Updated: Propagandizing the virus

8 06 2021

As we have posted several times, while Thailand’s initial response to the virus was pretty darn good, it has fallen down as the regime tried to propagandize on vaccine – making AstraZeneca the king’s vaccine. As the previous good work was undone by the impunity of rich fornicators and the corruption of others, it seems the hunt for propaganda value is on in earnest.

This was brought out starkly in a story by Erich Parpart at Thai Enquirer, where he asks some questions and makes some acute observations:

This government full of dinosaurs does not understand the difference between being competent or pretending to be competent. The public surely sees through their facade.

It is imprinted into their brains that they must hide and deny when they know that they are doing something wrong and they must flaunt it when they believe that they are doing something right.

You can see it with the lack of transparency in their vaccine procurement program.

And now you can see it once again with Monday’s massive ceremony to kickstart the vaccine program.

What is the point of all these ceremonies?

Yesterday’s [Monday’s] unnecessary and large gathering has the potential to be a super spreader event.

That’s emphasized by a photo from the Bangkok Post:

Okay, everyone is masked, but is this the impression a government serious about health wants to provide? This is propaganda gone very wrong.

As The Dictator claims he’s making history, others are not so sure.

Is there transparency? Of course not. While the report at the Post claims “Two kinds of vaccine were used on the first day of inoculations — China’s Sinovac and AstraZeneca shots that were produced in Thailand,” is the AstraZeneca all locally produced? After all, it was the Rural Doctors Society that “accused the government of concealing information about the real situation facing supplies of the AstraZeneca vaccine…”. It reckoned that “the government … has to order 500,000 doses of the vaccine from South Korea to supply its mass vaccination campaign which kicks off on June 7, instead of sourcing from local production.”

And now Gen Prayuth Chan-ocha is apologizing, saying:

… there were limitations in the distribution of vaccines because the government was receiving deliveries in gradual lots, not all at one time.

“The government will try to acquire as many more vaccines as possible and not just wait for contracted vaccines, sad Gen Prayut. “I believe that more vaccine doses will be delivered next month and services at inoculation stations in the provinces will be more conveniently managed.

Meanwhile, in action that may be welcomed by those who desperately want a vaccine, the private sector is steaming ahead, reinforcing a two-tier vaccination system: one for the poor getting old technology jabs and one for the rich who get new technology vaccines. What isn’t clear is how the private sector is getting their vaccines, from whom and how. Transparency? No.

Then there’s the issue of the regime supporting their buddies in industry: “Industry Minister Suriya Jungrungreangkit said vaccine distribution in industrial complexes is crucial because workers in the manufacturing sector are important to help drive supply chains and the economy.”

That economic interest may be true, but it is an industrialist minister helping his buddies jump the queue when health workers, teachers, and others on the so-called frontline wait, along with the elderly and others who might seem more at risk from the virus.

We also noted that, in Bangkok, “about 30,000 spa workers who will be vaccinated at the same time as the teachers.” That should assist the rich fornicators.

How’s that health messaging going?

Update: Further on the privatization of the vaccine drive(s), The Nation reports that “[l]ocal and private organisations have been allowed to procure Covid-19 vaccines, according to [an]… announcement published in the Royal Gazette on Wednesday.” It says that they may “procure vaccines from government agencies such as the Department of Disease Control, the Government Pharmaceutical Organisation, the National Vaccine Institute, the Thai Red Cross Society and the Chulabhorn Royal Academy.” Not all of these are government agencies…. But it seems this mandate is seen as a profit-making exercise as “[p]rivate hospital stocks jumped Wednesday morning on news of government approval to procure their own Covid-19 vaccines…”.





Piling it high

29 09 2020

In a recent post, PPT observed that the country’s Defense Council was almost entirely focused on monarchy. Defense now means “protecting” the monarchy, led by an erratic, super-wealthy, egocentric and absent king.

In that post we noted that self-selected prime minister Gen Prayuth Chan-ocha had “instructed the armed forces to also support activities organised by other units in promoting … the King’s work…”. He also “urged government agencies to promote … the King’s royal projects, particularly the applied New Theory Agriculture…”.

It didn’t take long for the propaganda machine to change up a gear, with the Bangkok Post placing a “story” exactly following Gen Prayuth’s demands.

The “story” reports something called the “Khok Nong Na model” which is promoted as something “new,” even if slavishly claiming to be following the so-called New Theory and the Sufficiency Economy “philosophy” promoted by the dead king.

(For those who have forgotten this bit of palace propaganda, look here, here, and here.)

The Khok Nong Na project is delivered by the largely irrelevant Community Development Department and is being piloted in Phitsanulok, Sukhothai and Kamphaeng Phet. These projects are said to be “[f]inanced by the department’s 2019 budget…”. At least the CDD is truthfully explaining that something attributed to royals is paid for by the taxpayer.

Remarkably, the “ideas” in the Khok Nong Na project are attributed not just to the dead king, but these “ideas” are claimed to have been “further developed by … King … Vajiralongkorn…”. There’s no evidence for this and there’s no track record of Vajiralongkorn ever having had an “idea” that wasn’t self-serving.

In essence, the Khok Nong Na project draws on 1980s notions of “indigenous farming wisdom,” and applies it to “modern-day farming.” By “modern-day,” the CDD seems to be actually talking about big farms, intensive marketing, tourism (!), and farmers taking out loans, practices which were never a part of the dead king’s Sufficiency Economy.

The CDD has big plans. Assuming “success,” it will be “expand[ed] nationwide,” and then become part of a “university that teaches a degree in the New Theory Agriculture and other agricultural concepts developed by King Rama IX.” The Department plans to call it “The University of the King’s Philosophy”, establish campuses nationwide, and will teach about “over 4,000 royally-initiated projects, 40 agricultural concepts and the Khok Nong Na model…”.

The result? “With the Khok Nong Na model, we believe that everyone in society will be happy and the country will prosper.” Further, “the Khok Nong Na model could solve almost all problems related to agriculture in Thailand such as drought and flooding.” Wow! But there’s more: “we will not live in poverty and will live a happy life if we follow the Sufficiency Economy concept.” Fantastical nonsense.

The propaganda result? “The Khok Nong Na model attests to the monarchy’s generosity to share his agricultural concepts and theories based on the principle of self-reliance…”. But there’s more! “What King Rama IX gave us and … King [Vajiralongkorn]’s determination to further develop the late King’s work will benefit humanity, not just Thai people…”.

The cost? Not stated, but it will be funds drained from the taxpayer.

How much more of this royalist buffalo manure can be spread?





Military, monarchy and their nation

5 08 2020

With criticism of the king, monarchy and regime increasing, Gen Prayuth Chan-ocha sounded old-fashioned and tired in his claim that the absent king and queen “are concerned over the safety of flood victims and have ordered volunteers in affected provinces to supply meals to them.”

That kind of claim was standard for the dead king and usually resulted in taxpayer funds putting cheap goods in bags with the king’s moniker on it and handing them out in stage-managed ceremonies. This king has continued that, but his absence from the country makes it a lame exercise and one that is very mid-20th century.

Speaking of throwbacks, Army boss Gen Apirat Kongsompong could no longer keep his mouth shut on calls for reform of the monarchy-military alliance. He seemed agitated and must feel that Gen Prayuth is being too “conciliatory.” He’s issued (more) threats against those he calls “nation-haters,” which is also “a term frequently used by pro-establishment figures to describe pro-democracy activists.”

The Army chief, speaking to the cadets at Chulachomklao Royal Military Academy, “slammed unidentified individuals who kept criticizing their own country, saying they are an ‘incurable disease’.”

Apirat “protecting”

His threat and warning was clear: “Those who hate their own country are not recoverable because they keep mocking their own country.” The general “told the cadets that it is preventable by cultivating a patriotic mindset early on from their childhood.”

Activist Arnon Nampa reportedly described Gen Aprirat as “lacking maturity” in “coming up with new discourses to belittle citizens.” He stated: “It’s nonsense. He’s just ridiculing those who are fighting for democracy…. We don’t hate the country, it’s the dictators we detest.”

One of Gen Apirat’s problems is that his own “patriotic mindset” instilled from  childhood by his military family and his military indoctrination means that he is unable to distinguish between monarchy, military and “nation.” For him, military and monarchy are twinned as the nation and he is incapable of imagining anything else.





Further updated: It is still a military regime VIII

28 06 2020

Perhaps the most concerning story we have seen for a while was in the Bangkok Post today.

Wassana Nanuam produced yet another of her regular propaganda pieces for the military. In among all the buffalo manure about what a great job the military has been doing (sans creating Thailand’s largest virus cluster, a mass shooting in Korat, trying to jail whistleblowers, destroying historical monuments, overthrowing elected governments, murdering civilians, etc.), there’s a note that Deputy Defence Minister Gen Chaichan Changmongkol has declared the ongoing need “for the military to assist the government in containing the spread of the novel coronavirus…”. That there’s essentially no local virus transmission seems not to be an issue in deciding that the the military should be in control. The general was meeting with the Internal Security Operations Command (ISOC) and the armed forces.

Clipped from Straits Times

Really worrying, though, is the decision to have military personnel “provide support to schools when they reopen on Wednesday, in ensuring social distancing and disease control measures laid down by the Public Health Ministry are observed.” The idea of soldiers being embedded in schools is just another step in establishing the dominance of the military over all of society.

Update 1: Not on schools, but on the military-backed regime’s repression, we were interested to read that the regime’s thugs continue to stalk political opponents. Such measures are threats. When the threats are considered to have failed, the regime’s next step has tended to be to have the thugs bash the opponent.

Update 2: Continuing the military thugs’ stalking of political opponents, Thai Lawyers for Human Rights reports on Nattathida Meewangpla. The story they tell is remarkably similar to that in Update 1. It seems that the military thugs have not left her alone – that is, unthreatened – since she was finally bailed out of prison in 2018.





Updated: ISOC’s political campaigns

29 02 2020

The regime seems in a pickle regarding “fake news.” Last week, Khaosod reported that the regime’s Anti-Fake News Center at the Ministry of Digital Economy and Society declared one of its stories as “fake news” for citing a Facebook post by the Thai Embassy in London.

Later, red-faced officials babbled a bit and finally blamed “procedural errors,” that meant an incorrect rating of the Khaosod story as false. But there was no online correction when the Center’s false fake news post was removed.

Khaosod notes that “critics [have] raised concerns that the center could be weaponized against legitimate news coverage deemed unfavorable by the government.”

This bit of state incompetence or over-zealous policing came as the regime’s broader efforts to manipulate a political advantage from fake news and paid trolls came to light.

Using documents from a parliamentary budget committee, Thai PBS reported that MP Viroj Lakkana-adisorn of the now-dissolved Future Forward Party identified a “network of social media that have been waging a cyber war against critics of the government and the military by spreading fake news and damaging materials against them.”

It was revealed that:

[a]mong human rights activists often targeted by the [network] … are Angkhana Neelapaijit, a former human rights commissioner, and academics critical of the government’s handling of the situation in the region.

This network “includes websites and social media platforms targeting leaders and supporters of the political party and human rights activists in the violence-hit south.” It is taxpayer funded via the Internal Security Operations Command (ISOC).

ISOC stands accused of hiring dozens of IO operatives:

toiling day and night to sow hatred only to reap 100 baht a day. Pity those soldiers proud of serving their country only to be reduced to the task of trolling, mudslinging, and spreading dark propaganda against their own countrymen….

The trolls are paid – allegedly as little as 100 baht a day, which is a separate labour crime in itself – and are also eligible for a monthly outstanding performance award of 3,000 baht, according to the dossier.

ISOC is claimed to be a “civilian” organization, but this is fake as it is born of and controlled by the military. Gen Prayuth Chan-ocha is its director  and Army chief Gen Apirat Kongsompong is deputy director. Its “mission it to suppress threats to national security, defend the monarchy, promote unity, and protect the public from harm…”.

Apparently this now includes lies, fake news, inciting violence and more. In the case cited by Viroj, it also included insinuations that activists “were either sympathetic or associated with the insurgents responsible for unrest … in the south.” He accused ISOC of seeking to “denigrate these people. To sow seeds of hatred…”.

While Viroj’s revelations were about ISOC actions in the south, there can be little doubt that this kind of “Information Operation” (IOs) has been used against all the political opponents of the military junta and its bastard child regime, both led by Gen Prayuth.

The Bangkok Post reported that Gen. Prayuth’s response was to deny “having a policy to use social media against his critics.” He then accused Future Forward of social media attacks upon himself and his regime/s. He vowed to find those responsible for the attacks on himself and his regime/s. And, for good measure, he turned the attack on Viroj for revelations that were a “witch-hunt was causing rifts within society,” and had damaged ISOC’s reputation.

ISOC’s boss

While it is difficult to “damage” ISOC’s reputation as a bunch of political thugs, but we suspect Gen Prayuth has been taking lessons from heroin smuggler and minister Thammanat Prompao on how to divert attention from facts with lies and by attacking messengers.

Gen Prayuth promised an “investigation” that would demonstrate which “political parties are involved…”. Action would be taken against them. Sounds like Thammanat’s threats to sue all and sundry.

ISOC’s response was predictably nonsensical. Yes, the parliamentary documents were correct and, yes, ISOC does conduct IOs. But, ISOC spokesman Maj Gen Thanathip Sawangsaeng “also dismissed claims the command was given a budget by the government to fund information operations (IOs) in the restive region.”

Yes, “the command did spend some of its budget on IOs — albeit not for waging a ‘cyber war’, but on IOs aimed at countering the spread of fake news.”

Maj Gen Thanathip “said the money cited in the expenditure reports was used to fund public relations activities to correct public misunderstandings about security operations in the southern border areas.” He then went full-on bonkers, claiming it was ISOC that was “ensuring justice and promoting human rights with the ultimate goal of restoring peace in the deep South…”. ISOC and the military it supports is usually associated with murder, torture and enforced disappearances in the south.

The response lacks any logic, but we know that making sense and truth counts for nothing among members of this regime.

Vila Krungkao writing at Thai Enquirer observes:

When IO is funded by the state budget – as documents revealed at the censure debate on Tuesday night showed – it means a serious disabuse of taxpayer’s money and trust. It’s a betrayal of your own citizens. To paint them as enemies of the state for merely having different views, to systematically fire up hostility by pitting one group of Thais against another, is to destroy the last semblance of democracy the government still has left. Simply it’s just one of the worst things they could do to their own people….

Troll army

The government (or the Army, we can’t make a distinction) is throwing fuel into the fire when they resort to black propaganda against their own people and amplifying the conflict with malicious intent. Losing the war on legitimacy, they try to win the virtual war on (fake) approval.

Update: The Bangkok Post has an editorial expressing shock about Viroj’s revelations. It concludes:

Isoc and the army should never be involved in information operations as such campaigns necessitate the kind of political affiliation from which they must remain free. State-sponsored operations that aim to spread hate speech against certain groups of people must not be tolerated.

We are not sure why the Post is shocked or thinks that the military or its evil spawn, ISOC, are apolitical. They should be, but they never have been, and ISOC was created to do damage to opponents of the military and its authoritarianism. And, the hiring of cyber spies and trolls being paid by the state has been announced several times in the period since the 2006 coup.

No one should be surprised that “military officers have been mobilised to post abusive comments using fake social media accounts from 2017-2019 as a means to discredit the government’s opponents.”  That as “many as 1,000 officers stationed in about 40 army units across the country” have been used will not surprise those on the receiving end of Army trolling and threats.





With 3 updates: Corrupt military

15 02 2020

The calls for reform of the Army following the Korat murders are almost deafening. Some are from those who previously more or less supported the 2006 and 2014 military coups. Other critics are ardent yellow shirts.

But, really, wasn’t all of this corruption known before? It was for us, and we have posted on it dozens and dozens of times. The unusual wealth, free digs for senior officers, the use of the lower ranks as slaves by the top brass, “commissions,” scams, nepotism, the impunity on torture and murder, etc. It has all been widely known.

Clipped from Khaosod

Naturally enough, the criticism of the military flows across into the military-backed regime, led by generals. One reported comment was an expression of “hopelessness” at responses to Korat from both Army and regime. Gen Prayuth Chan-ocha was seen as gruff and uncaring in his response while Gen Apirat Kongsompong’s tearful media conference was seen by some as theatrical.The two are seen as part of the same regime and they are both men who have benefited greatly from the corrupt system.

Of course, Apirat’s response is also political as he is angling to take the premiership after Gen Prayuth, to continue the Army’s political dominance.

One of the public responses has been skepticism that “the army chief’s vow to bring transparency to the barracks” is real. As one person commented to reporters, “there is no reason why those in power will make sacrifices…”.

We at PPT are not so skeptical because Gen Apirat obviously views the current criticism as an opening for critics and a threat to the Army’s role in the economy and politics. For the moment, he is unable to shut down critics. And, he needs to respond. He’s said:

There are many projects among army personnel who collaborate with businessmen including real estate and loan sharking businesses. I know that and there will be generals down to colonels who will go jobless this month and in the coming months….

Sacking underlings is one thing. Attacking the toxic culture of a feudal military requires much more that this.

But the political threat to the military is acknowledged by Gen Apirat and he knows he has to be seen to be doing something.

As the Bangkok Post reports. “[p]olitical activists are pushing for an investigation into what they describe as the army’s administrative errors, which they believe was the root cause of the massacre in Nakhon Ratchasima…”.

The Future Forward Party and other opposition parties are demanding investigation and reform.

A group known as The People’s Party for Freedom, Democracy Restoration Group (DRG) called on the “House of Representatives’ committee on military affairs” to conduct “an investigation into the army’s alleged mismanagement” of armories and poor security. More significantly, it also demanded “that businesses run by the army, especially those managing army-owned land for commercial purposes” be investigated.

This is a big deal. Consider, for example, the role of the military in the Eastern Economic Corridor, controlling the airport and port in the project as well as tracts of land that are being converted to commercial use. And, the military controls millions of rai of land.

The group also demanded “that the authorities look into certain members of top brass, who have abused their authority for the benefit of themselves and their families.” Here the group is pointing to the “military housing project … in which the gunman was reportedly cheated by his superior and his superior’s family, [as]… clear evidence of blatant abuse in the army…”

But there’s much, much more. Think of the crony Senate and the nepotism of Gen Preecha Chan-ocha, among many, many others. Consider how it is that Can anyone remember the Rolls Royce corruption case and how nothing happened? Does anyone recall the corruption allegations over the Army’s expensive Rajabhakti Park homage to dead kings?

And then there’s the declared wealth of the military members of the junta’s administration, showing huge and unusual wealth in 2014:

If a general in the armed forces, your assets average about 78 million baht.

If you managed to become an admiral in the navy, you sail away with average assets of about 109 million baht.

The top money secretes to the top police …[where] the average for the top brass in the police is a whopping 258 million baht.

Even declared unusual wealth was never investigated. For confirmation of this, for readers with access, a recent academic article detailed some of this. This is what the paper’s abstract states:

After the military coup of 2014, 143 serving and retired generals of the Royal Armed Thai Forces submitted asset declarations to the National Anti-Corruption Commission on being appointed to the military junta’s National Legislative Assembly. By analysing these declarations, this article demonstrates that a cohort of wealthy generals has emerged, which leads to the article’s central concern: how is it that despite the political reform project of the 1990s, military leaders were able to evade scrutiny and become wealthy? It is argued that behind the lack of scrutiny of the military’s wealth accumulation was a structure of fear that severely undermined the capacity to enforce regulations and which enabled the military to evade the constitutional forms of scrutiny elaborated in the 1997 Constitution. That structure of fear emerged in a context of an elusive political settlement when the apparatuses of the state were occupied by competing regime framers, leading to a re-assertion of military power.

The Korat event has led to an outpouring of accusations and complaints, some of it from soldiers:

Lawyer Atchariya Ruangrattanapong said he was compiling a list of soldiers who had made similar complaints about being caught up in shady loans or real estate deals with superior officers.

“There are plenty of cases at the moment…”.

Atchariya also praised the military for transferring Col. Uthai Fangkratok and Lt. Col. Tee Permpol to “inactive duty” within the Second Army Region, which covers Thailand’s northeastern region where the rampage took place.

“Thank you commander of the Second Army Region for the actions after we exposed the scam,” he said in a Facebook post on the Help Crime Victims Club page.

Despite our comment above, there’s ample reason for skepticism about the “optics” around “doing something.” Critic Titipol Pkadeewanich of Ubon Ratchathani University declares: “It is just a show…”.

For one thing, Gen Apirat is not allowing any independent investigations. He has:

… ordered 2nd Army commander Lt Gen Thanya Kiattisan to conduct a “straightforward” and speedy investigation into the shooting, said a source who asked not to be identified.

Two other working teams have been told to look into soldiers’ welfare provisions and businesses run within the barracks as well as take action against any personnel found to be involved in dishonest deals, the source added.

Maj Gen Rachit Arunrangsi, chief of the Army Welfare Department, and Lt Gen Ayut Siwiset, chief of the Directorate of Personnel, are in charge of the two panels.

While he has “threatened to suspend any business-oriented army projects that are found to have irregularities,” again, it is an internal investigation.

Bolstering skepticism, it has been widely reported that Gen Apirat’s statement that “retired army officers must move out from their official residences…”, has exceptions. No prizes for guessing that Gen  Prayuth, Gen Prawit Wongsuwan and Gen Anupong Paojinda will be first among those keeping their Army-supplied houses. This is because they make a “contribution to society.”

Other “retired generals who now serve as Senators; and retired army generals in the Privy Council” also have taxpayer-funded free accommodation on bases, cloistered from the rest of the population, feeling comfortable among the groveling and hierarchy of the forces, using military slaves and more.

While they suck on the public teat forever, they are being “recognized” for their “contributions” to the military, conducting military coups, strengthening impunity and slaughtering red shirts. And, they have strengthened the military’s systematized corruption.

Who can forget the taxpayer-funded years of free accommodation  for now dead Privy Council President Gen Prem Tinsulanonda in a house that the Army has since “donated” to the king. Where does current Privy Council President Gen Surayud Chulanont live?

It is not just that those at the very top engage in nepotism, corruption and sweet deals, setting a poor example, but it is systematized: those at lower levels engage in corruption that funnels funds up into the higher ranks.

Update 1: Is it only a coincidence that Gen Prayuth has ordered the Fine Arts Department to produce “shows” on “Thailand’s war history to bolster patriotism among Thais.” The aim is to strengthen “unity” and promote “awareness of the roles of key institutions — the nation, religion and monarchy — in helping overcome crises…”. Given that most of the propaganda will be about the military, their “reputation” will also be bolstered.

Update 2: The op-eds criticizing the military are raining down like political confetti. Some of them seem to express surprise at the size of corruption revealed, while neglecting to mention some of the biggest military scams or to ask why it is that the military brass gets away with murder and crime. Other op-eds get right to the point: “The Thai army is a closed system governed by feudal authoritarianism which breeds corruption and abuse of power.” Read them all.

Update 3: Prachatai reports on a rally of:

a hundred people [who] gathered in front of the Bangkok Art and Culture Centre (BACC) yesterday (13 February) for a candlelight vigil to mourn the victims of the Nakhon Ratchasima mass shooting … and to demand that Gen Apirat Kongsompong take responsibility by resigning from his position as army chief.





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.








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