Prayuth for PM

19 06 2014

PPT has watched many of the statements made about elections and the dictators and came to the conclusion that the Dictator, General Prayuth Chan-ocha, has learned the lesson of failed military coup leader and would-be premier General Suchinda Kraprayoon. Suchinda led the 1991 coup against the allegedly corrupt elected government led by Chatichai Choonhavan.

The lesson? Back in 1991, Suchinda claimed the military was unsullied by the black economy, despite considerable evidence of border trading, gun-running, drug trading, human trafficking and so on, declared that he would never become prime minister. Following election is 1992, he did become prime minister. The backlash was huge and led to Black May.

The Dictator Prayuth has not made the mistake of stating that he will not be prime minister in the future. So it is no surprise that the Bangkok Post reports that:

Most military officers have come to believe National Council for Peace and Order (NCPO) leader Gen Prayuth Chan-ocha will take the position of prime minister when he retires in September.

Interestingly, the Post refers to “possible lessons from previous coups [that] may persuade the NCPO chief to take the top administrative job.” The Post claims that the “unofficial rule of coups” is that “a coup-maker should never be prime minister,” which is an erroneous claim made by ignoring the real and actual history of coups in Thailand. However, the lesson that Prayuth is said to have drawn from the most recent putsches is this:

Look back at the coup-installed interim civilian governments, one headed by Anand Panyarachun in 1991, and the other by Gen Surayud Chulanont in 2006. They both refused to be the coup-makers’ puppets and stayed independent from the military.

The Surayud government probably doesn’t fit in the same category as Anand as it was so somnolent and incompetent.However, both Anand and Surayud were very close to the palace. In this sense, if Prayuth is tracking a different model, he may be doing that with the palace as well.

That said, the Post’s claim to speak for all of Thailand may be stupid and arrogant, but the suggestion of a military assertiveness that should worry those who aspire for a democratic Thailand:

Confidence in Gen Prayuth is overwhelming. Many Thais think we are in dire need of a strong, decisive leader to “sweep and clean” the country before we return to a democracy with general elections.

Gen Prayuth’s supporters include the People’s Democratic Reform Committee (PDRC) and its allies as well as the yellow shirts who want the NCPO to root out the so-called Thaksin regime.

Also in this camp are those “colour-neutral” people who are fed up with long-standing political conflicts. They wholeheartedly welcomed the coup when it was staged on May 22.

…In their view, Gen Prayuth is a hero who has freed the country from its troubles. Now people look to the general in hope as a stream of petitions floods his office.

In our view, there was never any doubt that Prayuth was doing the yellow shirts’ work, but in the past, the mobilized were expected to go home and let the “new regime” get on with their work. Not this time.

The military dictators, believing their own propaganda, reckon they and Prayuth are popular. So it is that Deputy NCPO leader ACM Prajin Jantong said that it will decide who will be the next premier: “The NCPO will listen to the people, including the media, about who should be the next prime minister and whether Gen Prayuth should be the choice.”

The report says Prayuth “seems fully confident in his ability to solve the nation’s problems.” That his retirement coincides with the estimated time for haveing a new premier cannot be an accident, and if there is insufficient fixing of election rules reform, then an election may be a long time away, meaning a dictatorial premier could stay on for a very long time. And it isn’t just Dictator Prayuth:

Some believe army men will be offered cabinet posts, and regard the appointment of the supreme commander and other top brass to various roles under the coup regime as a warm-up for the jobs they are likely to get in coming months after they retire.

As the article explains:

It’s clear the NCPO has learned from past coups — not the lesson against seizing power, but the need to exploit its power under the coup to bring about change.

It has also decided against limiting the duration of the coup before setting up an interim government, which won’t necessarily be a civilian one. It’s clear that men in green will be a major component of the interim cabinet.

Those who want a more democratic and progressive Thailand face a long and difficult time ahead.





Further updated: The junta and lese majeste

25 05 2014

At first it was some former lese majeste prisoners who were called in by the junta. These former prisoners were mostly those who had campaigned against the law but others were brought in.

Then it was those who the junta leadership considered potential threats to the monarchy and the lese majeste law who were called in and rounded up. Several academics and activists have fled.

After that is was Professor Charnvit Kasetsiri detained by the junta at the international airport. Charnvit is a gentle academic who has campaigned for elections, democracy and human rights. This sees him identified as an enemy. [Update 1: News is that Charnvit is safe, but other academics have gone underground, accused under Article 112.]

And then they came for the families of lese majeste prisoners. According to Prachatai:

Around 3.30 p.m, the army searched the house of Somyot Phueksakasemsuk, an editor of pro-red magazine and now sentenced to 11 years in prison for lese majeste. The army will take Sukanya Phrueksakasemsuk, Somyot’s wife who has been campaigning for political prisoners, and his son Panitan Phrueksakasemsuk, 4th year Law student from Thammasat University, also a student activist, to the Army Club. According to Sukanya, the army also collected their two computer laptops.

Finally and threateningly, The Nation reports that “crimes against the monarchy” will be handled by military courts:

The National Council for Peace and Order issued a latest order Sunday, saying violators of lese majesty law and coup orders as well as those threatening internal will face court martial.

The 37th order was announced on TV at 4:25 pm.

The order said those who committed crimes against the King, the Queen, the heir to the throne and the regent or those who violate Articles 107 to 112 of the Criminal Code must face court martial instead of being tried in the Criminal Court.

Those who commit crimes against the national security or those who violate Articles 113 to 118 of the Criminal Code would also face court martial.

The order said those who violate the NPCO’s orders will also face court martial.

We at PPT, looking at General Prayuth Chan-ocha’s forays into lese majeste in the past, expect that a bleak period where these kangaroo courts will be locking opponents up is upon us.

Update 2: From FIHD:

The Observatory for the Protection of Human Rights Defenders, a joint programme of the International Federation for Human Rights (FIDH) and the World Organisation Against Torture (OMCT), requests your urgent intervention in the following situation in Thailand.

Description of the situation:

The Observatory has been informed by reliable sources about the arrest of Ms. Sukanya Phrueksakasemsuk, wife of Mr. Somyot Phueksakasemsuk, the editor of a magazine who is now serving 11 years for lese majeste, who has been campaigning for the right of political prisoners, and her son Panitan Phrueksakasemsuk, a student activist.

According to the information received, on May 25, 2014, at around 3.30 p.m, Thai army soldiers searched the house of Mr. Somyot Phueksakasemsuk. The soldiers arrested Ms. Sukanya Phrueksakasemsuk and her son, Mr. Panitan Phrueksakase, and detained them at an undisclosed location. The army also seized Ms. Sukanya’s two computer laptops.

Since their arrest, Ms. Sukanya and Mr. Panitan have been held incommunicado in an unknown location. Soldiers failed to inform them of the reasons for their arrest. The two have not had access to their lawyer.

Ms. Sukanya and Mr. Panitan are among the about 200 people who have been detained by Thailand’s military junta, the National Council for Peace and Order (NCPO), since it seized power on May 22, 2014. Among those detained are human rights defenders, journalists, academics, political activists, politicians, and anti-coup peaceful protesters.

The Observatory is concerned by the arbitrary arrest and incommunicado detention of Ms. Sukanya Phrueksakasemsuk and Mr. Panitan Phrueksakase, and calls upon the authorities in Thailand to immediately disclose their whereabouts and put an end to any kind of harassment against them as it seems to only aim at sanctioning their human rights activities.

Background information:

Mr. Somyot Prueksakasemsuk, a labour rights activist, was among the first activists in Thailand trying to unionise workers, providing them with legal training, and organising camp activities and public demonstrations. In his magazine “Voice of Thaksin” Somyot Prueksakasemsuk denounced human rights abuses and gave a voice to the voiceless. Somyot Prueksakasemsuk is also a free speech advocate, calling for the revision of the lèse-majesté law. In April 2011, he was arrested five days after launching a petition campaign to secure a review of this legislation. Held in pre-trial detention for 17 months, Somyot Prueksakasemsuk was convicted for allowing, as an editor, the publication of two satirical articles that were deemed to be “insulting the monarchy”. In January 2013, he was arbitrarily sentenced to 10 years in prison [1].

Actions requested:

Please write to the authorities of Thailand asking them to:

i.Immediately disclose the whereabouts of and release immediately and unconditionally Ms. Sukanya Phrueksakasemsuk and Mr. Panitan Phrueksakase;

ii.Guarantee in all circumstances the physical and psychological integrity of Ms. Sukanya Phrueksakasemsuk and Mr. Panitan Phrueksakase as well as all human rights defenders in Thailand;

iii.Put an end to all acts of harassment, including at the judicial level, against them as well as against all human rights defenders in Thailand;

iv.Conform with the provisions of the UN Declaration on Human Rights Defenders, adopted by the General Assembly of the United Nations on December 9, 1998, especially its Article 1, which states that “everyone has the right, individually and in association with others, to promote and to strive for the protection and realisation of human rights and fundamental freedoms at the national and international levels”, and Article 12.2, which provides that “the State shall take all necessary measures to ensure the protection by the competent authorities of everyone, individually and in association with others, against any violence, threats, retaliation, de facto or de jure adverse discrimination, pressure or any other arbitrary action as a consequence of his or her legitimate exercise of the rights referred to in the present Declaration”;

v.Ensure in all circumstances respect for human rights and fundamental freedoms in accordance with international human rights standards and international instruments ratified by Thailand.

Addresses:

Head of the National Council for Peace and Order, General Prayuth Chan-ocha, Royal Thai Army Commander-in-Chief, Rachadamnoen Nok Road, Bang Khun Phrom, Phra Nakhon, 10200, Bangkok, THAILAND

Deputy Leader of the National Council for Peace and Order, General Thanasak Patimaprakorn, Chief of the Armed Forces, Royal Thai Armed Forces Headquarters, 127 Chaeng Watthana Road, Laksi, 10210, Bangkok, THAILAND

Deputy Leader of the National Council for Peace and Order, Admiral Narong Pipathanasai, Royal Thai Navy Commander-in-Chief, THAILAND

Deputy Leader of the National Council for Peace and Order, Air Chief Marshal Prajin Jantong, Royal Thai Air Force Commander-in-Chief, Phahon Yothin Road., Don Mueang, 10210, Bangkok, THAILAND

Deputy Leader of the National Council for Peace and Order, Police General Watcharapol Prasarnrajkit, Royal Thai Police Commissioner-General, Royal Thai Police, 1 Building, Floor 7, Rama 1 Road, Pathumwan, Bangkok, THAILAND 10330, Tel: +66 (0)-2251-6831 Fax: +66 (0)-2205-3738

Secretary-General of the National Council for Peace and Order, General Udomdet Sitabut, Royal Thai Army Deputy Commander-in-Chief, Rachadamnoen Nok Road, Bang Khun Phrom, Phra Nakhon, 10200, Bangkok, THAILAND

Spokesman of the National Council for Peace and Order, Colonel Winthai Suvaree, Royal Thai Army Spokesman, Rachadamnoen Nok Road, Bang Khun Phrom, Phra Nakhon, 10200, Bangkok, THAILAND

National Human Rights Commission of Thailand, 422 Phya Thai Road, Pathumwan, Bangkok 10300, THAILAND, Fax: +622 219 2940

Attorney General, Office of the Attorney General, Lukmuang Building, Nahuppei Road, Prabraromrachawang, Pranakorn, Bangkok 10200, THAILAND, Fax: +662 224 0162 / 1448 / 221 0858, ag@ago.go.th; oag@ago.go.th

Commissioner General, Royal Thai Police, 1st Building, 7th Floor, Rama I, Pathumwan, Bangkok 10330, THAILAND, Fax: +662 251 5956 / 205 3738 / 255 1975-8; feedback@police.go.th

Permanent Mission of Thailand to the United Nations in Geneva, rue Gustave Moynier 5, 1202 Geneva, Switzerland, Tel: + 41 22 715 10 10; Fax: + 41 22 715 10 00 / 10 02; Email: mission.thailand@ties.itu.int

Embassy of Thailand in Brussels, 2 Sq. du Val de la Cambre, 1050 Ixelles, Belgium, Tel: + 32 2 640.68.10; Fax: + 32 2 .648.30.66. Email : thaibxl@pophost.eunet.be

Please also write to the diplomatic mission or embassy of Thailand in your respective country





Updated: Coup!!

22 05 2014

PPT went out to eat and of course, the coup was announced.

This event is not unexpected, and the tenor of announcements in the controlled media is that a National Order and Maintenance Committee – the military bosses – are arresting people (not yet clear who and how widespread), grabbing control of even more of the media, implementing a curfew and the usual things these military leaders do when they take over. There are some unconfirmed reports of shooting.

Supreme Commander Gen Thanasak Pratimaprakorn, Air Force chief ACM Prajin Juntong, Navy chef Adm Narong Pipattanasai, Police chief Pol Gen Adul Saengsingkaew became Prayuth’s deputies.

It is becoming clear that the plan is exactly what the royalist and anti-democrats have wanted: a search for a “neutral” premier. Look for a former military commander or a privy councilor or someone who fits both categories.

Weng

Given that the Bangkok Post published not one but two op-eds supportive of military intervention today, we assume the editorial board is dancing in the streets (until curfew at 10 P.M. One was by Voranai Vanijaka, who stated, among other now dumb as a box of rocks statements, this:

Look for an interim government, appointed. Look for reforms, not necessarily to tackle corruption or to solve the education crisis, those issues take years, and we wouldn’t want an appointed government for years.

But definitely look for reform measures to ensure future political stability and economic opportunity. In this, look for factions and individuals to be persuaded to fall in line and do as told.

In addition, look for these measures to be more effective in setting Thailand on the ‘’right’’ course, as compared to after the 2006 coup.

Then, look for a reasonable period of time until the military is sure that the peace is kept. Three months, six months, a year, however long it may take.

After which, look for the return of the democratic election and things to actually go back to normal – well, normal for Thailnd, that is.

A scenario is mere speculation based on past lessons to ascertain likely future possibilities. If there is any certainty, it is that democratic elections will return.Voranai

The other op-ed was by a died-in-the-wool anti-democrat at the Post:

Dopey shit

Pretty base “journalism.”

Update: Following these two cheering op-eds for the military and its form of fascism, the Bangkok Post manages an  editorial that seeks to polish Prayuth’s ego and posterior and justify military intentions, but concludes with this: “The sad thing is it’s the very act of a military takeover that is likely to stir up stiff resistance, provoke acts of violence and possibly cause more loss of life. This coup is not the solution.” Well, of course it is not the solution, but the Post has been part of the problem, failing to clearly stand for democratic process.








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