Supporting the junta’s political agenda

3 03 2018

New political parties are emerging from the junta’s primeval electoral rules slime.We apologize for all the square brackets and inverted commas that follow, but these are necessary to indicate the contrived nature of politics arranged by the military dictatorship.

According to a Bangkok Post source at the Election Commission, several parties “want their party names to include the words ‘Pracharath’ (people-state partnership) or ‘Thai Niyom’ (Thai-ism) — from the government’s [they mean the junta’s] key [populist-electoral] development schemes which are now becoming popular catchphrases among the people [sic.].”

In other words, following the junta’s lead and its rules, a bunch of parties look like forming to support the junta and its dismal political objective of maintaining “Thai-style democracy” – i.e. no democracy at all – into the future.

These “parties” – really just junta factions and political opportunists – reckon that the junta’s dishing out of populist-electoral cash will have an “impact on voters as there are many who benefit from these projects.” The “parties” also want voters “to believe that the newly-registered parties have the backing of the government…”. Some do and others are hoping that they can suck up the loot that might result from a military-backed coalition government following an “election.”

The EC source particularly pointed to survey “parties” set up with the “clear intention of supporting the National and Council for Peace and Order (NCPO) [the junta]…”. These are the devil or Satan parties.

One is the Pracharath Party “which is speculated to include key figures from the government [junta + a few trusted anti-democrat civilians] and the NCPO [the junta – those civilians]. Speculation is rife that Deputy Prime Minister Somkid Jatursripitak, who is the head of the government’s economic team, will be the party leader.” Somkid is one of those +/- civilians.

Then there’s the “Muan Maha Pracha Chon Party pushed by Suthep Thaugsuban, former leader of the defunct People’s Democratic Reform Committee is also meant to back Prime Minister [Gen] Prayut Chan-o-cha [The Dictator] to return as an outsider prime minister after the general election…”. Recall Suthep’s faux denial but remember his long alliance with the junta and the military coupsters.

Former senator and extreme yellow shirt Paiboon Nititawan is establishing a devil party to be “registered as the People Reform Party and will also support Gen Prayut making a comeback as premier.”

Then there are a bunch of hope-to-be-Satan-parties. These are micro-parties that have a hope of “joining an NCPO-sponsored government after the election.” They are presumably setting up money-laundering arrangements as we write this. One is the “Pheu Chart Thai Party. The group is led by Amphaphan Thanetdejsunthorn, former wife of the late military strongman Gen Sunthorn Kongsompong, who led a coup that seized power from the Chatichai Choonhavan government in 1991.”

Then there’s the New Palang Dhamma Party (NPDP), inaugurated on Thursday. Apparently a self-proclaimed devil party, it seems likely to throw its support to Gen Prayuth “if he bids to become an unelected, outside premier.” The party vows to fight corruption. It isn’t clear how supporting Prayuth and fighting corruption fit together. But, hey, this is the junta’s Thailand.

The real link between the junta and the reconstituted party is anti-Thaksinism:

[Rawee] … played an active role in bringing down two Shinawatra governments. Most recently in 2013 with the People’s Committee for Absolute Democracy With the King as Head of State, or PCAD, aka the People’s Democratic Reform Council. Before that, Rawee was once a member of the former People’s Alliance for Democracy, the Yellowshirt party which played an instrumental role in opposing both Thaksin Shinawatra and Yingluck Shinawatra.

In summary, the formation of a myriad of minor parties supportive of The Dictator is in line with the junta’s script for post-“election” politics.

Yellow shirted “academic” Sombat Thamrongthanyawong, rector of Walailak University, observed “there is nothing new to expect and the next election will not bring any change.” Sombat’s own role in creating this neanderthal political system is not mentioned.

First takes on the junta’s draft constitution

30 01 2016

PPT hasn’t had a chance to look at the draft 270-article, 95-page constitution in any detail, but there are commentators who have (a PDF of the draft can be downloaded, in Thai). While most of the provisions have been flagged in recent weeks – at last the most controversial, we thought we’d combines some of that commentary here.

In the Bangkok Post, the anti-democrat agenda of the drafters and junta is made clear by the aged military flunkey Meechai Ruchupan: “”Given the limited time, we have drafted the best constitution within the 2014 interim charter’s framework. We want it to be the charter that can efficiently suppress corruption and does not whitewash wrongdoers…”. He referred to the draft as a “reform constitution.” In the Khaosod report linked below, Amorn Wanichwiwatana, spokesman of the junta-appointed Constitution Drafting Committee, said the redesigned election system, will “prevent parliamentary dictatorship…”. He added: “It won’t be majority rule…”.

The CDC and junta are pandering to the anti-democrats and the fearful middle class. The anti-democrats will probably be happy (but see below), although the Democrat Party may be less so. However that party is able to lie in any bed.

One of the provisional clauses gives the military an extra three months in power, which The Dictator will have asked for. However, if the referendum dumps the charter, then military rule will be around for as long as the junta wants. In another interesting transition arrangement, if the charter gets up in the referendum, Article 44 remains in place through to a new government being formed. In essence, the draconian Article 44, which empowers the military junta to do anything it wants, stays in place. This allows considerable interference in referendum, election and the formation of any new government.

Pravit Rojanaphruk has an article at Khaosod that has a listing on some of the main (and, by now, well known) aspects of the military junta’s charter, in his sub-headings: Unelected Prime Minister and New Electoral System; Rise of Constitutional Court and Unelected Agencies Over Elected Government; Unelected Senate, Lack of Public Participation and a Less-Than-Democratic Charter. He also has some commentary.

Nipit Intarasombat of the Democrat Party doesn’t quite say it, but the charter tries to take Thailand back to a period of small parties, coalition building and busting, unelected premiers and vote-buying. The old political schemer and chief Privy Council meddler General Prem Tinsulanonda must be as pleased as Punch to have his political system essentially resurrected in this draft charter.

Nipit declares that the outside prime minister a threat: “This is unprecedented, and nowhere in this world can we find [such rules]. It allows for an outsider to become prime minister without being elected,” adding that the voting system “was designed in such as way as to ensure that no single party will ever gain outright majority in election…”.

The Puea Thai Party’s Chaturon Chaisaeng, saw the remarkable political power allocated to the Constitutional Court in legal terms:

“Having the power to define what constitutes a crisis and to use that power [over an elected government] is a serious dismantling of the check-and-balance system of the three branches under a democracy,” Chaturon said. “In getting it to try to solve [political] crises, the court will be increasingly dragged into politics. This is outside the democratic system, and will itself more easily induce crises.”

In fact, the new powers for the Court and for other independent bodies are to create a substitute for the monarchy’s political role, no longer considered reliable. Royalists and the elite figure they can maintain conservative control of the Constitutional Court.

Interestingly, a senior adviser for the People’s Democratic Reform Committee and regularly on their stage in 2014, Sombat Thamrongthanyawong, also a former member of the now defunct National Reform Council, told the Bangkok Post that “the structure of parliament set out under the draft charter is flawed and outdated and goes against the principles of democracy.”

We are sure there’s plenty more commentary to come.

Constitutional huff and puff

2 05 2015

In recent days we have posted on the draft 2015 constitution and some of the restrictions on comment that have been put in place.

The military dictatorship has attempted to limit “debate” to its puppet National Reform Council. Even in this friendly space, some quite trenchant critiques have been forthcoming regarding a fundamentally flawed and anti-democratic charter.

However, as reported at The Nation, the NRC “debate” is likely to have been of little consequence.

The report at The Nation points out that the puppet NRC was directed to spend a week giving the military junta’s draft charter some “scrutiny.” Many points were made, with NRC members expressing “reservations about many provisions in the draft constitution…”. Several NRC members “voiced concerns over allowing a non-MP to become prime minister, the mixed-member proportional electoral system, and selection of senators.” Anti-democrat “political reform panel chairman Sombat Thamrongthanyawong and legal and justice system reform panel chairman Seree Suwanphanont, … both disagreed to half of the charter’s content.”

With two heavyweight puppets, and Sombat being a representative of the anti-democrat movement that paved the way for the 2014 military coup, disagreeing with so much of the work of the drafting committee, observers might be excused for thinking that the draft charter was in deep trouble.

Far from it.

For one thing, as the report points out, “[p]roposals raised during the NRC’s meeting would mean nothing if its members do not submit their suggestions to the charter drafters.” It is unclear if any have done this.

In addition, the report observes that NRC members had their “do not have the courage to vote it [the draft charter] down.” Part of the reason for this is that these members are conscious of their own interests.

The Nation’s report observes that, according to the post-coup interim constitution, voting down the draft in the NRC would mean that “all CDC and NRC members will be replaced and the constitution drafting process would go back to square one…”. Few NRC members want that.

One reason for this, according to unnamed “observers” is that “many NRC members have already planned their future political careers,” and voting down the draft would take them out of politics for at least a year as there is no guarantee that they would be reappointed to their highly-paid puppet positions.

Another reason is that the draft constitution creates powerful positions for the puppets in future administrations. The report points to “the new independent agencies to be set up under the new charter. NRC members would be appointed to these new agencies, including the [appointed] Reform Movement Council and the National Reform Strategy Committee.” Another powerful and appointed creation is the “National Ethical Committee,” which many suggest would be chaired by the decidedly unethical anti-democrat and current NRC president Thienchay Kiranandana.

So has the NRC been just about huff and puff, providing an illusion of “debate” and substance? Probably.

How long?

9 01 2015

How long does it take to erase the most popular political party and break the spirit of its supporters? At we have an answer. It cites “[k]ey figures in the [puppet] National Reform Council (NRC) [saying they] expect to complete national reconciliation and national reform in no more than four years.”

We don’t know when the royalist-military puppets begin their count, but “NRC Chairman Thienchay Kiranandana, Constitution Drafting Committee Chairman Borwornsak Uwanno and Political Reform Committee Chairman Sombat Thamrongthanyawong held a press conference on the formation of a 20-member reconciliation-planning committee” to say four years. With the coup and so on one, that’s probably five years.

That might sound like a lot of time to re-educate, lock up, repress and re-program, but earlier the military was talking 12 years. If PPT was composed of punters, we’d still be betting on 12 years….

The panel on “reconciliation is to be comprised of representative puppets of the NRC, giving themselves a decent tenure, “conflict resolution experts and people affected by political conflicts.” It is to be headed by Anek Laothamatas, former communist, former party leader for hire, former academic and former pontificate on things political. With so many formers, he probably needs a new gig.

Is this a truth commission? It seems not, because truth wouldn’t be good for the murderous military. In any case, the report states that the panel/committee will “campaign for public understanding on the causes and impacts of conflicts, create atmosphere and participation that will facilitate reconciliation, prevent the repetition of conflicts and reduce prejudices among groups of people.”

Funny, we thought that the military dictatorship was already doing that and that everyone was required to be happy.

Borwornsak reckons “reconciliation, reform to reduce inequality and solutions to political problems were the three main objectives of the new constitution,” but he’s shown precious little attention to any of them, now or at any other time in his privileged existence. And he reckons four years is quick: “The process must be short and fast…”.

But, no “immediate amnesty.”

No doubt The Dictator is polishing his premier’s padded seat in preparation for the next four or so years.

Making Thailand safe from political parties

9 12 2014

The National Reform Council is a puppet “council,” set up by the military dictatorship and populated by military supporters. One of the chief supporters of the military junta, the coup and anti-democratic politics is former NIDA boss Sombat Thamrongthanyawong.

Sombat was one of the strategists for Suthep Thaugsuban’s anti-democratic street movement and, in that position, coordinated with the military. Suthep can’t leave the monkhood but Sombat keeps the anti-democratic flag flying amongst the puppets, where he is chair of a panel on “political reform.”

His panel surprised nobody by coming to a “consensus on the direct election of the prime minister and the cabinet, [the] election of MPs from large constituencies and election/selection of senators.”

While the proposal “includes the direct election of all 350 members of the lower house from multi-seat constituencies,” this reduces parliament by 150 members. Electing half of the Senate maintains the notion of half the senators being appointed by other members of the unelected swill while increasing the number of senators. This is aimed to reduce the legislative role of the lower house.

The panel also favored a directly elected premier and directly elected ministers. This is an “innovation,” removing the prime minister and cabinet from the politics of parliament and potentially breaking the link to political parties and executive.

Sombat’s reasoning on this seemed to be about opinion poll results. Of course, under the miltiary dictatorship, all political polls are more dubious than they usually are. But don’t let that hold back the anti-democrats.

Some of Sombat’s royalist buddies tried to play down the significance of these proposals. This included chief military constitution writer-for-hire Bowornsak Uwanno. They recognize that the discussion of such anti-democratic proposals may mean that there will actually be some debate.

Any proposal will eventually have to be approved by the military junta, and it is clear that it wants to wind back the significance of parliament, elected politicians and political parties.

In essence, the anti-democrats like Sombat are appealing to the generals and telling them how far they can go in diminishing democratic politics.

The military and new constitutional diapers

25 10 2014

Anyone who follows Thailand’s post-coup politics, dominated by The Dictator and his military brass, knew that the task in “reform” is to change the rules of politics to ensure that electoral politics is made subservient to the royalist elite’s interests. That means making electoral politics far less significant. PPT has suggested that the path chosen is likely to restore a political imbalance something like that of the Prem Tinuslanonda era.

One aspect of the rule changes involves the development of a new constitution. Constitutions are a bit like disposable diapers in Thailand; once the elite feels they are “soiled,” it has its military allies dispose of them. Even so, at least since the 1970s, the ritual of elite control is to come up with a constitution that allows lawless regimes to be lawful.

In moving to have the military’s handpicked puppet assembly establish a puppet National Reform Council (NRC) which then sends some nominations to the military junta for the puppet 36-member charter drafting panel the Bangkok Post reports a small tangle. With so many puppets having their strings pulled, it is inevitable that some knots will have to be unpicked.

Some of the puppets got tangled up and accepted a proposal “invite and nominate outsiders to sit on the 36-member charter drafting panel under its quota.” They wanted “five outsiders should also be invited to join the drafting panel.” These five would be drawn from the People’s Democratic Reform Committee – in case readers have forgotten, this is the anti-democrats who wanted the military’s coup – the United Front for Democracy against Dictatorship – the official red shirts – and “representatives of major political parties such as Pheu Thai, the Democrat Party and Chartthaipattana.”

Several consistent anti-democrats were outraged. NRC member Paiboon Nititawan, known as a member of the “Group of 40 [mostly unelected] Senators, rejected the proposal. Paiboon pointed out that the NRC had its marching orders: “Everything is already going well, so why invite trouble?” He pointed out that the military dictatorship has tasked the NRC “with coming up with a blueprint for national reform, a leading role in deciding how the new permanent charter should be written…”.

Another former member of the bright yellow senatorial swill, “NRC member Rosana Tositrakul also disagreed with the proposal, saying it was wrong to appoint those involved in the political conflict to the drafting panel.” In a logical world, this would mean that Rosana would immediately resign. After all, she has repeatedly and stridently supported anti-democratic movements that brought down elected governments and repeatedly stoked “political conflict.” Expecting logic and ethics from Rosana is demonstrably unreasonable.

Of course, Rosana is dissembling. Not only is she one who thrived on “political conflict,” but the fact is that the NRC is full of others who thrived on “political conflict.” Another is “NRC member and former rector of the National Institute of Development Administration Sombat Thamrongthandyawong” who was one of the political strategist for the anti-democrat protesters and repeatedly appeared on the anti-democrat’s stage. He rejected the proposal.

Like children in diapers, the anti-democrats may sometimes throw little temper tantrums, but they will do as they are told. In fact, most of them don’t need to be told by the bosses, for they know what an anti-democrat constitution needs to look like.

Rewarding the anti-democrats I

8 10 2014

In an earlier post, PPT referred to the fiction of a separation between the military junta and the government. In another post, we pointed out the obvious: that the National Legistlative Assemby is a puppet assembly.

In this context of the military junta’s control of all government it is to be expected that the (fake) National Reform Council (NRC) will be stuffed full of the military’s political allies. Some time ago PPT posted from The Nation, stating that the leaking of 173 names claimed to have been selected for the National Reform Council (NRC) “clearly signify political bias and social exclusion, which could lead to unfair reform proposals that will make all reconciliation efforts fail…”.

The uniform you have when you slip out of the Army uniform

The uniform you have when you slip out of the Army uniform

Did this cause The Dictator to pause? Not a bit. He did exactly what the critics suggested. The military dictatorship has hand picked the NRC crammed with anti-democrats and fascists.

Khaosod reports that “Thailand’s military junta has appointed a 250-member reform body that is heavily stacked with traditional elites and allies of the country’s conservative establishment.”

General Prayuth Chan-ocha had lied that “the NRC would represent a balanced cross-section of society,” but it doesn’t. The final list of members “is dominated by conservative hardliners opposed to the former government.” Khaosod lists some of them:

Among them were nine leaders from the anti-government protests that preceded the coup, including Naowarat Pongpaiboon, Sombat Thamrongthanyawong, and Charas Suwanmala.

The protest group, known as the People’s Committee for Absolute Democracy With the King As Head of State (PCAD), campaigned against the former government for seven months until the military intervened and launched a coup in May.

Eleven of the ‘Forty Senators’ clique – a group of unelected Senators who opposed the former government – also made the final cut, such as Rosana Tositrakul, Kamnoon Sitthisaman, and Pramote Maiklat. The so-called Forty Senators played an active role in the PCAD’s campaign to unseat then-Prime Minister Yingluck Shinawatra and replace her with a royally-appointed PM.

In addition, 31 retired military officers were added to the reform council, as well as nine members of the governing bodies appointed by the previous coup-makers in 2006.

It is as if The Dictator is rewarding those who worked so hard for the coup and against elections earlier in the year.