Two interesting reads

12 11 2018

For quite different reasons, PPT recommends two recent stories as worthwhile reads:

The first is a story at The Nation on the “cool responses and sometimes heated confrontation” that Suthep Thaugsuban is getting.

The second story is at Prcahatai and concerns Nattathida Meewangpla, charged with lese majeste and being a part of a “bomb plot.” This is an account of her arrests and detention, and while the English is not always easy to follow, it is revealing of much about “justice” under the military dictatorship.





All used up

8 11 2018

When the royalist establishment deemed it crucial that it oppose elected governments, it supported the creation of “movements” with allegedly “charismatic” leaders, using “civil society” to bring down those governments. Backing them were royalists from business, including the giant conglomerates, and the military.

First there was Sondhi Limthongkul and the People’s Alliance for Democracy. It drew on considerable middle class discontent with Thaksin Shinawatra and his regime but was driven by royalist ideology.

After a series of false starts, the second great “movement” was the People’s Democratic Reform Committee, led by the royalist anti-democrats of the Democrat Party and fronted by Suthep Thaugsuban.

Of course, neither movement was able to bring down the elected governments. That required military coups in 2006 and 2014.

When they had done their work, the fact of their invention by the royalist strategists of the military, business and palace was seen in the manner in which the “movements” vaporized once their usefulness was over.

And, look at the leaders. Both had a capacity to mobilize supporters and this worried many in the military. At the same time, the military knew that it “deserved” to be on top and that the upstarts they created had to know their place.

Sondhi was targeted for what was either an assassination bid or a brutal warning to know his place. No one was ever charged, but it is interesting that the media at the time suggested that both Defence Minister Prawit Wongsuwan and army chief Gen Anupong Paojinda were considered “suspects” in the Sondhi shooting.

Suthep thought he was a “star” and “popular,” but the military put him in his place following the 2014 coup, having to enter the monkhood. While Suthep is back and campaigning for his Action Coalition for Thailand (ACT) Party, it seems his “movement” has evaporated and his capacity for garnering the political limelight has been lost under the military junta. Interestingly, this return is a backflip and, according to one op-ed, not popular with his former PDRC supporters (and presumably its backers).

The op-ed continues: “… Suthep seems to have overestimated his popularity, thinking it could be on par with the backing he received from PDRC supporters during the time he led the street protests.” He was disappointed: “his recent jaunts in several areas to recruit members for the party have apparently received a cold response.” This caused “core PDRC supporter Arthit Ourairat … calling for Mr Suthep and other PDRC leaders who have joined ACT to stop their political activities.” Arthit might have poured money into the PDRC but is an ardent anti-democrat and probably is 100% behind The Dictator’s bid for extended power. Tellingly, the man who funded and funneled money to Suthep and PDRC reckons that “people ‘no longer believed them’.”

Anti-democrats want a military-dominated regime and Suthep’s usefulness, like Sondhi’s before him, is over. Suthep’s response will be interesting as his face, position and wealth depend on state links.





Rapping the military junta

5 11 2018

The mammoth number of views received by the ประเทศกูมี video – more than 28 million – has caused more international attention to the nature of the military dictatorship and its rigged election.

IHS Jane’s Country Risk Daily Report states that there is an “increased likelihood of NCPO [junta] intervention in Thailand’s political parties…”. Perhaps Jane’s has missed the fact that the junta has been doing this since 14 May 2014. Oddly, the report also believes that “civil activities raises protest risks.” We don’t see any greater “risk” – we might say “hope” – of this than at any time over the past couple of years. The report sees the rap video as evidence of considerable dissatisfaction with the military’s rule. That is true.

Prompted by the rap, Hawaii Public Radio has a short report on the junta and its repression.

CNN has a longer look at the rap’s impact, quoting Dechathorn Bumrungmuang, one the group’s co-founders: “Our main goal to set up this group is just like our name, Rap Against Dictatorship. We want to use rap songs to fight against dictators…”. CNN notes:

Under [Gen] Prayuth [Chan-ocha]’s watch, hundreds of activists have been arrested and prosecuted, political activity has been banned, and the sphere for robust public discourse has all but disappeared thanks to draconian laws that restrict online expression and increase surveillance and censorship.

Even the usually politically timid commentator Thitinan Pongsudhirak sees that the “song taps into collective and pent-up anxiety and frustration. Its lyrics are a litany of political ills and social injustice Thailand is afflicted with.”

Al Jazeera has a video report that takes up many of the same issues and is well worth viewing. Interestingly, it also shows anti-democrat Suthep Thaugsuban campaigning in Bangkok. The junta continues with its double standards.





Campaigning, monarchy and the puppet Election Commission

26 10 2018

Perhaps the news of the day is the Deputy Dictator’s seeming confirmation that he and The Dictator are indeed planning for a 24 February election.

The junta has responded to a reported clash of that (maybe) “election” date with university entrance examinations. In essence, they have told the Ministry of Education and the universities to sort out the clash. While this isn’t an official announcement, it is a kind of confirmation.

The junta remains secretive as it wants to keep all the “election” cards in its hands.

Which leads to Suthep Thaugsuban and his anti-democratic party, Action Coalition for Thailand. As we posted yesterday, ACT is actively campaigning. This seems to be in violation of the military dictatorship’s “rules” on political activity that is applied to most political parties but not the ministers-party-executives-cabinet-members-junta-minions of the Palang Pracharath Party.

Following media discussion of the double standards involved, the puppet Election Commission has mumbled something about it watching all parties. Double standards-driven members of the junta were lukewarm about ACT’s electoral campaigning but were hardly condemnatory and certainly didn’t demand the EC “investigate,” in the manner it did with another anti-junta party.

Apparently, no person has lodged a complaint with the EC about ACT. The EC’s “investigation” of Puea Thai continues.

Meanwhile, back on the campaign trail, Suthep and ACT leader, the minor prince, Chatumongkol Sonakul and 50 other party members, most from the People’s Democratic Reform Committee, went to a dead king monument – Rama I – “where they held a ceremony to pay homage to the late King and took an oath to be a party loyal to the monarchy.”

What was that about the monarchy being above politics?

ACT could not possibly swear loyalty to democracy because they are determined anti-democrats.





Updated: Doubling down on double standards II

1 10 2018

No campaigning says the military junta. The double standard is that regime-friendly outfits can campaign.

As reported recently, anti-democrat Suthep Thaugsuban of Action Coalition for Thailand Party is going out “to meet Bangkokians at a market in Bung Kum district in a bid to recruit more party members.”

That sounds like campaigning to us.

Not only does it sound campaigning, but Suthep advertised his program.

Suthep says he is “receiving the applications” for members of ACT, but he’s on the stump.

He may be pushing the junta by being so blatant, so let’s see how deep the double standards run.

Update: Not-campaigning-just-just-recruiting junta supporter Suthep was in “campaign [mode] at Pattavikorn Market in Bangkok’s Bung Kum district” where “[h]e was greeted by a group of supporters who blew whistles to show their support.” Yep, double standards rules.





On (no) elections

11 08 2018

Alan Dawson at the Bangkok Post on an important milestone for The Dictator and his “election” (no) plans:

… in Thailand, there is no election date, a lame duck Election Commission, a harshly stressed ban on all political activity even by the coup-enabling friend Suthep Thaugsuban, open harassment of loyal opposition, a system of election monitors in uproar and total lack of voter-education on completely new proportional voting while the general prime minister campaigns relentlessly with carefully picked, adoring crowds….





Anek ditched by ACT

5 08 2018

Suthep Thaugsuban, still claiming to have nothing official to do with his rightist Action Coalition for Thailand Party, has dumped ACT’s first puppet frontman Anek Laothamatas and had long-time anti-Thaksin Shinawatra activist and minor royal, the aged MR Chatumongol Sonakul “elected” leader of the party.

Anek was always a bit of a long shot, He’s been a kind of politician-cum-adviser for hire for a considerable time and has little real political experience.

Chatumongkol fits the mold for throwback parties, not only being an old man, but a royal and a former permanent secretary of the Finance Ministry and former governor of the Bank of Thailand. Exactly the kind of man needed in the 1980s.

Suthep, having no official position in ACT “chaired the meeting to elect the leader and executive committee members of the party…”.

The kamnan from the south went into political babble mode, saying “he will be steadfast in standing by the people and serving His Majesty the King and the nation,” but “vowed he will not take any position in the party, but only work with the people to build up the ACT Party.”

That seems to include running the party’s meetings, nominating the party leader, nominating all of its executive committee, ditching Anek and doing whatever he likes as “a party founder to make speeches at party forums throughout the country.” Everyone seemed to agree with Suthep.

That’s how parties ran in the 1980s – local influentials controlled everything and traded MPs for influence and money.