up money-laundering arrangements as we write this. One is the “Pheu Chart Thai Party. The group is led by Amphaphan Thanetdejsunthorn, former wife of the late military strongman Gen Sunthorn Kongsompong, who led a coup that seized power from the Chatichai Choonhavan government in 1991.”

Then there’s the New Palang Dhamma Party (NPDP), inaugurated on Thursday. Apparently a self-proclaimed devil party, it seems likely to throw its support to Gen Prayuth “if he bids to become an unelected, outside premier.” The party vows to fight corruption. It isn’t clear how supporting Prayuth and fighting corruption fit together. But, hey, this is the junta’s Thailand.

The real link between the junta and the reconstituted party is anti-Thaksinism:

[Rawee] … played an active role in bringing down two Shinawatra governments. Most recently in 2013 with the People’s Committee for Absolute Democracy With the King as Head of State, or PCAD, aka the People’s Democratic Reform Council. Before that, Rawee was once a member of the former People’s Alliance for Democracy, the Yellowshirt party which played an instrumental role in opposing both Thaksin Shinawatra and Yingluck Shinawatra.

In summary, the formation of a myriad of minor parties supportive of The Dictator is in line with the junta’s script for post-“election” politics.

Yellow shirted “academic” Sombat Thamrongthanyawong, rector of Walailak University, observed “there is nothing new to expect and the next election will not bring any change.” Sombat’s own role in creating this neanderthal political system is not mentioned.





Merchants of death

10 03 2012

Sudarat Keyuraphan and Robert Amsterdam have made related observations in recent media appearances. Amsterdam is well known as one of Thaksin Shinawatra’s legal representatives and Sudarat was a significant minister in Thaksin’s  Thai Rak Thai Party government.

Sudarat

Sudarat has long been close to Thaksin, having begun her political career in the Phalang Dharma party and being one of the first to jump to TRT when it formed. After TRT was thrown out in the 2006 military coup, she was banned when the party was dissolved. It is said that Sudarat has had a behind-the-scenes role in steering Yingluck Shinawatra and her government.

In a recent Bangkok Post interview, translated from Post Today, where Sudarat is reported on issues that may affect the current government’s stability. She refers to the

efforts of “merchants of death” to create divisiveness by using the lese majeste issue to whip up public frenzy. If all across the political divide agree not to touch this issue, the merchants of death will lose their opportunity.

I think the constitution rewrite is a scapegoat to create divisiveness. The merchants of death will try every means to stir up trouble and if the government is careless, it can fail.

Who does she mean? PPT assumes she essentially refers to the military command and the Democrat Party. After all, the former has a long history of killing political opponents (including during Thaksin’s time in government) and the latter sat atop the regime that three times ordered violent repression of red shirt demonstrators (April 2009, April 2010 and May 2010).

Amsterdam

Interestingly, Amsterdam has more to say on this in a piece he has authored at Foreign Policy Journal. He makes the all too obvious point that much of the media, both Thai and international, repeatedly refer to Thaksin as a “divisive figure,” when his parties are repeatedly elected and while – to borrow Sudarat’s apt term – the merchants of death in Abhisit Vejjajiva and General Prayuth Chan-ocha hold significant positions:

These men did not just escape legal accountability for their actions, which is the historical norm in Thailand, but got to keep their positions and titles. Few in the domestic and international press have seriously questioned their fitness to serve….

Writers at the Financial Times, Foreign Policy, the Wall Street Journal, or the Council on Foreign Relations have never so much as suggested that these people leave their posts, much less leave the country.

Amsterdam also correctly observes that “Thaksin’s enemies may have given up on elections altogether” as they seek to maintain elite control of Thailand’s politics and economy despite having had their “leadership” rejected several times. It seems the merchants of death are not defeated until their instruments of violent repression are wrenched from their hands.

PPT cannot conclude this post without a negative comment on Sudarat’s interview. She babbles about the monarchy in terms that would not be out of place for the elitists and royalists who hate Thaksin, Yingluck and red shirts.

When she is asked about challenges facing the Yingluck government, Sudarat nominates the amendment of the constitution and then quickly adds:

One must not touch Section 112 of the Criminal Code concerning lese majeste because this provision does not cause any trouble to the people. In fact, the monarchical institution is very beneficial in driving the country’s development and is a unifying force.

It can be said that our country is stable and peaceful because we have a monarchy.

Of course, as PPT has pointed out many times, the latter statement is demonstrably inaccurate as the monarchy has been at the center of most of the most divisive and destabilizing events in Thailand’s modern history. The other notion, that people are not troubled by lese majeste, is equally fatuous.

Sudarat’s next comments are confused:

we must accept that there are some who have bad intentions, but most people don’t feel like that. In developed countries, their monarchs are not closely involved with the people as much as our King who has devoted himself to the people’s betterment over decades.

Her view of overseas monarchies is, as with most royalists, sadly shallow and her knowledge of her own monarchy seems to have come solely from the nightly royal news. Then her royalist feelings are set free: “Instead of amending Section 112, we must strengthen it as our King is not a politician and cannot defend himself.

The idea that the monarchy needs to be protected by others is infantile. The idea that people should be locked away for more than the up to 20 years of recent sentences is medieval.





Red shirts organizing

12 02 2010

Yesterday PPT posted about a story by Marwaan Macan-Markar on red shirts in the northeast. Marwaan has another, related story at IPS News (10 February 2010). He reports on the mushrooming of red shirt schools in the northeast.

The idea of political schools has been linked in right-wing reporting to communist organizing. In fact, the Communist Party of Thailand did have political schools, but the real success of these schools was originally proven by Chamlong Srimuang’s Palang Dharma Party back in the 1980s. Some of the Palang Dharma group merged into the Thai Rak Thai Party that also used political schools quite effectively. Now the red shirts are developing them.

Marwaan refers to it as “[a]dult education of a novel kind.” Ages of participants are said to range from “early 30s to the mid-70s, and many have only limited education, with many being farmers and engaged in other rural occupations.

One participant explained: “I want to learn about injustice and what is wrong in our country after I became an active supporter of the Red Shirts after the April crackdown last year.” Others speak of learning about “political, social and economic injustice that voters in rural Thailand have been subjected to by Bangkok’s royalist-dominated political machine.

Long-time democracy activist Dr. Weng Tojirakarn, described as “one of the UDD leaders spearheading this education programme” explains that he wants “to expose the contradictions in our society, the double standards, the political and economic injustice…”. He adds: “We are trying to educate the people about the need to understand who the real enemies of Thai democracy are.”

It is reported that the training sessions usually end with discussions about how to organise at the community level …[for] better coordination…”.

Read the whole fascinating article.