Courts get untruths

21 01 2011

Here PPT is referring to Cambodian courts. This is part of a report in The Nation, citing Democrat Party MP Panich Vikitsreth:

Panich (R) in his prison garb

Panich told the court that he had had no intention to cross into Cambodian territory. “I received a request from Thai people to visit Thai land … I didn’t expect to see the Cambodian People’s Party logo there” in the border village. He added that the group had been arrested about 15 minutes after entering the Cambodian community.

PPT would submit that this is an outright lie. Just look at the video clips. Intent is clear. Okay, we understand that he wanted to get out of jail, and we can sympathize with that. However, this line is the government’s line and this Abhisit Vejjajiva-headed government, premier included, have been shown to take considerable liberties with the truth.

With several updates: Abhisit reveals the contradictions of dealing with PAD

9 01 2011

Yes, we dubbed him “Teflon Mark,” but we think Prime Minister Abhisit Vejjajiva is digging himself into an ever deeper hole on the yellow-shirted border crossers.

The Bangkok Post reports that Abhisit is talking tough,warning Cambodia, reassuring the nationalists in Thailand that his government is not caving in to Cambodia: “The ruling cannot be used to support any claim by Cambodia over border demarcation,” he said in a statement indicating that the yellow shirted nationalists remain important for his government.

The prime minister sent Panich Vikitsreth, a Bangkok Democrat MP to the Thai-Cambodian border, saying “a group of Thai citizens had lodged a complaint with the government, saying they could not  make use of their land within the disputed border area.”

Recall that he earlier denied sending Panich to this particular location. That particular untruth seems now forgotten.

Panich was sent to the border with Veera Somkwamkid, co-ordinator of the Thai Patriot Network joined to the People’s Alliance for Democracy (PAD), and with members of the conservative Santi Asoke sect, another PAD ally that often sends it members into the front line of militant of nationalist actions. They follow PAD leader Chamlong Srimuang.

Abhisit says that “the PAD and Santi Asoke were also concerned about the issue, so Mr Panich volunteered to join them in an inspection of the area.”

It is clear that Abhisit knew of the trip and who was involved. Of course, the Democrat Party has a long-established connection to these groups,even if it is criticized from time to time by the yellow-shirted media.

Then Abhisit joins those who have managed to deliberately lied in the face of clear evidence to the contrary when he says:  “I don’t believe those seven Thais intended to either trespass on or spy in Cambodia…”.

PPT doesn’t believe spying was involved, but the intent to cross the border to provoke arrest is clear.

Abhisit is under pressure from PAD for more militant actions, but he is also dealing with them on this issue. And that is where his problem lies, for the extreme right pushes him for more. For example, Prasong Soonsiri, former National Security Council chief, former foreign minister and a royalist coup planner close to PAD, accuses the government of being “too submissive.”

His view is that “the government to insist that the seven Thais were arrested on Thai territory and not to accept the Cambodian court’s verdict if they are found guilty.” He adds that these seven have “contributed to society.”

Abhisit is locked into these lies and alliances with the conservative right.

Update 1: The problem for Abhisit continues as PAD scream for “no retreat,” yelling a nationalist mythology that claims land that is both in dispute but also land that “is Thai” even if not within its current agreed boundaries. See this in the Bangkok Post, where PAD issued a statement demanding that “the government to force Cambodia to free seven detained Thais without any condition.” PAD claims there is evidence – has anyone seen it? – “showing that the seven Thais were arrested in Thailand’s territory.”

PAD “condemned” all those “who had told reporters that the Thais had entered into Cambodian territory.” This included: “Deputy Prime Minister Suthep Thaugsuban, Foreign Minister Kasit Piromya, Defence Minister Gen Prawit Wongsuwon and Sakaeo provincial governor Sanit Naksuksri.” Notice that Abhisit is missing from the list, because he hasn’t fallen into this traitor’s trap. Still, he gets a bollocking for “failing to use their authorities [sic.] to pressure Cambodia to free seven Thais.”

The yellow-shirt people group also condemned Prime Minister Hun Sen, Cambodian government and soldiers for arresting the Thais in Thailand’s territory and brought them into Cambodia court, despite Thailand had helped Cambodian refugees during the civil war in the neighbouring country. PAD called on the government to reject any ruling by the Cambodian court – what if they are declared innocent and freed? – and demands an “an official ultimatum to Cambodia…”.

As we noted above, Abhisit cannot easily escape the alliance that was forged in the period when the Democrat Party needed PAD activism to get them closer to snatching power. That debt is large and difficult to repay in full.

Update 2: In The Nation, Abhisit says this: “I want to bring back the seven now and all other issues will be dealt with at a later date…”. The yellow shirts really have him jumping!

Update 3: Bangkok Pundit has a neat twist on this story, linking Panich to the Santi Asoke sect: “Panich’s involvement arose because he is a Santi Asoke follower and former Vice-Minister of Foreign Affairs.” This is followed-up with another interesting statement: “Panich was strongly supported in the by-election in 2010 by Santi Asoke’s Dharma Army.” The Democrat Party can’t escape its debt to the yellow shirts.

Updated: Full clip of Cambodia border crossing posted

7 01 2011

Readers will be interested in the full 21 minute clip posted to YouTube on Democrat Party MP Panich Vikitsreth and his yellow-shirted compatriots from the Thai Patriot Network crossing the border. Nothing seems to be changed by the longer version. The men taking the MP claim that the land they are entering is claimed by Cambodia, they continue on with the comment that they will be caught for sure. They go on to meet villagers who say their village is in Cambodia. Their discussions, small talk, the signs (including one with EU and ActionAid logos) and so on make it clear that they know where they are.

Update: Bangkok Pundit has a commentary. In answer to BP’s incredulity regarding Abhisit’s back-pedaling, going to ground and lies, PPT would simply suggest that Abhisit has a long history of falsehoods. This is just one more.

Further updated: Minor border crossing

5 01 2011

Just in case any reader was thinking that the Cambodia border issue was becoming anything like normal, this from MCOT News:

Thailand’s National Security Council (NSC) on Wednesday urged the public not to raise the detention of seven Thai nationals by Cambodian authorities as an international issue, saying this is a normal incident which could occur along the borders.

NSC Deputy Secretary-General Anusit Kunakorn seems to think that it is “normal” having a bunch of hyper-nationalists from the so-called Thai Patriots Network, a yellow-shirted group, traipsing about on the border with Democrat Party MP for Bangkok Panich Vikitsreth, who was on the phone to the prime minister’s office, as they barged across the border apparently seeking to be arrested.

The NSC’s Anusit said:

that the infringement of sovereignty usually occurs between Thailand and the neighbouring countries, while reaffirming seven detained Thais did not intend to trespass on Cambodian territory.

Huh? Clearly they did. The men knew and say they were in Cambodia (see here). And, “one of the detainees, Veera Somkwamkid, was once arrested for his illegal entry in last August.”

Royal Survey Department Deputy Director-General Maj-Gen Noppadon Chotsiri adds to the muddle by saying:

his department sent a team to inspect the area after the arrest was reported and found that the Thais were detained 55 metres from boundary posts No. 46 and 47. The area (where they were arrested) was still under dispute and waiting for demarcation…. The seven might have entered the land from misunderstanding.

The misunderstanding seems to be on the general’s part, for the men made directly for a place to be “arrested for sure!” as they put it.

But all of this takes the heat off Abhisit….

Update 1: And do read Bangkok Pundit‘s latest post that has comments on Abhisit spinning faster than a tornado and apparent poor geography of the country he leads.

Update 2: It seems that, despite the video evidence to the contrary, lawyers for the detained border crossers are claiming they had “crossed the disputed border by accident.” The story continues: “He [Panich] said he came [to the border area] because Thai people claim it is their land. He said he was walking without knowing that he was entering Cambodian territory and was captured by the authorities.” Okay, we understand he wants to get out of jail and back to Thailand, but the blatant lie has important political consequences in Thailand. He can’t be believed and it seems to us that the prime minister is seriously compromised (and surprisingly quiet now).

With several updates: Teflon Mark and the Cambodian lies

3 01 2011

In our recent post on the yellow-shirted Thai border crossers, we added an update which said: For those who think he wasn’t in Cambodia, watch this clip and hear Democrat Party MP Panich Vikitsreth on the phone asking a colleague to tell the prime minister’s secretary that he was inside Cambodia.

This issue is now taken up by the Bangkok Post. The Post story begins: “Prime Minister Abhisit Vejjajiva knew Democrat MP Panich Vikitsreth had intruded on Cambodian territory before Mr Panich and six other Thais were arrested by Cambodian soldiers, video footage posted on YouTube shows.” The story continues:

One of the video clips shows Mr Panich making a phone call to his secretary, named in the conversation as Q. Mr Panich asked Q to inform the prime minister through Mr Abhisit’s secretary, Somkiat Krongwatanasuk, that they had crossed the border into Cambodia.

“Please tell Somkiat to inform the prime minister that we are already inside Cambodia. I planned to call the prime minister myself but it is okay now,” Mr Panich says on the phone to his secretary .

“Call him [Somkiat] so in case there are problems, we can coordinate because we are already in a Cambodian area. And make sure that he does not tell anybody because only the prime minister must know this.”

The story then cites acting government spokesman Panitan Wattanayagorn saying the clip “could not be interpreted … [that] Mr Abhisit had ordered him to enter Cambodia.” Panitan added that “Panich was doing his duty as a member of the lower house committee and was unaware he had entered Cambodia at the time of his arrest.” Oops, the clip shows that’s a (deliberate) lie.

Added to that lie, we wonder if the PM we have labeled Teflon Mark can squirm out of earlier statements in the Bangkok Post: “Prime Minister Abhisit said earlier today that the seven Thais should be released immediately and without conditions. He appeared to blame the Cambodians: “Both countries have agreed that there must not be soldiers from either side in the area where the seven Thais were apprehended. We should not talk about them [the seven Thais] appearing in a Phnom Penh court now, the main point is no armed forces should be in the area in the first place.” And, “Abhisit admitted that he had assigned Mr Panich to discuss the Thai-Cambodian border dispute issue with the PAD yellow-shirt group.

In that report there is a note saying that “Defence Minister Prawit Wongsuwon and armed forces commanders this morning had a serious discussion with Privy Council president Prem Tinsulanonda about the arrest of seven Thais by Cambodia for trespassing.” The report says this:

Gen Prawit, who looked tense, said to reporters: “We are following up the matter and coordinating with Cambodia.” He said the seven had probably not trespassed into Cambodia as the boundary has yet to be clearly defined.

A source said Gen Prem told Gen Prawit and other military leaders to quickly find ways of helping the seven Thais. The generals questioned whether it was the seven Thais or the Cambodian soldiers who had trespassed, but said Mr Panich and Mr Veera should have asked soldiers or police to accompany them if visiting an area in dispute, said the source.

Prem really can’t stay out of politics. It is as if he is the senior minister mentor, a la Lee Kuan Yew in Singapore.

The next part of this story is how Teflon Mark deflects criticism. A bit of a military clash on the border? A vigorous PAD response to take the heat off the government? Or another set of lies?

Update 1: Readers might be interested in the Bangkok Post’s Veera Prateepchaikul’s rapid defense of Prime Minister Abhisit. Clearly Abhisit should be in trouble on this one. The evidence is that the premier ordered Panich to deal with the yellow shirts on this issue and the video evidence suggests a determination on the part of Panich to provoke a Cambodian response. Veera’s call for Panich to be dismissed from the Democrat Party would seem flawed if the man was on a mission for his boss.

Update 2: The spin has begun. At the Bangkok Post it is reported that “Prime Minister Abhisit Vejjajiva explained to the cabinet on Tuesday he knew only that Democrat MP Panich Vikitsreth would go to a border area, but did not know exactly where where, acting government spokesman Panitan Wattanayagorn said after the cabinet meeting.” Abhisit has admitted sending Panich to the border. Remarkably, and in the face of all the contrary evidence, Panitan said that “When Mr Panich called on the telephone, it was not known for sure if he and six other Thais were in Cambodia, making it difficult for the government to help when they were arrested.” Likewise, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs “insisted that Mr Panich and his team did not have the intention to trespass on Cambodian soil.” Watch the video and Panich say something completely different and ask for the information to go to Abhisit. To say that the “team sincerely believed the area was Thai soil and had no intention of causing a problem for relations between the two countries” is bizarre.

Abhisit’s line on the clips, which he claims to have viewed is is that they are “being used by Cambodia against the seven Thais. The total length of the clips was 20 minutes, but was cut to only one minute. The clips must be viewed in their entirety and a map drawn up to show the exact location so as to confirm that the Thais had no intention to trespass on Cambodian territory, the prime minister said.”

If any reader has seen all 20 minutes, let us know what difference it makes. There are 5 minutes of video at Siam Voices. Does Abhisit have all the video? If so, then he could easily release it. A question to be be asked is why was so much videotaping being done by Panich and the accompanying yellow shirts? What was the purpose?

We expect that this mapping exercise will try to roll back the story and claim that the land where they were is “really” Thai land. This raises the specter of an ongoing conflict at the border.

Update 3: As we were writing Update 2, the Bangkok Post has re-posted its story cited above as “Abhisit’s spin”. It includes 5 minutes of video that are a little different from that at Siam Voices. In this clip it seems the team wanted to be detained.

Update 4: For the latest twist in this increasingly bizarre story, see Bangkok Pundit’s latest post suggesting collaboration in having the border crossers arrested.

Updated: PAD and other nationalist rants on Cambodia

3 01 2011

A few days ago PPT briefly posted regarding yellow shirts arrested and held in Cambodia after going with Democrat Party MP Panich Vikitsreth to “inspect” the border in Sa Kaeo. As we reported back then, according to the Thai government, they were inside Cambodian territory by several hundred meters when arrested. Foreign Minister Kasit Piromya was about to fly off to Cambodia to rescue them while Prime Minister Abhisit Vejjajiva has called for the “immediate and unconditional release.” At about that time  Siam Voices had a round-up on the arrests in Cambodia story. This was followed by  Foreign Minister Kasit returning from Cambodia, admitting that ” a survey by officials from the Department of Treaties and Legal Affairs and the Royal Thai Survey Department found that the group, which included Democrat MP Panich Vikitsreth and yellow-shirt activist Veera Somkwamkid, were about a kilometre inside Cambodia.”

Bangkok Pundit now has a post on how the reporting of this story and the government’s position was rolled out.

In that post, BP has an account of an old general and yellow shirt Preecha Iamsuphan, a classmate of PAD leader and ultra-nationalist Chamlong Srimuang, demanding: “Thai soldiers must invade to obtain the return of Thai territory…”. He ranted on: “Now, there is only one answer, that is go to war. A battle to teach the Cambodians a lesson that when Cambodians take a gun over the Thai border then Thais need to take their guns over the Cambodian border in return. To chase off the Cambodians from all parts of Thai territory that they have encroached on so that it can be returned.”

Of course, it makes no difference to him that the evidence is of no entry by Cambodian soldiers into Thailand. He is talking about long-disputed territory and even Preah Vihear, where Thailand lost a World Court case. He wants it all “back.” And, he isn’t the only one. As Bangkok Pundit points out, when the yellow-shirted nationalists bang drums and rattle sabers, there is a lot to be lost for even the yellow-loving Democrat Party. At the time we checked, the last 9 stories at MCOT News related to Cambodia, PAD and the arrests:

Thai PM: Preah Vihear dispute won’t affect Thai-Cambodian relations
Monday, January 03, 2011 7:52 AM

Activists urged to avoid further conflict, not rally at Cambodian border
Monday, January 03, 2011 4:49 AM

Activists to rally at border, demanding release of Thai detainees
Sunday, January 02, 2011 6:23 AM

Thai activists submit letter to UN seeking help to release 7 detained Thais
Saturday, January 01, 2011 7:13 AM

Thai officials conduct investigation to secure release of Thai detainees in Cambodia
Saturday, January 01, 2011 6:32 AM

Cambodian Court sets no date trial of seven Thais detained for illegal entry
Friday, December 31, 2010 7:48 AM

Thai, Cambodian commanders hold border talks
Friday, December 31, 2010 3:48 AM

Thai FM fails to free Thais detained in Cambodia
Thursday, December 30, 2010 11:04 PM

Thai FM leaves for Phnom Penh for talks on release of seven detained Thais
Thursday, December 30, 2010 8:01 AM

The so-called Thailand Patriot Network has petitioned the UN and then gathered at Government House to protest the case of seven detained in Cambodia. They announced plans to rally at the border aiming “to pressure the neighbouring country to release the group.” The group is led by Chaiwat Sinsuwong and Karun Sai-ngam. PPT readers may remember Chaiwat from this post in October where he was charged with various offenses, including “terrorism” as a PAD leader occupying the airports. Expect Chamlong’s Dhamma Army to be the bulk of the protesters and local residents may oppose the yellow shirted rally.

Update: For those who think he wasn’t in Cambodia, watch this clip and hear Panich on the phone asking a colleague to tell the prime minister’s secretary that he was inside Cambodia.

With 3 updates: PAD warriors jailed

30 12 2010

The Nation reports: “The Criminal Court Thursday convicted 85 guards of the People’s Alliance for Democracy in raiding the NBC station in August 2008. The court gave various jail terms to the PAD guards, known as Srivichai warriors, from 6 months to two years and six months. Jail terms for three of them were suspended as they are minor.” More details as they emerge.

This as other yellow shirts are arrested and held in Cambodia after going with Democrat Party MP Panich Vikitsreth to “inspect” the border in Sa Kaeo. According to the Thai government, they were inside Cambodian territory by several hundred meters when arrested. Foreign Minister Kasit Piromya is apparently riding to their rescue while Prime Minister Abhisit Vejjajiva has called for the “immediate and unconditional release.”

Update 1: The Bangkok Post reports that the charges against the 85 PAD guards “varied from illegal assembly, instigating unrest, armed trespass at  night, causing damage to public property, illegal use of firearms, and illegal use of communication radio.” It adds these details:

PAD guards at the 2008 airport seizure

Most of the defendants were found guilty of illegal assembly and trespassing. The court sentenced defendant No 1 to a combined two years and six months jail term; and, defendants No 2, 39 and 80 to one year and six month and a fine of 500 baht each. Defendants Nos 3-29, 31-38, 40-41, 43-46, 48-79, and 82 were sentenced to one year and six months in jail. Defendants Nos 30, 47, and 81, were each given one year’s imprisonment. Defendants Nos 83-85 were sentenced to nine months each in jail. Since defendants Nos 30, 47, 81, and 83-85 are still under 20 years old and have never before been given a  jail sentence, their jail terms are suspended for two years….

There are no details yet regarding appeals.

Update 2: Siam Voices has a round-up on the arrests in Cambodia story.

Update 3: Foreign Minister Kasit Piromya returned from Cambodia, admitting that ” a survey by officials from the Department of Treaties and Legal Affairs and the Royal Thai Survey Department found that the group, which included Democrat MP Panich Vikitsreth and yellow-shirt activist Veera Somkwamkid, were about a kilometre inside Cambodia.”

Tricks, dirty tricks and trouble

18 07 2010

The Financial Times (15 July 2010 – readers need to sign-up to get access) has an account of the imprisoned red shirt leaders who are said to “have warned of ‘big, big problems’ if the government pushes ahead with its announced reconciliation plan.” The FT was able to conduct the first interview with Korkaew Pikulthong and Weng Tojirakarn who have been locked up since 19 May 2010. Korkaew is the current Puea Thai Party candidate in the Constitutency 6 by-election in Bangkok.

Both leaders said “they were deeply worried about the future.” Korkaew is the one who suggested big problems lay ahead. Korkaew and Weng “confirmed that the opposition had not been asked for input.” Korkaew said: “I don’t think [the prime minister] has the real intention to reconcile the Thai people…. He has no plan to improve the situation. It is just words, no actions.”

The interview was conducted in circumstances where Weng was said to have had to bend “almost double to shout through the perforated steel mesh, the only way of communicating in the noisy visiting room of Bangkok Remand Prison.”

Korkaew complained about the election situation: “I can’t do anything much, I can’t tell [voters] what is on my mind and have no chance to meet the people to tell them my policies…”.

That’s not quite accurate, for the very generous officials at the Corrections Department have graciously allowed Korkaew to record three 3-minute speeches, one of which the Puea Thai Party may be able to use for campaign purposes while their candidate remains banged-up.

Chatchai Chuiklom, chief of the Corrections Department, is cited in another Bangkok Post story as saying that “Korkaew is not receiving any special treatment because of his candidacy in the by-election. In line with department rules, he is not even allowed to use the internet. Mr Korkaew’s detention under the emer gency decree has been extended twice by the courts. He is appealing to the courts to be released to campaign for the by-election.”

The Post runs the line that the fact that Korkaew is not permitted to campaign is a great advantage because he gets a sympathy vote. On this occasion it quotes former democracy advocate and human rights lawyer turned yellow-shirted anti-Thaksin campaigner Thongbai Thongpao, who claims that a real democrat can get elected from inside jail. It is as if the Post and Thongbai think being in the slammer and being prevented from campaigning is a magical advantage. This is utter nonsense. Even the Post admits that, so far, the “best Puea Thai has managed to do so far is to broadcast a recording of a speech by Mr Korkaew to voters.”

The Post’s headline and some of the items in the story are outrageously biased against Korkaew, while the Post has been highly positive in its coverage of the Democrat Party candidate.

The Puea Thai choice of candidate, however, is undoubtedly meant to be symbolic of the red shirt struggle of democracy versus the anti-democratic Democrat Party-led coalition and its policies.

Democrat candidate Panich Vikitsreth is an acolyte of Foreign Minister Kasit Piromya, and Kasit is known to be popular with the yellow-shirted crowd in Bangkok’s middle and upper classes, despite his erratic behavior (or perhaps because of it).

The Democrat Party and its coalition are desperate to win this election. A loss would do incalculable damage to the government. Hence, ignoring the fact that Korkaew is locked up, the Democrat Party is already screaming about “dirty tricks.” The Democrat Party shouts about “vote buying and intimidation hav[ing] already begun…”. PPT recalls that, in the 2007 election, it was mainly army money doing the vote-buying (see also Chang Noi below). In fact, so important is this election that PPT expects the military and the government to be the ones engaged in dirty tricks (in addition to keeping the opposition candidate from campaigning).

For an account of the constituency, see this Chang Noi article: “The previous poll in 2007 was almost a dead heat, so the result this time will signal how popular opinion has been changed by the turmoil of the past two years, and especially by the May events. The implications could be enormous because the government’s parliamentary majority is a lot shakier than it looks.”

Chang Noi concludes: “But if Bangkok 6 swings in the red direction, the medium term impact on Parliament could be critical. MPs in the middle ground will start to worry about how they will be treated by the electorate at a future poll if they are clearly identified with this coalition…. [I]f the Democrats win a solid victory in Bangkok 6, the government will be more secure, and the prospect of a Pheu Thai victory in a future general election less certain. So Bangkok 6 is not just another by-election but a contest that the Democrats and their various backers simply cannot afford to lose. For this reason it may not be at all like a normal poll, and may not be decided by normal means.”

If the Democrat Party wins it will have to be by a massive landslide. Anything less would always be a hollow victory over a candidate locked up, essentially gagged and bound by the government parties

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