Further updated: Behind the “plot”

5 12 2017

The Nation reported about a day ago that The Dictator reckons the “discovery” of one set of rusted weapons and another set of brand spanking new ones were of a batch that “belonged to Ko Tee or Wuthipong Kachathamakul.

General Prayuth Chan-ocha also predicted that there might be more weapons to be found, and we guess he should know.

In our earlier post we suggested that this sudden “discovery” might have been a sign of political desperation, another excuse to delay elections or testing the gullibility of the media and population. We now think these might all be reasons for the discovery but we also think we missed the most likely explanation.

But some more contextualization from a report in the Bangkok Post.

It is stated that “[w]arrants for the arrest of five people, including former PM’s Office minister Jakrapob Penkair and former 3rd Army deputy chief Maj Gen Manas Paolik, for their alleged links with the recent discovery of a huge [sic.] arms cache in Chachoengsao will be sought…”. The other “suspects” are Watana Sapwichien, Somjet Kongwatana and Chaiwat Polpho (Peak Kalamae).

In other words, it is being cast as a red shirt plot.

Oddly, “Watana was said to have reported to the Army Air Defence Operation Centre 1 in Pathum Thani on Friday. He has been taken into custody at the 11th Military Circle.”

Even odder still, it seems that Watana “was earlier arrested in 2014 for allegedly conspiring to possess firearms and explosives.” Read this and wonder if this isn’t the usual stitch-up:

His arrest was announced in the joint police and army press briefing on Aug 13, 2014.

According to the briefing at that time, Mr Watana’s arrest was made following the apprehension of Mr Somjet, who was accused of supplying weapons, including M79 grenade launchers and RGD 5 grenades, to people during demonstrations by the now-defunct People’s Democratic Reform Committee (PDRC).

Mr Somjet allegedly told officers at that time he had delivered the weapons to Mr Watana, who would distribute them further. Mr Watana then allegedly confessed to the charges.

Mr Watana allegedly told police during that time he received weapons from Mr Somjet and handed them to Mr Chaiwat, who would carry out attacks in various places.

Mr Watana allegedly also told police that he had dumped some of the weapons in Ayutthaya’s Lat Bua Luang district for fear of being arrested.

The strange bit is that, if they were arrested in 2014 on such serious charges, why are they wandering around now? Are they working for ISOC? Are they connected to Ko Tee or were they the men providing “evidence” against him in the earlier weapons “find.”

But here’s what we think is really going on. The junta may get away with deception, tarnish red shirts further and delay their “election,” but we noted that one report stated Jakrapob was thought to be “hiding” in Cambodia.

Then we recalled our post on trouble for dissidents. We think the “sudden” discovery is possibly one element in an effort to extradite exiled red shirts from Cambodia.

Update 1: The junta has provided a kind of “reply” to some of our comments above, as reported in the Bangkok Post. It may be a coincidence that as this report emerged, so did the sentencing of the man who admits to bombing the Army hospital, stating that he “despised the military-led government.” In addition to “a total of 27 years in prison [reduced] because he cooperated,” he was “fined 500 baht, reduced from 1,000 baht, for carrying the bomb in a public place.”

That sentence is revealing when it is considered the junta has launched a “probe … to determine why one [Watana] of the five men allegedly linked to a huge [sic.] arms cache … was released early from prison after a weapons conviction in 2014…”. The report continues:

Watana was earlier arrested on Aug 13, 2014 for allegedly conspiring to possess firearms and explosives. The suspect allegedly told officers at that time he handed weapons to another man, who would carry out attacks during demonstrations by the now-defunct People’s Democratic Reform Committee (PDRC).

A police source said Watana had links to the red-shirt United Front for Democracy against Dictatorship (UDD).

Doubts have been raised as to the effectiveness of the punishment in relation to the 2014 offence as he is now suspected of having committed a similar transgression just three years later.

They don’t know? Seriously? That beggars belief. We also loved the picture of the “discovery” of weapons in 2014, which we reproduce below from the Bangkok Post.

This is a “diver”? Seriously? Interestingly, these weapons – not rusty – were also under water.We can only marvel at the capacity of the police and the junta for these marvelous “discoveries.”

Update 2: The Nation reports that not only has Jakrapob angrily denied the charges but more information on Watana. The latter “was summoned and detained for questioning on December 1 and released on Thursday…”. He was said to have “provided authorities with useful information…”. It is added that Watana “was convicted of crimes in 2014 related to military weapons and sentenced to 40 months in jail. Because of his confession, his jail term was commuted to 20 months and he had just completed the term.” This is a highly dubious story.





Updated: Another “plot”

1 12 2017

Whenever the military dictatorship feels a bit of political pressure it comes up with some king of red shirt “plot.”

Hey presto, there’s another one. Suddenly, the cops have found “war weapons” under water in a rice field looking a bit like a swamp.

Clipped from Bangkok Post

The “weapons,” already “investigated,” were to be used by “political elements” who “were prepared to bring the weapons to Bangkok to incite strife…”. The police added that “several firearms and rounds of ammunition came from the same sources and matched the evidence collected by police from scenes of unrest and from people arrested during the 2014 political turmoil…”. They even claim to know the person responsible.

Wonderful investigations and forensics. After all, the rusty junk had been under water for months. Exactly which “political elements” store their weapons in such a manner?

Clipped from the Bangkok Post

Will anybody believe this? Is it a sign of political desperation? Or just another part of an excuse to delay elections because of “unrest”? Or just testing the gullibility of the media and population?

Update: Remarkably, given that he was forcibly disappeared and probably murdered, Deputy Dictator General Prawit Wongsuwan has linked the underwater weapons to Wuthipong Kachathamakul or Ko Tee. Equally remarkably, Prawit “told reporters today that the armaments appeared to be from the same cache of weapons soldiers found in a residence linked to Ko Tee in March.” Those weapons were linked to an alleged assassination plot against The Dictator.





Trouble for dissidents

30 11 2017

The military dictatorship has been particularly challenged by having to deal with dissidents who decamped following the 2014 military coup for Laos and Cambodia.

We know that the group located in Laos has been troubling for the junta and it has repeatedly sought to convince the Lao government to send Thai dissidents back. Frustrated, the junta is the likely culprit in the still “unexplained” enforced disappearance/murder of red shirt Ko Tee in Vientiane.

However, it is Cambodia that has been a safe haven for many red shirts and has challenged the junta, who have been suspicious of Hun Sen as pro-Thaksin Shinawatra.

Now it seems that the junta may have an opening. The Phnom Penh Post reports that

Prime Minister Hun Sen on Sunday raised the spectre of Thailand deporting members of the now-dissolved opposition Cambodia National Rescue Party who have fled the country….

Hun Sen declared that “Thai Prime Minister Prayut Chan-o-cha should … ‘chase’ those people ‘staying in Bangkok’, in an apparent reference to ex-CNRP members who have fled.”

As Hun Sen destroys his opponents he will be keen to see those in Thailand deported. He is likely to be willing to make deals with Thailand’s military junta.





Fake news/junta lies

24 11 2017

Our last post was about The Dictator, General Prayuth Chan-ocha using Article 44 “to amend the internal security legislation and set up a security ‘super board’ to help the Internal Security Operations Command (Isoc) deal with domestic threats.”

As we noted, ISOC has already been expanded, strengthened and made central to all the repression under the military dictatorship.

Readers might also remember a post on The Dictator ranting about media that “distort facts” and disseminate “fake reports and hate speech.”

Linking the two is easy because it is the junta itself that “distorts facts,” and that’s being polite. In fact, it simply concocts “news” and lies regularly.

The latest is that claim that the expansion of ISOC’s control is not “politically motivated.” By that, its seems that ISOC spokesman Major General Peerawach Saengthong means “the move has nothing to do with the upcoming general election slated for next November…”. No, not political at all, just a “part of a long-term security management plan to better handle domestic threats.”

That is, by the junta’s own definitions, anything considered anti-monarchy, anything considered anti-junta and anything associated with the Shinawatra clan, the Puea Thai Party and red shirts.

Notice that Major General Peerawach didn’t say anything about local elections, but it is no accident that these changes are being put in place when there is talk of local elections.

In fact, this move is just one more act in the military’s establishment of its dominance over politics into the future. ISOC has always interfered in politics; in fact, that’s its role. So the ISOC and junta claims of the move being apolitical is buffalo manure.





Every day will be Dictator Day

12 11 2017

The Nation reports on The Dictator’s “weekly televised monologue on Friday,” and his claims about his six questions, described in the Bangkok Post as one question fro General Prayuth Chan-ocha: “Is everybody all right with my staying around as leader indefinitely to keep politicians in their proper place, by which I mean under our boots?”

Political activity is banned but The Dictator “has encouraged people to take part in the political process…”. How? Well, by “answering the six questions he has posed concerning the election and future politics.”

Prayuth’s usual refrain was repeated. Despite having campaigned in the 2011 election, despite having gleefully ordered his men to gun down red shirt protesters in 2010 while supporting anti-democrat protesters in 2013 and 2014, despite running a coup in 2014, and despite having been unelected premier since 2014, The Dictator declares “he had no political motivation and he had no intention to intensify the political conflict.”

The Dictator seems to believe that Thais are idiots and believe this bucket of buffalo feces.

He went further into the land of the unhinged dictatorship claiming he “only wanted to create some understanding and help lay out some principles for the people…”.

Madder still, he concocted this lie:

What does that mean, when you say you want people to have a voice and be able to make a change in politics? So, all good and patriotic politicians should agree [with the idea of having people answer the six questions]….

You can have a voice, as long as it says “Yes, sir!”You can only agree with him. If not, then you are bad and unpatriotic.

He went on to warn “politicians” (again). He means the ones who do not polish his posterior. He demanded they “should behave and provide good governance so as to give hope to the country and the people.”

The Dictator gave a picture of his political future saying that “highly anticipated reform” (he means his fixing of the political rules) can only be “realised if political parties integrated their policies with the national strategy that was being written by the regime.”

Any party that wants to win the junta’s “election,” whenever they decide to allow one, has to be allied to the junta. They should make The Dictator their premier.

Every day will be Dictator Day.





Anti-democrats get off lightly (again and again)

1 11 2017

Red shirt activists have spent months and years in prison for their alleged “crimes.” Seldom do yellow shirts of the PAD, People’s Democratic Reform Committee and similar anti-democrat activists get similar treatment from the establishment’s courts. After all, these groups were on the “winning” side and many were closely allied and aligned with the royalist military.

Confirming this, the Bangkok Post reports that the Criminal Court convicted medical doctor Rawee Maschamadol, one of four leaders of the so-called People’s Army and Energy Reform Network (PAERN).

But the court only sentenced him to eight months in jail and fined him 6,000 baht for “colluding in illegal assembly and causing public chaos.” More than this, it suspended the sentence for two years. No jail time for anti-democrats.

The charges related to the occupation of a PTT Plc building during the mass anti-democrat street rallies in 2014, led by the (anti)Democrat Party’s Suthep Thaugsuban and related fascists of the yellow-shirted royalist movement.

(Recall that, in February, the “Civil Court ordered the four co-leaders of the PAERN to pay almost 10 million baht to PTT Plc for damages caused by its occupation of the company’s property during the protests in 2014.  The four are Dr Rawee, Thotsaphon Kaewthima, Itthabun Onwongsa and Somkiat Pongpaiboon.”)

There were reportedly 105 co-defendants in the current case, and just two others were given jail terms of a paltry “two months and 20 days, without suspension, for offences committed during the occupation.” Another “defendant was acquitted. The remainder, including the three other co-leaders, were given two-month jail terms, suspended for two years, and fined 2,000 baht each.”

We assume their wrists are smarting from the taps the court has “inflicted” in making politicized rulings.





Updated: Absurd defenses of feudalism

16 10 2017

Update: A reader rightly points out that our headline is potentially misleading. Let us be clear: the absurdities are all on the side of those implementing, using and defending the feudal lese majeste law.

PPT has had several posts regarding the efforts of a couple of retired generals, public prosecutors and a military court’s decision to go ahead with investigations of a lese majeste charge 85 year-old Sulak Sivaraksa. He dared to raise doubts about a purported historical event from centuries ago. (In fact, the prosecutors have until 7 December to activate the charge or let it lie.)

We have been interested to observe how parts of the media seem to far braver in pointing out the absurdities of this case than when it is workers, farmers, labor activists or average people who are charged in equally absurd cases. If these people are red shirts or fraudsters, there’s often barely a peep from the media.

Conservative, middle class, aged, royalist and intellectual Sulak, who has also been anti-Thaksin Shinawatra, is far easier to defend than those in more uncomfortable political and social locations for some reporters and writers.

His case also generates more international attention, as his cases have always done since 1984, when international academics supported him (and an alleged communist) under the administration led by General Prem Tinsulanonda.

Just in the Bangkok Post, there have been three op-eds and one editorial that each point out the ridiculousness of the case against Sulak. These include:

Yellow-hued, anti-Thaksinist Veera Prateepchaikul writes that the latest case is “unique in its absurdity.” He says he sees two troubling issues with the case:

First, … why did it take police three years to decide to send this case to the prosecutor — a military prosecutor in this case because we are now under the junta regime?

The second issue concerns the police interpretation of the lese majeste law or Section 112 of the Criminal Code in a way which makes the law look like it has an infinitely long hand which can delve into an event which took place some 400 years ago. The land on which the elephant duel was said to take place was not even called Siam.

Kong Rithdee, who has been pretty good and brave in calling out the lese majeste fascists, points out the absurdities of the case:

Another day, another lese majeste story. This time the interpretation of the contentious law goes back much further, to 1593 to be precise, to a dusty battlefield somewhere before “Thailand” existed.

The use of a military court to possibly sentence an 85 year-old to 15 years in jail is also mentioned as absurd.

Kong makes some connections that warrant more attention:

The scope of interpretation of Section 112 has been one of the central bristles of modern Thai politics, and while there have been cases that raised your eyebrows and body temperature (that of Jatupat “Pai Dao Din” Boonpattararaksa, to name just one), this wild reading of the law to cover an event from 400 years ago borders on dark comedy.

He asks if the absurdity of Sulak’s case tells Thais that they must not discuss or adopt a critical perspective on history. It seems Thais are expected to accept schoolbook nationalism and the jingoism of royalist film-makers.

Ploenpote Atthakor takes up the blind royalist nationalism. She observes that, in Thailand, there is no “dialogue” about historical events, “especially the parts concerning historical heroes or heroines, or even villains, hardly exists. Anyone who dares to question particular historical episodes may face trouble.” She notes how the history that got Sulak into trouble has changed several times and is disputed by historians.

Ultra-nationalism blinds Thais. The red hot pokers have been wielded by feudal-minded royalists and military dictators.

The Bangkok Post editorial extends the discussion to law and injustice:

In what appears to be an attempt at law enforcement, authorities in the past two weeks have taken legal action against two prominent public figures by resorting to what appears to be a misuse of both the law and its principles.

One is Sulak’s case and the other person is Thaksin, one of his lese majeste cases and the retroactive application of a law. The Post states that the cases “not only put the Thai justice system under the global spotlight but will also jeopardise law enforcement in the country.”

The editorial questions the police’s interpretation of the law, saying it:

is worrisome and has prompted questions about how far such a law should be applied. If Mr Sulak is indicted, it would create a chilling climate of fear and hurt the credibility of Thailand’s justice system….

In proceeding legal actions against the two men, the authorities must realise any abuses of the law can set bad precedents with a far-reaching impact on Thai citizens.

All these perspectives are right. We applaud these journalists for daring to defend Sulak and, in one instance, even Thaksin. At the same time, it would be brave and right to point out the absurdities that face many others charged with lese majeste. The military dictatorship has gotten away with being absurd for too long.