Chirmsak mangles democracy

10 10 2014

A day ago we posted on the rewards heaped on the military junta’s allies amongst the anti-democrats. In that post we mentioned the appointment of Chirmsak Pinthong to the puppet National Reform Council (NRC). We noted that Chirmsak, a former senator, captivated by the People’s Alliance for Democracy and opposed to electoral democracy. His position moved to the extreme right as he joined the ultra-royalist Siam Samakkhi group.

Chirmsak’s rightist anti-democratic views are clear in a report at Khaosod. He declares:

The drafting of the Constitution needs to produce long-term benefits without bias against any individual, but if the drafting is meant to prevent people who abuse their power – people like Thaksin – from entering politics, it can be done….

Chirmsak equates elections with “the power wielded by the state…”. That’s an amazing conclusion but expected from anti-democrats who fear the power of voting that can produce benefits for the non-elite. He demands that “political parties that win elections in the future” should ever be allowed to claim “a popular mandate and alter… the Constitution…”.

Of course, the real story is that no elected party has changed the constitution since 1997. Rather, the military has intervened twice to throw out constitutions.

Chirmsak dismisses any suggestion that the NRC, the handpicked servants of the military junta, was biased. Given that it is stuffed full of his allies, Chirmsak’s dissembling is to be expected. He thinks “democracy” and “involvement” in reform will be a referendum. That idea is that citizens will be presented with a long and complicated document and asked to vote in support of it, in total. You get the idea that Chirmsak’s notion of democracy is badly mangled.

Meanwhile, as a footnote, another NRC puppet, Amorn Wanichwiwat, “promised to reform Thailand” declaring that this would be through a “Buddhist moral system” that only allows “Good People” to take political office. That it plagiarized from those who wrote the royalist script known as Thai-style democracy in the early 1960s. The emphasis on Buddhism will alientate non-Buddhists, but the anti-democrats couldn’t care less.

Rewarding the anti-democrats II

9 10 2014

Yesterday we posted on the rewards dished out to anti-democrats by placing them in the military dictatorship’s puppet National Reform Council.

A report at The Nation stresses just how much rewarding has gone on. Two of the major ideologues of anti-democratic movements from the People’s Alliance for Democracy to the Democrat Party-led anti-democrats of 2014, have been Chai-Anan Samudavanija and Chirmsak Pinthong.

Chai-AnanChai-Anan, who has long been funded by Sondhi Limthongkul, considered a palace insider and a staunch monarchist, is reportedly “among the leading candidates for the NRC presidency.” Back in May, Chai-Anan was amongst a group of elite conspirators who wanted the king’s intervention to “solve” the political crisis in their interests. They ran to aged General and Privy Council President Prem Tinsulanonda to seek his intervention with the aged monarch. This was another manifestation of the old man country. You get a flavor for their perspective from earlier, very popular posts at PPT: Dangerous old men or just silly old men? and A country for old men? (also available as ประเทศนี้สำหรับคนรุ่นเก่าหรือไง).

Back in 2009, PPT commented on Chai-Anan:

Chai-Anan Samudavanija, formerly a political scientist at Chulalongkorn University, is a long-time ally of Sondhi Limthongkul. He was also a supporter of Thaksin Shinawatra for a considerable time, and seemed to stay longer than Sondhi. Chai-Anan jumped ship when the People’s Alliance for Democracy was in Sondhi’s hands. Chai-Anan is also close to the palace, as director of Vajiravudh College and a member of the Royal Institute.

Chai-Anan has been a regular commentator at ASTV and his columns have been rather incendiary whenever the political temperature has risen over the last couple of years.

In another post, we pointed out that Chai-Anan was one of those who promoted the infamous PAD propaganda claim of a “Finland Plot” that linked Thaksin Shinawatra to a republican plot involving former communist activists. This pre-2006 coup device was meant to further establish the palace-Thaksin battle lines. As chairman of his own Institute of Public Policy Studies, long funded by PAD leader Sonthi, Chai-Anan has engaged in some some dubious name-calling and attacked representative politics. He has stated that electoral politics need to be re-considered and has been a supporter of the “Thai-style democracy” notions of non-democratic legitimacy.

ChirmsakChirmsak, a former senator once collected some valid criticisms of Thaksin Shinawatra in government but was soon captivated by the People’s Alliance for Democracy and dominated by a deep personal hatred of Thaksin. Back in 2010, he was howling about “civil war” and suggesting that Thaksin supporters are either paid by the tycoon or are traitors to the royal Thai state. As for those who were duped into voting for pro-Thaksin parties or into becoming red shirts, Chirmsak couples “the poor” with the “ignorant.” Like other right-wing intellectuals, Chirmsak remains so resolutely dismissive of many millions of his fellow citizens. Hence, he dismisses elections by talking of “a political party owned by an individual …[where the] party founders had no ideology and relied on their financiers to sustain the party.”  For Chirmsak – and he is absolutely logical and consistent in this –  the solution is appointed “independent MPs.”

In 2012, Chirmsak supported the ultra-royalist Siam Samakkhi group. At one of its rallies, he joined with a range of royalists including Tul Sitthisomwong and Kaewsan Atibhodhi when they cheered two thugs who had beaten up Nitirat’s Worachet Pakeerut. Worachet had once written in books edited by Chirmsak, criticizing Thaksin, but that counted for nothing when Chirmsak went after him as a political turncoat.

These are the political types who will chart “reform” for Thailand.

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.

Anti-democratic violence

26 12 2013

Now that the bulk of the protesters have left the streets, the anti-democratic movement is in the hands of Suthep Thaugsuban, the People’s Alliance for Democracy leadership and extremist members of the Democrat Party. Their protesters are now the protest hardened toughs from the “rubber farmer” demonstrations in the south, which were particularly aggressive, the rabid ultra-nationalist/anti-Thaksin activists of groups like Siam Samakkhi and the Thai Patriot Network, Chamlong Srimuang’s professional protesters of the Dhamma Army, and the violence prone vocational students. Each of these groups is led by PAD operatives from the 2008 long occupations and associated street violence.

This is a dangerous and potentially explosive mixture of extremists.

The initial results of this in recent days has been the steadily increasing violence meant to prevent an election taking place. Today has seen a steady escalation of violence as Suthep has send his hardened activists to break into and occupy the election registration center at Din Daeng. They faced police, determined to keep them out. Violence erupted, with anti-democratic thugs attacking police with various weapons. The police replied with tear gas and rubber bullets.Machete

Amongst tear gas, shots were fired, killing one policeman and wounding several others, including a journalist. It seems medics were frightened by the violence and threats from protesters as they tried to save the policeman’s life. Others were apparently beaten by protesting toughs (see photo left).Taxi driver It was reported that “several other policemen were also wounded by gunfire from unidentified individuals…”. Protesters mainly suffered the effects of tear gas, as did the police.

It remains to be seen what lethal weaponry was used by the protesters, although one tweet with a picture claims that the shooter was apprehended by police (see photo right).Shooter

The situation was so dangerous that Thai Journalists’ Association, referring to “several reporters” being injured, stated that “the executives of all media should order their reporters to pull out from the risk area immediately…”. That makes sense, although if journalists are unable to report, expect the anti-democratic movement to concoct its own story of the events where the police will be painted as aggressors.

Election Commission staff had to be flown out of the stadium by helicopter, with some reports of shots being fired at the helicopters.

Meanwhile, one of the Democrat Party’s hired American supporters, with considerable combat experience, has claimed that he is with the “fighters” who were attacking the police.

YonOut of all of this, the useless dolts at the National Human Rights Commission managed to conjure a biased and pathetic statement:

… expressing its worry over the police operation against the protesters who were attempting to storm the Thai-Japan Stadium. It specifically criticised the police for using tear gas and rubber bullets, claiming that such measure is unacceptable in universal crowd control methods. The statement also urged the police to rely on peaceful dialogue as means to defuse the tension. The statement made no mention of any violence committed by the protesters.

Meanwhile, the Election Commission continues its flip-flops. At the Bangkok Post it is reported that the EC has again decided that an election is a bad idea. Not that long ago, we asked: How is it that the Election Commission can continue to ask for the election to be delayed? Their bleating seems designed to encourage Suthep’s anti-democrats to acts of sabotage against the election….  Their call seems unlawful. But that never seems to bother this lot.

Despite repeated flip-flopping and acknowledging that the election must be held according to the constitution, the EC has again “asked the government to postpone the general election scheduled for Feb 2…”. This time, the EC has stated a determination to postpone the election due to the anti-democracy movement’s protests, and has issued a threat:

“The EC would like to send a message through this statement to the government, to all sides in conflict, and people in all sectors, that the Feb 2, 2014 election will not happen without a joint agreement reached by all concerned.

“Therefore, the EC would like to ask the government to postpone the election until such an agreement has been reached. The EC is ready to act as a mediator to find a joint settlement,” the statement said.

If no action was taken to resolve and improve the situation, the EC would consider exercising the rights of individual commissioners to make a decision to resolve the situation as deemed appropriate, the statement said.

In fact, the political violence of the anti-democracy movement is one element of the creeping coup, with an equally important part being played by politicized agencies and courts, with the EC and other agencies lining up cases that can easily be used to end the government’s tenure, halt an election and declare anti-democrats the winners in this particular crisis.

Updated: Creeping coup

13 12 2013

The anti-democratic movement led by Suthep Thaugsuban has been engaged in a creeping coup, and the government led by Yingluck Shinawatra has conceded so much ground that Thailand’s politics is being wound back, not just to the pre-Thaksin Shinawatra period, but to an authoritarian past, with Suthep mentioning “the era of Field Marshal Thanom Kittikachorn.”

Why does PPT make this assessment? Here’s why:

The next step is the final ouster of the elected government, to be replaced by unelected council to establish the “absolute democracy,” which will be no democracy at all.

In his meeting with the capitalist representatives, Suthep said his demanded council would:

contain 400 seats: 300 selected from “occupation-based” quota and another 100 seats would be given to “experts” selected by the PCAD.

No elections, just selection, no names.

To do this, Yingluck has to resign to allow the “King to appoint a new Prime Minister under Article 7 of the 2007 Constitution, which Mr. Suthep argued allowed the king to exercise his royal power in such manner.” If Yingluck (or any Puea Thai replacement) doesn’t go, Suthep says there will be no peace from his anti-democratic movement.

Suthep said: “We are open to discussion, but we are not open to negotiation.” In other words, Suthep knows he has the support of the elite and can make more demands.

What of the red shirts? The question should be why didn’t Puea Thai call on the support of red shirts? What prevented this? As we said some time ago, the red shirts are the real losers, again.

The royalist elite has shown remarkable tenacity in fighting democracy and progressive change: a military coup, a judicial coup and now a creeping coup that all seek to turn back the political clock.

Update: The meeting with the top brass will be interesting and will carry considerable weight for the creeping coup if the military comes closer to the anti-democratic movement. More information at Khaosod.

However, what concerned PPT about this report is the comment attributed to Sathit Wongnongtoey, one of the Democrat Party’s nastier functionaries. He is reported:

In the same press conference, another PCAD leader, Mr. Satit Wongnongtoey, also accused the international media of harbouring bias toward the anti-government movement. He warned that foreign correspondents working in Thailand should be careful not to end up turning themselves into tools of “Thaksin′s Regime”.

Such a threat is yet another example of the fascist tendencies that have marked this anti-democratic movement and its predecessors in PAD, Siam Samakkhi, the no color groups, Thai Patriot Network and the Dhamma Army, amongst others.

Updated: Academic planning

6 12 2013

PPT has to wonder who is behind the sudden rush of academic horse manure that is being laid down over the past couple of weeks. We first posted on the partisan prescriptions of university presidents a month ago.

Certainly, there are plenty of yellow-shirted academics running about pushing royalist propaganda as truth. But this latest show of support for the Suthep Thaugsuban show is something else, with all of these presidents suddenly showing support, and some of them appearing on the protest stage and being advisers to the godfather from the south.

Who has prodded, cajoled or promised them? Yellow shirt

A useful example of this is found reported at The Nation where someone, purportedly a Dean at the “National Institute Development Administration’s [sic] faculty of law,” Banjerd Singkaneti, “who is also a member of the People’s Democratic Reform Committee (PDRC),” is quoted as championing “an unelected prime minister, as stipulated in Article 7 of the Constitution,” and asserting that this “would follow the due process of the law, making the appointment legitimate.”

In other words, this is an “academic” administrator who is a promoter of the attempt to overthrow the elected government defending his own proposal.

The Nation might have also mentioned that Banjerd has an extremist political background as a member of the ultra-royalist Siam Samakkhi group. This group, as we posted in March 2012,  was one of the first organized and elite-financed groups to begin the rollback of the 2011 election result. As we noted then, it:

rallied at Lumpini Park and was headed up by former military junta member and appointed senator Somjet Boonthanom and anti-Thaksin yellow shirts Kaewsan Atibhodhi, appointed senator Somchai Sawaengkarn and Seri Wongmontha. Apparently also featured were  Chirmsak Pinthong and Banjerd Singkaneti.

This group began a meeting then by “jokingly thanking the twins arrested on Thursday over Wednesday’s assault on Worajet Pakeerat, a member of the Nitirat group…”.

These reprehensible comments were support for Fascist royalists.

The report at The Nation notes that Suthep’s hastily cobbled together (from the People’s Alliance for Demcracy of 2005) “People’s Council” is “designed to pave the way for a royally sponsored prime minister.”

Wake us up when it is 2013! After listening to the aged king’s embarrassing “speech,” that could have been made in 1968, the obviously struggling monarch can’t be seen as an appointer of anything. His mental competence needs to be seriously questioned. Which raises the question: who is pulling the strings in the palace when the king is essentially suffering the problems of the aged and ill?

That probably doesn’t concern Banjerd, for he is about protecting a system of privilege and power. He babbles:

“Criticising us for resorting to Article 3 and 7 of the Constitution is like missing the point. We have to look at the root cause – that the government has lost legitimacy to run the country after attempting to pass a law pardoning those accused of corruption,” Banjerd said. “The ruling Pheu Thai Party then rejected the Constitutional Court’s ruling that the move to change the formation of the Senate is unconstitutional.”

Banjerd continues:

“We have reached the point where we are able to exercise a constitutional right – according to Articles 69 and 70 – to depose a government that has lost legitimacy, both politically and legally. MPs and senators are our representatives and when they have lost legitimacy, we have to ‘tear up’ the power-of-attorney that handed them power and turn to Article 3, which stipulates that sovereignty belongs to the people.

These sections of the constitution state:

Section 69. A person shall have the right to resist peacefully an act committed for the acquisition of the power to rule the country by a means which is not in accordance with the modes provided in this Constitution.

Section 70. Every person shall have a duty to uphold the nation, religions, the King and the democratic regime of government with the King as Head of State under this Constitution.

Clearly the royalist Constitutional Court meant that Banjerd should say this – who knows, they may be coaching him – following their absurd decision a couple of weeks ago, based on article 68.

Getting rid of the government, without going to a new election – yes, the plan becomes clear – means:

“When a solution cannot be found in the Constitution, we have to resort to the ‘democratic norm’ [Article 7] and not involve the King by seeking a royally sponsored PM. We can manage by ourselves, as sovereignty belongs to us,” Banjerd said.

Of course, this is a plan for overthrowing yet another elected government and has nothing to do with law, but readers can see how judges, lawyers and academics, amongst others have been planning and conniving.

His plans are dismissed by all democratic-thinking people and by many other academics (who will all be dismissed as pro-Thaksin by the royalists):

Commenting on the PDRC’s proposal, Panas Tassaneeyanont, former senator and former dean of Thammasat University’s faculty of law, said anything could happen while the PDRC and protesters did not seem to care about any legal principles.

There’s a swathe of critical commentary in one article at the Bangkok Post headed:

Academics savage Suthep for ‘utopian’ council plan

Proposal a recipe for ‘chilling despotism’

That it is. Legal it isn’t, except perhaps in the magic circle of mad monarchists and those driven by a personal hatred of Thaksin Shinawatra and not much else.

Banjerd belongs to this misguided cabal, but the question still needs to be asked: how is it that the university presidents and associated senior academics have come up with united statements and a plan that looks like it was delivered by the judges of the Constitutional Court?

A footnote on universities: many senior academic adminsitrators owe their positions to their aggressive royal posterior polishing. Think of how the various universities compete to dole out undeserved honorary degrees to royals. Universities have long played a political role in burnishing the image of the royals by having them give out degrees. They’ve done this for money – the royals we mean, who are paid for this service – and the royals gain the important luster of association with academia. Most administrations of universities are now dominated by royal posterior polishers who perform like trained seals when required.

Update: Readers will no doubt be interested in a report at Khaosod, where a royalist lout posing as a deputy rector has declared his desire to do violence to students, including Aum Neko, who protested the closing of the university by the royalist administration by hanging a black flag on the university’s name sign. He seems to have become unstable following peaceful, relatively quiet and completely justifiable disobedience. This is what the royalists fight for: blind obedience and total dominance.

The unelected on elections

7 11 2013

The so-called Group of 40 Senators are a coterie of rabid royalist senators who have mostly never been elected to anything, let a lone the Senate, where most of them sit as appointed senators, the spawn of the military junta’s illegal 2006 coup and undemocratic 2007 constitution.

At the Bangkok Post, we learn that this undemocratic cabal have “called on the prime minister to dissolve parliament and call a general election…”. They argue that this would be to “return the power to the people.” We find it difficult to conceive that a bunch of unelected royalist puppets have any conception of representative government yet they arrogantly demand a dissolution of parliament.

That would mean a new election, and we doubt that many of this lot would stand the test of an election. We also doubt that Puea Thai would lose. We understand that the party’s serious miscalculation on the pathetic amnesty will have cost some support, but the electorate is unlikely to elect the Democrat Party.

But back to the unelected military spawn, who just happened to be speaking in “an interview” with what the Bangkok Post chooses to call the “pro-Democrat Blue Sky satellite TV channel.” We guess they mean the Democrat Party, for Blue Sky is not “pro-Democrat [Party]” but is a creation of the party and is funded by the same elite businesspeople who fund the party itself.

Somchai Sawaengkarn, usually the spokesman for the unelected lot, “described the bill as one of the worst pieces of legislation in Thai political history.” That’s a pretty arrogant call given that Somchai himself owes his position to the military junta’s illegal act in 2006 and its awarding itself amnesty! Indeed, Somchai served in junta’s fully-appointed National Legislative Assembly in 2006.

Of course Somchai realizes this, for he is not a complete fool. It is just that he sees royalist and military illegal actions as good and appropriate and the actions of an elected government as being inappropriate.

Of course, PPT has expressed our disdain for the amnesty bill, but we recognize that an elected government that campaigned on bringing Thaksin Shinawatra home and on reconciliation does not lose legitimacy by withdrawing a bill or losing a vote on it in a half-elected Senate.

Somchai said his group of senators “had passed a resolution agreeing to demand that Prime Minister Yingluck Shinawatra dissolve parliament.” The basis for this was not that the prime minister has lost the confidence of parliament or came to power through manipulation by behind-the-scenes powers (as was the case with the Democrat Party in 2008), but because “the government has lost the people’s trust to the point where it is impossible to regain it.”

Somchai and his unelected military spawn, who have teamed up with fascist groups such as PAD,  Siam Samakkhi and Pitak Siam, should be the last to speak of the people’s trust. They do not even comprehend the concept.

PAD and the Constitutional Court

28 05 2013

Previously PPT noted the continuing reliance of the People’s Alliance for Democracy (PAD) on the courts in their battle to unseat the elected Yingluck Shinawatra government.This reliance is a result of learned behavior and an indication of the relative political weakness of PAD in the sense of its limited capacity to mobilize supporters.

In the most recent instance, the Bangkok Post reports that the PAD has again petitioned the Constitutional Court, pleading for  “an injunction halting parliament’s deliberation of a bill to amend Section 68 of the constitution.” PAD spokesman Panthep Puapongpan demands that the court should issue the injunction because the government continues to move ahead on constitutional amendment even though the court is considering the “legality of the move to amend the section…”.

The initial move on having the court consider the legality of amendment came from unelected senator and PAD and Siam Samakkhi ally Somchai Sawaengkarn.

As Panthep acknowledges through PAD’s opposition, royalists assert that “the amendment would curtail people’s right to file a petition directly with the Constitution Court against actions suspected of undermining the constitutional monarchy or grabbing power through unconstitutional means.”

This is because a petition would need to be reviewed by the Attorney-General’s office. PAD sees this as an attempt to curtail the capacity it has to stymie elected governments through the activation of the politicized court.

Panthep also asserts that the “amendment to Section 68 could lead to the deliberation of another bill to amend Section 291,” which is currently on hold in parliament due to the Constitutional Court having earlier ruled, quite absurdly, that “the charter could not be rewritten in its entirety without a referendum.” This is absurd as the provision dealing with constitutional amendment says nothing about a referendum. The only constitutional referendum ever held in Thailand was a military junta propaganda exercise.

And just for good measure, PAD requested that their allies at “the charter court … order the 311 MPs and senators who supported the Section 68 amendment bill to withdraw it from parliament.” PAD “is also asking the court to dissolve the Pheu Thai, Chartthaipattana, Chart Pattana, Palang Chon, Mahachon and New Democracy parties for supporting the bill and issuing statements rejecting the court’s authority…”.

Challenging the judges at the Constitutional Court is important because their political bias, corruption and their seeming inability to comprehend the wording of the constitution they are meant to rule on is stifling democratic development. Repeatedly, this set of judges have delivered rulings based on their interpretation of what they believe the royalist-military junta and government would have preferred but didn’t actually write into their constitution.

Authoritarian speak

3 05 2013

Thailand’s anti-democrats/authoritarians express themselves most clearly when they are most rabid and frothing about those they hate with irrational fervor.

So it is that Khao sod reports on a statement by Kaewsan Atibhodhi, a former member of the military junta-established Assets Scrutiny Committee that was meant to investigate corruption cases against ousted Prime Minister Thaksin Shinawatra. On the ASC, Kaewsan once made the remarkable claim that “evidence and witnesses are useless,” when one of its panels recommended legal action against Thaksin without hearing 300 witnesses or considering 100 additional pieces of evidence (Bangkok Post, 9 April 2008).

Kaewsan has also been a member of the ultra-royalist Siam Samakkhi group and attempted to concoct legal cases against Yingluck Shinawatra during the 2011 election campaign.

Kaewsan and his ultra-royalist buddy Tul

Kaewsan and his ultra-royalist buddies

He has posted an “open letter” at his Facebook pages that joins the long list of increasingly sordid and irrational criticisms of Prime Minister Yingluck Shinawatra’s  speech in Mongolia on Thai democracy. His claims are not only driven by the irrationality that derives from his extreme personal hatred of Thaksin but by a deep intolerance to electoral democracy. Having served as a minion for the junta, the latter should be no surprise.

In addition, as is often the case when passion takes over from reason, Kaewsan’s grasp of reality is shown to be wanting when he compares Yingluck and her family to the Kim dynasty in North Korea.

As with other ultra-royalists and anti-democrats, Kaewsan declares Yingluck’s speech “lies” and proclaims the Shinawatra clan to be holding a “dictatorship over Thai people.” Yingluck, he says,

came to power via her brother′s influence, “not unlike how Kim Jong Un inherited the throne from his father”. Mr. Kaewsan also [repeatedly]… compar[ed] the Shinawatras to the Kim dynasty that has been ruling North Korea for decades.

He went on to blame the media for the dictatorship of the Shinawatra family:

“The Thai media obediently encourages the mass to be loyal to Shinawatra family, similar to the Korean media [sic]”, according to the open letter, which was written in Thai, “when you go to North Korea, you will see faces of the Dear Leader staring out from billboards. Such is the case in Thailand. The servants of the Shinawatra family are everywhere.”

PPT has its doubts that Kaewsan is a regular visitor to North Korea or that he has thought too much about the misplaced analogy. After all, if he’d thought for even a millisecond he might have noticed that if a comparison is to be drawn between North Korea and Thailand it might better be to the cult of personality between the autocratic family of rulers in North Korea and the monarchy in Thailand.

What is more significant is that Kaewsan’s misplaced comparison is just one more yellow-shirted statement indicating this neo-fascist movement’s rejection of electoral democracy. Kaewsan has probably noticed that Yingluck won a landslide electoral victory in what amounted to an emphatic rejection of his style of politics that links royalism, military and authoritarianism. We can’t recall the Kim dynasty in North Korea winning a free election.  On the other hand, pro-Thaksin parties have won every election since 2000. And that seems to be the point. Kaewsan and his ilk can’t stand the idea that the majority of Thais have repeatedly and steadfastly supported pro-Thaksin parties. Hence they reject elections and electoral democracy.

Yellow senators see black

9 04 2013

No one should be surprised by a report in the Bangkok Post that begins: “Mysterious ‘men in black’ did attack security forces on April 10, 2010 on Ratchadamnoen Avenue, a senate sub-committee looking into political violence has concluded.”

For one thing, the report of the senate sub-committee is curiously timed to coincide with the events that saw red shirts killed, many targeted by snipers, and some military men killed in unexplained circumstances as the military was repeatedly pushed back when they used rubber bullets, tear gas and live ammunition to clear what had been quite peaceful red shirt protests.Red shirt coffins That timing suggests that, far from announcing an end to what are described as intensive investigations, the sub-committee has chosen to make a political stand, blaming MiB and linking them to red shirts.

A second obvious point is that the quoted senator is Somchai Sawaengkarn, a member of the yellow-hued Siam Samakkhi group that has long worked a anti-Thaksin Shinawatra and pro-royalist line. Back in early 2010, he was already saying that the red shirts were engaged in violent plots. In 2009, he and his group was dashing about lobbing lese majeste charges around, with Thaksin Shinawatra, Richard Loyd Parry, Asia editor of The Times, and Ji Ungpakorn.

A third reason for considering Somchai nothing more than a royalist stooge is that he is a member of the so-called Group of 40 Senators who do little more than seek reasons to bring down elected governments. The Post refers to “Elected senator Somchai Sawaengkarn” when the Senate itself shows him as one of the unelected lot.

And finally, Somchai presents nothing – or at least nothing is revealed in this story – that is in any way new or revealing. It is just the same stuff that has been trotted out by Somchai, the Democrat Party and other yellow groups.

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