Watches and the junta’s protection racket

15 03 2018

The Bangkok Post states:

The charter court ruled on Friday that the provision in the organic bill governing the NACC [National Anti-Corruption Commission] which excuses some of its members from qualification rules set down in the charter does not contravene the constitution.

It describes the ruling as “controversial,” not least because some of the current NACC members are simply and obviously not qualified to serve under the current charter.

In essence, the politicized court has allowed a “a law to override the constitution which is the supreme law.” Of course, this is not at all new in Thailand and especially not under the current junta. Military dictatorships come to power by overthrowing constitutions and when they develop their own, these are applied to others, but not to the regime.

When deep yellow activists like Pichai Rattanadilok Na Phuket express “concerns the ruling undermines checks and balances,” you know that there’s a real odor about this politicized ruling in favor of one of the military dictatorship’s puppet agencies. Pichai once fronted the ultra-royalist and neo-fascist Sayam Prachapiwat group.

One reason for this ruling is that the junta needs the NACC, headed by its lackey Gen Watcharapol Prasarnrajkit.

We see this in the never-ending saga of the NACC’s “investigation” of the Deputy Dictator.

Another Bangkok Post story states that a “fact-finding committee on a collection of luxury watches worn by Deputy Prime Minister Prawit Wongsuwon” cannot come to a decisionon the watch case. Now, we wonder what “fact-finding” means to the NACC. Its in-house dictionary seems to define “fact-finding” as “a process of delaying reports and investigations so that a cover-up may be achieved.”

This definition is clearly at work on Gen Prawit Wongsuwan’s case because the NACC “fact-finding committee” is not deciding the case, but is “divided over whether to summon the deputy premier to make a statement.” Wow! It is also reported that the “fact-finding committee” is still “waiting for Gen Prawit to submit his clarification.” Wow and wow! Gen Prawit has been given at least four extended “deadlines,” which he simply ignores. After all, he’s busy arranging an “election” victory for his political allies, and can’t be bothered with little details like his hugely expensive watch collection and how he came by it.

The Post report points out that “the law allows the NACC to give only two extensions.” That’s another law the junta and his loyal servants can simply ignore. In essence, the military regime is lawless.





NIDA trashed

5 03 2014

Thailand’s National Institute of Development Administration claims to be one of Thailand’s highest ranked educational institutions, although it isn’t entirely clear what its rankings mean. A Cold War institution, set up by U.S. foundations and a part of that government’s underpinning of many Thai institutions at the time, NIDA now claims to have somehow been another of the king’s brainstorms, back in 1963. While we might want to discount this as just another North Korea-like example of the king being responsible for everything from rain to education, it is reflecting the use of NIDA, at least in name, by fanatical royalists posing as academics.

As reported at The Nation, Banjerd Singkaneti said to be “dean of … NIDA” and who turns out to be Dean of Law at NIDA, and “the deputy dean of NIDA, Pichai Rattanadilok na Phuket,” who is listed as Dean of another department at the NIDA website, both fronted the ultra-royalist and neo-fascist Sayam Prachapiwat. in its claim that the “caretaker government has lost the legitimacy to continue holding office after having breached the Constitution by seeking to divide the country…”.

Pichai has spent most of his time since 2005 engaged in political activism, jumping from one anti-democrat stage since then. In the PAD days he was considered and “earthy speaker,” meaning that he was one of the first to engage in personalized hate speech.

Sayam Prachapiwat blamed the government for all things wrong or evil but spent some time making a “legal” claim that “the February 2 elections were still incomplete, leading to the failure to open the House of Representatives,” meaning that the caretaker government was now illegitimate.

The report did not mention whether these “academics” had offered any advice on who or what would replace the caretaker government, how the election might be completed or anything else that might be expected from “academics.” Rather, they seemed to present again, in the name of NIDA, the anti-democrat manifesto.

These two administrators are using their positions at NIDA to provide some credibility for their anti-democratic views. Yet as far as we can tell from their CVs at their NIDA websites, neither seems a credible academic. That they link NIDA to an ultra-royalist and neo-fascist ginger group does little for NIDA’s academic credibility. Is NIDA broken and in need of academic repair? Certainly its academic reputation is being trashed.

 





Pandering to the minority?

30 12 2013

The Bangkok Post has joined The Nation in apparently pandering to the anti-democratic movement by naming it as the “People of the Year.” It refers to the “great mass uprising” or “muan maha prachachon” as a kind of middle class revolution that could “go down as a major political landmark and point of progress in Thai history.” The Post adds: “Whether the newly emerged force … will grow into a positive movement that brings about political progress remains to be seen.”

In other words, the selection is, like that of The Nation, either a bit of anti-democratic campaigning, pandering and hope or it is a bit like TIME magazine choosing Hitler as Man of the Year in 1938 which appears as fascination with a demagogue. We don’t know, but we do wonder about the Post’s pitch on this “landmark.”

Let’s look more closely at the claims made in this campaign by the Post (the indented bits are from the newspaper’s story):

Discontent, it is said, is the first necessity of progress.It’s discontent that lies at the hearts of the hundreds of thousands of people who have taken to Bangkok streets since last month to protest against the amnesty law that sought to absolve all crimes and corruption cases from 2006 onwards without any clear justifiable reasons.

It’s discontent against the flagrant abuse of power by a majority of democratically elected representatives who not only voted to pass a law that would have rendered the justice process meaningless but did so at 4:25am _ unbecoming conduct by parliamentarians for such highly questionable legislation.

This is true, as far as it goes. There is no doubt that the ill-conceived amnesty bill was a disaster for all involved. It is true that the amnesty bill motivated many who have demonstrated. However, it is also true that red shirts, both official and others, were also opposed to the amnesty bill. They are not demonstrating.

As the story later states, the bill has since been withdrawn. It might have been added that it never became law.

It is also true that the opposition movement is not primarily about this bill. The anti-democracy movement is primarily interested in destroying what it identifies as the “Thaksin regime” and prevent an election before the rules of elections can again be changed to allow minority interests to control politics.

The almost spontaneous uprising against the draft law started with tens of thousands who joined then Democrat MP and former party secretary-general Suthep Thaugsuban at a rally on Samsen Road, and grew into hundreds of thousands within weeks.

It is important to recognize that this anti-democratic movement was formed in 2005 and has been active ever since, seeing various levels of support. The opposition to the “Thaksin regime,” as Thongchai Winichakul points out in an excellent op-ed,  may have begun in late November, but this is “only one battle in Thailand’s protracted political struggle since the violent protests of 2006 that ended with a military coup.”

In fact, the lineage and allies is: People’s Alliance for Democracy (since 2005), Democrat Party (since 2005), Dhamma Army and Santi Asoke (since 2005), Group of 40 Senators (since 2005), palace and military (2006), judiciary (since 2006), No Colors/Multi Colors (from about 2010), Green Politics Group (since 2007), Thai Patriot Network (since 2008), Siam Samakkhi (since 2011), Network of Citizen Volunteers to Protect the Land (2012), Pitak Siam (which began its demonstrations in the same month in 2012), Sayam Prachapiwat (2012), the White Mask group, People’s Army Against the Thaksin Regime (2013), and now the misleadingly monikered People’s Democratic Reform Committee (2013). Each of these groups -and we are sure we have missed some of them – has had overlapping membership and leadership. Essentially, a small group of rightist leaders have worked from 2005 to mobilize and bring down elected governments.

The spirit of the 2013 uprising, the will to mass together to challenge injustice and the force for change it engendered, has earned the mass uprising, or muan maha prachachon as it has become known, the Bangkok Post’s 2013 People of the Year distinction.

PPT can’t help thinking about the injustice heaped upon every single elector who has voted again and again for the governments the majority wants, only to see them overturned by unelected minorities. We can’t recall, but were red shirts the Post’s Persons of the Year in 2010 for their campaign for an election?

It is the first time that white-collar working-class people and business entrepreneurs have spoken up and demanded they be treated as informed citizens who are willing to engage in participatory democracy, in activities that go beyond casting their ballot on voting days.

When Sondhi Limthongkul formed the People’s Alliance for Democracy six years ago, only a few thousand people in these classes joined him as the so-called yellow-shirt demonstrators….

This is far from factual. Business people have been funding PAD’s demonstrations since 2005 and have been involved in demonstrations previously – recall the 1992 “mobile phone mob.” The “white-collar working class” is an odd term and seems little more than an attempt to identify middle-class protesters who have come out time and again to oppose elections and pro-Thaksin governments. We have to say we are seriously confused by the claim about Sondhi and PAD. The Bangkok Post’s archives tell a different story.

Indeed, the … movement … is not without flaws.

As the uprising against the political amnesty law grew under Mr Suthep’s leadership, it morphed into a demonstration to oust the Yingluck Shinawatra government and so-called “Thaksin regime” _ a term used to refer to the influence of former prime minister Thaksin Shinawatra on politics and more loosely to the tyranny of the majority.

It is revealing that the Post uses the term “tyranny of the majority” with no interrogation. The term is usually used to refer to a situation where decisions made by a majority mean its interests are so central that those of an individual or minority are ignored in a manner that constitutes oppression. The anti-democrats, however, use this terminology to refer to the Shinawatra clan and associates getting all that they want. They also use it to complain that legislation the Democrat Party doesn’t like gets passed in parliament.  In reality, the Yingluck government has repeatedly backed down on its electoral promises in order to reduce opposition. Recall what political scientists were saying 6-12 months ago: the Yingluck strategy has been, according to Duncan McCargo, to cool political tensions. Kevin Hewison made similar claims in a 2012 article at Political Insight. None of this sounds either tyrannical or despotic.

While its demand seems to resonate with many people _ hundreds of thousands rose up every time Mr Suthep called on them to march _ it is questionable whether the movement is for a “less flawed democracy” as many demonstrators have claimed, or simply “less democracy” as Mr Suthep’s proposal seems to suggest.

Political analyst Chris Baker is cited by the Post:

He said the movement’s rejection of the one-person, one-vote basic principle of political equality is clear.

“Some supporters have clearly said they think Bangkok people should have more weight in the elections than non-Bangkok people. This is important. We outside observers now know what this movement stands for…”.

Thammasat political scientist Kasian Tejapira is also quoted:

He said what is going on is not different from a putsch. It’s just being done with support from the masses instead of military tanks and weapons. “The muan maha prachachon is a capitalist movement that will lead to the tyranny of the minority…”.

Despite this clarity, the Post still it is fascinated by the anti-democratic movement. Part of the reason for this is explained by Democrat Party stalwart and former ASEAN secretary-general Surin Pitsuwan:

He said the rural electorate was awakened and made aware of its political power and potency in an open political process over a decade ago.

Now, the other end of the political spectrum including people who were politically passive have become agitated by the ways things are going.

“Deep grievances are being articulated against a rampant and unprecedented level of corruption, abuse of power, cronyism in business, nepotism in the bureaucracy, intervention in the check-and-balance mechanisms, control of government media and intimidation of free and independent news agencies.

“[They are also upset about] pervasive and systematic violations of human and civil rights, impunity for law enforcement personnel, ruinous populist programmes and ill-conceived government projects. All of these lead to a profile of anger, frustration, bitterness, emotional pain and political divide on the streets of Bangkok,” Mr Surin said.

It is a bit difficult to know where to begin with Surin’s position. We do agree on the political awakening of a decade or so ago. However, as we have shown above, the claim that “the other end of the political spectrum including people who were politically passive” is false. It would only be true if there hadn’t been a 1992, a PAD or a coup. The POst adds to this:

There are those who attend rallies because they want “good people” to govern the country, university students who want to rid the country of conflicts of interest, and those critical of the government’s environmental policies.

A common theme of the protests is the crowd’s opposition to corruption.

“It’s the corruption, stupid!” former finance minister Thirachai Phuvanatnaranubala wrote on Facebook.

He was referring to former United States president Bill Clinton’s phrase, “It’s the economy, stupid!” which alerted American voters that the key issue during the 1992 US election was not the war against Iraq but the poor economy.

To be factual, the phrase was not Clinton’s but of one of his campaign strategists. That aside, it is fair to observe that none of these desires are absent from the majority who support pro-Thaksin parties. At the same time, each of these claims has been made since PAD came into existence and the double standards are breathtaking: Suthep has a long history of nepotism and cronyism, not to mention corruption claims; Sondhi Limthongkul has an equally long history of corrupt practices; the Democrat Party had to leave office in 1995 over corruption claims; and when Abhisit was in power, the claims of corruption were from red shirt opponents.

Political commentator Anek Laothamatas is also cited:

The Pheu Thai Party, which has focused on winning votes from the rural base and believed _ falsely _ that electoral victory would silence the minority middle class, must rethink their strategy to regain its support….

He’s right on that. The majority has been repeatedly told by the minority – the middle classes and elite – that electoral victories mean nothing. In democracies that take hold, these classes usually make compromises that allow the poorer majority a say in politics. It seems Thailand’s minority wants another path.





Panicked on the monarchy

23 06 2012

There’s a long and interesting report at Bloomberg Businessweek by Daniel Ten Kate worthy of attention. For those who want to see political change in Thailand, it will be demoralizing to learn that:

Only about three of 500 House of Representatives members support a bill that reduces jail terms for people convicted of royal insults, according to Jarupan Kuldiloke, one of the members backing the effort. The ruling party has declined to endorse it.

Well we all knew that the Puea Thai Party under the non-leadership of Yingluck Shinawatra has an “aversion” to doing the right thing on lese majeste. Kate cites academic Michael Connors in asserting that this aversion “may bolster its [the government’s] monarchist credentials…” and avert its ouster. This is a myth. As PPT has highlighted since the day the Puea Thai government was elected, no Shinawatra is ever going to be allowed back into the royalist elite. This government is already on the way out via judicial coup.

That all but three MPs are deluded and spineless is a sad reflection on a parliament that has existed, on and off  for almost 80 years. After all, the bill doesn’t abolish the law, it just makes it less draconian.

It seems that the bill on lese majeste mentioned is the result of the Campaign Committee for the Amendment of Article 112 “petition with about 30,000 signatures from members of the public, triple the amount required by the constitution for lawmakers to consider legislative initiatives.”

If the Puea Thai Party are spineless and neglecting their political base, the royalist Democrat Party is playing to its ultra-royalist political ballast, with its loudmouthed spokesman Chavanond Intarakomalyasut asserting that hsi anti-democratic party is “not supporting the people who use this to attack the royal family…. The royal family needs protection.” Yes, the party of royalists has long supported the country’s richest “institution.”

That’s why the number of lese majeste cases surged while the Democrat Party served as government following a judicial coup in 2008 and with the support of the military and palace.

Kate then quotes Komsan Phokong, said to be “a law lecturer at Sukhothai Thammathirat Open University.” In fact, Komsan is a member of the ultra-royalist and neo-fascist Sayam Prachapiwat group, and rants on foreigners and lese majeste:

Foreigners shouldn’t interfere with our issue because they don’t understand us…. The status of our king and other kings in western countries are totally different. Our king is the center of people’s hearts. They can’t use their standards to judge our case.

Quoting political fruit loops like Komsan is easy journalistic pickings.

Reuters/Chaiwat Subprasom

More significant is the observation by Charnvit Kasetsiri, “a former rector of Thammasat University who helped present the bill to parliament”:

Even if rejected, the proposals are useful for educating people about the need to change Article 112 before challenges escalate as the succession to King Bhumibol approaches, according to

“On the surface Thailand looks like a land of smiles,” Charnvit said. “But deep down in cyberspace, with the coming of the new world, it’s rather messy.”

In the context of this notion of adult education, readers may wish to read this piece on Overcoming Fear of Monarchy.





Who would have thought…

6 03 2012

Who would have thought that the military junta-appointed drafters of the 2007 constitution would have had an “association”?

They do, and at The Nation it is reported that the “Association of the 2007 Constitution Drafters came out to oppose the amendment of Article 291 of the charter yesterday, saying it’s tantamount to abolishing the charter.” Who would have thought that such a group of military flunkies could have declared anything else.

The chairman of the “Association” is Kiatichai Pongpanich, and he is reported to have joined with the military junta appointed senator Surachai Liangboonlertchai (also a 2007 drafter) and Komsan Phokong of the Sayam Prachapiwat “group of royalist academics” in a press conference.

Komsan was last mentioned by PPT when Sayam Prachapiwat issued a savagely backward, even fascist, “manifesto” that began by attacking all those who proposed amending or abolishing the draconian lese majeste law.

These three groups of military-associated ultra-royalists make the startling claim that any attempt to “amend article 291 of the [2007] charter might be ‘unconstitutional’.” They added that they thought that amendment would impact the monarchy.

Komsan reckons the military junta’s constitution is democratic and declared any effort to change it as “unconstitutional,” probably “illegal” and the “equivalent to staging a coup d’etat…”. Such a perspective is simply bizarre. Who would have thought that an academic, a senator and a charter drafter couldn’t understand constitutional reform?

And, who would have thought that opposition leader Abhisit Vejjajiva would jump into bed with such nonsense. This report states that Abhisit has again stated that the process of constitutional reform is impacting the monarchy.

PPT hardly ever agrees with Deputy Prime Minister Chalerm Yubamrung, but we do this time. Chalerm stated that he “had repeated this claim 10 times and others, like Interior Minister and Deputy Premier Yongyuth Vichaidit, had said the same thing”: that is, “the issue of the monarchy institution would not be touched in the charter rewrite and nothing will be done to amend the lese majeste law.”

While we think this is wrong and that the monarchy and the lese majeste law should be the subject of review too, Chalerm is right that he has said that they aren’t.

It is no surprise that Abhisit and the Democrat Party make the monarchy the center of their political campaigns. Why not? It has served them well in the past.





The yellow protests begin

3 03 2012

A week or so ago, Tul Sitthisomwong and his so-called Citizen Network for Protection of Motherland gathered all of 30 supporters to protest at parliament and to submit “letters opposing charter amendments to representatives of both the lower and upper House opposing charter amendments.” They promised more protests. A couple of days later, the People’s Alliance for Democracy “threatening legal action and mass rallies in response to the government’s charter amendment bid.” PAD also promised more rallies against constitutional change.

Those threats came together as what the Bangkok Post called an “anti-Thaksin Shinawatra alliance has kicked off a campaign against rewriting the charter, vowing to step up their protests if an amendment is touted that would allow his return.” Well, hardly a kick-off, but the first major rally, drawing about “1,000 supporters of the Siam Samakkhi group, led by appointed senator Somjet Boonthanom, packed out Lumpini Hall in Lumpini Park yesterday to protest against the constitution amendment.” Somjet is a former general and military junta member involved in planning and implementing the 2006 coup and often uses Tul as a Siam Samakkhi organizer. His group is closely aligned with alliance partner, the Sayam Prachapiwat group of ultra-royalist academics.

Former coup leader Somjet made the ironic claim that any move to change the constitution was a “coup under the camouflage of democracy and parliamentary majority.” Supporting the generalissimo were Tul and anti-Thaksin yellow shirts Kaewsan Atibhodhi, appointed senator Somchai Sawaengkarn and “academic” – he’s really a media personality and ultra-royalist – Seri Wongmontha.

The point of opposing any amendment to the constitution was made crystal clear when General Somjet said: “The 2007 constitution hurt Thaksin more than anybody. This government is using the CDA as a tool to nullify the 2007 constitution, which is no different to staging a coup…”. He added that any amendment would somehow deliver the Puea Thai Party “absolute power.”

It was added that Siam Aamakkhi had a particular interest in the position of the monarchy – who knew!? – and it was keen to “deter” any “attempts to undermine the roles and the status of the institution of the monarchy especially through the charter rewrite process.” It was also claimed that this did not just relate to chapter 2 of the charter, for the “roles and the powers of the institution were not just limited to Chapter 2…”.

More joint rallies are planned.





Updated: For ultra-royalists, Nitirat is very scary

24 01 2012

It seems that, after its second big meeting, the Nitirat group of lawyers and supporters are looking very, very scary for royalists. At The Nation, the royalist attacks are detailed.

It also seems that the idea of “proposing charter amendments that would require a new head of state to be sworn in and vow to abide by and protect the constitution before assuming his post” is just too much for royalists.

Revealingly, Army boss General Prayuth Chan-ocha demands that “the police should look into the matter and determine if there was any legal violation.”

PPT can well understand his position. After all, he is a coup planner and maker, so he has a record of not abiding by or protecting the constitution. Rather, he trashes them, trampling under his large military boot.

Prayuth seems more concerned that this suggestion by Nitirat is demeaning to the monarchy rather than “illegal.”  He says:

I have always called for people to help protect the monarchy. Everybody should lend a hand, particularly the mass media…. People should follow the law. If what they are doing is not against the law, it is fine.

Even so, his point is clear. We can only wonder why he hasn’t said the same thing about People’s Alliance for Democracy’s (probably illegal) call for a military coup to protect the monarchy. Well, no, we don’t really wonder.

Komsan Phokong is a law lecturer at Sukhothai Thammathirat Open University and a supporter of the Sayam Prachapiwat group, making him an ultra-royalist and yellow shirt. He has decided that the best way to attack Nitirat is to yell that they are red shirt, Thaksin-supporting, Thaksin-funded republicans. He doesn’t use all those words but it is what he means.

Komsan said the Nitirat proposal “appeared to be intended to reduce the status of the monarchy.” Komsan said Nitirat “seemed to campaign in a manner that complemented the ideas and desires of former prime minister Thaksin Shinawatra and his red-shirt supporters.”

In an innovation – for us at PPT anyway – an ultra-royalist has used the 1932 revolution that overthrew the absolute monarchy as a negative, horrible event. Komsan says:

This proposal is aimed at changing the political system. It is similar to that of the Khanarat, which staged a coup in 1932″ to overthrow absolute monarchy….

We understand that some ultra-royalists want to turn back the clock to an absolute monarchy. We understand that much of the history of political struggles over constitutions going right back to 1932 have been efforts to roll back change. However, using the Khana Ratsadorn (People’s Party) as a denigration is new to us.

Komsan then demanded that Nitirat

disclose the source of funds used in its active campaign for constitutional amendments and changes to Article 112 of the Penal Code involving lese majeste.

The inference is that Thaksin is funding them. Konsum says that his call “is for the sake of transparency so that people can be assured the campaign has no hidden agenda…”. We don’t have a problem with transparency, but PPT doesn’t recall Sayam Prachpiwat revealing its funding. Nor to we recall Komsan calling for PAD to reveal its big-time funders.

Jumping on the fear train, Senator Kamnoon Sidhisamarn, an ASTV/Manager journalist appointed to the Senate by the military junta’s constitutional rules and yellow shirt fanatic, agreed that “politicians” were the root of all evil and Nitirat’s proposal would lead to “parliamentary dictatorship.” That’s PAD-speak for opposing free elections.

Kamnoon then rambled on about how the king was a really good guy, unlike all the nasty politicians of the last 60 years. In other words, an absolute monarchy would be so much better.

There can’t be many countries where political debate is circling on the question of monarchy versus democracy. Nitirat seem to be scaring the hell out of the ultra-royalists by proposing a version of constitutional monarchy.

Update: Over at New Mandala there is a related post on the way the extremist yellow shirts view Nitirat and the “threat” posed by its modest proposals. In part, the vehemence of threats and name-calling is reflective of the deep malaise amongst yellow shirts who are unable to get electoral support for a ridiculously antiquated political ideology. Related, it is also reflective of a long-held suspicion of political change inculcated by military and palace ideological campaigns over the past five decades. Combined, this is potentially fertile ground for dangerous and destabilizing fascist ideas.





They’re back with the same ideas and tactics

21 01 2012

At The Nation there is a report that deserves some attention simply because it is a distorted mirror of events in early 2008.

On Friday the ultra-nationalist and ultra-royalist People’s Alliance for Democracy held a public meeting “to mark the Chinese New Year” and the event saw its four core leaders “vowed to resume the struggle against former prime minister Thaksin Shinawatra.”

Sondhi

Big boss Sondhi Limthongkul didn’t attend as he was in China, apparently receiving acupuncture treatment (at Chinese New Year??). Sounding decidedly Thaksin-like, he phoned in.

Showing how bereft of ideas and how anti-democratic the PAD is, Sondhi “said the military should stage a coup in cooperation with the people in order to wrestle a complete control of the country from Thaksin.”

In essence, Sondhi and PAD are sick of an electoral process where the “will of the people” is not what they want. We doubt this call is in line with Section 68 of the constitution, but PAD uses constitutions rather than accepts the principles embedded in them.

Pledging “a make-or break struggle,” Sondhi said that PAD isn’t going to just focus on street-level politics, “but a complete seizure of power…”.

In a harking back to the PAD of yore, Sondhi made the compulsory complaint that “he feared for the future of the monarchy if the Thaksin camp had its way.”

Another PAD leader Phipob Dhongchai said the movement “stood ready to step out and fight against the domination of rogue capitalists over the political system.” He mumbled something about “ethics” as his boss called for a coup….

Like Sondhi and his clique, Phipob hates the idea that people vote, but he drew solace from his claim that the Puea Thai Party only received a paltry 15 million votes. PPT recalls that the party of PAD, which kind of had a falling out amongst the leadership because they knew they were hopeless, got almost no votes. But still Phipob, sounding delusional if not fascist, states “PAD was ready to lead the people to victory in safeguarding the country.”

Another PAD leader, the former Democrat Party parliamentarian Somkiat Pongpaibul, “said he expected a final showdown with the Thaksin regime.” Never short of an outlandish fabrication, this time Somkiat borders on the maniacal when he:

claimed about the regime was contracting some 5,000 Cambodian and Vietnamese mercenaries to topple the monarchy in order to inaugurate a republic.

He expected “PAD will pour into the streets at the first sign of changing charter provisions pertaining the monarchy and granting amnesty for Thaksin…”.

Now he’s confused us, where did those mercenaries go??

Chamlong

PAD’s other leader, the always grinning Chamlong Srimuang said he was sure of “the invincibility of the people’s power.” Except, of course, the power of voters.

PPT will be interested to see how much traction PAD gets. Their front organizations in Tul Sitthisomwong’s multi-colors, the Sayam Prachapiwat anti-Nitirat lawyers, and Siam Samakkhi have been setting the scene for a full PAD rebirth.

We tend to think that it requires mis-steps by the Yingluck Shinawatra government for PAD to get much support. That is not to discount the possibility of support for PAD in high or armed places that would also provide impetus.





A royalist conspiracy supporting a draconian law

18 01 2012

In The Nation, royalist opposition to any move to amend the draconian lese majeste law is listed. In an apparently related set of statements, academics and the National Human Rights Commission have made similar comments.

PPT has already posted on the Sayam Prachapiwat group of ultra-royalist academics. They have made yet another public statement calling for the protection of the lese majeste law. This time their claim is that the “law was needed to protect the monarchy as head of state, and not as an individual.” They added that the  law is “not a problem in itself, but that the problems were being caused by unfair and inefficient enforcement of the law.”

At least they acknowledge a “problem.” However, their view is that it is those politicians that they hate who are the nasty influences. In fact, they see politicians as the root of all evil and a problem for the “enforcement of other laws.”

Their solution is not that different in philosophy from the People’s Alliance for Democracy: get rid of the bad, evil, politicians and the sun will be allowed to shine on royalist Thailand. Of course, it is fascist nonsense.

This is demonstrated in their position that the link between lese majeste and national security must be maintained and that the law has not “resulted in rights and freedom being restricted.”

“Sayam Prachapiwat views that Article 112 of the Penal Code – which protects the monarchy as ‘head-of-state institution’ – does not restrict people’s rights and freedom of expression, as has been claimed,” the group said.

More surprising is a statement attributed to the NHRC. It has “rejected media reports that it supported calls to amend Article 112.” Such a claim in the media would be bizarre indeed, as we have posted previously on how the NHRC has been reluctant to do anything related to Article 112. Yes, it has a working group “studying” the law, but slowly indeed.

Sounding exactly like Sayam Prachapiwat, the “commission said the monarchy, as head of state, deserved protection against insults in the same way as foreign heads of state, who are also protected under Article 133 of the Penal Code.”

PPT would point out that Article 133 is a little-known law that provides legal protection to foreign heads of state. It is meant to justify the existence of Article 112.

In a related statement, Thawil Pliensri, a “former secretary-general of the National Security Council who is now an adviser to the prime minister, yesterday voiced his opposition to the proposed amendment of the clause.”

PPT has another post coming on Thawil. Here we simply note that he, too, sounds remarkably like Sayam Prachapiwat, to the extent that it seems like there is a pro-monarchy conspiracy. Thawil stated:

The problem is not caused by the law itself. It rather involves the enforcement of the law, so the problem should be tackled at the right point. It is not that when there is an increase in offences, you just rescind the law so it is no longer considered an offence….

Again, there might be a point to celebrate the notion that the enforcement of the law has been problem, but this statement is no different from those made under the biggest-ever user of the law, the Abhisit Vejjajiva regime. That government came to the remarkable conclusion that there was indeed a real threat to the monarchy. The result was a determined use of the law that coincided with the repression of Abhisit’s political opponents.





United royalists want lese majeste law toughened

14 01 2012

Yesterday PPT added an update to its post on blue-bloods calling for lese majeste reform. In that update, we noted that yet one more yellow-shirt group has been formed to “protect the monarchy.”

According to The Nation, that group – calling itself “Sayam Prachapiwat” or Siamese People’s Progress – this “group of royalist academics from eight universities,” as part of an orchestrated yellow-shirted campaign, has issued a remarkably backward, even fascist, “manifesto.”

It began by “attacking those who want to amend or abolish the lese majeste law and vowing to fight what they called the monopoly of Thai politics by a ‘capitalist political party’.” Here they mean the Puea Thai Party and they are specifically rejecting election results. That is not surprising. After all, this is a yellow shirt group that draws inspiration from the anti-democratic elements of the People’s Alliance for Democracy.

The group includes “26 academics from eight universities including Chulalongkorn and Thammasat.” As we noted yesterday, the spokesman is a NIDA academic. The reactionary academics stated that:

… no one should touch the lese majeste law and that the penalty for violating it should be made more severe, because there exists a movement to defame and abolish the monarchy institution.

Law lecturer – yes, apparently that is the correct designation – Komsan Pho-kong, from Sukhothai Thammathirat University stated that

the “real problem” is not the lese majeste law but “an attempt by some to establish a new Thai state“, referring to the perceived threat of republicanism.

This new ultra-royalist group

accused the Nitirat group of law lecturers, which will launch its public campaign to amend the lese majeste law on Sunday at Thammasat University, of exploiting their academic status to push forward a “hidden agenda” to undermine the monarchy.

For Nitirat’s agenda, see this lengthy document. There seems little that is hidden in that, and this week Nitirat will re-launch its campaign to eradicate the laws established by the 2006 coup and military junta. Indicating just how reactionary this new group is, one member stated that Nitirat “speaks like Latin American revolutionaries…”.

Of course, the academics who are members of the so-called Sayam Prachapiwat or Siamese People’s Progress are supporters of the coup. They do not see the military as problematic. Rather, they are opposed to elections that “their” party never wins. So:

The group insisted that military dictatorships’ domination of Thai society is over and the sole threat is that of the so-called “capitalist political party”, which it said is corrupt.

Remarkably, this fascist-like group argues for a reduction in political freedoms:

Komsan added that most Thais do not understand what liberty is all about. The Siam Prachapiwat group stated in its manifesto that Thailand is facing a “crisis of [too much] liberty”. “There exists the overuse of liberty, leading society toward anarchy,” part of the manifesto reads.

The Nation notes the group’s links to PAD. It is thus no surprise that it includes the deeply yellow PAD activist Charas Suwanmala of Chulalongkorn University’s Faculty of Political Science, who is also associated with that other PAD front organization, the so-called multi-colored group. Charas is claiming that, as he did in the past, he will organize anti-Thaksin Shinawatra “academic seminars.” He promises “discussions” of the “monopolisation of Thai politics” by the Pheu Thai Party.”

Echoes of the early 2008 PAD activities are not coincidental.

Meanwhile, the Bangkok Post has a report that indicates how a yellow-shirted campaign has been orchestrated. Tul Sitthisomwong, also of Chulalongkorn University and a yellow shirt stalwart plans to mobilize his multi-colors to “campaign in opposition to any move to change the lese majeste law.”

In a related move, Tul will rally his followers to “show its opposition to the cabinet’s resolution to pay compensation to relatives of protesters killed and injured in the anti-government protests…”. He reckons that the amounts “was too high, because the budget comes from the people’s taxes…”.

Also joining in is a senate committee that “opposes moves to amend Section 112 of the Criminal Code, the lese majeste law, saying those who are against the law might have a hidden agenda.” In other words, the same statement as the fascist academics noted above.

Senator Pornphan Boonyarataphan, appointed to the Senate under the military junta’s rules and chair of the Senate Law Enforcement Follow-up Committee, made the standard royalist claim that the lese majeste law is in line with the laws of other countries. This is a point that has repeatedly been shown to be false. The unelected senator went further:

The senator said the committee will send a letter to the Foreign Affairs Ministry, asking it to protest against United Nations rights official Frank La Rue’s call for the government to make changes to Section 112 after the Criminal Court sentenced a 61-year-old man to 20 years in jail after finding him guilty of lese majeste.

She expressed a position also made in the Manager, a PAD mouthpiece in rather more derogatory terms:

Those who want Section 112 of the Criminal Code changed don’t actually want the law to be more lenient but their target is to allow people to insult, defame, create malice and cause the institution not to tolerate any longer.

While that last sentence might be a bit mangled, the intention is clear. With the anti-Thaksin forces increasing their level of mobilization, the next week or so will see an interesting clash of ideas about the structure of Thai politics.