Old soldiers Chaisit, Boonlert and Abhisit

11 11 2012

Old soldiers are in the news again.

General Chaisit Shinawatra, now an adviser to Prime Minister Yingluck Shinawatra (see the family tree), has apparently decided to demonstrate the continuing splits in the military. He’s ticked off by General Boonlert Kaewprasit, a Class 1 graduate, who is goose-stepping about at the head of Pitak Siam.

Chaisit has mobilized some of his buddies from Pre-Cadet Academy Class 5, 7, 8, 10, 11 and 13  to protest against Pitak Siam and Boonlert’s repeated calls for the military to stage a coup.

It is interesting that other military types argues against a coup, saying that “if there was another coup, it would inflict untold damage to the economy and it would regress in comparison with other Asean countries.” They also call for the “next administration should be installed democratically…”.

Chaisit accused Boonlert of  “being used as a frontman for the elite.”

Of course, Boonlert is deaf on such calls, not least because he hates democracy. He and his buddies got together at General Surayud Chulanont’s Royal Turf Club. The privy councilor might deny support for Boonlert, but the racetrack remains the venue for Pitak Siam.

It was there that he and royalist Prasong Soonsiri met with “100 representatives of networks nationwide to discuss a mega-rally to be held for two days and one night on November 24.” They want 1 million to show up, but the real point is to create a royalist anti-government movement to match PAD in 2006 and in 2008.

The Democrat Party is already counting on clashes “between pro- and anti-government rallies” in their efforts to destabilize the political situation.

Speaking of the anti-democratic political party, the other “old soldier” in the news is Abhisit Vejjajiva. Defence Minister Sukumpol Suwanatat says he’s ready to sign off on a “ministry committee’s decision to strip Abhisit of the rank and salary given to him when he worked as military lecturer.”

Abhisit is saying he is going to sue the minister, believing the decision to be “politically motivated.” Of course, Abhisit is correct.

PPT wants to see Abhisit face charges, not for this faking that is common for the the kids of the elite but for his politically motivated decisions related to murderous crackdowns on red shirt protesters.





Dangerous old men or just silly old men?

5 11 2012

Old soldier General Boonlert Kaewprasit who runs the Pitak Siam group, the latest yellow shirt/no color/multi-color ultra-royalist-rightist front organization seems to be looking for an excuse to back down.

If the report at the Bangkok Post is accurate, then Boonlert seems to be setting himself up for an early exit. He says the “next anti-government rally will be called off if the number of people it draws is likely to be fewer than the target of one million…”.

We know that Boonlert is not all that sharp, but to tell potential supporters that “the number of people taking part will be closely watched. If it was likely to be fewer than the target of one million, the rally would be called off,” is hardly likely to be an attractive proposition.

As we noted in an earlier post, the red shirts also sprouted that number a couple of times, and they were well organized and had huge support, but couldn’t do it. Hence we do not think the yellow, military, and palace old men can’t muster that many protesters.

Perhaps Boonlert’s reluctance has to do with the all too obvious links that have been drawn between him and Privy Councilor General Surayud Chulanont. As classmates at the Armed Forces Academies Preparatory School, co-executive post holders at the Royal Turf Club and proclaimed best friends, they seem pretty darn close.

In addition, Prasong Soonsiri and Boonlert are close to the palace and privy council, so perhaps the links are troubling for the higher ups.

Boonlert may argue that he is trying to get a crowd, but he is sounding increasingly silly. But in Thailand even silly old men can be dangerous.





The old gang gets a crowd II

28 10 2012

The Nation and the Bangkok Post estimate 20,000 attended the the military-royalist Pitak Siam rally at Royal Turf Club. Police claimed 6,000, but photos suggest it was larger than this.

The report says that this is a “surprisingly successful first rally…”. Not really. As PPT pointed out earlier, Boonlert said his “organisers hope to draw about 25,000 people to fill up the Royal Turf Club stadium…”. We don’t believe seasoned coupsters and ultra-royalist organizers like Chamlong Srimuang and Prasong Soonsiri were about to allow a small rally. In addition, the links to former classmate and privy councilor General Surayud Chulanont and with links to his boss General Prem Tinsulanonda were always sure to mobilize ultra-royalists.

Now the challenge for the Yingluck Shinawatra government is the Pitak Siam plan “for a bigger demonstration at Government House…”. The challenge for the old soldiers and yellow-shirted coupsters is to find reasons for people to rally with them. One strategy is the claim that the “government had done nothing to stop several people from attacking and violating the royal family…”. This is fabricated nonsense, but ultra-royalists have always been sure that “red shirts are republicans.” So the search will be on for acts of “disloyalty.”

In our original post, we noted that we expected yellow-shirted intellectuals to increase their sniping; it seems that has begun as the aged anti-Thaksin economist Ammar Siamwalla has rejoined the political fray. The Post report refers to “Surachai Sirikrai, a political scientist from Thammasat University” damning the government and making bizarre claims that Pitak Siam could grow to be a “Thai Spring.”

Meanwhile, the Democrat Party has coordinated with the Pitak Siam events by launching a campaign to “save democracy.” Again plagiarizing red shirts, the idea-less DemoPADs have begun “opening political schools and calling on their supporters to fight against Thaksinomics.” The conservative elite’s pin-up boy Abhisit Vejjajiva made an opening speech entitled “Major institutions in a democratic system in Thailand’s constitutional monarchy.” As we noted above, the monarchy will again be front and center in the renewed attempts to overthrow an elected government.

Abhisit apparently “said the reason the party decided to launch the political schools was that the country’s political fighting had intensified and the objectives of opponents were different from the past. Democracy was being used as a tool for self gain.” None of this is new and, in fact, Yingluck’s politics have been so timid that there is simply no intensification. This is a beat-up by Abhisit and his military-royalist allies.

Old and failed former Democrat Party leader Chuan Leekpai expresed his support for the military and designated the main threat to the country as not the murdering royalist military but “… a new political disease since Thaksin has joined politics and bought political parties with majority votes…”. In other words, the majority vote amounts to nothing for the anti-Democrat Party. And, as expected, Chuan declared: “… there is a move to topple the monarchy with the committing of lese majeste offences…”. As we said, nonsense, but the plan is to destabilize, again with palace and royalist support.

The picture is pretty clear. This is a coordinated and planned move against the elected government.

As a footnote, PPT thinks it worth observing that yet another royalist overthrow of an elected government is likely to mean the end of the monarchy as republicanism will be the only alternative for those who want elections as expressions of political will to be respected.





Updated: The old gang regroups

26 10 2012

Prasong

The Nation reports that former intelligence boss Squadron Leader Prasong Soonsiri has agreed to join the anti-government rally nominally organized by old soldier General Boonlert Kaewprasit and his Pitak Siam royalist front. Prasong is one of those who claims to have been a coup plotter in 2006 along with senior military figures. Palace insider Prasong has explained that a cabal of serving and retired military leaders, including then Army boss Sonthi Boonyaratglin, began planning the coup in July 2006. As in previous coup-plotting, Prasong says he “wants this administration ousted.”

Prasong knows quite a bit about coups. He has been involved in a range of political campaigns over many years. Prasong has a short entry at Wikipedia that mentions his role as head of the National Security Council. The entry finishes by noting that “Prasong was a central figure in the 19 September 2006 Thai military coup that overthrew Thaksin Shinawatra’s elected government…. A palace insider and favorite of King Bhumibol Adulyadej, Prasong was later appointed by the junta to the National Legislative Assembly.” Prasong has also been a strong supporter of the People’s Alliance for Democracy and a strong opponent of Thaksin. Also close to the military brass, Prasong acted as a palace and junta lackey in being chairman of the committee which drafted the 2007 constitution.

Pitak Siam is boosted by Prasong’s decision to again emerge from the shadows and push for extra-judicial and extra-constitutional politics. The paper also reports that the infamous Dhamma Army is going to show up. These royalist militants are rabid supporters of the PAD’s Chamlong Srimuang and the Santi Asoke sect.

Also rejoining his old anti-Thaksin allies is General Pathompong Kesornsuk, said by the report to be a “former chairman of advisers to the Armed Forces.” That’s a pretty innocuous way to describe a man who is a rabid nationalist and royalist who appeared, in uniform, on the PAD stage back in 2006. Close to the yellow elements of the Democrat Party, like Boonlert, he has repeatedly made the unconstitutional call for the military to carry out coups, laced with neo-fascist ideology.

Boonlert

Boonlert, Prasong and Pathompong all have close relations with figures in the palace.

This group has stated “that they could no longer stand the rampant corruption and moves to defame the monarchy.” The latter is a nonsense claim, but one that will always be used even against the monarchy-timid Yingluck Shinawatra regime. They criticized Yingluck for having “failed to heed criticism from academics.” Shame on her! Heavens, the “academic” is just so very significant! While that hardly seems like a battle cry, this is a dangerous group that is able to mobilize like-minded neanderthals.

Interestingly the old gang’s almost all here! The gang that conspired to bring on the 2006 coup and then engineered the judicial coup in 2008 is coming back together. Sure, Sonthi Limthongkul is absent, but there are plenty of yellow shirts and he can make a grand entrance later. The question is how much of the old palace, military and capitalist support is also there.

Update: The Bangkok Post has a story on the participation of The Dhamma Army. Describing it as an “ultra-conservative religious group allied to the yellow-shirt People’s Alliance for Democracy,” the Dhamma Army is one piece of the conservative apparatus that must come together if they are to achieve yet another unconstitutional royalist overthrow of an elected and popular government.

As another story in the Post points out, “Gen Boonlert is also trusted by Privy Council president Prem Tinsulanonda and by Gen Prem’s inner circle.” It is that inner circle which will be watching this test of the political waters.





The end of the politics of old men

31 03 2012

At The Nation Constitution Court President Wasan Soypisudh is cited on politics and reflects a gloom that has enveloped that royalist camp as Yingluck Shinawatra’s government has negotiated several challenging months and appears to have managed to get even lese majeste out of the headlines in recent weeks (without doing anything much for those already jailed on this politicized charge).

Following the 2006 military coup, the Constitution Court played a major role in  the royalist ruling class’s political strategy of destroying the Thaksin Shinawatra regime. Of course, the court’s bias was clear and also played a significant part in mobilizing opposition to the royalist rulers and their puppet regime fronted by Abhisit Vejjajiva.

So it is ironic that the the court president is gloomy in his “analysis of reconciliation process” when the court’s politicized decision-making has been central to the political conflicts of the past 6 years.

As the report notes, Wasan is “probably only echoing many people’s opinions…”. We suspect that these people are mainly the royalists. That said, there are red shirts who will also be disappointed if reconciliation means that the Abhisit regime and its military backers are not held accountable for their actions in office.

The glum Wasan says:  “I can’t see how we can achieve peace…. Maybe this generation of political rivals have to die first.”

There may be something to this view. PPT has long pointed to the problem of old and exceptionally conservative men running Thailand. Back when we posted on this in 2009, we mentioned Privy Council President General Prem Tinsulanonda (b. 1920), the king himself (b. 1927), the old men in the Privy Council, royalist and palace favorite Police General Vasit Dejkunjorn (b. 1929 or 1930), the Democrat Party’s Chuan Leekpai (b. 1938), and we could have added plenty more in their 70s or older: Prawase Wasi, Anand Punyarachun, Banharn Silpa-archa, Sanan Kachornprasart, Dhanin Chearavanont, Prasong Soonsiri, and so on. Most of these old men are out of touch with popular politics and ideas outside their own circle.

Of course, there are younger people, especially in the declining Democrat Party, who aspire to be old men too. After all, like Abhisit, they believe and know that they were born to rule. For most of this lot, despite differences in political position, reconciliation is restoring their right to rule over the people wealthy Democrat Party elitist Korn Chatikavanij once referred to as the “great unwashed.”

The striking thing – and perhaps the reason for Wasan’s poor mood – is that the “great unwashed” are rejecting these old men and their elitist proteges. This is seen in election results and a range of other areas including the questioning of the monarchy.





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.





Wikileaks: U.S. ambassador gets warm and cosy with army boss

2 11 2011

It seems that U.S. Ambassador Ralph Boyce never really liked Thaksin Shinawatra much. By mid-July 2006, he is apparently so keen for Thaksin to be ousted as prime minister that he is actively campaigning against him in meetings with the elements publicly seen to also be campaigning against Thaksin, notably the royalists in the Privy Council and military.

Gen. Sonthi

At this point in the conflict, the People’s Alliance for Democracy has not been on the streets since April, and Privy Council President General Prem Tinsulanonda was leading the anti-Thaksin charge. Prem was busily urging the military on to a coup, telling them that their loyalty was to the king and not the government.

In this cable dated 7 July 2006, Boyce meets with Army Commander General Sonthi Boonyaratglin on 6 July. Boyce seems chuffed that the general has attended the Embassy’s independence day celebration. Boyce sounds fawning but grateful when he observes:

Sonthi’s attendance at the event was itself notable, in contrast to his usual low profile on the social circuit. Even more significant, the General agreed to chat with me following the formalities of the receiving line, which entailed an hour wait on his behalf. Once nestled into a quiet corner, I asked for his take on the Prime Minister’s controversial comments last week….

Sonthi is said to have been “appalled by the thinly-veiled attack on Prem (himself one of Sonthi’s predecessors as Army Commander).” The general is reported to believe that the political crisis was “untenable,” and revolved around “one man–Thaksin.”

Like Privy Council President General Prem Tinsulanonda, Sonthi seems to believe that Thaksin is the problem: “The PM has the ability to end the crisis by going away, but he doesn’t want to go away.”

Sonthi then “indicated in a variety of ways that he does not approve of the Prime Minister, particularly because Thaksin appears to be inclined to not just stay on as PM, but to attack venerable institutions respected by the military.” That means the monarchy and the Privy Council.

Boyce then provides succor to the general, assuring him that:

policymakers in Washington are concerned about the situation in Thailand, but have noted that the military continues to conduct itself in a professional manner, staying on the sidelines of this crisis, and that this can largely be attributed to Sonthi himself.

Sonthi is reported as saying that “there is no intention, whatsoever, for military involvement in the current crisis.” Of course, senior military figures were already heavily involved. Indeed, palace insider Prasong Soonsiri has explained that a cabal of serving and retired military leaders, including Sonthi, began planning the coup in July 2006.

Boyce seems more concerned that a coup might come from Thaksin supporters in the military, Sonthi is reported to have “coolly responded”: “I’ve got class 10 under control; they won’t do anything.”

Boyce sounds unconvincing when he concludes this cable saying:

it is useful to hear the Army chief state in no uncertain terms that the military is not planning on coming off of the bench. We take him at face value; that said, one can never completely rule out the potential for military intervention in Thailand.

We can’t believe that Boyce could have been sweeping the military’s all too obvious tracks.





Thaksinphobia, royalist politics and the end of democracy

28 09 2011

In an earlier post, PPT referred to the yellow reaction of the Democrat Party to the proposals made by legal reform group Nitirat.We noted that the Democrat Party was suffering Thaksinphobia to the extent that excluded any path forward for the party.

Usefully, Bangkok Pundit has summarized the groups proposals. This is important, for as the Bangkok Post explains, royalists have gone bonkers on the proposal. The Post states:

The proposal by the Nitirat group of law academics for the nullification of all court decisions and other legal action which were a consequence of the Sept 19, 2006 coup as well as the amendment of Section 112 of the Criminal Code on lese majeste is drawing fierce opposition – and a warning.

And who should emerge as a fierce critic? None other that Squadron Leader Prasong Soonsiri, who is said to have “sent a stern warning to the Nitirat group of law academics that what they are doing may lead to another military coup.”

Prasong

Prasong should know a bit about coups. He has been involved in a range of political campaigns over many years. Prasong has a short entry at Wikipedia that mentions his role as head of the National Security Council. The entry finishes by noting that “Prasong was a central figure in the 19 September 2006 Thai military coup that overthrew Thaksin Shinawatra’s elected government. Prasong had developed plans for a military coup as early as July 2006. A palace insider and favorite of King Bhumibol Adulyadej, Prasong was later appointed by the junta to the National Legislative Assembly.” Prasong has also been a strong supporter of the People’s Alliance for Democracy and a strong opponent of Thaksin Shinawatra.

PPT has pointed out previously that when this staunch royalist, anti-Thaksin activist, constitution drafter, behind-the-scenes PAD adviser, former security master and appointed minister is widely reported, he is usually saying something that needs to be considered.

He has now accused the Nitirat scholars of “trying to help whitewash former prime minister Thaksin…”.

Prasong, who acted as a palace and junta lackey in being “chairman of the committee which drafted the current constitution, promulgated in 2007, said some of the academics had long served Thaksin and their intentions matched those of the present government, which wanted to whitewash Thaksin.”

Prasong asks: “How can subsequent judicial decisions made after the coup be nullified?” Prasong blaims all the illegal actions of the coup junta and its subsequent appointed and tame government and lackeys like Prasong on Thaksin. It is as if Thaksin’s actions that had the palace and military miffed are the justification for all the illegal actions of these people.

Prasong warned that Nitirat’s actions “could lead to many people becoming dissatisfied and coming out in a show of force.” He’s promising PAD-like demonstrations, which he previously helped arrange, or worse. As he says, “[t]his might also lead to a recurrence of the Sept 19, 2006 coup…”.

And who should come out to support this old man who has been up to his ears in undemocratic actions for years? None other than Army chief Gen Prayuth Chan-ocha who “voiced a similar opinion, particularly on the proposed amendment of the Criminal Code’s Section 112, which relates to lese majeste.”

Prayuth is simply banal on lese majeste and the monarchy:

He said it is not necessary to amend Section 112 because the monarchy has never done any harm to anybody, but has constributed considerably to the country.

He added:

I don’t see it necessary to touch on this matter (Section 112). We have to watch and see what they are doing this for…. Whatever is already good should not be touched….

Prayuth specifically warned that there should be no meddling with “the justice process and the judicial system…”. We assume he means meddling by anone else other than the military, royalists and palace.

Threateningly, Prayuth “called on the people to closely watch the moves being taken by this group of academics.” That is the kind of threat that harks back to earlier periods of authoritarianism and the more recent period of repression under the Democrat Party-led government.

The next group to oppose Nitirat was the yellow-tinged Lawyers Council of Thailand. In recent years they too have been royalist lackeys. They sounded PAD-like circa 2005-06 when it stated that it

opposes the overthrow of any government by a coup. At the same time the council disagrees with the absolute control of state power that results in a parliamentary dictatorship.

The LCT should be ashamed of its claim that “the 2007 constitution was intended to correct many past mistakes and shortcomings. If it were abolished it would be a waste of lessons learned from the past.” That is patently false propaganda for a military-backed government and the illegality of the 2006 coup.

It seems that the royalists are spoiling for a fight following their inability to convince a majority of Thais that unconstitutional and extra-constitutional powers should be supported.

These people like Praong and Prayuth are not ignorant or stupid. However, our use of terms like banal, lackeys, propaganda, and so on are simply not strong enough to express the outrage that should be felt for these contemptible people who know loyalty only to the worst traditions of political intrigue and elite control. They care nothing for democracy and simply want to bring it down because they see a challenge to outdated institutions.





PAD says “anything but elections”!

24 03 2011

While the People’s Alliance for Democracy doesn’t have the same large numbers of people mobilized now as it did in 2005 and 2008, it continues to have enough support, including from elements in the military and elite to maintain a presence on the streets and in the media. At present it seems that PAD is again promoting its non-democratic form of conservatism. PPT mentioned Sondhi Limthongkul’s position in a recent post.

More recently, lawyer Praphan Khoonmee, who participated in the popular uprising on 14 October 1973 and joined the Communist Party after 6 October 1976 has spoken to PAD’s followers urging a system of government akin to Fascism. He is reported in Prachatai to have “contested general elections twice in 2005 and 2007 under the Democrat Party, but failed. He was appointed a member of the National Legislative Assembly after the 2006 coup. Currently, he is an executive member of the New Politics Party, and a host of an ASTV weekly programme.” He was even appointed an official adviser by the current Democrat Party-led government in 2009.

His elite and royalist connections are clear from his time as “a close aide of Squadron Leader Prasong Soonsiri.” Prasong is a well-known figure, a staunch royalist, anti-Thaksin activist, constitution drafter, behind-the-scenes PAD adviser, former security master and former appointed minister.

On 21 March, Praphan told the assembled yellow shirts that he “will accept any means to let good people govern the country, saying that it is their right to have a better political system.” He claims that, since 1932,  “Thailand had been more ruined under elected governments than under military juntas and appointed governments.” This is all reactionary bilge.

He lists a bunch of military dictators and royal appointed leaders to back his claims, including Sanya Thammasak, Anand Panyarachun, General Prem Tinsulanonda and General Surayud Chulanont. He claims that all of these leaders – a long list, including People’s Party revolutionaries – produced less corruption than the evil, elected prime minister – Thaksin Shinawatra.

PPT has no idea how Praphan does his sums, but accuracy is not important for his is a call for an authoritarian, preferably military, regime. Dictators, he says, produced better results, and Thailand “flourished better under appointed PMs…”.

The former communist lauds all of the corrupt and dictatorial rulers he formerly hated, all in the name of opposing Thaksin and the idea that voters can make a reasonable decision on who should govern them.

Not surprisingly, he gives special attention to Privy Council President Prem. He says “elected politicians were in awe of military power” meaning that Prem could make Thailand a “country was full of happiness, without the need of elections.” Of course, there were elections and attempted coup, but Prem retained the support of the palace.

The elected politicians, including Abhisit Vejjajiva, he says, were all hopeless and corrupt: “This is the system of elections! A sham democracy!” He says “anybody” would be better than “the current politicians.” He adds: “And if you ask what system we want if we don’t want elections, we will accept any system which does not let these scoundrels govern. Any system which lets good people govern will do. We’re not seeking a system which will threaten the nation, religion and king.”

He calls on soldiers, police, and government officials to “stand up for the good of the country.”

PAD seem back to their undemocratic best. In our earlier post, we asked: Who is supporting PAD and keeping it on the streets? We also noted that Sondhi and his retired military backers were steering a course to the extreme right. Praphan confirms that. Will this have traction? Will the military buy in?





With several updates: Abhisit reveals the contradictions of dealing with PAD

9 01 2011

Yes, we dubbed him “Teflon Mark,” but we think Prime Minister Abhisit Vejjajiva is digging himself into an ever deeper hole on the yellow-shirted border crossers.

The Bangkok Post reports that Abhisit is talking tough,warning Cambodia, reassuring the nationalists in Thailand that his government is not caving in to Cambodia: “The ruling cannot be used to support any claim by Cambodia over border demarcation,” he said in a statement indicating that the yellow shirted nationalists remain important for his government.

The prime minister sent Panich Vikitsreth, a Bangkok Democrat MP to the Thai-Cambodian border, saying “a group of Thai citizens had lodged a complaint with the government, saying they could not  make use of their land within the disputed border area.”

Recall that he earlier denied sending Panich to this particular location. That particular untruth seems now forgotten.

Panich was sent to the border with Veera Somkwamkid, co-ordinator of the Thai Patriot Network joined to the People’s Alliance for Democracy (PAD), and with members of the conservative Santi Asoke sect, another PAD ally that often sends it members into the front line of militant of nationalist actions. They follow PAD leader Chamlong Srimuang.

Abhisit says that “the PAD and Santi Asoke were also concerned about the issue, so Mr Panich volunteered to join them in an inspection of the area.”

It is clear that Abhisit knew of the trip and who was involved. Of course, the Democrat Party has a long-established connection to these groups,even if it is criticized from time to time by the yellow-shirted media.

Then Abhisit joins those who have managed to deliberately lied in the face of clear evidence to the contrary when he says:  “I don’t believe those seven Thais intended to either trespass on or spy in Cambodia…”.

PPT doesn’t believe spying was involved, but the intent to cross the border to provoke arrest is clear.

Abhisit is under pressure from PAD for more militant actions, but he is also dealing with them on this issue. And that is where his problem lies, for the extreme right pushes him for more. For example, Prasong Soonsiri, former National Security Council chief, former foreign minister and a royalist coup planner close to PAD, accuses the government of being “too submissive.”

His view is that “the government to insist that the seven Thais were arrested on Thai territory and not to accept the Cambodian court’s verdict if they are found guilty.” He adds that these seven have “contributed to society.”

Abhisit is locked into these lies and alliances with the conservative right.

Update 1: The problem for Abhisit continues as PAD scream for “no retreat,” yelling a nationalist mythology that claims land that is both in dispute but also land that “is Thai” even if not within its current agreed boundaries. See this in the Bangkok Post, where PAD issued a statement demanding that “the government to force Cambodia to free seven detained Thais without any condition.” PAD claims there is evidence – has anyone seen it? – “showing that the seven Thais were arrested in Thailand’s territory.”

PAD “condemned” all those “who had told reporters that the Thais had entered into Cambodian territory.” This included: “Deputy Prime Minister Suthep Thaugsuban, Foreign Minister Kasit Piromya, Defence Minister Gen Prawit Wongsuwon and Sakaeo provincial governor Sanit Naksuksri.” Notice that Abhisit is missing from the list, because he hasn’t fallen into this traitor’s trap. Still, he gets a bollocking for “failing to use their authorities [sic.] to pressure Cambodia to free seven Thais.”

The yellow-shirt people group also condemned Prime Minister Hun Sen, Cambodian government and soldiers for arresting the Thais in Thailand’s territory and brought them into Cambodia court, despite Thailand had helped Cambodian refugees during the civil war in the neighbouring country. PAD called on the government to reject any ruling by the Cambodian court – what if they are declared innocent and freed? – and demands an “an official ultimatum to Cambodia…”.

As we noted above, Abhisit cannot easily escape the alliance that was forged in the period when the Democrat Party needed PAD activism to get them closer to snatching power. That debt is large and difficult to repay in full.

Update 2: In The Nation, Abhisit says this: “I want to bring back the seven now and all other issues will be dealt with at a later date…”. The yellow shirts really have him jumping!

Update 3: Bangkok Pundit has a neat twist on this story, linking Panich to the Santi Asoke sect: “Panich’s involvement arose because he is a Santi Asoke follower and former Vice-Minister of Foreign Affairs.” This is followed-up with another interesting statement: “Panich was strongly supported in the by-election in 2010 by Santi Asoke’s Dharma Army.” The Democrat Party can’t escape its debt to the yellow shirts.








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