Further updated: Pots and kettles I

11 12 2017

There’s an English saying about the “pot calling the kettle black.” It means something like people should not criticize someone else for a fault that they have themselves. In Thailand, when discussing current politics, it is sometimes difficult to determine which is a pot and which is a kettle, and the blackness seems equally deep and sooty.

So when we read the Bangkok Post: and discover one confirmed and frequent liar being called out by another of similar ilk we do get to wondering.

Government spokesman Lt. Gen. Sansern Kaewkamnerd and (anti)Democrat Party rich leader and Korn Chatikavanij have been going at each other.

According to this report, by Veera Prateepchaikul, a former editor of the Bangkok Post sides with Korn:

Lt Gen Sansern, who is also acting director-general of the Public Relations Department, accused former finance minister Korn Chatikavanij, without naming him, of being an opportunist craving media space with an intention to lead the public into believing the government has not been doing anything.

The publicity which appeared to upset the spokesman was just Mr Korn’s recommendations to the government on how it could help rice farmers shore up rice prices during the months of November and December when the main crops were to be harvested.

We can understand criticism of Korn on rice policy; after all, he’s never been assigned any work in a rural area, although he now claims “four years” of work on a rich kid botique rice marketing scheme (read about it here, which begins with an incorrect assertion about what Thais think of rice. We think he means his rich brethren).

What was more interesting, though, was Korn’s licking of the pot:

Korn said the government should be more open-minded and receptive to divergent opinions as several policies could help farmers.

He lectured the spokesman and urged him to distinguish friend from foe and not to sow the seed of conflict.

He also reminded the lieutenant-general that there are people outside the government who are loyal and have good intentions toward the country.

Korn is reminding the dictatorship to be nice to its political allies, which includes the coup-loving and coup-provoking Democrat Party.

Apparently Korn has “discovered” and recommended a variant on the long-standing rice pledging scheme that pays a guaranteed minimum price for rice (a plan implemented by others in the past).

Even if Korn is recycling policy, he’s also telling the junta to be gentle with friends.

Seemingly to emphasize this, former Democrat Party leader and former prime minister Chuan Leekpai has demanded that party members not be “persistent” in “asking the regime to lift its ban on political activities…”.

Chuan and “other party executives agreed party members should not keep demanding political restrictions be lifted.” He stressed that if there are delays, the junta should be blamed. But he is also wary of poking his bear-like friends in the junta.

Chuan, who supported to military coups and judicial activism to bring down elected governments then banged on about “democracy.” The “real obstacle” to “democracy” is “people who do not uphold democracy…”.

As far as we can tell, the Democrat Party is chock full of people who do not uphold democracy, including Chuan himself. The Democrat Party has a long history of supporting royalist anti-democracy. Indeed, that was the reason the party was formed.

Update 1: Interestingly, Chuan seems keen to advise the junta on its political base (shared with the Democrat Party). Worried about that base, Chuan “appealed to premier [General] Prayut Chan-o-cha to address falling household income in the South.” Chuan showed that under the junta, average incomes had fallen substantially in several southern provinces.

His advice has been taken up, at least according to the report: “Based on Mr Chuan’s petition, the government had announced a policy of boosting people’s income in a bid to pull the country out of the so-called middle-income trap.”

Chuan worries that the junta makes the Democrat Party look bad as they are seen as political allies.

Update 2: In another political reminder to the junta, anti-democrat leader and “former” Democrat Party deputy leader Suthep Thaugsuban has re-emerged to announced “that he would release a video clip showing the group’s fight during 2013-2014 ‘to commemorate the fight that we fought together’.”

While he did not explain who the “we” were, his latest move suggested to some commentators that he wanted to address the junta. His group supported the junta and allegedly invited them to take office during the months-long protests.

Observers “believe Suthep wanted to remind the junta of their fight and the purpose of their fight” and to oppose the junta’s plan to establish its own political party, which is said to “contradict the PDRC’s initial purpose.” He’s also worried that the junta is “losing” the south.





Military hierarchy and the need for violence

24 11 2017

As readers will know, reports of the unusual deaths of recruits to the Thai military are common. Pictures of naked recruits being forced to engage in degrading activities and other pictures of recruits who have been beaten and bashed are all over social media.

We hadn’t posted on the most recent case, despite its grotesque details, as it was one case among many. However, this case has taken an unusual political turn as the dead recruit and his family had promoted their support of the People’s Democratic Reform Committee, the group that supported and encouraged the 2014 military coup. The dead recruit did not come from the draft, but was at the “prestigious” Armed Forces Academies Preparatory School.

Prachatai reported that Cadet Phakhaphong Tanyakan may have been beaten to death. At least his parents thought this and secreted away his body for an independent autopsy after the military stated he died of sudden cardiac arrest.

The independent autopsy revealed that several of the cadet’s internal organs were missing, including his brain. The media reported the parent’s shock but then seemed to confirm that returning a body sans organs is “normal” and “not illegal.”

His parents were criticized for wanting another autopsy and not accepting the military’s explanation of his death.

While the junta has now had the “chief of the Armed Forces Academies Preparatory School has been transferred to an inactive post,” the initial response of the senior-most military thugs was to support “military discipline.” But even in replacing the former commander, the junta showed its intention to cover up by appointing a loyalist: “Col Benjapol Dechartwong Na Ayutthaya, deputy commander of the 21st Infantry Regiment, Queen’s Guard.”

Another Prachatai story had Deputy Dictator Gen Prawit Wongsuwan “explaining” the death. He stated that “the freshman cadet … was … just too weak to withstand tough training.” Blaming the victim is the redoubt of fools and fascists.

He also supported the cadet school.

General Prawit also justified the “extreme discipline” at the school. He declared: “all soldiers have had to undergo such disciplinary measures, including himself.” He added: “I was once repaired more than I could take and I fainted too. I didn’t die.” That’s all okay then. Torturing your recruits is fine and dandy and if they die, it is their own weakness.

Prawit also indicated that “extreme discipline” would continue: “You don’t have to enrol. You don’t have to be a soldier. We want those who are willing.” Willing to be bashed, humiliated, and tortured. Those who survive can make coups and get unusually wealthy because they “learn” the hierarchy, accept it and move up, getting more loot and power at each level.

His view was supported by The Dictator, as reported in another Bangkok Post story. With the virtually moribund National Human Rights Commission (NHRC) actually making a statement that “harsh disciplining of cadets could constitute an act of torture…” under a law that is not in effect, Gen Prayuth said military bosses “would meet for talks the family of Pakapong … Tanyakan whose cadaver was later found to be missing organs including his brain.”

Prayuth mumbled that “military discipline for cadet training” was okay. He added: “Don’t worry. Nobody wants any losses or injuries…”. He used the same “logic” as Prawit: “he was disciplined when he studied at the Armed Forces Academies Preparatory School.” He brainlessly added: “What’s wrong with it? I went through it all.”

That explains a considerable amount about Prayuth, Prawit and their dictatorship. Trained to accept torture as “discipline,” they are mentally crippled by their “education” to the extent that they think all Thais need “order” and “extreme discipline.”

On learning that the family were PDRC, Prayuth “apologised to the family and pledged to continue with the investigations to get to the bottom of the mystery.”

It isn’t a “mystery,” it is military discipline, establishing hierarchy and marking territory. The military does this with violence. This is also how they run the country: threats of violence and the use of violence. The deaths of citizens who get in the way is just collateral damage for the greater good and social order.





Anti-democrats get off lightly (again and again)

1 11 2017

Red shirt activists have spent months and years in prison for their alleged “crimes.” Seldom do yellow shirts of the PAD, People’s Democratic Reform Committee and similar anti-democrat activists get similar treatment from the establishment’s courts. After all, these groups were on the “winning” side and many were closely allied and aligned with the royalist military.

Confirming this, the Bangkok Post reports that the Criminal Court convicted medical doctor Rawee Maschamadol, one of four leaders of the so-called People’s Army and Energy Reform Network (PAERN).

But the court only sentenced him to eight months in jail and fined him 6,000 baht for “colluding in illegal assembly and causing public chaos.” More than this, it suspended the sentence for two years. No jail time for anti-democrats.

The charges related to the occupation of a PTT Plc building during the mass anti-democrat street rallies in 2014, led by the (anti)Democrat Party’s Suthep Thaugsuban and related fascists of the yellow-shirted royalist movement.

(Recall that, in February, the “Civil Court ordered the four co-leaders of the PAERN to pay almost 10 million baht to PTT Plc for damages caused by its occupation of the company’s property during the protests in 2014.  The four are Dr Rawee, Thotsaphon Kaewthima, Itthabun Onwongsa and Somkiat Pongpaiboon.”)

There were reportedly 105 co-defendants in the current case, and just two others were given jail terms of a paltry “two months and 20 days, without suspension, for offences committed during the occupation.” Another “defendant was acquitted. The remainder, including the three other co-leaders, were given two-month jail terms, suspended for two years, and fined 2,000 baht each.”

We assume their wrists are smarting from the taps the court has “inflicted” in making politicized rulings.





Updated: Us yes, UDD no

14 09 2017

The Bangkok Post reports that the “National Council for Peace and Order (NCPO) [the military junta] has warned [the official] red shirts against holding a press briefing planned for Thursday on ways they will pursue justice for red-shirt demonstrators affected by the deadly military crackdown in 2010.”

Junta spokesman Colonel Piyapong Klinpan said that “questions must be asked” on “whether the press event is a political activity. If that is the case, the NCPO may have to ask them not to go ahead.” The mouthpiece added that “political activities cannot be allowed during this sensitive period. Once the country’s situation returns to normal, the NCPO would ease restrictions on such gatherings…”.

Got it?

Easy, right? Even the Post gets it, observing:

The regime warning to the red shirts came despite the former leader of the now-dissolved People’s Democratic Reform Committee Suthep Thaugsuban discussing political matters with reporters in July and the People’s Alliance for Democracy holding a press conference on Aug 2 after the Supreme Court acquitted ex-PM Somchai Wongsawat and three others for the deadly dispersal of yellow-shirt protesters in 2008.

The Post is observing the double standards involved.

It might have also noticed that The Dictator denied such double standards in the justice system. At the time, we did suggest that he lied. Now one more piece of evidence affirming his lies is in place.

UpdateThe Bangkok Post reports that, despite the threats, the UDD did hold its press conference. It revealed that “lawyers will next week file a formal petition for the National Anti-Corruption Commission (NACC) to consider ‘new evidence’ regarding the 2010 crackdown on protesters.” Interestingly, red shirt leaders “said the UDD will also consider distributing information regarding comparisons of the different ways the NACC has treated legal cases involving yellow shirts and red shirts to both domestic and foreign media.”





Updated: Watch(ing) PAD

4 08 2017

In an earlier post we mentioned that the former members of the People’s Alliance for Democracy were angry and bitter regarding the sudden, probably temporary suspension of gross double standards by the Supreme Court’s Criminal Division for Holders of Political Positions in clearing 2008 prime minister Somchai Wongsawat and three others over their role in the attempt at clearing of PAD protesters.

The Bangkok Post reports that, after PAD core member Suriyasai Katasila called a meeting of the yellow-hued group for today to discuss what PAD might do, he’s been warned.

The first thing to note is that PAD is always said to be defunct. We have never believed this as all of the various groups that tried to bring down the Yingluck Shinawatra government were PAD clones, including the People’s Democratic Reform Committee. They were all political siblings. The second thing to recall is that the military junta dislikes and distrusts all groups that are able to mobilize people, and PAD can do that. That the red shirts can too but are not allied in any way with the junta makes them double trouble.

Deputy Dictator General Prawit Wongsuwan reportedly issued “a stern warning Thursday to yellow-shirt People’s Alliance for Democracy (PAD) demonstrators to strictly comply with the 2016 public gathering law amid speculation the group might try to stir up trouble.”

Prawit’s warning, however, seems only to relate to street protests. He seems less concerned about a PAD meeting.

Meanwhile, “Deputy Prime Minister Wissanu Krea-ngam said the National Anti-Corruption Commission (NACC) has 30 days to appeal against the court ruling as allowed by the constitution.”

PAD and its supporter’s response to this ruling is also motivated by its desire to see Yingluck locked away and/or stripped of every satang that is in her name. They fear that Somchai’s acquittal may portend Yingluck walking free. Given the attention the junta has given Yingluck’s case, we doubt that.

Update: Unlike red shirts, it seems PAD can have political meetings and disagree with Supreme Court decisions and call for “justice.”





The (in)justice system at work

27 06 2017

The “justice” system continues to operate in the interests of some and discriminates again others. It is a system that ensures injustice in Thailand. Far from the claims made by the military dictatorship, there is no notion of blind justice and it is a nonsense that “everyone must adhere to the law.”

In late September 2014, 72 year-old Arkaew Saelew died. He was shot in front of IT Square shopping mall in Laksi district on 1 February 2014, the night before the 2 February polls that the anti-democrats opposed. He had been confined to hospital for seven months after a bullet to the neck shattered his nerve system and paralysed him from the neck down.

He was shot as anti-democrat protesters supporting Suthep Thaugsuban sought to block the election by besieging the Laksi District Office, where poll ballots and other equipment were stored, prompting pro-government demonstrators to stage a counter rally. Arkaew had joined those supporting an election.

In a brief battle between the twos sides, pro-election demonstrators were pinned down by anti-government militants equipped with automatic rifles and bullet-proof armor. The anti-democrat gunmen were organized in military style and were careful to collect bullet casing and were cheered by the anti-democrats. Four people were seriously injured in the shooting.

At the time, anti-democrat co-leader Issara Somchai admitted that the shooters on that day belonged to his lot, saying that the man who fired a gun hidden in a popcorn bag was their man. When he was arrested, shooter Vivat Yodprasit stated “still loves and respects PCAD [Suthep’s PDRC] leader and monk Buddha Issara as ‘his own father’ and is relying on the monk to provide him with legal assistance.” He worked as a PDRC “guard.” Vivat said he worked protecting Suthep [opens a PDF].

Initially he confessed in great detail, then withdrew that, but was still convicted. Now an Appeals Court has “dismissed the charges against a suspect known as the ‘popcorn gunman’ accused of attempting to murder red shirt protesters in February 2014.” After he was convicted he also admitted to a journalist that he was a shooter at Laksi.

Initially indicted on more than ten charges “under the Criminal Code, the Gun Control Act, the Emergency Decree, and the Civil Code, for attempted murder and carrying weapons in public,” he got 37 years in jail. The “Appeal Court dismissed the charges, citing weak evidence.”

Although the charges against Vivat were dismissed by the Appeals Court, “the court did not release him. He will be kept in detention while the prosecution appeals to the Supreme Court.”





Updated: Anti-democrats united and Democrat Party disunited

2 06 2017

The moves against (anti-) Democrat Party leader Abhisit Vejjajiva are gathering some pace as the anti-democrats in the People’s Democratic Reform Committee, described by The Nation as “supposedly defunct,” seeks to take control of the party leadership. The report states that “the party’s future is unclear as key players are split on whether Abhisit Vejjajiva should remain the party leader.”

PPT has said several times that Abhisit is tainted goods in terms of elections. He ordered the murderous crackdown in 2010 but has not been able to develop the relationship with the military and its dictatorship that marked the cooperation between the former deputy and PDRC leader, who takes responsibility for the bloody attack on red shirts, Suthep Thaugsuban.

Suthep is far happier to get into bed with the men in green and canoodle with them than Abhisit, who sees himself as being too “virtuous,” “good” and “great” for that kind of relationship.

Interestingly, The Nation and the Bangkok Post diverge in their reporting of a meeting between anti-democrats of the PDRC and the Democrat Party. The Post emphasizes the coming together of the groups while The Nation is focused on Abhisit’s tenuous position and differences.

PDRC core leader, Thaworn Senniam now claims that the Democrat Party members who joined the PDRC are still with the party or never left it, at least in spirit. He said:

he wanted to make it clear that in their fight against the “Thaksin regime”, nobody had resigned from the party, refuting reports that said “they were returning to Democrat Party again”.

“We have always been Democrats up to the present,” the former PDRC leader said. “We joined, also with the Democrat Party, the fight against the blanket Amnesty Bill and we won.”

Going forward, he said the PDRC and the Democrat Party were united. (We already knew that.) He observed that the anti-democrats would:

First, … remain united in following the road map towards an election. Second, they shared the same ambition of achieving reforms within one year after the Constitution was promulgated.

Where the radical anti-democrats differ is that they don’t want an election. Suthep has made that clear. He’d rather stay in bed with the military in a consummated relationship based on the fear of Thaksin Shinawatra and a hatred of people’s sovereignty.

Update: The Democrat Party is now consumed by internal disputes as the PDRCistas seek to take control of the party. Abhisit is likely to be seen out the door, not least because the PDRC’s allies in the junta want him out for an “election,” should they decide to hold one. That said, Abhisit has so few principles and such a desire for prestige and power that he could easily do a deal with all the devils.