All the king’s servants IV

30 01 2019

We thought the information in our last post on this topic was pretty scary. It gets scarier.

Khaosod has further information on the formation of a large police force that reports to the king and has nationwide jurisdiction:

In three separate orders published last night [28 January 2019], the Special Service Division became the Ratchawallop Police Retainers, King’s Guards 904; with a new command structure and broader responsibilities.

… The name is a reference to the Ratchawallop, a guard corps traditionally known for its close relationship with ruling monarchs. The number 904 is the police codeword assigned to King Vajiralongkorn when he was the Crown Prince.

Now the scarier bit:

A new subunit, called the Special Affairs Division, was also added to the structure. Its responsibilities include VIP protection for members of the Royal Family and running a mass volunteer group initiated by King Vajiralongkorn. It will also serve as a liaison between the volunteers and police, and train local police in VIP protection.

Furthermore, the division is tasked with evaluating the volunteer affairs, VIP protection and other assigned duties.

The volunteer group, called Chit Arsa, was created by the current monarch to perform a wide range of civic works, from cleaning the streets and canals to organizing events dedicated to the monarchy.

Hundreds of thousands of people are reported to belong to the network – which some analysts compare to the rural-based Village Scouts during the Cold War.

Even before his coronation, Vajiralongkorn has been changing the monarchy in powerful and foreboding ways.

Updated: Rap against the military dictatorship

27 10 2018

There is a series of three articles at The Nation that report the military dictatorship’s predictable response to a group of 10 rappers and their popular video that raps the junta.

The video, at YouTube in two versions, has had close to 6 million views. There have been millions more on Facebook.

In the first report, Deputy national police chief Srivara Ransibrahmanakul declaring that the song may be breaking the law and that “officers from the Technology Crime Suppression Division of the Royal Thai Police will check out the lyrics to see if they violate any junta orders.”

Yes, the junta’s laws, not real laws, but the politicized repression and suppression shrouded in law. Confirming this, the political policeman added that the “rappers would also be summoned to testify whether they had intended to cause any chaos or violate any National Council for Peace and Order (NCPO) orders…”.

The junta’s cop warned: “… musicians not to do anything that risks violating the country’s laws, as it wouldn’t be good for them or their families if the songs were deemed to violate the law…”.

Threatening opponents and their families is standard practice under the military dictatorship.

A few hours later, a second report states that the political police were to use the Computer Crimes Act against the rappers. It accuses the rap of breaking the political law that “prohibits computer information inconsistent with the truth, undermines national security or causes public panic…”. In this, “truth” is defined by the junta.

As might be expected, in one of his first public statements, new government spokesman, the anti-democrat Buddhipongse Punnakanta, claimed that the junta’s opponents were “behind” the video. Of course, anti-democrats like him and his bosses cannot conceive of any person being capable of independent thought.

The third report summarizes events and the song that denounces the junta. It notes that the rap was released on an important date: 14 October, being the 45th anniversary of the October 1973 uprising against a military dictatorship. The YouTube video also depicts 6 October 1976 royalist violence with an image of a student hanging from a tree being beaten, as in 1976.

Reflecting on the junta’s “truth,” one of the rappers stated: “As artists we want to reflect the truth of the society we are living in under dictatorship. Thailand seems to be caught in a loop of dictatorship. We want to voice what the majority cannot say directly.”

The video is dedicated to the victims of the state’s crimes.

Update: With the military dictatorship in full panic mode over the popularity of this rap, Puea Thai’s Chaturon Chaisaeng is reported to have warned the junta against arresting the performers of the anti-junta song. He said said that “if the Rap Against Dictatorship (RAD) group was arrested, it would backfire against the government to the point where the government could fall.”

When the junta rigs elections III

17 10 2018

The rigging of the election involves the movement of trusted junta underlings into positions that can have influence over the “election.”

A recent report identifies the ways the police have been manipulated. Of course, the military has long mistrusted the police and the junta saw it as a nest of Thaksinite traitors.

But over more than four years, the leadership of the police has been junta-fied, “ahead of a election expected in [perhaps] four months’ time…”.

The report refers to the new chief of the Crime Suppression Division Pol Col Jirabhop Bhuridej who has become the “youngest chief in the CSD’s 70-year history, which has seen 36 people occupy the top post.”

When the first thing the Colonel says is that “his agency is politically neutral and vowed to rail against anyone resorting to violence prior to the poll,” you know that this is not accurate.

During elections, the CSD is responsible for “cases involving politics.” That means having the junta’s man in place is critical for the junta’s plans for “winning” its “election.”

When he goes on to say: “My recruitment is not based on favouritism,” you know he’s obfuscating.

All the king’s servants II

7 10 2018

A few days ago PPT commented on the formation of a special police unit for the “protection of the monarchy” and especially the king. An AFP report adds a little more on this force of “[m]ore than 1,600 police … assigned to protect Thailand’s King Maha Vajiralongkorn and his family, … quadrupling the force as the new monarch continues to reorganise palace affairs.”

The report has all the blarney about the monarchy being “sacred and untouchable” and the dead king being “revered as a demi-god among Thais.” Presumably all this buffalo manure is meant to allow the reporters to say that this monarchy also needs “by some of the harshest royal insult legislation in the world.” But insufficient posterior polishing to allow them to observe that anti-monarchism was widespread before the military junta targeted and snuffed it out (at least for the time being).

Head of the upgraded royal security police unit, the Special Service Division, Col Torsak Sukvimol, said that it currently had a paltry “400 personnel from the Crime Suppression Division … which has long been tasked with protecting the royal family,” and needed to be increased to a total of 1,617. While recruiting and training the officers could take up to five years, that is still a minimum additional taxpayer impost of 300 million baht a year just in salary costs.

Col Torsak “explained” that this huge increase in security, including intelligence units and additional “patrolling” is required when the “king visits different parts of the country.”

As he went on, Col Torsak added that following the king’s “coronation, there is going to be more royal activities…. Four hundred people is not enough.” That will probably worrying a lot of people, as the interventionist king seems to be planning to be even more involved.

Helpfully, Col Torsak said that the “unit has not been tasked with scouring the public for violations of the kingdom’s draconian royal defamation law…”. We guess there are hundreds of others doing that. But he did add: “We will not be aimed at monitoring people for 112 prosecutions. The 112 charge will not be wielded repetitiously…”.

That will indeed be a relief. However, computer crimes and sedition are more likely to be used in cases the junta would normally use for its opponents and the monarchy’s critics. At the same time, the junta’s draconian use of 112 has already cut down and silenced the bravest of critics.

All the king’s servants I

3 10 2018

In a short article at Khaosod, the formation of a special police unit for the “protection of the monarchy” is reported. This isn’t a new story as the unit was mentioned about a month ago.

The military government’s official announcement does, however, add a little more information.

The new unit “consists of police commandos transferred from the Crime Suppression Division.” It is said to be “providing security to the Royal Family” as well as “collecting information on ‘individuals or groups whose behaviors pose a threat to the national security and … the King’.”

That the unit “must also carry out ‘royal wishes’ from … the King” suggests that the force of 1,600 officers is adding to the large numbers of military officers who already report directly to the king and provide “protection.”

The commando unit is led by Col Torsak Sukvimol, who stated that all members of the unit were selected based on their “attitude and loyalty [to the monarchy].”

The king now commands a substantial military and police force. It is not clear why the king feels he needs such a large force that answers to him.

Promoting loyal dullards and political allies

29 09 2018

In a military dictatorship, where The Dictator and sundry minions want to rule for the foreseeable future, it pays to be onside, to posterior polish with vigor, pay for links or to have family connections.

Readers may recall that we mentioned Big Joke some days ago. Best known by this nickname, Deputy tourist police chief Surachate Hakparn has demonstrated that he is a thug and a fool.

In fact, a perfect fit with the military junta.

It is reported that the Big Joke will “become the new Immigration Bureau (IB) commissioner in the upcoming annual police reshuffle.” Why? Well, mainly because he’s a thug closely associated with the Deputy Dictator, Gen Prawit Wongsuwan.

The Police Service Commission recently met “to deliberate the [police] reshuffle list involving officers in positions ranging from commanders to deputy commissioners general.” Gen Prawit chaired the meeting.

National police chief and junta minion Pol Gen Chakthip Chaijinda declared that “all” attending the meeting “had decided on promoting Pol Maj Gen Surachate due to his achievements.” His thuggishness, his demonstrated lack of capacity for thinking and his ability to posterior polish are what matter for the military junta. (Any ability for independent thinking will rule one out.)

Being a senior policeman more or less guarantees huge wealth. Who can forget Pol Gen Somyos Pumpanmuang? When the junta appointed cops to the puppet National Legislative Assembly, the average declared wealth for the police top brass was a whopping 258 million baht. No one investigated this unusual wealth as the junta has power and the National Anti-Corruption Commission is a junta lapdog.

Big Joke has been Gen Prawit’s personal lapdog assistant spokesman for a month. Conflicts of interest, nepotism, favoritism, and so on mean nothing to the lawless junta.

(Recall the way the Yingluck Shinawatra was pilloried for transferring an officer who was considered a political problem. The junta never faces such opposition or even criticism for all its promotions, transfers and favoritism.)

Meanwhile, The Dictator “has dismissed claims Phalang Chon Party leader Sontaya Kunplome’s appointment as mayor of Pattaya is a political ploy to ensure his return as premier.”

Another lie. Everyone in Thailand knows exactly what Gen Prayuth Chan-ocha is doing, but he denies the obvious. Sontaya is there to make huge wealth – as his family has long done through its mafia-like operations – but mainly to ensure a political loyalist is in place when The Dictator becomes The (selected) Dictator.

Gen Prayuth may “dismiss … accusations that Mr Sontaya was being ‘rewarded’ for supporting Gen Prayut’s return as prime minister after next year’s general election,” but that’s the game. Recall that Sontaya’s dad, a convicted felon and dark influence, got extra special treatment from The Dictator, creating the patronage relationship. A previous relationship is discussed here.

Interestingly, Gen Prayuth affirmed his long-term relationship with Chonburi’s dark influences: “I have known many people in Chon Buri long before [becoming prime minister]…”.

We guess Big Joke has a relationship too, not least because the illicit loot that flows to cops and others from Pattaya means the Tourist Police do very nicely.

Dictatorship of bullies

18 09 2018

Today’s Bangkok Post has three stories that demonstrate that the military dictatorship is a coterie of thugs.

The first that caught our attention is an editorial where the Deputy Dictator’s adviser Pol Maj Gen Surachate “Big Joke” Hakparnhas decided that he has license to bully persons overseas. Of course, the military dictatorship has bullied those it accuses of lese majeste for years, but this relates to a young British woman who claims to have been raped at the “already infamous Koh Tao.”

Big Joke – his real nickname – “has announced an imminent trip to London. There, he claimed late last week, he intends to interrogate the 19-year-old woman who claims to be the victim.”

But this is not an investigation but a bullying. Big Joke has already been loud in his denunciations of the woman’s claims and has now declared that “his London visit could end up proving the rape claim was false.”

The Post states: “There are so many things wrong with this development.” It is right, but this is simply the way things are done under the junta’s regime. And there’s much that is wrong about that.

The second is the news that Future Forward Party leader Thanathorn Juangroongruangkit and two other executive members have “met police to hear the charge of violating the Computer Crime Act on Monday.”

They have been charged for telling the truth about the junta’s campaigning and its efforts at hoovering up MPs for the political parties supporting the dictators. The junta has spent more than four years bullying – sometimes jailing, abducting and worse – persons it identifies as opponents. It is the way of the dictatorship.

The complaint against the three came directly from the junta or National Council for Peace and Order. As the Post reports, the “person who filed the charges and allegations, Col Burin Thongprapai, Judge Advocate General (legal) officer for the NCPO…”.

The police “said they would forward the case to the attorney general within four months.” If found “guilty,” the three “who could face a fine up to 100,000 baht and/or a jail term up to five years…”.

And the third story is yet another report of the double standards adopted by the junta. It uses decrees and threats to prevent political parties from doing much at all that is usually associated with political parties, but the junta goes on its merry way, seeking popularity for the upcoming elections.

In the past, the junta and its anti-democrat supporters have referred to these activities as vote buying and policy corruption, but when the junta does it, it is met with wry smiles. Anything is okay in the effort to keep “bad” politicians out of office. “Bad” is now defined only by reference to whether an politician supports the junta.

With The Dictator, Prime Minister Gen Prayuth Chan-ocha and his junta henchmen in Loei to hand out large piles of taxpayer loot and seek to steal former MPs away from their parties, it has targeted the Puea Thai Party.

In the past, the junta and its anti-democrat supporters have referred to these MPs as “bad” politicians, corrupt and a threat to the state. Their laundering to “good” politicians is achieved by their agreement to support the military’s thugs.