Doubling down on double standards III

2 10 2018

It is reported that “[c]alls are mounting for Prime Minister [Gen] Prayut Chan-o-cha [The Dictator] and the four cabinet ministers who are at the helm of the Palang Pracharath Party to step down due to a potential conflict of interest in the lead-up to the election.”

“Potential”?? Isn’t that “actual”? And hasn’t this been happening for several months? Even years? In fact, the 2014 coup and, the constitution referendum and all the rules acceded to by a puppet National Legislative Assembly have been a mammoth election rigging scheme.

Prime Minister’s Office Minister Kobsak Pootrakool and his cheating buddies have “claimed the four ministers will not abuse their authority during the campaign.”

Look! Flying pigs!

Even the yellowish former Election Commission activist Sodsri Sattayatham observed that “the cabinet positions afford the four ministers the opportunity to act improperly in their own interests.”

But that’s exactly the point! They expect to be able to do this.

Sodsri says they are not “legally required to step down, it is political etiquette that they should resign from ministerial posts when deciding to step into politics…”.

Huh? “Step into politics”? These guys have been politically engaged forever! A coup and a junta is a very big political intervention. Sodsri is engaging in yellow nonsense about “good” people and “bad” politicians.

And laws? What does the junta care for laws? There are constitutional requirements about standing for election, but none that prevent the junta from rigging the election – something the constitution itself does.

Of course, the junta’s constitution does not prevent any junta member from being prime minister or, as we quickly read it, from being ministers in the next government. There are constitutional requirements about how minister should behave when an election is to be held. But it would seem that the junta’s regime is immune from constitutional requirements. It keeps its NLA, keeps making decisions that bind a future government, etc, all things restricted by the constitution. But double standards apply to the junta.

We did notice that The Dictator should not be able to serve as prime minister because he has violated two requirements of the constitution: he lacks the required integrity and he has failed to comply with ethical standards. By leading a coup, he should be disqualified on these grounds. But this junta is subject to double standards.

We also noted that a prime minister “shall not hold office for more than eight years in total, whether or not holding consecutive term” (section 158). That means supporting The Dictator will likely mean he can serve only about 3 to 3.5 years, depending on when the “election” is held. That will be some relief for many.

Puea Thai’s Chaturon Chaisang is right that “the ministers … must refrain from disbursing money in ways that might seem as though they are attempting to gain political support, as well as stop approving long-term projects and stall transfers of officials.”

That’s what usually applies when an election is pending and is required under the 2017 constitution, but that would require standards other than the junta’s double standards.

Meanwhile, the unrestrained ministers are in full campaign mode declaring double standards apply to them.

The Bangkok Post also reports that one of Palang Pracharath’s still “covert” members, Somkid Jatusripitak “has defended four cabinet ministers who are facing mounting criticism over potential conflicts of interest after taking the helm of the Palang Pracharath Party.”

Somkid and his master

Of course he does. They are his boys. He recruited them and came up with the strategy for the party and how it will seek to maintain The Dictator in place following rigged elections.

Somkid went further, campaigning for his boys and their/his party, saying all four are “deserving of support…” and he implies that they will stand for election. We think they are barred from that, but it may be that he expects and has promised them that they will be unelected ministers under a new junta-based government.

Somkid also explained that the constitution does not apply to the junta, stating that “several government projects cannot be stalled any longer…. They [the four ministers] must speed up their efforts and follow through on those projects, which can serve as a key foundation for the future of the country…”. Section 168 will not be applied to the junta and its men.

But junta legal manipulator Wissanu Krea-ngam seemed less sure than he was and “suggested the four ministers should tread carefully and avoid any actions that could be perceived as a conflict of interest.” He said, “[b]ased on the charter, they must act neutrally.”

This highlights the obvious double standards. If pressure is maintained, we wonder if the truculent Gen Prayuth will eventually have to ditch them for fear of the obvious rigging being rather too obvious and damaging to his campaign for the premiership.

Rather oddly, we see that the Democrat Party’s Abhisit Vejjajiva agrees with PPT when he observes that “the charter indicates those in office need to quit within 90 days of the charter being promulgated if they want to contest the poll. Those who fail to resign are not expected to play a part in the election.”

He’s right to observe that “the Palang Pracharath Party … is … trying to evade the spirit of the charter.” But there’s more. They are trying to avoid the constitutional requirements.

At PPT, we are no supporters of the junta’s constitution, which needs to be thrown out and rewritten as a “people’s constitution,” but it is satisfying to see that those who rigged that charter are now being caught by it.





Updated: Red shirts, Jatuporn and the EC

31 07 2011

As is her style, Election Commissioner Sodsri Sattayatham has barked a warning to red shirts. She has warned red shirts against pressuring the EC to endorse jailed red shirt leader Jatuporn Promphan.

She went further, by threatening a military coup if red shirts “harmed” any election commissioner. She added that military intervention would make a Puea Thai Party coalition government impossible.

PPT is not entirely sure what threats she refers to. Certainly, red shirts have been demanding that Jatuporn be endorsed. PPT thinks the red shirts are right to keep pressure on the EC.

Jatuporn was approved as a candidate by the EC and his local EC official approved his reason for failing to vote – the Abhisit Vejjajiva government had had him jailed. Those two decisions make a mockery of the EC’s delays on approving his election.

What is happening behind the scenes is that the EC is receiving pressure to “punish” Jatuporn. While other red shirt leaders were jailed for several months, Jatuporn initially escaped that fate because he had an MP’s immunity. As soon as the election was called, the government threw him in jail. The pressure from that regime’s backers is now to continue Jatuporn’s punishment. The higher ups hate him because he is popular and speaks against the elite.

Jatuporn was elected while incarcerated. He should now be released and be permitted to serve as an elected member of parliament. The elite should back off.

Update: A reader says we should have mentioned the red shirt threat to take the EC commissioners to court on Jatuporn’s case. We would have, except we got the impression that Sodsri was referring to a greater threat than this.





A yellow shirt response to the election victory by the Puea Thai Party

5 07 2011

What would anyone expect from yellow shirt leader – or, as the Bangkok Post prefers, “leader of the multi-colour group” – Tul Sitthisomwong has challenged Jatuporn Promphan’s right to hold a parliamentary seat, warned of street demonstrations and stormed ahead with legal attacks on likely prime minister Yingluck Shinawatra.

How could anything else have been expected? PPT posted on the likely yellow-hued response to the Puea Thai Party victory a while ago.

Tul has asked the Election Commission to check whether Jatuporn can hold his seat because he didn’t vote. PPT covered this charge previously, when we stated that EC member Sodsri Sattayaham coached the anti-Puea Thai crowd on how to disqualify Jatuporn. Not surprisingly, Tul appears to have plagiarized the helpful Sodsri. As we said then, this doesn’t change anything for Puea Thai. In fact, it seems Jatuporn could be appointed a minister without holding a seat. This is simply revenge and political bastardry.

Tul also warned that he would mobilize people from his so-called Network of Citizen Volunteers to Protect the Land to rally in front of parliament “if legislation to grant amnesty to former prime minister Thaksin Shinawatra was tabled to the House of Representatives…”. PPT imagines this will be interpreted very broadly by the yellow ones.

A very busy Tul further said “he would today go to give more information to the Department of Special Investigation (DSI) on a petition against Yingluck Shinawatra, who now stands to be made prime minister, for alleged perjury in the assets seizure case involving her brother Thaksin Shinawatra.” He would then be off to the “office of the National Anti-Corruption Commission  to find out whether the NACC would file a lawsuit against Ms Yingluck for alleged perjury in the same case.”

This is just the beginning shots in what is planned as a war of attrition by the self-proclaimed Thaksin haters that include many in the failed Democrat Party.

A bitter Suthep Thaugsuban has complained that as “Yingluck governs under Thaksin[‘s] order[s], the Pheu Thai-led government will see a quick ending due to the lack of credibility…”. Maybe our comment above on a war of attrition is mistaken! Like so many others in the past day, he trotted out the line that “the people’s mandate given to Pheu Thai did not mean that any attempts to trample over the rule of law would be tolerated.” Expect to hear this line again and again.

More ominously, like Democrat Party Spokesman and now party list MP Buranaj Smutharaks, Suthep “reminded the incoming government that turmoil would erupt once again if the amnesty was granted to an individual like Thaksin.” PPT has no doubt that Thaksin will continue to be a lightening rod for the yellow shirt-Democrat Party public face of opposition to a Puea Thai Party-led coalition. Who said the yellow shirts were dead? The rejectionists need them again!

 

 





Why border clashes?

26 04 2011

Richard Ehrlich has an assessment at Asia Times Online, as does Simon Roughneen at The Irrawaddy, where he assesses domestic issues involved for Cambodia and Thailand. This quote struck PPT as particularly interesting:

Sodsri Sattayatham, a member of Thailand’s Election Commission, said on Monday that the conflict between Thailand and Cambodia might affect Thailand’s upcoming vote. While a date for the election has not been set, Prime Minister Abhisit Vejajjiva says he plans to dissolve parliament in early May, with an election to follow in late June or early July.

We have to admit having considered that stirring up the lese majeste brouhaha followed by a war on the border, might have had such foreseen consequences.





Ji on military threats

13 04 2011

Thai Military make threats against pro-democracy Red Shirts

One year after the Military gunned down nearly 90 pro-democracy civilians in Bangkok and in the run up to the promised first election since the 2006 coup, the Military have been very active in increasing the obstacles to a free and fair election. They are seriously worried about the outcome of this election.

Naturally the Democrat Party Government and its bosses in the Army will not be stuffing ballot boxes or inflating the number of votes for the Government. That would be too obvious and they would be quickly found out. But what they have been doing since the 2006 coup has been a war of attrition to gradually destroy Taksin’s Thai Rak Thai Party and the Peua Thai Party which is its new incarnation. The Courts and the Election Commission have been used in a bias manner to destroy the chances of a Red Shirt election victory. Bribery and threats have also been used to get politicians to change sides. Added to this we have blanket censorship and the use of the lèse majesté law against government opponents. The Military have also used bloody violence and threats.

Yet Peua Thai Party is doing nothing to try to win the election. They have virtually no new policies and hope that Red Shirts will automatically vote for the party. If they are seen to lose, this will give a great deal of false legitimacy to the dictatorship. There is growing unease among many Red Shirts and the gap between this huge social movement and the professional politicians in Peua Thai is widening.

General Sansern Keawkamnurd, spokesperson for the Army, has announced that the Army is accusing Jatuporn Prompan and two other Red Shirt leaders (Wichien Kaokum and Rambo Isarn) of “lèse majesté” following their 10th April rally in Bangkok. Jatuporn is accused of “insulting the princess” by saying that he too would like to be interviewed on TV by the same presenter. The Democrat Party Spokesman Teptai Senpong supports the Army’s accusation. The recent interview of the King’s youngest daughter indicates how the Thai Monarchy is in the process of degeneration. Firstly, the princess’ speech delivery and the content of what she said, is more likely to remind people of an intellectually challenged individual than a demi-god. She boasts about how rich she is while trying to tell the public about the “good works” of her parents. The interviewer grovels on the ground in front of the princess’ shoes, twice, and she nods with approval. He also grovels on the ground at the same level as the princess’ dog and even shares the dog’s cup cake. The Thai population are supposed to be brought near to tears of joy and loyal emotion by such idiotic spectacles.

The Army has threatened those who are trying to campaign for the repeal of the lèse majesté law (article 112) and urged loyal subjects to “prevent” such activities. The generals claim that foreigners are “impressed” by the greatness of the Thai Monarchy, but are confused by misinformation from Red Shirts.

It is the Army that is the real unconstitutional power in Thailand. They use the Monarchy to legitimise all their actions. This explains why the Army is so manic in defending the Monarchy and in using lèse majesté against democracy activists. The generals stand to lose everything if a republican movement sweeps across Thailand and it looks like that might just happen.

Army commander General Prayut Chan-ocha has declared that the country was always “democratic”, as though the 2006 coup and all that followed, never took place. He reaffirmed the lie that the Military “never shot pro-democracy demonstrators” last year. Yet there is overwhelming photographic and documentary evidence that the Military and the Government ordered the killing of unarmed Red Shirts by bringing in tanks, heavily armed soldiers and snipers to crush the pro-democracy demonstrations in Bangkok. Nearly 90 unarmed civilians, including paramedics and foreign journalists were shot by snipers in “free-fire zones” set up by the Military. The army has now sent troops into villages this April, to coincide with the Songkran festival. They claim that they want to tell the people the “truth” and make sure everyone remains loyal to the Monarchy. General Prayut claimed that many Red Shirts were trying to insult the “holiness” of the Monarchy and told Red Shirt leader Jatuporn Prompan to “watch it”.

The DSI or Department of Special Investigation has been “unable” to release the results of autopsies on civilians killed by the Army 12 months ago. Now the head of the DSI is demanding that Red Shirt leaders, who are out on bail, be returned to jail for making pro-democracy speeches at recent rallies.

Recently the Oxford-educated Finance Minister Korn Jatikawanit, boasted on his facebook site that he had ridden in a taxi driven by a Red Shirt. On leaving the taxi, Korn gave the driver a lesson: “you can hold different views from me but don’t use violence”, he said. Korn is part of the military-installed Democrat Party Government that ordered the cold-blooded shooting of Red Shirt civilians last year.

The “Electoral Commission” has just confirmed that 73 loyal servants of the regime have just been appointed as unelected senators, making up half of the upper house. There are 18 former government officials, 11 military officers and 6 policemen. After the 2006 coup the Military re-wrote the Constitution so that half the senate would be appointed instead of being elected as before. Earlier, pro-military Election Commissioner Sodsri Satayatum said that she would prefer it if the General Election was cancelled. She claims the country isn’t ready for an election. Meanwhile the fascist PAD is destroying itself with internal strife. Their support has seriously declined and they cannot agree about participating in the coming election because they know that they will receive a miserable vote. The PAD staged violent pro-Monarchy and pro-dictatorship demonstrations in Bangkok, including the seizure of Government House and the International Airports. Now some of their leaders want the election scrapped and a Burmese style junta to rule the country. The Thai Military-dominated “security council” has also stated that since Burma now has a new “democratic” government, Burmese refugees can be forced back over the border.

Background to the rise of the Red Shirts

There is a common thread running through the political crisis in Thailand and the political crises that exploded earlier this year in the Middle East. In Thailand, Egypt, Tunisia and many other “developing nations”, societies have been rapidly urbanising and changing over the last 30-40 years. Yet the ruling elites and the power structures which dominated these societies had not changed. Different events triggered uprisings and struggles, but the underlying tensions remain the same.

For the last forty years the Thai ruling class has maintained its power through the Military, the Monarchy and occasionally by the use of an electoral system dominated by the money politics of business controlled political parties. The naked coercive power of the Military and other state institutions is complemented by the ideology of the Monarchy. This is achieved by imposing and socialising the belief among the population that the King is an all-powerful god who is to be loved or at least feared. This belief is a complete myth, but at various times it has been effective in serving the interests of the conservative ruling elites.

This state of affairs has constantly been challenged by mass uprisings and struggle by social movements. But in 2001 a serious challenge to the old order arose from within the ruling class itself. Taksin Shinawat’s Thai Rak Thai Party (TRT) won a majority in parliament by winning the hearts and minds of the electorate. His business-dominated party promised and delivered a universal health care system, job creation programmes and a raft of modernisation policies. In the past, elections had been about money politics, where politicians acted as personal patrons of their constituents while offering no political policies. The rise of TRT came to represent a serious, but unintentional, challenge to the conservatives in the ruling class. This sparked a military coup in September 2006, which in turn sparked the building of a pro-democracy mass movement called the Red Shirts.





How long before an election?

11 06 2010

The Bangkok Post has a remarkable report on election “planning.”

The Election Commission is reportedly planning “to take tougher measures at the next election, including tracking candidates’ finances and asking for the emergency decree to be imposed if necessary.”Other controls proposed include bans on various kinds of political campaigning.

That might be startling enough, especially as it will put the EC in the Abhisit Vejjajiva government’s campaign team, but this is even more surprising:

Sodsri Satayathum, another election commissioner, said the EC planned to have candidates from different parties promise to keep their campaigns within the boundaries of the law and let their competitors campaign for votes freely in their constituency strongholds.

If there are credible signs the candidates will not be safe canvassing for votes, the EC might have to ask the government to impose an emergency decree during the election campaign, she said.

“Personally, I don’t see the point of having an election if it cannot be organised peacefully,” Mrs Sodsri said.

“Today, we cannot divide the country… This is intolerable. If an election cannot be organised [peacefully], the constitution should be amended to increase the term of the [present] House of Representatives to 10 years.”

Yep, 10 years. Why even bother with elections? And, what’s the point of election commissioners who don’t want elections? Sodsri is not some kind of political outlier; she’s taken seriously. Remember when the EC was considering having the Democrat Party face trial on corruption charges, meaning possible dissolution? What a difference a victory against the red shirts makes!





Election Commission continues to support the government

16 08 2009

Bangkok Pundit has a post on an Election Commission (EC) sub-committee finding on the case involving a very large TPI Polene donation to the Democrat Party through Messiah Business and Creation, an advertising company.

The case had been sent to the EC after the Department of Special Investigation found the case might violate the Political Party Act. Bangkok Pundit is referring to a Bangkok Post report (16 August 2009: “Democrats win first round over TPI donation, spending complaints”).

Involving a whopping 258 million baht donation, the EC sub-committee has ruled three to two that “the donation issue was a personal matter which did not involve the party.”

Yes, that’s the story. Believe it or not, giving this amount of personal favor to a member of the Democrat Party was personal. 258 million personal favors to an individual. Why was this decision taken? Apparently because the investigators “could not prove that the party had benefited from the money” at least according to one quoted source. Bangkok Pundit points out the anomaly in this decision.

The story gets even more interesting with The Nation’s report (16 August 2009: “EC sub-committees to be purged”) where Election Commissioner Sodsri Sattayatham claims that leaks about the TPI donation case will mean that some members of the EC’s 15 sub-committees will be replaced. This is interesting as Sodsri has been one of the most outspoken election commissioners, repeatedly telling the press more than she should and making political statements from her position as an election commissioner.

On the TPI case, Sodsri said that she “suspected that whoever revealed to the media the panel’s decision on the case wanted to pressure the EC into making decision that favoured some interest group.” She said, however, that this would fail as the EC was “its own boss.”

The outspoken Sodsri stated: “We do not always heed EC panels’ decisions…’. And, she divulged – and PPT would never dare suggest that her revelations are to favor some interest group – that “some member of the EC’s sub-committees were members of political parties … including nine members under the banner of parties that had been dissolved.”

PPT recalls that Sodsri was a constitution drafter under the military-backed arrangements following the 2006 coup, while continuing as an alection commissioner. Obviously no conflicts of interest there!

The headline in The Nation might be right – a purge is going on, yet again, in the EC, to ensure favorable outcomes for the conservatives in the Democrat Party and those who back it.