Updated: Somyos verdict on 23 January

19 12 2012

Many, including Somyos Prueksakasemsuk‘s lawyer, had thought that 19 December would see a verdict in his lese majeste case. In fact, though, with more than 100 people at the court, the verdict was delayed until 23 January 2013.

Those present “included the defendant’s wife and son, representatives from several European embassies, including Denmark and Germany, and the European Commission [and] … [i]nternational and local NGOs such as Freedom House, Human Rights Watch and Union for Civil Liberty…”.Somyos

What they got was “a lengthy explanation of the Constitution Court’s ruling that the Penal Code’s Section 112, known as the lese majeste law, is not contrary to the constitution.” Of course, the law is an affront to several provisions in the junta’s 2007 constitution, but royalist judges produce political rather than legal decisions. The Constitutional Court holds “that the principle of Section 112 of the Penal Code is in line with providing protection to the King, an institution and head of the state of Thailand.” It argues for the protection of the royalist state and ignores or does not rule on numerous other articles in the constitution that are meant to protect free speech and other liberties. Further, it makes its protection of the royalist state clear:

Commission of offences under Section 112 of the Penal Code shall affect the security of the state as the King is an institution the constitution recognises and protects, and is part of the democratic regime of government with the King as the head of state.

It rests this claim on the second paragraph of Section 45 of the constitution which states:

The restriction on liberty under paragraph one [A person shall enjoy the liberty to express his opinion, make speech, write, print, publicise, and make expression by other means] shall not be imposed except by virtue of the law specifically enacted for the purpose of maintaining the security of State, protecting the rights, liberties, dignity, reputation, family or privacy rights of other person[s], maintaining public order or good morals or preventing or halting the deterioration of the mind or health of the public.

Following all of this royalist political squirming, there was unusual dissension:

Attendants moved to calm the public gallery, which erupted noisily after the lengthy explanation, particularly when it was announced the judgement on Mr Somyos would not be delivered right away but delayed until Jan 23, 2013.

Somyos responded by observing that the “lese majeste law remained a problem affecting the whole justice system, and undermined  the integrity of the revered institution of the monarchy.” He then attacked the current government:

“What I feel sorry about is that the parliament and the Yingluck administration are somewhat cowardly. The people-initiated amendment under the banner of the Committee to Campaign for the Amendment of Section 112 is an important move and the way this effort was belittled and stopped is a loss to our society.

“It’s of immeasurable regret that social justice and protection of the institution of the monarchy [through the proposed amendment] cannot be achieved,” said Mr Somyos.

“It’s a pity that Prime Minister Yingluck Shinawatra does not dare to take the lead in this case. Her cowardice and indecisiveness make her no different to other dictators,” he said.

At the same time, Somyos said he believed he would not be found guilty and sated that “the law [under which] he was charged under is unjust.”

It is worth noting that the delays in this case have caused Somyos to be imprisoned since 30 April 2011, meaning that his verdict will come after 21 months of incarceration that saw his case repeatedly delayed and Somyos chained and dragged around the country for meaningless provincial hearings.

Update: The Nation adds further to the judge’s comments on lese majeste and constitutionality, adding further to our comment that “royalist judges produce political rather than legal decisions.” According to the report, the judge stated the the alleged “reverence” for the king “is a unique characteristic found in Thailand and unlike anywhere else.” The judge is cited as having “further quoted from the Constitution Court’s ruling by adding that violating the lese-majeste law by defaming the monarchy was tantamount to ‘hurting the feelings of Thai people’, thus the harsher penalty compared to defaming an ordinary person was ‘justified’.” These nonsensical claims have nothing to do with law but much to do with politics and the cult of personality, which far from being “unlike anywhere else” is historically rather common.

Blocking history

16 12 2012

Prachatai reports that the Nitirat’s website has been blocked. Specifically, he Ministry of Information and Communications Technology has blocked the page that reproduces the Declaration of the People’s Party in 1932, issued when it overthrew the absolute monarchy.Pridi

PPT knows that the blocking by MICT and by ISPs is often not very consistent, but in this case, it seems that a choice to block one page has been made, and that this amounts to blocking history. We imagine that some loopy ultra-royalist has read the People’s Party announcement, attributed to Pridi Phanomyong, as threatening to the monarchy and reported the page to MICT. The blocking is indicative of the ideological power wielded by the royalist state in “protecting” the monarchy. No one can protect it from history.

The document is reproduced below (with the English translation already posted at PPT):

ประกาศคณะราษฎร ฉบับที่ ๑


เมื่อกษัตริย์องค์นี้ได้ครองราชสมบัติสืบต่อพระเชษฐานั้น ในชั้นต้นราษฎรได้หวังกันว่ากษัตริย์องค์ใหม่นี้จะปกครองราษฎรให้ร่มเย็น แต่การณ์หาเป็นไปตามหวังที่คิดไม่ กษัตริย์คงทรงอำนาจอยู่เหนือกฎหมายตามเดิม ทรงแต่งตั้งญาติวงศ์และคนสอพลอไร้คุณงามความรู้ให้ดำรงตำแหน่งที่สำคัญๆ ไม่ทรงฟังเสียงราษฎร ปล่อยให้ข้าราชการใช้อำนาจหน้าที่ในทางทุจริต มีการรับสินบนในการก่อสร้างซื้อของใช้ในราชการ หากำไรในการเปลี่ยนราคาเงิน ผลาญเงินทองของประเทศ ยกพวกเจ้าขึ้นให้สิทธิพิเศษมากกว่าราษฎร ปกครองโดยขาดหลักวิชา ปล่อยให้บ้านเมืองเป็นไปตามยถากรรม ดังที่จะเห็นได้ในการตกต่ำในการเศรษฐกิจและความฝืดเคืองทำมาหากิน ซึ่งราษฎรได้รู้กันอยู่ทั่วไปแล้ว รัฐบาลของกษัตริย์เหนือกฎหมายมิสามารถแก้ไขให้ฟื้นขึ้นได้ การที่แก้ไขไม่ได้ก็เพราะรัฐบาลของกษัตริย์เหนือกฎหมายมิได้ปกครองประเทศเพื่อราษฎรตามที่รัฐบาลอื่นๆ ได้กระทำกัน รัฐบาลของกษัตริย์ได้ถือเอาราษฎรเป็นทาส (ซึ่งเรียกว่าไพร่บ้าง ข้าบ้าง) เป็นสัตว์เดียรัจฉาน ไม่นึกว่าเป็นมนุษย์ เพราะฉะนั้น แทนที่จะช่วยราษฎร กลับพากันทำนาบนหลังราษฎร จะเห็นได้ว่าภาษีอากรที่บีบคั้นเอาจากราษฎรนั้น กษัตริย์ได้หักเอาไว้ใช้ส่วนตัวปีหนึ่งเป็นจำนวนหลายล้าน ส่วนราษฎรสิ กว่าจะหาได้แต่เล็กน้อย เลือดตาแทบกระเด็น ถึงคราวเสียภาษีราชการหรือภาษีส่วนตัว ถ้าไม่มีเงินรัฐบาลก็ใช้ยึดทรัพย์หรือใช้งานโยธา แต่พวกเจ้ากลับนอนกินกันเป็นสุข ไม่มีประเทศใดในโลกจะให้เงินเจ้ามากเช่นนี้ นอกจากพระเจ้าซาร์และพระเจ้าไกเซอร์เยอรมัน ซึ่งชนชาตินั้นได้โค่นราชบัลลังก์เสียแล้ว

รัฐบาลของกษัตริย์ได้ปกครองอย่างหลอกลวงไม่ซื่อตรงต่อราษฎร มีเป็นต้นว่าจะบำรุงการทำมาหากินอย่างโน้นอย่างนี้ แต่ครั้นคอยๆ ก็เหลวไป หาได้ทำจริงจังไม่ มิหนำซ้ำกล่าวหมิ่นประมาทราษฎรผู้มีบุญคุณเสียภาษีอากรให้พวกเจ้าได้กิน ว่าราษฎรรู้เท่าไม่ถึงเจ้านั้นไม่ใช่เพราะโง่ เป็นเพราะขาดการศึกษาที่พวกเจ้าปกปิดไว้ไม่ให้เรียนเต็มที่ เพราะเกรงว่าราษฎรได้มีการศึกษาก็จะรู้ความชั่วร้ายที่ทำไว้และคงจะไม่ยอมให้ทำนาบนหลังคน

ราษฎรทั้งหลายพึงรู้เถิดว่าประเทศเรานี้เป็นของราษฎร ไม่ใช่ของกษัตริย์ตามที่เขาหลอกลวง บรรพบุรุษของราษฎรเป็นผู้กู้ให้ประเทศเป็นอิสรภาพพ้นมือจากข้าศึก พวกเจ้ามีแต่ชุบมือเปิบและกวาดทรัพย์สมบัติเข้าไว้ตั้งหลายร้อยล้าน เงินเหล่านี้เอามาจากไหน? ก็เอามาจากราษฎรเพราะวิธีทำนาบนหลังคนนั่นเอง ! บ้านเมืองกำลังอัตคัตฝืดเคือง ชาวนาและพ่อแม่ทหารต้องทิ้งนา เพราะทำไม่ได้ผล รัฐบาลไม่บำรุง รัฐบาลไล่คนงานออกอย่างเกลื่อนกลาด นักเรียนที่เรียนสำเร็จแล้วและทหารที่ปลดกองหนุนไม่มีงานทำ จะต้องอดอยากไปตามยถากรรม เหล่านี้เป็นผลของรัฐบาลของกษัตริย์เหนือกฎหมาย บีบคั้นข้าราชการชั้นผู้น้อย นายสิบ และเสมียน เมื่อให้ออกจากงานแล้วไม่ให้เบี้ยบำนาญ ความจริงควรเอาเงินที่กวาดรวบรวมไว้มาจัดบ้านเมืองให้มีงานทำจึงจะสมควรที่สนองคุณราษฎรซึ่งได้เสียภาษีอากรให้พวกเจ้าได้ร่ำรวยมานาน แต่พวกเจ้าก็หาได้ทำอย่างใดไม่ คงสูบเลือดกันเรื่อยไป เงินมีเท่าไหรก็เอาฝากต่างประเทศคอยเตรียมหนีเมื่อบ้านเมืองทรุดโทรม ปล่อยให้ราษฎรอดอยาก การเหล่านี้ย่อมชั่วร้าย

เหตุฉะนั้น ราษฎร ข้าราชการ ทหาร และพลเรือน ที่รู้เท่าถึงการกระทำอันชั่วร้ายของรัฐบาลดังกล่าวแล้ว จึงรวมกำลังตั้งเป็นคณะราษฎรขึ้น และได้ยึดอำนาจของรัฐบาลของกษัตริย์ไว้แล้ว คณะราษฎรเห็นว่าการที่จะแก้ความชั่วร้ายก็โดยที่จะต้องจัดการปกครองโดยมีสภา จะได้ช่วยกันปรึกษาหารือหลายๆ ความคิดดีกว่าความคิดเดียว ส่วนผู้เป็นประมุขของประเทศนั้น คณะราษฎรไม่มีประสงค์ทำการชิงราชสมบัติ ฉะนั้น จึงขอเชิญให้กษัตริย์องค์นี้ดำรงตำแหน่งกษัตริย์ต่อไป แต่จะต้องอยู่ใต้กฎหมายธรรมนูญการปกครองของแผ่นดิน จะทำอะไรโดยลำพังไม่ได้ นอกจากความเห็นชอบของสภาผู้แทนราษฎร คณะราษฎรได้แจ้งความเห็นนี้ให้กษัตริย์ทราบแล้ว เวลานี้ยังอยู่ในความรับตอบ ถ้ากษัตริย์ตอบปฏิเสธหรือไม่ตอบภายในกำหนดโดยเห็นแก่ส่วนตนว่าจะถูกลดอำนาจลงมาก็จะชื่อว่าทรยศต่อชาติ และก็เป็นการจำเป็นที่ประเทศจะต้องมีการปกครองอย่างประชาธิปไตย กล่าวคือ ประมุขของประเทศจะเป็นบุคคลสามัญซึ่งสภาผู้แทนราษฎรได้ตั้งขึ้น อยู่ในตำแหน่งตามกำหนดเวลา ตามวิธีนี้ราษฎรพึงหวังเถิดว่าราษฎรจะได้รับความบำรุงอย่างดีที่สุด ทุกๆ คนจะมีงานทำ เพราะประเทศของเราเป็นประเทศที่อุดมอยู่แล้วตามสภาพ เมื่อเราได้ยึดเงินที่พวกเจ้ารวบรวมไว้จากการทำนาบนหลังคนตั้งหลายร้อยล้านมาบำรุงประเทศขึ้นแล้ว ประเทศจะต้องเฟื่องฟูขึ้นเป็นแม่นมั่น การปกครองซึ่งคณะราษฎรจะพึงกระทำก็คือ จำต้องวางโครงการอาศัยหลักวิชา ไม่ทำไปเหมือนคนตาบอด เช่นรัฐบาลที่มีกษัตริย์เหนือกฏหมายทำมาแล้ว เป็นหลักใหญ่ๆ ที่คณะราษฎรวางไว้ มีอยู่ว่า

๑.จะต้องรักษาความเป็นเอกราชทั้งหลาย เช่นเอกราชในทางการเมือง การศาล ในทางเศรษฐกิจ ฯลฯ ของประเทศไว้ให้มั่นคง

๒.จะต้องรักษาความปลอดภัยภายในประเทศ ให้การประทุษร้ายต่อกันลดน้อยลงให้มาก

๓.ต้องบำรุงความสุขสมบูรณ์ของราษฎรในทางเศรษฐกิจ โดยรัฐบาลใหม่จะจัดหางานให้ราษฎรทุกคนทำ จะวางโครงการเศรษฐกิจแห่งชาติ ไม่ปล่อยให้ราษฎร อดอยาก

๔.จะต้องให้ราษฎรมีสิทธิเสมอภาคกัน (ไม่ใช่พวกเจ้ามีสิทธิยิ่งกว่าราษฎร เช่นที่เป็นอยู่)

๕.จะต้องให้ราษฎรได้มีเสรีภาพ มีความเป็นอิสระ เมื่อเสรีภาพนี้ไม่ขัดต่อหลัก ๕ ประการดังกล่าวข้างต้น


ราษฎรทั้งหลายจงพร้อมกันช่วยคณะราษฎรให้ทำกิจอันคงจะอยู่ชั่วดินฟ้านี้ให้สำเร็จ คณะราษฎรขอให้ทุกคนที่มิได้ร่วมมือเข้ายึดอำนาจจากรัฐบาลกษัตริย์เหนือกฎหมายพึงตั้งอยู่ในความสงบและตั้งหน้าหากิน อย่าทำการใดๆ อันเป็นการขัดขวางต่อคณะราษฎรนี้ เท่ากับราษฎรช่วยประเทศและช่วยตัวราษฎร บุตร หลาน เหลน ของตนเอง ประเทศจะมีความเป็นเอกราชอย่างพร้อมบริบูรณ์ ราษฎรจะได้รับความปลอดภัย ทุกคนจะต้องมีงานทำไม่ต้องอดตาย ทุกคนจะมีสิทธิเสมอกัน และมีเสรีภาพจากการเป็นไพร่ เป็นข้า เป็นทาสพวกเจ้า หมดสมัยที่เจ้าจะทำนาบนหลังราษฎร สิ่งที่ทุกคนพึงปรารถนาคือ ความสุขความเจริญอย่างประเสริฐซึ่งเรียกเป็นศัพท์ว่า “ศรีอาริย์” นั้น ก็จะพึงบังเกิดขึ้นแก่ราษฎรถ้วนหน้า


๒๔ มิถุนายน ๒๔๗๕

Taking up arms for the monarchy

29 11 2012

A Bangkok Post photo

Most observers of Thailand’s politics know that the military brass have long claimed that their chief role is as the armed protectors of the monarchy, the royalist elite and the royalist state. Thousands of Thais considered political opponents have died at the hands of the military as it plays the role of the monarchy’s protector and enforcer.

Retired military officer and failed leader of the undemocratic Pitak Siam General Boonlert Kaewprasit has told the media that his is a semi-retirement from the dinosaur royalist brigade.  He “says the only thing that would prompt him to lead another rally against the government is a severe insult to the monarchy.”

If that happens and Boonlert decides to rally to “protect” the monarchy, then he says “protesters will have to carry arms so that they can protect themselves from being harmed by the government’s security officers again…”.

While arms and the monarchy seem forever tied together, Boonlert reckons that the current military brass left him and his mob in the lurch when he provided the brass with an opportunity to intervene. He says: “I am hurt…. I no longer want to have anything to do with the army as it failed to help people who were oppressed by the police…”. He is revealing shen he adds:

He said he made a phone call to 1st Army Region commander Lt Gen Paiboon Khumchaya when police fired tear gas at the protesters. The 1st Army Region headquarters is located nearest the rally site, and he hoped the army would step in to protect the protesters.

Boonlert says Lt Gen Paiboon, Army boss General Prayuth Chan-ocha and his deputy, General Dapong Rattanasuwan were “not helpful.” We guess that Boonlert was led to believe that violence would prompt the military to political action. We suspect that the pathetic turnout for Pitak Siam made intervention impossible.

The arms are in waiting.

Free Somyos!

11 11 2012

As readers will know, the repressive royalist state keeps Somyos Prueksakasemsuk locked up. He’s been imprisoned for more than 18 months. His detention has been defined by the UN’s Working Group on Arbitrary Detention as arbitrary, with the government declared non-compliant, advised to release him on bail and pay him compensation. one of this has much impact on the Thai state because the Yingluck Shinawatra government is spineless on lese majeste. It is so frightened of the palace that it will not do the right and humane thing for this political detainee.

In this context, we wish to draw attention to an international campaign for Somyos:

Show your support and help to free Somyot Prueksakasemsuk from arbitrary detention! Let your voices be heard.Please show your support for Somyot Pruksakasemsuk, a labour activist and human rights defenders, for his family and for freedom of expression in Thailand, which is your human right as well!

You can do this by:
1. Write “Free Somyot” on a piece of paper or on your palm
2. Take a photo of yourself holding the poster/your palm with the words clearly showed
3. Upload this photo to Free Somyot Face book page: https://www.facebook.com/pages/Free-Somyot/122999694453000?fref=tsEvery photo counts and will help to support Somyot in his struggle for justice, and to uphold freedom of expression for everyone in Thailand.You can also copy and paste this into a Word document and print it out:Free Somyot Now!
ปล่อยสมยศพฤกษาเกษมสุข เดี๋ยวนี้For more detail about Somyot and his case:
www.freesomyot.wordpress.com당신의 감옥에 있는 태국의 노동운동가 샴욧을 아십니까?

우리는 국제연대 실천행동으로 샴욧(Somyot Prueksakasemsuk)의 석방을 위한 캠페인을 페이스북에서 하고 싶어요?

“태국의 양심수 샴욧에게 자유를 ”
우리의 참여와 협력으로 태국의 양심수 샴욧(Somyot Prueksakasemsuk)의 자유를 찾자 !
그의 구속되어있는 “표현의 자유와 권리” 는 개인이나 가족뿐만 아니라 우리 모든 인간의 기본 권리입니다.

당신의 인권을 지키려 하는 행동과 목소리가 국제연대의 실천행동으로 태국의 노동운동가 샴욧(Somyot Pruksakasemsuk) 어려움에 처한 양심수를 지원하여 자유케 합니다. !

인권을 지키려는 우리들의 목소리가 샴욧이 자유를 찾게 합니다. 당신의 작은 실천행동으로 “태국의 양심수 샴욧에게 표현의 자유와 권리를 찾고 ” 양심의 국제연대가 가능하게 합니다. 1. 종이 또는 손바닥에 “FREE Somyot”를 요구하는 내용을 작성합니다. 2. 단어포스터/ 손바닥을 잡고 찍은 자신의 사진을 다른 사람에게 보여주는 것입니다.
3. FREE Somyot 페이스북 페이지에 캠페인 사진을 업로드 합니다. https://www.facebook.com/pages/Free-Somyot/122999694453000?fref=tsEvery
여러분의 많은 사진이 정의로운 Somyot의 투쟁을 지원하고 기 위해도움이 될 것입니다, 태국에 있는 모든 사람들을 표현의 자유를 유지할 수 있습니다.당신은 또한 복사하여Word 문서에 붙여 넣으하고 인쇄 할 수 있습니다:
Free Somyot를 지금!ปล่อย สมยศ พฤกษา เกษม สุข เดี๋ยวนี้Somyot와 그의 사건에 대한 자세한 내용은 :https://www.facebook.com/pages/Free-Somyot/122999694453000?sk=infowww.freesomyot%2Cwordpress.com.

— in Seoul, South Korea.

Achara interviews Joe Gordon

10 11 2012

Achara Ashayagachat at the Bangkok Post has joined those interviewing lese majeste victim Joe Gordon as he returns home to the United States. This level of critical comment by one who has been convicted and released is unusual, and PPT hopes Joe eventually writes up his experience.

Joe again talks about The King Never Smiles. (It seems that the Post is unable to mention the book’s title.) He says he “did buy the book from a bookstore. It was published by Yale University Press and was written in an academic style.” He adds that reading it and posting links to it and unauthorized translations was his right and that he was a “victim of polarised Thai politics. I was in Thailand for health reasons but was dragged into dirty politics.”

A Bangkok Post photo

On prison, he states: “Prison conditions were far beyond being acceptable.”

On repeated refusals of bail for lese majeste inmates: “Without bail, the accused are never able to defend themselves well.”

On the lese majeste law: “It’s a shame that this government doesn’t dare to touch on the controversial aspects. I truly support the Nitirat group in its push for for the amendment [of the law], although I think what we really need is its abolition…. The law is used by conservatives to destroy the progressives.”

On the U.S., lese majeste and his case: “I was dismayed that the US issued a mild statement when I was convicted in December…”. PPT agrees that the U.S. State Department, the U.S. Embassy and Ambassador Kristie Kenney should be ashamed; they were spineless.

Finally, Joe notes that the “lese majeste law has shown its effect in sabotaging the institution of the monarchy rather than fostering and protecting it.” PPT understands this point but also views lese majeste as a part of the foundation of the repressive royalist state.

Royalist army

14 10 2012

As PPT has pointed out several times in the past, the Yingluck Shinawatra government remains skittish about any potential threat of destabilization. It mainly looks for these threats amongst the royalist camp, and so has been remarkably willing to give ground when there is any whiff of a challenge from the conservative elite and its supporters. Of course, the most likely threat always revolves around the military’s penchant for pro-royalist coup-making.

Two former U.S. military men, John Cole and Steve Sciacchitano, claiming to have been previously posted to Thailand, meaning they were probably spooks,  write on military machinations for Asia Times Online. Their most recent piece is ambivalent about the tug of war that went on over the just completed promotions and transfers in the armed forces. They suggest that Puea Thai’s Minister for Defense Sukumpol Suwanatat won a scrap with some of his subordinates but that Army boss General Prayuth Chan-ocha was able to maintain his control as well.

There are a couple of points worth noting. First, the writers point out that this year’s “list reassigned 811 senior officers, up from a normal 500-600 rotations, representing the largest military reshuffle recorded in Thailand.” Part of the reason for that is that Thaksin Shinawatra and Sukumpol didn’t want to directly challenge Prayuth’s men and instead chose a path of diluting the top ranks, which gives them more influence, without having to headbutt Prayuth in this round of shuffling and risk destabilizing the government. In the past, various army bosses used this method to weaken their competitors, and the result was that Thailand had more generals than some much larger armies. Golf courses also did well as generals with nothing to do hit the fairways.

Second, and significantly, the article notes that the royalist faction of the military leadership remains exceptionally powerful. They describe Prayuth as “a staunch royalist and perceived opponent of the Yingluck-led government…”. Nothing new there, but argue that he “was able to maintain his top spot and elevate many of his known loyalists to key RTA command positions.” They add that the:

military tends to view itself as the ultimate defender of the Thai nation and royal family, rather than the constitution or a particular civilian government. This somewhat vague but strongly felt sense of duty has often led the military to put it’s institutional interests – and in many cases the personal interests of senior officers – above those of the civilian administration that it nominally serves.

Actually, this loyalist royalism amongst the brass has been carefully nurtured by the palace, with Privy Council President General Prem Tinsulanonda playing a pivotal role. Prayuth’s most important accomplishment, then, was in promoting royalists. The article suggests that he has been “able to put Lieutenant General [Udomdej Sitabutr] on a track to succeed him as army commander…”. They add that “Udomdet, previously the commander of the [Bangkok-based] 1st Army Region and a known royal palace favorite, was promoted to a full four-star general and reassigned as the RTA’s powerful Chief of Staff.” Udomdej is described as:

a royal aide and recipient of the Ramathibodi Medal for valor in combat…. That designation represents a strong tie to the royal family, as King Bhumibol Adulyadej and Queen Sirikit are known to maintain close personal contact with recipients of the medal throughout their military careers. Like Prayuth, Udomdet spent many years serving in the 21st Infantry Regiment, a unit dedicated to protecting the royal family.

This means that a staunchly royalist general will be in place when the succession issue finally moves front and center.

Not all is lost in this for the government, however, as a more pro-Thaksin commander takes over at the 1st Army Region HQ.

Prayuth also strengthened the royalist and anti-red shirt/anti-Thaksin brass by promoting the commanders of the troops that were used to attack red shirts in 2009 and 2010. By doing this he is attempting to create a royalist domination for a decade to come. By trying to dilute this with extraordinary promotions, Thaksin and Sukumpol are seeking to gradually move control back to them after Prayuth is retired.

One element of the process and competition that is noticeable is the demonstration of just how debased the military has become over recent decades as its focus has been internal security, protection of the monarchy and slaughtering citizens in order to maintain the royalist state.

Remembering the 6 October royalist massacre

6 10 2012

As we have pointed out several times in recent weeks, the royalist state is “protected” by the military and ultra-royalists. This task requires that these groups – most especially the military – repress and kill citizens seen as dissidents or an opposition.

In 1976, this protection of the monarchy saw murders in the monarchy’s name. The most dramatic and horrible event was the royalist-inspired attack on people – mostly students – damned as “disloyal.” This massacre at Thammasat University, probably killed more people than the dark events of April and May 2010, yet there has never been any state investigation nor anyone sent to trial. Impunity was the rule because the state’s troops and rightist gangs were doing the work of the royalist state. The main perpetrators of the massacre are claimed to be the Border Patrol Police who trained many of the rightist gangs in the name of the monarchy and with considerable U.S. funding. The BPP was and remains close to the royal family.

The regime that was put in place following the massacre and a coup was, like 2006, headed by a palace favorite. Thanin Kraivixien remains a Privy Counselor even today, considered “respected” because of that. Yet the fact is that his administration was one of the most right-wing, repressive and brutal regimes. Mercifully, after just a year, he was thrown out by another coup, led by General Kriangsak Chomanan, who was never forgiven by the palace for throwing out the its prime minister. Of course, this led to Kriangsak’s ouster, arranged to replace him with General Prem Tinsulanond, another palace favorite, who remains president of the Privy Council today. Just days after the bloodshed, the crown prince distributed awards to paramilitary personnel involved.

In other words, the massacre at Thammasat University was intimately linked to palace political machinations. Neither the palace nor the military has been far from the politics of the period since, and the massacres of Bangkok protesters seen in 1992 and 2010.

A major event was organized to remember this 1976 event. It is in Thai and can be found here. Prachatati released new pictures from the period last year, and the BBC has a 10-minute documentary worth accessing. So is Puey Ungpakorn’s account of the events around 6 October.

Remembering the 2006 military-palace coup

19 09 2012

It is six years since the yellow-tagged military rolled its tanks into Bangkok’s streets to oust Thaksin Shinawatra and his Thai Rak Thai Party government. Thaksin had many faults and made many mistakes. Paramount amongst them was his development as a popular leader – in February 2005 his party had won the biggest ever landslide in Thailand’s electoral history – and the threat this apparently posed to Thailand’s royalist elite.

Behind government administrations lurked the real power holders in the military brass, the palace and the upper echelons of the bureaucracy who together comprised the royalist state. Thaksin’s reliance on votes and the fact that he accumulated them as never before was an existential threat to the powers that be. Their final response after destabilizing the elected government was to get the military to chuck it out.

Six years later, with Thaksin’s youngest sister in the prime minister’s chair, the political struggle continues. PPT felt that our best way of observing the anniversary of the military-palace power grab is to re-link to the Wikileaks cables that reflect most directly on that coup. Here they are:

There are more cables on the figures circling around the coup and the events immediately before and after the coup, giving a pretty good picture of how the royalist elite behaved and what they wanted the embassy to know.

How much more repressive will it get?

24 12 2011

At the Bangkok Post a revealing report suggests how the lese majeste fear factor is being ramped up to repress and regress.

The report, somewhat like other media reports, refers to the one of the several centers “for monitoring lese majeste websites” that now offers “advice to Thais on what to do and not to do when browsing the internet.” This advice is meant to repress and instill fear in all internet users.

This “centre, which will run 24 hours a day, has opened on the third floor of the Royal Thai Police headquarters” and “will be headed by the deputy commander of the technology crime suppression division, Pol Col Siripong Timula.”

The first advice from the center to the public is: “Do not forward, send a link or revisit websites – including Facebook, Twitter or YouTube – with lese majeste content. Those who do so can be regarded as supporting such websites. Never press ‘Like’ in Facebook or click ‘Follow’ on Twitter…”. The point is to drive people away from sites that might be construed as lese majeste. Of course, lese majeste is never defined, making the hoped for “self-policing” and exercise in engendering fear.

The police suggest that “the public check in to such websites as http://www.weloveking.com and http://www.welovekingonline.com” if they want what the royalist state defines as reliable and safe information on the king. In fact these are treacly and cult of personality like sites that are no different from the royalist guff cranked out through all state media.

Apparently, Googling is unsafe as it produces some “bad” sites…. That is, sites that present alternative views from those sanctioned by the royalist state.

The police repeated their calls for the public to snitch “inappropriate websites.” In the current circumstances, this is another call for attacks on people who happen to think differently. The paternalism is breathtaking – the royalist propagandists really do view Thais really as children, as the royalist propaganda so often proclaims – and the repressive threat is very, very real.

The repression is going to become far worse as the crumbling royalist state tries to shore itself up.

Red shirts, lese majeste and regime strategy

28 02 2011

It appears that the current regime strategy is not to confront and challenge all red shirts but to divide and conquer. The regime, through military intelligence and the police, as well as through negotiations, are seeking to split red shirts into groups that are more moderate and those considered more radical. The definition of radicalism appears to revolve around the position of the monarchy.

The strategy seems that this strategy is gaining some traction if the buzz on blogs and in emails is to be believed.

The red shirts, of course, could easily have managed a split amongst themselves without regime incentives, but it is clear that the regime’s approach is causing considerable angst amongst red shirts. For instance, it is remembered that red shirt leaders have twice surrendered to the authorities despite pleas and demands from demonstrators that surrender not be an option. That is one example and there are many more amongst a movement that is large and diverse.


PPT is not about to rehearse the debates amongst red shirts here, for there is a useful thread at New Mandala that begins with a post by James Taylor.

One of the major debating points, no doubt fostered by the regime and its supporters, is the claim that the “moderate” red shirts are doing deals with the government that involve selling out more “radical” red shirts like Surachai Sae Dan while pushing aside and diminishing the innovative actions by Sombat Boonngamanong. There are other claims that the released leadership has abandoned the rank-and-file red shirts still in jail and that it is in the regime’s interest for the released leaders to regain control of the red shirt movement.

Sombat and friend

While PPT is not about to agree that Surachai is a “charlatan,” as Ji Ungpakorn claims, we do think that Ji identifies some plausible elements of the state strategy to divide the appeal of the red shirts (although he doesn’t necessarily put it in these terms). Most significant for us is his identification of some of the old war horses that engaged in similar campaigns during the state’s psych-ops war on the CPT in the 1970s and 1980s, using operatives who had split from the CPT.


Some of the current claims about the red shirt leadership come with considerable embellishment. It appears, for example, that red shirt leaders have not abandoned those still imprisoned by the regime. And, while there are those amongst the red shirts who readily accept conspiracy claims, many in the rank-and-file do seem to relish having the leadership out of jail.

At the same time, many in the red shirt leadership need to ensure that the Democrat Party and its cronies are not permitted any free kicks should the regime decide that an election is winnable and dissolve parliament.

The regime’s strategy to split the movement is clear; keeping such a diverse mass of followers together is no easy task when the vast resources of the royalist state are arrayed against them.

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