Generational change

21 06 2018

Associated with years of military rule and anti-democracy, the old men who have run Thailand for decades are dying off. But they are replaced another group of royalist military thugs who intend to maintain political control and repression for decades to come.

We say this after the announcement of the death of royalist policeman Vasit Dejkunjorn. Usually no one would take much notice of the death of a former deputy police chief. However, Vasit gets plenty of attention because he was seen as close to the dead king, a relationship Vasit played up.

A long time ago we wrote this of Vasit, citing Michael Montesano (where the link is now defunct):

“Briefer of CIA director Allen Dulles during the latter’s late-1950s visit to Thailand, veteran of anti-Soviet espionage in Bangkok, long the Thai Special Branch’s leading trainer in anti-Communist operations, and palace insider at the time of his country’s most intensive counter-insurgency efforts, Police General Vasit Dejkunjorn ranked among Thailand’s most important Cold Warriors.”

His background in the shadows of the Cold War did not prevent him from being of an office holder at Transparency International in Thailand. Vasit remained a warrior for the palace in his columns in Matichon and as a royalist speaker. For a very short time Vasit was deputy interior minister for Chatichai Choonhavan being raised from his position as deputy police chief. Vasit “retired” years ago, but kept popping up in strategic locations. His political views reflect the position of the palace. His royalism and extreme views were inflected with racism, extreme nationalism, support for lese majeste and the rejection of constitutional monarchy as being to constraining of his king.

He was associated with all kinds of rightist, royalist and nationalist efforts to eject elected governments.

As expected, his funeral will be a royal one, with Princess Sirindhorn presiding. That’s a sign of a man who did the palace’s work.

Several of the other old men are on their last legs, including Gen Prem Tinsulanonda, now seen in a wheel chair.

In recent years as Prem, Vasit and others schemed against elected governments and worked to mobilize opposition on the streets and in the barracks, they also managed a transition to “tough” military royalists, trusted to carry forward their preferred royalism and anti-democracy well into the future.

Think Meechai Ruchupan’s role in constitutional manipulation and Gen Prawit Wongsuwan and Gen Prayuth Chan-ocha as military strongmen. This “new generation” of political manipulators are the legacy left by the departing old men.

Updated: Preparing for The Dictator’s European visit

15 06 2018

The Dictator is happy as Larry that senior (elected) politicians in Western Europe are prepared to shake his hand.

When his European visit was announced, Gen Prayuth Chan-ocha’s motives were explained. The Dictator:

wants to use his planned trip to Europe next month to raise his international profile as the junta inner circle has seen a softening in the stance of western countries on democratisation to enhance economic engagement with Thailand.”

The self-appointed premier fears losing face in Europe if there are demonstrations against him in any of the capitals he visits.

Hence, as widely reported, junta minions “are stepping up a crackdown on false [sic.] and misleading [sic.] information targeting the government which is spreading quickly via social media platforms.”

The police – unaccountably, a Tourist Police deputy commissioner – have been ordered to make false and misleading claims about certain anti-junta Thais in Europe. The cockeyed idea seems to be to silence them at least while The Dictator is visiting.

As far as we can tell from the media, this exercise is smoke and mirrors.

Police have targeted “a London-based Facebook user [who] posted on the KonthaiUK Facebook site a photo and a message suggesting corruption in the government’s satellite project.”

Yet no charges have been specified. The threat seems to be the message.

What happened to the big deal case against the Cambodian for “false news”? We may have missed it, but that big case seems to have vanished without a trace. Again, it seems the threatening is the important bit.

On the latest threats to Thais in exile or living overseas, Deputy Dictator Gen Prawit Wongsuwan “said the authorities are taking legal action against people generating and spreading fake news.”

When he said “Thai authorities were also in contact with Interpol to have red notices issued for suspects who live overseas” you know this is a political exercise for he knows that bogus and unnamed “crimes” do not lead to extradition.

As well as threatening and hoping to silence those overseas, the junta is seeking to prevent news and other items it finds objectionable from circulating in Thailand. As the a policeman stated, the “suspects include ‘ordinary people’ who liked or shared the posts [from KonthaiUK Facebook] on social media.”

The Dictator hopes that such tactics can allow him to maintain face in Europe.

Update: The Nation reports that one of the deals being done in France is another satellite purchase. The Airbus Theos II satellite costs $215 million. France says it is not a military satellite.

Further updated: Junta disorganized or just organizing

14 06 2018

We are beginning to wonder if the military junta is factionalizing as it gets both excited and frosty about its “election.” Organizing, vacuuming and spending are growing hot while some in the junta are decidedly cold about the whole idea. Or so it seems. Is it that orders also flow to the junta and that these are not especially clear?

After saying it wouldn’t, the junta is now said to be “set to hold its first meeting with politicians at the end of this month…”.

In the first linked report, from just a few days ago, one of the lonely civilians associated with the junta, Wissanu Krea-ngam, cast doubt on the “pressing need for talks,” which he said has “subsided.” He then said the junta “remains adamant they will happen.” But he couldn’t say when.

Now Deputy Dictator Gen Prawit Wongsuwan says the talks are back on, and on schedule.

Prawit says The Dictator has assigned him to “chair the first meeting with political parties and the Election Commission to discuss which activities the politicians would be allowed to undertake prior to the election scheduled for February next year.”

Wissanu had also cast doubt on February as an election date.

But Prawit was clear that it was the junta that would tell the parties what they could do and that that wouldn’t be much. Certainly, campaigning will continue to be banned (except for The Dictator himself) and political meetings remain off the agenda.

“Election” delays remain highly likely. We are guessing April at the earliest although the junta will delay if it believes its parties can’t “win” its own rigged elections.

Update 1: The Nation reports that Wissanu met with puppet “legislators, charter drafters and the Election Commission … to seek solutions to problems arising from NCPO Order 53/2560, which amends the Political Party Act,” but that the meeting saw no solution to the junta’s decision to prevent political parties from getting organized. It passed the ball back to The Dictator, suggesting he use Article 44 to “temporarily allow political parties to seek new members…”.

Update 2: The reports on lifting bans on political party activities and on local elections are confusing and contradictory. Take reports in The Nation and the Bangkok Post as examples. The headlines on each story are directly contradictory. Reporting the same doorstop press conference with the Deputy Dictator, one says bans are to be lifted and the other says bans are to stay. Reading these accounts it seems that the ban stays until all “election” related laws are passed into law. What isn’t clear is how long that will take. On local elections, the EC says if they are held, this should be three months before the national “election.” Those elections also await laws being passed. It is anyone’s guess what dates are being considered by the junta.

Waiting and waiting for the NACC do something … anything

13 06 2018

At the risk of being mischievously accused by The Dictator and his Deputy Dictator of having “doctored” a photo – we haven’t – and causing panic – it won’t – we ask again about news of the Deputy Dictator’s case.

We at PPT know that asking is enough to cause him a loss of face and great anger, but the case looks so much like a cover-up that we must ask.

We have been scouring the news to find what the National Anti-Corruption Commission has decided on Gen Prawit Wongsuwan’s jewelry and luxury watch case.

Our search has come up with nothing.

It seems that the NACC is just hoping that the whole scam of millions of baht of “borrowed” watches just goes away with time. That’s an old strategy used to provide impunity to the corrupt high personages in Thailand. Well, those who are on the “right” side.

The NACC has been compromised and hopeless on its boss’s case from the beginning.

Will it ever make a decision on this case? Even a bad one? While it may hope that it will never have to, it should not be permitted to provide impunity for corrupt “good” people while using the law to harass and repress its opponents.

Updated: The satellite system squirm

7 06 2018

Read the junta’s efforts to hose down the satellite deal controversy.

The Dictator Gen Prayuth Chan-ocha is “trying to placate opponents of the multi-billion baht defence satellite project, saying many other elements must be considered before deciding whether it should get off the ground, including the budget and people’s consent.”

People’s consent? Huh? The Dictator is interested? Oh, yes, we forgot, he’s campaigning for “election” selection.

The Dictator ever so solemnly declared that “no proposal regarding the satellite project has been forwarded to the cabinet for consideration.” Does he mean that the military operates on its own? It has free reign? Or is he fibbing, suggesting that no final decision has reached cabinet. Or maybe both.

But The Dictator clearly knows a lot about the project.

Meanwhile, Deputy Dic and Defense Minister Gen Prawit Wongsuwan argued that “the project is still being studied.” So he knows all about it as well.

He went on to say that “the study was being carried out between the United States and several other nations.” Now, by saying “United States,” he’s implying something government-to-government. Yet the limited information available suggests that the Theia Group is private and just one of several competing private satellite projects on offer and all still in development or even earlier stages than that.

We think Prawit is fibbing when he states: “The US wants Thailand to co-study and be a member, but Thailand has not yet replied…. If we do not join them, the US would look at other countries.” If he’s not fibbing, then he’s revealing information not available anywhere else and presumably that means information shared with allies.

That there is “a letter of intent signed by the Defence Technology Institute in regard to the project,” is, the Deputy Dic says “not a binding contract, but only for acknowledgement.”

Prawit then said: “Right now we still do not know when the project would get off the ground,” and we think that’s right. While “Ministry [of Defense] sources said it could be operational in 2021, when the ministry’s lease contract for the Thaicom satellite expires,” all other information suggests that’s almost impossible. Other dates suggested have been 2023, but there’s doubt about that too.

It sounds like typical junta obfuscation.

Update: As it usually does when it has things to hide, the junta is threatening and considering legal harassment. Khaosod reports that:

A top junta figure is mulling legal action against a transparency activist who accused the government of illegally planning to acquire an expensive satellite network to spy on its citizens.

Through a spokesman, Gen. Prajin Juntong, who serves as deputy prime minister, slammed the allegations as baseless and said he had ordered lawyers to prepare a case against Srisuwan Janya, though he did not specify what charges would be brought.

“It damaged the deputy prime minister and confused the public,” spokesman Monthol Satchukorn said.

Sounds like a sedition and computer crimes farce set of charges, again common under the dictatorship.

Dictators and democrats

31 05 2018

The Deputy Dictator seems unusually distracted by Thanathorn Juangroongruangkit and the Future Forward Party.

This might seem natural in the sense that dictators are likely to be distracted by democrats who challenge their tales-cum-lies. That’s especially the case with this military junta that was born of anti-democratic movements and its own military fascism.

Gen Prawit Wongsuwan “has urged the Election Commission (EC) to look into whether the Future Forward Party has broken any laws.” He means on scrapping the junta’s unfair and undemocratic charter.

This might seem just a little odd when Khaosod reports that EC’s head Pol Col. Charungwit Phumma has stated that there “is nothing wrong with campaigning on a pledge to rewrite the constitution…”.

Thanathorn also “said he would pardon all political prisoners if the party gains power next February, when the election is due to take place.” Well, that date seems unlikely, but you get the picture.

Piyabutr Saengkanokkul also “insisted the party would seek to “amend” Section 279 of the charter on its first day in parliament.” That article “legalises all of the orders, announcements and actions of the NCPO [junta].”

Love the diamond ring

The media asked the Deputy Dictator about these things and “whether legal action would be taken against the NCPO in the future…”. By all accounts, Gen Prawit went ballistic.

He’s used to impunity. Just think of his luxury watches and jewelry case and how nothing has transpired. Nothing at all.

So if he’s threatened with even a hint of legal action for his crimes-made-legal-by-the-junta, he’s bound to get a little heated.

Exploding he declared:

What has the NCPO done wrong? It has done nothing wrong. Whatever we do, the prime minister orders scrutiny including budget approval and performance. We cannot do what we want but have to consider the law. I insist the NCPO always follows the law….

Of course, they make up the laws as it suits them. They are unaccountable. That’s what a dictatorship does.

Further updated: When will the junta allow its election?

31 05 2018

About a year ago, PPT asked “How’s that ‘election’ shaping up?” Of course, that wasn’t the first time the question had been asked after The Dictator first talked of elections back in 2014, after the coup.

A year ago, we cited Deputy Dictator Gen Prawit Wongsuwan who “reiterated that the military never wanted to get involved in politics, and that they would end their roles once the national election had taken place.”

We might conclude that things have changed, except that they really haven’t. Back then, Prawit was lying.

Today, the date of the junta’s “election” is closer to being set. Legally, after the Constitutional Court ruled that the last of the organic laws was constitutional, the steps are almost clear. The junta could always decide on a non-legal-made-legal-by-decree decision to delay further.

So when should that rigged election take place? According to a story in the Bangkok Post, there may now be a week or so for the Court to officially inform the puppet National Legislative Assembly of its decision. The NLA then sends the bill to Gen Prayuth Chan-ocha as premier for him to send onto the king for assent. That process seems to be at least 90 days, although the days required in transit are not clear to us. After it is signed into law, there’s 90 days for it to become law. Then there’s a maximum of 150 days to the “election.”

If our math is correct, that’s 330 days+ if the full time is taken up, so we may predict an election by about late April 2019.

Update 1: Read about junta Deputy Dictator not confirming a February “election” at the Bangkok Post.

Update 2: Legal flunky for the military dictatorship, Wissanu Krea-ngam, has agreed that the next “election” will probably be scheduled for 11 months from now. As we said, late April 2019. That will almost be 5 years of unelected military rule caused by the 2014 illegal coup makers who stol;e the state and gave themselves top positions. He says it may be sooner than that. He says it will not be later. He’s lying. He has no idea what his bosses might do. All the blarney about a road map is a pile of buffalo manure.