PAD getting its due or something else?

12 05 2011

The Bangkok Post and all other media outlets have reported that 114 People’s Alliance for Democracy (PAD) leaders and supporters are to be charged by the police for illegal assembly during the seizure of the two Bangkok airports in 2008.

We wonder if any PAD people have been charged for their occupation of southern airports?

The report states that “some” of the suspects, “mostly leading PAD figures,” are also to be charged with “terrorism under Articles 113 and 116 of the Criminal Code.”

Names mentioned include Chamlong Srimuang, Somsak Kosaisuk, Pibhop Dhongchai, Somkiat Pongpaiboon, Sondhi Limthongkul and Foreign Minister Kasit Piromya.

Those charged are being told to report back “on June 9 when the prosecutors would decide who among them are to be indicted and on what charges.”

That still sounds pretty loose, and the outcome will probably be less significant than it presently appears. There is also the likelihood for some continued political game-playing as the election campaign will be in full swing then.

The same report also mentions that “five of the six yellow-shirt supporters charged with the armed hijack of a Bangkok bus [a No.53 city bus] in 2008 were each sentenced to two years in jail today.” The sixth PAD bus hijacker had died before getting to court.

The details are a little more interesting than this initially sounds: “The Criminal Court today initially sentenced each the five surviving defendants to three years imprisonment and a fine of 100 baht each for carrying weapons. Because they gave useful information during the trial, each jail sentence was commuted to two years and the fine to 66 baht.”

For 66 baht, they could have each taken a taxi and not needed to hijack the bus. That figure suggests that there is still some life in this case and that those involved may yet appeal and see the sentences further reduced.

Compare this to red shirts (and some who claim not to be red shirts but were picked up by the police and military in May 2010). Some remain in prison almost a year after their arrest, with little access to legal assistance and having been subject to mistreatment and illegal acts (as outlined in the recent Human Rights Watch report). The double standards continue.

PAD, Chamlong and Abhisit

28 07 2010

Prime Minister Abhisit Vejjajiva still treats the People’s Alliance for Democracy and its activities with care and consideration. Not for the first time in his administration, Abhisit has demonstrated that the government and the PAD remain allies.

On Tuesday, led by former mercenary and long-time PAD leader Major-General Chamlong Srimuang, several hundred PAD-organized protesters rallied at the UNESCO offices on Sukhumvit Road. They were opposing any discussion of the World Heritage status of Cambodia’s Preah Vihear Temple and the management plan – which the government and protesters claim not to have seen – to be discussed in Brazil this week.

PPT briefly visited the rally site to listen to a few ultra-nationalist speeches and read the banners, of which quite a few were in English. Most of the people, in what was essentially a good-natured crowd, seemed to be from Chamlong’s rightist Santi Asoke-Dhamma Army group.

Chamlong stated that the plan could result in Thailand losing “more than 1.8 million rai of land to Cambodia … [and] threatened to unseat Abhisit if he failed to protect Thailand’s sovereignty.” As stated above, the plan seems not to have been seen by anyone, so Chamlong’s claims are based on previous PAD announcements and beliefs.

The more interesting things were taking place quite a long way from the rally, at Ban Pitsanulok, where Abhisit decided to meet with PAD representatives. The Bangkok Post reports that Abhisit met with “PAD’s co-leader Pibhop Dhongchai, the movement’s spokesman Panthep Puapongpan, [PAD-aligned, former Manager journalist, lese majeste activist and appointed] Senator Kamnoon Sitthisamarn and [ultra-nationalist] historian ML Walwipha Charoonroj, who leads the Preah Vihear listing monitoring network.”

At that meeting, according to The Nation, Abhisit “vowed to protect Thailand’s rights and interests…”. Abhisit declared that the plan should not even be considered. He promised PAD representatives “that his government would not accept a resolution from the Unesco World Heritage Committee that could hurt the Kingdom’s interests in any way.” He is quoted: “The resolution must not interfere with Thailand’s territory or sovereignty…. We will not cooperate if the management plan encroaches on our soil.” He promised to consider “harsh measures.” Abhisit blamed the U.N. for conflict over the World Heritage site. In fact, most of the recent conflict has had to do with PAD machinations.

Abhisit may have rejected PAD’s claim that “Thailand force Cambodian soldiers and people out of the disputed area” but told PAD that he would “not accept Cambodia’s map” of the area as it would be “a violation of Thailand’s sovereignty…”. PAD protesters were apparently pleased by Abhisit’s responses. Appointed Senator Kamnoon said “PAD and the government shared a similar view on protecting the country’s sovereignty.” He added that “he felt ‘relieved’ since the government had prepared measures to be taken against the UN agency if it ignores Thailand’s stance.” One measure seems to be non-cooperation.

Old soldier Chamlong was apparently not so sanguine and as well as threatening the government, “warned the PAD would not give up its rallies” on the issue. His view seems to be that the Cambodian claim will not be defeated, so favors more direct action. Chamlong has been antagonistic to several governments and commands limited support. However, he believes he can easily stir nationalist feeling.

At the same time, Abhisit appears to be positioning himself with other PAD leaders in a manner that will allow the government to ride with right-wing nationalism should it be stirred rather than be the target of xenophobic anger. Recall that the Democrat Party stirred such feelings when in opposition and trying to bring down the government in 2008 on this very same issue. It linked with PAD for that campaign as well. So it knows its allies very well and maintains that useful liaison. The Thai right-wing sticks together on the important issues.

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