Army stuck in it past I

7 03 2019

Like so much of what has happened in Thailand in recent times, the sight of Army chief Apirat Kongsompong calling together some 700 officers to what was billed as “a special meeting” but was really a political rally, looks like a man of the past using the intimidating methods of the past.

With Apirat’s people saying that the “meeting” was about “the army’s role and peacekeeping responsibilities ahead of election day…”, it seems altogether too clear that Gen Apirat is positioning the Army to play a key political role into the future and to position himself to take over from Gen Prayuth Chan-ocha in a few years (if the junta’s and military’s election plans pan out).

Gen Apirat Thursday meeting at the army’s headquarters is also “a show of support for the army chief after officers shared an internal memo urging one another to defend the army’s honour.”

Honor? Thety mean power. After all, what honor does a corrupt institution that has killed tens of thousands of citizens have? Oh, yes, the “honor” is being the protector of the military-monarchy alliance, which requires that murderous politics.

The (old) boys’ club that is the Army has gotten upset that its acces to the political trough and to impunity may be limited. Hence it writes in circulars to itself:

If someone, whether he is a soldier or not, does something that undermines [our] dignity, we must have the determination to protect our honour and dignity…. If someone makes inappropriate remarks about our supervisors or troops, it is an attack on the dignity of soldiers.”

The last time we recall such a show of military “honor” was back in the Chatichai Choonhavan years, when on more than one occasion, officers were called to “meetings” to demand the ouster of prime ministerial adviser Sukhumbhand Paribatra. One of those meetings was captured by The Nation on 13 August 1989 (see above).

This was followed by another intervention where Gen Apirat’s father Gen Sunthorn Kongsompong demanded that certain critical cabinet members be silenced, reported in The Nation on 8 December 1990 (see below).

We guess that rotten fruit doesn’t fall far from the corrupt tree.

The military actively intervening in the election and snooping on and threatening politicians who are not pro-junta/pro-military may appear as something from the past, but this is where Gen Apirat has positioned himself and his forces. We suspect that the next coup, should there be one, will be his and will be even more royalist and backward-looking than anything we have seen in recent decades.

Update: Privilege and support

25 01 2016

The military dictatorship has made a big deal of its preference that political activists not meet so that their politics is deactivated. It has generally had the same line for political parties.

However, as readers will know, the junta makes strategic exceptions and supports its supporters. For example, fascist monk Buddha Issara has been permitted and even encouraged to rally with his supporters several times. Anti-democrat meetings involving Suthep Thaugsuban have been permitted. The military junta has even organized its own “protesters.”

Confirming these double standards, The Nation reports that the so-called Democrat Party, the preferred party of military and royalists, has been permitted to meet in Suthep’s southern political stronghold of Suratthani on Sunday.Democrat_Party

Party “heavyweights” reportedly met to deal with “internal conflicts posing [a] threat to its popularity in the capital after the party severed ties with its deputy leader, Bangkok Governor Sukhumbhand Paribatra.”

Democrat Party leader Abhisit Vejjajiva and Sukhumbhand, who have been at loggerheads, met with other party bosses “at the invitation of the party’s former secretary-general Suthep Thaugsuban, who now chairs the Great Mass of People’s Foundation for Thailand’s Reforms [the anti-democrats].” Despite his earlier denials, Suthep craves political power.

As Suthep is back in the driver’s seat, he also invited other People’s Democratic Reform Committee and “former” Democrat Party members including Sathit Wongnongtoey and Thaworn Senniam.

The future of the Democrat Party looks like shifting into Suthep’s hands. The military junta seems willing to extend political privileges to the Democrat Party as we guess the military junta will want a strong and united Democrat Party heading into any election after 2016. We doubt the military junta wants to build its own party, so the Democrat Party is their best bet.

Update: In a Bangkok Post report, General Prawit Wongsuwan tells human rights groups to screw themselves. He declares that the “ban on political assembly and activities” is not up for debate and is an “internal affair.” Prawit “said authorities had not violated the activists’ [Sirawith Seritiwat and Neo-Democracy students] human rights.” Sirawith was arrested on a train trip with activists to bring attention to military corruption. But anti-democrats are free to assemble and engage in political activities because they are privileged as supporters of the military and its junta.


Further updated: The meaning of (Thai-style) democracy

23 10 2014

A reader who sends us a pile of material has sent us two video links over the past 3-4 days, and we felt that, even though they are separated in space and time, they tell a story of the cognative dissonance that envelopes contemporary Thailand.

The first is a remarkably revealing portrait of anti-democrat Phetchompoo Kijburana being introduced at one of those crass celebrations of the potentially great. She is introduced by President Nicolas Ardito Barletta of Panama someone who has, how shall we put it, a patchy career record, having served military dictators. He has been laundered by his elite friends.

He introduces her as having fought for “democracy,” with the result being a military government. As we said, cognitive dissonance. But then the elites and their friends and supporters can mangle even the reality of military dictatorship and repression as “democracy.” Only a servant of military dictatorships could understand a coup as being a way of strengthening democracy. The overthrow of the elected government is because of the “corruption and democracy they were having.” Oh boy…. The anti-democrat who wrote Barletta’s speech has created a lie that only a servant of military dictatorships could understand.

Phetchompoo is in the same category, except that she and her family would have servants. She and the elite regained “their” country by getting the military-monarchy alliance to overthrow electoral democracy and return the country to the non-democracy that is Thai-style democracy.

SnipersThe second clip is of soldiers, as snipers, shooting red shirts in 2010.

We don’t think PPT has seen this particular clip previously. Lest it is forgotten, the soldiers that conducted the coup and who have been promoted since, one to the dizzy heights of being The Dictator. The men who now control and repress Thailand are murderous criminals, who came to power, not just by their own efforts, but by those of the anti-democrats who claim to have protested (and killed) for democracy.

View the video by clicking here.

Update 1: By the way, create havoc at the child of advertising gurus One Young World sham by registering as an “ambassador.” If you are filthy rich, mummy and daddy can pay for you to be one, or maybe one of the corporates seeking an image upgrade will support you.

Update 2: A reader points out we missed a very important link on the buy me an ambassador site. It is: Thank you Dublin, rock on Bangkok! Apart from questioning who says “rock on” in the 21st century, the fact is that, yes, Bangkok’s Democrat Party has purchased the event for 2015:

The Closing Ceremony of the One Young World Summit 2014 saw the passing of the baton from Dublin’s host Lord Mayor Christy Burke, to Governor MR Sukhumbhand Paribatra who will welcome the Summit to Bangkok next year.

Bangkok’s portly prince-cum-governor apparently declared:

…  his excitement and pride at holding the Summit which ‘provides unrivaled opportunities’ for delegates from around the world to ‘move the world in the right direction.’

Much to Governor Paribatra’s delight, Bangkok will be Asia’s first city to host the One Young World Summit, a responsibility which is not being taken lightly. He went on to assure the crowd that Bangkok is ready to ‘emulate the success of the 2014 Summit’ and to do their bit to ‘make the world a safer and better place to live.’

‘Bangkok is ready to do what is does best, welcome all of you in the best Thai tradition.’

It should be great. Maybe bring out the snipers again for a Hunger Games bit of fun for the delegates and self-promoting ambassadors. The delegates will be able to marvel at military repression, extensive censorship, a military-backed and installed government, dozens of political prisoners and a North Korea-like cult of personality. The One Young World sham will be in a place that is a sham.

Not biased??

14 03 2014

The Bangkok Post has conjured a remarkable editorial. It takes a huge leap by declaring the Election Commission’s (EC) “unbiased” following its “belated decision by 3:2 votes to yellow-card Bangkok Governor MR Sukhumbhand Paribatra more than one year after the governor election…”.

Even Sukhumbhand can’t believe the EC’s verdict took so long.

That the EC dawdled on this case is, in fact, more evidence of its bias. One decision that slaps Sukhumbhand and the Democrat Party on their collective wrist does not change that history of bias and the EC’s remakable partisanship on the current and ongoing election. It has been hopeless.

And, the EC’s decision can still be tossed out. But the Post, grasping straws says “the EC’s action in this case should send a message to the Pheu Thai Party and the other parties that the EC is not politically biased against them.” Nonsense.

Suthep still ranting on republicanism

9 03 2013

Readers who have been following PPT for some time will recall that the infamous and concocted “republican map” was largely the work of then Deputy Prime Minister Suthep Thaugsuban. This “map” was little more than a rather dull and clumsy attempt to brand red shirts and their supporters as republicans, paving the way for the brutal and murderous crushing of the red shirt protests and the jailing of hundreds.

The anti-monarchy plot diagram

The Democrat Party’s republican plot scam

Despite the trashing the Suthep and his “map” received, he seems intent on pushing the republican plot propaganda. In fact, as reported at The Nation, the governing Puea Thai Party “is considering filing a complaint with the Election Commission to try to disqualify Bangkok governor-elect Sukhumbhand Paribatra over statements by Democrat [Party] leaders that allegedly framed its candidate…”.

One of the video clips collected by the Puea Thai Party shows Suthep saying: “They have set this: their group will take over the country to establish a new Thai state where the political system is not a constitutional monarchy.”

Suthep is nothing if not bloody-minded.

Further updated: Gubernatorial election round-up

4 03 2013

As regular readers will know, PPT didn’t have much interest in the gubernatorial election campaign of the last few weeks. We did post on Abhisit Vejjajiva as damaged political goods and had a comment on what was Democrat Party desperation as the polls were against them.

When all the votes were tallied, the incumbent Democrat Party Governor Sukhumbhand Paribatra won by 100,000+ votes over his Puea Thai Party opponent. Both candidates secured more than a million votes each, a feat only achieved once before by any candidate, and that was Samak Sundaravej in 2000.

As one commentator at New Mandala summed it up, about as well as any of the professional poll watchers:

Everyone got it wrong. All the pollsters (pre-election and exit) got it wrong with all predictions towards a landslide win by the Yingluck-Pongsapat PT team. Bangkok Pundit got it wrong … and this guy follows and reads only Thai polls these days. Even the eventual winner reelected Bangkok governor Sukhumband got it wrong: at a televised interview just after the election closed he was just about to choke and in not so many words was almost apologizing/expecting a loss (believing the exit polls no doubt) saying he’ll probably just return to a lowly position in the Democrat Party.

Not everyone was wrong, with the Democrat Party’s Korn Chatikavanij having predicted a Sukhumbhand victory last week.

Interestingly, the official red shirts were quick to congratulate Sukhumbhand:

UDD co-leaders congratulated Mr Sukhumband on a fair and clean victory in Bangkok’s gubernatorial elections on Sunday:

Dr Weng said, “We would like to congratulate Mr Sukhumband and welcome him again as the governor of Bangkok…. We want to thank Bangkokians for defying the rain and going out to vote. It is crucial for us to express this right because, in so doing, we strengthen democracy in Thailand.

The post adds that the red shirts, who had 12,000 monitors, considered that the polling had been “according to the rules” and with few incidents.

In addition, the “UDD co-leaders reacted positively to the marked increase in support for the Pheu Thai candidate since the last election.” The Bangkok Post also commented on this, citing Wuthisarn Tanchai of the King Prajadhipok Institute, who observed that:

Despite the Democrat victory Mr Wuthisarn noted a significant increase in the number of votes for the Pheu Thai Party in the city. Pheu Thai’s political base in Bangkok is apparently expanding and the Democrats need to be wary of the threat this poses, he said.

Gov votesHe added that: “Voters seemed to be split between the Democrats and Pheu Thai, with few votes going to independents.” That last point is significant as the two major parties dominate and the political division remains strong. This is shown in one of the graphs produced by Bangkok Pundit in his post-election report.

Siam Voices also has a useful post-election coverage, concluding:

Governor Sukhumbhand is the unlikely winner of the election, considering various failures during his last term – conflicts during the floods of 2011 and ending at the Futsal arena fiasco. Sukhumbhand has been given a second chance to rule the capital, but for the Democrat Party it is the very last chance.

Of course, it is also a chance for Abhisit who was probably facing major internal opposition if Sukhumbhand had lost. He hadn’t wanted Sukhumbhand to run, but when Sukhumbhand said he’d run as an independent if the party didn’t choose him, Abhisit had to back him as a split Democrat Party vote would have handed Bangkok to his rivals.

Update 1: After initially chortling about the result, it is interesting that The Nation is now taking a more sober look at the outcome. The Bangkok Post also reports that the Democrat Party is worried by the big gains made by the Puea Thai Party.

Update 2: Songkran Grachangnetara in an op-ed at the Bangkok Post: “I voted for MR Sukhumbhand because Mr Abhisit opposed his candidacy. I’m sorry, but anyone Mr Abhisit thinks doesn’t deserve to run under the Democrat banner must be doing something right. The lack of support for MR Sukumbhand’s candidacy from the bumbling leaders of his own party is nothing short of betrayal.”

Democrat Party desperation

1 03 2013

The election for Bangkok governor is a major test for the tainted Democrat Party. The current leadership of the appears desperate for a win despite the fact that they wanted someone other than the princely incumbent Sukhumbhand Paribatra to stand for them. Sukhumbhand threatened to stand as an independent if his party went with another candidate and the party realized that this would mean a certain loss, even if his performance as governor has been lackluster.

So it is that The Nation reports an interview with Democrat Party election director Ong-art Klampaibul that produces some remarkable nonsense. Of course, we have to assume that The Nation reports accurately….

In his interview, Ong-art apparently “admitted that it was tougher for an incumbent candidate to retain his seat in comparison to new faces. He explained that a new face would always have an advantage because people will have already seen the incumbent’s performance, while people would want to test a newcomer.” Well, yes, an if the “old face’s” performance has been poor, then they might also vote for a “new face.” The idea that voting based on (poor) performance is a negative for the Democrat Party does, however, appear to have been proven in past elections.

Still, Ong-art reckoned that Sukhumbhand had a chance of re-election because “the Democrat Party had mobilised its MPs and high-profile members to beg for support so the incumbent Sukhumbhand can complete his unfinished projects.” “Beg” is an interesting term.

Ong-art then meandered into relationships and argued against voting for a Puea Thai candidate just because he can work with the national government. He argued that:

… previous Bangkok governors, who were from the Democrat Party, had no problems working with the state government over the past eight years, citing governments led by Thaksin Shinawatra, Surayud Chulanont, Samak Sundaravej and Somchai Wongsawat. He added that Sukhumbhand only had problems with the Pheu Thai-led government over the past six months or so….

The thread here seems to be that voting for a Puea Thai candidate who can work with the government is not a good idea, even though the ability of former Democrat Party governors to work with the national government is sold as a positive. Yet he then says: “this so-called seamless cooperation will never be real…”. So it wasn’t real when he claimed it was for his party? It appears Ong-art missed that class on logic at university.

He then went on to his big sell, saying that he “hoped Bangkokians would come out in full force to vote for Sukhumbhand Paribatra and relay the message that they do not want the entire country to be controlled by just one family.” He added: “This election has special significance because it will decide whether Bangkokians are willing to give all the power to Pheu Thai, a certain group of people or a single family…”. He means the Shinawatra family.

Ong-art proudly pointed out that:

the party has created a new set of pink stickers to put on Sukhubhand’s campaign posters to try and win more support. The stickers carry messages like: “I work hard for Bangkokians”, “I’m honest, not a cheat”, “This Democrat stays put for Bangkokians” and “Joining forces against monopoly”.

Is it just us or does this sound like Democrat Party desperation? Perhaps they realized that failed tactics from their rout in the July 2011 election campaign and a tainted party leader still weren’t working. Maybe.

More sewerage

8 10 2012

About a week ago, PPT posted on what we said was “an odd story in the Bangkok Post…”. In that post we noted a debate between the Puea Thai Party and the Democrat Party on “blocked drains, full of sand bags, construction waste and plastic debris.” Democrat Party deputy spokesman Nat Bantadtan stated: “It is obvious Pheu Thai is up to something. It has insisted Bangkok will be saved from floods, so politicising the issue is an attempt to put the blame on the BMA…”. His view seemed to be that “political subterfuge had been launched to discredit the BMA, which is controlled by the Democrat …[Party]…”.

It just got odder as another dispute over sandbags in drainage seeped to the surface.

At the Bangkok Post, Bangkok governor Sukhumbhand Paribatra has “insisted it was part of the preparations to cope with flooding.” The “it” here refers to placing sand bags in large drains, and he says they are meant to stop flooding by preventing water getting into sewerage lines and smaller drains. Sukhumbhand also “insisted that the sandbags belong to the BMA.  Whoever wanted to remove them must first coordinate with the BMA…”. He added that:

Dredging canals and waterways is not the only aspect of water management.  Proper use of watergates and water pumping stations, as well as use of sandbags, are the other measures. Those stuffed in the drains on Srinakarin Road did not affect the drainage capacity in that area….

Science and Technology Minister Plodprasop Surasawadi said he would “investigate the Bangkok city administration for stuffing sandbags into the drainage system on Srinakarin Road in disobedience of the instructions of the Water and Flood Management Commission (WFMC).”

Plodprasop said “he would order the sandbags removed because putting them in the drainage system went against an agreement that the BMA would help the WFMC in draining water out of the city.  The sandbags, instead, blocked the waterflow…”. He “wondered if it was a deliberate ploy to upset the WFMC…”.

It seems the sand bags are now highly politicized and that stories ebb and flow much as the waters do.

Recalling regicide

9 06 2012

Later today the king will, according to The Nation, “preside over the inauguration of a monument built in honour of his older brother, late King Rama VIII.” The event commemorates the gun shot death of King Ananda Mahidol on 9 June 1946.

It seems from the report that the event is sponsored by the Bangkok Metropolitan Administration as Governor and minor prince Sukhumbhand Paribatra will preside and attend the whole day’s event. Sukhumbhand wouldn’t be minor if, in earlier days, his line had been chosen following the abdication of King Prajadhipok.

For the king, commemorating his brother’s still unexplained death, seems to have been a particularly important. The Nation tells readers only that Ananda “passed away.” Of course, everyone knows that the dead king was shot, so the failure to mention it is another of those “sensitivities” that may not be spoken of. If one does speak, it can land you in jail for a very long time.

More than that, the death remains unexplained but still resulted in the execution of three men who were undoubtedly innocent.This is yet another example of the bias of the judiciary when dealing with the monarchy.

Some details of the death are available here (a PDF), here, here and here.  In 1948, former Prime Minister Luang Thamrong Navasawat confided details to U.S. Ambassador Edwin Stanton (a PDF), and that cable remains well worth a read. Freedom Against Censorship Thailand has posted an audacious post that points to the “censorship surrounding the gunshot death of King Ananda Mahidol in 1946.”

Back to The Nation’s report, where it tells readers that a ‘permanent exhibition [about King Rama VIII’s life] will be set up in the hall under the statue,’ Bangkok Governor Sukhumbhand Paribatra said yesterday.”

This is another of those royalist nonsenses. Yes, he was king for a decade (1935-46), but for almost all of that time he was a minor and away from Thailand, so the exhibition must be a kind of personal homage, although we expect the palace PR machine will try to conjure some achievements. We don’t expect to see any comments about regicide or the books that have seriously examined it (in fact, they are banned).

Almost as a footnote, for today’s big show, the phrai “living in the area have also been encouraged to tidy up their premises for the occasion.”

There’s been a lot of tidying up on this matter for six decades. Things like death and censorship have long been in place in distorting the historical record, but as people get older, they usually cogitate on things like merit and lack of it.

Academic likely to sue Bangkok governor

15 11 2011

That might be the expected headline if self-styled economist and activist Narong Phetprasert made any sense in his claims to be suing the government for flood mismanagement. However, we do not expect Narong to be taking on Bangkok Governor Sukhumbhand Paribatra for mismanagement over a botched order he signed for the late evening evacuation of Phaya Thai residents, withdrawn three hours later.

It is amazing – well, if we were truthful, we say it was simply par for the course – that the media lets this one float by, with the flood waters. As PPT has said, mistakes happen, but the bias of the mainstream media in attacking everything that Yingluck Shinawatra government does while mollycoddling the Army and governor would be breathtaking if it wasn’t now the norm.

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