All hail the rich (king)!

7 07 2020

The king and queen arrived yesterday at about 7am (TG971) and left again at about 3.30am today (TG970). That’s about 17 or so hours. This means that since he decamped to Germany early this year, the king’s two visits to his “home” totals about 36 hours. On each occasion he was provided with a special Thai Airways flight to and from Zurich.

Never mind that it is clear that the king doesn’t plan to actually live in Thailand and seems to prefer Germany, Prachatai reports that “[a]ll government agencies have been told to organize ceremonies for … the King’s 68th birthday while everyone is urged to wear yellow in July.” Interestingly, European newspapers are also reporting on this, noting that he will be in Germany when Thai taxpayer money is poured into official “celebrations.”

For the feudal lord

It is reported that:

On 30 June, Oranuch Srinon, Deputy Permanent Secretary to the Office of the Prime Minister, sent a letter to all ministries encouraging them to hold ceremonies to show loyalty to the King and acknowledge his royal grace as 28 July is the King’s birthday.

“Encouraged” is really an order. In the order, according to Prachatai, each state office is told to:

  • Set up altar tables displaying the King’s portrait with royal offerings
  • Set up places for people to write messages of goodwill for the King
  • Display Thai and royal flags at government buildings and residential areas
  • Decorate government buildings and residential areas with yellow and white cloth
  • Decorate main streets with lights for an appropriate period of timePost messages of goodwill on the main page of agencies’ websites
  • Wear yellow from 1-31 July
  • Ministries are encouraged to hold celebrations for the King with the leader of each agency as the guest of honour to pay respect, say a blessing and sign a blessing for the King.

This order includes all agencies including “those inside in the country, such as public schools, and those abroad, such as Thai embassies.”

In another communication, the following day, “Interior Ministry Permanent Secretary Chatchai Promlert sent a letter to all 77 provincial governors asking them to organize ceremonies.” They have to “display the King’s portrait in front of their provincial halls, decorate them with flags and cloth, put up decorative lights on main streets, set up a place for the public to write messages of goodwill and tell other local government agencies to do so.”

Governors were also ordered “to encourage private businesses and the public in each province to do the same things at their business locations and their homes.” Again, “encourage” is an order.

The unelected Prime Minister Gen Prayuth Chan-ocha had also “asked cabinet members, civil servants and the public to wear yellow [the king’s birth color] for the whole month of July.” This order was then massaged a bit by the execrable Wissanu Krea-ngam, who confirmed that the order to ministers was “to wear yellow only at their meetings on Tuesdays while they are asked to wear a yellow tie on other days…”.

Even in the midst of the virus crisis, taxpayers are squeezed for the absent feudal lord.

Updated: Heard it before, again and again

27 06 2020

A few reports in the last day or two carry the smell of regime deja vu.

One involves the execrable Deputy PM Wissanu Krea-ngam. It says that the junta’s legal hireling is pondering virus “crisis” alternatives to the emergency decree. Heard it before. Almost the same headline and story popped up a month ago. Ho hum. No local transmission for more than a month, borders more or less closed. But the emergency decree maintained. As in May, Wissanu will need to concoct a “legal” plan for the military-backed regime to continue its suppression of its opponents.

A second report relates to the 2014 killing of Karen activist Porlajee “Billy” Rakchongcharoen. It says the “Department of Special Investigation (DSI) has pledged to look into a decision by prosecutors to drop serious charges against four park officials suspected of being involved in the [murder]…”. Heard it before. It was back in January that state prosecutors “dropped the murder charges against Chaiwat Limlikit-aksorn, the former chief of Kaeng Krachan National Park, and three others accused…”. Instead, they “decided to recommend indicting them only for failing to hand over the Karen activist to police after he was arrested in April 2014…”. It was never made entirely clear why the charges were dropped, but suspicions were raised of interventions from higher-ups. Not long after, the DSI boss resigned. It remains to be seen if the new boss can overcome the pressure for impunity to be maintained.

Party time for Boss (clipped from The Daily Mail)

Then there’s the ongoing saga of one of Thailand’s richest – fugitive Red Bull heir Vorayuth “Boss” Yoovidhya – escaping justice. Vorayuth, driving his Ferrari, “hit and killed a motorcycle policeman in the early morning of Sept 3, 2012 on Sukhumvit Road in Bangkok.” Heard it before. After the driving his car over the policeman and dragging his body for a period under the car, Vorayuth his behind the gates of the family mansion. Forensic police concluded he was driving at 177 kilometres per hour. He may have been drunk and/or drugged up at the time.

He “then delayed hearing the charges seven times.  It was not until April 27, 2017, that prosecutors finally charged him with reckless driving causing death and failing to help a crash victim. He fled on a private plane two days before he was due to face the charges.” Since then he’s been pictured as he partied. We suspect that for some of the time he’s been in Thailand.

The National Anti-Corruption Commission has now ruled that a couple of policemen are guilty of minor negligence charges for delaying the case, failing to prosecute some charges and failing to seek warrants for Boss’s arrest. Most observers might conclude that the family’s wealth and power would have “contributed” to these failures. How policeman can be so uncaring of a brother officer, killed on the job, beggars belief. In the end, none of the policemen may face any action at all as it is their supervisors who decide on disciplinary action. They only have to delay another 7 years for Boss to avoid all charges; that’s when the statute of limitations expire. Wealth and power should help there as well.

Update: As predicted, the “disciplining” of the cops was almost nothing: “Deputy police spokesman Pol Col Kissana Phathanacharoen said all the officers had been placed on probation on March 31, except for Pol Col Wiladon, who had to serve a three-day detention instead. The two other convicted policemen retired before the punishment order was issued at the end of March and the order was not retrospective, he said.” These cops are only serious about keeping the money flowing through their system.

The virus ate my elections

18 06 2020

School children who fail to submit a homework assignment sometimes come up with poorly fabricated excuses. This has resulted in the reference to one excuse, “the dog ate my homework.” As Wikipedia explains, the “claim of a dog eating one’s homework is inherently suspect since it is both impossible for a teacher to disprove and conveniently absolves the student who gives that excuse of any blame.” In colloquial use, it means that no one believes the childish excuse.

As the Bangkok Post reports, Deputy Prime Minister, the execrable Wissanu Krea-ngam has come up with a similar childish and dopey excuse for another delay in local elections.

He said the further delay was because the “budget earmarked to finance them [was] now shifted to fight the Covid-19 pandemic…”.

Wissanu and Gen Prayuth

Many people can’t even remember when the last local elections were held, but the regime certainly doesn’t want them anytime soon.

His excuse was for local administrative organizations, saying they “have no budget to pay for poll expenses now and it remains unclear if there is leftover money anywhere in the central fund which could be transferred to the organisations.”

A couple of days later, the normally supine Election Commission of Thailand suddenly developed some spine and declared it was ready for local elections and had budget. EC secretary-general Pol Col Jarungvith Phumma the agency was just waiting for the regime to allow elections to take place.

The junta worried that local elections may turn into a referendum on the junta/post-junta regime.

We can only agree with Puea Thai Party spokesman Anusorn Eiamsaard who lambasted the puppet Wissanu, saying that the regime has “tried to suspend political activity in the country for the past six years to make local governments weaker and boost the power of the Defence Ministry…”. (Maybe they have German hotel bills as well.)

Anusorn added: “This attempt to freeze the country will destroy its people…”. Wissanu’s lame and slimy excuse is just another example of the regime’s desperation to hold onto power, to repress and to silence the people.

It is still a military regime VII

10 06 2020

At the end of May, the military’s favorite legal manipulator and deputy prime minister, Wissanu Krea-ngam was given the task of confusing the public about the emergency decree. The regime was under pressure on the decree because there’s little virus in the country but the decree remains in place.

He babbled about the Communicable Diseases Control Act but also raised the notional “battle the second round of the outbreak” to slyly suggest that the decree may stay.

A few days later, he pressed on with setting the foundations for keeping the decree, saying: “It is possible to extend the imposition of the emergency decree. It is being considered.”

This was quickly followed-up by self-appointed Prime Minister Gen Prayuth Chan-ocha who “defended the use of the emergency decree to curb the spread of Covid-19…”.

While Gen Prayuth emphasized the virus, it is clear that he is more concerned to maintain political repression. Most protests, rallies and so on are being closed down by the military and police.

Rising opposition/rising military repression

Gen Prayuth dissembled about “the time is not right to lift the lockdown because the pandemic has not ended.”

But it was the military that soon corrected him, emphasizing that their focus is political rather than anything to do with health. According to the Bangkok Post, “Deputy army chief Gen Nathapol Nakpanit … said on Wednesday the committee planned to lift the 11pm-3am curfew for 15 days.”

But this is not about lifting the repression: the General stated: “”Without the curfew people can resume their normal lives, but the state of emergency will remain in place in case the government needs to take swift action to stop Covid-19 from spreading…”.

Mostly it will be used to keep the lid on rising political opposition. The military remains the boss (especially when the big boss remains a truant).

Updated: Liar challenged

27 05 2020

Now that Deputy Minister for Agriculture, Untruth and Buffalo Manure Thammanat Prompao has come out of self-isolation, he is being challenged by the opposition Move Forward Party.

It is staggering that a convicted heroin smuggler, a man who claims fake education qualifications and a serial liar can not just sit in the parliament but can be a minister. It is even more jaw-dropping that he’s a power broker in the regime’s Palang Pracharath Party and a minister.

Convicted heroin smuggler

(We acknowledge that politicians and their advisers the world over have contracted the lying virus at a rate far higher than the coronavirus but Thammanat’s lies began some time ago.)

Move Forward’s Natcha Boonchaiya-insawat “said the party’s MPs would submit a motion for the impeachment of … Thamanat to the House speaker on Wednesday afternoon.”

Natcha stated that “Section 98(10) of the constitution prohibited anyone found guilty of a narcotics trafficking offence from standing for election to parliament,” citing Thammanat’s heroin smuggling conviction in Australia.

Section 98 (10) of the junta’s constitution states:

(10) having been convicted by a final judgment of a court for committing wrongful conduct in official duties or justice affairs, or committing an offence under the law on the wrongful acts of officials in State organizations or State agencies, or an offence against property in bad faith according the Criminal Code, or an offence under the law on fraudulent acts related to loans of the people, or an offence of being producer, importer or exporter or trader under the narcotics law, an offence of being the owner or keeper of a gambling house under the law on gambling, or an offence of money laundering under the law on prevention and suppression of human trafficking or the law on prevention and suppression of money laundering;…

As Prime Minister Gen Prayuth Chan-ocha has declared the heroin conviction a “small issue,” we could expect that the regime’s execrable Wissanu Krea-ngam will again claim that only Thai laws are covered by this section.

Update: In case readers are wondering why Thammanat is important to the regime, consider this report from The Nation:

The candidate for Pheu Thai … has dropped his plans to run in the Lampang by-election despite having a high… chance of beating Palang Pracharath Party.

Pheu Thai’s Phinit Chantharasurin was set to run in the by-election after his son Itthirat, who won … 42,984 votes in last year’s election, passed away. Palang Pracharath’s Wattana Sithiwang, who came in second with 30,368 votes last year, was set to be his No 1 opponent.

However, Phinit decided not to run because he said there was no benefit. He also seems to be leaning more towards Palang Pracharath Party, especially after Deputy Agriculture Minister Thammanat Prompao called on Deputy PM Prawit Wongsuwan to let Phinit apply for the post of chief executive of provincial administrative organisations.

In return, Phinit was asked to withdraw from the by-election and clear the path for Wattana to become a representative of Lampang.

Blatant, corrupt and devious. That’s why they love Thammanat.

Thai Airways, masks, poor policy

31 03 2020

This is a bit of an update post on things we’ve posted on recently.

Criticism of the regime’s virus blunders and policy failures and flip-flops continues, not least because as the virus takes hold, parts of the country are burning in an emergency that has been ongoing for months.

Meanwhile, one of the chief bunglers, Army chief Gen Apirat Kongsomgpong told a meeting of the Centre for Covid-19 Situation Administration it needed “to achieve the 90% travel cut goal to flatten the curve of new infections.” That’s a bit rich from a man who deserves derision for his (in)actions. Essentially the regime is happy for the poor to be completely screwed. Apirat hates them because they can’t be trusted politically.

Don’t believe us on how tone deaf, arrogant and self-centered the military leadership is? Then consider a proposed military purchase:

General Chaichan Changmongkol, permanent secretary of Thailand’s Ministry of Defence, had prepared to propose the procurement of an amphibious assault ship, at an expected budget of more than 6.1 billion baht, at the cabinet meeting on Tuesday. But it appears that General Chaichan had already removed this proposal from the meeting’s agenda.

He only pulled it after huge criticism “from opposition parties and the public…”.

As airlines everywhere are collapsing and begging for bailouts while laying-off almost all their workers, according to “Deputy Prime Minister Somkid Jatusripitak … the government will not allow ailing flag-carrier Thai Airways International Plc (THAI) to collapse and dismissed rumours of impending lay-offs as a result of the coronavirus crisis.” We guess this is partly because the airline needs to continue to chauffeur the king and his major wife back and forth to Europe.

Finally, we hope that there’s a math mistake in a Bangkok Post report. However, as published, the horrid military posterior polisher and Deputy Prime Minister Wissanu Krea-ngam has announced that the mask problem has been “solved.” How’s that? Masks are being made locally. Yes, we realize that everyone already knew this. But here’s the bit that caught our attention. On N95 masks, the report states that “400,000 of them have been procured from China in a government-to-government deal costing 1.5 billion baht …”. Our math suggests that this G-to-G deal is costing 3,750 baht per mask. Really? Is that possible? Is Thammanat Prompao organizing this?

Updated: Junta-style business (as usual) II

21 03 2020

The regime is pressing ahead with its usual political business, playing dirty.

This was probably clearest in a short report that had the horrid Deputy Prime Minister Wissanu Krea-ngam at work declaring with obvious glee that virus or no virus, “[a]ll political parties must hold annual general meetings no later than next month…”, warning that ” a failure to hold the meetings would be a breach of the act.” The meeting “required as political parties must furnish a report on their activities over the past year and submit it to the Election Commission…”. We guess that not doing so means the party is dead. The post-junta regime would love that.

Then there’s the action being taken by Gen Prawit Wongsuwan to silence opposition MP Rangsiman Rome, formerly of the Future Forward Party. Prawit is doing this via proxies at the so-called Forest Conversation Foundation, which has nothing much to do with conservation, and who are claiming to have been defamed. Prawit does not want details of his various business dealings being revealed.

Nothing much changes it seems.

And, while convicted heroin smuggler and serial liar Thammanat Prompao has gone into hiding isolation, the mask saga continues, mostly with police “raids” that are meant to indicate that the regime is doing something about the smuggling and price gouging that hung to Thammanat like a bag of heroin flour and to others who have been accused of profiteering.

In the most remarkable of these PR raids and arrests, also seeing the judiciary involved as it processed the cases faster than 2 million masks disappear, vendors were arrested, charged and convitced, fined and/or jailed in quick time. A report at the Bangkok Post has these details:

Five vendors have been sentenced to between six months and 18 months in jail for selling face masks at inflated prices while two others have got a suspended jail term and a fine of 25,000 baht each….

They were charged with selling face masks, which are on the price control list, at inflated prices….

[As usual] All defendants confessed to the charges.

One possessed 4,000 face masks for sale and was jailed for three years, another had 750 face masks and got two years and the rest had between 8 and 125 face masks. Yes, 8 masks. The sentences for diabolical crimes are often less and the relatively poor pay the price for government PR stunts and the big fish are free.

Update: We notice that some bigger hauls have been made. In one case it is said that “[p]olice have confiscated nearly 130,000 surgical face masks in Sa Kaeo and Chon Buri and charged a number of suspects with smuggling and contravening price controls…”. In the Sa Kaeo arrests, those arrested said “that they had been paid 2,000 baht to carry 65,000 masks from Cambodia.” Who is paying them? We couldn’t hazard a guess, but we are sure readers will have some ideas.

Thammanat’s never ending lies III

4 03 2020

The deputy minister for lies and buffalo manure is now being pursued by anti-government activists. Akechai Hongkangwarn and Siriwit Chuangsaen “petitioned the Election Commission (EC) to ask the Constitutional Court to disqualify Deputy Agriculture and Cooperatives Minister Thamanat Prompow, over his past criminal record in Australia.”

They want section 98 of the junta’s constitution to be used to expel the junta’s bagman from the north. It says:

(10) having been convicted by a final judgment of a court for committing wrongful conduct in official duties or justice affairs, or committing an offence under the law on the wrongful acts of officials in State organizations or State agencies, or an offence against property in bad faith according the Criminal Code, or an offence under the law on fraudulent acts related to loans of the people, or an offence of being producer, importer or exporter or trader under the narcotics law, an offence of being the owner or keeper of a gambling house under the law on gambling, or an offence of money laundering under the law on prevention and suppression of human trafficking or the law on prevention and suppression of money laundering;…

There’s an odor in parliament. Clipped from the Bangkok Post.

On the face of it, that seems a reasonable petition, but they are dealing with the junta’s toadies who would do anything for the current regime. The EC is hopelessly biased, so we expect they will take their lead from the reprehensible Wissanu Krea-ngam. Wissanu, who who now looks like a cross between Carl Schmitt and a Reich Minister of Justice, publicly proclaimed that Thammanat’s “eligibility for a seat in the cabinet is not in question because he is not being prosecuted by the Thai judiciary.” Only Thai law counts it seems. This seems to mean that even a person convicted of mass murder overseas could become Thailand’s minister of justice or even prime minister (some may suggest that there have been murderers who have been PM, and we wouldn’t disagree).

The activists are reported to have “previously petitioned the EC to disqualify Thamanat but … every time they asked the EC about the progress of their petition against Thamanat, they were informed that the EC’s panel was investigating the matter.”

The activists claim that “the EC must seek a Constitutional Court’s ruling on Capt Thamanat’s eligibility.” But the government apparently needs this creep and he seems to have higher protection as well, so we expect the EC will continue to cover up for him.

“Law” and repression I

8 10 2019

The current discussion of a biased and politicized judiciary should not be separated from the use of “law” for political repression. In fact, the military junta of 2014-19, under the direction of the evil, rightist lawyer-for-military-hire Wissanu Krea-ngam and the military’s ideologues, worked harder on establishing rule by law – quite different from rule by law – than most previous rightists regimes. The military junta recognized that its laws could be used for ongoing political repression once the regime it self transmogrified into a corrupt civilian front organization now sometimes erroneously referred to as an elected government.

Rule by law has been an increasingly favored means of political repression adopted by rightist regimes worldwide and is also infecting electoral democracies as well.

Human rights lawyer Poonsuk Poonsukcharoen recently observed that “the authorities’ main method of suppression has evolved into the use of laws and state orders to enable them to cling on to power.”

In essence, the law is used to repress the regime’s opponents, whether they be journalists who step outside the bounds of self-censorship, elected opposition politicians or democracy activists.

Anurak. Clipped from TAHR

Recent cases involve a Belgian freelance journalist Kris Janssens,taken into police custody “for inquiries because our intel suggested that he might have been a threat to national security…”. In fact, he was detained because he planned to interview an anti-government activist Anurak Jeantawanich. He was warned not to and advised to leave Thailand. The Immigration Police claimed this was “normal procedure” and cited immigration law. But they could not specify how the journalist was a threat to this vague but useful notion of national security.

A second example of the authorities using the law to repress opponents is the case of the 12 speakers – academics and opposition politicians – at a public discussion of constitutional reform who have all been slapped with sedition complaints by the shadowy Internal Security Operations Command (ISOC).

Behind a “national security” law, ISOC lies that “it is persecuting opposition political parties in laying a sedition complaint over their public forum in the far South…”. Unbelievably, “Isoc spokesman Maj Gen Thanathip Sawangsaeng said … no one ordered that legal action be taken.” We do know the action was taken, so this being the military, someone ordered it. We also know that the nasty watchman Gen Prawit Wongsuwan approved the action.

Maj Gen Thanathip continued his charade by insisting “Isoc was not abusing its power to persecute the opposition parties.” In a warped sense, he’s probably right on this because the military junta allocated ISOC powers to repress its opponents before it metastasized.

He then babbled in a manner that explains how authoritarian regimes use the law for repression: “Isoc does not see the people as an enemy, but it does abide by the law. Words spoken at the constitution amendment forum in Pattani caused concerns…”. He doesn’t say for who. Obviously the person who did not order the legal action.

Obviously and unreservedly, the military and other authorities supporting the present regime are using the law for repression. We can expect much more of this abuse of the law. Meanwhile, thugs, forgers, liars and criminals serve as ministers.

With two updates: Junta politics of influence, dark influence and murder

25 09 2019

A quick look at the English-language newspapers over the last day or so suggests that there’s more than a little poor journalism going on.

One was the report that “the Charoen Pokphand Group (CP)-led consortium, winner of the bid to build the 224-billion-baht high-speed railway linking three airports, will be told to sign the contract on Oct 15 or face a fine for failing to honour the terms of the bid.” That “ultimatum was decided upon … at a meeting between Deputy Prime Minister Anutin Charnvirakul, who oversees the Transport Ministry, Transport Minister Saksayam Chidchob, senior transport officials and the chief of the Eastern Economic Corridor (EEC) Office.”

PPT has no brief for the Sino-Thai tycoons at CP, but we would have thought that someone at the Bangkok Post might have recalled that Anutin’s family are the major shareholders in CP competitor Sino-Thai Engineering and Construction. Perhaps it might have also been useful to note that the Chidchob family, Anutin and his father have been political bedmates for over a decade.

While on Sino-Thai tycoons, the Post reported that Viroj and Samrerng Suknamai, the parents of “former beauty queen and actress Nusara Suknamai,” have “filed a lawsuit with the civil court on Monday, demanding 300 million baht in compensation plus a 7.5% interest from the manager of Vichai’s estate and the King Power Duty Free company, which is owned by the tycoon’s family.” Nusara “died on Oct 27 in a helicopter crash outside the King Power Stadium in Leicester…”. When all of the eulogies were for Vichai, at the time of the accident, BBC Sport Editor Dan Roan was in a spot of bother after being caught “talking about Vichai[‘s]… personal assistant Nusara Suknamai.” He correctly identified her “the mistress who died in the crash, otherwise known as member of staff, i.e. mistress… [of the so-called] family man [Vichai]…”. The report does indicate that the fabulously wealthy King Power lot have been pretty tight-fisted in dealing with the “other woman.”

The ruling class’s military-backed regime is anything but tight-fisted when it comes to buying support. Puea Thai Party chief strategist Sudarat Keyuraphan claims to have “an audio clip that would show that Phalang Pracharat had tried to lure …[14] Pheu Thai MPs by offering to pay them certain benefits.” Deputy Prime Minister Gen Prawit Wongsuwan denied this. But no one should believe Gen Prawit. He’s got form on this, having bought up former pro-Thaksin MPs all over the country before the election. That included heroin trafficker and standover man Thammanat Prompao. Now, Gen Prawit needs “to prop up the government’s slim majority.” This wheeling and dealing is expensive and leads to all kinds of policies that are designed simply to raise money for political shenanigans. The media should be more active in pointing out that it is the military junta’s constitution that (re)created the capacity for such political corruption.

While considering the military junta’s corruption, look to the report that the “Parliament’s Anti-Corruption Committee is gathering evidence in a fact-finding probe against Public Relations Department chief Lt-General Sansern Kaewkamnerd over accusations that he verbally and in writing ordered his subordinates to spread information allegedly helping the Palang Pracharat Party ahead of the March 24 national elections and attacking a former prime minister and his party.” Remarkably, the junta government’s former spokesman thinks that like a heroin smuggler, he can simply deny: “Sansern argued that he had never taken sides…”. Back when the junta moved Lt Gen Sansern to his position, the Bangkok Post observed that Sansern was in place to “control all government-run media and enforce censorship rules in the lead-up to the expected 2019 election.” While denying everything, Sansern ran back to the boss: “Sansern said he had briefed Prime Minister General Prayut Chan-o-cha about the case.” Of course he has.

And speaking of corruption, the National Anti-Corruption Commission is ever so careful when dealing with its masters the government. A report at The Nation advises that Deputy Minister of Agriculture and Cooperatives from Anutin’s Bhum Jai Thai Party, Mananya Thaiset – yes, in there with Thammanat – “has not yet submitted her declaration of assets and debts to the anti-graft body within the required time frame…”. While the law requires all to declare their assets, NACC secretary-general Worawit Sukboon “said officials … would gather information regarding the matter and consider issuing a letter to Mananya requiring her to provide her reason for failing to file.” It gets worse as the NACC tiptoes around its masters: “If the NACC decided Mananya was required to submit the declaration, the NACC secretariat will issue a letter to notify her accordingly…”.

Back when the political dealing was in full swing, the Bangkok Post had a source who observed the obvious: “Because it receives a big budget, the ministry [of agriculture] can be used as a political tool…”. Money can be made, voters influenced and parties supported.And, as we know from the Thammanat case, “influential persons” get these positions because they are the party wheeler-dealers. And, Mananya is from a family of chao phor and chao mae. Not that long ago, her brother, Chada Thaiset, also a Bhum Jai Thai MP for Uthai Thani declared “I am an influential person.” Back in 2015 it was reported that. like Thammanat, Chada was considered a “dark influence”:

Crime suppression Division (CSD) police officers and commandos yesterday raided 11 locations belonging to alleged influential figures in Uthai Thani’s Muang and Sawang Arom districts.

Most of the targeted premises were those of former or local politicians. They included the house of former Chart Thai Pattana Party MP Chada Thaiset and a resort building under the care of Chada’s nephew.

The 200-strong “Yutthakan Sakaekrang” operation … seized 20 guns, four bullet-proof vests, two tiger skins, two pairs of wildlife horns and a clouded leopard carcass.

… the operation was part of the Royal Thai Police’s policy to suppress crime, crack down on influential figures and hired guns.

Then in 2017, it was reported that:

A former MP and four members of his entourage were released on bail on Sunday after being detained overnight for carrying firearms in public without permission.

Chada Thaiseth, a former Uthai Thani MP, reportedly has been on an official list of mafia-style figures.

More than 100 policemen, both in uniform and plainclothes, intercepted his convoy on a road in Uthai Thani province on Saturday afternoon.

Chada’s group was driving as many as eight vehicles and a search found several guns and illicit drugs in the cars.

A pattern? You bet.

Turning to the other side of politics, Khaosod reports that Nawat Tohcharoensuk, a Puea Thai politician was found guilty of “engineering the murder of a civil servant” and was “sentenced to death on Tuesday … [but] will continue serving as an MP for the opposition, his party said.” He’s appealing the verdict, so the case is not over, but even so, it might be considered prudent for him to step down. But with gangsters in the government, the opposition has them too. And a bit of reading suggests the modus operandi of a dark influence:

Prosecutors said Nawat hired two police officers to gun down Suchart Khotethum, an administrative official in Khon Kaen, in front of his home in 2013. Investigators cited romance-related vendetta as the motive.

And, just to finish off with state violence of the military kind, we see the remarkable report that “four red-shirt co-leaders on Monday … confessed to their roles in the violent protest outside the home of the late Privy Council president, Prem Tinsulanonda, in 2007.” Perhaps they confessed to get the case settled? Perhaps a deal has been done? We can’t help but wonder because Nattawut Saikua said:

he and fellow red-shirt co-leaders offered their apologies because the protest outside Gen Prem’s residence caused injuries among both protesters and police officers on duty.

“We are sorry for what happened,” he said, before insisting the red-shirt co-leaders harboured no grudge with the late Gen Prem.

No grudge? Why’s that? He was one of those who perpetrated the 2006 coup and egged the military on in 2014. He supported crackdowns on red shirts that resulted in deaths and injuries to thousands. He dis this for the military-monarchy alliance that underpins the ruling class. With all the royalist buffalo manure that surrounds this creepy general, there’s no criticism allowed. No one has asked about his unusual wealth, revealed when he finally died.

What a week it has been for a political system designed by the military junta.

Update 1: Legal eel and Deputy Prime Minister Wissanu Krea-ngam declared Nawat’s “tenure as an MP was now voided, even though the appeal process was not finalised…”. He said the “constitution stated clearly that MPs lost their status when convicted of a criminal offence.” While we think Nawat should step down and while Wissanu picks and chooses which aspects of the constitution he adheres to, we are not so sure he’s right on this. All sections in the constitution relating to convictions refer to final judgements. Indeed, Article 29 offers a general protection to those in the legal process, stating:

A suspect or defendant in a criminal case shall be presumed innocent, and before the passing of a final judgment convicting a person of having committed an offence, such person shall not be treated as a convict.

Despite this, and the fact that “appeal is automatic in the case of a death sentence,” the House Secretariat is advising a ruling from the Constitutional Court. Of course, the judgement of that Court will probably follow Wissanu.

Meanwhile, in another case of twisted ethics (see those above), the junta’s Palang Pracharath Party is “likely to field Krungsrivilai Suthinpuak in a potential by-election despite the Election Commission (EC) having issued him with a yellow-card for attempted vote-buying.”

The junta’s 5 years seems to have yielded an administration of goons and crooks.

Update 2: Being ever so gentle and flexible with junta party allies, the NACC has decided that Deputy Minister Mananya Thaiset “must declare her assets and liabilities despite her insistence she is under no obligation to do so.” But she’s forgiven for “interpreting” the law incorrectly and can take longer to get her assets list in order before submitting it. Can anyone imagine such leniency for the other side of politics? Of course not. The Post believes Mananya is known “for spearheading a mission to ban toxic farm chemicals.” We think they are gilding it. She’s best known for being from a family of dark influences.

Chada Thaiseth’s convoy stopped by more than uniformed and plainclothes police on a road in Uthai Thani province in 2017. Clipped from The Nation.