No limits

13 03 2018

Leading legal limpet, sucked onto the body of the junta, Deputy Prime Minister Wissanu Krea-ngam has declared that The Dictator can do whatever he wants (so long as he controls the next regime).

Wissanu affirms that General Prayuth Chan-ocha “can be an adviser or member of a political party because no law forbids it…”. He added that The Dictator “could not run in an election unless he resigned as prime minister…”.

We had never imagined that the hierarchical and egotistical general was going to stand in the junta’s “election.” The plan seems to be that he will be invited by pro-junta parties following an election and assuming the pro-junta parties can get together with the junta’s Senate.

Feudal plaudits

22 02 2018

Some time ago, PPT posted on the king’s ordering celebrations of winter that took on a feudal tone. That post mentioned that the public was encouraged to wear “traditional clothes” and 19th century fashions. We were not aware that there was a dress competition.

Khaosod reports on that competition. It says that Culture minister Vira Rojpojchanarat made awards for the best costume.

In a regime that is unable to understand notions like nepotism, conflict of interest, corruption but which understand hierarchy and feudal notions of “good people,” deciding on the winners was not a difficult task. For Vira, if there were no royals in the competition, then the award had to go to the next level of the “good” and the “great.” He decided to give “awards to five fellow cabinet members and spouses including junta chairman [Gen.] Prayuth Chan-ocha and his wife Naraporn Chan-ocha.” Other winners were Vira’s colleagues “Deputy Prime Minister Wissanu Krea-ngam, Finance Minister Chutima Bunyapraphasara and Deputy Prime Minister Somkid Jatusripitak.”

Some might draw some meaning from the awards going mainly to non-military cabinet members.

Gen Prayuth and his colleagues dressed up to answer the king’s call, so obviously, as the top dogs, they deserves the prizes. See them in all their vainglory in the pictures at Khaosod.

Updated: Another promise (that can be broken)

1 02 2018

In case you missed it, The Dictator’s “election” has been “postponed” again. While we can’t keep count of all these broken “promises,” we think we can identify another one.

The Bangkok Post reports Deputy Prime Minister Wissanu Krea-ngam, one of the junta’s civilian sock puppets, says that a “general election will be held by February next year…”. That is, naturally enough, “unless two related organic draft laws are submitted to the charter court for a ruling, in which case it could be later…”.

How much later? That seems to depend on the military junta (and those who oppose it, if they can bring sufficient pressure). Wissanu “predicts an election in 13 months, but lists reasons why it might have to be delayed again,” all related to institutions the junta has created, controls and orders about.

And remember, this is an “election” that will be neither free nor fair and will be conducted under rules entirely concocted by the junta and its anti-democrat minions.

We would guess that the junta isn’t going to allow even its own election before it has its election winning fixes all in place. One of these now seems to be “Thai-ness committees.” While this “Thai Niyom … campaign, is a classic case of a military regime attempting to survive a downturn in popularity,” it also represents a huge state-driven effort to ensure particular voting outcomes.

The Dictator has “defined Thai Niyom as a developmental approach based on the needs of the Thai people.” In fact, it is to be a political machine that plans “to spend as much as 100 billion baht on the project. It will start by assigning 7,663 teams made up of bureaucrats, security officials, local scholars and volunteers to survey 83,151 communities and villages. These teams will identify local needs and then propose and develop ideas for development projects (which will reflect “Thai-style” development).”

That is more likely to be political campaigning, propaganda and electoral push-polling on a scale seldom seen, anywhere.

Update: Just minutes after the creepy Wissanu made his sort-of “promise,” the machinations to delay even further already began, with “National Legislative Assembly (NLA) president Pornpetch Wichitcholchai has hinted the organic bills on the election of MPs and selection of senators could be scrapped, which would delay the election beyond February next year.” This regime has to be convinced that its time is up. We fear that will lead to violence, precipitated by a desperate junta.

Updated: Election “delayed,” junta prosecuting

23 01 2018

Junta lackey lawyer Wissanu Krea-ngam – who’s checking his assets declarations? – has more or less confirmed that the junta’s promised “election” will be “postponed.” He added, that this would be only for “a month or so.” Junta elastic is very stretchy.

That can only inflame current political agitation and will bring more attention to critics like the “We Walk, A Walk for Friendship” group that faced off against the junta’s police on the weekend.

The organizers, the People Go Network, are targeting the right to universal health care, the rights of farmers, community and environmental rights and the Constitution, all implicitly critical of the junta.

The Nation reports that the network’s lawyers “are suing the Royal Thai Police and three high-ranking policemen for allegedly disrupting and intimidating the ‘We Walk’ peaceful demonstration and violating people’s right to gather in public.”

They submitted their complaint to the Administrative Court. They asked the “court to order police to facilitate the protesters’ long march and to pay them Bt100,000 as compensation for previous rights violations.”

Not long after, as expected, the junta’s minions filed their own legal case. The organizers of the movement “face charges of violating the junta’s ban on public protests…”. It was an “army officer representing the military [who] filed [the] complaints…”.

Update: We said Wissanu more or less confirmed that the junta’s promised “election” will be “postponed.” The Bangkok Post goes further and says the “delay” is official. Expect politics to now heat up even more.

Gotcha moments on “elections”

21 11 2017

Talk of “elections” continues. One report has a deputy premier – the hopelessly military entangled “legal expert” Wissanu Krea-ngam saying local elections would be “held within 45 days of bills to amend six laws relating to regional governing bodies being enacted…”. That’s meaningless, and anyway, it will be The Dictator who decides. And if it is done, is 45 days sufficient for an election? We guess it is under the military dictatorship, which prefers unfree and unfair polls where it knows the outcome in advance.

Another report is of the virtual impossibility of “qualifying” parties for a national “election.” Chart Thai Pattana Party director Nikorn Chamnong points out that “the political party bill raises concerns … as its Article 141 requires parties to report any change of membership to a not-yet-appointed registrar within 90 days of its enactment.”

In fact, that deadline “will be in early January, but no party has been able to file its report because they are restrained by the junta order that bans political gatherings of five or more people.”

Is this the plan? No parties can run candidates because the parties will be in breach of “rules”? Or is it that the “elections” are going to be delayed further?

Hun Sen seems to have decided that elections are rubbish, even for justifying his authoritarianism, and the Chinese have agreed and see authoritarianism in Cambodia as their win. It is an unusual direct intervention by China into domestic affairs but a step further in its “diplomacy” in the region.

Thailand’s dictatorship, too, could decide to be allied to China and be authoritarian for years to come. Elections wouldn’t need to bother the military regime at all.

Updated: The local elections ploy

13 11 2017

The six questions ploy was used a couple of days ago. Described in the Bangkok Post as one question from General Prayuth Chan-ocha: “Is everybody all right with my staying around as leader indefinitely to keep politicians in their proper place, by which I mean under our boots?”, the questions caused angst among those who want elections.

To assuage that angst, junta member and anti-democrat legal sage to the military junta Wissanu Krea-ngam suddenly said that there might be local elections and that this might see the ban on political party activities lifted.

The junta got rid of local elections when it had its coup in 2014. Occasionally it has raised hopes that these might return, saying local elections should be held before a national “election.” Nothing came of this because, at base, the junta wants no elections it can’t be sure of controlling. Despite the militarization of local government, the junta still can’t be certain that it can ensure its people win local elections. So it hasn’t done anything about them.

So Wissanu’s sudden claim lasted less than 48 hours. Even he was only talking about elections in some places where the junta reckoned it has a constituency, like Bangkok.

Then Puppet National Legislative Assembly (NLA) deputy chair Phirasak Phochit threw his spanner in the works and explained that local elections required that “investigations” into “local officials who have been suspended over allegations of graft before planned local elections are held.”

The involves “a large number of officials” who, since the coup, officials, “working for provincial administration organisations (PAOs) and tambon administration organisations (TAOs), have been suspended or transferred to inactive posts after the government launched a serious crackdown on corruption in state agencies.”

They haven’t been charged, let alone convicted, but The Dictator used Article 44 to purge these administrations. Most of those purged were considered supportive of political opponents of the junta, red shirts or Thaksin Shinawatra fans.

Further scuttling the elections notion, puppet Constitution Drafting Committee (CDC) spokesman Chartchai Na Chiang Mai had a spanner to throw too, and said a swathe of laws “relating to regional governing bodies need to be amended before local elections can take place…”.

He implied that “if early local polls are to be held, it is essential to amend the five laws to ensure compliance with the new constitution’s provisions covering local administration organisations,” which probably means that the laws for the national “election” would then be delayed (again), despite assurances to the contrary.

After the local election laws were amended, they would then go to the tiresomely slow NLA. Chartchai said the NLA “must race against time if the government wants to pave the way for local elections…”. The NLA members do not race on anything except to collect salaries and allowances.

Another glitch, not yet mentioned is the lack of an Election Commission.

We are not holding our breath on any “election” soon, at any level.

Update: The almost non-existent (anti) Election Commission has decided that it must “ask the Constitutional Court to rule if it is responsible for organising local elections.” What a sham this ridiculous institution is, even in “caretaker” mode. The EC doen’t know what is does. The “laws” under the junta have apparently confused it:

EC [caretaker] chairman Supachai Somcharoen said while the charter requires the EC to hold local elections, the organic law governing the agency says its role is to oversee and ensure the local polls are clean and fair.

It seems the EC hadn’t even thought of local elections until the junta murmured something about them.

Meechai the nepotist

31 10 2017

Since the 2014 military coup, there have been several cases of nepotism involving the junta and its various puppet bodies.

Back in 2016, The Dictator was defending his brother General Preecha Chan-ocha against allegations of nepotism after a leaked memo revealed that the permanent secretary for defense had secured a military post for his son Patipat (see here and here). The same Preecha was also involved in a scandal when another son received military contracts worth nearly 27 million baht and from the army region his father once commanded. Earlier, Preecha had been unable to do the arithmetic in his assets declaration and was defended by his powerful brother.

In 2015, the Association of Organizations Protecting the Thai Constitution pointed out that Deputy PM Wissanu Krea-ngam had seen his two brothers appointed to the National Reform Steering Assembly.

Also in 2015, it was reported that 70 members of the puppet National Legislative Assembly who have hired relatives to “work” with them at taxpayers expense, ranging from about 15,000 baht to 24,000 baht per month each. That amounted to around 17-18 million baht a year, not including per diems, travel and other perks.

Thailand’s dictatorship demonstrates the arrogance of unfettered power. Nepotism runs deep and no investigations are permitted.

Getting in for a slurp at the trough is Constitution Drafting Committee chairman Meechai Ruchupan. He has fed from the military boot for decades as a dedicated servant of royalist authoritarianism.

The Bangkok Post reports that Meechai’s daughter, Mayura Chuangchote, draws a monthly salary of 47,500 baht as her father’s deputy secretary on the CDC.

Like other junta nepotists, Meechai rejects that appointing his daughter as a personal assistant in a government position is nepotism.

The nepotist says that appointing his daughter was justified because “the role had to be filled by someone reliable and who could be trusted to keep the panel’s work confidential.” Of course, he trusts his daughter! No one else among 65 million Thais could possibly do the job. Sounding like someone from the 13th century, Meechai says only family can be trusted.

We can well understand that Meechai has lots of secrets and that his work for the junta must be secretive as they connive and scheme to monopolize political power.

Meechai’s keeping it all in the family follows the example of The Dictator as puppeteer.