Updated: “New” government

11 07 2019

King Vajiralongkorn has endorsed The Dictator’s cabinet list.

One of the “stories” is how, as expected, many of the junta’s henchman have transitioned into the “new” government:

Prayut will also double as Defence Minister, a key position currently held by General Prawit Wongsuwan, his deputy in the outgoing government.

Prawit will retain his position as a deputy prime minister and is expected to also be in charge of security affairs.

The new Cabinet also has eight other ministers who have worked with Prayut and Prawit in the current post-coup government: Somkid Jatusripitak, Wissanu Krea-ngam, General Chaichan Changmongkol, Uttama Savanayana, Don Pramudwinai, Suvit Maesincee, Sontirat Sontijirawong and General Anupong Paojinda.

But the biggest story is undoubtedly going to be about an army man and mafia figure, reported by AFP, 9 Sep 1998, and now being circulated in Thailand:

BANGKOK, Sept 9 (AFP) – Eighteen middle-ranking Thai military officers are being investigated for links to an international heroin trafficking operation, the supreme commander of Thailand’s armed forces said Wednesday.

General Mongkol Ampornpisit said the officers had been re-admitted into the military in the past two years and the scandal, the latest in a series to rock the Thai military, had prompted him to order that all recently re-admitted officers have their backgrounds checked.

“I have submitted the names of all re-admitted officers for the last two years to have their criminal backgrounds checked with the police,” General Mongkol told reporters, without elaborating on the heroin trafficking allegations.

He said he hoped the move to vet officers would help contain one of the biggest scandals to hit the Thai military establishment in many years.

The revelation of the heroin investigation follows another scandal involving an army captain at the centre of a murder probe, who had previously served a jail term in Australia for drug trafficking.

Mongkol conceded the military had been lax when re-admitting Captain Patchara Prompao into the armed forces after he was fired twice and convicted of narcotics trafficking.

Patchara is now in detention awaiting trial in a civilian court after he surrendered to police on Monday to face charges that he raped and then beat a male academic to death.

In June, amid a drive was to make the armed forces more accountable, the government demanded the military disclose the contents of secret bank accounts they had been allowed to keep.

Earlier this year the armed forces were accused by opposition politicians of involvement in vast illegal logging operations in northern Thailand.

It is also Thammanat who was reported in 2016 as being among more than 6,000 “influential criminal figures” being targeted by the junta in a nationwide crackdown. Back then it was Gen Prawit who stated that “[s]tate officials, police and military officers found to be involved with ‘dark influences’ must also be dealt with…”. Gen Prawit was reportedly in charge of “suppressing influential criminal figures.”

At the time it was considered that the regime’s political opponents were being targeted, a claim Prawit denied. When asked about specific individuals on the list – “former army specialist Gen Trairong Intaratat, better known as Seh Ice, and Capt Thammanat Prompao, a former close aide to Gen Trairong…” – Gen Prawit said “police will explain the offences they have allegedly committed.” He added that the two “might have done nothing wrong, but their aides might have…”. The report continued:

Gen Trairong, said to have close ties to ousted prime minister Thaksin Shinawatra, was among four people mentioned in a leaked document from the 1st Division, King’s Guard.

The three others named in the document are Karun Hosakul, a former Pheu Thai Party MP for Bangkok’s Don Muang district; Capt Thammanat Prompao, said to be involved in several enterprises including lottery ticket distribution; and Chaisit Ngamsap, alleged to be connected to illegal activities in the Mor Chit area of Bangkok.

Gen Trairong and Capt Thammarat have denied the allegations.

In the same report, Gen Prayudh is reported as saying:

… those who break the law must be punished…. In the future, these people may support politicians. They must not be allowed to break the law and use weapons against people. Today, we must help to clear up the mess to make our country safe….

It seems that the once pro-Thaksin Thammanat has metamorphosed into a pro-junta man and the politicians he’s supporting are Prayuth’s and he’s now so trusted that he’s a deputy minister!





With 3 updates: No government

2 07 2019

It is now more than three months since Thailand’s voters went to the polls. There’s still no government in place and the military junta continues to rule.

It might have been thought that a strong performance by an elected opposition would be the main threat to the junta and its proposed government. Or it might have been felt that, once formed, a junta-backed government would be riven by conflicts within a coalition of almost 20 “parties.”

In fact, at the moment, the real “struggle” and threat to the junta’s formation of a government – assuming it wants one – is from within the party it formed, Palang Pracharath.

The details are murky but becoming public. The men who formed the party, funded it and went around hoovering up candidates for the junta are flexing their considerable muscle, blaming Party secretary-general Sontirat Sontijirawong for causing splits within the Party:

In the June 11 lineup, core Sam Mitr leader and party-list MP Suriya Jungrungreangkij was tipped to be the energy minister. Another core leader of the group, party-list MP Somsak Thepsutin, was promised the justice portfolio and group member Chai Nat MP Anucha Nakasai was to be a deputy finance minister.

But more changes were made later, reportedly to accommodate seats for the Chart Pattana Party, for Don Pramudwinai to continue as the foreign minister and to allow a team led by Deputy Prime Minister Somkid Jatusripitak to control all key economic ministries. The changes resulted in Mr Suriya being moved to be industry minister while Mr Anucha’s name was no longer on the list.

Explosions are continuing. For the abnormally quiet Gen Prayuth Chan-ocha, the result has been a groveling “apology” for being unable to form a cabinet and a government. His spokesman stated: “the Prime Minister will perform his duty to the best of his ability, even though there may be some problems in the party’s internal administration, as it is a newly formed party with members from many backgrounds.” It seems that the junta has failed on just about everything it has done, except for its political repression.

Where to now?

Update 1: The answer to that last question seems to come from Gen Prayuth when he appears to threaten another coup.

Update 2: Shaken by public criticism and probably military and junta unhappiness, two of the three amigos who put the Party together, now say they will be good and abide by Gen Prayuth’s decisions on his cabinet lineup. Let’s see if they got what they demanded as this statement should now allow a cabinet to be put in place. But, who knows? Others may now be upset and demanding.

Update 3: Khaosod has more on Gen Prayuth’s coup threat and the reaction to it.





The Dictator, the military and the proxy party

13 06 2019

In a step away from the “model” established by Gen Prem Tinsulanonda in the 1980s, Gen Prayuth Chan-ocha looks set to take the leadership of his proxy Palang Pracharath Party.

Gen Prem avoided political parties like the plague, fearing that their machinations could weaken him and his government. He knew he could always “buy up” replacement parties if he fell out with a coalition partner.

Still engineering things

While Gen Prayuth’s move is portrayed in The Nation as a move “to soften public perception of his links to the military.”

Everyone knows that Palang Pracharath was The Dictators’ and the junta’s proxy party and the military’s party. But, he’s not a member of the party, so needs to join it before taking leadership.

Proxy leader Uttama Savanayana is reported to be ready to “step down to make way for Prayut, while Sontirat Sontijirawong would likely continue as secretary-general.”

The move “is aimed at reportedly transform the military general into a full-fledged politician and reduce public perception of his links with the junta.” It seems that the junta has decided that these “links” are “among the most vulnerable spots for attacks by political rivals.” It seems that this “plan” is also part of the political maneuvering to have Gen Prayuth as prime minister for another eight years.

The trouble for Prayuth, shown by Prem’s experience all those years ago, it is likely to be troubles in the military that will be his political vulnerability. Prayuth’s coup, junta and his rigged election have all depended on the military’s power and repression. A move “away,” even if just a facade, is politically risky for him.

Yet, according to the report, he may have little choice as the proxy party is riven by internal tensions between its financiers, the junta and the proxy MPs.

Deputy Prime Minister Wissanu Krea-ngam was already warning “that if anything went wrong, Prayut would inevitably be affected as a party executive. Thus, the general should also plan a way out in case of an emergency…”.

Like all political parties, under the junta’s rules, Palang Pracharath’s parliamentary wing is inherently unstable. But, unlike some other parties, it has no deep roots and no community links. That makes it even more unstable.

If it comes about, Gen Prayuth’s ploy will make it clear that the party is simply the political wing of the junta. We knew that, but the move would mark the transition of the junta into post-junta politics. With Gen Prayuth also likely to also be defense minister, Prayuth is seeking to better connect military and party and eliminate potential instabilities. It’s a brave move, but characteristic of fascist leaders.





Rigging, lying for Palang Pracharath’s advantage

31 01 2019

It may seem a political age ago, but it was only on Tuesday that The Dictator was reported in the Bangkok Post as having “insisted … he will not resign and will remain in power until a new government is sworn in.”

The Dictator claimed he was irreplaceable: “I won’t quit. If I quit, who can take my place?”

He might have added that staying in place while the Palang Pracharath  Party campaigns for him to be premier also means he can control funds and use them as he wishes to benefit his party. He will also be able to use dictatorial Article 44 whenever he wants.

His position on not resigning seems unchanged despite the fact that he is now officially the main Palang Pracharath candidate for prime minister.

Speaking about his political future, Gen Prayuth said he would “accept a party’s invitation to be nominated as a candidate for prime minister.”

One of his deputies, Somkid Jatusripitak, is also a Palang Pracharath nominee and a strategist for the party while still in place as a junta cabinet member.

It is pretty clear that Palang Pracharat is the junta.

When asked about its nomination of two junta members and a cabinet member who resigned as minister a day earlier, party secretary-general Sontirat Sontijirawong, who was Commerce Minister until a couple of days ago, decided to stick to form and lie.

He “denied that proposing Gen Prayut as prime minister was an attempt to extend the power of the junta beyond the election.” He went further into a dissembling swamp claiming his party “was founded in line with the democratic process and was not the political party of the National Council for Peace and Order [the military junta]…”.

Every single person in Thailand knows that Sontirat is lying. The party is nothing more than a junta device for staying in power, underpinned by its rigged constitution and electoral laws.

Another liar is Deputy Prime Minister Somkid who just a day or so ago “denied that he would be among the PPRP’s three potential candidates for prime minister.” That lie lasted about 24 hours.

But there’s a pattern here. The party is dominated by liars and cheats.

Meanwhile, there are other neglected parts of the junta’s regime that will continue to “work” right up until there’s an “election.” This is unusual, and even under the junta’s constitution, a caretaker administration is meant to be in place. But that doesn’t apply to the junta’s regime.

The National News Bureau reports that the National Legislative Assembly has been busy unanimously passing laws that will constrain normal political activity long into the future.

The most recent unanimous “vote” in the NLA was to pass a “draft Municipal Act into law on Friday.”

The law, endorsed without any objection, restricts the operations of local governance and decentralization. That’s been the junta’s aim since its coup, seeking to roll back local democracy.

The National News Bureau also reports that the NLA will only end its “meetings one week prior to the national poll.” After that, as far as we can tell from the junta’s constitution, the NLA continues in place until the day before the new parliament is convened. But if it is not meeting, then it is The Dictator and his junta who will be in control until a new government is formed, and that would be for up to two months.

So the junta has a party. That party has a government that is working for it as the junta and The Dictator control all of government for all of the “election” campaign and after the election. And, it has Article 44. That’s a huge advantage even in a situation where the junta has already rigged the rules.





The Dictator nominated by Palang Pracharath

30 01 2019

Devil party, the party pf the military junta, Palang Pracharath surprised no one by nominating The Dictator, Gen Prayuth Chan-ocha, as one of its prime ministerial candidates.

What surprised is that the nomination came a day after Prayuth denied he had been invited by any party to be its nominee.

But nominate the party did. The Dictator, party leader Uttama Savanayana and Deputy Prime Minister Somkid Jatusripitak as its candidates for prime minister.

It also surprised that party secretary-general Sontirat Sontijirawong said the party executive “will send an invitation to the three candidates later…”.

Both The Dictator and Deputy PM Somkid remain in cabinet making all kinds of decisions that will benefit their devil party. Is the Election Commission likely to do anything? Yes, we think it will. It will run and hide.





Only 4 cheating ministers resign

29 01 2019

After months of unethically founding and holding positions in the pro-junta Palang Pracharath while being in the junta’s cabinet, allocating funds to projects and vote-enhancing programs, four of the cheating ministers have finally resigned from cabinet.

Commerce Minister Sontirat Sontijirawong, Science and Technology Minister Suvit Maesincee, Industry Minister Uttama Savanayana and PM’s Office Minister Kobsak Pootrakool finally resigned to take up political roles.

But what about their boss and political brain Somkid Jatusripitak? He’s still coming up with vote-winning schemes for taxpayer funds.

And how much will it matter when the rest of the cabinet is working for the devil parties and Gen Prayuth Chan-ocha for premier?





In the bag!

3 12 2018

We posted this on our other blog page yesterday and forgot to put it up here. So 24 hours late, here it is,

If the realization that the junta’s election – nay, the whole electoral and constitutional system it has established – is rigged has been slow to sink in for some, it has been reinforced by a member of the military junta’s government.

Sontirat Sontijirawong is secretary-general of the Palang Pracharath Party. He’s also commerce minister and actively working for the party by simultaneously and, we think, illegally overseeing a huge election-related spending splurge by his regime that aims to return Gen Prayuth Chan-ocha to the premiership.

He’s convinced that his party has the “election” in the bag. Meeting with the party’s candidates for the Northeast, almost all poached from other parties with various offers, Sontirat “assured them the party would be in the next government.” He stated: “Members of the Palang Pracharath Party come from many factions. Everyone was looking forward to their membership of the party… I assure you that the Palang Pracharath will be a coalition party…”.

That could be just hubris but we are tempted to think it a reflection of the state of the rigging.

He also urged Suriya Juangroongruangkit to pour his “power” – read money – and his “large circle of friends” into getting the party candidates elected in the northeast. Perhaps the junta’s truckloads of billions upon billions of baht aren’t yet sufficient.