“Election” readiness II

22 07 2017

In an earlier post PPT, commented that preparations for the military junta’s election were moving along and that the signals for this were getting stronger. They included the anti-Election Commission that the junta could arrange its election sometime from August 2018. Another signal were the efforts to neuter the Shinawatra clan and Puea Thai Party, with the cases against Yingluck Shinawatra is drawing to a close next month.

The Bangkok Post reports that other cases at the Supreme Court’s Criminal Division for Holders of Political Positions are scheduled for rulings with “three major cases involving politicians from the Pheu Thai Party” also scheduled for next month.

One is Yingluck’s case. A second case “involves a group of 28 people including former commerce minister Boonsong Teriyapirom and former deputy commerce minister Poom Sarapol. It deals with their involvement in government-to-government rice sales to China.” All are from the Yingluck government that was thrown out by the 2014 military coup.

The third case, set to be ruled on 2 August, involves a set of senior figures associated with the pro-Thaksin People’s Power Party government from 2007-08. Included are former prime minister Somchai Wongsawat, former prime minister Chavalit Yongchaiyudh, who was deputy prime minister in charge of security under then premier Somchai and two senior policemen of that period.

They are on trial for their roles in the crackdown on the People’s Alliance for Democracy which had had its protesters lay siege to Government House from 20 June 2008, seeking to force the pro-Thaksin elected government out of office. Despite a court order for the eviction of protesters, the siege continued. To bring further pressure on the government, PAD laid siege to parliament, to prevent Somchai from making a legally required policy speech in the assembly. On 7 July 2008, police announced that they would use tear gas and clear protesters. Clashes continued for several hours, with two deaths and 471 people injured. One of the deaths was a PAD supporter who accidentally blew himself up.

Students of Thailand’s double standards will recall that former premier Abhisit Vejjajiva, his deputy Suthep Thaugsuban and General Anupong Paojinda were charged with malfeasance and murder for their crackdowns on red shirt protesters in April and May 2010 resulting in a 100 deaths and thousands of injuries. Several courts denied that they had jurisdiction, the National Anti-Corruption Commission ruled they had acted lawfully and the case did not go to the Supreme Court’s Criminal Division for Holders of Political Positions.





The (in)justice system at work

27 06 2017

The “justice” system continues to operate in the interests of some and discriminates again others. It is a system that ensures injustice in Thailand. Far from the claims made by the military dictatorship, there is no notion of blind justice and it is a nonsense that “everyone must adhere to the law.”

In late September 2014, 72 year-old Arkaew Saelew died. He was shot in front of IT Square shopping mall in Laksi district on 1 February 2014, the night before the 2 February polls that the anti-democrats opposed. He had been confined to hospital for seven months after a bullet to the neck shattered his nerve system and paralysed him from the neck down.

He was shot as anti-democrat protesters supporting Suthep Thaugsuban sought to block the election by besieging the Laksi District Office, where poll ballots and other equipment were stored, prompting pro-government demonstrators to stage a counter rally. Arkaew had joined those supporting an election.

In a brief battle between the twos sides, pro-election demonstrators were pinned down by anti-government militants equipped with automatic rifles and bullet-proof armor. The anti-democrat gunmen were organized in military style and were careful to collect bullet casing and were cheered by the anti-democrats. Four people were seriously injured in the shooting.

At the time, anti-democrat co-leader Issara Somchai admitted that the shooters on that day belonged to his lot, saying that the man who fired a gun hidden in a popcorn bag was their man. When he was arrested, shooter Vivat Yodprasit stated “still loves and respects PCAD [Suthep’s PDRC] leader and monk Buddha Issara as ‘his own father’ and is relying on the monk to provide him with legal assistance.” He worked as a PDRC “guard.” Vivat said he worked protecting Suthep [opens a PDF].

Initially he confessed in great detail, then withdrew that, but was still convicted. Now an Appeals Court has “dismissed the charges against a suspect known as the ‘popcorn gunman’ accused of attempting to murder red shirt protesters in February 2014.” After he was convicted he also admitted to a journalist that he was a shooter at Laksi.

Initially indicted on more than ten charges “under the Criminal Code, the Gun Control Act, the Emergency Decree, and the Civil Code, for attempted murder and carrying weapons in public,” he got 37 years in jail. The “Appeal Court dismissed the charges, citing weak evidence.”

Although the charges against Vivat were dismissed by the Appeals Court, “the court did not release him. He will be kept in detention while the prosecution appeals to the Supreme Court.”





2010 military crackdown report

21 06 2017

In a post at New Mandala that almost slipped by, Kwanravee Wangudom reports that an English-language edition of Truth for Justice, consisting of six selected chapters from the mammoth Thai-language fact-finding report by the People’s Information Centre, is available.

The 300+ page report can be downloaded as a PDF at the PIC website.

The earlier 1300+ page Thai report can also be downloaded.

The Thai version was published in Thai in 2012. The English version was edited by Kwanravee.

PIC’s report “is produced in the hope that it will stimulate a wider global discussion on truth, justice and reconciliation in the deeply-divided Thai society, and perhaps elsewhere.”

It might even cause some rethinking about the murder of citizens by military leaders who now run the dictatorship. It might also cause some rethinking about the manner in which the leaders such as Abhisit Vejjajiva and Suthep Thaugsuban have not be held responsible.





Washing away the blood

12 06 2017

There’s no debate. In April and May 2010, the Abhisit Vejjajiva regime ordered troops to clear red shirt protesters. Those military actions left about 100 dead and thousands injured. Almost all of the dead were civilians.

Abhisit’s then deputy  Suthep Thaugsuban says he gave the orders. That a prime minister shirks responsibility for the work of his government is a clear statement of Abhisit’s gormless egoism. In any case, it means little in a context where the regime had established the Centre for the Resolution of Emergency Situations as a collective organization for making decisions on the crackdowns. As premier, Abhisit established CRES and was part of it while Suthep was its director.

Other members included then Defense Minister General Prawit Wongsuwan, now Deputy Dictator, then Army boss General Anupong Paojinda and former Department of Special Investigation boss Tharit Pengdit. Its secretary was the notorious fabricator, Thawil Pliensri.

The Army, Abhisit and Suthep have repeatedly claimed that soldiers weren’t responsible for any deaths, blaming “men in black.” This despite the fact that, for example, courts finding soldiers responsible for many of the deaths and that more than 100,000 live rounds were used in 2010, with more than 2,000 sniper rounds used.

The Abhisit and Suthep denial of responsibility has gone on for years and the “justice” system has agreed with them, kind of. The “justice” system has said they gave “legal” orders.

Prachatai reports that the Supreme Court “has accepted a lawsuit against a former chief investigator who dared to accuse Abhisit and Suthep of murder for ordering the bloody military crackdown on anti-establishment red-shirt protesters in 2010.”

That “investigator” is the eel himself, the former DSI boss, Tharit. Since the 2014 coup, the junta, royalists and the elite have vigorously gone after Tharit for his perceived betrayals.

The accepted lawsuit is against Tharit and his deputies and a couple of investigators. It is stated that the “four comprised the team tasked with investigating the violent crackdown on the United Front for Democracy Against Dictatorship (UDD) demonstrators, the main red shirt faction, between April-May 2010.”

Now that the “justice” system dismissed all charges against Abhisit and Suthep, often based on false evidence, including from Thawil, those two Democrat Party bosses and supporters of two military coups are seeking restitution of their “reputations.” They accused the DSI team of “corruption and propagating false accusations against them, claiming that the DSI did not have the authority to investigate the crackdown in the first place.”

Both the Court of First Instance and the Appeal Court dismissed charges against the four, but the Supreme Court has done its job and agreed to hear the “case.”

Given that almost everyone involved in the murderous crackdowns is a part of the military junta or worked hard to promote its coup, that the “justice” system supports them should be no surprise. After all, Thailand has double standards precisely to serve the interests of the great, the “good” and the wealthy.

We can now expect that the Supreme Court will continue to punish Tharit and launder the blood from the clothes of those who ordered the murderous crackdown.





Updated: Anti-democrats united and Democrat Party disunited

2 06 2017

The moves against (anti-) Democrat Party leader Abhisit Vejjajiva are gathering some pace as the anti-democrats in the People’s Democratic Reform Committee, described by The Nation as “supposedly defunct,” seeks to take control of the party leadership. The report states that “the party’s future is unclear as key players are split on whether Abhisit Vejjajiva should remain the party leader.”

PPT has said several times that Abhisit is tainted goods in terms of elections. He ordered the murderous crackdown in 2010 but has not been able to develop the relationship with the military and its dictatorship that marked the cooperation between the former deputy and PDRC leader, who takes responsibility for the bloody attack on red shirts, Suthep Thaugsuban.

Suthep is far happier to get into bed with the men in green and canoodle with them than Abhisit, who sees himself as being too “virtuous,” “good” and “great” for that kind of relationship.

Interestingly, The Nation and the Bangkok Post diverge in their reporting of a meeting between anti-democrats of the PDRC and the Democrat Party. The Post emphasizes the coming together of the groups while The Nation is focused on Abhisit’s tenuous position and differences.

PDRC core leader, Thaworn Senniam now claims that the Democrat Party members who joined the PDRC are still with the party or never left it, at least in spirit. He said:

he wanted to make it clear that in their fight against the “Thaksin regime”, nobody had resigned from the party, refuting reports that said “they were returning to Democrat Party again”.

“We have always been Democrats up to the present,” the former PDRC leader said. “We joined, also with the Democrat Party, the fight against the blanket Amnesty Bill and we won.”

Going forward, he said the PDRC and the Democrat Party were united. (We already knew that.) He observed that the anti-democrats would:

First, … remain united in following the road map towards an election. Second, they shared the same ambition of achieving reforms within one year after the Constitution was promulgated.

Where the radical anti-democrats differ is that they don’t want an election. Suthep has made that clear. He’d rather stay in bed with the military in a consummated relationship based on the fear of Thaksin Shinawatra and a hatred of people’s sovereignty.

Update: The Democrat Party is now consumed by internal disputes as the PDRCistas seek to take control of the party. Abhisit is likely to be seen out the door, not least because the PDRC’s allies in the junta want him out for an “election,” should they decide to hold one. That said, Abhisit has so few principles and such a desire for prestige and power that he could easily do a deal with all the devils.





Further updated: Bombs, “elections” and anti-democrats

27 05 2017

No diehard anti-democrat wants the military junta to hold an “election,” even one that is fixed in a way that allows the military to continue to control politics for years to come.

At the Bangkok Post, Surasak Glahan admits to being

mystified by [anti-democrat] Suthep Thaugsuban’s plea last week for Prime Minister and NCPO [junta] head Gen Prayut Chan-o-cha to keep the top job for five more years without the need for elections. He must have drunk himself in oblivion, I thought, as critics and even some supporters of the regime started to voice their rebukes over its failure to deliver in key areas, from the economy to so-called national reform, security to happiness-making, as the NCPO marked its third anniversary on Monday.

But then, when trying to wear the hat of either the military or one of its No.1 cheerleaders like Mr Suthep, who led street protests in 2013-2014 that gave the pretext for the coup, I began to realise that the NCPO has delivered numerous achievements.

He goes on to list these “achievements”:

… there has been drastic political reform. A new constitution was drafted by accidental hero jurists, appointed by the military, and smoothly passed in the [rigged] referendum last year.

The new charter will entrench the military power for at least five more years, allowing it to select 250 senators who will be much more powerful than their predecessors.

Decentralisation has been compromised. Elections of local administrators have been frozen.

The charter and several NCPO orders have lurched Thailand backward into a political system applied four decades ago…. If you are nostalgic about the past, now it is your chance to live it.

… military-appointed lawmakers … know best what needs to be drafted to govern the ways we live without having to consult us or seek the nod from our representatives. Notably, they have invented and revised laws to save us from cyber crimes and other security threats. We just have to sacrifice our privacy and risk being branded as criminals.

The most outstanding … victory was its ability to successfully remove all the hurdles put up against the 36-billion-baht submarine procurement plans by previous elected governments.

The list is long and I have to stop here before feeling suffocated.

You get the picture. More and more military rule and political repression.

The prospect of the military staying in power for years also means that military factionalism is assured. Military factionalism is probably linked to recent bombings.

Yet the military is blaming others. So are the anti-democrats who see the bombing as an opportunity to extend military rule. For the military and the anti-democrats, as allied groups, the “natural” enemy is anyone considered Thaksin Shinawatra-related.

So Ko Tee or Wuthipong Kachathamakul is named. Naturally enough, he denies it and he “condemned those who were involved in the hospital explosion.” He adds that he “would have bombed Government House, not a hospital…”. His view is that the culprits are in the military.

That said, Ko Tee sought another opportunity to anger the bears in green, poking them with a claim that “he is mobilising resistance against the government.” He says these are “civilian warriors” training in the jungle. But, he says, his group is small and not yet ready to attack the “bandits [junta] out of the country…”.

**The other supposedly anti-regime “suspects” are a couple of former generals in their 70s and 80s, associated with Thaksin.

**Neither General Prayuth nor General Prawit Wongsuwan seem to have been particularly to be involved in cabinet discussions and considerations of the bombing. Indeed, that both have been away from Bangkok speaks louder than words.

Bombs might be about army factionalism yet the general interest of the anti-democrats and military is retained: no elections.

Update 1: We managed to garble a sentence or two and have rewritten and marked this with **.

Update 2: PPT was struck by a single line in an op-ed by Bangkok Post editor Umesh Pandey:

One has to consider who is the real beneficiary of these kinds of unrest. Is it the people who are looking forward to elections or is it the people who want to hold on to power?





Updated: Remembering and anti-remembering

20 05 2017

The military junta tried to prevent all commemorations of deaths and injuries resulting from its murderous 2010 crackdown. The photos below are of Rajaprasong, where the military and police closed off public areas, fearful of commemorations.

Despite this, there were small events, as shown here:

Another commemoration was disrupted by official thugs.

Update: Khaosod also has a story on the junta anti-remembering. But even they have faulty memories, forgetting who was army boss at the time.

The main point is that on 19 May 2010, then prime minister Abhisit Vejjajiva and his deputy Suthep Thaugsuban ordered then-army chief General Anupong Paojinda  to clear out remaining protesters. General Prayuth Chan-ocha led the operation. In it, 41 civilians died on that one day, and one soldier was killed by friendly fire. Another 60 had dies in events leading up to the clearance over April and May. Then, as the report succinctly reports it:

Four years later on May 22, 2014, Prayuth staged a coup to seize power from the elected government and installed himself as prime minister.