The new privy council

6 12 2016

It was widely expected that the new king would put his stamp on the Privy Council. He’s done that in very quick time.

The Bangkok Post reports that the king has appointed an 11-member Privy Council.

The new members are: “Gen Dapong Ratanasuwan, the current Education Minister; Gen Paiboon Koomchaya, currently the Justice Minister; and Gen Teerachai Nakwanich, who retired as army commander-in-chief on Sept 30.”

We surmise that they will need to give up their current positions.

Those who “retired” are, including the dates they took their positions: “Tanin Kraivixien [1977], Chaovana Nasylvanta [1975], ACM Kamthon Sindhavananda [1987], Gen Pichitr Kullavanijaya [1993], Ampol Senanarong [1994], Rr Adm ML Usani Pramoj [1984], MR Thepkamol Devakula [1997] and Adm Chumpol Patchusanont [2005].”

Persons with more knowledge than us will have to read these tea leaves and explain the possible reasons for sending these men on their way.

This means the current 11 members of the Privy Council are: “Gen Surayud Chulanont, Kasem Watanachai, Palakorn Suwanarat,  Atthaniti Disatha-amnarj, Supachai Phungam, Chanchai Likitjitta, ACM Chalit Pookpasuk, Gen Dapong Ratanasuwan, Gen Teerachai Nakwanich and Gen Paiboon Koomchaya.” General Prem Tinsulanonda is president of the Privy Council.

This means six are military men, all from the post-2006 politicized forces and several of them having been actively involved in coups overthrowing elected governments.

Three are for presidents of the Supreme Court. One is a former education minister and another is Former Deputy Permanent Secretary at the Ministry of Interior. Except for Prem, all have been appointed since 2001.

The king can have up to 18 members, so there’s plenty of empty chairs for him to add others. At the moment, this new Privy Council will be especially pleasing for the military junta. We can only wonder what the deal is for appointing three two serving ministers and a corrupt officer.

On May 1992, part III

18 05 2015

PPT’s third and final post today is also on the commemoration of the events of the civilian rising against military-dominated politics in May 1992. In both the earlier posts, here and here, we were concerned at the attempt by various individuals and groups attempting to rewrite history by making this event one that is bizarrely congruent with the May 2014 coup and anti-democracy.

As if to prove how disingenuous this tripe is, a revealing report at Prachatai indicates the nature of the current military dictatorship.

Simply and nastily, the dictatorship “ordered  a cancellation of public speeches of anti-military figures at an event to commemorate democratic uprising in May 1992.”

At “the Heroes of Democracy Foundation, a group of military officers on Saturday came into the office of the foundation in Pak Kret District of Nonthaburi Province, north of Bangkok, at around 1 pm and ordered the foundation staffs to cut out a planned speech session by pro-democracy speakers.”

One of the speakers was to be Prateep Ungsongtham Hata, who is a well-recognized anti-coup protester, and “slum angel.” Others due to speak included Weng Tojirakarn, a red shirt leader, and Chalard Worachat, an activist known for his hunger strike against the 1992 military intervention and which was a principled protest leading to the civilian uprising.

The military dictatorship prefers a version of history sanitized of its murders. As the brief Wikipedia account explains, an “investigation”  by the “Defense Ministry’s Fact Finding Committee led by General Pichitr Kullavanijaya,” identified military culprits, “but it is still kept from the Thai public.”

Pichitr has been rewarded by being made one of the king’s privy councilors and is a royalist political activist.

The Democrat Party: an idea-free zone

5 08 2012

Is the Democrat Party unable to have an original idea? Are the leaders of that failed party so elitist-lazy that all they can do more than plagiarize others and come up with silly “campaigns”? This is a bit of a hotch-potch post as we attempt to catch=up with the actions of the Democrat Party.

When Abhisit Vejjajiva was hoisted to the premier’s position and his party made government in a shoddy, backroom deal that was brokered by the military, that government essentially copied the policies it had previously denigrated as “populist.” In opposition, it has pretty much PADified its policies and attacks on the government.

As PPT noted in an earlier post, Korn Chatikavanij has become an activist Democrat Party leader. The last time we saw him campaigning was when he was supporting PAD’s illegal actions in 2008. PPT has long pointed out more than once that Korn is a supporter of the People’s Alliance for Democracy. This English born, public school and Oxford educated scion of an aristocrat families who has also supported the use of draconian measures against protesters (but not his PAD buddies, of course). He was also  a quiet support for the 2006 coup.

Korn’s politics is deeply yellow-royalist and it is thus no surprise to see at The Nation that Korn has promoted the “taking back” of red as a political color. Quite a yawn, but it is just lame Facebook “activism.” Korn’s claim is that “every Thai has the right to wear red, which is one of the colours of the national flag.” Korn’s bit of royalist nationalism lacks any grounding in either the flag’s political history or the reason for the red shirts adopting the color.

If Korn’s “take back red” campaign seems lazy, childish and pathetic, another story at The Nation suggests a more significant Democrat Party activity. It is also a massive plagiarism of its opponents.

The Democrat Party has:

called on those adversely affected by the war on drugs policy implemented during the Thaksin Shinawatra administration to file a class-action lawsuit against the fugitive former premier at the court.

Notorious former Democrat Party foreign minister and PAD supporter Kasit Piromya is claimed to have:

filed a complaint at the ICC [International Criminal Court] in the Netherlands over the war on drugs, which allegedly led to the ‘silencing’ killings of thousands of drug suspects.

Loudmouth Democrat Party Spokesman Chavanond Intarakomalyasut “said those who believed they were damaged parties and had not received justice” in regard to the War on Drugs.

That is true, but PPT can’t but point out that the Democrat Party is simply following the red shirts to the ICC, demonstrating that they are unimaginative but also treating the Thai public with contempt.

We don’t say this to diminish the immensity of the deaths during the War on Drugs. Rather, we think the Democrat Party considers the public stupid. After all, it the Party was interested in this issue, why was it that it did nothing about it during its period in government from late 2008 to mid-2011? Even the military-backed government of 2006-7 didn’t take any determined action. Why the sudden interest?

We also wonder how the Democrat Party would react to an investigation of the War on Drugs that reveals these facts (and more here) for an international audience:

In a 4 December 2002 speech on the eve of his birthday, King Bhumibol noted the rise in drug use and called for a “War on Drugs.” Privy Councillor Phichit Kunlawanit called on the government to use its majority in parliament to establish a special court to deal with drug dealers, stating that “if we execute 60,000 the land will rise and our descendants will escape bad karma”….

King Bhumibol, in a 2003 birthday speech, praised Thaksin and criticized those who counted only dead drug dealers while ignoring deaths caused by drugs.

“ไอ้การชัยชนะของการปราบไอ้ยาเสพติดนี่ ดีที่ปราบ แล้วก็ที่เขาตำหนิบอกว่า เอ้ย คนตาย ตั้ง ๒,๕๐๐ คน อะไรนั่น เรื่องเล็ก ๒,๕๐๐ คน ถ้านายกฯ ไม่ได้ทำ นายกฯ ไม่ได้ทำ ทุกปี ๆ จดไว้นะ มีมากกว่า ๒,๕๐๐ คนที่ตาย” “Victory in the War on Drugs is good. They may blame the crackdown for more than 2,500 deaths, but this is a small price to pay. If the prime minister failed to curb [the drug trade], over the years the number of deaths would easily surpass this toll.”

Bhumibol also asked the commander of the police to investigate the killings. Police Commander Sant Sarutanond reopened investigations into the deaths, and again claimed that few of the deaths were at the hands of the police.

PPT thinks this set of murders deserves real and serious investigation and prosecution. However, we don’t think the Democrat Party is in any way serious: they did nothing when in power and they are unlikely to have thought through the full implications of the War on Drugs.  Any threat to the impunity enjoyed by state officials also threatens the patrician royalist party and its supporters.

Wikileaks: Privy councilor on Thaksin and the prince

9 09 2011

Privy councilor Pichitr

In a Wikileaks cable dated 20 March 2006, there is more evidence of palace unhappiness with Prime Minister Thaksin Shinawatra – or at least of a privy councilor conveying this to the U.S. Embassy.

Under the sub-heading “MORE PALACE GRUMBLING,” Privy Councilor General Pichitr Kullavanijaya is quoted by Ambassador Ralph Boyce. Boyce had Pichitr and his wife over to his place for dinner. Let Boyce speak:

In a dinner over the weekend, the Ambassador discussed the current turmoil with Privy Councillor and West Point grad GEN Pichit Kullavanijaya and his well-connected wife. That both were quite vocal in their criticism of Thaksin was not surprising; the vehemence of their comments was unexpected, however. Pichit’s wife alleged that the King is thoroughly displeased because Thaksin’s efforts over time to curry favor with the controversial Crown Prince [Vajiralongkorn] have “divided” the Royal Household.

Indeed, such anti-Thaksin comments would not be unexpected from Pichitr (for earlier posts mentioning him, see here (with a Boyce link too), here and here). He has been public and outspoken in attacking Thaksin. That the relationships within the family are cited is again interesting.

Privy councilor inspects new army “war room”

16 01 2011

Thanks to Thai Intelligence News, PPT’s attention was drawn to a very significant article in the Bangkok Post that reports the official opening of a “new, modern war room … built at the 1st Army Region headquarters as a command post to cope with situations on parts of the border with both Cambodia and Burma, and internal political crises…”. PPT suggests that repressing internal dissent is the main task of this so-called war room. Indeed, that is the principal role of the army (and has been since its modern formation).

Interestingly, a senior privy councilor inspected the “war room.”

The 1st Army Area Command is responsible for Bangkok and the Central provinces, “including the adjoining Thai-Burmese border in Prachuap Khiri Khan and Kanchanaburi provinces in the west and the lower half of the Thai-Cambodia border, operating out of Prachin Buri. It controls as many as three infantry divisions, plus cavalry and artillery.” The reason it is pretty clear that the “war room” is to stifle internal political mobilization is that it was established on the orders of army commander General Prayuth Chan-ocha after he became boss in October 2010. He has spoken often of his main task as involving protecting the monarchy from opponents.

It is the 1st Army Region headquarters “where army chiefs and senior government figures hold meetings to monitor particular situations and give orders at times of political unrest…”. It is noted that “Deputy Prime Minister Suthep Thaugsuban, who is in charge of security affairs, frequently used the First Army headquarters in Bangkok as a situation monitoring centre.”

Privy councilor Pichitr

The Bangkok Post report notes that the new “war room” recived visits from a bunch of senior figures associated with the military, the current regime and it backers, including “Defence Minister Prawit Wongsuwon, Gen Prayuth, [and] former army chief and 1st Army region commander Gen Anupong Paojinda…”.

The list of official visitors also included privy councilor General Pichitr Kullavanijaya. While privy councilors, like the monarchy, are expected to be “above politics,” like others of his ilk, Pichitr has been reasonably outspoken in recent years on a range of political topics. He has attacked Thaksin Shinawatra, accusing him of creating all of the political problems facing the country. On one occasion he invoked the name of former US ambassador Ralph Boyce in claiming  that Thaksin had been involved in money laundering. On another occasion he became directly political, attacking and warning the red shirts against a petition campaign for a royal pardon for Thaksin (whatever happened to that petition of millions of sigantures?). That petition caused considerable politicking by the privy council.

PPT assumes that Pichitr’s visit was meant to be symbolic of the link between the army and the monarchy in alliance against domestic opponents like the red shirts.

Controlling retirees

12 12 2009

The political temperature is going up as the Democrat Party-led government tries to bolster its political position. Even with reasonably firm military backing, the Bangkok Post (10 December 2009: “PM Abhisit, Gen Prayuth and their common future”) reports that potential electoral support for the government and its allies is worse than ever.

The report states that: “According to an unofficial poll conducted in secret by a military unit, if an election is called, the Puea Thai Party could end up with as many as 290-300 MPs while the Democrats would tally only about 150 seats.” The military has decided that it has no choice but to support the struggling Abhisit Vejjajiva government.

When the political battles liven up, it is not unusual to see the old men who believe they run the country put on a bit of a show. The show has been provided by Privy Council member, retired General Pichitr Kullavanijaya (The Nation, 11 December 2009: “Pichit urges Thaksin to end political moves”).

He said it “was time fugitive ex-premier Thaksin Shinawatra ended his political moves for the sake of the country.” He added that all Thais should “think of doing good things for the motherland rather than fighting for personal benefit, which in turn would create confusion for the country.” Sounding a bit bewildered, Pichitr advised people to read fairy tale histories to learn the “background of being Thai. For how long have we been independent? It’s been since BE 1781 [AD1238]…”.

Pichitr claimed that Thaksin “did not realise certain ‘facts of life’.” But of course, he wasn’t talking politics, for that would be wrong of a privy councilor…. But, as usual, the good royalist advised that the king was the great example for all Thais and urged everyone to heed his advice. Ho hum, more royalist advice that is merely supportive of the current regime.

Another group of retirees, however, are causing the government concern. The Bangkok Post (11 December 2009: “Army to probe ex-troopers at red rally”) reports that the “army will investigate why a group of former paramilitary troopers attended the anti-government rally staged by the United Front for Democracy against Dictatorship (UDD) on Thursday at Bangkok’s Democracy Monument, Deputy Prime Minister overseeing security affairs Suthep Thaugsuban said on Friday.”

Suthep worried about these retirees: “It could be that the retired troopers at the demonstration were prepared to fight the soldiers and police deployed to maintain security and order there…”. And, like a magician he provided pulled a revolting rabbit from his hat: “There have been movements to topple the government by creating unrest in the country.”

So Suthep thinks the retired troopers are part of an organized movement? In any case, he sees the need to control them. Maybe a deal can be done? If Pichitr will go back to apolitical business accumulation, maybe the retired military red shirts can go home and tend their vegetable patches? But that’d be unfair, for while Pichitr is meant to be apolitical as a representative of the monarchy, retired soldiers have political rights.

Update: An observant reader points out that Suthep’s statement is ironic. When he says, “There have been movements to topple the government by creating unrest in the country,” he is correct, if one thinks of PAD in 2005-6, the 2006 military-palace coup, and the combined movement of PAD, Democrat Party, military and palace in 2008.

The Nation’s intricate plot story

11 08 2009

The Nation newspaper has long been vehemently anti-Thaksin Shinawatra. There was some reason for this, with the paper and some of its journalists being harassed when the Thaksin government was in power. But often some of the columnists at the paper have adopted dubious tactics to attack Thaksin as the man they hate and those they see as supporting him. Some of their stories and columns would not qualify as journalism; personal attacks and unsupported allegations have been too common.

Now the paper seems to be seeking grand conspiracies and trying to engender fear amonst its readers. PPT wishes to comment on The Nation’s editorial of 10 August 2009 (“Suchinda’s objection tips balance of power”) not because we believe it but because it is arguably the oddest turn yet in the “royal pardon” petition. PPT should add that we have seen no evidence that would support the allegations made.

Late last week, General Suchinda Kraprayoon attacked the red shirt petition during his 76th birthday celebrations. Suchinda was the leader of the military coup that ousted the elected government of Chatichai Choonhavan in February 1991. After the elections in March 1992, Suchinda – who had said he wouldn’t take the position – was suddenly nominated at prime minister. Protests against the military and Suchinda escalated, culminating in the events known as “Black May,” when dozens – some say hundreds – of unarmed people were shot when soldiers opened fire on demonstrators.

Now The Nation considers Suchinda an impeccable ally in the fight against Thaksin. The editorial says approvingly, “He made it clear he did not agree with their attempt to mobilise seven million signatures nationwide as part of a campaign to seek a royal pardon for Thaksin Shinawatra. Suchinda’s words are crucial, coming at a time when political polarisation in this country has heightened to the point it could break up into another episode of violence. It should be noted that Suchinda, who lost his power in the 1992 May tragedy, still musters enormous influence in politics. He still has the ears of most of the military top brass. By voicing his objection against the red-shirt protesters’ signature campaign, Suchinda has tipped the balance of power away from the red camp…”.

The May 1992 massacre in The Nation’s revision is now a “tragedy” and Suchinda is somehow a figure who is uniting and not “polarizing.”

Then the editorialist begins constructing a grand conspiracy. Not only is Thaksin conspiring, but so is “the blue camp, led by General Pravit Wongsuwan and Army Chief General Anupong Paochinda.” This is quite a claim!

Further, “The red camp and the blue camp have formed an alliance at this critical juncture, where a behind-the-scenes power play is being exerted at full force. The police force belongs to the red camp, while about half of the military force back the blue camp. Except for the Democrats, most of the politicians in the House of Representatives either support the red camp or the blue camp.”

So it is that “Sondhi Limthongkul’s yellow camp now feels largely relieved by General Suchinda’s fresh move. So does Prime Minister Abhisit Vejjajiva, who also has some breathing room to manoeuvre.” So it is Abhisit and Sondhi against the combined forces of red and blue evil for the “blue and red camps had threatened to bring the Abhisit government down if [police chief] Patcharawat were to be sacked.”

And continuing The Nation’s attack on Deputy Prime Minister Suthep Thaugsuban, who “has acted as a link between the Democrats and the red and blue camps,” his role is characterized as so perplexing “that nobody is certain which side he is on now. Increasingly, Suthep will be isolated from his party as Abhisit seeks to become his own man.”

The Nation says that the “situation remains intense in all camps. Nobody dares to breathe.”

Evidence for this alleged conspiracy? “General Anupong earlier showed his position by saying that as a military adviser to His Majesty the King, he had no opinion on the royal petition drive on behalf of Thaksin.” That’s it, but then it is also added that “ General Surayuth Chulnanont, former prime minister and now member of the Privy Council, also brushed aside this question by saying he had no opinion.” Is Surayud also of questionable loyalty?

The Nation editorialists observes that “Only General Phichit Kulavanitr, another member of the Privy Council, came out strongly against the red-shirted protesters’ petition drive. He blasted the red shirts for their attempts to politicise the monarchy for their own interests.”

Any more evidence? Yes, says the Nation: The outcome of the investigation into the assassination attempt against Sondhi “has uncovered the suspects as belonging to some prominent members of the red camp and the blue camp. Of course, both camps would exercise all power at their disposal, on the ground and underground, to block the police investigation. Many of their prominent members could go to jail as a result of this case.”

What about the petition? According to the editorial, this is “equally threatening to the political stability…”, as red shirts “plan to come out in tens of thousands to make their way in fanfare to the Grand Palace to submit the petition before mobilising a rally at Sanam Luang. We all know with a good conscience that this petition is morally wrong and legally wrong…. The act of seeking a royal pardon for Thaksin is no more than an outright challenge to the integrity of the Thai Monarchy.”

The Nation then claims that this situation “is designed to repeat the red shirts’ attempt at a People’s Revolution on Songkran Day of April 13, 2009.” They failed then, but “Now they are regrouping and planning another attack or another attempt at the People’s Revolution for the benefit of one individual.” This is incendiary speculation and part of the fear tactics that the conservative forces have been using.

So if we are to believe the Nation, in the context of the Thaksin petition and the turmoil in politics:

Suthep is a traitor.
The army chief, who was a 2006 coup leader and who crushed the Songkhran Uprising, is a traitor.
Surayud is likely to be a traitor.
Sondhi and Abhisit are aligned for the side of good against evil.
The blue shirts, who attacked the red shirts in Pattaya in April, are now allied with the reds.
That must make Newin Chidchob, the man behind the blue shirts, a double traitor because he deserted Thaksin in December but must be going back.
The red shirts have a plan for People’s Revolution beginning 17 August.

As noted above, PPT has no grounds for believing that the Nation newspaper editorialist has any real evidence for the claims made. We can readily admit that conspiracies are a regular feature of Thai politics, so there may be something more than rumor and innuendo going on. Perhaps, maybe… but does this an editorial make?

Even if the Nation editorialist somehow turned out to be a superlative astrologer, serious questions need to be asked of this style of “journalism.” The use of a general with blood on his hands for moral support, the exhortation to fear and the failure to provide credible evidence for such remarkable claims leaves PPT wondering why The Nation allows its “journalism” to descend to tabloid status. The Nation was once a newspaper that wanted to be taken seriously.

Privy councilor on the attack again?

6 08 2009

A brief report in the Bangkok Post (5 August 2009: “Noppadon:Thaksin not hiding B1.8bn”) has Thaksin Shinawatra lawyer Noppadon Pattama refuting an allegation by Privy Councilor General Pichitr Kullavanijaya that Thaksin had laundered 1.8 billion baht through an island tax haven.”

PPT is not sure if this is a new allegation, a repeat of the claim Pichitr made in early April or a response to that April claim. If any reader can enlighten us, we’d be grateful.

In this current report, “Noppadon challenged Gen Phichit to submit evidence supporting the money laundering allegation to the Department of Special Investigation for legal action.”

The PAD-Privy Council alliance re-energized

30 07 2009

It appears that the signature campaign for a royal pardon for Thaksin Shinawatra by the UDD is re-energizing PAD and the privy council. The Bangkok Post (30 July 2009: “Pardon fight gains pace”) reports that the PAD leadership has had an emergency meeting.

The Post reports that: “The People’s Alliance for Democracy, the Privy Council and the Bhumjaithai Party have made clear they oppose the petition and are pressing Prime Minister Abhisit Vejjajiva to prevent it going ahead.”

PAD leader Phibhop Dhongchai said “the petition was a political move that would affect the monarchy and the judicial process as well as national security. The petition would put national security at risk by worsening the rifts between members of the public…”. He added that the “government is obliged to protect the monarchy and the country’s judicial system…”.

A military source reportedly “close to Privy Council president Prem Tinsulanonda said Gen Prem was concerned about the strategy of Thaksin’s supporters. He was reluctant to take action however as it concerned political conflicts, the source said. He said some privy councillors who were former military top brass had questioned why the government and the military were doing nothing to stop the red shirts from submitting the petition.”

As usual, the myth that the monarchy is not involved in politics was raised: “They viewed the petition as an attempt to possibly drag the monarch into politics and put pressure on him.”

It was reported that a “Privy Council source said Gen Prem had raised the issue of the red shirts’ petition at the Privy Council meeting on Tuesday. However, the Royal Household Bureau yesterday denied the council had discussed the issue. The bureau’s comments were seen as an attempt to protect the Privy Council from attack for interfering in politics.”

It may be a bit late for that and in any case, it seems to be a deliberate lie for “Privy Councillor Pichitr Kullavanijaya yesterday insisted members of the Privy Council had agreed the royal pardon move was inappropriate.” In addition, the “Privy Council source said Gen Surayud Chulanont, a privy councillor and former prime minister, had raised the issue with army chief Anupong Paojinda, asking him what the army could do about it.”

Gen Anupong reportedly “told Gen Surayud that although the military was concerned the royal pardon petition could trouble His Majesty, it could not do anything directly because the petition was a political move, the source said. The only way to block the red shirt campaign was to mobilise social pressure against them, Gen Anupong was quoted as saying.”

Privy Councilor and military target Thaksin

6 04 2009

There are repeated claims that, like the monarch they serve, privy councilors are “above politics.” Indeed, Privy Council president and former Amy commander and prime minister General Prem Tinsulalond recently made this claim yet again.

Now another privy councilor has made comments that show this “non-political” claim to be nonsense.

In a recent and widely-reported interview, Privy Councilor General Pichitr Kullavanijaya (Bangkok Post, 3 April 2009: “Phichit: What privilege protects Thakskin?”) apparently claimed that “privy councillors were not engaged in politics, as claimed by Thaksin.”

This refers to Thaksin’s claims that privy councilors General Surayud Chulanont and General Prem were involved in bringing down Thaksin’s government.

General Pichitr then engaged in “non-political politics” attacking Thaksin, reportedly expressing that he was “unhappy with the government’s failure to act against Thaksin Shinawatra, while the prime minister says the government is ready to talk with the fugitive former premier.” The general went on to attack Thaksin for evading jail and using “… improper words to criticise the high institution [the monarchy], yet nothing was being done about it.” He asked: “Why is it that, continuously, no action has been taken against him?” he said.

General Pichitr urged the government to investigate Thaksin and expose “the facts to the public, especially about how Thaksin could shift a large amount of money to an island notorious for money laundering.”

Just a few days later, following Thaksin’s lawyers making a legal complaint about these money laundering claims, General Pcihitr (Bangkok Post, 6 April 2009: “Pichitr undaunted by Thaksin’s threat”) repeated his allegations, saying that the former prime minister “laundered huge amounts of money through the Cayman Islands,” adding that he was “not worried by the fugitive politician’s threat of a defamation suit.”

The Post further reported that “Gen Pichitr insisted on Monday that all the accusations he made against Thaksin were the truth — including laundering 100 billion baht of unusual wealth and making improper comments relating to the monarchy.”

Pichitr’s claim was that “Thaksin had been spending his laundered money on organising political movements in Thailand…”.

General Pichitr claimed that “… he would invite US ambassador Ralph Boyce, who provided him with the information, to reveal the details about Thaksin’s money in the Cayman Islands…”.

No politics here!

Interestingly, former US Ambassador to Thailand Ralph Boyce has now been revealed as a possible source of two pieces of critical information for the anti-Thaksin forces: this Cayman Islands report and an earlier letter between Thaksin and then President George Bush. Boyce was seen by some to be close to many in the anti-Thaksin movement during the time he was ambassador and some believe that he was supportive of the 2006 coup and the military-backed government led by General Surayud.

Meanwhile, the Bangkok Post (6 April 2009: “Coup-makers offer Thaksin bounty”) reports that “military officers and businessmen who backed the 2006 coup that unseated Thaksin Shinawatra have offered a bounty of one million baht (about $28,348) for his arrest and return to Thailand.”

This “anti-Thaksin group, headed by former military junta member Gen Somjate Boonthanom,” echoed Pichitr’s charges that “Thaksin has led anti-government protesters in slandering the royal institution several times, and wants him back to serve his jail sentence.”

Gen Somjate, close to the junta’s Council for National Security’s (CNS) “charged that Mr. Thaksin is the root cause of the [country’s political] problem.”

He said that “the bounty has been put up by the group of unidentified business leaders. It will be paid to anyone who can bring Thaksin to Thailand to face his two-year prison sentence on corruption charges.” He believed that political turmoil “could end if Thaksin is brought back to face justice and further prosecution…”.

General Somjate “also distributed what he called the ‘first statement’ charging that Thaksin and his red-shirted supporters from the United Front for Democracy against Dictatorship (UDD) had ‘slandered the royal institution both openly and secretly’ since he was forced from power two and a half years ago.”

As the privy councilors are attacked and as they counter Thaksin’s charges, a range of forces are being mobilized to oppose the UDD and Thaksin. As PPT has pointed out previously, the movement of the monarchy to political centre stage is potentially dangerous.

For the government, it is increasingly PAD supporter, royalist and current Foreign Minister Kasit Piromya who is taking the hardest line against Thaksin and the UDD, and Prime Minister Abhisit Vejjajiva increasingly looks isolated and only useful so longas he can present Thailand’s case convincingly to international audiences.

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