Some of July’s unanswered questions

1 08 2010

PPT was consolidating newspaper files for July and ran across a number of questions and issues raised in the media that seem to have been dropped or faded from view. Here they are in rough chronological order (we have probably missed many more). No links are provided as most of these questions were in one of our posts in July. Email us if you have any recent information on any of the questions:

1) Why is the king still in hospital?

2) Did anyone challenge the Ministry of Commerce regarding its spending of 72 million baht ($2.2 million) bringing “Thailand’s Best Friends” to Thailand on a taxpayer-funded junket? These are people who already trade with the country and in an economy where the reports are that the export economy is booming. So what’s the point?

3) Human Rights Watch called for an investigation into how on 26 June, Manit Toommuang, was shot and killed while handcuffed and in Ratchaburi police custody. Did anyone in government do anything?

4) Was there any serious debate regarding the Democrat Party-led government’s blatant attempt to vote-buy through muddle-headed “populist” policies? Remember when Thaksin Shinawatra was criticized unremittingly for policies that misled people and dragged voters to the TRT? What’s happened to the critics when their government is blatant in pouring money into areas designed to capture votes?

5) Has the government’s committee set up to amend the constitution done anything? Has the public been kept informed of its work?

6) Why didn’t Abhisit’s personal spokesman Thepthai Senapong resign after being found to be making deliberately misleading statements about opponents?

7) What were the results of the elaborate PR stunt promoted as gaining opinions by telephone on reconciliation and Thailand’s way forward?

8) Why did the PAD’s New Politics Party pull out of the Constituency 6 election? If NPP had received just 15,000 votes, Korkaew would have won. Was the withdrawal strategic to prevent a defeat for the government? Was this worthy of investigation?

9) Why does Chavalit keep calling for royal intervention in politics?

10) It was three weeks ago that Kobchai Boonplod and Warisaya Boonsom were returned to Thailand as suspects in an attempt to bomb Newin’s party headquarters. Why has so little been heard of the case since then?

11) How many red shirts remain in jail? How many are missing? How many have been assassinated? Is Arisman really in Cambodia?

12) When will any member of PAD go to court on charges related to the seizure of NBT, southern airports or Bangkok’s airports?

13) Will the National Human Rights Committee ever do anything about human rights?

14) Related, because the NHRC was asked, what has happened to Cambodian national Peth Saengmanee and Australian David Purcell, held on charges related to the government’s 19 May crackdown?

15) Should Korkaew have been permitted to campaign for election in Constituency 6? Or even to send out a recording of one brief speech? Should the Election Commission be identified as hopelessly biased?

16) How many are held in jail on lese majeste convictions?

17) When will the Corrections Department ever finish verifying the signatures on the red shirt petition to seek a royal pardon for ousted prime minister Thaksin Shinawatra? On 10 July it was reported that they still had to check another 2 million names. So how many did sign?

18) How did yellow-hued Foreign Minister Kasit reject the Cambodian management plan for Preah Vihear temple on 12 July while also claiming that the Cambodians had not so far submitted such a plan?

19) What happened to the red shirt claim of prisoners being held in Kanchanaburi? Why didn’t they follow up on this. False information?

20) What is the story behind the missing/mislaid/was-never-lost-and-changing-value jewellery while it was with the DSI? Was the heat too much and whoever had it returned it? Was a “deal” done? Is the DSI simply the Democrat Party’s police agency?

21) Why is the police Special Branch involved in conducting electoral opinion surveys?

22) How much “rent” does the Abhisit government have to pay the military – in deflated airships, personnel carriers from failed suppliers, new anti-red shirt divisions, and so on – in order to guarantee continued partnership?

23) How many more legal cases can be brought against Thaksin and his family?

24) With some reports saying that Thailand’s government now blocks 110,000 web sites and URLs, how many more will it block?

25) Will Abhisit finally get to name his preferred new police chief in September, a year after a new appointment was promised? Who is blocking Abhisit?

26) Who is responsible for the recent bombings in Bangkok? Government supporters, red shirt supporters, the army or someone else?

27) Why are yellow-shirted, Chamlong-led PAD demonstrators allowed to rally and break the emergency decree but not red shirts? Is the emergency decree the emergency anti-red shirt decree? Why do PAD demonstrators have pleasant meetings with the premier while even lone red shirt demonstrators are arrested?

28) Why did army officers – three of them – attend the World Heritage Committee meeting in Brazil as part of the Thai delegation? Is there anything this government can do that does not require army backing?

29) Why is the king still in hospital?

PAD, Chamlong and Abhisit

28 07 2010

Prime Minister Abhisit Vejjajiva still treats the People’s Alliance for Democracy and its activities with care and consideration. Not for the first time in his administration, Abhisit has demonstrated that the government and the PAD remain allies.

On Tuesday, led by former mercenary and long-time PAD leader Major-General Chamlong Srimuang, several hundred PAD-organized protesters rallied at the UNESCO offices on Sukhumvit Road. They were opposing any discussion of the World Heritage status of Cambodia’s Preah Vihear Temple and the management plan – which the government and protesters claim not to have seen – to be discussed in Brazil this week.

PPT briefly visited the rally site to listen to a few ultra-nationalist speeches and read the banners, of which quite a few were in English. Most of the people, in what was essentially a good-natured crowd, seemed to be from Chamlong’s rightist Santi Asoke-Dhamma Army group.

Chamlong stated that the plan could result in Thailand losing “more than 1.8 million rai of land to Cambodia … [and] threatened to unseat Abhisit if he failed to protect Thailand’s sovereignty.” As stated above, the plan seems not to have been seen by anyone, so Chamlong’s claims are based on previous PAD announcements and beliefs.

The more interesting things were taking place quite a long way from the rally, at Ban Pitsanulok, where Abhisit decided to meet with PAD representatives. The Bangkok Post reports that Abhisit met with “PAD’s co-leader Pibhop Dhongchai, the movement’s spokesman Panthep Puapongpan, [PAD-aligned, former Manager journalist, lese majeste activist and appointed] Senator Kamnoon Sitthisamarn and [ultra-nationalist] historian ML Walwipha Charoonroj, who leads the Preah Vihear listing monitoring network.”

At that meeting, according to The Nation, Abhisit “vowed to protect Thailand’s rights and interests…”. Abhisit declared that the plan should not even be considered. He promised PAD representatives “that his government would not accept a resolution from the Unesco World Heritage Committee that could hurt the Kingdom’s interests in any way.” He is quoted: “The resolution must not interfere with Thailand’s territory or sovereignty…. We will not cooperate if the management plan encroaches on our soil.” He promised to consider “harsh measures.” Abhisit blamed the U.N. for conflict over the World Heritage site. In fact, most of the recent conflict has had to do with PAD machinations.

Abhisit may have rejected PAD’s claim that “Thailand force Cambodian soldiers and people out of the disputed area” but told PAD that he would “not accept Cambodia’s map” of the area as it would be “a violation of Thailand’s sovereignty…”. PAD protesters were apparently pleased by Abhisit’s responses. Appointed Senator Kamnoon said “PAD and the government shared a similar view on protecting the country’s sovereignty.” He added that “he felt ‘relieved’ since the government had prepared measures to be taken against the UN agency if it ignores Thailand’s stance.” One measure seems to be non-cooperation.

Old soldier Chamlong was apparently not so sanguine and as well as threatening the government, “warned the PAD would not give up its rallies” on the issue. His view seems to be that the Cambodian claim will not be defeated, so favors more direct action. Chamlong has been antagonistic to several governments and commands limited support. However, he believes he can easily stir nationalist feeling.

At the same time, Abhisit appears to be positioning himself with other PAD leaders in a manner that will allow the government to ride with right-wing nationalism should it be stirred rather than be the target of xenophobic anger. Recall that the Democrat Party stirred such feelings when in opposition and trying to bring down the government in 2008 on this very same issue. It linked with PAD for that campaign as well. So it knows its allies very well and maintains that useful liaison. The Thai right-wing sticks together on the important issues.

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