Updated: 90 years after 1932

24 06 2022

On this day, like may others, PPT remembers 24 June 1932. On that day, the People’s Party (khana ratsadon) executed a well-planned Revolution to end the absolute power of the monarchy.

The inspiration of 1932 for the monarchy reform movement of recent years is crystal clear.

The palace, royalists and military have worked long and hard to erase it from the national historical memory. Indeed, much of the 9th reign was about erasing this memory and Vajiralongkorn and his regime cronies have obliterated statues, changed names, and more in an effort to bury memory of a time when monarchy wasn’t paramount.

Back in 2009 on 24 June, PPT marked the 1932 Revolution by reprinting the first announcement of the khana ratsadon or People’s Party. The announcement is attributed to Pridi Banomyong. We have done it on most anniversaries since then. We won’t today, but readers can click the link above to see it.

That proclamation recalls the thirst for democracy that is the essence of today’s anti-monarchism.

The 24 June used to be celebrated. Now, the event is barely noticed in any official way. After all, democracy is the antithesis of the monarchy in Thailand.

This point is made by social critic and intellectual Sulak Sivaraksa in an interview with BenarNews. He states: “Before 1932, the monarch was above the law, and he was the only one. After the 1932 [revolution], everybody became equal, everybody was under the law, and that was the first victory…”.

But, looking back, Sulak is despondent: “In these 90 years, we are currently [at] the lowest point…”. He adds: “Gen. Prayuth [Chan-ocha] claims this is a democracy, but it’s a sham democracy…”.

He points to the military takeover in 1947 as an inflection point, where Thailand turned back towards monarchism: “the coup leader praised the monarch, who was until then still under the constitution. They turned the monarch to God-like and above the constitution because they thought only the monarch could fight against the communists…”.

Any hope Sulak has is with the young: “I’m only an old man, looking forward to young generations. I’ve seen young generations who are so brave to fight against dictatorship…. I hope that Thailand, while celebrating 100 years of democracy, will go forward and not backward as is happening nowadays.”

One of those associated with the contemporary monarchy reform movement is Arnon Nampa. He affirms that the 1932 revolution “was the beginning of the call for democracy and the start of the fight for democracy. It was precarious because those involved in the 1932 revolution risked their lives…”. Today it is Arnon and other activists and thousands of sympathizers  who “are willing, too, to risk losing their freedom or lives…” in the struggle for democracy and the reform of the monarchy.

Update: A reader writes about expanding authoritarianism in the West, noting examples of censorship of social media and harassing Julian Assange for showing the US state as murderers – and worries for his daughter’s future.





Using 112 against the mentally ill

23 06 2022

Prachatai, using information from Thai Lawyers for Human Rights, reports that a man named Punyaphat (last name withheld), 29, “has been sentenced to 12 years in prison for posts he made in the Facebook group Royalist Marketplace about King Vajiralongkorn and Queen Suthida’s popularity and the King’s trips to Germany.”

Like several others who have been sentenced under Article 112, Punyaphat is said to suffer “mental illness.”

TLHR say that, on 20 June 2022, “the Samut Prakan Provincial Court ruled that the 4 posts Punyapat made on Royalist Marketplace, a Facebook group where people discuss the monarchy, on 9 and 10 May 2020 were intended to cause hatred against the King and Queen, and that the content of the posts is false and defamed the King.”

The Court “sentenced him to 12 years in prison for royal defamation and violation of the Computer Crimes Act. The sentence was reduced to 4 years and 24 months because Punyaphat confessed.” [This is an accurate quote, but the reduced sentence details must be wrong or lacking details. We guess 6 years, as a reduction is usually 50%.]

Punyaphat’s mother has stated that her son “suffers from attention deficit and shows obsessive-compulsive behaviour. She also said that he can only communicate on a limited basis and is unable to control himself in stressful situations or if he is afraid, and that he is not able to work or leave the house by himself and must be under the care of his family at all times.”

However, the royalist Court claimed “Punyaphat was capable of contesting the charges and there was no need to send him to a psychiatrist, since he is able to talk about himself.”  The court and its officers ignored all claims about Punyaphat’s mental condition, including by his lawyers.

While Punyaphat and his family live in Kamphaeng Phet, because the complaint “was filed by Siwapan Manitkul …  at Bangkaew Police Station in Samut Prakan, Punyapat and his family had to travel at least 5 hours from  for each court appointment.”

Siwapan is reported to have filed “at least 9 royal defamation complaints filed against other citizens for social media posts in 2020.”

Following the verdict, “Punyaphat’s lawyers posted bail for him in order to appeal the charges, and also stated that sending him to prison would prevent him from receiving proper treatment for his mental condition. He was released on bail using a 225,000-baht security.”





Mad, dumb, and more

21 06 2022

Now that the police have arrested Aniwat Prathumthin, aka “Nara Crepe Katoey”, Thidaporn Chaokuwiang, aka “Nurat”, and Kittikhun Thamkittirath, aka “Mom Dew,” and charged all three with Article 112 offenses, the Royal Thai Army has lifted restrictions on trade with Lazada.

If we weren’t so used to dumb-assed “explanations” from the lot in green, the statement by Army Deputy Spokesperson Col Sirichan Ngathong “said yesterday (Monday) that the lifting of the boycott was … in line with the further relaxation of restrictions, to allow business to resume normal operations and reopen the country to overseas arrivals.” What’s that got to do with monarchy and Article 112? We can only imagine that there may have been pay-offs, whispers in ears emanating from the Chinese Embassy, or orders from the boss. Or maybe all of them. We will never know.

Senate Speaker Pornpetch Wichitcholchai is supposed to have legal training. But he’s also a “good” person, meaning he enjoys being a dumb-ass with impunity. He’s defended his Senate colleagues – also “good” people – who employ dozens of their relatives. He says it “is not illegal.”

Pornpetch says “certain positions in public office may require someone, who the senators can trust, to fill.” We recall that Alexander MacDonald reported similar nepotism and the same “explanation” back in the 1940s (look for his Bangkok Editor on Library Genesis). Thai Enquirer has him saying: “[Nepotism] is not wrong because it is not against the law.” Taken aback, “reporters acknowledged that even though nepotism was not technically illegal, wasn’t it still morally wrong?” No, Pornpetch retorted, “nepotism, in government, is not morally wrong.”

Having trusted relatives means they are not likely to blow the whistle on their relatives as they supp at the public trough. It’s a family protection racket.

While on “good” people, we must mention a letter to the SCMP by Wiwat Salyakamthorn, said to be president of the World Soil Association and former vice-minister of agriculture and cooperatives of Thailand. You might have thought the sufficiency economy fertilizer might have leached away. But you’d be wrong. There’s now an effort to attribute everything that’s ever happened in Thai agriculture to the dead king and his “idea.” More, there’s an effort to transfer sufficiency economy to King Vajiralongkorn.

Wiwat claims: “Much of Thailand’s resilience in food security is due to … King Bhumibol Adulyadej’s development projects for the betterment of the Thai people’s livelihoods based on his philosophy of sufficiency economy.” Yes, farmers are all Thaksin-voting dolts. Only the royals know, and although Vajiralongkorn would have trouble growing a flower, Wiwat comes up with this guff: “Building upon his father’s legacy, His Majesty King Maha Vajiralongkorn Phra Vajiraklaochaoyuhua has guided the Thai people in applying the Khok Nong Na model to ensure that resilience of the food system remains one of Thailand’s crowning achievements in the years to come.”

That’s enough for today!





Palace discipline

15 06 2022

At 112 Watch, there is a list compiled by Pavin Chachavalpongpun where he has gone through Royal Gazette announcements from 3 August 2016 to 31 August 2020.

Given the manner in which King Vajiralongkorn has used the Gazette, often in furious language, to instill “discipline” and fear, this is a very useful listing. It details the causes of dismissal, demotion, de-decoration, de-robing and imprisonment of each individual under King Vajiralongkorn.

86 individuals are listed.





Using 112 against Thanathorn

7 06 2022

One of the most obvious efforts to use Article 112 to silence critics involves Progressive Group leader Thanathorn Juangroongruangkit.

Back in October 2021, it was reported that police had submitted a lese majeste charge against Thanathorn to the Office of the Attorney-General on 12 October 2021. The charge was lodged for Thanathorn’s livestreaming of talks in January 2021 on the government’s vaccine mismanagement when vaccines were being sourced.

Clipped from the Bangkok Post

It was alleged that the talks included remarks thought to offend the monarchy, which arose when Thanathorn questioned the regime’s AstraZeneca vaccine strategy, where most of it was delayed in production by Siam Bioscience, a Crown company.

This 112 charge was initiated by Apiwat Khanthong, said to be the chairman of the government-appointed committee investigating the spread of alleged anti-regime “disinformation.”

Reportedly, Phahonyothin police station lodged a second lese majeste charge, also in connection with his Facebook livestreaming. He also copped a computer crimes charge.

Thanathorn livestream talk, titled “Royal Vaccine: Who Benefits and Who Doesn’t?” urged the regime and Siam Bioscience to publicly reveal the vaccine-production agreement. At the time, Siam Bioscience, an opaque company due to its royal connection, seemed to have failed monumentally, causing the regime to import millions of AstraZeneca doses.

Thanathorn concluded that “the government has been careless in negotiations for the vaccine…”. He pointed out that Siam Bioscience was “tasked with producing 200 million doses per year. Of this, 176 million will be sold to other countries in the region, while the remainder will be sold locally.” He added that the regime “has announced it will give Siam Bioscience Bt1.44 billion for the project.”

He claimed Siam Bioscience was only “established in 2009 with an authorized capital of Bt48 billion, but over the past 11 years, the corporation has made losses worth Bt581 billion…”.

And, he “pointed out that Siam Bioscience was only added to the plan in the second quarter of 2020 – when anti-establishment protesters began holding their rallies.” This, he said, may make the “AstraZeneca-Siam Bioscience deal is politically motivated.”

The politically-motivated charges are going ahead. The Criminal Court will hear 54 witnesses in the case, with 42 of the witnesses being “viewers who watched the stream on Jan 18 last year and will be testifying for public prosecutors who filed the case…”. There would be 12 witnesses for Thanathorn.

Thanathorn pleaded not guilty, “noting that Section 112 has from time to time been exploited by the [Gen] Prayut-Chan-o-cha administration to silence political opponents and anti-government protests.” He stated the obvious: “A large number of people have faced Section 112 cases. All of these cases were aimed at protecting the power of Gen Prayut at the cost of people’s freedom of expression…”.

Of course, the charge is also used to protect the monarchy and make opaque royal affairs.





Poking the royal bear

3 06 2022

Thai Newsroom reports that Move Forward MP Benja Saengchantra has bravely spoken about the unspoken. She has “suggested that Ananta Samakhom Throne Hall and Vimanmek Mansion, viewed as Bangkok’s magnificent landmarks, reopen for tourism reasons.”

Of course, both buildings are now considered to be “located in the premises of Dusit Palace, and closed to the public following 2016’s ascension to the throne by King … Vajiralongkorn…”. Dusit Palace has been expanded by Vajiralongkorn. As Wikipedia has it:

At its greatest extent the palace occupied over 768,902 square metres (8,276,390 sq ft) of land. In 1932 the absolute monarchy was abolished and part of the Dusit Palace was reduced and transferred to the constitutional government. This included the Khao Din Wana (เขาดินวนา) to the east of the palace, which was given in 1938 to the Bangkok City Municipality by King Ananda Mahidol to create a public park, which later became Dusit Zoo. The Ananta Samakhom Throne Hall was also appropriated as the permanent meeting place of the National Assembly of Thailand.

Wikipedia also includes map on changes.Today, what were public properties are now surrounded by “[h]igh concrete walls and fences have been built around the perimeters of Royal Plaza…”, and the buildings have been permanently closed, including to the traffic that once flowed through the public streets of the area.

MP Benja argued that “the throne hall and the adjacent mansion reopen to Thai and foreign visitors because those historical sites could significantly promote Bangkok’s tourism…”.

On a different tack, Benja “remarked that varied government agencies assigned to carry out royal development projects in the provinces nationwide have evidently overlapped one another with all looking for sustained funding out of the taxpayer’s money on yearly basis and many having failed to get them completed by schedule. She courageously added that “many of those royal projects have not served the interests of local villagers as earlier anticipated, were rarely cost-effective and consumed much funding yearly…”. She provided examples.

Yes, the king has no clothes. And when he does, they are bizarre. Expect a savage response.





Silk and shaky royal power II

31 05 2022

Following up on our last post, the media has been reporting that the state has been especially energetic in promoting silk royalist ideology.

Thailand is not at all short of royalist celebration days, but yet another has been added. According to The Nation, August 12 has been declared “Thai Fabric Day,” in another posterior polish for the Queen Mother, Sirikit.

On Tuesday, a Cabinet meeting was brought forward to approve Culture Minister Itthiphol Kunplome’s proposal “to declare the birthday of … Queen Sirikit as ‘Thai National Fabric Day’ to mark the 90th of birthday of the Queen Mother…”.

Clipped from The Nation

Itthiphol also revealed that “the Cabinet also instructed government agencies to carry out PR campaigns on the royal activities of the Queen Mother so that Thai children and people would learn from various royal projects.” In another report, he claimed the old queen played a “role in boosting the country’s prosperity and raising people’s standard of living.”

Prime Minister and one of the old queen’s acolytes, Gen Prayuth Chan-ocha chimed in, blathering about “her tireless promotion of Thai textiles [and]… the revival of the domestic industry.” He claimed that Sirikit had “advised local weavers on ways to improve their skills as well as the quality of their fabrics…”. In essence, it is the great, the good, and the all-knowing who tell the lower classes how to do the things they’ve done for centuries.

All of the time, effort, and taxpayer funds expended on this event was “rewarded” with an appearance by the king and queen, suggesting that the palace has been heavily involved in yet another propaganda event.

There were some seriously weird “fashions” on show. None more weird than the king’s suit. While the king has repeatedly demonstrated a strange fashion sense, this fashion travesty resulted from his daughter’s design “skills.” Sadly, as bad as the suit is, we can only assume that it will now be taken up by the sycophants in government and in the higher reaches of the business community.

Clipped from The Nation





Monarchy critic gets refugee status

28 05 2022

The New Zealand Herald reports that Sinchai Chaojaroenrat, 57, an independent scholar and author “critical of the Thai monarchy has been granted refugee status on the grounds that he could face serious harm if he returned to Thailand…”.

The report also states that “despite inconsistencies in his claims,Immigration New Zealand stated that Sinchai’s “fear of being persecuted is … considered to be well founded…. There is a real chance of Dr Sinchai being persecuted if he returns to Thailand now.”

It is reported that “Sinchai believes that he was targeted by people close to the royal family and faced a risk of being kidnapped, imprisoned assassinated by the Thai authorities for his views.”

Sinchai was born in Chon Buri and “believes strongly in secularism despite being raised as a Christian. His interest in politics began at high school and he became more politically involved when he studied political science at university.”

It is claimed that by 2013, his “Facebook page and over time attracted more than 200,000 followers.” In 2019, he was a vigorous media commentator. New Zealand authorities concluded that Sinchai’s criticisms “centred on the country being undemocratic and the fact that the King’s personal conduct consumed a lot of the national budget. He also posted about the King’s sexual misconduct as he had many mistresses…”. It added that: “He also critiqued that the monarchy was treated as demi-gods and believed this was an outdated and obsolete tradition and that it was degrading to the people of Thailand to have to bow down before them.” He criticized the king’s “volunteers – the 904 program – as part of a “strategy in merging the monarchy with every government agency.”

Sinchai received multiple warnings and threats before fleeing Thailand.

But he claimed that what followed was a direct message sent on Twitter by a follower who said her father was a high ranking general in the military who had been assigned to take action against him.

This was one of several claims made by Sinchai that INZ did not accept to be credible.

The authorities concluded: “Country information unequivocally demonstrates that those who are publicly critical of the monarchy in Thailand, including on social media, can be subject to criminal charges…”.

Sinchai says “he was extremely grateful to New Zealand for letting him stay here as a refugee” and states that he feels safer. He vows to continue his criticism.





Further updated: The 2014 political disaster

22 05 2022

It is now 8 long years since Gen Prayuth Chan-ocha, Gen Prawit Wongsuwan and Gen Anupong Paojinda colluded with rightists to seize power from an elected government.

The 2014 military coup was not unexpected. After all, the military brass had been planning it and the People’s Democratic Reform Committee had been demonstrating for months in support of a military intervention. The generals knew they had palace support.

Three army generals in 2019. Clipped from the Bangkok Post

Here we recall some of our posts at the time of the coup, with some editing, to recall yet another dark day in Thailand’s political history.

The story of how it happened, from the Bangkok Post is worth recalling:

At 2pm on Thursday, representatives of seven groups began the second day of peace talks hosted by army commander Prayuth Chan-ocha.

The general began by asking all sides what they could do about the five issues he had asked them to consider on the previous day, a source at the closed-door meeting told Matichon Online.

Armed soldiers stand guard during a coup at the Army Club where the army chief held a meeting with all rival factions in central Bangkok on May 22. (Reuters photo)

Wan Muhamad Nor Matha of the Pheu Thai Party said the best his party could do was to ask ministers to take leave of absence or vacation.

Chaikasem Nitisiri of the caretaker government insisted cabinet members would be breaking the law and could be sued later if they resigned.

Abhisit Vejjajiva of the Democrat Party disagreed, citing as a precedent Visanu Krue-ngam, who had previously resigned as acting deputy prime minister, but Mr Chaikasem stood his ground.

Veerakarn Musikapong of the United Front for Democracy Against Dictatorship (UDD) said this debate was useless and a person would need a mattress and a pillow if they were to continue with it.

This was like discussing a religious faith in which everyone was firm in his belief. The army chief had a lot on his shoulders now because he came when the water was already waist-high.

If he continued, Mr Veerakarn said, he would be drowned. The army chief should walk away and announced there would be election. That way, his name would be untarnished.

At this point, Gen Prayuth snapped back: “Stop it. Religious issues I don’t know much about. What I do know is I’ll hunt down each and every one of those ‘infidels’. Don’t worry about me drowning. I’m a good swimmer and I’ve studied the situation for three years.

“Back in 2010, I didn’t have absolute power. So don’t fight me. I was accused of accepting six billion baht in exchange of doing nothing. I insist I didn’t get even one baht.”

At this point, Jatuporn Prompan of the UDD appeared more appeasing, saying since an election could not be held now anyway, the best solution was to hold a referendum on whether national reform should come before or after the next election.

The debate went on for a while before Suthep Thaugsuban of the People’s Democratic Reform Committee said political parties were not involved in this.

“This was a problem between the UDD and the PDRC,” he declared.

He proposed the two groups meet in a separate session.

Mr Abhisit said the government should also join in, but Mr Suthep insisted on only the people’s groups.

Gen Prayuth allowed the two groups to meet separately.

In the meantime, Mr Abhisit suggested other participants should go home now that the two sides were in talks, but Gen Prayuth insisted on everyone staying where they were until a conclusion was reached.

The UDD and PDRC sides talked for 30 minutes.

After that, Gen Prayuth led them back to the meeting, saying he would announce the results of the talks.

At that point, Mr Suthep asked for a minute and walked over to say something with Gen Prayuth, with Mr Jatuporn present.

When they were done, Gen Prayuth said: “It’s nothing. We talked about how the restrooms are not in order.”

After that, the army chief asked the government side whether it insisted on not resigning.

Mr Chaikasem said:” We won’t resign”.

Gen Prayuth then declared: “If that’s the case, the Election Commission need not talk about the polls and the Senate need not talk about Section 7.”

He then stood up and spoke in a loud voice: “I’m sorry. I have to seize the ruling power.”

It was 4.32pm.

At that point some of the attendees still thought he was joking.

They changed their minds when the general walked to the exit and turned back to tell them in a stern voice: “You all stay here. Don’t go anywhere.”

He then left the room.

After that armed soldiers came to detain the participants in groups. Notably, Prompong Nopparit who came in the government’s quota was detained with the UDD group in a separate room.

Mr Veerakarn had a smile on his face and forgot his cane.

Mr Abhisit told Varathep Rattanakorn and Chadchart Sittipunt of the government: “I told you so”.

A pale-faced Chadchart snapped:”So what? What’s the point of saying it now?”

The military put the Democrat and Pheu Thai parties in the same room while the rest were put in different rooms.

The senators and election commissioners were let out first.

The rest is history.

The mainstream media essentially welcomed the coup. We observed that the controlled media dutifully announced the junta’s work – arresting people, grabbing control of even more of the media, implementing a curfew and the usual things these military leaders do when they take over.

Supreme Commander Gen Thanasak Pratimaprakorn, Air Force chief ACM Prajin Juntong, Navy chef Adm Narong Pipattanasai, Police chief Pol Gen Adul Saengsingkaew became Prayuth’s deputies in the junta, but it was the Army that was in control.

Weng

The establishment Bangkok Post published two op-eds supportive of military intervention. One was by Voranai Vanijaka, who congratulated the generals:

Voranai

The other op-ed was by a died-in-the-wool anti-democrat at the Post who declared felling safer:

Dopey shit

Following these two cheering op-eds for the military and its form of fascism, the Bangkok Post managed an  editorial that polished Prayuth’s ego and posterior and justified military intentions. It concluded with this: “The sad thing is it’s the very act of a military takeover that is likely to stir up stiff resistance, provoke acts of violence and possibly cause more loss of life. This coup is not the solution.” Well, of course it is not the solution, but the Post has been part of the problem, failing to clearly stand for democratic process.

Kasit Piromya, former foreign minister under a fully anti-democratic Democrat Party, propagandized and defended the coup at the BBC. He noted the anti-democrat call for the military to intervene “for quite some time.” He lied that the caches of arms found “amongst the red shirts” meant there was going to be great violence. It has to be said that the Army suddenly finding caches of weapons is a propaganda device they have regularly used in the past. He was fully on board with the military.

His comment on the “problem” of democracy is that his side can’t win, and the majority always win. That’s our interpretation of his anti-democrat tripe. He reckons this is the military resetting democracy. He sounds like he’s still in the yellow of 2006; it was the same story then.

Some of these commentators took years to learn that the military intervention was a huge disaster. Others continue to support military, monarchy and fascism. But really, looking back, no one could possibly have thought that this set of military dinosaurs was going to be interested in anyone other than themselves and the monarchy.

The past 8 years are lost years. For us, the only positive is the widespread questioning of the monarchy and its political, economic and social role.

Update 1: The massive Bangkok electoral victory by former Puea Thai minister Chadchart Sittipunt, with a 60% turnout, Chadchart receiving 1,386,215 votes, ahead of the Democrat Party’s Suchatvee Suwansawat with a paltry 240,884 votes. Some of the early commentary refers to the lost years since the 2014 coup – see here and here. It seems clear that the Chadchart landslide marks a rejection of Gen Prayuth and his regime. It is also a rejection of yellow-hued rightists, no more so than the abject failure of the PAD/PDRC eccentric and toxic Rosana Tositrakul with a minuscule 78,919 votes. Sadly, we might predict that the radical royalists and their military allies will interpret the results as a prompt for more vote rigging and even coup planning.

Update 2: Chadchart’s election was no fluke. As Thai PBS reports, the Bangkok assembly election delivered an emphatic vote for the Puea Thai (19 seats) and Move Forward (14 seats) parties. The hopelessly flawed Democrat Party got 9, while the regime’s fracturing Palang Pracharath won just 2 seats. That’s a landslide for the opposition.





What’s happened to royal consort Sineenat?

17 05 2022

King and Sineenat in happier times

Back in mid-February, we were asked about the whereabouts of official consort Sineenat Wongvajirapakdi.

We asked because the previous time she disappeared from public view she was jailed by the king.

After a few months, she was released, declared clean and unimpeachable and taken back to the king’s bosom.

When the king’s household returned to Bangkok to see off the student uprising, Koi was involved in every event. Indeed, she was reasonably high-profile in this palace pushback which saw the king and immediate royal family doing public appearances to boost royalists and royalism.

Campaigning for royalism

If her initial rise, demise and resurrection was very strange stuff, her current situation is even odder. There have been no announcements. She’s just disappeared from public view. By our calculation, her disappearance is now about 6 months.

Of course, plenty are wondering what’s going on. There are rumors. She’s jailed again, she’s dead, she’s pregnant, or she’s stuck in Germany.

We have no idea.

So where is Sineenat?








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