2006 as royalist coup

19 09 2018

2006 coup

It is 12 years since the military, wearing yellow tags, rolled its tanks into Bangkok to oust Thaksin Shinawatra, the Thai Rak Thai Party government and to wind back the Thaksin revolution.

Thaksin had a lot of faults and made many mistakes. His War on Drugs was a murderous unleashing of the thugs in the police and military that should not be forgiven.

But his big mistake was being “too popular” among the “wrong people.” TRT’s huge election victory in February 2005 was an existential threat to the powers that be. Their final response, after destabilizing the elected government, was to arrange for the military to throw out the most popular post-war prime minister Thailand had known. And, the palace joined the coup party.

2006 coup

But getting rid of the so-called Thaksin regime and his popularity was too much for the somewhat dull guys at the top of the military and the palace’s man as prime minister was typically aloof and hopeless. He appointed a cabinet full of aged and lazy royalists who misjudged the extent of Thaksin’s popularity. The 2007 election proved how wrong the royalists were about the Thaksin regime being based on vote-buying and “policy corruption.”

So they ditched out another prime minister and then another elected government, this time relying on the judiciary. Then they killed red shirts.

But still Thaksin held electoral sway, this time via his sister Yingluck. And she had to go too, replaced by the knuckle-draggers of the current military dictatorship.

Meeting the junta

12 years on, PPT felt that our best way of observing the anniversary of the military-palace power grab is to re-link to the Wikileaks cables that reflect most directly on that coup. Here they are:

There are more cables. As a collection, they provide a useful insight as to how the royalist elite behaved and what they wanted the embassy to know.

Fear the people III

11 09 2018

Quite some time ago, PPT posted a lot on the fear the military junta feels (for example here, here, here, here, here, here, here, and here). Interestingly, the junta now confirms its fear of the people if they are unshackled.

As Khaosod reports it: “The powers that be who’ve bottled expression and dissent for five years fear the resumption of regular political life…”.

This comes from none other than junta lackey and Deputy Prime Minister Wissanu Krea-ngam who stated “that the reason the military regime hasn’t lifted the ban on political activities is because the ruling junta known as the National Council for Peace and Order is ‘afraid’.” He didn’t say what the junta is afraid of, but it is pretty clear that there are many fears: republicanism, separatism, losing positions of bigness, losing face, being shown to be corrupt, seeing Thaksin again, and so on.

But it is clear that the main fear is of the people being able to speak and think more freely. This is why the junta wants to hang on. Others say:

Pro-democracy activist Rangsiman Rome said it’s simple: prosecution. Should junta leader Gen. Prayuth Chan-ocha fail to retain power after the election, Rangsiman said its self-indemnification for overthrowing the government in 2014 could be overturned.

“They also know that they are on the way down. Many people are talking about taking revenge on them,” Rangsiman said by phone Monday.

We think there’s much in this. The junta bosses are notoriously thin-skinned.

Another activist, Nuttaa Mahattana, thinks the junta is afraid of the people. She said the ban that’s been in place since the coup affects not just politicians but ordinary citizens including protesters such as herself, who’s been charged multiple times with violating the junta’s ban on political gatherings.

“They are afraid of the people… They are afraid that people will be able to speak. They are afraid of people’s expressions,” Nuttaa said.

We think she’s right. They are petrified that all their repression will come undone because they know that the people have simply acceded to the repression but don’t believe all the junta’s guff, which is the ruling class’s guff.

Shoveling money into the electorate

28 08 2018

The military dictatorship’s electoral campaigning has hit high gear in a frenzied shoveling out of money “seemingly aimed at winning the hearts of voters at the grassroots.” That’s according to an account at The Nation.

As it looks increasingly like the junta and The Dictator have the confidence to hold their rigged election, they are pouring money into “projects” meant to turn voters to the junta’s party/ies.

Senior junta figures are associating themselves with those projects. Of course, these are state-funded projects or, more correctly, taxpayer-funded.

There’s nothing wrong with a government promising and then delivering on projects that benefit the poor. However, it has to be recalled that various pro-Thaksin Shinawatra governments were lambasted for such schemes – albeit that they were put to the test of elections.

Worse, many of these schemes were criticized as policy corruption by opponents and ended up in cases before courts that even brought down governments. Those critics have thrown their support behind two coups and the junta’s government.

As we understand them, these critics blasted Thaksin-allied governments for policy corruption because they saw those governments enriching ministers and Thaksin himself. They now say the junta is not enriching itself, so this may be vote-buying but is not policy corruption….

The junta’s targets for the spending are explicitly those considered likely to have voted for the Puea Thai Party: “farmers, low-income people and rural residents.” The aim being to turn their attention to junta-supporting parties.

The efforts include “a three-year moratorium on farmers’ debts, continuing through July 2021.” Recall that back when Thaksin first came to power with Thai Rak Thai? That costs Bt2.7 billion in “debt-interest compensation to the BAAC due to the suspension of debt repayments.”

Another important effort has involved the military’s Mafia-cum-Robin Hood seizing of assets from those it identifies as “loan sharks,” returning assets like cars and land titles to those who took loans. While we don’t condone illegal lending, the actions of the military in “applying pressure” seem as illegal as the loans. The targets are red shirt areas in Khon Kaen and Udonthani .

The junta has also ordered the BAAC to consider restructuring “debt that farmers have owed to the BAAC since 2000. This project involves combined debt topping Bt6 billion and interest of Bt4 billion.”

The junta “has made it a policy to hand out money to needy people every month. In the second phase of this undertaking this year, monthly handouts increased from Bt300 to Bt500 for individuals earning less than Bt30,000 a year and from Bt200 to Bt300 for people on annual incomes of less than Bt100,000.”

In addition, the junta is “injecting Bt200,000 each into more than 82,000 communities throughout the country.” Remember the Thaksin government’s scheme?

Then there’s “a Bt40-billion project to offer cheap loans to homebuyers on low incomes.” Recall the Ua Arthon projects under Thaksin?

The National Legislative Assembly is supporting the junta’s vote-buying efforts. The Bangkok Post reports that the “40-billion-baht budget for the Pracharat scheme has been spared from being trimmed…”. Originally scheduled for cuts, those cuts have been “redistributed … to other agencies instead.”

It’s all hands on deck to shovel the money out before any election. The pay-off is is expected in votes for the junta.

The Dictator’s (s)election campaigning continues

20 08 2018

As discussions, denials and promises about the military junta’s “election” have warmed up, so The Dictator extends his (s)”election” campaigning.

The latest provincial campaign trip has it that the junta “is expected to try to appease the southern region by approving a 200 billion baht budget during mobile cabinet meetings in Ranong and Chumphon province[s]…”.

The provinces targeted for the loot/policy corruption* are “Phangnga, Phuket, Krabi, Trang and Satun, Nakhon Si Thammarat, Phatthalung, Surat Thani, Songkhla, Ranong and Chumphon…”.

The two-day cabinet meeting/vote buying/policy corruption* exercise began today and continues tomorrow.

According to the linked report, “this southern mobile cabinet had not originally been on Prime Minister Prayut Chan-o-cha’s agenda.” He is said have previously been “confident he would gain huge support from people in this region if [sic.] he decides to return to the premiership after a general election next year…”.

However, this has all changed. The Dictator is worried that “low rubber prices have undermined the military government’s popularity in the southern region which has typically been supportive of the military government.”

He also knows that blowing (taxpayer) loot in the pro-Thaksin Shinawatra regions and leaving the south lootless is not likely to go unchallenged. Taking the south for granted is likely to lead to a backlash.

It is also reported that the junta is likely to be MP poaching in the south, targeting the Democrat Party. That requires promises of more loot.

*Policy corruption is a term invented by yellow shirts to attack Thaksin and Yingluck Shinawatra for making electoral promises and then implementing them. As in so many other economic and political arenas, the junta plagiarizes the Shinawatras.

Reporting truth on AMLO and the rigged election

17 08 2018

The Nation has some interesting comments on the events at AMLO.

Policeman Romsit Viriyasan “was abruptly removed from his top post at the Anti-Money Laundering Organisation (AMLO) largely because he failed to expedite a number of long-delayed politically sensitive cases, especially since the general election is looming…”.

The Dictator issued the transfer order under the power of Article 44, which allows him to do pretty much anything he wants.

Gen Prayuth Chan-ocha used his unbridled power and then said, unbelievably, that “… Romsit had done nothing wrong…”. He’d been in the AMLO job since 29 June 2018.

Prayuth added that AMLO’s boss had been changed “to make the agency more efficient.” This “abrupt removal followed the August 14 meeting of the National Council for Peace and Order (NCPO) [the junta] chaired by Prayut and attended by deputy PM Prawit Wongsuwan, who had reportedly said there was a top-level discussion on AMLO’s leadership change.”

The Nation observes that the removal was “rather unusual.” That’s too bland. This action by The Dictator is “rather usual” in the sense that almost everything the junta does now is highly politicized in the sense that it is meant to consolidate its position going forward.

As The Nation explains, for the junta, “the top AMLO post is crucial, especially in view of the looming general election due some time next year. Hence, the AMLO secretary-general has to be someone who can take immediate action to speed up pending cases that are politically sensitive.” That is, the junta needs to finish off some important political opponents before an rigged election can be held and it can win it.

Apparently, “Romsit had not expedited several pending [political] cases, citing legal and other constraints, which prompted the premier to have him moved to an inactive post in the PM’s Office.”

One case in particular is that against Panthongtae Shinawatra, son of former premier Thaksin, which the junta claims involved “wrongdoing in the state-owned Krung Thai Bank loan fraud case.” But, in addition, the junta wants AMLO to “play a powerful oversight role in the upcoming general election regarding the flow of funds that are used by politicians during the elections.” In other words, AMLO has to be a part of the election rigging, and The Dictator didn’t trust Romsit to do the job he’d be given by the junta.

hHe Nation concludes: “So, there will soon be a replacement as the Prayut government gets ready to hold general elections next year.” Yep, that’s the rigged election (which will only be held when the junta is sure its lot can triumph.

Updated: The Dictator goes full Thaksin

16 08 2018

Yesterday we mentioned The Dictator saying something about traffic and privilege.

It is reported that he’s been out “inspecting Bangkok’s traffic conditions…”. Gen Prayuth Chan-ocha then “ordered officials to alleviate congestion in Bangkok and its outskirts within three months with the help of technology, water transport and new bus routes.”

Pretending to be kingly, he trailed about, giving orders and advice.

We were reminded of Thaksin Shinawatra. On 6 July 1995, The Nation reported that “Palang Dharma Party leader Thaksin Shinawatra promised yesterday to come
up with ‘concrete’ measures within six months for solving Bangkok’s traffic woes.” One of his plans was to limit official motorcades. Critics scoffed.

A few months later, on 9 October 1995, Thaksin’s plans “to cut back on VIP motorcades for Cabinet members” were in trouble. As the police explained, “How can such a service be reduced
when the demand for it is so huge”!

Prayuth has emulated Thaksin, only 22 years later. But Prayuth has Article 44.

Update: We thought we should add a note from The Nation that has a junta spokesvoice saying that his dear Dictator has been misquoted. He didn’t say the problems had to be solved in 3 months, just that minion officials had to come up with solutions within 3 months. Again, Thaksin did much the same all those years ago. In any case, we have no reason to believe the spokesthings because they are paid to lie.

Free (no) and fair (no) “elections”

14 08 2018

While we at PPT often appreciate the broader sentiments expressed, there are times when we wonder whether editorial writers have the memories of goldfish.

An editorial at the Bangkok Post set us wondering again when it stated “[t]he three years of excuses for delaying a free and fair election have run out.” 

Hey! Bangkok Post people! The military junta that has established a military dictatorship has never had any intention of allowing their “election” to be free or fair. You know this! SO why make false statements?

From the moment of the military coup in May 2014, the aim was to ensure that there could never be another election that permitted pro-Thaksin Shinawatra parties to form another government. By definition, by design and by repression, there could not be a free and fair election. That’s why the junta doesn’t want to set an election date and keeps delaying, for more than four years.

But you Bangkok Post people know this. You know that The Dictator “harshly enforces a ban on political activity” while he “himself is seen to be openly canvassing support for his own campaign.” That’s not free or fair.

You know that Gen Prayuth Chan-ocha craves power and wants to stay on a premier for years and years. That can’t be free or fair.

The Dictator is not “skirting [skating?] very close to the line where Thais and foreign friends will describe any future election as neither fair nor free.” Gen Prayuth is well beyond that. The rules for the election, which pre-date the current manipulations, were never meant to be free or fair; they were meant to rig an outcome.

So stop all this babble about free and fair elections and say what they will be (whenever the junta chooses to hold them): unfree and unfair elections. They will be rigged elections.