Babble on bling

13 12 2017

The Dictator has vigorously defended his Deputy Dictator, seeming to blame the media for General Prawit Wongsuwan’s bling problem and accusing it of seeking to split the two dictatorial generals.

General Prawit, who has so far failed to “submit a letter clarifying the acquisition of the watch and ring to the NACC…”, was defended by General Prayuth Chan-ocha who told “the media to refrain from attacking Gen Prawit, saying the matter must be dealt in compliance with the judicial process.”

In other words, give the military junta space while it buries the allegations and are forgotten.

Meanwhile, the reasons for the allegations of corruption are dismissed as a political attack on The Dictator:

Many people target him, and want him to be divided from me. You [the media] all know this very well…. If nobody is beside me, I will tell you, I will be fiercer. I will fully exercise my power….

That sounds like a threat.

Updated: Pots and kettles II

12 12 2017

In another pots and kettles post, we have to comment on The Dictator’s claims reported in the Bangkok Post recently. The self-appointed prime minister “urged all sectors of Thai society not to tolerate corruption…”.

He added that “Thai people must reject and no longer tolerate any kind of corruption.”

General Prayuth Chan-ocha then said: “I can assure you that I never befriended corrupt people or received any benefit from them…”.

The Bangkok Post also reports that Deputy Dictator General Prawit Wongsuwan will tell the National Anti-Corruption Commission that his luxury watch was “lent” to him by a very rich businessman who is a friend and that his huge diamond ring was inherited from his mother.

The Dictator seems to have associated with Gen Prawit and may even have befriended him.

He certainly also associated with General Anupong Paojinda, who has seen a corruption case associated with him disappear into bureaucratic nothingness.

The Dictator is also friendly with his brother, who has miraculously survived all kinds of corruption and nepotism scandals.

Do we need to mention Rajabhakti Park and commissions on military purchases and the cover-ups of military murders of civilians?

Then there’s all those generals and admirals in the puppet agencies who report huge wealth that is far in excess of what might be expected when their official salaries are considered.

Update: The Nation reports that the NACC has told “the public” to butt out and not speculate on Prawit’s jewels. Prawit has said he will not tell the public his reasons for having so much expensive bling.

Updated: A corrupt general and his bling

7 12 2017

Just yesterday we noted that when the new cabinet convened for a group photo in front of Government House a social media storm erupted over Deputy Dictator General Prawit Wongsuwan wearing a watch worth more than four times his annual salary.

It is not uncommon for generals are often obsessed by expensive watches. They are also attached to bling, with, for example, Prawit often seen wearing expensive diamond rings that cost a small fortune and he wears heavy gold chains and amulets.

Khaosod reported that versions of the Rolex watch worn by Prawit can sell for up to 24 million baht, with even the lowest priced models in this range go for 11-12 million baht.

Caught out, the “second in command of the ruling junta said … he’s willing to discuss his taste for luxury wristwatches with an anti-corruption agency, but not the public – and certainly not reporters.”

Of course not! We might add that dozens of cases involving this regime have gone to the National Anti-Corruption Commission but none have resulted in any action. Dozens more cases of unusually rich members of the junta and its puppet legislators have never been investigated.

When pushed, Prawit refused to “specify if he obtained the watch before or after taking office.” He responded:

“Don’t know. I won’t answer. I will answer to the NACC. I don’t know why I should answer to you people. If I answered, the media will elaborate on it,” Prawit said, insisting he has not been involved in any corruption.

The media soon revealed that the seemingly pricey watch (we doubt he’d wear a fake) was not included in the Deputy Dictator’s 2014 asset declaration. This led the junta’s NACC to state that it “plans to launch an investigation into … Prawit Wongsuwan’s possession of what appears to be an extravagantly luxurious watch, which has not been declared in his assets.” Previous experience suggests a whitewash is likely.

The Bangkok Post did more digging on social media and online and added that the diamond ring worn by Prawit (he’s been wearing it for months) was worth about 4 million baht. In other words, in the group photo, Prawit was wearing bling worth from 16 to 30 million baht.

The Post also compared Prawit’s 2008 and 2014 asset declarations. In 2008, he reported assets of almost 57 million baht and salary/income of about 830,000 baht. In 2014, his assets grew to about 87 million baht and his income rose to 874,000 baht. Almost all the change in assets was in cash in the bank, which increased by about 28 million baht over the six years. The NACC didn’t see reason to ask how that increase happened.

We will not be holding our breath waiting for the NACC to come up with an “explanation” for Prawit’s expensive trinkets.

Update: While it is widely known, the Bangkok Post actually reported that NACC president Police General Watcharapol Prasarnrajkit was not just appointed under the junta (which only appoints the “trustworthy”) but a “a close aide of Pol Gen Patcharawat Wongsuwon, younger brother of Gen Prawit, when Pol Gen Patcharawat served as the police chief.” It adds:

After the May 2014 coup, Pol Gen Watcharapol was appointed secretary-general handling political affairs for Gen Prawit who became deputy prime minister. After being selected later as NACC president, Pol Gen Watcharapol assured the public that the NACC would be independent and transparent under his presidency, saying the NACC welcomed any attempt by the media to hold it accountable.

That’s how military dictatorship rolls.

Sticky political fingers

3 12 2017

The military junta simply doesn’t want to give up its political power. After the remarkable “discovery” of a small cache of rusty old weapons, the guffaws of political disbelief caused the regime to immediately find some more weapons, sitting in another field just awaiting “discovery.” Noticeably, this cache was bright, shiny and new, as if they had just come out of the Army’s stores.

Of course, these weapons were immediately linked to missing/dead red shirt Wuthipong Kachathamakul or Ko Tee.

And, predictably, the junta had yet another reason for maintaining political repression. Deputy Dictator General Prawit Wongsuwan, always the first to bark about “delays,” declared that the “country is once again ‘being targeted for an attack’.” Presumably the “attackers” needed some time to clean and polish all “their” rusty arms.

Prawit trumpeted the “find” as fitting with “intelligence” reports that “indicated that ‘some movements’ had started, which could make it difficult to lift its ban on political activity.”

Blah, blah, blah. This is errant nonsense. And that’s not just us but the view of Bangkok Post Editor Umesh Pandey and several political parties. As Umesh says, “[o]nce again the military government seems to be finding every excuse to try to curtail political parties…”.

It is more than this, though. This is a regime that has set the “rules” for politics into the future – and all the rules favor its military politicians – and intends to maintain its direct political stranglehold with its sticky, manicured fingers. Only the overthrow of this regime  can rid the country of these evil dictators and their anti-democratic rules.

Updated: Another “plot”

1 12 2017

Whenever the military dictatorship feels a bit of political pressure it comes up with some king of red shirt “plot.”

Hey presto, there’s another one. Suddenly, the cops have found “war weapons” under water in a rice field looking a bit like a swamp.

Clipped from Bangkok Post

The “weapons,” already “investigated,” were to be used by “political elements” who “were prepared to bring the weapons to Bangkok to incite strife…”. The police added that “several firearms and rounds of ammunition came from the same sources and matched the evidence collected by police from scenes of unrest and from people arrested during the 2014 political turmoil…”. They even claim to know the person responsible.

Wonderful investigations and forensics. After all, the rusty junk had been under water for months. Exactly which “political elements” store their weapons in such a manner?

Clipped from the Bangkok Post

Will anybody believe this? Is it a sign of political desperation? Or just another part of an excuse to delay elections because of “unrest”? Or just testing the gullibility of the media and population?

Update: Remarkably, given that he was forcibly disappeared and probably murdered, Deputy Dictator General Prawit Wongsuwan has linked the underwater weapons to Wuthipong Kachathamakul or Ko Tee. Equally remarkably, Prawit “told reporters today that the armaments appeared to be from the same cache of weapons soldiers found in a residence linked to Ko Tee in March.” Those weapons were linked to an alleged assassination plot against The Dictator.

Military hierarchy and the need for violence

24 11 2017

As readers will know, reports of the unusual deaths of recruits to the Thai military are common. Pictures of naked recruits being forced to engage in degrading activities and other pictures of recruits who have been beaten and bashed are all over social media.

We hadn’t posted on the most recent case, despite its grotesque details, as it was one case among many. However, this case has taken an unusual political turn as the dead recruit and his family had promoted their support of the People’s Democratic Reform Committee, the group that supported and encouraged the 2014 military coup. The dead recruit did not come from the draft, but was at the “prestigious” Armed Forces Academies Preparatory School.

Prachatai reported that Cadet Phakhaphong Tanyakan may have been beaten to death. At least his parents thought this and secreted away his body for an independent autopsy after the military stated he died of sudden cardiac arrest.

The independent autopsy revealed that several of the cadet’s internal organs were missing, including his brain. The media reported the parent’s shock but then seemed to confirm that returning a body sans organs is “normal” and “not illegal.”

His parents were criticized for wanting another autopsy and not accepting the military’s explanation of his death.

While the junta has now had the “chief of the Armed Forces Academies Preparatory School has been transferred to an inactive post,” the initial response of the senior-most military thugs was to support “military discipline.” But even in replacing the former commander, the junta showed its intention to cover up by appointing a loyalist: “Col Benjapol Dechartwong Na Ayutthaya, deputy commander of the 21st Infantry Regiment, Queen’s Guard.”

Another Prachatai story had Deputy Dictator Gen Prawit Wongsuwan “explaining” the death. He stated that “the freshman cadet … was … just too weak to withstand tough training.” Blaming the victim is the redoubt of fools and fascists.

He also supported the cadet school.

General Prawit also justified the “extreme discipline” at the school. He declared: “all soldiers have had to undergo such disciplinary measures, including himself.” He added: “I was once repaired more than I could take and I fainted too. I didn’t die.” That’s all okay then. Torturing your recruits is fine and dandy and if they die, it is their own weakness.

Prawit also indicated that “extreme discipline” would continue: “You don’t have to enrol. You don’t have to be a soldier. We want those who are willing.” Willing to be bashed, humiliated, and tortured. Those who survive can make coups and get unusually wealthy because they “learn” the hierarchy, accept it and move up, getting more loot and power at each level.

His view was supported by The Dictator, as reported in another Bangkok Post story. With the virtually moribund National Human Rights Commission (NHRC) actually making a statement that “harsh disciplining of cadets could constitute an act of torture…” under a law that is not in effect, Gen Prayuth said military bosses “would meet for talks the family of Pakapong … Tanyakan whose cadaver was later found to be missing organs including his brain.”

Prayuth mumbled that “military discipline for cadet training” was okay. He added: “Don’t worry. Nobody wants any losses or injuries…”. He used the same “logic” as Prawit: “he was disciplined when he studied at the Armed Forces Academies Preparatory School.” He brainlessly added: “What’s wrong with it? I went through it all.”

That explains a considerable amount about Prayuth, Prawit and their dictatorship. Trained to accept torture as “discipline,” they are mentally crippled by their “education” to the extent that they think all Thais need “order” and “extreme discipline.”

On learning that the family were PDRC, Prayuth “apologised to the family and pledged to continue with the investigations to get to the bottom of the mystery.”

It isn’t a “mystery,” it is military discipline, establishing hierarchy and marking territory. The military does this with violence. This is also how they run the country: threats of violence and the use of violence. The deaths of citizens who get in the way is just collateral damage for the greater good and social order.

Political loosening now a political tightening

17 11 2017

All of that talk about local elections and loosening the restrictions on political activism turns out, as we had suggested, to be a steaming pile of buffalo manure.

Prachatai: reports that the military dictatorship “has ordered the police to tighten surveillance on anti-government groups and report about their activities every 15 days.”

All police have been ordered “to tightly monitor anti-government groups…”. By “anti-government” they mean anti-junta and so-called anti-monarchy groups, which the royalist junta sees as one in the same.

The junta conspiracy concoction magicians reckon that “certain groups of individuals are trying to incite conflict and stir up chaos against the government [junta] through social media and other means, adding that the groups are active both domestically and abroad.”

The Bangkok Post adds some further detail. The orders for this intensified repression have come from General Udomdej Sitabutr and Deputy Dictator General Prawit Wongsuwan. The orders apply to all security agencies.

The police say they “have not yet detected any suspicious activities from leaders of anti-coup elements…”. The police helpfully added that many in the anti-junta movement “have already been detained.”

Those concocting another plot imagine that “anti-coup groups both in Thailand and abroad were attempting to undermine the government’s stability by using various online and other media to spread false information to local communities and villages.”

The targets of increased suppression are “networks of people who provide ideological and financial support…”. We think they are making this up (again).