Thammanat’s deep pockets

25 06 2020

We have had a few posts backed-up because of other things happening in neo-feudal Thailand and we’ll get to them over the next couple of days.

On story that caught PPT’s attention was a note at Thai PBS reporting that the Election Commission “has postponed the declaration of the official result of Sunday’s by-election, in the northern province of Lampang, until next week, due to allegations of vote buying.”

The Seri Ruam Thai party has “lodged a complaint of alleged election fraud, after the posting of a clip on social media, by former election commissioner Somchai Srisutthiyakorn, claiming voting buying [by Palang Pracharath] had taken place on Sunday.”

Given that the EC usually slithers and slides around the regime, we don’t expect much from the agency and would expect green-lighting rather than serious investigation. Back in the 2019 election, it was reported: “Vote-buying was rampant on the eve of Sunday’s general election, according to the Open Forum for Democracy Foundation (P-Net), a non-governmental organisation focusing on strengthening democracy and electoral processes.” We don’t recall the EC doing much “investigating” then. Rather, it manipulated results and quotas to ensure the junta’s party was victorious. Still, the EC may yet surprise.

Of course, vote-buying is not unexpected. When there is a convicted heroin smuggler with bag loads of money running Palang Pracharath’s campaign, what else could be expected. Not the least because the whole formation of the party and its operations resembles the parties of the time when vote buying was especially rampant in the 1980s and 1990s. That period was, after all, something of a model for the junta when it designed a constitution that was meant to reduce the power of big parties and allow the negotiated construction of weak coalition governments, glued together by money and military power.

That’s exactly what we now have, with parties splitting and politicians coming and going, usually to the highest bidder. That is what makes Thammanat Prompao and the “generous” Gen Prawit Wongsuwan so important for the junta-designed regime.





Eulogies

29 03 2019

The Bangkok Post seems to be lamenting the “loss” of Abhisit Vejjajiva over several articles in recent days. This probably has something to do with the long relationship between the newspaper and the Democrat Party.

Over the years that Abhisit has been its leader, the newspaper has repeatedly published loving stories and interviews with Abhisit. Or it may be that the board of directors and major shareholders (they overlap) are Abhisit’s kind of people – royalist plutocrats.

The fact that Abhisit was never able to win an election, that he was responsible for the deaths of scores of civilians and that his toxic reputation “led” the Democrat Party to arguably its biggest ever loss at the polls doesn’t seem to have come between the affectionate newspaper and its favorite anti-democrat.

Meanwhile, the Puea Thai Party has delivered a eulogy for the Election Commission and the junta’s “election,” with secretary-general Phumtham Wechayachai saying it was “one of the dirtiest in Thai politics.”

Comparing it with the 1957 election that allowed Gen Sarit Thanarat to come to dictatorial power, Phumtham “accused the EC of holding an ‘disorganised’ election with confusing results which called into question the [EC’s] credibility and efficiency…”. He  accused the junta of intimidation and pointed to rampant vote buying.

He could be right, but where does this leave the country? Prachatai has one useful and somewhat frightening response to that question.

PPT thinks that the next pressure point is when the EC begins to allocate red cards. If the rumors about this are correct, Puea Thai may see 25-30 of its candidates disqualified and 10-15 for Future Forward. If that happens, the constituency result could be overturned with knock-on changes to party lists, delivering government to the junta’s Palang Pracharath.

Such cheating would not be at all surprising from this regime.





Huh?

23 03 2019

With more than 90 official complaints of cheating already filed with the Election Commission, it looks like being a long “election” in the sense that all these things will take a long time to play out, and all of this “playing out” will be done under the junta government. Talking with a small group of rapidly assembled and ill-prepared election monitors, “EC commissioner Wiroj Kowattana told the representatives that the Thai EC was an independent organisation and it was not under anyone’s order to organise the polls.” Huh?

Meanwhile, a reader who has always provided us with accurate information from the Northeast has told us that in two villages he was visiting late today saw money be handed out to villagers, encouraging votes for Palang Pracharath. Huh? Will the EC be interested? Probably not.

We await further reports. Tonight is the night the dogs used to howl in the 1980s and 1990s.

But rest assured, whatever the outcome of the “election,” Deputy Dictator Gen Prawit Wongsuwan has said there will be no coup, even if the Thaksin Shinawatra parties do very well in the “election.” Huh? Maybe Prawit is not the one making that decision.

In any case, Suthep Thaugsuban of the anti-democrat Action Coalition for Thailand promised instability, saying: “If [voters] choose these ‘Pheu’ parties, see you on Ratchadamnoen…”. We think that’s illegal to say in the campaign, but we doubt the EC cares.

But back to Gen Prawit. He was remarkably candid when asked “whether he would play a crucial role in forming the government on the night of the election day on Sunday, Gen Prawit said he didn’t know nor had he been contacted to do so.” Huh? That seems like an affirmation.

Apart from the really big news – Thaksin-Ubonratana and Rap Against Dictatorship – there’s also the story that the rally-shy Gen Prayuth Chan-ocha turned out for his manufactured Palang Pracharath Party to beg for votes. He declared: Vote for me!  I will die for the country! But he said little of substance just that Thailand needed a strong leader. Ho hum.

What was interesting in the Bangkok Post story was an estimate of numbers at the rally. They reckon 10,000 showed up. Huh? But if you look at the Post reporter’s video of part of his speech, it is a very quiet “10,000” and looks less than half that in the social media videos that are widely available.





The thick-faced, the thin-skinned and other crooks

21 03 2019

Here’s a round-up of a few stories that show the very worst of junta and its “election.”

Campaigning with the monarchy: Thaksin Shinawatra tried to have a princess on his side and failed. Gen Prayuth Chan-ocha had a birthday and got flowers from the king and some other royals. He made a big deal out of it and used it in his election campaigning.

Vote buying: The Bangkok Post reports that the Anti-Money Laundering Office “has set up an operations centre to monitor vote-buying and investigate poll-related money-laundering activities…”. Too late. If the money has changed hands, the deals will have been done already.

Army intimidation: Khaosod reports that “Party officials and candidates from the Pheu Thai and Democrat parties told the media that soldiers raided their residences on the pretext of looking for drugs or other contraband, though the politicians are convinced the army is seeking to intimidate them in the final days of campaigning.”

The fully-armed soldiers operated on junta orders: “soldiers did not have any court warrant, but forced their way in by invoking Section 44 of the 2014 charter, which grants soldiers acting under junta orders to search or detain anyone without a warrant.”

Buffalo manure award: The prize for the most egregious falsehood goes to Abhisit Vejjajiva and his Democrat Party. Just a few days ago, Abhisit loudly declared that he would not support The Dictator as PM after the election. Now he says “his party has yet to endorse his announcement that he will not support the junta leader for another term in office.” He fibbed and the strong group of anti-democrats in the party have put him in his place and announced support for Gen Prayuth.

Self-declared winners: Even before the big vote on Sunday it seems Prayuth’s devil party, Palang Pracharath, reckons it has already won and will immediately form government even before the vote count is finished. Breathtakingly arrogant and confident in the junta’s rigging and cheating.

Complete dicks: The lying, news fabricating dipsticks at Nation TV, caught out concocting a story meant to defame Future Forward Party, are unrepentant and unapologetic. Indeed, they are announcing that it is their right as journalists to fabricate and lie.

All this is how election cheats manage their manipulation and cynical fraud. It will only get worse.





EC crashed and burning II

29 12 2018

The Election Commission is meant to enforce the various laws associated with elections and to investigate candidates and parties that do not follow the law. So far, the new EC hasn’t done anything like that.

The most recent debacle involves the Senate selection-election. Several media outlets report that several “candidates” for that (s)election have spoken of vote buying and vote swapping.

At least two candidate’s in the senator selection, both from the “functional group” of “small farmers,” claimed vote dealing was common.

Boonyuen Khaopakchong, from Chumphon province, “claimed he had received a call offering him 20,000 baht…”. Kesak Sudsawad, from Yasothon province, “also suspected a foul play.” He “admitted receiving calls asking for an exchange of votes…”. He seemed to think the whole process was an expensive farce.

Another candidate, Worapol Bamrungsilp, from Bangkok, “said a fellow candidate called him and offered to pay for his travel expenses to the voting venue in return for a vote for that candidate.”

Even an anonymous EC source reportedly stated that illegal collusion was “detected in the intra-voting within some farmer groups…”, claiming that this was “influenced by politicians.” That latter claim is a kind of standard mantra that might be expected of the junta.

In a second report, Kamthorn Laosaphan, who lost out, complained of EC failures and another said that:

on the night before the vote, a group of candidates met in hotels on the outskirts of Bangkok to lobby for votes. Some were planning to swap votes while others came together to design a method to increase votes for themselves and for fellow candidates they knew personally.

In addition, more than 70 of those supposed to participate in the selection”vote” didn’t even show up. In some “functional groups” a lottery-like drawing was required “to pick the winners in several groups where the votes were tied.”

Despite all this, EC chairman Ittiporn Boonpracong triumphantly declared the junta’s “Senate candidate selection process at the national level finished early and smoothly…”.

Ittiporn grumbled that “[c]omplaints will be considered later…”. Maybe he is the “EC source” mentioned above as he claimed these were only made by the “small farmers’ group and [he] said their points were taken and would be considered later.” It seems that “later” means that “complaints” must be made within three days and that there are another two days for “investigation” as the 200 selected names must be forwarded to the junta within five days.

The whole senate selection process was conceived as a way for the junta to control parliament following an “election,” so we don;t expect the EC to trouble the junta and its planning.





Further updated: EC stung into “investigations”

26 12 2018

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Seriously?

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

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

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

Seriously?

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

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

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





The Dictator on sale

25 12 2018

The Dictator is busy selling his policies. He’s especially keen to have people buy his “welfare policies” as “real” rather than simply vote buying or policy corruption.

Gen Prayuth Chan-ocha’s concern is that, before an election he has manipulated and planned for years, his helicopter cash and short-termism are being criticized as inadequate and not amounting to serious welfare programs.

We have long said that the poor deserve all they can get in a vastly unequal and exploitative Thailand. However, Gen Prayuth’s efforts are little short of vote-buying.

Helpfully, the Bangkok Post has produced a summary of some parts of Prayuth-as-Santa new year gifts to voters, which we reproduce here.

Credit: Bangkok Post

His response to criticism is to beg for votes as he campaigns in many communities.

He “defended his regime’s end-of year social welfare scheme as a ‘well thought out’ policy that will help the people…”. He added: “Please do not try to discredit the scheme and twist the facts, the welfare cards were not issued to court the favour of any political party…“.

In fact, there’s some twisted truth to this! His handouts are meant to make him prime minister again after the election, which will come from him being nominated by a devil party. His handouts support him and he supports Palang Pracharath.

The Post explains: “The prime minister has been increasing the frequency of his visits to local communities after the newly-formed Palang Pracharath Party threw its support behind him as leader post-election.”

It might have added that Palang Pracharath is the junta’s party.





The election splurge III

8 12 2018

The junta’s mammoth election spending is accelerating as its “election” date is about to be announced.

Just a couple of days ago, The Nation reported that the junta has given the “green light to all government ministries to prepare projects considered ‘New Year presents’ to the people.”

New year presents appear to be nothing more than more vote buying by the junta and the list of vote catching projects includes many of those recently announced.

Anti-democrat Government Spokesman Buddhipongse Punnakanta immediately lied that this election ploy was not an election ploy at all, saying the gifts have nothing to do with the election and delivering votes to the junta’s devil parties. He did admit that there was an urgency to the splurge, despite saying such a “gift” to voters is “routine.”

One of the new vote enhancing measures seems to be the Industry Ministry’s 250 million baht for small and medium-sized enterprises, set to be announced next week when the junta’s cabinet will be campaigning in Nong Khai.

And guess who is announcing this measure? Of course, it is none other than Uttama Savanayana, who doubles up as Industry Minister and leader of the Palang Pracharath Party, the junta’s own party. He lied that announcing the package now had nothing to do with his party’s campaign for The Dictator. He plans more measures to be announced before the election.





In the bag!

3 12 2018

We posted this on our other blog page yesterday and forgot to put it up here. So 24 hours late, here it is,

If the realization that the junta’s election – nay, the whole electoral and constitutional system it has established – is rigged has been slow to sink in for some, it has been reinforced by a member of the military junta’s government.

Sontirat Sontijirawong is secretary-general of the Palang Pracharath Party. He’s also commerce minister and actively working for the party by simultaneously and, we think, illegally overseeing a huge election-related spending splurge by his regime that aims to return Gen Prayuth Chan-ocha to the premiership.

He’s convinced that his party has the “election” in the bag. Meeting with the party’s candidates for the Northeast, almost all poached from other parties with various offers, Sontirat “assured them the party would be in the next government.” He stated: “Members of the Palang Pracharath Party come from many factions. Everyone was looking forward to their membership of the party… I assure you that the Palang Pracharath will be a coalition party…”.

That could be just hubris but we are tempted to think it a reflection of the state of the rigging.

He also urged Suriya Juangroongruangkit to pour his “power” – read money – and his “large circle of friends” into getting the party candidates elected in the northeast. Perhaps the junta’s truckloads of billions upon billions of baht aren’t yet sufficient.





The election splurge II

3 12 2018

Just days after shoveling taxpayer funds out to shore up its electoral appeal, and soon after the devil party more-or-less officially stated that The Dictator is their man for the premiership after the election, the junta has come up with even more electoral giveaways.

This means that the de facto leader of the Palang Pracharath Party is Gen Prayuth Chan-ocha. So when The Dictator has his minions throw more money after votes, he does it for his party.

His latest scheme to pour funds into the party’s direction is seen by The Nation as blatant:

In a bid to garner popularity ahead of the election scheduled for February, the government has finalised plans to give more than 11 million low-income people free Internet SIM cards and other state subsidies that will together cost taxpayers billions of baht.

Mimicking Pansak Vinyaratn when he was with the Chatichai Choonhavan government in the late 1980s,

Finance Minister Apisak Tantivorawong said it would benefit farmers, for example, who could access market crop prices and other useful data in real time.

He said farmers would be able to follow price trends on low-cost smartphones so they could make more informed decisions on what and when to plant, avoiding issues like oversupply. The NBTC would work out the details, Apisak said, and low-income people other than farmers would also benefit from online access to improve their individual economic well-being.

As well as helicoptering cash, the new taxpayer-funded handout is the free internet access.

How much more will the junta shovel into the electorate in order to maintain its political control?

Yellow shirted anti-democrats reckon there’s nothing wrong with all of this. Look at Yingluck Shinawatra’s rice subsidy, they say. But they then forget that they demanded and got people jailed for years for this scheme. But no one is about to “investigate” the junta in they way they hounded Yingluck. Double standards? You bet.