Further updated: Political custard congeals

20 01 2013

PPT has repeatedly noted how the political opponents of the Yingluck Shinawatra government and everything associated with Thaksin Shinawatra congeals around particular causes. While the yellow-hued lot have had their differences over various ultra-nationalist causes like Preah Vihear, the Democrat Party has now come into a gooey political mix with the People’s Alliance for Democracy and other “patriotic” – read xenophobic – groups to demand that the Foreign Ministry “protect Thailand’s national interest.” This refers to a small piece of land that has long been disputed by Thailand’s xenophobes despite a World Court decision in 1962 that went against the then military xenophobes.Yellow, gooey custard

Like the other ultra-nationalists, the Democrat Party and their vacuous – meaning devoid of any original idea – leader Abhisit Vejjajiva believe that Thailand will lose the “clarification case” at the Court, brought by the Cambodian government. Hence they are huffing and puffing about Thailand needing to “formally reject Phnom Penh’s claim that Thailand had intruded on Cambodian territory around Preah Vihear temple…”.

Abhisit supported the Thai Patriot Network, “which plans a rally … against the ICJ’s pending ruling, has the right to express its opposition to the court’s jurisdiction on the issue.” Of course they have the right, but Abhisit should be principled in rejecting ultra-nationalist maneuvering; he can’t because he lacks principles and hopes that demonstrations will further congeal the yellow custard opposition in trying to bring down the elected government.

Joining Abhisit in supporting the so-called Thai Patriot Network is the deep freeze political failure General Boonlert Kaewprasit of the yellow-shirted royalists of the Pitak Siam group. Of course, all of these groups are pretty much one and the same, but the media reports them as separate even when their political campaigns are coordinated. Boonlert says he “would not take part in the rally” but he handed over a list of 80,000 names from Pitak Siam to the other lot so they can mobilize together.

As far as we understand it, the Court’s decision is not for several months yet, so this mobilization is more about anti-elected government activism than anything else.

Update 1: A reader admonishes PPT for not pointing out that the Ministry of Foreign Affairs has also dived into the custard, rejecting the Court’s authority on this case.

Update 2: The Nation reports that the congealing of yellow/ultra-nationalist political forces continues, although the Thai Patriot Network only managed to rally several hundred supporters opposing the jurisdiction of the International Court of Justice. That demonstration was headed by PAD’s Chaiwat Sinsuwong. Chaiwat’s gaggle of mostly elderly protesters told the U.N. that it rejected ICJ jurisdiction and that “Thais were against the government and politicians who ‘betrayed’ the nation by handing over national interests to others.” There’s a social science thesis in this conception of “nation.” He claimed to have 1.2 million signatures opposing any ICJ ruling. The demonstrators also pressured the Army and then the Supreme Court “demanding that the head of the judiciary balance the government’s power to stop it from giving the country’s sovereignty away.” The latter visits were to allies, pushing them to take positions in the political-dispute-in-the-making.

Remarkably, Army boss General Prayuth Chan-ocha then chose to speak for the Army and government, saying that “the Army and the government were waiting for a ruling of the ICJ before planning the next move.” He added a rejection of the ICJ when he stated “… he preferred bilateral talks with the Cambodian government on how to settle the dispute over the plot near the Preah Vihear Temple.”

The congealing continues.


Updated: Boonlert resurrected

26 12 2012

It seems the resurrection is political. The Bangkok Post, in naming “newsmakers of 2012” makes a big deal of the failed General Boonlert Kaewprasit, predicting a new political life for the royalist military man despite the recent failure of the ultra-royalist Pitak Siam he helped to a minute of infamy.democracy

While the Pitak Siam dinosaur rally might have been an embarrassing failure led by the embarrassing failure that is Boonlert, as we noted this damp squib was not the end of the royalist fight to return government to the undemocratic forces of hierarchy and royalism.

Indeed, the Post seems to have determined that flash in the pan Boonlert will make a political comeback that will rescue the anti-democratic forces from the evil populists (the elected government). The Post decides that the flunked military manipulator:

… is the right fit for the role of movement leader. He served as president of the Class 1 alumni of the Armed Forces Academies Preparatory School; the alumni count many anti-Thaksin [Shinawatra] top brass among its ranks.

Gen Boonlert is also secretary-general of the Royal Turf Club, the venue of Pitak Siam’s first gathering, and he has the might and the means to drive the movement [PPT: they mean he has the palace connections].

There are times when the elite lot who run the Post simply can’t hide their anti-democratic political desires. It adds the (ultra-royalist) obvious:

He said he is a royal guard who has vowed to protect the monarchy with his life.pissing on the people

Seh Ai remains poised to resume anti-government activities, although these may not necessarily take the form of rallies.

”Rallies won’t topple the government,” he said. ”Only a coup can.”

Cheering the next coup is worse than supporting the last one. It is more bizarre than normal for the Post for the same issue has an editorial lambasting former deputy premier Suthep Thaugsuban for suggesting a coup against the democratically-elected Yingluck Shinawatra.

The elite and its babbling supporters in the mainstream media remain an unrepentant and perpetual opposition to any system of government that threatens elite control of economic and political power.

Update: Pitak Siam has been actively “protecting” its divine ones in recent days. The Bangkok Post reports that it “filed a complaint with Crime Suppression Division police against former supreme commander Gen Chaisit Shinawatra and organisers of a Muay Thai event in Macau on Dec 5, accusing them of insulting the monarchy.” The case was filed by acting chairman and aged military hack Admiral Chai Suwanphap. This relates to a sporting event in Macau that was broadcast on TV Channel 11 that allegedly “falsely announcing that the tournament’s winning team would be presented with a trophy sponsored by His Majesty the King.” More details are available at Bangkok Pundit. Police Lt-Col Kriangkrai Kwantrairat, a CSD investigator, accepted the complaint for consideration and was “also asked to find out if Thaksin [Shinawatra], his younger sister and Prime Minister Yingluck Shinawatra and PM’s Office Minister Sansanee Nakpong were also liable to other legal action.”  Protecting the monarchy is a full-time occupation for some at Pitak Siam.


The Constitutional Court affirms it is politically engaged and biased

16 12 2012

Continuing our Groundhog Day royalist political strategy, we turn to the judiciary. As we noted in our post on Anand  Panyarachun and the “policy corruption/this government is the worst ever” hocus pocus, PPT has posted on the op-ed coaching manual by Voranai Vanijaka pointed out, where he pointed out that the weapons that can be used against the elected government are tanks, streets and judges, and the the use of the mainstream media, conveniently, the president of the Constitutional Court has come out barking.

It is as if we are making this up at PPT, but it is the royalists, seemingly stunned by the quick crash and burn of Pitak Siam that has quickly turned to the other tools in its kit of anti-elected government workshop. Immediately after that event we noted the judiciary stepping up, but the story on Kangaroo Constitutional Court president at the Bangkok Post is simply remarkable.

Like Anand, Wasan Soypisudh believes the country has no future. Wasan’s elitist position is that “Thai people mostly don’t understand their own duties, don’t respect other people’s opinions. Democracy must be engaged with rational discussion, not the dictatorship of the majority…”. Wasan_Soypisudh

Essentially, this rather dull man thinks he, as a member of the judiciary that is meant to oversee the constitution – including the current military junta instituted one – is failing to comprehend its provisions. He reckons that Thais are pretty darn stupid and don’t think about democracy. It seems he fails to understand what has been happening for the past several years and the determination of people to make their votes count, even when defeated by royalists, judiciary and military.

Actually, it seems that it is Wasant who is pretty darn stupid, for he claims to be traveling around the country asking average people pretty darn stupid questions. The report lists several questions Wasan claims to have asked people in the Northeast.  Most questions apparently caused people to be stumped or confused. That’s because most of the questions simply make no sense.

Yet Wasan interprets these responses as evidence of “the ignorance of some Thai people about democracy, the rule of law and justice.” In fact, it is Wasan who is confused, He thinks people “mistakenly believe that if they win a general election and command the majority of seats in parliament, then they can do absolutely anything they please.” This is bizarre when it is Wasan and his unelected ilk who actually believe they can do whatever they want. For example Wasan’s court has ignored the constitution to do whatever it wants.

And we’ll simply ignore Wasan’s complete ignorance of international experience.

Unsurprisingly, Wasan took aim at “populist policies which people can become addicted to and which require a huge budget year after year, eventually leading to overwhelming public debt and causing the country to go bankrupt.” Anand was probably listening, although even he may have gagged at Wasan’s collapse of the Eurozone crisis with populism and government employment.

His final point expresses his elitist hatred of politicians: “This parliament is full of so many political animals swearing at each other.” But the saviors are  judges, just like Wasan: “The difference between politicians and judges is that we hold judges to higher moral and ethical standards.”

What he means is that the Constitutional Court is biased, corrupt and the royalist’s political tool. PPT has posted a lot on this, so we won’t link to them all. Instead, interested readers can follow this tag.

Updated: Tanks, streets and judges II

12 12 2012

[Update: we fixed an important type, now bolded in paragraph 3 below]

This is the second comment PPT has on Voranai Vanijaka at the Bangkok Post and his reflections on 10 December as Constitution Day. The first post is here.

PPT agrees with Voranai that since the “… general election victory on July 3, 2011, one of the … [Puea Thai Party’s] top mandates, if not the top mandate, has been to amend Section 291 of the constitution…”. In fact, since the time when royalists and generals, old and new, were telling red shirts and others that they could easily amend the junta’s 2007 constitution if elected as government, pro-Thaksin Shinawatra governments have had this mandate.

He is also right that any move to do what was promised by the elite that drafted the constitution and what has been mandated by elections, “has ignited controversy.” The reason for this, as he correctly observes, is that there:

have been accusations from the opposition Democrat Party that the move is part of a covert plan by the ruling government to overthrow the monarchy and part of a plot to pave the way for the exoneration and return of Thaksin Shinawatra. The former is preposterous and has been dismissed by the Constitution Court [PPT: not that anyone can take this kangaroo court seriously], while the latter is arguably the top priority of the ruling government.

Apparently Voranai does take this political court seriously when he demands that a public referendum be held, which is something not associated with constitutional change in the existing constitution, although Section 165 allows the Council of Ministers to call a referendum on any issue; it does not demand a referendum. Voranai chastises the Puea Thai Party for not accepting this political demand by the Constitutional Court. Sounding like a member of the Democrat Party, he blames Thaksin for this because “Thaksin wants to come back sooner rather than later. Who wouldn’t?” In fact, since then, Thaksin has since called for a referendum and so has cabinet, as the Thaksin strategy of appeasement continues.

In then noting the obstacles to the Puea Thai Party pushing ahead sans referendum – now a dead issue – Voranai sees three: “First, tanks in the streets; second, protesters in the streets; third, Constitution Court judges on the bench.” He discusses each element of the royalist opposition; the opposition is not dead on this issue, even if a referendum is held. He asserts:

Regarding tanks in the streets, the verdict is very noncommittal; the scenario is always possible, but unlikely. This is no longer 2006 and if we are to believe news reports, Prime Minister Yingluck Shinawatra has done a good job of pacifying the generals. Also, the dangerous consequences of tanks in the streets must be seriously considered. But then again, this is Thailand.

He then moves to street protests and provides strategic advice to potential protesters: “If we take the rally staged last month by the Pitak Siam group led by General Boonlert Kaewprasit as the dress rehearsal, then the government is in a good position.” The reason is that General Boonlert was a silly old duffer and Voranai demands a better movement. He says that opposing the elected government means “putting protesters in the streets to affect the outcome [and] will require leadership, organisation and resolve.” In his call for opposition on the streets he adds: “In this case, the verdict is that it doesn’t matter if every single Thai except for the 15 millions who voted Pheu Thai are anti-Thaksin. Without leadership, organisation and resolve, all is for naught.” The best hope is “judges on the bench,” but Voranai isn’t sure that even the royalist judges have the necessary backbone. Even a “rallying cry to protect the monarchy might lack fervour when there isn’t actually a force trying to overthrow the institution.” Maybe they can create one, again. The only likely protest banner seems to be in Voranai’s hopeful eyes:

… at the mention of the name “Thaksin” half the country is liable to go into an epileptic fit and the possibility of him returning in triumph could be enough to put plenty of protesters in the streets. Pitak Siam at least showed that a number of people are willing to march; it’s just a matter of leadership, organisation and resolve.

This begs a question: Do the ordinary citizens who make up the anti-Thaksin movement have the stomach and the resolve that was demonstrated by their crimson-hued counterparts during April and May of 2010?

It sounds like a call to action and a demand for a yellow shirt leadership like that of PAD in 2008, with the political backbone for another long fight to overthrow another elected government.

In other words, like royalists of the past, Voranai is apparently ignoring the constitution, seeing it as little more than a tool for royalists. His claims of fickleness about the constitution in Thailand are central to his rallying call for opposing an elected government engaged in parliamentary activities mandated by an election that are legal and constitutional. None of that has ever bothered the royalists because popular mandate, law, constitution and elections are all rejected as legitimate whenever the mood takes them.

King demands show of support

2 12 2012

He may be old and sick, but if the reporting at the Bangkok Post is accurate, then the king is using his 85th birthday next week to demand yet another expensive show of loyalty. The Post states that the king:

has ordered royal guards from 12 battalions to line up in formation on the grounds of the Ananta Samakhom Throne Hall instead of the Royal Plaza to allow more room for the masses of well-wishers and a closer view when he appears before a grand audience on Dec 5….

Some 2,126 royal guards are being ordered to change locations as the king “wants more space to be given to hundreds of thousands of well-wishers expected to turn up there and wants them to be at the closest distance to him.” This is quite a remarkable expression of the king’s need to have a large show of loyalty. No government agency will now do anything other than make sure that “hundreds of thousands” fill the necessary space.

As usual, millions in taxpayer funds are being shelled out so that “roads … [are] decorated with national and royal flags” and there will be the required posters, billboards and compulsory television broadcasts of the event which is dominated by the military swearing an oath of allegiance.

All of this may be put into the North Korea cult of personality basket yet PPT has a feeling that, watching the failure of the royalist Pitak Siam, the continuing popularity of the current government, and the troubles monarchies have in the Middle East, especially in Bahrain and the displays of royal disloyalty in Jordan, the king thinks that another show of “loyalty” and “love” is his best medicine.

Pitak Siam fails, judiciary steps up

1 12 2012

As PPT has pointed out in the past, the anti-red shirt/Thaksin Shinawatra/Puea Thai government alliance of royalists and neo-fascists has more than one string to its bow. While the Pitak Siam dinosaur rally might have been an embarrassing failure led by an embarrassing failure, this is not the end of the royalist fight to return government to the undemocratic forces of hierarchy and royalism. It has repeatedly been claimed and demonstrated that one of the main weapons for the royalists is control of the courts.

That control was initiated early in the current king’s reign as royalists sought to wrest the political loyalty of judges away from People’s Party leader Pridi Phanomyong, who had established Thammasat University. The palace’s coaxing, which included bringing former senior judges into the Privy Council, has been successful and in recent years we have seen the king repeatedly making political demands of the judiciary and heard coaching from palace figures to influence the outcomes political cases.

Hence it is no surprise to see that as soon as the Pitak Siam rally has fizzled out, the judiciary jumps back into the political action. Two cases illustrate this. The first involves the Criminal Court, which has revoked bail of Puea Thai party list-MP and red-shirt leader Korkaew Pikulthong “for violating his bail conditions.” The Bangkok Post notes that Korkaew is one of six United Front for Democracy against Dictatorship leaders charged under the Abhisit Vejjajiva regime as “terrorists” for their leadership roles during the red shirt rallies of 2010. Another 18 were charged with the same political “crime” that carries the death penalty.

Naturally, it was a Democrat Party MP Nipit Intarasombat who filed the petition asking the court to withdraw bail from red shirt leaders. Nipit is an ultra-royalist who has previous used lese majeste allegations against his political opponents. As the Constitutional Court sees itself as kind of royal-like and thus above all criticism, that Korkaew criticized it is cause for sanction, so he gets thrown in jail. Most regular readers will know that the Constitutional Court is politically-biased and corrupt. It is protected by this action in the Criminal Court and red shirts are suitably warned that they are not meant to criticize the royalist institutions.

To add to that warning, the Criminal Court dismissed the challenge to bail granted to other red shirt leaders but has moved to silence them, “banning them from speaking or taking part in political demonstrations and from leaving the country.”

Meanwhile, in another Bangkok Post story, the judiciary gets into the act again, with the Central Administrative Court halting Defence Minister Sukumpol Suwanatat’s move to strip Democrat Party leader Abhisit Vejjajiva of his military rank when the military investigated and found Abhisit “had used fraudulent documents to apply for and obtain a job as a lecturer at Chulachomklao Royal Military Academy.”

The courts continue to play royalist politics and their power cannot be underestimated in the royalist struggle to unseat yet another elected government and to “punish” red shirts.

Taking up arms for the monarchy

29 11 2012

A Bangkok Post photo

Most observers of Thailand’s politics know that the military brass have long claimed that their chief role is as the armed protectors of the monarchy, the royalist elite and the royalist state. Thousands of Thais considered political opponents have died at the hands of the military as it plays the role of the monarchy’s protector and enforcer.

Retired military officer and failed leader of the undemocratic Pitak Siam General Boonlert Kaewprasit has told the media that his is a semi-retirement from the dinosaur royalist brigade.  He “says the only thing that would prompt him to lead another rally against the government is a severe insult to the monarchy.”

If that happens and Boonlert decides to rally to “protect” the monarchy, then he says “protesters will have to carry arms so that they can protect themselves from being harmed by the government’s security officers again…”.

While arms and the monarchy seem forever tied together, Boonlert reckons that the current military brass left him and his mob in the lurch when he provided the brass with an opportunity to intervene. He says: “I am hurt…. I no longer want to have anything to do with the army as it failed to help people who were oppressed by the police…”. He is revealing shen he adds:

He said he made a phone call to 1st Army Region commander Lt Gen Paiboon Khumchaya when police fired tear gas at the protesters. The 1st Army Region headquarters is located nearest the rally site, and he hoped the army would step in to protect the protesters.

Boonlert says Lt Gen Paiboon, Army boss General Prayuth Chan-ocha and his deputy, General Dapong Rattanasuwan were “not helpful.” We guess that Boonlert was led to believe that violence would prompt the military to political action. We suspect that the pathetic turnout for Pitak Siam made intervention impossible.

The arms are in waiting.

Looney Thailand

26 11 2012

Looney Tunes is an American cartoon series that has been running for years. It has had some zany characters ranging from Foghorn Leghorn to Elmer Fudd.

What has this got to do with Thailand? It seems to PPT that since the arrival and quick political demise of Pitak Siam – watch for the sequel, Saving Thailand II – the past couple of days have seen the emergence of crazy characters better suited to cartoon characterizations.

First, elite hero Korn Chatikavanij is reportedly making comments about the elected government and Hitler. As readers know, the Democrat Party is kind of fond of references to Hitler and Nazi salutes, but when Korn starts this stuff, he seems like Basil Fawlty in the Fawlty Towers episode on the Germans. Basil may be just a looney and not a Looney Tune, but the cartoon-like character can’t be denied for him or Korn.

Second, Boonlert Kaewprasit has resigned as leader of Pitak Siam, and the Bangkok Post says “he would have no hand in organising future political protests.” A relief to some, although such a cartoon-like character, prone to silly statements and outlandish claims might seem like a cross between Mr. Fudd and Yosemite Sam.

That he has had to deny accepting “money from fugitive former prime minister Thaksin Shinawatra to end the mass rally at the Royal Plaza on Saturday,” makes it clear how cartoon-like the ultra-royalists have become. Any time political things go badly for them they resort to the claim that Thaksin has bought, duped or hired.

Source: International News Photo and 2Bangkok.com

Cartoon characters are usually just silly and funny. Nobody believes Elmer or Sam are real but they are a bit of harmless fun. Boonlert and Korn are not harmless, and as senior figures are not meant to be comic figures of derision. Yet the elite in Thailand seems to have quite a lot in common with Monty Python’s upper class twits and with cartoon caricatures – think of the appearance of the royal family itself. Yet they remain dangerous for their great economic wealth, seemingly infinite capacity for political meddling and an almost genetic disposition against democratic forms of government.

What the WSJ should have reported

25 11 2012

The Wall Street Journal has usually been pretty reasonable in reporting events in Bangkok in recent years. However, their report on the Pitak Siam rally appears to us to have a wrong-headed slant in it. Hence, we take the liberty of suggesting how it should have been written:

Thai Protest Fizzles: Rejected as Undemocratic by Most Thais

An anti-government rally in Bangkok fizzled as it failed to attract any support from the majority of Thais. Amid torrential tropical downpours Saturday, the disappointed organizers – a group of military- and palace-linked troglodytes – called off their failed attempt to destabilize and bring down the elected government led by Yingluck Shinawatra.

After a few hundred thugs attacked police lines, the stench of tear gas wafted through two or three streets of the old section of the Thai capital in a reminder of how Prime Minister Yingluck Shinawatra is struggling to consolidate her elected regime in the shadow of one of Asia’s most  conservative politicians, most of them associated with the military and palace and all claiming to be supporters and protectors of the divisive and politicized monarchy.

These aged leaders and their supporting demonstrators say it is the continuing influence of Thaksin Shinawatra, who was ousted in a military coup six years ago, that they oppose. However, it is clear that what they really oppose is the idea that non-elite people can elect a government of their choice. In other words, these protesters attack democracy.

Police arrested 138 demonstrators and released all but one without charge. The one charged drove a large truck into police, injuring several.

In many ways, Saturday’s protest, while smaller than expected, was a throwback to the days when royalist demonstrators massed in Bangkok in 2006 and 2008 to throw out elected governments.

When Ms. Yingluck was elected in a landslide in July 2011, there began an rapprochement between the populist Thaksin camp and Thailand’s conservative military and civil service, helped along by the country’s relatively strong economic performance this year. But royalist hatred of Thaksin, Yingluck and of democracy remained.

The buildup to Saturday’s rally was punctuated by claims that Ms. Yingluck’s government operates with the single purpose of furthering Mr. Thaksin’s long-term political aims, although there has been little evidence that her government is actually doing more than implementing its stated policies that saw it win a massive electoral victory. More than 90% of Thais opposed the Pitak Siam rally, suggesting that Yingluck’s government retains strong popular support

It is expected that the defeat of Pitak Siam will see the undemocratic forces rethink, regroup and seek more violent and conspiratorial means to bring down the government. And so on….


Updated: Debriefing the failed anti-democrats

25 11 2012

The Pitak Siam rally fizzled, with only 10-20,000 showing up and suggesting that the use of the Internal Security Act was a political mistake. While some of the protesters turned almost immediately to violence, they had little support and the police were well-prepared.

The Nation has a partial timeline of events.

Also at The Nation is an account of protest leaders demanding confrontation by their supporters:

Claiming to be fighting for the monarchy, leaders of the Pitak Siam group twice told protesters to confront a police cordon and to try to break through it yesterday – the second time just before 2pm at the Misakawan Intersection near Government House.

“We’re doing this for our King, are we not?” asked a female protest leader through a loudspeaker on top of a truck just a stone’s throw from the Misakawan Intersection, where rows of police were standing. Many officers in the front row were wearing gas masks while holding transparent fibreglass anti-riot shields. “What about the police? They work for bad politicians!” the female leader said.

Leaders repeatedly urged supporters to push forward against the police:

many pushing and kicking the police shields, with some throwing fist-sized rocks and others hurling home-made fireworks. One protester pepper-sprayed a police officer in the front row. Hell broke loose as police hit back with batons and about half a dozen tear gas canisters were fired, sending everyone without gas masks, myself included, running away from the suffocating and acidic bite of the gas, which engulfed the intersection within seconds.

Old soldiers like Boonlert Kaewprasit repeatedly phoned military allies and urged protesters on by claiming that the military would come to their support.

Boonlert said he cancelled the rally “because the number of participants was smaller than expected. He blamed this on efforts by authorities and police to prevent many prospective protesters from taking part.” He added: “General Boonlert is already dead. I have lost to evil…”.

The evil he lost to was that he allowed himself to be a stooge for evil and anti-democractic royalists who hate elections, voters and democracy.

Update: The Bangkok Post reports that “137 protesters of the Pitak Siam group arrested following clashes with police yesterday have been freed without charges, People’s Alliance for Democracy (PAD) lawyer Puangthip Boonsanong said on Sunday.” One Pitak Siam detainee was “the driver of a six-wheel truck which broke through a police barrier at Makkhawan Rangsin bridge yesterday, wounding a number of police.” The truck driver remains in jail.

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