Military media

11 10 2021

A chilling report at Prachatai suggests that in October 2021 the military’s media is revamping itself for ultra-royalist, extreme rightist agitation, much as it did in 1975-76.

The military’s TV Channel 5 is hiring “four ultra-royalist hosts from Top News … [to] host 7 hours a day … from 3 January 2022.”

The hosts, Kanok Ratwongsakul, Teera Tanyapaibul, Santisuk Marongsri, and Sathaporn Kuasakul, claim they will be “delivering impartial and accurate reports.” That seems unlikely.

Channel 5 or the Royal Thai Army Radio and Television Station is a free-to-air television network owned by the Royal Thai Army, and was launched on 25 January 1958. It is not a particularly popular broadcaster, ranking about 18th in ratings, and one motivation for this rightist move is to increase the broadcaster’s popularity. Becoming bellicosely ultra-royalist is seen as a way to do this.

Lt Gen Rangsi Kitiyanasap, Managing Director of Channel 5, says that the new programming “will provide information that will end the public division and help Thailand out of the economic and health crisis caused by the spread of Covid-19…”. That is code for supporting regime and monarchy.

Lt Gen Rangsi babbled, channeling Fox News:

The goal of presenting news on Channel 5 will emphasize news which is the truth in all aspects, with in-depth detail, and importantly, which does not create division in society, and does not add fuel, but pulls firewood out of the fire. We will be a mainstream media outlet which will not judge who is wrong or right, but presents comprehensive information and lets the people decide….

The general claimed the new contract was with “GMC, with Chaiwat Techapaitoon as Chair of the Executive Board, [and] was a different legal entity from Top News Digital Media Co Ltd, which has Sonthiyan Chuenruthainaitham as its founder.” As Prachatai explains: “Sonthiyan was a right-wing activist and a media entrepreneur whose support helped lead to the killing of red shirt protesters in 2010, the military coup in 2014, and the violent crackdowns on pro-democracy protesters in 2020-2021.”

Military and military-backed media were notorious in the 1970s for their agitation against students and democracy advocates. Sound familiar? Back then, that media promoted the forces who assassinated activists and massacred students at Thammasat University.

Nationalism, slavery and conflict

20 10 2019

Some reading for our followers, in place of a long post:

An article worth reading is “Nationalism and Anti-Statehood in Thailand” by Gabriel Ernst at a site new to PPT: “New Bloom is an online magazine covering activism and youth politics in Taiwan and the Asia Pacific, founded in Taiwan in 2014 in wake of the Sunflower Movement. We seek to put local voices in touch with international discourse, beginning with Taiwan.”

The Irish Times has a story by Ian Urbina which, for all we know of the fishing industry’s cruel hunt for profit is still eye-opening. “Thailand’s sea slaves: Shackled, whipped and beheaded” is sub-headed: “Every year, tens of thousands of migrants to Thailand are sent to brutal lives at sea.”

Then there’s “Is Thailand risking another massacre?” by Sheith Khidhir at The ASEAN Post, writing of the militant right-royalist saber-rattling.

Finally, readers who like free access to academic articles might like to look at almost 40 articles by various editors of the Journal of Contemporary Asia, from the 1970s to today. There’s some of Thailand interest.

Still getting the monarchy wrong

17 02 2017

Ralph Jennings, a Contributor at Forbes says he “cover[s] under-reported stories from Taiwan and Asia” but seems to specialize on China and Taiwan. Thus, venturing into things royal and Thailand is thus a stretch and a test of knowledge.

He’s right to observe that the monarchy in Thailand has “massive influence.”

But the picture he paints of the last king is pure palace propaganda when he states:

He had stopped coups, spearheaded rural infrastructure projects and met commoners in rough or squalid conditions. His actions helped strengthen people’s confidence in their country with an otherwise wobbly government.

Let’s correct a bit. He also initiated coups, as in 1957, and he supported coups, as in 2006, when it suited him. And that’s just two examples. He also supported right-wing extremists and acted as a prompt to massive blood-letting, as in 1976. The palace hand was always meddling in politics. The “infrastructure projects” are presumably the royal projects, many of them grand failures and, since the General Prem Tinsulanonda era, at great taxpayer expense.

And, “wobbly government” hardly seems to fit much of the reign, when the monarchy collaborated with ruthless military regimes, just as it does now.

The author is correct to observe that King Vajiralongkorn “is not expected to advocate changes in Thailand that reflect mass concerns or even go around meeting people.”

Recall that the dead king also essentially gave up “going to the people” for most of the last two decades of his reign. For one thing, he was too ill. For another, the “going to meet the people” was a political strategy for winning hearts and minds in his campaign to remake the monarchy. By the 1990s, this was largely achieved.

That King Vajiralongkorn is claimed to have “signaled little interest so far in shifting Thailand from quasi-military rule toward more democracy after a junta took power in 2014” seems an odd observation. And, in this quite natural political position for a monarchy such as Thailand’s, the new king follows the dead one.

That the new king wants more power for the throne is clear to all. That’s why the military’s “constitution” has been changed. But to say that the new version – we still don’t know the exact nature of the changes – allows the king “more freedom to travel overseas, where he has spent much of his life, and can appoint a regent to rule when he’s not around” is a misunderstanding of what The Dictator has let be known. The point of the changes was to allow him to not have a regent during his jaunts.

And, Mr Jennings must be the only one who thinks “[e]lections are due this year.”

He is right, however, to add that “[o]bservers believe that with King Vajiralongkorn, Thailand will continue to retain its strict lese-majeste laws, which ban any criticism of the monarchy.” That is a requirement of continued domination by a royalist elite.

Outdoing the Thai Patriot Network

24 02 2011

Readers might remember that in December Prime Minister Abhisit Vejjajiva sent one of his Democrat Party members with the ultra-nationalist Thai Patriot Network to look around the border, and over it.

When they were arrested inside Cambodia, Abhisit tried to distance himself from the border crossers. Since then, however, Abhisit has become increasingly and stridently nationalist. Perhaps Democrat Party polling is indicating that untra-nationalism and threatening war carries some weight.

Now the Bangkok Post tells us that Abhisit is outdoing the TPN. Blustering and shaking a sword, he has declared that “Thailand is prepared to strike with full force against Cambodia if it continues to violate Thai sovereignty.” There’s no evidence that Cambodia has “violated” Thai sovereignty any more than Thailand and Thais have violated Cambodian sovereignty.

The army's real task: coups and repression

It is no surprise that “Abhisit insisted yesterday that Thailand had the right to act against Cambodia – and he has the staunch backing of the army.” Abhisit adds “There isn’t any agreement [for Indonesia to send observers] that leaves us unable to protect our sovereignty…. If [Cambodia] provokes [future] clashes, we have the right to launch a full retaliatory attack.”

Army chief Prayuth Chan-ocha said “there would be no withdrawal of troops.”Thai forces remained in position in the disputed 4.6-square-kilometre border zone.”

Abhisit has now taken on every feature associated with the extreme royalist right-wing. That’s dangerous for Thais and Thailand (see here for an account of yellow madness).

Updated: Abhisit talks war

31 01 2011

Prime Minister Abhisit Vejjajiva talks peaceful means of dealing with border disputes but also speaks of war: “My intention of using peaceful approaches to settle the border dispute does not mean that the government is afraid of a war with Cambodia.” It is not surprising that the People’s Alliance for Democracy can drive such a hawkish agenda when they continue to have considerable support amongst the extremist and rightist elements of the regime. Abhisit must respond in ways that are seen as “tough.”

Meanwhile, “Defence Minister Prawit Wongsuwon said fresh deployment of Cambodian troops and armour along border areas adjoining Si Sa Ket province are not cause for worry.”

Pushing hard, PAD spokesman Panthep Puapongpan “said yellow-shirt activists went to the Criminal Court on Monday morning and filed a suit against four cabinet ministers, accusing them of causing Thailand a loss of sovereignty. Mr Panthep said the lawsuit filed by Samdin Lertbutr and Tainae Mungmajon, representatives of the PAD, accused the prime minister, his deputy Suthep [Thaugsuban], Gen Prawit and Foreign Minister Kasit Piromya of violating Articles 119 and 120 of the Criminal Code, for which the maximum penalty is capital punishment.”

Update: As Abhisit admitted “that Thai and Camboldian military forces were confronting each other along the border,” a court has quickly rejected the PAD suit.

Abhisit and PAD united

7 08 2010

The Nation reports that Prime Minister Abhisit Vejjajiva has again shown that he is a close ally of Chamlong Srimuang, his Dhamma Army and the mainstream People’s Alliance for Democracy.

Not only has Abhisit appeared on the PAD stage at their ultra-nationalist rally, but he has reportedly invited the yellow shirts to “send their five representatives to join a special television programme on Phra Viharn controversy on Sunday.”

On stage, Abhisit told “the cheering crowds that he would like to thank you everybody here [at the PAD rally] as they are gathering to express their wishes to protect the country.” He even seems to have promised to overturn an MOU with Cambodia signed by a previous Democrat Party-led government in 2000.

Abhisit, in bed with ultra-nationalists, is showing just how right-wing he is. Thailand today has a leader who is in bed with the army, the yellow shirts and the rest of the right wing. Such political promiscuity is in line with the use of draconian laws to repress opposition.

Prime Minister Abhisit Vejjajiva has invited yellow shirts to send their five representatives to join a special television programme on Phra Viharn controversy on Sunday.
Abhisit said he and other five representatives including experts would join the programme on the National Broadcast Television or Channel 11 to be held between 10am and 1pm.

He extended the invitation as he took the stage of yellow shirts who rallied on Saturday at Thai-Japanese Stadium. The rally was led by People’s Alliance for Democracy leader Chamlong Srimuang.

Abhisit joined the forum in the afternoon after finishing some works in Hua Hin.

Abhisit told the cheering crowds that he would like to thank you everybody here as they are gathering to express their wishes to protect the country.

“I can assure you that the government has been working for the benefits of the country. We have no reason to exchange Thai territory with any benefits,” he said.

He stressed that he should neither remain as the prime minister nor be allowed to be in the Thai soil if he did so.

The premier had on Friday managed to cut a deal with the Chamlong’s PAD faction, which was initially planning to rally in front of Government House to demand that Abhisit revoke the 2000 memorandum of understanding on boundary demarcation with Cambodia as well as voice their opposition to Preah Vihear’s inscription as a World Heritage Site.

Chamlong’s the Dharma Army Foundation, agreed to gather at the Thai-Japanese Stadium in Din Daeng today to express their views, concerns and visions with respect to Preah Vihear.

He emphasised that the 2000 MOU with Cambodia is just an agreement for both countries to start border demarcation, not boundary demarcation.

The substance of the MOU is that pending the demarcation, no country should not invade into the disputed sites.

Apparently trying to compromise, the premier said we should have discussed the matter basing on the country’s benefits and after that if it is better to cancel the MOU, then do it.

Meanwhile a PAD faction, led by Veera Somkwamkit who led a rally near the Government House vowed to remain there for seven days in defiance state of emergecy.

No election, more political prisoners, more fear

3 07 2010

Leader of what is arguably the most repressive regime Thailand has seen since 1977 – yes, we’re serious, read on –  Prime Minister Abhisit Vejjajiva has told reporters that there will be no early election this year. That’s no surprise at all, but he hasn’t really said this to the electorate. Some reasoning associated with so-called reconciliation is involved.

The statement he made talked of a better, more peaceful climate for campaigning. We trust he isn’t holding his breath – and nor should the electorate – this is a very long way off.

And the government has gone back to its pre-Battle for Bangkok mode, instilling fear as often as possible. According to a report, “security has been boosted for the prime minister and key government figures following intelligence reports confirming an assassination plot…”. Another one! Do a search for assassination at PPT and read of them. This one also “targets” some labeled as “high-ranking civilians and judicial officials…”.

The reports say that Abhisit’s security detail has been enlarged and there are claimed to be “a much larger number of both uniformed police officers and those in plain clothes providing security” for him. Apparently the ever horrid and still acting government spokesman Panitarn Watthanayakorn “now travels in a government-issued bulletproof SUV and is protected around the clock by a two-man security detail.” That makes him feel like he really counts as only Abhisit and Deputy Prime Minister Suthep Thuagsuban “normally enjoy such security privileges.”

In the same report, the Nation has a kind of throwaway line that says the Centre for the Resolution of the Emergency Situation (CRES) “has arrested 16 people in the past week, including pro-Thaksin Shinawatra webmaster Sombat Bunngarmwong and Yong-yuth Thuammanee, a close aide to late Army adviser Khattiya Sawas-diphol. The 14 others are accused of torching government buildings in Khon Kaen and Udon Thani during the red-shirt protests in May.”

How many people are now locked up as political prisoners by this awful government? Part of the reason for the Khon Kaen arrests is to destroy the leadership of the red shirts there.

Massive censorship, hundreds locked up, murders in the provinces, a climate of fear and a determination to restrict freedoms are the hallmarks of this government. It is a disaster for Thailand and matches the right-wing neo-Fascism seen under the royalist government led by Privy Councilor Thanin Kraivixien.

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