Updated: Yet another anti-monarchy “plot”

3 10 2017

Thailand’s recent politics has been awash with rightist and royalist claims of “plots” against the monarchy. The military dictatorship claims to have “discovered” another such “plot.” This time the plot is claimed to be a plan to disrupt the funeral for the dead king.

PPT can only express disdain for this political ploy and we can only wonder if anyone still believes such nonsense. As much as we’d like to see an an anti-monarchy plot in Thailand, we haven’t seen any evidence that there is one in the works now.

One of the first “plots” was the entirely concocted “Finland Plot.” The claim peddled by many associated with the People’s Alliance for Democracy and fabricated by notorious royalist ideologue Chai-anan Samudavanija and others. It claimed that Thaksin Shinawatra and former left-wing student leaders had met in Finland and come up with a plan to overthrow the monarchy and establish a communist state. These inventions were published in the Sondhi Limthongkul-owned newspapers and repeated many times by PAD.

As bizarre as this nonsense was, Wikipedia notes that the allegations had an “impact on the popularity of Thaksin and his government, despite the fact that no evidence was ever produced to verify the existence of a plot. Thaksin and his Thai Rak Thai party vehemently denied the accusations and sued the accusers. The leaders of the 2006 military coup claimed Thaksin’s alleged disloyalty as one of their rationales for seizing power.”

Back in 2015, even the politicized courts held that ultra-royalist Pramote Nakornthap had defamed Thaksin with these concoctions. Not surprisingly, many ultra-royalists continue to believe this nonsense.

The anti-monarchy plot diagram

Equally notorious was the anti-monarchy “plot,” replete with a diagram, that the Abhisit Vejjajiva government concocted when faced with a red shirt challenge in April 2010.

The government’s Centre for the Resolution to Emergency Situations claimed to have uncovered a plot to overthrow the monarchy and said “intelligence” confirmed the “plot.” Indeed, the bitter Thawil Pliensri, the former secretary-general of the National Security Council “confirmed” the “plot.” The map included key leaders of the United Front for Democracy against Dictatorship, members of the Puea Thai Party and former banned politicians, academics and hosts of community radio programs. Then Prime Minister Abhisit welcomed the uncovering of the “plot.”

CRES spokesman and then Colonel Sansern Kaewkamnerd, who just happens to be the current dictatorship’s chief propagandist, repeatedly declared this plot a red shirt effort to bring down the monarchy.

We could go on, but let’s look at the current “plot,” which not coincidentally comes from the same military leaders who were in place in when the above “mapping” of a republican plot was invented. It is the same coterie of coup plotters (and that was a real plot) that repeatedly accused Ko Tee or Wuthipong Kachathamakul of various anti-monarchy plots and he was “disappeared” from Laos, presumably by the junta’s henchmen-murderers.

In the new “plot,” Deputy Dictator General Wongsuwan has declared:

Anti-monarchy cells are conspiring to disrupt the funeral of His Majesty the Late King this month, deputy junta chairman Prawit Wongsuwan said Monday.

Gen. Prawit described the alleged agitators as those who “have ill intentions toward the monarchy.” Although he gave no details, he said full-scale security measures would be implemented throughout the rites to place over several days culminating with the Oct. 26 cremation.

Prawit added that “[a]uthorities have learned of threats inside and outside the country, especially from those who oppose and have negative thoughts about ‘the [royal] institution’…”. He put “security forces” on “full alert.”

Careful readers will have noticed that the first mention of this “plot” came from The Dictator General Prayuth Chan-ocha almost two weeks ago.

Army chief General Chalermchai Sitthisart “refused to elaborate in detail on the supposed threat in the latest intelligence report” but still declared that “[t]hose involved were among the ‘regular faces’ abroad wanted on lese majeste charges, but who still incite negative feelings towards the monarchy among supporters through social media.”

The fingerprints on this concoction are those who have regularly invented plots for political purposes. That’s the military. They read all kinds of social media and put 1 and 1 together and come up with anti-monarchy plot.

We tend to agree with Pavin Chachavalpongpun, who is reported as saying:

The cremation provides an opportunity for the security forces to strengthen their position politically using critics of the monarchy as an excuse to increase the state’s heavy handed policy to control society more tightly…. Critics of the monarchy hardly pose a threat considering how much they have been suppressed since the coup….

The cremation and the coronation that will follow are critical political events for the military dictatorship. They want to be seen to be ensuring that everything runs smoothly for both events as the junta moves to stay in power, “election” or “no election.”  Finding a “plot” can make them look even more like the “protectors” of the monarchy.

Update: We don’t know why, but Khaosod’s most recent report on this “plot” seems to be supportive of the the junta’s claims. The claims this report makes amount to little more than reporting chatter. Similar chatter has been around for some time, encouraging individual acts that do not amount to anything like rebellion or disruption.

Some of the material that has been circulated may well derive from the state’s intelligence operatives seeking to disrupt and identify red shirts.  The thing about concocting a plot as a way to discredit your opponents is that there has to be elements in it that seem, at least on a initial view, feasible and believable. That was the point of the diagram produced above, naming persons known to be anti-monarchy. Putting them in a plot is something quite different.

Prayuth, Prem and fascists

10 05 2014

While Army chief Prayuth Chan-ocha continues to rule out a military coup, saying they “would not end the current political problems…”, he added that “soldiers would always be the people’s last resort.” PPT thinks this means: let the judicial coup work to its end, and the military will only intervene if the red shirts mass and it gets violent.

Meanwhile, Privy Council boss and political meddler par excellence General Prem Tinsulanonda has had one of his minions state that he is “not involved in the current political standoff in any way…”. Nobody believes him. That Prem returned to Bangkok on Friday in time for the anti-democrat rally and after Yingluck had been given the double whammy by Prem’s royalist courts is a statement of intent, if circumstantial evidence of the old dog’s continuing involvement in the political shenanigans.

Privy Council President General Prem Tinsulanonda

Privy Council President General Prem Tinsulanonda

More incriminating is the role of the geriatric royalists who went to Prem with ideas for royal intervention just a couple of weeks ago. Back in 2006, it was Prem who had to go out and convince the military to get rid of Thaksin Shinawatra. He can’t do that this time as he cost the monarchy dearly last time – so much so that the monarchy is now routinely seen as politicized.

In Prem’s stead, this time it is the geriatrics who are trying to convince the military to intervene. While the report states that “was cool to its appeal,” the actions of these closely connected royalists, all of whom have been close to the palace and Prem, suggest otherwise.

Led by a former military officer who has been close to Prem since at least the 1960s the old men’s group is to “push its agenda of seeking His Majesty the King’s discretion in ending the political crisis through armed forces commanders…”.

General Saiyud Kerdphol said his group “would ask commanders of the armed forces to seek the royal discretion.” The “royal discretion” bit means intervening and appointing an unelected government of royalists and fascists.

The Post identifies the conspirators as including “former air force chief ACM Gun Pimarnthip, ex-army chief Gen Wimol Wongwanich, former naval commander Adm Vichet Karunyavanij, ex-naval chief of staff Gen Suravudh Maharom, lawyer Amorn Chantarasomboon, political science scholars Pramote Nakhonthap and Chai-Anan Samudavanija, and former foreign affairs minister Surapong Jayanama.” All are coup plotters and/or royalist/fascist ideologues.

They say “the current crisis needs to be solved by the intervention of the army and … the King.” They seem rather less patient than Prayuth.

Old men united

3 02 2014

This video is all over social media. Unfortunately, PPT doesn’t have the time (or even inclination) to translate the meandering machinations of a bunch of silly old men who think Thailand is theirs.

You get a flavor for their perspective from earlier, very popular posts at PPT:

Dangerous old men or just silly old men?

A country for old men? Also available as ประเทศนี้สำหรับคนรุ่นเก่าหรือไง.

What is it about these silly old men that makes them think they are able make the best decisions for the country. Some of them are suffering the problems of old age, such as memory loss, but this doesn’t seem to bother them in deciding that they know what is best for the country. Military men and anti-democratic propagandists, they seem to want to return to a period way back in the 20th century.

Siam Intelligence blog lists those involved. Some of the names that stuck out for PPT were: old Cold War warrior General Saiyud Kerdphol (he’s 92 and acts it, if the video there is anything to go by as the reporter finishes his sentences for him), yellow-shirted ideologue Chai-Anan Samudavanija, 84 year-old royalist Amorn Chantarasomboon, a former secretary-general of the Council of State, ultra-royalist propagandist Pramote Nakhonthap, who is meant to be in jail as a 2008 airport occupier, former junta-appointed government secretary of the PM’s Office Suraphong Chainam, former Army boss General Wimol Wongwanich, Air Force General Kan Pimarnthip, and a bunch of other aged air force and navy brass

Some of this lot were also mentioned recently as “negotiators” for the palace in ousting the “Thaksin regime.” Many of them first became activist – if that is the right word for these geriatrics – this time around when the so-called “anti-government People’s Army” mentioned “the names of 30 high-ranking officials, including military men, who back the group in its campaign to bring down the Thaksin [Shinawatra] regime.” The names listed then were:

The group, led by Admiral Chai Suwannaphap, Thaikorn Polsuwan and General Preecha Iamsupan, held a press conference announcing the names of supporters. These include former Army chief General Wimol Wongwanit, former supreme commander General Saiyud Kerdphol, former Air Force chief ACM Kan Pimanthip, and Admiral Bannawit Kengrian. Prasong Soonsiri, former chief of the National Security Council, would act as adviser.

We are unsure who the woman in the photo is, although a reader suggests it is one of Chai-Anan’s collaborators.

This geriatric lot might have been Thailand’s future in 1973, when they were younger and were the elite’s ideas men. Now they are just old men with nothing to make but political mischief in support of the elite of the past.

More yellow shirts bailed

20 04 2013

And why not? Yellow shirts seem to be bailed as night follows day, while red shirts get locked up and double standards prevail. At The Nation it is reported that another bunch of People’s Alliance for Democracy airport occupiers from late 2008 have been indicted and bailed.

This is reportedly “the sixth group of suspects arraigned in Criminal Court over the seizures of Don Mueang and Suvarnabhumi airports, joining 83 defendants…”.

This group included military PAD leader General Pathompong Kesornsuk, former loudmouth foreign minister Kasit Piromya, ultra-royalist loudmouth Tul Sitthisomwong and ultra-royalist propagandist Pramote Nakhonthap.

All bailed with a nod and a wink.

Further updated: Bring on the coup, again and again and again

24 10 2012

In our last post, PPT mentioned the many times that Pitak Siam [Protecting Siam] boss and retired Army officer General Boonlert Kaewprasit had demanded and pleaded for a military coup. Sad old soldier Boonlert has repeatedly urged soldiers to protect the monarchy, save Thailand from the boffins at Nitirat with a coup, warned or talked of a military coup to prevent “disrespect” being shown to the monarchy, of another coup to protect General Prem Tinsulanonda. A military coup for Boonlert is a solution for many ills, a bit like any normal person might take a painkiller for a headache or other pain.

Hence it is no surprise at all when this old pain-ridden retiree calls again for a … yawn … coup. The old coupster “said he would have staged a coup by now if he was in a position to do so, claiming the country is being run by a ‘puppet government’.” If people were confused about what he really wanted, Boonlert explained:

I’d love to see a coup because I know this puppet government is here to rob the country. Several sectors of society can’t take it anymore. If I had the power a coup would have been staged by now….

Boonlert is a bit of a dunce, but such manipulable dolts are useful for others to use. But surely they could script him better. When he claims that the Yingluck Shinawatra government “has not only stood by as offensive criticism has been hurled against the monarchy, but it has appeared to encourage it,” he sounds as if he has lost his marbles.

Boonlert said his “organisers hope to draw about 25,000 people to fill up the Royal Turf Club stadium” when Pitak Siam rally on Sunday. Still looking for his marbles he then says “the rally has no political backing or funding…”. In another story on Boonlert, the Bangkok Post explains that the backers/supporters are all ultra-royalists: “…Tul Sitthisomwong, scholar sic.] Pramote Nakhonthap, Senator Somjet Boonthanom and activist [sic.] Adm Chai Suwannaphap.”

Adding more to the Boonlert story, the Bangkok Post decides that the silly old duffer is “widely respected…”. Yes, seriously, that is the term they use. Why? the old gun polisher “is a classmate of privy councillor and former premier Surayud Chulanont, who came to power after the Sept 19, 2006 putsch toppled Thaksin.” What a (non)surprise! Boonlert is secretary of the Royal Turf Club and General Surayud is president of the club. What a (non)surprise!

Update 1: A reader points out that the Bangkok Post should have noted that under the military junta’s 2007 Constitution, Section 68 states:

No person shall exercise the rights and liberties prescribed in the Constitution to overthrow the democratic regime of government with the King as Head of State under this Constitution or to acquire the power to rule the country by any means which is not in accordance with the modes provided in this Constitution.

Boonlert is thus proposing an unconstitutional and unlawful act, and he does so repeatedly.

Update 2: Further on The Nation’s beat up and bias, the Bangkok Post has two stories where both the premier and the UDD state the right of Pitak Siam to peacefully rally. Yingluck stated that “she was ready to listen to opinions aired at the rally…”. Deputy Prime Minister Yutthasak Sasiprapa stated that

… the rally on Oct 28 would likely be joined by a group of national development participants, who were former communist insurgents who defected to the authorities a long time ago. He said there are five groups of “national development participants” and those joining the rally belong to a group of 300-400 people who had already received assistance and compensation from the government while Gen Surayud Chulanont was prime minister.

Updated: Appointing royalists to consider constitutional (non-)amendment

23 02 2012

In a remarkable report at The Nation, it is reported that the Office of the Ombudsman has appointed royalists – including some associated with the People’s Alliance for Democracy – to “study how to improve the Constitution…”. In the language of the British, this is a stitch-up. Some background first.

The alleged “experts” are appointed “because the ombudsmen were required by Article 244 of the Constitution to evaluate charter enforcement and provide advice on how to improve the charter.”  The appropriate section of the military’s 2007 constitution states:

Section 244. The Ombudsmen have the powers and duties as follows: … (3) to monitor, evaluate and prepare recommendations on the compliance with the Constitution including considerations for amendment of the Constitution as deemed necessary;

In other words, the Ombudsmen is not required to do this, as reported. A decision must be taken to do it. PPT guesses that this decision also relates to Section 245, which states:

The Ombudsmen may submit a case to the Constitutional Court or Administrative Court in the following cases:

(1) if the provisions of any law begs the question of the constitutionality, the Ombudsmen shall submit the case and the opinion to the Constitutional Court and the Constitutional Court shall decide without delay in accordance with the organic law on rules and procedure of the Constitutional Court;

 (2) if rules, orders or actions of any person under section 244 (1) (a) begs the question of the constitutionality or legality, the Ombudsmen shall submit the case and the opinion to the Administrative Court and the Administrative Court shall decide without delay in accordance with the Act on Establishment of the Administrative Courts and Administrative Courts Procedure.

We likewise guess that these appointments are part of a process that will seek to invalidate amendments to the constitution. The Bangkok Post reports: “A source at the Office of the Ombudsman said the advisory board was set up out of concern the charter’s chapter covering the monarchy may be amended.” PPT would be staggered if that were the case.

The “experts” appointed are:

Noranit Settabut, who was the chairman of the military junta-appointed 2007 Constitution Drafting Assembly (CDA)

Wissanu Krua-ngarm (sometimes Krea-ngam), a former deputy prime minister under Thaksin Shinawatra, but one of those who jumped ship and went to the support of the royalists. Since then, he has accrued a remarkable number of company directorships, perhaps as his reward. He was mentioned in a Wikileaks cable: “Prem had signaled his intentions and intimidated two cabinet members (Cabinet Secretary Borwornsak Uwanno and Deputy Prime Minister Wissanu Krea-ngam) into resigning in June. Pansak claimed that Prem had sent a clear signal by asking their view on whether constitutional provisions allowing the King to take on a political role might be invoked in the event of Thaksin’s death.”

Bowornsak Uwanno, secretary-general of King Prajadipok’s Institute and mentioned in the above cable and this one too.On his resignation as Thaksin’s government spokesman, Bowornsak spent some time in an elite temple and wrote articles extolling the wonders of monarchy and defending lese majeste as a process of rehabilitation to the royalist elite. PPT had this description of him, mentioning his record of political promiscuity.

Surapol Nitikraipot is a former rector of Thammasat University and an appointed member of the military junta’s National Legislative Assembly.

Sombat Thamrongthanyawong, rector of National Institute of Development Administration. Sombat is one of the most compromised of academics, having been harshly critical of red shirts, supportive of all post-coup governments and of yellow shirts. He has been solidly conservative, even rallying his fellow academics at NIDA to oppose those he sees as pro-Thaksin Shinawatra, including outspoken and baseless  attacks on the current government and Prime Minister Yingluck Shinawatra. Back in April 2010, he was one of the academics signing a statement opposing red shirts, along with card-carrying royalists and PAD supporters Chai-Anan Samudvanij, Charas Suwanmala and Pramote Nakhonthap. In June 2010, Abhisit Vejjajiva appointed Sombat to head a constitutional review panel. That panel did nothing and sank into oblivion except for recommending a change to the system of appointing the prime minister taht was meanrt to help the Democrat Party. Even the Democrat Party didn’t jump on that totally biased suggestion.

Thiraphat Serirangsan, former PM’s Office minister in the Surayud Chulanont government appointed by the military junta in 2006. He got his position mainly through his close relationship with self-proclaimed coup planner and well-known royalist and political manipulator Squadron Leader Prasong Soonsiri.

Charas Suwanmala is a former dean of Chulalongkorn University’s Faculty of Political Science, former member of the of the military junta-appointed 2007 CDA and one of the best-know yellow-shirted academics in Thailand. In August 2010 he supported moves to prevent students demonstrating against Abhisit. Charas is a well-known and staunch yellow-shirted academic. In April 2010 he joined with royalists including Police General Vasit Dejkunchorn, in rounding up other yellow shirts, including fellow Chula academic Tul Sitthisomwong, in demonstrating against red shirts by dressing in royalist pink. Vasit and Charas are reported to have sworn an oath before the statue of King Rama VI to protect the nation [from nasty red shirts]. Their crowd chanted royalist slogans, sang royalist songs and demanded that Abhisit not dissolve the House, which was the only red shirt demand at the time. Leaflets claiming Thaksin Shinawatra had defamed the king were also distributed at that rally.

Parinya Thewanarumitkul, vice rector of Thammasat, is generally considered reasonably independent, having been critical of the Puea Thai Party and red shirts prior to the last election and also critical of the military’s 2007 constitution.

The only two who are relatively unknown quantities, at least to PPT, are Kittisak Porakati, a law lecturer of Thammasat and Supachai Yavaprabhas, dean of Chulalongkorn University’s Faculty of Political Science. If readers know more about them, we’d be pleased to update this post.

That means that the Office of the Ombudsman has appointed seven well-known and outspoken partisan “experts,” making a mockery of the claim that “the opinions of the advisers of the ombudsman would be neutral…”. Rather, the Ombudsman appears partisan and biased.

The first meeting of this sub-committee of the PAD Ombudsman is due to be held next week. Don’t expect anything other than partisan politicking from this lot.

You get the general idea of where all this is going in The Nation, where it is reported that the political allies of the panel of “experts” is opposed to any suggestion of rewriting a constitution that was written at the behest of a military junta and is meant to be able to be revised in parliament. Indeed, the current government has won two elections (as People’s Power Party and then as Puea Thai) where it promised amendments as part of its policies.

The Nation reports that the PAD has “issued a statement opposing the ruling coalition’s attempt to rewrite the Constitution in a way that would “allow Thailand to come under the grip of parliamentary dictatorship by evil political capitalism”. That’s all PADspeak for Thaksin and its disdain for voters and elections that produce outcomes it hates. It has called a rally for 10 March.

Meanwhile, a group of 50 senators is also opposed. This is the usual suspects in the Senate, mostly appointed under junta-established rules in the 2007 constitution. They include Surajit Chiravet, Somjet Boonthanom, Kamnoon Sidhisamarn and Rosana Tositrakul. Rosana was clear: she reckoned the whole process of constitutional amendment was “to whitewash the wrongdoing of a certain former prime minister.”Like other royalists, they see rewriting the charter as “tantamount to overthrowing the 2007 Constitution.”

PAD’s words were only slightly different, viewing the “ruling coalition’s amendment as an attempt to overthrow the charter, which is an illegal act against the Constitution.” Of course, all of them simply ignore the actual provisions in the constitution for changing it in Section 291. But it isn’t the constitution they seek to “defend” but the system of elite rule under the monarchy, emblazoned in the junta’s constitution. Expect others from the anti-Thaksin alliance of the past few years to rejoin PAD and the opposition to constitutional reform.

Update: And just to remind readers that the opposition to the charter amendment is a yellow-shirt rallying point, the Democrat Party has made essentially the same points as PAD and the appointed senators in opposing change. The old team is very firmly reunited.

Defending the indefensible

24 08 2010

Dean of the Faculty of Political Science at Chulalongkorn University, Charas Suwanmala, while admitting that he has received his information from the lecturer involved, is reported by Prachatai to have defended  Weerasak Krueathep’ s decision to prevent students from demonstrating at an event meant to celebrate the anniversary of the establishment of the Faculty with Prime Minister Abhisit Vejjajiva as a guest. PPT’s earlier post is here. Of course, Abhisit attended an overseas university, not the royalist Chula.

According to a Matichon report cited by Prachtai, Charas said that “Weerasak did not overreact” when he ripped posters away from students, and also contended that this action was “reasonable, and not in violation of the rights of the students.”  In fact, he was doing his job as an organizer of the event and ensuring that it “went smoothly.” Weerasak seemed convinced that the naughty students would have signs that “would contain vulgar messages like those of the red shirts, so he seized them.” It seems pretty clear that Weerasak was simply worried that students carrying any kind of red shirt message would embarrass the premier, himself and the royalist university.

The Dean went further, insisting that Weerasak would not suppress students’ freedom of expression.  The point is that he did. Charas the adds that his Faculty “has been open for all colours.”  In fact, he says, “open, more than any other university…”. His claim that Weerasak would have let the students protest if he’d been made aware in advance of all the details seems lame.

Weerasak admits that the “PM’s security team alerted him to a group of students standing among students he had organized to greet the PM.  The group carried folded placards in their hands.  He approached them and asked to see the placards.  He had to repeat the demand, but the students tried to walk away. So he snatched the placards, but not by force.” [snatch: v. to make a sudden effort to seize something]

Dean Charas is dissembling. He has a well-known reputation as a staunch yellow-shirted academic. In April he joined with royalists including Police General Vasit Dejkunchorn, in rounding up other yellow shirts, including fellow Chula academic Tul Sitthisomwong, in demonstrating against red shirts by dressing in royalist pink. Vasit and Charas are reported to have sworn an oath before the statue of King Rama VI to protect the nation [from nasty red shirts]. Their crowd chanted royalist slogans, sang royalist songs and demanded that Abhisit not dissolve the House, which was the only red shirt demand at the time. Leaflets claiming Thaksin Shinawatra had defamed the king were also distributed.

Also in April, Charas joined with other royalist academics such as People’s Alliance for Democracy ideologue Chai-Anan Samudvanij, Pramual Wirutamasen, dean of the Faculty of Medicine at Chulalongkorn, Sombat Thamrongthanyawong, rector of the National Institute of Development Administration and royalist ideologue Pramote Nakhonthap in attacking red shirts. And as to his ideas about freedom and democracy, in July, Charas talked about democracy (see here). Charas makes it clear that democracy, while a noble goal, is potentially dangerous. Not least when vote-buying looms so large (at least in his mind).

In other words, given his track record, it is predictable that Charas would support a fellow yellow-shirted academic. If readers think us unfair, ask these questions: 1. What support did Charas provide for his colleague Ji Ungpakorn, harassed in his publishing and then chased into exile by royalist claims of lese majeste?; and 2. How vocal was Charas in supporting his colleague Suthachai Yimprasert when he was arrested on flimsy charges under the draconian emergency decree? It is clear that Charas has double standards.

Updated: Yellow academics

8 04 2010

Update: Available in Thai as “นักวิชาการเหลือง” from Liberal Thai.

The Bangkok Post (8 April 2010) reports on what might be called “dueling letters” as various academics call for or oppose a House dissolution. The latest is from the most yellow of yellow shirted academics. Others were reported here, here and here.

Now “303 academics at universities throughout the country on Thursday signed a statement opposing the use of violence and ‘unreasonable’ demands for a House dissolution, and calling on the the government to implement political and social reforms.  They said people can exercise their right to a political gathering under the constitution, but they should be condemned if they cause trouble for other people through intimidation and threats.  They called on the government to maintain the sanctity of the law and restore peace in society as soon as possible, before the country suffers more damage. In conducting political and social reforms, the government should be sincere and take the opinions of people of all sectors into consideration.”

The academics signing are led by Chai-Anan Samudvanij, the President of the Royal Institute, Pramual Wirutamasen, dean of the Faculty of Medicine of Chulalongkorn University, Sombat Thamrongthanyawong, rector of the National Institute of Development Administration, Charas Suwanmala, dean of the Faculty of Political Science of Chulalongkorn University, and Pramote Nakhonthap, said to be “an independent academic.”

PPT sees all of these names individuals as People’s Alliance for Democracy stalwarts, and in some instances, simply academic stooges. They are operatives for PAD.

Chai-Anan is one of Sondhi Limthongkul’s allied academics, and PPT has posted on him previously, here and here where his use of the Finland Plot (along with Pramote Nakhonthap, who wrote the discredited 5-part article titled ‘Finland Strategy: Thailand’s Revolution Plan?’, that appeared in the Manager on 17, 19, 22, 23 and 24 May 2006, is also mentioned.

The Faculty of Medicine at Chulalongkorn University is the most yellow of faculties in the most yellow of universities. PPT had a relevant post here. Dean Pramual Wirutamasen was one of those who brought the complaint to the Election Commission that had the snap 2006 election annulled and earlier called on Prime Minister Samak Sundaravej to resign.

A more staunch opponent of Thaksin Shinawatra, all of his related parties and the red shirts than Sombat Thamrongthanyawong would be harder to find. Yet he is still regularly cited in the media as if he is independent. He was one of the academics appointed by the military junta to the National Legislative Assembly in 2006. He earlier approved of another petition to get rid of Thaksin.

Charas Suwanmala has never hidden his yellow shirt, and was most recently seen changing it to pink, along with other royalists.

We mentioned Pramote Nakornthap above in respect of the Finland Plot. He was also one of those said to have helped arrange and been at the dinner at the Sukhumvit residence of Piya Malakul, chairman of Pacific Intercommunications company, in early May 2006, and attended by big shots including judges, businessmen, and Privy Councilor General Surayud Chulanont where there was allegedly discussion of how to get rid of Thaksin.

“Academics” doesn’t seem like the appropriate description of their work.

Surayud, the Privy Council, Piya Malakul and the 2006 coup

29 03 2009

Reports flowing from deposed Prime Minister Thaksin Shinawatra’s accusations regarding moves to oust him, which eventually led to the 2006 coup, are coming thick and fast. PPT reports them here because they are revealing details about the political events of 2005 and 2006 that have resulted in both deep political divisions in Thailand and the increased use of lesé majesté charges in highly political ways.

In his denial that he was involved in planning Thaksin Shinawatra’s downfall, Privy Councilor (at the time and again now) General Surayud Chulanont (in the Bangkok Post, 29 March 2009: “Surayud says Thaksin coup claim untrue”) is reported to have said that he had “no desire nor was in any position to plot the overthrow of Thaksin.” Even so, the report states that Surayud is considering the call from General Panlop Pinmanee for him to quit the Privy Council.

The Post report has more details than the one in The Nation, mentioned by PPT in an earlier post, and reveals that “he had met prominent judges at the Sukhumvit residence of Piya Malakul, chairman of Pacific Intercommunications company, in early May 2006 as claimed by Thaksin.” It is added that Surayud stated that those at the dinner “never discussed any plan to organise a coup.” The General also “conceded [that] Panlop Pinmanee, the former deputy director of the Internal Security Operations Command (Isoc) – whom Thaksin claimed had leaked the coup plot involving Gen Surayud to him – was also at the meeting.” Surayud says that “everyone was exchanging views on national affairs over dinner…” but “We never drew any conclusion about seizing power…”. He also is reported to have said that he went to the dinner because, “As a privy councillor, he needed to be well-informed, meet people and seek out information.”

Further, General Surayud is reported as denying “Thaksin’s allegation he had informed His Majesty the King that Thaksin did not respect the monarchy. The accusation was baseless, as were claims he volunteered before the King to topple the government, Gen Surayud said, adding Thaksin was always paranoid about a coup…. He had no idea why Thaksin attacked him and Privy Council president Prem Tinsulanonda.”

Meanwhile, Vice Admiral Pachun Tampratheep, an aide to General Prem, said “Thaksin often made veiled references to Gen Prem as a person behind moves to remove him. He said he was not worried those accusations would paint the Privy Council in a negative light as Thaksin loyalists never viewed the council positively anyway. Many people still had faith in Gen Prem, said Vice-Adm Pachun.”

In a related report in The Nation (29 March 2009: “Piya defends Surayud”), Piya Malakul has defended and supported General Surayud. Piya is reported to have claimed that “It was just ‘a dinner among friends.’ It wasn’t, as alleged by former Premier Thaksin Shinawatra, a ‘secret meeting to plot the Sept 19, 2006 coup.’ Piya said. Piya told Matichon Online that he had hosted the dinner after His Majesty the King had on April 25, the same year, urged the judges … to find a solution to the country’s political crisis at the time.” Piya added, “I only wanted to hear what the country’s top judges who happened to be my friends had to say about the situation…”. Surayud, in the Post reports, claims that he only personally knew Supreme Administrative Court President Ackaratorn Chularat.

The Nation links to one of their blogs, Thai Talk, by Suthichai Yoon (29 March 2009: “Piya Malakul, the dinner host, said there was no talk of coup”). Drawing from Matichon (29 March 2009: “ปีย์ มาลากุล เปิดตัวยัน สุรยุทธ์ ถก 3บิ๊กตุลาการ”ปัดวางแผนรัฐประหาร แค่ดินเนอร์-แม้ว-อ้อ ก็เคยมา”), the report continues: “He [Piya] first invited Mr Akrathorn Chullarat, President of  the Administrative Court, and Mr Chanchai Likhitchitta, President of the Supreme Court, to the dinner. ‘I had known Mr Akrathorn since we were both boys,’ Piya said. He then called up Gen Surayud and Mr Pramote Nakhonthap, an academic, to invite them to join the dinner. Mr Charan Pakdithanakul, then secretary general of the Supreme Court’s President and currently a member of the Constitutional Court, also joined the dinner.” Piya is adamant: “I can confirm that there was no talk of a coup or about who was going to get what position. There was not a single military officer there. How could we discuss a coup?”

According to Matichon, the 7 attendees at the dinner were Piya, Surayud, Panlop, Ackaratorn, Charnchai Likhitjitta, Charan Pakdithanakul and Pramote Nakornthap. Each of these persons has had particularly high profile roles that have impacted political developments since April 2006.

Piya Malakul na Ayuthaya is a 72 year businessman with close palace connections. Matichon includes extensive details about Piya, in Thai. Other available information on this seemingly colourful and influential figure:

Paul Handley (Asia Sentinel, 8 September 2008: “The King Never Smiles: Book Excerpt”) refers to Piya’s role in 1992 and calls him the “king’s media adviser” and a “palace agent.” In the agitation over Thaksin’s letter to President Bush, Piya is mentioned as one of those who perhaps leaked the letter and promoted the response against Thaksin.

In a note to the McCargo and Ukrist book, The Thaksinization of Thailand, Piya and Pacific Intercommunications are mentioned. The company lost valuable contracts with the army after Thaksin reorganized the military hierarchy in late 2003 (also here). In the struggles for control of iTV, Piya, who was iTV’s vice chairman in charge of news operations, “was removed from the editorial board after he criticised the ‘politicisation in favour of the owner and candidate’,” referring to Thaksin.

When Pramual Rujanaseri’s controversial book (Phrarajaamnat or The Royal Prerogative) came out, the author stated that Piya, an editor at Advance Publishing Company, stated that the king liked his book. The book was very popular, not least amongst PAD leaders like Sondhi Limthongkul.

During his short time as prime minister in 2008, Samak Sundaravej claimed that a “half-bald man” he called Ai Terk was undermining the government and country. It is believed that he refered to Pin.

Surayud denies involvement in discussions and planning for the 2006 coup

23 03 2009

Further to our earlier post based on a Bangkok Post story regarding Thaksin Shinawatra’s comments on privy councilors and judges and their role in the 2006 coup and his downfall, The Nation (24 March 2009: “Surayud denies role in 2006 coup”) has more on Surayud Chulanont’s denials of involvement in the coup. Surayud is quoted as saying “”We can prove what truly happened.” It would indeed be useful to see real evidence.

The Nation also reports former Internal Security Operations Command deputy chief Panlop Pinmanee as insisting that  a “General S” had held a meeting “during which the participants agreed to oust Thaksin because he was not loyal to the monarchy.”

Meanwhile, “Thepthai Senpong, personal spokesman to Prime Minister Abhisit Vejjajiva, responded to Thaksin’s allegations saying the former PM had proved that he was averse to the justice system by smearing judges and privy councillors.” His Democrat Party colleague “Deputy Prime Minister Suthep Thaugsuban said Thaksin had made allegations against privy councillors and top judges with the intention of instigating unrest”

The Nation also says that Thaksin “accused three judges of being behind his ouster, saying Supreme Administrative Court president Ackaratorn Chularat, Supreme Court president Chanchai Likhitjittha, Charan [Jaran Pakdithanakuland] and Pramote Nakornthap had spread rumours that he was behind the publication of [Paul Handley’s] ‘The King Never Smiles’.”

Bangkok Pundit has more details on what Thaksin said and Chris Baker has posted a translation of Thaksin’s main points at New Mandala.

In the same edition, The Nation (24 March 2009: “EDITORIAL: Ready to tear the country apart”) contradicts some of its own report above, claiming that there have been denials by Thaksin’s alleged sources (see Bangkok Pundit on this here).

And, not to be left on the sidelines, Thaksin critic Sopon Onkgara chimes in with an op-ed (24 March 2009: “Phoney phone-ins aim to hurt people in high places”). Sopon argues that the veracity or otherwise of Thaksin’s statements mean nothing for: “The virulent effects of his accusations, whether true or false, undoubtedly affect many people in high places.”

Columnists at The Nation have often dared Thaksin to name names, and now that he does they seem shocked and distraught, with Sopon claiming that: “The state of his [Thaksin’s] mind and his mental stability is questionable. A lot of people already think he has gone mad and nothing can cure him.” Sopon’s op-eds are increasingly little more than personalized attacks but the give a flavour of the fear and hatred that remains following the events of the past few years.

Sopon adds: “Who knows, the next names he utters could be shocking and beyond our wildest imaginations. If those cheering him in the Chiang Mai stadium believe in his accusations, it means that the respected names he mentioned will be hated by thousands of people in the land. Therefore, the malice in Thaksin’s words cannot be denied.”

But perhaps Thaksin has already uttered that which is “shocking and beyond our wildest imaginations” for The Nation also reports (23 March 2009: “Ever the victim, Thaksin tries to explain his downfall”) that, “For the first time, he even made an insinuation by mentioning the VIP-protection code ‘901’, used by security details to refer to His Majesty.”

And Sopon concludes: “Although he has repeatedly claimed his reverence for the King, he has yet to explain why he often invokes His Majesty in the political context. And he offers no shred of evidence to link the Privy Council to the political feud.He is also obligated to explain why he counts as his top lieutenants such convicts and lese majeste suspects as Veera Musigapong and Jakrapob Penkair.”

It is clear that the political use of lesé majesté and the political role of the monarchy remain at the centre of current debates in Thailand and that the political use of lesé majesté is unlikely to be diminished in such a highly charged atmosphere.

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