The stench

11 11 2021

A couple of days ago, the Bangkok Post included a report that is a timely reminder that the junta’s 2017 constitution is a political defense of royalism and the role of the military in opposing meaningful and progressive political reform. It is a stench that hangs over the country.

The report is of the “defence permanent secretary and chiefs of the navy and the air force report[ing] for duty as newly appointed senators on Monday.” We are told:

Gen Worakiat Rattananont, Adm Somprasong Nilsamai and ACM Napadej Dhuphtemiya took the oath of office before starting their jobs, following the announcement of their appointments by Senate Speaker Pornpetch Wichitcholchai.

As the Post helpfully points out, the junta’s constitution mandates that”six of the Senate seats are reserved for the supreme commander, the army, navy and air force chiefs, the defence permanent secretary and the national police chief.”

This is just one aspect of the rigged constitution that was meant to ensure that the junta’s personnel, the coup makers of 2014, continued in power.

The swill that is the senate is stacked with scores of military and former military figures, along with a bunch of royalists and junta toadies.

Why anyone could even consider Thailand’s political system a crippled democracy is beyond us. As far as we can tell, the current government is now in a minority, with several Palang Pracharath MPs banned from parliament, but it just plows on.





Fascist-like culture wars

6 09 2021

Thana Boonlert of the Bangkok Post has an op-ed on the junta-appointed Senate that is worth considering.

Hardly noticed, the unelected senators convened to consider “a motion for the virtuous council…”. Huh? Yep, the unelected swill of military backers, ultra-royalists and assorted conservatives “sought to reform the national culture to ensure its progress, discipline, and morality.”

Senator Sirina Pavarolarvidya “attributed the current social conflict to the generation gap and proposed that the virtuous council be established to provide role models for every sector of society.” By this she means the youth have lost “gratitude, discipline, honesty, sufficiency, and a volunteer spirit…”. That all of this is imbued by thick-headed royalism is revealed when she says these “virtues” “are born out of the love for nation, religion, and king.”

Berlin, Germany….. Two heads that bow as one, Herr Adolf Hitler, Dictator of Germany (left), bids bon voyage to King Prajadhipok of Siam, when the latter, accompanied by his queen, left Berlin following their extended visit to Germany’s capital. This modern ruling family does all its traveling by airplane, while in Europe, at least.

She sounded decidedly Fascist when she said that “…[w]hen people are virtuous and healthy, they acquire knowledge and skills.”

Thana sees historical links with “the government of Field Marshal Plaek Phibunsongkhram issued cultural mandates to strengthen Siam in the context of the global war.” That Phibun was attracted by Fascist models was not unusual, with many entranced by authoritarianism, militarism and strong leaders.

The morality demanded, Thana says, “is like a balm for those in power who are under threat from the pro-democracy movement.” Such a “campaign for virtue justifies and sustains the regime that rose to power from a military coup in 2014,” which Thana sees as an effort at “refashioning itself into a bastion of virtue…”. It’s the ridiculous “good people” justification for all political and social repression and corruption. Thana expounds on this.

Than observes that “the virtuous council is an expression of fantasy of those in power.” For PPT, it sounds a bit like a version of the “deep state” argument that the judiciary was needed to carry on the then (near dead) king’s interventionism. In this version, it seems like an effort to replace the (now) dead king’s alleged “moral” leadership.

None of the “blatant misconduct, nepotism, and corruption” is necessarily negated by culture wars directed by “good people” royalism and moralism.





Moving Prayuth

26 05 2021

The Bangkok Post reports on a recent media event where the red-yellow anti-government group, Samakkhi Prachachon, came together again to demand that Gen Prayuth Chan-ocha “resign for poor governance over the past seven years.”

Prayuth gunning for democracy

The group, led by Adul Khiewboriboon and Jatuporn Prompan handed over a letter that “accused Gen Prayut of failing to fulfil his promises, adding he failed to achieve reforms and reconciliation, while political conflicts have worsened and corruption has increased.” Of course, from the day of the 2014 military coup, these were false promises.

Observing that “Gen Prayut had claimed he remained in power to protect the royal institution,” they claimed his use of Article 112 was “to destroy his political opponents.” Of course, the link between military and monarchy has become almost unbreakable and defines political power and action.

Interestingly, Jatuporn “called on Gen Prayut to follow in the footsteps of the late Gen Prem Tinsulanonda, who turned down a request to remain as prime minister after holding office for eight years.” He kind of mishmashes history. Prem was essentially brought down in a campaign for an elected prime minister and by wavering support in the military.

Prem and Prayuth

In fact, though, for all of his failings, those who supported the coup got exactly what they wanted. Gen Prayuth remains in power, though unelected, through the support of unelected, junta-appointed senators, put in place by a constitution that rigged the political system and election laws and a politicized and biased Election Commission that rigged the 2019 election outcome. That rigged system is supported by a Constitutional Court that is remarkably biased to the extent that it appears to fall in line with the regime as if it is an arm of government.

In such a system, moving Prayuth requires splits in the regime or a major political crisis that shatters the military-monarchy-bureaucracy alliance.





False promises I

3 10 2020

Like so many of his predecessors, newly-appointed army chief Gen Narongphan Jitkaewtae has insisted his Army will not be politically engaged. He is reported as stating: “The military will not get involved in politics. I will only answer questions about the army’s affairs.”

This is a lie.

The military and especially the Army is always involved in politics. At the most basic level, Gen Narongphan automatically has a seat in the unelected Senate. That Senate maintains a regime that was put in place by the 2014 military coup and was established by the military junta’s 2017 constitution. ISOC, the Internal Security Operations Command, links the military and civilian administration making it, as Puangthong Pawakapan says, “a counter-democracy agency.”  Its well-funded operations parallel civilian agencies and has a countrywide network of agents and officials.

It is also a lie in Gen Narongphan’s own words.

He has said:

“Protecting the monarchy with absolute loyalty and supporting the government to resolve national problems and working to advance the country are honourable tasks for [the generals],” Gen Narongphan said at a ceremony to bid farewell to retiring army generals at its headquarters on Sept 23.

“We faithfully pledge to carry [Thai] ideologies and perform our duties to the best of abilities to ensure peace in society and foster national unity and support the country’s government,” he added.

Every word in this is political.

And, by supporting the monarchy, he supports the status quo and places the military as the protector of monarchy and ruling class.

Gen Narongphan is an ardent royalist who has served as commander of the Royal Guards 904, reporting to the king. He’s completed the king’s special training and is a “red-rim soldier fraternity, specially trained to serve as Royal Guards. Those who pass the elite training programme are given a T-shirt with a red rim to signify their completion of the programme.”





Moving the country towards a dead end

25 09 2020

The king has come and gone and about the only notable thing seems to have been a meeting between the king, queen and Pojaman na Pombhejara (formerly Shinawatra), at least according to social media.

While the king and queen were doing their “duties,” constitutional change was front-and-center elsewhere.

A few demonstrators conducted an exorcism in front of the Army headquarters on Wednesday “to rid the country of senators chosen by the junta.” This was followed yesterday with a  mass rally outside outside parliament. The “pro-democracy group says the current charter was put in place by a military junta and is undemocratic. They are calling for amendments specifically to clauses which allow the military-appointed senate to vote for the prime minister.”

Inside parliament, the junta selected and appointed senators, “many of them generals and military officials, escaped from parliament on Thursday by boat and the back-exit rather than face angry pro-democracy demonstrators after they voted to postpone amending the constitution.”

The junta’s party, coalition and senators combined to vote 432 to 255 “to set up exploratory committees to study potential amendments to the military-drafted constitution instead of amending the charter on Thursday night.”

The opposition parties walked out of parliament “in protest with the leader of the Move Forward Party, Pita Limjaroenrat, calling the vote ‘a way to stall for time’ and said that parliament’s decision on Thursday was moving the country towards a dead end.”

In fact, the dead end was the junta and its constitution.

Getting out of that means more pressure: “Anon Numpha, a key protest leader, told reporters and protesters that now was the time to step up protests and called for more rallies in October.”





Updated: Missing in (in)action

26 05 2020

For military leaders, parliament is unimportant as it has little influence over what the government does. That was one of the understandings of the junta’s constitution. While they gave themselves seats in the unelected Senate, the military brass almost never show up.

iLaw is cited in the Bangkok Post as it reports that “the leaders of the three armed forces have the worst track records when it comes to Senate voting…”.

and are the least involved senators in the military-appointed Upper House.

Out of 145 votes called by the Senate, Navy chief Adm Luechai Ruddit, missed all but one vote. Missing all of 143 was Army chief Gen Apirat Kongsompong, while retired and incumbent air force chiefs ACM Chaipruek Dissayasarin and ACM Manaat Wongwat missed a stellar 143 votes.

But, they still collect their Senate salaries as a nice top-up to their military salaries and all the other payments they receive from the meetings attended and boards they sit on.

Defence spokesman Lt Gen Kongcheep Tantravanich said “the issue had not been raised during the Defence Council meeting chaired by Prime Minister and Defence Minister Gen Prayuth Chan-ocha. We guess that means everything is just fine and dandy. In any case, Lt Gen Kongcheep reckons his bosses “could explain for themselves if asked…”. We guess they’d rather be investing in EEC projects, getting kickbacks and shooting.

Update: Readers short of a good belly laugh can read Defence spokesman Lt Gen Kongcheep’s hilarious “defense” of his bosses in the Bangkok Post. It seems military intelligence was brought to bear on the problem and the combined IQ of 22 came up with the biggest pile of buffalo manure seen for some time. We particularly liked the claim that whenever the top brass was not in parliament – and that was almost all the time – they watched it on television.

Brilliant! What bright spark thought of that completely moronic line! Promote him to general and give him a set of golf clubs and a bag of ill-gotten money.





Remembering I

11 01 2020

After posting about the erasure of history and memory, PPT was delighted to come across Prachatai’s 2019: สำรวจภูมิทัศน์การเมืองไทยช่วง ‘รอยต่อ’. For those readers who can navigate this Thai-language article, the reward is some excellent and sometimes brave analysis of recent politics.

Two illustrations sum up an effort to revive history and memory. The first is of the trail of military coups and unelected senates/senators, appropriately marked with crowns.

The second illustration is of the kings land grabbing and the text includes a listing of some of these. Of course, there’s been much more, some of which hasn’t even been mentioned in the media. This is an ongoing accumulation that should be closely watched in 2020 :





Military party, Junta’s Senate

24 07 2019

Everyone knows that the appointed Senate is a creation of the military junta and that it will do the military-backed government’s bidding.

But even so, it is a bit rich for the Senate to be publicizing the coaching senators are receiving for their role during the “debate” on the “new” regime’s policy statement.

It is called a “seminar,” so we guess the senators, all appointed by the junta, get a meeting allowance. In other words, the taxpayer is funding the coaching.

Showing its position, the Senate is reported to have “called on legislators to debate issues related to the policies, not individuals.” That means the junta’s Senate does not want its boss, Gen Prayuth Chan-ocha or any of the junta’s former members now “new” ministers being grilled. The report states:

The Secretariat of the Senate organized the seminar for the senators to receive information about the guidelines of the cabinet ministers to ensure that the policy debates are held smoothly and yield optimal benefits [PPT: for the government].

The Senate

Showing that the Senate is really the regime’s house and its parliamentary policeman and enforcer, the report states that:

The Senate and the government will each have five hours of debate, while the opposition will be given 13 hours and 30 minutes. However, this does not cover the delivery of the policy statement by the Prime Minister, Gen. Prayut Chan-o-cha, as well as issues to be raised by legislators during the meeting. The senators will make sure that the opposition only debates issues related to the policies of the government.

Meanwhile, appointed senator Gen. Worapong Sanganet, a former supreme commander and junta tool reckons that the opposition can’t complain about anything. He says”the draft policy statement is beneficial since it covers all issues.” Done and dusted!

It is a farce.





Updated: Cheats cheating I

12 06 2019

As everyone knows, Thailand remains a military dictatorship and no government has yet been formed to replace it. Indeed, in a recent ranking, Thailand was determined as “unfree,” ranking between absolute monarchy Brunei and troubled countries with Zimbabwe and Iraq. The “unfreedom” will continue, with dozens of junta orders being converted into laws that will apply into the future, backing a backward constitution that permitted a rigged election.

That rigging has been a vast and expensive project that could, if unchecked, allow the odious cheat Gen Prayuth Chan-ocha to remain as prime minister for another eight year as the unelected Senate he selected will vote again in four years if Thailand has another election.

The selection of the Senate has been a closely-held secret for months simply because of the thoroughgoing cheating it involved. Because the junta has gotten away with a coup, political repression, corruption, a fake constitutional referendum, a rigged and stolen election and more, it figures nothing can derail it now, so it has released some details of its cheating.

In the selection of The Dictator as premier, we know that every single unelected puppet senator voted for their boss (the Senate president abstained, but would have voted for his longtime boss if necessary).

We now also know that the “reserve list” of 50 senators, “publicized in the Royal Gazette, include Election Commission sec-gen Jarungvith Phumma, foreign minister Don Pramudwinai, former deputy governor of Bangkok Pol. Lt. Gen. Amnuay Nimmano, and former member of the junta-appointed National Legislative Assembly Prapan Koonme.”

The listing of the EC’s secretary-general indicates how just how flawed the EC is, run by junta puppets and automatons. Rigging an election requires a cheating EC. Having delivered the junta its “victory,” this puppet secretary-general will likely get his reward.

More cheating is confirmed by junta legal thug Wissanu Krea-ngam. It is reported that “[u]nder mounting pressure from transparency activists and political parties,” he has released “the identities of the selection committee who contributed to filling the 250-member junta-appointed senate.”

It should be surprising – but, then nothing is surprising any more – that:

Among the committee were six senators: former deputy PM Gen. Chatchai Sarikulya, former deputy PM Air Chief Marshal Prajin Juntong, former deputy PM Thanasak Patimaprakorn, deputy junta head Adm. Narong Pipatanasai, former labor minister Pol. Gen. Adul Saengsingkaew, and former president of the junta-appointed National Legislative Assembly Pornpetch Wichitcholchai.

Wissanu has made unbelievable claims about the committee was “politically neutral” and that the secrecy about membership was to prevent “lobbying.” Of course, all the “lobbying” was actually the junta pulling all the strings.

He has also insisted – again unbelievable – that “members of the selection committee abstained from voting or attending the voting session if their name came up in the candidate roster,” while their brothers voted for them, saying “I can confirm that no member ever brought up their name in the selection process. Everything is on the record…”.

While we have no doubt that if he released “the record,” it would confirm his account. After all, the junta has scribes who can fabricate any record it likes. How Wissanu can say such things with a straight face is a measure of how low the junta – and Thailand – has sunk.

Now the cheating cheats have to ensure their continuing political domination for another eight years.

Update: The Bangkok Post has a few more details on the great Senate scam. The junta’s fixing panel that put the scam together had 10 members becoming nine when Pornpetch resigned. Six of them (see above) became members of the Senate they selected for the junta. The other four were Deputy Prime Minister Gen Prawit Wongsuwan, Wissanu, Gen Anupong Paojinda, and deputy PM Somkid Jatusripitak, all of whom are likely to be ministers in the “new” government. In other words, every one of the junta’s panel are now holding positions – or soon will be – in the junta’s “new” government as well as holding such positions under the junta. What can we say? The whole thing is a massive scam foisted on the nation by the junta. It seems there is no way of holding this bunch of election crooks accountable for any of their cheating.





Crony senate

14 05 2019

As simply everyone expected, a Senate has been unveiled by the military junta that is packed full of junta supporters, backers and lackeys:

Khaosod reports: “Military top brass and the junta’s inner circle dominate the full list of 250 appointed senators unveiled to the public on Monday, ending months of secrecy.”

The Nation states: “Many of the newly appointed senators are from the ruling junta and people close to its key figures.”

The Bangkok Post: “The Royal Gazette on Tuesday published an announcement on the royally-approved list of 250 senators, including 66 army generals…. The Senate list includes the names of 105 people with ranks in the military or police….

None of this is a surprise. Perhaps some hoped that the members of the junta might demonstrate at least a pinch of political decorum, but that is misplaced as the military junta has repeatedly demonstrated that is has no shame at all.

Some other quotes from the reporting linked above are worth preserving here, demonstrating that the junta is a chip off the 1991 coup group and operates as a representative of yellow-shirt interests. (Those who imagined that the red-yellow divide was gone should look more carefully at the manner of the junta’s operations.):

The list – mostly handpicked by junta chairman Prayuth Chan-ocha – includes generals, loyal government technocrats, 15 ex-ministers who served under Prayuth until their resignation last week, and even a younger brother of the junta leader.

Hardline critics of ex-leader Thaksin Shinawatra, who remains a popular figure among opposition voters, also made it to the final cut. They include poet and activist Nawarat Pongpaiboon, former anti-corruption chief Klanarong Chanthik, and royalist law scholar Kamnoon Sitthisamarn….

The announcement dated on Saturday included Gen Preecha Chan-o-cha, younger brother of Prime Minister Prayut Chan-o-cha, Adm Sitthawat Wongsuwon, younger brother of Deputy Prime Minister and Defence Minister Prawit Wongsuwon, Klanarong Chantik, former secretary-general of the National Anti-Corruption Commission (NACC), former deputy prime minister Chatchai Sarikulya, former national reform member Khamnoon Sitthisaman, former foreign trade director-general Duangporn Rodphaya, and former national security council secretary-general Thawil Pliensri.

Among other senators were Pornpetch Wichitcholchai, former president of the National Legislative Assembly, former NACC chairman Panthep Klanarongran, forensic expert Khunying Porntip Rojanasunan, former deputy agriculture minister Luck Wajananawat, and former tourism and sports minister Weerasak Kowsurat.

More than a third of  the newly appointed senators have military or police backgrounds….

But one surprise is this for the conflict of interest and nepotism it involves:

Some of the new Senate’s members sat in the committee tasked with nominating senatorial candidates to be selected by the National Council for Peace and Order.

More than 100 of them are retired or active high-ranking officers from the armed forces and the police, including 70 from the Army, 12 from the Navy, eight from the Air Force and 12 from the Royal Thai Police.

Many new senators are family members of people in power.

These include General Preecha Chan-o-cha, who is the younger brother of Prime Minister General Prayut Chan-o-cha; Air Vice Marshal Chalermchai Krea-ngam, who is the younger brother of Deputy Prime Minister Wissanu Krea-ngam; Admiral Sitsawat Wongsuwan, who is the younger brother of Deputy Premier and Defence Minister General Prawit Wongsuwan; and Som Jatusripitak, who is the elder brother of Deputy PM Somkid Jatusripitak.

Nothing more or less can be expected from the military junta. Be prepared for this kind of cronyism to breed deeper corruption. After all, that’s the pattern of past military-dominated regimes.








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