Academic freedom

21 05 2020

We are used to seeing rankings. A relatively new one that PPT recently came across, thanks to a post at New Mandala, that led us here, and then to a ranking on academic freedom. On that last post, we noted Thailand’s abysmal performance.

PPT decided to get to work on the data made available by the efforts of researchers at Friedrich-Alexander-Universität Erlangen-Nürnberg (FAU) and the V-Dem Institute, the Scholars at Risk Network, and the Global Public Policy Institute. The full report can be downloaded as a PDF. Some might quibble about the ranking and what goes into it, but it is worth thinking about why Thailand does so badly. The result is the graph below:

We were selective, including Thailand’s ASEAN partners, some other countries in the Asian region and Germany as an example of a highly-ranked country and Taiwan and South Korea as highly-ranked countries in the region.

It is obvious that Thailand does very badly indeed, ranking well below all of its ASEAN partners except Laos (we couldn’t locate a score for Cambodia). Thailand even ranks below Vietnam, usually considered a pretty authoritarian state, but where public policy on education is taken quite a lot more seriously than in Thailand. Thailand even ranks behind Saudi Arabia, a despotic monarchy.

Thailand’s low score is no surprise. Thailand’s academics have long suffered state repression, censorship and academics have been prone to self-censorship. And, not a few academics have considered themselves servants of the rich and powerful and promoters of conservative royalism. Most of this latter type are seldom true academics, conducting fearless research and publishing high-quality papers. Rather, they crave lucrative advisory posts and proximity to power. Think of the execrable Panitan Wattanayagorn who grasps his academic position in a claw-like grip while being the servant of murderous generals.





Panitan goes full-on bonkers

27 02 2020

We are a bit late getting to a report on “adviser to the Deputy Prime Minister [Gen Prawit Wongsuwan] on Security Affairs, Panitan Wattanayagorn” lashing out at the US Embassy statement on the dissolution of the Future Forward Party.

As many long-time readers of PPT will know, we have no time for this leech on the public purse. He’s long taken positions with military and military-backed regimes as an “advisor” while also claiming to be an “academic” and taking benefits from that position. In addition, his academic credentials are anything but serious.

The statement we have seen from the US Embassy is this:

We note the Thai Constitutional Court’s decision on February 21 ordering the dissolution of the Future Forward Party.

The United States strongly supports democratic governance around the world, and appreciates Thailand’s recent seating of a democratically elected government. While the United States does not favor or support any particular political party in Thailand, more than six million voters chose the Future Forward Party in the March 24 elections. The decision to disband the party risks disenfranchising those voters and raises questions about their representation within Thailand’s electoral system.

The bit that the pathetic Panitan got agitated about was “disenfranchising,” which seems a pretty basic point. The Embassy might have added that this had happened several times since the 2006 military coup.

But Panitan “slammed the US Embassy’s criticism,” declaring the “US reaction was not appropriate and marked an interference in Thailand’s internal affairs by an outsider…”.

That’s a claim that is usually heard from the Chinese Foreign Ministry.

He then went full bananas, promoting long-held yellow shirt notions of conspiracy, saying “he understood countries like the US would like to secure their advantages.” Astoundingly, the so-called academic and “security” adviser declares: “I think they pretend to not understand what actually happened because some members of Future Forward Party are still able to work…”.

To us, this sounds like a claim that Future Forward members work for the US Embassy. How bizarre. Well, in the social media that has circulated from royals to Democrat Party and within the military, such conspiracies are taken seriously.

Panitan, who graduated in the US, then displays his ignorance, saying: “Our constitutional courts are quite the same.” We assume that he compares Thailand’s Constitutional Court and the US Supreme Court. Of course, they are not “quite the same.” In fact, they are quite different.

Even more astoundingly, Panitan personally attacks the US ambassador as ignorant and falsely compares US (democratic) politics and Thailand’s authoritarianism: “The new ambassador is not familiar with Thai matters and we have to discuss it with him soon. Their criticism paints them in a negative light than us, as their political situation is even worse than Thailand’s.”

Panitan and army buddy working on a “story.”.

He then gets pompous and nasty:

“It’s quite confusing why a big country [like the US] has allowed some children to write something on their official website. The US might just pretend to be an idiot. However, we don’t want to add anything more to rupture our diplomatic relationship.”

Apart from the unwarranted arrogance of this statement, it is also a large pile of buffalo manure when it is considered that he’s used astoundingly undiplomatic terms to describe the Ambassador and the Embassy.

Panitan does not pretend to be an idiot; he demonstrates his idiocy.





Army generals and their servants

28 02 2019

Not unexpectedly, The Dictator-junta leader-former Army boss-self-appointed prime minister-prime ministerial candidate-Gen Prayuth Chan-ocha and his Army commanders are on the same page when it comes to protecting the military.

The Nation reports that Gen Prayuth, maybe speaking as prime minister, maybe as junta boss or maybe as Candidate Prayuth, has declared that like an industrial free trade estate, “investing in soldiers is important and expenditure on military affairs cannot be seen as a financial gain or loss.”

He’s responding to campaign speeches by several political parties stating that the military’s budget could be trimmed and military conscription ended.

The Dictator views the suggestions, coming from “Pheu Thai, Future Forward and Seri Ruamthai parties” as an attack on the military and part of an anti-military political push.

Not explaining how conscripts are trained and how mission-ready they are, Gen Prayuth declared: “The country can call troops out any time of the day for a mission. If you downsize the armed forces, who will help out in times of disaster?”

The general was campaigning/visiting “with several Cabinet members to the Vidyasirimedhi Institute of Science and Technology and the Kamnoetvidya Science Academy in Rayong province to follow up on education progress during his government’s tenure.”

He wondered how Thailand’s borders could be “watched/protected” by a slimmed military.

Predictably, The Dictator was vigorously supported by the Defense Ministry which “leapt to the defence of military conscription, insisting there would be a shortfall of troops if only voluntary recruitment is adopted.”

Ministry spokesman Lt Gen Khongcheep Tantravanich said:

400,000-500,000 males are selected for conscription each year but just 100,000 are drafted. He said only 46% of eligible young men volunteer for service. Moreover, just under a third of all drafted men request to have their military service postponed, leaving 70,000 in service….

It isn’t entirely clear what contribution involuntary conscripts have on the size of the military. Adding together Wikipedia data, we find the total size of the military establishment is 326,000, although a Bangkok Post graphic suggests that there are just 127,000 in the Army, whereas the estimate at Wikipedia is 210,000. Another Wikipedia page has an estimate of 360,000 active personnel, 245,000 reservists and 94,000 paramilitaries for a total of almost 700,000.

What is even more opaque is the number of generals. Most estimates put this at around 1,700. Guess that those generals, when not golfing or gulping from the public trough, need the services of conscripts.

Even Lt Gen Kongcheep had to admit that the “conscripts end up running personal errands for generals…”. An senior Navy officer living close to one of the PPT lot regularly has 5-8 uniformed “sailors” running errands, cooking for his family at their apartment, washing their cars, cleaning the apartment, and so on. They are servants and slaves.

We doubt this pattern prepares conscripts for “going to war.”

Also important for the broader interests of the ruling class, Lt Gen Kongcheep states that the usually lower class “conscripts acquired discipline and good ideology during their time in service … so they will be quality citizens after they are discharged”. He means they are indoctrinated with notions of royalism and hierarchy sufficient for them to “go to war” with protesting citizens.

The vast majority of serving and retired generals and few in the ruling class want a professional military. They prefer a politicized military.

Ruling class ideologues and professional military posterior polishers like “Panitan Wattanayagorn, an adviser to Deputy Prime Minister Prawit Wongsuwon, [who] said conscription is a patriotic Thai tradition.” That so-called tradition only goes back to the mid-1950s.





Further updated: Media reprimands Gen Apirat

20 02 2019

Army commander Gen Apirat Kongsompong has been hammered by the media today. For example, the Bangkok Post had an editorial, two op-eds and a story all highly critical of his attack on campaigning politicians as “scum.”

In the story, it was reported that “[p]oliticians demanded … the army chief remain neutral in the lead-up to the … election after he rebuked them for calling for defence budget cuts and revived an anti-communist song…”.

Actually, it is a song that belongs to extreme rightists and ultra-royalists, most recently used by the yellow-shirted royalists People’s Alliance for Democracy and the People’s Democratic Reform Committee to attack pro-Thaksin Shinawatra groups and politicians.

In other words, Gen Apirat was reaffirming his ultra-royalism as an anti-democratic rightist. The notion that he will be “neutral” is farcical. The military is never politically neutral.

Commenting on this, Ploenpote Atthakor points out that one of the (false) justifications for the 2014 military coup was about eliminating political conflict. As she points out, Gen Apirat is promoting conflict. For PPT, it is clear that the military has been stirring conflict throughout recent decades. The military is the problem.

Even determined anti-Thaksinista, Veera Prateepchaikul points out:

Many people may love the song and call it patriotic. But for a person like me and many others who are old enough to have witnessed the horrors of the “October 6” massacre and heard it being blasted around the clock before that fateful day by the army-run Yankroh radio station alternating with the hateful phone-in comments against the students inside Thammasat University, this is unquestionably a far-right hate song for its association with this bloody history.

The Post’s editorial comes straight to the point:

The troubling response of the army commander to a rather benign political campaign promise has quickly escalated. Gen Apirat Kongsompong didn’t just try to refute the call to cut both the military budget and the number of general officers. He retaliated by reviving the most hateful song in Thai political history, and promised to flood military bases and the airwaves with it. It is a move with an ironclad guarantee of major political and national division.

It continues to condemn Gen Apirat, saying what was:

hugely disappointing and inappropriate was Gen Apirat’s instant and ill-formed leap into the political campaign. The decision of the highest ranking army officer to step into the election debate was questionable. What is indefensible is his order to revive and propagandise his soldiers with the noxious and odious 1970s song Nak Phandin.

Yet it is hardly out of the ordinary. Gen Apirat, like his predecessor Gen Prayuth Chan-ocha have made their careers by being palace loyalists, rightists, and murderous military bosses.

Perhaps the most interesting commentary, however, was at Thai Rath, which outlines Gen Apirat’s family story. His father, Gen Sunthorn Kongsompong, a diminutive rightist also known as “Big George,” was a corrupt leader of the 1991 coup. The paper points out that, following a dispute between Sunthorn’s wife and mistress in 2001, people were stunned to learn that the property under dispute was valued at over 3.9 billion baht.

Thai Rath goes through the whole story of this corrupt general, the father of the current military commander. Being a powerful military boss has been lucrative, but for the Kongsompong clan, the wealth siphoned was conspicuously huge. We have no evidence of who shared in that huge wealth.

Update 1: It is not just the media that has gone after Apirat. As Prachatai reportsAs Prachatai reports:

… student activist Parit “Penguin” Chiwarak, along with other members of the Student Union of Thailand, also went to the Army Headquarters to read an open letter to the Army Commander in Chief protesting Gen Apirat’s comment on ‘Nuk Paen Din.’

Following that:

… political activists Ekkachai Hongkangwan and Chokchai Paibulratchata held a demonstration at the Royal Thai Army Headquarters in response to army chief Gen Apirat Kongsompong’s order to broadcast the controversial Cold War anthem ‘Nuk Paen Din’ (‘Scum of the Earth’) on all army radio stations and over the intercom at military headquarters.

Update 2: As might be expected, the military and its rabid response to politicians has been defended by what the Bangkok Post describes as “Chulalongkorn University political scientist Panitan Wattanayagorn…”. Panitan is neither a “political scientist” nor an “academic” in the true senses of these words. Rather, he is a toady of the military and in its pay. He’s a propagandist for the military, lying that “army chief Gen Apirat spoke out in response to the proposed defence budget cuts because he intended to defend the interests of rank-and-file soldiers who would be affected by any spending cuts.” It is a ludicrous fabrication. Defending the murderous military is nit the work of serious academics.





“Reconciliation” by military committee I

9 02 2017

We assume a report yesterday in The Nation is accurate when it reports that the junta has appointed a “reconciliation committee” composed almost entirely of “military officers and state officials…”.

It states that The Dictator, General Prayuth Chan-ocha has “signed an order to appoint members of four committees under one umbrella covering reform, reconciliation, and national strategy.” Prayuth and the junta retain total control of the committees and their process:

Each of the four committees – the national strategy preparation committee, reform preparation committee, reconciliation preparation committee and strategic administration committee – will be chaired by Prayut, with one or two deputy PMs as vice chairman. Most members of the four committees are ministers, state officials, and the president and vice president of [puppet] National Legislative Assembly and [puppet] National Reform Steering Assembly.

We were stunned by The Nation’s wrongheadedness in referring to “outsiders” who “will sit on the reconciliation preparation committee which is the biggest with 33 members.”In fact, the committee will be under Deputy Dictator, General Prawit Wongsuwan, “and includes military top-brass and chiefs of security agencies.”

The alleged “outsiders” are “former charter writers Sujit Boonbongkarn and Anek Laothamatas; Panitan Wattanayagorn, a lecturer at Chulalongkorn University’s faculty of political science and an adviser to Prawit; Suthibhand Chirathivat, a lecturer at Chulalongkorn University’s faculty of economics, and former Supreme Commander General Boonsang Niampradit.”

Suchit is a determined royalist, one of the grand old men who has served both post coup governments since 2006. Anek has hawked himself to the regime for some time. General Boonsang is, well, a general. The Nation doesn’t say it, but he is an ardent royalist and was a second tier leader of the 2006 coup. Certainly the People’s Alliance for Democracy favored him.

Most bizarrely, the idea that (pseudo)academic-for-hire Panitan is an “outsider” is like calling his boss, General Prawit, an “outsider.” No one is further inside than the disreputable Panitan.

In other words, “reconciliation” is just like an “election” and the “constitution.” It’s all rigged by the generals.





It’s the republicans (or its a junta ruse)

4 02 2017

Yesterday we posted on the talk of assassination threats against The Dictator and the Deputy Dictator.

We thought that the claims, when put together with coup talk, might suggest that there was some dissatisfaction with the junta, perhaps even in the military.

Then there was talk of those nasty “politicians” causing ill-will towards the military dictatorship over its ham-fisted flood relief operations in the south. Junta spokesman Lt Gen Sansern Kaewkamnerd says “[s]ome politicians in Songkhla are behind a move to stir up dissent against the government…”. In the last election – remember that? – each seat in the province was won by a Democrat Party politician. Could they be getting their gun sights re-calibrated from red shirts to military dictators?

It seems that it is neither military nor anti-democrats. Rather, The Dictator has let it be known that the culprits of “an assassination plot targeting Deputy Prime Minister and Defence Minister Prawit Wongsuwon could originate from lese majeste suspects who are living abroad.”*

Of course! It’s the rascally republicans! Or, more correctly, it could be them.

Perhaps they did offer a threat for they have no capacity for much else. At the same time, perhaps the junta is framing them for a “crime” that does allow for extraditions from foreign jurisdictions.

They are that desperate and such a pathetic lurk is in line with other cowardly acts by the junta, most notably in targeting the children and families of its opponents.

The junta’s desperation to shut down every single critical reflection on the monarchy borders on a mental illness; it is a paranoia and an obsession.

_________

*One part of the latter report that struck us as laughable was the mention of (fraud) academic-for-sale Panitan Wattanayagorn, “adviser to Gen Prawit,” and quite capable of authoring a fake plot. In one part of the report this dolt is quoted as saying: “It [death threats] is not unusual and security agencies will respond to it…”. A couple of lines later, this: “He said assassination plots against government figures in Thailand are rare…”.





NYT and the military’s charter

7 08 2016

The New York Times wonders why a “new constitution that it [the junta] casts as an essential step toward restoring democracy” has seen the junta block “opponents from campaigning against the measure, banned election monitors and restricted news coverage of the referendum.”

It notes that “critics” say the proposed constitution will “extend the military’s influence for years to come.”

We doubt that the “vote will be the first major test of the military’s standing with the public, as much a referendum on the legitimacy of military rule as on the draft constitution” as the NYT suggests.It might have been if the event had been free and fair.

Its wasn’t, for “no matter the outcome, the junta will remain in control until it decides to hand power back to an elected government.” Even then, the military and other unelected bodies will control parliament’s actions. Military-controlled democracy is no democracy.

Sunai Phasuk, a senior researcher at Human Rights Watch, points to more than 100 arrests for referendum-related “offences.” He says: “This referendum is not legitimate…. This is a redo of a military coup, using fear and intimidation to force Thai people to grant an extension of their control of power.”

Panitan Wattanayagorn, an adviser to the junta declared himself in support of repression: “the public did not need an election campaign that could lead to more strife. Voters can decide by studying the 105-page document…”.

He’s always been a dedicated military pawn and lies about the draft. Almost no one has seen it or read it. It beats PPT why the NYT even speaks with such a dick. Perhaps only to get the expected quotes.

But he does drone: “The section on the parliamentary system [reducing its representativeness]  is quite new in many regards…. It’s an attempt to control and regulate the politicians.”

That’s true. The military and its supporters and acolytes like Panitan hate the idea that the people should freely choose their representatives in a competitive political situation they do not control.

The International Federation for Human Rights is quoted:

The draft charter creates undemocratic institutions, weakens the power of future elected governments and is likely to fuel political instability…. If approved, the charter will allow the military and its proxies to tighten their grip on power and cement their influence in political affairs.

That’s true. The aim is to retain royalist authoritarianism.





Students vs. hirelings and anti-democrats

31 05 2016

The Nation recently had an “analysis” article on the student movements against the military junta. It refers to “student groups such as Dao Din, the New Democracy Movement (NDM) and the Liberal League of Thammasat for Democracy (LLTD)…”.

It says that “[a]t first, people barely noticed them.” But then, “[s]lowly people learned more about them, and realised that their rebellion was not merely against the coup, but embraced a wider range of policies and social issues that were of concern to everyone.” The report notes how these groups have been politically innovative. They have had to be as their main opponent is the military dictatorship which has massive coercive power.

The report quotes activist Rangsiman Rome who is a key member of the NDM and who observes that the “movement has been ignited by the coup…”. He says that “the students could not tolerate abuses of power – such as tearing apart the 2007 Constitution and allowing members of the junta to go unpunished.” At the same time, they “fight for what ‘should be’ rather than accept what ‘will be’…”.

The article acknowledges that these students have been “at great risk,” but have not hesitated to rally and challenge the junta.

It is sometimes forgotten that these students were active before the 2014 coup. As Rangsiman states, “In 2013 we protested against the amnesty bill proposed by the previous [Yingluck Shinawatra] government…”. Khon Kaen University’s Dao Din student activist Panupong Sritananuwat says his “group has worked with villagers for more than 12 years. Their activities involve environmental issues and educating people on their rights to protect the community.”

The student activists argue that “across the country [students] are increasingly aware of their roles as citizens…”, with Natthisa Patthamaphonphong of the Chulalongkorn Community for People (CCP), saying that “the students wanted to demonstrate they cared about the country.”

The students also “challenged emerging allegations that their activit[ies] are insincere after people questioned whether they were sponsored by particular political factions.”

The article then gets bizarre by going to the source of such claims, reporting academic prostitute (again, apologies to sex workers) and a yellow-shirted “former activist” who has been made an “academic” in a yellow-shirted “university,” even when he lacks the usual credentials associated with academics.

The first is the decidedly slimy Panitan Wattanayagorn, described as “a long-time security lecturer at Chulalongkorn University,” which is probably a reasonable description although he spends most of his time doing tricks as “national security adviser to Deputy Prime Minister [General] Prawit Wongsuwan…” and before that being the ventriloquist’s dummy for the Abhisit Vejjajiva regime.

Panitan has probably never been an activist on anything. The best the article can do is say that he “has been close to a number of student activists…”. Perhaps he was the bagman for the military in this? We suppose that advocating the shooting down of civilian protesters counts as activism. As someone who has long been on the payroll of political masters, it is probably logical for him to declare that “it was inevitable for such questions to arise” about being “sponsored” by a political faction. Indeed, that is Panitan’s own position; he’s always sponsored by the military and right-wing royalists.

Panitan declares that “the public needed to keep an eye on youth-led movements to determine in the long run whether they are independent or not…”. He isn’t, and the public should watch him, for he’s dangerous through his connections with military thugs.

The other quotable “academic” is former People’s Alliance for Democracy co-leader Suriyasai Katasila, now transformed into a “deputy dean of Rangsit University’s College of Social Innovation…”. He isn’t a historian, erroneously comparing the students of 1973 and today’s students, saying “Today’s political condition is so complicated that students cannot straightforwardly do whatever they want, like students did in the past, in 1973…”. Clearly, he has no understanding of the conditions in 1973 that led to a corrupt military regime murdering students in the street.

We could go on, but what’s the point. These “commentators” have political axes to grind while being paternalist and denigrating the current student movements. Panitan blathered: “They should consider if their movements are appropriate and favourable for the society or not, otherwise the public will wonder about [the purpose of] the movements…”. We imagine there are no mirrors in the cheap Chula apartment he occupies.

The students in these groups have more mettle, more integrity and more principles than a herd of Panitans and Suriyasais.





Academic boycott I

29 05 2016

Thongchai Winichakul has a post at New Mandala asking questions about three academic conferences to be held in Thailand in 2017 and using the word “boycott.” Clipped from his post, these are:

  • The 13th International Conference on Thai Studies (ICTS), hosted by Chiang Mai University, 15-18 July 2017 (deadlines for proposals: 30 August 2016 for panels, and 30 November 2016 for individual papers);
  • The 10th International Convention of Asian Scholars (ICAS) by the International Institute for Asian Studies (IIAS), hosted by Chiang Mai University, 20-23 July 2017 (deadline for proposals: 10 October 2016);
  • The 2nd Conference for Southeast Asian Studies in Asia, by the Consortium for Southeast Asian Studies in Asia (SEASIA), hosted by Chulalongkorn University.

Thongchai Winichakul

Similar questions were raised in 2007 regarding the 2008 ICTS at Thammasat University. (Reading the responses to that post are enlightening of the darkness that haunts academia, both local and international.)

There is no academic freedom in Thailand. Calls have been made for academic freedom, but the military dictatorship brooks no interference in its reactionary work. The few activist students and academics are continually threatened by the junta and in the “suspect” areas of the country, the military actively police campuses. Several Thai academics have been forced to flee the country and yet their families are still harassed. The control of all universities in the country is effectively in the hands of royalist academics and administrators.

Given all of this evidence, it is reprehensible that the 10th International Convention of Asian Scholars (ICAS) and the 2nd Conference for Southeast Asian Studies in Asia should decide to hold their events in Thailand well after the 2014 military coup and when Thailand is the only military dictatorship in the world. After all, the debate that took place in the International Studies Association in 2014 and 2015 saw its ISA Global South Caucus Conference removed from Chulalongkorn University and Thailand (see here, here and here). Yes, sigh, they moved it to another state where academic freedom is restricted, but at least they were not meeting under a military dictatorship.

Academics are a broad and usually pretty divided and politically weak “group.” In many ways, the “group” is if representative of anything, reflecting a broader set of interests in society, often connecting with the powers-that-be.

Think of Thailand, where academics have tended to consider themselves a part of the bureaucratic section of the elite. Thai academics have a history of sucking up to and supporting military regimes and salivating over positions with governments that provide money and prestige. When General Prem Tinsulanonda was unelected prime minister, he surrounded himself with prominent professors keen to promote “semi-democracy,” military and monarchy. In more recent times, royalist academics have donned yellow shirts and supported all kinds of fascist ideas. Others serve the military dictatorship, including Panitan Wattanayagorn and Bowornsak Uwanno.

Academics are also lacking in political intestinal fortitude.

Think of Singapore, which has some of the world’s top-ranked universities, but where academics almost never challenge the status quo. If they do, they are quickly punished.

Nothing much came of the call to boycott ICTS in 2008. One of the commentators on the boycott opposed it, saying: “These days you have to be Swiss and drunk and in possession of a spray can to be charged with les [sic.] majeste. Most academics do not fit this profile, at least during working hours.” How wrong that was, then and since.

The opposition to the ICTS was “bought off” by special offers. As New Mandala’s Andrew Walker stated then:

At the time I was substantially in agreement with the call for a boycott. But subsequent events have persuaded me to attend. The key events have been the organisation of a series of panels in which the Thai monarchy will be subject to concerted academic scrutiny. As far as I know this public scrutiny is a first for Thailand (if not the world).

This is something like the call made by Thongchai in his New Mandala post. He suggests that “[a]nother approach to support our colleagues in Thailand is to make these events as vibrant, academically rigorous and critical as possible, to help push the boundaries of debate further.”

That was the “compromise” in 2008. Not much came of that brief and controlled moment of “freedom.” Academics are always suckers for such political maneuvers. Yes, there were some papers on the monarchy, but the academic environment has deteriorated remarkably since. The political environment in Thailand is far worse than in 2008.

Should there be a boycott? Absolutely. Will there be an organized boycott? No. Will some academics boycott. Yes. Some of this will be enforced as several academics, including some Thai academics living overseas, are effectively banned from Thailand and fear arrest if they attend a conference.





The Dictator’s law

5 02 2016

Article 44 has been extensively used by the military dictatorship since the end of the martial law on 1 April 2015. It was immediately criticized by a range of commentators, law lecturers, activist groups and even the National Human Right Commission for allocating General Prayuth Chan-ocha absolute power.

Reuters reports that critics complain that The Dictator “is relying increasingly on a security measure [Article 44] dubbed ‘the dictator’s law’ to push through unpopular policies and kickstart stalled reforms…”.

Prayuth has used Article 44 for all manner of things: to remove seven officials from a government health promotion foundation, fast-tracking projects ranging from power stations to special economic zones, for detaining scores of opponents, breaking up meetings and seminars, “reforming” air transport and the fishing industry and more.

According to iLaw, Prayuth has used Article 44 more than 50 times since the 2014 military coup, “and increasingly so since the middle of last year…”.

Reuters says that Colonel Winthai Suvaree, the junta’s loudmouth, says The Dictator is “using Article 44 more often to get things done more quickly, before an election promised for 2017, to the advantage of all.” The cagey colonel declares: “There is limited time left to govern and reform the country…. All orders have benefited the people.”

A Western diplomat observes that: “The junta feels that it came in on a platform of reform and very little has been reformed…. So they have used Article 44 to…show they are reformers.”

In fact, it shows they are military men with few clues about public administration and the use of Article 44 proves their power and their incompetence.

Naturally, the reprehensible and failed academic Panitan Wattanayagorn, again “a senior government adviser,” seeks to deny that “reforms had stalled and said Prayuth and his team had laid ‘complicated’ groundwork for lasting change.” As you’d expect from a rightist anti-democrat in the pay of the military, Panitan declares that: “They [the junta] see a real opportunity to move the country forward…”.

Remarkably, Reuters quotes Panitan, then ignores him and his statements, declaring that “reforms appear stalled, [and] the economy is a major worry.” Perhaps they should stop asking for this lugnut‘s paid opinion.

Whatever way it is looked at, the use of Article 44 is a statement of political failure. The military junta stays in power because it has guns and can threaten with impunity. It is incapable of administering anything that requires actions more complex than torture, commission payments and murder.








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