Still more corruption cases

31 01 2017

After the recent reports – all from foreign jurisdictions – of corruption, it seems someone had the bright idea of searching the websites for more cases of corrupt practices in Thailand. Hey presto! There’s another one.

A report in The Nation refers to the junta’s puppet National Legislative Assembly (NLA) declaring that its unusually wealthy cohort of generals, admirals, marshals and junta flunkies “will investigate fresh bribery allegations concerning the CCTV camera installation project at Parliament House over 10 years ago.”

NLA Vice President and junta posterior polisher Surachai Liangboonlertchai states that these “new” allegations “were exposed by the United States Justice Department…”.

Surachai declared that “he had instructed the committee that oversaw the [NLA] compound to ask relevant staff to explain what happened regarding the project…”. Yet another body doing yet another corruption investigation.

Surachai says the investigation is “needed to help ensure accountability and transparency.” We suppose that is a breakthrough, for the NLA hasn’t been accountable or transparent under the junta.

Despite the bribe givers having admited their crime in the USA, the NLA is only going to “look into the expenditures during that period to see if there were any irregularities.” Only if they find irregularities will “an official fact-finding committee … be set up to pursue the case.” Ho hum.

The Nation report does not list the U.S. company involved. In fact, as far as PPT can tell, it is a company named Tyco International Ltd  and the SEC charged it with violating the Foreign Corrupt Practices Act on 24 September 2012. Yes, that’s more than four years ago.

Tyco admitted that is agents and affiliates paid bribes in several countries. Of Thailand, the SEC says:

In Thailand, Tyco’s subsidiary had a contract to install a CCTV system in the Thai Parliament House in 2006, and paid more than $50,000 to a Thai entity that acted as a consultant. The invoice for the payment refers to “renovation work,” but Tyco is unable to ascertain what, if any, work was actually done.

Perhaps while there at it, the NLA and any other body wanting to “investigate” corruption could look at the SEC site a bit more. There we learn that on 6 August 2010, the SEC “charged two global tobacco companies with violations of the Foreign Corrupt Practices Act (FCPA) for paying more than $5 million in bribes to government officials in Thailand and other countries to illicitly obtain tobacco sales contracts.” THe pay-offs in Thailand were to the state’s Thailand Tobacco Monopoly.

Back in early 2011, lawyer David Lyman wrote about corruption in Thailand and listed this as one of the “recent” cases. The list bears repeating (see below) as Lyman refers to “Grand Corruption” as the “massive upfront contributions and kickbacks from suppliers and contractors in state-funded infrastructure and procurement projects, which monies find their way to senior civil and military officials and political figures and their advisors.”

As a good yellow-hued member of the privileged elite, he mentions the alleged corruption at the international airport, which was all put down to Thaksin Shinawatra. He then lists “recent examples” of Grand Corruption:

  1. The hand-held bomb detectors which even the British government said were useless, as did a Thai testing facility, which the Army and Police swore were effective and cost between US$28,000 and US$37,500 each (totaling US$1.5 million) but which proved to be worthless, “less effective than flipping a coin”.
  2. The Army’s new US$9.7 million helium-filled blimp which has not yet met specs—another boondoggle.
  3. The ten-year lease of 4,000 new buses for the city of Bangkok to replace its aging fleet, at a cost of US$2.05 billion (about US$508,000 per bus).
  4. A high-speed rail line from Kunming in southern China through Laos and down the length of Thailand into northern Malaysia. The scheme, priced at US$11 billion and change, is reputed to be the new all-you-can-eat-buffet for the politicos and other influential persons and groups with their wallets out.
  5. In a recent example from August 2010, U.S.-based tobacco sellers paying off officials of the Thai Tobacco Monopoly to the tune of US$1.9 million to buy tobacco from their sources.
  6. The September 2010 revelations that US$1.6 million in disaster relief funds, intended to aid flood victims, have been diverted to officials in many provinces across the country.

As far as we can recall, 1 and 2 have been unmentionable under the junta. Nothing happened. Buses (3) remain a front page issue, with references to corruption. No. 4 has been revived big-time under the junta and the junta is dealing with relief operations in the south (like 6). No. 5 is the case dealt with by the SEC in 2010.

What can we say? It is business as usual.





“Election” slipping III

31 12 2016

There’s been quite a few indications that the promised “election” would be delayed from 2017 to 2018. As we have said previously, the military junta has developed an addition to repression and control, meaning that their authoritarian rule is likely to be extended for as long as it desires, especially as opposition has been pretty much neutralized.

A report at the Bangkok Post confirms this delay and indicates how much the military acolytes love the idea.

Chief charter writer Meechai Ruchupan, who for much of his “working” life serving military regimes, has “said he cannot confirm that a general election will take place next year following the regime roadmap…”.

Meechai claimed “it was difficult to assess when the transition from military rule to an elected government would take place.” We are sure that if it was Meechai’s choice, there would never be a “transition” because the people cannot be trusted.

Meanwhile, Surachai Liangboonlertchai, vice-president of the puppet National Legislative Assembly, “said yesterday a general election was unlikely to take place next year as expected.” He predicted mid-2018, but only if “all things going well.”

Happy new year from the junta!





Anti-democrat indoctrination

3 12 2015

We missed a sadly revealing story about Thailand’s politics under the military dictatorship a few days ago, and a regular reader emailed us on it.

At the official propaganda site of the military dictatorship, the Secretariat of the Senate is reported to have played “host to a special activity designed to train new democratic leaders.”

Now, recall that the Senate since 2007 has been a mix of elected and unelected members and has essentially operated as a block on elected governments and has repeatedly sought to bring such governments down. It has been broadly anti-democratic and a majority of its members supported the 2014 military putsch which ended its role, then taken up by the junta and its appointed National Legislative Assembly.

The Secretariat of the Senate is acting as the Secretariat of the NLA.

In other words, there isn’t a democrat in sight and no one in this group knows anything about democracy. Nothing. The website of the Senate is an advertisement for military and monarchy.

So what kind of “training” would have been opened by NLA First Vice President of the Surachai Liengboonlertchai, himself part of the unelected, undemocratic swill?

The “training,” an indoctrination session, was for “more than 100 people, including heads of government offices, local government office executives, local leaders, members of the press and lawyers from Loei, Phetchabun and Chaiyaphum.”

You guessed it, this is part of the exercise in identified red shirt strongholds to prevent the election of pro-Thaksin Shinawatra and/or anti-military political candidates. That assumes an election will ever be held. PPT reckons it will only be held when the junta is convinced its “good” people will be elected to government.

Our interpretation of this political indoctrination is confirmed by Surachai who said that the project “recognizes the importance of people from all walks of life and wide ranging careers and their need to have an accurate understanding of democratic rule and political participation.” He means “correct” in the sense that totalitarian regimes mean it: following the official line.

He added that the appropriately indoctrinated cadres were then expected to “pass on such knowledge to people around them while the project should be a forum in which all learning, ideas and even problems can be exchanged and discussed…”. They become the eyes and ears of the military junta in “enemy” territory and seek to defeat the “red shirt” tide.





Old men and old ideas

13 09 2015

A couple of days ago we again pointed out that Thailand is a country where very old men remain powerful and influential.

At the Bangkok Post it is reported that aged legal expert Meechai Ruchupan has indeed been invited by The Dictator “to lead a new charter-drafting body that is expected to be formed by next week…”.

Meechai as a rabid royalist ideologue associated with the 2006 military coup and junta and with several anti-democratic movements, including the movement that sought to bring down the Yingluck Shinawatra elected government. He has been fully prepared to defend the lese majeste law, even making stuff up to support the draconian law.

General Prayuth Chan-ocha is said to be “interested in Mr Meechai” because of his experience “at the helm of legislative bodies, both as Senate chairman and chairman of a national legislative assembly…”.

In fact, this experience is telling. According to a brief entry at Wikipedia:

He was the acting Prime Minister of Thailand following a military takeover of the government that took place in February 1991. He served only seventeen days, from May 24, 1992 to June 10, 1992, and was succeeded by Anand Panyarachun. He had been appointed by Royal Command to take over after highly unpopular General Suchinda Kraprayoon resigned under public and state pressure.

Meechai served as President of the military-appointed National Legislative Assembly of Thailand after the coup d’état in 2006. After another coup d’état in 2014, Meechai—as one of two civilians—was appointed as a member of the junta which calls itself the National Council for Peace and Order.

The picture of a royalist who serves the military is clear.

Prayuth thinks this is the right man to again serve the military-monarchy alliance as it represses popular will and seeks to cement its rule.

Others reportedly being sought for the military dictatorship’s “fix” of the political system include royalists and military backers like the conservative Sujit Boonbongkarn, former 2006 junta appointee Kanjanarat Leewiroj, Banthoon Sethasiroj, anti-Thaksin Shinawatra lawyer Banjerd Singkhaneti, who fronted the ultra-royalist and neo-fascist Sayam Prachapiwat, Preecha Watcharaphai, who worked with the 2006 military junta and former unelected senator and anti-Thaksin activist Surachai Liangboonlertchai, who once tried to use the Senate to bring down the elected government.

The picture is pretty clear: conservatives, royalists, yellow shirts, anti-Thaksin activists and military backers.

The pattern is also seen in a recent appointment to the Constitutional Court of yellow-shirted historian, 2014 coup supporter and constitution drafter and supporter of the lese majeste law, Nakarin Mektrairat.

This may all seem like more of the same under the military dictatorship. Yet it is clear that the junta and its supporters and backers have decided that Thailand requires more “reform.” This means a deeply conservative and royalist return to an authoritarian and intolerant past.





On May 1992, part II

18 05 2015

In part I, we posted on a speech by the notorious royalist poseur Bowornsak Uwanno, who misused the occasion of a remembrance of the military’s murder of democracy and murder of civilian in May 1992.

In another report at The Nation on a memorial event, it is stated that “politicians and political groups yesterday attended a memorial service to remember those who lost their lives in the Black May 1992 political uprising.” It seems to us that the military dictatorship tried to manage this event as it was attended by “representatives of the junta-appointed agencies known as the ‘Five Rivers’. They included Prime Minister’s Office Minister Panadda Diskul, National Legislative Assembly (NLA) vice president Surachai Liengboonlertchai, Ekachai Sriwilat[,] Prasarn Marukpitak and Rosana Tositrakul members of the [puppet] National Reform Council (NRC).”

Even if any of this lot had any reason to be there, it seems they have forgotten the meaning of 1992. All are rabid monarchists and pro-military flunkies. Rosana is a strident yellow shirt who has supported all anti-democrats since 2004. Surachai is one of Rosana’s allies in the anti-democratic Group of 40 Senators, mostly unelected after 2007, who are ultra-royalists and deeply yellow. So is Prasarn. Panadda is a devoted royalist, specialized in self-promotion and a dedicated restorationist, committed to dictatorship and absolutism. They insult the memory of the dead.

Amongst attendees, there were some with a real connection to the events in 1992, including “red-shirt co-leader of the United Front for Democracy against Dictatorship (UDD) Jatuporn Promphan and yellow-shirt co-leader of the People’s Democratic Reform Committee Pipop Thongchai.”

That the Democrat Party sent representatives is also insulting of those who died in 1992 for the Party was prepared to deal with the military then, if it got them close to power. Nothing much has changed.

The egregious Panadda said that the “incident” in May 1992 – he means the massacre of civilians – “showed the public’s will to achieve democracy.” It did, but to disgrace that resolve by linking it to The Dictator and self-appointed Prime Minister, General Prayuth Chan-ocha, and to claim that this vandal of democracy “had recognised the people of Thailand’s wish to see real democracy in the country…” is disgusting.

Rosana is as bad, saying that May 1992 “occurred because all the heroic people wanted to see reform of the political system without any influence. They hoped that the election would lead to the development of a strong democracy and that it would not result in a coup.” She’s lost in a make-believe history and she manages to link an anti-military uprising to the 2006 and 2014 military putsches, which she enthusiastically supported.

For those wanting a useful summary of the events of the time, not least as an antidote for the tripe served up by military flunkies, this PDF, available for free download, is not a bad place to begin.





Preparing the anti-democrats

16 01 2015

Thailand’s Constitutional Court is a political instrument of a royalist elite that rejects notions like electoral democracy.

Not for the first time, it is demonstrating a detachment from justice and democracy in a report of one of its activities that can only be described as bizarre. Khaosod begins its report by stating:

The Thai court known for ousting a string of democratically elected political parties is now offering a course titled “Good Governance For Democracy.”

PPT won’t go through all of the anti-democratic actions of the Constitutional Court over recent years. Rather we just point to a few earlier accounts of these actions: here, here, here, here and here.

The bastion of anti-democracy trumpets that its “democracy” program is “open to members of the state and private sector who want to improve their ‘conscience and behaviour’…”. Apparently some of the corrupt and politicized judges, who have repeatedly demonstrated not only a disdain for democracy but even for constitutions, are “teaching” the course.

During the opening class it was revealed that the class included 52 “students,” many of them with unblemished track records of opposing democracy, elections and elected politicians.

Some of those named in the report are: disgraced and disgraceful boss of Thailand’s failed National Human Rights Commission Amara Pongsapich, Pornchai Rujiprapa, the Minister of Information, Communication, and Technology who is one of the most vigorous users of the lese majeste law and a proponent of illegal internet surveillance, Vicha Mahakhun, former constitution drafter for the military junta in 2007 and a member of the National Anti-Corruption Commission who not that long ago stated, “We all know elections are evil…”, adding that “[p]eople, especially academics who want to see the Constitution lead to genuine democracy, are naïve…”, and Surachai Liangboonlertchai, a dedicated anti-democrat who The Dictator made deputy chairman of the puppet National Legislative Assembly.

PPT an only imagine that this is an opportunity for these anti-democrats to slap each other on the back, work out future strategies for limiting democracy and ensure ideological oneness.





More kangaroo “courts”

8 01 2015

At the National News Bureau, the reporting is often vague and propagandist. In a recent report, however, there is a clear statement of the partisanship of “legal” processes in Thailand’s military dictatorship.

The report refers to the forthcoming impeachment “cases” by the National Legislative Assembly (NLA) against former Senate President Nikom Wairatpanij and former House Speaker Somsak Kiatsuranont on ridiculous charges of “attempting to amend the constitution.” The 2007 constitution did actually allow parliament to make changes.

A third “case” is against former Prime Minister Yingluck Shinawatra “for her alleged dereliction of duty during operation of the rice-pledging scheme.” This is bizarre given that previous governments had rice pledging programs and the Puea Thai government’s scheme was a major election campaign issue.

But logic and law mean nothing to the puppet NLA. Its “First Vice President … affirms that the assembly is handling the impeachment cases of former government officials in accordance with the law…”. Not.

The NLA’s Surachai Liangboonlertchai demonstrated that these “impeachment cases” are kangaroo courts when he declared that the NLA would discuss these matters “during the upcoming NLA meetings on the 8th and 9th of January at which the National Anti-Corruption Commission (NACC) will open the case files. Afterwards, the defendants will be allowed to present their rebuttals.” There are thousands of pages of materials but in this case, the puppets have allocated “approximately 2 hours to deliberate, after which a preselected committee will conduct a hearing of each case during which it will put questions that have been submitted previously by house members.”

Surachai lied that “all cases will be given due process of law and believes that all sides will agree with the work of the NLA…”. The assembly “votes” by secret ballot. Interestingly, many of the puppets hate votes, but they love them in this case.

No justice can be expected. Not even a court in sight. Decisions are already made, orders given, orders accepted.

As a footnote, Thaksin Shinawatra’s political soft pedaling is probably related to these cases.