The all for Prayuth electoral farce

16 12 2018

The efforts by the junta and its associated agencies like the Election Commission look remarkably like unabashed efforts to have The Dictator get all the advantages in the forthcoming elections. Of course, that’s what much of the period since the 2014 military coup has been about, but it is now in high gear.

Again, the Bangkok Post has several accounts outlining even more  blatant rigging.

One story is about photos on campaign posters. The EC is about to issue a rule that says that these can only be of “MP candidates, their party leaders or prime ministerial candidates.” This rules in Gen Prayuth Chan-ocha after he is nominated by Palang Pracharath but rules out Thaksin and Yingluck Shinawatra. We might expect that the EC will also ban the use of quotes from non-candidates as well.

Me for PM!

The EC is also concocting other rules that will disadvantage parties that do not have the current regime rooting for it. For example, the EC is expected to limit the number of posters an MP candidate may use at just two per polling station. This is to limit the visibility of non-junta parties and candidates.

Further, it is the EC that will design the “campaign poster for each MP candidate to be put in a place that is yet to be decided in each constituency. The size will be A3…”. This is meant to limit the visibility of non-junta parties and candidates.

In addition, the EC will limit the capacity of parties to campaign by restricting the number of vehicles a candidate may use. Remarkable.

In a second story, the regime has announced that Gen Prayuth can stay on as premier, doing his day job as The Dictator even as his Palang Pracharath Party campaigns for him to be prime minister following the election.

The junta had Deputy Prime Minister Wissanu Krea-ngam announce this fix. While he said that “Gen Prayut cannot assist the party which nominated him in canvassing for votes even outside office hours,” this is a pretense and disingenuous. He’s been campaigning for them for weeks and will continue to do so as he enjoys impunity from all law and lacks any measure of integrity.

Tellingly, Wissanu refused to reveal what actions might constitute an illegal intervention, although he mumbled that Prime Minister Prayuth has to separate himself from Candidate Prayuth when speaking publicly. Sure, that’s going to happen (not).

Even more telling was Wissanu’s frank admission that “members of the government who belong to a party might have an edge over other parties contesting the next poll because they can put in place national policies which are apparent to the voters.”

We have been seeing this kind of cheating for several months already and the cabinet, with a prime ministerial candidate and a bunch of ministers campaigning for Palang Pracharath, can continue to hold campaign-like mobile cabinet meetings as long as it wants!

As a third account, assessing all this cheating, see the Bangkok Post’s editorial that is a laundry list of fudges, fixes and cheating.

No one can suggest that this election is anything but a rigged election. The notion of free and fair can’t be associated with this electoral farce.





Puppetry and the Election Commission

15 12 2018

Unlike all members of the junta and every single Thai citizen, the Election Commission can’t recognize the use of state funds for electoral purposes.

The Bangkok Post reports that the “Election Commission (EC) has leapt to the defence of the state welfare scheme for low-income earners, criticised as a populist policy and a thinly veiled attempt to support a pro-regime party’s campaign ahead of the Feb 24 poll.”

This comes as The Dictator continues playing silly games as he inches towards a declaration of his intention to stay on as premier. His main devil party, Palang Pracharath continues to declare, still unofficially, that Gen Prayuth Chan-ocha just happens to be their choice for PM.

Not coincidentally, several of The Dictator’s ministers just happen to be the leaders of Palang Pracharath while continuing to serve as ministers.

None of this seems to bother the EC. And nor does the piles of state loot the junta is dumping into the electorate on the eve of the election.

The Post reports that EC secretary-general Jarungvith Phumma has declared that the junta’s huge payouts to some 11 million on welfare cards “is a legitimate one that does not merit a probe by the commission.”

Of course it doesn’t. Money falling from the sky before an election is, it seems, normal.

He says the “public can tell the difference between a helpful state policy and the misuse of state funds…”. We agree with puppet Jarungvith; everyone knows that the cash splash is an election scam.

When the wooden EC boss was asked “if the EC would step in to regulate any government approval of state projects when a royal decree calling for the election is expected on Jan 2,” he didn’t know. Perhaps he has to ask The Dictator for instructions.

The EC is now in a position of working for the junta and for The Dictator. Can we now expect that it will aid and abet outlandish electoral fraud?





Doubling down on double standards VIII

14 12 2018

Like us, many readers will recall the hullabaloo and legal efforts that were associated with the undermining of Yingluck Shinawatra regime, much of it arguing that her government was illegitimate due to “populism.” For that matter, some may recall similar analysis, including by yellow-shirted academics, who howled about “policy corruption” as a form of vote-buying when Thaksin Shinawatra was elected.

We hear far less of that hullabaloo and howling associated with similar programs associated with the military junta and raining money into the electorate. Given that the junta is in total control and has banned (most) political parties from campaigning, its efforts are quite obviously meant to garner votes.

Clearly, double standards are at work.

The most recent splurge of taxpayer funds meant to shift political support to the devil parties has been so obvious that even the normally anti-democrat Democrat Party has been complaining. They see themselves as losing out to junta-backed parties when the junta, with its guns and access to state funds is so obviously vote buying.

The main devil party, Palang Pracharath, formed by the military junta, is the main beneficiary of the junta’s vote buying, even as it waddles through the unnecessarily prolonged and untheatrical charade of naming General Prayuth Chan-ocha as its prime ministerial nominee. Everyone in Thailand already knows this. (Go on General, surprise us. Do something else, like holidaying in Germany for a couple of years.)

The main defenders of the the junta’s all-too-obvious cheating have been … yep, the Palang Pracharath Party.

According to Khaosod, the Palang Pracharat’s deputy leader Suvit Maesincee, who is simultaneously and unethically also a cabinet minister, declared that “the poor are starving to death and should benefit from continued support for programs introduced by his government, such as its controversial welfare card program.”

He does not explain how his military junta has managed an economy that leaves people starving to death, all the 11 million and more who were recently handed 500 baht each as some kind of warped one-off “welfare” payment.

(A reader suggests that the electoral strategies being used by the junta have some resonances with Najib Razak’s money politics.)

But he did add:

“We want to create a pracharat society,” … using the slogan his party is named after, which the government uses to promote its policies as a form of public-state cooperation.

The minister-devil-party-deputy leader also mumbled that salaried workers in the private sector will soon get state-funded pensions. Now that should be big!

But then, some of the junta’s electoral splurges have failed to impact the poor. A report at the Bangkok Post states that a “meagre 360,000 of the 11.4 million recipients of the government’s welfare and subsidy scheme for the poor are entitled to value-added tax (VAT) payback in the first month after the tax incentive scheme…”, for an average of just over 12 baht each. That’s mainly because only Thong Fah Pracharat – yes, like the Party’s name – shops with card readers are involved. That’s less than 15% of these junta-sponsored shops.

Double standards are the junta’s standards.

 





The Dictator as suffering politician

13 12 2018

The Bangkok Post has another story about The Dictator’s campaign for the post-“election” premiership. Despite having been in full campaign mode for months, self-appointed Prime Minister Prayuth Chan-ocha has not yet declared that he is running with his junta’s devil party, Palang Pracharath Party.

This is a pathetic ruse by The Dictator that allows him to use his current position to enhance his campaign and the devil party, continuing to rig the “election.”

The unusual element of this otherwise routine report of the junta’s election rigging is The Dictator’s bleating self-perception.

With other members of his junta’s cabinet, several of them already leading Palang Pracharath, The Dictator was campaigning for votes in Bung Kan.

Campaigning involved telling his recruited audience: “I am here today. If I tell you that I am not a full-time politician, that’s not true because I have been running the country.” He’s also been arranging a devil party, rigging and election and running for (continuing in) high office.

He gave the impression that he is beguiled by his own propaganda: “Being a politician, I am glad to see a lot of people turn up to welcome and call me ‘Loong [Uncle] Tu’.”

This was followed by a message that the unelected, self-appointed, self-selected authoritarian leader and commander of murderous troops was “suffering” for his “loyalty” and “devotion” to the nation and its people:

You know I suffer. But I am willing to suffer…. When I go back home, I will sleep and contemplate why the people hope to rely on us. Because they have hope so we have to fulfil their hopes.

Oddly, he then added: “But we must not cheat…”. Too late! The Dictator’s junta has been doing that for years.





Thirayudh among the chickens

12 12 2018

In his annual musing about Thailand’s politics, usually delivered in a seasonal scruffy cardigan, one-time student activist, former communist, former critic of the monarchy, anti-democrat and “academic” Thirayudh Boonmee has delivered another of those waffling pronouncements that can be interpreted in several ways.

When he “likened Thai people to chickens in farms where they were under control from birth to death” it seemed that he took this as a state of affairs to be accepted.

He seemed pessimistic about “politics”, arguing that “Thais are too obsessed with political problems to realise they face other, more fundamental, issues — inequality, poor education, widespread corruption, and economic monopoly by large groups of capitalists.”

It seems quite strange to think of inequality, poor education, corruption, and capitalist oligarchy as being apolitical. We would consider such outcomes to be a result of Thailand’s anti-democratic politics, long periods of authoritarianism, the impunity of military murderers and the triad of military-monarchy-tycoon capitalists.

He seems to suffer a dementia moment when he falsely claims that it has been “[o]ver the past decade, [that] about 10 large groups of capitalists had been formed and they controlled most key economic sectors and politics…”. Most of the giant capitalists group have been around for decades and almost all align with the biggest capitalist conglomerate, the monarchy.

He’s on stronger ground when he observes that the military junta:

had long planned to prolong its hold on power by allowing political parties to nominate outsiders as prime ministerial candidates, having 250 military-appointed senators with the right to vote for the prime minister, and by gathering political factions into the Palang Pracharath Party. All without caring about any criticism.

PPT has been saying that for a very long time. For most of that time, Thirayudh has been a junta supporter.

He’s certainly not alone in seeing that The Dictator has “a very big chance of … remaining the prime minister after the general election…”. The question is whether one supports that rigged outcome or not, and we think Thirayudh is comfortable with more military domination of politics even if he notes the problems politics “under the influence of the military, government officials, the intellectual elite and large groups of capitalists” brings.

He reckons that if the junta doesn’t engage in outright electoral fraud, “people would accept the next government of Gen Prayut[h Chan-ocha]…”.

Thirayudh’s claim that the junta’s government and its returned regime after an election is/will be little different from the Thaksin Shinawatra regime is amusing but inaccurate.

At the Bangkok Post, The Dictator himself is dismissive of Thirayudh as an aged dope in this comparison. Prayuth then babbled that Thaksin did wrong.

Overall, Thirayudh is boring, deceptive and deliberately forgetful. It’s time he stopped relying on his reputation of more than 40 years ago and gave way to a younger generation of real democrats.





Updated: The junta’s processing terminal I

9 12 2018

The Election Commission is in serious danger of being seen as a processing terminal for the military junta as it cheats and rigs an “election” outcome.

In only the most recent example of the junta telling the EC what to do and how to do it, the Bangkok Post reports that The Dictator, Gen Prayuth Chan-ocha has “proposed the use of only candidate names and numbers and the omission of party names and logos on the ballot for the upcoming election…”. He reportedly did this during the junta’s lecture to small and devil parties on Friday. at the meeting between the NCPO and political parties on Friday, attended by the puppet EC.

Ballot papers are supposed to be the preserve of the EC, but here we have The Dictator telling the EC what it should do. In fact, more than that, he knows his proposal is the way it will be, asking “parties and related agencies to help propagate awareness about the new format.”

Following criticism, an EC deputy secretary-general slithered out to say that “the EC had yet to decide on which format to use.” He then came up with an “explanation” for not including party names and logos on the ballots that has to do with transporting ballots to overseas voters.

If anyone can make sense of this, do tell us for we can’t follow it and believe that the EC is simply flummoxed by having to continually come up with excuses as to why it might be considered anything other than the junta’s slave in the rigging of the election.

As anti-election former EC commissioner Somchai Srisutthiyakorn, now a Democrat Party member pointed out, “since a single ballot would be used for both constituency MPs and parties, it was imperative that party names and logos feature prominently on the ticket.”

What’s the junta’s angle? It seems that analysts believe that because the junta’s devil party, Palang Pracharath, has been successful in poaching well-known names, the betting is that voters are likely to select names they recognize rather than being able to remember parties and names for several candidates and two ballots on the same sheet.

The junta is leaving no stone unturned in it cheating, and the EC is facilitating it.

Update: The puppet EC is flustered by criticism and the leaking of The Dictator’s ballot “proposal.” Several of its members and officials have denied that The Dictator made any such proposal, that a decision was made and is now unmade, or that the junta has manipulated the EC. This does sound rather like the recent constituency boundary controversy, where the EC did then it didn’t have boundaries ready. There’s a pattern that suggests junta meddling and the more the EC fidgets, the more it looks like a collection of puppets. The only way out for the EC is to conduct its work transparently. But there’s little chance of that.





The election splurge III

8 12 2018

The junta’s mammoth election spending is accelerating as its “election” date is about to be announced.

Just a couple of days ago, The Nation reported that the junta has given the “green light to all government ministries to prepare projects considered ‘New Year presents’ to the people.”

New year presents appear to be nothing more than more vote buying by the junta and the list of vote catching projects includes many of those recently announced.

Anti-democrat Government Spokesman Buddhipongse Punnakanta immediately lied that this election ploy was not an election ploy at all, saying the gifts have nothing to do with the election and delivering votes to the junta’s devil parties. He did admit that there was an urgency to the splurge, despite saying such a “gift” to voters is “routine.”

One of the new vote enhancing measures seems to be the Industry Ministry’s 250 million baht for small and medium-sized enterprises, set to be announced next week when the junta’s cabinet will be campaigning in Nong Khai.

And guess who is announcing this measure? Of course, it is none other than Uttama Savanayana, who doubles up as Industry Minister and leader of the Palang Pracharath Party, the junta’s own party. He lied that announcing the package now had nothing to do with his party’s campaign for The Dictator. He plans more measures to be announced before the election.