Updated: Yingluck and Boonsong

26 08 2017

While a lot of the media attention has been on Yingluck Shinawatra’s no-show at the Supreme Court’s Criminal Division for Holders of Political Positions verdict day, the related sentencing of her former colleague Boonsong Teriyapirom to 42 years in jail and his former deputy Poom Sarapol to 36 years in the so-called government-to-government rice sales case deserves attention too.

Earlier, the former commerce minister said he would “respect the court’s decision which ever way it went.” It went the way that everyone had expected and he and his deputy were found guilty. So were a score of others. As Prachatai reports it:

The two were accused of violating the 1999 Anti-price Collusion Act for helping Chinese companies that did not represent the Chinese government to obtain the government-to-government rice export deals with Yingluck’s administration.

The court also sentenced Manas Soiploy, a former director-general of the Department of Foreign Trade, to 40 years of imprisonment and his deputy Tikhumporn Natvaratat to 32 years in jail for involvement in the deals.

Akharaphong Theepwatchara, former director of the department’s Rice Trade Administration Bureau, was sentenced to 24 years while Apichart Chansakulporn, the executive of Siam Indica Co Ltd., the rice exporter company, got 48 years imprisonment.

The court also demanded Siam Indica to pay 16.9 billion baht damage to the Ministry of Finance.

Eight of the total of 28 accused were acquitted while the rest got jail term and were ordered to pay damages in accordance to the proportion of their involvement in the rice deal.

Perhaps Yingluck got wind of these horrendously long sentences and decided that she was likely to get the maximum sentence in her case (10 years and a large fine), and to seek other climes (although officials claim there is no record of her leaving the country).

Khaosod explains some of the courts decision and the case:

The Supreme Court said the four government-to-government deals made in 2011 and 2012 were made with state companies in Chinese provinces which were not authorized to represent Beijing. The deals allowed them to buy rice from Thailand at below-market prices.

Evidence later showed that Siam Indica resold the rice back into the domestic market. They were accused of violating two anti-corruption statutes: the 1999 Price Rigging in Public Sector Contract Bidding and a 1999 anti-corruption law called the Organic Act on Counter Corruption.

In September 2016, the Anti-Money Laundering Office ordered over 7 billion baht in assets seized from Siam Indica, Apichart and his network after they were indicted by the National Anti-Corruption Commission.

Apichart was known to have close ties to exiled former Prime Minister Thaksin Shinawatra. A previous firm he led won the right to sell rice from a rice-pledging program under Thaksin’s administration.

Yet, the deals done were not that easily explained. As the Bangkok Post tells it, the court decided:

… in the past G-to-G rice sales to China had been done through China National Cereals, Oil and Foodstuff Import Export Corporation (Cofco).

But the rice sales panel chaired by Poom during the Yingluck Shinawatra government changed the G-to-G definition to include sales to other state enterprises and use ex-factory prices instead….

Poom later approved two sales contracts for 5.2 million tonnes with two Chinese provincial state enterprises not authorised by Beijing. Boonsong later took over as chairman of the panel and signed another two contracts to sell another 2.4 million tonnes.

All in all, the four contracts causes damages of around 17 billion baht, the statement said.

The ruling said there were irregularities involving the four contracts.

“Payments were made in cashier cheques. Buyers could resell the grain to a third country. The contracts were amended to change the rice types and amounts without bargaining to ensure the changes were in the best interest of the country.

“After the sales, payments were made in hundreds of cashier cheques in the country and an authorised Thai company took delivery of the grain and sold it to local rice traders without shipping it to China or other countries,” the statement said.

“Mr Poom, Mr Boonsong, Mr Apichart and others brought the two provincial state enterprises to buy rice from the Foreign Trade Department, saying they were authorised by Beijing, at low prices without competition.

“When rice market price fell, the enterprises did not take delivery as specified in the contracts. Instead, they asked to change the contracts so they could buy the same type of grain at lower prices,” the ruling said.

For those interested, historical rice prices are here, suggesting that, in the court’s reckoning, the damage done was not the total amount of the deals done, but that the reduced prices were the issue for the court. Losing money may be poor business and poor state business, but the sentences are mammoth.

The media’s interest now naturally turns to Yingluck’s whereabouts.

At Khaosod, Human Rights Watch’s Sunai Phasuk said “he was still trying to piece together the reason for her no-show.” He was unsure why Yingluck would flee. As he says:

“We still try to understand the situation here since she had fought for more than two years and there was no sign that she would not show up in the last minute,” Sunai said. “I want to see an official statement from Pheu Thai Party or the UDD, so the people are told what’s going on.”

He added:

this will intensify the disharmony as Yingluck’s supporters see her as the victim of an unjust trial, while the opposite side sees Yingluck as the sister who follows her brother’s footstep. The two sides will never reconcile.

Another commentator, Jessada Denduangboripant, mused:

“In reality, there have been many negotiations between Yingluck and the government as well as those backing the government because if she’s found innocent the government would lose face while if she’s imprisoned, there’s a risk of an uprising. The way out is to let her leave the country, which is not easy without some assistance. Jessada said. “They think it’s win-win for both. Yingluck may have to flee but at least she is free abroad. The government may be criticized for being lax. Those who lose the most are the people who have been lured into supporting (her). This is also not good for democracy.”

Political activist Rangsiman Rome, also wondered about a win-win: “I cannot really tell who gains and who loses, but I want to give your readers a question: Did Yingluck secretly negotiate with the NCPO?..”.

One rumor is that the junta created a win-win situation telling her she would be jailed. It offered her an avenue to flee and promised an election if she left.

Yellow shirts are disappointed that Yingluck wasn’t locked up and complain that she is “just like her brother.” But they also complain that the regime has let her “escape.”

The Dictator and Deputy Dictator believed she had fled. But they did not rule out that she was in hiding in the country. They “ordered security authorities to check border crossings and search for former prime minister Yingluck…”. General Prayuth Chan-ocha questioned her “bravery.”

While rumors swirl of her taking a boat, crossing the Cambodian border and flying to Singapore, CNN reports an anonymous Puea Thai Party source as saying Yingluck has joined Thaksin in Dubai.

Update: While PPT prefers to wait for Yingluck to emerge and say what she has done and where she is, some reports deserve attention. For example, The Nation reports an unnamed “security source” who claims “Yingluck went to Koh Chang in the eastern seaboard province of Trat and flew in a helicopter to Phnom Penh, from where she reportedly took a chartered plane to Singapore. She was accompanied by a senior state official who helped facilitate her departure without having to pass proper immigration process…”.

Added to this, the report cites another unnamed source in the Puea Thai Party: “It’s impossible she left without the military’s green light.”

Meanwhile, “Yingluck’s mobile phone signals were detected as coming from her house in Bangkok’s Bueng Kum area, according to a police source.” If they can track her phone it seems unlikely they allowed her to wander off overseas unattended.





Junta repression deepens VI

22 08 2017

Thailand’s military dictatorship seems to be in a panic. As we recently posted, some of this seems to be caused by Yingluck Shinawatra’s upcoming verdict. But there’s more going on.

The Criminal Court has “sentenced Watana Muangsook, a key Pheu Thai Party figure and former commerce minister, to one month in prison, suspended for one year, and fined him 500 baht for contempt of court after broadcasting via Facebook Live at the court.” He was also ordered to “delete the clip from his Facebook page.”

The report at the Bangkok Post states that the “sentence was handed down while he was waiting for the court’s decision on whether to detain him on charges of inciting public chaos, breaching Section 116 of the Criminal Code.” It adds that that “charge is in connection with a case involving the removal of a memorial plaque commemorating the 1932 Siamese Revolution.”

A charge related to the plaque is quite bizarre given that the state has not acknowledged that the plaque was stolen or officially removed. Yet complaining about this historical vandalism is considered sedition. That the removal coincided with the royalist ceremonies associated with the junta’s faux constitution is evidence of official efforts to blot out anything not royalist or military in political life and memory.

Watana points out that:

…[T]he Technology Crime Suppression Division (TCSD) on Monday submitted a request to detain the politician from Aug 21-Sept 1. Mr Watana was awaiting the ruling on that matter when he started filming in the court.

Earlier at the police station, Mr Watana acknowledged the charge of importing false information into a computer system in violation of the Computer Crime Act after he posted content relating to the plaque’s replacement on his Facebook page.

He was temporarily released on 200,000-baht bail for both charges.

He said it was not common for TCSD investigators to summon someone again after the person has already acknowledged the charges again him.

Mr Watana also said the detention request is intended to hinder him from giving moral support to former prime minister Yingluck Shinawatra at the Supreme Court this Friday.

Then there are those academics and others who attended and organized the International Conference on Thai Studies at Chiang Mai University. They have reported to police and been fingerprinted while denying charges brought against them.

Chayan Vaddhanaphuti, director of the Regional Centre for Social Science and Sustainable Development at Chiang Mai University, met Chang Phuak police with Pakawadee Veerapatpong, Chaipong Samnieng, Nontawat Machai and Thiramon Bua-ngam after the summons had been issued for them on Aug 11, almost a month after the four-day 13th International Conference on Thai Studies at Chiang Mai University ended on July 18.

They face charges of assembling of more than four for political activities, which is prohibited by the National Council for Peace and Order.

As with the fit-ups of Pravit Rojanaphruk and Jatuphat Boonpattaraksa, Chayan is being fitted up. He had nothing much to do with those protesting the military’s surveillance of conference attendees. The other four are also being fitted up as there were others who held the signs and appeared in photos, and these persons have not been summoned by the police.





Junta repression deepens V

22 08 2017

Thailand’s military dictatorship seems to be in a panic.

As we recently posted, some of this seems to be caused by Yingluck Shinawatra’s upcoming verdict. In that post, it was reported that police were to block entry to the government complex where the Supreme Court’s Criminal Division for Holders of Political Positions will convene.

We also reported statements that the police are about to set up road blocks nationwide (well, where they think the oppositional red shirts are located) to prevent people traveling to Bangkok for that verdict. As it turns out, it is military thugs who are setting up check points.

The Bangkok Post reports that troops began “setting up checkpoints on all key roads leading to Bangkok Monday to screen people heading to the capital…”.

The report adds that “[c]heckpoints are also being constructed in provincial areas and plainclothes police dispatched to provide security outside the capital…”.

Checkpoints are threatening for many, not least because troops can be trigger happy. Recall that no investigation has been completed regarding the apparent extrajudicial murder of Chaiyapoom Pasae, gunned down by troops months ago at a checkpoint.

In addition, “[o]utside Bangkok, officers are tasked with looking for potential ‘troublemakers’ among Ms Yingluck’s supporters.” In red shirt areas, the repressive actions are deepening: “… a 700-strong security force made mostly of soldiers was recently dispatched to Udon Thani…”.

At the court itself, the “Metropolitan Police Bureau (MPB) has decided to increase the number of officers in and around the court on Friday from 2,500 to 4,000. They will be supported by three helicopters, 20 riot-control vehicles and four ambulances…”.





Junta repression deepens III

18 08 2017

In an earlier report at the Bangkok Post, Deputy Dictator General Prawit Wongsuwan claimed:

Just over 1,000 people are expected to turn up at the Supreme Court next Friday to lend moral support to embattled former prime minister Yingluck Shinawatra as she hears the court’s ruling in the rice-pledging case…”.

No doubt he reckons all of the repression and suppression that the military regime has engaged in will deter many of those who would have shown up. Threats, armed military patrols in villages and towns considered “red,” and charges against van drivers have all been a part of the efforts to repress.

A later report at the newspaper is saying that more than “2,500 police will be sent to the Supreme Court where crowds of Yingluck Shinawatra supporters are expected to lend her moral support next Friday…”.

The Army will also provide “security,” meaning that there could be more than 3,000 officers to “manage” the just over 1,000 people Prawit reckons will show up – three officers to each Yingluck supporter.

This is probably another attempt to dissuade her supporters showing up through the threat of heavy suppression.

But it seems the police didn’t read Prawit’s statement and they think more Yingluck supporters will show up. The police will set up “choke points,” to check each person who attends and will keep them behind barriers, threatening them with charges if they go beyond these.





Updated: Junta repression mounts I

16 08 2017

A report at The Nation suggests that the yellow-shirted paranoia over Yingluck Shinawatra’s court appearance is reaching fever pitch among the members of the military junta. That Yingluck fever leads to deepening political repression.

The nine judges hearing the case at the Supreme Court’s Criminal Division for Political Office Holders are under guard, as are their residences. Rumor has it that some decamped to hotels but now worry that Yingluck supporters may stay in the same hotels. Horror!

Army boss General Chalermchai Sitthisart “called a meeting of security forces to assess expectations about the situation on the day of the verdict.” His task is to ensure that as few Yingluck supporters as possible are able to get to the court. His men reckon “1,000 to 2,000 people will show up to support Yingluck at the court.”

The military dictatorship has been “closely monitoring movements by Yingluck’s supporters ahead of the verdict” and this surveillance is being ramped up.

The surveillance is concentrated on the northeast and Pathum Thani, Nonthaburi, Samut Prakan and Ayutthaya, “where there are strong bases of Pheu Thai Party and red-shirt supporters…”. It is stated that “security officers had been instructed to closely monitor local leaders in other areas in the North and Northeast who might mobilise supporters.”

They are searching for a “plot.” Usually the junta is able to manufacture “evidence” of one. This time they are saying that “the total cost of all the passengers in a single van visiting the capital would amount to Bt100,000,” implying that there’s a plot.

In fact the figure is ludicrous. We think the military is using its own experience of arranging travel and supporters to come to this figure.

The surveillance is being expanded to cover trains and regular tour buses.

The Dictator, General Prayuth Chan-ocha continues to fluster and bluster, threatening to “punish” anyone who broke the law. But, as we know, the junta makes up law on the run, using it for repression, so this is likely meant to threaten.

Interestingly, as we predicted, Interior Minister General Anupong Paojinda “said there had not been any irregularities found in the spending of local administration organisations in connection with possible trips to support Yingluck.” We did say that the Attorney General’s office was just reflecting yellow shirt social media fluff.

Update: Reliable social media reports from various provinces in the north and northeast show photos of armed soldiers being deployed in urban areas and entering villages to further intimidate any person considering traveling to Bangkok for 25 August.





Updated: PAD excited and angry

2 08 2017

Yellow shirt social media has erupted, complaining bitterly about the Supreme Court’s Criminal Division for Holders of Political Positions has acquitted Somchai Wongsawat, Chavalit Yongchaiyudh and two others for their role in seeking to move protesters seeking to block parliament.

The details are still vague and incomplete, but it should be recalled that the “four men were charged with abuse of authority in 2015 by the National Anti-Corruption Commission.”The charges related to the dispersal of People’s Alliance for Democracy protesters in 2008, with the junta pushing the charges forward.

It was the same NACC that claimed that Abhisit Vejjajiva, Suthep Thaugsuban and General Anupong Paojinda had no case to answer for their role in the events leading to the deaths of more than 100 red shirt protesters and others in 2010.

The court ruled that the “authorities had no intention of causing injuries or loss of life when they launched the operation to clear away the protesters.”

Given that Abhisit and his lot got off so easily, the fact that the NACC took Somchai and others to court raised a serious question of double standards. With Yingluck Shinawatra’s case also coming to a conclusion, the courts and junta faced a dilemma that could have unleashed a political backlash. They appear to have both backed off and followed the law. That’s an innovation.

The backlash now seems to be coming from the yellow shirts.

Update: Angry yellow shirt “leaders have called on the National Anti-Corruption Commission (NACC) to appeal yesterday’s acquittal of four defendants in a case stemming from the fatal 2008 crackdown.” Suriyasai Katasila, a former PAD leader “disputed arguments that the dispersal of the protest had been conducted in line with international practices, that the demonstration was not peaceful or unarmed, and that the defendants had no intention of causing casualties.”





Punishment

29 07 2017

The military junta and its minions have been hard at work in recent days, punishing people it sees as political opponents or threats to the royalist-tycoon military regime and its plans for control into the future. All of this political “work” has been around the period of the first birthday “celebration” for King Vajiralongkorn, which seems appropriate, in the reign of fear and threat.

The junta just hates it when the lower classes complain, especially when they are in areas considered politically suspect, like the northeast. So its obedient servants have charged and now prosecuted seven women who have been campaigning against a mining concession extension for Tungkum Co Ltd, a gold mine operator in Loei province. The seven are Phonthip Hongchai, Ranong Kongsaen, Wiron Ruchichaiwat, Suphat Khunna, Bunraeng Sithong, Mon Khunna, and Lamphloen Rueangrit.

Somyos and his money

The Tungkum Company has had significant regime support and the junta see the villagers as having support from anti-regime activists. The case goes back a long way, with the company supported by the usually wealthy (never explained or investigated) former police chief General Somyos Pumpanmuang. We have previously noted this cop’s connections with shady business groups that use men-in-black to harass the villagers opposing mining and environmental degradation.

The women involved are now charged with “breaking the public assembly law and intimidating public officials.” The so-called act of “intimidation” involved “leading more than 100 people to gather in front of Wang Saphung District Administration Office on 16 November 2016 while officials were holding a meeting…” that was to rubber stamp the company’s application.

Business elites and the junta don’t want these little people getting out of hand, especially women (we say more on this below).

In a similar case, the junta’s bureaucratic thugs and something still referred to as the “Supreme Court” – better called the military’s civilian sentencing machine – has sentenced a husband and wife to six months in jail “for trespassing on protected land six years ago.” The court seems quite deranged in its “thinking” sentencing the elderly Den Khamlae and his wife Suphab Khamlae. Deranged in that Den has been missing since April 2016, believed to have been forcibly disappeared by the same authorities that charged him and his wife.

Den’s case goes back to 1985, when “his Chaiyaphum farmland was taken by the government. They were promised land to use elsewhere, but Den and his neighbors later found the area designated for them was already occupied.” His crime is that he wouldn’t bow down to the “authorities,” and with the junta in power, these thugs decided to get rid of him. Suphab’s “crime” seems to have been her campaign to learn what has happened to her husband. As the linked article explains, “Suphab, who has campaigned about forced disappearances since Den’s disappearance, will immediately go to prison.” Campaigning against the royalist-tycoon-bureaucratic state is not just a “crime,” but the dictators are angered by the uppity lower classes and especially those who don’t accept their “place” in the hierarchy.

The court babbled something about Den being “convicted” because he is not proven dead. We can only hope that there are sufficient horrid and vicious ghosts from the disappeared who will haunt these morons in robes for in this life and the next.

The popular Yingluck

Then there are the political punishments meted out to those the junta considers as challenging its right to rule and dictate.

The most obvious example of this is Yingluck Shinawatra. Early in the week, she made the mistake of complaining about the junta’s minions acting against her in ways that she considered foul. Worse (for her), she had a social media exchange with The Dictator. The result has been the sudden revelation that National Anti-Corruption Commission, which essentially works at the behest of the military dictatorship, has 11 other cases against Yingluck that it is “investigating.”

The junta has been keen to punish Yingluck for several reasons and not least because she remains popular. In this instance, though, it seems to us that the junta is punishing Yingluck for speaking up for herself. The Dictator has a habit of punishing those who pick a fight with him but in this case it is also clear that the strong misogynist ideology of the royalist political elite is playing out. The Dictator thinks “that woman” should “know her place.” He’s “teaching” her to know her submissive place. Of course, other royalist lads have derided Yingluck for being a woman in their man’s world.

Finally, at least for today, there’s the is the arrest warrant for Watana Muangsook. It seems that Watana, “a Pheu Thai Party key figure and former commerce minister, and two other suspects on suspicion of provoking rebellion…”. Did we read that right? “Rebellion”? That seems to be how the men who control most of Thailand’s legal weapons view the prospect of hundreds turning out to “support” Yingluck when she’s next in the (kangaroo) court. The junta is giving the impression that its is so frightened that it is suffering collective and premature incontinence.

In this “case,” the so-called “suspects were found to have been inciting people to come to a gathering planned for Aug 25 when the Supreme Court’s Criminal Division for Holders of Political Positions is due to hand down a ruling in the rice-pledging case in which former prime minister Yingluck Shinawatra is charged with dereliction of duty…”. The junta reckons this alleged “incitement” can be “deemed a violation of Section 116 of the Criminal Code,” meaning sedition!

In Watana’s case, his “sedition” appears to be challenging The Dictator: “In a series of messages posted on his Facebook page from July 19 to July 26, Mr Watana criticised the government and urged members of the public to come out to support Ms Yingluck, also on Aug 1 when she is due to verbally present her final statement in the rice-pledging case to the court…”.

In response, “Watana said on Thursday he has never posted any message urging Ms Yingluck’s supporters to turn up at the court.” So his “crime” would seem to be his violation of the dictum that allows no arguing with The Dictator.





Fear and repression II

25 07 2017

As PPT said in a recent post, the “threats,” “enemies” and “opposition” that give the military dictatorship the shakes are mainly red shirts, elements of the Puea Thai Party and the Shinawatra clan and its associates. Despite more than three years of heavy duty repression, the military and anti-democrats live in fear that they may rise again.

Supporters of Yingluck Shinawatra have again been warned against participating in public gatherings when the Supreme Court hands down a ruling on her controversial rice-pledging scheme next month.

The new warning is from The Dictator. General Prayuth Chan-ocha said that “security [he mean repression] remains the top priority for the regime and anyone who attempts to challenge the law [he means the junta] by mobilising a crowd with malicious intent would face legal consequences [he means repression].”

General Prayuth is flummoxed and worried by “reports that huge crowds would show up to extend their support to Ms Yingluck on Aug 25 when the Supreme Court’s Criminal Division for Holders of Political Positions is due to hand down its ruling.” His response is: “You can love anyone [he means Yingluck], but [you] shouldn’t cause trouble for others [he means the junta and its minions at the court] or undermine the law. If anyone mobilises crowds they must know they are breaking the law…”.

Somewhat oddly, Army boss and junta secretary-general General Chalermchai Sitthisart seemed less worried, simply saying that the junta “will have to ‘regulate’ people who arrive to support Ms Yingluck next month.” He then made a very unusual remark: “The NCPO [junta] does not prohibit people from coming to support her in good faith but any organised gatherings are against the law…”.

Who does one believe? The point about “organizing” and “mobilizing” seems clear, but one general is saying stay home and the other is saying come if you are mobilized.

Even odder, “Gen Chalermchai insisted the NCPO will not dispatch soldiers to block her supporters from Pheu Thai or red-shirt strongholds…”. That seems to contradict earlier reports.

Echoing some of his anti-democrat members, (anti-)Democrat Party leader Abhisit Vejjajiva reckoned that gathering supporters of Yingluck at the court was an “implicit threat …[and] may be an attempt to pressure the judges.”

Meanwhile, the Finance Ministry has begun the process of seizing Yingluck’s assets, “based on an administrative order,” seeking some $1 billion “in compensation for her alleged dereliction of duty in the rice-pledging scheme.”





Updated: Fear and repression I

24 07 2017

Talk of “reconciliation” seems pointless in the junta’s dictatorship. The task of the junta has been to repress those it identifies as “threats,” “enemies” and “opposition.” As it was largely through the efforts of the anti-democrats, led by the (anti-)Democrat Party, that paved the way for the 2014 military coup, it should be no surprise at all that the coalition of military and anti-democrats coalesces to continue the fight against those “threats,” “enemies” and “opposition.”

As everyone knows, the “threats,” “enemies” and “opposition” are mainly red shirts, elements of the Puea Thai Party and the Shinawatra clan and associates. After more than three years of heavy duty repression designed to decapitate these groups, there is limited evidence that they retain much capacity for mobilization. Yet the military and anti-democrats live in fear that they may rise against them.

As reported in The Nation, the pending verdict against Yingluck Shinawatra, due on 25 August, is causing considerable angst among the ruling regime and its anti-democrat allies.

This deep anxiety was inflamed by the sight of “[h]undreds of Yingluck’s supporters [who] gathered at the high court last Friday during the last hearing of the case against her.”

The Democrat Party, never very popular anywhere except in the previous palace hierarchy and among the royalist military, immediately went back to their rhetoric of anti-Thaksinism that has been a feature of their efforts to bring down each elected government since 2001. They claimed that “many of the supporters travelled together in an arranged trip from the northeastern provinces of Ubon Ratchathani and Amnat Charoen.” In other words, they reflexively denigrated their opponents as unthinking and unintelligent people/buffaloes, led around by money and bosses.

At the same time, Somchai Sawaengkarn, reported as “a member of the National Legislative Assembly (NLA)” but in fact a former unelected senator, dedicated anti-democrat, anti-Thaksin campaigner for more than a decade, hard core royalist and prone to accuse opponents of lese majeste, claimed “that he has learned of a plot to incite riots in a bid to overthrow the government and the NCPO [he means his buddies in the junta].”

Somchai has concocted plots in order to denigrate political opponents in the past and we assume he’s at it again. “Good” people like him are skilled liars but usually claim they do it for the greater “good.” This usually means ousting an elected government, supporting the crown or lapping the military boot or, as in this case, encouraging it in political activism. This is why he invents a plot: “They will try to bring down the government and the NCPO [junta] through riots. Hard-core groups that are their allies have clearly said that they want to wage a ‘people’s war’…”. He predicts a “mobilization” of 10,000 people.

While we might hope he is right, based on previous “inventiveness” by Somchai, we can be reasonably sure that, tongue on military boot, he’s making this up to encourage his junta allies in further political repression.

Indeed, the military thugs are already at work.

The Nation reports a source in the ruling junta as revealing that the military and its bureaucratic handmaidens are “closely following movements by certain groups of people ahead of the Supreme Court verdict in the case against former prime minister Yingluck…”.

That source adds that “Army commander-in-chief General Chalermchai Sitthisart, in his capacity as secretary to the National Council for Peace and Order (NCPO), has instructed the local peacekeeping forces to monitor the movements of ‘all groups involved’ over the next month…”.

The Army’s regional commanders have been ordered “to make sure any suspicious movements are under their microscope…. If the local peacekeeping forces, which were formed after the military coup in 2014, discovered any plan to mobilise large groups of people into Bangkok, they would need to persuade their leaders to cancel such a trip…”. That will mean detentions, threats and other forms of repression. Indeed, the leaking of these orders are a part of that repression.

Military officers have already “been dispatched to different areas of the country in an attempt to persuade Yingluck’s supporters not to come to Bangkok … [and t]hey are going to meet with local community leaders and administrators and ask them to ‘create a better understanding’ among the local residents.” The order is that there “should be no mobilisation of the masses…”. In other words, the military presence at all levels is being heightened and the threats made real.

Update: Part of the fear of Yingluck’s supporters seems reflected in the estimates of the number who showed up last week. The Bangkok Post reports almost 1,000. The official red shirts of the United Front for Democracy against Dictatorship (UDD) have warned The Dictator that his threats inflamed the situation and brought out even more supporters. More threats and intimidation could would damage the junta.





“Election” readiness II

22 07 2017

In an earlier post PPT, commented that preparations for the military junta’s election were moving along and that the signals for this were getting stronger. They included the anti-Election Commission that the junta could arrange its election sometime from August 2018. Another signal were the efforts to neuter the Shinawatra clan and Puea Thai Party, with the cases against Yingluck Shinawatra is drawing to a close next month.

The Bangkok Post reports that other cases at the Supreme Court’s Criminal Division for Holders of Political Positions are scheduled for rulings with “three major cases involving politicians from the Pheu Thai Party” also scheduled for next month.

One is Yingluck’s case. A second case “involves a group of 28 people including former commerce minister Boonsong Teriyapirom and former deputy commerce minister Poom Sarapol. It deals with their involvement in government-to-government rice sales to China.” All are from the Yingluck government that was thrown out by the 2014 military coup.

The third case, set to be ruled on 2 August, involves a set of senior figures associated with the pro-Thaksin People’s Power Party government from 2007-08. Included are former prime minister Somchai Wongsawat, former prime minister Chavalit Yongchaiyudh, who was deputy prime minister in charge of security under then premier Somchai and two senior policemen of that period.

They are on trial for their roles in the crackdown on the People’s Alliance for Democracy which had had its protesters lay siege to Government House from 20 June 2008, seeking to force the pro-Thaksin elected government out of office. Despite a court order for the eviction of protesters, the siege continued. To bring further pressure on the government, PAD laid siege to parliament, to prevent Somchai from making a legally required policy speech in the assembly. On 7 July 2008, police announced that they would use tear gas and clear protesters. Clashes continued for several hours, with two deaths and 471 people injured. One of the deaths was a PAD supporter who accidentally blew himself up.

Students of Thailand’s double standards will recall that former premier Abhisit Vejjajiva, his deputy Suthep Thaugsuban and General Anupong Paojinda were charged with malfeasance and murder for their crackdowns on red shirt protesters in April and May 2010 resulting in a 100 deaths and thousands of injuries. Several courts denied that they had jurisdiction, the National Anti-Corruption Commission ruled they had acted lawfully and the case did not go to the Supreme Court’s Criminal Division for Holders of Political Positions.








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