Thinking 112

23 09 2020

Royalist and other conservatives are pressing back against the demonstrators demanding reforms to the monarchy.

In the face of the unprecedented demands, an unusually even-tempered regime seems have caused great concern for some of the “protectors” of the monarchy.

According to Thai Enquirer, they are now “stepp[ing] up a pressure campaign to force the Prayut Chan-ocha government to take action against student protesters…”.

One of the first to file police complaints was the old yellow shirt/no colour/etc. royalist Tul Sitthisomwong, accusing the protesters of “defaming the monarchy.”

The report states that Tul’s is “likely to be the first of many charges filed against the rally organizers…”. Other royalists are pressuring the government to take action. One government MP is cited:

There are many in these groups and official organizations that feel that a line has been crossed and the government cannot stand idly by and watch a sacred institution be desecrated… There are people who are very respected in society who have asked us to take action….

These royalists want lese majeste to be used to shut the protesters down, arguing that “other criminal charges … of sedition and computer crimes laws” have not worked.

Another royalist, former Action Coalition for Thailand Party politician Sonthiya Sawasdee, has filed a police complaint against actress Intira “Sai” Charoenpura, who has funded aspects of the rallies.

In the latest legal backlash against those who organized the Sanam Luang protest, veteran actress  was targeted for allegedly fundraising donations and providing food at the rally site.

A police spokesman has said “the authorities will press all the relevant charges against the leaders and supporters of last weekend’s protest, including the lese majeste offense…”.

A return to the use of Article 112 is likely to raise the political temperature quite considerably.





Hardening lines II

16 08 2020

With another student-led gathering planned for today, rightist ultra-royalists are networking in opposition.

Thai Post reproduces a letter being circulated to oppose the students and their ten demands. This group appears to be the handiwork of Tul Sitthisomwong, the Chulalongkorn University medical faculty lecturer who has quite a history.

Clipped from The Nation several years ago

We think PPT’s first mention of Tul was in early April 2010 when he was a part of a pink shirt – channeling the king – rally, opposing red shirts. Abhisit Vejjajiva, then premier, gave them lots of support. At the time, Tul claimed that the group saw “themselves as a civic group opposing the offensive attempts against the monarchy, an unjustified snap election and runaway protests disrupting normalcy and peace.” Despite his claims that the pink shirts were not linked to the People’s Alliance for Democracy, Tul acted as a representative and member of PAD. The pink shirts later morphed into the “multicoloured- shirt group” and the “Citizen Protecting Homeland Group” or sometimes rendered “Citizen Network for Protection of Motherland.” In 2012, royalists including Tul cheered two thugs who had beaten up Nitirat’s Worachet Pakeerut because he called for reform of the lese majeste law. In 2013-14, Tul Sitthisomwong joined People’s Democratic Reform Committee rallies.

In other words, Tul’s has been around at the beginning of every royalist movements since the mid-2000s. His beffuddled understanding of monarchy is reproduced here.

The mobilizing of ultra-royalists has been a task often assigned to the Internal Security Operations Command, and has often been a precursor to increased political conflict.

While ultra-royalists are organizing, the media is being censored. In a remarkable op-ed at Khaosod, on the divide between youngsters and the old man royalist-military elite, Pravit Rojanaphruk demonstrates censorship.

The demands are listed here.

Meanwhile, universities have been ordered to prevent students from expressing their views on the monarchy.

Former communist, former academic, former failed politician, opportunist, bow-tied buffoon, and newly appointed Higher Education, Science, Research and Innovation Minister Anek Laothamatas demanded universities fall into line on royalist boundary riding and indoctrination:

Universities must be strict with their students in this respect and they must take responsibility if they fail to act, Mr Anek said.

“Teachers must explain to their students how important the monarchy is. Thailand has a constitutional monarchy. We must work together to prevent students and outsiders from insulting the monarchy. You can’t afford to turn a blind eye,” Mr Anek said.

Those present at the meeting included the presidents of Chulalongkorn University, Kasetsart University, Thammasat University, Chiang Mai University, Khon Kaen University, and Silpakorn University.

We imagine that this hardening of response, including arrests, represents the regime’s response to “royal advice” received during the king’s few hours in Bangkok earlier in the week.





Lese majeste at Al Jazeera

10 01 2015

We know we are late posting this link and that many readers will have already seen it.

The Stream is sometimes a bit difficult to keep up with when it interviews people on dodgy Skype connections and trying to link with reader tweets while presenting complex situations to a very general audience.

In the case of lese majeste in Thailand (not Qatar), the show interviewed lese majeste expert David Streckfuss, Saksith Saiyasombut of Siam Voices, ultra-royalist Tul Sitthisomwong and a “Thai citizen who supports lese majeste law,” Kuson Sintusingha.Kuson

PPT doesn’t believe we had never heard of Kuson previously, and compared with the other three, is the most interesting of the commentators simply because so many of his comments are indicative of a madness that affects so many of the anti-democrats. He’s a fully-enrolled member of this lot, as can be seen in his Facebook profile (right) which The Nation allowed him to use when providing “comments” on stories there.

The comments at that story at The Nation are indicative of his commentary on lese majeste. His claim is that lese majeste is most appropriately used against red shirts who are spreading lies about the king, probably at the behest of the hated Thaksin Shinawatra. His politics is clearly narrow and fascist, but he is not alone in these views in Thailand. The palace and military dictatorship know that monarchy fanatics are important political allies for they are easily mobilized and made aggressive and nasty vigilantes.

 





Rewarding the anti-democrats II

9 10 2014

Yesterday we posted on the rewards dished out to anti-democrats by placing them in the military dictatorship’s puppet National Reform Council.

A report at The Nation stresses just how much rewarding has gone on. Two of the major ideologues of anti-democratic movements from the People’s Alliance for Democracy to the Democrat Party-led anti-democrats of 2014, have been Chai-Anan Samudavanija and Chirmsak Pinthong.

Chai-AnanChai-Anan, who has long been funded by Sondhi Limthongkul, considered a palace insider and a staunch monarchist, is reportedly “among the leading candidates for the NRC presidency.” Back in May, Chai-Anan was amongst a group of elite conspirators who wanted the king’s intervention to “solve” the political crisis in their interests. They ran to aged General and Privy Council President Prem Tinsulanonda to seek his intervention with the aged monarch. This was another manifestation of the old man country. You get a flavor for their perspective from earlier, very popular posts at PPT: Dangerous old men or just silly old men? and A country for old men? (also available as ประเทศนี้สำหรับคนรุ่นเก่าหรือไง).

Back in 2009, PPT commented on Chai-Anan:

Chai-Anan Samudavanija, formerly a political scientist at Chulalongkorn University, is a long-time ally of Sondhi Limthongkul. He was also a supporter of Thaksin Shinawatra for a considerable time, and seemed to stay longer than Sondhi. Chai-Anan jumped ship when the People’s Alliance for Democracy was in Sondhi’s hands. Chai-Anan is also close to the palace, as director of Vajiravudh College and a member of the Royal Institute.

Chai-Anan has been a regular commentator at ASTV and his columns have been rather incendiary whenever the political temperature has risen over the last couple of years.

In another post, we pointed out that Chai-Anan was one of those who promoted the infamous PAD propaganda claim of a “Finland Plot” that linked Thaksin Shinawatra to a republican plot involving former communist activists. This pre-2006 coup device was meant to further establish the palace-Thaksin battle lines. As chairman of his own Institute of Public Policy Studies, long funded by PAD leader Sonthi, Chai-Anan has engaged in some some dubious name-calling and attacked representative politics. He has stated that electoral politics need to be re-considered and has been a supporter of the “Thai-style democracy” notions of non-democratic legitimacy.

ChirmsakChirmsak, a former senator once collected some valid criticisms of Thaksin Shinawatra in government but was soon captivated by the People’s Alliance for Democracy and dominated by a deep personal hatred of Thaksin. Back in 2010, he was howling about “civil war” and suggesting that Thaksin supporters are either paid by the tycoon or are traitors to the royal Thai state. As for those who were duped into voting for pro-Thaksin parties or into becoming red shirts, Chirmsak couples “the poor” with the “ignorant.” Like other right-wing intellectuals, Chirmsak remains so resolutely dismissive of many millions of his fellow citizens. Hence, he dismisses elections by talking of “a political party owned by an individual …[where the] party founders had no ideology and relied on their financiers to sustain the party.”  For Chirmsak – and he is absolutely logical and consistent in this –  the solution is appointed “independent MPs.”

In 2012, Chirmsak supported the ultra-royalist Siam Samakkhi group. At one of its rallies, he joined with a range of royalists including Tul Sitthisomwong and Kaewsan Atibhodhi when they cheered two thugs who had beaten up Nitirat’s Worachet Pakeerut. Worachet had once written in books edited by Chirmsak, criticizing Thaksin, but that counted for nothing when Chirmsak went after him as a political turncoat.

These are the political types who will chart “reform” for Thailand.





Further updated: Occupations and Korn

27 11 2013

We suggest watching Saksith’s Twitter (https://twitter.com/Saksith) account for a blow-by-blow description of fast unfolding events in the anti-government protests including the seizure of government buildings and provincial halls.

+++++

At the Bangkok Post, Suthep Thaugsuban has decided to go for broke and is painting himself as a martyr-in-waiting and hinted at violence to protect him:

Suthep insisted … he would not flee [and arrest warrant] as he said he respected the justice system but would not turn himself in to police until the so-called “Thaksin regime” is uprooted from the country….

He said if his supporters did not want him to be arrested, they should come to Bangkok to join the protests.

“These could be my last words to you. I don’t know what will become of me.”

… Suthep [again] urged all anti-government demonstrators across the country to take over the fight by laying siege to all government offices.

“I’m asking Bangkok people to do like I did at the Finance Ministry at all remaining ministries and for people in the provinces to do it at provincial halls and tell officials not to serve the Thaksin regime anymore,” he said.

“We have to do it simultaneously tomorrow [today], otherwise we will have no chance of victory.”

Provincial halls are now being seized in several places in the south where the Democrat Party is strong, and also at Saraburi.

In Bangkok, more government buildings are being seized. These attacks are being led by some southern stalwarts but also by PAD leaders such as Preecha Iamsuphan and Somkiat Pongpaibul, who have “moved to surround the Interior Ministry where the situation was the most tense. They demanded that all civil servants exit the building.” They cut off power to the complex.

Update 1: The old crew from PAD are getting this anti-government protest motivated. Along with the southerners arriving in fairly large numbers and the Dhamma Army providing the basis of the moveable demonstrations and some of the occupations, some of PAD’s celebrity supporters are being seen. Mad monarchist Tul Sitthisomwong has been with the crowds at Silom. Tul

The Bangkok Post has a reported that former Finance Minister, Abhisit Vejjajiva’s school chum and current deputy leader of the Democrat Party Korn Chatikavanij has been at some of the rallies and is showing support for his former colleague and the Party’s big boss, Suthep. Korn has also commented on his Facebook page that he supports Suthep’s campaign to overthrow the “Thaksin regime.”

A Bangkok Post photo

A Bangkok Post photo

Apparently, like Suthep, Korn craves a  “people’s government” which would consist of a “dream team” of administrators. This team would “temporarily take the helm of the country’s administration…”. It all sounds very last century, harking back to the military junta’s appointment of royalist Anand Panyarachun in 1991. One of the complaints from the yellow lot in 2006 was that the then junta appointed a bunch of has-beens to a “dream team” that was unable to root out the “Thaksin regime.”

Korn reveals that:

“Khun Abhisit (Vejjajiva) and all of us also would not take any positions (in the people’s government). I, for one, would like to make it clear I will also not take any position. I would take an administrative post only after being elected,” Mr Korn wrote on his Facebook.

 But, as in 2006, the Democrat Party then expects to take over from the “dream team” and run the country without having to worry about free and fair elections.

There’s just one small problem: “Korn said he did not quite understand what the ‘people’s government’ would really be like.” Really? No one seems to know! Perhaps they can just make it up after the chaos.

Update 2: The newly-established media division of the street protesters now calling themselves the Civil Movement for Democracy, has released its third statement (see the earlier two here). The third statement repeats six points that Korn posted at Facebook (and which we skipped above) suggesting that Korn and his team are working directly with the CMS. That said, there are some divergences in the preamble. It states:

CMD Statement Number: 3

Issued: 27 NOV 2013

Statement for Immediate Release

Civil Movement for Democracy (CMD)

Rejecting the divisive, color-coded politics of recent years, the Civil Movement for Democracy (CMD) is a broad-based people’s movement committed to rooting out Thaksin’s regime and to building an inclusive Thai society based upon sustainable democratic principles.

The Civil Movement for Democracy (CMD) is committed to establishing a People’s Assembly which would work in tandem with the current legislative structure, the Assembly would move to address structural flaws which are impeding the development of our country. The CMD considers institutional corruption as the main threat to the country and will implement structural changes to address this, such as:

1. Creation of an election system whereby vote buying would be more difficult – such as making electoral constituencies bigger.

2. Effectively counter corruption within the country – such as doing away with statutes of limitation for corruption charges.

3. Providing the public with more governing authority – such as giving the public more tangible powers to impeach flawed politicians and through increased decentralization by changing the gubernatorial system so that governors are directly elected rather than appointed by the Inter Minister (currently only the Governor of Bangkok is directly elected).

4. Reforming the police force – such as making the police more representative of the public’s needs by having the police in each province come under the jurisdiction of an elected Governors.

5. Reforming the bureaucracy so that it responds to the needs of the public rather the interests of politicians – such as making it more difficult for politicians to arbitrarily transfer bureaucrats (with measures such as those that currently ensure the impartiality of the Governor of the Bank of Thailand.)

6. Foster a free market economy that would prevent monopolies, collusion and market distorting policies such as the Rice mortgage scheme. Create a National Agenda to address issues such as Education, Health Care and Infrastructure deficiencies.

 The most interesting part of this statement is the claim that the now capitalized People’s Assembly will work with the existing parliament – the one Suthep has rejected. That seems to run counter to the earlier claim by Korn that a “dream team.” But then, if the “Thaksin regime” is toppled and the 300+ parliamentarians sent packing for voting on the amnesty bill, then there’s be on members of the Democrat Party left in parliament. Confused? So are we.

Much of the rest of the statement is stuff that’s been around on all sides of politics for some time – electing governors. cleaning up the cops, reforming the bureaucracy, decentralization – and you’d guess that the Democrat Party, when in government in the past, would have addressed these items. They didn’t so we are left wondering why they’d so it now.

Reforming the electoral system we take to mean another attempt by the Democrat Party and its backers to ensure that the party can get elected. In fact, prior to the last election in 2011, the Democrat Party tried some of this, but they were still beaten in a landslide. So “electoral reform” can only mean wholesale changes that are unrepresentative and anti-democratic; essentially, fixing the system.

The final shibboleth on the free market means little. In fact it might scare some supporters for the backers of the PAD and the Democrat Party favor oligopolies and sweetheart business deals for making their billions.

It seems they are a confused and confusing lot. We do know they hate Thaksin and love the king.

 





Some have gone home and other interesting bits and pieces

13 11 2013

A couple of days ago we said that it didn’t look like the various PAD and (anti)Democrat Party protest organizers were wanting to allow the protesters to go home, hoping to build a firestorm of protests to bring the government down.

If this photo, just tweeted, is anything to go by, it seems some have decided to take off. Perhaps just for a latte in the middle of the day? We don’t know, but the Democrat Party-supplied blue chairs look very, very lonely.

Empty seats

Meanwhile, a reader reminds us that the Men in Black have revealed themselves:

Men in BlackMore seriously, Thai E-news reports an email interview with someone claiming to be a Man in Black from 10 April 2010. Only in Thai, sorry.

Also serious is Kaewmala’s piece on recent events. As usual, her thoughtful commentary is worth a read. Her statement on the amnesty shamozzle is worth repeating:

Pheu Thai’s amnesty bid for Thaksin has to be the stupidest, most reckless and selfish gamble it has ever made. By now it is clear that Pheu Thai’s (or Thaksin’s) hubris in believing that the majority in parliament was enough to ram the bill through both the lower and upper houses was a colossal mistake.

The photo she reproduces of some Chulalongkorn students protesting against those who lie and cheat, kill and commit arson giving themselves an amnesty indicates that an education can’t erase hatred and closed mindedness amongst the scions of the elite. Presumably they are big fans of ultra-royalists like Chulalongkorn medico Tul Sitthisomwong and various elite astrologers.

Chula_students_poster1





“New” anti-government group is old and tired but threatening

26 07 2013

In recent days there has been talk of a “new” anti-government alliance. The Bangkok Post announces a “newly formed anti-government ‘People’s Army [Against the Thaksin Regime]…’.” It may be new in its current form and alliance, and it may excite the scribes in the mainstream media, but it is dreadfully old and corked wine in a not particularly new or even clean bottle.

This “People’s Army” – as much a misnomer as “People’s Alliance for Democracy” – says that it “hopes to mobilise at least 30,000 people to join a rally in Bangkok when the House resumes next week to deliberate the amnesty bill of Pheu Thai MP Worachai Hema.” It plans “co-ordinated” rallies and a “big event” on 4 August, aimed at “overthrowing the Thaksin Shinawatra regime…”. In fact, The Nation describes the “People’s Army” as being “formerly known as Pitak Siam…”. And, the group did meet at General Boonlert Kaewprasit’s Royal Turf Club.

But let’s be just a little more generous and agree that there is more to this than just the old men of Pitak Siam. So who are they? The leaders of the so-called new “People’s Army” include:

  • Thaikorn Polsuwan of the PAD in the Northeast;
  • Pitak Siam group under the new leadership of retired Admiral Chai Suwannaphap;
  • the Thai Patriot Network;
  • Card-carrying old man wanting to run Thailand for the monarchy, Police General Vasit Dejkunchorn of the misnamed Thai Spring non-group, said his (non)group would demonstrate against the amnesty bill. Vasit is able to mobilize royalists associated with the old counterinsurgency and mercenary groups from the Cold War;
  • dull royalist Tul Sitthisomwong, leader of the so-called multicolor movement,that is really a bunch of yellow shirts;
  • Suriyasai Katasila, coordinator of the Green Politics Group, and of PAD; and
  • PAD spokesman Panthep Puapongpan, who says PAD core leaders are to meet to assess their role.

While the Post says that the “People’s Army” is mobilizing “its” provincial chapters, these are the old PAD  networks.

This coalition is potentially threatening for the Yingluck Shinawatra government. Last time, when Pitak Siam rallied, the the cabinet decided to impose the Internal Security Act in three districts of Bangkok. That was criticized.





More yellow shirts bailed

20 04 2013

And why not? Yellow shirts seem to be bailed as night follows day, while red shirts get locked up and double standards prevail. At The Nation it is reported that another bunch of People’s Alliance for Democracy airport occupiers from late 2008 have been indicted and bailed.

This is reportedly “the sixth group of suspects arraigned in Criminal Court over the seizures of Don Mueang and Suvarnabhumi airports, joining 83 defendants…”.

This group included military PAD leader General Pathompong Kesornsuk, former loudmouth foreign minister Kasit Piromya, ultra-royalist loudmouth Tul Sitthisomwong and ultra-royalist propagandist Pramote Nakhonthap.

All bailed with a nod and a wink.





Fighting amnesty

11 03 2013

As PPT has pointed out previously, the royalist right has decided that the next battle with Thaksin Shinawatra and against the Yingluck government is to be on amnesty. Yes, we know that they have always opposed it, but now they see it as the looming reason for undermining the government.

Deputy House Speaker Charoen Chankomol has been busily sending out invitations for up to 10 or 11 political and politicized groups to come together and consider a way forward.

At The Nation, it is reported that the People’s Alliance for Democracy wants to include eight groups:

the Pheu Thai Party, the red shirts, the Democrat Party, the PAD, the people affected by the political turmoil, Nicha Hiranburana Thuwatham – wife of Colonel Romklao who was killed, the Truth for Reconciliation Committee of Thailand and the anti-government Pitak Siam group.

Immediately, it is clear that Nicha is not a “group,” but the wife of royalist “martyr,” intent on pushing an agenda to exclude lese majeste victims from any amnesty. We guess that the royalist dolts from Pitak Siam are included for the same reason. Even so, this bunch of old soldiers and coup plotters wasn’t a group formed until after the events of 2010. Perhaps this lot are included by PAD because they are allies of both PAD and the old men behind the 2006 military coup.

PAD seems to be engaged in dinosaur crowd sourcing.

In the end, Charoen has:

invited representatives from 11 groups, including the Pheu Thai Party, the Democrat Party, the Bhumjaithai Party, the armed forces, PAD, UDD and Pitak Siam. Also invited are Nicha Hiranburana Thuwatham, representing families of state officials killed on duty at political rallies; business operators affected by political violence; the defunct Truth for Reconciliation Commission; and the multi-colour group, led by Tul Sitthisomwong.

Army boss General Prayuth Chan-ocha demands “representatives from all the armed forces” involved. He set the tone for the combined royalist approach to amnesty: “Before granting amnesty we have to look into what the laws say what to do about wrongdoing…”.

Despite all of this compromising and inviting, PAD spokesman Panthep Puapongpan declares: “I have a sense that there might be a [political] rally soon.” Remarkably, he accused the Puea Thai Party was “forcing other groups to join in.” We assume he understands that the “Democrat” Party has refused to enter any discussions.

The yellow shirts are likely to oppose anything they think or imagine “affects the status of the monarchy, or any law is passed granting amnesty to fugitive former premier Thaksin Shinawatra and his group.” So amnesty for them is nothing more than an excuse for a fight. At the Bangkok Post, the “Democrat” Party believes that the monarchy is under threat from amnesty and that “Pheu Thai’s real motivation was to whitewash fugitive former prime minister Thaksin Shinawatra and co-leaders of the red-shirt group.” That sounds exactly like PAD.

Also at the Bangkok Post, the “so-called multi-colours,” who are just yellow shirts by another name, “will not take part in a planned discussion of a proposed new amnesty bill … because it is not the right time for it, their leader Tul Sitthisomwong said…”. For the dullard Tul, the right time is after “alleged offenders” have been convicted:

He said what should be done first was to speed up the judicial process against alleged offenders of the laws in connection with political protests. Amnesty should be considered individually after the court delivered a verdict on each one, he said.

According to another report at the Bangkok Post, “the Democrats [meaning the party, for it includes few democrats], PAD, Pitak Siam, Ms Nicha and Dr Tul – have announced they would boycott the meeting.”

Another yellow-shirt front group, the Green Politics Group, had its coordinator Suriyasai Katasila announce that the proposed meeting would “fail because it is driven by politicians with hidden agendas who have failed to gain the trust of the public.” He means the popular and elected government….

In the end, as the Post reports, a half-hearted, half-attended meeting was held to agree with a set of platitudes.





Streckfuss at the FCCT

13 02 2013

Continuing the series of clips from the Foreign Correspondents’ Club of Thailand discussion of lese majeste on 31 January 2013 following the sentencing of Somyos Pruksakasemsuk. Earlier clips from the series are Chiranuch Premchaiporn’s comments and those by Sukanya Prueksakasemsuk.

Streckfuss begins with some apparent refutation of remarks by royalists including Bowornsak Uwanno and  Tul Sitthisomwong and then turns to comparisons of Thailand’s lese majeste law with analogous laws in Europe.