“The constitution will pass the referendum”

11 02 2016

These are words attributed to senior junta member General Prawit Wongsuwan. Perhaps he already knows the result of the constitutional referendum. Maybe the military has all the ballots already prepared.

He declares his confidence “I believe (the constitution) will pass the referendum.  Why? There are not many flaws in it. It’s hard to get a constitution that can effectively prevent corruption…”. He refers only to “corruption” by elected politicians. Corruption by “good people” like royalists, members of the elite, the bureaucracy and military is okay, so long as it is done with “good intentions.”

For this constitutional draft can only pass if a couple of things happen. First, the military junta would have to change its own charter so that a “majority” would be more easily defined. And that’s exactly what they’ve just decided to do. Second, the dictators would need to mobilize all their troops, intelligence agents and all their supporters in universities, hospitals and government offices to promote and cajole a “yes” vote.

That said, we remain unconvinced that the junta and the current bosses want the referendum to pass. But, as a reader has pointed out, even if it does, the junta could find a workaround and stay in power.

Getting tanked

9 02 2016

Exactly a month ago, PPT asked: What happened to those “cheap” tanks the Thai generals ordered from the Ukraine?

We can guess where the “commissions” went, but why are the current crop of generals now looking for tanks from other places?

Initially, the whole idea was poo-pooed by the junta’s spokesmen. No, they said, no Russian tanks. But that story has changed. (In other words, they were telling untruths last month.)

Today, the Bangkok Post states the “army changed stories … admitting it plans to buy new tanks, saying it is in the process of setting up a procurement committee.” Yep, they certainly were lying last time. One of those lying was Defense Minister General Prawit Wongsuwan.

2006 coup

2006 coup, with US tanks used

Army spokesman Colonel Winthai Suvaree continued the lies, saying “the army’s procurement panel will consider all possible options before making a decision based on cost-effectiveness and transparency.” He meant to say that the decision will be made on who is going to take the “commissions” and allocate them to loyalists. (It seems like the lucky moneybags will be General Prawit.)

The Army has had to admit that it is considering “purchasing Russian-made tanks” because Prawit is off to Russia soon and “reportedly plans to inspect this model of tank.” He’s taking Deputy Prime Minister Somkid Jatusripitak with him. Of course, Somkid is the main finance and economics cabinet member, so his acquiescence will smooth the money flows. The Dictator, General Prayuth Chan-ocha, is also scheduled to visit Russia in May.

As PPT posted earlier, “Prawit and army chief Gen Thirachai Nakwanich are proceeding carefully with the tank procurement plan following the delayed delivery of T-84 Oplot tanks from Ukraine…”. The generals blame “internal political turmoil as the reason for the hold-up.” That is, in the Ukraine, not Thailand.

Tanks are seldom used in Thailand, and sometimes roll out for a coup.

Only 10 of the ordered 50 T-84 Oplot tanks have been delivered. We can only wonder what deal is being done on this. Is money lost? Will “commissions” need to be repaid? Perhpas a new Chinese or Russian deal for their versions of the T-90 tank will square things up and be cause for celebration. Vodka is good when wanting to get tanked.

Do not speak ill of the dead I

3 02 2016

Dead on arrival was how PPT described the draft constitution a couple of days ago. Yet the military junta seems to think the dead may rise and walk among us. And they seem to think that the way to do that is to prevent too much criticism.

Defense Minister and  powerbroker General Prawit Wongsuwan, reported at the Bangkok Post has “urged charter critics to stop using provocative words to stir conflicts over the draft constitution, as it is not finalised.” He said the junta “did not ban criticism of the draft constitution, but critics should be aware of their words instead of branding a form of dictatorship…”. The idea seems to be to call a spade an implement for preparing the ground for beautiful flowers rather than a spade.

The same point is made is a report at Khaosod. Junta spokesman Colonel Winthai Suvaree said discussion of the draft charter must be “respectful.”

Bursting into lies, he stated that the junta “never prohibits criticism or expression of opinion,” while warning that “expression of opinion by certain groups and individuals contains unnaturally strong language and manner, which does not appear to be constructive.” Colonel Winthai claimed that some critics “seem to be intent on inciting hatred or conflict, which will damage the ongoing decent atmosphere…”.

We think the military dictatorship is still undecided on how to deal with the stillborn charter. But we don’t doubt they are scheming away.

Update: Privilege and support

25 01 2016

The military dictatorship has made a big deal of its preference that political activists not meet so that their politics is deactivated. It has generally had the same line for political parties.

However, as readers will know, the junta makes strategic exceptions and supports its supporters. For example, fascist monk Buddha Issara has been permitted and even encouraged to rally with his supporters several times. Anti-democrat meetings involving Suthep Thaugsuban have been permitted. The military junta has even organized its own “protesters.”

Confirming these double standards, The Nation reports that the so-called Democrat Party, the preferred party of military and royalists, has been permitted to meet in Suthep’s southern political stronghold of Suratthani on Sunday.Democrat_Party

Party “heavyweights” reportedly met to deal with “internal conflicts posing [a] threat to its popularity in the capital after the party severed ties with its deputy leader, Bangkok Governor Sukhumbhand Paribatra.”

Democrat Party leader Abhisit Vejjajiva and Sukhumbhand, who have been at loggerheads, met with other party bosses “at the invitation of the party’s former secretary-general Suthep Thaugsuban, who now chairs the Great Mass of People’s Foundation for Thailand’s Reforms [the anti-democrats].” Despite his earlier denials, Suthep craves political power.

As Suthep is back in the driver’s seat, he also invited other People’s Democratic Reform Committee and “former” Democrat Party members including Sathit Wongnongtoey and Thaworn Senniam.

The future of the Democrat Party looks like shifting into Suthep’s hands. The military junta seems willing to extend political privileges to the Democrat Party as we guess the military junta will want a strong and united Democrat Party heading into any election after 2016. We doubt the military junta wants to build its own party, so the Democrat Party is their best bet.

Update: In a Bangkok Post report, General Prawit Wongsuwan tells human rights groups to screw themselves. He declares that the “ban on political assembly and activities” is not up for debate and is an “internal affair.” Prawit “said authorities had not violated the activists’ [Sirawith Seritiwat and Neo-Democracy students] human rights.” Sirawith was arrested on a train trip with activists to bring attention to military corruption. But anti-democrats are free to assemble and engage in political activities because they are privileged as supporters of the military and its junta.


Junta’s phase 2 crackdown

26 12 2015

red candleThe military junta has held absolute power for 19 months. It has impunity for all it does, ranging from repression to murder and corruption.

During its time in power, the best data available, which is from iLaw, says that up to the end of November, the junta has summoned or “visited” 798 persons, many of them several times. It has arrested at least 501 and charged 56 with lese majeste and 27 with sedition. 152 have been before military courts.

PPT considers all of these to be underestimates as the military dictatorship does not need to provide information on its repression.

The junta has engaged in these targeted activities in order to frighten the population as a whole and to threaten critics, potential and real. It appears, however, that this was only phase 1 of the junta’s repressive rule.

The Bangkok Post reports that deputy premier General Prawit Wongsuwan, “in charge of security affairs” has stated that he has a list of “influential people” who have “the potential to cause trouble in the country.” He declared that “a crackdown on them is forthcoming.”

Usually, “influential people” refers to gangsters and the so-called dark influences or chao phor. However, it is clear that Prawit and the junta mean that they will target political opponents.

Prawit states that the “list of influential people was compiled over two months by police and defence intelligence units in cooperation with the Interior Ministry, on the instructions of the prime minister [he means The Dictator, Prayuth].”

He adds: “Anyone who is thinking about stirring up trouble in this country should abandon the idea…”.

Prawit “explained” that Prayuth “had been irritated by questions raised by posts on the social media or by reporters wanting to create new issues.” Saying that these irritating people must cease their activities, he declares: “It is now time for the NCPO and the government to work for what is ahead of us over the next five, 10, 15 or 20 years…”.

While some commentators see this declaration of phase 2 of the junta’s rule as referring to “criminals,” with The Nation declaring it to be akin to the War on Drugs of Thaksin Shinawatra’s period, and calls it “ludicrous,” PPT sees it as a declaration of a new phase in the the War on Red Shirts and others seen to oppose the junta.

Lese majeste and the protection of the junta’s right to corruption

10 12 2015

The Bangkok Post and several media report that yet another red shirt has been hit with a lese majeste charge.

Lese majeste is a “crime” used by rightist regimes in Thailand to protect themselves and the hierarchical royalist social order.

The Post reports that a humble “worker at Samut Prakan’s Bang Pu Industrial Estate has been arrested for allegedly disseminating online a diagram accusing government figures of known irregularities in Rajabhakti Park and lese majeste offences.”

The junta was peeved and went after him for daring to attack them. They have thrown in a lese majeste charge so that they can really punish this man who dares to challenge the corrupt thugs running Thailand. They are desperate to cover up their corruption.

The junta’s chief legal gangster has said that “soldiers arrested Thanakorn Siripaiboon, 27, at a company where he worked in tambon Praksa in Muang district on Tuesday afternoon, using special powers under Section 44 of the interim charter.” Why they needed “special powers” is anyone’s guess, for this is a worker with few connections.

The military thugs “searched his home and seized his computer and his mobile phone.” Thanakorn was “taken to the Technology Crime Suppression Division before being held in custody at an undisclosed military camp for further inquiry…”. Thanakorn is no threat to anyone, most especially not to the crippled monarchy.

The Crime Suppression Division accuse Thanakorn of “posting the diagram which circulated on the social media a few days ago.” Everyone knows that the military is corrupt and that the junta is covering up. By re-posting a diagram, he is seen as a threat to the regime. That’s how paranoid this gang of thugs are.

As usual, the military declares that Thanakorn has confessed. He is alleged to have stated that “he posted the diagram because he wanted anti-government people to gather and oppose the junta.” Good for him! Yet, he is small fry and unlikely to have any impact.

But why lese majeste? Thanakorn is accused of clicking “like” on a Facebook post by someone else that the military gang thinks is “anti-monarchy.”

That’s right, he could now go to jail for more than 15 years for clicking “like” on Facebook.

He faces other ludicrous charges of group sedition, and violating the Computer Crime Act.

At Khaosod it is stated that the “infographic was created first and posted Monday by the New Democracy Movement, a pro-democracy group opposed to the ruling junta.” This infographic is not seditious. The reason the man has been grabbed is because The Dictator wet his pants when he saw the graphic and ordered it removed.

So Thanakorn’s “crime” is to have caused General Prayuth Chan-ocha some political indigestion. Is The Dictator so thin skinned and prissy? It seems he is.

The junta is clearly frightened by Corruption Park. Deputy junta chairman General Prawit Wongsuwan has declared

“Don’t ask too much about Rajabhakti…. Ask something else. There’s no point asking about this.”

“Please stop mentioning this already. It damages confidence a lot. You’re Thais, why do this? The government is working for the country. Therefore, the media must help us out.”

Opposing military dictatorship and military corruption is now “unThai.”

Double standards are the military junta’s only standards

9 12 2015

In attacking UK Ambassador Mark Kent as “supporting law-breakers,” the military dictatorship is indicating its strict adherence to its standards, which are double standards.

As PPT briefly noted earlier, Kent seemed far more enlightened than his French salesman/ambassador counterpart when he observed the regime’s double standards. This observation was that the military junta allowed anti-US demonstrations in Bangkok but was cracking down on others the junta identified as opponents.

What Kent forgot to mention was that the military junta and the military was organizing and supporting the anti-US demonstrators. In other words, it is not just double standards on a matter of law, where the military supports “law-breakers.”  In fact, the military and the regime are developing and unleashing dangerous rightist groups.

As is well known, the military has deep and long connections with ultra-nationalist and ultra-royalist vigilantes. It also has strong connections to anti-democratic groups associated with the movement that brought down the Yingluck Shinawatra government.

Hence, the statement by Foreign Minister Don Pramudwinai that “efforts were under way to link the students’ visit to Rajabhakti Park to the gathering at the US embassy” were wrong because “the two incidents were separate,” is not just an exercise in stupidity or double standards. Rather, it is a crude statement of threat to students and, in fact, and opponent of the military junta. At the same time it is a statement of support for rightist gangs. The foreign minister paves the way for rightist violence.

When Don says Kent may be summoned for “talks,” he sounds like the military junta “calling in” opponents for “talks” and threats rather than a senior diplomat suggesting that Kent may be called to the Foreign Ministry.

Deputy government spokesman Werachon Sukondhapatipak complains that Kent should already understand the junta – “[t]his issue has been discussed with every envoy” – and suggests that Kent is somehow supporting those opposing a return to elections.

This is remarkable because it is the military and those demonstrating for it who have undermined elections and prevented them.

Double standards? You bet.

Werachon threatens: “”It is hoped that other ambassadors will be able to understand that as long as the confrontation between the two opposing sides cannot be prevented, then the referendum and general elections could end up in chaos…”.

In fact, the military regime can modulate “confrontation” as it feels fit because it has gangs of thugs under its command.

When Deputy Prime Minister and Defense Minister General Prawit Wongsuwan insists “that the government had no double standards in enforcing security measures to handle demonstrators” e is making a new claim.

He is suggesting that when there are demonstrations, they need to be “protected.” So his regime protects pro-government demonstrators. It also “protects” opposition demonstrators by arresting them, to keep them away from the regime’s thugs.

This regime is becoming adept – as the military was in 1973-76 – at threat, manipulation and lying and is becoming extreme and very dangerous.


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