The unelected vs. the people

2 06 2023

The unelected are fighting hard to overturn yet another election result they dislike.

The Nation reports that a core group of senators – all appointed by the military junta and loyal to that bunch of coup makers including Gen Prayuth Chan-ocha and Gen Prawit Wongsuwan – “are actively lobbying their peers not to vote for Move Forward Party leader Pita Limjaroenrat to become Thailand’s 30th prime minister.” They reckon this will mean Move Forward has no chance of leading government.

From Wikipedia’s article on lese majeste

At the report has it: “Sensing an opening, the NCPO loyalists in the Senate have proposed that the next government be formed with Prayut and Prawit as key ministers so that they can continue running the country.”

These junta loyalists are arguing that “voting for Move Forward is tantamount to betraying the monarchy…”. Their “evidence” is “Move Forward’s repeated vow to amend Article 112 of the Criminal Code…”. Reform is “proof of the party’s opposition to the monarchy.”

While this unelected gang figures that using the monarchy in this way is a winning strategy, it is, as one academic pointed out, a dangerous strategy:

… this royalist tactic imperils democratisation, political stability, and the crown itself. It is risky for the monarchy because it does what Article 112 allegedly seeks to prevent: it negates its constitutional position as “above politics.” The royalists, by situating the monarchy at the core of their rejection of the people’s mandate, expose the monarchy as a political target.

The monarchy and Thai society IV

13 05 2023

The Monarchy and Thai society


The next point is that in addition to the expansion of the royal prerogative by the monarchy in excess of that permitted by the system, the dictatorship of Prayuth Chan-ocha has referred to the monarchy in order to undemocratically govern this country. Part of this is the enactment of the National Budget Act that allocates funds to the monarchy without examination of the monarchy’s expenditures, brothers and sisters.

This is an important issue. Every organization that uses funds from the national budget must be audited and must be able to be criticized. But this is not an issue for this government. Funds have been apportioned in many areas in excess of necessity. For example, the Ministry of Commerce has promoted the fashion clothing of Sirivannavari. The national budget has been used to promote the personal brand of a princess.* This is this government’s excessive sucking up to the monarchy. This would not happen if we had an elected government.

The next point is the parliamentary provision of a more than 5,000,000,000 baht [153.8 million USD] budget allocation for air travel in the National Budget Act. We have seen the problems that arise where our monarchy is abroad for long stretches. Within a democracy, parliament is able to hold a debate and advise the king to return to the country. But such things do not arise in Thailand. Many tens of thousands of millions of baht have been squandered without any oversight.

This does not include the budget of the local organizations that constructed roadway arches to glorify the monarchy to the tune of tens of millions. Whether people are going to be loyal to the monarchy or are going to believe in the monarchy has nothing to do with the roadway arches, but rests on the actions of each royal. Therefore, this toadying excessive allocation of the national budget to construct such arches, when we are facing COVID-19 and impoverished people have nothing to eat, must stop from this point forward. They should not exist. If they do, only as necessary and in concert with the country’s economic state.

I speak today out of great concern for the country. I speak about the problems that have arisen from the expansion of the monarchy’s royal prerogative as a citizen. I do not have any other intention, brothers and sisters. I am not just blathering on either: I have proposals to address the problems.

After this, if we amend the constitution, have an election, and have a parliament with representatives who are on the side of democracy, the sections of the constitution that pertain to the monarchy must be revised. The king must be in Thailand in order to be the revered idol of those of us in the country, rather than going to live in Germany. In cases in which he does go, a regent must be appointed to act in his stead in Thailand so as to not leave the country king-less. The king should be in the country as befits a democracy with the king as head of state. This must be addressed.

The next matter that must be addressed is amendment of the law that has allowed the assets which are the public property of the country, which belong to us, to be transferred to the monarchy. This has taken place via the 2018 Royal Assets Structuring Act. These assets must be pulled back to be ours once again. The law must be revised so that the assets which belong to the public, whether Sanam Luang, or Wat Phra Kaew, are returned to belong to us, the people, brothers and sisters.

If this is left unaddressed, brothers and sisters, it is unavoidable that there will one day be a violent clash between two groups and two ideologies. One day, if we choose a political party that favors democracy, they must dive in and amend this law. If they do not do so, a battle will ensue. For sure. Each one of us must work together to vote for the party that has a policy to revise the constitution to really and truly bring the monarchy under it. We must vote for the party that has a policy to return public assets to the people. Choose that party, brothers and sisters. Do not choose parties with policies to expand and expand the royal prerogative, who squander the national budget and who do not pay attention to the economic conditions of the people. We will starve to death, but they expend and lavish money upon the monarchy to the tune of tens of thousands of millions. Do not choose them. People like this need to be taught a lesson.

Finally, thank you to the brothers and sisters who have come to listen and participate in the Harry Potter-themed activism today. If anything happens because I spoke the truth, whether I am threatened, or prosecuted, or killed, I do not regret it. Today I have spoken the truth. And this truth will be with every one of you, brothers and sisters. We are going to haunt the dictators until real, actual democracy belongs to each and every one of us.

Next, representatives of the students are going to read a declaration. They are going to affirm their group’s principles and share the stance that the students from Kasetsart University and Mahanakorn University have adopted in organizing today’s event. Brothers and sisters, if there is another protest, if anyone is going to talk about the problem that has been pushed under the carpet, I ask everyone to talk about it responsibly. I ask everyone to talk about it frankly. And I ask everyone to talk about this problem with respect and a sense of their own humanity, brothers and sisters. Don’t just castigate the monarchy. Provide facts. Present ways of solving the problems. Be straightforward. I believe that everyone is ready to listen and solve the problems now. We have to collectively resolve the problem of the monarchy before there is a crisis of faith in the country and before the belief in the monarchy declines further.

*Sirivannavari is a fashion label run by Rama 10’s daughter of the same name. –trans.

The monarchy and Thai society III

11 05 2023

The Monarchy and Thai society


This is merely the opening scene of the transformation of the monarchy’s royal prerogative that poses a problem to democracy. It is the promulgation of law by a parliament of dictatorship. The next is that our monarchy has remained silent in excess of necessity and allowed people to progress by referencing the monarchy over and over again in order to damage those who think differently about politics.

The first person I am going to talk about, who has pulled the monarchy in to support himself is named Prayuth Chan-ocha. Brothers and sisters, do you recall that the constitution stipulates that before a person is to become prime minister, he must take an oath in front of the king? He must pledge that he will be loyal to the monarchy and rule faithfully, and, importantly, protect and act in accordance with the Thai constitution. But Prayuth Chan-ocha intentionally did not pledge in front of our king that he would protect and act in accordance with the Thai constitution.*

What is this meaning of this, brothers and sisters? What it means, brothers and sisters, is that Prayuth Chan-ocha did not give his word that he would not once again tear up the constitution. Prayuth Chan-ocha did not give his word that he would act in accordance with the constitution. But the monarchy still allows Prayuth to refer to them over and over again.

That alone is not enough. I do not believe that the monarchy, which has military units who serve as an intelligence wing, a wing that looks after social networks, are not aware of the how people like Major General Rienthong Nanna use the monarchy to smash us.** I do not believe that he does not know. But that the monarchy and the Bureau of the Royal Household do nothing even though they know that there are individuals who refer to the monarchy and then come down to smash the people. This makes us unable to resist asking, really, what does the monarchy think about us? If my voice reaches the monarchy and the Bureau of the Royal Household, allow me to call on him to express a neutral political stance. Deal with Major General Rienthong and do not let him hurt the people, don’t let him threaten us anymore.

In addition, this country still distorts many other important issues. The monarchy has been twisted so that it is the institution of a particular group of individuals, not an institution of all Thai people in the country. This particular group has claimed that the actions of those who call for the removal of Prayuth Chan-ocha are equivalent to the toppling of the monarchy. This is not the case. Calling for the removal of Prayuth is calling for the removal of Prayuth. The amendment of the constitution is the amendment of the constitution. Saying that the removal of Prayuth is the equivalent of topping the monarchy is an exaggeration.

That group of individuals must cease doing so before those in the country come face to face with violence. Additionally, each and every one of us must try to talk about this genuine problem openly and in public. Starting tomorrow and from now on, if I am invited to speak but those who invite me ask me to contort myself and not talk about the monarchy, I will not do it. I will only go up on stage when given the chance to speak the truth. And I maintain, on my manly honor and my human dignity, that I speak with respect and sincerity. If I lie, even a little bit, let me expire within three, seven days, brothers and sisters.

*Section 161 of the 2017 Constitution stipulates that: “Before taking office, a Minister must make a solemn declaration before the King in the following words: ‘I, (name of the declarer), do solemnly declare that I will be loyal to the King and will faithfully perform my duties in the interests of the country and of the people. I will also uphold and observe the Constitution of the Kingdom of Thailand in every respect.’” But on 16 July 2019, Prayuth Chan-ocha, the prime minister, led the cabinet in swearing the oaths of allegiance. Prayuth concluded by stating “I will faithfully perform my duties in the interests of the country and of the people.” But he missed the sentence of “I will also uphold and observe the Constitution of the Kingdom of Thailand in every respect.”

**Major General Rienthong Nanna is a retired army officer and physician who established an organization, the Rubbish Collection Organization, in 2013. The group carries out witch-hunts against critics of the monarchy, including publicly outing them and filing criminal charges of lèse majesté against them.–trans.

The monarchy and Thai society I

8 05 2023

The Monarchy and Thai Society
Arnon Nampha

Greetings to the brothers and sisters who have come out to protest today.

Before beginning, I must inform you that I was contacted by my younger brothers and sisters from Kasetsart University and Mahanakorn University to speak about only one topic. It is one that many people wish to hear about, but no one discusses or mentions directly.

Out of honor and respect for myself, and to honor and respect the brothers and sisters who have come to listen, and with the greatest honor and respect for the monarchy, it is of the utmost necessity that we speak about how the monarchy is involved in Thai politics today. We have shoved this problem under the carpet for many years, brothers and sisters. There is no mention of the actual problem, which means that the solutions miss the mark.

We have to accept the truth that part of the reason that the students and the people have risen up to protest today is because many wish to ask questions about our monarchy. They hold up signs at demonstrations about the person who is in Germany and mention the person who flies back and forth. Such statements can allude to no one other than our monarch, brothers and sisters. But they are meaningless if we do not speak frankly and with reason and evidence in line with the principles of the rule of democracy with the king as head of state.

Brothers and sisters, at present we are facing a problem of the utmost importance. This problem is that our monarchy has grown more and more distant from democracy. This process began after the 2014 coup. Prayuth Chan-ocha and his cohort that launched the coup ordered their jurists to draft a new constitution. The first was drafted by Bowornsak Uwanno. The content of the constitution first drafted by Bowornsak was not substantially different from that of the 2007 Constitution. It turned out that the Thai ruling class did not accept it and the National Reform Assembly (NRA) dispensed with it.* The NRA then handed the responsibility to the real, live wizard-jurist of Thailand, Meechai Ruchuphan. Meechai used his wizardry to design a constitution with a structure that was conducive to the expansion of the royal prerogative in a direction departing from democracy. The farther, the better.

How did he design it?

1. He designed the second paragraph of Section 15 to create royal units as part of national governance, and for such units to be administered in line with the king’s pleasure. Translated into common language, the statement that such units will be administered in line with the king’s pleasure means that they will be run as the king wishes.** The design of this law is in complete contravention to democracy. Subsequently, the draft was brought to a referendum through a messy process. The referendum itself lacked any semblance of democracy. Many of my friends were arrested and threatened.***

2. But once it was passed through a referendum, the monarchy interfered in the promulgation of the constitution. The first time was when Prayuth Chan-ocha presented the constitution passed through the referendum to the king. The king ordered the amendment of the constitution on many key points. If the country was a democracy with the king as head of state, this could not occur because it was official interference with the promulgation of the constitution.

The amendment involved two significant points:

The first amendment regarded the situation of a national crisis. Meechai’s constitution said to examine it in line with administrative custom and to establish a committee to examine [the situation] with the president of the Supreme Court, the president of the Administrative Court, the president of Parliament, and the opposition leader. Examination of national crises would be carried out by those institutions bound up with the people. But the king ordered amendment and for this point to be removed. All that remained was for the examination to be in line with the custom of democracy with the king as head of state. This was the first amendment with definite impact on the key content of the constitution.

The second amendment was to make it such that the king does not need to appoint a regent to act in his stead when he is not in the country.^ We have therefore seen our king go to live in Germany and Switzerland. He returns to Thailand infrequently. This is a fact that all of the brothers and sisters know. All of the soldiers and police know. But I believe that no one dares to say it. With the greatest respect for the monarchy, I think that this problem must be officially discussed in order to collectively find a solution.

Upon promulgation, the power of Meechai Ruchuphan’s constitution was immediately displayed. The NLA, which had been appointed by that damn dictator Prayuth, colluded to pass many laws which expanded the monarchy’s royal prerogative.

[To be continued]

*The National Reform Assembly (NRA) was one of the five bodies appointed by the junta in 2014. The draft constitution was not passed: there were 105 votes in support of the draft, 135 against it, and 7 abstentions.

**Section 15 of the 2017 Constitution stipulates that: “The appointment and removal of officials of the Royal Household shall be at the King’s pleasure. The organisation and personnel administration of the Royal Household shall be at the King’s pleasure, as provided by Royal Decree.”

***The 2016 Act on the Referendum of the Draft Constitution criminalized protest, dissemination of information and even comment on the draft not explicitly authorized by the junta. Thai Lawyers for Human Rights documented at least 212 people who faced prosecution for actions including distributing flyers, organizing seminars on the draft constitution, and tear up their own ballots in protest of the drafting and referendum process…. [citation deleted].

^Section 16 of the 2017 Constitution stipulates that: “Whenever the King is absent from the Kingdom or unable to perform His functions for any reason whatsoever, the King may appoint one person or several persons forming a council as Regent. In the case where a Regent is appointed, the President of the National Assembly shall countersign the Royal Command therefor.”

The future vs. the past

23 04 2023


AFP reports that Thanathorn Juangroongruangkit, campaigning for the Move Forward Party, has declared the 2023 election choice between “a dark present and a bright future.”

Indeed, this is an election that pits the ruling parties, packed with corrupt, aged, party-hopping dullards and policy plagiarists, “backed by the conservative military and royalist establishment, and more reformist and progressive opposition groups.”

One of the differences is highlighted in the article is between young opposition party leaders like the well-educated 42 year-old Pita Limjaroenrat of Move Forward and 36 year-old Paetongtarn Shinawatra of Puea Thai and the old military-trained dolts who have led the country since the 2014 military coup, 69 year-old Gen Prayuth Chan-ocha and 77 year-old Gen Prawit Wongsuwan.

It is claimed that over 40% of Thailand’s voters are under 35. That group craves change they will never get from the military, monarchy, and other rightists.

One of the traits of conservative anti-democrats is having old men in positions of power. Their role is to oppose, reject, and roll in the trough of public money while lavishing money and praise on the military and monarchy. They are called on to order the jailing of opponents and, as necessary, the murder of citizens who might oppose them, the monarchy and/or the military.

Puea Thai and 112

21 04 2023

The Shinawatra clan has always been somewhat weak when it comes to policy and rhetoric on Article 112/lese majeste. This continues with comments made to the Bangkok Post by Srettha Thavisin.

Srettha is the former president and chief executive of the Sansiri real estate empire and is now one of the three prime ministerial candidates nominated by Puea Thai. Here’s how he was reported on 112:

On amending Section 112 of the Criminal Code, or the lese majeste law, Mr Srettha said the party is looking to rectify the law to prevent it being used as a tool to incriminate opponents in politics, which is damaging to all parties and every pillar institution of the country.

A special unit might be up and running to file legal action against lese majeste offenders. It must also be considered whether the law currently metes out too harsh a punishment.

He noted the perception of how the law is being handled and enforced transcends generations. But it was important to improve the law so people, young and old, can coexist harmoniously.

None of this sounds particularly new or original. Even the junta tried a bit of this, and we can recall similar things being said by the detestable Abhisit Vejjajiva and then by Yingluck Shinawatra.

That is not to say that every leader and party in power is hopeless on Article 112. We kind of think the data tells the story. Based on some academic work we have seen and data at our website, we think there were about 4.2 lese majeste cases prosecuted per year between 1984 and 2000. Under the Thaksin government, this rate dropped to about 2.8 cases prosecuted per year between 2001 and 2005. For the period from the 2006 coup up to the end of the Yingluck government in 2013, there was an average of about 37 cases per year, but most of these were cases under the post-coup regime and under Abhisit’s regime. Then the lese majeste tsunami got big: for 2014-2016, with a military junta in power following the coup, there were more than 105 cases per year. Of course, there was the king-directed 112 hiatus, but this has been followed from late 2020 until early 2022 (when the data ends) by an average of more than 160 cases prosecuted per year under Gen Prayuth Chan-ocha.

We understand that royalists will interpret these figures as support for the generals. Indeed, the data  show that when monarchists rule, Article 112 is used with alacrity. But from a progressive position, while Puea Thai may be weak on lese majeste reform, progressives should vote these dolts out. If that happens, they should also be prepared to defend the elections and the elected government.

Buffoonery in the military

19 04 2023

The military is best known for its coups, for murdering and surveilling civilians, and for massive corruption. It is led by buffoons who make their way through corruption and monarchism.

Two stories caught PPT’s eye on these defining features.

The first is about 100 golf carts burning on military property. In this case, the Chulachomklao Royal Military Academy in Nakhon Nayok, a favorite haunt of Princess Sirindhorn (or at least it was). She doesn’t play golf, although if she did, we are sure she’d be written up as a star.

It seems that golf carts catching fire is not all that uncommon – batteries bursting into flames.

Clipped from the Williams Lake Tribune

But here’s the rub. This burning must highlight corruption. The report states: “The golf carts belong to a company which operates a golf course next to the academy. The company rents space from the academy in which to keep and recharge the carts.” That means the commandant and others get a fee.

Why doesn’t the company charge at the course? Questions might be raised as to who owns the company. Our guess would be that an investigation would show military involvement. Meanwhile, does the golf course have adequate title? Who owns it? Who sold the land to it? We’d guess there’s lots to say about these questions.

Naturally enough, such enterprises operate with impunity, protected by military buffoons.

The second story is about the engine-less Chinese submarine. Buffoon-in-chief Gen Prayuth Chan-ocha says the long delay will soon be over. He’s said that before and so have Navy leaders. But why say it again now?

It is because the Royal Thai Navy has a brand new 6.1 billion baht frigate “that will serve as a submarine-support vessel … [has been] delivered at Hudong-Zhonghua Shipbuilding in Shanghai…”. So, for the time-being, there’s a new, taxpayer-funded ship that is unable to fulfill its mission. Perhaps it could tow submarines about?

Who got the commissions on these ships? Navy admirals are among the richest in Thailand. Because of loyalty and hierarchy, buffoons float to the top and get very rich.

The past seeks re-election

16 04 2023

A report on the upcoming election by The Nation finds its way to the Asia News Network. As ever, PPT was interested in how the military-backed parties of the past are using the monarchy.

The report begins by noting that Gen Prawit Wongsuwan has ditched efforts to be a newly-born and cuddly democrat, apparently for two reasons. First, political “moderation” had “failed to improve popularity ratings” Prawit and his Palang Pracharath Party, causing Prawit to leap “back to the conservative camp.” Second, Prawit “learned that the result of the 2019 election was a victory for the conservatives.” The alleged switch involves making “it clear that it [the military party] would not join hands with Pheu Thai and Move Forward, as the two parties have policies to amend, if not abolish, the lese majeste law, or Article 112, of the Criminal Code.”

Gen Prawit and Gen Prayuth in an earlier photo

We think this is exaggerated. For one thing, the notion that the 2019 election was a “victory” for conservatives is fudging. It was only by rigging the constitution and the election, and with last minute rule bending and breaking by the Election Commission that the “conservatives” managed to scrape together a ruling coalition. And second, Prawit is still seeking “moderate” votes. As we said recently, the plan for the 2023 election seems to be for Pirapan and Prayuth to represent the extreme right for royalist voters and maybe a few military types, banging on about monarchy. Prawit’s party represents the “cuddly” royalists, rightists, and military, appealing to a “middle” of voters, sprouting (new) words about reconciliation and democracy. The hope may be that they can get sufficient seats to form another coalition, drawing in some of the parties-for-sale.

What the royalists, rightists, and military-backed dinosaurs are doing is making the monarchy their main platform. By doing that, they are laying the ground for party disqualifications, protests, and military coup should the opposition win.

The report then assesses the conservative camp.

Prayut is firmly in the conservative camp and has clearly announced his opposition to the liberals [PPT – not really a useful term]. He has vowed to defend the monarchy and prevent any amendment to Article 112.

As a former Army chief, Prayut is imbued with a spirit of loyalty to the monarchy. He rose from the line of command in the 2nd Infantry Division, Queen’s Guard, so he has been on the forefront to protect the monarchy.

As a result, Prayut is seen as the No. 1 politician in the conservative camp and many pro-monarchy voters are expected to pour their support for his party.

Prayut’s staunch pro-monarchy stand is expected to win a lot of votes for his party, but it is yet to be seen whether the number of votes will be enough to allow him to retain his prime minister’s seat.

As we said in our linked post above, this is obvious.

The Democrat Party is looking weak, and the report says this: “Several core members of the party, candidates and party financiers are pro-monarchy elites, so the Democrat will retain its conservative stand and continue to receive sizeable support from royalists.” Because the party has splintered, several of its high-profile ultra-royalists have gone elsewhere, and former Democrat votes will likely follow.

Turning to the Bhum Jai Thai Party, the report ignores the dope party image and looks at Anutin Charnvirakul as a “defender of the monarchy. Bhumjaithai has made it clear that it does not want to see the monarchy used as a tool in political conflicts.” Except that he’s prepared to do it and so are his partners…. At least the report explains that being pro-democracy is not the party’s strong point. The report reckons that anti-democrat party built around patronage politics is still “expected to win some support from royalist voters.”

What we get from this report is that these parties of the past have little to campaign on in terms of policy or achievements and so must rely on the monarchy and the votes of royalists. Those votes look likely to be highly contested among these parties and thus are probably going to be splintered.

Nobility lacking, dullards ruling

10 04 2023

It was only a day or so ago that we posted on the leader of the inaptly named United Thai Nation Party, Pirapan Salirathavibhaga who far from uniting Thais wanted those he disagreed with to be thrown out of the country.

Now another dullard from the pro-military party has managed to mangle a media diatribe aimed at one of those Pirapan wants to be rid of.

At a political event in Pattaya, Thanathorn Juangroongruangkit “said Thailand should be driven by democracy as that is the only way it will pull out of conflicts.” He added: “Coups should not exist in Thailand,” and observing that “the country is not following democratic principles as some politicians are serving dictators.” Interestingly, Thanathorn stated that “a career in politics is honourable as politicians are elected by the people. Similarly, politicians should respect the people and democracy.”

Clipped from Bangkok Post

Thanathorn’s statements hardly seem controversial, but they were too much for Suchart Chomklin of the military party who was Minister for Labor. As far as we can tell, Suchart is a three-time party hopper, so not really “noble.” Party-hopping seems a trait of the godfather politicians in Cholburi, none of whom deserve the label noble.”

Be that as it may, Suchart was agitated by Thanathorn’s comments on democracy and politicians.

Suchart declared Thanathorn’s comments “offensive.”

It takes a warped logic to come to this view. For one, Suchart decides that the 2019 rigged election produced an “elected” government. Few would agree. Gen Prayuth’s adminstration was a junta-arranged government. That it took five years to arrange it attests to the level of rigging that was put in place.

Then the Prayuth-loving Suchart declares “Prime Minister General Prayut Chan-o-cha … elected with 253 votes from MPs and senators.” The numbers are wrong, but the unelected Prayuth was selected by junta selected senators and a few members of the assembly: “The parliamentary vote for prime minister came 10 weeks after a general election, which opposition parties say was heavily rigged in favor of the pro-army parties.”

Suchart comes to the dopey view that: “Thanathorn should not enter politics if he believes Thai politics is undemocratic and politicians do not serve the people…”. Work that out, factoring in that Suchart’s allies in the Constitutional Court banned Thanathorn.

Suchart is clearly intellectually challenged. But that makes him a perfect fit for his party. It is a party of dullards.

The non-plot

4 04 2023

A couple of days ago, Prachatai reported that the “Khon Kaen Provincial Court has dismissed charges against 26 people accused of planning rebellion against the junta in 2014, but fined 18 of the defendants for violating the NCPO [National Council for Peace and Order – the military junta] Order banning gatherings and sentenced 2 to jail for being in possession of an explosive.” On that latter conviction, an appeal is underway.

PPT never doubted that the junta’s military had concocted this alleged plot, called the Khon Kaen Model. It had elements of plot and was linked to the odious Bike for Dad royal event, featuring then Prince Vajiralongkorn and Gen Prayuth Chan-ocha, and which left a trail of bodies and arrests.

Following the 2014 military coup, the military went after red shirts. In the northeast, many believed that the military was framing people as terrorists after a 23 May 2014 raid on an apartment building in Khon Kaen city where 20 were arrested for involvement in a “terrorist plot.” The military gave the plot its name: the Khon Kaen Model. They claimed the plot was designed to incite violence in Khon Kaen. Later, they arrested six additional suspects before charging 24. The military claimed its soldiers “seized grenades, ammunition, and gas tanks at the site of the apartment building.” They even displayed the weapons.

Clipped from the Bangkok Post

The accused claimed they were a “part of a broader campaign for social justice and equality.” A supporter “explained that the group only gathered that day to discuss Red Shirts’ peaceful responses to the coup.”

Junta, police, and military made ever more bizarre claims about the (non-existent) plot and the suspects were to front a military court where no justice could be expected. From the beginning it was a judicial joke: “the defendants were not notified of the charges in a public hearing at the military court, but at the prison instead. This is in line with the NCPO’s announcement on July 21 amending article 142 of the Criminal Code, which had required that defendants be notified of charges in a public hearing.” There were claims that “confessions” were forced.

By the time the case was (in part) decided and the spurious charges dismissed, nine long years had passed. Most of the accused were “aged between 40 – 70 years old at the time of their arrest, [and] three people have died, while two are now in exile.”

On 30 March 2023:

the Khon Kaen Provincial Court dismissed the terrorism conspiracy charge against the group, ruling that the operation [was a]… discussion … not a terrorist operation but only a plan to protect an elected government and protest against the coup.

The court also dismissed all charges against 2 defendants. However, it found 16 of the defendants guilty of violating the NCPO Order banning gatherings of more than five people and sentenced them to 6 months in prison and a fine of 9000 baht, but suspended the prison sentence for two years. Some of the defendants are also exempted from paying the fine since they had already spent more time in pre-trial detention than their prison sentence.

NCPO Order 3/2015 banning gatherings of more than 5 people was repealed by the 22/2018 Order. Several courts have struck down charges under the Order or dismissed the charges, ruling that the offence can no longer be prosecuted as the Order has already been repealed. However, some defendants facing charges under this Order were still found guilty.

One person was also found guilty of unauthorized possession of weapons and ammunition and carrying weapons in public. Two other people were found guilty of joining illegal gatherings and illegal possession of an explosive; one was sentenced to 2 years and 6 months in prison and the other was sentenced to 2 years and 4 months. They were granted bail to appeal their case.

The junta was a pathetic military operation. Its actions were illegal. Its legacy is long and cruel and deforms Thailand’s politics.

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