2019 “election”

5 12 2017

Remember that late 2018 “election”? Even with the military dictatorship fixing the electoral rules, fixing the institutions, and likely to fix the result, that date is looking even less likely than when the junta made the announcement.

We use “fixing” in the sense of match fixing.

The Bangkok Post reports that some now predict that the “[military] regime’s possible delay of lifting the political ban could cause a general election to be postponed to 2019…”. Those saying this are “united” in that whatever their political hue, they are “civilians.”

One is former PAD leader Suriyasai Katasila. He points out, as others have, that 5 January is the “deadline for political parties to complete mandatory processes, including notifications of changes of party members to the registrar…”. Because of the ban on political party activity, they simply can’t begin this process.

One of the requirements is that by 4 April each party to find 500 members within 180 days of the law taking effect, find an initial fund of 1 million baht, call a meeting to alter their regulations, prepare their ideology, elect party executives, establish party branches and appoint branch representatives and pay the party fees…”.

The thinking is that either the military dictatorship is going to seek to hamper political parties by sticking to the deadline, while advantaging its preferred party or parties or it will later extend the deadline, thus further delaying the election.

Suriyasai says that some “political parties may lose their legal status and no longer exist if they are unable to meet the stipulated requirements within a given deadline, whether it is extended or not…”.

Chart Thai Pattana Party’s director Nikorn Chamnong agreed, saying “the only way to cope with the deadline of updating the party’s member database is to ask for an extension, otherwise the parties might have to be dissolved for failure to comply with the organic law.”

The junta’s blunt strategy is plain to see. Concoct plots, delay political activity (even under its fixed rules), weaken most political parties and stay in power as long as possible. Delaying elections (even under its fixed rules) means that the junta gets its preferred political outcome.

PAD and its bill

23 09 2017

As posted just a couple of days ago, the rightist/royalist People’s Alliance for Democracy has been ordered to pay to the Airports of Thailand Plc (AoT) for damage caused by its occupations of Don Muang and Suvarnabhumi airports in late 2008. PAD’s co-leaders were assessed as causing damages worth 522 million baht.

In that short post we suggested some reasons for skepticism on the order. The Bangkok Post now reports that PAD’s key members “will hold a meeting to discuss the compensation order.”

Suriyasai Katasila, a former PAD coordinator babbled that “the group respects the court’s ruling and is ready to face the consequences,” but then contradicted that, stating: “I still think what we did was for the public good. We were fighting against a fraudulent government at that time…”. He said the core PAD members would discuss the issue and case with their lawyers, adding that the “process of negotiating with the AoT, … as well as the legal execution and bankruptcy declaration ‘could take years’.”

His position was echoed by Maleerat Kaewka, another key PAD member, Who declared “she does not regret participating in the protest.” If she must pay, she “said she is ready for a bankruptcy filing if required but insisted that if the AoT wants to negotiate the level of compensation she is ready to do so.” Reflecting this defiance, which would land red shirts in jail for contempt, she declared: “I am ready to fight all kinds of injustice…”.

Another out for the PAD leaders was to have its supporters, many of them very well-heeled,”set up a fund to help cover the damages…”. Whatever happens, PAD remains undaunted and ever ready for a fight. The authorities remain wary of damaging them and supporters as they know they may again need their support.

Updated: Watch(ing) PAD

4 08 2017

In an earlier post we mentioned that the former members of the People’s Alliance for Democracy were angry and bitter regarding the sudden, probably temporary suspension of gross double standards by the Supreme Court’s Criminal Division for Holders of Political Positions in clearing 2008 prime minister Somchai Wongsawat and three others over their role in the attempt at clearing of PAD protesters.

The Bangkok Post reports that, after PAD core member Suriyasai Katasila called a meeting of the yellow-hued group for today to discuss what PAD might do, he’s been warned.

The first thing to note is that PAD is always said to be defunct. We have never believed this as all of the various groups that tried to bring down the Yingluck Shinawatra government were PAD clones, including the People’s Democratic Reform Committee. They were all political siblings. The second thing to recall is that the military junta dislikes and distrusts all groups that are able to mobilize people, and PAD can do that. That the red shirts can too but are not allied in any way with the junta makes them double trouble.

Deputy Dictator General Prawit Wongsuwan reportedly issued “a stern warning Thursday to yellow-shirt People’s Alliance for Democracy (PAD) demonstrators to strictly comply with the 2016 public gathering law amid speculation the group might try to stir up trouble.”

Prawit’s warning, however, seems only to relate to street protests. He seems less concerned about a PAD meeting.

Meanwhile, “Deputy Prime Minister Wissanu Krea-ngam said the National Anti-Corruption Commission (NACC) has 30 days to appeal against the court ruling as allowed by the constitution.”

PAD and its supporter’s response to this ruling is also motivated by its desire to see Yingluck locked away and/or stripped of every satang that is in her name. They fear that Somchai’s acquittal may portend Yingluck walking free. Given the attention the junta has given Yingluck’s case, we doubt that.

Update: Unlike red shirts, it seems PAD can have political meetings and disagree with Supreme Court decisions and call for “justice.”

Light yellow standards

24 07 2017

The Bangkok Post reports on yet another (partial) victory for the yellow shirts of the People’s Alliance for Democracy.

In another example of double standards and a politicized judiciary, the Appeals Court reduced “two-year jail terms imposed by the primary court for their seizure of Government House in an attempt to oust then-prime minister Samak Sundaravej in 2008.” The court declared that their illegal occupation was “not intended to benefit certain groups or their own interests…”. In other words, the judge reckons they acted in the “public interest.” This is another example of “good people” double standards.

Thus the court reduced their sentence to eight months but did not suspend imprisonment.

The PAD lawyer then declared an appeal to the Supreme Court and asked for bail for all but one of the defendants:  Chamlong Srimuang, Phibop Dhongchai, Somkiat Pongpaibul, Somsak Kosaisuk and Suriyasai Katasila. (Sondhi Limthongkul is in jail already for fraud.)

This result came almost two years after the lower court decision. Perhaps their next case will be in 2019 or 2020? SO far their sentences have been reduced from three to two years and now to eight months. We can guess that the next court will be even more sympathetic.

Regression not change

4 01 2017

We usually consider claims about “change” as implying a move forward. When we read that “Real change is coming in 2017,” we realize that change can involve regression. In Thailand, regression as change is the task of murderous and repressive military regimes.

Accepting that the promised “election” is likely to be delayed to 2018, the Post claims that 2017 “is expected to mark a major change in the political landscape…”.

One change is that the draft constitution “passed” in a “referendum,” and “submitted the  for royal endorsement” will become the “permanent” constitution in 2017. That constitution is regressive and anti-democratic.

That “change” will feel something like 1984 when General Prem Tinsulanonda was Thailand’s royalist premier, Ronald Reagan was napping in the Oval Office and Margaret Thatcher was crushing miners. Indira Gandhi was assassinated, the U.S. embassy in Beirut was blown up and Michael Jackson’s album “Thriller” sold more than 37 million copies.

Interestingly, while the draft was voted on in August, as we enter January, it is still a draft.

The story implies that royal endorsement is not guaranteed, for the king can veto it: “if the draft does not receive royal endorsement on time, it will automatically be considered rejected.” We can’t imagine a king who is close to the military doing that.

A second “change” seems to be an “event”: the deceased king’s cremation. No change there as the new king is now in place.

Another change might be the junta’s “20-year national development strategy.” No change there either, just regression to a creepy Prem-like era of military dominance and manipulation of politics, all in the monarchy’s name.

Yellow shirts like Suriyasai Katasila believe that anti-democratic regression is “change.” However, he identifies a problem: “the military regime will continue to struggle to solve political conflicts which have lied dormant since the May 22, 2014 coup.” He says that junta “has not yet come up with substantive measures to deal with political divisions, which could flare up again when the military regime steps down…”.

In other words, he believes that the junta has failed to smash the red shirts, democratic activists and pro-Thaksin Shinawatra groups.  He predicts conflict.

There hardly seems anything new in the military’s political universe, with long-term “plans,” military-dominated upper house and assemblies and the military directing and manipulating political parties. Even many of the key players being resurrected from the Prem era.

Students vs. hirelings and anti-democrats

31 05 2016

The Nation recently had an “analysis” article on the student movements against the military junta. It refers to “student groups such as Dao Din, the New Democracy Movement (NDM) and the Liberal League of Thammasat for Democracy (LLTD)…”.

It says that “[a]t first, people barely noticed them.” But then, “[s]lowly people learned more about them, and realised that their rebellion was not merely against the coup, but embraced a wider range of policies and social issues that were of concern to everyone.” The report notes how these groups have been politically innovative. They have had to be as their main opponent is the military dictatorship which has massive coercive power.

The report quotes activist Rangsiman Rome who is a key member of the NDM and who observes that the “movement has been ignited by the coup…”. He says that “the students could not tolerate abuses of power – such as tearing apart the 2007 Constitution and allowing members of the junta to go unpunished.” At the same time, they “fight for what ‘should be’ rather than accept what ‘will be’…”.

The article acknowledges that these students have been “at great risk,” but have not hesitated to rally and challenge the junta.

It is sometimes forgotten that these students were active before the 2014 coup. As Rangsiman states, “In 2013 we protested against the amnesty bill proposed by the previous [Yingluck Shinawatra] government…”. Khon Kaen University’s Dao Din student activist Panupong Sritananuwat says his “group has worked with villagers for more than 12 years. Their activities involve environmental issues and educating people on their rights to protect the community.”

The student activists argue that “across the country [students] are increasingly aware of their roles as citizens…”, with Natthisa Patthamaphonphong of the Chulalongkorn Community for People (CCP), saying that “the students wanted to demonstrate they cared about the country.”

The students also “challenged emerging allegations that their activit[ies] are insincere after people questioned whether they were sponsored by particular political factions.”

The article then gets bizarre by going to the source of such claims, reporting academic prostitute (again, apologies to sex workers) and a yellow-shirted “former activist” who has been made an “academic” in a yellow-shirted “university,” even when he lacks the usual credentials associated with academics.

The first is the decidedly slimy Panitan Wattanayagorn, described as “a long-time security lecturer at Chulalongkorn University,” which is probably a reasonable description although he spends most of his time doing tricks as “national security adviser to Deputy Prime Minister [General] Prawit Wongsuwan…” and before that being the ventriloquist’s dummy for the Abhisit Vejjajiva regime.

Panitan has probably never been an activist on anything. The best the article can do is say that he “has been close to a number of student activists…”. Perhaps he was the bagman for the military in this? We suppose that advocating the shooting down of civilian protesters counts as activism. As someone who has long been on the payroll of political masters, it is probably logical for him to declare that “it was inevitable for such questions to arise” about being “sponsored” by a political faction. Indeed, that is Panitan’s own position; he’s always sponsored by the military and right-wing royalists.

Panitan declares that “the public needed to keep an eye on youth-led movements to determine in the long run whether they are independent or not…”. He isn’t, and the public should watch him, for he’s dangerous through his connections with military thugs.

The other quotable “academic” is former People’s Alliance for Democracy co-leader Suriyasai Katasila, now transformed into a “deputy dean of Rangsit University’s College of Social Innovation…”. He isn’t a historian, erroneously comparing the students of 1973 and today’s students, saying “Today’s political condition is so complicated that students cannot straightforwardly do whatever they want, like students did in the past, in 1973…”. Clearly, he has no understanding of the conditions in 1973 that led to a corrupt military regime murdering students in the street.

We could go on, but what’s the point. These “commentators” have political axes to grind while being paternalist and denigrating the current student movements. Panitan blathered: “They should consider if their movements are appropriate and favourable for the society or not, otherwise the public will wonder about [the purpose of] the movements…”. We imagine there are no mirrors in the cheap Chula apartment he occupies.

The students in these groups have more mettle, more integrity and more principles than a herd of Panitans and Suriyasais.

Anti-democrats support junta’s constitution

28 03 2016

In a recent post on the upcoming charter referendum, PPT stated: Expect celebrities, palace-connected personalities, Sino-Thai tycoons and “statesmen” to be mobilized as happy supporters of the military junta’s charter.

What we neglected to that list was the anti-democrat contingent.

The Bangkok Post reports that “Democrat deputy leader Ong-art Klampaibul cautioned the military regime on Sunday not to force the charter drafters to make any last-minute changes to the draft to keep what remains of its legitimacy intact.”

This initially sounds like a piece of opposition to the junta. But let’s look at this a bit more closely. All he says is that no more demands should be made. In this sense he is supporting the current draft charter, the junta’s charter.

He urged people “to focus on specific issues the CDC has tried to address.” He emphasized something he thought was about “rights and civil liberties, checks and balances between the legislature and the executive, mechanisms to reign in corruption and abuse of power, the balance of powers between the three branches and the groundwork for national reforms.”

Ong-art “called on all sides to put public interest before their own when discussing the constitution ahead of the referendum.” In other words, vote for the current draft charter, the junta’s charter.

He blathers about allowing “freedom of expression to guarantee the referendum outcome, no matter how it turns out, will be acceptable.” This is the start of the process of legitimizing an illegitimate charter, the junta’s charter.

Ong-art’s comments must have resonated with “Suriyasai Katasila, deputy dean of Rangsit University’s Social Innovation College…”. (The idea that Suriyasai is a dean of anything in a university is simply bizarre, but this is PAD’s Rangsit University, a hive of anti-democrat activism.)

He supports Ong-art’s view, urging a concentration on “core elements in the constitution,” not the plans for embedding military rule (what he calls “provisional clauses on ‘special mechanisms during the transitional period’…”.)

Expect more of this.

The anti-democrats and the junta

14 03 2016

The military junta appears in more political trouble than it has been since seizing power in May 2014. Like most other military leaders who have a chance at pushing the nation about, this lot have come to enjoy the power and influence.

The junta head honchos are looking so desperate to stay in power that even their political allies among the anti-democrats are looking somewhat jaundiced – a pale yellow.

The Nation reports that the junta is getting support from its flunkies but that other (former?) allies are leaning away. It quotes Suriyasai Katasila, former People’s Alliance for Democracy co-leader, who wryly observes that the junta is “so interested” in “designing special mechanisms, namely selected senates, that the public has grown sceptical about its promises to relinquish power.”

He backs the reform agenda pushed by the son of PAD, the People’s Democratic Reform Committee,  saying the junta “should instead come up with concrete reform plans, set clear missions, steer the reforms and encourage various segments of the public to cooperate.” In other words, set the “reform” agenda and move on.

At the Bangkok Post, the deeply yellow columnist Veera Prateepchaikul lists a litany of junta demands and failures, stating:

… the proposed five-year transition period will be challenged. Sooner rather than later, the junta will realise it should stick to the original roadmap and return to the people the right to have a say in their own future.

He means an election, the very mechanism he opposed not that long ago.

Also suddenly wanting an election are senior members of the Democrat Party, renowned for both losing elections and boycotting them.

Deputy leader Nipit Intarasombat urged Constitution Drafting Committee chairman Meechai Ruchupan stick with the current draft charter and “principles.” We are not sure how Nipit would judge “principles” but he seems content with the anti-democrat “reform” agenda adopted by the CDC.

He seems worried that the military will stay on warning of “heavy public resistance if it [the CDC] gave in too much [to the junta], which would carry grim prospects for the charter referendum at the end of July.”

Another Democrat Party leader, Ong-art Klampaibul warned the junta to “listen to reason and not impose their will on the CDC.” He’s happy with the undemocratic notion of functional constituencies, “considered an indirect election, [“electing”] 200 senators from 20 social groups, 10 from each, [which] would vote across the groups to elect members of the Upper House.”

The anti-democrats seem to feel that they have a “suitable” constitution that will prevent true popular representation but fear the weight of the men in green.

Do not speak ill of the dead II

5 02 2016

The Dictator may have heartburn over the draft charter’s poor reception, but there are efforts to ensure that the draft has a chance at becoming law.

In a story at Prachatai, the military junta “has ordered academics to cancel a seminar about the draft constitution.” A bunch of yellow-shirted academics were coming together at the National Institute of Development Administration to discuss the latest charter draft. They included Komsarn Pokong, Banjerd Singkaneti, Phichai Rattanadilok Na Phuket and Suriyasai Katasila. Doing this to those who cheered the military’s coup is revealing of fraying.

In another report, it is revealed that the Election Commission “has proposed imposing penalties against people who inappropriately criticize the draft of the new constitution…”. It says that “[d]istorting details about the draft, using rude language to criticise it, or inciting people to go against it are among the activities that might face punishment…”.

A third Prachatai report has Army boss General Theerachai Nakawanich announcing that “military students [ROTC cadets] will be sent to stand at referendum polling stations to inform people about the draft constitution.” By “inform” we assume he means “propagandize for.” These students are to be trained how to propagandize for the charter, joining with the decrepit EC! At the same time, the gorilla general said that “military officers from many divisions will also be sent to communities throughout the country to foster an understanding about positive aspects of the draft constitution, especially its content dealing with anti-corruption mechanisms.” Having the thugs campaigning for the charter is the equivalent of mobsters running the mixer for cement shoes. The Bangkok Post has further details.

These are more examples of how little the military mind in Thailand understands politics, people and polls. The general is guaranteeing that no one will see the referendum as anything other than military manure.

Anti-democrats campaign for dictatorship

8 06 2015

A story at the Bangkok Post indicates something of the fervor with which anti-democrats are campaigning for the extension of the military dictatorship and the entrenchment of a Thai-style totalitarianism.

As the report states:

Opinion polls and web pages supporting “reforms before elections” have been popping up, amid criticism the campaign is an attempt to justify proposals to extend the tenure of the interim government.

The Suan Dusit poll which regularly conducts polls that are often push poll-like is one effort, asking questions that support dictatorship. It claims 75% support an extension of military dictatorship.

The poll was conducted “shortly after the two-year delay proposal was floated by a group of National Reform Council members, led by Paiboon Nititawan.”

It is also reported that “several web pages have been launched to campaign for the proposal to extend the military-led government’s tenure, and are asking the public to sign up in support.” Social media has seen a propaganda-like rash of supportive posts, some supporting General Prayuth Chan-ocha to remain The Dictator of Thailand for up to four or five years.

As the report in the Post notes,

Some political observers see the campaign as predictable and designed to reflect the view of the powerful to justify the proposal for the coup-installed administration to remain in power….

Jon Ungphakorn, a former Bangkok senator and social policy activist, has lambasted the proposed referendum on the government’s tenure, saying it is a tradition adopted by countries with an authoritarian rule.

Readers will recall that the proposal on “reforms before election” was the main demand of the anti-democrats who rallied against elected government and against elections in early 2014. That’s why the leading anti-democrat Suriyasai Katasila, a former leader of both the People’s Alliance for Democracy and  the People’s Democratic Reform Committee, both anti-democrat street anti-democrat groups, is urging the dictatorship to continue.

Major General Veerachon Sukonthapatipark, deputy government spokesman, has been quoted as stating that the Suan Dusit poll “has boosted the government’s morale…”. It doesn’t need morale, but craves some kind of manufactured legitimacy for its continuing dictatorship.