Updated: Criminal minister and law

19 11 2019

As everyone knows and he still denies – despite plenty of evidence from courts in Australia – Deputy Agriculture Minister Thammanat Prompao is a convicted heroin smuggler. In the green-hued world of military political domination, this conviction counts for nil as Thammanat is one of the standover men who maintains the military-backed government’s political control. He also claims links to the palace, saying he was working for the then crown prince when he was busted in Australia.

It seems he has other uses too.

As the Bangkok Post says in an editorial, “On Tuesday, Capt Thamanat handed over Sor Por Kor land rights certificates to 335 poor and landless farmers” so they can make a living on the land.

The Post points out that:

One of the recipients turned out to be Samatcha Angchuan, a vice-chairman of the Krabi Provincial Administrative Organisation (PAO) Council and a former Palang Pracharath Party (PPRP) candidate in the last general election. He was granted 16 rai of land.

This follows Thammanat’s recent efforts on behalf of the PPRP’s controversial Pareena Kraikupt defending her family’s alleged use of 900 rai of Sor Por Kor land in Ratchaburi.

Such scandals, in 1994, transacted by then deputy agriculture minister Suthep Thaugsuban, brought down the Democrat Party-led government.

Clipped from the Bangkok Post

However, with criminals running the show for the military, that would seem unlikely in this case.

Update: The many commentaries on Thammanat’s actions seem to have spurred the party bosses into action to try and – again – quieten things down. According to Thai PBS, Thammanat has had to abandon Pareena and has told her to give up her 900 rai of land.

This action might suggest infighting in the shaky coalition that is the government, but is more likely to be yet another effort to hold the government together and to avoid the same demise that befell the Democrat Party in 1994. We need to see what happens in Krabi.

Fear, the monarchy and democracy

17 11 2019

We feel the Asia Times interview with Thanathorn Juangroongruangkit of the Future Forward Party is worth reading in full. We were most interested in the comments – or lack of them – on the monarchy. That’s the fear that resurgent absolutism had created:

Asia Times: Your party has already made waves in challenging military power. What was the thinking behind your party’s voting against an emergency decree to move elite military units into the King’s royal guard?

Thanathorn: I refuse to answer this question. My official answer would be our secretary general Piyabutr (Saengkanokkul) has already answered this in parliament. That is our official answer (related to the decree’s lack of transparency).

Asia Times: Some construed that as a direct challenge to royal power. Was that the intent?

Thanathorn: I refuse to answer this question.

Asia Times: Why do Prayut[h Chan-ocha]’s ruling Palang Pracharat Party (PPRP) members consistently try to portray you and your party as anti-monarchy?

Thanathorn: Because we have no corruption cases, we have never been in government before. I think that’s the easiest way to demonize someone in Thailand.

Basically, tyranny anywhere in the world you need to create an imaginary enemy. It was Thaksin [Shinawatra] before, an imaginary enemy of the nation.

So now I have become an imaginary enemy of the state. And the easiest way to build that momentum is to brand the person you want to demonize as anti-monarchy.

Thanathorn is clearly right in his comments on the monarchy and democracy. We fear, though, that democracy is the last thing the grasping king wants:

Asia Times: Is there an inherent conflict between an emphasis on unity and loyalty, and the push, pull and contest of democratic politics?

Thanathorn: Let me put it this way: Everywhere in the world where monarchy still exists, a sustainable and strong monarchy happens to be in a democracy.

However, if there is no democracy and there is a monarchy, the institution creates stress, enormous stress in that society.

So I think the long-term prosperity of the monarchy as an institution goes together with democracy. Unless and until you build a strong democracy, monarchy as an institution will not be sustainable.

Thammanat cops more heat

11 10 2019

Thug, fake degree holder, liar, standover man, influential person, government minister, convicted heroin smuggler. Not if you still listen to Minister Thammanat Prompao. The BBC has reported that as late as 4 October, he was sticking to his quite ridiculous lies. Minister Thammanat reportedly states that:

… he did not plead guilty to the charge, but instead asked for negotiations between his attorney and the court.

He said he had not been involved in drug smuggling. He said at the time of his arrest, he did not have much experience or enough money to fight the charge….

Clipped from The Nation

At the time he did invoke the name of then Crown Prince Vajiralongkorn.

The BBC went and had a look at the court documents in Australia, as the Australian journalists had already done, and confirmed the truth:

The court record showed that Manat Bophlom [the name Thammanat then went by] had admitted to the charge of conspiring to import a commercial quantity of heroin to Australia on November 15, 1993. The presiding judge handed down the verdict on March 31, 1994 and sentencing Manat to six years in jail.

The court said he would be eligible for release after serving at least four years of his sentence. Manat was deported from Australia after being imprisoned for four years in Sydney….

None of this is new. It is just that a second reputable news agency has looked at the court records and has found the newspaper account reliable and that, again, Minister Thammanat is proven to be a liar.

Meanwhile, The Sydney Morning Herald and The Age, which revealed Minister Thammanat’s involvement in a criminal conspiracy to import 3.2kg of heroin into Australia from Thailand reports that a Thai “parliamentary committee has vowed to ask Australia for details of a top cabinet minister’s criminal past after revelations he spent four years in a Sydney jail for heroin trafficking.”

Committee chair Seripisut Temiyavet is cited as promising “to use the committee’s authority to send an investigator to Sydney to examine court records. He will also send someone to Vanuatu as part of the investigation into Thammanat’s degrees, which are suspected to be bogus.” No need to “suspect.” Even if it were a “real” degree – which it ain’t – from a “real” university – which it ain’t – the plagiarism of half of a short “thesis” would make it bogus and demonstrate that Minister Thammanat is a cheat (although he may well lay the blame at whoever he hired to put his name on the bogus research).

Our first sentence was a little short. Add cheat to thug, fake degree holder, liar, standover man, influential person, government minister, convicted heroin smuggler. That’s Minister Thammanat of the junta’s Palang Pracharath Party.

With two updates: Junta politics of influence, dark influence and murder

25 09 2019

A quick look at the English-language newspapers over the last day or so suggests that there’s more than a little poor journalism going on.

One was the report that “the Charoen Pokphand Group (CP)-led consortium, winner of the bid to build the 224-billion-baht high-speed railway linking three airports, will be told to sign the contract on Oct 15 or face a fine for failing to honour the terms of the bid.” That “ultimatum was decided upon … at a meeting between Deputy Prime Minister Anutin Charnvirakul, who oversees the Transport Ministry, Transport Minister Saksayam Chidchob, senior transport officials and the chief of the Eastern Economic Corridor (EEC) Office.”

PPT has no brief for the Sino-Thai tycoons at CP, but we would have thought that someone at the Bangkok Post might have recalled that Anutin’s family are the major shareholders in CP competitor Sino-Thai Engineering and Construction. Perhaps it might have also been useful to note that the Chidchob family, Anutin and his father have been political bedmates for over a decade.

While on Sino-Thai tycoons, the Post reported that Viroj and Samrerng Suknamai, the parents of “former beauty queen and actress Nusara Suknamai,” have “filed a lawsuit with the civil court on Monday, demanding 300 million baht in compensation plus a 7.5% interest from the manager of Vichai’s estate and the King Power Duty Free company, which is owned by the tycoon’s family.” Nusara “died on Oct 27 in a helicopter crash outside the King Power Stadium in Leicester…”. When all of the eulogies were for Vichai, at the time of the accident, BBC Sport Editor Dan Roan was in a spot of bother after being caught “talking about Vichai[‘s]… personal assistant Nusara Suknamai.” He correctly identified her “the mistress who died in the crash, otherwise known as member of staff, i.e. mistress… [of the so-called] family man [Vichai]…”. The report does indicate that the fabulously wealthy King Power lot have been pretty tight-fisted in dealing with the “other woman.”

The ruling class’s military-backed regime is anything but tight-fisted when it comes to buying support. Puea Thai Party chief strategist Sudarat Keyuraphan claims to have “an audio clip that would show that Phalang Pracharat had tried to lure …[14] Pheu Thai MPs by offering to pay them certain benefits.” Deputy Prime Minister Gen Prawit Wongsuwan denied this. But no one should believe Gen Prawit. He’s got form on this, having bought up former pro-Thaksin MPs all over the country before the election. That included heroin trafficker and standover man Thammanat Prompao. Now, Gen Prawit needs “to prop up the government’s slim majority.” This wheeling and dealing is expensive and leads to all kinds of policies that are designed simply to raise money for political shenanigans. The media should be more active in pointing out that it is the military junta’s constitution that (re)created the capacity for such political corruption.

While considering the military junta’s corruption, look to the report that the “Parliament’s Anti-Corruption Committee is gathering evidence in a fact-finding probe against Public Relations Department chief Lt-General Sansern Kaewkamnerd over accusations that he verbally and in writing ordered his subordinates to spread information allegedly helping the Palang Pracharat Party ahead of the March 24 national elections and attacking a former prime minister and his party.” Remarkably, the junta government’s former spokesman thinks that like a heroin smuggler, he can simply deny: “Sansern argued that he had never taken sides…”. Back when the junta moved Lt Gen Sansern to his position, the Bangkok Post observed that Sansern was in place to “control all government-run media and enforce censorship rules in the lead-up to the expected 2019 election.” While denying everything, Sansern ran back to the boss: “Sansern said he had briefed Prime Minister General Prayut Chan-o-cha about the case.” Of course he has.

And speaking of corruption, the National Anti-Corruption Commission is ever so careful when dealing with its masters the government. A report at The Nation advises that Deputy Minister of Agriculture and Cooperatives from Anutin’s Bhum Jai Thai Party, Mananya Thaiset – yes, in there with Thammanat – “has not yet submitted her declaration of assets and debts to the anti-graft body within the required time frame…”. While the law requires all to declare their assets, NACC secretary-general Worawit Sukboon “said officials … would gather information regarding the matter and consider issuing a letter to Mananya requiring her to provide her reason for failing to file.” It gets worse as the NACC tiptoes around its masters: “If the NACC decided Mananya was required to submit the declaration, the NACC secretariat will issue a letter to notify her accordingly…”.

Back when the political dealing was in full swing, the Bangkok Post had a source who observed the obvious: “Because it receives a big budget, the ministry [of agriculture] can be used as a political tool…”. Money can be made, voters influenced and parties supported.And, as we know from the Thammanat case, “influential persons” get these positions because they are the party wheeler-dealers. And, Mananya is from a family of chao phor and chao mae. Not that long ago, her brother, Chada Thaiset, also a Bhum Jai Thai MP for Uthai Thani declared “I am an influential person.” Back in 2015 it was reported that. like Thammanat, Chada was considered a “dark influence”:

Crime suppression Division (CSD) police officers and commandos yesterday raided 11 locations belonging to alleged influential figures in Uthai Thani’s Muang and Sawang Arom districts.

Most of the targeted premises were those of former or local politicians. They included the house of former Chart Thai Pattana Party MP Chada Thaiset and a resort building under the care of Chada’s nephew.

The 200-strong “Yutthakan Sakaekrang” operation … seized 20 guns, four bullet-proof vests, two tiger skins, two pairs of wildlife horns and a clouded leopard carcass.

… the operation was part of the Royal Thai Police’s policy to suppress crime, crack down on influential figures and hired guns.

Then in 2017, it was reported that:

A former MP and four members of his entourage were released on bail on Sunday after being detained overnight for carrying firearms in public without permission.

Chada Thaiseth, a former Uthai Thani MP, reportedly has been on an official list of mafia-style figures.

More than 100 policemen, both in uniform and plainclothes, intercepted his convoy on a road in Uthai Thani province on Saturday afternoon.

Chada’s group was driving as many as eight vehicles and a search found several guns and illicit drugs in the cars.

A pattern? You bet.

Turning to the other side of politics, Khaosod reports that Nawat Tohcharoensuk, a Puea Thai politician was found guilty of “engineering the murder of a civil servant” and was “sentenced to death on Tuesday … [but] will continue serving as an MP for the opposition, his party said.” He’s appealing the verdict, so the case is not over, but even so, it might be considered prudent for him to step down. But with gangsters in the government, the opposition has them too. And a bit of reading suggests the modus operandi of a dark influence:

Prosecutors said Nawat hired two police officers to gun down Suchart Khotethum, an administrative official in Khon Kaen, in front of his home in 2013. Investigators cited romance-related vendetta as the motive.

And, just to finish off with state violence of the military kind, we see the remarkable report that “four red-shirt co-leaders on Monday … confessed to their roles in the violent protest outside the home of the late Privy Council president, Prem Tinsulanonda, in 2007.” Perhaps they confessed to get the case settled? Perhaps a deal has been done? We can’t help but wonder because Nattawut Saikua said:

he and fellow red-shirt co-leaders offered their apologies because the protest outside Gen Prem’s residence caused injuries among both protesters and police officers on duty.

“We are sorry for what happened,” he said, before insisting the red-shirt co-leaders harboured no grudge with the late Gen Prem.

No grudge? Why’s that? He was one of those who perpetrated the 2006 coup and egged the military on in 2014. He supported crackdowns on red shirts that resulted in deaths and injuries to thousands. He dis this for the military-monarchy alliance that underpins the ruling class. With all the royalist buffalo manure that surrounds this creepy general, there’s no criticism allowed. No one has asked about his unusual wealth, revealed when he finally died.

What a week it has been for a political system designed by the military junta.

Update 1: Legal eel and Deputy Prime Minister Wissanu Krea-ngam declared Nawat’s “tenure as an MP was now voided, even though the appeal process was not finalised…”. He said the “constitution stated clearly that MPs lost their status when convicted of a criminal offence.” While we think Nawat should step down and while Wissanu picks and chooses which aspects of the constitution he adheres to, we are not so sure he’s right on this. All sections in the constitution relating to convictions refer to final judgements. Indeed, Article 29 offers a general protection to those in the legal process, stating:

A suspect or defendant in a criminal case shall be presumed innocent, and before the passing of a final judgment convicting a person of having committed an offence, such person shall not be treated as a convict.

Despite this, and the fact that “appeal is automatic in the case of a death sentence,” the House Secretariat is advising a ruling from the Constitutional Court. Of course, the judgement of that Court will probably follow Wissanu.

Meanwhile, in another case of twisted ethics (see those above), the junta’s Palang Pracharath Party is “likely to field Krungsrivilai Suthinpuak in a potential by-election despite the Election Commission (EC) having issued him with a yellow-card for attempted vote-buying.”

The junta’s 5 years seems to have yielded an administration of goons and crooks.

Update 2: Being ever so gentle and flexible with junta party allies, the NACC has decided that Deputy Minister Mananya Thaiset “must declare her assets and liabilities despite her insistence she is under no obligation to do so.” But she’s forgiven for “interpreting” the law incorrectly and can take longer to get her assets list in order before submitting it. Can anyone imagine such leniency for the other side of politics? Of course not. The Post believes Mananya is known “for spearheading a mission to ban toxic farm chemicals.” We think they are gilding it. She’s best known for being from a family of dark influences.

Chada Thaiseth’s convoy stopped by more than uniformed and plainclothes police on a road in Uthai Thani province in 2017. Clipped from The Nation.

With three updates: Thammanat and Wissanu go deep in the swamp

14 09 2019

How low can Thailand’s current political crop go? Just how far are they prepared to sink into the squalid depths of lies, deceit and the ludicrous? It seems, like phraratchathanwearing hard-hat divers, they will go to the bottom, and perhaps even excavate a bit deeper than the muddy bottom of the political swamp.

The Bangkok Post reports Deputy Minister Thammanat Prompao, “known as the coordinator of the coalition government, has vowed to file around 100 lawsuits against those who he believes have lied about his past.” He’s no coordinator. He’s an enforcer and bagman for the “post”-junta regime and its Palang Pracharath Party. And we are sure that he does not “believe” that others have lied about his past. He is the one doing the lying about his past.

But, never mind, the junta’s political swamp is opaque, filthy and deep, and Thammanat is at the bottom already, so more lies won’t make much of a difference to the depth of his political chicanery.

Where he might usually send out thugs to intimidate critics – and that’s still on the cards in this marked deck – he’s taking a leaf out of the junta’s handbook of political deception and using the (in)justice system. And why not? It worked for them and it worked from him in the past on murder charges no less. It was only Last year that Thammanat was helping alleged fraudsters – where did all that Bitcoin loot go? And it was only a couple of years ago when Thammanat appeared on a junta “blacklist” of “influential criminal figures” drawn up for Gen Prawit Wongsuwan. Now he’s a minister in a government that Prawit helped engineer. Prawit now defends him!

Well maybe he’ll take the legal route. Much like Gen Prawit’s massive luxury watch collection “borrowed” from a (dead) friend, Thammanat might just be hoping that the whole heroin trafficking/fake PhD stuff might just go away. We seriously doubt that even this loud-mouth will take on 100 people in the courts.

On the PhD issue, Thammanat has again been supported by Deputy Prime Minister Wissanu Krea-ngam, who is getting deeper into the corruption slime by the day. Wissanu declared that “even if his degree was fake, Capt Thammanat could still be a minister because the constitution requires an MP to have only a bachelor’s degree at a minimum, which he already obtained from the army school.” Wissanu must know that Thammanat’s slime sticks and stinks. He seems prepared to accept anything: deception, lies, heroin trafficking, murder charges (okay, Thammanat got off that one, but an aide didn’t), fake credentials and probably a lot more.

Update 1: Thammanat seems to have finally decided on a political line that he will take in “fighting back” against those revealing his dark past. His line now is “that the series of accusations levelled against him by the opposition and on Thai social media were aimed at toppling the government.” He babbled:

“I’m not the target. As I have told reporters many times before, I am a key player in the formation of the present government because I was the one who handled the gathering of the required votes to back General Prayut Chan-o-cha to be the prime minister.”

He said those who were behind this multiple-pronged attack on him know that these controversies would shake the government and it would lose stability. “Their ultimate goal is to overthrow the government, General Prayut and General Prawit Wongsuwan.”

Like everything else Thammanat has done, he’s being deceitful. He is the target. But what he’s trying to shift the politics to a pro-/anti-junta debate. He wants all the yellow mob to rally to him and the government he claims credit for. He’s saying that drug trafficking, murder charges, lottery mafia accusations, fake qualifications and strange Bitcoin fraud connections are all best forgotten in “saving” the regime. Can this work? Probably. Many on the yellow side of politics has been captured by conspiracy theories.

Update 2: Like the Creature from the Black Lagoon, Wissanu has struggled to the surface, covered in slime, to mumble about Thammanat. He said something hypothetical about the convicted drug smuggler “could be removed from the cabinet if it is found that he has an ‘ethics’ problem…”.

Wissanu is speaking of a person who still claims to have never confessed, convicted or to have been jailed for several years. Given the court documents produced, Thammanat is showing himself as unable or incapable of recognizing or telling the truth.

Remember when both Gen Prayuth and Wissanu claimed that all cabinet members had been scrutinized? Now Wissanu has “admitted that Capt Thamanat’s educational background had not been examined prior to his appointment as a cabinet minister, noting the process could have delayed the formation of the government.”

We guess that his criminal past wasn’t examined either because it was exactly that background that the nascent regime needed in order to form its government.

Thammanat himself has gone in for more “explanation.” He says all of his “wrongdoings had already been exonerated by the 2007 [some reports have it as 2005] Impunity Act, making him eligible to be a cabinet minister.” Not bad. It is a kind of get-out-of-jail-free card issued to mafia figures.

Update 3: The story just gets better and better. The Sydney Morning Herald reports:

The embattled Thai cabinet minister who lied about serving four years in a Sydney jail on a drugs charge has changed his story again, admitting for the first time that he was sentenced in Australia.

After spending the weekend in a “war room” to combat a growing series of scandals, the legal team of Thai government enforcer Thammanat Prompao issued a statement insisting he was fully qualified to be an MP and cabinet minister….

Thammanat’s statement cited two Thai royal pardons among other evidence that his legal team claimed meant there was no impediment to serving as either an MP or cabinet minister.

Getting his name – he’s apparently had at least four – is tough, but getting a crooked story straight is even more challenging. So much so that Thammanat is now holed up in a hospital.

With a major update: Open-mouthed disbelief III

8 09 2019

Readers may recall the brief reporting of crook or “controversial” figure Capt Thammanat Prompao, a Palang Pracharat MP for Phayao who became Deputy Minister for Agriculture in the military-backed government a few weeks ago. There was controversy when his seedy past was reported as including being stripped of his military rank for alleged involvement in a murder case in 1998, of which he was acquitted. He was also reported to have “previously convicted of a crime in a foreign country.”

This led to reports of a heroin bust in Australia, Thammanat being jailed and deported. Thammanat came up with a ridiculously unbelievable account of his “innocence.” Oddly, the story then seemed to disappear as the crook was both a minister and a fixer for the military’s Palang Pracharath.

Clipped from the Bangkok Post

Interestingly, the Sydney Morning the Herald and The Age:

reveal that a newly appointed senior member of Thailand’s ruling party spent four years in a Sydney jail in the 1990s for his role in trafficking 3.2 kilograms of heroin into Australia. He was deported on his release from Parklea prison.

Thammanat Prompao, a key ally of top generals and an enforcer in the coalition cabinet, was a young soldier known as Manat Bophlom when he pleaded guilty in the NSW District Court to conspiracy to import a commercial quantity of heroin with a street value of up to $4.1 million.

Recall that he told the Thai press: ““I didn’t import, produce or deal heroin…”. He added:

“I lived a normal life in Australia, in Sydney, for a full four years. You can ask the court in Sydney whether what I’m saying is true or not.”

Well, “normal” for a convicted criminal in an Australian jail.

According to the report, court records show that the then:

… Second Lieutenant Manat, as he was then known, was a central figure in the drug trafficking operation.

The court file reveals Manat [Thammanat] met key Thai underworld figures and his Australian co-accused in Bangkok before the deal, was involved in arranging the visa and buying Qantas tickets for the female drug courier, was recorded saying he was present when she packed the drugs into her luggage, and later helped transport that bag across town to the buyers in Bondi.

He met with known Australian criminals.

Interestingly, while in Parramatta jail awaiting sentencing, Thammanat:

told police he had worked as a bodyguard for the then crown prince of Thailand [now King Vajiralongkorn], had been an army spy under the identity “Yuthaphum Bophlom”, and ran a side business while serving as an assistant to a top general. In exchange for leniency in his sentence, he also gave up details about Thai drug operations, saying former soldiers named Wera, Manop and Pisarn were intimately involved….

The whole operation was under surveillance by the Australian Federal Police and included recordings of Thammanat and his accomplices.

Thammanat was sentenced to six years in jail with a non-parole period of four years. He served that sentence and was immediately deported.

Showing exactly how Thailand’s underworld works, Thammanat “… produced character references from a judge and a police lieutenant-colonel who each said he ‘always has good behaviours [sic], honesty and is reliable’.”

Thammanat appealed his sentence, which was rejected:

The Court of Criminal Appeal rejected it unanimously, noting the evidence “casts considerable light upon the role of the applicants in relation to the importation [of heroin], and upon their relationship with what might be described as the head supplier in Thailand.

As soon as the deported Thammanat was back in Thailand, he was back in the Royal Thai Army. Despite the murder charge in 1998, he did well. Now a minister, the report adds:

His assets and family have grown, too; a parliamentary declaration of assets in August named two wives and seven children, wealth of about $42 million, a fleet of cars including a Bentley, Rolls-Royce, Tesla and Mercedes along with 12 Hermes and 13 Chanel handbags, luxury watches and Buddhist amulets.

There’s a related report here.

Will this have any impact in Thailand and on a shaky military-backed, junta-concocted government? It is certainly another test of that regime. Convicted drug dealing ministers may be momentarily embarrassing, but the regime is, as we’ve said before, led by a mafia party.

We can’t wait for the impact of this story. Lies will certainly follow.

Update: The Thai media seemed a little slow getting to this story, but is all over it now. One reason for the reluctance probably had to do with the line in the report that stated that Thammanat “told police [in Australia] he had worked as a bodyguard for the then crown prince of Thailand [now King Vajiralongkorn]…”. Some reporters seem to feel that this may be a factual statement but Thai reports are reluctant to mention this. This is where the lese majeste law protects alleged criminal behavior.

It is the South China Morning Post that emphasizes the claimed link to the king.

Khaosod reports that Thammanat “said he has no response to the claim, which was made in detail by the Australian newspapers…”. He stated: “I’ve read the news, but I’d like to refrain from giving any explanation today…. And I won’t give a response, because they don’t understand the system [sic].” We are not entirely sure what he means. Perhaps how the criminal system works? Or perhaps how Thailand’s hierarchical, military-monarchy feudalism allows the well-connected to behave in a criminal manner. Illustrating these two “systems,” he Palang Pracharat fixer and enforcer made these comments as he accompanied prime minister Gen Prayudh Chan-ocha on official business.

The Bangkok Post reports that the Australian newspapers directly challenge Thammanat’s July “explanations.” At the time, PPT referred to his fabrications as “the best-ever self-incriminating interview in recent memory.” The Australian newspapers show Thammanat’s “explanation” was a concoction that was nothing less than a pack of lies. Remember that, at that time, Thammanat falsely declared: “I did not import, produce or deal heroin…”.

The Post also points out that Thammanat’s Thai accomplice in Australi, jailed with him, is his half-brother.

The Post’s account of Thammanat’s most recent response is that he stated that the reports were “yet another attempt by the same group of people who tried to discredit him.” He stated: “Don’t give it any credit. They keep repeating the same story. I can’t be bothered…”. And, revealingly, he added that: “no senior cabinet minister had asked him about this since they knew it was old news and the works of his political opponents.”

That is damning of the regime. Yet the regime has been, at best, hopelessly negligent and at worst, politically implicated in yet again granting impunity to a criminal.

Indeed, Wissanu Krea-ngam – who now looks like a cross between Carl Schmitt and a Reich Minister of Justice – publicly proclaimed that Thammanat “eligibility for a seat in the cabinet is not in question because he is not being prosecuted by the Thai judiciary.” Only Thai law counts. This seems to mean that even a person convicted of mass murder overseas could become Thailand’s minister of justice or even prime minister.

Clearly, this military-backed and monarch-backed regime has no shame. Less shame, it seems, than the 1991 coup group that backed down on someone accused of links with drug dealing.

Updated: Oafs and oaths

4 09 2019

We note that the military-backed regime has decided that it will allow a “debate” in parliament on the un/anti-constitutional oath “sworn” by Gen Prayuth Chan-ocha.

That “debate” will be for a full day on the day before parliament takes a break.

Unelected Deputy Prime Minister Gen Prawit Wongsuwan, responsible for organizing the Palang Pracharath Party, the stolen election and much more shady dealing has tried to rule out “debate” on the real issue associated with the oath. That is, who was it who ordered that this un/anti-constitutional oath be sworn.

Gen Prawit babbled: “One day is enough. It is not a sensitive issue…”. But then he contradicted himself while demanding silence on the truth:

He did not mind if the debate went behind closed doors or not, but MPs should refrain from any speech that might concern an institution…. Gen Prawit said he expected the oath issue to be concluded in the parliament and not to be raised outside.

In other words, using a Thai neologism, Gen Prawit is declaring that the role of the king in this un/anti-constitutional episode when many believe the monarch is probably responsible. He also seeks to prevent any other discussion of the issue.

By doing this, Gen Prawit is more or less confirming that King Vajiralongkorn is responsible. If he wasn’t, then a snafu could have been declared and the whole matter resolved quickly. When the king is involved, it all gets more complicated and more sinister.

Update: Gen Prayuth has now made the outrageous claim that “his oath-taking in the cabinet swearing-in ceremony, saying he acted in compliance with the constitution.” Except that he didn’t. We suppose lying is not also unconstitutional. But never mind, that lie is probably a bit like the un/anti-constitutional oath in that he has “nothing to worry about because his intentions were pure.” Right…