Planning for and threatening on the next coup

18 10 2018

Most media, including the Bangkok Post, have reported on new Army boss Gen Apirat Kongsompong answering questions about “another military intervention.”

Some saw his refusal to rule out “another military coup if fresh political unrest breaks out after the country switches back to civilian rule following a general election next year,” as a sign of the military pulling back a bit. Others, like the Post and PPT, saw this as much more threatening.

When asked by a reporter if he was prepared to launch another coup, Gen Apirat said: “If politics does not create riots, nothing will happen.”

That sounds like a threat to us. It also sounds like the Army has contingency planning in place for a post-election coup. That would only be necessary if the junta’s favorites aren’t still in power post-election.

Gen Apirat also defended Gen Prayuth Chan-ocha and the 2014 military coup unblushingly claiming that there were no plans for a coup back then. Of course, that is total nonsense.

Gen Apirat states that The Dictator “had to make a sacrifice. If Gen Prayut had not made the decision, no one could say what would have happened…”.

Again, this is nonsensical. The Royal Thai Army had many paths open to it in 2014. It could have withdrawn its People’s Democratic Reform Committee allies. It could have maintained order to allow for an election. But, these options were exactly what the military leadership and its anti-democrat allies did not want.

Gen Apirat said of The Dictator: “He is my role model…”. His role model conducted a coup only a few years after ordering the shooting down of red shirt demonstrators.

Gen Apirat threatened:

I really hope violent incidents will not re-occur because of political rivalry. It is the country that stands to lose. The military will never defeat the people. But those who incite unrest, make bombs are the losers and make the country suffer….

He means the red shirts. His threat is that if Puea Thai miraculously win a rigged junta election, they are likely to be thrown out one more time.

Junta’s devil party launched

30 09 2018

The junta’s party, the devil party, known as Palang Pracharath, has been launched with all the faux trappings of a proper political party. Of course, it can never be a real political party because it belongs to the military and the junta.

The junta’s selected Industry Minister Uttama Savanayana has been chosen as the leader of the devil party, set to be “the core political party supporting Gen Prayut Chan-o-cha as prime minister” after the junta’s rigged election.

The junta’s selected Science and Technology Minister Suvit Maesincee and former Democrat Party MP Nuttapol Teepasuwan were selected as deputy leaders. The junta’s selected Commerce Minister Sontirat Sontijirawong was made secretary-general and the junta’s selected Prime Minister’s Office Minister Kobsak Pootralkool was named spokesman and a member of the party executive. The report states that “Uttama, … Sontirat and … Suvit are known as members of Deputy Prime Minister Somkid Jatusripitak’s economic team.”

In addition, “Puttipong Poonakan, a political adviser to the premier, and Sakontee Pattiyakul, a deputy Bangkok governor, were also chosen as party executives.” They were key leaders of the anti-democratic People’s Democratic Reform Committee that paved the way for the coup, working hand-in-glove with Prayuth and his henchmen.

In other words, this is the junta’s party. It is Gen Prayuth’s anti-democrat party. We all knew this but now it is official.

Questions of how several appointed ministers and others can simply flip into party executives while still serving is anyone’s guess. The conflict of interest is huge, not that the devils themselves will notice it or even care.

In fact, “Uttama told the media after the meeting he had no plan to resign as industry minister,” pledging to separate from his official duties. That’s about as likely as separating the devil from his cloven hoofs and tail off.

And just to demonstrate how the planning has been a junta/cabinet-level planning activity, another “member” is Itthipol Khunpluem, “assistant to the Tourism and Sports minister … [who] said he joined Palang Pracharat because he liked its ideology and was convinced it could help Chon Buri province grow through the Eastern Economic Corridor policy.”

Its ideology is military might, repression and anti-democracy. Of course, this is the brother of Sonthaya Khunpluem who The Dictator just appointed mayor of Pattaya. It seems his family party, Phalang Chon will simply be rolled into Palang Pracharath.

Now the junta has its own party, it can campaign openly and enthusiastically until about another 3-4 months while other parties remain suppressed.

Anti-democracts, treason and bucket loads of double standards

13 09 2018

Treason is in the news. There are a bunch of people, some seemingly held secretly and without legal representation, accused of treason for something to do with black shirts, anti-monarchism, republicanism and separatism.

The junta declares them bad people, misguided people, dangerous and threatening to the heart and soul of the unitary state.

But, as ever in the anti-democrat mindset that defines the military junta, there’s bad sedition and good sedition. The former is associated with political opponents and the latter with anti-democrats.

This fact has been sounded loud and clear by the “recent appointment of a former protest leader, who is facing a sedition charge, as the prime minister’s deputy secretary-general…”, reporting directly to The Dictator.

Former Democrat Party MP Buddhipongse Punnakanta, a key leader of the People’s Democratic Reform Committee (PDRC) protest, got his new position as part of The Dictator’s political maneuvering for the rigged “election,” but caused some to question “whether it is appropriate and meets an ethical standard.”

Discussing ethics and the military junta is just silly. A military group that seizes power in an illegal coup can’t even pronounce “ethics.” And, double standards are its only standards.

It seems likely that Buddhipongse is going to line up with a junta-supporting party in the “election.”

As the Bangkok Post reports, this is the second appointment of “a key street protester facing criminal charges.” Back in April, the junta “ordered the ‘urgent’ appointment of Sakoltee Phattiyakul to the position of deputy governor of Bangkok…. He also was a core PDRC member, street-protest leader and is facing charges of violence and violating a ban on political crowds.” He’s also a former Democrat MP.

Another Bangkok Post story says this is just the start of the movement of anti-democrats from the Democrat Party, with “Natthapol Theepsuwan, also a core member of the PDRC movement and a former Democrat MP” the next to be brought in, probably as “director of the Phalang Pracharat Party…”.

Updated: Prayuth’s recruiting tour I

24 07 2018

Using state funds, Gen Prayuth Chan-ocha is campaigning for appointment as prime minister long into the future. His current campaign trip is to Ubol Ratchathani and Amnat Charoen.

As in previous campaign trips, this one was about promoting preferred political parties and to display former opponent politicians who have slid over to the military and junta’s Palang Pracharath Party. The skid mark to that party has been lubricated with promises of projects and money.

While expressing (again) his disdain for the media and a touchiness that makes him nasty and vindictive towards critics, The Dictator told them to stop reading newspapers and learn to love him. He then declared: “If anyone criticizes me, I just punch him in the mouth…”. He added that “he has never hurt anybody and … [he] has the right to protect himself against bullying.”

This is a jaw-dropping lie. Prayuth has use laws on sedition, lese majeste and various junta decrees to harass, arrest and jail thousands – that’s his “punch … in the mouth” and these “punches” hurt not just the individuals involved but undermine the body politic, shaping Thailand as an authoritarian society.

Then the self-appointed prime minister decided to repeat lies about the junta’s recruitment campaigns. He “dismissed allegation[s] that his mobile cabinet meeting in Ubon Ratchathani was intended to ‘poach’ former MPs from political parties to join or ally with parties that is supportive of him, saying that it is the people who will decide whom to elect into the parliament.”

That lie was never believed by anyone and when The Dictator fronted an arranged crowd of about 1,500 at a local zoo, the welcoming group included “Supol Fongngam, a former Pheu Thai MP, and 14 other former MPs from the same party.” They had been invited by provincial officials, working under the Ministry of Interior and for the junta. It is widely known that most of these politicians will “defect to a pro-Prayut party.”

Prayuth’s campaign slogans seem to revolve around the classic anti-democrat/People’s Alliance for Democracy/People’s Democratic Reform Committee mantras about “uneducated,” “ignorant” and “duped” villagers electing the wrong people. The Dictator “blamed society’s ills on the public choosing ‘the wrong leaders’ and suggested in future they select a more ‘responsible’ prime minister.” He means himself.

Perhaps the premier should also be reminded that his electoral rules and constitution are designed to prevent people from selecting the premier, leaving that to a parliament that is meant to be dominated by junta parties and junta appointees.

Update: Interestingly, Prayuth also lied about the cabinet meeting. He stated: “he would not be ‘giving away’ millions of baht from state coffers to woo voters.” Yet the cabinet meeting is considering “Bt10 billion for development projects” in the region.

The heiress, a scam and the public purse

7 07 2018

In an earlier post, PPT commented on Singha beer heiress Chitpas Kridakorn aka Boonrawd seeking assistance from a taxpayer-funded Justice Ministry fund for defendants to meet court bail and costs as a low-income earner. Despite the fact that she’s heir to a fortune that currently stacks up to some $2.4 billion, she cried poor to apparently pay a bail surety in cases arising from her high-profile activities with the anti-democratic People’s  Democratic Reform Committee in the street protests against the Yingluck Shinawatra government.

In a report at The Nation, it now appears that this application may have been little more than a smart-assed legal ploy to delay the case: “It has been speculated that she had applied for financial assistance to stall for time in the criminal cases against her.” This is because she “had postponed a meeting with public prosecutors, citing the pending application to the Justice Fund.”

It is now reported that the Justice Ministry “has set aside a request for financial assistance from … Chitpas … to contest a treason charge after she failed to verify her suitability within the given time.” The Ministry stated that the Fund “had requested that she submit her tax documents to prove she should be a priority,” but that the letter sent had not been accepted or signed for and it had been returned to the Fund.

While this might seem to confirm a legal scam, the “fund managers chose not to scrap her request, and “Chitpas was eligible to re-apply anytime…”. That might be a legal position for the Ministry but sounds suspiciously like collusion in a legal scam.


26 06 2018

In recent delays to the junta’s “election” timetable, it has usually been the civilian puppet minister Wissanu Krea-ngam who has been sent out before the media to make the first murmurs about the delays.

Part of the reason for this is that it relieves The Dictator and the Deputy Dictator from looking like they have repeatedly lied on the issue, which they have.

He’s done it again. In line with PPT’s guess Wissanu now says that the junta’s “election” could “be postponed until May 2019…”. The report states that “Wissanu said 11 months are likely needed before general elections and the primary vote process – a new electoral feature introduced by the junta – can take place.”

In stating the now obvious, Wissanu added to the mountain of lies about elections that have come from the military dictatorship. Wissanu also stated that the election “date would be picked by the EC [Election Commission], not the cabinet or the NCPO [junta].” This must be a fabrication as The Dictator has repeatedly said that the date of the election is up to him.

We also have to point out that we are linking with reports in the Bangkok Post. However, we must note that this newspaper is inserting pro-junta statements in its reports. In this report, for example, it states: “The discussion touched on a possible election date with Feb 24 next year proposed by the politicians, in accordance with Prime Minister Prayut Chan-o-cha’s election roadmap.” Of course, this is false. It was the junta that proposed 24 February as just the latest of its delayed “election” dates. And, it is false to claim that the dates mentioned follow any junta roadmap. That claim has been made for several years and the roadmap has been repeatedly revised.

It might be just us, looking for a conspiracy, but does it seem too coincidental that the “Criminal Court … scheduled May 14 next year for the first hearing of a case against 29 leaders of the [People’s Democratic Reform Committee] rally opposing the Yingluck Shinawatra government in 2013 and 2014″?

Rigged elections better than no elections?

18 06 2018

Pravit Rojanaphruk at Khaosod had an op-ed a couple of days ago that causes us to consider again the question of rigged elections being better than no elections at all.

Pravit essentially sees the formation of  “the ultra-conservative, ultra-royalist and ultra-nationalist Action Coalition for Thailand … [as] a sign that something is on the right track.” For him, ACT is “promoting its ideology to potential members and voters, and this is not a bad thing.”

He adds that this “is a positive development because Thai politics needs to be more ideology-driven and less dependent on outsized personalities and the notion of supporting the ‘lesser of two evils’.”

Although Pravit acknowledges that ACT is in fact led by “a very outsized personality. Suthep Thaugsuban,” he reckons other “key members took to the floor to espouse the party’s core doctrines of holding the monarchy above everything, ultra-nationalist oaths and aspirations for broad reforms.”

Pravit doesn’t say it, but the People’s Democratic Reform Committee also had plenty of other speakers on its stage.

So Pravit’s argument is not going so well… But, he does have a point: “… it is absolutely preferable to have fellow citizens trying to convince others to support them at a ballot box by peddling their ideas instead of mobilizing people to paralyze the capital…“. He adds: “… shifting that conflict and ideological struggle into electoral politics is a welcome development.”

It is difficult to disagree that an electoral system is better than dictatorship (not a point Pravit explicitly makes) or that electoral competition is not a better way to solve political disagreements than having the military murder protesters or protesters beating each other up or using gangs of thugs to disrupt protests by other groups.

Yet the idea that elections will simply resolve deep-rooted conflicts is naive. After all, it was elections that resulted in yellow-shirted street mobilizations. The reason was because the royalists, supported by elites, tycoons, palace and military, would not accept election results. They eventually rejected the notion of one-person, one-vote and majoritarian-based representative government.

That’s why the current, junta-developed constitution, its electoral rules and its so-called independent agencies and mechanisms have been put in place. The idea is that only one result can be permitted and that will be the victory of anti-democrats in a rigged election.

If they should happen to stumble and not get their preferred “election” outcome, what is to stop them rising again?

In cheering for a rigged election, Pravit goes too far in implicitly accepting that rigging and the anti-democrat agenda as the junta has enforced it. His hope may be that the anti-democrats do stumble and that a government more representative of those groups repeatedly beaten down may triumph is one most democrats would share. But, in the end, for the military dictatorship, in the short to medium term it looks like heads we win, tails you lose.