Junta shenanigans I

21 11 2018

A Bangkok Post editorial chastises the military dictatorship for what it does best: limiting freedom of expression. In this case, the Post is concerned about the rigged election:

Three months away from a possible election, the ban on political activities and basic freedoms is truly a mystery. There seems no logical reason to continue the bans. They were imposed by the National Council for Peace and Order (NCPO) in the wake of the May 22, 2014, coup. They were regularised by formal edict early in 2015. The army-controlled junta continues to state it will not lift the bans “yet” and refuses to state an ending date.

The logic the Post searches for is that of military authoritarianism and the junta’s desire to extend it on and on and on. Everyone knows this and the only really interesting question is whether there’s any chance that this rigging can be overcome.

But when the Post states that the “bans apply to everyone,” this is a distortion of the facts (as it later shows). In fact, the restrictions have been selectively – one might say strategically – applied. As far as we can tell, most parties the junta favors have been campaigning in various ways. Most restricted is the Puea Thai Party. Even some of the new anti-junta parties have fond ways to get out among voters.

So the junta intimates all, but some more than others.

The Post knows this. And, it knows that the main pressure the junta is applying is to “restrict what people, newspapers, broadcasters and internet users can say and write.”

This restriction is to allow the military – via ISOC – the bureaucracy (now junta compliant) and pro-junta political groups access to voters particularly in rural areas and places known to be strongly pro-Puea Thai, while restricting that party.

The Post also points out that there’s still “no election date.” That’s also part of the election rigging. No date, hence no lifting of restrictions.

In the editorial, the Post does recognize double standards in a broader political context:

Arguably worse than the bans of free speech, free assembly and free press has been the highly selective prosecution of alleged violators. It is safe to say no supporter of the coup, the government, the junta or the Palang Pracharath Party (PPRP) has faced censure for their activities.

It is certainly true that the “public has the right to hear all political facts and opinions from politicians and the media,” but the junta needs restrictions until it feels it can “win”/steal an election with impunity.





Dull, lawless and Mafia-like

10 11 2018

Readers will recall the dastardly Shinawatra plot to “buy votes” with 1-page paper calendars. This was an existential threat for the junta, despite the fact that it has poured trillions of baht into “buying votes” and completely dominates the political scene.

While junta thugs admitted that these terribly threatening calendars were not illegal, according to a report in Khaosod, “[s]oldiers briefly detained and questioned two Redshirt activists about calendars showing faces of former leaders Thaksin and Yingluck Shinawatra…”.

As we have long said, this is an essentially lawless regime while masquerading as something else.

The report states that “Pornpitak Chantadee and his wife Ratthawee Puiprom were taken to the 22nd Army Circle base in Ubon Ratchathani province after security forces discovered piles of the at their home there province…”.

To appear lawful, the junta has dug deep into archaic laws designed by previous dictatorial regimes and come up with a legal excuse for their Mafia-like actions.

The calendars are now said to infringe the “Publishing Act,” as the calendars do not have “clear information about publishers.”

The thug-authorities took a week to come up with this law.

The two people involved, who seem not to be the publishers of the exceedingly dangerous calendar, were “brought to the base and interrogated about the calendars before they were later released.” As usual in the junta’s Thailand, it seems the pair were essentially abducted and held incommunicado, unable to contact lawyers.

Their “crime” seems to be that they are red shirts.

The military leader of this operation to snuff out the incendiary calendars then showed his loyalty by pointing a crooked political finger at the real “culprits”:

Base commander Lt. Gen. Ath Singhatsathit could not be reached for comment. Adithep said the two Redshirts maintained they didn’t know who made the calendars.

“I think they knew,” the police colonel said. “Our intel also knows.”

He declined to identify the people responsible. When a reporter asked whether it was Pheu Thai Party, founded by Thaksin and later led by Yingluck, Adithep replied, “Everyone knows the answer to that. There is no mystery.”

The regime is staggeringly dull and blunt, as well as lawless and Mafia-like.





The impossibility of a free and fair election

5 11 2018

PPT has felt a little lonely over the past few years as we have repeatedly pointed out that the military junta’s “election” cannot be free or fair.

So it is that we are gratified to read in The Nation an account of a seminar that comes to the same conclusion.

“Towards a Free and Fair Election: Situation in Thai Society” at Thammasat University discussed the path to the next general election. As PPT usually has it, this is the arranged, crafted, fixed and rigged election being held by the junta, hoping it can cement its political rule. “Hoping” is likely to involve any measure necessary to steal the election.

The “speakers at a panel discussion … held the opinion that a free and fair national vote without the influence of the ruling junta seems unlikely.” As well as refusing to (so far) “lift the ban on political activities,” the junta is accused of having “extend[ed]… its control over the Election Commission (EC),” resulting in “an ‘unfair’ system.”

Sunai Phasuk of Human Rights Watch stated:

To be free and fair, there must be equal access to national media, resources, a fair election-supervising authority, as well as political freedom of electorate, candidates, and political parties…. But as freedom of expression, association and assembly – the main characteristics of a democratic society – remain blocked, Thailand should have other countries coming to observe the electoral process….

The junta has already rejected the idea of observers as amounting to an assault on the national “face.” Of course, the junta also wants not witnesses to its electoral shenanigans.

Puea Thai’s Chaturon Chaisaeng also “said he did not think the upcoming election would be a free and fair one.” He observed: “The bans on political campaigning when the election is drawing near point to a lack of democracy and fairness.”

Of course, those bans do not apply to the junta and its associated anti-democrat parties.

Gothom Arya, a former election commissioner, “also called on the EC to help prevent people in power from taking advantage over other political players in the run-up to the next election.” He accused the junta of interfering with the EC.

For PPT, it is not just a matter of the junta stopping its control of the EC, telling it what to do. The problem is that the EC is not independent and its members will “naturally” work for their bosses.

Will the junta’s election be fair? No. Will it be free? No. Could another party do well enough to “win”? Perhaps, but it seems unlikely. But even if an anti-junta party triumphs, it will be forever hamstrung and tightly restricted by the junta’s (non) independent agencies, rules, laws and a myriad of controls put in place by the military junta.





Expect what you’ve got

1 11 2018

The former Thaksinista who has become the leading light and ideas man for the dullards leading the military junta, Somkid Jatusripitak, has told the Forbes Global CEO Conference in Bangkok to expect The Dictator prime minister to be the (s)elected prime minister Dictator following the junta’s rigged election.

The Deputy Prime Minister, known as leader of the Sam Mitr/Three Friends political group that has been organizing the election for The Dictator and the junta, told business people: “Don’t worry [about inconsistency], I have a hunch that the face of the next prime minister will look similar to the current one…”.

Despite its own surveying showing that the pro-junta parties may not win even with the extensive rigging of the rules of the election and the election itself, Somkid seems to think the deal has been done and that Gen Prayuth Chan-ocha will prevail.

More rigging? The dissolution of the Puea Thai Party? Ballot box stuffing? He seems to be saying that the junta is going to do everything necessary to “win” the rigged election.





Updated: Rap against the military dictatorship

27 10 2018

There is a series of three articles at The Nation that report the military dictatorship’s predictable response to a group of 10 rappers and their popular video that raps the junta.

The video, at YouTube in two versions, has had close to 6 million views. There have been millions more on Facebook.

In the first report, Deputy national police chief Srivara Ransibrahmanakul declaring that the song may be breaking the law and that “officers from the Technology Crime Suppression Division of the Royal Thai Police will check out the lyrics to see if they violate any junta orders.”

Yes, the junta’s laws, not real laws, but the politicized repression and suppression shrouded in law. Confirming this, the political policeman added that the “rappers would also be summoned to testify whether they had intended to cause any chaos or violate any National Council for Peace and Order (NCPO) orders…”.

The junta’s cop warned: “… musicians not to do anything that risks violating the country’s laws, as it wouldn’t be good for them or their families if the songs were deemed to violate the law…”.

Threatening opponents and their families is standard practice under the military dictatorship.

A few hours later, a second report states that the political police were to use the Computer Crimes Act against the rappers. It accuses the rap of breaking the political law that “prohibits computer information inconsistent with the truth, undermines national security or causes public panic…”. In this, “truth” is defined by the junta.

As might be expected, in one of his first public statements, new government spokesman, the anti-democrat Buddhipongse Punnakanta, claimed that the junta’s opponents were “behind” the video. Of course, anti-democrats like him and his bosses cannot conceive of any person being capable of independent thought.

The third report summarizes events and the song that denounces the junta. It notes that the rap was released on an important date: 14 October, being the 45th anniversary of the October 1973 uprising against a military dictatorship. The YouTube video also depicts 6 October 1976 royalist violence with an image of a student hanging from a tree being beaten, as in 1976.

Reflecting on the junta’s “truth,” one of the rappers stated: “As artists we want to reflect the truth of the society we are living in under dictatorship. Thailand seems to be caught in a loop of dictatorship. We want to voice what the majority cannot say directly.”

The video is dedicated to the victims of the state’s crimes.

Update: With the military dictatorship in full panic mode over the popularity of this rap, Puea Thai’s Chaturon Chaisaeng is reported to have warned the junta against arresting the performers of the anti-junta song. He said said that “if the Rap Against Dictatorship (RAD) group was arrested, it would backfire against the government to the point where the government could fall.”





Campaigning, monarchy and the puppet Election Commission

26 10 2018

Perhaps the news of the day is the Deputy Dictator’s seeming confirmation that he and The Dictator are indeed planning for a 24 February election.

The junta has responded to a reported clash of that (maybe) “election” date with university entrance examinations. In essence, they have told the Ministry of Education and the universities to sort out the clash. While this isn’t an official announcement, it is a kind of confirmation.

The junta remains secretive as it wants to keep all the “election” cards in its hands.

Which leads to Suthep Thaugsuban and his anti-democratic party, Action Coalition for Thailand. As we posted yesterday, ACT is actively campaigning. This seems to be in violation of the military dictatorship’s “rules” on political activity that is applied to most political parties but not the ministers-party-executives-cabinet-members-junta-minions of the Palang Pracharath Party.

Following media discussion of the double standards involved, the puppet Election Commission has mumbled something about it watching all parties. Double standards-driven members of the junta were lukewarm about ACT’s electoral campaigning but were hardly condemnatory and certainly didn’t demand the EC “investigate,” in the manner it did with another anti-junta party.

Apparently, no person has lodged a complaint with the EC about ACT. The EC’s “investigation” of Puea Thai continues.

Meanwhile, back on the campaign trail, Suthep and ACT leader, the minor prince, Chatumongkol Sonakul and 50 other party members, most from the People’s Democratic Reform Committee, went to a dead king monument – Rama I – “where they held a ceremony to pay homage to the late King and took an oath to be a party loyal to the monarchy.”

What was that about the monarchy being above politics?

ACT could not possibly swear loyalty to democracy because they are determined anti-democrats.





One up, one down

25 10 2018

With the alliance of the military junta and the anti-democrats who formed the People’s Democratic Reform Committee being harnessed for “elections,” it seems like the PDRC’s pro-junta party, the Action Coalition for Thailand Party is getting some free kicks. It probably needs this as it has to fight not just Puea Thai but perhaps the Democrat Party as well. So having the junta give ACT a free kick is presumably meant to help in forming the pro-junta coalition.

ACT has “announced its plan to carry out an activity described as ‘walks to pay respect to the land’, which begins today in Bangkok.” That means the ACT is campaigning, a bit like the ministers-Palang Pracharath-party-executives-cabinet-members-junta-minions.

Thaweesak Na Takuathung, secretary-general of the Democrat Party, claims “the walks have already been approved by the [puppet] Election Commission…”.

ACT’s campaigning involves activities Prajadhipok Road and meeting people in Worachak and nearby areas. Tomorrow the electoral campaigning moves to the Sukhumvit Road area. This is to be followed by campaigning in Yaowarat, Silom, Sathorn, Bang Rak and Pratunam. Once Bangkok is covered, ACT says it is off to campaign in the provinces.

All said to be approved by the EC which bans anti-junta parties from doing pretty much anything.

Worse, though, Puea Thai seems increasingly worried that it faces dissolution. The Bangkok Post reports that “the chances of the party being dissolved will become much greater if eight core members accused of defying the regime’s political gathering ban are indicted next month.”

So while ACT, Palang Pracharath and other devil parties can campaign their socks off, Puea Thai faces charges and possible dissolution.

How are those free and fair elections coming along? They aren’t. The junta has rigged them. But it is so fearful that Puea Thai may still “win” that it is contemplating getting rid of the party.

The junta will only do this once the time for candidates registering with a party has passed, thereby disqualifying all of those registered with Puea Thai.

This is the junta’s rigging at work. This is the double standards in operation.