Updated: Cheats cheating I

12 06 2019

As everyone knows, Thailand remains a military dictatorship and no government has yet been formed to replace it. Indeed, in a recent ranking, Thailand was determined as “unfree,” ranking between absolute monarchy Brunei and troubled countries with Zimbabwe and Iraq. The “unfreedom” will continue, with dozens of junta orders being converted into laws that will apply into the future, backing a backward constitution that permitted a rigged election.

That rigging has been a vast and expensive project that could, if unchecked, allow the odious cheat Gen Prayuth Chan-ocha to remain as prime minister for another eight year as the unelected Senate he selected will vote again in four years if Thailand has another election.

The selection of the Senate has been a closely-held secret for months simply because of the thoroughgoing cheating it involved. Because the junta has gotten away with a coup, political repression, corruption, a fake constitutional referendum, a rigged and stolen election and more, it figures nothing can derail it now, so it has released some details of its cheating.

In the selection of The Dictator as premier, we know that every single unelected puppet senator voted for their boss (the Senate president abstained, but would have voted for his longtime boss if necessary).

We now also know that the “reserve list” of 50 senators, “publicized in the Royal Gazette, include Election Commission sec-gen Jarungvith Phumma, foreign minister Don Pramudwinai, former deputy governor of Bangkok Pol. Lt. Gen. Amnuay Nimmano, and former member of the junta-appointed National Legislative Assembly Prapan Koonme.”

The listing of the EC’s secretary-general indicates how just how flawed the EC is, run by junta puppets and automatons. Rigging an election requires a cheating EC. Having delivered the junta its “victory,” this puppet secretary-general will likely get his reward.

More cheating is confirmed by junta legal thug Wissanu Krea-ngam. It is reported that “[u]nder mounting pressure from transparency activists and political parties,” he has released “the identities of the selection committee who contributed to filling the 250-member junta-appointed senate.”

It should be surprising – but, then nothing is surprising any more – that:

Among the committee were six senators: former deputy PM Gen. Chatchai Sarikulya, former deputy PM Air Chief Marshal Prajin Juntong, former deputy PM Thanasak Patimaprakorn, deputy junta head Adm. Narong Pipatanasai, former labor minister Pol. Gen. Adul Saengsingkaew, and former president of the junta-appointed National Legislative Assembly Pornpetch Wichitcholchai.

Wissanu has made unbelievable claims about the committee was “politically neutral” and that the secrecy about membership was to prevent “lobbying.” Of course, all the “lobbying” was actually the junta pulling all the strings.

He has also insisted – again unbelievable – that “members of the selection committee abstained from voting or attending the voting session if their name came up in the candidate roster,” while their brothers voted for them, saying “I can confirm that no member ever brought up their name in the selection process. Everything is on the record…”.

While we have no doubt that if he released “the record,” it would confirm his account. After all, the junta has scribes who can fabricate any record it likes. How Wissanu can say such things with a straight face is a measure of how low the junta – and Thailand – has sunk.

Now the cheating cheats have to ensure their continuing political domination for another eight years.

Update: The Bangkok Post has a few more details on the great Senate scam. The junta’s fixing panel that put the scam together had 10 members becoming nine when Pornpetch resigned. Six of them (see above) became members of the Senate they selected for the junta. The other four were Deputy Prime Minister Gen Prawit Wongsuwan, Wissanu, Gen Anupong Paojinda, and deputy PM Somkid Jatusripitak, all of whom are likely to be ministers in the “new” government. In other words, every one of the junta’s panel are now holding positions – or soon will be – in the junta’s “new” government as well as holding such positions under the junta. What can we say? The whole thing is a massive scam foisted on the nation by the junta. It seems there is no way of holding this bunch of election crooks accountable for any of their cheating.





Further updated: Thanathorn’s future bleak

23 05 2019

Future Foward’s Thanathorn Juangroongruangkit is is trouble. With the Constitutional Court deciding 8-1 [see update 2] to hear the case against him, Thanathorn’s political future looks bleak indeed.

Having done so well in the junta’s election, pro-junta supporters and the junta itself identified Thanathorn as a potential threat to their order, seeing him as a second generation of popular politicians promoting popular reforms. That is, a politician who looked to political troglodytes like a new Thaksin Shinawatra. They have decided to be rid of him sooner rather than later.

The Constitutional Court has agreed to hear the complaint filed by the Election Commission “which accused him of breaching election laws by owning stakes in a media firm.”

If he is found guilty, Thanathorn could face up to 10 years in jail and lose his seat in parliament.

But even before that, the Court has “suspended Thanathorn’s MP status, effective immediately, while the judges deliberate on the case.”

There are a bunch of other junta and “activist” inspired cases pending against Thanathorn and his party.

We expect him to be found guilty and that the party will eventually be dissolved. These were the junta’s aims even before the election.

Crystal-balling, one knock-on from this decision is that the wavering middle-sized parties would now seem more likely to flop to the junta’s side in a coalition government.

Update 1: PPT watched Thanathorn’s defiant speech after this announcement. This speech is briefly reported at Khaosod. Thanathorn said the EC/Constitutional Court case “appears to have been rushed under suspicious circumstances.” He declared: “I do not agree with the decision of the court…. I want to ask the public … am I being afforded justice?” He claimed that the EC “subcommittee tasked with investigating the matter had yet to conclude its inquiry when the main commission forwarded the case to the court for deliberation.”

Defiantly he emphasized that he remains “a prime ministerial candidate for his party.” And he remained defiantly anti-junta.

Update 2: Prachatai reports that “9 judges of the Constitutional Court decided unanimously to accept a request by the Election Commission of Thailand, which accuses Thanathorn Juangroongruangkit of violating the law by holding shares in V-Luck Media Company. In accepting the ECT request, the Constitutional Court also ruled 8-1 to suspend Thanathorn’s MP status until the case is settled.” This suggests that the Court will likely find against Thanathorn when it hears the case.

This report also points to double standards: “On 29 April, the Pheu Thai Party, Future Forward’s ally, filed a complaint with the Election Commission to investigate if Chanwit Wiphusiri and Somsak Sukprasert, MPs of the pro-junta Phalang Pracharat Party, also hold stakes in media companies. However, the Election Commission still has not taken up the complaint.”

Further, “The Ombudsman requested the [Constitutional] Court to investigate if it is a violation of the Constitution for members of the Senate Selection Committee to appoint themselves to the Senate, including Gen. Thanasak Patimaprakorn (Deputy Head of the NCPO), Adm. Narong Pipatanasai (Deputy Head of the NCPO), ACM Prajin Juntong (Deputy PM and Deputy Head of the NCPO), and Pol. Gen. Adul Sangsingkeo. However, the Court announced on 23 May not to take up the case.”





Constructing the junta’s digital Panopticon

17 05 2018

Anyone who has watched the junta’s boot grinding down political activism, one of the most noticeable and distasteful of its repressive efforts has been to establish vigilantism supporting military hired spies who police the internet for content the military dictators feel is threatening. This usually means online lese majeste although the junta has also bee watchful of its own egos and has also policed the Thai world for political dissidents.

It seems that its “successes” in political repression and censorship have prompted the military and the junta to seek to construct a digital Panopticon. Initially devised by English philosopher Jeremy Bentham in the late 18th century, the idea was to construct a prison where the inmates could be observed without the inmates being able to tell whether or not they are being watched. The idea was to impose order and passivity because the inmates cannot know when they are being watched meaning they become motivated to act as though they are being watched at every single moment.

The junta wants all Thais and others in Thailand to believe they are under surveillance all the time. In other words, the whole society becomes, in everyone’s mind, a political prison.

An editorial at the Bangkok Post states that the junta “plans to recruit civilian so-called ‘cyber warriors’ … it needs to ensure they target the right groups of people.” The military dictatorship is hiring and training another 200 cyber spies, with a goal of having 5,000 by 2023. Such a massive spying mission is in the hands of the Minister of Justice – of which there is little – ACM Prajin Juntong.

The plan announced by the junta “leaves room for worries on whether they will be mainly used as a political tool to suppress freedom of expression and hunt down political dissidents.” Fascists will be fascists.

And, as the editorial notes, “a cyber security bill has been drafted pending approval by lawmakers. If enacted into law, it will allow the authorities to take broader control of online activity, including snooping on individuals’ personal computers.”

Another Bangkok Post story refers to the military – not a regular, civilian ministry – is developing ways of tracking tourists, investors and migrant workers, among others. Such tracking is used in other countries but it is only in the darkest of authoritarian regimes that it is the military doing it.

Be very concerned at how broadly the military has defined its role in Thailand. It has seeped and oozed into every arena and level of civilian administration. Even if a junta party doesn’t “win” the junta-granted “election,” the military thugs will be everywhere. The Panopticon is in place.





Double standards are the only “standards”

16 07 2017

PPT has several times posted on the undermining of the rule of law under the military dictatorship. The essential underpinning of the junta’s injustice system is double standards.

Readers may have noticed a swathe of cases brought against the junta’s political opponents of late. These include cases against the Shinawatra clan, including laws to be used retroactively, red shirts and anti-coup activists.

At the same time, there have been precious few cases against the junta’s allies. Yellow shirts, where cases go back to at least 2008, have barely been touched. The anti-democrats of 2013-14 have seldom been subject to any legal action, and when they are, the outcomes seem to be benign when compared with the treatment meted out to junta opponents.

Political double standards are everywhere. The latest iteration is the support to rubber growers. Of course, they were supporters of the anti-democrats and the military coup. Yingluck Shinawatra is being tried and harassed for price support to rice growers.

The legal double standards that serve the rich go back decades, but this dictatorship has done nothing to change them. Indeed, the symbolic case of the rich getting away with murder is that involving Vorayuth “Boss” Yoovidhya, of the filthy rich Red Bull family, who has been free and living the life of a domestic and international playboy since 2012. Despite occasional movement among authorities, usually caused by media reports, nothing much has happened.

The latest report is that “[p]olice have yet to send a request to the Attorney General’s Office for the extradition of … Boss … accused of killing a policeman in a hit-and-run case five years ago, according to an official in charge of extradition.”

Amnat Chotichai at the Attorney General’s Office said “they were waiting for the request. Amnat stated: “As of now, the police have yet to send us the request. I don’t know what’s causing the delay…”.

Everyone knows what the delay is. It is that the Yoovidhya’s are fabulously wealthy, very powerful and have lots of friends in the regime and in the bureaucracy. The longer they delay, the closer the statute of limitations.

Notice that the puppet National Legislative Assembly was able to vote “unanimously … to pass the controversial draft organic law on criminal procedures for holders of a political position.”

The double standards are so wide that a fleet of buses could be driven through the dictatorship’s gape. The double standards gap expands still further when the military dictators begin to talk of morals.

What can we make of the deputy chairman of the junta General Prajin Junthong telling “education officials” that they need “increase focus on religions in their teaching curriculum”?

Rather like a historical clutch of military and royalist commentators, the general reckons that education is about shaping the lower classes to ruling class ideology. A tepid subaltern class and a strong moral ideology have long served the rich and powerful. Of course, the rich and powerful are not held to this same moral ideology; its just about political control. But it’s also a double standard.

General Prajin declares that education can be dangerous: “Having only education to increase one’s knowledge, ability and talent is not enough…. Because they may use that knowledge in a wrong way and take advantage of other people…”. It is the lack of “religion” in education leads to immorality and corruption.

By “religion,” we can assume that the general means Buddhism, but we can assume that he means particular state-authorized or junta-sanctioned Buddhism. (Certainly not that Wat Dhammakaya stuff!) We can assume this because the general goes on to babble that “schools should also teach their students to appreciate ‘Thainess’.”

“Thainess” and “religion” have little to do with “morals.” For the junta, they mean order and stability, not to say political docility. And, naturally enough, the junta is not bound by “religion” or “morality.” It prefers nepotism, corruption, torture, commissions and unusual wealth.

Double standards? Yep. The junta didn’t invent double standards but has made them stark. In doing so, the junta has seriously undermined justice and the rule of law.





Protecting “greatness”

20 11 2016

The New York Times carries an Associated Press report on the huge increase in Thailand’s internet censorship, which has also appeared at Khaosod.

The military dictatorship has presided over the shut down  1,370 websites in October. That’s more than the 1,237 they had blocked  over the previous five years.

censored

The past month reflects the junta’s efforts to allegedly “protect” the dead king’s “reputation” as a “great” king. The crackdown is doubly significant as it is also meant to “protect” Crown Prince Vajiralongkorn as he unsteadily moves towards accession to the throne.

Thai authorities are thought to be particularly concerned with websites with content about Vajiralongkorn, the 64-year-old designated heir to the throne who lacks the popularity of his father. The public at large has long traded rumors about Vajiralongkorn’s finances, hot temper and other matters. Three stormy marriages are a matter of public record. But critical news reports from abroad about Vajiralongkorn are commonly blocked in Thailand.

The third significance is in protecting the military junta, which has tied its tank to the prince’s succession.

The report states that the military junta has purposely used the king’s death to eliminate “online remarks” about the late king and members of his remaining family and “[s]ince the king’s death, Thailand has charged more than 20 people with making anti-royalty statements [lese majeste], requested deportations of suspects from at least seven countries and attempted to wipe out content it finds offensive from websites and social media.”

Junta members and Deputy Prime Minister Air Chief Marshal Prajin Junthong tong “explains” the situation using one of the junta’s “Thainess” cliches: “Thais have been attacked by websites that twist the truth…”.

The junta’s “truth” on the monarchy is usually a treacly fairy tale.





Line falls into line

28 10 2016

After Google was said by the military dictatorship to have cooperated in hunting down allegedly lese majeste content on Google platforms including YouTube, we are now told that Line is also falling into line.

Minister for Digital Economy and Society, Air Chief Marshal Prajin Junthong, has declared that “Line headquarters in Japan will set up a steering committee to investigate reports of lèse-majesté.”

So when he met with “representatives from Line, the Technology Crime Suppression Division (TCSD) and the National Broadcasting and Telecommunication Commission (NBTC)” on 27 October, this was to confirm the arrangement.

We again note that this news is from the junta, but it does appear Google caved in before the junta, despite weak denials that have no details. Meanwhile, the “minister stated that the junta has received close cooperation from Google and Youtube after their meetings last weekend, with many lèse-majesté web pages blocked since then.”

After the meeting with Line representatives, the air force General “told media that Line is willing to comply with the junta’s censorship measures, saying the Line headquarters in Japan will set up a steering committee to investigate reports of lèse-majesté.” He added that the “committee will coordinate with the Thai embassy in Japan, NBCT, TCSD and INTERPOL in searching for lèse-majesté content and users.”

The military dictatorship will “talk with Facebook next week,” and the cave-in on freedom of expression is likely to continue.

The claim is that this is for the “national mourning for the late King,” but everyone knows that lese majeste repression is stock-in-trade for the military junta and that this period – however long it is – will continue.

The representatives of these companies have fallen for the military dictatorship’s nonsensical claim that lese majeste is an issue of national security, where “web pages and online content [are] threatening national security.”





Google named again

26 10 2016

On Sunday PPT posted a story about Deputy Prime Minister Air Chief Marshal Prajin Junthong having “asked Google and YouTube to cooperate in blocking websites and videos with alleged lèse majesté content.” He claimed Ann Lavin, Director, Public Policy and Government Affairs in Asia Pacific, Google Asia Pacific and she “agreed to set up an ad hoc team in the US to monitor alleged lèse majesté content with Thai nationals in the team and adjust the complaint form in the Thai language to make it easier for Thai people to file complaints about such online content…”.

We added that that team has reportedly begun work.

We also said that this was a junta-sourced claim. Sure enough, Google “denied it is monitoring posts by Thai social media users but said it would simply consider Thai government requests to remove certain sensitive posts on a case-by-case basis.” That is, its standard operating procedure and nothing special for the junta. The implication was that the junta was not entirely truthful.

Now it seems that it was the junta that was more truthful. A report in the Bangkok Post states that the junta claims a “joint blocking effort” with Google has seen almost 100 YouTube addresses or URLs “blocked over the past four days for insulting the monarchy…”. Four days exactly matches the joint teams establishment claimed by the junta.

The military regime also claims that “[a]nother 380 web addresses … run by a subsidiary of Google, are in the process of being blocked…”.3

How does 480 URLs compare with previous Thai government requests approved by Google?

Our not always competent mathematicians got to work and calculated that for the period 2010 to 2013, the various governments made 21 requests for 754 “items” (we assume URLs). The big years were 2011 (374 items) and 2013 (322). After that, 2014 saw 18 requests for 73 items and 2015 saw 33 requests for 1,566 items. Of these items, for 2010 to June 2012, 100% of requests were partially or fully processed, blocking 431 items. For the following years, requests were not fulfilled entirely in 2013 (27% approved), 2014 (56%) and 2015 (85%). It is not clear how many items were fully or partially blocked. Only one of these requests over the entire period was on the basis of a court order. It doesn’t say it, but the majority of items relate to monarchy.

So 480 items in a few days is huge! 2016 will probably be a bumper year for the junta and will see Google folding under even more. A regime source stated that the “government [the military junta] needs strong assistance from Google to permanently remove all the web addresses showing inappropriate videos on YouTube…”.

The censorship success with Google has inspired the military dictatorship, and it is now calling in “representatives of Facebook this week to discuss ways to strengthen cooperation in blocking users that post content or comments insulting the monarchy.”

The media giants are falling into line for the worlds longest serving military regime. The junta is actually playing the death card effectively, using it to further tighten repression in Thailand.

We are pretty sure that PigProgress won’t be one of those blocked. It might be an odd outlet, but it has joined in with a laudatory and fawning article on the dead king among other items on robust piglets and gut problems in pigs.