Updated: Failing virus fight

17 07 2021

Sadly, it seems reasonably certain that Thailand’s authorities are losing the fight against the virus. It should not be forgotten that for over a year, the country did well, after several errors, gaffes and arrogant missteps, with the regime largely staying out of the way. Since early in 2021, this changed, with more errors and a botched vaccine procurement and rollout.

The big bet the regime made on vaccines was to lay out for the king’s Siam Bioscience, aiming to provide the palace with bucketloads of propaganda. But, the company was inexperienced, small, and lacking personnel and equipment. For the background on the king’s company, see this recent report.

Finally, AstraZeneca, which has been opaque everywhere, has admitted that it is unable to produce the contracted doses. The company has said it “currently has local capacity to produce only 15-16 million doses per month, 5-6 million of which are reserved for Thailand…”. The target most often cited was 10 million doses a month.

This has led AstraZeneca to ask the “Public Health Ministry to extend the timeline for delivery of 61 million doses to Thailand from the end of this year to May 2022.”

It is unclear if Siam Bioscience is producing 15-16 million doses. If it is, it must be sending them to other countries, but we have seen no evidence of that, but maybe we missed it.

Thai PBS reports that “the government will still negotiate for as much monthly supply as possible.” There was also discussion of imposing “limits on exports of the locally produced AstraZeneca vaccine because the country doesn’t have enough for its own needs.” That statement seems more like a shot in the dark than a shot in the arm.

Meanwhile, Thai Enquirer asks questions about unanswered questions. Following from others, it asks “why Buriram is getting more Covid vaccines than many other provinces that should have gotten it first.”

The report states that “according to the government’s allocation plan in May, Buriram is one of the top ten provinces to receive the locally made AstraZeneca vaccines, ranking at number nine and above Pathum Thani which is the site of several outbreaks.” Pathum Thani has had 10 times as may cases as Buriram.

Thai Enquirer summarizes: “In short, Buriram is getting more vaccines per capita than many of the hardest hit provinces.” And it observes: “everyone in the country knows that the Deputy Prime Minister and the Minister of Public Health, Anutin Charnvirakul, is largely dependent on the godfather of Buriram and the real leader of Bhumjaithai Party, Newin Chidchob.”

And, of course, the rich and the well-connected are jumping vaccine and hospital lines all over the country.

Update: It goes from bad to worse for the military-backed regime. Leaked letters between AstraZeneca in the UK and the government reveal that the “Ministry of Public Health only requested 3 million doses per month in an agreement with the vaccine manufacturer last September.” In that letter, “AstraZeneca … also urged the Thai government to join the COVAX program to get more vaccines to its citizens, something that the government has not done.”

The letter also reveals that the “letter of intent” was signed with the MOPH, the king’s Siam Bioscience and SCG – Siam Cement Group, where the king is also in control.

While the letter states that one-third of local production will go to Thailand, the letter appears to state that no vaccine had yet been exported from Siam Bioscience (although the letter is somewhat vague), saying the other governments have shown “great patience” in waiting for vaccine.





Updated: Virus cock-ups

6 07 2021

As the complaints about the regime’s cocked-up vaccine rollout mount, we can only say that regular readers will probably have noted these failures months ago. The criticisms go back to last year when questions were raised as to why the regime “decided” to back the king’s inexperienced and relatively tiny company Siam Bioscience as a manufacturing hub for AstraZeneca in the region.

Many felt this was yet another deal for the monarchy, to make it look good, and now it has backfired. Siam Bioscience and the monarchy have not gained the propaganda value expected, and the regime is looking cracked, hopeless, and arrogant.

Begging for vaccines to replace the undelivered Siam Bioscience lots and rushing via the tycoons to Sinovac is also looking like a poor bet now that questions are everywhere about Sinovac’s efficacy. It is obvious that public confidence in regime and its once quite good handling of the virus are plummeting.

Clipped from The Rand Blog

In recent days, the big issue has not just been the 5,000-6,500 infections per day, but as The Nation reports, “[s]ome senior doctors are worried that the arrival of the mRNA Pfizer vaccine will make recipients of the Sinovac vaccine believe they have been given an inferior product…”.

The views were included in leaked “minutes of a meeting about Pfizer vaccines that will be donated to Thailand by the US…”. One comment was: “If we give Pfizer vaccines to medics, it will imply that the quality of the Sinovac vaccine given to them earlier is low, and it will be difficult for us to find a reasonable excuse.”

Public Health Minister Anutin Charnvirakul confirmed that the minutes of a 30 June were real but claimed the comments were “only an opinion and that no final decision has been made about the use of Pfizer vaccines.”

Thai Enquirer also discusses the leaked document. It considers the “leaked document … revealed that government officials and academics wanted to downplay the ineffectiveness of the Sinovac vaccine…”. It was an admission that “Sinovac was not effective.”

The government has reportedly fully vaccinated “679,276 medical workers, around 95 per cent of the country’s medical workers, have received both shots of mostly Sinovac vaccine.”

Thai Enquirer wonders why the “government still insists on ordering more Sinovac doses, with millions on order for 2022.”

It seems to us that the regime’s vaccine royalist cock-up is becoming increasingly dangerous.

Update: A reader points out that we missed a rather major cock-up. That’s the reporting of Gen Prayuth Chan-ocha going to Phuket and now having to self-isolate. It will be recalled that The Dictator showed the country that he can arrogantly ignore expectations regarding being virus-safe when he was in Phuket. Remember that Anutin defended his boss’s behavior. Now, however, Gen Prayuth “will self-isolate at home for a week after he came into close contact with a person who later tested positive for Covid-19 during an event held to mark the Phuket Sandbox scheme to bring in vaccinated foreign tourists.” It was Veerasak Pisanuwong, the chairman of Surin Chamber of Commerce, who was later confirmed as positive for the virus.

We are also reminded that The Dictator is at “home” in his Army-supplied and paid home on an Army base, which we continue to think is a violation of the constitution. That he was in Phuket to promote virus-free travel and one of his companions is virus positive can only count as a major cock-up.





Opposing an absolutist monarch

3 07 2021

Security forces fired gunshots and tear gas to disperse pro-democracy demonstrations that saw people burning tires and barricading streets. The demonstrations were against a repressive government with loud calls for reform. They accused the king of feasting on public coffers to fund a lavish lifestyle.

Not Thailand and King Vajiralongkorn, but Eswatini (previously Swaziland) and its absolutist King Mswati III. King Mswati is said to be Africa’s last absolute monarch.

PPT thought this uprising says something about absolute monarchies, monarchs who prefer absolutism, and their opposition to political reform. Their responses to calls for real democracy tend t be met with violence. In Eswatini, according to reports, authorities have “imposed a strict curfew to contain the unrest…”.

Mswati has ruled for more than three decades, and “[a]nger against … King Mswati III has been building for years in the country. However, protests against him are rare.” They are rare because of his regime’s political repression and an ideology that protects the monarchy.

Another despot

Clipped from the Mail & Guardian

Like Thailand, the monarch’s Prime Minister said the “government has been following these protests” and had “heard their demands.”

But “Eswatini’s Youth has had enough of its king…”. One focus of their anger is the king’s “lavish lifestyle enjoyed by himself and his 15 wives…” who “occupy several state-funded palaces.”

Protesters are calling for change: “People want a democratic government where they can elect their own leaders, in particular, they want a republic so that the country can be led by a president…”.

They are also “demanding that all businesses owned by the royal family be seized or destroyed.”

The response from the king has been violent repression, calling out the military, and with the toll of deaths and injuries rising. One of the king’s daughters is rallying royalists, and saying that the protesters are inspired and infiltrated by foreigners.

Absolutist monarchs have much in common.





Updated: Arrogance rewarded

2 07 2021

Anyone following social media will have noticed the flood of complaints and invective associated with the photo below, clipped from The Nation. It shows Gen Prayuth Chan-ocha and “his entourage dining at a beachside restaurant in Phuket on Thursday.”

Corrupt and arrogant

While the regime brings charges against protesters, almost all masked up, for flouting the emergency decree that is lodged in virus control, he and his “entourage” can flout the decree with impunity.

The photo shows these arrogant men “eating and sitting close together, while some members of the party are without a mask.”

Meanwhile, today authorities reported 61 virus-induced deaths – a record – and 6,087 new infections – the second highest recorded for the country.

Of course, Phuket is not currently a red zone, but these are people who are meant to set an example. In any case, many are from Bangkok, which is a red zone.

Public Health Minister Anutin Charnvirakul stumbled along, defending the miscreants boss, blabbering about “everybody in the photo was actually sitting a fair distance from one another and that they have all been vaccinated against Covid-19.” So we guess that the message is that anyone who is vaccinated can skip off to Phuket, avoid quarantine, and do as they wish.

The general/prime minister is arrogant. He obviously knows he is untouchable. After all, the Constitutional Court has again let Gen Prayuth off a case on a technicality. The Constitutional Court seems to belong to Prayuth. His control of parliament and “independent” institutions fertilizes his arrogance.

Update: For the seriousness of the situation in Bangkok, see a couple of stories in the Bangkok Post. One begins:

While the government is upbeat about its Phuket reopening scheme, health personnel in Greater Bangkok are struggling to deal with a surge of new Covid-19 infections and deaths.

Another story slams the regime and Siam Bioscience:

The Rural Doctors Society yesterday called on the government to enforce the law to require Siam Bioscience, a local authorised pharmaceutical manufacturer, to deliver vaccine supplies as planned.

On its Facebook page, the network claimed Siam Bioscience was likely to deliver only 4 million doses of vaccine this month, instead of 10 million doses as planned by the government.

That’s the king’s company, and we guess the situation is dire if normally royalist doctors make such calls. Just in passing, we note that the monarch is scarcely seen.

That rises to 10 million doses per month from July until November, with the last 5 million jabs arriving in December.

The society said “the government was deemed reluctant to negotiate with the company or enforce any legal tools to secure the delivery of 10 million doses per month.”

That’s because it is the king’s company.

So, in the end, we have a failed vaccination strategy, a king’s company seemingly unable to communicate or deliver, a regime unable to pressure it, and a prime minister off with the fairies in Phuket.





20 lese majeste cases

18 06 2021

At one time it was Thaksin Shinawatra who was the military and royalists considered the devil and faced the most lese majeste charges. We think that he faced somewhere between four and six charges and several more accusations and investigations.

The record for lese majeste charges is, as Prachatai reports, now held by Parit Chiwarak or Penguin. He is “now facing 20 counts under the lèse majesté law, after complaints were filed against him for Facebook posts he made about King Vajiralongkorn’s divorce from his ex-wife Sujarinee Vivacharawongse [Yuvadhida Suratsawadee], and the use of Sanam Luang for funerals.”

Thai Lawyers for Human Rights (TLHR) are the source for information on the new charges. They report that “Parit went to the Technology Crime Suppression Division (TCSD) on Tuesday (15 June) to hear the charges…”.

These charges resulted from complaints by “Nopadol Prompasit, a member of the Thailand Help Center for Cyberbullying Victims, an online royalist group whose members have filed numerous lèse majesté charges against many netizens…”.

Readers will recall that it was only a few days ago that the same group of royalist, right-wing, fascists showed up at the very same TCSD more charges against those they claimed  violated lese majeste and computer crime laws. AT the time, police said Nangnoi Assawakittikorn and her royalist minions were  calling for charges against another 90 individuals. The new report adds that these 90 all made posts that they claim insulted Queen Suthida on her recent birthday.

Prince, Yuvadhida, and kids in earlier times

The complaints against Parit, however, “were filed on 11 January 2021 and are related to two Facebook posts he made in December 2020. The first was on 8 December 2020 about King Vajiralongkorn’s divorce from his ex-wife Sujarinee Vivacharawongse, who now lives in the United States in exile with her four sons.”

He also stands accused of “called for Princess Sirivannavari, the King’s younger daughter, not to use taxpayer’s money to promote her fashion brand…”. She’s not covered by Article 112. However, it is also alleged that Parit “included in the post a link to a voice clip rumoured to be that of the king saying ‘I know I’m bad’.” We guess if he’s convicted on that, then the rumor is proven.

In another post on 31 December 2020 it is alleged he “mentioned how funerals are allowed to be held at Sanam Luang but people are not allowed to sell shrimp, referring to the shrimp sale organized by the volunteer protest guard group We Volunteer on 31 December 2020 which was dispersed by police.”

In addition to the 20 lese majeste charges Parit now faces, he also has outstanding charges under the Computer Crimes Act, sedition, and more.

In these two most recent cases, Parit denied all charges. Startlingly, he reportedly “requested that Sujarinee and her sons be brought in as witnesses and to have them testify on why they had to leave the country, who is involved in their exile, and whether they wish to return to Thailand.” That may result in more charges.





Wind powers hi-so corruption

11 06 2021

In an oddly presented report at the Bangkok Post it is reported that the Attorney General “has ordered the prosecution of Khunying Korkaew Boonyachinda and associates for forgery and allegedly using forged documents for the transfer of shares of Wind Energy Holding (WEH).” A similar story appeared at Khaosod and promptly disappeared.

Korkaew

Korkaew. From Bangkok Post

This caught our attention as the case is related to a 2014 lese majeste case against Nopporn Suppipat. At the time, he was one of Thailand’s wealthiest men, investing in alternative energy.

He was entangled in the purge of persons associated with then Crown Prince Vajiralongkorn’s estranged wife Srirasmi and her relatives in early December 2014.

His lese majeste arrest warrant alleged he hired two persons connected to former Central Investigation Bureau chief Pongpat Chayapan, the princess’s uncle. Nopporn was accused of using royal influence to hire others – Srirasmi’s associates/relatives – to physically assault and threaten.

He denied any connection to the princess’s relatives and fled the country.

In an on-again/off-again legal case that has traversed Thailand, Hong Kong, Singapore and the UK, in 2020 it is reported that Nopporn had “sued members of a family-run business conglomerate in London’s High Court over the $700 million sale of the business, claiming they conspired to take control of the company.”

Nopporn

Nopporn in 2014

Nopporn’s suit accuses “members, companies and allies of Thailand’s Narongdej family of conspiring to deprive him of any interest in the [W]ind [C]ompany [Wind Energy Holding Co. Ltd.].”

His suit accused “Nop Narongdej, the scion of the KPN Group business conglomerate, of reneging on the plans and secretly conspiring with members of his family to keep the [company’s] shares” despite a deal done that would have allowed Nopporn to hold the shares outside Thailand. It was said that the “stake in WEH was eventually sold to Kasem Narongdej, Nop’s father, at a major discount…”. As a result, the suit involved Nop, Kasem and “15 other defendants, including the family’s companies, WEH employees, Narongdej’s lawyer, Siam Commercial Bank [major shareholder: the king], and individual banking employees.”

In Thailand and Hong Kong, the shenanigans have caused considerable reporting. Some of it:

The new report states that:

on June 4, 2021, the Attorney General issued a definitive court order against Khunying Korkaew Boonyachinda and associates to the Southern Bangkok Criminal Court on charges of the forgery of Mr. Kasem Narongdej’s signatures in several documents and allegedly using these forged documents for the transfer of WEH shares to Khunying Korkaew Boonyachinda.

The prosecution order issued by the Attorney General corresponds to the results of signature verification from both the Central Police Forensic Science Division, Royal Thai Police and the Institute of Forensic Science, Ministry of Justice. Both results clearly indicate that Mr. Kasem’s signatures on all documents used by Khunying Korkaew Boonyachinda for the transfer of WEH shares (Mr. Kasem as transferor and Khunying Korkaew as transferee) are forged.

Korkaew is Nop’s mother-in-law and she’s always been a hi-so figure. The case unveils some of the corruption that marks this class.





International embarrassment II

10 06 2021

The regime’s embarrassment should be increasing now that other countries are reporting that Thailand’s AstraZeneca production is severely delayed.

Reuters reports that, in addition to the Philippines, both Malaysia and Taiwan are saying deliveries of AstraZeneca vaccines manufactured in Thailand will be delayed. AstraZeneca reportedly made the king’s Siam Bioscience the production site for much of Southeast Asia.

Covid vaccinate

Clipped from The Rand Blog

The report states that “AstraZeneca’s distribution plans in Southeast Asia … depends on 200 million doses made by Siam Bioscience, a company owned by Thailand’s king that is making vaccines for the first time.” It adds:

Any questions about Siam Bioscience meeting production targets are sensitive because King … Vajiralongkorn is its sole owner. Insulting Thailand’s monarchy is a crime punishable by up to 15 years in prison….

Siam Bioscience and AstraZeneca did not immediately respond to requests for comment….

In Taiwan, Health Minister Chen Shih-chung said “orders from AstraZeneca would be delayed by a month due to production problems at the firm’s Thai plant.”

In Malaysia, Science Minister Khairy Jamaluddin told reporters he is also expecting delays.

In Thailand, Thai Enquirer reports that

A source inside Thailand’s Ministry of Public Health told Thai Enquirer that part of the reason for the delay is because the Thai government has decided to focus first on inoculating its own citizens.

“I think the government has been criticized from all sides due to its decision to heavily rely on SBS vaccines and it is especially sensitive right now,” the source told Thai Enquirer by phone.

“So they are halting or delaying exports of the vaccine to focus on the inoculation drive to gain back some credit.”

Remember when Health Minister Anutin Charnvirakul was demanding that AstraZeneca deliver doses to Thailand as contracted? What’s he saying now? Such “vaccine nationalism” has been seen elsewhere, but what about contracts?

Meanwhile, even in Bangkok, the supply of vaccines continues to run short. But the private sector seems to be able to access a flow of vaccines. What’s going on?





Updated: International embarrassment I

3 06 2021

Cod Satrusayang recently had an op-ed at Thai Enquirer that declares “Siam Bioscience has become an international embarrassment.” He makes some excellent points.

He does not say that Siam Bioscience is the king’s company and that the regime gave it the AstraZeneca contract. Perhaps that is now widely understood, but we think this needs to be constantly repeated for royalism cripples even the most important of public policies.

Here’s some clips from Cod:

We knew the delay was coming from Siam Bioscience, Thai Enquirer reported as much three weeks ago. According to our sources, the AstraZeneca production target for June was never going to be met by SBS [Siam Bioscience] and right we were….

As far back as last year, pro-democracy protesters had pointed out discrepancies in SBS securing the AstraZeneca contract with opposition politicians also chiming in.

As Reuters points out (see below for link):

Thai police earlier this year laid criminal royal insult [lese majeste] charges against opposition figure Thanathorn Juangroongruangkit, saying he had defamed the monarchy in a Facebook Live stream when he accused the government of mishandling the vaccine campaign and of giving an unfair advantage to Siam Bioscience.

Thanathorn’s case is pending trial.

Back to Cod:

We knew, even back then, that the government trusting an unproven company with no track record of producing vaccines was risky, we knew that scaling and technology transfers were going to be a problem, we knew that and we continued down the course anyway.

… Why did the government feel it was a good idea to put all their eggs in the collective SBS basket?

Who knows? There are many theories. Special interests, arrogance, idiocy, whatever the reason, people have died and are continuing to die because of government incompetence.

The answer is that ridiculous royalism led to bad policy, gambling with people’s lives for a dose of royal/palace propaganda.

Cod notes that ridiculous royalist policy now has international ramifications, referring to a Reuters report that “[d]elivery to the Philippines of the first batches of a promised 17 million doses of Thai-made AstraZeneca … vaccines has been delayed by several weeks and reduced in size…”.

The report adds:

The delay raises questions about AstraZeneca’s vaccine distribution plan in Southeast Asia, which depends on 200 million doses made in Thailand by Siam Bioscience, a company owned by the country’s king that is making vaccines for the first time.

It was not immediately clear if other countries slated to received Thai vaccine exports would be affected by similar delays….

Inside Thailand, questions about Siam Bioscience meeting production targets are extremely sensitive because King Maha Vajiralongkorn is sole owner of the company…. Insulting Thailand’s monarchy is a crime punishable by up to 15 years in prison.

The Philippines comment comes from “presidential adviser Joey Concepcion, who has been coordinating vaccine procurement with the Philippine government and private sector…”. He stated that “AstraZeneca had informed him that delivery of the first batch of 1.3 million doses would have to be pushed back from the third week of June to mid-July and also reduced to 1.17 million doses.” In addition, the “second batch of 1.3 million doses would also be reduced to 1.17 million and has been moved from July to August.”

Concepcion said AstraZeneca told him “there were delays in Thai production.” He added: “It is a new plant they are running … that is how it is when you start a new plant…”.

That is an embarrassment.

As if to respond to criticism, somehow Siam Bioscience has suddenly produced a local delivery of AstraZeneca’s vaccine:

Siam Bioscience said the first locally produced AstraZeneca doses were delivered to Thailand’s Ministry of Health ahead of the June 7 start of the country’s official mass vaccination program. It did not say how many were delivered.

Update: According to a report in The Nation, “AstraZeneca (Thailand) has confirmed that it will deliver 6 million doses of its Covid-19 vaccine during June after submitting documentation to the Department of Medical Sciences for vaccine quality inspection…”. The Department of Disease Control announced that “the first lot of 240,000 AstraZeneca doses will be sent to 58 provinces, or around 3,600 doses each, by … June 2.” It added that the “next lot of 350,000 doses will be sent to the other 19 provinces in the next two weeks…”.

Meanwhile, the Government Pharmaceutical Organization announced it will import 11 million Sinovac doses from June Health Minister Anutin said: “So far we have received 6 million doses of the Sinovac vaccine, 5.5 million of which were through purchase and 500,000 of which were donated by the Chinese government…”. He added: “Sinovac will complement the main vaccine that will be used in Thailand, AstraZeneca…”.Anutin observed that Sinovac “has an efficacy rate of 51 per cent reported from clinical trials, Sinovac offers nearly 100 per cent protection against symptomatic infection and hospitalisation…”.





Updated: Remembering the 2014 political disaster

22 05 2021

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.

Here we recall some of our posts at the time of the coup, with some editing.

The story of how it happened, from the Bangkok Post, via Matichon, 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 tenor of announcements in the controlled media is that a National Order and Maintenance Committee – the military bosses – are 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. There are some unconfirmed reports of shooting.

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.

It is becoming clear that the plan is exactly what the royalist and anti-democrats have wanted: a search for a “neutral” premier. Look for a former military commander or a privy councilor or someone who fits both categories.

Weng

Given that the Bangkok Post published not one but two op-eds supportive of military intervention today, we assume the editorial board is dancing in the streets (until curfew at 10 P.M. One was by Voranai Vanijaka, who stated, among other now dumb as a box of rocks statements, this:

Look for an interim government, appointed. Look for reforms, not necessarily to tackle corruption or to solve the education crisis, those issues take years, and we wouldn’t want an appointed government for years.

But definitely look for reform measures to ensure future political stability and economic opportunity. In this, look for factions and individuals to be persuaded to fall in line and do as told.

In addition, look for these measures to be more effective in setting Thailand on the ‘’right’’ course, as compared to after the 2006 coup.

Then, look for a reasonable period of time until the military is sure that the peace is kept. Three months, six months, a year, however long it may take.

After which, look for the return of the democratic election and things to actually go back to normal – well, normal for Thailnd, that is.

A scenario is mere speculation based on past lessons to ascertain likely future possibilities. If there is any certainty, it is that democratic elections will return.Voranai

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

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 argued – and recall this was early on – 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’s fully on board with the military, as you’d expect.

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.

Update: We noticed a couple of articles in the English media on the anniversary of Thailand’s bleakest of coups. At Thai PBS, there’s a story on Yingluck Shinawatra’s response. Among other comments she observes:

The past seven years, since the coup, are seven years of lost development opportunity and seven years of the people’s voice being ignored. It is seven years that people have been hoping for a People’s Constitution, which nobody knows whether it will ever be realised….

That’s pretty much it, but no one could possibly have thought that this set of dinosaurs was going to be progressive or interested in anyone other than themselves and the monarch, who must, at all cost, be revered and coddled.

The Bangkok Post has two stories. One is a kind of “evenhanded” account that sees the only support for the junta-post-junta being expressed by its people. Government and military spokespersons come up with a large pile of buffalo manure.

Government spokesman Anucha Burapachaisri insisted the government “is trying to prevent clashes between those involved and is not acting as a party to the conflict…”. He seems to think everyone is as stupid as he is. And to prove his own stupidity, his claim for “progress” after seven years was this: “reforms initiated by the government have made substantial progress with laws being amended to accommodate changes. When the bills are enacted, the reforms will be more visible.” Yes, that’s a zero.

The Ministry of Defense spokesman Kongcheep Tantravanich is worse still, making stuff up, squishing manure and making military manure piles. He invents a story that “the NCPO stepped in to end political conflict and solve problems such as illegal unreported and unregulated (IUU) fishing, and aviation safety problems.” He’s bonkers.

The other Post story is more about the zero outcomes (for most of us) and the bleakness. But the really sad thing is the future:

Unless the constitution is changed to prevent senators from voting on a PM before the next election, Gen Prayut will likely be the prime minister for another six years, for a total of 13 years, beating Field Marshal Plaek Phibunsongkhram, the longest-serving PM to date with 9½ years in office.

A more terrible political future we cannot imagine, unless it is Vajiralongkorn’s vision of neo-absolutism. Only the students saved us from that (at least for the moment).





Ratbag fascists

21 05 2021

As the mainstream media seem to be ignoring lese majeste and other political repression while also self-censoring on anything to do with the monarchy, it is Prachatai that is providing a window on rabid monarchism that looks increasingly like ratbag fascism by both state royalists and citizen monarchists.

In one report we are reminded that the royalist state targets particular individuals and their families. In fact, there have been several cases where it targets mothers. This report states that the “mother of student activist Panusaya Sithijirawattanakul has received a police summons on a charge under the Emergency Decree, after she joined a protest demanding her daughter’s release.”

She was one of the “mothers of five detained activists at one of the ‘Stand Against Detention’ protests, standing next to cardboard cutouts of their children.” Their call was to “return the children to their mothers.” Now she has a summons declaring she “violated the Emergency Decree by organizing an unauthorised gathering of more than 20 people at risk of the spread of disease …[at a] protest in front of the Supreme Court on Ratchadamnoen Avenue on 28 April 2021 to demand the release of Panusaya and other activists who were detained at the time.”

This was just one of a number of “Stand Against Detention” protests in Bngkok and the provinces. So far she and just two others have been summoned by the bully-boys in brown acting for the greenish tinged fascist regime. The others are reportedly the activist Punsak Srithep, “a member of Resistant Citizen and whose son Samapan was killed during the the military crackdown on red shirt protesters in May 2010, … and another protester named Napatsorn Boonrey.”

The protesters were said to have maintained their “social distance” and it is said that “Resistant Citizen also required registration for each protest and only 20 participants were allowed.”

The second Prachatai report is of probably state-organized royalist vigilantes in Phetchabun Province who descended on a young vocational student’s home demanding and forcing her to “apologize for alleged royal defamation.”

The group claimed to be “government officials and people ‘with the duty of suppression and control regarding the institution of the monarchy’.” On 19 May, claiming “they were from the Department of Provincial Administration,” with no warrants, to “charge her with royal defamation.”

The vigilantes alleged that “the student had posted video clips about the monarchy that they claimed were inappropriate.”

They videoed the student being forced to prostate before a portrait of King Vajiralongkorn and apologize. And, the posted this on Facebook to humiliate her and warn others of the danger of thinking differently.

Under this regime, Thailand’s future remains bleak.