Light yellow standards

24 07 2017

The Bangkok Post reports on yet another (partial) victory for the yellow shirts of the People’s Alliance for Democracy.

In another example of double standards and a politicized judiciary, the Appeals Court reduced “two-year jail terms imposed by the primary court for their seizure of Government House in an attempt to oust then-prime minister Samak Sundaravej in 2008.” The court declared that their illegal occupation was “not intended to benefit certain groups or their own interests…”. In other words, the judge reckons they acted in the “public interest.” This is another example of “good people” double standards.

Thus the court reduced their sentence to eight months but did not suspend imprisonment.

The PAD lawyer then declared an appeal to the Supreme Court and asked for bail for all but one of the defendants:  Chamlong Srimuang, Phibop Dhongchai, Somkiat Pongpaibul, Somsak Kosaisuk and Suriyasai Katasila. (Sondhi Limthongkul is in jail already for fraud.)

This result came almost two years after the lower court decision. Perhaps their next case will be in 2019 or 2020? SO far their sentences have been reduced from three to two years and now to eight months. We can guess that the next court will be even more sympathetic.





Sondhi “unconvicted” on lese majeste

12 02 2017

The lese majeste case involving People’s Alliance for Democracy boss Sondhi Limthongkul goes back to 2008.

Having made numerous complaints of lese majeste against others, the yellow-shirted anti-democrat found himself accused of lese majeste after he referred to a speech given by Darunee Charnchoengsilpakul (alias Da Torpedo) when he was criticizing her and calling on the police to act against her.

In February 2012, the Criminal Court sentenced Sondhi to 20 years for corporate fraud in a case dating back to the 1990s. He was eventually convicted and is serving jail time.

On 10 July 2012, Sonthi appeared in court on the lese majeste charge. He denied the charge. On 26 September 2012, Sondhi was acquitted on the lese majeste charge. The prosecution appealed, and in October 2013 he was convicted and sentenced to 2 years. He appealed.

Now The Nation reports that the Supreme Court “ruled in favour of Sondhi … saying he had no intention of repeating another activist’s insults that were made in a political speech in 2008. The ruling reversed the Appeals Court’s decision that saw Sondhi jailed for two years on the same charge.”

The charge was reportedly dismissed as the court was convinced that Sondhi “repeated the statements only to call for police to prosecute Daranee for what she said.” We don’t recall too much attention to intent in other cases. It seems royalists get preferential and special treatment from the courts, even for lese majeste charges.

(Darunee served more than eight years in jail.)





Wolves in charge of “reconciliation”

7 02 2017

Somyos Prueksakasemsuk has been in jail since 30 April 2011. In a long and deliberately tortuous trial, the labor activist was convicted of lese majeste in a sham trial. Because he refused to plead guilty, the “justice” system has deliberately treated him badly.

Despite all of this, a brave Somyos “has denounced the junta’s political reconciliation plans.” He declared:

If the regime is really serious about reconciliation, asserted Somyot, all parties to the political conflicts since the 2006 coup d’état must be invited to the negotiation table. This includes controversial figures such as Thaksin Shinawatra, Suthep Thaugsuban, Yingluck Shinawatra, Jatuporn Prompan, Abhisit Vejjajiva, Gen Prayut Chan-o-cha, Sondhi Limthongkul and Gen Sonthi Boonyaratglin.

He made the good point that the junta’s “reconciliation plan … is like a story of wolves trying to solve problems about grass for cows and buffaloes. [The wolves] portray themselves as the protagonists but they have hidden agendas. It’s like a soap opera…”.

He’s right.





Updated: Miracles in the military’s Thailand

7 09 2016

PPT doesn’t believe in miracles. In Thailand, however, a series of “miracles” have occurred. More precisely, they seem to to have been manufactured under the auspices of the military dictatorship.

The first is a recurring “miracle.” The king’s health has improved for the umpteenth time. In a short report attributed to the Royal Household Bureau. It says the king’s “blood and phlegm were checked by a team of doctors at Siriraj Hospital. An X-ray found fluid in the King’s lung had reduced and there was no inflammation.” It adds that a “pulse examination by echocardiography found the functioning of [the king’s] … cardiac muscle was satisfactory.”

UdomdejThe second “miracle” was entirely predictable (which denies miracle status, but the story is still miraculous). The military’s laundry or the National Anti-Corruption Commission has “unanimously agreed that there was no graft in the Rajabhakti [Corruption] Park project in Hua Hin…”. Of course there wasn’t! The junta has said that from the beginning, despite evidence to the contrary including from General Udomdej Sitabutr.

The NACC “agreed unanimously that all procedures carried out under the project had met regulatory requirements…”. We don’t believe it could have found otherwise as the case involved junta members.

The third miracle is the jailing of Sondhi Limthongkul. His crime did not relate to anything about the illegal activities of his People’s Alliance for Democracy, for which he deserves years in prison. Rather it relates to just one of his allegedly fraudulent business deals from the 1990s. That said, his 20 year sentence seems way out of line with the sentences given to a handful of 1990s business crooks.sondhi-limthongkul

Many felt Sondhi was “protected” because of his work for the royalists, making them a political movement, and the role he played in getting rid of Thaksin Shinawatra in 2006. We have posted previously that we felt the military was uncomfortable with all populists – Thaksin, Sondhi and Suthep Thaugsuban. Two of these have been pushed aside and out on political ice. We await news of the Suthep “miracle.”

Update: A reader rightly points out that, despite the “miracle recovery” for the king, that reports have stated that the king’s health remains precarious. One states:

… the king is receiving continuous renal replacement therapy, a treatment for critically ill patients with acute kidney failure. It said Bhumibol is still producing insufficient urine.

He has little time left, despite the “medical miracles.”





Trump and Thailand

24 08 2016

PPT pays only limited attention to US domestic politics. However, when there are links to Thailand’s politics we get interested.

Over the past couple of weeks, US presidential candidate Donald Trump has been getting some attention for his links to Alex Jones. As one of the many Jones-linked websites has it, the “mainstream media is in a state of panic with the fact that Alex Jones and Infowars are influencing mainstream politics and aligning with presidential candidate Donald Trump.”

Trump’s interview with Jones is available.

Jones pedals extreme rightist conspiracy theory. But a vociferous group of Trump supporters, mostly white, gun-toting, racists, buys into it. More significantly, according one report,

Donald Trump’s top donors are now backing an InfoWars-approved challenger to Sen. John McCain— a Tea Partier [Kelli Ward] who blames the former prisoner of war for the rise of ISIS and who once held a town hall on chemtrails [the conspiracy theory that says government airplanes are spraying, through visible contrails that streak the skies, dangerous chemicals to change the weather or for darker motives].

Robert and Rebekah Mercer—the father-daughter duo spending millions to boost right-wing candidates—have substantial clout in the Trump campaign. While most Republican mega-donors have stayed away from Trump, Mercer and co. are all in for him.

What does this have to do with Thailand? Back in 2013, we had a post about Jones-acolyte “Tony Cartalucci,” who writes material that has been popular among far right yellow shirts and other royalists, including some in the current junta.

As we said back then (and we haven’t updated the links and Land Destroyer has changed its pages since we first posted):

His [“Cartalucci’s”] blog has been Land Destroyer, which provides no information on funding, but as a reader at Prachatai pointed out at the time, it:

[l]inks to Infowars.com which is Alex Jones. Infowars.com accepts advertising from Midas Resources (http://www.midasresources.com/store/store.php?ref=62&promo=specialOffer) which is “One of the world’s premiere precious metals firms, parent company of The Genesis Communications Network, proud sponsor of the Campaign For Liberty and creator of the Ron Paul Air Corps.”

The Ron Paul initiated Campaign for Liberty (http://www.campaignforliberty.com/about.php) draws inspiration from a range of conservatives and libertarians and localists. According to University of Georgia political scientist Keith Poole, Paul had the most conservative voting record of any member of Congress from 1937 to 2002 (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ron_Paul).

Midas Resources was founded by Ted Anderson. Ted Anderson and Alex Jones are collaborators, with Jones appearing on the Genesis Communications Network, where Anderson is the CEO (http://www.gcnlive.com/contact.php). It was established to promote the sale of precious metals (http://www.gcnlive.com/faq.php). Its front page advertisers include Christian holster sellers and a range of survival products (for surviving the coming global food crisis) along with Ron Paul sites and Russia Television/Russia Today. GCN has interviewed right-wing, anti-Semite Lyndon LaRouche (http://www.larouchepub.com/lar/2008/interviews/080401jack_blood_genesis.html), seen as a political extremist (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Lyndon_LaRouche). LaRouche also has a fan in another link at Land Destroyer in F.W. Engdahl, yet another conspiracy theorist (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/F._William_Engdahl), who believes in global cooling (not warming).

Jones and Anderson have promoted conspiracy rants by people associated with the extremist John Birch Society (http://mediamatters.org/blog/201101290003).

Companies linked in these groups, such as Free Speech Systems (http://freespeechsystems.com/) provide no links or information; certainly not practicing what they preach.

Land Destroyer links to a range of other conspiracy theory websites that never provide any details about funding. One of these is to the site of long-time conspiracy theorist Webster Tarpley who has a remarkable Wikipedia page (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Webster_Tarpley). Another is to anti-fluoride, anti-vaccination, Bin Laden is alive (Alex Jones too), and conspiracy theorist Jim Corr who is also on about the threat or One World Government (http://www.jimcorr.com/).

In the LaRouche Wikipedia page, in the section on “Selected Works,” it might be noted that LaRouche wrote a book with Uwe Von Parpart in 1970. Several sites note that he later worked at Asia Times and The Manager magazine owned by Sondhi Limthongkul. Interesting connections.

Conspiracy theories seem to be experiencing quite a comeback under rightist movements, not just in the US, but in Thailand too.





Libel, defamation and double standards

4 06 2016

Remember this from the Bangkok Post on 25 May?

The Appeals Court on Wednesday upheld the Criminal Court’s acquittal of former Democrat Party spokesman Chavanond Intarakomalyasut of a charge of defaming former prime minister Yingluck Shinawatra in comments about her meeting with businessmen at the Four Seasons Hotel in 2012.

Chavanond’s claims were meant to imply several things and all were meant to denigrate Yingluck.

The Criminal Court dismissed the suit against Chavanond. An appeal was lodged and the “Appeals Court ruled that in his press interviews Mr Chavanond had not accused her of disclosing official secrets, but rather had made an honest criticism of her.”

Then what about this?

The Appeals Court on Thursday upheld a lower court’s dismissal of a defamation suit brought by former prime minister Thaksin Shinawatra against Peoples Alliance for Democracy (PAD) leader Sondhi Limthongkul and his two media businesses, Thaiday.com and ASTV Co.

Thaksin alleged Sondhi defamed him while addressing PAD supporters at a rally at Government House on Oct 14, 2008. Sondhi accused Thaksin of infringing on the monarch’s powers, buying grass-roots voters, taking control of the police and bribing certain high-ranking military officials to weaken the royal institution.

His speech was broadcast live on ASTV News 1 satellite TV channel and also published on the website of the Manager daily newspaper.

The judge declared that while Sondhi’s words “were defamatory towards Thaksin, the defendant argued that there were other suspicious individuals who had political ties with the former premier as well as his close aides and henchmen such as Robert Amsterdam, Thaksin’s former lawyer who was accused of violating lese majeste law.”

The court decided that “Sondhi’s suspicions about Thaksin were genuinely felt and not therefore deemed an act of defamation.”

And what about this?

The Supreme Court Thursday reversed a ruling by the Court of Appeal and upheld the lower court’s ruling sentencing red-shirt co-leader Jatuporn Prompan to six months in jail, suspended for two years, and fining him 50,000 baht for defaming former prime minister Abhisit Vejjajiva.

Jatuporn made some remarks “accusing the then prime minister of wrongfully sitting in a chair that put him on the same level as His Majesty the King during a royal audience.” He accused Abhisit of failing to show due respect to the king.

The Criminal Court “ruled in Mr Abhisit’s favour, finding Mr Jatuporn’s remark was not made in good faith as it violated Section 328 of the Criminal Code.”

Jatuporn appealed and was acquitted by the Appeal Court, which “ruled his remarks were not defamatory.” Abhisit appealed to the Supreme Court. That court has decided that “Jatuporn had the intention to defame Mr Abhisit” and “reinstated the lower court’s ruling” and the jail sentence.

Readers might notice some similarities in these cases. Like a sore thumb, it sticks out that one side wins in each case.





More double standards

3 10 2015

Thai PBS reported some time ago, and we missed it until a reader alerted us, that People’s Alliance for Democracy boss Sondhi Limthongkul was convicted of “defaming the Shinawatra and Damapong families over tax avoidances [sic.] in share purchases in 2006.”sondhi-limthongkul

As would be expected under the royalist military dictatorship, he was “sentenced to a three-year suspended jail term by the Supreme Court.” In other words, no jail time.

This is the second instance in a couple of weeks where double standards have been demonstrated to be deeply entrenched in the judiciary. Both involved ASTV/Manager people.





Further updated: Suthep re-enters politics

28 07 2015

Much of the media commentary about Suthep Thaugsuban leaving the monkhood has been about his declaration that he will no longer be involved in politics.

Suthep

A Bangkok Post photo

Suthep entered the monkhood not that long after the coup, as a kind of political exile, and after a couple of slaps from the military dictatorship on commentary he made about the coup and his People’s Democratic Reform Committee links to the military’s planning of the coup.

Like others with a penchant for mobilizing people, be it Thaksin Shinawatra, Sondhi Limthongkul or even Chamlong Srimuang, the military is suspicious of them.

Hence, Suthep’s declaration that he is not re-entering politics is something of a ruse.

For one thing, saying he is done with party politics is not saying much when the military dictatorship has sent parties to the wilderness. Parties are more or less defunct and those drafting the new constitution have tried to make them less significant into the future.

Second, during the PDRC campaign against Yingluck Shinawatra’s government, much of the rhetoric was driven by royalist notions that are anti-party and a anti-politician, so an immediate return to party politics would be a denial of that anti-democratic ideology.

Third, it is noticeable that Suthep remains politically engaged. Photographed in his PDRC livery emphasizing monarchy and nation, Suthep stated that he “plans to join a foundation that other former protest leaders have established,” allegedly “to promote vocational education and other grassroots projects.” When he states that “I will work with the Foundation of the Great Mass of the People for Reform of Thailand. I will never go back to run in an election ever again. But I will be working in civil politics alongside the Great Mass of the People for the benefit of our country.”

In a sense, this is an acknowledgement of the post-politician/post-party politics that will be acceptable to the royalist elite and the military dictatorship. Suthep has re-entered politics in a space delimited by the military.

Update 1: As if on cue, Army chief General Udomdej Sitabutr has warned Suthep to steer clear of political organizing.

Update 2: The military dictatorship’s concerns regarding Suthep’s re-entry into politics has been shown in a statement by The Dictator. General Prayuth Chan-ocha “admitted yesterday he was concerned that politician Suthep Thaugsuban … has become politically active once again.” Prayuth was expressing concern about a press conference scheduled for Thursday that “will be the first time since the coup in May 22, 2014, that 12 PDRC leaders will officially get together to continue their push for reform.” Prayuth and Suthep

As Chairman of the so-called Foundation of the Great Mass of the People for Reform of Thailand, Suthep will attend the event. So will all of the other anti-democrat leaders: Sathit Wongnongtoey, Thaworn Senniam, Issara Somchai, Witthaya Kaewparadai, Akanat Promphan, Chumpol Chulasai, Chaiwut Bannawat, Puttipong Punnakan, Sakoltee Phattiyakul, Natthapol Theepsuwan and Chitpas Bhirombhakdi-Kridakorn.

The “foundation” will consider its “strategy to support ‘reforms’ according to the six-point proposal initiated by Suthep himself…”.

 





Slandering for the monarchy

20 02 2015

The lese majeste law is brandished with considerable venom and enthusiasm to jail and silence those accused of “slandering” the monarchy.

In a court decision reported in the Bangkok Post it seems that slandering the royals is unacceptable while slandering for the monarchy is acceptable.

The report has it that the Criminal Court dismissed a defamation case brought by Thaksin Shinawatra against People’s Alliance for Democracy boss Sondhi Limthongkul.

The case goes back to one of Sondhi’s haranguing speeches that Thaksin claims defamed him on 14 October 2008. The speeches were broadcast by ASTV.

Sondhi accused Thaksin “of infringing on the monarch’s powers by trying to buy grassroots people, taking control of the police force and bribing certain senior military officers to weaken the royal institution.”

Of course, each of these claims was nonsense and were meant to provoke hatred of Thaksin.

Yet the court ruled that “Sondhi’s speech was made with the intention of protecting the royal institution and was not deemed defamation…”.

That’s quite a telling “ruling” by the royalist courts.

 





Rewarding the anti-democrats II

9 10 2014

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

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

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

Back in 2009, PPT commented on Chai-Anan:

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

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

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

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

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

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