Nepotism in Bangkok

11 04 2020

As we mentioned in a previous post, authoritarianism seems to be spreading faster than the virus. The latest diktat issued in Bangkok bans alcohol sales for 10 days.

On this, the Bangkok Post’s Ploenpote Atthakor says:

I, like many other people, am baffled about the latest move: How it can help the country, Bangkok in particular, fight the disease? Unfortunately, no one can explain this to me sensibly or rationally.

But the thing that caught PPT’s attention was that Capt Pongsakorn Kwanmuang, spokesman of the Bangkok Metropolitan Administration (BMA), announced the ban at the Center for Covid-19 Situation Administration.

The spokesman, Capt Pongsakorn just happens to be the son of junta-appointed governor Pol Gen Aswin Kwanmuang.

It might be just another example of the nepotism that is so common in Thailand’s junta a post-junta regimes, but there should be questions asked. Or is nepotism now normalized?

A Potemkin village for The Dictator

7 09 2017

We have to say that the military dictatorship’s Thailand is pretty weird. Some might say surreal Orwellian. Yet a story by Ploenpote Atthakor at the Bangkok Post stretched that description even further. We read it in disbelief but eventually concluded that the bizarre has been normalized in a state where The Dictator is emperor-like.

To fully appreciate Thailand as a nightmarish Ripley’s Believe It or Not, the whole article must be read.

The Dictator and self-appointed Prime Minister, General Prayuth Chan-ocha was recently chauffeured to “a village in Khok Sung district, Sa Kaeo last week, part of his spectacular mobile cabinet meeting programme, which, at least initially, got off without a hitch.”

In smile mode, The Dictator “was met with open arms by the villagers, as he came bearing gifts, in this case, farmland documents.”

The village was neat and well-provided with amenities, or so it seemed:

The PM pressed a button and voila! Tap water was flowing. Gen Prayut even saw — and was made to believe — the village had electricity, with poles and wires lining the road he travelled.

But the high spirits (and lights) quickly dimmed. Gone with the prime minister and his luminaries were the running water and electricity.

The villagers “found themselves in a Thai version of a Potemkin village.”

When sprung, “local officials confessed that what Gen Prayut and his cabinet had seen was all for show. The electricity lasted long enough to stage a photo op. Even the utility poles were pulled up as soon as the prime minister pulled out.”

Of course, it was officials polishing the posteriors of the bosses. These are dangerous and threatening bosses, so the gloss must be bright and shiny, even when a lie. Keeping The Dictator happy protects jobs and avoids his temper. Of course, the polishers of higher up posteriors

… may expect a reward for such diligence…. They wanted to put on a big show to keep the regime happy, ensuring the higher-ups they had everything under control.

Democratic oranges and anti-democratic apples

8 07 2013

At the Bangkok Post there is yet another anti-democratic op-ed, as pointed out by several of PPT’s readers. One of the odd elements in this particular op-ed, by Ploenpote Atthakor, a Deputy Editorial Pages Editor at the Post, is the bizarre equation of Thailand’s small white masks group and “anti-government movements around the world,” including the protesters “at Taksim Square in Turkey to Tahrir Square in Egypt, with the Cairo movement eventually ending with a coup.”

That the “V for Thailand … group” might be compared with demonstrators in Egypt calling for a military coup makes some sense, but in terms of scale and complexity, there is simply no comparison. It is comparing oranges with apples.

That the white masked ones are described as “a gathering of people who simply want to maintain their anonymity” is odd too, for the group is just one more in a long line of activists opposing pro-Thaksin Shinawatra elected governments.

But the point for Ploenpote is to oppose parliamentary politics with a royalist propaganda claim of “dirty and corrupt politicians.” In Thailand, she assert, “it’s rampant corruption that drove people into the streets.” She adds that  “their concerns are more than valid.”

On the face of it, anti-corruption claims are motherhood/fatherhood statements, and there is no doubt that Thailand is riddled with corruption. But this particular “concern” can be shown to be just another restatement of a royalist mantra that is anti-politician and part of the anti-democratic movement to bring down yet another elected government. The use of “corruption” as a moral claim is also a political tool that has been used by both military and monarchy to justify “Thai-style democracy.”

If these “masked men and women” were really dedicated anti-corruption activists, would they be parading pictures of the monarchy and demanding that anyone who doesn’t love the king should leave Thailand? Wouldn’t they actually be interested in corruption? And if they were, where were they when the military has its dirty hands in the till? Where were they when the military-backed Democrat Party-led government was doling out funds to their political allies through the Thai khemkaeng projects?

Obviously, for these “anti-corruption” protesters, there is good corruption (theirs) and bad corruption (Thaksin-related).

This becomes all too obvious when Ploenpote slips from the anti-corruption message to one damning elected politicians for majoritarianism: “When a government is overly confident with its majority and wields the ‘we are democratically elected’ mantra to do whatever it wants, it’s not much different to a dictator.” She then makes the claim, “don’t get me wrong, I know a military dictatorship is much worse” than corrupt politicians, but heads off on an anti-elections rant, saying “[l]et me give some examples of why we are frustrated with our democracy.” While we don’t know who “we” really is, we can assume it is royalist yellow shirts, for the claims are their anti-democratic rhetoric:

Over 80 years since the country became a constitutional democracy in 1932, we have often witnessed the bad side of majority rule….

Thailand has only ever had majority rule in parliament from 2001 to 2006 and 2007 to 2008 and since mid-2011.In the latter two periods, voters have been steadfast in supporting the governments thrown out by unelected military thugs and unelected royalist judges.

… this thing called democracy has not helped us much in getting rid of unscrupulous politicians. The bad guys keep making parliamentary comebacks, and _ more often than not _ to the Norasingha mansion [Government House].

And so on…. to this:

We know it’s a case of democracy going wrong if a government, which claims to attach high importance to reconciliation, regards and treats those with different ideas as “enemies” and instead supports other groups, like red shirts, to counter and confront opposition and sometimes resort to intimidating acts.

This is an old theme for Ploenpote. PPT has only posted once previously on Ploenpote’s musings, when we noted that she attacked red shirts as undemocratic, and stated that she still had a long way to go before she understood the struggle for democracy in Thailand. Her musings, we said, amounted to an ignorant and pompous piece of self-delusional nonsense, made worse by a concocted attempt to appear tolerant when she simply hates red shirts. We added:

This is one of the worst pieces of  “journalism” we have seen for a couple of years. Her claim that “we have not gone anywhere” since 1973 is infantile, hypocritical and ahistorical dribble.

In the current op-ed, she concludes with a lamentable longing for a military coup like that seen in Egypt. She reckons the military is in the government’s pocket, but warns the government should watch out as “those in the silent majority lose their patience.”

Government should listen to the people, during elections and after, yet having the military or judiciary conspire to bring down an elected government is neanderthal nonsense. Maybe the Post needs to publish an edition chipped into stone.

Cockeyed opinions on democracy

20 10 2012

For Ploenpote Atthakor, apparently a Deputy Editorial Pages Editor at the  Bangkok Post, democracy is something that can’t possibly include red shirts. This Deputy Editorial Pages Editor at the Bangkok Post has recently had what she describes as her “first encounter with the people in red in the flesh.”

While it might be astounding that a Deputy Editorial Pages Editor at the Bangkok Post has never, ever had an “encounter” with red shirts, we can well understand that a Deputy Editorial Pages Editor at the Bangkok Post probably only hangs out with the yellow-shirted lot that tend to inhabit the Post.

This Deputy Editorial Pages Editor at the Bangkok Post says she:

happened to find myself in the middle of a red-shirt gathering at the Democracy Monument on Sunday. It was Oct 14, and the people in red were celebrating an historic event associated with our nation’s democracy _ the student-led uprising in 1973 against Field Marshal Thanom Kittikachorn and his clan.

She was obviously in the wrong place for the site was a center of red shirt activism recalling the historical struggle for democracy against the military and its palace backers of 16 years.

We know she was in the wrong place because she found it odd that the “main message was … a blasting of the military and dictatorship repeated again and again.” She probably meant to type Thonglor into her satnav rather than Rajadamnoen…. Or maybe she meant to go to the non-Democrat Party’s “men in black” rally at Lumpini Park? Certainly she was out of place at a rally celebrating democratic activism.

She asks a rhetorical question:

Come to think of it, isn’t it ironic that the commemoration of such an historic event was dominated by just one group? Doesn’t the sheer absence of other voices highlight the dark side of Thai democracy nowadays?

Our answer is, no, there is no darkness, unless you mean the proto-fascist ultra-royalists or the old conservative rightists in the palace. The message is that the average people of Thailand have stood up again, even when they know the military and the conservative elite may well cut them down again.

Ploenpote Atthakor, a Deputy Editorial Pages Editor at the Bangkok Post, still has a long way to go before she understands the struggle for democracy in Thailand. Her current musings amount to an ignorant and pompous piece of self-delusional nonsense, made worse by a concocted attempt to appear tolerant when she simply hates red shirts.

This is one of the worst pieces of  “journalism” we have seen for a couple of years. Her claim that “we have not gone anywhere” since 1973 is infantile, hypocritical and ahistorical dribble.

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