Double standards, again

13 07 2010

Acting police chief Patheep Tanprasert is cited in the Bangkok Post, defending “police investigators’ handling of cases against core members of the yellow shirt People’s Alliance for Democracy involved in the seizure of two airports and Government House.”

While police investigators are to summon 79 PAD people over the  Don Muang and Suvarnabhumi airports in 2008, little progress has been made. In fact, the police chief acknowledges this, claiming “limited resources” even when Prime Minister Abhisit Vejjajiva keeps saying otherwise. This is yet another example of the premier’s penchant for untruth.

The chief says that the “cases against the red shirts are under the purview of the Department of Special Investigation, [while] the yellow shirt cases are being handled by police alone…”.

General Patheep said this wasn’t  “double standards” and that the “yellow shirt cases will be subject to a normal investigation process, while the red shirts are being dealt with under the emergency law.” That’s not a double standard?

Assistant national police chief Somyos Phumphanmuang “said police started issuing summons for PAD members on Friday and they will be required to report from July 28 to Sept 6. He said the PAD members face 10 charges ranging from illegal occupation to terrorism. Among those summoned were PAD founder Sondhi Limthongkul, Somsak Kosaisuk, Surapong Chaiyanam, a former ambassador to the US, and Foreign Minister Kasit Piromya.”

PAD are furious,especially as it threw its support behind the Democrat Party-led government in its attacks on the red shirts. However, the PAD is probably now expendable now that the government has dictatorial powers and is using the state apparatus to destroy opposition (including the PAD, it seems).

Abhisit said “he instructed police to do their job but did not interfere in cases.” He stated: “The investigation [of PAD members] has been quite slow so I asked them to speed up…”. Abhisit is under international pressure to appear to be even-handed. However, he hasn’t asked Kasit to stand aside as foreign minister. Even-handed might have his own definition of “even-handed.”

Updated: Government to arrest red shirt leaders, closes People TV again

9 04 2010

Police claim that they “are poised to arrest, whenever they can, 24 United Front for Democracy against Dictatorship figures wanted under arrest warrants…”. PPT would assume, given the events over People TV, that any arrests would be met with red shirt anger and responses.

The report states that the “Criminal Court has approved arrest warrants for two groups of UDD leaders. The first group of seven are wanted for breaking into the parliament compound on Sunday. The second group of 17 are wanted for leading the red-shirts to block the Ratchaprasong intersection in violation of the emergency decree.” Those named in the new warrants are Weng Tojirakan, Darunee Kritboonyalai, Jaran Dithapichai, Natthawut Saikua, Nisit Sinthuprai, Veera Musigapong, Korkaew Pikulthong, Kwanchai Sarakham, Chinawat Haboonpat, Wiputhalaeng Pattanaphumthai, Adisorn Piengket, Worapol Prommikbut, Waipot Arpornrat, Samroeng Prachamrua, Visa Khanthap, Paijit Aksornnarong, and Khattiya Sawasdipol (Seh Daeng).

The police “had closed in on the 24 and would arrest them whenever they could. After they were arrested, they would be detained at six locations to prevent them from further illegal activities.” The emergency decree means they can be held for 30 days.

The police have also warned “motorcycle taxi and cab drivers had been warned against joining the UDD rally, under threat of legal action under the emergency law.”

Abhisit Vejjajiva’s acting police chief Police General Pratheep Tanprasert told a meeting of police commanders “to arrest the 24 UDD leaders as soon as possible.”

Meanwhile, the Bangkok Post reports that the army has “reoccupied the Thaicom station at Phatum Thani province’s Lat Lum Kaeo district and have managed to black out the red shirts’ People’s Channel TV broadcast again on Friday night.”  Acting government spokesman Panitan Wattanayagorn said that “the government has again blocked signal of PTV, and vowed that authorities would not let the red-shirts … break into the station’s compound one more time.”

With the police threatening to arrest red shirt leaders and the government taking down People TV again, conflict seems assured.

Update: Not really for this post alone, but on the red protests generally, New Mandala has pointed PPT to this important set of photos at the Boston Globe website. PPT didn’t understand why Abhisit had earlier stated that soldiers should not feel “discouraged.” See the last few photos for an explanation.

Abhisit and Suthep speak on protecting the monarchy

31 12 2009

Prachatai has a report (30 December 2009) that is based on a 26 December report in the Thai Post that reveals the increasing angst amongst the government and its supporters.

Prime Minister Abhisit Vejjajiva, as Chair of the National Police Policy Commission, is reported to have told 337 police commanders from all over the country that “the first priority for the police is to protect and uphold the monarchy.”

Abhisit blamed “certain groups of people” for dragging the monarchy into political conflicts. PPT wonders if he includes himself and his fellow Democrats in this “certain groups” category? Or has he conveniently forgotten the Article 7 debate in 2006 (see here and here). Of course, he only means “enemies” and not “loyalists.”

Abhisit went on to claim that the monarchy “is a delicate issue” with the authorities often feeling uncomfortable dealing with complaints. He also admitted that the piling up of cases will be used by political groups as a pretext to implicate the monarchy.” Those nasty “enemies” at it again. Piling up the cases would be okay if it didn’t cause political problems. The premier again reiterated that a special committee has been set up to screen these [lese majeste?] cases.” He added that this “special committee” would be asked to “prescribe criteria for cases related to the monarchy.

He apparently blathered on about the law [being] enforced equally and straightforwardly on political conflicts.” PPT confidently asserts that this is a bald-faced lie. He added: “During the past year, I have told the Acting Police Chief to work in a straightforward manner, not favouring or hindering anybody. Do not hesitate in cases where the offence is obvious.” He says that the “red shirts have complained that the cases from April [Songkhran Uprising] were handled very quickly. That’s because there was clear evidence in media reports.”

Hmm. The evidence is in the media? Is that great legal procedure? In any case the double standards Abhisit claims to not have are visible as there are plenty of media reports (including at ASTV) of PAD’s illegal actions.

Alleged double standards” are only a problem for Abhisit because they “are now being used to instigate political unrest.” He says: I insist that I don’t want to see double standards. The police must prove that they don’t have double standards. And I will not interfere. But, if there’s any problem or hurdle, just tell me. I’ll solve it…”. Disingenuous indeed, for double standards have been definitional of this government and its actions.

Abhisit was supported by his hand-picked Acting Police Chief Pol Gen Patheep Tanprasert. As we have posted later joined the troops who went to see Privy Council President Prem Tinsulanonda as he began rallying the forces for the widely predicted “final showdown” with Thaksin Shinawatra.

Pratheep said that the urgent task for the police was to provide security for His Majesty the King and the Royal Family. There is no room for any mistakes. All cases which concern national security must proceed quickly. He had ordered that each case must be overseen by a deputy commander. Several cases took 3-5 months before being forwarded to the National Police Bureau. So he urged them to hurry to get the cases finished in 1-2 months.

In fact, some cases have been dragging on for more than a year (see here). In fact, far from suggesting any slackening of censorhip and control, this is a worrying development for the acting police chief appears to be threatening increased attention and action against those identified as opponents of the monarchy. At present, those so identified are also identified as red shirts.

Is a crackdown approaching? Indeed, this seems ever more likely. Deputy Prime Minister Suthep Thaugsuban, who is also Chair of the Police Commission, said that the police have the duty of protecting the monarchy. They had to prosecute those who commit offences.” He added that “[s]everal websites, including, for example, Prachatai, had spread rumours about His Majesty’s illness, and incited people against the institution.

Suthep added that police “commanders should teach their subordinates to be grateful to the monarchy, and the police and their families must recognize this…”.

There overt calls for action against the alleged enemies of the monarchy appears to be occurring in tandem with the upswing in the fear exhibited by the government and its backers and the need they feel for the “final showdown.” We hope we are wrong, but it could get very messy and very nasty.

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