Tenure trouble

4 01 2022

Bubbling away in the background of recent politics has been the very large question mark hanging over the regime’s plan to keep Gen Prayuth Chan-ocha in the premier’s seat for another 4 years following the next “election,” which the military-backed rulers think is already in the bag.

Yesterday the Bangkok Post had an editorial on the matter, observing that “a legal team [sic] from the House of Representatives claimed that he is entitled to serve as premier until 2027.”

That team reckons “Gen Prayut’s term technically began when his premiership received royal endorsement under the 2017 constitution on June 9, 2019.” They say this means his constitutionally-limited term could run another 4 years. How convenient!

This bunch “rejected the views of those who argue that Gen Prayut’s tenure began in 2014, when he took over in a coup as the head of the National Council for Peace and Order. Under this interpretation, his term would end in August this year.”

The 2017 constitution bars an individual from remaining in office for more than eight years: “The Prime Minister shall not hold office for more than eight years in total, whether or not holding consecutive term., regardless of whether the four-year terms are served back-to-back or not.”

The 2007 constitution simply stated: “The Prime Minister shall not serve in office more than eight years.”

There’s considerable guff in the editorial for it is perfectly clear that both constitutions limit the premiership to 8 years.

It seems likely that the question will go to the partisan Constitutional Court. Based on its previous capacity for fudging the constitution and supporting the regime, we can expect the coup master to be around until 2027.





Rolling back democracy from its birth III

15 12 2021

James Lovelock of UCA News also comments on Chuan Leekpai’s recent Constitution Day comments. While the headline “Thailand’s parlous state of democracy” – Thailand is no democracy – the article is worth considering.

He begins:

A call by a former prime minister of Thailand on his fellow citizens to have faith in the country’s democratic system has been met with ridicule among young Thais who have been demanding democratic reforms. And rightly so.

“Tell that to the military, courts and your PDRC-supporting friends and their earlier incarnations,” one commenter aptly noted, referring to the People’s Democratic Reform Committee, a rightist anti-democratic movement that staged raucous street protests in 2014 against a democratically elected government, precipitating a coup by the military the same year….

“The military dictatorship rammed through the current anti-democratic constitution by making it illegal to campaign against it,” one commenter pointed out apropos Chuan’s speech on Constitution Day. “Unelected Senate appointments by the military. Courts routinely disband any reform-minded party. What ‘democracy’ is he talking about?”

Other commentators have been equally sharp, noting that:

…. the current rulers of Thailand, a powerful group of army generals and business tycoons, have created a deeply undemocratic system, which makes it virtually impossible for liberal parties to gain power through elections.

For all of this military-backed regime’s failures, corruption and manipulation, most commentators think that Gen Prayuth Chan-ocha will continue on to become Thailand’s longest-serving prime minister. That royalist posterior polishers can float to the top proves that Thailand is no democracy.





More 112 charges urged II

9 12 2021

A pattern has emerged. In our last post, we noted that national police chief Pol Gen Suwat Jangyodsuk had urged police superintendents to give even more attention to “national security” cases involving lese majeste and sedition.

Yesterday, Prime Minister Gen Prayuth Chan-ocha, Deputy Prime Minister Gen Prawit Wongsuwan, Interior Minister Gen Anupong Paojinda, and the leaders of the armed forces came together for an ISOC meeting “that was held to sum up its performance over the past year and to announce its action plan for 2022.”

Three army generals in 2019. Clipped from the Bangkok Post

The Internal Security Operations Command has arguably been the most critical agency collecting intelligence on the regime’s and the monarchy’s opponents. It has a nationwide organization that mirrors the civil bureaucracy. It also arranges “fake news,” including “plots” against the monarchy and builds royalist “movements” to face down “threats” from regime opponents.

It is reported that Gen Prayuth “laid down polices for the command to focus more on regional security and tackle threats to national security.” Those latter words are the code for the monarchy.

Bizarrely, Gen Prayuth described this most politicized of agencies as “not a political unit but a body supporting other agencies’ efforts to solve problems besetting the country.”

ISOC’s political role was further emphasized when Gen Prayuth urged “… Isoc and the interior minister to work together closely to address problems through democratic means, adding that dated laws and regulations should be amended to boost efficiency.”

They already do, but little of what they do can be realistically described as “democratic,” except in regime doublespeak.

The pattern being set is a division of roles, with the military and ISOC working on intelligence, using “counterinsurgency” techniques to control the provinces, while the police crack heads and wage lawfare, arresting protesters while the courts lock them up





Updated: NHRC and double standards

7 12 2021

Over the years, PPT has been critical of the National Human Rights Commission for its political partisanship. While these days it seldom seems to do or say much of consequence, recent events highlight its problematic existence.

Recently, police arrested 37 protesters [some reports are that 36 were arrested], including 31 women, from the Chana Rakthin Network. The protesters gathered at the entrance of Government House to “demand that the government adhere to initial promises to delay an industrial project set to take place in the 16,700-rai Chana district in southeastern Songkhla.”

Clipped from the Bangkok Post

The locals were made these promises by then minister Thammanat Prompao, but the regime now appears to be reneging. So they traveled to Bangkok to “remind” the government. Prime Minister Gen Prayuth Chan-ocha demies there was ever an agreement.

A representative of the protesters stated:

They have been charged with the violation of the emergency decree and the police are looking to file more charges against them since the protesters are not willing to accept the proposal for them to stop protesting against the project if they were to be released….

When the police grabbed the protesters, they blocked the media.

Just another day in broken promises, lies, and policing for the regime. And, a background to the role of the NHRC.

According to the Bangkok Post:

The National Human Rights Commission (NHRC) on Tuesday issued a statement calling for the government to unconditionally release the 36 protesters of the Chana Rakthin Network detained on Monday night….

On Tuesday morning, NHRC commissioners Preeda Kongpaen and Sayamon Kaiyurawong paid a visit to the arrested protesters, who were detained at the Police Club on Vibhavadi Rangsit road.

The NHRC statement declared “the protesters had the right to expression of their views and to gather peacefully under the 2017 constitution…”, and “called for the unconditional release of the protesters.” And, it added, “[m]embers of the media and observers should be allowed to report on all developments surrounding the project without being obstructed…”.

Maybe we have just missed the NHRC being busily at work, but we do not recall such statements when monarchy reform protesters have been attacked, arrested, and held without bail. We do not recall much reporting of the NHRC demanding that police stop attacking and impeding journalists covering those demonstrations.

Just another day in the land of double standards.

Update: A reader asks if we are dismissing the seriousness of the Chana Rakthin Network. Certainly not. The regime’s treatment of the group, using police to threaten and arrest while reneging on an agreement, is reprehensible. Our question was why the NHRC chooses to take action on this state action but not on other egregious human rights abuses.





Anti-human rights group rallies for regime II

30 11 2021

Another flock of about 40-50 ultra-monarchists and regime puppets, arranged by the regime, “rallied” on Tuesday, calling for the military-backed regime to expel Amnesty International from the country, grumbling in terms that draw on Land Destroyer-New Atlas conspiracy theories. They believe – or so they say – that Amnesty seeking to bring down the regime and its German-based monarch. Of course, this is nothing more than a reflection of the regime’s own desires and efforts.

Displaying placards of the of toxic turncoat Suporn Atthawong, now known as Seksakol, an assistant minister in the Prime Minister’s Office alongside a Chinese dragon, the “protesters,” mostly from a pro-Prayuth Chan-ocha group, seemed more intent on showing that “there are working people in their 30s who are not supporters of the anti-establishment movement….” than in ousting Amnesty.

Clipped from Thai PBS

More broadly, these royalist conspiracy conspiracists “claim that organizations like Amnesty are looking to destabilize the country. They say that the group has political objectives, such as advocating for the amendment of the constitution that could lead to the overthrowing of the constitutional monarchy system or the amendment of the lese-majeste law.”

The usual gaggle of regime supporters and propagandists are getting behind Gen Prayuth’s order for Amnesty to be “investigated.”

The junta’s senator Somchai Sawaengkarn “told reporters on Friday that he agreed with Prayut’s instruction.” Of course he does; he’s a consumer of mad monarchist conspiracies that go back to the fictional Finland Plot. He gets quite agitated: “there are questions whether Amnesty International Thailand has been guiding protests and providing financial support for violent protests in Thailand…”. This is utter nonsense, but that has never bothered Somchai. He added that “the Anti-Money Laundering Office should also investigate other organizations to find out if any of them have been operating beyond their scope of duties or interfering with the country’s affairs.”

You get the picture. This is a Constitutional Court-emboldened effort to further autocratize and monarchize Thailand.

Somchai is joined by another military-aligned propagandist Panitan Wattanayagorn. He’s said to be “a lecturer in political science at Chulalongkorn University,” when he’s really an adviser to the regime and, in PPT’s view, not an academic by any stretch of the imagination. He also claimed that “some” rights organizations “have interfered in politics…”.

You can see where this is going. As a regime mouthpiece, he’s warning all human rights defenders that they cannot accurately report on the regime and its many human rights abuses.

Meanwhile, police spokesperson Pol Col Kissana Phatthanacharoen has said that Gen Prayuth “has ordered the Ministry of Interior and the Royal Thai Police (RTP) to look into the matter…. The RTP is now investigating whether the non-government organisation had committed any offences in a way that could affect national security and the monarchy…”.

Next the regime will target (more) foreigners, and those “associated” with “foreigners,” and who speak out on these matters, including journalists. The regime is seeking to tame and “retrain” them in how to (not) report (on regime and monarchy).





Updated: Toxic turncoats and the barking mad

23 11 2021

Suporn Atthawong, now known as Seksakol, an assistant minister in the Prime Minister’s Office, wants Amnesty International banned in Thailand and expelled from the country.

Suporn/Seksakol is a former red shirt who seems – no one is saying – flipped to the military junta to escape a string of charges his one-time opponents brought against him, including terrorism and lese majeste. Remarkably, by mid-2018, Suporn had pledged himself to support of the post-2014 coup regime’s concocted political party and, following the junta’s rigged 2019 election, to the ongoing premiership of Gen Prayuth Chan-ocha. For working to deliver red shirts to the regime’s party, the quisling was rewarded by being made a deputy minister. He now works as a loyalist assistant to Prayuth, the man who had some of those charges brought against him.

The quisling has been supported by Anon Saennan, described as “the ex-leader of the protest group Red-Shirt Villages of Thailand but still a member, said the group will launch a campaign to pressure the group [Amnesty International] to stop operating in the kingdom.”

Interestingly, Amnesty International had a terrible record on lese majeste when its “representative” in Bangkok was Benjamin Zawacki. He spent a lot of energy arguing that the reign of the dead king promoted human rights. He seemed to hold sway and AI received fierce criticism. More of less until Zawacki departed AI in 2012, AI tended to neglect and downplay lese majeste, including the conditions of those imprisoned on the charge. Since then, it has gradually rehabilitated itself and taken a firm stand on human rights in Thailand.

That seems to be the issue for the execrable Suporn (or whatever name he now uses). Getting up his nose – and his bosses – seems to be AI’s criticism’s of the regime’s “treatment of political protesters on several occasions, the latest of which followed the Constitutional Court’s ruling on the actions of anti-government protesters Anon Nampa, Panupong Jadnok and Panusaya Sithijirawattanakul.”

Anon and other rightists-for-hire babble that AI “is turning a blind eye to the protesters’ lack of respect for the higher institution, a reference to the monarchy.”

It seems that mad monarchists have come to see the king as having his rights infringed even when he’s in Germany.

Update: A reader rightly says that we should have made it clear that the focus of the mad monarchist turncoats is AI Thailand. That reader also pointed out that Zawacki was a researcher for AI in its international version. That’s also true, so we made representative read “representative” above. That said, we maintain that Zawacki was seen by many, including in the media, as speaking for AI and represented it in meetings. At the time, we posted several times on Zawacki and AI.





Tales of the rich and the exploited

16 10 2021

As the king’s vaccine producer Siam Bioscience seems to still be underproducing AstraZeneca, the regime continues to beg and borrow AZ from elsewhere. With just over 30% of the population double-dosed, the General’s government continues to move towards opening.

But the double standards are gross. Take movie stars arriving with crew being lauded by the military PM:

The arrival of Hollywood star Russell Crowe to make a movie in Thailand, and his tweeted pictures and messages about Thais, the food and scenery brought pride to the nation….

That particular star seems to have also benefited from Australia’s double standards on international travel.

But look at migrant workers, still languishing with limited access to vaccine. Prachatai reports that

On 5 October 2021, Coordinator and lawyer of the Human Rights and Development Foundation (HRDF) has gone to the Bang Khen Immigration Detention Center to pick up Ms. P, a female migrant worker from Myanmar, who had been remanded in custody being accused of being an alien and worked without the permit, an offence against the Royal Ordinance Concerning the Management of Foreign Workers’ Employment 2017.

She could face up to a fine of 50,000 baht and be barred from working in the Kingdom of Thailand for the period of two years.

She appears to have been charged way back in June and kept in detention since. But guess what?

After reviewing concerned information and documents, HRDF has found Ms. P was a legally registered migrant worker recruited through the Government-to-Government MoU and her work permit had expired on 20 February 2021. She has since applied to renew her work permit with the Bangkok Office of Employment Region 2 before the expiry date of her permit. The renewal could not be completed, however, since the official could not retrieve her information from the depository of migrant workers.

That should not bring pride to the nation.





Anti-corruption lapdog

15 10 2021

In an editorial, the Bangkok Post chastises the completely hopeless National Anti-Corruption Commission (NACC) for being a regime lapdog. The sad thing is that this editorial could have been written years ago. The NACC is not worth the heat off buffalo manure.

In this case – only the most recent of a score of such cases – the Post focuses on the clearing  of Gen Prayuth Chan-ocha’s brother, Gen Preecha, on charges of concealing assets.

On Monday, the NACC commissioners voted 8-1 to clear  against Gen Preecha Chan-o-cha, when just a few months ago “the NACC had a different view with all nine commissioners in June unanimously agreeing there were grounds to summon Gen Preecha for questioning.”

Gen Preecha, now appointed by his brother as a senator, “was accused of falsely declaring his assets and liabilities while serving with the National Legislative Assembly” that served the military junta.

Quite simply, Gen Preecha failed “to include his house in Phitsanulok and bank accounts belonging to his wife, Pongpuan, in the couple’s assets list.”

Very basic stuff. He’s either a stupid duffer or, more likely, a creep who thinks he has impunity to do what he wants.

The NACC seems to have decided he’s a stupid duffer, ruling this week that he “had no intention to hide his wealth, and did not gain any benefits from doing so.”

Clean hands?

The now allegedly stupid Gen Preecha had, says the NACC, “misunderstood the asset declaration rule simply because the house in question was under construction at that time.” He still owned it, but the NACC seems to think he just “forgot” it was an asset.

The Post urges the NACC to become “more transparent and, by way of example, it can answer some questions about what criteria it used in judging Gen Preecha’s intentions.” But, of course, the NACC seems likely to refuse to its “investigation.” That’s what it usually does when protecting the regime and its members.

And who can forget that the NACC has still refused to “comply with the Administrative Court’s order for it to release details about its probe into the luxury watches case involving Gen Prawit [Wongsuwan], with the NACC explaining that it cannot disclose details of witness accounts because it might prompt lawsuits.”

Or, it might have to conjure an unbelievable story to cover its tracks and those of regime bosses.

The Post says that: “By failing to be accountable, the commission will become part of the problem it’s trying to solve.” It has been a part of the “problem” for years. It is a joke permitting “good” people/crooks/creeps to feast on the taxpayer.

For that, presumably the commissioners have been or will be rewarded.





Defeating and defending the young

12 10 2021

With the mainstream media becoming increasingly quiescent under the current regime, for English readers, Prachatai and Thai Enquirer are critical sources of reliable information on Thailand’s politics. In this post, PPT looks at two recent Thai Enquirer pieces. Each reflects on the current political crisis.

In the first article, Erich Parpart and Cod Satrusayang observe that:

General Prayut Chan-ocha and his military-backed government are jailing the country’s future leaders for their own benefit. There is no use denying it anymore. But in doing so they are jeopardizing our country’s future while protecting themselves from criticism.

The government has now detained at least 20 pro-democracy protest leaders and activists. Most have been charged with lese-majeste and denied bail or have had their bail revoked while waiting for trial.

In fact, we’d argue that while there is clearly benefit to the regime, the real benefit is to the monarchy and the monarch. It is the military scratching the king’s back for the protection his position provides to a broad ruling elite. So when the regime claims attacks on the monarchy are a threat to national security, they mean to their security and that of the business-monarchy-military ruling elite.

That’s what they imply when they say: “Keep in mind, these jail sentences and arrests aren’t done to protect the public good…”, but protect a rotten regime, populated by those who should be in jail and some who have.

The article notes that many of those jailed are among Thailand’s best and brightest; indeed the country’s future. But now it is they who are rotting in jail.

The authors yell: “Free them, free the shackles that bind our thinking, it’s the only option.”

If Erich and Cod look at the leaders of the future, Caleb Quinley looks at the Thalugas protests, emphasizing the economic interests that drive them.

Firecrackers and ping pong bombs versus armed police, “dressed head to toe in black body armor carrying nonlethal firearms…. The sound of their boots echoed through the narrow halls of Din Daeng’s slum community…”.

Violence escalating: “It’s dangerous now…. But how else are they [the government] going to hear us?”

The young demonstrators have set fires to glittering massive portraits of the Thai King scattered throughout the city,  targeted police bunkers, and fired large fireworks into the dark.  In response, police have implemented a zero tolerance policy for unrest, unleashing rubber bullets, water cannons, and tear gas, detaining hundreds since September.

Caleb states: “The economic fallout from Covid is at the heart of the anger.” It is Thalugas “doing whatever it takes for the government to hear them.” Some want “respect” from the regime; to be heeded. They feel “they have been neglected for far too long.”

There are “increasing arrests and police brutality,” but this “group of young men are still raging on.” Many of them are “facing extreme economic difficulty [and] say they have nowhere else to turn. It’s ultimately all about raising the pressure to help their communities.”

Communities are always split, but for many locals, “these young men are white knights taking on an unfathomably powerful enemy.”





Protests and protesters

27 09 2021

There’s been a flurry of articles and video about recent protests and the tactics used.

Prachatai has a story focusing on Thalufah. It “organised a protest on 25 September, with 4 demands: the unconditional resignation of PM Gen Prayut Chan-o-cha; a new constitution; monarchy reform; and reform of the judicial system to ensure the right to bail of detained activists.” It has several pictures of the protesters tactics, showing young men and women standing up to the police.

The Guardian had a story on protest too. Focused on working class kids or as the report prefers, “mostly students from vocational colleges and poorer neighbourhoods…”. Some of the quotes are revealing:

[Chai]: “We don’t have a choice, we have to come out; my family is suffering…”.

Chai’s mother and father, a food seller and an electrician respectively, have both lost work because of the pandemic. Chai says he has also been forced to give up his part-time job because his college course has been moved online and now doesn’t finish until later in the day. He is training to be an electrician, but is on the brink of dropping out. One of his friends, who leans in to talk, has already done so. They are struggling to learn from home, and say there has been no support to cover the internet costs….

At Din Daeng, protesters say they have run out of patience. “It’s as if they look at us not like a citizen, it’s as if they see us as slaves,” says Chai’s friend, who is 17….

Police violence won’t deter him [Chai], or his friends. “It will even spark us to go out, we will get even more angry,” he says. “It’s going to be like this until Prayuth gets out.”

A SCMP video is worth viewing too:








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