Monarchism in the new reign

29 06 2018

One of the things that critics and the international media says (repeatedly) about King Vajiralongkorn is that he does not command the same “respect” or “reverence” as his father did.

This is a shorthand for all of the eccentricities and worse associated with the king and rumored to be associated with him, ranging from odd dress to his violence and from his philandering to his use of his own prison, and so on.

It also seems to imply that, even with the palace’s formidable propaganda machine, the king will not follow in his father’s footsteps and be made out to be a popular and respected figure.

It seems to us that such beliefs and hopes are nonsense. Already, the same kinds of buffalo manure that were spread out for the dead king are also being used for the new one.

Remember all that stuff about the hysteria over the dead king’s dog Thong Daeng? Shirts and books selling out immediately, with the king’s puerile scribblings being proclaimed great works?

So it will be with the new king because maintaining monarchism is critical for the constitution of the ruling class.

So it is that Khaosod reports that shirts featuring stick figures claimed to be doodled by the king have sold out in minutes. It says many were disappointed they couldn’t get one of the shirts.

It reports that:

[h]undreds of people queued at dawn this morning in lines stretching out of the Government House to buy yellow and white polos in preparation for the [k]ing’s birthday next month. Half an hour after the shop opened at 9am, all shirts were sold out, even after they were capped at five shirts per customer.

Some royalist mouthpiece at the Prime Minister’s Office described the king’s doodling as a “cute pattern that anyone would want to keep for its auspiciousness and value, since there’s no other shirt like it in the world.”

Purchaser are reported as cooing about how wonderful the shirts are. Even Panthongtae Shinawatra, son of ousted former prime minister Thaksin, was chauffeured down to buy a shirt. Sucking up to royals is standard practice.

Meanwhile, it is said that “the palace would increase production to 3,000 shirts from 500 a day.”

Nothing seems to have changed as far as palace propaganda and the promotion of monarchism is concerned.

 





Donation corruption and double standards

6 04 2018

We missed this story a couple of days ago and it deserves wide circulation.

The Bangkok Post reports that the “Department of Special Investigation (DSI) says it did not bring charges against Privy Council President Prem Tinsulanonda, who received a cheque worth 250,000 baht from the owner of a real-estate company implicated in a loan scandal…”. It is also “claimed that another cheque with an undisclosed value was deposited in a bank account belonging to ACM Prajun Tamprateep, a close associate of Gen Prem.”

This story goes back 14 years and is big news because another alleged recipient is Panthongtae Shinawatra. His case has gone to court. Prem’s case hasn’t. Neither has Phajun’s. Why is that?

According to DSI boss Paisit Wongmuang his agency “did not bring charges against all the cheque recipients…”. No further explanation as to why some are prosecuted and not others.

The Post cites a “DSI source” who said the “250,000-baht cheque was merely put into the General Prem Tinsulanonda Statesman Foundation and the money was not used for Gen Prem’s own purposes.” The source added: “The intention is clear that this was a charity donation…”.

The payment to “ACM Prajun’s bank account” was “explained” that “the sum was used to organise a banquet for those attending a course at the Thailand National Defence College…”.

In terms of law and corruption, it makes no difference what the money was used for. If some get off, all should. If some are charged, all should be.

This is one more example of double standards under the military dictatorship.





Following some trails and not others

30 09 2017

The media seems flooded with Yingluck Shinawatra stories. Dozens of them. And most of them are about the “hunt for Yingluck.”

We understand that the anti-democrats, including the Democrat Party, are beside themselves with rage about Yingluck’s disappearance, but we can’t help feeling that the attention is over the top. We wonder if the news blitz isn’t part of a junta plan to reduce the attention to its role in her departure. After all, the DNA swabs and “scientific” policing seems pretty much like a performance rather than an investigation. And what will the “investigation” show? She’s gone. Maybe some scapegoats facing minor charges? It hardly matters except as a performance for the anti-democrats.

While following trails, the Krungthai Bank (KTB) and Krisda Mahanakorn (KMN) real-estate company loan scandal has produced some interesting social media.

The Bangkok Post reports that:

… photos circulated online purportedly showing a cheque worth 100,000 baht signed by Wichai Krisdathanont, a former executive of KMN, on Dec 26, 2003. Also featured was a purported deposit slip showing that the cheque had been deposited into the bank account of Adm Pachun Tamprateep, an aide to Privy Council President Gen Prem Tinsulanonda, five days later.

Another photo shows part of a 250,000 baht cheque written out for a general whose name started with the letter “P”. It was supposedly signed on Sept 20, 2003 also by Wichai. According to the online post on social media, the money was then ordered to be wired to the bank account of the General Prem Tinsulanonda Historical Park Foundation.

The Department of Special Investigation (DSI) is hot on the trail. Well maybe not. It “has set up a panel to look into petitions urging the agency to probe individuals suspected of receiving embezzled money…”.

Its director-general Paisit Wongmuang said “the panel, formed by him, will look into all petitions and determine whether there were new issues that needed to be investigated.”

At present, the only targets seems to be Shinawatra-related cases, including Panthongtae Shinawatra.

We can’t wait to see how DSI fudges any notion that higher-ups might have pocketed millions more than Panthongtae is accused of receiving.

Interestingly, it seems that the photos have been leaked from DSI’s own investigators. It seems someone reckoned there was a cover-up going on.





When the military is on top XI

15 09 2017

It’s a while since we had a “When the military is on top” post. This post is prompted by a couple of recent stories reveal more about the military dictatorship and its aims.

First, as we have noted previously, the dictatorship’s core task is uprooting the “Thaksin regime.” That task is deepening and widening. Following thoroughgoing purges and arrests, the attention to the money the dictatorship and its anti-democrat allies mistakenly believe underpins Thaksin and Yingluck Shinawatra’s electoral popularity. The latest effort has the Anti-Money Laundering Office (AMLO) and the Department of Special Investigation (DSI) seeking to bring money laundering charges against Panthongtae “Oak” Shinawatra. This is a ratcheting up of earlier efforts and a precursor to charges being laid.

Second, Prachatai reports that the new junta-written election commission law has been promulgated and means that the new election commissioners will be selected by 250 military junta-appointed senators. That decision means that the Election Commission will essentially be junta-controlled for the next 5 or so years (depending when the junta decides to hold its “election”). Should a new government not be as the junta wants it, it is likely that that government will always be under threat from anti-election election commissioners.

Third, members of “the Pheu Thai Party and the United Front for Democracy against Dictatorship (UDD) have slammed a [police reform] committee over its move to invite former protest leader Suthep Thaugsuban to give his opinions on reforming the Thai police.” Suthep, mired in long-standing corruption allegations that go back to the 1990s, when his underhanded actions brought down Chuan Leekpai’s government in 1994, is an anti-democrats as coup planner and supporter.

The “committee on police reform [has] announced it would start seeking opinions from Constitutional Court judges, mass media, former national police chiefs, and the former leader of the now-dissolved People’s Democratic Reform Committee Suthep Thaugsuban, who has also come up with reformist proposals.”

The police are seen as a nest of Thaksinites, so Suthep’s views will be important. After all, he’s been a minister, accused of corruption many times, is an “influential person” in the south, has been in the courts several times, once essentially accused of mass murder. That seems just the kind of advice the junta will want.

Can Thailand sink much deeper into the fascist slime? Under the military dictatorship, it seems it can go much deeper.





Updated: Another case against the Shinawatra clan

9 09 2017

Getting rid of the so-called Thaksin regime was the military dictatorship’s main political aim following its 2014 coup. This was also a key demand of the anti-democrats who schemed and maneuvered against Yingluck Shinawatra’s elected government.

Yingluck Shinawatra was one target. She’s now gone, even if the we still don’t know how and where.

Her departure seems to have caused the military regime to turn its attention to other ways to hog-tie the Shinawatra clan. The Bangkok Post reports that the junta’s target has now been hung around Panthongtae Shinawatra’s neck.

It is reported that the “Anti Money Laundering Office (Amlo) is expected to press money laundering charges against Panthongtae … and three others in connection with the Krungthai Bank (KTB) loan scandal next week.”

That “scandal” refers to officers “wrongfully approving more than 9.9 billion baht in loans to affiliates of developer KMN from 2003 and 2004…”. Yes, that’s 13 and 14 years ago, when Thaksin’s son was 23-24 years old.

In 2015 the Supreme Court’s Criminal Division for Holders of Political Positions found 24 people guilty in the case. For many of the years since 2006, the Department of Special Investigation (DSI) has been seeking to locate “adequate evidence” for the case to proceed. Despite having received a statement on the case from Panthongtae in 2016, little progress was made until recently:

A DSI source insisted the case against Mr Panthongtae, who is Thaksin Shinawatra’s only son, is not politically motivated as some might try to suggest following former prime minister Yingluck Shinawatra’s Aug 25 disappearance when she did not appear before the Supreme Court’s Criminal Division for Holders of Political Positions to hear the court’s ruling in her trial for alleged negligence in managing her government’s controversial rice-pledging scheme.

The DSI claims to have “come across evidence that Mr Panthongtae and … [another] three [Shinawatra-linked individuals] received two checks for 36 million baht…”. He is now accused of money-laundering.

As far as we can determine, no other persons – those who received and used the other 9.864 billion – have been charged. In addition, it seems that the company involved is repaying the 9.9 billion.

One can be forgiven for wondering about timing and intent.

Update: Panthongtae’s response is reported at The Nation.





More and more repression

4 05 2016

PPT is playing catch-up on our posting. The military dictatorship has become so aggressively repressive that we simply can’t keep up with all of its machinations. Here are a couple of stories we think were important over the last couple of days, and we’ll try to post a little more to report on the repression.

The Bangkok Post reports that the military brass is planning even “[t]ougher steps … to deal with anti-coup elements,” to support is bosses in the junta. Army chief General Theerachai Nakawanich says he and the regime are intent on arresting red shirt leader Jatuporn Promphan and independent red shirt Sombat Boonngamanong. Also on their list is Thaksin Shinawatra’s son, Panthongtae.

The general makes the claim that “coup critics are bent on causing public unrest,” states that Jatuporn and Sombat are behind the eight Facebook users arrested last week accused of lese general, lese majeste, poking fun at the military junta, sedition and computer crimes.

The conspiratorial military dictatorship has even come up with another of its pathetic diagrams of plots and plotters. The general claimed that the “anti-coup chart was based on the suspects’ statements given to police,” but is yet another junta concoction.

The difference this time is that the “conspirators” are political opponents who have been ridiculing the regime and gingerly opposing the coup. None of them have attempted to hide their activities, so even the dopiest of police and military knuckle draggers could “identify” them. Some of the claims made about the Facebookers goes back before the coup, when ridiculing military thugs was legal.

The general promised no more “attitude adjustment” because “it’s hard to talk to them now.” More repression is the promise.

The regime has stated that it is also chasing down Panthongtae Shinawatra, claiming he is also “linked to the eight suspects.” The police, however, that they need to concoct more evidence.

In another Bangkok Post story, a “nationalist group with unknown backers” – that usually means the military itself – “petitioned the Crime Suppression Division to investigate whether someone is providing financial support for student anti-coup activists rallying under the New Democracy Movement banner.”

This is just the military’s claim that Thaksin is funding every critic, warmed over by yet another fascist group.

As far as we can tell, the Neo-Democracy group’s most expensive actions have involved train tickets to Hua Hin and Post-it notes. But such claims are just another aspect of the repression of political opponents. Given the history of the military’s creation and use of right-wing groups this new group adds to the fear and intimidation.





Further updated: Lese majeste war declared

21 10 2015

If they can get past the more intense blocking of PPT at present, readers will have noticed that there’s a spike in lese majeste news at present.

It seems that the reasons for this have something to do with, first, palace cleansing and second, with the military dictatorship’s anxieties regarding constitution, elections, politicians and succession.

On the former, after stating that today the police would announce the names of big shots accused of lese majeste, no names were forthcoming. All police chief Chakthip Chaijinda did – at least until about 4 p.m. Bangkok time – was confirm that the arrest warrants are for police officers and civilians -saying “that some are well-known” – and that the “investigation found that all of them had cited the monarchy to obtain benefits.” Another source reckons that 10 cases are likely.

On the second are of junta fears, The Dictator, General Prayuth Chan-ocha “has vowed to crack down on people who violate the lese majeste law, saying they are destroying the country in a bid for unlimited democracy’.”

Prayuth promised a deepening witch hunt and lamented that “people still dishonour the royal institution.” That’s royalist argot for the monarchy. His warped view is that those who say anything critical about the monarchy, even if truthful, is about “destroy[ing] history and the goodness of the country to pave the way to unlimited democracy.”

Meanwhile, the military is planning extra efforts to “monitor news sites, social media and ‘influential thinkers’ threatening the nation.” This involves a single gateway that Prayuth says is necessary as “there’s no other way to stop people from attacking his government.” Does he mean his junta, the monarchy or both? We think both. It is just that Prayuth has difficulty separating the two.

At least it is clear who Prayuth and his gorillas think the enemy is. Khaosod reproduced some of the junta’s targets. The Army has identified a so-called “network” of “influential thinkers” who the silverbacks say pose a national security threat.Somsak's network

At the top of the “network” is former Thammasat University lecturer Somsak Jeamteerasakul, long targeted by The Dictator as an enemy.

Somsak “dismissed the chart as grossly inaccurate,” describing it as “nonsense…”. He put his tongue in his cheek and declared: “They honor me too much (I’m embarrassed!).”

Other reports indicate that other listed as national security threats include: Jatuporn Promphan, a leader of the United Front for Democracy against Dictatorship, Panthongtae Shinawatra, and as the image shows, his father, Thaksin Shinawatra.

The Army has established an Army Cyber Center that is meant to enhance the junta’s capacity to identify “threats” to the monarchy.

On Monday, 19 October 2015, Gen Sommai Kaotira, Supreme Commander of the Royal Thai Armed Forces, stated that a “primary task… of the security forces is to give protection to the ‘revered and beloved’ Thai monarchy and to organise activities to honour the King, the Queen, and other members of the Thai Royal Family.”

The Cyber Security Operation Center and other online operations have sought 80 million baht in funding for the 2015 fiscal year, which is only the tip of the taxpayer funding that goes to supporting and “protecting” the monarchy.

War is declared. Be ready for more propaganda and more repression, all in the name of the monarchy.

Update 1: There is now news of the first set of lese majeste victims/suspects. Three suspects have been named. The Bangkok Post reports that the “Bangkok Military Court has approved a police request to detain three people accused of lese majeste – two civilians and one police officer – for 12 days between until Nov 1 for further questioning.” It named the three as fortune teller Suriyan Sujaritpalawong, 53, Jirawong Wattanathewasilp, 39, Suriyan’s aide, and Pol Maj Prakrom Warunprapha, 44, of the Technology Crime Suppression Division’s Sub-Division 1. The report states:

According to a National Council for Peace and Order release, acting on NCPO Order 3/2015 the military took the three into its custody on receiving reports that a group of persons had, on various occasions, cited the high institution to other people for ill-gotten gains in violation of Section 112 of the Criminal Code, or the lese majeste law.

The three were also reported to have committed other legal offences which could cause damage to the royal institution.

It appears that the police “decided to charge Mr Suriyan and Mr Jirawong with lese majeste, and Pol Maj Prakrom with illegal possession of unauthorised weapons and telecommunications radio, falsifying documents and using falsified documents, and lese majeste.”

Suriyan is reported to have “confessed” while the other two deny the charges. We expect they will soon plead guilty as that is the requirement under the military dictatorship.

The police are now hunting others.

Update 2: As predicted above, all three have reportedly now “confessed.”  It is reported in The Nation that Pol Lt-General Srivara Rangsibrahmanakul, who heads the team investigating the case, distributed “a document comprising the names of people arrested for citing the monarchy for personal gains.” That document also has it that it was not “the military” filing charges, but the junta itself:

The document said the National Council for Peace and Order had found that a group of people had wrongly cited their connection with the high institution in order to demand benefits from other people…. Such an act was damaging to the monarchy and could threaten national security…. The NCPO then assigned a representative to file a complaint with the police to take legal action against those allegedly involved.

The Nation has also published brief profiles of the three men. Reading them it becomes clear that all is not well in the palace or the junta, and amongst other things this starts to look like the lese majeste monster is beginning to consume itself.