Kasit’s hatred of Thaksin

8 07 2012

A report in The Nation is one that is suggestive of complete loss of perspective and any remaining good sense amongst the leadership of the Democrat Party.

When the already odd debacle over the NASA request to use Utapao was rejected, there was a claim from the seemingly desperate Democrat Party that the request was somehow tied to a visa request for Thaksin Shinawatra. PPT ignored this bit of that debate mainly because it seemed nonsensical and irrelevant except to the mad yellow-shirted extremists. After all, these were the same lot who were alleging that all of the political conflict of recent years was being engineered by the United States in a conspiracy to bring down the monarchy. Later they argued that the NASA request was part of a grand plan to use climate as a weapon of war.

It seems that the more extreme, not to say demented, elements of this conspiracy wing of the yellow shirts are now significant in and for the Democrat Party. This seems, in part, due to the blind hatred the leadership of the party has for Thaksin.

So it is that former foreign minister, (former?) member of the  People’s Alliance for Democracy, former airport occupier and now Democrat Party party list member of parliament Kasit Piromya has suggested a severing of links between Thailand and the United States  because Thaksin has been said to have been issued a visa. (As a footnote, we do not recall this same angst when the U.K. government stated that Thaksin could enter several months ago.)

Kasit has demanded that the “Foreign Ministry and the United States … clarify a claim … that ex-PM Thaksin Shinawatra was given a visa to enter the US a few months ago.”

Kasit made the claim that:

the US always says that it is a world leader that respects the law and human rights under democratic principles. When the US asked Thailand to extradite alleged Russian weapons trader Viktor Bout to face trial in the US, the Thai government led by the Democrat Party adhered to the request….

 PPT will later look through the Wikileaks posts on the Bout case to see what it says about Kasit, but let’s look at the “human rights” angle. Yes, the U.S. does sometimes make these claims but has never matched the claims with much positive action. In the Thailand case, the U.S. has long supported and funded all kinds of right-wing military regimes. Most recently, Wikileaks releases clearly showed how then Ambassador Ralph Boyce was essentially cheering for the coup and then welcomed it and the military junta.

The United States has never released a truthful report on human rights in Thailand because it worries that the identification of political prisoners in Thailand will be unacceptable to the royalist elite that has long run Thailand. More recently, as the Abhisit Vejjajiva government, of which Kasit was a prominent member, was having the Army slaughter red shirts and was arresting and imprisoning political opponents, there was barely a U.S. word of criticism of these actions. The U.S. always seems to protect allies, no matter how gruesome their governments.

Ignoring all of this and the long relationship between allies, Kasit gets hung up on his personal hatred of Thaksin and declares: “If the claim is true, it means the US does not respect Thailand’s justice system but insults the country’s law and integrity…”.

Of course, respecting a justice system that makes a mockery of  the law and the constitution is hard to do, but that’s not Kasit’s point. Rather, Kasit is coming back to what was his major activity for a while when he was minister for foreign affairs-cum-chief Thaksin hunter:

If the US does not cooperate with us [and extradite Thaksin], we must condemn and all Thais must sever ties with the US….

Such a demand is reflective of Kasit’s personal hatred of Thaksin. How else could a former foreign minister and ambassador to the U.S. manage such a seemingly demented demand? But this is reflective of the whole leadership of the Democrat Party where hatred of Thaksin drives almost all of their political actions. It causes them to ally with loonies, fix the courts, kill, repress, lie, imprison, and more.They hate the people who vote for pro-Thaksin parties because it thinks they are all deluded, ignorant or paid. The personal hatred causes the Democrat Party to covet a coup. Hating Thaksin means all logic is thrown out the window in a demented hate-him-or-you-are-an-enemy scream.

Subs torpedoed

6 04 2012

It is confirmed: the navy’s plan to buy used German diesel-powered submarines has been sunk. Earlier PPT posts on the earlier push for the U-boats are here: Give then subs!; Navy submarines resurface; Arms trading and the royals; and Corruption and the military.

But the report at the Bangkok Post also describes some rather disturbing descriptions of how decisions are made in the military:

A navy source said the proposed project had faced several stumbling blocks. First, there was a rumour the navy and the Defence Ministry had forwarded the plan to His Majesty the King for consideration. The navy still remembered His Majesty’s advice made in his remarks on the eve of his birthday in 2007. The King said submarines might not be suitable for Thailand as the underwater vessels could be bogged down in mud in the Gulf of Thailand.

But Supreme Commander Tanasak Patimapakorn strongly denied the rumour. “Rumour is rumour. His Majesty was never involved in this issue,” he said in a meeting with armed forces commanders at the navy head office on March 13.

A navy source said the rumour was spread as a tactic to block the plan to buy the German submarines.

Of course, the king was involved. Indeed, for some time, the king wasknown to be opposed to the navy having a submarine but seemed to change his mind following the coup. In his 2007 birthday speech, the king was cited on Russian subs: “A Russian one may cost just half the price of a German-made or a US-made one, but if we bought one from Russia, the US, for instance, might be upset. However, Russian submarines are very good.”* The story continues:

Then, it was believed that Privy Council president Prem Tinsulanonda did not give the green light to the project and the plan was also attacked by many former and present navy officers who were disappointed at seeing themselves stranded or moved to unfavourable positions in the military reshuffle last year.

While the navy chief has finally admitted the project is at an end, PPT can only wonder at the notion that significant decisions about strategic matters and involving millions upon millions of baht are somehow consigned to the purview of men with no known skills, training or expertise.

*Interestingly, Russian arms dealer Viktor Bout is about to be has just been sentenced in the U.S. after his capture in Thailand and extradition to the U.S.  For the alleged royal link, see PPT’s link to a New York Times article.

A follow-up on Viktor Bout

26 08 2011

Some readers may recall earlier posts here (for the alleged royal connection), here and here. The involvement of a Democrat Party politician was never explained. There was also some Wikileaks traffic.

The latest report in the New York Times adds some interesting details on Thailand. The story is of a judge deciding that “that certain statements Mr. Bout made after his 2008 arrest in a sting operation in Thailand cannot be used at trial.”

The judge said “that statements Mr. Bout made were ‘not voluntary,’ and she questioned the credibility of two Drug Enforcement Administration officers who interrogated Mr. Bout…”. She also stated that “The judge concluded that, contrary to testimony, the agents had been aware of the Thai police’s refusal after Mr. Bout’s arrest to grant him access to legal counsel and to a representative of the Russian embassy.”

The judge “credited the defense team’s assertion that the agents had threatened Mr. Bout, insinuating that he would face ‘disease, hunger, heat and rape’ in Thai jails, where he would face abandonment if he failed to cooperate with the American agents.”



Navy submarines resurface

23 01 2011

The Bangkok Post reports that the “Royal Thai Navy wants to buy two second-hand submarines at a cost of 6-7 billion baht.” This is a new take on a story that keeps coming back. For PPT’s first mention of it, see here (also see this), but the desire for underwater goes deeper than this.

The PAD preferred option on a used sub

It is great news (perhaps) to know that the “navy has set up a committee to conduct a feasibility study.” The odd thing, without such a study the greedy sailors seem to want Cabinet to approve the funds “in principle.” Picking up second hand submarines is not as simple as buying a Mercedes (preferred land transport of navy commanders in Thailand), unless the official pirates want one of these. And we trust these submariners-to-be have read this important post.

The navy brass wants subs, this time, because they want “Thai sailors have little knowledge of submarine technology, which is constantly upgraded.” Have the captains been spending too much time with bottles of rum? They say: “We are still backwards in terms of submarine technology.” That sounds odd to us: they don’t have any subs but they need to be familiar with them, so buy some. Circular logic (or lack thereof)? However, the rum gurglers are thinking of the country because they only want used subs at 6-7 billion baht because the current government has been dishing out money trying to win an election sometime in the future repairing the economy.

To be serious, however, this is a story that has been about for a considerable time, and has a royal connection and a link to Viktor Bout, the Russian arms dealer. And, we recognize that buying used submarines can be a way of training crews for a serious purchase (but is Thailand able to consider a serious purchase?).

Thai navy purchases - like an aircraft carrier - sometimes are as useful as this submarine

Siam Voices has a useful take on the story, pointing out that the navy is keen to get German Type 206 diesel-electric submarines that were designed for use in relatively shallow waters (important for the Gulf of Thailand). Submarines have  topped the navy’s wish list for some time.

Some would suggest that the rise of China’s blue water navy is causing a mini-arms race amongst Southeast Asian countries. Malaysia has French submarines and the Singaporeans have several Swedish submarines. Burma seems interested in a submarine, but hasn’t progressed a deal with North Korea, the Philippines doesn’t have submarines, and Cambodia’s navy only uses patrol boats. The Indian navy has some 15 Russian-designed and German-designed submarines. Vietnam has 6 Russian-built submarines and Indonesia has similar vessels and German-built submarines also. It is claimed that “Thailand had four Japanese-made submarines in the past, but they were never replaced after decommissioning because newer models were too expensive.”

While there may be an arms race going on, there is also a plan to invest more in the Thai armed forces. There’s no doubt that a major motivation in this – said to be costing up to 400 billion baht – is a desire to defeat domestic political opposition, including southern insurgents and (currently) red shirts (as pointed out in the Post story). Hence, Prime Minister Abhisit Vejjajiva is a supporter of his backers.

Perhaps the stumbling block for the navy’s subs is not just cost but also the king’s stated opposition several years ago. As usual, until he withdraws his objections, then the deal is likely to stagnate, along with the under-the-table commissions that come with all these arms deals.

Bout, communism and The John Birch Society

23 01 2011

This is a small footnote to the Viktor Bout saga that seemed completed, for a moment, when Russian Viktor Bout was extradited in unusual circumstances to the U.S. See PPT posts here (for the alleged royal connection), here and here. There was also some traffic in the Wikileaks cables.

Bout has appeared in court in the U.S., and this report, from The New American presents the extreme right-wing perspective on the case from The John Birch Society (which pays for the magazine) and claims links to the tea party neo-fascists in America. The interesting aspect of the story is the Cold War rhetoric on communism.

As mentioned above, this is but a footnote, but an interesting one.

Wikileaks and Thailand 2

2 12 2010

So far, thanks to a reader, PPT has seen two cable originating in the Bangkok Embassy. They are both related to the Viktor Bout extradition case and seem rather “imperial” in tone. See them here. Note that Wikileaks x’s out some names. That said, one of PPT’s posts can probably fill in some details. And then add this from The Guardian (via The Nation): “On February 12, 2009, the US ambassador in Bangkok, Eric John, raised his concerns about the case in a meeting with Thailand’s prime minister, Abhisit Vejjajiva. He warned that the extraditions proceedings had become “tainted as a result of the efforts by Bout’s associates to bribe Thai officials”. John said the Americans had uncovered several examples of influence and corruption. These included the false testimony by a witness, an attempt to procure the personal secretary of the crown prince of Thailand to testify on Bout’s behalf, and “evidence of bribery schemes gathered throughout the world”.

Other PPT posts on Bout are here and here.

Suspicious bombs

9 09 2010

Suddenly, the authorities are finding bombs and disarming them. This has not happened for some time. Could this be because they have soldiers back on the streets, “maintaining security”? Perhaps, but our guess is not for the obvious reasons.

AFP reports that police “defused three unexploded bombs discovered in Bangkok and surrounding suburbs over a matter of hours, one of them in front of a school and one in a shopping mall…”. The other was apparently at the Ministry of Public Health in Nonthaburi.

Of course, and almost immediately, the discovery and defusing have “raised further doubts over the speed at which emergency rule can be lifted in the Thai capital…”. More conveniently, these bombs come right after security officials, led by Deputy Prime Minister Suthep Thaugsuban and new army chief General Prayuth Chan-ocha  suddenly put armed troops back on the streets. At about the same time a royalist police chief was appointed, and he is close to Prayuth and his clan. This action led to considerable and sustained criticism. There was also growing criticism of the maintenance of the emergency decree.

Suthep launched into a tirade against “government opponents” saying the bombs “indicates that government opponents do not want our country to return to normal…. Emergency rule is necessary to keep peace and order in Bangkok…”. And, not to be outdone by his senior but lesser minister, Prime Minister Abhisit Vejjajiva claimed: “More attacks on the government are anticipated in the very near future…”. He added: “Many people, including myself, have assessed the situation and decided we’ll have to be more cautious over the next two weeks…”. Why this time period? Abhisit says the “attacks to be symbolic, to mark the fourth anniversary of the Sept 19 [2006] coup.”

We at PPT have some real doubts about the time line and the sudden success of the security forces. Sure, the government might have been prescient, had a warning, been preparing and, finally, had some success in the bombings. However, this falls completely outside the pattern seen so far, where government warnings have not coincided with bombings and the government had seldom located unexploded bombs.

At the same time, the Democrat Party is under pressure in the courts, there are continuing accusations of corruption against the government, the Saudi murders case is putting pressure on the government (as Kasit Piromya continues to scramble the Ministry of Foreign Affairs) and the Bout case has the ruling party in a spin. Meanwhile, Jaruvan Maintaka’s royalist illegality, the politicization of the Department of Special Investigation and its remarkable failures, and the military enjoys the monetary fruits of its coup-making in a very public and corrupt manner all make the government look partisan and water buffalo-like. Reducing some of the pressure by creating incidents seems a reasonable strategy.

So there may be something in red shirt criticism, led by Jatuporn Promphan, suggesting a government conspiracy. This find is just so convenient and so timely. Jatuphorn says: “The perpetrators did it because they do not want the state of emergency in Bangkok to be revoked and this act is aimed at creating a feeling that the special law is still needed…”. That view cannot be rejected out of hand.

Updated: Talk of rumors

5 09 2010

A couple of stories in The Nation focus on rumors.

The first story is of Thaksin Shinawatra back on the phone to his red shirt supporters. He called-in to a red -shirt rally in Pattaya, joking about recent rumors of his ill-health. These rumors do the rounds of hard-core yellow shirts every few months, not least the opinion page columnists at The Nation.

The red-shirt rally criticized the Abhisit Vejjajiva government’s performance, its persecution of red shirts and the Democrat Party’s role in the Bout case.

The second story refers to Abhisit’s reported offer to have talks with the Puea Thai Party. That’s according to Democrat Party spokesman Buranaj Smutharaks, who usually attacks the opposition. Buranaj was quick to deny another common rumor – that a “national” government would be formed with Puea Thai. Meanwhile, the Puea Thai Party seems to be taking the suggestion of “reconciliation.”

Rumors seem to drive politics in the short periods between crackdowns, repression, jailings of opponents and lese majeste cases.

Update: A further link between the two stories is seen in this report, where Thaksin is said to have made this comment during his Pattaya phone-in: “I want to see a peaceful nation and reconciliation. However, this means every player has to compromise…”.

Updated: More on Viktor Bout

30 08 2010

The Bout story continues to develop. The New York Times has more background and current information, including a link to Bout’s website.  Foreign Minister Kasit Piromya is traipsing about the world in his “war” with Thaksin Shinawatra, he found time to demand that the US and Russia “respect its [Thailand’s] justice system, its integrity and procedures involving the Thai Court’s ruling to extradite Viktor Bout…”. He added that “said that both countries should not have used Thailand as a venue of debates.”

Kasit Piromya

Prime Minister Abhisit Vejjajiva has also talked of the “independence” of the judicial system and has said that the government cannot intervene or interfere with the Bout case. His claims are now in tatters and the Democrat Party is scrambling to cover up.

Well might they make such claims about fake independence of the judiciary because the Democrat Party must be desperate to cover up its role, through Abhisit’s aide Sirichoke Sopha, in seeking to drag the Bout case into local political vendettas. Worse, the government has threatened its relationship with both major countries for the local vendetta.

The Democrat Party has an extensive wing, including amongst ministers, that is heavily yellow-shirted, and it is these zealots who are responsible for the mess on Bout. Their hatred of Thaksin seems to trump every other consideration as well as logical thought.

Update: The Bangkok Post has a very interesting story that includes more on Sirichoke. He has come to his own defense, insisting “his controversial meeting with the Russian arms dealer would not damage Thailand’s relations with Russia and the United States.” Even if he is supported on this by Deputy Prime Minister Suthep Thaugsuban, it seems way too late for that kind of claim!

His view is that: “I met Mr Bout because I needed some facts and I was doing my duty as an MP. The meeting will not affect Mr Bout’s court case…”. Meeting Bout as if he was a jailed constituent? How novel.

He seems in trouble, though, claiming that Suthep “was well aware of the situation,” but also saying he would “clarify his meeting with Mr Bout to all Democrat MPs.” At the same time, Suthep jumped to Abhisit’s defense, saying that: “The prime minister is a politician with clear principles. Whatever his close aides do will not have an impact on Mr Abhisit…”. Yet another rash claim. Abhisit is now deeply embroiled in this dark maneuvering.

With 7 updates: Bout case mystery deepens

27 08 2010

Readers will recall PPT’s recent post on the case of alleged arms dealer, the Russian Viktor Bout. PPT got interested due to references to royals or their “advisers” in a New York Times report. That report raised some curiosities.

The current report fronting the Bangkok Post is making things curiouser still. It seems that some US agency has rushed a jet to Bangkok to get Bout back to the US, but almost no official in Thailand seems to know why or how this has happened or who has authorized Bout’s transfer. The report opens the way for all kinds of speculation. Weird indeed.

Update 1: For more on this increasingly convoluted and strange case, read the excellent post at Bangkok Pundit. That post suggests that the extradition of Bout followed his failure to provide links that would have implicated Thaksin Shinawatra and red shirts in the North Korean arms shipment that was impounded for a time at Don Muang airport. This was the Democrat Party perspective on those arms…. Presumably if Bout had made the claim, then the Abhisit Vejjajiva regime could have made an international case against Thaksin as a “terrorist.” It is all very strange, especially when a personal envoy from the prime minister is apparently involved!

Update 2: Read Democrat MP Sirichoke Sopha’s own account here. Sirichoke is described as “a close aide to Prime Minister Abhisit…”. Read more here about the now delayed extradition.

Update 3: In yet another intriguing report, The Nation has a brief story on the alleged taping of Sirichoke’s meeting with Bout. Corrections Department chief Chartchai Suthiklom discounts this but the claim is that Bout’s wife has a tape. He does say that Sirichoke met and talked with Bout. (See Update 7 below)

Update 4: The satirical – but oh so close to the truth – Not the Nation has a great story on the auction of Viktor Bout. Thanks to the regular reader who pointed this out.

Update 5: Thaksin’s lawyer Robert Amsterdam and his colleagues are also posting, writing and speculating about the Bout case. See these accounts here and here.

Update 6: This story just goes on and on and gets weirder by the day. See this account at New Zealand’s Scoop and also read this revealing story – if one interprets just a bit – in The Nation. The latter story does try to connect the dots to the mysterious arms plane allegedly from North Korea and Sri Lankan arms – the story that kept making the yellow-hued Bangkok media a few months ago.

Update 7: As the Huffington Post has it, “Robert Amsterdam is an international lawyer retained by the former Prime Minister of Thailand Thaksin Shinawatra to advocate on behalf of the United Front for Democracy against Dictatorship (UDD).” It is also worth noting that Amsterdam has long experience on Russia. PPT mentioned him above at Update 5. He now has another article that takes the Sirichoke story a little further. And, to further liven this story up – in what may eventually become a Saudi gems-like saga – Bout says in the Bangkok Post that “Sirichoke Sopha, a close aide to Prime Minister Abhisit Vejjajiva, met him to make inquiries into how ousted premier Thaksin Shinawatra’s plane could be brought down.” He also stated that “He claimed Mr Sirichoke asked him whether Thaksin had paid to have an aircraft smuggle arms from North Korea to Sri Lanka in December of last year, before the shipment was seized in Thailand.” And, just for good measure, “Sirichoke asked him whether Thaksin might have bought the weapons to arm his red shirt supporters.” Finally Bout says that “Sirichoke also allegedly asked Mr Bout about the state of Thaksin’s health and why other countries were uncooperative in helping to arrest and extradite the former prime minister to Thailand.” Now if all this is true, Sirichoke must rank as one of the country’s dumbest politicians. Bout adds that there was no tape recording.

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