Debating lese majeste

13 12 2020

Clipped from France24

While the anti-regime demonstrators are taking a break until the new year, it is appropriate that their last 2020 rallies targeted Article 112 on lese majeste. After all more than two dozen of their members now face lese majeste charges.

The Bangkok Post reports that speakers at the rally “vowed to drum up public support for their call for the revocation of … the lese majeste law.” It is reported that:

In a joint statement read at the 14 October 1973 Memorial [where there had earlier been an explosion], one of the anti-government movement’s three rally sites in Bangkok on Thursday, eight protest leaders facing lese majeste charges insisted they would not settle for anything less than the law being repealed.

The speakers said that this law is “a hindrance to freedom of expression, carries a hefty penalty and is often exploited as a political tool to suppress political opponents.”

As PPT has been posting since 2009, all of this is true.

Parit Chiwarak called for all of the existing 112 cases to “be dropped and amnesty be granted to all suspects and those already punished compensated, for the sake of democracy and for Thailand to be able to move forward and reduce political conflicts in society…”.

Prachatai reports that another action, this led by the 24 June Democracy Group, representatives had been “to the United Nations (UN) office in Bangkok …[on] 10 December … to petition the UN Human Rights Council to pressure the Thai government to repeal Section 112, Thailand’s lèse majesté law.”

Their petition observes that “pro-democracy protests have been met with state persecution and crackdowns, despite peaceful protest being a right under the Thai constitution and international human rights principles.” Hundreds of protesters are facing charges, including lese majeste.

Somyos Prueksakasemsuk said “Section 112 is an outdated law which restricts people’s rights and freedom of expression, which is one of the fundamental freedoms, and has been used against the political opposition.” He added that:

since the head of state receives income from taxpayers and is in this position according to the constitution, criticism of the head of state should be permitted in order to resolve the public’s questions about the monarchy. If Section 112 is repealed, the head of state will be able to come to an understanding with the people, which would be beneficial to the monarchy itself and to Thai politics….

He said that using Section 112 against protesters will lead to confrontation between the monarchy and the people. He asked whether the judicial process, where the courts represent the monarch as judgements are made in his name, will be just, because if people are denied bail or if an arrest warrant is immediately issued, it will be a reflection of injustice, which would not be beneficial to the government and the monarchy.

The chicken farmer

Those who want Article 112 to be maintained and used more also rallied, led by chicken farmer and Palang Pracharath Party reactionary Pareena Kraikupt and former senior bureaucrat and now appointed Senator Chadej Insawang, “in his capacity as deputy chairman of a committee on the protection of the royal institution [monarchy].”

They claimed “[t]here are laws similar to Section 112 in all countries including the UK…”, a claim also made by former Democrat Party MP Warong Dechgitvigrom, who leads the ultra-royalist Thai Pakdee mob of grey hairs. We should point out that these dopes never do any research about such laws and prefer to make stuff up, and even when corrected carry on with their fake claims.

Making false claims has become a yellow shirt trademark. Those who went with Pareena carried signs that read “Stop threatening the life of the King.”





Further updated: Lese majeste cases rising

7 12 2020

It remains unclear to PPT exactly how many lese majeste cases have been filed by police. Different reports have different numbers and some of this may reflect that some people have been charged several times.

A recent report tells of two new complaints against activists. Parit “Penguin” Chiwarak and Atthapol “Khru Yai” Buaphat have been hit with 112 complaints by ultra-royalist in Khon Kaen, representing the mad monarchists of Thai Pakdee.

Sunate Kaewkhamhan, said to be “a core member of the Thai Pakdee Group of Khon Kaen,” made the complaint to police. Sunate claimed that the two activists’ “infringements on the royal institution [monarchy] are intolerable…” and promised that “wherever and whenever they go up on a stage to speak against the monarchy, we will compile evidence and file a complaint against them for violating Section 112…”.

Sunate appears to have once been a president of a fake “union” aligned with turncoat red shirt Suporn Atthawong. Both men are likely to be supported by the Army/ISOC.

Prachatai has posted a graphic listing 17 individuals who have been reported to have had police summons for 112 charges. We reproduce it below and note that it does not list Atthapol, so the total is at least 18.

Update 1: Somyos Prueksakasemsuk, who spent 7 long years in prison on lese majeste convictions, has posted on social media that he has been summoned to report to police on another 112 charge. So the running total is now at least 19.

Update 2: The case against Somyos is now reported in The Nation. He is “charged of violating Article 112 of the Criminal Code at a protest on September 19 and 20.” Prachatai has now repoduced its graphic in English with a story on the 112 charges. We have changed the purloined graphic used above to the English version.





Updated: Courts, media, monarchy and constitution

4 12 2020

A couple of short reports that PPT found interesting.

On Wednesday, the Constitutional Court also ruled that:

… summons orders issued by the now-defunct military regime are unconstitutional.

The court ruled by a vote of 7-2 that NCPO Announcement No.29/2014 contravened Section 29 of the constitution.

The court also ruled by a unanimous decision that NCPO Announcement No.41/2014 runs counter to Section 26 of the charter.

Announcement No.29 ordered people to report to authorities while Announcement No.41 stipulated penalties including criminal action against those who failed to report.

Given that several hundred were detained, this ruling opens a channel for former detainees like Nitirat’s Worachet Pakeerut of Thammasat University and a law professor to look at filing “a suit for damages from former members of the now-defunct National Council for Peace and Order (NCPO)…”.

In another story, we zoom right. Right-wing ultra-royalist Warong Dechgitvigrom and his nutter friends in Thai Pakdee have “asked the Constitutional Court … to halt the charter change process, claiming it could overthrow Thailand’s system of governance.”

As happened in the recent past, rightists oppose any move to change even punctuation in the charter claiming the sky will fall. Watch what the Court decides on this.

The third story is about how to make the media monarchist. We all know that the media is under pressure to make the monarchy look great, but The Dictator recently complained:

During a visit to the Defense Ministry today, [Gen] Prayuth Chan-o-cha was expounding on why the media should remain neutral amid protests to his rule when he noted “inappropriate” newspaper front pages on which photos of the king and queen appeared smaller than those of recent protests.

“What does this mean?” he said. “You have to weigh whether this is appropriate.”

The report then explains pro-monarchy edicts:

Prayuth was getting at guidelines long observed quietly by newsrooms on how to uphold the supremacy of the monarchy by strictly adhering to rules for how it is presented. While most newspapers around the world position front page stories based on their news value, impact and photographs; Thai newsrooms follow agreed-upon rules dictating what appears on A1 – and where.

For example, obligatory royal news items – usually routine ceremonies or dedications – must appear above other stories, with royal faces minor and major appearing higher than anyone or anything else on the page. As with every television channel’s inclusion of “royal news” at the peak prime time of 8pm, it serves to reinforce the primacy of the royal family in everyday life.

It’s good to know what the regime expects.

Update: For a more detailed explanation of Worachet’s Constitutional Court decision, see Prachatai. That report also cites Deputy Prime Minister Wissanu Krea-ngam, who is reported as saying:

If the Court decided that the Orders contravened the Constitution, then they became ineffective. “After 2017, it is admitted that some people were summoned in the belief that the order was not unconstitutional. But when the Court decides that it is unconstitutional, then it is,” Wissanu said.

However, Wissanu confirmed that the Court’s decision would not be retroactive and defendants could not sue officials. “Because the officials proceeded in the understanding that it was not unconstitutional, and because there was no ruling, if they had not proceeded, they might themselves have been guilty. For now, if anyone is still being prosecuted or consideration of the case is unfinished, they must all cease.”





Royalist and palace trolls I

30 11 2020

Reuters reported that “Twitter has suspended a Thai pro-royalist account linked to the palace that a Reuters analysis found was connected to thousands of others created in recent weeks spreading posts in favour of King … Vajiralongkorn and the monarchy.”

It is the “pro-monarchy @jitarsa_school account” that was suspended “after Reuters sought comment on Wednesday from Twitter on the recent royalist campaign on the social media platform…”.

Jit Arsa is a programme established by the king, and as posted yesterday, some of it operates from the former military base targeted by protesters.

We might wonder if that account operates from the 11th Infantry Regiment base. Of course, the Royal Thai Army is involved, with “a coordinated information campaign designed to spread favourable information and discredit opponents.”

Reuters says that the account was created in September, and “had more than 48,000 followers before its suspension.”

A Twitter representative stated: “The account in question was suspended for violating our rules on spam and platform manipulation…”.

The Reuters analysis found “tens of thousands of tweets” that were “from accounts amplifying royalist messaging” to counter street protesters and the upsurge in critical commentary of the monarchy.

Twitter account holders? Clipped from Bangkok Post

The @jitarsa_school account’s profile advertised “that it trained people for the Royal Volunteers programme, which is run by the Royal Office.” A related Facebook account “for Jit Arsa for the Royal Volunteers School, which posts pro-monarchy videos and news of the programme, also identifies the Twitter account as its own.”

Reuters states that its analysis found that:

more than 80% of the accounts following @jitarsa_school had also been created since the start of September. A sample of 4,600 of the recently created accounts showed that all they did was promote the royalist hashtags – an indication of the kind of activity that would not be associated with regular Twitter users.

It adds that “the account’s tweets were virtually all from accounts with bot-like characteristics…”.

The hashtags “promoted by the suspended account, usually alongside pictures of the king and other royals, included those that translate as: #StopViolatingTheMonarchy, #ProtectTheMonarchy, #WeLoveTheMotherOfTheLand, #WeLoveTheMonarchy and #MinionsLoveTheMonarchy.”

In a related story at the South China Morning Post discusses broader ultra-royalist efforts to crowd out criticism of the king and monarchy and to hunt down posts they can report as lese majeste.

It cites ultra-royalist Nopadol Prompasit who “has been scouring the internet, following up on messages concerning videos or Facebook posts that allegedly show those who have disrespected the country’s apex institution.”





Further updated: Royalist skulduggery v. The People’s skulduckery

26 11 2020

Social media is better than the mainstream media on last evening’s rally at the Siam Commercial Bank HQ. Social media is reporting shots fired, people wounded, infiltration of the protesters by “third hand” elements, probably from the military, and royalist counter-rallies boosted by the king and queen.

Khaosod does report that “[s]hots were fired by unidentified assailants at pro-democracy protesters as they were leaving their rally at the headquarters of Thailand’s oldest bank on Wednesday night, wounding at least two people.” It adds some details:

Eyewitnesses said they heard a loud explosion, followed by 3-4 gunshots, at about 10.15pm, soon after the protest in front of Siam Commercial Bank’s main office concluded. One of the assailants was apprehended while he was trying to run away with others; the rest reportedly managed to flee the scene.

Sombat Thongyoi, one of the volunteer guards who provided security for the protesters, said two people were shot. Both of them were sent to hospital.

“We cannot yet establish whether it was a personal matter or politically motivated,” Sombat said.

Forensic police at the scene said they found traces of bullets; police also said they found a handgun on the man apprehended by the protest guards, though it is unclear as of publication time if it was the same firearm used in the shooting.

Khaosod reports a little on the rally:

The target was switched to the Siam Commercial Bank, a publicly held company in which King Vajiralongkorn is the biggest shareholder. The bank’s headquarters are in a different area of Bangkok, far from the district hosting the Crown Property Bureau and other royal and government offices.

Ducks and some chickens. Clipped from SBS News

An international report has more:

Thousands of Thai democracy activists have rallied in Bangkok to demand the king give up control of his multibillion-dollar fortune, turning their protest movement directly on the once-untouchable monarchy’s vast wealth….

Protest leaders have struck a defiant tone in response, with human rights lawyer Anon Numpha – who is among the 12 summoned for questioning [on lese majeste charges] – telling Wednesday’s protest “the reform of the nation has started whether you believe it or not”.

“Many Thais who had never dared question the monarchy now have started asking question about this king,” he said.

Parit “Penguin” Chiwarak, a student leader also called for questioning, told AFP he was not afraid and said the summons under section 112 would simply encourage more people to join the movement.

“Does this mean the monarchy has declared an all-out war with the people – is that right?” he said.

While some of the time the atmosphere of the protest was light-hearted, the speeches were also making important points. Thisrupt reports:

… Ratsadon’s leading activist Anon Nampa stood on a truck in a yellow duck costume. Thousands of people gathered, spilling out onto the other side of the street.

Cries of “ooh” and “ahh” went up now and then. Not because Anon was cursing hell, fire, and brimstone from the truck. Instead, he was educating minds, provoking thoughts, and inspiring changes.

That’s why he’s Thailand’s most dangerous man. It’s no wonder General Prayut Chan-o-cha is bringing back Article 112, the lese majeste law.

There was also the moment when the aged Sulak Srivaraksa, “aided by a walking stick and an assistant, made a surprise appearance.”

In his brief address, Sulak said he would speak on just one issue, the lèse majesté law, or Section 112 of the Criminal Code. He said HM the late King Bhumibol once said that the invocation of Section 112 amounts to an assault on him and its use will undermine the Monarchy.

“Why doesn’t Prayut comply with the late King’s wish?” he asked, adding that HM King Vajiralongkorn has instructed the attorney-general and the president of the Supreme Court, in writing, to stop invoking Section 112.

He accused the prime minister of undermining the Monarchy and bullying HM the King by invoking Section 112 against protest leaders, as he demanded the prime minister’s ouster.

We have few doubts that Sulak is wrong on his interpretation. In his actions, the king has made it clear that the anti-monarchism of the protesters has to be eradicated. His most recent PR outing included another meeting with Warong Dechgitvigrom, leader of Thai Pakdee. At something seemingly belonging to the ultra-royalists and called The Truth, there’s a story about the meeting, quoting the king as whispering in Warong’s ear to say: “Thank you. We must help the people see what is wrong, what is bad, what distorts and what is fake news.”

It is clear that the king believes he can defeat the rising tide of anti-monarchism. His support for the ultra-royalists unleashes their fury. Hence the attempts to stoke conflict at anti-regime demonstrations.

Update 1: The Bangkok Post, which has more or less not reported from the rally at the SCB, has reported on the shooting. It recounts the police story that “shooting heard after the protest at SCB Park ended on Wednesday night involved students from rival vocational schools who worked as guards during the rally…”. Given that vocational students have been involved with yellow shirts, there remains room for some skepticism on the reporting. We’d like to hear from the rally organizers before deciding what happened. We are still waiting to hear more about the previous shootings.

Update 2: Our skepticism in Update 1 is born out in a Thai Enquirer report, where a “leader of several groups of protest guards denied on Thursday and Friday police claims that violence that occurred during the end of Wednesday’s protests was due to infighting by several vocational protest groups.” If this leader is believed, then the next question would be: Why did the police make their announcement? Possible answers are: they are an incompetent bunch of dolts, which they have previously demonstrated. Another could be that someone has paid them off, which has happened many times in the past. And another might be that they have been ordered to make false claims, which is standard practice and was seen several times in the past when red shirts were framed.





Manipulating law

24 11 2020

PPT understands that pointing out abuses of the law by the current regime is not of much consequence. Double standards, impunity, bloody crackdowns, arrests on trumped up charges, making stuff up, and so on are just grist for the dictatorship-in-parliamentary-guise’s repression. But here goes.

A story in the Bangkok Post has this line about an upcoming demonstration at the Crown Property Bureau:

Pol Lt Gen Pakkapong Pongpetra, commissioner of the Metropolitan Police Bureau, on Monday warned protesters not to go within a 150m radius from the office. Assembling within the distance from palace grounds is prohibited under the Public Assembly Act.

At Thai PBS there’s a sightly different version:

Pol Lt-Gen Pakkapong Pongpetra, commissioner of the Metropolitan Police Bureau, also warned the Ratsadon group to abide by the law, when they stage their protest at the office of the Crown Property Bureau this Wednesday.

He insisted that, in previous protests, the police were unarmed and did not resort to violence which, he alleged, was started by the protesters. He suggested the Khana Ratsadon group not venture within 150 metres of the Crown Property Bureau.

Another story, at Thai Enquirer, has Gen Prawit Wongsuwan quoted as having “reminded the protestors that they must not enter within a 150 meter radius of a government building under the Public Assembly Act.”

Social media and the Post tell us that police are now marking out a zone of 150 meters around the CPB’s offices, designating a “palace area.”.

As far as we can tell – and there’s not a lawyer among us – none of this fits the deliberately vague Public Assembly Act. There is a bit on palaces:

Section 7. No public assembly shall be held within the radius of one hundred and fifty meters from the boundary of the Grand Palace, Royal Palace, Royal Residence of the Heir to the Throne or of His or Her Royal Highness Prince or Princess, Royal Palace Up-Country or Royal Mansion or from the place where the King, the Queen, the Heir to the Throne or His or Her Royal Highness Prince or Princess stays or resides, or from the place of Royal Visitors.

As far as we can tell, the CPB is not a palace under this definition.

Then there’s Section 8:

No public assembly shall obstruct gateway of, impede the performance of duties of, or hinder access to service of, the followings:
(1)    State agencies’ office;
(2)    airport, wharf, rail station or any other public transport station;
(3)    hospital, education institution and religious establishment;
(4)    embassy or consulate of foreign State or office of international organization;

The CPB isn’t a state agency or any of the other things.

However, Section 8 comes with another point:

(5)    other places as notified by the Minister.

We guess that this allows the minister to designate any place he/she pleases. But we do not think we have heard any news on such a designation. And if such a designation is made, these restrictions would need to be “interpreted.”

Rather, what we hear is the ultra-royalist, from Gen Prayuth Chan-ocha telling the media “to ask the anti-government protest leaders why they have to go to the Crown Property Bureau” to threats:

The pro-monarchy Phalang Phaen Din Siam group, led by Bancha Panniwat and Sumet Trakulwunnu, issued a statement announcing their own plans to stage retaliatory events on Tuesday and Wednesday near the Education Ministry to disrupt the anti-government rally at the nearby Crown Property Bureau.

If the People’s Movement protesters want to go to the bureau, they must wade through the Phalang Phaen Din Siam group, whose leaders have said they will no longer allow any disrespectful behaviour towards the monarchy.

Mr Bancha said his group would demonstrate near the bureau beside the Education Ministry from 3pm on Tuesday, insisting that they were not looking for a confrontation of any kind.

He also called on supporters show up at the same spot at 8am on Wednesday.

“They can rally anywhere but not here,” Mr Bancha said.

He also said that many other royalist groups would be joining the Phalang Phaen Din Siam demonstration but vowed that violence would not be used against members of the People’s Movement.

As has been the case recently, we somehow doubt the ultra-royalists will be arrested for breaching the (fake) “palace zone.” It will be yet another manipulation of the law.

The purpose seems to be to have the ultra-royalists continue their attacks on the anti-regime rally goers.





The king, his servants, and the monarchy question

20 11 2020

Clipped from Thisrupt

Thisrupt reports on the rally at Parliament House and the speeches made, many of them “addressed directly to [the] … King … by his first name, Vajiralongkorn, and openly mocked his rule.”

As mentioned in a previous post, they launched red balloons where the “words written on them were, ‘I order you to be under the constitution,’ using the “derogatory กู (gu) as the pronoun for ‘I’ and มึง (mueng) as ‘you’.”

The report concludes that “at the heart of Thailand’s political conflict is the monarchy question.”

While Gen Prayuth Chan-ocha promises to use all laws against the protesters, hinting that Article 112 on lese majeste may be back in the regime’s arsenal, the king continues to reward hard-line favorites.

The Bangkok Post reports that the king has “has appointed former army chief Gen Apirat Kongsompong deputy director of the Crown Property Bureau.”

He was already a member of the Board, appointed after he retired from the Army and was made a deputy chamberlain in the palace. Now he’s catapulted to a level just behind the prince-cum-king’s long-serving Air Chief Marshal Satitpong Sukvimol.

Gen Apirat is notoriously hot-headed and the most ardent of ultra-royalists.

King and his new, favorite minion, Gen Apirat (right). Clipped from the Bangkok Post

Interestingly, pro-democracy demonstrators have announced that their next rally will be “outside the Crown Property Bureau on Nov 25…”.

At the same time, the king’s supporters are becoming increasingly rabid and going ever more supine. The picture below has circulated on social media. It claims to show Supreme Court President Methinee Chalothorn. LIke all judges, she believes the courts and judges owe their allegiance to the king rather than to the law and justice for all people. Perhaps more than others, she has demonstrated her subservience to the king.

So far  the demonstrators haven’t given much attention to the judiciary. Perhaps they should as it is a pillar of the establishment they seek to reform. Like the king, the judiciary needs to be reformed and brought under the constitution. The double standards and politicization need to be reversed. The neo-feudalism of the judiciary is a roadblock to reform.





The king and his rightists II

10 11 2020

The Nation reports that “[t]alk of an impending coup is growing louder online, as the government shows no sign of heeding protesters’ demands.”

But Army chief Gen Narongphan Jitkaewthae has dismissed this talk as “rumours.” When reporters pointed out that people – all of them are yellow-shirted ultra-royalists – “were urging the military to stage a coup, he responded that the possibility of a coup was less than zero.” All coup leaders have said the same thing before their coups, including Gen Prayuth Chan-ocha.

Thai Enquirer reports that Narongpan revealed that all of those men in short haircuts and wearing yellow shirts backing up police on Sunday were all out-of-uniform army personnel. The Army says that “the soldiers were just there to facilitate and observe and not actively take part in the confrontation between the police and the protesters – clashes which left five demonstrators injured and needing medical care.”

That’s a lie. Anyone who watch the various livestreams saw the soldiers in action.

The “presence of army personnel during violent confrontation between the state and protesters has everybody on edge.” Many think something else is going on, and this is reinforced by Gen Narongphan’s exaggerations, reported by Thai PBS. He rattles on about “provocation” and “violence.”

And he doesn’t mean by the police who used water cannon. He is reported as pointing to “smoke flares … hurled by people among the protesting crowd…” and talks of “elements who are bent on provoking violence…”. And he doesn’t mean the police or military.

Thisrupt reports that: “At every major protest, hundreds of army men in yellow shirts stand watch.” It adds; “They aren’t in uniform. They wear no badge. They never identify themselves. There’s only the yellow shirts, the blue scarves, and the military haircuts.” And it observes: “The deployment of non-police to police the citizens through force and intimidation, in a uniform not authorized by the state nor recognized by the citizens” is a fascist tactic.

According to another Thai PBS report, Deputy Metropolitan Police Bureau Commissioner, Police Maj Gen Piya Tawichai, the use of water cannons against the protesters “was done according to the rule of law.”

It seems us that it is the police and military who are those threatening violence.

As usual, the police are looking at how they can tie up protest leaders in legal cases. Police have the “letters and the four red post boxes from the protest…”. They are going through the letters trying to find “content [that] violates any law.” Others will be charged with violations “of the Public Gathering Act.”

More worrying, however, are the yellow-shirted minions being mobilized.

Egged on by the palace, the king, queen and the king’s daughters, the Thai Enquirer reports that “[u]ltra-royalists, pro-military politicians, and some senators are agitating for conflict and said this week that they will escalate the situation themselves unless the authorities take a harsher stance against the pro-democracy demonstrators.”

Krit Yeammaethakorn, secretary general of the People’s Networks to Protect the Monarch, has demanded a “special law” to “shutdown” the country.

The “Center for People Who Protect the Institution said on Monday that they will escalate their protests against the pro-democracy protesters…. They said they will shut down streets, if necessary, to get the government to crackdown and arrest more pro-democracy protesters.”

The quite mad ultra-royalist and military junta appointed senator Pornthip Rojanasunand has accused protesters of being “unThai” and complained that “police commanders are not doing enough to protect the law and suppress [pro-democracy protesters]…”.

Ratbag Palang Pracharath MP and deputy leader Paiboon Nititawan urged “royalists … [to] file complaints of sedition against the students.”

Meanwhile, the palace women continue to promote the celebrity PR model and wed it with intimations of violence. Most recently, it has been the queen going shooting and carousing with yellow-shirted royalists, as reported at Royal World Thailand – รอยัล เวิลด์ ประเทศไทย





Updated: Royal family on the rightist warpath

24 10 2020

In our last post we stated the royal family’s public statement of support for ultra-royalists ranked with previous royal political interventions such as Vajiralongkorn’s support of ultra-royalists in 1976 and the then queen Sirikit’s attendance at a yellow shirt’s funeral in 2008.

The king praising an ultra-royalist: “Very brave, very brave, very good, thank you,” with the queen adding: “We’re so proud of what you’ve done. Thank you so much,” was more than a nudge and a wink. With the queen fist-pumping as she smiled broadly and urged the royalists on, and the king greeting fascist (former) monk Buddha Isara was a clear declaration of war against the protesters seeking reform.

Update: By the way, it is disgusting that the Bangkok Post chooses to view this dangerous and threatening royal intervention as “King, Queen thank supporters.”





With 4 updates: The Dictator’s response II

22 10 2020

At about the time that a mass of demonstrators began to march from the Victory Monument, via a couple of half-hearted police road blocks, to Government House, The Dictator, Gen Prayuth Chan-ocha took over Thailand’s national pool broadcasters to explain how he was a democrat.

It may be stating the completely obvious, but we want to point out the contradictions in The Dictator-cum-fake-Democrat general’s speech.

That speech included accusations against the protesters (or their leaders) as violent, extremists, “unThai,” a minority and mob who seek chaos, and anti-monarchists. He didn’t use those terms, but everyone knows the code.

Listening but not hearing

It is Gen Prayudh’s failures, his repression and his lies that, as the pro-regime Bangkok Post reported, led to an ultimatum: “protesters have given the prime minister three days to release detained activists and step down, or face a new round of demonstrations.” We use the official text of The Dictator’s speech, released and published by Thai Enquirer. Protesters have dismissed his (fake) entreaties as too little, too late.

With demonstrators seeking to create a more democratic Thailand, Gen Prayuth calls on them to “sacrifice … their personal desires for the greater good of their country.” That is, to compromise with his illegitimate regime for something less than the protesters want.

He positions himself as “a national leader” who must look after “everyone in this country…”, while taking on the “very extreme” and protecting “the nation” from “dark forces that may seek to damage our country…”. He claims to speak and act for the “huge silent majority” and to rule the country “based on principle, the law, and the will of parliament as the ultimate representative of the people.”

Of course, this is a large pile of buffalo manure that paints the protesters as an extreme minority making “mob demands.”

Gen Prayuth speaks of the need to “step back” from a situation where “violence begets more violence.” But have the protesters been violent? Of course not. The violence has been from the regime and yellow-shirted stooges.

For Prayuth, his big lie is that the protesters who have been violent:

Last Friday night, we saw things that should never be in Thailand. We saw terrible crimes being committed against the police using metal rods and huge cutting implements in brutal attacks, with the aim of severely wounding fellow Thais. But when we look deeper, we can also see that, beyond a small group of ruthlessly violent people with bad intentions….

How high?

Go back and look. Really? Maybe he’s confused. PPT has reviewed all of our collected media reports from that day and there are no reports of such violence by protesters that we can find. All the reports are of the police and their harsh actions to disperse the crowd, which Prayuth does mention, and seems to back away from such tactics.

But then The Dictator switches to “offences against institutions that are held in the highest respect.” He means the monarchy.

His “solution” to the problems he faces is “to discuss and resolve these differences through the parliamentary process. It is a slow process, but it is one that best avoids injury to our nation. We must show the maturity and patience to take the middle path.”

There’s a couple of problems with this. First, Gen Prayuth was not prepared to do this in 2014. Then, he overthrew and elected government, did not support elections, ditched the constitution and imposed a regime of draconian repression, filling parliament with his cronies and rigged the constitutional and electoral system. Why believe he’s had a change of mind? Second, the parliament that exists today is the bastard child of the military coup. It is stacked with an unelected senate that was selected by the junta – and Prayuth himself – and the “election” was rigged. How does Prayuth’s parliament find a way forward?

So, when Prayuth babbles about “respect the due process of law, and then let the will of the people be resolved in parliament,” he’s being completely disingenuous.

Mind. Clipped from a Reuters photo

Prayuth continues to base much of his “conviction” around the monarchy. That’s why he tells protesters to “turn down the volume on hateful and divisive talk.” As the protesters know, real reform must involve the monarchy. It must be discussed. The ultra-royalists fear this. They fear, as Prayuth does, that the foundation of the ruling order will be lost.

Update 1: In a demonstration of how empty Gen Prayuth’s speech was, within two hours of protesters giving him “a three day deadline to step down or face more demonstrations,” the protester who made the announcement, Patsaravalee “Mind” Tanakitvibulpon, was arrested. The arrest was live streamed. Today, she was released, the court having “deemed the charges were not serious and that she still needed to attend classes and exams, so bail was granted without having to submit any guarantees.”

Update 2: Mind was released on bail today.

Update 3: The state of emergency “in Bangkok, and related orders,” has been revoked “effective from noon on Thursday,” with The Dictator saying that “the violence that prompted it is over.” We remain baffled by that claim.

Update 4: Prachatai has reproduced the letter/demand protesters presented for The Dictator last evening at Government House. It reads:

“Whereas I, Prayut Chan-o-cha, have used arbitrary power, bought and sold votes, threatened to impose a gangster’s constitution, traded benefits and positions and used the institution of the monarchy as a justification to get hold of the position of the Prime Minister,

“In order to maintain the dignity of my family, the dignity of the position of Prime Minister and the dignity of the country and to express my respect for the people who hold sovereign power, I, Mr Prayut Chan-o-cha, Prime Minister, hereby resign from the position of the Prime Minister.”