Former convict aiming high

11 06 2022

While we are trying to limit our posting to lese majeste related material, we couldn’t miss the story of how a convicted heroin trafficker is nearing the apex of Thailand’s political structure, and may turn out to be the one to determine the country’s immediate future.

Clipped from the Bangkok Post

That convicted drug smuggler is, of course, Thammanat Prompao who, on Friday, “was named top leader of Thai Economic Party.” In other reports the name of the party is rendered New Setthakij Thai Party.

Thammanat was unanimously elected by the party caucus of some 22.

It may be that the party can work with “allies” to have the heroin dealer become “candidate for head of a post-election government…”. As part of the plot to elevate the former criminal and vastly wealthy Thammanat declared that the upcoming censure motion against 10 ministers “should be a cause for concern for all the targeted ministers except Gen Prawit [Wongsuwan].”

Gen Prawit is one of the ruling triumvirate of generals who run the country, but this senile general seems able to control most of the ruling Palang Pracharat Party and willing to deal with anyone in order to have himself or his chosen one as a new prime minister. That could be his loyalist Capt Thammanat, the convicted trafficker.

Thammanat’s MPs and his vast cash stash might be enough to give Gen Prawit his way, but in dealing with a devil there’s always a price. We are sure Thammanat’s price is at least important and lucrative cabinet positions, but it may even be the top spot.

 





Crooked business as usual

10 12 2021

In an editorial, the Bangkok Post gets very excited, claiming that the politicized justice system has suddenly given cause for optimism that the courts will get better:

On Wednesday, Thais witnessed justice being served fair and square. In a trial that will be remembered as a landmark environmental case, the Supreme Court handed down jail terms of about three years to construction tycoon Premchai Karnasutra and two accomplices for poaching in Thungyai Naresuan Wildlife Sanctuary.

The editorial continues:

For those who believe in the much-used local adage that “Thai jails are only for locking up poor people”, the verdict came as a surprise. Understandably, Thais have felt demoralised in the past after witnessing rich and powerful people … running away from court, escaping the country.

Therefore, watching the billionaire being jailed as he was on Wednesday after a long court case, people feel inspired to hope that the justice system will work better….

The Post is grasping at straws and trying to be encouraging. But Premchai’s case is an exception.

Think about the National Anti‑Corruption Commission (NACC). This week it was chirping that it had “closed more than 4,500 cases this year…”. NACC chairman and buddy to The Watchman, Pol Gen Watcharapol Prasarnrajkit claimed great success while Prime Minister Gen Prayuth Chan-ocha “pledged to create a transparent government and a society free of corruption…”.

But what of the big cases?

Indeed, as Premchai was sentenced, the Bangkok Post reported that the NACC had “rejected a petition by the Move Forward Party (MFP) calling for a probe into the ethical conduct of Thamanat Prompow over his narcotics conviction in Australia.” Of course, this could not happen, especially given Thammanat’s close relationship with Gen Prawit Wongsuwan.

NACC secretary-general Niwatchai Kasemmongkol said that “based on the Constitutional Court’s ruling on May 5 that Capt Thamanat, a Palang Pracharath Party (PPRP) MP for Phayao and former deputy agriculture and cooperatives minister, was eligible to hold his MP and ministerial positions despite having served four years in an Australian prison.”

Niwatchai added that as the heroin trafficking conviction “took place before Capt Thamanat held the positions and before the code of ethics took effect,” no probe could be considered. An ethics probe into ethical conduct can only be launched when an MP or cabinet minister violates the code of ethics while in office…”. And, for good measure, he explained that “[a]ny action committed by an MP or minister before they took office does not warrant an inquiry…”.

Pedophiles, murderers, and drug smugglers all have their slates wiped clean.

Protecting the powerful criminals continued in another report where the NACC said it aimed “to wrap up the hit-and-run case against Red Bull scion Vorayuth … Yoovidhya within 14 months, with the completion expected by the end of 2022.”

We do note that 14 months means 2023…. But, then, this claim by the NACC is just another cover-up. Most of the charges will have expired by then.

Double standards are the rule for the rich and powerful.





Updated: NHRC and double standards

7 12 2021

Over the years, PPT has been critical of the National Human Rights Commission for its political partisanship. While these days it seldom seems to do or say much of consequence, recent events highlight its problematic existence.

Recently, police arrested 37 protesters [some reports are that 36 were arrested], including 31 women, from the Chana Rakthin Network. The protesters gathered at the entrance of Government House to “demand that the government adhere to initial promises to delay an industrial project set to take place in the 16,700-rai Chana district in southeastern Songkhla.”

Clipped from the Bangkok Post

The locals were made these promises by then minister Thammanat Prompao, but the regime now appears to be reneging. So they traveled to Bangkok to “remind” the government. Prime Minister Gen Prayuth Chan-ocha demies there was ever an agreement.

A representative of the protesters stated:

They have been charged with the violation of the emergency decree and the police are looking to file more charges against them since the protesters are not willing to accept the proposal for them to stop protesting against the project if they were to be released….

When the police grabbed the protesters, they blocked the media.

Just another day in broken promises, lies, and policing for the regime. And, a background to the role of the NHRC.

According to the Bangkok Post:

The National Human Rights Commission (NHRC) on Tuesday issued a statement calling for the government to unconditionally release the 36 protesters of the Chana Rakthin Network detained on Monday night….

On Tuesday morning, NHRC commissioners Preeda Kongpaen and Sayamon Kaiyurawong paid a visit to the arrested protesters, who were detained at the Police Club on Vibhavadi Rangsit road.

The NHRC statement declared “the protesters had the right to expression of their views and to gather peacefully under the 2017 constitution…”, and “called for the unconditional release of the protesters.” And, it added, “[m]embers of the media and observers should be allowed to report on all developments surrounding the project without being obstructed…”.

Maybe we have just missed the NHRC being busily at work, but we do not recall such statements when monarchy reform protesters have been attacked, arrested, and held without bail. We do not recall much reporting of the NHRC demanding that police stop attacking and impeding journalists covering those demonstrations.

Just another day in the land of double standards.

Update: A reader asks if we are dismissing the seriousness of the Chana Rakthin Network. Certainly not. The regime’s treatment of the group, using police to threaten and arrest while reneging on an agreement, is reprehensible. Our question was why the NHRC chooses to take action on this state action but not on other egregious human rights abuses.





Corrupt+corrupt=very corrupt

29 10 2021

Officially declared non-corrupt by the hopelessly biased regime poodle known as the National Anti-Corruption Commission, Gen Prawit Wongsuwan has again worked to maintain the status of convicted heroin trafficker, former murder suspect, and former deputy minister Thammanat Prompao.

He does this because Thammanat is his “boy” and because Thammanat is critical for electioneering in the north and northeast. Gen Prawit knows that without Thammanat , the Palang Pracharath Party may lose an election, even if held in the usual unfair manner. So the crooked Thammanat gets another free political pass.

Last month, Thammanat and Narumon Pinyosinwat were sacked from cabinet by Gen Prayuth Chan-ocha for working against him as premier. But due to Gen Prawit’s support he stayed on as secretary-general of Palang Pracharath. That was appropriate as it meant a corruption maintained its hold over a corrupt party.

On Thursday, following a crisis party meeting, Gen Prawit announced “that no change was made to the executive team.” That is, the heroin smuggler kept his position.

Intense internal conflict “was resolved at a meeting on Wednesday between the party leader, Deputy Prime Minister Prawit Wongsuwan, and the party’s MPs…”. It seems Gen Prawit threratened to resign if Thammanat was not kept on. As the Bangkok Post explained: “Gen Prawit Wongsuwon has intervened as leader of the ruling Palang Pracharath Party (PPRP) to resolve an internal conflict involving controversial figure Capt Thamanat Prompow by ensuring he stays on as its secretary-general.”

It now remains to be seen how Thammanat and his faction of cronies will respond. He may be willing to bring down the regime to get his snout ever deeper into the public trough.





Military godfathers and the corruption of parties and politics

26 09 2021

Thai PBS reports on continuing ructions in the Palang Pracharat Party that has Gen Prawit Wongsuwan’s underlings pitted against Gen Prayuth Chan-ocha. It turns out that the failed plot to unseat Gen Prayuth during the recent censure debate was only round 1 of this fight.

The start of the second round came when plotter and convicted heroin trafficker and “influential person” Thammanat Prompao retained his Party post. It is presumed that General Prawit was behind this. Prawit then doubled-down, appointing “a former Army rival of the PM” as the Party’s new chief strategist. Gen Vitch Devahasdin Na Ayudhya took this “powerful post previously held by the current party leader, Deputy Premier General Prawit…”.

Previously, in 2010, Gen Vitch was assistant Army chief and “was appointed to the Centre for Resolution of Emergency Situation, which was tasked with handling the red-shirt protests against Abhisit Vejjajiva’s government.”

In that year, Gen Vitch was competing with Gen Prayuth to “succeed outgoing Army chief Gen Anupong Paochinda. However, the post was eventually handed to Gen Prayut instead.” This despite Gen Vitch’s long connection with Gen Prawit.

Readers can read the whole story for the details or plow through the most recent post at Secret Siam, which posits a deep and long struggle, including speculation regarding parts played by none other than Thaksin Shinawatra.

One thing is clear: that the rise and rise of the unsavory Thammanat demonstrates how “a powerful political broker” with a criminal past (who knows about the present?) can float to the top through links built through equally unsavory characters in the military (and higher).

The story of Thammanat’s rise is like a Thai version of “The Godfather,” but most of the protagonists are military mafia.

Thai PBS says “Vitch has been close to Gen Prawit since their early years in the Royal Thai Army three decades ago, and reportedly introduced Thammanat to Prawit.” It goes on to say that it was Thammanat who “helped Vitch to get into the ruling party.”

Gen Vitch is open regarding his links to “dark influences,” saying:

he has known Thammanat since the latter worked for his long-time friend Gen Trairong Intarathat. Also known as “Seh Ice”, Trairong once served as an adviser to then-prime minister Thaksin Shinawatra and was described as an influential figure.

So mafia-connected military figures have swirled through various governments for several years. For those who don’t know Seh Ice, his brief obituary says this:

Gen Trairong was born on Sept 1, 1949, the fourth of the four sons of Maj Phone Intarathat, a former director of the Thailand Tobacco Monopoly, and ML Kanyaka Suthat.

He was a Class 10 student of the Armed Forces Academy Preparatory School and Class 21 cadet of the Chulachomklao Royal Military Academy in the cavalry division.

His classmates at the Armed Forces Academy Preparatory School included Thaksin, Gen Anupong Paojinda, the current interior minister, ACM Sukumpol Suwanathat, a former defence minister, and Gen Prin Suwanathat, a former transport minister.

He held several important positions in military service, including specialist attached to the Supreme Command, chief of the Office of the Permanent Secretary for Defence, an army specialist, and chief of staff officers for the defence minister (Gen Thammarak Issarangura Na Ayutthaya).

Not long before he died in 2016, he was identified, along with Thammanat, Seh Ice was identified in a military report as an influential mafia boss:

Two of four people reportedly named as “influential criminal figures” on a military document deny any wrongdoing, saying there is not a shred of truth to the allegation.

“That’s ridiculous, and I’m wondering which [security] people think like that,” former army specialist Gen Trairong Intaratat, better known as Seh Ice, said yesterday….

The three others named in the document are Karun Hosakul, a former Pheu Thai Party MP for Bangkok’s Don Muang district; Capt Thammanat Prompao, a former close aide to Gen Trairong and said to be involved in several enterprises including lottery ticket distribution; and Chaisit Ngamsap, who is alleged to be connected to illegal activities in the Mor Chit area of Bangkok.

Capt Thammanat, a former military officer, said he had contacted 1st Division commander, Maj Gen Narong Jitkaew, to ask him about the document and was told the information came from an intelligence report and there were no plans to summon him.

And, here’s an AFP report from 1998, with Thammanat playing a lead role:

BANGKOK, Sept 9 (AFP) – Eighteen middle-ranking Thai military officers are being investigated for links to an international heroin trafficking operation, the supreme commander of Thailand’s armed forces said Wednesday.

General Mongkol Ampornpisit said the officers had been re-admitted into the military in the past two years and the scandal, the latest in a series to rock the Thai military, had prompted him to order that all recently re-admitted officers have their backgrounds checked.

“I have submitted the names of all re-admitted officers for the last two years to have their criminal backgrounds checked with the police,” General Mongkol told reporters, without elaborating on the heroin trafficking allegations.

He said he hoped the move to vet officers would help contain one of the biggest scandals to hit the Thai military establishment in many years.

The revelation of the heroin investigation follows another scandal involving an army captain at the centre of a murder probe, who had previously served a jail term in Australia for drug trafficking.

Mongkol conceded the military had been lax when re-admitting Captain Patchara [Thammanat] Prompao into the armed forces after he was fired twice and convicted of narcotics trafficking.

Patchara is now in detention awaiting trial in a civilian court after he surrendered to police on Monday to face charges that he raped and then beat a male academic to death.

In June, amid a drive was to make the armed forces more accountable, the government demanded the military disclose the contents of secret bank accounts they had been allowed to keep.

Earlier this year the armed forces were accused by opposition politicians of involvement in vast illegal logging operations in northern Thailand.

So many connections, so many charges – none of which have held up in the Thailand. That’s what a mafia system is about and this is how it works. More tellingly, the military continues to reward crooks who slither to the top.

As the Bangkok Post reports, the Armed Forces Academies Preparatory School has recognized Thammanat as and outstanding alumnus:

The controversial soldier-turned-politician was nominated for the award this year, but due to the Covid-19 outbreak, the usual annual ceremony to present the award to him and other outstanding Afaps alumni has been postponed until next year….

It is said Thammanat has declined the award, but the “honoring” of one of its most corrupt alumni is a telling indictment of a corrupt organization. The military (and police) cannot tell right from wrong, and instills this “value” in its new officer cadets.





Reflecting the regime IV

10 09 2021

Beyond the headlines, what does Wednesday’s sacking of Deputy Minister for Agriculture Thammanat Prompao tell us about the regime’s rotten political system?

He was sacked as deputy minister, along with Deputy Labor Minister Narumon Pinyosinwat, via an announcement in the Royal Gazette on Thursday following a “royal command” issued on Wednesday, that “stated that the prime minister said it would be appropriate if some ministers were removed for the sake of government.”

When asked, Prime Minister Gen Prayuth Chan-ocha said “he had his own reasons for the changes.” Thammanat remains, for the moment, secretary-general of the ruling Palang Pracharath Party, but that is unlikely to last long.

Thammanat released a “resignation” letter just before the official announcement that he’d been sacked.

Was he booted because of his shady background as a convicted heroin trafficker. Nor for his unusual wealth. Nor for lying about his education credentials. Nor for his underworld links via the lottery. Nor for links with a murder.

No, Thammanat was sacked for insufficient loyalty to Gen Prayuth:

Speculation is rife that the sackings have something to do with the alleged campaign to challenge the prime minister’s power. The campaign’s aim was said to replace Gen Prayut and rebuild a government that would result in a cabinet reshuffle, where certain key politicians in the PPRP, who are now deputy ministers, would be elevated to full ministers of A-grade ministries.

As one of those ministers, Thammanat “stands accused of manoeuvring the ouster campaign which allegedly involved a number of PPRP heavyweights and renegade members of micro-coalition partners and politicians in the main opposition Pheu Thai Party.” Thammanat wanted to be Minister of the Interior, which carries immense power and handsome rewards.

Clipped from Khaosod

It seems that Deputy Prime Minister Gen Prawit Wongsuwan is another target as the two sacked ministers were close to Prawit. A party source said that Prawit’s position “hangs in balance following the dismissal of the pair who are his close aides.”

This is exactly the kind of party system that the military junta designed. This is how it works. Multi-party coalition governments mean there is always maneuvering for position and fortune. Allies fall out and become opponents. Money and power make the cement that holds coalitions together. Leaders must always watch their back, wondering whether friend or foe will stab them; usually the former.

Political instability in such a rotten system defaults power to the military chief and palace.

The system is corrupted and encourages criminals and other “dark influences” to seek power for the funds that inevitably flow from ministerial position.

This is the junta’s legacy for Thailand’s political system.





Updated: Reflecting the regime II

27 08 2021

Continuing with our posts about  things that define the regime’s royalist Thailand, there have been several reports in the last few days that do just that.

The Thai Enquirer’s Cod Satrusayang responded to the release of a video showing a senior police officer suffocating an alleged drug dealer while demanding a large bribe.

Of course, the video went viral, with an investigation launched. But there was a here-we-go-again feeling. We’ve been here before. We’ve seen and heard it before. And there was cynical resignation as many on social media predicted another cover-up. As Cod says, “we should be more surprised and shocked at the footage rather than nod along grimly.

After all, police and military enjoy impunity and the levels of corruption are legendary. Just think of the Red Bull hit-and-run case, the Korat killings, the Saudi Blue Diamond saga, the 2010 murder of red shirts, the forced disappearing and murder of numerous political figures, the shooting of Chaiyapoom Pasae, the Tak Bai deaths, and we could go on and on.

Cod puts it this way: The time has come to ask whether officers like this murderer is the exception or the rule.” He adds: Given the reality of things and given how endemic corruption is within the police force maybe the time has come to consider not just reforming the police but dissolving the force altogether.”

AP adds on this story, detailing the crimes. Police Col Thitisant “Joe” Uttanapol or “Joe Ferrari” who was caught on camera suffocating a man to death. It was Joe who tortured Jeerapong Thanapat, a 24-year-old drug suspect, attempting to extort two million baht from him. Like Red Bull scion Vorayuth “Boss” Yoovidhya, Joe is on the lam.

It isn’t just murderous police who define the “good people” regime, but this regime is defined by failed/compromised institutions.

The police are hopeless, with allegations of police brutality and corruption common. The video was leaked to lawyer Sittha Biabangkerd who “received a complaint from a junior policeman in Nakhon Sawan…”. That policeman reported the usual cover-up:

When the suspect died, Thitisan allegedly ordered his men to take the body to the hospital and tell the doctor the death was caused by a drug overdose. The junior policeman said the woman was released but told not to say anything about it, and that Thitisan paid the victim’s father to remain silent.

The Bangkok Post reported that the “junior police officer … sought … help in forwarding the clip to the national police chief.” More revealingly, that junior officer and his fellow officers feared they would be killed!

The Royal Thai Police is a failed institution, operating more as a criminal gang than a police force.

But what about the rest of the bureaucracy which abet the police (or fear them)?

The “state-run Sawanpracharak Hospital, which issued a death certificate for the dead drug suspect, have defended their finding that ‘methamphetamine poisoning’ was the cause of death.” This after a “forensic examination.” Police told was “a private hospital that the man fell down and lost consciousness while he was running away from police who were chasing him during a drug crackdown.” Corruption? You bet.

How big is the corruption? Huge. Found at Pol Col Thitisan’s 60-million-baht house in Bangkok were 29 luxury cars worth more than 100 million baht. It is impossible that this great wealth could have been missed by anti-corruption agencies. After all, Ferrari Joe boasted about it on social media.

But, the hopeless NACC is now on the job, belatedly “probing the unusual wealth of Pol Col Thitisan…”.

A police source said Pol Col Thitisan wasn’t this rich from the beginning but he has built his own wealth out of some grey area businesses including trading edible bird’s nests while he was a deputy sub-division chief at Narcotics Suppression Division 4, overseeing drug suppression operations in the South.

The photos below are from the Bangkok Post, showing just some of Joe’s assets.

The story continues:

He later moved on to making money out of suppressing the smuggling of luxury cars and supercars in the South. He earned a lot of money from rewards offered for seizing such cars — 45% of the value of the car confiscated — and handing them over the Customs Department for resale through an auction….

Not bad for a cop earning less than 50,000 baht a month. But no one should bat an eyelid, for there are dozens of army generals, navy admirals, air force air marshals, and police generals who have declared unusual wealth to the NACC, and it has done nothing, zilch. That was in 2014.

So there’s a range of corrupt institutions. The NACC is at the pinnacle, rejecting any number of cases against the regime.

Thai Enquirer points out the obvious:

Somehow the Office of the Inspector General, the Anti-Money Laundering Office (AMLO) and the National Anti-Corruption Commission (NACC) keeps missing these high-earning cops and generals.

Do we trust these organizations to investigate the case further? See if this is part of something bigger? Doubt it.

The NACC repeats is compromised inaction again and again. As The Nation reports, it can’t “reveal Prime Minister Prayut Chan-o-cha and Deputy PM Wissanu Krea-ngam’s assets…” despite being “asked by the Official Information Commission to reveal what assets had been declared by Prayut and Wissanu when they took office.” According to Watcharapol Prasarnrajkit, NACC president, “the commission can only store information and investigate if there are any discrepancies, but cannot reveal details.”

But what about all those generals? Nothing. What about the fabulous wealth of convicted drug dealer/deputy minister Thammanat Prompao? Nothing.

Of course, “nothing” protects the “good people.”

And another related story. why is it that cabinet “approved the proposal by the Centre for Covid-19 Situation Administration to amend the prime minister’s order regarding the procurement of antigen test kits (ATK) by the Government Pharmaceutical Organization (GPO)…”.

That order “stipulated that the antigen test kit the GPO would purchase must be approved by the World Health Organization (WHO) and by the Thailand Food and Drug Administration (FDA).”

That’s now ditched so that Chinese kits can be purchased from Beijing-based Lepu Medical Technology. That contract is for about 600 million baht for kits “banned in the United States due to a high risk of false results.”

The regime is rotten to the core.

Update: The murdering cop story gets worse by the day by the actions of the most senior police. Those bosses are appointed by the regime because of their political positions and based on links to powerbrokers, including the palace.

Joe Ferrari has been taken into custody. As usual, he was not tracked down, but negotiated a surrender to police in one of the most corrupt jurisdictions, Cholburi.

Startingly, national police chief Gen Suwat Jangyodsuk, himself worth almost 105 million baht, then gave the murderer a national stage. In allowing the suspect to speak to the nation via national television, Gen Suwat appeared to support Pol Col Thitisan when he “said social media had been reporting that Thitisant was trying to extort the dead drug dealer so he wanted people ‘to hear what happened from the mouth of the person who had committed the crime’.”

Parts of Thitisant’s speech to the nation is reported in the linked post.

What was Gen Suwat thinking? Cod Satrusayang provides something of an answer, suggesting that Thailand is “an alternative Nazi-inspired universe”:

You see Joe Ferrari is one of the good people. Despite murdering an alleged drug dealer in cold blood, with a plastic bag, while his men held the guy down, he is a good person. Never mind that this is the kind of scene you’d expect to see in a Nazi movie, Joe is a good person.

You see Joe is a good person because he is a “relentless crime fighter,” because he volunteers with royalists, because he is polite and clean cut. He is a good person.

He is not a bad person like the unruly protesters who do not know their place, who dare to question the establishment.

He adds, that the contrast with anti-monarchy/pro-democracy protester Parit “Penguin” Chiwarak:

I was in the newsroom when police arrested Parit “Penguin” Chiwarak in the middle of the night, put him in an unmarked van, and sent him to a police station in the suburbs for processing.

There was no press conference, there was no fanfare, it was the Thai deep state working efficiently to suppress, gag, and detain those that would question the current establishment.

It was chilling, frustrating, Kafkaesque.

It made me question how I ever bought into the land of smiles lie, that Thailand’s paternal autocracy was built to work for and protect its people.

The regime is loathsome, rotten to the core, festering, bloated, and putrescent.





Secrets kept

9 08 2021

The Bangkok Post reports that the “Official Information Commission (OIC) will ask the National Anti-Corruption Commission (NACC) to disclose information about assets declared previously by Prime Minister [Gen] Prayut Chan-o-cha and his deputy, Wissanu Krea-ngam.”

The two had declared “their assets to the NACC, for the sake of record-keeping, although they weren’t actually required under the NACC law to declare their assets again as their positions remained the same in the most recent reshuffle, according Mr Wissanu.”

Earlier, the NACC had “insisted that the NACC’s law doesn’t allow the office to make public assets declared by the two parties [Prayuth and Wissanu].” Yet the OIC has taken a different view, deciding that “the NACC is obliged to reveal the information when asked, saying the public has the right under the constitution to seek access to the information.”

Neither man has declared their assets since 2014, despite changes of government.

In an editorial, the Post observes:

The ball has passed back to the NACC. The agency, one of whose core missions is to build up transparency and fight corruption, must not come up with excuses why it should not in this case perform its duty.

Political position-holders cannot be allowed to exploit legal loopholes to keep their wealth away from public scrutiny until the government completes its term.

The anti-graft agency’s stance in this case is ridiculous.

Add this to the huge pile of ridiculous “cases” ignored and covered up by police, prosecutors, the NACC and the judiciary. Just think of Thammanat Prompao and his heroin smuggling conviction. Ridiculous is a regime norm.





Updated: Lawfare and constitution

26 06 2021

The regime is now a lawfare regime. This means that it misuses the legal system against an “enemy,” seeking to delegitimize them, wasting their time and money, and repeatedly harassing them. Like other repressive regimes, Gen Prayuth Chan-ocha’s government seeks to prevent and discourage civil society and individuals from claiming their legal rights, even when these are supposedly granted by the junta’s 2017 constitution.

Such lawfare is “especially common in situations when individuals and civil society use non-violent methods to highlight or oppose discrimination, corruption, lack of democracy, limiting freedom of speech, violations of human rights and violations of international humanitarian law.” It is rule by law rather than anything remotely close to rule of law.

King PenguinAs democracy activists seek to reactivate a movement that was attacked by a myriad of legal cases and detentions, their rallies are now met with multiple legal cases: the pure definition of lawfare.

Like other despotic regimes, the protesters face, according to Deputy Royal Thai Police Spokesman Pol Col Kissana Phathanacharoen, a “health safety announcement issued by the Bangkok Metropolitan Administration.” We guess that the leaders of one of the rallies, who are on bail, will find themselves targeted for more jail time. It is the way authoritarians use the law.

It is worth recalling that the protesters chose to rally on what used to officially be National Day. As the king has demanded, 1932 is a memory that only the public can keep alive, with the regime simply ignoring the date after years of removing its symbols.

1932 began an era of constitutional innovation and ended absolute monarchy, with small steps taken to establish the rule of law.

As the relatively small rallies went on, in parliament, a farce played out. The regime has, from time to time, indicated that it wants some constitutional change, mainly to further its already mammoth electoral rigging. But, as anyone who has followed politics since 2007 knows, the royalists, rightists and military allow no changes that might level the playing field. The lies on constitutional change began with the 2007 constitutional referendum and the brickwall to change has been strengthened by a biased Constitutional Court.

Pretending to promote constitutional change, 13 constitutional change bills were introduced. All but one was rejected by a joint sitting of the elected lower house and the junta-appointed senate. The legislation this hybrid “parliament” approved “would raise the number of constituency MPs from 350 to 400 and restore the old selection formula for 100 list MPs.” All this does is make regime thugs like Gen Prawit Wongsuwan and Thammanat Prompao more powerful as they redevelop money politics.It also opens the opportunity for MP and party purchasing on a grand scale.

Those who link this change back to earlier times, miss the changes that have taken place under military regimes and ignore the way that state resources and the misuse of law have made the the regime all but impregnable in the next election.

These commentators should also consider that the appointed senate makes a mockery of parliament. The senators, who all owe their positions to the military junta and the thugs running the current regime, essentially voted as a bloc.

Bencha Saengchan of the Move Forward Party correctly states: “Last night’s vote shows that parliament is a drama theater that lacks sincerity towards the people…”. But that’s way too mild. This regime will have to be forced out, laws changed, constitutions rewritten, monarchy tamed or deleted, and the thugs imprisoned. It is the only way to roll back 15 years of rigging and corruption.

Update: For an example of horrendous “journalism,” see the Bangkok Post’s About Politics column. It is usually rightist tripe, but this week’s column is a doozy. Somehow it manages to ignore all of the regime’s efforts to rig constitution and elections and to blame the opposition for failed constitutional reform. Quite an act of political contortion.





Updated: Mafia control of ruling party

19 06 2021

As expected, convicted heroin trafficker and Deputy Agricultural Minister Thammanat Prompao has been “elected,” unopposed to be secretary general of the ruling Palang Pracharath Party (PPRP).

The rise of the criminal to one of the top positions in the party confirms the descent of the country into the hands of a mafia of murderers, drug traffickers, and royalist thugs.

The rise of the criminals pushes aside all pretenses of “normality” in a party concocted to keep the military junta of 2014 and associated royalists in power.

Convicted drug trafficker Thammanat is elevated to this position because he is the son of party don and corrupt Deputy Prime Minister Gen Prawit Wongsuwan.

Corruption lives

Gen Prawit is party boss and Thammanat is his consigliere. Gen Prawit has virtually adopted Thammanat as a son, placing him in line to run the mafia party’s next election campaign. He chose Thammanat because it is not votes that will win the election, but the pilfering of candidates from opposition parties and converting them into seats for the mafia party.

That job requires an enforcer, a moneybags, and a persuader all rolled into one. Or, as the Bangkok Post puts it, “Thamanat … [is] a skilled political fixer…”. It observes:

The Phayao MP’s rise to the new position underlines the increasingly dominant role of the Prawit camp in the party and the diminishing power of the Sam Mitr group. The change was widely anticipated after Thamanat had been assigned to take charge of by-elections contested by party candidates.

The party is now officially the party of Thailand’s mafia, which stretches across military and police and into the palace, all profiting from rents, protection and monopoly.

The extent of Prawit and Thammanat’s control of the party/mob is shown in the fact that the latter “was unopposed in the voting for secretary-general as his was the only one name proposed. He received 556 votes, with 14 voided ballots and 23 abstentions.”

Thammanat has emerged as a key political operative whose skills are valued by Gen Prawit. He is said to control a faction of a dozen or more northern MPs, and he has also made some forays into the South, to the dismay of the Democrat Party,,,”.

Thammanat explained the power structure: “We have Gen Prawit Wongsuwon as the centre of power. We have to consult him on everything that will move us forward…”. The aim will be to snaffle sufficient MPs from other parties that Palang Pracharath will get a majority in the next parliament.

Thai PBS says that the “ruling party’s latest internal reshuffle indicates it desperately wants to win the next election, amid speculation that the national poll will be called early.” To do this it needs “Thammanat, who is ‘decisive, fearless and reliable’, to inject confidence and trust [and fear] into its own MPs, politicians from other parties and voters.” He’s and “influential” figure, a dark influence: “an influential charismatic person in charge of election campaigns in constituencies…”.

As reported by the Bangkok Post, the third leader of the mafia is Gen Prayuth Chan-ocha, and the mafia party unsurprisingly announced it will support him for another term. If this comes to pass, Gen Prayuth will be prime minister for at least 14 years. 

The choice of Thammanat reflects the arrogance of the former military bosses Prawit and Prayuth and the desperation of the royalist bloc to maintain control. As it did in the 1980s, this requires an alliance of palace, military, and dark influences. However, the alliance developed by Palang Pracharath, bringing two of the three into the party as leaders, arguably strengthens the party. At the same time, it makes Thailand a mafia state, in the hands of thugs and criminals.

Update: To see how some others feel about the gangster and the gangster party, try Cod Satrusayang’s op-ed on the arrogance of the mafia regime as it rigs the system for yet another rigged election.








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