Updated: Constitutional Court’s “logic”

22 09 2019

Wasant Techawongtham is a former news editor of the Bangkok Post. He writes:

I’m no legal expert, so I may not fully comprehend the legalese language of many court rulings, some of which just go right over my head, not because of the language itself but the logic within them.

While the Court has threatened those who question its decisions, Wasant states:

The two latest rulings by the Constitutional Court have just left me scratching my head with bewilderment and frustration. In this, I’m not alone. Many legal experts have had to scamper to their law textbooks to make sure they have not missed some important principles.

He writes of the Court’s 11 September determination that “it has no authority to rule on the question of whether Prime Minister Gen Prayut Chan-o-cha has violated the constitution” on his unconstitutional oath.

Despite a clear and precise statement of the content of the oath in the Constitution, the Court said that the oath was a matter between the king and executive.

Wasant points out the constitutional fallacy of this “decision”:

As I understand it, we have three pillars of democracy — the executive, the legislative and the judiciary. Each provides checks and balances against the others, and each has the duty to respect and protect the country’s constitution.

The fact that Gen Prayut failed to utter a complete oath is no longer in dispute. Such an act is a violation of Section 161 of the constitution which requires that a minister “must” make a solemn declaration as specifically stated before the King.

As everyone in neo-feudal Thailand must, Wasant protects his posterior by trying to “explain” that the king could not possibly have been involved in Gen Prayuth’s unconstitutional oath: “The King cannot be held responsible or complicit in this act.”

He concludes: “I can see no reason why the Constitutional Court could not rule on the matter.” Anyone who is fair and reasonable can only comprehend this ruling as yet another politicized decision by the Court.

Wasant then turns to the other recent ruling by the Constitutional Court on Gen Prayuth’s status as a state official and thus ineligible for the prime ministership. He describes the Court’s rejection of this petition as a “victory for the beleaguered general-turned-politician.” He adds: “it is also one of the most fuzzy and confusing rulings that is extremely difficult for laymen to understand.”

He quotes Political scientist Prajak Kongkirati who asked the right questions:

… [Gen Prayut] uses state power but he is not accountable to the state? He was not appointed by any law but issued and enforced laws concerning all public and private entities as well as the people? He was not legally a state official but received a salary from the public purse? He held on to power temporarily but stayed on for more than five years, longer than any elected government in Thai political history?

Wasant adds a question: “[Gen Prayuth] … wore official [state] uniforms to attend official [state] functions but was not a … [state] official?”

He concludes that:

Bolstered by the two court decisions, Gen Prayut must have felt he could do no wrong. On the day of the House debate, he walked away from the meeting without answering the central question: How would he take responsibility for the constitutional blunder he created after he had said publicly he would solely bear the responsibility?

Thailand is left with Gen Prayuth as The Dictator and prime minister following a coup, political repression, unbridled power as head of a junta, a rigged election and and rules thanks to politicized court decisions.

For several years the Constitutional Court has delivered politicized decisions based on clear double standards. Its attention now turns to the Future Forward Party. We would be hugely surprised if the Court doesn’t consign the party’s leader and the party itself to its dustbin of dissolved political parties. Of course, these dissolved parties are all pro-Thaksin Shinawatra or anti-junta.

Update: While mentioning op-eds at the Bangkok Post, Veera Prateepchaikul is unhappy with “the prime minister [who] did not himself clarify why he omitted to recite an important part of the oath as stipulated in the constitution…”. He handed over to deep swamp slime mining creature Deputy Prime Minister Wissanu Krea-ngam to concoct something that sounded legal. As Veera sees it – and most everyone else –

In his clarification … Wissanu was as slippery as an eel as he beat about the bush before referring to the Constitutional Court’s ruling that the swearing-in ceremony was an affair between the government and … the King. In short, he offered no clarification as to whether the omission of the final part of the oath by the prime minister was intentional or unintentional.

And, of course, said nothing about who might have ordered Gen Prayuth to omit reference to the constitution. Veera says Gen Prayuth’s “attitude can only be seen as a lack of acceptance of the opposition’s role as a check-and-balance mechanism of the executive branch, if not his contempt for it.” While that contempt is well-known, the whole story of the unconstitutional oath is also suggestive of the king’s contempt for parliament and the constitution.

Sadly, Veera then gets into some obscurantist royalism:

It is a straightforward and non-complicated issue that could be fixed with an honest explanation, which any good leader should offer. It is not a sensitive issue as claimed by Mr Wissanu because it is separate from the swearing-in ceremony.

Clearly, it isn’t. If this unconstitutional oath was an error, then it would have been easily fixed. Because it hasn’t been fixed and because those involved won’t say anything, the finger is pointing at the king.





Updated: Royalist plotting

19 09 2019

Among others, Khaosod noted the “report” that was “seen on PM [Gen] Prayuth Chan-ocha’s desk during a parliament session on Wednesday” when he did not respond to his unconstitutional oath.

That official document is apparently titled “Network Plotting to Destroy the Nation…”. Initially, “Government spokeswoman Naruemon Pinyosinwat said the report was compiled by officials who work on ‘national security issues,’ but declined to elaborate, saying the content is ‘classified’.”

Khaosod observed that the “report’s cover photo appears to show the aftermath of a recent bomb attack in Bangkok.”

The Bangkok Post has more detail, translating the report’s title as “network of elements sabotaging the nation…”. Its anonymous “source within the government” disclosed that the report was “prepared for a briefing by intelligence and security agencies,” with “the elements” claimed to be “sabotaging the nation” are “political figures whose acts are deemed to offend the high institution of the monarchy.”

In other words, as has been since the period leading up to the 2006 military coup, the royalist military and its supporters are concocting yet another “plot” against the monarchy. This follows concoctions like the Finland Plot and the infamous anti-monarchy “plot” and “diagram” under the royalist military-backed Abhisit Vejjajiva regime.

The anti-monarchy plot diagram

Deputy Prime Minister Gen Prawit Wongsuwan has confirmed that it “has information about a network…”.

As the Post observes, no names have been mentioned, but Army boss Gen Apirat Kongsompong “had previously mentioned some groups which he believed intended to harm the country…” and referred to “a movement which was trying to provoke a civil war between ‘pro-democracy’ and ‘pro-junta’ factions.” He was essentially attacking the Future Forward Party.

And it was only a few days ago that the Criminal Court ruled that ultra-royalist prince Chulcherm Yugala, who declared the Future Forward Party dangerous republicans “seeking to overthrow the monarchy,” had not libeled that party.

Quite obviously, the military, its ISOC – an “intelligence” agency – and the regime is going to use the monarchy against democratic and parliamentary opposition.

Such plotting by the regime may be dismissed as the musings of old generals who crave power and serve the ruling class.

However, such maniacal plotting in the military and probably in the palace has real and terrible consequences such as military coups, lese majeste, jailings, bashing of opponents, enforced disappearance and torture and murder.

Clipped from Thai Alliance for Human Rights website

Even in recent days, the family of victims of such accusations have been harassed by the regime thought police. Kanya Theerawut, the mother of missing political refugee Siam Theerawut, disclosed “that the Rights and Liberties Protection Department [a useless part of the Ministry of Justice] … told her not to take her son’s case to the UN, as it could ruin the country’s image.” We think the regime has done plenty to ruin Thailand’s image. She was also “visited and questioned by Special Branch officers…”, which is a standard regime means of intimidation.

It is the royalist plotting that is most intense and most deranged. It is also hugely expensive. This regime plotting is far more dangerous than anti-monarchists.

Update: A reader points out that the report on the political harassment of Kanya came just a couple of days after Shawn Crispin at Asia Times erroneously claimed: “Political scores are being aired and contested in the open, not through late-night police state knocks on the door…”. Like the reader, we are confused as to why a journalist would want to whitewash the current regime’s political repression.





Royal teflon

19 09 2019

The Chakkri dynasty’s tenth reign is currently the most obviously interventionist since 1932. This is not just seen in King Vajiralongkorn’s interventions on the constitution and election, but in the manner in which the military-backed, post-junta regime is, for the moment, being given a political polytetrafluoroethylene coat that is, in PPT’s view, unconstitutional.

One of the reasons that the regime is teflon coated is that the “independent agencies” have been anything but independent. Most egregiously, the Constitutional Court has made itself a power that ferociously defends the interests of the royalist ruling class. Remarkably, it now ignores the constitution when this suits those ruling interests. At least two recent decisions are sad examples of royal and royalist injustice that confounds law and constitution: the decision on Ubolratana’s foiled candidature in the March election and the recent decision to ignore the junta’s own constitutional requirements and effectively place the king above the constitution.

In the past couple of days there’s been more judicial decisions that undermine law and that raise the monarchy out of its constitutional status.

Buffalo manure

First, the Criminal Court ruled that the ultra-royalist prince Chulcherm Yugala, who declared the Future Forward Party dangerous republicans “seeking to overthrow the monarchy,” had not libeled that party.

In royalist Thailand, it now seems that royals can do and say anything they want. Remarkably, the Court ruled his outlandish fabrications were “positive criticism” and “intended to warn the plaintiff against royal defamation.” Buffalo manure, but that’s what the courts deal in.

Second, the Constitutional Court has ruled that Gen Prayuth Chan-ocha, a serving general when he led the 2014 coup, then self-appointed prime minister for more than 5 years, “was not a state official when he ruled as head of the junta…”.

How did the Constitutional Court conjure this stunning piece of nonsensical “logic”? It made up a story that “Gen Prayut was not a state official when he was the National Council of Peace and Order chairman as it was an interim position which was not under any state agencies.” Continuing a long “tradition” of upholding the “legality” of the military coup, it ruled that the “NCPO chairman was a product of the administrative power seizure…”.

Third, it seems the king helped out with the incomplete and unconstitutional oath debate in parliament by yesterday. After all of the scheduling and disputes about the debate, suddenly it was announced that the “debate” had to finish several hours earlier to let every single minister in the country could “attend a ceremony for the late King at Dusit Palace.”

Yet this royal sleight of political hand was little more than just another anointing of the regime by the king as Gen Prayuth refused to say much at all about the unconstitutional oath. For The Dictator, parliament is now little more than an annoying itch to be scratch every now and again.

Thailand now has a political system where the king gets anything he wants and is above the constitution, where the law is a mish-mash of double standards the support the royalist ruling class, parliament is an annoyance and where the constitution is ignored. Nothing will stick for the royalist ruling class.

Of course, if one is on the wrong side of the regime, the law, constitution and courts are used to repress.





Updated: No crying for the northeast

17 09 2019

The huge floods in the provinces “began last month, [with] 32 provinces — mostly in the North and Northeast — hav[ing] been hit by the flooding, affecting more than 418,000 families and killing 32 people. The impact in the northeast has been devastating. Khon Kaen was heavily flooded and Ubol looks like a lake. Some people have had to scramble onto their house roofs to avoid the surging waters.

Ubol. From the Straits Times

Gen Prawit Wongsuwan visited Khon Kaen on other business on 3 September and “inspect[ed] the flood situation…”.

Gen Prayuth has preferred cooking and visiting with political allies like Suthep Thaugsuban in the south. While he made a very brief visit to Ubol, he has seemed largely unconcerned. Back when he could make political capital from floods in 2011, he did so enthusiastically. Not now.

Almost a week ago, Ubol was under water, with Khaosod reporting that “[n]etizens are pouring their support to a northeastern province, more than half of whose area is under floodwaters.” It reports discontent:

“The flood is affecting us badly, but why the doesn’t the government help? Many houses are now submerged and Warin [Chamrap] District has been cut off from the city,” @kpkimmm tweeted on Thursday. “They sent everything they had to rescue the 13 Wild Boar, but no one cares about the whole of Ubon being immersed in water.”

Ubol governor Sarit Withoon “declared 17 districts as disaster zones and allocated 200,000 baht to each district for immediate disaster recovery operations…”. Seriously? 200,00 per district! Really?

The Bangkok Post reports that Gen Prayuth is “[s]tung by heavy criticism of its slow response to severe flooding in Ubon Ratchathani and other Northeast provinces…”. The response? The “government is stepping up efforts to help several thousand victims with a televised charity programme.”

It almost seems that the regime is punishing the northeast and its voters. The military-backed regime’s political constituency is centered on Bangkok.

Update: A Bangkok Post editorial criticizes Gen Prayuth:

As people in Ubon Ratchathani and other flood-ravaged provinces in the Northeast suffer and grieve, the least they can expect from the prime minister is sensitivity to their plight. They should also be able to anticipate adequate emergency relief measures from his administration.

But Gen Prayut Chan-o-cha has failed them in both of those respects. Instead, the premier has been busy in the past few days defending himself and rebuking those who have criticised his government’s slow response.

Such knee-jerk leadership is a dismal response at a time when the government is facing credible accusations that its failure to remain vigilant and offer timely public warnings exacerbated the flood crisis….

Since Monday, the premier’s chief response appears to have taken the form of anger at his critics….

The core lesson of this calamity … is that people in the flood-ravaged areas need an efficient leader, not an angry, defensive old man.





With three updates: Thammanat and Wissanu go deep in the swamp

14 09 2019

How low can Thailand’s current political crop go? Just how far are they prepared to sink into the squalid depths of lies, deceit and the ludicrous? It seems, like phraratchathanwearing hard-hat divers, they will go to the bottom, and perhaps even excavate a bit deeper than the muddy bottom of the political swamp.

The Bangkok Post reports Deputy Minister Thammanat Prompao, “known as the coordinator of the coalition government, has vowed to file around 100 lawsuits against those who he believes have lied about his past.” He’s no coordinator. He’s an enforcer and bagman for the “post”-junta regime and its Palang Pracharath Party. And we are sure that he does not “believe” that others have lied about his past. He is the one doing the lying about his past.

But, never mind, the junta’s political swamp is opaque, filthy and deep, and Thammanat is at the bottom already, so more lies won’t make much of a difference to the depth of his political chicanery.

Where he might usually send out thugs to intimidate critics – and that’s still on the cards in this marked deck – he’s taking a leaf out of the junta’s handbook of political deception and using the (in)justice system. And why not? It worked for them and it worked from him in the past on murder charges no less. It was only Last year that Thammanat was helping alleged fraudsters – where did all that Bitcoin loot go? And it was only a couple of years ago when Thammanat appeared on a junta “blacklist” of “influential criminal figures” drawn up for Gen Prawit Wongsuwan. Now he’s a minister in a government that Prawit helped engineer. Prawit now defends him!

Well maybe he’ll take the legal route. Much like Gen Prawit’s massive luxury watch collection “borrowed” from a (dead) friend, Thammanat might just be hoping that the whole heroin trafficking/fake PhD stuff might just go away. We seriously doubt that even this loud-mouth will take on 100 people in the courts.

On the PhD issue, Thammanat has again been supported by Deputy Prime Minister Wissanu Krea-ngam, who is getting deeper into the corruption slime by the day. Wissanu declared that “even if his degree was fake, Capt Thammanat could still be a minister because the constitution requires an MP to have only a bachelor’s degree at a minimum, which he already obtained from the army school.” Wissanu must know that Thammanat’s slime sticks and stinks. He seems prepared to accept anything: deception, lies, heroin trafficking, murder charges (okay, Thammanat got off that one, but an aide didn’t), fake credentials and probably a lot more.

Update 1: Thammanat seems to have finally decided on a political line that he will take in “fighting back” against those revealing his dark past. His line now is “that the series of accusations levelled against him by the opposition and on Thai social media were aimed at toppling the government.” He babbled:

“I’m not the target. As I have told reporters many times before, I am a key player in the formation of the present government because I was the one who handled the gathering of the required votes to back General Prayut Chan-o-cha to be the prime minister.”

He said those who were behind this multiple-pronged attack on him know that these controversies would shake the government and it would lose stability. “Their ultimate goal is to overthrow the government, General Prayut and General Prawit Wongsuwan.”

Like everything else Thammanat has done, he’s being deceitful. He is the target. But what he’s trying to shift the politics to a pro-/anti-junta debate. He wants all the yellow mob to rally to him and the government he claims credit for. He’s saying that drug trafficking, murder charges, lottery mafia accusations, fake qualifications and strange Bitcoin fraud connections are all best forgotten in “saving” the regime. Can this work? Probably. Many on the yellow side of politics has been captured by conspiracy theories.

Update 2: Like the Creature from the Black Lagoon, Wissanu has struggled to the surface, covered in slime, to mumble about Thammanat. He said something hypothetical about the convicted drug smuggler “could be removed from the cabinet if it is found that he has an ‘ethics’ problem…”.

Wissanu is speaking of a person who still claims to have never confessed, convicted or to have been jailed for several years. Given the court documents produced, Thammanat is showing himself as unable or incapable of recognizing or telling the truth.

Remember when both Gen Prayuth and Wissanu claimed that all cabinet members had been scrutinized? Now Wissanu has “admitted that Capt Thamanat’s educational background had not been examined prior to his appointment as a cabinet minister, noting the process could have delayed the formation of the government.”

We guess that his criminal past wasn’t examined either because it was exactly that background that the nascent regime needed in order to form its government.

Thammanat himself has gone in for more “explanation.” He says all of his “wrongdoings had already been exonerated by the 2007 [some reports have it as 2005] Impunity Act, making him eligible to be a cabinet minister.” Not bad. It is a kind of get-out-of-jail-free card issued to mafia figures.

Update 3: The story just gets better and better. The Sydney Morning Herald reports:

The embattled Thai cabinet minister who lied about serving four years in a Sydney jail on a drugs charge has changed his story again, admitting for the first time that he was sentenced in Australia.

After spending the weekend in a “war room” to combat a growing series of scandals, the legal team of Thai government enforcer Thammanat Prompao issued a statement insisting he was fully qualified to be an MP and cabinet minister….

Thammanat’s statement cited two Thai royal pardons among other evidence that his legal team claimed meant there was no impediment to serving as either an MP or cabinet minister.

Getting his name – he’s apparently had at least four – is tough, but getting a crooked story straight is even more challenging. So much so that Thammanat is now holed up in a hospital.





With two updates: Open-mouthed disbelief VI

12 09 2019

It just gets worse and worse. Thammanat Prompao’s lies and deceit multiply by the day. Now, some readers might think he’s just a dope rather than a convicted dope trafficker.  But this would be to misunderstand how the rich and powerful “think” in Thailand. The right to impunity is simply taken for granted that they seldom ever have to “think.” When they do, this is often because they have ticked someone even more powerful, and Thammanat still seems to have the highest backing.

By the way, police and military being involved in crime is common, as a case against a senior cop, reported today, confirms.

But back to things getting worse with the loose-with-the-truth Thammanat. The Bangkok Post reports on a parliamentary speech by Thammanat, where he’s gone the route of doubling down on his lies.

He now “insists he was not jailed in Australia in a drug smuggling case, nor did he confess to any drugs charge as claimed in an Australian newspaper report.”

Invited to speak by The Dictator, Gen Prayuth Chan-ocha, Thammanat went full on bonkers. The Post has an excellent graphic, which we reproduce here, but treating his “version” as in any way believable stretches credibility.

A Bangkok Post graphic

The report states that “Thamanat said he had spoken to the media several times about the 1993 drug case in Australia, and that he was treated as a witness in connection with a suspect who was later acquitted.” He unbelievably adds: “The Australian court suggested that as a witness he stay in Australia until the case was concluded, which took four years…”.

And he then played the injured party, saying that this had “happened more than two decades ago” and it had been “dogging him…”. He added that he “would take legal action against whoever was trying to defame him.” Really? Well, perhaps, anything is possible in Thailand’s (in)justice system.

Being “injured” is more often associated with Thammanat’s victims, in lottery politics and murder investigations.

We can’t help wondering if this case is somehow linked to a set of lese majeste accusations (clicking downloads a PDF) in late 1993 involving the then crown prince. Recall that in early 1993 the Vajiralongkorn was again publicly denying that he was connected with illegal activities (Far Eastern Economic Review, 14 January 1993), but that might be just a coincidence.

And, as an aside, the site associated with the Gen Prawit Wongsuwan watch scandal that was laundered, CSI LA, has revealed that Thammanat’s public CV includes a PhD from a sham university. Presumably Thammanat has a mai lorder, sham PhD.

Update 1: While the military-backed regime “seems pretty cool with convicted heroin smuggler in cabinet,” the Australian newspapers involved have responded to Thammanat’s bogus claims by publichsing extracts from his court cases in Australia and by creating a short video that lays out the “discrepancies” between what the minister claims and what the court records show.

Responding to “government enforcer” Thammanat’s incredible claim that “he spent eight months in lock-up but the rest of the four years in ‘state-sponsored accommodation’ as a witness,” the newspapers make it clear that he was jailed for heroin trafficking and being involved in the racket in Thailand and in Australia. As noted above, Thammanat again engaged in fictitious spinning when he “again denied pleading guilty then said he entered a plea-bargaining arrangement.”

The documents show this is utter nonsense and that Thammanat pleaded guilty and gained a sentence reduction by providing useful information to the police and prosecutors:

Court documents show the young soldier Manat and his co-accused half-brother Sorasat Tiemtad were arrested in Bondi on April 15, 1993, and charged with conspiring to import $4.1 million of heroin. When told by a judge in November 1993 he faced up to nine years’ jail, Manat began co-operating in return for a lesser sentence. He pleaded guilty on November 15, 1993, and was sentenced in the NSW District Court on March 31, 1994, to six years’ jail with four years’ minimum and a two-year non-parole period.

Interestingly, the newspapers add some information about the case in its most recent incarnation:

The Herald and The Age can also reveal that Thai opposition politicians sought information from the Australian embassy in Bangkok about Thammanat’s past legal problems, but did not receive assistance.

The Thai government has confirmed it sought information from Australia about Thammanat before his appointment in July, but did not say whether it was informed of his crimes.

The Australian Federal Police did not deny that it shared information with Thai counterparts about Thammanat’s conviction under the usual police information sharing arrangements between the nations.

Thammanat and his half-brother were “released from Parklea prison on April 14, 1997, and deported.”

The report notes that Thammanat would not be allowed to enter Australia: “The Home Affairs website warns: ‘You will not pass the character test if you hold a substantial criminal record. If you don’t pass the character test, you will not get a visa to enter Australia’.”

Update 2: Above we mentioned Thammanat’s fake PhD degree. Demonstrating that he knows nothing about his degree or where he purchased it, Thammanat proudly displayed his “degree certificate.” In showing off an “accreditation” certificate from a dodgy accreditation business that “accredited” a dodgy “degree” from a dodgy “university.

Thammanat stated: “I received the degree from US-based California University Los Angeles, not from the Philippines [as some claimed]…”. But he gets the name wrong. Apparently, his House website had to be quickly changed. It “showed he holds a  doctor of philosophy degree in public administration from Calamus International University’.” This was changed ” to show he obtained the same degree from California University FCE…”.

But this is not a university but a semi-commercial operation that “accredits” degrees for use in legal transactions such as immigration. Thammanat displayed a certificate issued by CUFCE. Thammanat paid a fee for or someone paid for him. No one studies for a doctorate at CUFCE.

That Thammanat doesn’t even know the details of his “degree” shows that his lies simply overwhelm him.





With two updates: Open-mouthed disbelief V

10 09 2019

It is now clear that having been an international heroin smuggler is no bar to being a minister in Thailand.

Indeed, several deputy prime ministers and the prime minister himself have supported Deputy Agriculture Minister Thammanat Prompao, a convicted drug trafficker. In common with the mafia-like Thammanat, most of those supporting him are military men, and used to operating with absolute impunity.

Gen Prayuth

In the Bangkok Post, Gen Prayuth Chan-ocha, speaking after a cabinet meeting, “said that he would no longer comment on legal cases against cabinet ministers because they had been clarified by those involved.”

“Clarified” seems to mean he accepts Thammanat’s all too obvious public lies.

Gen Prayuth, who relies on Thammanat as an enforcer in his coalition, told reporters to forget the story. He considered that they should look at previous governments and their faults and problems. As well, he “explained” that “all [current] cabinet ministers were subject to background checks.”

Background checks seem to count for far less than staying in power. Staying in power requires thugs like Thammanat.

Meanwhile, Thammanat himself seemed to believe that lies can be doubled down with more lies. He reportedly claimed that that “the Australian drug case had occurred more than 30 years ago and he had already clarified the matter.”

“Clarified” seems to mean he accepts Thammanat’s all too obvious public lies.

Thammanat, clipped from Khaosod

Despite the evidence sourced from the Australian court, “Thamanat insisted that he never confessed because he had done nothing wrong.” Wow! He went on: “He … dismissed as untrue the Australian report which cited court files.”

We assume that such lies are made on the basis of two beliefs. First that Thammanat reckons that Thais are a collection of morons who will believe any buffalo manure he serves up. Second, he expects to enjoy the impunity that is afforded to all big shots in Thailand.

Thammanat then further manipulated the truth saying he “was convinced that the report was written by someone in Thailand as part of a move to discredit the government, and had instructed his lawyers to prepare civil and criminal suits against those involved.”

Are police and military now in search of these evil people? Sadly, they probably are and will seek to frame someone.

Thammanat also threatened to sue the Australian newspapers that published the court reports. That seems like bravado and buffalo manure.

In Australia, The Age has an editorial (also in The Sydney Morning Herald) that says its “expose of the dark past of one of its [Thailand’s] new ministers shows the challenges facing its threadbare democracy.” It notes the role of the military and monarchy in crushing democracy in the country.

Thammanat is representative of both (or claims to be). As the prime minister and several deputy prime ministers have shown, he certainly represents this military-backed government.

Update 1: An anonymous correspondent tells PPT that one reason Thammanat is feared by journalists (and others) is because he has been seen to sport the loyalty logo that the king gives out to the most trusted and appreciated royal servants. We don’t know and the correspondent didn’t say, but assume it is this one (left). Army boss Gen Apirat Kongsompong sports one and so does Chirayu Isarangkun, Gen Prayuth and more. We haven’t seen this particular logo on the chest of the convicted heroin smuggler but the king link is in the stories, as told by Thammanat himself when he was busted.

Update 2: Watching television news and discussion shows today it is interesting that – at least in those seen – that while the Australian drug trafficking and Thammanat’s conviction and jailing was mentioned, it seemed the big deal was Thammanat’s denigration of coalition politicians. He’s Palang Pracharath’s fixer and in a recent interview likened his job not to a mafia enforcer but to a monkey trainer constantly handing bananas to his coalition monkey politicians. As a result, one micro-party pulled the plug on the coalition.

It still seems that the media is paralyzed by the threat of lese majeste and fear of the king.