Further updated: Occupations and Korn

27 11 2013

We suggest watching Saksith’s Twitter (https://twitter.com/Saksith) account for a blow-by-blow description of fast unfolding events in the anti-government protests including the seizure of government buildings and provincial halls.

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At the Bangkok Post, Suthep Thaugsuban has decided to go for broke and is painting himself as a martyr-in-waiting and hinted at violence to protect him:

Suthep insisted … he would not flee [and arrest warrant] as he said he respected the justice system but would not turn himself in to police until the so-called “Thaksin regime” is uprooted from the country….

He said if his supporters did not want him to be arrested, they should come to Bangkok to join the protests.

“These could be my last words to you. I don’t know what will become of me.”

… Suthep [again] urged all anti-government demonstrators across the country to take over the fight by laying siege to all government offices.

“I’m asking Bangkok people to do like I did at the Finance Ministry at all remaining ministries and for people in the provinces to do it at provincial halls and tell officials not to serve the Thaksin regime anymore,” he said.

“We have to do it simultaneously tomorrow [today], otherwise we will have no chance of victory.”

Provincial halls are now being seized in several places in the south where the Democrat Party is strong, and also at Saraburi.

In Bangkok, more government buildings are being seized. These attacks are being led by some southern stalwarts but also by PAD leaders such as Preecha Iamsuphan and Somkiat Pongpaibul, who have “moved to surround the Interior Ministry where the situation was the most tense. They demanded that all civil servants exit the building.” They cut off power to the complex.

Update 1: The old crew from PAD are getting this anti-government protest motivated. Along with the southerners arriving in fairly large numbers and the Dhamma Army providing the basis of the moveable demonstrations and some of the occupations, some of PAD’s celebrity supporters are being seen. Mad monarchist Tul Sitthisomwong has been with the crowds at Silom. Tul

The Bangkok Post has a reported that former Finance Minister, Abhisit Vejjajiva’s school chum and current deputy leader of the Democrat Party Korn Chatikavanij has been at some of the rallies and is showing support for his former colleague and the Party’s big boss, Suthep. Korn has also commented on his Facebook page that he supports Suthep’s campaign to overthrow the “Thaksin regime.”

A Bangkok Post photo

A Bangkok Post photo

Apparently, like Suthep, Korn craves a  “people’s government” which would consist of a “dream team” of administrators. This team would “temporarily take the helm of the country’s administration…”. It all sounds very last century, harking back to the military junta’s appointment of royalist Anand Panyarachun in 1991. One of the complaints from the yellow lot in 2006 was that the then junta appointed a bunch of has-beens to a “dream team” that was unable to root out the “Thaksin regime.”

Korn reveals that:

“Khun Abhisit (Vejjajiva) and all of us also would not take any positions (in the people’s government). I, for one, would like to make it clear I will also not take any position. I would take an administrative post only after being elected,” Mr Korn wrote on his Facebook.

 But, as in 2006, the Democrat Party then expects to take over from the “dream team” and run the country without having to worry about free and fair elections.

There’s just one small problem: “Korn said he did not quite understand what the ‘people’s government’ would really be like.” Really? No one seems to know! Perhaps they can just make it up after the chaos.

Update 2: The newly-established media division of the street protesters now calling themselves the Civil Movement for Democracy, has released its third statement (see the earlier two here). The third statement repeats six points that Korn posted at Facebook (and which we skipped above) suggesting that Korn and his team are working directly with the CMS. That said, there are some divergences in the preamble. It states:

CMD Statement Number: 3

Issued: 27 NOV 2013

Statement for Immediate Release

Civil Movement for Democracy (CMD)

Rejecting the divisive, color-coded politics of recent years, the Civil Movement for Democracy (CMD) is a broad-based people’s movement committed to rooting out Thaksin’s regime and to building an inclusive Thai society based upon sustainable democratic principles.

The Civil Movement for Democracy (CMD) is committed to establishing a People’s Assembly which would work in tandem with the current legislative structure, the Assembly would move to address structural flaws which are impeding the development of our country. The CMD considers institutional corruption as the main threat to the country and will implement structural changes to address this, such as:

1. Creation of an election system whereby vote buying would be more difficult – such as making electoral constituencies bigger.

2. Effectively counter corruption within the country – such as doing away with statutes of limitation for corruption charges.

3. Providing the public with more governing authority – such as giving the public more tangible powers to impeach flawed politicians and through increased decentralization by changing the gubernatorial system so that governors are directly elected rather than appointed by the Inter Minister (currently only the Governor of Bangkok is directly elected).

4. Reforming the police force – such as making the police more representative of the public’s needs by having the police in each province come under the jurisdiction of an elected Governors.

5. Reforming the bureaucracy so that it responds to the needs of the public rather the interests of politicians – such as making it more difficult for politicians to arbitrarily transfer bureaucrats (with measures such as those that currently ensure the impartiality of the Governor of the Bank of Thailand.)

6. Foster a free market economy that would prevent monopolies, collusion and market distorting policies such as the Rice mortgage scheme. Create a National Agenda to address issues such as Education, Health Care and Infrastructure deficiencies.

 The most interesting part of this statement is the claim that the now capitalized People’s Assembly will work with the existing parliament – the one Suthep has rejected. That seems to run counter to the earlier claim by Korn that a “dream team.” But then, if the “Thaksin regime” is toppled and the 300+ parliamentarians sent packing for voting on the amnesty bill, then there’s be on members of the Democrat Party left in parliament. Confused? So are we.

Much of the rest of the statement is stuff that’s been around on all sides of politics for some time – electing governors. cleaning up the cops, reforming the bureaucracy, decentralization – and you’d guess that the Democrat Party, when in government in the past, would have addressed these items. They didn’t so we are left wondering why they’d so it now.

Reforming the electoral system we take to mean another attempt by the Democrat Party and its backers to ensure that the party can get elected. In fact, prior to the last election in 2011, the Democrat Party tried some of this, but they were still beaten in a landslide. So “electoral reform” can only mean wholesale changes that are unrepresentative and anti-democratic; essentially, fixing the system.

The final shibboleth on the free market means little. In fact it might scare some supporters for the backers of the PAD and the Democrat Party favor oligopolies and sweetheart business deals for making their billions.

It seems they are a confused and confusing lot. We do know they hate Thaksin and love the king.

 





Updated: Running to the king

12 11 2013

It had to happen. The Bangkok Post reports that the yellow-shirted Anti-Thaksin Coalition has “submitted a petition to the palace asking His Majesty the King to allow a ‘people’s council’ to run the country’s administration in the place of the present government.”

PPT mentioned this people’s council tactic two days ago, pointing out that this is something like an assembly appointed by notables selected or ratified by the king, or maybe the military following a coup, that would act without election or through some fake process of acclamation. In other words, representative democratic forms of government will be jettisoned. The justification will be much like that of the coup masters in 2006: we will press the reset button and get a “real” democratic system in place….old-farts-and-jackasses

Of course, their “democracy” comes without electoral representation.

The anti-democratic activists are the usual cast of old farts and mad royalists: retired Admiral and former assistant to Privy Council President Prem Tinsulanonda, Chai Suwannaphap;  The ultra-nationalist and PAD supporter and former General, Preecha Iamsuphan, who has been urging illegal actions against Cambodia; the ever-grinning political manipulator, Dhamma Army boss, PAD leader and former Major-General, Chamlong Srimuang, who led the airport occupations in 2008; PAD’s Somkiat Pongpaibul, who was once a Democrat Party MP, who was always pushing the party to be more activist and bright yellow; and PAD’s Samdin Lertbutr.

This tactic of running to the king is highly reminiscent of the call to use Article 7 in 2005, asking the king to dump the elected government. The call for a “national government” or a “people’s council” suggests that this lot thinks the palace is likely to be supportive of its actions.

Update: Naturally, when running to the king for support, the yellow shirts also expect the judiciary to do their part. While we missed this report at Khaosod, a regular reader picked it up:

11.00: The court has allowed Mr. Chaiwat Sinthuwong, a leader of the Yellowshirts, to join the anti-government rally and give speeches on the stage, as long as the speeches do not “encourage chaos in the nation”.  Mr. Chaiwat is facing a legal action for his role in leading the occupation of Survanabhumi Airport in 2008 as an attempt to oust the Thaksin-allied government at the time. The court has previously allowed him a bail release on the ground that he must not join any political activity.  Mr. Chaiwat said he would later give speeches at the rally in Ratchadamnoen Avenue today.

Recall that in the judiciary of double standards, red shirt leaders have been sent to jail for political activism.

The same report notes that the Army is also being drawn in:

15.00: A representative of Student and People Network For Political Reform of Thailand has submitted a letter to Gen. Prayuth Chan-ocha, commander-in-chief of the Royal Thai Army, calling on the army to investigate a rumour that the government has secretly brought in foreign armed militants to sow chaos against the anti-government protesters.

Such reports and claims open the way for any violence to be attributed to the government.

The patterns here are just all too clear and remarkably depressing Thailand’s anti-democratic Groundhog Day.





Busy day in Bangkok I

8 08 2013

It has been a busy few days in Bangkok, with more stories than PPT can possibly comment on, so we are going to combine several of them in a couple of posts. We begin with monarchy stories.

First, the Bangkok Post reports that the queen is “recovering from shoulder pain and soreness in her left wrist.” That used to be called “poker wrist.”

Second, and more serious, Thida Tawornsate Tojirakarn, the leader of the United Front of Democracy Against Dictatorship (UDD) has filed “lawsuits against group of anti-government activists who accused her of planning to overthrow the monarchy and install a Communist regime.”

Thida has “filed a formal complaint against the group calling itself ′People′s Army Overthrowing Thaksin Regime′…”. As Khaosod explains, this Dad’s Army, is “the latest resurrection of the anti-Thaksin faction,” and it has claimed Thida is anti-monarchy, which is considered a crime in Thailand and results in longer sentences than many meted out to murderers. Apparently, Thida’s complaint is against the aged leadership of the royalist ninnies:

The lawsuit names core leaders of the People′s Army as defendants. They are Mr. Thaikorn Polsuwan, the webmaster of the People’s Army website, Adm. Chai Suwannaphap, Gen. Chukiat Tansuwatna, Gen. Preecha Iaemsuphan, Am.Watchara Rittakhanee, Adm. Banwitya Kengrean, and Mr. Phichet Pattanachote.

Third, the Bangkok Post had egg all over its front page yesterday. Or does it? We’ll get to this, but the build-up to the egging is worth mentioning.

A couple of days ago, on its front page, the Bangkok Post reported at some length that former prime minister Anand Panyarachun has turned his back on Yingluck Shinawatra’s proposed political reform assembly, “saying he will not allow himself to be used as a political pawn.” It adds that “Mr Anand’s remarks yesterday came as Deputy Prime Minister Phongthep Thepkanchana and PM’s Office Minister Varathep Rattanakorn began visiting senior political figures, asking them to embrace the prime minister’s initiative.” Anand is then cited:

Mr Anand said yesterday he had not been approached by the government to join the proposed council, but stressed he would not take part in it to avoid being used as a pawn by any party.

He also questioned the motives of those who floated the names of people they wanted to take part in the assembly.

“[This tactic] would make it seem to the public that the government is trying to foster national reconciliation but the others just won’t cooperate,” he said.

These are direct quotes and reporting of statements. PPT had no reason to doubt the report. After all, the royalist Anand has long opposed Thaksin and pro-Thaksin governments, as our many Wikileaks posts attest. In addition, we would have posted on the story and asked why Anand is prepared to be a pawn of palace and military (as when he served twice as unelected prime minister) but not now? Once a pawn always a pawn? But maybe just on the royalist side?

But in yesterday’s Bangkok Post there is this:

Yesterday’s edition of the Bangkok Post carried a front-page article with the headline “Anand spurns advisory council”.

The Bangkok Post would like to clarify that both the headline and statements attributed to former prime minister Anand Panyarachun in the article are erroneous and totally groundless.

Mr Anand confirmed that he has never spoken to any Bangkok Post reporter about the matter.

The Bangkok Post regrets the error and apologises for any inconvenience or negative repercussions caused by the article upon Mr Anand and the government.

So the story is that the Bangkok Post either made up the whole story (unlikely) or that the comments were made “off the record” by the patrician Anand (more likely) or that Anand thought again about his outburst and asked the Post to protect him (also likely). We think the Post took egg for Anand.

Finally, at The Nation it is reported that Army boss General Prayuth Chan-ocha has “defended the monarchy against what he called unfair criticism, and lambasted rumour-mongers calling for a coup to end the ongoing political instability.” This refers to some reporting that linked the flight of the king and queen to Hua Hin to preparations for either a coup of political violence. Prayuth said:

He said Their Majesties’ current stay outside Bangkok did not signify anything about a looming political confrontation, and that comment and speculation on reasons for their trip, on social media, was not fair towards the monarchy.

The general also criticised people who spread rumours of a military coup and tell others to hoard food supplies ahead of political “turmoil” that could turn violent.

Prayuth said he was personally happy with the King’s improving health and many senior foreign military officers congratulated him upon what he described as a national delight.

Military

In uniform for the monarchy and “People’s Army”

We are not sure what a “national delight” is, but probably is a treacly royalism.

Then Prayuth said: “But I don’t know what’s with some Thai people who do not like the monarch,” and he is said not to have elaborated. He was also ticked off that the “rally held by an anti-Thaksin Shinawatra movement that referred to the monarchy. He maintained that the monarchy played no part in Thai politics and stayed neutral, and beyond political conflicts, all along.” He added:

“I don’t understand what’s wrong with some people, who not only fight against compatriots but also hurt the monarchy and attack the military, or these people want the country to no longer exist, through internal conflicts, or they are not Thai people,” he said, in an emotional way.

Prayuth seems frustrated that the monarchy is now (visibly) central to political struggles. Given the military’s huge budget for promoting and protecting the monarchy, he is probably reflecting on his organization’s inability to get beyond Cold War-style “protection” and “promotion” of the declining monarchy.





Return of the political zombies

21 07 2013

Just as the white mask “movement” has declined after two weeks of mainstream media frenzy has passed and as the sorry lot at Sanam Luang have split andd most have gone home, the failed Pitak Siam has re-emerged. Is this an accident or are the master manipulators amongst the old men who think they should be running the country again pulling the strings?

If the report at the Bangkok Post is accurate then any suggestion that this is a coincidence is far-fetched. Watch out for all the generals and admirals listed below.

The report states that the Pitak Siam group is now led by Admiral Chai Suwannaphap who was at earlier Pitak Siam rallies and “key figures of the Isan Kuu Chart group announced the formation of a ‘people’s army against the Thaksin regime’ and issued new demands to the government.” The report states:

Isan Kuu Chart leaders who joined a news conference at the Royal Turf Club on Saturday included Gen Preecha Iamsuphan [who once wanted to declare war on Cambodia via PAD], a former member of the yellow-shirt People’s Alliance for Democracy, Gen Chukiat Tansuwat and AM Watchara Ritthakanee [also associated with PAD].

If PPT’s hazy memory is any good, this group has connections – through people associated with it – that stretch back to the days of the Cold War and counterinsurgency and mercenary training. These men of a past era continue to haunt Thailand like grotesque political zombies.

According to the Post,

They called for action against critics of the monarchy, especially those in the camp of fugitive former prime minister Thaksin Shinawatra. As well, they demanded the resignation of Prime Minister Yingluck Shinawatra and Gen Yuthasak Sasiprapa from the defence and deputy defence portfolios respectively.

The protesters also called for stern measures to curb the rising cost of living, the end of the 350-billion-baht water management scheme and the 2-trillion-baht infrastructure investments, and the withdrawal of all reconciliation and amnesty bills aimed at bringing Thaksin home.

If their demands are not met, they promise to rally on 4 August. That may be no idle threat as these old soldiers link into the zombie- and dinosaur-controlled networks of ultra-royalists and ultra-nationalists that are able to mobilize several thousand supporters.

Zombies