Unleashing extremism

2 11 2015

Unleashing extremists has long been a tactic employed by the military when dealing with political opposition. This was especially clear during the 1973-76 period when rightists associated with the palace and often led by military figures were used to create unrest and destroy opponents. This often led to murder and what are now called enforced disappearances. The role of the Red Gaur and Village Scouts in the 6 October 1976 is available in the Bulletin of Concerned Asian Scholars (clicking downloads a 70 page PDF).

The Red Gaur was led by Army intelligence officer Maj. Gen. Sudsai Hasdin. For a time, under General Prem Tinsulanonda’s administration, Sudsai was appointed Minister in the Prime Minister’s Office. He and his supporters were often used to pressure opponents with the threat of more mayhem and violence.

Also in that period, rightist monks were active, including the notorious, palace-linked Kittivudho Bhikkhu, who claimed that killing Communists was not much of a sin. He meant all “leftists” who were also considered a threat to the monarchy. He was also a fraudster and shyster. More recently, the military supported the People’s Democratic Reform Committee which had rightist and royalist monk Buddha Issara as one of its leaders.

In other words, rightist extremism is not unusual in Thailand, and has long been supported by both palace and military. Such extremism is promoted by the aggressive notions of the trilogy of Nation, Religion and Monarchy that has been promoted in society, producing xenophobia as well as ultra-royalism and ultra-nationalism.

This is a long introduction to a disturbing report at Prachatai. It states that the monk “Aphichat Promjan, chief lecturer monk at Benjamabophit Temple, a Bangkok temple under royal patronage” has “suggested that the government should burn a mosque for every Buddhist monk killed in the restive Deep South.”

He also urged the government to “arm the Buddhist population in the Deep South as a measure to protect ‘defenseless’ Buddhist monks and people in the area from being targeted by what he called ‘Malayu bandits’.” That aligns with a program that was implemented from about 2004 and saw the arming of Buddhists at the queen’s urging. The aligning of extreme nationalism, royal urging and rights is seen in a Wikileaks cable from 2005.

While this monk probably draws some inspiration from right-wing nationalist monks in Burma, with a dangerous military dictatorship in power in Bangkok, working hard to eliminate all political opposition, the emergence of such rightists and extremists is, sadly, to be expected. The support they receive from military and palace emboldens them.

Rightist, royalist and daft monk

2 10 2015

“Daft” is a useful English expression. It is excellent for characterizing the royalist machinations of the political monk Buddha Issara.

The Bangkok Post reports that the royalist monk led anti-democrats and pro-coup groups to the U.S. Embassy to protest actions they perceive as “anti-monarchy” by the United States government and Human Rights Watch.

The rightist monk declared the U.S. Embassy politically biased: “The US embassy has met several red-shirt activists but they did not visit us at the [anti-democrat] People’s Democratic Reform Committee [PDRC] stages, so we are here to explain our stance to them…”.

During the PDRC protests, it arranged for several demonstrations at the U.S. Embassy as the anti-democrats decided the United States government was pro-Thaksin Shinawatra. This view drew on a rabid libertarian and anti-Americanism associated with former leftists who supported the anti-democrats and circulated in yellow-shirt emails and in social media.

Buddha Issara and ultra-royalist Rientong Nan-nah, “leader of the People’s Organisation for Royal Thai Monarchy Protection”, a fascist organization, met U.S. Embassy representatives.

The mad monk declared: “We want them to expel Sunai Phasuk from the HRW as this person has always expressed unfair and biased comments against Thailand…”.

By “Thailand” he seems to mean to royalists and anti-democrats. Sunai is a Thai and works for HRW. His support for the 2006 coup is seen in Wikileaks cables.

At the same time, Sunai has been critical of red shirts, yellow shirts, lese majeste, Thaksin Shinawatra, the current military dictatorship and various anti-democrat groups. It seems that this work for HRW is considered insufficiently royalist.

Buddha Issara alleged Sunai “took sides with one political group…”. As PPT posts over several years show, this is a blatant lie.

The monk accuses Sunai of “moaning when the red-shirt Peace TV was shut down but not caring how many casualties the PDRC suffered, criticising the lese majeste law so he must be in the same gang as the Nitirat group [of academics], which is politically lopsided and critical of the beloved institution.”

Lying and incoherence can be added to Buddha Issara’s fascism, thuggish acts and acts of extortion.

The monk made claims that are revealing of his warped rightist view of politics: “Of course, the American diplomats said they could not meddle with an NGO, but the HRW is based in their country, so they can take action…”. He seems to think that politics in the United States operates as it does under military dictatorship in Thailand. He also seems unaware of the status of HRW:

We are a fully independent non-governmental organization, supported by contributions from private individuals and foundations worldwide. In order to maintain our independence, we accept no money from any government, directly or indirectly.

Buddha Issara said “his demonstration was not a political one like those of other groups at the Democracy Monument which are still calling for elections, so he believed the government understood the feelings of ‘loyal subjects’.” PPT it sure that he is correct in assuming that the military dictatorship supports his activism; after all, the military protected and supported the anti-democrats on the streets in 2013-14.

Singing royal songs, the monarchist monk declared that his fascists is “the voice of the Thai people that Washington should take heed of…”.

He declared that “no one should support people who want to amend the lese majeste law or defame the Thai monarchy, or else they would be considered as interfering in Thai domestic affairs.”

Interfering in the domestic affairs of the United States, however, seems acceptable for these royalists, with Rienthong stating that he had “submitted to the US embassy the names of some people who he claimed had committed lese majeste and still live in the US.” He declared: “We will give them more names and organisations and will ensure the US won’t allow those people to sabotage the revered institution…”.

Rightists and royalists tend to be nasty and dangerous nationalists. They also tend to be ignorant and daft.

Updated: Monarchist monk mad about the U.S.

1 10 2015

Readers will recall the activities of Buddha Issara, a political monk who campaigned against elections and the elected government and who supported the anti-democrat movement. He is a rabid royalist.

Rightist monks are not new in Thailand, with Buddha Issara’s antics reminding us of Back in the 1970s, another defining element of rightist extremism was the rise of fascist monks. Most notorious was the palace-linked monk Kittivudho Bhikkhu, who claimed that killing Communists was not much of a sin. He meant all “leftists” who were also considered a threat to the monarchy. He was also a fraudster and shyster.

Prachatai reports that the “pro-coup Buddhist monk known for leading anti-election mobs prior to the 2014 coup d’état has urged the US [government] and Human Rights Watch, a human rights civil society group, not to touch Thailand’s lèse majesté law or intervene in its domestic affairs.”

Not much there that anyone would not guess from the right-wing royalist, but the rest of the report suggests that Buddha Issara is one very dumb monk – one of the “uneducate” – or is more than a little kooky.

Buddha IssaraOn Monday, the monk posted a letter on his Facebook page, addressed to Glyn Davies, the new U.S. ambassador to Thailand.

In the letter he urged “the US and Human Rights Watch not to intervene in Thai politics and to stop calling on the Thai junta to amend ‘Articles 112 and 116’ of ‘the Constitution’.” Neither Article is in any constitution, and he refers to the draconian and feudal lese majeste law and the sedition law.

He called for a rally at the U.S. Embassy today.

The racist, rightist and royalist monk stated:

We have to show those ‘Farang’ (westerners) that we Thai people will not let anyone insult and intimidate our beloved monarchy. Do not breach diplomatic protocol and intervene in our domestic affairs,” Buddha Issara stated. “This time if something happens, I ‘Phraya Ratchasi (the king of the lions) of Chaengwattana Stage’ (one of the PDRC stages in Bangkok before the coup) will be responsible.

According to the report, he added another error when he stated:

that the reason he will not go to the Human Rights Watch office, which according to him is in the UN Headquarters in Bangkok, is because it is a ‘satun’ (vulgar) organisation established by the US government.

HRW has no office in Bangkok.

Update: According to Khaosod, the rightist monk did lead a group of demonstrators “at the U.S. Embassy to urge the United States to stop calling for Thailand to amend its laws against insulting the monarchy.” Provided with “tight police security,” the royalist monk established his hierarchy of “institutions”:

“Thailand is not the colony of any country. We have Nation, Religion and the Monarchy as our own beloved institutions,” read the letter addressed to recently installed U.S. Ambassador Glyn Davies. “Especially the monarchy, which has been building national security for hundreds of years until now.”

The monarchist monk declared:

We call for this New York-based organization and U.S. Embassy officers to stop intervening in our domestic affair and apologize to the Thai people for disrespecting our dignity by insulting our king…. And we, the Thai people, hope the ambassador and U.S. government will prioritize this issue.

He is confused, thinking he speaks for “the Thai people,” and seems to consider discussion of feudal laws like the lese majeste statute to be defining of a “people.” These would be odd utterances and beliefs anywhere except when oozing from the mad monarchists in Thailand.

This royalist was joined by ultra-royalists, led by Rientong Nan-nah, who want to lock up anyone with views different from their own warped beliefs.

Rich fascist fails to get her way

24 09 2015

Social media has been buzzing since it was leaked that Chitpas Bhirombhakdi-cum-Kridakorn wanted to join the police in a “special position” said to be a “hard-to-filled post reserved for specialists only.” The “special position” looked for a “qualification” that wanted “English proficiencies.”

That sounds remarkably like someone creating a position for a friend.

Chitpas was one of the driving forces in the anti-democrat People’s Democratic Reform Committee, following her resignation from the Democrat Party so she could engage in illegal acts.

Why Chitpas wanted such a position when she is fabulously wealthy. She refuses to say, but we can guess that, as a supporter of the coup and military dictatorship, this was a political appointment.

Her appointment – oops, sorry, “selection” – was opposed by her political opponents.

Tearfully withdrawing, the Boonrawd heiress stated: “I deeply regret that I don’t have enough luck to join the police and wear a police uniform to be a people’s protector…”.

Of course, “luck” has nothing to do with it. She was just dumbfounded that her wealth and politics didn’t get her a “position” or sinecure she absurdly coveted. Rich and well-connected people are used to getting their way Thailand.

We are sure she has thrown the appropriate tantrum and is scheming political revenge.

Torture, confessions and sentencing

5 09 2015

Prachatai reports that the “Criminal Court sentenced four people accused of shooting grenades into People’s Democratic Reform Committee (PDRC) protesters in early 2014 to death, but reduced the sentence to life imprisonment.” When arrested, there were inconsistencies in the claims made by authorities.

The court convicted Chatchawan Prabbamrung, Somsri Marit, Sunthorn Pipuannog and Tweechai Wichakam, said to be red shirts, “of murder and possessions of weapons of war, including, carrying illegal weapons in public.” It was alleged that the four used an:

M79 grenade launcher to shoot into the crowd of the anti-election People’s Democratic Reform Committee (PDRC) protesters in front of Big C Department Store of Ratchaprasong Intersection in central Bangkok on the evening of 23 February 2014, resulting in the deaths of an adult and two children, including, 21 injured nine of whom suffered severe injuries.

Readers may recall that the “confessions” were provided under conditions that the defendants and their families stated included torture. They claimed to have been subjected to “electric shocks to the genitals, suffocation, and continuous beatings all night.”

Readers may wonder how the court dealt with “confessions” said to have been obtained under alleged torture. As Prachatai reports it, the “court dismissed the allegation that the four were tortured into confessing, saying that according to Pol Col Akkaradech Pimonsri, the four were not tortured during the interrogation.”

Yes, the court accepted a statement by the representative of those accused of engaging in the alleged torture. If the police say it didn’t happen, then it didn’t. One might be taken aback and see this as emblematic of Thailand under the military dictatorship.

In fact, torture is standard procedure by the military and police under dictatorship or elected regime.

The Dictator and “unfinished business”

10 08 2015

PPT has sometimes briefly wondered why a digital media news editor at the Bangkok Post has a weekly column on politics. But then Saritdet Marukatat has a reasonably long history as a yellow-shirted rightist and we guess the rag’s owners like his political views, even if he does hold the gong for the most ridiculous op-ed we at PPT have read in a newspaper that presents itself as a serious news outlet.

His task this past week has been to support the military dictatorship, The Dictator and, at least for the moment, the junta’s roadmap. That also seems to be the task of another Post op-ed rightist, Veera Prateepchaikul who also attacks those wanting reform before elections.

Believe The Dictator says Saritdet. Despite extending the junta’s term in power, General Prayuth Chan-ocha and the military junta have “no desire to stay longer in office and is looking forward to an elected government taking over Government House from him.”

He admits that “some National Reform Council members and Suthep Thaugsuban, leader of the People’s Democratic Reform Committee” might be a bit disappointed, and might fear that the 2014 coup will go the way of the “failed” 2006 putsch “which failed to uproot the political influence of Thaksin Shinawatra.”

But worry not, he asserts: “An election will return the country to a credible position internationally.” And, he might have added, don’t worry that this will be anything other than a sham election.

The new constitution will be passed by the puppet National Reform Council and “a referendum in early January,” which will be no problem. In other words, the “roadmap is still on…”.

What about after the “election.” Saridet explains The Dictator’s scheme:

If things go as planned, the new charter will welcome an outsider as prime minister for the sake of stability, if politics reaches an impasse when parties cannot decide on a premiership candidate after the poll.

The charter writers have already made it difficult for one party to dominate parliament. It looks like a return to the old days of Thai politics when small parties could bargain for cabinet seats….

If there is “political instability,” then the outsider PM will be used: “As of this moment, there seems only one candidate who fits the outsider mould. He knows what has been done and what should be pursued by an elected government to finish all reform issues.” We guess that any kind of nominated “instability” will do.

To be honest, we do not have the insider knowledge of the yellow-shirted schemers, so we are left to guess on the one “candidate.” Prayuth perhaps? He’d be Prem-like, controlling everything.

The result would be that “[r]eal democracy might have to wait a bit longer because there remains ‘unfinished business’.”

That’s the real roadmap.

Still no election I

30 07 2015

Suthep Thaugsuban has launched back into politics claiming to support the military dictatorship. Some in the military and the dictatorship are worried.

Suthep is reported to have stated that he and his “foundation” of anti-democrats is not “a political group, even though those involved come from the political arena. It also has no affiliation with the Democrat Party” despite the fact that most of its “members” are former Democrat Party politicians.Protest leader Suthep Thaugsuban answers questions during a news conference in Bangkok

Rather he seemed to confirm that these politicians are, well, anti-democrats.

He said “no more rallies, protests or storming into anyone’s offices,” but “vowed to do everything he could to protect the national interest” as defined by his anti-democrats and, most significantly, declared that “he wanted to see the military government accomplish its reform goals before elections are held, no matter how long the process takes.”

While Suthep said “the foundation supported the junta,” he issued a threat or, depending on interpretation, a reminder to the regime.

He declared that “if it [the “foundation”] sees the government is making a wrong move, the foundation would oppose it in an orderly manner…”. Suthep declared: “We will tell the public how and what (the government) is doing and how it differs from what we think. Whether right or wrong, the people will decide…”.

PPT’s interpretation is that the anti-democrats have acted because they fear the junta is being compromised by opposition meaning it cannot properly root out the “Thaksin regime.”

Some in the military will worry that Suthep and the anti-democrats are scheming and that they are “scrutinizing” the regime. At the same time, this is support for the junta and its original mission.

The anti-democrats demand that the military postpone elections until their fascist “reforms” are in place. In other words, the anti-democrats are demanding that the military not make the same mistakes as 2006-7 that allowed the return of Thaksin via elections.


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