Light yellow standards

24 07 2017

The Bangkok Post reports on yet another (partial) victory for the yellow shirts of the People’s Alliance for Democracy.

In another example of double standards and a politicized judiciary, the Appeals Court reduced “two-year jail terms imposed by the primary court for their seizure of Government House in an attempt to oust then-prime minister Samak Sundaravej in 2008.” The court declared that their illegal occupation was “not intended to benefit certain groups or their own interests…”. In other words, the judge reckons they acted in the “public interest.” This is another example of “good people” double standards.

Thus the court reduced their sentence to eight months but did not suspend imprisonment.

The PAD lawyer then declared an appeal to the Supreme Court and asked for bail for all but one of the defendants:  Chamlong Srimuang, Phibop Dhongchai, Somkiat Pongpaibul, Somsak Kosaisuk and Suriyasai Katasila. (Sondhi Limthongkul is in jail already for fraud.)

This result came almost two years after the lower court decision. Perhaps their next case will be in 2019 or 2020? SO far their sentences have been reduced from three to two years and now to eight months. We can guess that the next court will be even more sympathetic.





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.”

 





An electorate of morons

5 04 2012

Democrat Party leader Abhisit Vejjajiva apparently thinks that Thailand’s electorate (and international observers) is composed of morons and dolts. After all, his recent statements at the Bangkok Post, where he is claimed to have called for a “new blueprint” to prevent “the Thai political system was being monopolised” presumably by the electorally popular pro-Thaksin Shinawatra parties, including Puea Thai.

PPT reads this statement of monopoly as being a claim that is plagiarized directly from the ultra-royalist and rightist yellow shirt groups. While he doesn’t dare use the same terminology, his perspective jives with that of, for example, People’s Alliance for Democracy leader Phipob Dhongchai who said his movement “stood ready to step out and fight against the domination of rogue capitalists over the political system.” Tul Sitthisomwong has said similar things as have his conservative ultra-royalist buddies like appointed  Senator Kamnoon Sidhisamarn, an ASTV/Manager journalist.

We guess he thinks that his audience is too stupid to notice that he is simply lifting “ideas” and slogans from the more extremist elements of royalist politics.

PPT also reads Abhisit as complaining that the electorate rejects his declining and increasingly decrepit party because of political “tricks” when he refers to “[n]ew political tools” that are “introduced to maintain a [Thaksin] political monopoly…”.

Abhisit must feel that his complaints here are explaining something about why his party loses. Perhaps he would be better served by not considering the public as morons but rather looked at the repeated electoral failures of the royalist Democrat Party in every election since 2000. Indeed, perhaps the party could look at why it almost always fails to attract voters despite being the country’s oldest party.

Abhisit then declares that one of the “new political tools” that cause his party’s repeated defeat is “populism.” He claims that “populist schemes” are just to “woo votes” rather than “to solve grass-roots economic problems.”

Huh? What was Abhisit doing at the head of the Democrat Party and as prime minister when there was an attempt to unashamedly plagiarize Thai Rak Thai/People’s Power/Puea Thai policies and to even out-populist the pro-Thaksin lot? Does he believe that people simply forget what he and his party did and promised? Whether one likes so-called populism or not, the Democrat Party seemed to be swimming in it not that long ago.

Abhisit now comes to the conclusion that “the people have become poorer with household debt rising sharply…”. If that were true, then the anti-Thaksin governments of 2006-11, including the one Abhisit led should take their share of the blame.

[As a footnote on this, see Bangkok Pundit’s recent post on household debt, and while none of us at PPT read economics at Oxford, it would seem to dismiss Abhisit’s statement.]

Abhisit now reckons that to “transcend the trap of populist policies, all sides should help design a new blueprint for the country.” What a surprise to learn that the true blue Democrat Party have “devised strategies which … could be used as a fundamental guideline for the blueprint.”

Abhisit doesn’t explain why, when in government, they had no such strategies, plans or blueprints, apart from a political strategy that drove Thailand into the company of authoritarian states.

With that in mind, it is jaw-droppingly ironic to hear Abhisit say that “Thais of different political ideologies must unite.” He must believe that the public have a contagious political amnesia.

More so when he brazenly declares:

The party will play a leading role, but it must be borne in mind that reconciliation cannot be achieved by force, intimidation or the majority vote. It also should not be used to whitewash cheating politicians.

Can it be done by an auto-whitewashing by an elitist leader who has no respect for the people or their votes?

Finally, the man responsible for blocking, censoring, and repressing on a scale that puts even some military regimes to shame, Abhisit comes up with his final conjuring trick, declaring without a hint on embarrassment that:

Politically, Thailand needs true democracy with people having complete freedom to express their views while respecting the rights of others to do so as well.

Politics is partly about memory, and PPT believes that the average person in Thailand can easily remember what Abhisit and his regime really did when hoisted to power on the shoulders of the military brass who kept hold of some of the puppet strings. As much as Abhisit and his ilk may believe it, the people are not stupid children who need elite lads to whip them into shape.





PAD hates elections and voters

26 02 2012

Chamlong

A story in the the Bangkok Post a couple of days ago deserves some attention. It is a story that has the People’s Alliance for Democracy “threatening legal action and mass rallies in response to the government’s charter amendment bid.” To be sure, there is nothing surprising there.  PPT has been posting for some time that PAD and other anti-Thaksin Shinawatra stalwarts have been getting back together to oppose the Yingluck Shinawatra government, and supporting the military junta’s 2007 constitution is the chosen political location for that.

What is interesting in the story is PAD’s complete rejection of elections and voters. PAD co-leader Chamlong Srimuang reportedly stated that a “charter rewrite would greatly damage the nation and the PAD would not tolerate it.”

PAD leader and former Democrat Party parliamentarian Somkiat Pongpaibul proclaimed that “the charter change as an attempt to create a new kind of state, which he said was unacceptable.” This is a pretext for Somkiat’s declaration that “PAD would stage major protests against charter change if the government pressed ahead with it.”

Another PAD leader Phipob Dhongchai defended the military’s constitution and engaged in some not very startling conspiricist “logic” that is PAD’s stock in trade. He reckons that a constitutional rewrite is about Thaksin, claiming, the “connections were clear…. Pheu Thai is the ruling party and Prime Minister Yingluck Shinawatra is Thaksin’s sister. The clear goal of the charter rewrite move is to secure an amnesty for Thaksin and introduce a new power structure in the country.”

PAD spokesman Panthep Puapongpan added that “politicians in power would control the CDA because the 77 drafters would be elected from each of the provinces and House members would select 22 other drafters who were experts. He said the CDA would create a whole new charter that would pave the way for a parliamentary dictatorship.”

Of course, the idea of electing members of the CDA is simply abhorrent fro Panthep and PAD. They think elections are part of a pro-Thaksin conspiracy and that voters are duped, paid and stupid.

This “analysis” was supported by the usual group of mostly appointed senators, in positions created by the junta and its constitution, with the deep yellow Rosana Tositakul opining that “there was an obvious intent to control the executive, legislative and judicial branches and nullify the criminal charges against Thaksin.” When she adds that “the constitution had been endorsed by 14 million people in a referendum,” she is ignoring the fact that the military dominated the process of developing the constitution, establishing, lecturing and controlling the drafting body.

Rosana

As just one example of the commentary at the time, the Asian Human Rights Commission stated that “the military junta … has coerced, threatened, bought and cajoled part of the electorate into passing its 309-article constitution on August 19.” It noted that half the country was under martial – i.e. military – law and that “[o]pponents of the draft were intimidated and materials confiscated from houses and post offices. Protestors against the coup have been charged with criminal offences.” All in all, the AHRC concluded that it “regrets the passing of this regressive charter…”.

The fact that the constitution allows change – and by a relatively simple method – is ignored. The fact that the People Power Party and Puea Thai Party both campaigned with promises to amend the constitution and that both received very strong electoral support count for nothing with PAD’s leadership.

PAD, their supporters in the senate and others of their ilk simply hate the idea that voters and elections count for anything or that their voice should be heard.





They’re back with the same ideas and tactics

21 01 2012

At The Nation there is a report that deserves some attention simply because it is a distorted mirror of events in early 2008.

On Friday the ultra-nationalist and ultra-royalist People’s Alliance for Democracy held a public meeting “to mark the Chinese New Year” and the event saw its four core leaders “vowed to resume the struggle against former prime minister Thaksin Shinawatra.”

Sondhi

Big boss Sondhi Limthongkul didn’t attend as he was in China, apparently receiving acupuncture treatment (at Chinese New Year??). Sounding decidedly Thaksin-like, he phoned in.

Showing how bereft of ideas and how anti-democratic the PAD is, Sondhi “said the military should stage a coup in cooperation with the people in order to wrestle a complete control of the country from Thaksin.”

In essence, Sondhi and PAD are sick of an electoral process where the “will of the people” is not what they want. We doubt this call is in line with Section 68 of the constitution, but PAD uses constitutions rather than accepts the principles embedded in them.

Pledging “a make-or break struggle,” Sondhi said that PAD isn’t going to just focus on street-level politics, “but a complete seizure of power…”.

In a harking back to the PAD of yore, Sondhi made the compulsory complaint that “he feared for the future of the monarchy if the Thaksin camp had its way.”

Another PAD leader Phipob Dhongchai said the movement “stood ready to step out and fight against the domination of rogue capitalists over the political system.” He mumbled something about “ethics” as his boss called for a coup….

Like Sondhi and his clique, Phipob hates the idea that people vote, but he drew solace from his claim that the Puea Thai Party only received a paltry 15 million votes. PPT recalls that the party of PAD, which kind of had a falling out amongst the leadership because they knew they were hopeless, got almost no votes. But still Phipob, sounding delusional if not fascist, states “PAD was ready to lead the people to victory in safeguarding the country.”

Another PAD leader, the former Democrat Party parliamentarian Somkiat Pongpaibul, “said he expected a final showdown with the Thaksin regime.” Never short of an outlandish fabrication, this time Somkiat borders on the maniacal when he:

claimed about the regime was contracting some 5,000 Cambodian and Vietnamese mercenaries to topple the monarchy in order to inaugurate a republic.

He expected “PAD will pour into the streets at the first sign of changing charter provisions pertaining the monarchy and granting amnesty for Thaksin…”.

Now he’s confused us, where did those mercenaries go??

Chamlong

PAD’s other leader, the always grinning Chamlong Srimuang said he was sure of “the invincibility of the people’s power.” Except, of course, the power of voters.

PPT will be interested to see how much traction PAD gets. Their front organizations in Tul Sitthisomwong’s multi-colors, the Sayam Prachapiwat anti-Nitirat lawyers, and Siam Samakkhi have been setting the scene for a full PAD rebirth.

We tend to think that it requires mis-steps by the Yingluck Shinawatra government for PAD to get much support. That is not to discount the possibility of support for PAD in high or armed places that would also provide impetus.





PAD re-emerges

8 10 2011

There have been several pundits who have claimed that the People’s Alliance for Democracy is a spent force. PPT has suggested that PAD has never really gone away, and that the groups who have supported it – mainly royalist businesspeople and palace-military figures – can reactivate the movement as required.

The Nation reports that the “yellow-shirt movement …[has] threatened to take to the streets again if the government continues trying to get fugitive former prime minister Thaksin Shinawatra a royal pardon.”

PAD spokesman Panthep Puapongpan “added that the PAD was also against a campaign launched by a group of legal scholars called ‘Nitirat’ (Citizens of Law) calling for all judicial decisions resulting from the 2006 coup to be invalidated. The yellow shirts are convinced that this move is aimed at expunging the Supreme Court verdict against Thaksin…”.

Panthep is reported as telling the small crowd that PAD feared the “Constitution would be changed to allow the return of ‘Thaksin’s authoritarian regime’.” This is reminiscent of the revitalization of PAD in 2008 against the elected pro-Thaksin government led by Samak Sundaravej.

Also reminiscent of that time is the close coordination between PAD and the Democrat Party. The rhetoric and political actions of the party and PAD are again aligning.

An interesting footnote to the PAD story is that its statements came as, the report says: “PAD leaders, including Sondhi Limthongkul, Chamlong Srimuang, Phipob Thongchai and Somkiat Pongpaiboon, joined other yellow-shirt supporters at the Royal Plaza yesterday morning to give alms to monks to commemorate the fourth anniversary of the 2007 crackdown.”

This is apparently an error by the reporters. PPT believes the report means to refer to the third anniversary of a failed 7 October 2008 police attempt to move PAD demonstrators from the parliament area – the Bangkok Post gets it right and see a sympathetic account of events here.

PAD has issued a “statement calling on the government to provide fair compensation to yellow-shirt protesters injured or killed during the police crackdown on the PAD rally four [sic.] years ago…. The PAD spokesman said yesterday that in reality 10 people had been killed during the crackdown and more than 1,000 injured, with seven losing their limbs due to the teargas explosion.

As far as PPT can determine from media reports and PAD websites, the usual claim is for two dead. In fact, one of these was killed in his own car bomb that detonated prematurely. Most reports are of 300-400 PAD supporters and police injured. It is unclear if PAD are creating a new myth or whether the inaccurate reporters simply got it wrong (again).

PPT thinks that PAD and its supporters in academia, business, media, military, and palace deserve to be watched over the next few months as they seek to again mobilize against an elected government by rekindling claims about “authoritarianism.”





PAD gets a bill, perhaps

25 03 2011

After more than 2 years, a decision has been made in one court case against the People’s Alliance for Democracy for their occupation of Bangkok’s airports.

PAD at the airport

The Bangkok Post reports that the “Civil Court on Friday ordered 13 leaders of the People’s Alliance for Democracy (PAD) to pay 522 million baht in damages to Airports of Thailand Plc (AoT) for the eight-day blockade of Don Mueang and Suvarnabhumi airports in late 2008.”

The defendants in the case included all the main PAD leaders: “Maj-Gen Chamlong Srimuang, Sondhi Limthongkul, Pibhop Dhongchai, Somsak Kosaisuk, Suriyasai Katasila, Somkiat Pongpaibul, Saranyu Wongkrajang, Sirichai Mai-ngam and Maleerat Kaewka.”

The court is reported to have “ruled that the seizure of the two international airports forced the suspension of air services, causing both physical and commercial damage to the AoT. The 13 defendants are, therefore, ordered to pay the AoT 522 million baht damages, plus 7.5 per cent interest starting Dec 3, 2008 when the occupation of the airports ended. The court also ordered them to pay the AoT’s legal fees in the case, 80,000 baht.”

While AoT president Sereerat Pasutanont is said to have satisfied with the court’s ruling, we suspect that  the person most satisfied might be Prime Minister Abhisit Vejjajiva. He will no doubt claim that such a verdict “proves” that there are no double standards whenever he seeks to electorally legitimize his government. Maybe Abhisit, who wanted to thank the boys and girls in yellow back in 2008, when they helped hoist him to power, is now regretting dropping the case on the PAD occupation of Government House (thanks to Bangkok Pundit for reminding us of this).

Of course, as is usually the case, PAD will appeal the decision. So unimportant did they consider this decision, that not one of the leaders even bothered to attend court. So the bill will remain unpaid for some time yet.





Bangkok protests

15 02 2011

The Bangkok Post reports that summonses have now been issued targeting  the 10 co-leaders of the People’s Alliance for Democracy (PAD), “requiring them to report to police for violating an order of the Centre for the Administration of Peace and Order (CAPO)…” under the Internal Security Act. CAPO prohibited the use of roads around Government House and the parliament that were occupied by PAD .

Those summonsed are: Maj-Gen Chamlong Srimuang, Sondhi Limthongkul, Prapan Khoonmee, Panthep Puapongpan, Rak Rakpong (Samana Pothirak, leader of the Santi Asoke sect), Suriyasai Katasila, Terdphum Jaidee, Pibhop Dhongchai, Amorn Amornrattananond and Tossapol Kaewthima.

While Chamlong Srimuang said his group would co-operate  with the police, he had brought a civil suit against a police investigator on the 2008 airports case, and The Nation reports that the The Thai Patriot Network had “filed a complaint with Central Administrative Court, asking the court to annul the government’s ban on demonstrations in seven Bangkok districts…. The complaint alleged that Prime Minister Abhisit Vejjajiva and his Cabinet had unlawfully invoked the Internal Security Act to ban demonstrations in seven Bangkok districts.”

PAD protests are likely to be bolstered each time there is a clash on the Thai-Cambodian border. PAD’s unhappiness with Prime Minister Abhisit Vejjajiva is likely to further increase.

The red shirts now seem remarkably “well behaved” when they protest.

Just to add to the mix of protests, the Bangkok Post reports that the Assembly of the Poor, which was seen as weakening, now “says thousands of its members are on their way to Bangkok for a protest to put pressure on the government to open all the sluice gates of the Pak Moon dam and properly compensate people affected by its construction.”

An AOP protest in 2007

The AOP has been rallying in front of the Ubon Ratchathani provincial hall for more than a month and has now decided “to move its protest to the parliament in Bangkok.” The AOP expects 5,000 assembly members to make the trip to Bangkok.

Their action follows an unfulfilled promise in December from PM’s Office Minister Sathit Wongnongtoey to “seek cabinet approval for the permanent opening of the dam’s sluice gates.” Nothing had happened since the promise was made.

It seems that the Abhisit and his government is now faced with a growing array of issues and problems – the south, corruption, the border, protest groups, red shirts, the failure of investigations into the events of April and May 2010, increasing army dissonance, etc. – that make for considerable political uncertainty.





More PAD criticism of Abhisit

3 12 2010

As regular readers will know, there has been a spate of criticism of Prime Minister Abhisit Vejjajiva and the Democrat Party-led coalition government from elements within the People’s Alliance for Democracy. PPT has posted on this here, here and here. There has also been government criticism of PAD and its leaders, notably from Deputy Prime Minister Suthep Thaugsuban. The government supporters in the mainstream media have also been critical of PAD. In the latter post, PPT commented on the “evidence of the curious dualism that emerges as the establishment deals with the populist PAD.”

Continuing this debate-cum-slanging match, the Bangkok Post reports on an attack by PAD’s Phipob Dhongchai, who slammed the so-called national reform and national reconciliation committees initiated by Abhisit as no more than government  image building. PPT has made the same point, and so have red shirts and other opposition figures.

As his brief Wikipedia page says, Phipob is an NGO, active since he was a student leader and a leader of the Campaign for Popular Democracy who once argued for NGOs to work with the Thai Rak Thai government of Thaksin Shinawatra. He soon dropped that line and in February 2006, he was selected to be one of PAD’s five key leaders and signed up with PAD’s royalist faction’s call for the the king’s intervention to throw Thaksin out, using Article 7 of the 1997 Constitution. Of course, the rest is history, for this all led to the 2006 coup.

Now the royalist Phipob, who also bought into PAD’s “new politics” idea of excluding the majority of people from representative politics, seems to value the people’s voice, for he criticizes Abhisit’s fake reconciliation schemes as leaving  “many voices of the people … unheard.” He made the comments at a seminar organised by the Campaign for Popular Democracy.

Phipob is right to say that the reform and reconciliation panels led byAnand Panyarachun, Prawase Wasi, Kanit na Nakhon, Sombat Thamrongthanyawong, and the Media Reform Committee led by Yubol Benjarongkit are expensive white elephants (or worse). He is right to say that they have made “little progress” and have “not made any proposals in the interest of the public, and most people did not know what they were doing…”. His comment that they are government window-dressing hits the mark also.

But his claim that “If the government wants to succeed in national reform, it should pay more attention to people’s voices…” raises questions. Why is Phipob so interested in popular voice now when he rejected it in the period from 2005, supporting anti-democratic and anti-people proposals and forces like the military and their coup and right-wing palace leading the least representative and most repressive of forces in the country? And why does he think that the government that represents these forces and a party that has never won an election in its own right should even deign to listen to the people?

Of course, PAD, like the red shirts, has splits in its leadership and several factions, so apparently contradictory relationships with the government and the “curious dualism” continues. The most recent example is seen in PAD leader Chamlong Srimuang’s statements related to the calling off of PAD’s proposed rally on 10 December. As reported in MCOT News, PAD has heeded government calls (were there other calls from the military and palace?) to postpone its proposed rally to oppose constitutional amendment.

The ever-grinning Chamlong said PAD was postponing because “it’s close the king’s birthday celebrations.”  Well, yes, but wouldn’t all the royalists in PAD and former military man Chamlong have had that date seared into their brains for donkey’s years? So that excuse is rubbish. A deal with the government in the making? Military and palace forces at work behind the scenes? Generals Prem Tinsulanonda and Prayuth Chan-ocha talking with the Chamlong? A desire to avoid having both PAD and the red shirts on the streets opposing Abhisit and his government? Or all of these?

*A footnote: MCOT is probably due for charges for getting the king’s age wrong, saying he will be 84, not 83; treason perhaps?





Updated: PAD case deferred again

8 10 2010

The Thai Report has another neat set of links that refer to the deferring, yet again, of a case against the People’s Alliance for Democracy and their 193-day seizure of Government House in 2008. The latest deferral is reported this way: “Maj-Gen Chamlong Srimuang, Sondhi Limthongkul, Pibhop Dhongchai, Somsak Kosaisuk, Somkiat Pongpaiboon and four other PAD leaders have been charged with illegal assembly and causing a public disturbance. Director-general of the Criminal Litigation Department Kaiyasit Pissawongprakan  said the postponement was necessary because prosecutors handling the case were still waiting for reports on the police questioning of additional defence witnesses requested by the accused.”

Look at the links at The Thai Report, pasted here:

PAD case postponed again…

And again 16/09/10…

And again 10/07/10…

And again 16/06/10…

And again 22/04/10…

And again 24/02/10…

And again 24/12/09…

And again 11/02/09… Probably could have gone on further and on other cases….

Update: At least the police seem to be making some progress on the 2008 airport occupation case….








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