Still using monarchy

16 07 2019

As is to be expected, anti-democrats and ultra-royalists continue to make use of monarchy for their own political purposes and benefit.

Conservatives have for some time been warned off using lese majeste, the current king apparently believing that it does him damage and that it has not been effective in silencing all critics – murders and enforced disappearances have worked a treat.

But the conservatives have found other means of using the monarchy against political opponents. Khaosod reports that serial complainer Srisuwan Janya, “filed the royal defamation complaint against Future Forward Party’s Pannika Wanich in June,” but that is not all it seems. In fact, the complaint is not lese majeste but a complaint to the National Anti-Corruption Commission. He wants “Pannika removed from office, on allegations that Pannika mocked the late King Bhumibol in a 2010 graduation photo.”

The newspaper reports that the NACC, which seldom seriously investigated complaints against the military junta, seems to be actively pursuing the case.

Monarchy remains a useful tool for anti-democrats and ultra-royalists in defeating political opponent.

Updated: Open-mouthed disbelief I

11 07 2019

Several stories caught PPT’s collective eye over the past couple of days.

The first is about Deputy Dictator Gen Prawit Wongsuwan, the Watchman,” who has been clearing his office at the Ministry of Defence to make way for Gen Prayuth Chan-ocha.  But little else seems to have changed for for Gen Prawit.

A story at Khaosod of another bit of “casual corruption” associated would be funny if it wasn’t so reflective of a regime that has descended into old ways of military-bosses-cum-politicians.

Serial complainer Srisuwan Janya, who operates off social media posts in making his hundreds of petitions, has “filed a complaint to probe the police’s purchase of a 1.14 billion baht jet for ferrying deputy junta chairman [Gen] Prawit Wongsuwan and his entourage…”.

Srisuwan’s complaint plagiarizes social media “outrage at photos of the junta’s second-in-command exiting a private [police] jet with a flight attendant in tow…”.

The little bit of tycoon lifestyle for Gen. Prawit tripping about in a Dassault Falcon 2000S is said to have been purchased “by the police … [for] about 350 million baht more than the global market price.”

The price for a new one is about $30 million. That is a lot of taxpayer loot for a force that usually buys vehicles like the Toyota Camry and, for its pampered bosses, a BMW 5 or a Mercedes 600. Its aviation division has a Fokker 50 turboprop airliner in addition to the Falcon and more than 70 helicopters.

Srisuwan asks – we presume rhetorically – “Why does Thailand like to buy things at a higher price than other people? Or was there some special [deal] that they haven’t revealed to the people?”

Clipped from Khaosod

The jet is said to have cost 1.14 billion baht, which seems about 159 million baht over the list price. Expect the police to say that the extra cash went to fit-out, training and/or spare parts rather than into any boss’s pocket.

So far, the efforts of the police spokesman are laughable, claiming the “plane was a sound investment,” and saying it carried not just Gen Prawit and “the police commissioner and other high-ranking officials.” What a life! They don’t have to deal with the hoi polloi in regular planes or put up with noisy turboprops. The spokesman adds that the new plane can fly when helicopters can’t (but so can the Fokker).

Not only that, but the Falcon can be used for other “important assignments … like government inspections, drug raids, and to follow up crucial investigations.” A $30 million business jet for “investigations”? Right, but probably not investigations of police corruption.

While on the police, we notice that they have, as claimed several times, been hard at work on the cases involving the assault of political activists. Indeed, they have brought charges! Khaosod reports that police have

arrested … eight Facebookers accused of spreading [allegedly] false reports on social media that the police were behind the attack on June 28 that left pro-democracy campaigner Sirawith [Seritiwat] in critical condition. All of the suspects were charged with cybercrimes….

The report adds that police claim that the eight “confessed to claiming on Facebook that deputy police commissioner Chaiwat Ketworachai sent four men under his command to attack Sirawith.”

No one expects the police to arrest the thugs responsible for the cowardly attacks but the Facebookers, slapped with computer crimes charges that can mean up to seven years in prison.

As PPT predicted, “investigations” into the attack on Sirawith is being “hampered” because “some cameras were out of service and failed to capture the assailants’ flight from the scene…”. That’s the usual excuse when a cover-up is underway.

A third story that causes open-mouthed disbelief is also at Khaosod. Just confirmed as Deputy Minister for Agriculture is “dark influence” Thammanat Prompao, a member of the junta’s Palang Pracharath Party.

Deputy Prime Minister under the junta and now under the “new” junta-engineered government, Wissanu Krea-Ngam has said that Thammanat’s “eligibility for a seat in the cabinet is not in question because he is not being prosecuted by the Thai judiciary.” The story continues, with Wissanu claiming:

In the past, there was an MP who had been prosecuted in Hong Kong for drug trafficking, but his status was not affected in Thailand…. Although his reputation among many things might have been impacted, his deeds and ethical standards have to be considered separately.

On Thammanat, it is known that he’s allegedly been involved in all kinds of activities that many consider “shady.” As the report states:

Thammanat was once stripped of his military rank for alleged involvement in a murder case in 1998, but was reinstated after the court acquitted him.

The latest allegations against Thammanat came after an opposition politician claimed he was previously convicted of a crime in a foreign country. No public records of such conviction could be found as of publication time.

Now that a government has been formed – it still has to present its policy to parliament – look to all kinds of internal jostling for a place at the trough.

Update: In another report staggering under a mound of buffalo manure, police claim that they have not – yes, they haven’t – demanded an exchange of police protection for Sirawith being politically silent. Not only that, but the police claim they would never, ever, never ask a political activist not to engage in political activity. Well, it wasn’t the police saying it, but Deputy Defence Minister Gen Chaichan Changmongkol. But we guess that the Army speaks for the police these days. But, really, this is just the usual lies from senior figures. This kind of buffalo manure will only cease to flow when such idiocies and the dolts who make such claims are called out, again and again. The truth is out there, but these fools work with manure rather than truth.

Updated: Crazed MP uses lese majeste

10 06 2019

Khaosod reports further on the crazed campaign by Parina Kraikup of the junta-spawned Phalang Pracharath Party. For the background, see the following stories:

Pantsuit-Gate II: Pro-Prayuth MP Piles on Rival’s Fashion

Pantsuit-Gate: Future Forward MP Criticized for Not Wearing All Black

Pro-Junta MP Files Cybercrime Case Against Netizens

Army Revokes Order to Broadcast ‘Red Scare’ Song

#Chitpas1700 : Netizens Squint at Democrat’s Unlikely Victory

Parina has been slagging off Future Forward MP Pannika Wanich for a while now. Much of it has been silly and all of it has been decidedly childish.

Parina has become increasingly hysterical and has quickly gone nuclear, accusing Pannika of lese majeste. The mad claim goes back to “a 2010 graduation photo which shows her [Pannika] looking at a photo of King Rama IX while a classmate points at him.”

Complaining (clipped from Khaosod)

Parina went berserk, writing on Facebook that Pannika was a “fucking bitch and the scum of the earth.” The latter channels an “anti-Communist song of the same name [and] … is associated with the massacre of Thammasat University” on 6 October 1976. That was also recently used by Gen Apirat Kongsompong while attacking Future Forward and other anti-junta parties.

Parina ranted that the photo was “a clear violation of the 112 law…the officials must prosecute her…”.

Pannika defended herself but still felt the need to kowtow:

I deeply apologize to any citizens who are uncomfortable with the photo. But I hope everyone understands that youths are now growing up with questions about using the monarchy as a political tool…my friends and I believe in the system of a democratic government with the king as the head of state.

But in a Sunday interview, Parina said she didn’t buy her rival’s explanation. She was strongly supported by the usual crowd of fascists and anti-democrats who have been unleashed.

Along with assaults and murders, this use of lese majeste to destroy political opponents is likely to be defining of the way the junta-cum-Palang Pracharath plans to “manage” its regime.

Updated: As expected, within hours of the puerile Parina’s pathetic claims, the police have begun investigations. The royalist desire to damage and dispose of Future Forward is quite remarkable. Not one but “[s]everal police units will investigate if Future Forward Party spokeswoman Pannika Wanich, nicknamed Chor, violated any laws in an online post of an old photo showing her gesturing towards a portrait of King Rama IX.”

It is reported that:

Assistant national police chief Pol Lt Gen Piya Uthayo said on Monday that the Thailand’s Action Taskforce for Information Technology Crime Suppression (Tactics) under the Royal Thai Police Office had ordered the Technology Crime Suppression Division, the Legal Affairs Division and the Special Branch Division of the Royal Thai Police Office to conduct the investigation.

Not only Pannika is in strife, but all those in the photos with her.

Also piling on is the royalist “activist”-complainer Srisuwan Janya who is running to the National Anti-Corruption Commission “to probe if Ms Pannika, a list MP of the Future Forward Party, violated the ethics required of holders of political positions” on the basis that “MPs must protect the royal institution and the constitutional monarchy and not take any action that would tarnish the honour of MPs…” Of course, she wasn’t an MP when the photos were taken, but that doesn’t bother the slavish royalists.

Blame the EC

3 05 2019

As the Constitutional Court accepts the “Ombudsman’s request for a ruling on the constitutionality of the Election Commission’s formula to calculate party-list MPs for political parties and will rule next Wednesday,” the EC continues a quiet and opaque process of disqualification.

It has “disqualified 11 former MP candidates of eight parties, effectively excluding another 12,000 votes from party-list MP calculation.” That’s 17 disqualified in this manner. While none were winners, the question is: How does this impact the “formula” that is itself under challenge?

Meanwhile, Future Forward are hitting back on the repeated complaints by Srisuwan Janya. Eleven candidates have filed complaints with the police. According to the report, they argue that Srisuwan has mischievously and falsely accused each of them of being media owners.

They claim that:

some of them did hold shares in media companies but the companies had long since closed and their names were still on the shareholders’ registry. Some of them … hold shares in companies which operates printing and publication services but are not mass media. The rest hold shares in firms which had not done anything for more than five years, which he said are regarded as closed by law.

This seems to be common in all of the cases and takes its lead from the EC’s own pre-election disqualification of a Future Forward candidate prior to the election. Blame the EC.

On stealing the election XI

28 04 2019

It was recently reported that Puea Thai candidate Surapol Kietchaiyakorn was issued the first-ever orange card by the Election Commission. He was accused of buying votes in Chiang Mai province’s Constituency 8 for making a donation of a clock and 2,000 baht to a senior monk on the day the electoral laws came into effect.

For more on orange cards, see here.

The Nation has a story that Surapol has “demanded that his case be reviewed.” He claims the decision is unfair and unjust:

I met the monk at a temple and made the donation from my personal money. I have met this monk many times before and have revered him for a long time. How can I buy votes anyway, when according to the Constitution, monks cannot vote?

The EC “claimed he was campaigning for votes while talking to the monk…”.

As we understand it, more orange cards are expected to be issued.

Meanwhile, serial complainer Srisuwan Janya seems intent on wiping out the Future Forward Party. Following his complaint about party leader Thanathorn Juangroongruangkit, which is now being investigated by the EC and is likely to go to the Constitutional Court, Srisuwan has lodged a further 11 complaints against Future Forward candidates.

All of his complaints relate to “their alleged shareholdings in media companies.” Like Thanathorn, if “found guilty, they face one to 10 years in jail and a fine of between Bt20,000 to Bt200,000. Their suffrage rights would also be revoked for 20 years.”

In several of these cases it seems that the basis for the complaint is that the candidates have an association with a company that may have registered using a form that lists scores of possible business operations that the company might engage in.

It seems that every MP-to-be who has ever been associated with a registered company is under threat. That’s not necessarily what was intended when the rule was drawn up as an anti-Thaksin measure, but the junta will be pleased to use it, so long as there’s no blowback for its Palang Pracharath Party. Srisuwan might worry them too.

Srisuwan was asked why “he was targeting only anti-junta politicians for disqualification…”. He claimed “he was gathering information about pro-junta politicians too for violating the same law.” Let’s see.

The “election” and the EC

9 04 2019

The positions of people concerned about the “election” outcome and the Election Commission are getting further apart.

Khaosod reports that:

A growing number of groups and parties are expressing doubts over the fairness of the Election Commission’s calculation of party-list MP seats.

The chorus includes major political parties, a mathematician and the kingdom’s leading independent poll observation group. The reactions came after the Election Commission released a statement on Friday saying no less than 25 political parties will obtain at least one party-list seat.

Serial complainant Srisuwan Janya has plans “to lodge a petition with the anti-graft body today, seeking an investigation into the poll agency’s conduct and alleged irregularities.

Meanwhile, the laundry at the EC is working overtime, with seven or so now sued by the EC for libel. In addition, EC deputy secretary-general Sawang Boonmee has defended the EC, denying all allegations, saying they are groundless and Thailand’s “electoral process was one of the world’s most secure, as it was safe from any kind of fraud or cheating.”

He continued to say the whole thing was “complicated,” but affirmed that complaints so far were without foundation, adding: “[i]f anybody has the evidence to prove that our work was without transparency, and neither free nor fair, then please show us the evidence so we can tackle the problem…”.

This positions between critics and the EC are wider than ever and the EC seems to have decided to deny everything.

EC fails (again)

12 03 2019

Late on Tuesday, the Bangkok Post reported that an “investigation” by “Election Commission has found nothing wrong with Palang Pracharath’s fund-raising banquet…” back in December. This led  EC secretary-general Jarungvith Phumma to observe that there is “no reason to move for the [junta] party’s disbandment…”.

PPT expected nothing else from the junta’s puppet EC. However, what startled us was the “reason” for this decision, still to be formally reported to the EC by the “investigating” committee.

Jurungvith said the “commission’s investigation had not found any evidence a foreign party was among the donors.”

PPT’s collective memory may not always be accurate, but looking back through our posts regarding the banquet and linked media reports, we can find no mention of complaints that the banquet involved foreigners.

Rather, questions were asked about the size of “donations,” the involvement of state bodies and ministers, and the timing of the event.

Responding, one of the complainants, Srisuwan Janya of the Association for the Protection of the Constitution said:

We don’t know to whose petition the EC is responding in the interview. Our organisation has never asked whether foreigners had donated to the party….

Again, the EC has failed. It has failed the public by serving its masters.