Updated: When transfers are acceptable

12 01 2015

Back in May 2014, then Prime Minister Yingluck Shinawatra was dismissed by a verdict of the Constitutional Court. Her “crime” was to transfer one official, or as the New York Times stated it, “having impure motives when she transferred a bureaucrat three years ago.” Reasonable commentators referred to this verdict as biased, politicized and ridiculous.

Yet if the Constitutional Court declared her single act improper then, what should it say now about what the Bangkok Post says: is a set of transfers impacting “73 positions at the Metropolitan Police Bureau … and 130 positions at the Central Investigation Bureau…”? We ask because that Post says these transfers “involve many officers from the old power clique of the Yingluck administration.”

We know that the Constitutional Court will say nothing. Because this court is politically biased towards anti-democrats and royalists, it is more likely to cheer the police transfers.

Double standards define Thailand’s judiciary and there is no justice.

The new officers brought in are mostly close to General Prawit Wongsuwan and worked for the Abhisit Vejjajiva regime.

Part of the changes taking place also owe something to palace house-cleaning.

Update: Interestingly, the Bangkok Post reports that the puppet Constitutional Drafting Committee is to give the Constitutional Court the power that the royalists have long begged the king to provide under Article 7 of the last couple of constitutions. Rather than have the monarchy step in – and the royalists won’t trust it when the old man is dead – the Constitutional Court will step in to “solve” political crises. This seems to have been the king’s desire since 2006, and the royalist puppets are keen on engineering it.

Listening to military groupies and others

3 01 2015

When an academic is introduced as a “security affairs expert,” PPT usually writes them off as military groupies, not necessarily with a sexual connotation, but in the context of hanging on every word and everything from the most self-important generals, no matter how banal or corrupt they are.

At the same time, because they are groupies, they often hear interesting whispers or provide insights into the usually warped minds of those who expect to be obeyed. A perfect example is Panitan Wattanayagorn at Chulalongkorn University. He’s only interesting when he reveals little secrets he’s picked up while slithering about with his bosses.

We are not sure about “an expert in security affairs from Rangsit University,” Wanwichit Boonprong, from Rangsit University, quoted in a report at The Nation. This academic has previously written on the military (downloads a PDF) and has been quoted in 2014 in the media, yet he is new to us.

Wanwichit says that the “military is expected to have increased political roles in this new year…”. That is hardly worth saying, for the next year will see it consolidate its role as the major political power, in partnership with a weakened monarchy.Nor is the claim that “martial law … is likely to be retained for a long time, to help ensure that the military will have the power to deal with unexpected problems when they arise.” The Dictator, General Prayuth Chan-ocha, has told us that. Martial law is also useful for the quick silencing of dissent on the military dictatorship and the monarchy.

Wanwichit’s statement that “martial law would serve as its [the junta’s] ‘fangs and claws’,” seems entirely appropriate. He observes that “arrangements had been made … to increase the military’s power. These included the junta’s orders to expand the martial court’s authority to try cases involving lese majeste and war-grade weapons, as well as the upgrade of military districts into military circles to allow increased roles in civilian affairs.”

Wanwichit is undoubtedly correct to expect that “many military commanders, as well as senior bureaucrats, [will…] become senators…”. The political future remains in the past. He reckons that the “military should be able to control the [political arena] in 2015. They will continue to get cooperation from many sectors…”. We don’t agree entirely on this for the patern so far has been for increasing disaffection, and as it becomes clear how much control the military will have, even some of the anti-democrats will wince.

More interesting is the claim, attributed to “a high-ranking officer in the armed forces,” that “there is a unity problem among top commanders in the Army…”. We are not convinced, but these reports keep popping up. The source states: “There are uncertainties in the Army.” It is added that “the current Army might seem to be united but in fact potential conflict is brewing under the surface. This is because the Army is now controlled by three different and powerful figures.”

Wanwichit is cited as identifying a “a key weakness in the junta is the fact that all the problems will push towards … Prayut[h].” Why is this a problem in a dictatorial arrangement? Wanwichit says, “The prime minister’s mood changes quite easily and this makes it easy for him to be the target of criticism…. Without relegation [delegation?] of power to other people, particularly over security matters, there will be negative consequences on the government and the Army.”

Wanwichit considers that Army boss General Udomdej Sitabutr, also deputy defence minister, “needed to be given more responsibility on security matters.”

The third figure is General Prawit Wongsuwan, deputy prime minister and defence minister.

One conflict is considered to “stem from a contest to become the next Army chief between two leading candidates – Prayut’s brother General Preecha Chan-o-cha and General Teerachai Nakwanich – who are both assistant Army commanders-in-chief. Teerachai is Udomdej’s former classmate from the Armed Forces Academies Preparatory School.”

Something to watch, but we have the feeling that the big issues in 2015 will be the military dictatorship’s capacity to mange succession and conflicts with broader “civil society,” most especially with the groups that prepared the ground for the military coup in 2014.

Tumbling down the hill

27 12 2014

PPT has sometimes commented on the slippery slope to authoritarianism. Thailand since the coup has seen the slide become a free fall. The military dictatorship has almost total control yet The Dictator and his military junta remain prickly and desire that the their control to be absolute.

This is one reason why, reported at Khaosod, The Dictator, General Prayuth Chan-ocha blubbered about having:Prayuth gunning for democracy

endured it [mild media criticism] for a long time now. They [the media] criticise me on every issue, every page of the newspapers. What the hell is wrong with them? Are they crazy?… I get angry [every time] I read these newspapers. They made me lose my manner and have ruined my leader image.”

We can well imagine that Prayuth is ticked off for he is surrounded by rump-buffing sycophants and is unused to criticism.

Having been socialized in a corrupt, elite-serving and fascist organization like the Army, his response to this is entirely predictable: “I will shut them down…. I cannot allow them to continue their disrespect. Otherwise, what’s the point of me being [Prime Minister]? What’s the point of having martial law?”

Prayuth is supported by another military man used to getting his own way. General Prawit Wongsuwan blathers about the junta’s mission of “national reconciliation” as the junta locks increasing numbers of opponents in its jails. Like children in tantrum mood, Prayuth and Prawit complain that some media agencies “… like to ask about things that cause disputes. They really like doing it. They never ask constructive questions. They like to pick up fights. I don’t know what’s wrong with them.”Prawit and gold chain

What’s wrong is the incapacity of military dictators to understand a normal society where political disputation is normal and positive. Dictators believe that only they know what’s best for the nation.

Part of the reason for wanting total control and for only The Dictator’s voice to be hears is that the “reform” of politics is getting to the point where the military’s preferred anti-democratic proposals for the new constitution are being promoted. Related, the military dictatorship needs to manage the succession of an unpopular king.

A series of reports make it clear that the junta is still seeking to have a reform that is nothing more than an embedding of undemocratic politics.

At The Nation, it is reported that the preference for an appointed senate is again being heavily promoted. In Thailand’s troubled parliamentary politics, the military has always dominated appointed senates, preventing elected politicians from ruling.

Constitution drafters want a “super power” and fully appointed senate, giving the appointed military puppets “the power to scrutinise ministerial candidates…”. This is in addition to the powers this unelected swill had under the military’s 2007 Constitution “to impeach the prime minister, ministers and top officials.”

The junta’s puppet Constitution Drafting Committee has “decided that there would be a maximum of 200 senators appointed from five social groups.”

The royalists, fascists and military will falsely assert that this will make the unelected senate “more inclusive.” In the best tradition of Orwellian doublespeak, the military and its minions will use fine sounding terms to describe their attempt to maintain power and control.

Also at The Nation, it is reported that the quite ludicrous Election Commission will “no longer have the role of organising elections…” not because the EC is hopelessly partisan, but simply to put the elections back in the hands of the dependable election riggers at the Ministry of Interior and other centrally-controlled agencies.

The EC will only be charged with rubber-stamping the election result and banning candidates who “commit unlawful acts,” such as becoming too popular.

EC commissioners will be “selected” by a committee made up of trusty judges and other establishment types.

Meanwhile, serial constitution drafter and military-royalist boot licker Borwornsak Uwanno has “defended the decision to allow a non-elected MP to be chosen as prime minister.”

This option has always been the preferred one for the military dictatorship and its anti-democrat supporters. As PPT has long pointed out, a non-elected premier is the Prem-era option that promises military control of politics for years to come.King-Queen-Prem

Bowornsak knows that the military and royalist fossils reckons political crises can be avoided if there is a non-elected premier: “We all know that the May 22 coup was caused by a deadlock, as the previous constitution did not allow a candidate outside Parliament to resolve the political impasse…”.

If the fossils actually looked at the period, they’d know that when Prem was premier, with the total support of the palace, he still faced considerable opposition.

Borwornsak also pointed out the critical position of the monarchy in this anti-democratic movement when he stated that “the CDC promised not to expose the country’s main institutions – nationhood, religion and the monarchy – to any risk like the proposal for direct election of the PM. A directly elected PM and cabinet would make the government too strong and vulnerable to become authoritarian…”.

No elected politician can be allowed to become “too popular,” especially with an unpopular monarch about to take the throne.

Of course, any political observer with an ounce of sense knows that these proposals are meant to perpetuate the authoritarian power of hierarchical institutions. Dopes like former unelected swill senator Kamnoon Sidhisamarn, also cited in a story at The Nation, lies when he claims “the drafters were not writing the charter to perpetuate the continuance in power of junta chief General Prayut Chan-o-cha after the next election.”

It may not be The Dictator, but if not, it will be someone very much like him. This is a blatant military grab for power, not unlike 1991.

The most significant “crime” I

23 12 2014

Self-designated Prime Minister General Prayuth Chan-ocha has insisted that “the monarchy needs the lese majeste law to legally protect the institution.” Reported at the Bangkok Post, The Dictator declared that “as the King is not in a position to defend or explain himself in legal situations as an ordinary citizen could.” If this wasn’t clear, The Dictator added: “If His Majesty can’t defend himself, we have to take care of him…”. Funny, it is usually “the people” who are treated as infantile, not the monarch.

This is diabolical nonsense as even a recent case shows, where the Royal Household Bureau has used the draconian lese majeste law to file a complaint against woman who held the contract to supply the prince’s palace kitchen with chili paste…. There are other cases where the direct involvement of the palace is known.

What needs protecting by the general is the military-monarchy alliance that is the keystone of an exploitative political, economic and social system. The lese majeste law is considered critical for the maintenance of this system.

The Dictator went on to babble that “while foreign countries may criticise Section 112 from a human rights perspective because they do not understand the law, Thailand’s unique situation makes protecting the monarchy crucial.”

In fact, most “foreign countries” and most Thais understand that the law is a piece of feudal legislation used to maintain a modern and repressive state. This was made clear by The Dictator who was opposing Charupong Ruangsuwan’s establishment of an anti-coup branch in the U.S. as the Organization of Free Thais with the US authorities after a lengthy process.

Meanwhile, and perhaps spurred by the expansion of anti-coup groups, the Bangkok Post reports that the Department of Special Investigation (DSI) has been contracted by Justice Minister and Deputy Supreme Commander Paiboon Koomchaya “to bring lese majeste suspects still on the run to justice.”

Of course, there is no such thing as justice in lese majeste cases. At present, many of these cases are conducted in secret and by military courts. Even if they weren’t, civilian judges behave unconstitutionally (if there is a constitution in place) and illegally when conducting lese majeste cases. The sad case of Darunee Charnchoensilpakul being just one example.

Paiboon declared that “a communication channel must be opened with countries where lese majeste fugitives are in hiding to try and arrange extradition. However, talks alone might not be enough to see the return of the fugitives.” Sounding like a puppet for The Dictator, he “explained” that “[f]oreign countries must be briefed so they understand the crimes of lese majeste and what the fugitives have done to damage the monarchy.”

In recent weeks, the monarchy has done far more to damage itself than any anti-monarchist forced into overseas exile has.

Paiboon also made himself look like a complete moron when he stated: “We do not see this as a political issue…” but adding of the fugitives, “their crime was politically motivated.” Banally, he continued that “there was no need to put the issue on the national agenda…”.

Better tell the boss and the rest of the junta who daily emphasize lese majeste and use the law like children with new toys. Indeed, in the very same story, Deputy Dictator General Prawit Wongsuwan, stated that “[i]nvestigations are under way to track down the lese majeste violators…” throughout the country and overseas.

Any foreign government hearing this could only be flabbergasted by the gross stupidity of this royalist regime.

Repressing “the few”

18 12 2014

As everyone knows, the military dictatorship is ultra-royalist and desperate to “defend” and “protect” the monarchy and the system of power and recession it stands for.

This is why it is “normal” to view yet another report, this one at the Bangkok Post, that has a senior junta general declaring that “Thailand has asked countries where lese majeste suspects are believed to be hiding to extradite them so they can face legal action…”.

Deputy Dictator General Prawit Wongsuwon knows that most countries of the world do not have ludicrous and medieval laws like lese majeste. Most of them do not have extradition treaties with Thailand. This means that “extradiction” is pretty much a nonsense. Equally nonsensical is Prawit’s claim that he’s reporting lese majeste suspects to Interpol.

Prawit explained that The Dictator and self-appointed Prime Minister Prayuth Chan-ocha “wants all fugitives in lese majeste cases who have fled abroad, including Thammasat University history lecturer Somsak Jeamteerasakul, to return and fight the cases.” As everyone knows, “fighting” a lese majeste charge is virtually impossible, with almost all those accused eventually being convicted following long periods o jail time where bail is repeatedly refused.

In the same report, Army chief General Udomdej Sitabutr, who is also a part of the junta, is reported as declaring that the military dictatorship’s massive lese majeste dragnet does not amount to having the “the law … applied too stringently.” It is just that the “army is working with various agencies to tackle the problem…”.

Udomdej is like most ultra-royalists, and can simply not grasp that others can think differently from himself and the people he surrounds himself with: “I think most people in the country love and respect the monarchy while only a few have a different point of view…”. He sounds like someone who believes palace propaganda when he declares:

“They [people opposed to the lese majeste law] may forget that our nation has remained peaceful for as long as it has because we have a monarch who has long been the soul of the nation and who has dedicated his time and energy to his people…”.

In such circumstances, it is “normal” for him to declare that he can’t think of a single case where the “lese majeste law has been abused for political reasons…”. In fact, every lese majeste case is political and is an abuse of human rights.

Tracking down “the few,” keeping them jailed without bail and denying constitutional rights is not a case of the regime having “abused any law to intimidate anyone…”. Udomdej is either lying or is dense or both.

Magic and media

4 12 2014

It is a fact that many Thais are deeply influenced by astrology and other forms of magical beliefs. Most leaders in the corporate, military and government sectors seem to worry about astrology, numbers, feng shui, spirits and more. Some delve into black magic. Others have used taxpayer funding to buy the GT200, a fraudulent remote substance and bomb detector.

The generals of the military dictatorship are strongly influenced by astrology.

Recall that The Dictator, General Prayuth Chan-ocha, changed the spelling of his name in English to Prayut Chan-o-cha. We believe that was due to astrological advice, telling him how to maintain his power and rule.Astrology

Now a government spokesman Major-General Sansern Kaewkamnerd says the well-known astrologer Khomsan Phanwichartkul has “been approached to join a team of government spokespeople in a bid to counter anti-coup criticism on social media.”

The report states that he is “thought to be eyed for the job because of his ties to the regime, not because of his astrological powers.”

That’s unlikely to be true. Prayuth and other senior members of the junta have a long record of consulting astrologers, including from Khomsan, and as the regime comes under pressure from demonstrators, they want in-house advice.

Khomsan, also known as Sin Sae Jo, is reportedly “a former Democrat Party councillor who represented Bang Phlat.” He is reportedly close to junta deputy General Prawit Wongsuwan.

If social media is the excuse for a taxpayer-funded astrologer, the puppet National Reform Council is seeking to censor media in other ways.

Its “committee on media and information technology reform has agreed media councils should be set up at regional and provincial levels to control the ethics of media organisations.”

In the Orwellian doublespeak of Thailand’s military dictatorship, “ethics” is a word that actually means censorship. The NRC puppets say that the “media’s freedom of expression creates conflict and hatred and councils are needed to ensure this freedom is not abused…”.

No freedom is to be allowed for the media.

Regime challenges

25 11 2014

Readers following Thailand’s politics will recognize that there have been a series of events that have challenged the military dictatorship in recent days. These events may be suppressed, but they represent a turn in events, as anti-coup activists are not simply going away, as the regime had hoped.

Many of these activists are relatively young students. They have used three-finger salutes, social media and a a range of activities to directly challenge the junta and its royalist regime. They are seemingly inviting arrest by the jittery authorities. They seem unafraid of the prospect of police or military action against them.

The most recent example is of university students at Thammasat University’s inner city campus. At least eight students distributed leaflets at the campus celebrating the return to Facebook of prominent historian and monarchy critic Somsak Jeamteerasakul, who went into hiding after the 22 May coup and who has apparently fled to France.Leaflet

Police swiftly arrested eight students for distributing the leaflets. According to Khaosod, the leaflets included “an excerpt from a poem by the late historian and activist Chit Phumisak, who was summarily executed by authorities in 1966,” which had been cited by Somsak on Facebook. It stated: “Even in the ruthless era when evils rule the country with their guns … people are still people.”

The student activists were members of the League of Liberal Thammasat for Democracy (LLTD), described as “an anti-coup student group based in Thammasat.” This group has been a persistent and brave opponent of the military dictatorship.

Prachatai reports that: “One of the detained students is Natchacha Kongudom, a Bangkok University student who was previously arrested for flashing the forbidden ‘three finger salute’ in front of Siam Paragon cinema in Bangkok downtown on 19 November.”

Persistent challenges to the military and royalist regime by brave young students are emblematic of a broader change that has wafted through Thailand in recent decades and suggests a rejection of the hierarchical traditions of monarchy and military that may well become louder and will resonate more widely as the regime seeks to re-embed authoritarian structures.

In responding, the military dictatorship has urged that protests be curtailed. General Prawit Wongsuwan babbled about “opinion surveys that show most people disapprove of anti-coup protests.” Prawit asked that protesters keep quiet for a year: “We only ask for one year to achieve our mission…”. Meanwhile, The Dictator has directed the National Reform Council (NRC) and the King Prajadhipok Institute to “allow students to participate in the reform process by expressing their views and knowledge.” This seems like his attempt to direct student opposition into the junta’s controlled environment.



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