Out of hospital and (still) campaigning II

26 03 2023

The Straits Times has a useful story regarding the Move Forward Party and the appearance of Tantawan Tuatulanon and Orawan Phuphong, as posted yesterday. The story, focused on Move Forward, is part of a series on Thailand’s key personalities and political parties as The Straits Times follows the campaign trail for the 2023 election.

It is a long an interesting story and PPT focuses on the part referring to lese majeste.

It was on 24 March, in Chonburi that Tawan and Bam climbed on the Move Forward campaign stage “with a sign [a ballot] asking people to vote to ‘abolish’ or ‘amend’ Thailand’s lese majeste law.”

Clipped from Bangkok Post

Party leader Pita Limjaroenrat welcomed them and allowed them to speak. “He then votes by placing a sticker in the ‘Abolish’ column on their poster. The 10 Chonburi constituency candidates behind him follow suit.”

Pita then said: “However, I must apologise, but the party must push for amendments first…”. He said that “if the amendments are still rejected, the party will push for its abolishment.” He told the crowd: “This is why the people of Chonburi must elect our candidates to step forward, so we have enough votes to solve political problems…”.

Out of hospital and (still) campaigning I

25 03 2023

Tantawan Tuatulanon and Orawan Phuphong were only discharged from Thammasat University Hospital on Thursday. It had taken 12 days for medicos to nurse them back to health after their 52-day fast.

Yet, as the Bangkok Post reports,

Within hours they were in Ayutthaya, attending a Pheu Thai Party campaign event for the May 14 general election. Carrying a large placard, they began to circulate through the crowd, asking party faithful to mark down whether they favoured repealing Section 112 of the Criminal Code, the royal defamation law. A second question asked whether freedom and economic prosperity were possible at the same time.

Clipped from Bangkok Post

The two women approached the party’s campaign stage, and were “eventually allowed onstage. Paetongtarn Shinawatra, the face of the party and presumptive prime ministerial candidate, made some general remarks about freedom of expression and the moment passed without incident.”

The Post gleefully writes: “Like most parties campaigning for the May 14 poll, Pheu Thai does not want to make lese-majeste an issue, or even mention it at all, beyond saying that is open to discussing possible amendments.”

It then seems to want to attack Move Forward:

On Friday evening, Ms Tantawan and Ms Orawan — Tawan and Bam to their supporters — took their campaign to a Move Forward rally in Chon Buri, where they found an enthusiastic reception. Party leader Pita Limjaroenrat even invited them onstage and expressed support for their efforts.

It adds:

Only Move Forward has an explicit policy proposal to reform the law to reduce the current harsh punishments. The party also says that only the Bureau of the Royal Household should be allowed to file criminal complaints. Currently, anyone can file a lese-majeste complaint against anybody else and the police are obliged to investigate it.

Tantawan and Orawan have said they will “visit all the parties, even the ‘dictatorial’ ones, on the campaign trail to find out where their leaders and supporters stand on the lese-majeste issue.”

The Post suggests potential violence if they show up at the United Thai Nation (Ruam Thai Sang Chart) party “fronted by the acting prime minister, Gen Prayut Chan-o-cha, the reception might be less than warm. One of the big names who joined the party this week is Dr Rienthong Nanna, a ultra-royalist vigilante infamous for inciting supporters to go after reformist activists.”

This reporting is lop-sided, but at least the report includes available data on lese majeste cases long-missing from the Post’s reporting. We can probably thank Tawan and Bam for that!

Pushing forward on 112

2 02 2023

Those who have opposed the hunger strike by Tantawan Tuatulanon and Orawan Phuphong in favor of glacial change (maybe) might be scratching their heads as the regime realizes that the hunger strikers – now four and with a third taken to hospital – are a threat, especially as an election looms (maybe).

The Move Forward Party is also pushing for the regime to get off its collective fat butt as it “renewed calls for bail to be granted to political detainees…”. Party leader Pita Limjaroenrat “lodged a motion requesting a debate on what he described as the urgent need for Thailand to strictly follow the international principle of the presumption of innocence.” He’s implying that 112 suspects are presumed guilty.

The regime has moved. Justice Minister Somsak Thepsutin finally suggested that a response is possible. Thai Newsroom reports:

Somsak who yesterday visited the hunger strikers at the hospital vowed to take his part in averting sort of a political crisis and to see to it that bail will be finally granted by court for the political detainees, most of whom being adolescents, whilst those who may not be given bail could probably be held in house arrest in lieu of jail.

According to the justice minister, EM bracelets might no longer be used with such a type of detainee after they have been released under bail or probably put in house arrest.

Somsak also confirmed that the authorities will consider amending laws and regulations pertaining to the judicial process applicable to lese majeste and sedition cases but stopped short of elaborating.

Responding to the opposition he said: “It touched me deeply that young persons are so determined to risk their lives…”. It is reported:

Somsak said his ministry will hold talks with the National Human Rights Commission and related agencies to address problems in justice system, especially when it comes to granting bail to those awaiting trial. The ministry will also set up a fund to help those who cannot afford bail, he added.

Small but necessary steps.

Targeting Move Forward

29 06 2022

The military-royalist regime rigged the 2019 election. As its political stocks plummet, the regime and its allies are continuing to work on yet another unlikely election victory.

While the Move Forward Party has been cleared of serious charges that might have led to its dissolution, there is still much effort going into a ban before the next election.

As Thai PBS reports, the Election Commission somewhat unexpectedly rejected former adviser to the Ombudsman Natthaporn Toprayoon’s fabricated complaint “accusing Move Forward of taking actions between August 2020 and January 2021 that were aimed at overthrowing Thailand’s rule of democracy with the King as head of state.”

According to the report, Natthaporn’s “petition outlined 10 actions by the party’s MPs and executives, including party leader Pita Limjaroenrat and secretary-general Chaithawat Tulathon, that he claimed had breached Articles 45 and 92 of the Political Parties Act, which prohibits political parties from encouraging or supporting anyone to create unrest, undermine social order or oppose the laws of the country.”

Natthaporn essentially accused Move Forward of anti-monarchism. He blasted “party MPs [for] using their positions to bail out arrested protesters accused of lese majeste or sedition” and he complained that “the party’s support for NGO iLaw’s draft bill to amend chapters in the Constitution regarding the monarchy and integrity of the Kingdom, as well as the party’s resolution seeking amendments to Article 112 of the Penal Code or the lese majeste law” were moves against feudalism the monarchy.

He was following up on his earlier successful petition that the Constitutional Court accepted, making monarchy reform treasonous.

The quite mad Natthaporn’s response to the complaint being ditched was to threaten “to sue the election commissioners and seek a ruling on whether their decision to dismiss the complaint was lawful.”

But there’s more to come:

Along with pressure from Natthaporn, Move Forward is also facing other complaints seeking its disbandment, including one filed by Ruangkrai Leekitwattana, a politician from the ruling Palang Pracharath Party. In August last year, he filed a petition with the EC to disband Move Forward on grounds that its proposal to reduce the budget allocated to the crown for 2022 was a hostile act against the Thai democratic regime with King as head of state.

Buffalo manure bail

26 05 2022

The Criminal Court is behaving badly. In recent times, various courts have “granted” bail to monarchy reform protesters that is so restrictive as to be appropriately termed bullshit bail.

On Thursday, the court “granted” bail to Tantawan Tuatulanon but only for 30 days. In previous cases, the courts have given bail to monarchy reform activists charged under the lese majeste law, usually for limited terms of several months. This is quite a legal “innovation.” For Tantawan, a 30 day bail is ludicrous.

It seems her temporary release is simply a way for the prison system to temporarily deal with her hunger strike. As we understand it, Tantawan went straight to hospital.

That she is out of jail is perhaps cause for some joy, but the court is actually granting bail for continuing detention. This ludicrous court has set other conditions, including electronic monitoring and has restricted her to her home, except in medical emergencies.

In other words, she has been moved from jail to house arrest.

Move Forward Party leader Pita Limjaroenrat posted bail and agreed to supervise her.

The courts have reached a new low in their “protection” of the monarchy.


Updated: Trampling remaining freedoms V

11 08 2021

It has been a busy few days and PPT is catching up on some of the reports, in this case, from Thai Enquirer.

In one report, there’s an account of a “document that was leaked to the press on Monday evening purportedly show[ing] a government watchlist of dissidents that is under government surveillance and facing travel restrictions.”

The document, initially said to be “fake” by a military source, it listed “some of the most prominent anti-government protesters along with opposition parliamentarians and journalists.” Some of those included were “Move Forward Party Leader Pita Limjaroenrat, former Future Forward Leader Thanathorn Juangruangroongkit, protest leader Anon Nampa, and journalist Pravit Rojanaphruk.”

The report refers to “the list is real is a worrying escalation of the administrations war on civil liberties.” It cites political analyst Arun Saronchai who states:

Not only is the administration using continuous violence and arrest against peaceful protesters but this document is troubling because it includes members of the press and politicians as well….

That means to the government, they will paint anyone that opposes them with the same brush. What we need to understand now is what membership on this list entails and what kind of surveillance is being done against them….

A second report is of the police “seeking software that would help it monitor chat applications and social media private messages…”. The report states that the “Royal Thai Police have reached out to several companies selling software similar to the Pegasus software developed by an Israeli defense company.” The reason for this is that they want to digitally snoop on those using “popular chat applications like LINE, WhatsApp, and Telegram.”

Police want to “prevent political protest as well as go after members of organized crime and drug smugglers…”. We can guess that the main reason would be to crack down further on anti-monarchism.

This kind of news explains why protesters are targeting police. They are becoming the regime’s Stasi.

Update: The document mentioned in the first report above now seems genuine. The police’s Immigration Bureau seem to say it is their document but they did not release it. They seem to want to deny it is a political blacklist, saying it is an immigration blacklist. They say it is people who are watched on leaving and entering the country. But that lame claim fails to explain why, for example, a reporter with no warrants for his arrest is on the list or why political figures without warrants are also there. It is a political blacklist for harassing people and making their life difficult and to demonstrate the state’s arbitrariness and power.

Moving forward ever so slowly

11 02 2021

The Move Forward Party announced that, despite intense pressure and an internal nest of 112 traitors, “it will propose the decriminalization of defamation and reduction of penalties for acts of lèse majesté.”

Party leader Pita Limjaroenrat said the party “will propose a set of five bills to parliament, including one eliminating imprisonment as a penalty for defamation and another to put the lèse majesté law (Section 112 of the Criminal Code) into a chapter regarding offences against the honour or dignity of members of the Royal Family and the Regent.”

The reforms proposed are relatively minor but provoke intense opposition from rabid royalists and those with much to protect: the political and economic establishment.

Cranky yellow shirt and deputy leader of the regime’s Phalang Pracharath Party Paiboon Nititawan again became the voice of unreason, saying he will “he will file a court challenge if the opposition invokes the monarchy during the upcoming censure debate.”

The reforms proposed retain “the possibility of imprisonment being retained, but with the minimum sentence being removed.” We are sure that Paiboon trusts the royalists courts to do their assign protection of the monarchy job, even if there was no minimum sentence. But he frets about “chipping away” at privilege, wealth and power.

Pita even went to far as to reiterate that his party “has and does adhere to a democratic system with the King as the head of state and that the monarchy should be immune to criticism…”. The point of change, he said, is to ensure that “no one makes use of the monarchy’s status against their political opponents or the lèse majesté law to gag other people.”

That’s pretty timid and a long way from abolition of the draconian law, but this is what debate about the monarchy is reduced to in Thailand’s parliament.

Junta-style business (as usual) I

17 03 2020

While dithering and flip-flopping on anti-virus stuff, it is business as usual for the regime as its junta pedigree “shines” through.

The Nation reports that three members of the Future Forward Party have been charged with “organising a public rally at the Pathumwan Intersection Skytrain station on December 14 without seeking permission, blocking or interfering with train station services, organising a gathering without concern for the public, using speakers without permission and holding a public gathering within a 150-metre radius of the palace.”

We can’t help but see the last charge as definitional of junta style. The others are concocted to destroy the party – already kind of done – and to bury its star performers. It is another pile of junta-like buffalo feces.

How high can the junta pile it?

Piyabutr Saengkanokkul, Pannika Wanich and head of the Future Forward replacement party, Move Forward Party, Pita Limjaroenrat had to show up at the Pathumwan Police Station and answer the political charges and be fingerprinted and so on. The police aim to have them in court on 7 April, but this case is more about harassment, so expect it to be dragged out.

The three denied the accusations and police aim to file a case in court on April 7.

Piyabutr said the Public Assembly Act caused several problems, including a limitation that did not allow police to grant permission in time. He also said he would continue efforts to establish a political group to campaign on politics.

Meanwhile, former heroin smuggler, alleged mask profiteer and deputy agriculture minister Thammanat Prompao has told reporters he will “spend the next 14 days in self-quarantine after he came in contact with a man who tested positive for the novel coronavirus strain…”. He didn’t seem to say who or where or when. We suspect this is more Thammanat male cow manure and he’s just hiding out. Maybe he could sell masks online?

Related, the embattled head of the Internal Trade Department has resigned “amid allegations that he colluded with the hoarding and profiteering of millions of sanitary masks.” We wonder how well he knows Thammanat and his aide?

He “maintained he had nothing to do with the alleged stockpiling and sales of 200 million face masks to China.”

While on the topic of dipsticks, there’s the fascist Palang Pracharath Deputy Leader Paiboon Nititawan, who is interviewed at Thai Enquirer. How’s the regime being doing on the virus. Better than anyone else he says. Whatever he’s drinking, we want some of it.

Business as usual for the junta-cum-hopeless regime.

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