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Another speaker, Piyarat Chongthep argued that “the rule of law has been replaced by whatever the junta dictates….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

Suthachai

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.

Sombat

Sombat

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

Jakrapob

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.”

Amsterdam

Amsterdam

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.

Somyos

Somyos

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.