Astounding legal action I

23 07 2020

The use of “double standards” is so common in post-2006 Thailand that it gets little commentary in the local media; it just gets reported as a matter of fact event.

To begin this short account of double standards, consider that no leader of a successful coup or any successful coup group-junta has ever been held to legal account.

Then consider the most recent case against Yingluck Shinawatra, reported in the Bangkok Post.

It seems the junta’s National Anti-Corruption Commission “has found grounds to the accusation that former prime minister Yingluck Shinawatra and two other former officials committed offences and abused their authority by rolling out a roadshow campaign to publicise infrastructure development projects in 2013.”

Along with Yingluck, “former prime minister’s secretary-general Suranand Vejjajiva and then PM’s office minister Niwatthamrong Boonsongpaisan stand accused of violating two laws — Section 151 and Section 157 of the Criminal Code and Section 12 and Section 13 of the law on offences relating to the submission of contract bids to state agencies.”

The NACC said that the “alleged offences are related to the 240-million-baht Building the Future of Thailand in 2020 project launched in 2013 at her [Yingluck] instruction as prime minister.”

The events included “exhibitions, seminars, and other public relations activities to promote an infrastructure investment scheme…”.

On “March 12, 2014, the Constitutional Court ruled the bill sponsored by the Yingluck government to authorise the Finance Ministry to seek 2 trillion baht in loans for infrastructure development projects was unconstitutional.”

According to the NACC, this means that the 2013 events were “effectively rendered null and void, and the 240-million budget already spent on the campaign was wasted, causing damage to the state…”.

The NACC will now ask the Office of the Attorney-General to take legal action in the Supreme Court’s Criminal Division for Holders of Political Positions.

It doesn’t take a legal eagle to observe that the action against Yingluck and her colleagues is driven not by law but by vindictiveness.

Meanwhile, actions by an illegal junta and its manipulations since the 2014 coup get a pass and are never investigated.

Depressing and familiar

17 01 2017

Reading the Bangkok Post this morning seemed like a trip back in time.

One story at the Post has the The Judge Advocate-General’s Department “seeking a further extension to a deadline to challenge a court ruling that revoked the dismissal of former prime minister Abhisit Vejjajiva from the army reserve.” He allegedly used “fake documents when applying to join the army as a lecturer at the Chulachomklao Royal Military Academy in 1987. The job exempted him from military conscription and gave him the rank of acting sub-lieutenant.”

That story has been around for years now, and Abhisit has been cashiered once in 2012 and then the “Civil Court … ruled in 2015 that … Abhisit had used false documents when he applied for the job and that the Democrat [Party] leader had lacked the necessary qualifications.” An Appeals Court overturned the ruling last year and reinstated Abhisit.

It is a rather simple case that is important to Abhisit because it involves face and status. It is important to his opponents as an example of double standards.

Another Post story has General Prayuth Chan-ocha denying “a report stating the government will revamp the selection system of provincial governors by seeking experts, including those outside the Interior Ministry, to serve in the positions.”

This proposal was apparently recommended by Deputy Prime Minister Somkid Jatusripitak. Somkid reckoned he wanted “governors who have vision …, expertise, strength, … and initiative.”

As a former Thaksin Shinawatra minister, when CEO governors were promoted, it is easy to see why The Dictator has had to quickly respond to a wildfire of yellow-tinged alarm, denying any plan to change the time-honored, elite-supported manner for controlling local populations.  No “vision” or “initiative” required when repressing and managing the dangerous masses.

A third Bangkok Post story is of the Department of Special Investigation (DSI) “investigation” of Thawatchai Anukul’s mysterious death in custody on 29 August 2016. This is the former official said to have worked with members of the elite to acquire land – an “normal” enough thing in Thailand. He somehow ended up being investigated and taken into jail. He then died. A first “investigation” concluded “Thawatchai strangled himself by wrapping his socks around his neck and attaching them to a door hinge.” The problem was that the police’s Institute of Forensic Medicine “reported in its initial autopsy result that Thawatchai died of abdominal haemorrhaging and a ruptured liver from being hit with a solid, blunt object together with asphyxiation from hanging…”.

Now the family says it can’t get an autopsy report because “the findings could not be revealed now as they might affect people involved in the case.” Perhaps results will be available for a court hearing in a month or so.

You get the picture. Impunity, cover-ups and complete incompetence are “normal.”

Yet another Post report is of “reconciliation.” General Prawit Wongsuwan has decided that “political parties and pressure groups will be asked to sign ‘a memorandum of understanding on national reconciliation’ as part of government efforts to heal the political divide…”. At the same time, he scotched discussion of an amnesty.

“Reconciliation” has been on the political agenda since the Abhisit Vejjajiva regime. The problem has been that “reconciliation” has not involved justice. This time around, Prawit wants ideas from “representatives from all political parties and groups will be invited to contribute ideas, including academics, legal experts, senior military soldiers, and police officers.” After this the junta will “establish a set of guidelines that will promote unity.”

That sounds like what might be expected for “reconciliation” run by a military junta. As Prawit “explained,” the military can play a role in “reconciliation” processes because the military is not viewed as a party to political conflict! Gen Prawit said: “The military never has enemies. It has no conflict with anyone.”

Democrat Party leader Abhisit declared “there was a need to determine the truth behind political unrest” before reconciliation. He means a truth that suits him.

Perhaps surprisingly, Puea Thai Party and official red shirts were sounding enthusiastic. But, then, they desperately need an election as soon as possible.

Interestingly Puea Thai’s Sudarat Keyuraphan, observed that “success in fostering unity rests on the sincerity of those in power.” She added: “Those in power must show sincerity and maintain impartiality, and must avoid getting themselves involved in conflict themselves. They must listen to all sides equally, rather than invited parties involved in conflict only as a token gesture as before…”.

Related, and at the Bangkok Post, former Thaksin aide Suranand Vejjajiva observes that the military “regime will find it hard to achieve meaningful reconciliation if it is not committed to a return to full democracy and applying the rule of law.” He points out that the military’s “reconciliation” is embedded in the authoritarian “roadmap to democracy” and “its true authoritarian agenda to manipulate political outcomes after a new general election is held either this year or the next.”

Nothing will change the roadmap to authoritarian tutoring over a further 20 years. He says the junta “has to realise that only democracy can pave the way for political reconciliation.”

Suranand’s democracy is not one the military comprehends. It is establishing a 1950s version of Thai-style democracy.

He predicts that “[a]ny future meetings on national reconciliation that Gen Prawit expects to call will end up as a series of shows for the media, if representatives of political parties show up at all.”

That’s been the pattern: impunity, PR and repression. It is depressingly all too familiar.

Snitching for the royalist elite

4 10 2014

It is well-known that lese majeste charges are thrown at political opponents in order to discredit and silence them. The most proficient at this political ploy have been the anti-democrat zealots associated with the Democrat Party. Watchara Petthong, a former Democrat Party party-list MP is particularly notorious for slinging lese majeste mud at his opponents and has been doing it for years.

Watchara with the "evidence"

Watchara with “evidence”

This time he has filed a lese majeste complaint against Thaksin Shinawatra, Tom Plate and Suranand Vejjajiva and the company Matichon for publishing Plate’s translated book, Conversations with Thaksin or Jub Khao Kui Thaksin Shinawatra.

PPT has not been a fan of the book, finding it lightweight and uncritical. But that matters little in these circumstances for not only has the book “been available in the local market for more than two years” but Plate was apparently careful about the lese majeste threat. The English original was published in 2011 by Marshall Cavendish. The Thai translation, completed by Suranand, was published in 2012 and was reprinted earlier this year.

As is expected of lese majeste monsters like Watchara he claims that “some parts of the book contained material harmful to the royal institution and had been quoted worldwide.” PPT has read the English version, and we didn’t see anything remotely like a slur against the king, queen or heir apparent. Yet the lese majeste crazies can always construe and misconstrue when they want to settle a score or create trouble.Thaksin Book

Watchara is to be condemned for his puerile and self-serving nonsense and for hiding behind the repressive law and the throne. He’s not the first, though, for another anti-democrat, Somkiat Onwimon, babbled about this book on the anti-democrat stage in January 2014. At the time, Somkiat seemed to mistakenly think the book hadn’t been published in Thailand, but was simply looking for yet another excuse to attack Thaksin.

Tom Plate is undoubtedly an enthusiastic supporter of Thaksin. For crazed ultra-royalists, that seems to be a”crime.” Watchara’s warped world is marked by fear that the royalist control may crash, worry that the aged and ill monarch is unable to hold the royalist world together, and the threat that popular and electoral politics offers an alternative to armed feudalism.

Updated: Yingluck pulls the 112 trigger

10 04 2014

Of course, the reason we posted the VICE clip was to allow readers to see it. We knew that Wuthipong Kachathamkul or Ko Tee was being investigated on lese majeste charges arising from the interview he does in the VICE story.

As might be expected, it is going to be blocked as much as possible in Thailand by the thought and lese majeste police: “The TCSD [Technology Crime Suppression Division] was instructed to contact the Information and Communication Technology Ministry to block access to the clip…”. Worse, the police have been threatening and have “warned the public not to share the video clip as those doing so will also be subject to punishment under Section 112. Those found guilty are liable for a three- to 15-year jail term.”Ko Tee 1

The Bangkok Post reports that “Prime Minister Yingluck Shinawatra has ordered police to charge Pathum Thani-based red-shirt leader … Ko Tee, for an alleged lese majeste offence committed in an interview with a foreign journalist,” meaning the VICE interview.

The Post reports that a “video clip was circulated online showing the interview in which Mr Wuthipong made the offensive remark about the monarchy.” In fact, for PPT, it was hardly offensive. Ko Tee simply stated a matter of fact/conjecture [readers choose] that has been spoken of for about a decade now.

That royalists find his statement about the power of the palace and the king behind the various anti-democratic movements from PAD to be offensive is because this is meant to be unsayable in public. That he names his enemy is both courageous and frank, but immediately allows the royalists to paint the government and red shirts as anti-monarchy.Ko Tee 2

The Post reports that “Prime Minister’s secretary-general Suranand Vejjajiva said Wednesday the premier had ordered him to submit a letter to national police chief Adul Saengsingkaew calling for action against Mr Wuthipong.” Of course, the police have sprung into action on Article 112.

Pol Gen Adul has been “informed by the Technology Crime Suppression Division (TCSD) that Mr Wuthipong’s remark in the clip shared on YouTube violates Section 112 on lese majeste in the Criminal Code.” There you go, as in most lese majeste cases, the conviction is already in place.

Not unexpectedly the leader of the failed monarchist party known as the Democrat Party Abhisit Vejjajiva, acting like a toady prefect running to the headmaster, “has also instructed the party’s legal team to file a complaint against Mr Wuthipong for lese majeste…”.

Update: As is usual in lese majeste cases, the crazies get to work. Khaosod reports thatgroup of royalist activists … demanded that the authorities investigate any possible links between the Canada-based news agency [VICE] and former Prime Minister Thaksin Shinawatra.” It continues: “under the name Citizens Volunteer For Defence Of Three Institutes Network” – that’s a new bunch of monarchist crazies as far as PPT can tell, but we suspect it is the usual suspects – “met with police officers at the Crime Suppression Division HQ…. The group brought a DVD copy of the Vice News interview as evidence.” Hmm, in this surreal world of monarchists and lese majeste, this could probably constitute an act of lese majeste itself? (see above)

The leader of the mad monarchists Baworn Yasinthorn “asked the police to investigate whether Vice News is related to Mr. Roberts Amsterdam, a Canada-born lawyer and lobbyist hired by the former Prime Minister, who is also facing a separate lese majeste charge filed by an anti-government activist on Monday.” Below we print the only corporate information for VICE we can find. But really, how silly is this? Baworn is born in Thailand, so does that make him an ally of Thaksin or a red shirt because of place of birth?VICE

With 5 updates: Battle plans revealed

21 03 2014

Almost all political commentators are now agreed that the remaining anti-democrats hunkered down at Lumpini Park count for little. Even the Democrat Party is sidelined as they have no ammunition left apart from their repeated statement that they are a political party that will not contest elections. The real political battle is the so-called independent agencies versus the Yingluck Shinawatra government.

This is made clear in several quite stark reports and op-eds. Assistant News Editor at the Bangkok Post, Nattaya Chetchotiros, sets out the plan:

The Constitution Court has started its hearing into whether the Feb 2 election should be nullified. It will deliver its ruling Friday [today].

According to Pheu Thai’s assessment, the election will be certainly revoked which means a new general election will have to be called….

Satit Wongnongtoey, a core leader of the People’s Democratic Reform Committee (PDRC) and a former Democrat politician. “But we still cannot make the Yingluck government fall yet.” … As long as Ms Yingluck refuses to step down, the rallies will have to continue, he insisted.

If the court rules to annul the Feb 2 election, the PDRC, which opposes the election, will certainly boast that it is its victory as well.

A far more serious threat to Ms Yingluck’s political survival is the pending ruling by the National Anti-Corruption Commission (NACC) on the rice-pledging scheme.

If the NACC rules she is guilty in the rice scheme, Ms Yingluck must step aside promptly….

Pheu Thai MPs and senators — 308 of them to be exact — also face the axe for their votes to endorse a charter amendment to change the composition of the Senate, which has been ruled as unconstitutional.

Should the NACC find them guilty, more than 200 Pheu Thai MPs may be banned from politics which will prevent them from running in the next election.

The Puea Thai Party is convinced that “these attacks are orchestrated by the ammart system (the aristocratic or bureaucratic elite) with the ultimate goal not only of unseating the government but also eliminating the so-called Thaksin regime.”

This was made clear in a speech at the Foreign Correspondents’ Club of Thailand where the premier’s secretary-general Suranand Vejjajiva “accused the Election Commission (EC) of not doing its job properly and the National Anti-Corruption Commission (NACC) of trying to expedite Ms Yingluck’s indictment.” He was explicit:

“Certain institutions have resorted to arm-twisting legal action and other tactics to delay elections, and convince the public that the prime minister does not exist,” Mr Suranand said.

He said forces were orchestrating the government’s demise to help the People’s Democratic Reform Committee (PDRC)’s cause. This could be seen in the Democrats’ election boycott, and attempts by independent agencies to interfere.

Unfortunately, the roller-coaster of amart-inspired judicial conspiracy is continuing at full speed. One example is the NACC’s recommendation that “Senate Speaker Nikhom Wairatpanich be impeached for his role in the passage of the charter amendment draft on the composition of the Senate.” As the Bangkok Post explains:

The NACC ruling means that Mr Nikhom is required to cease carrying out all of his duties as Senate speaker. This has significant political implications, since the speaker of the upper house plays a crucial role in the selection of a new prime minister should the current one leave her post.

The NACC unanimously decided that Nikhom “has abused his authority in violation of sections 3 and 291, which could lead to him being removed as Senate speaker.”

Section 3 states:

Section 3. The sovereign power belongs to the Thai people. The King as Head of State shall exercise such power through the National Assembly, the Council of Ministers and the Courts in accordance with the provisions of this Constitution.

The performance of duties of the National Assembly, the Council of Ministers, the Courts, the Constitutional organisations and State agencies shall be in accordance with the rule of laws.

Section 291 states is the section that deal with Amendment of the Constitution.

Essentially, a decision by the Constitutional Court that appeared highly biased is now used to allow the Senate to eject its speaker. But because this requires a three-fifths majority, it is not clear it will proceed. Even so, having Nikhom out of the seat, replaced by an appointed senator, for a several weeks means that more legal shenanigans can be put in place to ditch Yingluck and her government.

A Bangkok Post photo

A Bangkok Post photo

Update 1: Phase 1 of the amart plan completed! PPT is not surprised that the Constitutional Court has decided that the uncompleted election is “unconstitutional.” The court has said nothing about the reason for the election being incomplete: the illegal actions of the anti-democrats in boycotting the election, preventing candidate registration and blocking voting.

We understand that the the Constitutional Court is doing the work of the royalist elite, but the great risk of its decision (assuming that the junta-tutored 2007 constitution remains in place) is that any opponent of elections can now prevent them.

In the short term, we guess that a new election needs to be called, but we do do not imagine that the amart will allow one to proceed before completing the destruction of the current government. The plan is in process.

Update 2: Reuters reports on the court decision, with (anti-)Election Commissioner Somchai Srisutthiyakorn saying there are “two options to organise a new vote”:

The commission could discuss with the government about issuing a new royal decree for a new date or we could ask the heads of all political parties to decide together when best to set the new election date….

The Democrat Party has already stated it will boycott a new poll. The report also has a quote from Suthep Thaugsuban’s statement to anti-democrats the day before the decision:

If the court rules the election void, don’t even dream that there will be another election. If a new election date is declared, then we’ll take care of every province and the election won’t be successful again….

As we noted above, and have stated for several months, the amart’s preferred political option is to bring down the government via a creeping judicial coup. The Reuters report quotes Kan Yuenyong, a political analyst at the Siam Intelligence Unit on this:

Independent agencies are being quite obvious that they want to remove her and her entire cabinet to create a power vacuum, claim that elections can’t be held and then nominate a prime minister of their choice….

If they run with this plan, then the government’s supporters will fight back and the next half of the year will be much worse than what we saw in the first half….

Update 3: Meanwhile, Puea Thai Minister Chaturon Chaisaeng has listed eight political implications he sees as resulting from the court’s decision:

1. The charter has been rewritten to enhance the powers of ombudsmen and the Constitution Court, allowing them to void an election.

2. Election non-believers now have more tools to make sure a poll will never end so long as there is no guarantee the Democrat Party will win and form the government.

3. An election can from now on be put off indefinitely. All it takes is for someone to topple it the way the PDRC did and it can always be claimed that the election must be held on the same date or be nullified.

4. The Democrats are given another chance to run in the next election and the party will join the race only when it is confident of victory such as when politicians from the government camp have been eliminated. But it is likely the Democrats will not run anyway because they view they still cannot win and they fear antagonising Suthep (Thaugsuban) and his men.

5. When the Democrats do not run, the election will never end. Independent bodies and the Constitution Court will “deal with” the government and politicians from its camp to create a “political vacuum” and pave the way for the use of Section 3 and 7 to appoint an unelected government and implement reforms before the election.

6. All parties now have a chance to review their options for the next election to encourage more people to support the poll and strengthen democracy.

7. If Thai society cannot resort to elections as a tool to resolve conflicts, the constitution will be scrapped, leading to more conflicts, violence and eventually, a coup.

8. Such a coup will not be the solution or the end of the strife but the beginning of yet more conflicts, violence and great losses for the Thai society.

Update 4: A reader sent us this translation of a “Dr. Pichet” (พิชิต ลิขิตกิจสมบูรณ์) analysis made just prior to the court decision:

We are expecting the Constitution Court to rule on the February 2, 2014 election as to whether it should be nullified, in light of the intentions and in line with what the Election Commission of Thailand (EC), the Democratic Party (DP), People’s Democratic Reform Committee (PDRC), and the gang of appointed Senators have been pushing for in the past several weeks.

The forces of tyranny will never allow the House of Representatives to be filled without the presence of the Democratic Party, which has with their shenanigans sought to disrupt the Phue Thai party and its coalition government. The most important issue is that the members of the House from the February 2, 2014 election will have more members of the parliament than the previous set because the Democratic Party decided to boycott the general election. There will be only a few minority parties that will act as opposition parties. This will give Phue Thai an even greater absolute majority in the House of Representatives than ever before.

Should the Establishment allow the election to be validated, the quorum will elect a new House Speaker and a new prime minister. They will be able to form a new full cabinet. The elite and Establishments will totally lose all opportunity to topple the election system and in its place select a “neutral prime minister” and the National Reform Council filled by their preferred appointed methods.

This is the reason why the Establishments wants to nullify the February 2, 2014 election. In the meantime, the current prime minister and her government will continue to assume the role of just a “caretaker” government. (This caretaker government will have no executive power, no authority to issue any orders or to shuffle government officials, and have no authority to borrow money or pay any debts on their populist policies.) The tyrannical groups aim to prolong this situation as long as they can. So the Election Commission of Thailand, the National Anti-Corruption Commission, Constitution Court, the appointed members of the Senate, and their cronies will have more time to help each other trample the prime minister and this government until they finally and completely sink it into the ground.

Update 5: The EC’s chairman Supachai Somcharoen has effectively sided with the anti-democrats (again) saying that he can’t predict when elections will be held. He said “all political parties should have a say in the matter,” giving the boycotting Democrat Party a say on an election it refuses to recognise! He added that the EC “would have to take into account the political situation to ensure tax money would not be wasted.” That hands a license to protesters to boycott any time they like and that will mean no election!  He continued: “We don’t know when things will return to normal. It may take at least three months…”.

PPT suspects that this is the amart timeline for getting rid of the elected government. It is remarkable that those who believe Thailand belongs to them have no qualms about the damage they do to the economy and seem very willing to countenance much further bloodshed in order to maintain their economic and political control.

Spooner and Suranand

18 11 2013

Readers will no doubt find Andrew Spooner’s interview with Suranand Vejjajiva of some interest. Suranand is Secretary General to Prime Minister Yingluck Shinawatra. PPT will highlight a couple of points while urging readers to consult the whole interview.

The first interesting point for us is on the amnesty:

Was it a mistake to attempt a blanket amnesty?

The intention of the blanket amnesty bill is based on to forgive (but not forget). Many countries with violent political conflicts eventually end up with amnesties as a mechanism to set the country back on track. It is not a mistake but maybe a little too naive and “off” in terms of timing and communicating to the general public.

SuranandThis is surprising. Suranand usually has a good feel for the political pulse. This response might be spin, but if it is in any way real it suggests that the Puea Thai government is out of touch with its support base. If that were the case, it would be very dangerous for the party and government. It is important that Puea Thai not take the red shirts or the voters for granted. They are comrades and supporters who expect to be heard.

Critics claim the govt let down their supporters by not reforming laws like lese majeste or not doing enough to free the Red Shirt prisoners – what would you say to them?

The government has been trying to work to free the Red Shirt political prisoners as hard as possible. Some has been released but many remained, stuck in the judicial maze. The work will need to continue. As for lese majeste, the law remains a sensitive issue in Thailand.

Excellent question and a tired and rather pathetic answer. Wouldn’t it be remarkable to hear some one in (any) government actually explain the real reasons for sensitivity on the now completely bonkers lese majeste law.

They will not go home

9 11 2013

Yesterday we asked: Will they go home? That question was followed by another: “Has the Puea Thai Party hierarchy’s foolish attempt to promote a Thaksin Shinawatra-focused amnesty bill unleashed a political fire storm that will be impossible to contain?”

The answers were pretty obvious when we asked the questions and are now very clear following a seemingly bizarre political action by the unelected, royalist, military spawn in the Senate.

Readers will recall that protesters were initially begging the Senate to vote down the flawed amnesty bill after the House passed it. But with a whiff of victory in their flared nostrils, the royalist opposition smells a chance of bringing down yet another elected government. By our count, if successful, this would be the third overturning of a legally-elected government by the right-wing royalists.

The Bangkok Post has reported that Senate failed to muster a quorum to vote down the “contentious blanket amnesty bill that could pave the way for the return from exile of former Prime Minister Thaksin Shinawatra.” They are the Post’s words, and we need to again point out that one of our oppositions to the bill was that even as a flawed bill, it did not include the victims of the draconian lese majeste law, making the Post’s repeated use of the term “blanket amnesty” simply a politicized and deliberate error.

But back to the unelected men and women of the so-called group of 40 yellow-shirted senators.

For the Senate to meet, a quorum of half the senators is required, but with “13 senators … away on overseas trips, …[and] up to 30 … in the provinces,” the boycott of the session by the unelected military spawn meant that the bill they claimed to hate could not be voted down!

Indeed, these senators, some of whom were present at parliament, simply “refused to attend the meeting.” The bill is now scheduled to meet on Monday.

Also at the Bangkok Post it is reported that the royalist senators claimed “the group was not ready for it.”

One unelected senator who was not said: “If the session can’t take place, it means some people don’t want the country to remain peaceful. They want to bring down the government…”. Another observed that “an early debate would help defuse tensions. He said it was difficult to tell what would happen if the protests continue, citing the 2008 airport seizures by the People’s Alliance for Democracy as an example.” Of course, all of the group of 40 senators have a long history of supporting PAD. And, PAD is back.

And, one more senator made an observation that PPT had in an earlier post: “the Senate delay would only exacerbate tensions over the weekend because protest leaders want to keep the momentum of their rallies going until Monday when the International Court of Justice rules on the Preah Vihear territorial dispute.” This senator added that “these [yellow-shirted] senators are working with the Democrat Party and others to box the government into a tight corner and facilitate political changes.”

“Political changes” means the ousting of this government.

The prime minister’s secretary-general Suranand Vejjajiva observed that “[c]ombining the amnesty bill with the Preah Vihear dispute would be disastrous for the country…”. At least in the first instance, this self-inflicted disaster is the government’s problem.

It will soon become the problem of the red shirts, who will again be asked to sacrifice body and soul to protect the principle of elections and representative democracy. They are the only group that the elected government can rely on with the yellow shirts mobilized.

The red shirts need to ensure that government releases all red shirt prisoners now. And, they must deal with the issue of those jailed and charged with lese majeste.

Why did the Democrat Party lose?

12 08 2011

The Democrat Party should have been humiliated by its massive election defeat. It should have been able to identify its failures and should be able to learn from them.* The increasingly rightist-royalist Bangkok Post has a brief interview with Prachuap Khiri Khan member of parliament Chalermchai Sri-on who recently replaced Suthep Thaugsuban as secretary-general of the Democrat Party. Chalermchai suggests that nothing much is likely to change for the party.

In the first place, Chalermchai claims he took his new position because re-elected Democrat leader Abhisit Vejjajiva recommended him to replace Suthep. Chalermchai says the “the party leader picked” him.

It seems that despite “having blood on his hands,” Abhisit is as far as the royalist party can currently see. The party is unable to understand that Mark’s Teflon-coating has been scratched and eroded. He is damaged and is unlikely to be seen by the electorate as a viable candidate for prime minister for some time or unless there is some major political implosion. Abhisit is to be forever associated with the military’s manipulation of politics, his puppet-like relationship with the military and the political old guard and the bloody crackdown on red shirts in 2010.

When asked why the Democrat Party lost, Chalermchai claims the “defeat holds out lessons.” What has been learned? Chalermchai says the “main reason is a lack of channels to send out messages to people. Even though we were the government, our communication channels were insufficient.We initiated policies based on reality as we saw it, but some needed time to implement.”

Chalermchai seems to ignore the most basic reasons for the party’s failure: the party is associated with military repression. The party is associated with anti-democratic actions. Chalermchai seems to think that a bit of better PR will make all the difference: “we must seek out professionals to help us work on some areas.” He then pinpoints what the real problem with the party is: “We must listen more to the voices of people around us, our party members or even the media.”

Well, yes, but it depends on who the “people around us” are. It seems to PPT that the Democrat Party has spent most of its time listening to rich bankers, right-wing royalists, old men in the palace and military leaders who believe that they live in the 1960s. All of these people are demonstrably out of touch with the people. Listening to these same people and the royalist extremists of the People’s Alliance for Democracy and those who pushed for a coup in 2006 is simply not going to work if the Democrat Party is going to take representative politics seriously.

If Chalermchai is to be believed, then nothing has been learned. That’s bad for the future of democratic politics in Thailand.

*As we finished this post, we noted Suranand Vejjajiva’s consideration of similar questions, and he’s worth reading.

Suranand on the creeping militarization of the regime

28 11 2010

Suranand Vejjajiva has a most useful column in the Bangkok Post. PPT readers will know that we have been saying similar things for a long time. However, it is a measure of growing concerns when the Post publishes such a column.

He begins by stating: “n the aftermath of the bloodless coup d’etat of Sept 19, 2006, many people _ politicians, academics, and even the military _ came to the realisation that a coup may not have been the best solution to resolve a political conflict.”

However, such lessons seem lost on army boss General Prayuth Chan-ocha. Suranand points to Prayuth’s constitutional clout:

Section 77 of the 2007 constitution stipulates that “the state shall protect and uphold the monarchy, sovereignty, independence and integrity of its jurisdictions and shall maintain necessary and adequate armed forces and ordnances as well as up-to-date technology for the protection and upholding of its independence, sovereignty, security of the state, the monarchy, national interests and the democratic system of government with the King as the Head of State, and national development.”

This provides legal leeway for the role of the military _ implicit before, but now written as a constitutional requirement that extends to military procurement. When Prayuth Chan-ocha took the helm as army commander-in-chief, he sent out signals that the role of the army under his command would be in accordance with Section 77.

If interpreted as broadly as it is written, then military could do anything under the sun.

On Prime Minister Abhisit Vejjajiva’s role, Suranand says: “Having allowed the military to manipulate him into a position of power as the prime minister, Mr Abhisit should not be surprised when the military starts flexing its powers. By not exerting his political leadership in a more democratic manner, PM Abhisit has allowed the already strong military to extend its regime over a supposedly democratic country.” He concludes: “Coups may be out of favour in this day and age, but a creeping military regime is getting creepier by the minute.”

That will likely be Abhisit’s position in future history: the man who allowed the military to reassert itself in the name of royalism.

Disingenuous regime maintains totalizing control of politics

2 07 2010

Yesterday the Democrat Party candidate for the upcoming Bangkok by-election disingenuously claimed to a Channel 7 TV reporter that he had no advantage from his Puea Thai Party opponent being in jail. That was followed by the Democrat Party and Abhisit Vejjajiva’s personal spokesman Thepthai Senapong making seemingly stupid but actually considered statements that labeled the opposition Puea Thai Party candidate Korkaew Pikulthong’s campaign slogan should be “Vote for Korkaew, Troublemaker, Terrorist, Number 4.”

The statement was meant to influence middle-class voters. At the same time, it accused a candidate alleged but not proven to have committed any crime. We know Thepthai meant the comment because he later stated that he’d say “terrorist suspect” in future. Expect more such dirty politics from the so-called Democrats as they cannot afford to lose this by-election when the opposition candidate is locked-up, can’t campaign, and has been prevented from engaging in even basic requirements of the Election Commission.

Recall that Abhisit has threatened the Puea Thai Party with all kinds of legal trouble if they say the government did anything wrong in April and May. In fact, having demanded this of Puea Thai, Abhisit should now sack Thepthai, but the usual double standards are at work.

This dirty work was followed by the prime minister launching a phone-in to get ideas about reconciliation. It seems that the Abhisit regime is interested in short ideas. Recent meetings have allowed 2-minute comments and now a phone-in, lending itself to short and unverifiable interpretation. A phone-in at least means that Democrat leaders don’t have to come face-to-face with their opponents.

Meanwhile, and as expected, the Bangkok Post reports that the “Criminal Court on Friday rejected a request for the release on bail of political activist Sombat Boonngamanong who has been charged with violating the emergency decree.” Recall that he was arrested while engaged in the heinous act of tying ribbons of remembrance at the Rajaprasong intersection but on a charge of gathering with other red shirts at Lat Phrao following the government’s bloody crackdown on red shirt protesters.

No release, no bail and further detention at the Region 1 Border Patrol Police headquarters in Pathum Thani province.

Of course, all other red shirts were also refused bail again. Keeping opponents locked up remains important to the authoritarian but still shaken regime.

In amongst all the nonsense, this is worth a read. Suranand Vejjajiva TELLS the Democrat Party what they should know but aren’t prepared to understand.

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