Handmaidens of the military junta

5 08 2014

At University World News, there’s a useful account of the salivating anti-democratic “leaders” of Thailand’s academic institutions who have thrown in their lot with the military dictatorship.

These handmaidens to the junta have been variously denigrated on social media as dogs having their stomachs rubbed, spineless royalists, academic jewelry for the junta, and as horrible examples for their students. Most of this is true, but hardly gets at their betrayal of what many consider to be the independent and critical role of academics. (Of course, there have been plenty of academics in many places who acquiesce to and support horrid regimes.)

Thai “academics” have a very long history of sucking up to and supporting military regimes. When General Prem Tinsulanonda was unelected prime minister, he surrounded himself with prominent professors keen to promote “semi-democracy,” military and monarchy. In more recent times, royalist academics have donned yellow shirts and supported all kinds of fascist ideas.

As PPT noted some time ago, the presidencies of universities have been a bit like the judiciary, targeted and taken over by royalists in a planned “coup” that gave them control of universities across the country. Under the military dictatorship, they have already been moving to shore up military fascism.

This most recent report notes:

Rectors from nine of Thailand’s top public universities have joined the junta-picked lawmaking assembly established three months after the military staged the country’s 13th coup d’état on 22 May….

The nine rectors are from some of the country’s top universities including Chulalongkorn, Thammasat, Chiang Mai, Kasetsart, Ramkhamhaeng, the National Institute of Development Administration, Srinakharinwirot, Khon Kaen and Mahidol.

… Also appointed was Thammasat University council Chair Noranit Sretabutr.

Some of the universities’ websites carried congratulations posted by their administrations on the appointment of the rectors.

Naturally enough, with their administrations being so supportive of military fascism and with a repressive military regime in place, critics of these spineless “academics” have had to bite their tongues.

Former Thammasat University rector Charnvit Kasetsiri who wrote an open letter “calling on Noranit and Thammasat Rector Somkid Lertpaitoon to ‘refrain’ from associating with bodies created by the junta.” Too late, really, as these two have long been associated with anti-democratic positions.

More outspoken was Yukti Mukdavichit, “an anthropology lecturer at Thammasat University, published an online open letter to the university’s rector and faculty, saying the decision to join the assembly was a ‘disgrace’ for a university known in the past for resistance against authoritarian regimes.”

Thongchai Winichakul, a history U.S.-based history professor, president of the Association of Asian Studies, and a former Thammasat student leader, “criticised the rectors’ decision to join the assembly as ‘shameless’ and likely to affect the credibility of the institutions and the academic profession.”

He’s correct to observe that: “these rectors have … overtly played a leading anti-democracy role, against electoral democracy, and in creating a justification for the latest coup…”. He added:

As of now, it appears that the majority of Thai academics prefer serving the establishment because, after all, they are the privileged ones in Thailand’s hierarchical society. Most of them support their rectors in playing such a disgraceful role….

These handmaidens of the military dictatorship will be unaffected by such criticism. They signed up to military fascism and royalist anti-democracy a long time ago, and they owe their positions, wealth and esteem to support from the military, palace and associated anti-democrats, not to any notions associated with academic work.

Prayuth and “truth”

29 07 2014

It was just a few days ago that The Leader was emphatic that his fascist junta “sought to maintain a balance between the powers of the interim government and those of the NCPO [the junta].” He added that the junta “has no desire for power or personal interest…”.

It turns out that General Prayuth Chan-ocha was simply lying.

We know that no one should ever believe anything an illegal military dictatorship says. Less so Prayuth, for he has a history of baldfaced lies. Apparently it is easy to lie to the whole nation because “polling” agencies can produce equally flawed and manufactured results that show mammoth support for the military dictatorship.

We are, of course, referring to a report in the Bangkok Post that states Prayuth is “expected to take up the roles of both prime minister and NCPO chief in the new cabinet line-up.”Prayuth

So there will be no/zero/none/zilch balance, unless it is on the head of a pin. No balance; just a monopoly of power for the military brass.

In addition, “former army chief Gen Anupong Paojinda is tipped to become a deputy prime minister and defence minister.”

That’s the Queen’s Guard and the Burapha Phayak task force link. It is also the palace link.

Other military brass, current and recent monopolize other positions: deputy defence minister, deputy prime minister, transport minister, foreign minister, permanent secretary for defense, interior minister, permanent secretary for defense, justice minister. In addition, some of these post will be held concurrently.

No balance. No truth.

And just in case you wondered, it is tipped that fully 110 of the 200 members of the dictatorship’s National Legislative Assembly will be wearing military green. A further 20 will be added later.

No truth.

Prayuth “has submitted a list of 200 NLA members for royal endorsement. The list is expected to get the seal of approval this week.” Of course it will. The king just loves the military when it monopolizes power.

That’s the real truth.

Others who aren’t military are anti-democrats who called for a coup for years, including bright yellow dolts like Surachai Liangboonlertchai and Khamnoon Sitthisamarn. Other royalists include “academics” Thammasat University rector Somkit Lertpaitoon.

Lies, royalists, palace, military. No surprises in any of this. Why does Prayuth even bother with the lies? No one with even an ounce of IQ expects anything other than dictatorship from the military.


Links from readers

7 12 2013

As many readers know, we haven’t been answering email for a few days – just too busy. However, readers continued to send us some interesting material. Here it is in no particular order:

1. Abhisit Vejjajiva of the so-called Democrat Party in a parallel universe:

This ranks as one of the most ridiculously revealing interview we have seen with this person. He counts protesters as support for Suthep Thaugsuban and counting for something. The next question should have been: Hey, Mark, you dopey dick, what about all the millions who have repeatedly voted for pro-Thaksin parties year after year? Do they count for nothing? We guess the answer is: No, they are ignorant, dark-skinned savages who sell votes, and they dress very badly, so they count for nothing.

And when he criticizes Prime Minister Yingluck Shinawatra for not responding to the nice, non-violent middle class people exercising democratic rights under the constitution, he should have been asked: What? You mean they should have been blasted by the Army and its snipers? Presumably the response is: Oh! Goodness gracious me, no! These are good people, not the great unwashed (we borrow that term from Abhisit’s chum Korn Chatikavanij, used to describe red shirts).

2. Paul Handley at Foreign Policy:

Bhumibol is still alive, but there is no doubt that his long reign is dying. He was frail and barely audible as he read a statement calling for unity Thursday morning. He and Queen Sirikit, 81, both suffer a number of debilitating ailments, and now stay out of the public eye. They live not in the capital, but in a seaside palace to the south, infrequently seen or heard from.

Their longtime team is fading, as well. The king’s main political agent, privy councilor, former Army chief and Prime Minister Prem Tinsulanonda, is 93, in ill health, and no longer able to manage the military. And Bhumibol’s other lifetime stalwart, the supreme patriarch of the Thai Buddhist clergy, just died at 100.

We agree, the monarchy is at a turning point, having poisoned itself through its grasping for economic wealth and political power.

3. The U.S. Embassy must be pissed:

The dopey anti-government demonstrators were led by Abhisit’s best chum to scorn the U.S. Embassy for issuing a statement that said something like occupying government buildings, some by force, wasn’t really promoting democracy. The Embassy seems to have been miffed by this silly shouting and seems to have responded:

The US Ambassador to Thailand has praised the Thai government′s restrained measures toward anti-government protesters during her discussion with Prime Minister Yingluck Shinawatra.

The US Ambassador and US Pacific Commander, Admiral Samuel J. Locklear, have previously attended the celebration of His Majesty the King′s 86th Birthday at Klai Kangwon Palace in Hua Hin yesterday.

They later met with Ms. Yingluck and Chief of Defence Forces, General Thanasak Patimaprakorn.

… Ms. Kenny also raised her concern over the anti-government protests which have claimed four lives and injured more than 200, stating that the US has been closely monitoring the situation in Thailand.

…[Kenny] told Prime Minister Yingluck she is impressed by the restraint shown by the Thai government and the police in handling the protesters.

Admiral Locklear likewise said he appreciates the Thai government′s patient and tolerant manner during its tackling of the conflict.

The anti-government leaders will now be convinced that the U.S. and Thaksin are involved in a conspiracy. Yet, Korn already re-tweets the idiotic rants of extremist “anti-imperialist” bloggers associated with right-wing talk show programs in the U.S. that rant about just such a conspiracy.

4. Thammasat “academic” administrators gone royalist viral:

Two stories at Khaosod. The first links to an earlier update we had to a post about a deputy rector want to crush students who disagreed with him. Not content with that he has defended his threats with a tirade of nationalist nonsense demonstrating his lack of good sense, not to say intelligence. Lunatics, keys and asylums come to mind.

The second is about the rector, Somkit Lertpaithoon:

The Rector of Thammasat University has been accused of secretly collaborating with anti-government protest leaders after leaked screenshot of his chat application correctly predicts the protesters′ next move.

 He says he was guessing and repeating what Suthep colleagues told him. Yeah, right. These guys are so arrogant that they do the most inane things.

5. The Nation writes Suthep’s political obituary:

It’s easier to say why Suthep shouldn’t be leading the anti-government campaign than why he should be. As a leader he ends up lacking. He was at the centre of a major political scandal almost two decades ago, and to this day approximately half the country holds him responsible for the violent crackdown on the red-shirt uprising in 2010.

Perhaps PAD can save him , with Sondhi Limthongkul calling on his supporters to get out for Suthep tomorrow.

No surrender to intimidation

3 12 2013

Khaosod reports that a group of Thammasat University academics have defied their rector’s order to close the campus, and have taught classes.

The rector is Somkit Lertpaithoon, a well-know anti-government academic. He closed the university for three days, “citing security concerns over the escalating anti-government protests in Bangkok,” protests he’d already supported.

The defiant academics viewed the rector’s “instruction as the cooperation with anti-government protest leader Suthep Thaugsuban, who has called for a nationwide strike by bureaucrats and closure of all universities to pressure the government of Prime Minister Yingluck Shinawatra into resigning.”

It is no surprise that those involved were from the Nitirat group that has bravely campaigned for “a more liberal change to Thai political system, such as the amendment of the draconic lese majeste laws, and spoken out against Mr. Somkid′s alleged conspiracy with anti-government factions.”

Members of the Nitirat told students that “Somkid′s order to close down the university is unacceptable as it leads to impression that Thammsat University has taken a side in the political crisis.” Their clas was a teach-in on the principles of democracy, a direct challenge to Somkid and the Suthep Thaugsuban plans for a non-democratic Thailand.

Academic Worachet Pakeerut stated that “the rector′s call for an unelected Prime Minister is not based on any academic principle and can be seen as supportive of an extra-judicial political change.”

Several acts of defiance were reported at Thammasat campuses.

Updated: Partisan professors

4 11 2013

PPT was confused by a statement in The Nation attributed to The Council of University Presidents of Thailand.

The Council’s statement was issued “against the amnesty bill, saying it would set a bad precedent for future rulings on corruption.” The leadership of Thailand’s universities “said this amnesty bill runs against the law and sent a wrong message that corruption is excusable.” Further, these administrators added:

“The amnesty bill … will set a wrong moral standard in Thai society because it will cause a misunderstanding that corruption is not a serious crime and those who commit it will eventually be absolved in an amnesty…”.

We were confused because we would have thought that such a supposedly august body might have considered cold-blooded murder by the state’s officials as being worthy of a mention in their statement. We wondered why the state’s impunity would not be cause for concern? Surely murder by the state says something about moral standards? Omitting it says quite a lot about the moral standards of the partisan professor-administrators.

[Of course, it could be just pathetic reporting by the newspaper that caused this tragic omission. If this is the case, then we’d gladly change this post to be one of criticism of a partisan press.]

So we decided to do a little more research on the Council. Our own pages mentioned an earlier statement by the Council that was decidedly yellow.

If one goes to the Council’s website, it is found that the listed president of the organization lists 27 members, while the report notes that the partisan statement is made in the name just 18 of the member universities.

We also looked at the listed office bearers, and there is just the president listed. It is Somkit Lertpaithoon, who has been anti-Thaksin Shinawatra in his political statements for several years. He seems quite proud of his service to the military junta and the junta’s governments following the 2006 coup, listing the following:

  • Member of the Constitution Drafting Assembly (2007)
  • Secretary of the Constitution Drafting Assembly (2007)
  • Member of Committee on Law Revision for The Royal Institute (2008)
  • Member of Political Development Council (2008)
  • Member of Sub- Committee in Public Sector Development Commission (2008)
  • Member of The Council of State (2009)
  • Vice President on Legal Advisers’ Committee to PM Abhisit Vejjajiva (2009)

The website may be out of date, but the point we are making is that if professor-adminstrators are to be taken seriously, then they need to be far less partisan than this statement suggests.

Update: Somkit seems to have taken one point on board: apparently he is now saying that the “the bill should benefit only people who gathered in the political rallies in 2010, and should not cover other unrelated acts such as rallies against corruption cases.” But his partisanship is still on display. After all, this is a member of the junta’s Constitutional Drafting Committee that approved and legalized an amnesty for the military brass that trashed the 1997 constitution, the nation’s basic law. Hence, his plan to use the statue of Pridi Phanomyong for his protests is a travesty: Pridi’s government was ditched by a coup and Pridi was sent into lifelong exile, accused of being anti-monarchist. Somkit’s use of his position is thus partisan and reprehensible.

Thammasat’s “liberalism,” uniforms and Aum

28 09 2013

Readers will likely find a story at University World News informative. It tells a story of class and authoritarian control at Thammasat University, some of which is new information for PPT.

The story is prompted by the anti-uniform efforts of Aum Neko, who now finds herself accused of lese majeste.uniform

On uniforms, the story told is far more interesting than we had previously thought.

For example, it is said that Thammasat under its regulations is “one of the few in the country that does not require students to wear uniforms…”.

Yet its Rector Somkit Lertpaithoonis quoted as stating that:

the institution only “encourages” students to wear the uniform, particularly during the exam season, “to teach them about the virtue of discipline”.

A Thammasat sociology lecturer points out that the demand for students to be uniformed is “an authoritarian society,” as the demand is “a way to confine people…”. She adds that the uniform “separates the ‘educated classes’ from ordinary people and unnecessarily divides society.”

Thammasat is sometimes regarded as a symbol of democracy in Thailand, having been by People’s Party leader Pridi Panomyong. Yet during the “early 1960s, the university was under the governance of General Thanom Kittikachorn who:

He transformed Thammasat University from an open university with over 35,000 students, to a more select institution accepting around 1,000 students. Student uniforms were introduced, with the university citing the need at the time to separate students from outsiders for “security reasons”.

Of course, the royalist Sarit Thanarat regime also sought to degrade Pridi’s legacy as it used the monarchy to legitimize its dictatorial rule.

In contrast, at the royalist Chulalongkorn University:

founded by the monarchy in 1899 to produce civil servants … uniforms were a symbol of the old establishment and also distinguished students as a distinct class in society….

So it is that royalists and rightists have “seen Aum’s uniform campaign as an attack on the establishment and on tradition.” And thus a uniform debate is now an accusation of lese majeste against a student who is seen to challenge the order and discipline that has always been the king’s mantra and a significant part of extremist and rightist rhetoric.

It is thus no surprise that the Thammasat rector has declared that “disciplinary action would be taken against Aum.”

%d bloggers like this: