Crumbling under the post-junta regime

11 07 2020

It may seem somewhat surprising that all major political parties appear to be in some turmoil.

Recent articles tell of the governing Palang Pracharath Party in turmoil with the consolidation of power by the army wing of the ruling party, with the exodus of four “technocratic officials sidelined by the party that is increasingly dominated by members with military ties.”

Then there are repeated reports of rifts in the hopeless Democrat Party and that it is losing electoral credibility in the south and has several breakaway parties led by former disgruntled senior members, all of whom strike us as hopeless and merely trying to ride the small party wagon to collect the dregs of the junta’s party system.

And, there are reports of the decline of the Puea Thai Party is in deep trouble, with all of its main leaders left out of parliament thanks to the junta’s constitution and the Election Commission, acting for the regime. Of course, Gen Prawit Wongsuwan keeps trying to entice Puea Thai MPs across to the dark side.

We may also recall that opposition Future Forward was gutted by the Constitutional Court, acting for the regime and that the remaining MPs remain rudderless.

In our view, with the military types consolidating its grip, Palang Pracharath looks more like a party of factions that are kept under control with money, cabinet positions and constant shepherding. This doesn’t necessarily make it stronger, but if the opposition is crumbling and unable to capitalize on these schisms, rifts and associated corruption, then unelected dolts like the current generals are likely to be able to hold together their rule.

As an aside, this “technocrats” versus green men is a narrative seen in several stories and we’d say it is an odd claim. A technocrat is usually defined as a person “appointed on the basis of their expertise in a given area of responsibility, particularly with regard to scientific or technical knowledge.” When we look at the “technocrats” leaving government, this definition applies only vaguely to one of them. Kobsak Pootrakool has a PhD in Economics from MIT and worked at the Bank of Thailand and the Stock Exchange of Thailand before becoming a banker. But the other three are political hacks rather than technocrats. Sontirat Sontijirawong with an MBA, has worked in packaging for business and for most of his career has spent his time as an “adviser” or committee member in relatively minor posts. Uttama Savanayana was trained as an engineer and also has a PhD in management but has spent the last 20-25 years administering and advising. Suvit Maesincee also has a PhD in management, having trained as a pharmacist, and has spent most his career sitting on boards.

In other words, journalists and commentators might want to look more carefully at the reasons why such men are referred to as “technocrats.” Does it have something to do with the regime having so few technically qualified persons in a cabinet dominated by army figures, politically-acceptable royalists, local mafioso and a convicted heroin smuggler?

Updated: “New” government

11 07 2019

King Vajiralongkorn has endorsed The Dictator’s cabinet list.

One of the “stories” is how, as expected, many of the junta’s henchman have transitioned into the “new” government:

Prayut will also double as Defence Minister, a key position currently held by General Prawit Wongsuwan, his deputy in the outgoing government.

Prawit will retain his position as a deputy prime minister and is expected to also be in charge of security affairs.

The new Cabinet also has eight other ministers who have worked with Prayut and Prawit in the current post-coup government: Somkid Jatusripitak, Wissanu Krea-ngam, General Chaichan Changmongkol, Uttama Savanayana, Don Pramudwinai, Suvit Maesincee, Sontirat Sontijirawong and General Anupong Paojinda.

But the biggest story is undoubtedly going to be about an army man and mafia figure, reported by AFP, 9 Sep 1998, and now being circulated in Thailand:

BANGKOK, Sept 9 (AFP) – Eighteen middle-ranking Thai military officers are being investigated for links to an international heroin trafficking operation, the supreme commander of Thailand’s armed forces said Wednesday.

General Mongkol Ampornpisit said the officers had been re-admitted into the military in the past two years and the scandal, the latest in a series to rock the Thai military, had prompted him to order that all recently re-admitted officers have their backgrounds checked.

“I have submitted the names of all re-admitted officers for the last two years to have their criminal backgrounds checked with the police,” General Mongkol told reporters, without elaborating on the heroin trafficking allegations.

He said he hoped the move to vet officers would help contain one of the biggest scandals to hit the Thai military establishment in many years.

The revelation of the heroin investigation follows another scandal involving an army captain at the centre of a murder probe, who had previously served a jail term in Australia for drug trafficking.

Mongkol conceded the military had been lax when re-admitting Captain Patchara Prompao into the armed forces after he was fired twice and convicted of narcotics trafficking.

Patchara is now in detention awaiting trial in a civilian court after he surrendered to police on Monday to face charges that he raped and then beat a male academic to death.

In June, amid a drive was to make the armed forces more accountable, the government demanded the military disclose the contents of secret bank accounts they had been allowed to keep.

Earlier this year the armed forces were accused by opposition politicians of involvement in vast illegal logging operations in northern Thailand.

It is also Thammanat who was reported in 2016 as being among more than 6,000 “influential criminal figures” being targeted by the junta in a nationwide crackdown. Back then it was Gen Prawit who stated that “[s]tate officials, police and military officers found to be involved with ‘dark influences’ must also be dealt with…”. Gen Prawit was reportedly in charge of “suppressing influential criminal figures.”

At the time it was considered that the regime’s political opponents were being targeted, a claim Prawit denied. When asked about specific individuals on the list – “former army specialist Gen Trairong Intaratat, better known as Seh Ice, and Capt Thammanat Prompao, a former close aide to Gen Trairong…” – Gen Prawit said “police will explain the offences they have allegedly committed.” He added that the two “might have done nothing wrong, but their aides might have…”. The report continued:

Gen Trairong, said to have close ties to ousted prime minister Thaksin Shinawatra, was among four people mentioned in a leaked document from the 1st Division, King’s Guard.

The three others named in the document are Karun Hosakul, a former Pheu Thai Party MP for Bangkok’s Don Muang district; Capt Thammanat Prompao, said to be involved in several enterprises including lottery ticket distribution; and Chaisit Ngamsap, alleged to be connected to illegal activities in the Mor Chit area of Bangkok.

Gen Trairong and Capt Thammarat have denied the allegations.

In the same report, Gen Prayudh is reported as saying:

… those who break the law must be punished…. In the future, these people may support politicians. They must not be allowed to break the law and use weapons against people. Today, we must help to clear up the mess to make our country safe….

It seems that the once pro-Thaksin Thammanat has metamorphosed into a pro-junta man and the politicians he’s supporting are Prayuth’s and he’s now so trusted that he’s a deputy minister!

The Dictator, the military and the proxy party

13 06 2019

In a step away from the “model” established by Gen Prem Tinsulanonda in the 1980s, Gen Prayuth Chan-ocha looks set to take the leadership of his proxy Palang Pracharath Party.

Gen Prem avoided political parties like the plague, fearing that their machinations could weaken him and his government. He knew he could always “buy up” replacement parties if he fell out with a coalition partner.

Still engineering things

While Gen Prayuth’s move is portrayed in The Nation as a move “to soften public perception of his links to the military.”

Everyone knows that Palang Pracharath was The Dictators’ and the junta’s proxy party and the military’s party. But, he’s not a member of the party, so needs to join it before taking leadership.

Proxy leader Uttama Savanayana is reported to be ready to “step down to make way for Prayut, while Sontirat Sontijirawong would likely continue as secretary-general.”

The move “is aimed at reportedly transform the military general into a full-fledged politician and reduce public perception of his links with the junta.” It seems that the junta has decided that these “links” are “among the most vulnerable spots for attacks by political rivals.” It seems that this “plan” is also part of the political maneuvering to have Gen Prayuth as prime minister for another eight years.

The trouble for Prayuth, shown by Prem’s experience all those years ago, it is likely to be troubles in the military that will be his political vulnerability. Prayuth’s coup, junta and his rigged election have all depended on the military’s power and repression. A move “away,” even if just a facade, is politically risky for him.

Yet, according to the report, he may have little choice as the proxy party is riven by internal tensions between its financiers, the junta and the proxy MPs.

Deputy Prime Minister Wissanu Krea-ngam was already warning “that if anything went wrong, Prayut would inevitably be affected as a party executive. Thus, the general should also plan a way out in case of an emergency…”.

Like all political parties, under the junta’s rules, Palang Pracharath’s parliamentary wing is inherently unstable. But, unlike some other parties, it has no deep roots and no community links. That makes it even more unstable.

If it comes about, Gen Prayuth’s ploy will make it clear that the party is simply the political wing of the junta. We knew that, but the move would mark the transition of the junta into post-junta politics. With Gen Prayuth also likely to also be defense minister, Prayuth is seeking to better connect military and party and eliminate potential instabilities. It’s a brave move, but characteristic of fascist leaders.

Updated: Cynical recycling

16 03 2019

We are sure readers recall when Thaksin Shinawatra was damned as a “populist.” And then there was Yingluck Shinawatra. When she campaigned in Thailand’s last completed election in 2011, she was also labeled a populist and was prosecuted for one of the policies she took to the electorate. Anti-populism has been a pillar of anti-Thaksinism.

When the military junta seized power, there is a plan to outlaw “populist” policies. That anti-populism soon became an embrace of the policies that the junta had previously damned. This turn to economic policies previously damned was an effort to claw back political ground from the Shinawatra clan, led by Thaksin turncoat Somkid Jatusripitak.

Not surprisingly, it was Somkid who was behind the manufacture of the Palang Pracharat Party as the junta’s devil party.

Now, desperate to gain the electoral traction it has been lacking, Palang Pracharath has released a range of so-called populist policies, apparently hurriedly concocted in recent days.

Increasing the minimum wage by a third, cutting income tax (including for the wealthiest), raising the graduate minimum wage 10% and waving their income tax for 5 years, loans and exemptions for businesses, and promised guaranteed minimum prices for six crops.

Remember Yingluck’s travails for her rice pledging policy?

Palang Pracharath deputy party leader Suvit Maesincee said “Pracha Rath state welfare cards would be given to more people, from 14.5 million low-income earners currently.” He added that “[d]ebt suspension will be allowed for village funds and more funds will be added.” And he promised a welfare state to “take care of children from womb to old age…”.

Can the junta/Palang Pracharath afford these promises when it is already running a substantial “fiscal deficit of 450 billion baht…”? The Bangkok Post notes that the regime has abandoned “plans to balance the budget within the next few years…”.

Sounding Thaksinesque, Palang Pracharath’s Uttama Savanayana declared: “Thais shall be rich in peace, happiness and hope…”.

Even more Thaksin-like were the measures proposed to  fund “Thais being rich.” The measures for making administration more efficient are exactly those used by Thaksin and Thai Rak Thai back in 2001-06.

Policy plagiarism has been a hallmark of the junta. It continues. The only “original” contribution by Palang Pracharath/junta is to promise “order.”

The Palang Pracharath/junta twin is banking on voters being “uneducate” and that by offering Thaksinesque policies that they can lure pro-Thaksin voters to support a failing junta party.

Update: Less than a day after his devil party released the policies discussed above, The Dictator has “issued a statement saying all governments must abide by financial discipline and good governance.” Maybe he should have thought about that several years ago before his own government began its vote-buying splurges. Or maybe before his party promised to extend the splurge further.

Updated: Gen Prayuth campaigns for his party

9 03 2019

About a week ago, The Dictator-junta leader-self-appointed prime minister-prime ministerial candidate Gen Prayuth Chan-ocha was going to appear for his Palang Pracharath Party at a planned rally in Korat. That was cancelled.

No matter, for the multitasking boss has “scheduled to visit four provinces” – Korat, Khon Kaen, Chiang Rai and Nakorn Srithammarat. Allegedly, these visits are “to follow up on government work…”.

As the Bangkok Post points out, this is “a move that appears to follow the trail of Palang Pracharath Party (PPRP) election campaign rallies which will be held prior to Gen Prayut’s visits.” The party had scheduled election rallies in each place around the time of the boss’s official visits, funded by the taxpayer.

Gen Prayuth’s minister until a few weeks ago and now leader of the junta’s devil party, Uttama Savanayana declared that Gen Prayuth’s “visits have nothing to do with the party.”

However, a few hours later, the party announced that it was postponing “a major election rally scheduled for March 13 in its stronghold of Nakhon Ratchasima as …[Gen] Prayut[h]… is scheduled to visit the northeastern province the same day.”

Cheating. You bet. And the party and the general remain wary of legal traps (set by themselves) but continue to use the public purse for campaigning.

The puppet Election Commission remains missing in action (or shopping) is unlikely to do anything about this.

Update: While Palang Pracharath might have been considering postponing its 13 March rally, it went ahead with its rally in Korat yesterday and campaigned across the northeast. Gen Prayuth was the center of attention even without being there as the party repeatedly used his name and linked its election to Prayuth’s continuing premiership. Prayuth shows up in a couple of days, “to follow up on government work…”. Or, rather, to campaign for his party.

Prayuth and the tangles of deception

26 02 2019

In seeking to rig its “election,” both The Dictator and the military junta seem to have tied themselves in some unexpected knots. Self-appointed prime minister-military dictator-coup leader-junta leader Gen Prayuth Chan-ocha is seemingly stuck between his puppet Election Commission and the junta’s Palang Pracharat Party.

Just a few days ago, we posted on a report that the EC had declared that there “is no law barring Prime Minister [Gen] Prayut Chan-o-cha, as the PM candidate for Phalang Pracharat Party, from joining the electoral debate…”.

But is that a “decision” or not?

Now, EC chairman Ittiporn Boonpracong has said his commission “had not yet received a letter from the PPRP [Palang Pracharath] seeking clarification over whether Gen Prayut can join policy debates as the party’s prime ministerial candidate.” He said that the EC will only “consider the issue if and when the letter reaches the commission…”.

This is curious for a couple of reasons. First, the EC was earlier reported as making a determination. Second, shouldn’t the EC be proactive in matters related to the election it is managing?

Startingly, Ittiporn also said that the “EC will consider whether Gen Prayut, as the chief of the National Council for Peace and Order (NCPO) is qualified as a candidate for prime minister under the law on the election of MPs and the constitution.”

This time it does have a petition, some 10-11 days ago. Surely, a decision could have been made in that time. Isn’t this kind of important?

Much of this confusion is caused by the fact that The Dictator prefers to cheat in his election by controlling his junta and its puppet organizations while seeking to extend his own prime ministerial position.

This charade of what the Bangkok Post calls the need for The Dictator’s “neutrality” is further tangled by Gen Prayuth appearing in all the Palang Pracharath election campaigning as an image. Fore example, in addition to campaign posters, his party has now released a 157-page book “detailing his [Prayuth’s] achievements and touting him as a candidate fit to lead the country after the election.”

Party leader and recent junta minister Uttama Savanayana explained that “the book was written for the party’s MP candidates and their campaign staff so they have all the relevant information about their party’s prime ministerial candidate.” Presumably some of them would have had difficulty reciting the “correct” information regarding The Dictator.

Apparently, the propagandists – we assume in the Army and junta who authored Pracharath Sang Chart – have also listed “achievements before he came to power in May 2014.” That probably includes his record of commanding murderous troops in 2010 as they shot down red shirts.

Then Uttama got into serious lying when he “stressed that the book is not intended as election campaigning material, and as such, won’t be distributed to the general public.” He then added that the cost of producing the books – about a million baht – “was already included in the list of election campaign expenses…”. Yes, that’s right, the book is not for campaigning, but is claimed and reported as a campaign expense.

And, while not for campaigning, Uttama declared that Prayuth’s party “ordered a total of 10,000 copies.” That’s a lot of distribution for not campaigning.

What a bunch of dolts. They are campaigning so badly that even more cheating may be the only way the party could win most votes in the lower house, even with all the cheating and rigging that has already gone on.

The Dictator nominated by Palang Pracharath

30 01 2019

Devil party, the party pf the military junta, Palang Pracharath surprised no one by nominating The Dictator, Gen Prayuth Chan-ocha, as one of its prime ministerial candidates.

What surprised is that the nomination came a day after Prayuth denied he had been invited by any party to be its nominee.

But nominate the party did. The Dictator, party leader Uttama Savanayana and Deputy Prime Minister Somkid Jatusripitak as its candidates for prime minister.

It also surprised that party secretary-general Sontirat Sontijirawong said the party executive “will send an invitation to the three candidates later…”.

Both The Dictator and Deputy PM Somkid remain in cabinet making all kinds of decisions that will benefit their devil party. Is the Election Commission likely to do anything? Yes, we think it will. It will run and hide.

Only 4 cheating ministers resign

29 01 2019

After months of unethically founding and holding positions in the pro-junta Palang Pracharath while being in the junta’s cabinet, allocating funds to projects and vote-enhancing programs, four of the cheating ministers have finally resigned from cabinet.

Commerce Minister Sontirat Sontijirawong, Science and Technology Minister Suvit Maesincee, Industry Minister Uttama Savanayana and PM’s Office Minister Kobsak Pootrakool finally resigned to take up political roles.

But what about their boss and political brain Somkid Jatusripitak? He’s still coming up with vote-winning schemes for taxpayer funds.

And how much will it matter when the rest of the cabinet is working for the devil parties and Gen Prayuth Chan-ocha for premier?

Updated: Junta as Palang Pracharath

26 01 2019

The distinctions between the junta, its cabinet and its Palang Pracharath Party have never been established. Ministers who are also party founders and bosses don’t even change hats as they move from cabinet meeting to corrupt party fundraisers and to campaigning for the party. In fact they often simply campaign for Palang Pracharath as ministers in the junta’s administration. Notions of a caretaker administration simply don’t exist for the military junta.

Recent reports show that the junta’s cabinet is simply becoming the Palang Pracharath Party. One report is of the launch of Palang Pracharath’s campaign policies. Almost all of them mirror junta policies. They were announced by Palang Pracharat leader Uttama Savanayana, who is also the junta’s cabinet minister for industry. He was supported by deputy party leader Suvit Maesincee, the junta’s serving science and technology minister.

A second report has party leader-junta member-cabinet minister Uttama announcing that party backer-silent-founder-junta member-Deputy Prime Minister Somkid Jatusripitak will be one of the party’s nominees for prime minister.

Of course, the devil party also wants The Dictator as one of its prime ministerial nominees.

The junta is now, for all intents and purposes, the Palang Pracharath Party.

Update: The Nation reports “a party source” at Palang Pracharath as saying that the junta party “will name Gen Prayut Chan-o-cha as its candidate for prime minister after the March general election…”. Uttama and Somkid would “be named in the list as his deputy and third in command, respectively.”

Further updated: EC stung into “investigations”

26 12 2018

Enormous criticism has piling up on the puppet Election Commission for looking dumb and dumbfounded about the numerous accusations of cheating by the military junta’s Palang Pracharath Party.

The most recent accusation is that party leader, Uttama Savanayana, the junta cabinet minister for industry, was elected leader before he was a member of the party.

Then there’s the Facebook video and claims of party recruitment and vote-buying. On that, Palang Pracharath member Pikit Srichana filed a computer crime charge against Kiatburut Panlert who posted the video.

This follows the claims and documented accusations about the party’s fund-raising banquet. Palang Pracharath denies everything.

On the welfare cards scam, however, on Saturday, it was “claimed a district chief in Khon Kaen province, together with a potential PPRP [Palang Pracharath] MP candidate, handed out welfare cards to people. The district chief allegedly told people if they wanted more cards, they should elect PPRP.”

With all of these “cases” piling up, and despite the EC actually defending Palang Pracharath, it has decided to “investigate.”

After initially saying it would wait for Palang Pracharath to report on its banquet in about a month, the EC says it is now “investigating,” and “saying results of the investigation are expected in up to two months.”

Two months? That would be about 24 February 2019, the day some expect the election will take place.


Palang Pracharath also states that it is investigating itself. On the welfare cards its says:

The party is now strictly following the law, which requires it to take action to stop any alleged misconduct, he said. More action will be taken when facts from the party’s own investigation into the case become available….

The party has also declared that it had nothing to do with the state welfare card distribution. It told all prospective candidates what they could and could not do to avoid violating the law….


Update 1: We owe readers and apology. We got the puppet agencies confused on the title of this post. We have changed it from NACC to EC. Sorry.

Update 2: The EC is confusing us. We are not sure if the EC is confused too. A Thai PBS report states that EC secretary-general Charoongwit Poomma has let it be known that “election officials had been keeping a close watch on the activities of parties and individual candidates and had collected evidence of suspected wrongdoings which would be used to deal with the wrongdoers after the election.” Which “activities”? He “cited such questionable activities as fund raising dinners of the pro-junta Palang Pracharat party, the distribution of welfare cards, the handouts of cash and rice.”

If he thinks Palang Pracharath is engaging in “questionable activities” what sense does it make to “deal with the wrongdoers” after the election is held? We know that usually the EC deals with campaign offenses after the election, but this is a new election regime. How will that impact the declaring of the election? What will it mean for by-elections? How does it impact the selection of a prime minister?

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