PAD getting its due or something else?

12 05 2011

The Bangkok Post and all other media outlets have reported that 114 People’s Alliance for Democracy (PAD) leaders and supporters are to be charged by the police for illegal assembly during the seizure of the two Bangkok airports in 2008.

We wonder if any PAD people have been charged for their occupation of southern airports?

The report states that “some” of the suspects, “mostly leading PAD figures,” are also to be charged with “terrorism under Articles 113 and 116 of the Criminal Code.”

Names mentioned include Chamlong Srimuang, Somsak Kosaisuk, Pibhop Dhongchai, Somkiat Pongpaiboon, Sondhi Limthongkul and Foreign Minister Kasit Piromya.

Those charged are being told to report back “on June 9 when the prosecutors would decide who among them are to be indicted and on what charges.”

That still sounds pretty loose, and the outcome will probably be less significant than it presently appears. There is also the likelihood for some continued political game-playing as the election campaign will be in full swing then.

The same report also mentions that “five of the six yellow-shirt supporters charged with the armed hijack of a Bangkok bus [a No.53 city bus] in 2008 were each sentenced to two years in jail today.” The sixth PAD bus hijacker had died before getting to court.

The details are a little more interesting than this initially sounds: “The Criminal Court today initially sentenced each the five surviving defendants to three years imprisonment and a fine of 100 baht each for carrying weapons. Because they gave useful information during the trial, each jail sentence was commuted to two years and the fine to 66 baht.”

For 66 baht, they could have each taken a taxi and not needed to hijack the bus. That figure suggests that there is still some life in this case and that those involved may yet appeal and see the sentences further reduced.

Compare this to red shirts (and some who claim not to be red shirts but were picked up by the police and military in May 2010). Some remain in prison almost a year after their arrest, with little access to legal assistance and having been subject to mistreatment and illegal acts (as outlined in the recent Human Rights Watch report). The double standards continue.





Unions, PAD and the “democratic” royalist elite

1 05 2011

When Thaksin Shinawatra’s Thai Rak Thai Party government was first elected, it was on the back of a nationalist rejection of the Democrat Party’s lack of independence from the International Monetary Fund’s demands for the further liberalization of the economy following the 1997-98 economic crisis. At the time, organized labor was pretty much on board with TRT.

However, there was soon grumbling about the government breaking promises. Then, in 2004, when Thaksin’s boisterous threats and popularity had cowed the whining of many middle class NGOs and intellectuals, it was the state enterprise unions that first gave anti-Thaksin opposition some backbone.

These unions waged a protest campaign that demonstrated that that the TRT government could be challenged. The state enterprise unions opposed the privatization of EGAT, and the government backed down. While others got most of the credit in the mainstream media for rolling back privatization, it should not be forgotten that rallies of up to 50,000 opposed TRT policy. In fact, this was not forgotten when the People’s Alliance for Democracy was brought together, with state enterprise unions playing a significant role.

With their one time leader Somsak Kosaisuk installed as one of the PAD leadership, the state enterprise unions signed up for the anti-Thaksin campaign and stayed with it through its domination by the royalists and Sondhi Limthongkul and the Dharma Army-Santi Asoke alliance around Chamlong Srimuang. This curious alliance led to the unions being seen to support the 2006 military coup and the Fascist-like claims that wanted to prevent the lower classes having much participation in politics.

All this seemed a clear betrayal of the years of economic and political struggle by unions which had earlier included anti-monarchy actions associated with the 1932 Revolution.

It seems appropriate the, that this Labor Day, there has been an interesting development. The Bangkok Post reports that the State Enterprise Labour Relations Confederation “is defecting from the movement led by the People’s Alliance for Democracy because PAD leaders have said they support undemocratic political change…”.

SELRC leader Sawit Kaewwan is quoted as saying that “PAD bosses had often suggested the country be ‘shut down’ for national reform despite the fact that a new election was near. They had also expressed a desire to change the political structure to an undemocratic system. Sawit claims that such ideas “were in opposition to the political beliefs of the confederation…”.

Where was Sawit in 2006? The answer seems to be in this statement: “We believe in democracy and we do not agree with the enforcement of any power or any individuals’ power for political changes [coup]. We also oppose all forms of dictatorship…”. We imagine that Sawit would associate Thaksin and TRT with some kind of “dictatorship.” However, as we noted above, it was state enterprise unions that showed that TRT could be successfully opposed.

The significant point now is that Sawit says “the board of directors of the labour confederation had resolved that its leaders should withdraw from the PAD and refrain from joining the PAD on rally stages as well as at other activities. The confederation told the PAD of its intention on Tuesday.”

It is also reported that Somsak Kosaisuk, who remains an adviser to the confederation, has “quit as a PAD core leader, and Mr Sawit himself has resigned from the PAD’s group of second-tier leaders.” In another Bangkok Post story it is noted this move “followed an SELRC resolution on Tuesday demanding Mr Somsak and Mr Sawit quit the PAD because the yellow shirt movement’s campaign was undemocratic.”

Meanwhile, Somsak remains leader of the PAD-aligned New Politics Party while rejecting the PAD leadership’s demand for the party to boycott the general election. He appears to be trying to drag the NPP away from PAD. This would appear futile given the domination of Sondhi and Chamlong. However, the damage to NPP and PAD is potentially very considerable.

Somsak appears to have left a way open for PAD to reconcile with the unions, saying “he and Mr Sawit might join PAD rallies in a personal capacity later if they agreed with the group’s activities and approaches,” and noting that he was not in conflict with Chamlong, Sondhi or other key PAD leaders. Even so, he lambasted PAD leaders for “campaigning for something which is ‘close to a coup d’etat’…”.

Pundits seems ready to write PAD off. In a further report in the Bangkok Post the now “embattled People’s Alliance for Democracy” is said to have “lost another ally, with a former fund-raising group demanding an immediate end to its ‘divisive’ rally.” The group mentioned is the ironically monikered “Thais Love Peace group” that has called on PAD to “end its protest and stop verbally attacking its critics.”

Group leader Kanchanee Wallayasewee said “her group raised money for the PAD during its 193-day protest two years ago against the Samak Sundaravej and Somchai Wongsawat governments.” She claimed that the group included “businessmen, self-styled defenders of the monarchy and online social network activists.” But because PAD speakers were now attacking her members and “distorting” information, her group was jumping ship.

Kanchanee also accused “some alliance co-leaders” of “exploiting the higher institution [monarchy] and trying to foment a pretext for a military coup.” She indicated that many of her wealthy and well-placed supporters were upset when “smeared” by PAD.

She added that her group was ready to support the upcoming election. PPT guesses that this group is already shovelling money into the coffers of the government coalition parties.

This potential loss of support for PAD is seen by several pundits as the beginning of the end for the ultra-nationalist royalists. PAD and Sondhi have been able to mobilize people and this is threatening to the elite and this means that PAD has been tolerated but never fully trusted.

When PAD was necessary for the resurgent royalist elite was in beginning activities that allowed for Thaksin’s huge electoral mandate to be challenged and then to oppose other elected pro-Thaksin governments. In each instance, once the elite had its political path cleared, the result was a military coup and judicial coup. Following that, PAD usually hibernated. Think of how PAD demonstrations ceased in 2006 as Privy Council President General Prem Tinsulanonda took the lead in marshalling forces for the coup.

PAD has been unsuccessful in its current round of rallies, drawing small crowds and becoming desperate and uncontrollable – as witnessed by its attacks on former supporters. That said, it should not be forgotten that PAD did begin this round of bloody border disputes with Cambodia, giving the military further fillip. And yet it now seems clear that the elite strategy is finally coalescing around the idea of an election that it believes the royalist Democrat Party can win. The military has been least convinced of this approach, but the border war and the frantic use of repressive powers to stifle opposition seem to be the approach that has been agreed.

And, quite suddenly, all of the anti-democratic, coup-supporting, royalists and military brass are democrats….





PAD gets a bill, perhaps

25 03 2011

After more than 2 years, a decision has been made in one court case against the People’s Alliance for Democracy for their occupation of Bangkok’s airports.

PAD at the airport

The Bangkok Post reports that the “Civil Court on Friday ordered 13 leaders of the People’s Alliance for Democracy (PAD) to pay 522 million baht in damages to Airports of Thailand Plc (AoT) for the eight-day blockade of Don Mueang and Suvarnabhumi airports in late 2008.”

The defendants in the case included all the main PAD leaders: “Maj-Gen Chamlong Srimuang, Sondhi Limthongkul, Pibhop Dhongchai, Somsak Kosaisuk, Suriyasai Katasila, Somkiat Pongpaibul, Saranyu Wongkrajang, Sirichai Mai-ngam and Maleerat Kaewka.”

The court is reported to have “ruled that the seizure of the two international airports forced the suspension of air services, causing both physical and commercial damage to the AoT. The 13 defendants are, therefore, ordered to pay the AoT 522 million baht damages, plus 7.5 per cent interest starting Dec 3, 2008 when the occupation of the airports ended. The court also ordered them to pay the AoT’s legal fees in the case, 80,000 baht.”

While AoT president Sereerat Pasutanont is said to have satisfied with the court’s ruling, we suspect that  the person most satisfied might be Prime Minister Abhisit Vejjajiva. He will no doubt claim that such a verdict “proves” that there are no double standards whenever he seeks to electorally legitimize his government. Maybe Abhisit, who wanted to thank the boys and girls in yellow back in 2008, when they helped hoist him to power, is now regretting dropping the case on the PAD occupation of Government House (thanks to Bangkok Pundit for reminding us of this).

Of course, as is usually the case, PAD will appeal the decision. So unimportant did they consider this decision, that not one of the leaders even bothered to attend court. So the bill will remain unpaid for some time yet.





Updated: Elections, observers and boycotts

25 03 2011

In MCOT News, Deputy Prime Minister Suthep Thaugsuban is mentioned twice on rejecting foreign scrutiny.

First, reflecting the fact the the military already presented the government with a fait accompli, Suthep has been forced to agree that “said Indonesia, in its capacity as chairman of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN), or any other country, should not meddle in the border committee meeting.” The military had refused to accept this, so the Abhisit Vejjajiva government is unable to move on any resolution to the disputes on the Cambodian border.

Second, Suthep has also disagreed with the idea that Thailand “seek international observers to monitor the upcoming general election…”. That was his response to a report that the United Front for Democracy against Dictatorship (UDD), “planned to invite election observers from international organisations” to observe the elections.

Suthep made this a nationalist issue, wondering “why the UDD does not respect Thailand’s national sovereignty but respects foreigners by inviting them to be involved in the country’s internal affairs.” Suthep apparently wants nothing to do with foreigners, saying the whole idea was “inappropriate.”

It is curious that the current government and its backers are so spooked by suggestions of international observation.

The yellow shirts are also opposed to any third party involvement with the border dispute with Cambodia. As for international observers for the elections, if Sondhi Limthongkul has his way, the idea would be redundant. Sondhi has called on the PAD-born New Politics Party to boycott any elections and to campaign for a no vote when people cast their ballots. Readers will recall that PAD successfully called on opposition parties to boycott the April 2006 elections and for voters to cast a no vote (effectively a vote against the Thai Rak Thai Party). This was a crucial element moving the country towards the 2006 coup and beginning a a process of judicialization that began with the king’s call for the judiciary to sort out the disputes that followed the boycotted elections.

While the Wikipedia article just noted refers to this political intervention by the king as “an unusual but socially unifying step in declaring the landslide elections undemocratic, the election was declared invalid by the Constitutional Court…”, this is anything but true. The action set in train a series of events and decisions that have seen Thailand embroiled in 7 years of political disputation and crisis. Sondhi’s call for a boycott by the NPP is already causing dispute, but this time within the yellow shirts.

The Nation refers to a “split within the leadership yellow shirts’ leadership.” The NPP’s leader Somsak Kosaisuk said “the party’s executives and branch heads had resolved at their meeting on Tuesday to field candidates in the election.”

Somsak said NPP “is required to abide by the Political Party Act and the party’s own regulations.” Now PPT is not sure why Somsak and his yellow shirts have suddenly become believers in election laws, although Somsak appeared willing to consider Sondhi’s call, presumably if it gains any political traction.

Somsak does, however, make a point that sits oddly with the opposition to “foreign interference” when he notes that the “New Politics Party was set up in accordance with a resolution by PAD members from all over the country, as well as some 6,000 PAD members in the United States – not just from the five PAD leaders…”. Like the current government, it seems there are “tame” foreigners (we assume some of these PAD members are holding the documents of foreign countries) who are politically useful.

More significantly, Somsak seems to view the NPP as part of a grassroots movement while Sondhi sees it as a tool for himself and Chamlong Srimuang and the murky backers of the PAD. These latter leaders are also busily denigrating the very idea of elections and elected politicians. Sondhi said: “If the election is allowed to go ahead, we will see a return of beasts from hell…”.

It seems to PPT that Sondhi is worried that pro-Thaksin parties will do better than the current regime thinks they will. That said, Sondhi and others have also been attacking Abhisit also.

Sondhi claims that “the PAD leaders have resolved that we will campaign for people all over the country to not vote…”. Sondhi has never really been committed to NPP; that’s why it is led by Somsak, who was one of the early leaders of PAD, but never a major public figure. PPT expects taht Sondhi and his cronies will get their way. Questions remain: will a rightist boycott have any public support, and are there are darker forces behind this move.

Update: The Jakarta Globe has an interesting take on the border observers issue.





Updated: PAD case deferred again

8 10 2010

The Thai Report has another neat set of links that refer to the deferring, yet again, of a case against the People’s Alliance for Democracy and their 193-day seizure of Government House in 2008. The latest deferral is reported this way: “Maj-Gen Chamlong Srimuang, Sondhi Limthongkul, Pibhop Dhongchai, Somsak Kosaisuk, Somkiat Pongpaiboon and four other PAD leaders have been charged with illegal assembly and causing a public disturbance. Director-general of the Criminal Litigation Department Kaiyasit Pissawongprakan  said the postponement was necessary because prosecutors handling the case were still waiting for reports on the police questioning of additional defence witnesses requested by the accused.”

Look at the links at The Thai Report, pasted here:

PAD case postponed again…

And again 16/09/10…

And again 10/07/10…

And again 16/06/10…

And again 22/04/10…

And again 24/02/10…

And again 24/12/09…

And again 11/02/09… Probably could have gone on further and on other cases….

Update: At least the police seem to be making some progress on the 2008 airport occupation case….





Updated: PAD, police and courts

26 08 2010

Ever so slowly, the cases against People’s Alliance for Democracy, including the one we posted on recently, are inching forward. Like pulling teeth, some 79 PAD leaders are due to finally appear that the Crime Suppression Division to answer charges related to the siege of the two Bangkok airports in 2008. The same report in the Bangkok Post implies that the civil case against PAD’s airports’ occupation, brought by the Airports of Thailand Public Company Limited is moving ahead. No predictions on outcomes.

One of the interesting aspects of the Post report is that the police are expecting PAD supporters to show up at the CSD. Presumably that emergency decree for red shirts cannot be applied to the yellow clad one….

Update: The Nation reports on the event as PAD leaders including Sondhi Limthongkul and Chamlong Srimuang attended the CSD. Sondhi seemed convinced that this was the beginning of a very long process:  “I come today to give my statement to police as I have been charged for terrorism and myriad offences – this is going to be a long story…”. He said the though the police were trying to frame him. Sondhi alos claimed that some PAD leaders would refuse to report to the police. According to the Bangkok Post, only 59 of the 79 reported to police, although 5 had reported before the due date. All those who reported denied all charges.

In another Bangkok Post story (which includes a photo gallery), Sondhi said “he will file both criminal and civil lawsuits against Pol Lt-Gen Somyos Phumphanmuang, an assistant police chief who is in charge of the case against PAD co-leaders and supporters involving the blockade of Suvarnabhumi and Don Mueang airports in late 2008.”

Only about 100 PAD supporters “in multi-coloured shirts” turned up to support their leaders.

Other PAD leaders who showed up included: Somkiat Pongpaibul, Pibhop Dhongchai, Somsak Kosaisuk, Suriyasai Katasila, Maleerat Kaewka, Saranyu Wongkrachang and Anchalee Paireerak.

What has happened to Foreign Minister Kasit Piromya?





Double standards, again

13 07 2010

Acting police chief Patheep Tanprasert is cited in the Bangkok Post, defending “police investigators’ handling of cases against core members of the yellow shirt People’s Alliance for Democracy involved in the seizure of two airports and Government House.”

While police investigators are to summon 79 PAD people over the  Don Muang and Suvarnabhumi airports in 2008, little progress has been made. In fact, the police chief acknowledges this, claiming “limited resources” even when Prime Minister Abhisit Vejjajiva keeps saying otherwise. This is yet another example of the premier’s penchant for untruth.

The chief says that the “cases against the red shirts are under the purview of the Department of Special Investigation, [while] the yellow shirt cases are being handled by police alone…”.

General Patheep said this wasn’t  “double standards” and that the “yellow shirt cases will be subject to a normal investigation process, while the red shirts are being dealt with under the emergency law.” That’s not a double standard?

Assistant national police chief Somyos Phumphanmuang “said police started issuing summons for PAD members on Friday and they will be required to report from July 28 to Sept 6. He said the PAD members face 10 charges ranging from illegal occupation to terrorism. Among those summoned were PAD founder Sondhi Limthongkul, Somsak Kosaisuk, Surapong Chaiyanam, a former ambassador to the US, and Foreign Minister Kasit Piromya.”

PAD are furious,especially as it threw its support behind the Democrat Party-led government in its attacks on the red shirts. However, the PAD is probably now expendable now that the government has dictatorial powers and is using the state apparatus to destroy opposition (including the PAD, it seems).

Abhisit said “he instructed police to do their job but did not interfere in cases.” He stated: “The investigation [of PAD members] has been quite slow so I asked them to speed up…”. Abhisit is under international pressure to appear to be even-handed. However, he hasn’t asked Kasit to stand aside as foreign minister. Even-handed might have his own definition of “even-handed.”





What PAD and associated pink/“no”/”multi” shirts want

7 05 2010

When the no and multi-colors suddenly emerged and were trumpeted by many in yje mainstream media as “independent” of the People’s Alliance for Democracy. Of course, as PPT and others showed, this ignored a remarkable amount of obvious links between PAD and the pink/no/multi shirts.

Now that Prime Minister Abhisit Vejjajiva has offered to deal with the red shirts and has met with the leaders of PAD and the no/multis, what do PAD and the no/multis say? Do their positions vary? The basic answer is unsurprising with both opposed to any “deal” that doesn’t crush and/or punish the red shirts.

PAD have been clear. In the Bangkok Post (5 May 2010), several PAD leaders were cited following the meeting with Abhisit. PAD spokesman and New Politics Party secretary-general Suriyasai Katasila stated that the premier’s proposals are “not a solution to the country’s ills.” Suriyasai saw the proposals as a kind of deal between the Democrat Party-led government and the United Front for Democracy against Dictatorship. Suriyasai said that “while the country faced terrorists and movements threatening to topple the royal institution which were linked to the red shirt protesters,” Abhisit essentially avoided these issues. Most worrying for PAD was the possibility of an “amnesty for … Thaksin Shinawatra, terrorists, anti-royal movements, red shirt protest leaders and politicians banned for electoral fraud.”

At My.sinchew.com (6 May 2010), PAD are quoted as calling for the resignation of the prime minister after accusing him of secret deals with the red shirts.

They opposed the announced early election plan and “vowed to oppose any attempt to change the constitution or grant an amnesty for politicians hit with bans after their parties were dissolved.” The militant Chamlong Srimuang claimed Thailand’s problems would only worsen after the dissolution of the lower house, and subsequent elections…”. He slammed the prime minister for reconciling with “terrorists” to dissolve the house. He added: “it’s extremely bad for the country and the monarchy…”.

PAD leader Somsak Kosaisuk “called on the government to decisively enforce the law against Red Shirts…” while others “accused Abhisit of abandoning those who have supported the government in its fight against Thaksin’s allies.”

In the Bangkok Post (7 May 2010), the pink/no/multi group said to also be opposed to the dissolution. PAD affiliate Dr Tul Sithisomwong, cited as if he is a leader of an independent group, claims that he had told the prime minister to wait until a budget was in place. He seemed to think that the premier was under pressure from the red shirts. This is seen as a “bad precedent.” In addition, Tul said his group opposed any attempt to amend the constitution. And, just like PAD, Tul worried about an amnesty for banned politicians and wanted strong action against red shirt leaders on “various charges including offences against the monarchy.” He confirmed that his group would continue its anti-red shirt rallies. While Tul didn’t call on Abhisit to stand down, the space between PAD and his group is negligible. The group would continue to stage rallies to counter the red shirts until the red shirts stopped their rally.

Abhisit, who seems to be uncomfortable with his “own” proposals and is apparently canvassing those opposed to “his” proposals. On amnesty, he stated that “there would not be an amnesty for politicians on criminal charges. However, he said whether there would be an amnesty for politicians on political offences depended on the people throughout the country to decide.”

PPT have a feeling that opposition to the proposals may well suit Abhisit. He’s clearly not happy with them and has been forced into a narrow set of “principles” that lead to a political solution. Many of his supporters, including many in the Democrat Party seem to want a “final showdown” rather than what they see as a not-so-final stepdown.





With 4 updates: PAD is on the march

18 04 2010

The People’s Alliance for Democracy has been organizing various pink shirt and “no color” rallies in support of the Abhisit Vejjajiva government over the past few weeks, opposing the red shirts. Now they are mobilizing in a more serious way. The Bangkok Post has this telling headline: “Thai govt given ultimatum by “Yellow Shirt” allies.” The article says: “Thailand’s elite-backed ‘Yellow Shirts’ vowed Sunday to take action if the government failed to deal with their rival red-clad demonstrators in Bangkok within a week, a spokesman said.”

A PAD spokesman said: “In seven days we hope that the government will deal with the terrorists from Thaksin immediately otherwise we will show our voice to protect the country and the royal family…”. Terrorists, Thaksin, nationalism, monarchy. This mix is meant to galvanize opposition to the red shirts and to push the army to action.

Update 1: PAD gets considerable support in the mainstream media. Of course it has its own media in ASTV/Manager, which is venomous in its attacks on anyone considered “soft” on Thaksin Shinawatra, and it hates the red shirts. In the English-language press, the Bangkok Post is owned and managed by Democrat supporters and funders, with Chirathivats (Central Group) and Vejjajivas included. The Nation is often foaming at the mouth in its editorial pages in support of anyone who opposes Thaksin and the red shirts. The recent blog, pointed out be a regular reader, by the ever maniacal Thanong Khanthong of lying on ABC TV infamy, is barking mad, but reflects the yellow-shirted fear and fight. He argues that Abhisit Vejjajiva must smash the red shirts now or risk a red-yellow civil war.

As we have said before, Thanong is a pretty good bell weather of PAD discussions and thinking. He says it is “clear that one of the hidden agendas of the Red Shirts is to take over the state before downgrading or removing the Monarchy from the facets of the Thai society.” His scenario, warning Abhisit, is that “Thais from all colours will come out to kill each other because by that time they can’t differentiate who are their friends or foes.”

Thanong makes 6 points:

1. The “Military and the Police have not exhibited any signs of urgency to take on the Red Shirts.”

2. The “security forces and the Police have yet to nab the 25 Red Shirts leaders…. The attempt to arrest Arisman … at SC Park Hotel on Friday turned into a farce. It reflects a dark plot to repeatedly show that the Abhisit government is no longer in control of law and order. The Police are in full neutral gear mode.”

3. Abhisit “is hanging on his premiership by a tiny string. Both the Military, the Police, the Red Shirts and the coalition partners are applying tremendous pressure for him to resign or to dissolve Parliament immediately. Within the Democrats, Abhisit is also losing his control.”

4. The red shirts will get “more confrontational and violent.” mode. They are “now attempting to stage a Revolution to change the Thai regime. The high profile role of the left-leaning faction of the Red Shirts is evidence of this movement.”

5. The military is divided. The “flip-flop announcement of the leadership restructuring of the Emergency Operation Command shows that Abhisit’s power is being eroded.”

6. The PAD 7-day deadline to Abhisit will put “pressure on Abhisit to act on the Red Shirts. So far Gen Anupong and his Army are reluctant to take on the Red Shirts…. Many are raising doubts about the ambiguous stance of Gen Anupong.”

Thanong concludes that Abhisit must act against the red shirts now or there will be civil war.

Update 2: The Bangkok Post has a short story:

PAD co-leader Somsak Kosaisuk – Sondhi Limthongkul has been missing for months, perhaps in China – reportedly said “Thailand has never experienced a deep division like this one before. The red-shirts are using the words ‘commoners’ and ‘elites’ to create such division.” In fact it might have been wealthy PAD backer Arthit Urairat saying this as the report is unclear. Arthit is reported as opining that the “country belongs to everyone of us but there are some people who are destroying the country to gain personal benefits…”. The alway grinning but exceptionally dangerous former mercenary and PAD co-leader Chamlong Srimuang said the red shirts were made up of the “MPs who work in the House of Representatives, the demonstrators and the insurgents.”

In fact, the PAD meeting appears to have been rather more rabid than these reports indicate. Some of the tweets indicate this.

Update 3: It seems that PAD reckons that the government killed no one on 10 April. AFP cites Parnthep Pourpongpan, a PAD spokesman fas demanding that the red shirts “value their own lives by not making any untrue statements saying that the government killed the people…”. Continuing with this threatening line, he added: “The Red Shirts should save their lives by stopping the rally…”. Very clear and to the point and very reminiscent of statements by the frenzied right before the blood-letting on 6 October 1976.

Update 4: The Nation reports that Chamlong Srimuang said the “red shirts have caused polarisation with words like ‘prai’ and ‘ammat’ but their real intention is to mobilise the masses as a means to transform the political system…”. PAD leader Pipop Thongchai “blamed fugitive former prime minister Thaksin Shinawatra and Pheu Thai Party chairman Chavalit Yongchaiyudh for the April 10 violence.” He also claimed that “[h]ardcore leftists and certain remnants of the nowdefunct Communist Party of Thailand had teamed up with the red shirts to try to trigger a civil war…”.

PAD issued a statement “condemning Thaksin and his army of red shirts for trying to incite a rebellion. Pheu Thai Party, the red shirts and a private army were seeking to agitate the public, leading to an uprising, it said in the statement.”

This might all sound far-fetched but these notions are believed and accepted by their supporters. The inciting of right-wing rage is required to justify strong, violent and probably deadly  action against the red shirts.





One year since Giles Ji Ungpakorn fled Thailand …

6 02 2010

It has been one year since Giles Ji Ungpakorn fled Thailand. He has written the following reflection and analysis on his case and the broader context of repression and injustice. PPT has reproduced it in full in English below. You can also find it posted on his blog here: 5 February 2010, “Who are the real people who avoid justice in Thailand?” and ภาษาไทยที่นี้: 5 ก.พ. 2553, “ผู้หนีคดีตัวจริงไม่ใช่ผม”

***

Who are the real people who avoid justice in Thailand?

Giles Ji Ungpakorn

The 6th February is the anniversary of the day when I had to leave Thailand and seek political exile in Britain. I left Thailand because it had become a dictatorship with no regard to international standards of justice, democracy or human rights. I was charged with lese majeste for writing a book which criticised the illegal military coup in 2006. In the book I questioned the role of the King and the relationship between the army and the monarchy. I asked whether the monarchy should have defended the constitution and democracy. The perverse thing about the lese majeste law is that a person can still be “guilty” for telling the truth. It is a law which tries to prevent open discussion. Court cases are heard in camera in a kangaroo court. Da Torpedo was sentenced in such a court to 18 years in prison.

The Thai government has failed to show how I made any untrue statements in my book. Yet they accuse me of “avoiding justice”. The same accusation is made against Jakrapop Penkare. Yet, who are the real criminals in Thailand who avoid justice? They are the military and conservative elites who use bully-boy tactics to destroy justice.

Sonti Boonyakarin and his fellow junta members, who stage the illegal coup in 2006 and committed treason against the Thai people, are avoiding justice for the crimes committed.  He and his mates are avoiding justice on charges of “conflict of interest and corruption”. They staged an illegal coup and then appointed themselves to lucrative state enterprise and governmental positions. They wrote their own constitution which made sure all governments must increase military spending. They even used public money to stage the coup.

Ex-Prime Minister Surayut Julanon is avoiding justice for his violence and brutality in the May 1992 military crack down against pro-democracy demonstrators. He is also avoiding justice on charges of taking over land in a national park. He is corrupt because he took a position as an illegitimate Prime Minister after the coup, drawing a salary from public funds.

King Pumipon is avoiding justice and has been doing so for decades. He knows how his brother died because he was there and yet he gave false testimony about it. He allowed innocent people to be executed. More recently he has become “unusually rich”, arising from his public position. He is now the richest man in Thailand and the richest monarch in the world. He is avoiding justice for this and for “failing to do his duty” in protecting democracy.

Prem Tinsulanon is avoiding justice for corruption. He still lives in a state owned house despite being retired. He “abused his power” by becoming an unelected Prime Minister in the 1980s and “neglected his duty” to properly advise the King to protect democracy.

Sonti Limtongkul, Jamlong Simuang, Somsak Kosaisuk, Pipop Tongchai, Somkiat Pongpaiboon, Wira Somkwamkit, Suriyasai Katasila, Kasit Pirom and the entire PAD gang are avoiding justice for  “violent acts, using weapons” on the streets of Bangkok. They are avoiding justice for “wrecking Government House and blocking the airports”. They are avoiding justice for “aiding and abetting an illegal coup” and for “causing a disturbance of the peace” on the Cambodian border.

Government politicians Abhisit Vejjajiva, Korn Jatikavanit, Sutep Tuaksuban and Satit Wongnongtuay are avoiding justice for “aiding and abetting an illegal coup”, “murdering” demonstrators in Bangkok in April 2009, “abusing their power and relationship with the military” to set up an illegitimate government, “illegally abusing their power” to instigate widespread censorship and they are also avoiding justice for a “conflict of interest” because they all stand to gain personally from the illegal coup in 2006. Newin Chitchorp is also avoiding justice for “gangsterism” by setting up the Blue Shirt thugs.

Yellow shirt academics and NGO activists are avoiding justice for “aiding and abetting an illegal coup” and “libelling” the Thai electorate for being stupid. They are avoiding justice for having a “conflict of interest” in receiving wages from public funds for accepting positions on bodies set up by the illegal junta. Members of the illegal junta government are also avoiding justice for this crime.

Mainstream Thai media moguls are avoiding justice for the continuous libel of Red Shirt activists, who are usually too poor to sue them.

The list of those avoiding justice goes on…. top politicians, army generals and police commanders who killed people in the South at Takbai and Krue-Sa, in the war on drugs, in the 1992, 1976 and 1973 bloodbaths. Those who killed defence lawyer Somchai and social movement activists and the capitalists who caused serious industrial accidents like the Kader fire etc etc etc…

Compare the above crimes with what I or Jakrapop or Da Torpedo did.

One day when we win democracy, we shall have to bring all those who are avoiding justice to court to be tried by a jury of people randomly selected from the population. The old corrupt judges, who are also avoiding justice, cannot be trusted.