More yellow shirts bailed

20 04 2013

And why not? Yellow shirts seem to be bailed as night follows day, while red shirts get locked up and double standards prevail. At The Nation it is reported that another bunch of People’s Alliance for Democracy airport occupiers from late 2008 have been indicted and bailed.

This is reportedly “the sixth group of suspects arraigned in Criminal Court over the seizures of Don Mueang and Suvarnabhumi airports, joining 83 defendants…”.

This group included military PAD leader General Pathompong Kesornsuk, former loudmouth foreign minister Kasit Piromya, ultra-royalist loudmouth Tul Sitthisomwong and ultra-royalist propagandist Pramote Nakhonthap.

All bailed with a nod and a wink.





Updated: The old gang regroups

26 10 2012

Prasong

The Nation reports that former intelligence boss Squadron Leader Prasong Soonsiri has agreed to join the anti-government rally nominally organized by old soldier General Boonlert Kaewprasit and his Pitak Siam royalist front. Prasong is one of those who claims to have been a coup plotter in 2006 along with senior military figures. Palace insider Prasong has explained that a cabal of serving and retired military leaders, including then Army boss Sonthi Boonyaratglin, began planning the coup in July 2006. As in previous coup-plotting, Prasong says he “wants this administration ousted.”

Prasong knows quite a bit about coups. He has been involved in a range of political campaigns over many years. Prasong has a short entry at Wikipedia that mentions his role as head of the National Security Council. The entry finishes by noting that “Prasong was a central figure in the 19 September 2006 Thai military coup that overthrew Thaksin Shinawatra’s elected government…. A palace insider and favorite of King Bhumibol Adulyadej, Prasong was later appointed by the junta to the National Legislative Assembly.” Prasong has also been a strong supporter of the People’s Alliance for Democracy and a strong opponent of Thaksin. Also close to the military brass, Prasong acted as a palace and junta lackey in being chairman of the committee which drafted the 2007 constitution.

Pitak Siam is boosted by Prasong’s decision to again emerge from the shadows and push for extra-judicial and extra-constitutional politics. The paper also reports that the infamous Dhamma Army is going to show up. These royalist militants are rabid supporters of the PAD’s Chamlong Srimuang and the Santi Asoke sect.

Also rejoining his old anti-Thaksin allies is General Pathompong Kesornsuk, said by the report to be a “former chairman of advisers to the Armed Forces.” That’s a pretty innocuous way to describe a man who is a rabid nationalist and royalist who appeared, in uniform, on the PAD stage back in 2006. Close to the yellow elements of the Democrat Party, like Boonlert, he has repeatedly made the unconstitutional call for the military to carry out coups, laced with neo-fascist ideology.

Boonlert

Boonlert, Prasong and Pathompong all have close relations with figures in the palace.

This group has stated “that they could no longer stand the rampant corruption and moves to defame the monarchy.” The latter is a nonsense claim, but one that will always be used even against the monarchy-timid Yingluck Shinawatra regime. They criticized Yingluck for having “failed to heed criticism from academics.” Shame on her! Heavens, the “academic” is just so very significant! While that hardly seems like a battle cry, this is a dangerous group that is able to mobilize like-minded neanderthals.

Interestingly the old gang’s almost all here! The gang that conspired to bring on the 2006 coup and then engineered the judicial coup in 2008 is coming back together. Sure, Sonthi Limthongkul is absent, but there are plenty of yellow shirts and he can make a grand entrance later. The question is how much of the old palace, military and capitalist support is also there.

Update: The Bangkok Post has a story on the participation of The Dhamma Army. Describing it as an “ultra-conservative religious group allied to the yellow-shirt People’s Alliance for Democracy,” the Dhamma Army is one piece of the conservative apparatus that must come together if they are to achieve yet another unconstitutional royalist overthrow of an elected and popular government.

As another story in the Post points out, “Gen Boonlert is also trusted by Privy Council president Prem Tinsulanonda and by Gen Prem’s inner circle.” It is that inner circle which will be watching this test of the political waters.





More of those double standards

18 03 2011

PAD guards at the airport seizure

There seems to be a sudden resurgence of news that demonstrates the double standards at work in the judicial system. PPT noted the remarkably blatant efforts by the political police at the Department of Special Investigation in an earlier post today. The Bangkok Post adds to the rottenness of politicized decision-making.

Here’s the main point:

The national police chief has dropped terrorism charges against Foreign Minister Kasit Piromya and nine key figures of the People’s Alliance for Democracy in connection with the seizure of the Suvarnabhumi and Don Mueang airports in late 2008.

Yes, these 10 are among 25 suspects charged with terrorism offenses, so 15 still face charges, but these PAD leaders haven’t seen the inside of jails for month on month as red shirt leaders did.

Those let off were: least surprising, Foreign Minister Kasit Piromya, Chaiwat Sinsuwong, Gen PathompongKesornsuk , Praphan Koonmee, Therdpoum Chaidee, Veera Somkwamkid, Anchalee Paireerak, Sarocha Porn-udomsak, Pichit Chaimongkol and Banjong Nasae.

The decision on dropping the terrorism charges came from Prime Minister Abhisit Vejjajiva’s top cop Wichien Potposri, even though police investigators “earlier recommended indictment of all 25…”. Can anyone be surprised by this decision?





Further updated: Jingosim and the military

26 01 2011

Yesterday PPT posted about the political conservatism of the elite and their fear of political mobilization, except when they control it. It seems to PPT that there is currently a struggle for control of mobilization continuing with the People’s Alliance for Democracy.

The Bangkok Post suggests that Prime Minister Abhisit Vejjajiva is increasingly accepting of the ultra-nationalism of PAD but linking that with the bastion of conservatism and jingoism that resides within the military.

So it is that Prime Minister Abhisit Vejjajiva has “given the army the green light to conduct a military exercise near Preah Vihear temple to display its strength as Cambodia continues to lay claim to the disputed area.” Even the normally Abhisit-fawning Bangkok Post considers this a “provocative move.” This exercise was proposed by the army.

Army chief General Prayuth Chan-ocha is staking out “nationalist” ground that will allow a degree of control of the agenda that is allowing PAD to mobilize. This may be faux jingoism given that the Thai army has a history of not doing all that well when facing anything other than domestic opposition. Real armies seem something else again.

However, Prayuth has declared a kind of border dispute and is increasing  the temperature and tension: “There are three steps to solving border issues. They include negotiations, intensified measures and the use of force. We will not move directly from Step 1 to Step 3,” Prayuth said.

Prayuth added: “We must show our strength,” when discussing the matter with Defence Minister General Prawit Wongsuwon. This includes deploying more infantry in the border area, reinforcing rangers already there. Apparently, the army has been incensed by a Cambodian sign placed at Wat Kaew Sikha Khiri Sawara, next to the Preah Vihear temple, that read: “Here! is the place where Thai troops invaded Cambodian territory on July 15, 2008.” It is reported that this sign “angered Thai troops, their commanders and Prime Minister Abhisit Vejjajiva…”.

As a further pressure on Cambodia, Abhisit “also gave the nod to the army to prevent Thai gamblers from crossing the border to visit Cambodian casinos in Poi Pet, opposite Aranyaprathet district of Sa Kaeo province.” Abhisit is also reported to “have agreed to allow the army to buy weapons it needed to handle the border situation.”

PAD has “urged the government to use the country’s stronger military capacity to gain leverage over the Cambodian government in its negotiations with Phnom Penh on disputed border areas.” PAD leader Chamlong Srimuang “said the Thai military did not have to wage a war with Cambodia to regain Thai sovereignty over disputed areas along the border. But it could use the country’s military might to gain a stronger bargaining position.” Chamlong added: “Our fighter jets can reach Cambodian skies in five minutes.”

For more of the jingoism of the PAD, see the ASTV/Manager website. Note especially the ultra-nationalist and threatening speech by General Pathompong Kesornsuk (in Thai). The message seems to be: give PAD what it wants or you are out and chase out the Cambodians.

PAD are pushing Abhisit and his response appears to be to try to show his “strength” and resolve through his friends in the military. It remains to be seen if raising the stakes is a strategy that leads to border clashes or worse.

Update 1: Bangkok Pundit questions the story in the Bangkok Post and raises questions regarding the general approach taken by the Post’s military affairs reporter. We believe that the Post report is generally accurate of discussions that have taken place, based on reliable reader comments we received. We believe that the thrust of our interpretation is also reasonable. Part of the competition with PAD (and with Cambodia) is about jingoism and muscle-flexing.

Update 2: The Economist has story on the PAD demonstration.





PAD in the courts

15 10 2010

The Bangkok Post reports thatthe Criminal Court has “approved an application by the Crime Suppression Division for warrants for the arrest of five People’s Alliance for Democracy leaders over the blockade of Suvarnabhumi and Don Mueang airports in late 2008. The five are Chaiwat Sinsuwong, Veera Somkwamkid, Somboon Thongburan, Tonfam Saeng-arthit and Somchai Wongwech. All of them are charged with illegal assembly, inciting unrest and other minor offences. Mr Chaiwat and Mr Veera are additionally charged with acts of terrorism.”

PAD lawyers have petitioned the court to have the warrants withdrawn.

Meanwhile, The Nation reports that General Pathompong Kesornsuk, a former Supreme Command adviser and who appeared, in uniform on the PAD stage, has “turned himself in to police to acknowledge charges related t the seizing of Bangkok airports in 2008.” With Sirilak Pongchok, he faces “three counts of charges related to the seizing of the Suvarnabhumi International Airport and Don Mueng Airport. Pathompong was charged with making public statement in violation of the Constitution; unlawful gathering with more than ten people intention to harm others or create turmoil, and violating the emergency decree. Sirilak was accused of unlawful gathering with more than 10 people.”





With 4 updates: Alerts from Bangkok

16 04 2010

This received from a reader (with PPT adding some news links):

RATCHAPRASONG, APRIL 14, 2010: We have received the following credible information indicating the Thai government will attempt to clear red-shirt protesters from Ratchaprasong tonight and continue with their failed attempt of this morning to assassinate UDD leaders.

The information supplied late this afternoon from various reliable sources states:

1.    Many ambulances around Rajaprasong this evening even though there are many hospitals in the area.
2.    Intelligence report says that weapons are being transported via Sansaeb Canal.
3.    Extra war weapons are being brought in from Prachinburi ETA 10 pm at Bangsue.
4.    Police Sources report that snipers are being placed on roof tops at Rajaprasong.
5.    Soldiers are instructed to wear combat uniforms this evening.
6.    Trucks with Amplifiers are being  prepared.
7.    Chinook Helicopters are being prepared, possibly to transport captured people.
8.    Military Barrack at Hat Yai is being prepared for a prison camp.

Abhisit [Vejjajiva] was just on the air. Suthep [Thaugsuban] just got replaced by [General] Anupong [Paochinda] as head of the Emergency Operations Command…. This was obviously sorted out earlier today as Abhisit was expected to make a statement at 1pm– it is now 9:30pm, and Anupong has called a meeting for all officers above the rank of Maj-Gen for Monday, so he must have been feeling confident. Anupong seems to be going along with the whole “clear out the terrorist” thing. Rumours of tanks rolling out of 11th infantry.

Update 1: AP reports Abhisit in this way:

Prime Minister Abhisit Vejjajiva, speaking in a special television broadcast on all stations, said Gen. Anupong Paochinda would take charge of the peacekeeping force meant to prevent violence by red-shirted protesters who are seeking to topple his government.

“A decision has been made to make the command line more effective and swifter,” Abhisit said. “Therefore I have made an order to change the person in charge to Anupong, the army commander.”

He said the peacekeeping force will be able to “call in forces in a more united and integrated way, so that they can handle the terrorism-related activities specifically.”

It looks exceptionally dangerous. Abhisit seems to be determined to get a higher body count.

Update 2: Prachatai has been blocked locally and, it seems, internationally. What’s happened there? Army action? [Now back up]

Prachatai reports that “The Centre for the Resolution of the Emergency Situation has ordered the MICT to close 190 websites, of which over 60% are claimed to be politically seditious.  Since the red shirt protests started, the MICT has ordered the blocking of about 500 URLs per day on average.” On the 16th, CRES “ordered the Ministry of Information and Communications Technology to close 190 seditious websites, most of which broadcast the red shirts’ protests. According to the source, officials are keeping a close watch, especially over camfrogs broadcasting the protests which provoke and incite violence and divisiveness.  It takes less than 10 minutes to block an URL.”

Update 3: msn news reports that “Thailand’s embattled prime minister put his army chief in charge of security in the capital … [and the] Thai army planning operation to clear protesters…”. The report states that the “military said it was planning another operation to disperse the thousands of protesters from Bangkok’s commercial district but the timing had not yet been decided.” This from the horse’s mouth, the horse being Colonel Sansern Kaewkamnerd:  “There will be an effort to retake the area. We can’t allow protests there because it damages the country…”.

Democrat Party insider Pavin Chachavalpongpun, a fellow at the Institute for Southeast Asian Studies in Singapore, said:  “When you let the military control a situation it hardly ever ends nice and peacefully. There’s a possibility it might turn nasty.” We at PPT agree. This is potentially a bloody disaster.

Update 4: The government is happily being pushed by yellow shirts, effectively baying for red shirt blood. The Nation (17 April 2010) calls them pink shirts, but their leadership is made up of yellow shirts from the People’s Alliance for Democracy. The paper says “thousands” attended a rally outside the 11th Infantry Regiment, but provides no more precise estimate. They rallied to urge Prime Minister Abhisit Vejjajiva to stay and to take tougher action against the red shirts.

The group waved “the national flag and carry[ied] signs such as ‘We love the King. Thai people don’t have colour’, they handed out roses, snacks and energy drinks to the soldiers there.” Led by PAD activist Tul Sitthisomwong, other speakers included General Pathompong Kesornsuk and lawyer Nithithorn Lamlua, both members of PAD. Copies of a statement were handed out that claimed “the red-shirt rally in Bangkok instigated social division, amounted to lese majeste, and created violence. They alleged the red-shirt gathering violated the Constitution and had the intention of overthrowing the democratic form of government with the King as head of state. The group hence would exercise its right to protect lives, property and communities, as per Articles 70 and 71 of the 2007 Constitution.”

Abhisit had apparently “thanked the people for their support and vowed to continue working and restoring the peace.” The group “asked all leading PAD members from all provinces to gather at Rangsit University tomorrow.” Where is Sondhi Limthongkul in all of this?

The usual cast of 40 pro-PAD  senators also “called for action against red-shirt leaders.” They urged the “public to show their power, as national security and the high institution were facing a threat.” Can this call to action be any clearer? It is equivalent to events in 1976 when right-wing radio urged people to come out and then saw a massacre of students. These right-wing, royalist and Pad-supporting senators “opposed dissolution of the House or resignation of the government.”





With 3 updates: Yellow-shirted responses

12 04 2010

Many of the yellow-shirt related blogs have been full of conspiracies, fantastic concoctions, third hands and calls for tougher government action against the hated red shirts. As a summary of this sometimes bloodthirsty, sometime bizarre expressions of hate and fear, nothing seems to top Sopon Onkgara’s latest op-ed in The Nation.

The propaganda battle continues, with the government offering a particular conspiracy theory of “terrorists” bent on bringing down the monarchy, and this is beginning to be repeated in the media and diplomatic circles, giving it credence it ill deserves. At the same time, diatribes like Sopon’s assume that his readers already accept these versions of events and peddle a hatred that mirrors the most extreme right-wing attacks on students and other protesters back in 1975 and 1976.

Under the headline “Thaksin’s red shirts upgrade campaign to terrorism,” Sopon has immediately supported Prime Minister Abhisit Vejjajiva’s position. He then states: “Among the crazed red shirts were men armed with weapons such as M16 and AK47 assault rifles, M79 grenade launchers and hand grenades. Their targets were the soldiers.” PPT has to say that the evidence for these claims is still very thin. We do not doubt that there were armed people amongst the red shirts, but looking at the images shows that some pictures are being heavily recycled and that the overwhelming majority of fighting between the red shirts and the soldiers clearly shows the latter armed to the teeth facing people using sticks and rocks.

The authorities were heavily armed but Sopon makes it sound like they weren’t: “It was a lop-sided battle from the start.” His own story is illogical: he says the “soldiers were instructed by their commanding officers not to use firearms except to defend themselves.” But when they are attacked with weapons that appear to be war weapons, he says they don’t fight back, because there are no “secure positions.” He ignores the facts: the majority of casualties were sustained by the red shirts.

But Sopon wants a frenzy of hatred. He says that the “red-shirt leaders have lived up to their vow. They intend to upgrade their fight into a free-for-all against government forces. Terrorism has become their means to achieve victory. No more attempts to hide the hidden agenda under false claims of peace and ahimsa.” For Sopon, there are “urban terrorists” at work within the red shirts, and he had “expected” these terrorists “to show their menace once confrontation with government troops occurred. They chose the time well, right after dusk, when they covered their heads with hoods and selected their targets with minimal discrimination.” Yes there are a few pictures of hooded people with weapons and some pictures of muzzle flashes from roof tops and one of a shot from ground level. But, this proves little. All of the autopsies done so far are suggesting that the red shirts killed were shot with high-powered weapons that the military uses.

Sopon blames the government for not giving the military commanders full reign: “It was wrong from the beginning when Deputy Prime Minister Suthep Thaugsuban, in charge of security affairs, took command of operations instead of delegating the task to a commanding general.” Sopon hates Suthep because he hasn’t been tough enough and because he doesn’t understand that the red shirts are all gullible fools: “After peace was restored [last April], instead of taking tough legal action against the ringleaders and preventive measures such as an active media campaign to educate the gullible victims of propaganda (and money distributed by the cronies of Thaksin Shinawatra) the government did virtually nothing until the revival of the red shirts.” He wants the red shirts leaders imprisoned and the keys thrown away; for him they are traitors.

But back to the terror angle: “The red shirts have become a real force of terror in the city this year. They roam the streets on motorcycles, in pickup trucks and other vehicles including taxis and tuk-tuks. They are menacing, spoiling for blood, and will react with senseless brutality if provoked.” We are not sure that Sopon and PPT have been in the same city. This has certainly not been our experience and indeed, as we reported earlier, the red shirt rallies have been, until the past few days, wholly good-natured.

Sopon hates the red shirts, who he says “remind many people” – we assume Sopon at least – “of thugs in Sierra Leone, Rwanda and Somalia. They are a brute force…. They are bloodthirsty political thugs, paid well to serve masters who are crooks seeking political power.” Sopon has always considered that every red shirt, all the millions of them, are in the pay of Thaksin Shinawatra.

Seemingly hysterical, Sopon charges the “chiefs of the armed forces and the defence minister” as suffering “total indifference, if not ignorance, towards a crisis which is threatening to lead the country into anarchy. None offered to take responsibility for the failure and fatalities.” Expecting more attacks on “government premises,” Sopon says this amounts to “full-blown treason with terrorism.”

Sopon essentially calls for blood: “Prime Minister Abhisit has a few choices left. If he wants to survive this snowballing terror, he must delegate authority to the military to take action and deal with the red shirts by whatever means to restore law and order, with martial law as the last resort.” Whatever means necessary because the whole establishment is threatened: “The national institutions, especially the monarchy, face real peril.” This is a call for the yellow shirts, the right-wing, the military and the establishment to unite and defeat the evil red shirts and their gullible, paid supporters. It is a call for war, for class war.

The sad thing is that Sopon is not some crazed fool, but is reflective of a minority opinion that may have considerable traction in the Democrat Party-led government and that party’s strong yellow-shirted wing. The last time such calls went out, many died.

Update 1: And then there is People’s Alliance for Democracy-cum-Democrat Party Foreign Minister Kasit Piromya. In the Washington Post he blames all the deaths on Thaksin: “Thailand’s foreign minister says former Prime Minister Thaksin Shinawatra is personally instigating the country’s deadliest political clashes in nearly two decades. Kasit Piromya on Monday compared Thaksin to 20th century dictators Hitler, Mussolini and Stalin and to the terror group al-Qaida. Kasit said on the sidelines of a global nuclear summit that Thaksin is ‘a bloody terrorist’.”

Kasit is calling on the “United States to pressure Thaksin’s supporters to turn away from violence and enter into negotiations with the government.” We wonder if he has convinced his own Democrat Party’s yellow wing to accept negotiations? Will they negotiate with those who Sopon says are like “thugs in Sierra Leone, Rwanda and Somalia. …[B]loodthirsty political thugs, paid well to serve masters who are crooks seeking political power.” Probably not, and PPT thinks Kasit is simply posturing on the international stage.

For PPT, Kasit’s statements are an accurate reflection, along with Sopon’s rant, of yellow-shirted opinion post-Saturday. It remains a dangerous time.

Update 2: A longer AFP report on Kasit’s comments make his position clearer still. He has attacked Thaksin and the “international community.” He is said to have “lashed out at the international community … for failing to take action against fugitive ousted premier Thaksin Shinawatra, whom he blamed for the country’s political unrest.” Kasit lambasted Russia, Nicaragua, Montenegro, Germany and Dubai for “washing their hands but he [Thaksin] is a bloody terrorist.” He stated that this amounted to an “act of interference by third countries…”. Kasit “likened Thaksin to an Al-Qaeda terrorist and past ‘elected’ leaders such as Adolf Hitler, Joseph Stalin and Benito Mussolini.” Kasit seems to have a jaundiced view of elections (and a poor knowledge of history) claiming:  “Hitler was elected, Mussolini was elected, even Stalin could say that he was elected also but what did they do to their very society?”

Kasit lamented that the “world demanded for more democracy in Thailand” however it “allows Thaksin to run loose as if nothing happens…”.

The report adds some comments made by deputy premier Trairong Suwannakiri, who stated that the military has a “duty” to “take care of the country and restore order…”.

Update 3: The audio from one of Kasit’s statements is here. PPT somehow ended up on the end of a series of emails that was mainly being sent around within the yellow wing of the Democrats, including Abhisit, Panitan Wattanayagorn and General Pathompong Kesornsuk, and to several army email addresses. Citing army chief Anupong Paojinda’s call for a political solution,  it attacked this idea and dismissed it in very short terms. PPT wonders what kind of solution they want? General Pathompong, who famously appeared on the People’s Alliance for Democracy stage, stated immediately before the crackdown what his thinking was: “I used to think that people like General Anupong Paochinda or General Prayuth were fine officers. Now I wonder why they’re not doing anything [about the crisis].” He added: “Soldiers may drink or become womanisers but that’s okay as long as they are first and foremost loyal to the throne and the nation. They should not leak government secrets.” His view was that soldiers “must protect the country from being exploited for private interests. They must roar sometimes and not allow politicians to ruin the country.”