Convicted heroin trafficker rises

13 07 2020

The Palang Pracharath Party was morally bankrupt from the moment it was formed at the behest of the military junta. Yet it is proving it can dive deeper into the political muck.

NNT reports that after being its puppet master since it was an idea, Gen Prawit Wongsuwan’s move to the formal leadership of the military’s puppet party, sees his men and women being moved into top administrative positions in the party.

Gen Prawit “has appointed 10 new deputy leaders at the first meeting between Gen Prawit and party MPs.” They are listed as: “Mr Santi Promphat who also acts as party director, Capt Thamanat Prompow, Mr Suriya Juangroongruangkit, Mr Nataphol Teepsuwan, Mr Somsak Thepsutin, Mr Puttipong Punnakanta, Mr Wirat Ratanaset, Mr Nipan Siritorn, Mr Paiboon Nititawan, and Mr Suchart Chomklin.”

This is an interesting mix of money, yellow-shirted ideologues from the People’s Democratic Reform Committee, and local “influentials” with criminal links.

With convicted heroin trafficker Thammanat Prompao rising in the party it would be no surprise were he to be promoted from deputy minister to minister.

Such a rise would be reminiscent of the case of Narong Wongwan:

After the coup d’état of 1991 and ahead of the election in March 1992, he joined with other provincial businessmen, bureaucrats and supporters of the military coup group to form the Justice Unity Party, of which he became the chairman. The party won the election and Narong was designated prime minister, when media alleged that the United States had refused him entry admission due to … [suspicion] of involvement in drug trafficking. The US government threatened that relations between the two countries could worsen in case that Narong became head of government. He had to relinquish premiership and the parliament instead nominated the putschist General Suchinda Kraprayoon. Really, Narong had not been prosecuted as there was no sufficient evidence.

Perhaps it is no coincidence that Narong rose during the time of another unelected military prime minister when he “joined the government of prime minister Prem Tinsulanonda, becoming deputy interior minister in 1980, deputy minister of agriculture in 1981, rising to be minister in 1983.” Also unlikely to be a coincidence, Narong represented the Phrae area in parliament. Thammanat represents the adjoining province of Phayao.





Meechai as military lackey

12 09 2018

Meechai Ruchupan has loyally served several military and military-backed regimes.

Meechai has faithfully served royalist and military regimes, being a in various legal and political positions to prime ministers Sanya Dharmasakti, Kukrit Pramoj, Seni Pramoj, Thanin Kraivichien, General Kriangsak Chamanan, General Prem Tinsulanonda and Anand Panyarachun. His main task in all of these positions has been to embed Thai-style (non) democracy. rather than an electoral democracy where the people are sovereign.

He also worked for Prime Minister Chatichai Choonhavan, but when Chatichai was ousted in a miltiary coup led by General Suchinda Kraprayoon and his National Peace-Keeping Council (NPKC) in 1991, Meechai was hoisted by his military allies into the acting premier’s position before Anand was given the top job by the military, probably on royal advice.

Later, the military had Meechai appointed the leader of a charter-drafting committee, leading to the 1991 Constitution, which eventually led to the May 1992 massacre. In drafting that constitution, Meechai simply plagiarized bits of a charter that had been used earlier by a military regime. The major “achievement of that constitution was in allowing an “outsider” prime minister. Sound familiar? Yes, that’s what he has recycled into the 2017 constitution.

Like many of the “good” people, he is arrogant, practices nepotism, lies for his bosses and political allies, slithers before the monarchy, he’s a “constitutional expert” who practices and supports double standards and the retrospective application of laws. You get the picture.

Thai PBS now reports that, against all evidence, Meechai has claimed to not be a military lackey. As the report begins:

Every coup-maker of the past two decades needed his service. Seizing power doesn’t end with just toppling the incumbent governments. Coup announcements and executive orders need to be issued. And more importantly, interim constitutions need to be drafted.

And his track records have proven that nobody could have done a better job with all these necessary paperworks than Meechai Ruchuphan.

It is well more than two decades, but let’s go on.

Maybe he’s been to a fortune teller who predicts that Meechai will burn in the fires of hell for an eternity or perhaps he’s writing a self-congratulatory book. But whatever the reason, Meechai improbably claims that “he was inadvertently dragged [sic.] into a few coups despite the fact that he hardly knew any of the generals involved.”

He reckons that the multiple coup leaders just needed his legal expertise. In other words, he claims he’s just a tool for the men who repeatedly act illegally in overthrowing legal governments and smashing constitutions.

A tool he might be, but a willing and blunt tool. Willingly plagiarizing and willingly taking positions and pay from dull dictators.

But none of that means, at least in Meechai’s fairy tale, “that he would follow every marching order from the military.”

That he’s piling up buffalo manure is illustrated in his ridiculous claims about the 2006 coup.

He says the first he was ever at the army headquarters was during the 2006, which he knew nothing of. Really? Seriously? More unbelievable is his statement that he “didn’t even know at the time who was leading the coup. There were three of them there and I knew only afterward … [who] they were…”.

He is imitating the Deputy Dictator making stupid and unbelievable stuff in the belief that the public are gullible morons. That Meechai thinks anyone would believe that he, a military servant for decades, didn’t know three of the most powerful generals is laughable.

Then he lies about the 2014 coup: “His service was enlisted once again by the people he didn’t know.” Yes, that’s right, didn’t know anyone. He lies:  “I didn’t know Gen Prayut and didn’t even know what he looked like…”.

We assume that when he was President of the military-appointed National Legislative Assembly after the 2006 coup he kept his eyes closed the whole time so that he didn’t see NLA member Gen Prayuth.

He goes on and on with this stream of fermenting lies to claim “that even under military dictatorship … he was by no means an unquestioning subordinate of those in power.”

Meechai is unscrupulous and a military lackey. He doesn’t feel like a lackey because his ideas on anti-democracy fit the generals ever so perfectly.

The arrogance of the man is as stunning at Gen Prawit’s.





Remembering two Mays

19 05 2018

The Bangkok Post had a report recently on politicians being asked to remember the bloody days of 1992.

They seemed to conclude, as the Post put it, that “politics is now in a more backwards state than it was before the Black May uprising of 1992…”, when like today’s big boss, another general tried to hold onto power after repeatedly saying he wasn’t intending to do that and that he abhorred politics. To maintain his power that general, Suchinda Kraprayoon, ordered civilians shot down and beaten by police and military.

Why is “politics” more “backward” now? The junta’s rules, constitution and “roadmap” are “designed to prolong its grip on power…”, say the speakers at the event.

But it is more than that. In fact, the 1991 coup group wasn’t nearly as ruthless following the coup as The Dictator has been. For one thing, it didn’t rule directly as this junta has done following its coup, putting a pliable, royalist businessman in the premier’s chair.

That 1991 coup group changed some rules, but didn’t successfully undermine and infiltrate civilian institutions in the way this junta has. It didn’t arrest and jail hundreds of persons and stalk opponents nearly as routinely as this dictatorship has. There’s more, but the picture is clear.

Democrat Party leader Abhisit Vejjajiva claimed that “the public has not fought back with as much gusto as it did in 1992.” He added that people “harbour fears that parties may wreak havoc if they ascend to power…”.

Of course, Abhisit himself and his party has much to answer for on this. They deliberately undermined civilian politicians by behaving abominably, supporting rightist and royalist mobs, boycotted elections and ordered the military to shoot down demonstrators.

PPT has posted on the events of May 1992 several times and readers can view these posts.

Remembering May 1992 is useful in the current political circumstances. Then, people did rise up against generals seeking to maintain control. The military response was to shoot them.

Yet it is April and May 2010 that should also be remembered for the utter brutality of a military that views electoral democracy and people’s sovereignty as a threat to the order it prefers and defends.

Many pictures have been reproduced over the years of the results of Abhisit’s regime ordering the military to shoot demonstrators; PPT has a few reproduced here.

These pictures are from both sides of the battle as the military gradually surrounded and then cleared the Rajaprasong area in May 2010.





Updated: That sucking sound

25 04 2018

We just posted on the unbelievable things that come from the mouths of military leaders and their supporters and minions.

Following one disgraced politician have accused The Dictator of offering jobs in the government to politicians in exchange for their support when Gen Prayuth Chan-ocha decides to be an “outsider” premier after an “election,” the General has denied and rejected this as an “allegation.

Rather, like a a well-seasoned politician, he “showed sympathy towards those politicians and former MPs who he said did not have enough opportunity to express their opinions and were neglected by their party executives.” He could do better!

Then there’s the “accusation that the National Council for Peace and Order [NCPO, the junta] or the government would go and force individuals, businessmen and the people [to bend to my will]. How do I get the power to do that?”

No answer required, he’s The Dictator.

The more interesting things he said made it clear that there is a Military or pro-junta party. He’s previously been coy about this.

Gen Prayuth said “he did not want anyone to say that he was ‘luring politicians to join his pro-junta party’.” He went on: “There was no way the pro-military party could lure anyone unless their current affiliate parties had not done their job well…”.

That military party or parties is/are sucking up as many “politicians” as it can.

This is one claim we believe. Everything is falling into place in The Dictator’s Suchinda Kraprayoon-like planning for staying in the top job.

Update: The (ever erratic) Dictator, after having confirmed a pro-military party in the making is now angry with a Democrat Party politician for comments about that party and its cost. The Dictator threatens legal action and his cronies babble about “fake news.”





Military partying

2 02 2018

Khaosod reports on the announcement of a new political party that many consider may become the vehicle for ensuring The Dictator’s path to “election” as premier well into the future.

It points to the new Citizen Power Party, established by Samphan Lertnuwat, an ageing military minion who says his as yet unregistered party will discuss supporting Gen. Prayuth Chan-ocha as prime minister after elections are held…” whenever that might be. Samphan said he “… think[s] it’s a long way off.”

When asked about his party’s policies Samphan ” espoused values reminiscent of Prayuth’s message of reconciliation and unity.” He added a little populism to the mix saying the party would put the “stress on helping the poor,” explaining that this would be “particularly in the rural areas…”. He claimed to have filched “about 30 former members of parliament” for his party, many of them targeting the northeast.

An eight-time MP, who’s been with several parties, he’s been an MP-for-hire. In 1991, he was with the Samakki Tham Party that was a military surrogate and the vehicle for “then-military dictator Gen. Suchinda Kraprayoon [who became] … prime minister for a short period before a bloody revolt in May 1992 that ended the strongman’s political career. Under Suchinda’s government, Samphan was a deputy commerce minister.”

He was also close to old military political meddler General Chavalit Yongchaiyudh and many of the new party’s “members” seem to be linked to the New Aspiration Party, which was the vehicle for Chavalit briefly becoming an ignoble premier for a year in 1996-97.





Junta doubles down in repression of (former) allies

1 12 2017

For the first time in quite a while, PPT can agree with commentator Thitinan Pongsudhirak. And, it seems, he is agreeing with us. In an op-ed at the Bangkok Post, he states:

After the most recent cabinet reshuffle produced the fifth line-up of Prime Minister Prayut Chan-o-cha’s government, it is clear the military intends to stay in power for the long term in one form or another. The reshuffle provided a more civilian look but let there be no doubt that Thailand still has a military government, led by generals who seized power more than three and a half years ago [PPT: the civilians are mostly window dressing for a military junta]. As the top brass perpetuates its rule and puts off the election as long as they can, political tensions will mount as civilian-led forces agitate for a share of power and a return to popular rule.

… It is likely Thailand will soon be mired in yet another round of political conflict between civilian and military leaders.

While Thitinan still holds that the “people” gave the junta leeway because they were all frightened about the future after the previous king finally died, a reason now gone in a puff of smoke, he does also suggest that the usual failings of autocrats and dictators have come to the fore.

Thitinan considers that “[i]t would be unsurprising if the Prayut government now goes into a campaign mode of sorts, visiting provincial areas and handing out more subsidies and largesse with an eye to returning to post-election power.” He seems to have taken his eye off the ball, as this has been happening for a very long time.

But he’s right to observe: “It is also likely to put aside a firm election date until it feels more secure and popular. Its aim to stay in power will pose a dilemma for Thailand.” He’s also likely to be right that the “more the Prayut government tries to hang on to power, the less popular it will become.”

Unfortunately, that suggests a military regime that will become increasingly repressive as it claims a right to rule. Here, comparisons with the vile regime of 1991-92, led by General Suchinda Kraprayoon are probably appropriate. That junta decided it deserved to rule and was prepared to murder civilians to keep its place in power.

For us, what is most telling is the manner in which the junta has cracked down on the anti-coal dissidents in the south. Using methods previously reserved for its political opponents, the junta has gone after people who have been politically supportive of the 2014 coup and the military regime.

While these protesters are locals, they have many supporters and some leaders who are among the often yellow-hued NGOs in Bangkok. This group falls within a broader Bangkok middle class and its political opinion leaders in the former People’s Alliance for Democracy have been increasingly critical of the junta.

Those political cracks are likely to be broken apart following the junta’s doubling-down response to the protesters. Prachatai reports that “police are preparing to issue arrest warrants for 20 more protestors against the coal-fired power plant in Songkhla.”

That’s another 20 people in addition to the 15 leaders of the network from Songkhla and Pattani provinces who had already been arrested, jailed, and then “released on 29 November after six lecturers from Prince of Songkla University and Thaksin University used their academic positions to guarantee bail for them.”

Their arrest saw “114 academics from Southern Thailand … issue … a joint statement condemning the authorities for using force against the protesters and arresting the 15 activists.”

It seems the junta is demonstrating that it will not tolerate any dissent, and this includes middle-class dissent by (former?) political allies.

Of course, the brutality and callousness of the regime is also being demonstrated to these former supporters, and not just in the arrests in the south. While the many cases of the abuse of poor recruits drafted into the military has tended to be tolerated by regime supporters, when the victim is from a family that is in a different class, suddenly the brutality of the regime is recognized, even if the underlying reasons for it are not.

We seem to be entering a dangerous period.

 





Corruption cover-ups again and again

28 01 2017

Rolls Royce has a motto: “At Rolls-Royce we design, develop, manufacture and service integrated power systems for use in the air, on land and at sea.”

Tarnished somewhat by recent scandals, but we thought it could be of use for Thailand’s heavily tarnished military junta: “At the junta we design, develop, manufacture and service corruption systems and alibis for use by the great, the good and the military brass.”

PPT has posted on the Rolls Royce admissions of quite large corrupt payments to officials of Thai Airways and state officials over a considerable period of time.

The admissions are clear and Rolls Royce has paid a price for its corrupt activities. In the junta’s Thailand, however, it seems that nothing will be done.

The National Anti-Corruption Commission (NACC) secretary-general Sansern Poljeak has declared that “a lack of unity among state agencies, and the death penalty on corruption cases, are hindering its efforts at getting in-depth information on the Rolls-Royce bribery case from foreign agencies.”

This is horse manure. The death penalty is a red herring. All the Thai state needs to do is guarantee that the penalty won’t be used.

On “confusion,” the NACC claims the US Department of Justice and the UK Serious Fraud Office are dummies. He says they “may be confused as to which state agencies in Thailand are directly responsible for handling bribery cases.” In fact, this could appear much more like a device for a cover-up.

As a Thai bureaucrat he thinks all bureaucrats are the same: “The foreign agencies may not dare provide information and they may have to seek permission from their superiors, which could make procedures more complicated…”.

It is clear that he’s making this up. He has no idea what the “foreign agencies” will actually do. This is partly because his agency is isolated and politicized. It is also firmly under the military junta’s boot. If The Dictator wanted something done, the NACC would do it.

But Sansern  is right on one thing. Confusion is created when the “NACC, the Office of the Auditor-General, the Public Sector Anti-Corruption Commission (PACC), Thai Airways International Plc and various other agencies have all formed their own teams to seek more information from overseas.” It is also great for the beneficiaries of corruption because many agencies usually means nothing happens, apart from the cover-up.

In a later report, the NACC appears to have capitulated and rolled over to have its tummy rubbed.

It has “advised Thai Airways International (THAI) to pursue civil lawsuits for damage caused by those involved in the Rolls-Royce bribery scandal.” No effort will be made to look at the “first two periods involving the scandal” because “the 20-year statute of limitations for bribery cases that took place … has now expired.”

One the corruption for the “third period between 2004-2005 … THAI can still pursue civil action against those involved during this period…”.

Sansern, who a few hours earlier was worried about multiple agencies being involved in the (non)investigation, suggested that the “national carrier can also petition the Anti-Money Laundering Office (Amlo) to examine the money trails of those involved and freeze their assets.”

Sansern then explained the cover-up. He declared that The Dictator, General Prayuth Chan-ocha did not need “to exercise his special power under Section 44 of the interim charter to extend the statute of limitations on those expired bribery cases, as this would cast the country in a negative light.”

It might also expose the high and mighty. All governments from the military regime of General Suchinda Kraprayoon and Anand Punyarachun to Thaksin Shinawatra are potentially involved as are dozens of high and mighty royalists, generals, air chief marshals and, perhaps, even the current king, who was provided a position with the airline.

Sansern then “revealed” that the “NACC fact-finding panel can identify who was the transport minister, the deputy transport minister, and THAI officials at the time of the bribery scandal that took place in the third period, though the panel still cannot establish any connection between them and the bribery.”

Jeez, they did an online search using Wikipedia and downloaded Thai Airways annual reports. Wow! Such diligence is, well, pathetic.

But wait! “The NACC panel will have to wait for more information from the UK’s Serious Fraud Office (SFO) before taking further action…”. Have they even asked? What did they ask for? How did they ask? Or is this yet another red herring that will dissolve into the swamp of corruption (non)investigations?

Oh, wait! Sansern said the “NACC held a teleconference meeting with the SFO on Thursday to discuss the matter.” With who? Is that “official”? Well, no. The “SFO had asked the NACC for a formal written confirmation that the NACC is the main agency responsible for handling the bribery cases.”

And there’s more: Sansern said “the questions the NACC will ask the SFO will cover who received the bribes, when and how.” Get out! Really! Wow. These guys are sub-professionals.

The cover-up is proceeding.





More “commissions” and corruption

25 01 2017

The Bangkok Post today is a broadsheet of corruption and potential corruption. The stories range from a person identified as a senior official stealing cheap hotel art work in Japan to yet another admission of bribe-commissions in Thailand.

We can only think that the official forgot which country he was in. In Thailand, the great and powerful can do what they like. However, the latest story on a U.S. firm, General Cable Corporation, that has entered another agreement to avoid prosecution over commissions paid, continues to define business practice in Thailand.

General Cable “has agreed to pay $82.3 million to halt the U.S. government’s investigation into inappropriate payments to government officials in Egypt, Angola, Bangladesh, China, Indonesia and Thailand.” The U.S. Department of Justice has stated that:money

… [b]etween 2002 and 2013, General Cable subsidiaries paid approximately $13 million to third-party agents and distributors, a portion of which was used to make unlawful payments to obtain business, ultimately netting the company approximately $51 million in profits.

In Thailand, this scandal “involves the Metropolitan Electricity Authority (MEA), the Provincial Electricity Authority (PEA) and TOT Plc.”

In the usual way, the agencies have “set up a panel to look into the case.” In the Rolls Royce cases, everyone is running for cover and the agencies who are investigating themselves reckon that they may not be able to get names and details to allow a result to “investigations.”

We feel a cover being thrown over the allegations. And no one has said much about how the payments began under the military regime led by General Suchinda Kraprayoon and recognized great and good former unelected premier Anand Punyarachun. The good people always seem to have a cover of teflon.moneybags

Another story is about the military junta’s decision to buy submarines from the Chinese. Billions of baht. Who is getting the commissions on this deal? As we’ve said many times, commissions is normal, so we can’t help but wonder.

Yet another story is about a whiffy deal by the military junta to extend a “contract to manage a landmark convention centre [Queen Sirikit National Convention Center] in Bangkok by another 25 years instead of calling a new bid has drawn criticism it favoured a liquor tycoon.” The junta agreed to a state contract “with N.C.C. Management & Development Co (NCC), a company under the business empire of Charoen Sirivadhanabhakdi.”

The original contract was handed out in 1991, expired last year, and is now handed over for another 25 years. It is stated that “the renewal of the contract without calling a bid was stipulated in the previous contract.” Hmm, 1991. General Suchinda again or Anand?

Of course, Charoen is not only one of Thailand’s richest and its biggest landowner, but also a great royalist and with great links with the military. As a big donor to the palace, he’s surely great and good. But this quote seems to say it all:

Sumet Sudasna, president of the Thailand Incentive and Convention Association, said the failure to call a bid blocked the chance for other companies to compete with NCC and for the government to maximise its income from the property.

“The estimated return of 100 million baht a year or less than 10 million per month on average is too low, given the prime location of the QSNCC…”.

 

 





More on Buddhist politics

31 12 2016

As we stated in an earlier post, PPT is not following the grand wrangle over Buddhism all that closely. We did note that yellow shirts and the military junta hate Wat Dhammakaya because they associate it with Thaksin Shinawatra. And, we noted the Wat’s huge wealth. That wealth may be both a reason for criticism and a cause for some greed.

The Dhammakaya monks and their take on Buddhism have been contentious from the beginning. Really only founded in the late 1970s, by the boom times of the late 1980s and early 1990s, it was attacked for distorting and commercializing Buddhism. There have been several scandals involving the group since then, with the origin of the events not always transparent.

Readers of the Bangkok Post will have noticed that the puppet National Legislative Assembly (NLA) has pushed through an amendment to the “1992 Sangha Act to restore an old tradition in which the King reserves the right to name the supreme patriarch.” We think this is incorrect. First, the Act referred to is the 1962 Act, as amended in 1992, and we are not sure how much of a “tradition” exists.

As we understand it, the Sangha in Thailand has been subject to the regulations of the first Sangha Act (1902), the second (1941), and the current Sangha Act, enacted in 1962 and amended in 1992 (and now amended in 2016 by the military junta). The dates all have some political significance. The 1902 Act came when King Chulalongkorn was centralizing administration and creating a more absolutist monarchy. In 1941, war was approaching and Thailand was under a military regime. In 1962, General Sarit Thanarat was military despot and he reordered the Sangha to arrange it to parallel the military dictatorship. Sarit also wanted to ensure who became Supreme Patriarch, keeping out Phra Phimol Tham.

As an academic account has it:

Each of these Acts created a state-imposed organizational structure for the Sangha that paralleled the current forms of government: in 1902, Siam (Thailand) was still a monarchy, and the hierarchical, centralized Sangha as headed by a Supreme Patriach (Phra Maha David Yasasi 2006). In 1941, a decentralized structure was established that paralleled the democratic, Constitutional Monarchy in place [sic.] and in 1962, a top-down structure was reintroduced to match the autocratic government of Field Marshal Sarit Thanarat (Sudhamani 980:74).

In 1992, following the 1991 coup led by General Suchinda Kraprayoon, the amendment was enacted to settle the power struggle over the appointment of a Supreme Patriarch. Some readers may recall the dispute over the use of this amended section when Thaksin sought to appoint an Acting Supreme Patriarch for the aged and ill Supreme Patriarch.

Now that section has been amended again, with an eye to Thaksin’s use of the amended section and to prevent the appointment of a new Supreme Patriarch considered too close to the hated Dhammakaya.

General Prayuth Chan-ocha was able to delay the appointment of Somdet Phra Maha Ratchamangalacharn, known as Somdet Chuang, after he was nominated by the Sangha Supreme Council (SSC), but he could not nominate his own Supreme Patriarch. The standoff had gone on for a year, and the junta managed to mount a range of investigations that have uncovered all kinds of alleged corruption to prevent the nomination going to the king.

"Voting" in the puppet NLA

“Voting” in the puppet NLA

As a way out, The Dictator decided to change the Act. The change means “the King selects and appoints a supreme patriarch while the prime minister countersigns the appointment.”

Clearly, The Dictator wants all of his nation, religion and monarchy ducks in a line.

Dutifully, and as reported in the Bangkok Post, the NLA puppets obeyed their master and “passed in three straight readings Thursday a bill to amend the 1992 Sangha Act…”. Reportedly, the NLA needed only 58 minutes to consider the changes and it “sailed through with 182 votes in favour and six abstentions.” The Post described the “shock passage of the amended law lifts conditions positioning … Somdet Chuang, as the sole candidate [for Supreme Patriarch].”

The monk said it is possible the amendment is intended to block Somdet Chuang from assuming the supreme patriarch’s post and warned the NLA to take responsibility for any complications that might follow.

Readers can find an academic’s attempt to understand some of this here. Yet the intent is crystalk clear and continues the “tradition” of military interference with the Sangha to ensure it knows its place as a loyal supporter of conservative politics and subservient to the military-monarchy state.





Updated: A royalist’s royalist

26 08 2016

If you are a royalist, after the near-dead king, your favorite figure must be General Prem Tinsulanonda. The aged general and president of the Privy Council has turned 96 and, according to a remarkably syrupy article in the Bangkok Post, remains remarkably important for the current military junta.

Some commentators argue that the grand old man has been pushed aside by the regime, yet it is clear that the regime continues to provide the prim and interfering “boss” with the attention and supplication that Prem craves.

For over 30 years, Prem has been at the center of Thailand’s politics, and this has reflected his long alliance with the palace. Prem returned palace support by doing more for the political and economic domination of the monarchy than any premier since General Sarit Thanarat.

Since his appointment by the king as a privy councilor, Prem has also been at the center of palace politics. Palace politics under him became intimately aligned and interconnected with national politics.

The Post states that “[n]early three decades after he left office, the country’s 16th prime minister remains as powerful and commands a great deal of clout among the ruling generals and other military top brass.”

The brass, as almost all of them have done for decades, showed up to provide birthday wishes to Prem “at his leafy Si Sao Thewes residence.” (As we have said several times in the past, “his residence” actually belongs to the state and Prem “resides” at the taxpayers expense, despite the fact that he has become quite wealthy.)

Prem held the premiership for almost 8.5 years. These were not years of political stability. He retained power through frequent cabinet reshuffles, with the support of military-appointed senates, neglecting parliament and politicians and, most significantly, the palace’s backing.

The Post suggests that Prem “stepped down as prime minister” but this neglects the bitter struggle that took place, with Prem refusing to budge and with opponents threatening to reveal his “private life.” Eventually, the campaign for an elected premier won out. Prem has been bitter about this ever since; he detests elected politicians.

His bitterness was somewhat reduced by the fact that “[d]ays after his political retirement, he was appointed by … the King as a member of the Privy Council.”

According to the Post, Prem is “recognised as working closely with the monarchy and following an important mission to protect the revered [sic.] institution.”

Prem is known for his capacity for “eliminating disloyal subordinates and disrespectful foes.” Respect is something that makes Prem feel special. He feels he deserves to be considered special and important.

The Post suggests that those who put him offside include General Suchinda Kraprayoon and his group of Class 5 graduates from the Chulachomklao Royal Military Academy. They apparently sidelined Prem. Class 5 lost.

The other big loser is Thaksin Shinawatra. Prem came to hate Thaksin who he felt paid him insufficient respect and “crossed” him and the palace. Thaksin lost.

The military regime troops to Prem’s taxpayer-funded home three times a year and “offer[s] … good wishes and receive Gen Prem’s blessings.” As the Post also adds, the “Burapha Payak (Tigers of the East) and Queen’s Guard military units, which are known to play an influential role in the armed forces, also have to beat a path to the Si Sao Thewes residence, which has become a symbol of power.”

As expected, Prem has consistently provided the public support the regime requires from the palace. As the Post observes, “[t]his is a crucial time when the Burapha Payak and the Si Sao Thewes residence must stand united to weather possible political turbulence.” The alliance seems set to have a general become unlelected premier when an election is held, and Prem appears to support this.

Prem made it clear that he fully backs Gen Prayuth Chan-ocha’s leadership. He stated:

I trust the prime minister and that all of you can work for the country, with royalty [the monarchy] and make sacrifices….

No matter how big or small the difficulties are, I ask the prime minister to feel at ease that the armed forces and people will give encouragement to the prime minister.

He said he has always told others about how important it was that Gen Prayut and his comrades had to step in during this turbulent time.

I told “Tu” [Gen Prayut’s nickname] that old soldiers like us will do all we can to help Tu achieve the great mission for the country….

Sounds like Prem’s “vote” is in.

Royalists will listen.

Update: As a mark of the royal house’s appreciation of Prem’s loyalty and political works for it, he was given a special merit-making ceremony, “sponsored” by the king and queen. As these two are very ill and barely able to express anything, the show of respect for loyalty comes from the other members of the royal family and Privy Council. The report states that the “ceremony was held at Wat Rajabopit with Royal representatives, and some high ranking public and private officials also attending.” It was “Privy Councillor General Surayud Chulanont, who represented Their Majesties, and Air Chief Marshal Kasem Yoosuk, chief of HRH the Crown Prince’s Private Secretary’s Office, represented HRH Crown Prince Maha Vajiralongkorn, also appeared at the ceremony to give Gen Prem bouquets and best wishes.”