Propaganda for the junta and monarch(y)

29 08 2018

While PPT was posting of Fascism and academic accommodations to it and for it, a couple of interesting stories appeared in The Nation and Khaosod that seem to reflect on the issues of academic (un)freedom, indoctrination and propaganda.

With the so-called succession crisis seemingly never really materializing, royalism and royalist propaganda for the king has moved into an even higher gear, fertilized by the junta’s fervent monarchism and anti-republicanism.

Khaosod’s story is of blunt force propaganda inflicted on students at Thammasat University by junta and royalist university administrators:

Eight people, six women and two men wearing yellow neckerchiefs and blue baseball caps, marched on stage with the precision of a military parade. Taking turns speaking over the next two hours, they described the benevolence of the Chakri dynasty in bringing peace and happiness to the people of Thailand.

The propaganda for the monarchy began with the shameful groveling of “rector Kesinee Withoonchart …[who] prostrated herself on the ground before it [a portrait of the king].”

The propagandists, “drawn from the armed forces and police” are “volunteers” in the pay of the state and are known as “Volunteers Unit 904. The number 904 is derived from the former radio call sign of the king before he was king.”

Endless palace and junta propaganda wrapped up “with people being asked to stand for a song newly written for the new king and the traditional royal anthem.” The message seems to be that the population will now endure double doses of forced erect standing that Fascists mistake for obedience.

This gross effort concluded in an entirely appropriate manner: “a question-and-answer session saw no takers from the audience.” Fascists and royalists – many of them combining these proclivities – mistake this for orderliness and attention to hierarchy.

The Nation has a more on propaganda, this time for the junta’s Deputy Dictator, the Watch Man, Gen Prawit Wongsuwan. Like magic, a “new Facebook page has been created to support and defend Deputy Premier and Defence Minister Prawit …, who has been embattled with damaging scandals recently.” It seems this page is to support “Uncle Pom’s Lovely Side.” We are unsure which side that is, but we guess it is his right side.

The creation of the page is more or less an admission of guilt because of its need to manufacture “messages in support of Prawit, news reports in favour of the ruling junta, and video clips defending Prawit against allegations.” The syrupy propaganda reckons the dumpy general is “a reliable man who has been trusted by the armed forces for over five decades, and also a former commander well loved by his colleagues and ‘brothers’ in the Army.” No recommendation at all! But is does suggest that the Army is at work creating the page.





Weird and freaky I

11 05 2018

That’s a title clipped from an article about Harit Srikhao’s art work. We have posted on him before. His art reflects his discovery “that his life was built on the lies of state propaganda. Returning to temples, museums and schools, he quickly learnt that everything he was taught growing up pushed Thai nationalism, and heralded Thailand’s longstanding monarchy.” He found it an absurd fiction.

What drew us to another story about his art and the absurdism of military junta’s and monarchist politics was another story, at Khaosod, that demonstrates how expressing politically inappropriate thoughts about the monarchy is defined as a madness.

The newspaper reports on a woman “held involuntarily for three nights and drugged at a state-run mental hospital after encouraging the monarchy’s support for the people at a recent pro-democracy rally.”

Encouraging this intervention suggested to police that she was mentally ill and they escorted her away “for a psychiatric test at the hospital.”

We have no idea of this woman’s state of mind, but is it not absurd that the police have not thought that calling on the monarchy to support anti-democratic actions and military coups – as has been common for yellow shirts – has not resulted in similar police action.

The thought of state hospitals packed with royalists having their mental fitness assessed for their calls to the monarchy seems absurd. We imagine that the powers that be and associated royalists consider the idea of the monarchy supporting democracy a crazy idea.





When the military is on top XIX

18 04 2018

Many readers will have already seen a Prachatai story regarding the Ministry of Culture’s Fine Arts Department history textbook “History of the Thai Nation,” said to have been published in 2015.

According to the report, the military junta “asked the department to write the book with the goal of fostering ‘national reconciliation’ and a better understanding of Thai history from 400 years ago until present.” Because the bureaucracy has been purged, all that can be expected of such dictatorship driven propaganda is a Fairy Tale of the Thai Nation.

But such fairy tales are deeply disturbing because the junta demands that their version of “history” be “taught.”

One section of the book declares: “Gen Prayut Chan-o-cha as a PM has reformed the country to be a true democracy, eliminated corruption and used morality to lead the country to true democracy.” Of course, this is a fabrication, a lie and a kind of pornography for The Dictator.

Monarchies, fascist regimes and authoritarians the world over create and protect their national fairy tales (there’s a recent example in Singapore). Thailand has had its fair share of such “revisions” of “official” history, aided and abetted by loyal “academics” and other propagandists, and the junta is the latest in a line of military dictatorships that knows that controlling history is politically important.





Stupidity, crime and impunity

24 03 2017

Wasant Techawongtham is former News Editor at the Bangkok Post. He has an interesting op-ed in that newspaper on the extrajudicial killing of Chaiyapoom Pasae.

He states that the young lad:

… must have been really stupid. He was a local Lahu boy. He knew where the military had set up their semi-permanent checkpoint. He had with him 2,800 tablets of ya ba, a knife and a hand grenade — all stuff that could put him in jail.

Yet he allowed himself to be driven through the checkpoint and expected to get away with it.

Not many op-eds in the military dictatorship’s Orwellian kingdom use irony like this. He continues: “Or maybe he wasn’t so stupid but was just unlucky to run into a group of overly aggressive soldiers.”

Then there’s this:

Another extra-judicial killing in the same vicinity as Chaiyapoom was killed has gone unnoticed and unreported until now.

Just a month earlier, a 33-year-old Lahu man, suspected of drug dealing, was gunned down by soldiers from the same unit involved in Chaiyapoom’s death. At the scene of his death, he was photographed holding a hand grenade of a similar type that was found by Chaiyapoom’s side.

Fancy that! What a surprise! Well, no, it isn’t.

It is the military and police who are trained in glorious stupidity. They are trained in violence, propaganda, crime (their crime) and lying. They are trained to come up with ludicrous “stories” to cover their crimes. They are trained to expect impunity for murders and torture committed for authoritarian regimes and in the name of protecting the monarchy. That “loyalty” allows them to enrich themselves and expect impunity for all their crimes, for the state and personal crimes.

And the military story just gets more and more stunning. These dolts have been gradually overlaying a story that gets darker and darker. Having earlier stated that they “knew” Chaiyapoom was involved with drugs, the “army has revealed the Lahu activist who was fatally shot by a soldier last Friday in Chiang Mai was involved in the drug trade for more than a year.”

They now claim a different story at the scene of the killing:

Based on the footage of a CCTV camera at the scene, soldiers who checked the vehicle were not armed, Lt Gen Vijak said, adding they simply questioned the men inside the car and checked their identification cards.

As the suspects were acting suspiciously, the soldiers asked them to get out of the vehicle, he said, adding that one of them fled and tried to fight, prompting another armed security team to respond.

No mention of CCTV was made previously, no one else has seen it, and the nature of the stop is now changed too. And the “knife” seems to have “disappeared” from the story.

When asked how he believed the activist [Chaiyapoom] managed to procure the grenade, Lt Gen Vijak said similar Chinese-made devices can be found along the Thai border.

Or maybe it was recycled by  the military.

But here’s the thing. Even if the kid was the “stupid” and brazen “drug dealer” that the military asserts, this does not justify his killing. But this is the (in)justice system at its worst.





Buddhism, the palace and propaganda

13 02 2017

As we have stated previously, PPT doesn’t usually follow the shenanigans within the sangha, except where these impact politics and the palace.

Most assuredly, the long-running fight to have an appropriately conservative monk, acceptable to anti-democrats and royalists, appointed as supreme patriarch has fulfilled the impact on politics and palace criteria. For earlier posts on this very public political battle, see here and here.

In that battle, the junta’s minions went after the most senior monks in line for the top job. They accused them of, among other things, fraud, luxury living and other “crimes,” but all part of a view that the most senior contenders were politically unacceptable to the military regime and its supporters.

Because Buddhism is a political field strewn with booby traps, the junta decided that the way out of what had become an unseemly political battle with senior monks, including the sangha’s governing body, was to change the law on who selected the supreme patriarch.

The puppet National Legislative Assembly (NLA) has hurriedly pushed through an amendment to the 1962 Sangha Act, as amended in 1992, to restore what was falsely described as “an old tradition” which gave the king the right to name the supreme patriarch. He soon did choose, and it was not one of the controversial senior monks the junta had nixed.

While we only have The Dictator’s word for it, he claimed the king then asked everyone involved in the investiture of the supreme patriarch to ensure there were no problems. The investiture went ahead yesterday.

Immediately, a propaganda offensive has been launched to justify the king’s selection, to shore up the supreme patriarch’s position and that of the junta as well. As with the king himself, this involves a sanitized and approved version of “the truth.”

This new version of “truth” can be read here. A different story is available, recounting some of the politics of the unacceptable truth.

The last time that there was a major political and palace intervention in the position of the supreme patriarch was under the earlier dictator, General Sarit Thanarat, in the early 1960s.





“Uneducate” them young

22 12 2016

This post is a companion piece to our recent post about education.

A Prachatai story states that the Royal Thai Army is training kindergarten students in nationalism, monarchy and military. All dictatorships believe that its important to get at the children and shape their thoughts and ideas as early as possible.

The most recent “training” was on 21 December 2016 in Kanchanaburi Province, where 180 kindergarten children and their teachers were unlucky enough to “participate in a program called ‘Land Defender Battalion’…”. The tiny kids were dressed in the uniform of Thailand’s murderous military and “instructed” in things like “military operations” – a photo with the article suggests they were taught how to throw grenades. The military may think this might come in handy when the tykes become fully-fledged anti-democrats and need to stir up a little “unrest” so the military can intervene again, and again and again.

They were also “taught” the so-called patriotic values that The Dictator thought up, which is a kindergarten-like mantra of “nation, religion and monarchy.” Needles to say, other fairy tales and bogus stories such as “sufficiency economy” were also crammed into the kids, filling them up with propaganda.

We guess these kinds of programs are what the military junta thinks amounts to “education.” It wants ultra-nationalists and ultra-royalists (who know their place in society).





“Uneducate” them

19 12 2016

We at PPT are not education specialists. However, we did see something in a story on Thailand’s poor PISA results.

The story explains how Thailand languishes in the bottom quarter of the 70 countries that have their students tested every three years on science, math and reading. It then asks why Singapore and Vietnam have been successful.

uneducate

Royalists show the poor what they think

Finally, the story gets to Thailand: what’s wrong? An academic from Chulalongkorn University’s Education Faculty observes that “the PISA results reflect serious disparities between students in well-known schools and students in rural areas.” In other words, a lack of equity.

New Education Minister Teerakiat Jareonsettasin “admitted he was also disappointed with the performance of Thai students.” He agreed that the results “reflected a huge gap in ability between students in elite schools and those in underprivileged schools.”

Teerakiat only just got his position. Until a couple of days ago, the Ministry was headed by a general with Teerakiat and another general as deputy ministers. Today, there’s one general as a deputy minister.

Inequality in schools and generals go together.

We say this because Thailand’s elite doesn’t really care about education except as a means for imparting propaganda and instilling notions of hierarchy and order.

The rich don’t send their kids to the average school. They go to expensive schools or get into the top-ranked public schools (which are essentially reserved for the elite). The rich, like the military, prefer average schools to beat hierarchy and order into the population. Most important, they expect the lower classes to be trained to respect and honor their “betters.”

PISA results reflect this desire to control Thailand so that the royalist elite can exploit, dominate and luxuriate.