Updated: Rubber, Democrat Party and predictability

29 08 2013

A reader has emailed PPT and asked what we think about the rubber planters blockade in the South. In fact, we know little about it. Our only observations are that the South is the stronghold of the Democrat Party, Suthep Thaugsuban is a renowned and cashed-up political organizer in the South, and that having a mass protest populated by young toughs seems like a logical political tactic if trying to destabilize and blindside the elected government.Rubber-band

Meanwhile, the entirely predictable Democrat Party has announced – did they need to? – that it “will join 12 other political groups in their efforts to try and stop the government from passing the amnesty bill…”. Hadn’t they already done this?

The groups they plan to join with “include the People’s Army to Overthrow Thaksin Regime, the White Maskers, Santi Asoke and the Green Group led by Suriyasai Katasila…”. In other words, they are joining with the People’s Alliance for Democracy and the Democrat Party’s own creations.

As usual, the Democrat Party plans to “mobilise at least 100,000 people…”.

Is anyone listening to them? Apart from the usual troglodytes?

Update: Readers will be pleased to learn from a source other than PPT that the PAD leadership is simply manoeuvring, not quitting.

Breathless in Bangkok

28 07 2013

It was Thaksin Shinawatra’s birthday on 26 July. Almost immediately, a video was posted at YouTube purporting to be Al-Qaeda and threatening to hunt down Thaksin and assassinate him.

PPT saw one of the first versions of this, sent to us by erstwhile yellow shirt correspondents. They were breathless with excitement, apparently believing the video to be real – and they pointed to “Indian accents” as evidence of authenticity. PPT looked at it and within seconds saw that it was a fake, probably concocted by some of the anti-Thaksin lot. After all, while Thaksin’s record on the South is horrendous, “Al-Qaeda” is hardly likely to have waited almost a decade of birthdays to suddenly decide to hunt down Thaksin.

Yesterday, Khaosod carried a report, and immediately noted that it “was circulated widely by anti-government social network users for a while,” The report explained:

Lt.Gen. Paradorn Pattanatabutr, secretary-general of the National Security Council, told Khaosod that the “amateurish” video is clearly not a work of Al-Qaeda or any other Islamist organization.

“The people who made this clip are no other than the same group who want to overthrow Mr. Thaksin,” Lt.Gen. Paradorn declared.

Not to be outdone for breathlessness, however, the Bangkok Post managed three stories on the video today (here, here and here). One of these was “breaking news, ” but even so, the Post was over the top in its excitement. The first report included two screen captures from the video and precious little information that suggested that this was a fake threat. It did begin to explain the source of the video when it stated:

The first upload to YouTube was removed after a few hours with the notice: “This video has been removed as a violation of YouTube’s policy on violence”…. It appeared again from a different uploader several hours after that…. The second upload of the video also was removed…. But the anti-Thaksin posters played tag with YouTube. Early Sunday, a third version of the video was also posted on YouTube, with a Thai-language soundtrack played over the original…. It also was taken down by YouTube after a short time. It was uploaded again at mid-morning Sunday.

The second report also fails to state the video was a fake and referred to Thaksin’s supposed reaction. Only in the third report is Paradorn reported:

A video posted on YouTube making death threats against former prime minister Thaksin Shinawatra is a fake and was done by members of the anti-government white-mask group, National Security Council secretary-general Paradorn Pattanatabut said on Sunday.

PPT has no evidence that the white mask lot are involved, but the anti-Thaksin lot are probably responsible for the bogus video. We can’t help thinking that the Post was kind of hoping it was the real thing.

Democratic oranges and anti-democratic apples

8 07 2013

At the Bangkok Post there is yet another anti-democratic op-ed, as pointed out by several of PPT’s readers. One of the odd elements in this particular op-ed, by Ploenpote Atthakor, a Deputy Editorial Pages Editor at the Post, is the bizarre equation of Thailand’s small white masks group and “anti-government movements around the world,” including the protesters “at Taksim Square in Turkey to Tahrir Square in Egypt, with the Cairo movement eventually ending with a coup.”

That the “V for Thailand … group” might be compared with demonstrators in Egypt calling for a military coup makes some sense, but in terms of scale and complexity, there is simply no comparison. It is comparing oranges with apples.

That the white masked ones are described as “a gathering of people who simply want to maintain their anonymity” is odd too, for the group is just one more in a long line of activists opposing pro-Thaksin Shinawatra elected governments.

But the point for Ploenpote is to oppose parliamentary politics with a royalist propaganda claim of “dirty and corrupt politicians.” In Thailand, she assert, “it’s rampant corruption that drove people into the streets.” She adds that  “their concerns are more than valid.”

On the face of it, anti-corruption claims are motherhood/fatherhood statements, and there is no doubt that Thailand is riddled with corruption. But this particular “concern” can be shown to be just another restatement of a royalist mantra that is anti-politician and part of the anti-democratic movement to bring down yet another elected government. The use of “corruption” as a moral claim is also a political tool that has been used by both military and monarchy to justify “Thai-style democracy.”

If these “masked men and women” were really dedicated anti-corruption activists, would they be parading pictures of the monarchy and demanding that anyone who doesn’t love the king should leave Thailand? Wouldn’t they actually be interested in corruption? And if they were, where were they when the military has its dirty hands in the till? Where were they when the military-backed Democrat Party-led government was doling out funds to their political allies through the Thai khemkaeng projects?

Obviously, for these “anti-corruption” protesters, there is good corruption (theirs) and bad corruption (Thaksin-related).

This becomes all too obvious when Ploenpote slips from the anti-corruption message to one damning elected politicians for majoritarianism: “When a government is overly confident with its majority and wields the ‘we are democratically elected’ mantra to do whatever it wants, it’s not much different to a dictator.” She then makes the claim, “don’t get me wrong, I know a military dictatorship is much worse” than corrupt politicians, but heads off on an anti-elections rant, saying “[l]et me give some examples of why we are frustrated with our democracy.” While we don’t know who “we” really is, we can assume it is royalist yellow shirts, for the claims are their anti-democratic rhetoric:

Over 80 years since the country became a constitutional democracy in 1932, we have often witnessed the bad side of majority rule….

Thailand has only ever had majority rule in parliament from 2001 to 2006 and 2007 to 2008 and since mid-2011.In the latter two periods, voters have been steadfast in supporting the governments thrown out by unelected military thugs and unelected royalist judges.

… this thing called democracy has not helped us much in getting rid of unscrupulous politicians. The bad guys keep making parliamentary comebacks, and _ more often than not _ to the Norasingha mansion [Government House].

And so on…. to this:

We know it’s a case of democracy going wrong if a government, which claims to attach high importance to reconciliation, regards and treats those with different ideas as “enemies” and instead supports other groups, like red shirts, to counter and confront opposition and sometimes resort to intimidating acts.

This is an old theme for Ploenpote. PPT has only posted once previously on Ploenpote’s musings, when we noted that she attacked red shirts as undemocratic, and stated that she still had a long way to go before she understood the struggle for democracy in Thailand. Her musings, we said, amounted to an ignorant and pompous piece of self-delusional nonsense, made worse by a concocted attempt to appear tolerant when she simply hates red shirts. We added:

This is one of the worst pieces of  “journalism” we have seen for a couple of years. Her claim that “we have not gone anywhere” since 1973 is infantile, hypocritical and ahistorical dribble.

In the current op-ed, she concludes with a lamentable longing for a military coup like that seen in Egypt. She reckons the military is in the government’s pocket, but warns the government should watch out as “those in the silent majority lose their patience.”

Government should listen to the people, during elections and after, yet having the military or judiciary conspire to bring down an elected government is neanderthal nonsense. Maybe the Post needs to publish an edition chipped into stone.

Updated: White noise

3 07 2013

The news agitating the mainstream media is the somewhat odd report that the white masks/Vs/yellows are in some strife internally.

At Khaosod it is reported that:

The Facebook group which has been coordinating the activities of the anti-government ′White Masks′ group suddenly suggested that the weekly rally in central Bangkok should be “temporarily suspended”.

Why? Perhaps because “has been increasingly infiltrated by veteran members of the Yellow shirts in their recent rallies.” White masks and monarchy

Well, maybe not, and it’s been yellow all along. What seems to have happened is that the highly organized and hierarchical yellow shirt backers and leaders have tried to organize and dominate rather than maintaining the facade of supposedly hip activism. Trucks and loudspeakers seem less hip than a mask.

Even less hip and more seriously, it is explained that the white masks have been useful for yellow shirt agents provocateurs:

…an individual who once served as guard for Yellow shirts rallies showed up in a rally by the White Masks in Chiang Mai province and encouraged the group to confront the Red shirts who were staging counter-protest nearby. When fistfights erupted, though, the man was nowhere to be seen.

Update: Oops, changed their collective mind. The V people reckon that they will now rally on 14 July. Maybe they received orders? Maybe they are energized by the military coup in Egypt?

Who is Sonthiyan?

26 06 2013

In our last post, we wrote of Sonthiyan Chuenruethainaitham as one of the business leaders behind the white mask royalists?  Who is Sonthiyan?

Not that long ago he appeared on the “Thiang hai rurueang” public debate show on ThaiPBS. More interestingly, back in 2008, he was said to be an adviser to the Thai Broadcast Journalists Association, and commented that political “divisiveness occurs when the government is weak and surrenders to the will of massed supporters who have been mobilised by people who spread misinformation to provoke confrontation.”

He seems to be making an elitist claim that is in the PAD tradition and to be happy to spread misinformation.

While we don’t know how accurate it is, we located a post at the deeply yellow, anti-Thaksin, 2Bangkok Forum on lese majeste. We won’t quote it in full as the spelling is awful, but we summarize and correct the spelling. It seems to be from April 2011.

Sonthiyan’s T-News is said to be “ceaselessly run[ning] news … about unmasking the Anti Monarchy movement via both NBT and T-News Satellite TV.” It seems he had allocated to himself the task of protecting the monarchy from alleged “smears,” claiming it is “the real duty of T-News to come to protect HM as the Loyal subjects by unmasking those who run anti monarchy movements.”

At the time, red shirt iconoclast Sombat Boonngamanong “condemned T-News” as behaving like the radio station that incited the massacre on 6 October 1976.

Sonthiyan stated he was convinced that there were red shirt anti-monarchy movements because, as a former communist with the CPT,  he “learned all about urban warfare before becoming a Loyal Subject.” He claimed that the anti-monarchy movements were made up of:

ex- left-wing activists and ex-CPT men whose REFUSE to accept the total defeat when Communist Party of China and Communist Party of Indochina withdrew support fro the CPT after recognizing His majesty and his government as the legitimate rulers of Thailand.

The post claims that Sonthiyan’s “old comrades … plan to revive CPT using UDD men as the alliances.” Interestingly, it turns out the ex-CPTers who keep showing up at anti-government rallies are apparently his men:

The most important thing of all, the ex-CPT men who hate the mean capitalists of Ai Maew [the bastard Thaksin] have become the main allies of T-news so they can track down the movements of fellow CPT men who want to overthrow Thai monarchy.

The post also notes that Sonthiyan has worked with Dr. Chirayu Isarangkun, the boss of the Crown Property Bureau and that “T-news was on Crown Property Bureau land in Nonthaburi.” It adds: “No wonder, he is the Loyal left wing who come to protect the king.” No wonder indeed!

White lies

25 06 2013

There has been more rallying by the yellow/no color/multi-color/white mask royalists, and the media seems very excited by it. The white masks, acting with the oddly-named Thai Spring group, have even managed to re-mobilize some yellow shirts overseas and upcountry.

These protesters are re-energizing yellow-shirted supporters who have been much discouraged by the election victory of Yingluck Shinawatra and the Puea Thai Party. The use of a borrowed political gimmick, in the Guy Fawkes masks, also allows the royalists to portray themselves internationally as something other than fascists and reactionaries.guy_fawkes_mask

At the same time, the white masks are displaying the People’s Alliance for Democracy’s penchant for concocting political stories.

The best one we have seen was reported in Khaosod. When a couple of criminals robbed a store apparently wearing white masks, the  Facebook “V For Thailand” group “offered a conspiracy theory” to explain the robbery. They declared “that it was in fact the Redshirts who donned the White Masks and robbed the store to discredit the group.”

They went even further, blaming not just red shirts, but the government itself:

The greatness of the V crowd is expanding so fast that the government resorts to any available means to stem it. The latest evil tactic by the Thaksin regime and crooked politicians to discredit the White Masks is begun….

Interestingly, these tactics of concocting “news” this time do not come from master conspiricist, PAD leader and former news “tycoon” Sonthi Limthongkul. Another media “entrepreneur” has stepped up. Sonthiyan Chuenruethainaitham, founder of INN News and T-News has stepped out of the masks and shadows to claim some responsibility.

A report in the Bangkok Post has him putting up his hand and saying he “supports the group, believes it is doing the right thing, and is confident it will continue to grow.” He tells the media that his company “has produced white masks to sell to protesters…. More than 10,000 masks have been sold so far and orders are still coming in…”.

Sonthiyan declares:

With the white-mask movement continuing to grow, Thaksin and his family must now ask themselves how they can continue to live in a place where people hate them, and for how long they can depend on protection from the red shirts….

The white-mask protesters mainly comprise middle-class Thais who do not otherwise belong to any colour-coded groups but share a common stance against what they believe is a corrupt government….

Claiming the group is “new” is malarkey. It is another little lie by the whites. The myriad pictures available of them see recycled PAD slogans and the usual dopey hyper-monarchism.

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