Lies and impunity

22 03 2017

The story about the extrajudicial killing of Chaiyapoom Pasae gets more unlikely by the day. Of course, it was never a “likely” story, we are just emphasizing that its getting ragged and ridiculous. Ragged and ridiculous is a standard strategy used by the police and military when they murder citizens and need a cover story, no matter how ridiculous.

In our last post, we quoted some dopey police spokesman claiming that Chaiyapoom “was shot dead by a soldier in Chiang Mai last Friday as he tried to attack him with a hand grenade.” That spokesman “insisted” there “was no foul play behind Chaiyapoom’s death.” This official version of the story was supported by a junta spokesman.

The story has now changed as the military dissembles. Reacting to massive criticism on social media, The Dictator has ordered a “probe” into the death. By whom, we are just not sure, but we would guess its those with impunity seeking to grant impunity to their minion murderers.

Deputy Dictator General Prawit Wongsuwan weighed in. He knows what happened:

… he had received a report from Army chief General Chalermchai Sitthisart, which said officials had to protect themselves as the suspect had intended to throw a grenade that was found at the scene.

“What can they do? The officials also fear dying,” Prawit said, when told the suspect was a youth activist.

That’s pretty clear. Meanwhile,

Army spokesman Winthai Suvaree said the case would be handled in accordance with legal procedures, adding that officials involved in the operation had to give testimony justifying their actions and police would proceed with their investigation, he said.

As we have said many times recently, there is no justice in Thailand and legal procedures are ways to grant impunity.

Winthai knows what happened:

“If the relatives [of Chaiyapoom] have doubts over the investigation and the case, they can have lawyers raise inquiries during the investigation and court trial,” Winthai said. “The army is ready to make the case clear and give justice to all.”

If only the poor in Thailand could afford to buy the “justice” the rich purchase. If only the poor had an institutional system that worked for them rather than the murderous thugs working for the military dictatorship.

The military’s report states a soldier is charged with something or other, but there are no details. The report says this:

Soldiers stopped, searched and found 2,800 methamphetamine pills in a car in which Chaiyapoom and his friend were riding. The soldiers took the two into custody, but Chaiyapoom broke away and was about to throw a grenade at the troops, prompting the soldier to shoot.

According to Col Winthai in an earlier report on Monday, the soldier fired a single shot to kill Chaiyapoom, and no other troops fired.

Col Winthai, who knows what happened, “told reporters the shooting was in self-defence.”

This is different from the original claims. The boy did not throw a grenade.

But there’s more. Prachatai reports that there are other witnesses:

in an interview that Thai PBS broadcasted on 21 March 2017, an anonymous source said several other civilians saw the incident, adding that three gunshots were heard before Chaiyapoom was killed. “Many villagers saw that he was dragged out of the car and beaten. [A soldier] put a foot on his face and fired two shots to intimidate him. When [Chaiyapoom] broke free from the beating and ran, the soldier shot him. They did not allow the villagers to approach the site,” the Thai PBS quoted the anonymous witness as saying.

Based on previous experience, it is likely that the military thugs will be hunting down these witnesses to silence them or, perhaps, charge them with something.

This is how military dictatorships operate.





“Evidence” for an “assassination” plot

22 03 2017

The assassination story, already remarkable, is becoming increasingly stunning for its contradictions.

The Bangkok Post reports: that the junta has now “found” a “movement” working against it and called it “Red Radio.” It claims it has been “for several months been planning to assassinate Prime Minister Prayut Chan-o-cha and his deputy, Gen Prawit Wongsuwon…”.

Deputy national police chief Srivara Ransibrahmanakul said “Red Radio” had also been “working to stifle the authorities’ efforts to investigate Wat Phra Dhammakaya by causing unrest there…”.

No one could possibly believe that the junta’s own efforts at Wat Dhammakaya could have caused any unrest there.

Pol Gen Srivara said his lot are “now seeking arrest warrants for six people who are suspected of being involved in the group including red-shirt leader Wuthipong Kochathamakun, who goes by the alias Kotee and is believed to have taken refuge in neighbouring Laos.”

That seems to be six in addition to the nine already arrested. (We are surprised that they have not been paraded yet, although that usually awaits the passing of seven days in military custody somewhere secret.

Then a claim that it is “not clear whether the group has ties to the United Front for Democracy against Dictatorship (UDD)…”.

The police claim is that “Red Radio” “aims to kill Gen Prayut and Gen Prawit and had been told to attack military, police and other officials during the authorities’ raids on the temple, according to the police investigation.”

And the evidence is….

Our investigation has shown that several of the suspects, detained previously, were spotted at Wat Phra Dhammakaya and nearby Khlong Luang central market, for reasons unknown….

As police investigators have found no link between Mr Wuthipong or Red Radio and the temple, they believe the group’s main goal has been to stir up unrest during the authorities’ operations there….

Yes, that’s “no links,” none, zilch.

The temple itself has “denied any involvement with Mr Wuthipong or the group.”

And, The Dictator is playing down the Wat Dhammakaya link: “Gen Prayut said he was more concerned about the alleged assassination plots and the seizure of weapons of war.” He’s also playing down the size of the “plot,” saying it was small.

Previous reports stated that police said “some of the seized weapons had been taken from soldiers during the violent red-shirt political rallies in mid-town Bangkok in 2010.”

Now, Justice Minister Suwaphan Tanyuvardhana said just one “M16 rifle seized at the weekend has been confirmed to be among the state weapons stolen during the red-shirt protest … in April 2010.”

The story is changing and the evidence is flimsy, but the junta seems rattled.





The Ko Tee “plot” and extradition

20 03 2017

In our last post on the military junta’s marvelous story about a mammoth plot to accumulate war weapons, assassinate The Dictator using a sniper rifle and cause a rebellion based on Wat Dhammakaya, we stated:

While Ko Tee [Wuthipong Kachathamakul] has denied the arms belonged to him, the cops admit he’s been on the run since early 2014…. “Pol Gen Chakthip said police had tried to contact … Cambodia … for Mr Wuthipong’s extradition, but had received no helpful reply.”

Now the police can claim that Ko Tee “allegedly played a leading role in gathering weapons to support the temple and as such must be considered a threat to national security…”. This “plot” will presumably help with gaining his extradition.

Bingo! The Bangkok Post reports that the junta “has vowed to seek the extradition of hardcore red-shirt leader Wuthipong Kochathamakun, alias Kotee, from Laos following the discovery of a huge cache of weapons by authorities in a house in Pathum Thani.” (Like everyone else, we thought he was in Cambodia.)

Gen Prawit Wongsuwan said “he wanted Mr Wuthipong brought to justice given the weapons were found in his home, adding officials will contact Laos authorities to seek Mr Wuthipong’s extradition.”

They really want him for lese majeste and seem prepared to go to extreme devices to get him.

In our earlier post we also stated:

The next step for the police will be to parade the “suspects” before the media where they will presumably admit their guilt and “confirm” the “plot.” They may even be made to re-enact some “crime.” That’s the pattern.

Bingo! The same Bangkok Post story quotes a senior policeman as stating; ” The nine arrested suspects were questioned by military officers and they confessed to keeping the weapons for a particular mission…”.

Now we await the parade of “suspects.”

As a footnote to this story, readers might recall earlier posts, beginning in early February, about a junta desire to extradite anti-monarchists from Laos. This morphed into an alleged “death threats” against The Dictator, which were then said to come from republicans, and which saw attempts to push the Lao government to extradite the alleged conspirators. This effort went on for some time.

Does it seem like too much of a coincidence that yet another plot has suddenly been “revealed”?





What a story!

20 03 2017

The junta’s minions have come up with a remarkable story regarding the weapons “seized” in Pathum Thani.

In our earlier post we did express some skepticism about the report and added a note about Thai Rath saying the weapons were for an assassination plot. We expressed skepticism about that claim as well.

There has been a lot of skepticism, and not just from us. (The yellow-shirted royalists and anti-democrats believe all the stories.)

So the junta has come up with a story of a “plot” that suggests a remarkable effort to weave together a range of moral and political panics by the junta and among its anti-democratic supporters.

We cannot say that there is nothing in the “plot” claims – after all, all “plots” have to have some aspect to them that will convince true believers to believe. However, the royalists and anti-democrats have concocted a remarkable number of plots over the past decade to justify their political actions. Think of the Finland Plot, the infamous republican plot diagram and the “Khon Kaen model.” None of these has ever been shown to be other than a political concoction.

More recently, there was the claimed republican plot to murder The Dictator. We mention this, because it seems that the junta is using this to weave its current plot:

Police believe the huge cache of mostly military weapons retrieved on Saturday were intended to be used against authorities who had laid siege to Wat Phra Dhammakaya, including a plot to kill Prime Minister Prayut Chan-o-cha.

Add to this remarkable aggregation of Wat Dhammakaya and a plot to assassinate The Dictator, the weapons are located at a “house linked to hardcore red-shirt leader Wuthipong Kochathamakun, alias Kotee.” Then stir in a claim that “some of the seized weapons had been taken from soldiers during the violent red-shirt political rallies in mid-town Bangkok in 2010.”

Even the words in that quote are meant to reinforce the notion that red shirts are still “violent” and a political problem.

The cops reckon that the “weapons were being prepared for a potential attack against officers that had surrounded and were searching Wat Phra Dhammakaya in Pathum Thani’s Khlong Luang district…” and “were prepared to ‘harm or assassinate’ … Gen Prayut…”.

A police chief says that something he called “[a]n investigation” that “found people in Kotee’s group were preparing to use weapons to assassinate the government’s leading figures including Gen Prayut…. We found a rifle with a scope. We guarantee that this is not to shoot at birds but was going to be used to assassinate the leader of the country…”.

That’s a remarkably frivolous piece of evidence gathering and imaginative supposition.

He goes on: “If the government uses forces to suppress people in Wat Phra Dhammakaya, the armed group would be ready to help the temple and hurt officers.”

Evidence? It seems that “police and the DSI have always suspected that political groups have operated in Wat Phra Dhammakaya and intelligence from both agencies points to allegations they had tried to cause unrest.” Confirming this for the authorities, “[0]fficials found people in Mr Wuthipong’s network had been entering and leaving the temple prior to the siege and had been meeting him in the neighbouring country [Cambodia].” In fact, of the nine people so far arrested, the police say “[o]ne … was found to have showed up to the temple before…”.

It is a flimsy story. But there’s more: “Pol Gen Chakthip [Chaijinda] said Mr Wuthipong has played a role in inciting people to fight against the monarchy, and he is a supporter of Wat Phra Dhammakaya.”

And still more: The nine “suspects” had “joined the 2010 red-shirt political rally in central Bangkok.” The implication that the public is meant to draw from this is that the suspects might be “men in black.”

So far there’s red shirts, republicanism, Wat Dhammakaya, assassination, war weapons, men in black and monarchy involved in the plot. What more could there be? How about the frustration of the regime unable to extradite those they hate?

While Ko Tee has denied the arms belonged to him, the cops admit he’s been on the run since early 2014 (not since the coup as we said in our earlier post). “Pol Gen Chakthip said police had tried to contact … Cambodia … for Mr Wuthipong’s extradition, but had received no helpful reply.”

Now the police can claim that Ko Tee “allegedly played a leading role in gathering weapons to support the temple and as such must be considered a threat to national security…”. This “plot” will presumably help with gaining his extradition.

The next step for the police will be to parade the “suspects” before the media where they will presumably admit their guilt and “confirm” the “plot.” They may even be made to re-enact some “crime.” That’s the pattern.





Further updated: Another miracle of the law?

19 03 2017

Readers will certainly know that the supposed taxes now deemed by the military regime as due from Thaksin Shinawatra are to be collected by a secret measure officially described as a “miracle of law.”

Another miracle of law seems to have been seen. Immediately after the 2014 military coup, red shirt Wuthipong Kachathamakul also called Ko Tee took off, fleeing charges that included lese majeste. That latter charge originated from the period of the Yingluck Shinawatra government and under huge pressure from the military and royalists.

Prominent among those calling for Ko Tee’s arrest was General Prayuth Chan-ocha. He had been verbally sparring with Ko Tee for some time.

In the new “miracle,” the Bangkok Post reports that a military and police search of Ko Tee’s house resulted in a “large number of explosives, weapons, rounds of ammunition and other items were seized…”.

The media and the yellow-shirt anti-democrat social media lit up, expressing gratitude that the miracle provided further “evidence” of red shirt violence and skulduggery.

The Post “revealed” that “Wuthipong was not there when a combined team of police and soldiers searched the two-storey house, which also serves as the office of Thai Max Group Co, run by the red-shirt leading member in this central province…”. Well, yes, but….

Later the Post “reveals” that for “three years, Ko Tee, a hardcore red-shirt co-leader of the United Front for Democracy against Dictatorship (UDD), has not been living in the Pathum Thani house where he reportedly ran a community radio station.”  Well, yes, but….

Finally: “He has been on the run since the May 22, 2014 coup and was wanted on a number of charges, including lese majeste.” Well, yes, that’s quite a long-winded way of getting to the point.

The police and military “detained a man who was a caretaker of the house for questioning.”

As can be seen in this photo, clipped from the Bangkok Post, it can be seen that the authorities, in displaying the weapons and explosives they claim to have discovered have a link to red shirts.

Why a miracle now? Why three years after Ko Tee fled?

Is it that the authorities got new “intelligence”? Nothing stated so far.

Is it, as has been the case in the past, the junta feels a little pressure, and feels the need to “remind” people of the reason for the coup?Almost certainly.

Is it because the junta has faced an excoriation for its human rights failure?Perhaps.

Is it because the anti-democrats have been complaining about the junta’s failures? Perhaps.

Men in black are back? Perhaps.

Do they want to show that red shirts are still threatening to the elite and anti-democrats? Almost certainly.

It really is a miracle.

Update 1: We can now more or less express disbelief on this story. Thai Rath reports that the military is saying that the cache of “newly discovered” weapons were meant to be used against The Dictator. Forgive our incredulity, but if one was an assassin, such a cache of arms would hardly be required unless a rebellion was planned. If a rebellion was planned, the “rebels” must be as dumb as they come, hiding weapons in a red shirt’s house, which they might assume is under surveillance. If it wasn’t under surveillance then the cops and military are as dumb as they come. But, who would be planning rebellion? We could hope, but there’s been no obvious reason for hope.

Update 2: The junta has been forced to deny that this “discovery” of weapons was a set up. Junta flunkie Lt Gen Sansern Kaewkamnerd stated that “the operation followed a lengthy investigation and intelligence operation.” When reporters noted how new many of the weapons seemed, Sansern reckoned this was because they had been well protected and well hidden. Right….

Sansern declared that “the seized items would be  kept and used whenever the regime needed another set up as evidence for further investigations to nail the culprits because possessing such war materials was detrimental to national security.”

Then, somewhat compromising his “explanation,” Sansern “said Prime Minister Prayut Chan-o-cha had instructed officials to look for those who were involved and take appropriate legal action.” So we should assume that the “lengthy investigation and intelligence operation” followed weapons but failed to finger those responsible for the weapons cache? Right….





Updated: Suthep demands more dictatorship for longer

18 03 2017

The People’s Democratic Reform Foundation (PDRF) is the legalistic renaming of the anti-democratic People’s Democratic Reform Committee to allow it to keep operating under the junta it helped seize power in 2014.

It is still led by Democrat Party stalwart Suthep Thaugsuban, who “left” the party to arrange his anti-democratic actions opposing elections and the elected government led by Yingluck Shinawatra. Its bosses remain those anti-democratic elite and Democrat Party (former) members, Sathit Wongnongtoey, Akanat Promphan, Chitpas Kridakorn (Bhirombhakdi), Thaworn Senniam, Nattapol Teepsuwan, Chumpol Julsai and Sakoltee Patthippayakul.

It was this group that recently met with representatives of the military junta for “reconciliation talks.”

Readers might be surprised to learn (or maybe not) that, almost three years after he got the coup he wanted, Suthep “remained firm in its stance of ‘reform before election’, saying it did not mind a delay in the holding of the next election.”

Suthep and his clutch of anti-democrats also declared their full support for “absolute power under Article 44 of the interim charter” and claimed it “was not a problem for reform. Suthep said it as an opportunity for the junta to effectively reform the country.” We know he supports the murderous military and we guess he would also support military courts, torture and all manner of draconian measures against his political opponents.

Of course, we also know that Suthep hates elections, not least because his party never won one in its own right, and repeatedly hung off the military and royal coattails.

Likewise, it is no surprise that this group of anti-democrats “admitted to being fans of junta head General Prayut Chan-o-cha and the desire to complete key reforms.” Why wouldn’t they be? It was Suthep who claimed that he had worked since 2010 with General Prayuth on ways and means for preventing a Thaksin Shinawatra-aligned government from getting elected and then, if it did, on bringing it down.

Suthep and his cronies met with the junta’s people for “four hours of reconciliation talks” after which Suthep declared or maybe even threatened: “We’ve made the point in the meeting that the masses expect the National Council for Peace and Order [the junta] and the government led by [Prayuth] to finish the reforms so the country can continue as a democracy with the monarch as the head of state.”

Suthep, who spent many years as a Democrat Party powerbroker and politician chortled about “politics” being a problem: “Politics has to serve the people. In the past, it was [dominated by] politicians and financiers as well as interest groups. It’s never about the people…”. Because his party was resoundingly defeated time and time again, we can understand his reluctance to accept the will of the people.

Remarkably, as if Thailand’s elite is still under threat, he grasps the monarchy shibboleth by the throat and thunders: “Most importantly, political parties must be run by people who support democratic rule with the monarch as the head of state, not a republic.”

That purported danger justifies for Suthep, and his gaggle of anti-democrat scions of the elite, continuing military dictatorship. He reckons “the people” don’t want an election any time soon.

If the message wasn’t clear, Suthep stated: “The PDRF has no concerns over the NCPO staying in power so long as it works to push reforms.” He added that his support for “the military and Gen Prayut … was never hidden…”.

Update: And just in case anyone was wondering, the Bangkok Post reports that Suthep declined “to say whether his group would accept the outcome of the next election in the event that the Pheu Thai Party wins the poll.”





Updated: Anti-democrat splinters

13 03 2017

About a week ago, PPT commented on the meanderings of anti-democrat Thirayudh Boonmee’s criticisms of the lack of resolve in the military dictatorship for “reform.” Those seemingly mild urging followed on the junta’s back down on the protesters from the south, one of its strongest constituencies.

Things seem to be splintering in the anti-democrat coalition that has been a powerful ally and promoter of the military coup and the military dictatorship.

The Nation reports that “[p]olice are launching a manhunt for well-known political activist Veera Somkwamkid after he published an opinion survey’s result on his Facebook wall, saying the majority people lack confidence in the Prayut administration.”

Veera has a long history of anti-democratic and ultra-nationalist activism and was aligned to the southern anti-coal protesters and he has recently poked the military on The Dictator and nepotism. Some background before getting back to The Nation story.

Veera, who is associated with thugs like the armed extremists of the Network of Students and People for the Reform of Thailand (see the photo where Veera is joined by the fascist “student” leader Nittithon Lamlua and the right-wing Iceman and coup promoter General Boonlert Kaewprasit).

VeeraAlthough Veera was briefly detained not long after the coup, he praised The Dictator, General Prayuth Chan-ocha and urged him to emulate the Chinese in “cracking down on corruption.” Veera is an admirer of China and its totalitarianism, having claimed that China was “more advanced” than some democratic countries.

Earlier still, Veera headed the Thai Patriots Network, which was aligned with the People’s Alliance for Democracy. Some may recall that he had once sought to provoke a war with Cambodia and whose release from jail in Cambodia was prompted by the military dictatorship’s willingness to create a crisis by sending Cambodian workers streaming back home in a fear campaign that was for Veera’s benefit and also effectively brought Hun Sen “into line” through a threat to the workers’ remittances.

In the story at The Nation, we learn that the have an “an arrest warrant from the Criminal Court and searched [Veera’s] … house in Bangkok’s Khannnayao district but failed to locate him.”

The arrest warrant states that Veera “violated the Computer Crime Act by posting distorted information into a computer network in defamation against the government.” The police allege that “Veera posted results of his opinion survey on his Veera Somkwamkid Facebook wall, causing damage to the reputation of the government and Prime Minister Prayut Chan-o-cha.”

While the junta is always happy to crow when there are polls indicating massive support, often with unbelievably ridiculous numbers, Veera’s stunt has The Dictator seething. We suspect that he also sees Veera as an ingrate.

Veera is said to have “claimed that the majority of the people lacked confidence in the government although the survey was carried out among just one group of people and was organised by Veera himself.”

The TCSD said “the results might be inaccurate,” and observed that “Veera is a well-known activist so the post on his Facebook wall had severely damaged the reputation of the government and the prime minister.”

The anti-democrat coalition seems to be splintering and that certainly worries the junta as much as Prayuth feels his pride damaged.

The manhunt is on. Perhaps he is on the lam with the former head of Wat Dhammakaya?

Update: Khaosod reports that Veera has been responding, stating at his Facebook account:

“I’m announcing this publicly: The police don’t need to waste their time finding me. I will meet with [investigators] on Wednesday,” Veera wrote on his Facebook, hours after police officers raided his home to look for him.

Veera said he’s willing to contest the charge in a court of law, but added that he feared security forces may abduct him before meeting with police and put him in a military prison where he might die in custody.

“I may die of a blood infection,” Veera wrote, referencing an infamous explanation given for one death in military custody in 2015. “Are we clear? A man like Veera Somkwamkid never runs away from the law. I’m ready to contest my case. But I’m not ready to be murdered.”