Only double standards II

4 11 2017

Back at the end of October, the Bangkok Post ran what seems to us like an advertorial on the National Anti-Corruption Commission. We say it is an advertorial because it is full of glosses, fibs and outright lies.

On the 18th anniversary of its establishment, the Office of the National Anti-Corruption Commission is a failure. It is a politicized puppet of the military junta.

It claims to have zero tolerance for corruption, but as this blog has repeatedly demonstrated, this is a lie. For example, it has not taken action in any of the corruption allegations made of the military dictatorship. For the junta zombies, this inaction translates this way:

During the past two years, the ONACC has worked laboriously with the sole purpose of correcting the corruption culture and has brought about satisfactory results on all three aspects of their duty – anti-corruption, inspection of assets and liabilities, and prevention measures.

All of this is a nonsense. Hundreds of junta appointees have levels of wealth far in excess of their salaries. Not one investigation or case. Nepotism claims go unheeded. Big corruption cases languish in NACC twilight.

The NACC claims to have “conducted more in-depth investigations which have resulted in a 4.5-fold increase in total seizure and forfeiture of property due to official malfeasance.” But, as far as we can tell, none from the ruling junta.

The NACC “vision of Zero Tolerance & Clean Thailand” is a sad joke.

Just a few days later, Wasant Techawongtham the Bangkok Post’s former news editor had an op-ed slamming rising corruption:

When the military junta took over the government, Gen Prayut Chan-o-cha proclaimed to loud cheers an age of reform.

Henceforth, there’d be no more bad politicians, no more bad officials, no more disharmonious squabbles and no more corruption. Hallelujah!

Only good people would have a rightful place in society. No more division of red and yellow, only good and bad. Needless to say, those who followed the junta’s lead are good.

The bad people either have to have their attitudes adjusted or, in the worse case, be put away in jail where they would not be able to spoil the rest of us.

Result? The “supposedly good people in government do something that calls into question their definition of goodness.” They are corrupt, snouts in the trough.

Gen Anupong Paojinda and General Preecha Chan-ocha are just two serial offenders. Then the most recent cases of nepotism involving General Preecha and Meechai Ruchupan.

No accountability, no embarrassment about being hypocrites, no help from anti-corruption organizations and the media remains hamstrung by the dictatorship.

As Wasant says, these stories “could be just the tip of the iceberg.”

But if it is, there’s not much chance the NACC will do anything. It is nobbled.

We can be certain of this. The puppet National Legislative Assembly (NLA) has appointed former national police chief Pol Gen Patcharawat Wongsuwan to a panel scrutinising the draft organic law on the NACC.

We can be pretty sure that virtually every senior policeman has been corrupt during his service. We say this because police generals are even wealthier than their corrupt military counterparts.

This general is also the younger brother of Deputy Prime Minister Prawit Wongsuwan.

He was appointed with Pol Lt Gen Boonrueng Polpanich, a member of the NLA. Both have been accused of unusual wealth.

They are supposed to be under investigation by the NACC, yet it was their buddy NACC chairman Pol Gen Watcharapol Prasarnrajkit who “came out to defend the appointment of two legislative panelists…”. He revealed that the “two cases have not yet reached the inquiry stage…”.

We can be pretty sure they never will be seriously investigated. We can be pretty sure of this because it is reported that those “cases” go back to 2010.

The NLA, the NACC and the junta are now covering up.

Police, petition, Abhisit and pardons

2 08 2009

The police and Abhisit

Last week PPT considered that Friday, 31 July would be an interesting day for the announcement by PM Abhisit Vejjajiva on the PAD’s Sondhi Limthongkul assassination plot (see here).

As we have posted since, it was an interesting day, but not for the reasons we had guessed at. Rather, the day turned into a bit of a farce as deals between Abhisit, Suthep Thaugsuban, Defence Minister Prawit Wongsuwan, and his brother Police General Patcharawat Wongsuwan, not to mention PAD, were all hastily cobbled together as tens of thousands of red shirts rallied and the anti-petition drive went up a gear (see our posts of the last 2-3 days).

Now the Bangkok Post (3 August 2009: “Sondhi case to be resolved in Sept”) reports that Abhisit has said that the case will not be “resolved” until September.

Abhisit has had to scramble over the past couple of days, and now says, “I respect everyone and treat all of them fairly. If I decide to dismiss anyone, the reason must be clear,” adding that he did not sack Patcharawat “who was seen by many, including the PAD, as an obstacle to the investigation, because: “I have set up three conditions. I want the case to progress, everyone must receive fair treatment and the investigation must not damage the state administration…”.

The last point is interesting.

Abhisit was to discuss the appointment of acting police chief Suthep. In his weekly television program, Abhisit said again that the police chief had offered to take leave (The Nation, 3 August 2009: “Abhisit insists police chief offered to take leave”).

More on the pardon

Meanwhile the pardon saga continues, with some claims that there are now 5.4 million signatures for the red shirt petition.

Abhisit used some of his weekly television address to attack the United Front for Democracy against Dictatorship, telling them they “should stop gathering signatures to request a royal pardon for convicted former premier Thaksin [Shinawatra], as the process did not meet the criteria and it was inappropriate to involve the monarchy in politics” (Bangkok Post, 3 August 2009: “PM: Thaksin pardon inappropriate”). Abhisit made the usual claim that “The royal pardon could only be sought by the convicted or one’s family members and the individual must serve an imprisonment sentence first.” He then added, “In this case, it looks like the objective is to oppose the court’s verdict and I see this as a political issue…”.

Abhisit yet again claimed that people were being misled. This claim deserves to be denigrated for it reveals a disdain for people making their own decisions, as in elections.

“He said the Interior Ministry had allowed people who signed up the pardon petition to withdraw their signatures by registering with the local officials because the organisers’ intention might not be appropriate.”

The UDD has pressed on (Bangkok Post, 2 August 2009: “UDD ignoring calls to back off”). The plan is to send the petition to the palace by 12 August following “accuracy checks.”

Interior Minister Chavarat Charnvirakul, who has “ordered provincial authorities to launch a counter-campaign against the UDD’s petition,” has resorted to a quite old-fashioned but seriously threatening tactic by announcing that the Provincial Administration Department would “examine the identity of all the signatories to petition.”

Not surprisingly, though, the Department admitted that it didn’t have a list. However there was a promise to look at the names after the petition had been submitted. The Department also had no information on “how many people wanted to withdraw their names from the UDD’s list.”

Abhisit has confirmed that this intimidation by checking names will take place (The Nation,3 August 2009: “Govt to verify signatures for Thaksin-pardon petition: PM”).

The Nation (3 August 2009: “Ex-supremo threatens use of force if pardon blocked”) reports that Chaiyasit Shinawatra yesterday “threatened opponents of ex-premier Thaksin” telling them “not to block the move to seek a Royal pardon for his cousin otherwise there could be use of force.” He is quoted as saying: “I do not want to see the country to fall into that situation, but when it reaches one point and they still block the move, then there could be [use of force], which I do not want to happen.” It is not clear why “use of force” is added to the quote.

Chaiyasit seemed to be saying that blocking the “red shirts from seeking a Royal pardon would be seen as distancing the monarchy from the people,” adding that “This is the desire of 5 million people. It is the voice of the people. They should not block them…”. He scoffed at the idea that “some people had been duped into giving their signatures,” saying it was “impossible that anyone could fool 5 million people.”

Turning the debate back to the royalists, he said: “Do not monopolise loyalty to the King, because the people and the monarchy are one.”

Thepthai Senpong, Abhisit’s personal spokesman, “condemned Thaksin for pressuring the monarchy by using his supporters to create bargaining power in his own interest.” He asked, “When will the red shirts stop? What they are doing has aggravated the situation and widened conflict in the country…”.

In the same issue of The Nation (3 August 2009: “Petition drive lacks what it seeks”) editorialists seem to acknowledge Chaiyasit’s turning of the royalist argument, and acknowledge that “Petitions were a fundamental part of the Thai monarchy’s earliest days dating back several hundred years, and if the red shirts want to revive the old tradition in an honest, humble manner, there is not much to criticise them for.” Later it is added that “The real issue, therefore, is not whether the red shirts have the right to petition…”. This is false history, but the admission is telling. In concluding it is stated: “Of course, this is a divisive issue. The critics are right about that. But aren’t all ‘petitions’ supposed to be controversial and divisive? If a case is a black-and-white issue then a petition is not needed. The red shirts, therefore, are right, but they are only half-right. While they can petition HM the King, they must not seek mercy by resorting to hostility or intimidation.” Have they been doing this? Is the implication that millions of signatures is intimidating to the king?

Baffling in Bangkok

2 08 2009

Following the current news in Bangkok at present is like a jigsaw puzzle with the pieces having to be found before they can be put together. PPT doesn’t have all the pieces, but here are the pieces we see.

Police chief on leave or not?

A few days ago the PAD called for the police chief to be fired over his alleged blocking of the investigation of the assassination plot against Sondhi Limthongkul. Deputy PM without a parliamentary seat, Suthep Thaugsuban claimed that there was no reason to sack Police General  Patcharawat Wongsuwan. Yesterday, Prime Minister Abhisit Vejjajiva came up with a grand compromise after days of discussions and manoeuvrings: the police chief would go on holiday for a month (The Nation, 1 August 2009: “Police chief on month’s leave”).

The Nation reported: “Abhisit took an unusual step by holding an impromptu news conference at The Emporium department store in Bangkok and announcing Patcharawat’s leave. He was supposed to hold the news conference earlier in the morning, but it had to be delayed due to further behind-the-scenes negotiations for the best face-saving way out. Abhisit said that starting next week, Patcharawat would take leave for 10 days, after which period he would be allowed to rest further so that the police chief would be out of his office for about a month. This move was initiated by Patcharawat himself, who also recommended that the annual reshuffle of police officers be suspended for the time being.”

Much of the press had the same story. Today, Patcharawat has denied that he is taking leave (Bangkok Post, 1 August 2009: “Police chief: I am not on leave”). Almost immediately, The Nation (1 August 2009: “PM insists Patcharawat agreed to take leave next week”) reports that Abhisit insists that Patcharawat is taking leave.

It looks like there is a stand-off with Abhisit clearly unsure what will happen next.

Linking the Sondhi assassination bid and the royal pardon petition

When the assassination bid first happened, there was an assumption that Thaksin Shinawatra was behind it. Then Sondhi Limthongkul came out to blame a range of people, from the military top brass to police and people close to the palace (see here and here and here).

Over the past couple of days, though, it seems that he has had second/third/fourth thoughts about this, and has been strongly hinting that Thaksin is involved. First he claimed that the person behind the plot was overseas and he has made further similar statements.

PPT wonders if the increased temperature over the Thaksin “royal pardon” bid is causing this change of heart?

Now General Chaisit Shinawatra, a cousin of Thaksin (Bangkok Post, 1 August 2009: “Gen Chaisit slams attempts to block Thaksin pardon”), has come out in defence of the petition. He slammed the government’s attempts to “obstruct the red-shirts from petitioning royal pardon for Thaksin, saying that this obstruction “means the government was trying to prevent the people from having good relationship with their beloved King.” An interesting move to use a royalist argument against the royalists!

Chaisit added: “The government’s allegation that a number of people were misled to sign their names in support of the petition was groundless in my point of view. It is not possible that the five million people were cheated to [sign] their names in the same time…”.

He then went on to say that “it is also not possible that Thaksin would get involved in the attempted assassination of Sondhi Limthongkul, a core leader of the People’s Alliance for Democracy. He dared Mr Sondhi to clearly stated names of the persons behind the case.”

Sondhi keeps alluding to people and now he has been challenged. His response will be interesting.

Thaksin back in royalist garb…

The police have been fast out of the blocks in ruling that Thaksin’s phone-in to the assembled red shirts at Sanam Luang was not lese majeste. The Bangkok Post (1 August 2009: “High institution not insulted”) says that the “police had transcribed the recorded phone-in made by former prime minister Thaksin Shinawatra to address the red-shirts gathering at Sanam Luang last night and found that there was no words considered to have insulted the royal institution…”.

Thaksin “told the red shirts that he would open one satellite-based TV channel specially for publicizing HM the King’s activities, particularly his majesty’s efforts to eradicate poverty of the people. He added that the TV channel’s broadcasting was to show his loyalty to the high institution after being accused of trying to destroy the monarchy.”

The army moves (half-heartedly?) on the petition

The Nation (1 August 2009: “Anupong deploys soldiers to explain to people about Thaksin-pardon petition”) has a brief report stating that Army chief Anupong Paochinda “has ordered commander of all army units to have their subordinates explain the correct procedures for seeking a royal pardon to the people nationwide. But Anupong said he realised that it would not be easy to change the mind of the people.”

Sounds decidedly half-hearted, especially as he has headed south out of the political heat.

We leave it to readers to tell us what other pieces we should be looking at. It is certainly a potent political mix that is being developed at the moment.

As a footnote, it might be that the person most happy about all of this political manoeuvring is Foreign Minister Kasit Piromya. He was under tremendous pressure before the ASEAN summit, and is now forgotten. Does he owe Thaksin a vote of thanks?

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