Royals to be scrutinized by parliament

10 02 2013

It is reported that:

Parliament’s most powerful watchdog, the Public Accounts Committee, is expected to launch an inquiry later this year into the finances of the … Royal Family. This follows a change in the law which, for the first time, gives MPs oversight of royal finances.

But before Tul Sitthisomwong and his bunch of mindless ultra-royalists descend on parliament to protest that the sky is falling, they might note that this is in the U.K., where the monarchy is far closer to the meaning of constitutional monarchy than the secretive, opaque and politically-interventionist lot in Bangkok (also see ควีนอังกฤษเตรียมถูกตรวจสอบการใช้จ่ายงบประมาณสาธารณะ).





Debating lese majeste and responses to it

4 02 2013

Saksith Saiyasombut at Siam Voices has a very useful post summarizing the debates that have arisen regarding lese majeste since the sentencing of Somyos Prueksakasemsuk.

He mentions the strong international reaction, including one by the U.S. State Department that PPT hadn’t previously seen. Also mentioned is the spineless response by those in Thailand who should be concerned, including the  such as the National Human Rights Commission and the Thai Journalists’ Association.

Football Somyos

Picture from Siam Voices, where the credit is: via Twitter/@Anuthee.

He also mentions some of the domestic reaction, including the widely publicized demonstration at the:

… football match between the universities of Thammasat and Chulalongkorn on Saturday, students (including Somyot’s son) from both sides were seen showing a large banner in the stands saying “FREE SOMYOT” and protesting around the stadium. The public protest happened in the opening ceremony – from which they were forbidden to participate – where giant paper-mache figures lampoon political figures, which was obviously this year prime minister Yingluck Shinawatra.

Add to this the actions by Chiang Mai students similarly demonstrating and a range of other protests, including a constant barrage of events and actions seen at Facebook and other social media, and it is seen that outrage is being expressed quite vigorously.

Saksith also mentions the debate over lese majeste at and about the Foreign Correspondents’ Club of Thailand. On the debate held there, a useful link is made to a transcript of the statement by the self-lampooning royalist Tul Sitthisomwong. On the raging controversy regarding the FCCT itself, Saksith states:

There’s been some controversy that the FCCT did not issue a statement on the Somyot verdict – understandable, since the club board has been targeted with a lèse majesté complaint in the past that was utterly politically motivated. However, the club itself defended their decision on the night of the panel discussion by saying that the FCCT is a club and not a journalist’s association.

For PPT the most basic point is that the FCCT has sidestepped its own claims on freedom of expression. Being part-time defenders of this freedom sets a dangerous precedent and, as royalist Tul explains in his comments linked above, it gives succor to the lese majeste defenders:

I am Dr. Tul Sittisomwong from the group of „Citizen Protecting Homeland“ including the monarchy that the Thai people love…. I want to be here, invited by the FCCT and (I am) so relieved that the FFCT [sic]. won’t have any statement about this sensitive issue. That will be a big thing after the EU.

The debate on the FCCT continues at New Mandala and at ZenJournalist, where even PPT is chastised for recalling that “the FCCT bravely put on talks by lese majeste opponents,” while posting about the FCCT sadly ducking the issue of freedom of expression and the draconian sentencing of Somyos.





Warped world royalism and lese majeste

3 02 2013

Following our links to the comments by ZenJournalist in a recent post, PPT also wants to link to a report of a discussion of lese majeste at the Foreign Correspondents’ Club of Thailand, reported in the Bangkok Post. It is worth noting that the FCCT has a record of putting lese majeste on its agenda. This time they had  Sukunya Prueksakasemsuk who has been vigorous in campaigning for her husband, Somyos, academic David Streckfuss, and Chiranuch Premchaiporn, a victim of the lese majeste-like computer crimes law. They also had the dreadful and dull royalist Tul Sitthisomwong. We will highlight just a couple of parts of the report.

Chiranuch noted that while the Somyos case had some similarities with her own in that both “were charged over material written by someone else,” Somyos was kept in prison and “presented at court in heavy shackles, transported hundreds of kilometres to various provinces for hearings headed by several different judges and allowed only limited access to family and lawyers. Chiranuch was allowed bail and had unhindered access to lawyers and family.” Chiranuch added that this treatment amounted to an “attempt to dehumanise Somyot.”

The defense of lese majeste and all things royalist came from Tul, a self-appointed defender of the monarchy and its political system. His story is “that it was inappropriate to look at the lese majeste issue from the perspective of human rights and free expression.” He sees lese majeste as a law that protects “national security,” by which he means that “red shirt stage rhetoric had become so inflammatory that it was clear they desired a new state no longer defined as a constitutional monarchy.” Tul’s view is that “Somyot had been a prominent voice of that movement…” and states that Somyos needed to be locked up to protect monarchy and the system it underpins: “Somyot’s case, he argued should be seen as a necessary action to protect the state and its institutions against a movement intent on undoing them.”

Remarkably, Tul expresses what other ultra-royalists often feel when he insists that the lese majeste law is “as vital to Thai society as prohibitions against murder or drug trafficking. Like those laws, lese majeste cases serve to remind the public about what acceptable behaviour is in society.” He adds that to “repeal Article 112 would be tantamount to pulling out the foundations of Thai society.”

In Tul’s warped world, the fact that  there was an escalation of lese majeste charges following the 2006 military coup and when military-backed governments were in place “was proof of a movement to undermine the Thai state and its institutions…”. This warped logic is not uncommon amongst the yellow shirt brigade of ultra-royalists. Thankfully, Streckfuss pointed out that the rise in cases “was due to a political and military will to preserve the status quo.”

And, we’d add, don’t forget the crusty lot in the palace. Their fears meant that they demanded action that, like Tul, they saw as threatening “their” system and its economic and political privileges.

 





“Reforming” lese majeste to save the regime

29 01 2013

The Bangkok Post is a conservative newspaper. It has been the preferred newspaper of the English-reading Thai elite and tends to reflect their interests. In recent years it has demonstrated the royalism of that elite, hoping that the relatives and friends in military- and palace-backed governments (under on-again-off-again Privy Councilor Surayud Chulanont and elite scion of the royalist elite, Abhisit Vejjajiva) could get royalist rule back on track.

So it is significant that the recent lese majeste conviction of Somyos Prueksakasemsuk has caused the Bangkok Post to issue a call for “reform” of this draconian, medieval law. We assume that this call represents one thread of discussion within the higher echelons of the royalist elite who now see lese majeste as a problem for royalist rule.

We make this assumption because the Post editorial begins by observing that the “trial and conviction of Somyot Prueksakasemsuk has once again put Thailand in an uncomfortable spotlight.” We can imagine that the fact that “Thailand is increasingly criticised as a nation where authorities trample on the media and on freedom of expression” bothers the elite. We guess that some of them are tired of having to defend Thailand and its “protection” of a fabulously wealthy and privileged monarchy as somehow “culturally unique.” They probably get prickly at having to defend the sentencing of chained and caged journalists, aged men and political activists as being “culturally appropriate.” The idea that two men are sentenced for things they didn’t say and articles they didn’t write is probably causing them to squirm in their bespoke suits and Thai silk designer dresses.

Hence, the editorial demands action be taken to address the discomfort felt by some of the royalist upper crust about the lese majeste law (the editorial also briefly mentions the Computer Crimes Act). To be sure, Article 112 is defined by the Post as “a special law about the most special high institution,” and it makes no political or class mistake by demanding that the law is required, necessary and foundational:

The purpose of a lese majeste law must be to protect the monarchy and the royal family. They are otherwise defenceless against libel, slander, defamation, and against attacks on the system of democracy under a constitutional monarchy.

So the Post’s argument is that the lese majeste law might be reformed in ways that maintain the status quo and continue to “protect” the monarchy and the system of elite rule that it underpins. [Of course, “defenceless” is a bizarre term when referring to a body that wields huge political and economic power, but the monarchy continues to fear a situation where normal law might be applied to it and its privileges.]

The Post appears to be calling for a thinking person’s royalist “reform” of lese majeste as the “ultra-nationalists” are too hardline [read this as meaning: ultra-royalists are a nasty lot only good for street demonstration at needed times to protect our ruling class] and “advocates of legal change too often play into the hands…” of the yellow-shirted “knee-jerk” protection-of-the-monarchy lot. Hence, the “key to any reasonable amendment of the Criminal Code cannot proceed rationally from simple opposition to a law. The question is what the country needs, and what best serves the nation and all its institutions.”

In other words, how do “we” keep the law, “protect” the monarchy which “we” maintain as foundational to our class rule and not have to be “uncomfortable” and seen as knuckle-draggers locally and internationally.

Reflecting this ruling elite position, the editorial then claims to speak for all Thais:

… there is no disagreement among Thais. All citizens want to protect the national institutions. Protection of the monarchy, in particular His Majesty the King, is the aim of all citizens. No rational person or group has called for abolishing laws which protect His Majesty and the royal family. So any discussion of legal change can start on level ground:

This is pompous upper class nonsense. Of course there is disagreement! Clearly, there are rational Thais who do wish to abolish the law. Others, for reasons of political limitations, powerful threats and extant fears of attack, demand thoroughgoing reform rather than going the extra step.

The Post is right to observe that “[r]easonable people also can agree that Section 112 of the Criminal Code is out of date and deserves careful and factual study.” It observes that “it is obvious that the law is sometimes used by unscrupulous people in a political manner to harass those with whom they disagree.” This charge must include Abhisit, Suthep Thaugsuban and a gaggle of Democrat Party politicians, pretty much everyone in the leadership of the People’s Alliance for Democracy, Tul Sitthisomwong, Army boss General Prayuth Chan-ocha, several high officials in the Interior ministry, a number of politicians associated with pro-Thaksin Shinawatra political parties, amongst many others.

Tacitly acknowledging that many of the charges currently going through the courts were politicized charges brought by the Abhisit regime, the Post calls for an “amended Section 112 [that] would cause lese majeste charges to be brought only in cases where legal experts were certain that the offence was indeed against the monarchy _ not against a political ideology.” The editorial advocates “… change to make it relevant to the current situation.”

Without acknowledging that  lese majeste charges have declined very significantly under the the Yingluck Shinawatra government, the Post blames politicians for being tardy on lese majeste reform and its abuse. Yingluck’s timidity on lese majeste is based on a fear that “an amendment to Section 112 could be political suicide.” To then compare her political reticence with “silence” by her predecessors is disingenuous. Surayud and Abhsit weren’t “silent” on lese majeste; they used it again and again to repress political opponents and to demonstrate loyalty and their royalist credentials. They were deafening in their use of this political weapon. They spawned hundreds of other knuckle-draggers on monarchy and lese majeste through their collaboration with those who considered the monarchy and monarchy’s state under threat from republicans.

The ruling class is trying to save the royalist state it has constructed.





Aljazeera on lese majeste

16 12 2012

Aljazeera has a video story on lese majeste. Watch for the dullard ultra-royalist Tul Sitthisomwong defending a law that is draconian, keeps people locked up for decades and limits democratic development:





With 3 updates: Pitak Siam rallies

24 11 2012

Some early pictures of the Pitak Siam rally, together with the bizarre story of escaped snakes at a rally car park are available at Manager Online.

Update 1: It didn’t take long before Pitak Siam protesters got in the face of police, surging through barbed wire and being hit with tear gas. This made a mockery of the fake claims by the Pitak Siam leadership that there would be no violence, and if there was, the rally would end. Of course, that wasn’t what the dinosaur leadership wanted; they prefer confrontation and the police seemed willing to respond. Several protesters were arrested and several of them and police suffered minor injuries.

Dinosaur-in-chief General Boonlert Kaewprasit:

vowed to retaliate against the police for detaining a group of demonstrators. He threatened to storm the prime minister’s Government House office complex, a tactic used in the 2008 demonstrations by he yellow-shirted People’s Alliance for Democracy.

He claimed the police “broke the promise that will allow us to stage a peaceful rally” when the video shows the protesters breaking through. Boonlert blamed the police for “trying to lure us into violence…”. He added: “If the police don’t stop doing something like this, I may ask the military to help me.”

Reports: The Nation, Bangkok Post, AFP.

Video from 2Bangkok.com:

Update 2: By mid-afternoon, it is clear that Pitak Siam is seeking to mount a PAD-like effort to provoke violence and occupy areas in the city. Organizers have used claims of lese majeste to damn the Puea Thai government and enrage supporters. This was followed by further efforts to occupy areas of the city. For no other reason than to provoke police, royalist dunce Tul Sitthisomwong went on the warpath, leading protesters to occupy Makkhawan Rangsang Bridge. This effort saw more tear gas used by police against protesters.

Meanwhile, Defence Minister Sukampol Suwannathat “ordered Army chief Gen Prayuth Chan-ocha to prepare troops to assist police to keep law and order should police fail to control the situation…”. Prayuth was reported as ordering “the First Division, the Second Cavalry Division and the Anti-Aircraft Artillery Division to prepared 8 companies of troops each to provide reinforcements to police when asked to.”

Boonlert was reported as stating that the rally would continue, even as numbers remained lower than he hoped for.

Update 3: Reports of protesters preparing weapons emerge. PPT is not going to update this post further as both Bangkok Pundit and Siam Voices are live blogging (connect from our links above, right).





Bringing down the government

23 11 2012

Many in Pitak Siam are gleeful that the Constitutional Court has refused to seriously consider petitions against its rally and that the Yingluck Shinawatra government has been spooked into invoking the Internal Security Act.

But apart from that, little seems to have changed amongst the groups that are coming together to further undermine the elected government.

According to the Bangkok Post, the big rally supporters are from “the yellow-shirt People’s Alliance for Democracy (PAD) … [and] several active and retired soldiers will also join the ranks, along with strategic and tactical advisers…”.

Then there is the misnamed “multi-coloured-shirt group led by Tul Sitthisomwong,” which are simply ultra-royalist-fascists; the equally misnamed ultra-nationalist “Peace-Loving Thais group led by Kanchanee Walayasevi.” Of course the shock troops provided by PAD’s Chamlong Srimuang’s Dhamma Army will be there. So will the Democrat Party-aligned “Group of People from 16 Southern Provinces led by Sunthorn Rakrong” and the dinosaur  “group of state enterprise labour union activists led by Somsak Kosaisuk, a former PAD co-leader.”

The Post tries to claim that there will be new groups attending, including “the People’s Movement for a Just Society (P-move), which consists of landless farmers, displaced people, and those affected by state projects; the Network of Small-Scale Northeastern Farmers; and the Assembly of the Poor.” All were part of the anti-Thaksin Shinawatra movements in the past and aligned with the PAD, so there is nothing new here.

It is somewhat surprising that the AoP is returning to the fascist-yellow side given that its grassroots supporters have previously rejected PAD. PPT imagines that the old pro-PAD leadership is struggling to regain control of the AoP.

For all of this claim to “variety”, the basic hue remains yellow and the “anti-government rally tomorrow is expected to be mainly Bangkok residents and supporters of the opposition Democrat Party, many of whom are unhappy with the Yingluck administration.”

 





Further updated: Bring on the coup, again and again and again

24 10 2012

In our last post, PPT mentioned the many times that Pitak Siam [Protecting Siam] boss and retired Army officer General Boonlert Kaewprasit had demanded and pleaded for a military coup. Sad old soldier Boonlert has repeatedly urged soldiers to protect the monarchy, save Thailand from the boffins at Nitirat with a coup, warned or talked of a military coup to prevent “disrespect” being shown to the monarchy, of another coup to protect General Prem Tinsulanonda. A military coup for Boonlert is a solution for many ills, a bit like any normal person might take a painkiller for a headache or other pain.

Hence it is no surprise at all when this old pain-ridden retiree calls again for a … yawn … coup. The old coupster “said he would have staged a coup by now if he was in a position to do so, claiming the country is being run by a ‘puppet government’.” If people were confused about what he really wanted, Boonlert explained:

I’d love to see a coup because I know this puppet government is here to rob the country. Several sectors of society can’t take it anymore. If I had the power a coup would have been staged by now….

Boonlert is a bit of a dunce, but such manipulable dolts are useful for others to use. But surely they could script him better. When he claims that the Yingluck Shinawatra government “has not only stood by as offensive criticism has been hurled against the monarchy, but it has appeared to encourage it,” he sounds as if he has lost his marbles.

Boonlert said his “organisers hope to draw about 25,000 people to fill up the Royal Turf Club stadium” when Pitak Siam rally on Sunday. Still looking for his marbles he then says “the rally has no political backing or funding…”. In another story on Boonlert, the Bangkok Post explains that the backers/supporters are all ultra-royalists: “…Tul Sitthisomwong, scholar sic.] Pramote Nakhonthap, Senator Somjet Boonthanom and activist [sic.] Adm Chai Suwannaphap.”

Adding more to the Boonlert story, the Bangkok Post decides that the silly old duffer is “widely respected…”. Yes, seriously, that is the term they use. Why? the old gun polisher “is a classmate of privy councillor and former premier Surayud Chulanont, who came to power after the Sept 19, 2006 putsch toppled Thaksin.” What a (non)surprise! Boonlert is secretary of the Royal Turf Club and General Surayud is president of the club. What a (non)surprise!

Update 1: A reader points out that the Bangkok Post should have noted that under the military junta’s 2007 Constitution, Section 68 states:

No person shall exercise the rights and liberties prescribed in the Constitution to overthrow the democratic regime of government with the King as Head of State under this Constitution or to acquire the power to rule the country by any means which is not in accordance with the modes provided in this Constitution.

Boonlert is thus proposing an unconstitutional and unlawful act, and he does so repeatedly.

Update 2: Further on The Nation’s beat up and bias, the Bangkok Post has two stories where both the premier and the UDD state the right of Pitak Siam to peacefully rally. Yingluck stated that “she was ready to listen to opinions aired at the rally…”. Deputy Prime Minister Yutthasak Sasiprapa stated that

… the rally on Oct 28 would likely be joined by a group of national development participants, who were former communist insurgents who defected to the authorities a long time ago. He said there are five groups of “national development participants” and those joining the rally belong to a group of 300-400 people who had already received assistance and compensation from the government while Gen Surayud Chulanont was prime minister.





Updated: Tul on lese majeste

18 10 2012

The Nation quotes ultra-royalist Tul Sitthisomwong observation on opponents of the lese majeste law: “It’s not that they are against the lese majeste law per se. Their concept is that the institution of monarchy impedes true democracy.”

Wrong and right at the same time! PPT and lots of other who want the lese majeste law abolished oppose it because it is a bad law that is used to attack political opponents and to lock up dissidents. The greatest use of the lese majeste and related laws is when political repression is at its highest (as in 1976-78 and 2006-11). That said, Tul is right to observe that the monarchy as presently constituted in Thailand impedes true democracy. The monarchy sits atop a political and economic structure that has been created using the power of the state to maintain social, political and economic inequality. Indeed, the monarchy’s huge wealth is created and buttressed by a military-dominated and violent state, of which the lese majeste law is just one element of repression and control.

The history of opposition to this royalist system has seen thousands of Thais murdered by the state and tens of thousands jailed. Democracy with the monarchy as its icon and the military as its enforcer is no democracy at all.

Update: The Bangkok Post reports on Nitirat member Jantajira Eiamayura commenting on the “Constitution Court’s Oct 10 ruling that the lese majeste law was constitutional because the King, as the head of state, was entitled to protection under the law.” Jantajira argued that “the lese majeste law was in conflict with freedom of expression, despite the court’s ruling to the contrary. She argued that the law allows anyone to make a lese majeste accusation, allows no right to bail, does not distinguish between insult and criticism in good faith, and restricts citizens’ rights and liberties as guaranteed by the constitution.” She added that “if the lese majeste law was necessary to protect the monarchy, then other institutions such as parliament and the cabinet needed special laws to protect them too.” We are not sure the latter is correct. What is important is abolishing a law that prevents freedom of expression and bolsters a rotten state.





Updated: Tul’s vulgar threats

8 08 2012

A couple of readers have asked why PPT hasn’t mentioned ultra-royalist Tul Sitthisomwong’s threat to academic Somsak Jeamteerasakul. Part of the reason is because both New Mandala and then Bangkok Pundit have provided excellent coverage of the threat and the failure of much of the mainstream media to report it.

Matichon had the story that was the basis of the New Mandala post and this was published on 4 August, a day after Tul’s Facebook rant (sign in to Facebook to read his wall). Our comment here is mainly based on our quick reading of Tul on Facebook.

A Nation photo.

PPT doesn’t usually read Facebook, but as several readers (here and here) have pointed out at New Mandala, Tul’s wall is full of his own rants and those by followers who proclaim love for the monarchy and king while posting vicious and vulgar statements of hate for those they consider opponents, and that makes it worth a look.

As Bangkok Pundit points out, there are some on the red shirt side who post threats as well, but it is revealing that the mainstream media chooses to highlight these and not even report those by the self-appointed spokesperson of the ultra-royalists.

In the various Facebook posts, Tuls’ “friends” have joined him in making threats, asking why he chooses a Winchester over an 11mm cartridge and suggesting that all of the “anti-monarchy bastards” should face the gun and so on. Tul responds on the caliber by noting that he meant a .357 cartridge.

If one looks at Tul’s Facebook info page, not only does he claim to be representing “the people,” but his education is that of the elite: Triam Udom School, St. Gabriel’s College and Chulalongkorn University. His vulgar and usually witless postings at Facebook attract a similar crowd of yellow shirts who appreciate the opportunity to unleash on their hated opponents in vulgar and threatening ways. In this sense, as when he leads the so-called no colors (who are all yellow shirts), Tul is able to provide a surrogate platform for views that were once common on the People’s Alliance for Democracy stage and amongst rally participants.

In the current exchange with his “friends,” his most recent claim is that: “ธรรมศาสตร์เอาคนที่ทำ thesis เรื่องคอมมิวนิสต์ในประเทศไทย มาลอนประวัติศาสตร์นี่เอง รุ่นนี้ถึงคิดไม่เอาสถาบันกันหมด” saying that Thammasat has hired Somsak as a teacher,  who wrote a thesis on the history of the CPT, and pointing out that this lot want to see an end to the monarchy. For PPT, this statement is full of meaning. Essentially Tul links himself to the rightists who massacred “communists” at Thammasat in 1976.

We are sure he would be entirely comfortable with that position for those rightists killed in the name of the monarchy.

Update: As we have mentioned 1976, it seems like an opportunity to mention a new document PPT has posted at our Monarchy and lese majeste page. It is “Lese Majeste Used as Political Trick”, by Inoue Sumio and was published in AMPO in 1976 (it is a 1MB PDF).