Junta, dictatorship, coup

23 05 2017

Since the 2014 military coup, we at PPT have regularly used the appropriate terms for designating Thailand’s current government: military junta and military dictatorship.

It seems that the junta and its dictators are uncomfortable with such terminology.

Khaosod reports that the words “dictatorship, coups and military juntas … are banned…”.

The “organizers of a two-day discussion marking the three-year anniversary of the May 22, 2014, military coup” have been told they may not speak these words.

Pro-democracy activist Chonticha Jangrew “said she was given the choice Sunday by a senior-ranking military officer speaking on behalf of the junta: Don’t speak those words or risk having the event canceled.”

This is apparently a real story not some late April Fools’ Day joke. The joke and the fools are the junta.

The organizers felt they had to agree with the order and implied threat. Showing the ridiculousness of the order, “on Sunday, the first day of the symposium, speakers resorted to raising placards printed with the words instead.”

The day after, “Chaiyan Ratchakoon, a sociologist at Phayao University in the north, circumvented the ban Monday afternoon at Thammasat University by using alternative words.”

Instead of “coup” became “illegal regime change.” Chaiyan asked: “Do we really want coercion by the use of guns? How will this differ from those who rob banks?”

Chulalongkorn University historian Suthachai Yimprasert ignored the ban. He said:

…Thailand is the only country on earth today ruled by a military dictatorship. He said the junta leaders grew up during the Cold War and still cling to that mentality. He said no one believes the promises of junta leader Gen. Prayuth Chan-ocha, who keeps postponing promised elections.

He added that “trying to ban the use of some words” was “mafia-like.”

Another speaker, Piyarat Chongthep argued that “the rule of law has been replaced by whatever the junta dictates…. We’re in a realm that we don’t quite know what’s permissible and what’s not,” adding, “[t]his is a situation where the ceiling is getting lower.”

Kornkot Saengyenpan, who also spoke, observed:

Dictators try to make us accustomed to whatever they impose, but only with limited success. We must do whatever it takes to not get used to Prayuth’s lies…. They have to go, not next year but now! We have waited for three years, and they can’t make us get accustomed to [military rule].

About 45 people attended on Monday, with another 15 being “plainclothes soldiers and police recording and observing.”

Destroying the rule of law, illegally seizing power, corruption, using torture, murdering and imprisoning the young and mopping up for a vile king are the hallmarks of Thailand’s military dictatorship.

More on the dictatorship’s repression

3 06 2014

The junta’s repression is expanding far and wide across Thai society. Over the weekend there have been a plethora of stories, posts and pleas about this. PPT tries to collect some of them below:

More people called in: The Asian Human Rights Commission has again condemned the coup, expressing concern over additional summons to report, and calls on the junta to cease its campaign of fear. The junta has demanded that 38 more persons report to the Army. According to the AHRC , the:

list includes a number of human rights defenders, activists, academics, and journalists. Jittra Kotchadet is a long-time labour rights activist and human rights defender. Tewarit Maneechay is a human rights defender and journalist for the independent media site Prachatai. Suthachai Yimprasert, a historian at Chulalongkorn University, and Kengkij Kitirianglarp, a political scientist at Chiang Mai University, are two academics who have consistently acted in support of human rights. Pranee Danwattananusorn is the wife of Surachai Danwattananusorn, a former [lese majeste] political prisoner, and she has worked to support and defend the rights of political prisoners and human rights defenders. Karom Phonpornklang is a lawyer who has defended numerous political prisoners.

Prachatai notes that its “journalist Tewarit Maneechay is included. Before joining Thai-language Prachatai in 2012, Tewarit was very active as a political activist and labour unionist at Try Arm.”

Of course, the latter is also associated with Jitra. And Jitra has given support to those accused of lese majeste.

3 fingersArrests at anti-coup protests: Prachatai reports that at least four persons were arrested “on Sunday at the anti-coup protests which were met by a large number of army and police forces around Bangkok.”  In other reports, police and undercover agents arrest an old woman for protesting. One of those arresting her wears fake press credentials. Another video showed military officers wearing red crosses arresting protesters.

Red shirts: The Financial Times had a useful report a couple of days ago on what’s happening upcountry. It says red shirts are “lying low for now,”  and writes of frustration and “stifled anger”: “We can’t fight the army with guns. But we can fight them with elections.” It reports that: “Red shirt leaders have been raided, rounded up and ‘re-educated’ by the military, sparking dismay among supporters…”.

Monarchical repression: Of course, the monarchy is a staple of military propaganda, and the current dictators think it will work again. In addition to lese majeste repression, they pour out the usual drivel that marks these cock-eyed efforts. As the dutiful state news agency reports, in the Northeast, “police will hold seminars on the importance for all Thais to show their loyalty and love for the King of Thailand, and to follow in the footsteps of His Majesty’s philosophy of Sufficiency Economy.” These fools don’t know it is 2014 and not 2006 or 1966.

These dolts will “hold seminars for the province’s local high school students to promote the importance of the Thai monarchy” and bore them to tears, but the message is: don’t fool with the royalist dictatorship. Participants will have to “be shown the great importance of Thailand’s monarch and the contribution [the king]… has done for the country.”

The seminars suggest that there is a need for the royalist dummies and cult of personality promoters “to instill into students the sense of love for their own monarch, and the responsibility each person has toward the society as a whole.” How very North Korean!

Happiness propaganda and instilling fear: Khaosod reports that, like good fascists everywhere, the junta is blathering about an effort to “return happiness.” The military dictators are  “organizing road cleanups, army-band concerts, and free haircuts for the people.” If they could get the troops off the trains and the protesters off the streets, they could probably get the trains running on time too.

But this “happiness” is enmeshed in a reign of fear, with protesters being hauled off and into a silence that is meant to instil fear in all those who think of opposing the dictatorship.

More of this nonsense, with a statist Buddhist bent, is also reported at The Nation, as if anyone believes that such Cold War propaganda is going to win the coup. The repression might be nastier this time, but the propaganda is decidedly 2006-8, the last time the dinosaur dictators grabbed power.

Academic confusion

16 02 2014

When elements of the elite get mobilized, making their usual claims about the need for (false) compromise, appointed prime ministers and “national governments,” often they have a gaggle of “academic” handmaidens ready to support them.

In the past, “academics” have often been the elite’s minions, providing “advice,” acting as “spokesmen,” or simply providing “credibility” to some nasty regimes.

So it is that another bunch of anti-democratic academics have been putting forth old and tired “solutions” for new conflicts.

At The Nation it is reported that[a]cademics are divided over whether the country should opt for an appointed PM to resolve the political deadlock…”.  That isn’t really the gist of the report, but this should be a non-question.

Any academic is is not simply beholden to the elite or a propagandist should agree with the only serious researcher amongst them,  Thammasat University political scientist Prajak Kongkiarti.

He pointed out that the “only way out is to follow democratic rules…”. He was supported by “Chulalongkorn University lecturer and constitutional expert Pornsan Liangbunlertchai” who pointed out that the rules established by the military junta-backed regime in 2007 do not allow for a non-elected or appointed premier. Of course, many on the royalist side simply ignore all rules.

Another academic pointed out: “If you don’t want elected Cabinet, the only way is to tear up the charter…”. That may not be bad thing, as it is undemocratic. However, at the moment it remains the basic law.

The “division” seems to be only the yellow-shirted ideologue and “National Institute of Development Administration (NIDA) former rector Sombat Thamrongthanyawong [who] supported the PDRC’s push for use of Article 3 and 7 to pave the way for an appointed PM.” Of course he does. He’s been on the anti-democrat stage!

His illogical argument is: “The charter writers put these articles in case a political vacuum takes place – otherwise they would not have written them…”. But there is no political vacuum, just an angry elite who want all voting to be only for their Democrat Party. If that can’t be the case, they want other anti-democratic “solutions.”

Meanwhile, at the Bangkok Post, a so-called “peace expert,” who just happened to be a “former member of the [2006 military] coup-installed National Legislative Assembly,” droned on about the “legitimacy challenges that the ruling party is facing and [which are] dragging down the whole nation…”.

Chulalongkorn University’s Centre for Peace and Conflict Studies director Surichai Wun’gaeo said Yingluck Shinawatra should “reach out to veteran politicians _ such as former Democrat Party leader Pichai Rattakul and former House speaker Uthai Pimchaichon _ rather than those within her own circle for support in creating a meaningful step towards negotiations.” Of course he would say that, but the Democrat Party leadership has rejected Bichai several times.

And this yellow-shirted “academic” wants elite-level political solutions. This is the way it has always been done, but that road should be abandoned along with other unconstitutional frameworks.

Suthachai Yimprasert, an assistant history professor at Chulalongkorn University pointed out “the impasse continues as the rival groups have not been able to overthrow her administration via the ‘traditional’ way [a coup] and a new administrative body has not emerged or been formed and state mechanisms cannot function.”

Ekachai Chainuvati, who is a Siam University law lecturer, “said it was a pity that the people had been held hostage for several months as judicial collusion with other independent agencies was complementing the PDRC’s efforts to unconstitutionally bring down the ruling party.”

The “divide” amongst academics seems between democrats and anti-democrats, with the latter simply at the beck-and-call of the anti-democratic elite.

Insulting dead kings

2 12 2013

University World News has an article considering the impact of the recent court decision that has bizarrely applied the lese majeste law to dead kings of this dynasty, effectively making the law “lese dynastie” if such a term is even comprehensible to thinking people.

The article notes that Thai academics are worried by the neanderthal ruling, although presumably not the academics who run about screaming for monarchy and for an end to electoral democracy.

Kullada Kesboonchoo Mead, a political historian at Chulalongkorn University stated:

“In the past, most history and social science academics exercised self-censorship in how they described the present monarch. The latest ruling would render all future study impossible, whether dealing with the monarchy only in the present or in the past…”.

It seems to PPT that the ruling is not meant to deter historians who lavish treacle on the present dynasty and dance for their royalist masters, much like monkeys dancing for the organ grinder. It is only meant to deter serious scholars seeking to reveal the truth of Thai history.

Kullada, author of well-known English-language study, The Rise and Decline of Thai Absolutism, “said the ruling directly affected her work, which looks at past monarchies.” As she prepares a Thai-language version, she has been advised that the book “should be reviewed to ensure it complies with the wider interpretation of the law.” We doubt that it would pass given that the recent court ruling was made on comments that alluded to well-known historical circumstances about the existence of slavery.Locked books

Kullada revealed that:

the Thai studies programme at Chulalongkorn University had banned her book, along with those of Somsak Jeamteerasakul and Suthachai Yimprasert, Thai historians known for their critical research on the Thai monarchy.

Is there no end to the royalist stupidity at Chulalongkorn University. Are the administrators all yellow-shirted to the extent that they have forgotten what it means to be an academic and to seek truth and expand knowledge? It seems not.

While the authorities may not choose to enforce the new understanding of lese dynastie, the chill it creates set back serious scholarship in Thailand about several decades. The royalists want a new dark age in Thailand, filled with half-truths, careful omissions and complete lies.

In all of this, the stunning silence from the palace means that they condone academic feudalism.

Listen to them

31 10 2013

Pravit Rojanaphruk’s little story in The Nation on red shirt opposition to the ill-conceived amnesty bill deserves to be read and considered, especially by those at the top of the Puea Thai Party government. All that follows until the final paragraph is snipped from Pravit’s article:

Suthachai Yimprasert


The move is being loudly opposed by activists and intellectuals in the red-shirt camp, such as Thammasat University historian Somsak Jeamteerasakul, political scientist Sirote Klampaiboon, Chulalongkorn University historian Suthachai Yimprasert and former Thammasat University rector Charnvit Kasetsiri to name a few.

Separately, Red Sunday group leader Sombat Boonngam-anong … is calling on more red-shirt supporters to … make their voices heard.

… Somsak said the loss of nearly 100 lives in 2010 would be “in vain” if the blanket amnesty bill were pushed through.



Red-shirt lese majeste detainee Somyos Prueksakasemsuk … said both the Pheu Thai Party and Thaksin Shinawatra would be making “a foolish move”, akin to “digging one’s own grave”, if they continued pushing for the bill.



Jakrapob Penkair, a former Thaksin aide and ex-PM’s Office Minister who is living overseas to evade lese majeste charges [PPT understood the charges had been dropped??] , earlier this week posted a message on Facebook calling on the ruling party not to betray those who struggled for democracy and the future generation.

Meanwhile, Thaksin’s lawyer, Robert Amsterdam, who enjoys a large following on Twitter, tweeted on Monday: “The proposed blanket amnesty provides absolutely no benefit… I am deeply saddened by Pheu Thai’s position.”



Red-shirt leader and MP Weng Tojirakarn said yesterday that three red-shirt MPs would abstain from voting in the second reading of the amnesty bill. He explained that this abstention was necessary for two reasons: to not confuse people about the red’s stance on the issue and to not lend support to the opposition Democrat Party.



These people are not engaged in a war to bring down the government and nor are they disgruntled opponents. Many have given much to the red shirt cause and the fight for democracy. We count four who have gone to prison for the red shirt cause and one living in exile amongst this group of people sympathetic to red shirts.

Listen to them!

Release all political prisoners

28 01 2013

The “29 January United Front for the Release of Political Prisoners” is launching a campaign demanding that all political prisoners be released regardless of which political faction they belong to. Led by Suda Rankupan from Chulalongkorn University, the group claims 10,000 supporters, and is linked to anti-coup groups and political reformers such as Nitirat and academics like Somsak Jeamteerasakul, Suthachai Yimprasert and Pichit Likhitkitsomboon.

Suda says the group is actively campaigning for lese majeste and other political prisoners and correctly points out that: “The death of [lese majeste victim] Ampol [Tangnopakul] in prison demonstrates the cruelty of the country’s justice system…”.

Suda knows that “her group is pushing the government to take a political risk, [but] she said it had the responsibility to help people who support it.” She is absolutely right!

Updated: Red shirts and 24 June

22 06 2012

PPT is sure that most readers will appreciate the significance of 24 June 1932. For those wanting a Wikipedia backgrounder, see here and here. Readers probably also know that red shirts are going to rally on 24 June – Sunday – and that the choice of date – the 80th anniversary of the 1932 Revolution – is no accident.

Pravit Rojanaphruk at The Nation has an article that summarizes some of the thinking. PPT won’t detail all of the article, just highlight a couple of points.

Pravit begins by noting that:

On Monday this week, a group of Thammasat and Chulalongkorn University students wearing pseudo-1930s military uniforms gathered in front of Army Headquarters to urge the military to stop staging coups d’etat for good.

What a great idea! Of course, it is not a little ironic that the military once considered itself as the protector of the 1932 changes, and now considers itself the protector of the monarchy.

Memorial of the Revolution on the Royal Plaza: “…ณ ที่นี้ 24 มิถุนายน 2475 เวลาย่ำรุ่ง คณะราษฎร ได้ก่อกำเนิดรัฐธรรมนูญ เพื่อความเจริญของชาติ”; “…here, in the dawn of 24 June 1933, the Khana Ratsadon has brought forth a constitution for the glory of the nation” (From Wikipedia)

Pravit also reminds us that it was two years that the red shirt June 24 Democracy Group led by the now jailed lese majeste accused Somyos Prueksakasemsuk, ” called for the re-designation of June 24 as National Day…”.

The reason for the call is the recognition that in 1960 the royalist military dictator Field Marshal Sarit Thanarat ditched 24 June as National Day in an ideologically-driven decision to make the current king’s birthday, 5 December, the National Day.

This was a clear denigration of the overthrow of the absolute monarchy as Sarit continued the royalist restoration as remembrances of the historic event of 1932 were gradually erased.

On the linking of red shirts and 24 June, Chulalongkorn University historian Suthachai Yimprasert argues that:

After the coup, people recognised that democracy was under siege and they went back to search for the meaning and origin of democracy [in Thailand]. Events [commemorating] June 24 have grown bigger year by year [since the 2006 coup],” said Suthachai. He added, however, that all activities related to the day have been organised by private groups and citizens, in contrast to the period between 1938 and 1960, when they were organised and celebrated by the state as National Day.

Pravit points out that one of the few physical reminders of 1932 is “the modest bronze plaque [see above] marking the spot where the June 24 revolt took place, set in concrete in the ground at the Royal Plaza…”. There have been attempts in recent years to stop people gathering at this plaque.

That red shirts see links between their struggle and that of 1932 is deeply troubling to royalists, not least because they have spent decades trying to erase the event, and now the red shirts inject it with new meaning.

Update: Readers might also enjoy this rendition of the 24 June National Day song, which is virtually never heard today.

Ji on defending democracy

11 10 2010

Ji Ungpakorn sends this open letter to Education International, an international federation of unions in the educational sector:

Fred van Leeuwen,

General Secretary,

Education International,

5 boulevard du Roi Albert II,

1210 Brussels,



Dear Sir

It has come to my notice that Educational International is to hold the “First World Women’s Conference” in Bangkok, Thailand, in January 2011.

I understand that Educational International represents teachers in schools and universities all over the world and that you defend freedom and Democracy. Yet Thailand is not a Democracy. I am a university lecturer in politics. I worked at Chulalongkorn University in Bangkok. In February 2006 I was forced to go into exile in the U.K. because I wrote an academic book criticising the 2006 military coup in Thailand. I was charged with lese majeste. Last year I was made an honorary member of English PEN, the writers’ organisation. Recently my colleague, Dr Sutachai Yimprasert at the Faculty of Arts, Chulalongkorn University, was arrested by the military because he opposed the military-installed government. He and I have never been involved in any violent actions. At present, Ms Darunee Charnchoengsilpakul is serving an 18 year prison sentence merely for making a public speech which criticised the King.

Recently, Ms Chiranuch Premchaiporn, web manager of the only independent Thai online newspaper Prachatai, was arrested for the second time on 24th September 2010, at Bangkok’s international airport. Ironically she was returning from the “Internet Liberty 2010” conference in Hungary. According to FACT (Freedom Against Censorship Thailand http://facthai.wordpress.com/) the charges against her under the computer crime law and lese majeste mean that Ms Chiranuch is facing 50 years in prison for comments she did not create. She is accused of not removing comments placed on the web-board quickly enough for the censors.

Thailand is being ruled by a repressive military regime fronted by military appointed civilian Prime Minister Abhisit Vejjajiva. Between April and May this year government soldiers deliberately shot and killed almost 90 unarmed pro-democracy demonstrators in Bangkok. Among the dead were emergency paramedics and foreign journalists who were systematically shot by army snipers. The level of censorship of all media and the numbers of political prisoners in Thai jails is unprecedented. The Emergency Decree, which is still in force in Bangkok, gives unlimited powers to the military. University authorities have been told to monitor all student meetings.

In January 2010 Human Rights Watch reported that “in Thailand, there were growing crackdowns on protesters and other critics, including intensive surveillance of the internet, a failure to curb abuses by security forces in responding to the long time insurgency in the south, and serious breaches of the country’s obligations to protect refugees and asylum seekers.”

In a submission to the 14th session of the Human Rights Council in May 2010, the Asian Legal Resource Centre (ALRC) described the use of arbitrary orders for interrogation of civilians in army camps and other facilities under emergency regulations…

In a white paper released by international lawyer Robert Amsterdam, he stated that “for four years, the people of Thailand have been the victims of a systematic and unrelenting assault on their most fundamental right — the right to self-determination through genuine elections based on the will of the people.”

In the light of this, I sincerely hope that you will reconsider your decision to hold your meeting in Bangkok in January 2011. Thai women can never have equality so long as they do not have freedom and Democracy and at present Thai educators do not have academic freedom.

Yours sincerely,

Giles Ji Ungpakorn


Defending the indefensible

24 08 2010

Dean of the Faculty of Political Science at Chulalongkorn University, Charas Suwanmala, while admitting that he has received his information from the lecturer involved, is reported by Prachatai to have defended  Weerasak Krueathep’ s decision to prevent students from demonstrating at an event meant to celebrate the anniversary of the establishment of the Faculty with Prime Minister Abhisit Vejjajiva as a guest. PPT’s earlier post is here. Of course, Abhisit attended an overseas university, not the royalist Chula.

According to a Matichon report cited by Prachtai, Charas said that “Weerasak did not overreact” when he ripped posters away from students, and also contended that this action was “reasonable, and not in violation of the rights of the students.”  In fact, he was doing his job as an organizer of the event and ensuring that it “went smoothly.” Weerasak seemed convinced that the naughty students would have signs that “would contain vulgar messages like those of the red shirts, so he seized them.” It seems pretty clear that Weerasak was simply worried that students carrying any kind of red shirt message would embarrass the premier, himself and the royalist university.

The Dean went further, insisting that Weerasak would not suppress students’ freedom of expression.  The point is that he did. Charas the adds that his Faculty “has been open for all colours.”  In fact, he says, “open, more than any other university…”. His claim that Weerasak would have let the students protest if he’d been made aware in advance of all the details seems lame.

Weerasak admits that the “PM’s security team alerted him to a group of students standing among students he had organized to greet the PM.  The group carried folded placards in their hands.  He approached them and asked to see the placards.  He had to repeat the demand, but the students tried to walk away. So he snatched the placards, but not by force.” [snatch: v. to make a sudden effort to seize something]

Dean Charas is dissembling. He has a well-known reputation as a staunch yellow-shirted academic. In April he joined with royalists including Police General Vasit Dejkunchorn, in rounding up other yellow shirts, including fellow Chula academic Tul Sitthisomwong, in demonstrating against red shirts by dressing in royalist pink. Vasit and Charas are reported to have sworn an oath before the statue of King Rama VI to protect the nation [from nasty red shirts]. Their crowd chanted royalist slogans, sang royalist songs and demanded that Abhisit not dissolve the House, which was the only red shirt demand at the time. Leaflets claiming Thaksin Shinawatra had defamed the king were also distributed.

Also in April, Charas joined with other royalist academics such as People’s Alliance for Democracy ideologue Chai-Anan Samudvanij, Pramual Wirutamasen, dean of the Faculty of Medicine at Chulalongkorn, Sombat Thamrongthanyawong, rector of the National Institute of Development Administration and royalist ideologue Pramote Nakhonthap in attacking red shirts. And as to his ideas about freedom and democracy, in July, Charas talked about democracy (see here). Charas makes it clear that democracy, while a noble goal, is potentially dangerous. Not least when vote-buying looms so large (at least in his mind).

In other words, given his track record, it is predictable that Charas would support a fellow yellow-shirted academic. If readers think us unfair, ask these questions: 1. What support did Charas provide for his colleague Ji Ungpakorn, harassed in his publishing and then chased into exile by royalist claims of lese majeste?; and 2. How vocal was Charas in supporting his colleague Suthachai Yimprasert when he was arrested on flimsy charges under the draconian emergency decree? It is clear that Charas has double standards.

Suthachai and Somyos, again

20 08 2010

PPT readers will recall that we posted several times on the cases of Chulalongkorn University professor Suthachai Yimprasert and red shirt activist and journalist Somyos Prueksakasemsuk, both arrested and held without charge for varying lengths of time under the Abhisit Vejjajiva regime’s emergency decree. We posted on Suthachai’s release here and there are several links to earlier posts there. We posted on Somyos here, here, here, here and here.

Readers might have thought that these cases would have been finished. However, as The Nation reports that is not so. Nang Lerng police have reportedly recommended that both men be charged with violations of emergency rule. The case is the same one that had them arrested in May: “In their report submitted for prosecution review, police said history lecturer Suthachai Yimprasert and journalist Somyos Prueksakasemsuk had violated the state of emergency by leading a public assembly of more than five people ‘with the aim to incite disturbances’. The incident happened on May 21 at the office of the Ban Lek Thi 111 Foundation, set up by 111 banned Thai Rak Thai Party executives. The two suspects are accused of trying to rally people to act in defiance of the authorities in the face of the violent end of the red-shirt rally, which took place on May 19. Public prosecutors are expected to decide whether to indict and try the two on October 28.”

Of course, as PPT has pointed out previously, there is a massive double standard at work, for the People’s Alliance for Democracy has been permitted to rally several times despite the existence of emergency rule. Even Prime Minister Abhisit Vejjajiva attended and spoke at one of these rallies. But, then, as Deputy Prime Suthep Thaugsuban has helpfully pointed out, regime allies like PAD are treated with a different standard.

We cited Suthep as saying that failing to arrest demonstrators led by the People’s Alliance for Democracy was not a double standard because Suthep had “checked with the authorities and was informed that they had properly complied with the laws when dealing with the PAD-led protesters.” Suthep added: “that although the yellow-shirt protesters violated the rally ban in Bangkok, they had not yet violated four prohibitions, including obstructing traffic.”

The main point seems to be that red shirts are banned and attacked under the emergency decree while government supporters can do as they please. As we have said before, doubles standards are the regime’s only standards.

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