Updated: Questions from the news

20 12 2013

PPT has been busy in recent weeks and struggling to keep up with a large number of interesting and insightful newspaper reports on Thailand’s current political situation. Academics in the West have come up with accounts that consider that recent events are a struggle of liberalisms, the death throes of Thai paternalism and more. Some Thai academics have pointedly remarked that the struggle is against a political fascism.

As much as we’d like to, we can’t get to all of these views yet we are sure readers have seen them and don’t need our commentary to consider their flaws and contributions. We have to say that the liberalisms notion was a curve ball, and we don’t really get it, but the other perspectives seemed to offer some food for thought.

Rather than commentate, then, we want to ask some questions about items in the news of late.

Question 1: When a bunch of aged generals get together and talk of the “side of righteousness” should we take them seriously? After all, haven’t these military officers been responsible for thousands of political murders and for repressing democracy movements? Maybe the emphasis is not on righteousness but on right-wing extremism.

Question 2: When The Nation, in the same story, says the military reactionaries were joined by Prasong Soonsiri and describe him “a former member of the constitution drafting assembly,” should this newspaper be given a bollocking for outright bias, incompetence, stupidity or all three? After all, Prasong is another of the Dad’s Army of aged and disgruntled schemers who hate elections and democracy. As well as being one of the men behind Suthep Thaugsuban, Prasong has worked to bring down every single elected government since 2001. Indeed, he claims to have been involved with the planning of the 2006 coup.

Question 3: Should we believe the bosses at the Boonrawd Brewery when they distance themselves from the walking selfie, royalist and rightist Chitpas Bhirombhakdi? To be honest, we don’t know, but at least the bosses recognize that her Marie Antoinette-isms when damning every single rural voter as an idiot are damaging to the company. Santi Bhirombakdi made the excellent point that “the company is in debt to the customers…”. We doubt that a spoiled rich girl will listen to any kind of sensible discussion.

Question 4: How is it that the Election Commission can continue to ask for the election to be delayed? Their bleating seems designed to encourage Suthep’s anti-democrats to acts of sabotage against the election and the (un)Democrat Party to boycott. Their call seems unlawful. But that never seems to bother this lot.

Question 5: Has Bangkok Post op-ed writer Veera Prateepchaikul completely lost his marbles? His latest propaganda-piece-posing-as-an-op-ed actually suggests that readers should read rants by the most bizarre self-appointed commentators on the planet and take them seriously. This link is pure Sondhi Limthongkul and People’s Alliance for Democracy. For a while in 2011-12, PAD and ASTV were avid followers of Veera’s Tony Cartalucci. His blog has been Land Destroyer, which provides no information on funding, but as a reader at Prachatai pointed out at the time, it:

[l]inks to Infowars.com which is Alex Jones. Infowars.com accepts advertising from Midas Resources (http://www.midasresources.com/store/store.php?ref=62&promo=specialOffer) which is “One of the world’s premiere precious metals firms, parent company of The Genesis Communications Network, proud sponsor of the Campaign For Liberty and creator of the Ron Paul Air Corps.”

The Ron Paul initiated Campaign for Liberty (http://www.campaignforliberty.com/about.php) draws inspiration from a range of conservatives and libertarians and localists. According to University of Georgia political scientist Keith Poole, Paul had the most conservative voting record of any member of Congress from 1937 to 2002 (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ron_Paul).

Midas Resources was founded by Ted Anderson. Ted Anderson and Alex Jones are collaborators, with Jones appearing on the Genesis Communications Network, where Anderson is the CEO (http://www.gcnlive.com/contact.php). It was established to promote the sale of precious metals (http://www.gcnlive.com/faq.php). Its front page advertisers include Christian holster sellers and a range of survival products (for surviving the coming global food crisis) along with Ron Paul sites and Russia Television/Russia Today. GCN has interviewed right-wing, anti-Semite Lyndon LaRouche (http://www.larouchepub.com/lar/2008/interviews/080401jack_blood_genesis.html), seen as a political extremist (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Lyndon_LaRouche). LaRouche also has a fan in another link at Land Destroyer in F.W. Engdahl, yet another conspiracy theorist (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/F._William_Engdahl), who believes in global cooling (not warming).

Jones and Anderson have promoted conspiracy rants by people associated with the extremist John Birch Society (http://mediamatters.org/blog/201101290003).

Companies linked in these groups, such as Free Speech Systems (http://freespeechsystems.com/) provide no links or information; certainly not practicing what they preach.

Land Destroyer links to a range of other conspiracy theory websites that never provide any details about funding. One of these is to the site of long-time conspiracy theorist Webster Tarpley who has a remarkable Wikipedia page (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Webster_Tarpley). Another is to anti-fluoride, anti-vaccination, Bin Laden is alive (Alex Jones too), and conspiracy theorist Jim Corr who is also on about the threat or One World Government (http://www.jimcorr.com/).

In the LaRouche Wikipedia page, in the section on “Selected Works,” it might be noted that LaRouche wrote a book with Uwe Von Parpart in 1970. Several sites note that he later worked at Asia Times and The Manager magazine owned by Sondhi Limthongkul. Interesting connections.

Question 6: Recalling that Veera’s op-ed is supposed to be a lecture on democracy but cites sources like Cartalucci, LaRouche and the John Birch Society should we consider Veera’s notions of democracy on a par with fascists, racists and mad conspiricists?

Update: As might be expected The Nation has also begun reporting the bile of fascists, racists and mad conspiricists as if they were real journalists. It seems difficult for many of those associated with The Nation to distinguish between claptrap and professional journalism. Interestingly, this story cites a journalism lecturer who appears to know little of his professed trade, and yellow-shirted academic Charas Suwanmala, who has “raised concerns that comments by academics given to foreign media were often becoming targets of harsh criticism in social media.” He makes some useful points but is then quoted as saying:

“Academics should not be condemned as long as they honestly opine academically and independently,” he said. “But if they are academics who have sold their souls, are being paid by some people to support one side, give comments without considering the facts or without caring for what is right or wrong, then they deserve to be condemned.”

Hold up the mirror. Charas has effectively been a propagandist for PAD from the beginning and cooperated with the military junta and its government. His political views are rabidly anti-democratic and pro-monarchy.

Royalist news round-up

9 07 2009

PPT has to again admit that it is having difficulty keeping up with the current spate of royalist news and actions. Today we summarize just a few of the reports.

Royalist gone wild

A few days ago we reported (here and here) on the extraordinary allegations made by of lèse majesté made against the entire executive board of the Foreign Correspondents’ Club of Thailand (FCCT) by Laksana Kornsin (ลักษณา กรณ์ศิลป). Now, the same person has decided to go even further.

Ms. Laksana is clearly wanting to etch her name in the annals of political lèse majesté.  According to a report at Prachatai (9 July 2009: “Press release by Luksna Kornsilpa”), she has sent out a press release plus an article in Thai and English to the media making even more allegations of lèse majesté. Not only is she gunning for Thaksin Shinawatra and UDD leaders, she is now including police and the state attorney, claiming malfeasance, and all of those who will sign the petition to the king for Thaksin’s pardon (see more below).

It is quite possible that Ms. Laksana is just an angry and crazy royalist. However, her actions have not been, as far as we can tell, denounced by anyone in the government or by any other royalist. And, her actions fit the current pattern of royalist fear that they have been unable to roll back support for Thaksin since the coup and since the Democrat Party was maneuvered into power.

To give PPT readers a flavour of the bizarre nature of Laksana’s allegations and of the quite ludicrous laws in Thailand that allow such madness, we cite one part of the translated press release: “In addition to the charges under article 112 of Thai Criminal Law further charges are to be filed this day against Thaksin Shinawatra, Jakrapob Penkhair, Veera Musikapong, Nattawoot Saikuea, Jatuporn Prompan, Marwaan Macan-Makar, Jonathan Head, other FCCT directors and UDD members that are implicated in crimes against the nation. Criminal Code articles 107, 113, 114, 116, 133, 135/1, 210, 213, 215, 217, 220, 288 and 289 are all used and each of the accused will have at least 2 or more of the aforementioned articles filed against them. Instant action is demanded as the cases expose a co-ordinated gang of conspirators committing acts of treason and concealment that not only threaten the Kingdom of Thailand and her national security but also insult Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II and the constitutional monarchy of the United Kingdom of Great Britain that she reigns (not rules). Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II is protected by article 133 of Thai Criminal Law.”

PPT recalls when Prime Minister Abhisit Vejjajiva preached reconciliation and the need to “reform” the lèse majesté law. Not only is Abhisit barely visible these days, but his words not only amounted to nothing at the time, and are now just a distant memory as the royalist-military clique seeks to keep political power.

Bangkok Post joins attacks on the UDD

The attacks on the UDD-red shirts for being anti-monarchy have reached a new crescendo since the Puea Thai Party election victories in Sakol Nakhon and Srisaket. Today the Bangkok Post (9 July 2009: “UDD out to upset protocol”) joined in.

In its editorial, the Post editorialist seems upset that UDD leaders seem “unrepentant, defiant and arrogant” in their failure to apologize for the Songkhran Uprising, and claims that these leaders “have now embarked on two provocative endeavours which raise a big question about their true motives.”

The Post editorialist explains that these two actions are the petition for a royal pardon for Thaksin Shinawatra and the plan to celebrate his 60th birthday at Sanam Luang. We have commented on the former here. In the editorial, the Post claims that Sanam Luang is a site of royal functions and implying that the UDD is somehow trespassing on royal prerogative.

In fact, the whole point of the editorial is to imply UDD disloyalty. Clearly, the royalists still feel that the monarchy is the best political card they can play against the resurgent red shirts and Thaksin.

Losing King Bhumibol

Bloomberg (8 July 2009: “Losing King Bhumibol Concerns Don’t Deter Faber Bet on Thailand”) has an interesting article that assessed, amongst other things, the future sans the present monarch. This is a long and detailed article and PPT recommends that readers take the time to review it.

As a footnote, the authors are William Mellor and Daniel Ten Kate. Mellor used to work for Sondhi Limthongkul prior to one of Sondhi’s earlier business collapses. One of the persons interviewed for the article is Uwe von Parpart, Hong Kong-based chief Asian economist at Cantor Fitzgerald Capital Markets Ltd., who also worked for Sondhi when the English-language version of the Manager monthly, prior to the 1997-98 economic meltdown. PPT is not implying bias, just noting the connections.

Sufficiency economy not understood

The Bangkok Post (9 July 2009: “Sufficiency economy: Message hard to get across”) reports that it is now four months since the Democrat Party-led government launched sufficiency economy projects. However, with one-third of its 21 billion baht budget (yes, that’s billion) expended, Sumit Champrasit, the director of the Sufficiency Economy Office for Community Development, reports that it is having trouble getting people to understand the concept. This is quite an admission of ideological failure with 25,000 projects having been funded.

Sumit laments that villagers applying to the fund seem to want to increase their incomes rather than take up the fundamental ideas of the king’s sufficiency economy concept. He says “Rural people started from things they lack, like roads and money to buy fertilizers. Very few people understand the [sufficiency economy] concept.

Fancy that! Wanting what you don’t have and not being content with rural poverty! Poor, misguided souls. Director Sumit, an engineer, has the solution. He wants to “fine-tune people’s understanding …”. More propaganda for villagers?

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