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.





Updated: Suthep demands more dictatorship for longer

18 03 2017

The People’s Democratic Reform Foundation (PDRF) is the legalistic renaming of the anti-democratic People’s Democratic Reform Committee to allow it to keep operating under the junta it helped seize power in 2014.

It is still led by Democrat Party stalwart Suthep Thaugsuban, who “left” the party to arrange his anti-democratic actions opposing elections and the elected government led by Yingluck Shinawatra. Its bosses remain those anti-democratic elite and Democrat Party (former) members, Sathit Wongnongtoey, Akanat Promphan, Chitpas Kridakorn (Bhirombhakdi), Thaworn Senniam, Nattapol Teepsuwan, Chumpol Julsai and Sakoltee Patthippayakul.

It was this group that recently met with representatives of the military junta for “reconciliation talks.”

Readers might be surprised to learn (or maybe not) that, almost three years after he got the coup he wanted, Suthep “remained firm in its stance of ‘reform before election’, saying it did not mind a delay in the holding of the next election.”

Suthep and his clutch of anti-democrats also declared their full support for “absolute power under Article 44 of the interim charter” and claimed it “was not a problem for reform. Suthep said it as an opportunity for the junta to effectively reform the country.” We know he supports the murderous military and we guess he would also support military courts, torture and all manner of draconian measures against his political opponents.

Of course, we also know that Suthep hates elections, not least because his party never won one in its own right, and repeatedly hung off the military and royal coattails.

Likewise, it is no surprise that this group of anti-democrats “admitted to being fans of junta head General Prayut Chan-o-cha and the desire to complete key reforms.” Why wouldn’t they be? It was Suthep who claimed that he had worked since 2010 with General Prayuth on ways and means for preventing a Thaksin Shinawatra-aligned government from getting elected and then, if it did, on bringing it down.

Suthep and his cronies met with the junta’s people for “four hours of reconciliation talks” after which Suthep declared or maybe even threatened: “We’ve made the point in the meeting that the masses expect the National Council for Peace and Order [the junta] and the government led by [Prayuth] to finish the reforms so the country can continue as a democracy with the monarch as the head of state.”

Suthep, who spent many years as a Democrat Party powerbroker and politician chortled about “politics” being a problem: “Politics has to serve the people. In the past, it was [dominated by] politicians and financiers as well as interest groups. It’s never about the people…”. Because his party was resoundingly defeated time and time again, we can understand his reluctance to accept the will of the people.

Remarkably, as if Thailand’s elite is still under threat, he grasps the monarchy shibboleth by the throat and thunders: “Most importantly, political parties must be run by people who support democratic rule with the monarch as the head of state, not a republic.”

That purported danger justifies for Suthep, and his gaggle of anti-democrat scions of the elite, continuing military dictatorship. He reckons “the people” don’t want an election any time soon.

If the message wasn’t clear, Suthep stated: “The PDRF has no concerns over the NCPO staying in power so long as it works to push reforms.” He added that his support for “the military and Gen Prayut … was never hidden…”.

Update: And just in case anyone was wondering, the Bangkok Post reports that Suthep declined “to say whether his group would accept the outcome of the next election in the event that the Pheu Thai Party wins the poll.”





Anti-junta and anti-democrat?

5 02 2017

In a recent post, PPT briefly mentioned the complaint by the junta of nasty “politicians” causing ill-will towards the military dictatorship over its ham-fisted flood relief operations in the south. It was junta spokesman Lt Gen Sansern Kaewkamnerd who declared that “[s]ome politicians in Songkhla are behind a move to stir up dissent against the government…”. As we said, he was pointing a finger at the Democrat Party.

The junta saw farmers “rallying” and got to worrying, seeing a political plot.

In response, the Bangkok Post reports that former Democrat Party MP for Songkhla Thaworn Senniam has emerged to refuted the junta’s claims. He essentially declares that the Democrat Party is helping, not stirring trouble.

He claimed “that the affected farmers asked another Democrat MP … to relay their complaints to state authorities…”. At the same time, he did identify faults: “Do not listen only to reports from officials. Hear the voices of ordinary people like us…”. He complained: “But the government overlooks our good will.”

Former Democrat Party MP Wirat Kalayasiri concurred. He said “that farmers who were facing shortages of rice seeds as a result of floods gathered to call for help from the Songkhla governor, but little progress had been made in addressing the problem.” There was “no intention of inciting any public disturbances.”

Wirat pointed a finger back at the junta: “We allow the government to run the country and it should not slander us without verifying the facts. No Songkhla politicians were involved in inciting unrest…”.

These are strong words from the anti-democrats, suggesting an undercurrent of discontent with the regime’s bureaucratism.

The south is critical for the junta’s “election” planning. If The Dictator is to continue to rule Thailand, the alliance with anti-democrats in the region is critical, just as it was for bringing down the Yingluck Shinawatra’s government.

But retreat is not in the junta’s political playbook. Lt Gen Sansern said “he would want to have an understanding with Songkhla politicians that the government is ready to solve the problems of farmers and the people. So they should not be worried about this matter.”

That is the junta’s usual bureaucratic paternalism – we can solve all problems from the top down. The response included an assertion that the bureaucracy had everything in hand.

Thaworn again pointed an angry finger at the regime: “The prime minister and Lt Gen Sansern should visit the affected farmers and listen to their concerns for themselves…”.

How far will the junta want to go in attacking the Democrat Party? How far are the Democrat Party southerners prepared to go in expressing their discontent? Will there be a southern reconciliation? We reckon the Democrat Party needs the junta more than the junta needs the southern politicians.





Updated: Constitutional mayhem

24 02 2016

The alliance that was the anti-democrats with the military is coming undone. They are unpicking the alliance themselves as they are unable to agree on what “reform” means and how it will be handled if there is ever an elected government. The draft constitution is the source of the dissension, even if it is already a mess.

That the meaning of “reform” is debated is no surprise given that it has gone from political slogan to the military’s club for beating the country into its preferred shape, and is now being institutionalized.

As happened in 1992, when the military expresses its desire to hold onto power for ever and ever, some of those who think the boys in green are there just to see off those threatening the social order, get the fidgets. The elite and trembling middle class realizes that it may have to put up with these thugs and to keep paying them off with positions and power.

As the Bangkok Post reports, the junta’s demand that there be a “special set of rules to allow the military-led government to maintain security during the transition to civilian rule [and after] is likely to be rejected by charter drafters…”.

Frankly, we doubt that the junta will give way or that the Constitution Drafting Committee would develop a backbone. However, the idea of dissension and a rejection of the junta, from within, is worthy of note.

Described as “an ex-leader of the now-dissolved People’s Democratic Reform Committee” and as a “[f]ormer Democrat MP,” Thaworn Senniam said the “CDC will not include the cabinet proposal in the charter.” He said: “We can’t return to ‘half-democracy’.”

Thaworn has little conception of democracy, but his dissension is worth noting.

More significantly, the old fascist war horse “Sqn Ldr Prasong Soonsiri … is warning the military government against making any moves that reflects a desire to stay in power.” He remembers 1992. Anyway, he says, if the military doesn’t like something after an election it can easily intervene.

As expected, The Dictator is unimpressed.

The Nation reports that General Prayuth Chan-ocha has “affirmed the country needs a special mechanism to advance reforms during a five-year transitional period.” That “mechanism” is meant to guide government and is presumably replacing the unofficial and behind the scenes mechanism known as the Privy Council. (Post-Prem/post-present king, it can’t be trusted.)

It seems the junta is also pressing for an unelected senate. This is a favorite of the military as they get to hold many of the seats and have veto powers over government. In this instance “it would ensure the junta will have at least 200 senators supporting the junta after an election…”.

As it has been from the beginning, the junta seeks a throwback semi-democracy combined with an institutionalization of measures to replace the monarchy’s political interventionism.

Update: Former PADster, PRDCer and Democrat Party Foreign Minister Kasit Piromya has joined the splits from the junta. In a story at Matichon, he has slammed the military junta. Among other things, he digs at The Dictator, saying he wants to stay another five years after two years of failed administration. He says there have been no substantial accomplishments. He says there is no good reason for them to stay.

The dictatorship is being challenged. How will the erratic boss respond?





Update: Privilege and support

25 01 2016

The military dictatorship has made a big deal of its preference that political activists not meet so that their politics is deactivated. It has generally had the same line for political parties.

However, as readers will know, the junta makes strategic exceptions and supports its supporters. For example, fascist monk Buddha Issara has been permitted and even encouraged to rally with his supporters several times. Anti-democrat meetings involving Suthep Thaugsuban have been permitted. The military junta has even organized its own “protesters.”

Confirming these double standards, The Nation reports that the so-called Democrat Party, the preferred party of military and royalists, has been permitted to meet in Suthep’s southern political stronghold of Suratthani on Sunday.Democrat_Party

Party “heavyweights” reportedly met to deal with “internal conflicts posing [a] threat to its popularity in the capital after the party severed ties with its deputy leader, Bangkok Governor Sukhumbhand Paribatra.”

Democrat Party leader Abhisit Vejjajiva and Sukhumbhand, who have been at loggerheads, met with other party bosses “at the invitation of the party’s former secretary-general Suthep Thaugsuban, who now chairs the Great Mass of People’s Foundation for Thailand’s Reforms [the anti-democrats].” Despite his earlier denials, Suthep craves political power.

As Suthep is back in the driver’s seat, he also invited other People’s Democratic Reform Committee and “former” Democrat Party members including Sathit Wongnongtoey and Thaworn Senniam.

The future of the Democrat Party looks like shifting into Suthep’s hands. The military junta seems willing to extend political privileges to the Democrat Party as we guess the military junta will want a strong and united Democrat Party heading into any election after 2016. We doubt the military junta wants to build its own party, so the Democrat Party is their best bet.

Update: In a Bangkok Post report, General Prawit Wongsuwan tells human rights groups to screw themselves. He declares that the “ban on political assembly and activities” is not up for debate and is an “internal affair.” Prawit “said authorities had not violated the activists’ [Sirawith Seritiwat and Neo-Democracy students] human rights.” Sirawith was arrested on a train trip with activists to bring attention to military corruption. But anti-democrats are free to assemble and engage in political activities because they are privileged as supporters of the military and its junta.

 





Further updated: Suthep re-enters politics

28 07 2015

Much of the media commentary about Suthep Thaugsuban leaving the monkhood has been about his declaration that he will no longer be involved in politics.

Suthep

A Bangkok Post photo

Suthep entered the monkhood not that long after the coup, as a kind of political exile, and after a couple of slaps from the military dictatorship on commentary he made about the coup and his People’s Democratic Reform Committee links to the military’s planning of the coup.

Like others with a penchant for mobilizing people, be it Thaksin Shinawatra, Sondhi Limthongkul or even Chamlong Srimuang, the military is suspicious of them.

Hence, Suthep’s declaration that he is not re-entering politics is something of a ruse.

For one thing, saying he is done with party politics is not saying much when the military dictatorship has sent parties to the wilderness. Parties are more or less defunct and those drafting the new constitution have tried to make them less significant into the future.

Second, during the PDRC campaign against Yingluck Shinawatra’s government, much of the rhetoric was driven by royalist notions that are anti-party and a anti-politician, so an immediate return to party politics would be a denial of that anti-democratic ideology.

Third, it is noticeable that Suthep remains politically engaged. Photographed in his PDRC livery emphasizing monarchy and nation, Suthep stated that he “plans to join a foundation that other former protest leaders have established,” allegedly “to promote vocational education and other grassroots projects.” When he states that “I will work with the Foundation of the Great Mass of the People for Reform of Thailand. I will never go back to run in an election ever again. But I will be working in civil politics alongside the Great Mass of the People for the benefit of our country.”

In a sense, this is an acknowledgement of the post-politician/post-party politics that will be acceptable to the royalist elite and the military dictatorship. Suthep has re-entered politics in a space delimited by the military.

Update 1: As if on cue, Army chief General Udomdej Sitabutr has warned Suthep to steer clear of political organizing.

Update 2: The military dictatorship’s concerns regarding Suthep’s re-entry into politics has been shown in a statement by The Dictator. General Prayuth Chan-ocha “admitted yesterday he was concerned that politician Suthep Thaugsuban … has become politically active once again.” Prayuth was expressing concern about a press conference scheduled for Thursday that “will be the first time since the coup in May 22, 2014, that 12 PDRC leaders will officially get together to continue their push for reform.” Prayuth and Suthep

As Chairman of the so-called Foundation of the Great Mass of the People for Reform of Thailand, Suthep will attend the event. So will all of the other anti-democrat leaders: Sathit Wongnongtoey, Thaworn Senniam, Issara Somchai, Witthaya Kaewparadai, Akanat Promphan, Chumpol Chulasai, Chaiwut Bannawat, Puttipong Punnakan, Sakoltee Phattiyakul, Natthapol Theepsuwan and Chitpas Bhirombhakdi-Kridakorn.

The “foundation” will consider its “strategy to support ‘reforms’ according to the six-point proposal initiated by Suthep himself…”.

 





Further updated: Blame and other games

12 04 2015

Readers will be aware of the deadly [sorry, not deadly, but certainly damaging] car bomb in Koh Samui, causing several injuries. There is little evidence about the culprits or about the reasons for the bombing. There has been no claim of responsibility to date.

What is remarkable is that all political sides seem to agree that the attack was politically motivated, and as The Nation reports it, “aimed at challenging the government.”

The junta claims “there were ill-intentioned groups seeking an opportunity to disturb peace and instigate violence.” It reckons that because it has cracked down so hard in Bangkok that “the perpetrators have moved to other areas.”

Democrat Party deputy leader Nipit Intarasombat said the bomb “was the work of anti-government groups and had nothing to do with the southern insurgency…. The culprits focused on a tourism place. They want to demonstrate their power…”.

Thaworn Senneam of the anti-democratic People’s Democratic Reform Committee said the attack “was the work of someone who wanted to cause problems for the government and the country’s economy…”.

Puea Thai Party’s Worachai Hema believed “the attack was aimed to discredit the government after it imposed Article 44 to keep peace and order.”

PPT got a bit lost, however, when the junta spokesman said “initial reports revealed that the people responsible for the car bomb was the same group that had planted a bomb in Bangkok.” We understood that the junta had claimed to have arrested those responsible for the Bangkok bombing. Yet this turns out to be the wrong bombing!

Military “intelligence” suggests that “there is a possibility that the perpetrators were southern insurgents or natives of southern border provinces who have expertise in assembling car bombs and were hired with the same motivation as in the case of the bomb blast on Soi Ramkhamhaeng 43/1 in Bangkok…”.

That bomb was on 26 May 2013, injuring seven people. Conveniently, those responsible were sentenced less than three weeks ago. As far as we know, these men, all from Pattani, did not give up anyone else.

That attack, when the Yingluck Shinawatra elected government was in office, has been attributed to “southern insurgents.” A report in The Nation observed that some linked 2014 blasts in “Sadao and Phuket [to] attacks back to the May 26, 2013 attack on Ramkhamhaeng Soi 43/1 by an insurgent cell.” It added that political leaders at the time “maintain[ed] the Ramkhamhaeng bombing was not linked to unrest in the deep South…”. Yet, “security officials confirmed that the attack was a bid by one of the longstanding separatist groups to enhance its leverage in negotiations…”.

That report also stated that “a group did claim responsibility for the Ramkhamhaeng operation, stating its aim was to be at the negotiating table.”

If readers can explain all of this confusion, we’d be happy to learn more.

Update 1: Not prizes for guessing what this update is about. The Bangkok Post reports that all of the politicians quoted above, as well as the junta spokesmen, may all be wrong. The report states that “might have been caused by a local business or political conflict…”. That’s “according to a report from the government committee on solving problems in the southern border provinces.” At the same time, a red shirt supporter has been detained.

Update 2: As noted in our first update, a red shirt supporter had been arrested. Khaosod reports that Narin Ambuathong was arrested in Nonthaburi on 11 April. The military dictatorship’s spokesman stated that Narin was arrested an held under the draconian Article 44 of the junta’s interim institution, which allows the military to search properties and detain individuals without warrants and to interrogate them in secret, usually military, locations for seven days. He was arrested because of Facebook posts that appeared to refer to trouble in Suratthani. This report also refers to a fire that “broke out at Surat Thani Cooperative Store on the mainland, though no one was injured. Police say the store belongs to Suthep Thaugsuban, former deputy chairman of Democrat Party and leader of the street protests…”. While the idea of a cooperative being owned by Suthep seems odd, the implication is that the bomb and fire were linked political acts. Despite the earlier claimed link to the Soi Ramkhamhaeng bombing of 2013, the report says the “military junta has also insisted that the incidents are not related to the ongoing insurgency in the southern border provinces…”. They seem to be having trouble getting their story straight.