In charge of censorship for the rigged election

25 10 2018

The Bangkok Post is blunt in its short report on the junta’s appointment of anti-democrat Buddhipongse Punnakanta as the new government spokesman, replacing Lt Gen Sansern Kaewkamnerd.

Buddhipongse was a core member of the People’s Democratic Reform Committee. He was only appointed as the prime minister’s deputy secretary-general for political affairs just over a month ago.

The Dictator declared that the reassignment “has nothing to do with politics.”

The Post disagrees, observing that Lt Gen Sansern will “slip into the background to control all government-run media and enforce censorship rules in the lead-up to the expected 2019 election.”

The Post might have added that the junta is hoping that having an anti-democrat leader as its spokesman will have electoral advantages in Bangkok and among the timid and anti-democratic middle classes.

Rigging the future III

17 10 2018

We know we are late on posting on the junta’s grand strategy for rigging the future, but it remains an important story.

What really surprised PPT is that some politicians said they “are ready to follow the 20-year national strategy, published in the Royal Gazette on Saturday, with the aim of turning Thailand into a developed country by 2037…”.

Sure, they “worry it could end up outdated or may not come to pass,” but they seem unwilling to declare that the junta’s plan is to hamstring any government the military doesn’t fully control.

It is “a tool for the junta regime to get rid of an elected government in the future.”

Peua Thai, which should know better, said “those who work in politics must study it and prepare to follow it.” How very Red Guardish!

But the party is far more on the ball when it says that “amending the constitution as a whole would be a higher priority than changing this law in particular.”

That makes sense and is critical. But, as shown in the past, this proposal will be rudely opposed by anti-democrats.

Government spokesman Lt Gen Sansern Kaewkamnerd said The Dictator insists the strategy is critical for “reform” – code for the anti-democrats and their political system. Sansern said: “The period over the next five years is the most important as the next government will have to follow this framework, although it can be adjusted.”

But as critics suggest, the main point is that if “any government pursuing a policy interpreted as not being in line with the national strategy will face legal action” and probably legal dissolution.

BMA campaigns for the junta

8 10 2018

We had this post ready to go when we saw an article in the Bangkok Post that related, so we have added and revised the post to consider this new information.

In the newest story, the military dictatorship’s “taxpayer-funded Thai Niyom Yangyuen (Sustainable Thainess) programme” is defended by dopey government spokesman Lt Gen Sansern Kaewkamnerd as not being “well-known to many people mainly because it is not a populist scheme…”.

This program was only launched earlier this year by a fellow in a childish hat.

Photo credit: Thai PBS

The Dictator is said to be unhappy that what the Post calls a “Govt vote-catcher,” is that various ministries are failing “to push the scheme adequately.” As it is supposed to be a publicly-paid “vote-catcher,” he’s livid.

Despite the additional budget allocation by the junta, there’s surveying showing that “government officials have failed to raise adequate public awareness of the programme…”. The budget was a snip under 100 billion baht! That’s a lot of vote buying.

The Pracharat campaign, also weighed down with truckloads of taxpayer money, is getting a boost by having a junta-aligned political party of the same name campaigning.

On cue, the Bangkok Metropolitan Administration, essentially an arm of the junta, is in campaign mode for The Dictator, promoting Thai Niyom Yangyuen.

Trying to be more populist, the BMA is offering “a wide range of free health services to residents of Prawet district” last Saturday as a way of raising the scheme’s visibility, and just after The Dictator had campaigned in the city.

Bangkok’s Governor Pol Gen Asawin Kwanmuang, appointed by The Dictator, “chaired the launch of a mobile health unit in the populous Prawet district, offering free health checkups, dental services, eye exams, hearing tests for the elderly, cancer screening, influenza vaccines, and help for people with mental disorders.” And, no surprise, it joined with “co-organizers – the Ministry of the Interior and the Ministry of Defense – [to] len[d] a helping hand to people with informal debts, enrolling them in the government’s debt clinic campaign and giving them financial advice.”

Every vote for the populist junta is one less for the populist opposition, perhaps.

Junta building its party in northeast

23 07 2018

About a week ago PPT commented on The Dictator’s efforts to guarantee the victory he desires.

We noted the destabilizing of the Puea Thai Party, jailing opponents, using the “law” against them and building pro-junta parties. We added that Gen Prayuth Chan-ocha and his junta are unabashedly using the military, the bureaucracy and taxpayer’s funds in seeking to tip the “election” even more in the junta’s favor.

Much of that spending of taxpayer funds has been associated with high-profile “mobile cabinet meetings” in areas where Puea Thai has been strong since 2001.

The next candidate pilfering and big promises circus begins today in Ubol Ratchathani and Amnat Charoen.

Every single person in Thailand knows that the critical element of this trip is to support the Palang Pracharat Party as is seeks to “turn” Puea Thai politicians and even red shirts to the junta’s party.

That hasn’t prevented a week of lies by various junta people, denying the obvious. The junta seems to think the Thai electorate is stupid but continues with this silly lying. Perhaps they deny because this poaching is technically illegal. Yet the Election Commission is a junta lapdog, so there’s no chance of any law being enforced.

The denials have become less fervent as the week went on, with Gen Prawit Wongsuwan denying the cabinet-junta was seeking to meet former politicians:

[He] rejected any suggestion that the change is a move to avoid criticism. “We’re not avoiding it [meetings with politicians]. If they want or do not want to meet, so be it… It’s not about the agenda. Every time we met them because they had asked for it. But this time, I don’t know. But not that I know of.”

Deputy PM Wissanu Krea-ngam took the lawyers’ approach to lying stating that “no meetings with local leaders were listed in the agendas…”. We doubt that political poaching would ever appear on a cabinet agenda, so he’s probably correct, as far as he goes.

Later, the junta’s spokesman Lt Gen Sansern Kaewkamnerd dismissed the politics of Palang Pracharath recruiting, saying: “Don’t look at it as a political issue. Right now, the country must move forward with the cooperation of all involved…”.

That faux sentiment hasn’t prevented the repression of critics and threats made to students and academics in the region. That repression is brazen and conducted by the military, working for the junta and, apparently Palang Pracharath.

That repression is to allow the junta and its party an open field for its poaching.

In such circumstances, the junta/Palang Pracharath overtures to former Thaksinites and red shirts is likely to continue to produce results as the mantra becomes: There is no alternative to supporting the junta and The Dictator.

“Election” news

13 06 2018

There’s much in the news about the military junta’s “election” campaigning. Just in the Bangkok Post we found four stories of the junta on the campaign trail.

The first Bangkok Post story reports that instead of dealing with political parties as it said it would, The Dictator’s legal whipping boy Wissanu Krea-ngam – he always the one sent to deal with legal news and bad news – “will meet the Constitution Drafting Committee (CDC) and the Election Commission (EC) Thursday evening to discuss preparations for the general election.”

Screw the parties that are meant to participate in the general election unless, of course, the junta like you and feeds you information.

Wissanu and that other anti-democrat since the 1970s, Meechai Ruchupan, chairman of the Constitution Drafting Committee, seem to be the junta’s finger pointers.

Even so, Meechai “said that an agenda for the talks has not yet been set.” That seems to mean that he and Wissanu have yet been given their orders.

Meechai did say that the Election Commission “will specify the date from when, legally, an election can be held,” but that’s untrue because the process of approving legislation has maximum dates but also elastic periods in it as well.

Meechai dismissed the idea that parties should be able to communicate with the public – voters – saying they should be “sending the information electronically.” The idea of prospective politicians – other than the junta – talking to voters is off limits.

Getting in on the “election” act, National Legislative Assembly president Pornpetch Wichitcholchai said: “Everything will happen next year as set out in the roadmap…”. He was “referring to the premier’s earlier statement regarding a poll next February.”

Even Wissanu doesn’t buy that claim.

The second Bangkok Post story is a bit of a re-run with the Puea Thai Party accusing “people in power” – the junta and its military minions – of “increasing their efforts to lure its politicians into their fold, asking whether this behind-doors approach is the best four years of political reform has to offer.”

The junta’s people have invited “some former Pheu Thai MPs … to meet authoritative figures to talk about switching parties in the lead-up to a general election next year.” As lures and bait, they were offered “positions, budgets and financial help during the election…”.

While some complain that this is “Thai politics is still trapped in the old cycle,” it is exactly what the junta intended by its “reform” efforts.

The junta’s vacuuming up of politicians makes James Dyson look like an amateur.

A third Bangkok Post story is about the junta’s “populist” policies. The junta is reacting to potential negative electoral impacts from rising fuel prices by subsidizing them.For gas, they’ve been doing it for some time already.

When previous “bad” elected governments did this there was considerable criticism, not least from the those campaigning against “populism” at the Thailand Development Research Institute. We await their market-friendly criticism of the junta. We won’t hold out breath.

The Energy Policy Administration Committee “will only be able to subsidise the cap until mid-July, assuming additional resources are not channelled into the fund.” That’s another junta decision to be made. It comes on top of diesel subsidies.

Almost 8 million households and vendors will benefit.That’s a lot of voters being influenced by what was called “policy corruption” when elected governments were involved.

But its not just using state funds but making huge promises almost everywhere The Dictator campaigns.

The last Bangkok Post story involves the money trail through the near north. There, the junta’s “cabinet accepted in principle Tuesday a proposal to construct a double-track railway linking Tak and Nakhon Phanom as part of the transport routes under the East-West Economic Corridor.”

That proposal goes back to the 1980s!

Junta spokesman Lt Gen Sansern Kaewkamnerd “said the proposed 902km railway development” would begin in Mae Sot and go to Nakhon Sawan on the Lao border. Presumably, scenic carriages will be used as the train runs through the mountains around Mae Sot.

No funds have been promised. Maybe in the 2019 budget, when The Dictator is still premier, “election” or not. Feasibility? Economic, environmental and social impacts? No news. It’s just an “election” pitch.

There’s also a “26.8-billion-baht road expansion proposal covering 486km for the same cluster” of towns on the route.

Another pitch was a “a proposal to build an airport in Nakhon Sawan” that would be “considered”even with so-called high-speed railway scheduled to zoom through that city. Even the junta knows this but promised some kind of airport to voters.

We are sure the “election” news will continue to mount as the junta seeks to rig the “election.”

Further updated: Pots and kettles I

11 12 2017

There’s an English saying about the “pot calling the kettle black.” It means something like people should not criticize someone else for a fault that they have themselves. In Thailand, when discussing current politics, it is sometimes difficult to determine which is a pot and which is a kettle, and the blackness seems equally deep and sooty.

So when we read the Bangkok Post: and discover one confirmed and frequent liar being called out by another of similar ilk we do get to wondering.

Government spokesman Lt. Gen. Sansern Kaewkamnerd and (anti)Democrat Party rich leader and Korn Chatikavanij have been going at each other.

According to this report, by Veera Prateepchaikul, a former editor of the Bangkok Post sides with Korn:

Lt Gen Sansern, who is also acting director-general of the Public Relations Department, accused former finance minister Korn Chatikavanij, without naming him, of being an opportunist craving media space with an intention to lead the public into believing the government has not been doing anything.

The publicity which appeared to upset the spokesman was just Mr Korn’s recommendations to the government on how it could help rice farmers shore up rice prices during the months of November and December when the main crops were to be harvested.

We can understand criticism of Korn on rice policy; after all, he’s never been assigned any work in a rural area, although he now claims “four years” of work on a rich kid botique rice marketing scheme (read about it here, which begins with an incorrect assertion about what Thais think of rice. We think he means his rich brethren).

What was more interesting, though, was Korn’s licking of the pot:

Korn said the government should be more open-minded and receptive to divergent opinions as several policies could help farmers.

He lectured the spokesman and urged him to distinguish friend from foe and not to sow the seed of conflict.

He also reminded the lieutenant-general that there are people outside the government who are loyal and have good intentions toward the country.

Korn is reminding the dictatorship to be nice to its political allies, which includes the coup-loving and coup-provoking Democrat Party.

Apparently Korn has “discovered” and recommended a variant on the long-standing rice pledging scheme that pays a guaranteed minimum price for rice (a plan implemented by others in the past).

Even if Korn is recycling policy, he’s also telling the junta to be gentle with friends.

Seemingly to emphasize this, former Democrat Party leader and former prime minister Chuan Leekpai has demanded that party members not be “persistent” in “asking the regime to lift its ban on political activities…”.

Chuan and “other party executives agreed party members should not keep demanding political restrictions be lifted.” He stressed that if there are delays, the junta should be blamed. But he is also wary of poking his bear-like friends in the junta.

Chuan, who supported to military coups and judicial activism to bring down elected governments then banged on about “democracy.” The “real obstacle” to “democracy” is “people who do not uphold democracy…”.

As far as we can tell, the Democrat Party is chock full of people who do not uphold democracy, including Chuan himself. The Democrat Party has a long history of supporting royalist anti-democracy. Indeed, that was the reason the party was formed.

Update 1: Interestingly, Chuan seems keen to advise the junta on its political base (shared with the Democrat Party). Worried about that base, Chuan “appealed to premier [General] Prayut Chan-o-cha to address falling household income in the South.” Chuan showed that under the junta, average incomes had fallen substantially in several southern provinces.

His advice has been taken up, at least according to the report: “Based on Mr Chuan’s petition, the government had announced a policy of boosting people’s income in a bid to pull the country out of the so-called middle-income trap.”

Chuan worries that the junta makes the Democrat Party look bad as they are seen as political allies.

Update 2: In another political reminder to the junta, anti-democrat leader and “former” Democrat Party deputy leader Suthep Thaugsuban has re-emerged to announced “that he would release a video clip showing the group’s fight during 2013-2014 ‘to commemorate the fight that we fought together’.”

While he did not explain who the “we” were, his latest move suggested to some commentators that he wanted to address the junta. His group supported the junta and allegedly invited them to take office during the months-long protests.

Observers “believe Suthep wanted to remind the junta of their fight and the purpose of their fight” and to oppose the junta’s plan to establish its own political party, which is said to “contradict the PDRC’s initial purpose.” He’s also worried that the junta is “losing” the south.

Fakery and quakery

2 12 2017

The military dictatorship’s recent claims about “fake news” have been taken up by their bossy and yellow-hued acolytes in the Ministry of Public Health

An AP report says the MOPH has announced the launch of a trial period for a smartphone app called Media Watch “that will allow users to flag media content they find ‘inappropriate’ so it can be forwarded to government authorities.”

The snitch app will “help guard, observe, investigate and support the process of having safe and positive media to benefit our youth, families and society in general…”. The MOPH seems to be into quackery.

This appears one more step in making lese majeste snitching even easier for the cyber vigilantes. It will also allow pro-junta anti-democrats to report any critical commentary on the military regime.

(As an aside, PPT has noticed intense blocking in recent days. Interestingly, the heaviest censorship of PPT is now on our posts about the regime rather than anything we post on lese majeste or the monarchy. It seems that the censors are less interested in the monarchy.)

We can’t help wondering if wags won’t use the app to report the junta’s mouthpieces who regularly concoct the information they release.

For example, The Nation reports that junta spokesman Lt-General Sansern Kaewkamnerd was assigned to denigrate one of the anti-coal protest leaders who was, for a time, out of communication with his family.

He decided that a personal attack was the “news” to be manufactured. Sansern referred to “a man who ran away with a woman.” He said:

There was one key protester named Mustarseedeen Waba. There is a photo of him being escorted by police or military officers that is being circulated online, saying that he has not returned home yet…. I’ve asked the 4th Army Area commander and provincial police commander. Neither of the authorities said that they had caught him.

He then added that Mustarseedeen’s disappearance probably involved a tryst with a woman who wasn’t his wife.

Sansern was heavily criticized. His response was junta-esque: “We need to speak the truth today. The government always talks rationally…”.

That’s another lie. “Government spokesman” seems to mean “official liar.” Or maybe he’s the regime clown.