When the military is on top XI

15 09 2017

It’s a while since we had a “When the military is on top” post. This post is prompted by a couple of recent stories reveal more about the military dictatorship and its aims.

First, as we have noted previously, the dictatorship’s core task is uprooting the “Thaksin regime.” That task is deepening and widening. Following thoroughgoing purges and arrests, the attention to the money the dictatorship and its anti-democrat allies mistakenly believe underpins Thaksin and Yingluck Shinawatra’s electoral popularity. The latest effort has the Anti-Money Laundering Office (AMLO) and the Department of Special Investigation (DSI) seeking to bring money laundering charges against Panthongtae “Oak” Shinawatra. This is a ratcheting up of earlier efforts and a precursor to charges being laid.

Second, Prachatai reports that the new junta-written election commission law has been promulgated and means that the new election commissioners will be selected by 250 military junta-appointed senators. That decision means that the Election Commission will essentially be junta-controlled for the next 5 or so years (depending when the junta decides to hold its “election”). Should a new government not be as the junta wants it, it is likely that that government will always be under threat from anti-election election commissioners.

Third, members of “the Pheu Thai Party and the United Front for Democracy against Dictatorship (UDD) have slammed a [police reform] committee over its move to invite former protest leader Suthep Thaugsuban to give his opinions on reforming the Thai police.” Suthep, mired in long-standing corruption allegations that go back to the 1990s, when his underhanded actions brought down Chuan Leekpai’s government in 1994, is an anti-democrats as coup planner and supporter.

The “committee on police reform [has] announced it would start seeking opinions from Constitutional Court judges, mass media, former national police chiefs, and the former leader of the now-dissolved People’s Democratic Reform Committee Suthep Thaugsuban, who has also come up with reformist proposals.”

The police are seen as a nest of Thaksinites, so Suthep’s views will be important. After all, he’s been a minister, accused of corruption many times, is an “influential person” in the south, has been in the courts several times, once essentially accused of mass murder. That seems just the kind of advice the junta will want.

Can Thailand sink much deeper into the fascist slime? Under the military dictatorship, it seems it can go much deeper.

Sky Dragon dies, corruption ignored

15 09 2017

It is now an old story of military corruption, irresponsibility, saving face, commissions and so on, but worth bringing to its conclusion, at least at this blog.

Sky Dragon has been officially and secretly deflated and will presumably go to landfill or some vacant hangar (unless some military entrepreneur can work out a way to make more money from its carcass). We certainly don’t expect any “investigation” of this useless purchase.

An earlier photo when the Sky Dragon was inflated and operated

The Bangkok Post says that the zeppelin has had “eight years’ service during which time the blimp crashed once while it was mostly grounded the rest of the time as it was plagued by various defects.”

In this sense, “service” means being flat as a tack in a hangar. Its “service” was to those who got benefits from its purchase from a 1-cent company in the U.S.

The Post reports that those involved in the dirigible’s procurement plan and “operations” included General Prayuth Chan-ocha, General Prawit Wongsuwan and General Anupong Paojinda. These three now run Thailand after they murderously gunned down red shirts in 2010 and staged their military coup in 2014.

Naturally enough, these fugitives from justice (in the sense that they have impunity and an iron grip on repression, so do not need to flee), “were tight-lipped when asked by the media Thursday whether the airship was really worth the money spent and the additional amounts spent on maintenance.” The total cost is estimated to be at least 1 billion baht, including purchase, maintenance and operational costs.

There’s no need for reticence. The answer is no. It even seems that this purchase was small beans in the commissions game, so the tight lips are about saving face and protecting hierarchy for these small minded military dictators.

The decommissioning of the blimp was accidentally revealed to the media. Sky Dragon has not been in the air since 2012. It was purchased under Abhisit Vejjajiva’s regime. It is reported that:

The purchase of the controversial airship previously triggered a dereliction of duty allegation against former deputy prime minister Suthep Thaugsuban….

Citing the dereliction of duty allegation, Pheu Thai petitioned the National Anti-Corruption Commission (NACC) to impeach Mr Suthep, but the NACC later on Dec 24, 2015 dismissed the request.

That seems par for the (military) course. Only those in parties close to Thaksin and Yingluck Shinawatra seem of interest to the NACC. Certainly, as noted above, under the military dictatorship, we can’t imagine any agency wanting to investigate the bosses.

Updated: Us yes, UDD no

14 09 2017

The Bangkok Post reports that the “National Council for Peace and Order (NCPO) [the military junta] has warned [the official] red shirts against holding a press briefing planned for Thursday on ways they will pursue justice for red-shirt demonstrators affected by the deadly military crackdown in 2010.”

Junta spokesman Colonel Piyapong Klinpan said that “questions must be asked” on “whether the press event is a political activity. If that is the case, the NCPO may have to ask them not to go ahead.” The mouthpiece added that “political activities cannot be allowed during this sensitive period. Once the country’s situation returns to normal, the NCPO would ease restrictions on such gatherings…”.

Got it?

Easy, right? Even the Post gets it, observing:

The regime warning to the red shirts came despite the former leader of the now-dissolved People’s Democratic Reform Committee Suthep Thaugsuban discussing political matters with reporters in July and the People’s Alliance for Democracy holding a press conference on Aug 2 after the Supreme Court acquitted ex-PM Somchai Wongsawat and three others for the deadly dispersal of yellow-shirt protesters in 2008.

The Post is observing the double standards involved.

It might have also noticed that The Dictator denied such double standards in the justice system. At the time, we did suggest that he lied. Now one more piece of evidence affirming his lies is in place.

UpdateThe Bangkok Post reports that, despite the threats, the UDD did hold its press conference. It revealed that “lawyers will next week file a formal petition for the National Anti-Corruption Commission (NACC) to consider ‘new evidence’ regarding the 2010 crackdown on protesters.” Interestingly, red shirt leaders “said the UDD will also consider distributing information regarding comparisons of the different ways the NACC has treated legal cases involving yellow shirts and red shirts to both domestic and foreign media.”

Protecting villains

12 09 2017

In the context of The Dictator’s ramblings about “human rights” and law and “justice,” a commentary at the World Socialist Web Site on the impunity enjoyed by government officials in murdering civilians is worth reading, even if the details are well known (and a little scrambled in places).

It says that a Supreme Court ruling “ended the trials of ex-Prime Minister Abhisit Vejjajiva and his deputy Suthep Thaugsuban, who were responsible for the deadly military crackdown on mass protests in 2010 that left more than 90 people dead.”

In fact, the ending came much earlier, and this court decision merely confirmed the decisions of lower courts not to hear the case. It was the National Anti-Corruption Commission that ruled that murdering citizens “in the line of duty” was quite okay.

(In another case, the NACC pushed charges against Somchai Wongsawat and others, but these were dismissed by a court. The initial double standards should be acknowledged. So should the fact that this case did not involve the massive use of military force.)

The article notes that the NACC has a recent history of political partisanship:

Despite dozens of complaints filed by civilians and political parties since 2014, primarily centred on nepotism and corruption, the commission has dropped or arbitrarily prolonged all cases against military officials.

It is added that it is an “illusion that justice can be obtained through the NACC” by appealing the Supreme Court’s decision. It criticizes the United Front for Democracy against Dictatorship for promoting this illusion.

The report also notes that the military junta “is determined to protect Abhisit and Suthep from prosecution because a conviction could open the way for legal action against the military.”

Supreme Court confirms double standards

31 08 2017

The only standards promoted by Thailand judiciary are double standards. This has been demonstrated time and again, and most especially since the illegal 2014 military coup. (Illegal because it was unconstitutional, but ruled legal by the courts.)

Who was that who stated this?

There is no tyranny more cruel than that which is perpetrated under color of the laws and in the name of justice—when, so to speak, one is drawn down and drowned by means of the very plank which should have borne him up and saved his life.

Montesquieu was writing in the 18th century and of martial Rome, but his view matches Thailand, where a kid can be murdered by the Army and it doesn’t get to court and that Army can operate on foreign soil and enforce the disappearance of a regime enemy, presumably murdered. It is a country where even mild or hinted criticism of the regime or The Dictator warrants a sedition charge. It is a regime where opposition politicians get decades in jail for “malfeasance” where The Dictator is protected by a “law” that allows him to do anything he wants with no fear of the law.

Shooting red shirts

We could go on and on but to the point of this post. Abhisit Vejjajiva and Suthep Thaugsuban have been, in the words of Prachatai, “whitewashed” on their role in ordering two violent military crackdowns on red shirts in 2010, leaving around a hundred people dead and thousands injured.

We at PPT are not at all surprised by this. After all, all the Supreme Court was doing was confirming the double standards established by the lower courts and the National Anti-Corruption Commission.

As if to confirm how warped Thailand’s judiciary has become, on 9 June 2017, the very same Supreme Court “accepted a lawsuit against Tharit Pengdit, former director-general of the Department of Special Investigation (DSI), and three other persons” for bringing murder charges against the ruling elite’s stooges.

An AP photo from the Telegraph: Protesters surround the coffins used for the bodies of red shirts killed in clashes with troops.

Thaksin proven correct

31 08 2017

Yesterday, PPT posted on Thaksin Shinwatra’s Montesquieu tweet: “There is no crueler tyranny than that which is perpetuated under the shield of law and in the name of the justice…”.

General Prayuth Chan-ocha has responded to Thaksin’s tweet. He babbled: “Let him do it. He has tweeted it. What would you do? If you want to believe him, it depends on you. Think about it. Use your brain…”.

We assume that he is trying to say he disagrees that his regime is tyrannical and uses the law and judiciary to repress. Yet, in another report, there is this:

Junta leader and Prime Minister Prayuth Chan-ocha said Tuesday he cannot be held accountable for damages caused by actions he takes using his absolute power.

Asked if he should be responsible for the billions of baht it may cost the state to settle with an Australian mining concern he shut down by fiat last year – while his elected predecessor was held criminally and financially liable for the losses of a graft-tainted subsidy program – Prayuth said he had no such responsibility.

“Talking in terms of using the Article 44 in this country, I don’t have to be held accountable at all. I can do whatever,” Prayuth said Tuesday. “If talking in terms of arbitration law or international law, then we will have to fight the case…But when I use the Article 44, I don’t have to fear anything, because it protects me.”

He makes Thaksin’s point.

We haven’t seen any criticism of the military-loving Suthep Thaugsuban by The Dictator who praised The Dictator. Naturally enough, that’s because Prayuth agrees that he should be premier for life.

Updated: Loving and loathing the military dictatorship

30 08 2017

Yingluck Shinawatra has gone missing but politics is seeing some new life. Perhaps the two are related.

Anti-democrat Suthep Thaugsuban worked hard to get a military coup from 2011 to 2014. He claims he and The (now) Dictator worked together for some time planning the coup. He’s said several times how much he loves the military and its coup-making.

In the wake of Yingluck’s no-show and the criticism of The Dictator and the regime for, as consensus seems to have it, abetting her “flight,” Suthep has come out in support. He seems to think the Puea Thai Party has had it, and that the way “forward” is more dictatorship.

Caesar, the Prefect of the Morals, and Crassus?

Suthep declared his ongoing love of General Prayuth Chan-ocha. He reckons The Dictator is “loyal to the monarchy, has integrity and the courage to make decisions … to solve problems facing the country.”

On the other side, Thaksin Shinawatra “broke his long silence on Wednesday, with a single sentence…”. He tweeted:

“There is no crueler tyranny than that which is perpetuated under the shield of law and in the name of the justice…”.

Thaksin was citing Charles de Montesquieu. The point is clear.

Following his own exile, Thaksin linked with the nascent red shirts and saw the rise of a political movement to oppose the anti-democrats. Is he hinting at that?

For those interested, this is a longer version, from Considerations on the Causes of the Grandeur and Decadence of the Romans, written in 1734:

There is no tyranny more cruel than that which is perpetrated under color of the laws and in the name of justice—when, so to speak, one is drawn down and drowned by means of the very plank which should have borne him up and saved his life.

And, as it has never happened that a tyrant has lacked instruments for the execution of his tyranny, Tiberius never failed to find judges who were ready to condemn all whom he might suspect.

Indeed, Twitter is just a bit too short to make broader political points. And there’s more in the original:

After Caesar had vanquished the party of the republic, both the friends and the enemies which he had in the senate concurred equally in removing all the limitations which the laws interposed against his power, and in conferring excessive honors upon him. The former sought to please him, the latter to render him odious. Dion tells us that some went so far as to propose that he should be permitted to have access to all women at his pleasure. The result of this obsequiousness was that Caesar had no suspicion of the senate, and that he came to be assassinated in its presence; and a further result was, that in the succeeding reigns there was no excess of flattery which was without precedent, and which might revolt the minds of men.

Update: We had quite a bit of unclear writing in this, so we have edited.