Updated: Yet another anti-monarchy “plot”

3 10 2017

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

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

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

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

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

The anti-monarchy plot diagram

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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





It feels like 1962

2 10 2017

Back in 1962, General Sarit Thanarat had his boot on the neck of Thailand’s politics. He had taken control of everything, including police and personally meted out “justice” against “communists,” “elected politicians” and others.

In other words, the military dictatorship had strong control over the bureaucracy, the military, the police and over broader society. One academic referred to Sarit’s rule as “despotic paternalism,” but the emphasis was really on despotism.

It feels like that now, and recall that Sarit’s military regime went on for a total of 11 years.

What prompted these observations is the story in the Bangkok Post where it is reported that the Minister for Defense and Deputy Dictator General Prawit Wongsuwan has is now putting himself in charge of crime-fighting.

He has “ordered widespread crackdowns on mafia gangs to stop them causing trouble to Thai and foreign tourists across the country.”

It seems that the Defense Minister is now controlling Pattaya (which is supposed to have its own administration), “key police agencies, including the Crime Suppression Division and the Immigration Bureau…”.

Following their “success” with political repression, “joint investigation between military officers and local police” will become common.

Nothing will escape the Deputy Dictator: the drug trade, prostitution, extortion, visa overstays, and down to bag snatching. After Pattaya, the Ministry of Defense plans to cover the country.

The militarization of Thailand continues apace.





Prayuth’s plans

26 09 2017

The Dictator has been on the political campaign trail. He’s been populist, localist, globalist and talkative. It is clear that he’s planning for a long-term political career and plenty of flunkies are polishing his political posterior.

Most of the military regime has been reluctant to fly General Prayuth Chan-ocha’s political flag, worrying about negative reactions to the junta that may open a door for those evil (formerly elected) politicians to rattle the junta’s cage. Every now and again The Dictator denies ambitions and says his junta is “temporary.”

That reluctance seems to be wearing off as the political campaigning has deepened and as The Dictator comes to the view that he might just be able to pull off the transition from military commander to junta leader, to dictator and PM, and finally to constitutional premier (of course, the constitution has been doctored by The Dictator and his hirelings).

Most recently, Deputy Dictator General Prawit Wongsuwan has been quoted as declaring that: “If he [Prayuth] wants to remain in politics, he must apply to stand in the election…”.

This is interesting for admitting that The Dictator might stay on but is wrong on other counts. First, if Prawit means the next election – whenever the junta decides to allow it, under its rules and influence – we understand that the 2017 constitution requires resignation from the junta within three months of the promulgation of the constitution, and that time limit has long passed (sections 263 and 264). Second, to overcome this, Prayuth can be selected as premier under the terms of the constitution. That seems to be his preferred path and it remans to be seen if he will establish a party to promote his “special” candidature.

We can imagine a pro-military party campaigning, declaring a vote for it is a vote for The Dictator to continue as premier.

 

 





Sky Dragon dies, corruption ignored

15 09 2017

It is now an old story of military corruption, irresponsibility, saving face, commissions and so on, but worth bringing to its conclusion, at least at this blog.

Sky Dragon has been officially and secretly deflated and will presumably go to landfill or some vacant hangar (unless some military entrepreneur can work out a way to make more money from its carcass). We certainly don’t expect any “investigation” of this useless purchase.

An earlier photo when the Sky Dragon was inflated and operated

The Bangkok Post says that the zeppelin has had “eight years’ service during which time the blimp crashed once while it was mostly grounded the rest of the time as it was plagued by various defects.”

In this sense, “service” means being flat as a tack in a hangar. Its “service” was to those who got benefits from its purchase from a 1-cent company in the U.S.

The Post reports that those involved in the dirigible’s procurement plan and “operations” included General Prayuth Chan-ocha, General Prawit Wongsuwan and General Anupong Paojinda. These three now run Thailand after they murderously gunned down red shirts in 2010 and staged their military coup in 2014.

Naturally enough, these fugitives from justice (in the sense that they have impunity and an iron grip on repression, so do not need to flee), “were tight-lipped when asked by the media Thursday whether the airship was really worth the money spent and the additional amounts spent on maintenance.” The total cost is estimated to be at least 1 billion baht, including purchase, maintenance and operational costs.

There’s no need for reticence. The answer is no. It even seems that this purchase was small beans in the commissions game, so the tight lips are about saving face and protecting hierarchy for these small minded military dictators.

The decommissioning of the blimp was accidentally revealed to the media. Sky Dragon has not been in the air since 2012. It was purchased under Abhisit Vejjajiva’s regime. It is reported that:

The purchase of the controversial airship previously triggered a dereliction of duty allegation against former deputy prime minister Suthep Thaugsuban….

Citing the dereliction of duty allegation, Pheu Thai petitioned the National Anti-Corruption Commission (NACC) to impeach Mr Suthep, but the NACC later on Dec 24, 2015 dismissed the request.

That seems par for the (military) course. Only those in parties close to Thaksin and Yingluck Shinawatra seem of interest to the NACC. Certainly, as noted above, under the military dictatorship, we can’t imagine any agency wanting to investigate the bosses.





The “hunt” continues II

10 09 2017

A report at The Nation mirrors an earlier post at PPT, and updates the military junta’s “hunt” for Yingluck Shinawatra. It begins:

All imaginable questions of what, when, where and why poured forth on the matter of ex-PM Yingluck Shinawatra’s fleeing the country and missing the verdict in her malfeasance case.

There’s also a repeated question of when she will appear and what she will say. It remains unclear if a deal was not done with the junta.

Then the report provides a round-up of the miltiary dictatorship’s latest drip-drip feed of “information” regarding the “great escape.”

For the record:

She was last seen in Bangkok on August 23, when CCTV footage showed her lunching with 14 people of her team at the Shinawatra-run SC Park Hotel Bangkok after making merit at Wat Rakhang Khositaram.

The latest claim by the Deputy Dictator General Prawit Wongsuwan are that:

… Yingluck was last seen in a sedan on CCTV at a military checkpoint in Sa Kaew, a border province to Cambodia, that same day.

However, the vehicle’s movements were not captured by additional CCTV cameras, and so there is no proof that it had crossed the border into Cambodia.

As far as we can tell, this is a reference to a vehicle, but not the person.

The report then makes another point PPT has made in several posts:

The Shinawatras remain oddly silent, only posting social media messages encouraging their missing relative. Thaksin himself hasn’t even asked for justice or explained why Yingluck did not go to hear the final verdict.

The ruling government, meanwhile, has stressed progress of the investigation in vague terms. We’ve almost figured out how and in what way she escaped, police officers said. All still remains ambiguous. The military simply said they haven’t got anything on their hands.

The report then speculates on when Yingluck might choose to speak out:

The more Yingluck stays silent, the more she will be attacked. September 27, when a verdict is scheduled to be read without her presence, could be the most appropriate moment for her to strike back.

Social media speculation has suggested that she will remain silent until she gets political asylum in an unnamed place. It also mentions the dead king’s funeral. There has long been speculation that the period after the funeral may see increased political activity.





Updated: Military propagandists to the world

9 09 2017

The Thailand National News Bureau has reported that Deputy Dictator General Prawit Wongsuwan has held a ceremony to send off – the report uses the military term, “deploy” – a batch of 27 “military diplomats” to the rest of the world.

These propagandists for the military dictatorship seem to be an additional “diplomatic” resource, supplementing the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and its ambassadors and military attaches. (We note that the Ministry of Foreign Affairs is deeply yellow and has worked hard to “justify” Thailand’s descent into military authoritarianism.)

Gen Prawit, who is also Minister for Defense and responsible for Shinawatra hunting, declared that the “military diplomats” will “foster a clearer understanding among foreigners of the current situation in Thailand.”

The Deputy Dictator “told the diplomats to inform their host governments of the role of Thailand’s reform plan, roadmap to democracy, and the monarchy.” As we said, these are propagandists for the dictatorship. (At the same time, it is a reward for military posterior polishers and enhances loyalty in the senior ranks.)

Update: Alan Dawson at the Bangkok Post also picks up on the military propagandist plan:

Deputy Prime Minister and Defence Minister Prawit Wongsuwon, who knows more about staging successful coups d’etat and clutching power than almost anyone in the world, has just done an Orwellianism.

He has dispatched messengers around the world — 27 military attaches and deputy attaches — with instructions to change the story.

The May 22, 2014 putsch was not to reform government laws. It wasn’t to bring about reconciliation. That old story is invalid, air-brushed as surely as a North Korean propaganda photo. It was merely an act of benevolence by the green shirts to stop red shirts and yellow shirts from mayhem and murder.

As he points out, the real story of the 2014 coup. It was:

to take the country back to a simpler time, and events now taking place are the main part of it. The slogans and policies are in place. “Democracy isn’t for everyone” and “Freedom of speech is a good idea but …” and “Elections will eventually occur after it is clear peace can be assured”.

Dawson observes that this reactionary path means:

What is factual is a lack of true reform that would bring freedoms and rights, along with a mass of new laws so great that no one alive can list them, let alone provide details.

Gen Prayut Chan-o-cha positively bragged in July: “The government has already issued 401 new laws.” Not enough, though. “More than a thousand more need reform.”

Junta law and justice under the junta and into the future means rule by “law,” injustice and double standards.





Updated: How’s that Potemkin election coming along?

7 09 2017

Regular readers will know that PPT has not been skeptical about the military dictatorship’s “plans” for an “election.” For one thing, we think the military dictatorship has fixed any upcoming election to ensure that only its approved “politicians” can gain seats in government. It might be considered a Potemkin election.

Then we have seen plenty of “postponements,” from mid-2015 and each year since. The junta simply won’t have an election until it is sure it can have its people win. And, clearly, the military lads just love all the power.

This means that we are not surprised when Prachatai reports that Deputy Dictator General Prawit Wongsuwan has said there may not be an election in 2018.

Prawit blames others: “he is uncertain if the organic laws can be finalised within 2018.” This despite the fact that the junta’s (fungible) roadmap, “the organic laws were to be finalised in late 2017 with the election held five months after they are endorsed.”

General Prawit has “told the media at Government House that the next general election remains unscheduled as the drafting of organic laws is not yet finished.” We wonder how long that can be stretched out. No one responsible for the laws seems very active or agitated. For the junta, the slower the better.

Prawit went on to state that “the junta has never promised an actual election date and the roadmap was merely a guideline.” He stated he did not know if an election would be held in 2018.

The junta came to power at the behest of an anti-democratic coalition of fascists and royalists and the military men are no democrats. So no one should expect anything like free and fair elections any time soon. Our view is that the junta needs to be overthrown and the constitution and electoral rules torn up and rewritten before that would be possible.

Update: In a pattern seen several times, Prawit’s bluntness on an “election,” is now tempered by underlings, who admit further “delays,” but “promise an “election.” The latest puppet is National Legislative Assembly President Pornpetch Wichitcholchai who says the next “general election could be expected late next year around November-December…”. Expect that “estimate” to be “flexible.”