Many micro-parties = The Dictator

8 04 2018

The “election” strategy that the military dictatorship seems to be favoring revolves around the formation and/or co-opting of as many parties as possible. The strategy seems to be based on a thought that the many parties will come together to support the only likely “outsider.” The use of this term signifies an “election”-shy candidate.

This strategy appears to have driven the push for provisions in the junta’s constitution that allow an outsider and those that encourage micro-parties. All very 1980s.

As the likely micro-parties are formed and register, they are announcing their support (or lack of it) for either Gen Prayuth Chan-ocha or an “outsider” for post-“election” boss of Thailand.

The latest party to do this presented no surprise at all. The Bangkok Post reports that the misnamed “People Reform Party” (it is a party but has nothing to do with reform or people), owned by ultra-yellowist Paiboon Nititawan, “has declared its full support for Gen Prayut Chan-o-cha as an outsider prime minister at its first meeting.”

The party, only “the second allowed by the junta to meet after New Alternative party first met two weeks ago, is the first to openly declare full support for Gen Prayut and announced it would vote in line with appointed senators.” Well, that’s only partly true. Plenty of others have more or less said they’d support him or an “outsider.” Others have been coy while their membership makes it clear who they are supporting.

The junta “allowed it to hold the meeting to decide on the party’s name abbreviation, logo, manifesto, policies and regulations. They also elected Mr Paiboon as party leader.” Given that he established the party and is the only name associated with it, nothing else could be contemplated.

Paiboon said: “Backing Gen Prayut is our secondary policy, which is to support a nonpartisan prime minister. In my view, Gen Prayut has all the qualifications, competence and integrity. Up until now, there has been no corruption scandals involving him or his family members so he’s our best choice…”. No surprise. Paiboon has been supporting Gen Prayuth since before the coup. But Paiboon is also lying. Nepotism has been rife. Ask Gen Preecha Chan-ocha about that.

Just to be clear on how the junta has positions “Paiboon’s party,” Paiboon declared that if “other parties draw enough votes to support someone else as the PM, People Reform would vote along the line of senators…”. Prayuth and the junta appoint the senators.

But that should be unnecessary: “I believe we and other parties can garner more than 125 votes. When combined with the votes from 250 senators, we can throw out any party-list PM candidate proposed by another party…”. The Dictator’s strategy is the clearest it has ever been.

Paiboon even made it crystal clear that his party is not even considering winning more than a few seats: “In any case, while the number of MPs is not our main goal, we predict we would win a satisfactory number of MPs.” By satisfactory he means sufficient to join with other faux parties to get Prayuth’s job for him.

Meanwhile, Paiboon’s buddy and political conservative twin, Suthep Thaugsuban has decided to “back a political party in the upcoming election…”. While this was never in doubt, the Bangkok Post reports that he will support (or establish) “a political party that will serve the people’s needs, not its own.” But it will support Suthep’s reactionary anti-politics.

Like Paiboon, “Suthep had previously stated that he would back Gen Prayut Chan-o-cha to resume the premiership after the election.” So the party he supports will have its nose firmly positioned in Prayuth’s … corner.

Prayuth calls his anti-democrat position “political innovation” and like Paiboon reckons that the party he supports will be a “party of the people.” Paiboon and Suthep are the ugly twins in a very ugly political system spawned by anti-democrats, royalists and the military.

The easily forgotten military-backed party Bhum Jai Thai Party has begun re-registering its members. The Dictator will be spoiled for choice. The parties won’t be. They’ll be told who to support. Even so, much fun, games and heartburn seem sure to come.





Puppet NACC and the junta’s damage

26 02 2018

The Bangkok Post has an important editorial that makes demands that demonstrate the abject failure of the puppet National Anti-Corruption Commission.

It says the:

…saga of Deputy Prime Minister Prawit Wongsuwon and his rich collection of wristwatches has passed into farce. The National Anti-Corruption Commission (NACC) has used up its last crumb of credibility. The NACC had announced that its third and final deadline for the defence minister to account for the watches would be March 2. But without any explanation, the NACC president [Pol Gen Watcharapol Prasarnrajkit] amended that. As of now, there is no deadline for Gen Prawit to report.

This unexplained and inexplicable change of attitude by the NACC’s top executive is not just a disappointment to the public, it’s a political dagger to the heart for the anti-graft body, as well as for Prime Minister Prayut Chan-o-cha. Public opinion was already massively against Gen Prawit and his ostentatious shows of wealth. Now, however, there is NACC conduct that goes far beyond the deferential treatment given to members of this military regime accused of suspicious money activity….

The NACC picked up this clear violation of the unusual-wealth regulations with great reluctance. The supposedly independent commission has not covered itself in glory since the military regime came to power. A notable failure was the refusal to have the prime minister’s brother, Gen Preecha, account for unreported money and a mansion he reportedly owns up-country. Handed hundreds of pages of documents on bribery of Thai officials in government and state-owned enterprises by Rolls Royce, the NACC simply refused to advance investigations.

Gen Prawit’s case is egregious and without doubt the most important that the NACC has fumbled since the military coup. He is the first deputy prime minister, and steps into the prime minister’s chair when Gen Prayut cannot. He is also a longtime military buddy of Gen Prayut’s. The prime minister has not had the grace to be embarrassed by his friend’s million-dollar jewellery.

The action by Pol Gen Watcharapol, a former subordinate and assistant to Gen Prawit is revealing of the nepotism and double standards of the military regime. The watch scandal cover-up says its time for the regime to go. When this regime is gone, it will be necessary to clean up all of the laws, rules and agencies that the junta has warped. Fixing the junta’s political damage is going to be a very long, very difficult and very contentious process.





Updated: Pots and kettles II

12 12 2017

In another pots and kettles post, we have to comment on The Dictator’s claims reported in the Bangkok Post recently. The self-appointed prime minister “urged all sectors of Thai society not to tolerate corruption…”.

He added that “Thai people must reject and no longer tolerate any kind of corruption.”

General Prayuth Chan-ocha then said: “I can assure you that I never befriended corrupt people or received any benefit from them…”.

The Bangkok Post also reports that Deputy Dictator General Prawit Wongsuwan will tell the National Anti-Corruption Commission that his luxury watch was “lent” to him by a very rich businessman who is a friend and that his huge diamond ring was inherited from his mother.

The Dictator seems to have associated with Gen Prawit and may even have befriended him.

He certainly also associated with General Anupong Paojinda, who has seen a corruption case associated with him disappear into bureaucratic nothingness.

The Dictator is also friendly with his brother, who has miraculously survived all kinds of corruption and nepotism scandals.

Do we need to mention Rajabhakti Park and commissions on military purchases and the cover-ups of military murders of civilians?

Then there’s all those generals and admirals in the puppet agencies who report huge wealth that is far in excess of what might be expected when their official salaries are considered.

Update: The Nation reports that the NACC has told “the public” to butt out and not speculate on Prawit’s jewels. Prawit has said he will not tell the public his reasons for having so much expensive bling.





Only double standards II

4 11 2017

Back at the end of October, the Bangkok Post ran what seems to us like an advertorial on the National Anti-Corruption Commission. We say it is an advertorial because it is full of glosses, fibs and outright lies.

On the 18th anniversary of its establishment, the Office of the National Anti-Corruption Commission is a failure. It is a politicized puppet of the military junta.

It claims to have zero tolerance for corruption, but as this blog has repeatedly demonstrated, this is a lie. For example, it has not taken action in any of the corruption allegations made of the military dictatorship. For the junta zombies, this inaction translates this way:

During the past two years, the ONACC has worked laboriously with the sole purpose of correcting the corruption culture and has brought about satisfactory results on all three aspects of their duty – anti-corruption, inspection of assets and liabilities, and prevention measures.

All of this is a nonsense. Hundreds of junta appointees have levels of wealth far in excess of their salaries. Not one investigation or case. Nepotism claims go unheeded. Big corruption cases languish in NACC twilight.

The NACC claims to have “conducted more in-depth investigations which have resulted in a 4.5-fold increase in total seizure and forfeiture of property due to official malfeasance.” But, as far as we can tell, none from the ruling junta.

The NACC “vision of Zero Tolerance & Clean Thailand” is a sad joke.

Just a few days later, Wasant Techawongtham the Bangkok Post’s former news editor had an op-ed slamming rising corruption:

When the military junta took over the government, Gen Prayut Chan-o-cha proclaimed to loud cheers an age of reform.

Henceforth, there’d be no more bad politicians, no more bad officials, no more disharmonious squabbles and no more corruption. Hallelujah!

Only good people would have a rightful place in society. No more division of red and yellow, only good and bad. Needless to say, those who followed the junta’s lead are good.

The bad people either have to have their attitudes adjusted or, in the worse case, be put away in jail where they would not be able to spoil the rest of us.

Result? The “supposedly good people in government do something that calls into question their definition of goodness.” They are corrupt, snouts in the trough.

Gen Anupong Paojinda and General Preecha Chan-ocha are just two serial offenders. Then the most recent cases of nepotism involving General Preecha and Meechai Ruchupan.

No accountability, no embarrassment about being hypocrites, no help from anti-corruption organizations and the media remains hamstrung by the dictatorship.

As Wasant says, these stories “could be just the tip of the iceberg.”

But if it is, there’s not much chance the NACC will do anything. It is nobbled.

We can be certain of this. The puppet National Legislative Assembly (NLA) has appointed former national police chief Pol Gen Patcharawat Wongsuwan to a panel scrutinising the draft organic law on the NACC.

We can be pretty sure that virtually every senior policeman has been corrupt during his service. We say this because police generals are even wealthier than their corrupt military counterparts.

This general is also the younger brother of Deputy Prime Minister Prawit Wongsuwan.

He was appointed with Pol Lt Gen Boonrueng Polpanich, a member of the NLA. Both have been accused of unusual wealth.

They are supposed to be under investigation by the NACC, yet it was their buddy NACC chairman Pol Gen Watcharapol Prasarnrajkit who “came out to defend the appointment of two legislative panelists…”. He revealed that the “two cases have not yet reached the inquiry stage…”.

We can be pretty sure they never will be seriously investigated. We can be pretty sure of this because it is reported that those “cases” go back to 2010.

The NLA, the NACC and the junta are now covering up.





Meechai the nepotist

31 10 2017

Since the 2014 military coup, there have been several cases of nepotism involving the junta and its various puppet bodies.

Back in 2016, The Dictator was defending his brother General Preecha Chan-ocha against allegations of nepotism after a leaked memo revealed that the permanent secretary for defense had secured a military post for his son Patipat (see here and here). The same Preecha was also involved in a scandal when another son received military contracts worth nearly 27 million baht and from the army region his father once commanded. Earlier, Preecha had been unable to do the arithmetic in his assets declaration and was defended by his powerful brother.

In 2015, the Association of Organizations Protecting the Thai Constitution pointed out that Deputy PM Wissanu Krea-ngam had seen his two brothers appointed to the National Reform Steering Assembly.

Also in 2015, it was reported that 70 members of the puppet National Legislative Assembly who have hired relatives to “work” with them at taxpayers expense, ranging from about 15,000 baht to 24,000 baht per month each. That amounted to around 17-18 million baht a year, not including per diems, travel and other perks.

Thailand’s dictatorship demonstrates the arrogance of unfettered power. Nepotism runs deep and no investigations are permitted.

Getting in for a slurp at the trough is Constitution Drafting Committee chairman Meechai Ruchupan. He has fed from the military boot for decades as a dedicated servant of royalist authoritarianism.

The Bangkok Post reports that Meechai’s daughter, Mayura Chuangchote, draws a monthly salary of 47,500 baht as her father’s deputy secretary on the CDC.

Like other junta nepotists, Meechai rejects that appointing his daughter as a personal assistant in a government position is nepotism.

The nepotist says that appointing his daughter was justified because “the role had to be filled by someone reliable and who could be trusted to keep the panel’s work confidential.” Of course, he trusts his daughter! No one else among 65 million Thais could possibly do the job. Sounding like someone from the 13th century, Meechai says only family can be trusted.

We can well understand that Meechai has lots of secrets and that his work for the junta must be secretive as they connive and scheme to monopolize political power.

Meechai’s keeping it all in the family follows the example of The Dictator as puppeteer.





Nepotism, face and boredom

21 08 2017

The Bangkok Post reports that the nephew of General Prayuth Chan-ocha and son of General Preecha Chan-ocha “has resigned from military service following criticism of nepotism over his appointment to an officer position…”.

Readers might recall that (the briefly, but forever holding the title) Sub Lt Patipat Chan-ocha was appointed to the “3rd Army’s Civil Affairs Division in Phitsanulok in April last year.”

The now former officer took “advantage of the high-profile position of his father, who was then permanent secretary for defence, to land the job.” He got some criticism until the powerful brothers denied any problems or issues.

There was also support for this nepotism, with some suggesting that the ‘position was natural given his upbringing in a military family.” These dopes seemed to suggest that being a military thug or a general’s son was somehow in his genes.

Patipat complained that he “had to remove many hostile comments posted on his Facebook page, block people who were not his friends and eventually had to deactivate his Facebook account.”

The person who revealed this also “added that Sub Lt Patipat was not personally interested in pursuing a military career but that his parents wanted to see him follow in his father’s footsteps.” Apparently he didn’t like the work and wasn’t very good at it.

That hasn’t stopped others. Indeed, many senior military officers aren’t very good at their jobs either, but they take the loot, make the connections, polish posteriors and do very nicely.

So there was nepotism – his parent’s pushed him – then the two generals had to save face, and now Patipat has become bored and discontented. That’s kind of definitional of Thailand’s military.





NACC bias

5 08 2017

At PPT we have long observed that the National Anti-Corruption Commission (NACC) is a tool of the ruling junta.

Now it seems the Bangkok Post has also seen this politicization of a supposed “independent agency.”

Noting that several of its cases “have now reached the judicial stage” and that it is “actively digging into more high-profile cases,” the Post editorial states that most of these cases:

are highly political in nature, and have little to do with corruption, unusual wealth or abuses of power for personal gain committed by government officials or politicians — the core mandates of the anti-graft agency.

It adds that “since the 2014 military coup, the NACC’s actions — and indeed its inaction — suggest it has not remained politically impartial, the core quality of an independent agency.”

This, it says, means the “agency’s increasingly political role is a questionable mandate that will do more harm than good.”

We’d suggest that it has already done great damage to itself and the country, at the behest of the military dictatorship.

Referring to the NACC’s 11 more cases against Yingluck Shinawatra, the Post says that

[a]s long as the NACC does not explicitly demonstrate how these cases involve outright corruption and abuses of power for personal gain, and were driven by ill motives, such political cases will continue to cast doubt about the agency’s effectiveness and impartiality.

The Post then turns to double standards:

Several corruption and abuse of power complaints filed against politicians from the Democrat [Party] camp have proceeded at a snail’s pace.

To the disappointment of many, the NACC’s probe into the alleged wrongdoing by members of the military regime since the coup had also raised suspicions. The graft agency has dismissed many of them without providing a sufficient explanation.

Its transparency has also been questioned. For instance, it repeatedly, for eight months, refused a request by a media outlet for information about its probe into an asset concealment allegation against Gen Preecha Chan-o-cha in 2015. The NACC subsequently agreed to disclose it at a later stage.

Then there are the cases that seem eerily silent:

… it has not made much progress on others concerning alleged corruption. These include its probe into the Rolls-Royce bribery scandal allegedly involving two state enterprises, which is still at a “preliminary stage” more than six months after a revelation by the UK Serious Fraud Office.

The Post reckons all this politicized action and inaction means that “the anti-graft agency will further risk undermining its credibility, which is already waning…”.

For us, that credibility was gone years ago.