Bombs, “elections” and anti-democrats

27 05 2017

No diehard anti-democrat wants the military junta to hold an “election,” even one that is fixed in a way that allows the military to continue to control politics for years to come.

At the Bangkok Post, Surasak Glahan admits to being

mystified by [anti-democrat] Suthep Thaugsuban’s plea last week for Prime Minister and NCPO [junta] head Gen Prayut Chan-o-cha to keep the top job for five more years without the need for elections. He must have drunk himself in oblivion, I thought, as critics and even some supporters of the regime started to voice their rebukes over its failure to deliver in key areas, from the economy to so-called national reform, security to happiness-making, as the NCPO marked its third anniversary on Monday.

But then, when trying to wear the hat of either the military or one of its No.1 cheerleaders like Mr Suthep, who led street protests in 2013-2014 that gave the pretext for the coup, I began to realise that the NCPO has delivered numerous achievements.

He goes on to list these “achievements”:

… there has been drastic political reform. A new constitution was drafted by accidental hero jurists, appointed by the military, and smoothly passed in the [rigged] referendum last year.

The new charter will entrench the military power for at least five more years, allowing it to select 250 senators who will be much more powerful than their predecessors.

Decentralisation has been compromised. Elections of local administrators have been frozen.

The charter and several NCPO orders have lurched Thailand backward into a political system applied four decades ago…. If you are nostalgic about the past, now it is your chance to live it.

… military-appointed lawmakers … know best what needs to be drafted to govern the ways we live without having to consult us or seek the nod from our representatives. Notably, they have invented and revised laws to save us from cyber crimes and other security threats. We just have to sacrifice our privacy and risk being branded as criminals.

The most outstanding … victory was its ability to successfully remove all the hurdles put up against the 36-billion-baht submarine procurement plans by previous elected governments.

The list is long and I have to stop here before feeling suffocated.

You get the picture. More and more military rule and political repression.

The prospect of the military staying in power for years also means that military factionalism is assured. Military factionalism is probably linked to recent bombings.

Yet the military is blaming others. So are the anti-democrats who see the bombing as an opportunity to extend military rule. For the military and the anti-democrats, as allied groups, the “natural” enemy is anyone considered Thaksin Shinawatra-related.

So Ko Tee or Wuthipong Kachathamakul is named. Naturally enough, he denies it and he “condemned those who were involved in the hospital explosion.” He adds that he “would have bombed Government House, not a hospital…”. His view is that the culprits are in the military.

That said, Ko Tee sought another opportunity to anger the bears in green, poking them with a claim that “he is mobilising resistance against the government.” He says these are “civilian warriors” training in the jungle. But, he says, his group is small and not yet ready to attack the “bandits [junta] out of the country…”.

The other targets are a couple of former generals in their 70s and 80s, associated with Thaksin.

Given that neither General Prayuth nor General Prawit Wongsuwan seem to have been involved in discussions and consideration of the bombing. Both have been away from Bangkok. That speaks louder than words.

Bombs might be about army factionalism yet the general interest of the anti-democrats and military is retained: no elections.





Further updated: Junta in disarray

25 05 2017

If the information in a Bangkok Post story is to be believed, Thailand’s military dictatorship is in disarray. It may also be that its factions are coming apart. We certainly hope so, but acknowledge that the junta’s survival instincts have kept it together for three years.

The first signal of disarray is that the usually hopeless police are showing signs of even greater capacity for the inane than usual.

They claim to have “created a sketch of a person suspected of being involved in the Phramongkutklao Hospital blast…”. Yet they have not released it and cannot confirm when they might make it available even when they plan to use it to get an arrest warrant.

The police lamented that “the case is not easy to crack…”. These guys are dolts and worse.

A second signal is the claim that the military has detained a suspect. The police say they know nothing.

A third signal is that it seems that “security authorities [were] … tipped off about possible attacks. They did nothing even when three letters tipping them off were received. Maybe they are too busy seeking out lese majeste suspects to worry about bombs.

A fourth signal is that both The Dictator and the Deputy Dictator skipped town. General Prayuth Chan-ocha headed south and General Prawit Wongsuwan was in Europe for what authorities finally said was medical treatment. That’s after a cabinet meeting decided not to discuss the bombing.

Fifth, and most telling of splits, the detestable 1st Army commander Lt Gen Apirat Kongsompong made big claims.

First, he declared he had “information that up to four ill-intentioned groups are behind the explosion at the army-owned hospital.” Second, he said “he also had information that the explosion was not carried out by foreigners, but was the work of Thai citizens.” Third, he boasted about his knowledge of the bombers: “We’ve got their names…”.

Who are “we”? Why is that Apirat’s “we” are not working through legal channels to arrest the “known” perpetrators?

We think he’s probably looking around to decide which political opponents to fit them up for the crime. But let’s go with Apirat’s own story: “I am waiting for the order from the deputy prime minister [Prawit Wongsuwan]. I am ready to take action against these groups immediately and mercilessly as soon as he gives me the orders…”.

Prawit…. There you have another clue to the disarray and factional competition.

Update 1: Meanwhile, The Dictator is dancing. We are left to wonder why he reckons the bombing is unimportant when Apirat wants to slit throats.

Update 2: Of further evidence of disarray, Prachatai reports that Army Gen Charlermchai Sitthisart claims exiled red shirt Wuthipong Kachathamakul or Ko Tee is a “suspect” in the hospital bombing. He then added:

Ko Tee is just one suspect…. I can’t answer anything because we suspect everyone and I can’t say things randomly until we have enough evidence to identify … A random guess will not benefit society.





Updated: National security debased (again)

6 05 2017

With all the repressive ridiculousness of the military dictatorship, it is easy to miss a report at the Bangkok Post regarding the never-ending campaign to capture and jail Wuthipong “Kotee” Kochathamakun.

National Security Council secretary-general General Thawip Netniyom has reportedly sent a third request to Laos for the arrest and deportation of Ko Tee. He has done this because “Lao authorities had not been responsive to previous requests…”.

With all of its important work protecting the country, now to be (eventually) supported by submarines, the National Security Council seems to rank the capture of a minor anti-monarchist at the top of its security agenda.

One of the reasons for this is that the yellow shirts clamor for him to be taken down. Another reason is that the new king apparently demands that his protection from words, photos, video and more is one of the highest concerns of national security.

General Thawip “described Mr Wuthipong as being a dangerous person because he had violated the lese majeste law and allegedly planned attacks on national leaders.” We do not dispute the first claim, but the second is buffalo manure. It is a wild claim concocted by the military dictatorship so that it could then concoct a claim for extradition from Laos.

Anyone seen any of the so-called terrorists arrested in the highly publicized operation fronting a court? It was almost two months ago.

The junta now claims it has “21 arrest warrants for a series of serious offences” out on Ko Tee.

It seems that the police, military, junta, NSC, cabinet and many other state agencies are now essentially devoted to nothing more than tracking down and concocting lese majeste, including entrapping and jailing curious citizens who, for example, are interested in the king’s bizarre fashion choices.

Update: A reader points out that Ko Tee has made threats of attacks in his podcasts. That’s not in dispute. The manure mentioned above is the concoction of an actual plot rather than an internet-based rant.





And now lese majeste

27 03 2017

One of the things we should have predicted about the “weapons seizure” said to involve junta critic and renegade red shirt Wuthipong Kachathamakul or Ko Tee was further lese majeste charges. We should have predicted this, but as Ko Tee already faces a charge, we became negligent of the junta’s modus operandi when dealing with such cases. After all, the dictators have claimed a “republican plot.”

Prachatai reports that the junta has “accused one of the nine people arrested over the alleged plot to assassinate the junta leader of lèse majesté over Line messages.” The report states:

On 24 March 2017, Maj Gen Wicharn Jodtaeng and Col Burin Thongprapai, legal officer of the National Council for Peace and Order (NCPO) took nine people accused of involvement in the alleged plot to assassinate Gen Prayut Chan-o-cha, the junta leader and Prime Minister, to the Crime Suppression Division (CSD) in Bangkok….

Most of them, who are anti-establishment red shirts, are accused of terrorism and possessing unauthorised or illegal weapons, and involving in a criminal association. The nine were detained for seven days at the 11th Military Circle in Bangkok after their arrest before being handed to the police.

One of those arrested, Suriyasak Chatphithakkun, 49, is now “accused of Article 112 of the Criminal Code, the lèse majesté law and Article 14 of the 2007 Computer Crime Act, a law against the importation of illegal content.”

According to the military snoops, Suriyasak is a “local red shirt leader from Surin Province…”. They claim that on “13 July 2016 allegedly wrote a message deemed defamatory to the Thai Monarchy in a Line chat group called ‘People Outside Coconut Shell’.”

He will go to a military court.





A couple of corrections

26 03 2017

On a Sunday, as we read a few stories that continue to keep us glum about Thailand’s prospects for some political progress, as opposed to regression, we came across a couple of stories that appear to us to requires a little corrective attention.

The first is at Prachatai. Kornkritch Somjittranukit has a story on red shirt renegade Wuthipong Kachathamakul or Ko Tee as public enemy no. 1 for the old guys running the military junta. A couple of things bothered us a bit. One was mention of the 2009 Pattaya events without noting the role played by the Democrat Party’s Suthep Thaugsuban and his then new best friend Newin Chidchob who goaded and challenged red shirts with their own blue shirts, many of them being military and police in different clothes.

PDRC shooter

On the 2014 People’s Democratic Reform Committee (PDRC) seizure of the Lak Si District Office to prevent the 2 February election, mention is made of a “violent clash with Ko Tee and his supporters from Pathum Thani. The sound of gunfire came from both sides.” The latter is true but ignores something. After that event it was officially stated:

A police forensics director stated that his team’s investigation showed “39 shots have been fired from the position of PCAD protesters, and 3 shots from the direction of pro-election protesters.”

The second story is at the Bangkok Post. Editor Umesh Pandey briefly recounts the actions taken over the past few years as pro-Thaksin election winners were ditched, missing the important 2008 judicial coup. What bothered us was the headline, “Army needs to learn to be neutral.”

While the article doesn’t exactly amount that, the idea that the military could be neutral is baffling in the extreme. The military is now, after more than half a century of pro-monarchy and pro-elite military is firmly attached to the side of privilege, hierarchy, wealth and repression.





The Ko Tee trifecta

24 03 2017

In one of our earlier posts on the military junta’s marvelous story about a mammoth plot to accumulate war weapons, assassinate The Dictator using a sniper rifle and cause a rebellion based on Wat Dhammakaya, we had three predictions.

First, that Ko Tee or Wuthipong Kachathamakul was claimed to be involved in the “plot” as a way to gain his extradition from Laos. The junta has announced that. Second, we said the men arrested would “confess.” The junta announced that they have “confessed.” We added that the third usual event was a parade of “suspects.”

We now have the trifecta, with the Bangkok Post reporting, with video, that the men have been paraded. But, for the junta, they even get a “bonus” payout because after all this time in military custody, the “suspects” incriminated red shirts and and the Puea Thai Party, and that allowed for the rabid yellow shirt media to also incriminate Thaksin Shinawatra.

For the junta, this seems like a perfect “crime”! They have it all!





Stunned by reporting

23 03 2017

Well, we know nothing should stun us when it comes to Thailand, its politics and its media. Yet a report at the Bangkok Post is seriously stunning. We are stunned because the report seems to buy, consume, digest and reproduce junta propaganda.

In a report at the Bangkok Post, the newspaper combines reports on Ko Tee or Wuthipong Kachathamakul and the claims by the junta that he was seeking to kill a couple of dictators, a story on the junta’s instrument, the Department of Special Investigation, a senior monk from Wat Dhammakaya surrendering himself for interrogation and a falling out between a DSI man, now assigned by The Dictator to head up the National Buddhism Office and fascist monk Buddha Issara.

Without the junta’s stories from a few days ago, there’s no connection between the stories, except for DSI being involved in each. But that’s not the headline, which is the junta ruse. That’s either really lazy editing or its a dumb acceptance of junta stories.

We also note that, as The Dictator demanded, the media is dutifully cutting back on its reporting of the Ko Tee story.

While on that story, does it seem odd that Ko Tee is reported charged: “A police source said warrants have been issued for Mr Wuthipong’s arrest on charges of possessing weapons of war and violating the Firearms Act.”

Now how does that work?

After all, the junta “plans to seek the extradition of Mr Wuthipong from Laos following the discovery of a huge [sic. that’s the Post accepting the junta story, again] cache of weapons…. They suspect the weapons were his.”

So he’s been on the run outside Thailand for more than three years but “charged” with “possessing weapons”? Poor reporting or dopey reporting?

Or is the new story that these weapons were sitting there for years and police didn’t find them in previous searches? We think we’ll go for dumb junta and dopey reporting.