Mafia-like thuggery

5 07 2015

We are sure that quite a few readers will have seen the Khaosod report on People’s Alliance for Democracy and People’s Democratic Reform Committee coordinator Supot Piriyakiatsakul being chased by the military for allegedly supporting the Dao Din students of the Neo-Democracy Movement.

According to Supot, a group of soldiers arrived at his home “in Nakhon Ratchasima province on 2 July and sought to talk with him, though he was not home at the time.” Reportedly, the “soldiers identified themselves to his neighbors as officers from 21st Army District, and left a message for him before leaving the scene.” Supot says that they told his neighbors to warn him: “Don’t get involved with Dao Din group. If you don’t stop getting involved, and if you don’t obey us, we will get involved with you.”

This is surprising and baffling, not least for Supot. As the report states:

In 2005-2006, Supot was a regional coordinator for the People’s Alliance for Democracy, which sought to oust Thaksin [Shinawatra] and his government at the time.

In late 2013, Supot joined the People’s Committee for Absolute Democracy With the King As Head of State – another reincarnation of the Yellowshirt movement – when it launched street protests to topple the government led by Thaksin’s sister, Yingluck Shinawatra. The campaign came to an end after then-army chief Gen. Prayuth [Cha-ocha] seized power in a coup on 22 May 2014.

In the wake of the May 2014 coup d’etat, Supot was one of the hundreds of activists, academics, and politicians summoned to army camps for up to seven days of “attitude adjustment” aimed at easing the country’s political tensions.

“When the military summoned me for attitude adjustment, I joined it, and I showed my sincerity of wanting to build reconciliation and unity for people in the nation,” Supot said. “Let me insist that I do not know Dao Din students at all. I have only been hearing about them in the news. There is no reason for me to be behind or give support to Dao Din.”

Supot is said to be 69 years old, and has long been an organizer in Korat. His networks with NGOs were the initial link to PAD and while we can’t confirm it, as with most PAD stalwarts in Korat, he probably has connections with organizers trained by and with U.S. Special Forces at Lopburi in the 1960s and 1970s (see about p. 341 of this book). These organizers have had a role in managing farmers and electioneering in Korat, some with links to Chartichai Choonhavan and then with his son, Kraisak. His credentials with PAD are impeccable.

As might be expected, Supot complains:

This is an arrogant exercise of power…. Throughout all this time, I and my fellow [activists] were united in showing our stance of supporting the government of General Prayuth Chan-ocha. We recently asked him to stay in power for a long time to solve the country’s problems and deal with corrupt politicians. We have even traveled to Bangkok to show our support.

He added: “Let me insist that I do not know Dao Din students at all. I have only been hearing about them in the news. There is no reason for me to be behind or give support to Dao Din…. This kind of net-casting is like pushing friends to join the opposition.”

As well as suggesting that the military is either very dull and/or can’t abide any organizing, even by political allies, the thing about this report that struck PPT was that the military is using Mafia-like tactics. We know that the military has used similar tactics with opposition figures, but this report somehow lays bare the nature of the thuggery involved. Mafia-like, members of the military gang intimidate and display their power to the neighborhood. They could be running protection rackets as well.

 

 





Anti-democrats campaign for dictatorship

8 06 2015

A story at the Bangkok Post indicates something of the fervor with which anti-democrats are campaigning for the extension of the military dictatorship and the entrenchment of a Thai-style totalitarianism.

As the report states:

Opinion polls and web pages supporting “reforms before elections” have been popping up, amid criticism the campaign is an attempt to justify proposals to extend the tenure of the interim government.

The Suan Dusit poll which regularly conducts polls that are often push poll-like is one effort, asking questions that support dictatorship. It claims 75% support an extension of military dictatorship.

The poll was conducted “shortly after the two-year delay proposal was floated by a group of National Reform Council members, led by Paiboon Nititawan.”

It is also reported that “several web pages have been launched to campaign for the proposal to extend the military-led government’s tenure, and are asking the public to sign up in support.” Social media has seen a propaganda-like rash of supportive posts, some supporting General Prayuth Chan-ocha to remain The Dictator of Thailand for up to four or five years.

As the report in the Post notes,

Some political observers see the campaign as predictable and designed to reflect the view of the powerful to justify the proposal for the coup-installed administration to remain in power….

Jon Ungphakorn, a former Bangkok senator and social policy activist, has lambasted the proposed referendum on the government’s tenure, saying it is a tradition adopted by countries with an authoritarian rule.

Readers will recall that the proposal on “reforms before election” was the main demand of the anti-democrats who rallied against elected government and against elections in early 2014. That’s why the leading anti-democrat Suriyasai Katasila, a former leader of both the People’s Alliance for Democracy and  the People’s Democratic Reform Committee, both anti-democrat street anti-democrat groups, is urging the dictatorship to continue.

Major General Veerachon Sukonthapatipark, deputy government spokesman, has been quoted as stating that the Suan Dusit poll “has boosted the government’s morale…”. It doesn’t need morale, but craves some kind of manufactured legitimacy for its continuing dictatorship.





On May 1992, part II

18 05 2015

In part I, we posted on a speech by the notorious royalist poseur Bowornsak Uwanno, who misused the occasion of a remembrance of the military’s murder of democracy and murder of civilian in May 1992.

In another report at The Nation on a memorial event, it is stated that “politicians and political groups yesterday attended a memorial service to remember those who lost their lives in the Black May 1992 political uprising.” It seems to us that the military dictatorship tried to manage this event as it was attended by “representatives of the junta-appointed agencies known as the ‘Five Rivers’. They included Prime Minister’s Office Minister Panadda Diskul, National Legislative Assembly (NLA) vice president Surachai Liengboonlertchai, Ekachai Sriwilat[,] Prasarn Marukpitak and Rosana Tositrakul members of the [puppet] National Reform Council (NRC).”

Even if any of this lot had any reason to be there, it seems they have forgotten the meaning of 1992. All are rabid monarchists and pro-military flunkies. Rosana is a strident yellow shirt who has supported all anti-democrats since 2004. Surachai is one of Rosana’s allies in the anti-democratic Group of 40 Senators, mostly unelected after 2007, who are ultra-royalists and deeply yellow. So is Prasarn. Panadda is a devoted royalist, specialized in self-promotion and a dedicated restorationist, committed to dictatorship and absolutism. They insult the memory of the dead.

Amongst attendees, there were some with a real connection to the events in 1992, including “red-shirt co-leader of the United Front for Democracy against Dictatorship (UDD) Jatuporn Promphan and yellow-shirt co-leader of the People’s Democratic Reform Committee Pipop Thongchai.”

That the Democrat Party sent representatives is also insulting of those who died in 1992 for the Party was prepared to deal with the military then, if it got them close to power. Nothing much has changed.

The egregious Panadda said that the “incident” in May 1992 – he means the massacre of civilians – “showed the public’s will to achieve democracy.” It did, but to disgrace that resolve by linking it to The Dictator and self-appointed Prime Minister, General Prayuth Chan-ocha, and to claim that this vandal of democracy “had recognised the people of Thailand’s wish to see real democracy in the country…” is disgusting.

Rosana is as bad, saying that May 1992 “occurred because all the heroic people wanted to see reform of the political system without any influence. They hoped that the election would lead to the development of a strong democracy and that it would not result in a coup.” She’s lost in a make-believe history and she manages to link an anti-military uprising to the 2006 and 2014 military putsches, which she enthusiastically supported.

For those wanting a useful summary of the events of the time, not least as an antidote for the tripe served up by military flunkies, this PDF, available for free download, is not a bad place to begin.





Anti-democrat failings

12 05 2015

After several years of posting on news from Thailand, focused on Thailand’s elites, we are seldom surprised by the intellectual contortions this elite considers normal. Yes, we do understand that anti-democrats and elite can be used together, and that “intellectual” is unlikely combination with the other two.

The latest contortion comes from the official anti-democrats that Khaosod describes as the “ultra-conservative movement that sought to topple the former government…” led by Yingluck Shinawatra.

crazy-contortionistLeaders of the People’s Democratic Reform Committee or in Khaosod’s translation, the People’s Committee for Absolute Democracy With the King as Head of State, say that they “will run for office after the new constitution is enacted…”.

The anti-democrats came into being after an earlier political contortion that saw it led by “nine former MPs who resigned from the Democrat party to join the street protests in November 2013.” Their resignation from the Democrat Party was a ruse to avoid the rules of parliament. Now that they got what they wanted that ruse is not needed. One of their leaders says the anti-democrats got 50% of it while Khaosod explains that the “ruling junta … has largely enacted the PCAD’s platform…”.  They will re-join the Democrat Party that they never really left.

Only the big boss of the anti-democrat street movement, the notorious Suthep Thaugsuban, “will not return to politics, but continue to live as a monk in Surat Thani province,” demonstrating the rot in the sangha.

The anti-democrats have “praised the junta for achieving many goals, such as cracking down on corruption, national security threats, and human trafficking.” Chumpol Julasai went on to explain: “If Gen. Prayutha Chan-ocha, Prime Minister and chairman of the [junta], manages to solve economic problems, the government will be able to stay for a long time, because people will be happy…”. The picture is clear; the anti-democrats love military dictatorships. They always have and they have repeatedly boycotted elections, usually when they knew they could not win. Read a brief and sorry history of this royalist party at Wikipedia.

Based on this history, this most recent unprincipled contortion is exactly what would be expected of the Democrat Party.

 





Further updated: Blame and other games

12 04 2015

Readers will be aware of the deadly [sorry, not deadly, but certainly damaging] car bomb in Koh Samui, causing several injuries. There is little evidence about the culprits or about the reasons for the bombing. There has been no claim of responsibility to date.

What is remarkable is that all political sides seem to agree that the attack was politically motivated, and as The Nation reports it, “aimed at challenging the government.”

The junta claims “there were ill-intentioned groups seeking an opportunity to disturb peace and instigate violence.” It reckons that because it has cracked down so hard in Bangkok that “the perpetrators have moved to other areas.”

Democrat Party deputy leader Nipit Intarasombat said the bomb “was the work of anti-government groups and had nothing to do with the southern insurgency…. The culprits focused on a tourism place. They want to demonstrate their power…”.

Thaworn Senneam of the anti-democratic People’s Democratic Reform Committee said the attack “was the work of someone who wanted to cause problems for the government and the country’s economy…”.

Puea Thai Party’s Worachai Hema believed “the attack was aimed to discredit the government after it imposed Article 44 to keep peace and order.”

PPT got a bit lost, however, when the junta spokesman said “initial reports revealed that the people responsible for the car bomb was the same group that had planted a bomb in Bangkok.” We understood that the junta had claimed to have arrested those responsible for the Bangkok bombing. Yet this turns out to be the wrong bombing!

Military “intelligence” suggests that “there is a possibility that the perpetrators were southern insurgents or natives of southern border provinces who have expertise in assembling car bombs and were hired with the same motivation as in the case of the bomb blast on Soi Ramkhamhaeng 43/1 in Bangkok…”.

That bomb was on 26 May 2013, injuring seven people. Conveniently, those responsible were sentenced less than three weeks ago. As far as we know, these men, all from Pattani, did not give up anyone else.

That attack, when the Yingluck Shinawatra elected government was in office, has been attributed to “southern insurgents.” A report in The Nation observed that some linked 2014 blasts in “Sadao and Phuket [to] attacks back to the May 26, 2013 attack on Ramkhamhaeng Soi 43/1 by an insurgent cell.” It added that political leaders at the time “maintain[ed] the Ramkhamhaeng bombing was not linked to unrest in the deep South…”. Yet, “security officials confirmed that the attack was a bid by one of the longstanding separatist groups to enhance its leverage in negotiations…”.

That report also stated that “a group did claim responsibility for the Ramkhamhaeng operation, stating its aim was to be at the negotiating table.”

If readers can explain all of this confusion, we’d be happy to learn more.

Update 1: Not prizes for guessing what this update is about. The Bangkok Post reports that all of the politicians quoted above, as well as the junta spokesmen, may all be wrong. The report states that “might have been caused by a local business or political conflict…”. That’s “according to a report from the government committee on solving problems in the southern border provinces.” At the same time, a red shirt supporter has been detained.

Update 2: As noted in our first update, a red shirt supporter had been arrested. Khaosod reports that Narin Ambuathong was arrested in Nonthaburi on 11 April. The military dictatorship’s spokesman stated that Narin was arrested an held under the draconian Article 44 of the junta’s interim institution, which allows the military to search properties and detain individuals without warrants and to interrogate them in secret, usually military, locations for seven days. He was arrested because of Facebook posts that appeared to refer to trouble in Suratthani. This report also refers to a fire that “broke out at Surat Thani Cooperative Store on the mainland, though no one was injured. Police say the store belongs to Suthep Thaugsuban, former deputy chairman of Democrat Party and leader of the street protests…”. While the idea of a cooperative being owned by Suthep seems odd, the implication is that the bomb and fire were linked political acts. Despite the earlier claimed link to the Soi Ramkhamhaeng bombing of 2013, the report says the “military junta has also insisted that the incidents are not related to the ongoing insurgency in the southern border provinces…”. They seem to be having trouble getting their story straight.





Populist for its political allies

9 12 2014

As readers will recall, when the anti-democrats were on the streets, many of its “supporters” and its thugs were trucked in from the south. Many were rubber growers, and some of the larger growers provided money for the movement. Readers will also recall that the anti-democrats campaigned against “populist” policy.

The anti-democrats and its allies in the military hounded the Yingluck Shinawatra government on its “populism” and vowed to end such policies.

It is ironic – not the right word, we know – that the military junta has announced “four more short-term measures to arrest plummeting rubber prices ahead of a planned protest by farmers on Tuesday.” These four measures are added to 12 earlier measures! The cost, according to the junta Deputy Agriculture and Cooperatives Minister Amnuay Patise is 58 billion baht.

The new measures hand out “1,000 baht per household with no more than 15 rai…”; “the existing rubber buffer fund, with outstanding amount of 20 billion baht, will buy rubber products worth 6 billion baht at a time for exports and price support”; “credit worth 100,000 baht will be extended so each planter can invest in a side-line job without having to turn to loan sharks”; and some other bits and pieces that include “pushing the three major buyer groups – cooperatives, Rubber Estate Organisation and latex buyers – to help farmers.”

Did anyone mention hypocrisy? Perhaps not. Just supporting your political allies.





Yellow reform I

27 10 2014

Anti-democrats reject elected politicians and political parties as divisive and corrupt. This is an essential point of the royalist discourse that seeks to limit policy making to the great and the morally good.

Of course, any reasonable assessment indicates that the great are often fabulously corrupt and the morals of the good are usually flexible. The notion of rule by the morally good simply equates with those who slither about saying what great monarchists and loyalists they are. Nepotism and collusion are quite alright if you are of the right politics, as the military dictatorship has so relentlessly demonstrated.

This is why it is expected that a group of the junta’s handpicked National Reform Council (NRC) members led by academic Sungsidh Piriyarangsan should also launch its very own “civic group” which they have called the “Thailand Reform Institute” at Rangsit University.

Along with Chulalongkorn, Rangsit University is one of the centers of anti-democrat/PAD/yellow shirt academic activism. The university is owned by Arthit Ourairat. Arthit’s self-promoting profile is here.

The “new” group at Arthit’s university “was founded to act as a coordinating centre for movements of civic groups working in the areas of national reform and development as well as helping to build a democratic society…”.

Frankly, we do not believe them. We can accept that they might want “reform.” After all, that was the unspecified demand of the anti-democrats who are responsible for the military’s coup, which they repeatedly demanded. But democracy? That’s a stretch for this group.

For a start, the “institute” is as much about disseminating royalist propaganda as gathering “people’s opinions.” The idea that the “institute” would “monitor the government’s use of power” is a stretch too far. Then, the members of the “institute” are dedicated anti-democrats.*

Suriyasai Katasila, listed as “a lecturer at the College of Social Innovation and the Green Group leader, [who] was appointed the director of the newly formed group” by the Bangkok Post is actually a former PAD leader and speaker on the anti-democrat stage.

Other committee members include NRC members “Rosana Tositrakul, Anek Laothammathat, Niran Pitakwatchara of the National Human Rights Commission, Sirichai Mai-Ngam, chairman of the Electricity Generating Authority of Thailand (Egat) labour union, former PAD leader Pipob Thongchai and academics from various disciplines.”

Rosana is a strident yellow shirt who has supported all anti-democrats since 2004. Most recently, she has opposed having different views on the NRC, so her participation in this “institute” is likely about exclusion rather than inclusion of opposing views.

Anek is one of the ideologues of anti-rural propaganda that denigrates voters as bought, duped and ignorant.

Sirichai heads the unions that have supported every anti-democrat action since 2004. His unions were the ones who went about disconnecting water and electricity at government departments during the anti-democrat protests earlier in the year. All the state enterprises are now controlled by the military.

Pipob is a political ally of Suriyasai and a former member of the PAD leadership.

Suriyasai defended the notion that “some committee members were also on the NRC because talks to establish the institute had taken place before the selection of NRC members. But this would not be a problem in terms of work…”. In fact, conflict of interest is nothing for the “good.” These anti-democrats have colluded for over a decade, so there’s no obstacle to their propaganda work.

*We don’t rule out the possibility that this ginger group could fall out with The Dictator when he begins to make compromises and angles for a longer-term military presence in politics (think of 1991-92). They also want to make sure that he and his junta stay “on track” for radical royalist “reform.”

 








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