Election crisis

17 04 2019

PPT recently posted on the resurrection of the notion of a “national government.” The interesting thing about this hackneyed nonsense was the admission that Thailand faced a political crisis.

An opinion piece at The Nation is disparaging:

Moves to engineer a pseudo-deadlock to justify ‘neutral’ rule ignore the will of voters….

A so-called national unity government has always been a favourite gambit for Thai politicians who lose elections. By utilising this benign-sounding concept they can sweep aside the voters’ verdict and prevent opposing factions from taking power.

It points out that:

It was sad though predictable, then, to see the Democrats’ Thepthai Senapong float the idea again, after his party suffered a huge setback in the March 24 election. Exploiting the Election Commission (EC)’s apparent inability to produce a clear result, Thepthai has sought to convince the public that a national unity Cabinet is badly needed.

His idea immediately fails the test of credibility with his proposal that former prime minister and Democrat [Party] patriarch Chuan Leekpai lead the “unity” government. No neutral observer believes that Chuan is non-partisan.

While the opinion writer still has some faith that an election result will emerge that is not concocted by the junta, it is stated:

The election was far from perfect, but the elite, military and notably the junta must accept the outcome of a situation that they themselves created. The junta should now allow its opponents the chance to form a government to run the country, as mandated by the people.

Using underhanded legal tactics and other dirty tricks to retain power is not acceptable. The people delivered their verdict via an election by whose rules all parties agreed to abide. That process and its outcome are the only effective solution to the deep and lasting political problems in this country.

That would be a breakthrough as the elite, military and anti-democrats have never accepted election results that don’t give power to them.

But, as veteran Puea Thai Party politician Phumtham Wechayachai points out,  the junta’s “Constitution and the legal framework had indeed been designed to cause complications and difficulties that would draw the nation down the path to undemocratic rule.” He added: “The political situation is on a course that shows we are going toward a dead end…”.

The dead end is manufactured crisis and continuing authoritarianism.





On stealing the election V

6 04 2019

Does the military junta want to crush Future Forward? You bet it does. And, even if it can’t do that, it wants to fan hatred and yellow-shirted partisanship so that even if the party managed to get into government with a coalition of Puea Thai and others, the movement to oust it would already be underway.

So it is that when Thanathorn Juangroongruangkit showed up to at a police station, as ordered, he found himself facing two additional charges filed by the junta itself: He “was charged with sedition (Section 116 of the Criminal Code), helping a suspect escape (Section 189) and assembling of more than 10 causing unrest (Section 215). If convicted, he is liable to jail terms of up to seven years, two years and six months respectively.”

If that wasn’t clear enough, “Deputy national police chief Pol Gen Srivara Ransibrahmanakul came to the Pathumwan police station to interrogate the 40-year-old politician himself…”.

And just to add a bit more emphasis to the junta’s seemingly desperate move, because “the sedition charge … involves national security, Mr Thanathorn will be tried in the military court…”.

The junta’s other path to power is via the Election Commission and the disqualification of candidates and a party list allocation that moves seats to junta supporting parties. On disqualification, the EC now says that at least 66 winning candidates face complaints that could lead to disqualification. It seems that the EC has received more than 300 complaints in total.

It seems pretty clear that the junta is successfully stealing its own “election.” Should we have expected anything else? Of course not. This is a military junta that rigged the election. When that didn’t work out, its decided it is easy enough to change the results. It does this by stirring hatred and because it has the guns.





Using “loyalty” against Future Forward

2 04 2019

Readers will no doubt recall that, prior to the junta’s “election,” there were a blizzard of complaints to the Election Commission regarding the Future Forward Party. The allegations included claims that Future Forward was insufficiently royal or even anti-monarchy.

At the time, we speculated that the junta’s polling, usually done by military agencies like ISOC, was showing that Future Forward was doing better than anyone had thought possible.

Now that it has done that well and has aligned in a possible coalition with pro-Thaksin Shinawatra parties, the dirty tricks deepen. The yellow social media campaign against Future Forward has been especially nasty and pervasive. It is almost as if the yellow lot hate Future Forward more than Puea Thai.

Thai PBS reports that Future Forward party secretary-general Piyabutr Saengkanokkul has been forced to defend “himself against allegations that he made comments hostile to the Thai Monarchy.”

Piyabutr said that the allegation stemmed from some “doctored” parts of an academic lecture on “Politics, Justice and Monarchy” back in February 2013.

He declares that the “allegedly hostile” were concocted and that “he had not mentioned the Thai Monarchy…”. Rather, he had:

talked about the principle of having a Constitution by explaining that, in accordance with the international democratic system, the Monarchy must be above and should not get involved in politics and that the position of the Monarch, which is inherited, must be in line with the democratic system.

Piyabutr made the obvious point “that his accusers … intended to engender hatred towards him.” Of course they do. That’s how the monarchy is used to oppose democrats and democracy.

Interestingly and bravely, Piyabutr explained how lese majeste has been used:

… over the past 14 years, charges of lèse majesté have been abused to cause social disunity and mutual hatred between people, providing excuses for the military to seize power.

He then made a statement that will confuse his opponents:

In a democracy, we can prefer different political parties or politicians.  We can compete politically within the rules without using the Monarchy to attack one another or cause hatred….

The confusion for the yellow opponents will be that they do not understand or want a democracy.

Piyabutr was responding because another of those manufactured “civil society” groups has complained to the Election Commission. Calling itself the “Political Civic Group,” the concocted group has petitioned the EC to dissolve Future Forward Party “for trying to subvert the monarchy.”

The self-declared “president” of the “group,” Surawat Sangkharoek, “submitted pictures and video clips of the party’s rallies to the EC as evidence to back up the group’s claim…”.

Surawat madly claimed that the “EC should acknowledge the FFP as a threat to national security and the monarchy…. The party is a den of anti-monarchists, whose members have used anti-monarchy rhetoric to instigate hatred against the revered institution…”.

We have an uncomfortable feeling that the EC might act against Future Forward in order to steal the election for Palang Pracharath, The Dictator and the junta.





Eulogies

29 03 2019

The Bangkok Post seems to be lamenting the “loss” of Abhisit Vejjajiva over several articles in recent days. This probably has something to do with the long relationship between the newspaper and the Democrat Party.

Over the years that Abhisit has been its leader, the newspaper has repeatedly published loving stories and interviews with Abhisit. Or it may be that the board of directors and major shareholders (they overlap) are Abhisit’s kind of people – royalist plutocrats.

The fact that Abhisit was never able to win an election, that he was responsible for the deaths of scores of civilians and that his toxic reputation “led” the Democrat Party to arguably its biggest ever loss at the polls doesn’t seem to have come between the affectionate newspaper and its favorite anti-democrat.

Meanwhile, the Puea Thai Party has delivered a eulogy for the Election Commission and the junta’s “election,” with secretary-general Phumtham Wechayachai saying it was “one of the dirtiest in Thai politics.”

Comparing it with the 1957 election that allowed Gen Sarit Thanarat to come to dictatorial power, Phumtham “accused the EC of holding an ‘disorganised’ election with confusing results which called into question the [EC’s] credibility and efficiency…”. He  accused the junta of intimidation and pointed to rampant vote buying.

He could be right, but where does this leave the country? Prachatai has one useful and somewhat frightening response to that question.

PPT thinks that the next pressure point is when the EC begins to allocate red cards. If the rumors about this are correct, Puea Thai may see 25-30 of its candidates disqualified and 10-15 for Future Forward. If that happens, the constituency result could be overturned with knock-on changes to party lists, delivering government to the junta’s Palang Pracharath.

Such cheating would not be at all surprising from this regime.





Junta responses

27 03 2019

As expected, the junta and its puppet party, Palang Pracharath, have responded to Puea Thai’s announcement that it believes it can form a coalition government.

Deputy Dictator Gen Prawit Wongsuwan declared the whole thing a sham: “They can talk, but the EC (Election Commission) has not officially announced the election results. Wait until after May 9…”. He revealed that “[o]ur plan is that the government will be formed after the royal ceremonies [coronation]…”.

Deputy Prime Minister Wissanu Krea-ngam seemed to reveal a bit more when he said:

The outstanding five percent of election results (from the EC) is a lot of votes and some prospective MPs could be disqualified because there have been more than 100 electoral complaints which need to be investigated….

Wissanu noted that disqualifications over electoral violations would change seat counts.

That sounds like the junta plan to use the EC to hone Palang Pracharath’s coalition. It will all be opaque.

And he added that “even with a signed agreement, things can change on a daily basis…”, suggesting that Palang Pracharath is likely to enter a bidding war for small parties.

Then there was the Palang Pracharath dummy spit. Its spokesman said that the announcement was illegitimate as it was his party that should be doing the announcing, claiming electoral legitimacy. Then a remarkable claim. He declared that Puea Thai’s Sudarat Keyuraphan was not an MP and questioned her being proposed as premier.

Have these dolts forgotten that they are nominating Gen Prayuth Chan-ocha? He’s not an MP either.





Check, but not yet checkmate

27 03 2019

Khaosod reports that “Pheu Thai Party said Wednesday it would form a coalition with six other parties to become the next government of Thailand.” It claimed that, despite the voting figures not being official, it could claim “at least” 255 seats in the 500 seat House of Representatives.

The coalition with Puea Thai were Future Forward, Seri Ruam Thai, Prachachart, Puea Chart, New Economics and Thai People Power parties. The leaders of those parties were at the press conference where the coalition was announced.

Future Forward’s Thanathorn Juangroongruangkit “endorsed Pheu Thai’s legitimacy in forming a government, said he and the others would work to end the power of the military government, also known as the National Council of Peace and Order or NCPO.” He added that Puea Thai’s Sudarat Keyuraphan was the “most suitable prime minister for Thailand…”. And, he poked The Dictator: “Prayuth, sacrifice yourself. Resign now,” he said. “The media, don’t you guys agree?” He was applauded.

We can now await the junta’s and Palang Pracharath’s response.





Race to coalition

26 03 2019

While the “election” results are still the subject of complaint, both Puea Thai and Palang Pracharath are racing, neck-and-neck, to announce a coalition. Remember that this is in a context where the final result has yet to be confirmed.

The Bangkok Post reports that “[a]t least six pro-democracy parties led by Pheu Thai will hold a briefing on their intention to form the government even without Bhumjaithai or the Democrats on Wednesday morning.”

It is reported that Puea Thai (unofficially 137 seats) will come together with Future Forward (87), Seri Ruamthai (11), Prachachat (6), New Economics (6) and Puea Chat (5). Together, that’s 252 seats, enough to form the government, which is formed in the House of Representatives.

Meanwhile, the junta’s Palang Pracharath is reported to be putting a coalition together to take government. To do this means that it must congeal with the Democrat Party, Bhum Jai Thai and one of the parties listed as possible Puea Thai coalition members.

Puea Thai promises an announcement at 10 am Bangkok time.

This is not what the junta expected. Perhaps it should have, given that its design on the electoral system intended coalition governments.

If Puea Thai announces a coalition that allows it to form government, the junta has several choices: (i) accept that but try to control through the constitution, judiciary and senate; (ii) lure away one of the Puea Thai partners or cobra politicians; (iii) use its lackeys in the judiciary and Election Commission to alter the “election” outcome by disqualifications and dissolutions; or (iv) another coup.

Interesting times.