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!

Yingluck calls for major media change

15 07 2013

Prime Minister Yingluck Shinawatra has called for media outlets to verify the factual basis of their stories before publishing them.

Of course, this amounts to a call for a major change to the operations of the mainstream media. For years, the industry has operated on rumors and unsubstantiated allegations. In recent years this has become little more than the repetition of fairy tales and malicious gossip from social media for political purposes.

Verifying facts would be a useful innovation.

The particular story Yingluck was targeting was a social media invention regarding contaminated rice that was picked up by some in the mainstream media and run as a story.

With a major update: Rice and fish(y) media

29 06 2013

A couple of weeks ago, PPT posted on the yellow-tinged and its construction of a narrative for another anti-Thaksin Shinawatra coup. Amongst a bunch of other actions, the process of undermining the elected government was said to include “a ramping up of media scrutiny (this time being conducted on the internet as the mainstream Thai papers are considered, rightly or wrongly, to be already co-opted by the Pheu Thai) and regular ongoing protests.”

At the time, we commented that the “ramping up” is of  a more politicized reporting and editorializing that is often little more than the repeating of concoctions found on social media. In fact, the media is divided, and there has never been a “ramping down” of anti-Thaksin, anti-red shirt, anti-Puea Thai editorializing.

Thai rath rice

The Thai Rath headline, from Khaosod

A recent story at Khaosod gives some insight into this and details apparent concoction and conniving amongst various media outlets in politicized attacks on the Yingluck Shinawatra government. Khaosod reports that “Thai Rath, the best-selling newspaper in Thailand, has devoted its front page to reports that the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has ordered ‘every port’ in the US to urgently quarantine rice grains exported from Thailand.”

Khaosod notes that Thai Rath quoted an unnamed “foreign news agency”on this, linking the “chemical contamination” to the government′s rice buying scheme. This was followed by other unnamed sources, including a “rice exporter”who was quoted as saying this was the biggest crisis for Thai rice exports in 2-3 decades.

Khaosod then notes that The Nation carried the “very same quotes that appeared on Thai Rath” and the unidentified “foreign news agency” as well as the unnamed exporter. It comments: It is not clear who copied whom.”

It is no surprise at all that Khaosod also notes that the yellow shirt outlets have a very similar story:

The report on Manager Online bears many similar wordings to that of The Nation and Thai Rath. Manager Online claimed a “source inside rice export industry” as provider of their story.

Like Khaosod, PPT went to the FDA website and searched for a statement that could match these stories. The closest we found was a late May statement about “rice products” from several countries, including Thailand. But this alert has nothing at all in common with the “reports” in the apparently colluding media.

It seems that the “ramping up” through collusion on the part of anti-government media is proceeding. PPT is keen to observe if these outlets can provide any real evidence for their claims.

Major update: While there is no evidence being produced to support the claims, there is now plenty to refute them. From the Bangkok Post:

Korbsook Iamsuri, president of the Thai Rice Exporters Association, expressed concern about the report, which could cause some other countries to reject Thai rice.

“Thai rice exporters are aware of the random inspections which is why we make sure the rice shipped abroad is always premium grade,” she said.

The US Embassy has also denied the report by the massed yellow media and social media. This new report in Khaosod deserves further reading for it makes clear that the Democrat Party is eager to join the concocting parties. It says:

… the personal secretary to Mr. Korn Chatikavanit, a prominent member of the Thai opposition party, has published on his Facebook account a screenshot of FDA website that he said is an order by the FDA to quarantine all shipments of Thai rice at every port on the American mainland.

In his Facebook post, Mr. Noch Hautavanija also cited the story previously reported by The Nation and Thai Rath newspapers….

Interestingly, Korn’s man has used the same page at the FDA that PPT mentions above. As far as we can tell, even a dopey city slicker should be able to read this alert and see that it is no support at all for the yellow media claims. We can only assume that the Democrat Party leadership is conniving on this concoction.

Political nonsense and the constitutional referendum

20 12 2012

As PPT has made clear, we think any referendum on constitutional change is unnecessary and, as the junta’s charade in 2007 showed, a referendum can be simply anti-democratic and a political nonsense. That said, the royalists, led by “Democrat” Party leader Abhisit Vejjajiva, suddenly changed their tune on a constitutional referendum is revealing. From a well-orchestrated symphony calling for a referendum before any changes could be made to the military junta’s constitution of 2007, the sudden discordance has resulted in a cacophony of shrieking about a referendum being just about the worst thing that could happen. This sudden change of song again reveals the royalist political on democracy.

The degree of royalist manipulation of truth on the proposed referendum is again illustrated in a Bangkok Post op-ed. The sudden outpouring of op-eds from the Post is revealing of a coordinated campaign, bringing together the royalist mainstream media, “Democrat” Party opposition and yellow-hued academics. This op-ed by Kamolwat Praprutitum, an assistant news editor, begins: “Tearing up a constitution is no laughing matter. Without a thorough consultative process, there is a huge risk the charter rewrite efforts will heighten colour-coded conflicts needlessly.”

As PPT has indicated in a recent post, the tearing up is almost always done by the military and royalists. It was, for example, the palace and the military that drove their tanks over the 1997 constitution, grinding it into the dust. It is they who tutored their lackeys in constitution drafting to put the 2007 constitution in place and mounted a wholly repressive and deceitful referendum campaign to put it in place. It is they who established the referendum as a wholly inappropriate procedure.

That the yellow shirted ones will oppose any rewriting of the military’s constitution is already known, and their previous support for a referendum was simply a political ruse and had nothing to do with any notion of democracy.

The op-ed points out that “[n]o sooner did it occur to the government that defying the Constitution Court ruling could spell doom for the party than the politicians in power swung toward supporting the referendum.” Well it was “advice,” but had the effect of being a “ruling” because of the threat to the ruling party and government by the royalists in the court. In efect, the current government is again kowtowing to the demands of the royalists but that is not enough for the royalists. In fact, nothing is enough for the royalists; they just want the government out and their lads back in place. Hence, questions like this one are 5-6 years late:

Will a single question be a sufficient summary of the voters’ mandate? Will a simple “yes” or “no” to the new charter reflect the majority of voters’ true understanding of the meat of the new constitution?

But the question is only relevant now because the royalists want what they want and back then they wanted a junta constitution, and now they want to keep that in place, and not allow the “disloyal” lot to change or amend it. Raising a whole bunch of legal reasons for a referendum being a problem now – finding demon-seed clauses in the junta’s constitution – shows that all the royalist calls for a referendum were simply a nonsense.

Kamolwat then embarks on a royalist call for “consultation” on the constitution because…. well, the elected politicians who campaigned on charter change and won a remarkable majority can’t be trusted and they will attack “pillar sections of the constitution” – read monarchy – and engage in “another vote-buying splurge tilting favourably toward the welfare of a single individual desperate to come home.” Kamolwat puts the “Democrat” Party position. The vote-buying claim is also a nonsense right out of the ultra-royalist playbook.

Kamolwat concludes: “Unless the referendum is free and fair, we might be better off not having it at all. We want to be asked, not bought.” This is a false claim. (Where is the criticism of 2007?) What the royalist lackeys like Kamolwat want is no change to the junta’s constitution because they think these rules, drawn up by them and enforced by them, serve them best.

Wikileaks, Thaksin and moral turpitude

21 08 2012

The Nation has another one of its yellow-hued anti-Thaksin Shinawatra articles for which it is well-known. This one, as well as citing unverified claims by ASTV (from where its whole story is derived), lists a Wikileak cable to ask why the United States permitted Thaksin to enter the country when, in 2009, it considered Thaksin “may or may not have committed crime of moral turpitude,” and “considered him a man unsuited for a US visa.”

It seems that The Nation is referring to a Wikileaks cable dated 7 May 2009 under the name of then Ambassador Eric John. As usual, The Nation gets the quote wrong, and fails to provide the context of the cable. The actual quote is, with a bit more than the report has, stating: “… the possibility that Thaksin may/may have committed a crime involving moral turpitude.”

Many readers will be stunned to know that Thaksin is accused of “moral turpitude.” Like PPT, most sensible people would consider “moral turpitude” to relate to sexual immorality, but as a quick search shows, the U.S. maintains a legal definition that is entirely 19th Century in its framing, referring to “conduct that is considered contrary to community standards of justice, honesty or good morals.” In immigration law, it is a convenient and generally difficult to define concept that allows immigration officers considerable discretion.

The cable is interesting for the context it provides to this situation and, contrary to the claims of yellow-shirted commentators, that the U.S. Embassy under Eric John was not a nest of pro-Thaksin diplomats. In fact, it shows that John and the Embassy acting, in part, to curry favor with the royalist Democrat Party-led and military-backed government.

The cable’s summary states: “Post recommends that the Department prudentially revoke former Prime Minister Thaksin Shinawatra’s U.S. non-immigrant visas. This recommendation is based on our belief that Thaksin has possibly committed a crime involving moral turpitude.” A prudential revocation is a kind of “just in case” revocation for, as is stated, the Post only believes that Thaksin “has possibly” committed a crime. By recommending the revoking the visa/s the post is suggesting that the revocation can protect the U.S. and its relations with Thailand’s government.

In any case, the cable states, “Thaksin currently fails to meet the requirements for entering the U.S. on his valid B1/B2 visa because the RTG has revoked all of Thaksin’s Thai passports.” If the passports with the visas have been revoked by the Abhisit Vejjajiva government, Thaksin could not enter the U.S. based on those previously issue visas and revoked passports. In fact, this is the lead point of the main body of the cable.

The cable also refers to two arrest warrants issued by the Abhisit government, one related to Thaksin skipping bail following his debated conviction in the lad deal case, and going into exile and the other related to his allegedly inciting violence in April 2009, where the post states:

While we do not have evidence that Thaksin intended for his supporters to engage in violent acts, and Thaksin has publicly denied orchestrating the mid-April riots, we believe that Thaksin’s rhetoric was inflammatory and could reasonably be interpreted as a call for unruly actions.

This leads the Embassy to conclude:

Given the above, post believes that there are grounds for a prudential revocation of Thaksin’s U.S. NIVs, based on the possibility that Thaksin may/may have committed a crime involving moral turpitude.

At the same time, the Embassy states:

Post has not at this time developed a view regarding whether grounds would exist for a finding of visa ineligibility in connection with a crime involving moral turpitude, but we note that the standard for a prudential revocation is lower than the standard for a finding of ineligibility.

The Embassy adds: “We make the recommendation for a prudential revocation having considered the political impact of such a decision, if it were to become public knowledge.” That said, the Embassy discloses:

We are confident that the current [Abhisit-led] RTG administration would welcome our revoking Thaksin’s visa. We hope to avoid a situation in which Thaksin manages to enter the U.S., which would ensure that issues surrounding Thaksin’s status would dominate the U.S.-Thai relationship, at least in the short term. We believe revoking Thaksin’s visa, and conveying that news to him, might help to deter him from trying to enter the U.S.

Finally, the cable notes that Thaksin is pragmatic and that he will understand this action: “We do not rule out the possibility that at some future date Thaksin may regain dominant influence over the RTG.” The implication being that the visa situation can be reviewed in the future. It is a pity The Nation engages in propaganda rather than journalism.

Updated: Yellow shirt press caught out

24 10 2011

The disastrous floods in Thailand have been seized on by the yellowish mainstream media as a chance to punish Yingluck Shinawatra for winning the election over the media’s beloved Democrat Party. The media has been jumping on every opportunity to criticize, and where there isn’t an opportunity… well, they create one.

The United Nations Under-Secretary General and Executive Secretary of the Economic and Social Commission for Asia and the Pacific Noeleen Heyzer seems unimpressed by being caught up in this.

In a recent story at the yellow-shirted Thai-ASEAN Network, the U.N. was portrayed as critical of the Thai government’s efforts. We assume this is the story. [Update: this link has been updated by TAN – see below]

The United Nations demanded:

an immediate retraction from the Thai ASEAN News Network for the serious misquotes of Dr. Noeleen Heyzer, United Nations Under-Secretary General and Executive Secretary of the Economic and Social Commission for Asia and the Pacific in a story that ran this week.

The story, which revolved around the flood situation in Thailand, falsely attributed quotes to Dr. Heyzer that criticized the government.

The reality: the United Nations has issued no statement criticizing the government, and has only offered support and assistance as Thailand faces the worse floods in more than six decades.

“These quotes are completely contrary to the solidarity and support that the United Nations is giving in Thailand,” said Dr. Heyzer. “The quotes are totally wrong and a poor reflection of journalist standards that are meant to reflect the truth.”

We suspect that the political tide is now shifting to the government as the Democrat Party and its supporters are exposed as wanting to use a disaster for their own narrow political interests.

Update: TAN has now issued an apology and changed the story:

On Friday, October 21, 2011, the Thai-ASEAN News (TAN) Network broadcasted a news story entitled “UN Blames Govt for Poor Flood Management”. The story quoted UN ESCAP Executive Secretary Noeleen Heyzer for something she did not say. However, in actuality, the quote belonged to Jerry Velasquez, senior regional coordinator for UN/ISDR Asia & Pacific.

Once informed of the misquote, TAN Network corrected the story on the evening of Friday, October 21, 2011. The corrected version can still be found at

There is no excuse for the mistake that was made. TAN Network, its management and its editorial team sincerely apologizes for the error that was made. However, we must stress that there were no ill intensions.

This incident has served as an important lesson to all of our staff. We apologize and will do our utmost to never allow this to happen again in the future.

Our sincere apologies.

The Thai-ASEAN News Network
Bangkok, Thailand
October 24, 2011

Democrat Party and getting a political crisis in motion

11 09 2011

The Democrat Party has declared that time is up for the Puea Thai Party-led government. In the Bangkok Post, the deputy spokesman of the party that was trounced in the election in early July has declared the new government, officially in place for a month, has had it.

Democrat Party deputy spokesman Atthaporn Polabutr warned that people “should be prepared for a new round of political crisis which may occur in six months because the Pheu Thai-led government has abused its power for the benefits of former prime minister Thaksin Shinawatra…”. He claimed that “the government’s power abuses had become unacceptable to the people in society.”

These alleged “abuses” include: “pressure to win a royal pardon for Thaksin, an attempt to revive the Ratchadapisek land case, unfair transfers of state officials, and appointment of people under serious legal charges to take political positions…”. For good measure, he added that “the government’s key policies such as the 300 baht daily minimum wage, the 15,000 baht monthly salary for bachelor’s degree graduates, and the paddy mortgage programme were full of flaws and could affect its stability.”

Finally, Atthaporn called for Prime Minister Yingluck Shinawatra, with only a month in office, to go. Otherwise, “this government would meet growing resistance from various sectors of society.”

Should Atthaporn simply be dismissed as a lunatic who can’t get over the fact that the Democrat Party can never win an election? We don’t think so. There are several reasons for this view.

First, less than a week ago, Puea Thai MP and and red shirt leader Jatuporn Promphan is said to have stated that “an unconstitutional power clique is conspiring to bring down the Pheu Thai-led government.” There can be little doubt that the anti-Thaksin elite are already at work, plotting and scheming.

Second, the Democrat Party has repeatedly shown that it does not respect the electoral process, so no electoral defeat, no matter how large, will be respected.

Third, the Democrat Party has a long history of relying on decidedly undemocratic forces to lift it to government – palace, military, the People’s Alliance for Democracy and backroom elite deals.

Finally, the Democrat Party is drawing on precedent. Thaksin won the biggest ever election victory in February 2005 and yet the military set the tanks rolling just 14 months later following a long period of agitation by anti-Thaksin forces.

For Atthaporn and his party, the election defeat is just a bump in the road, and can soon be overcome with anti-Thaksin propaganda, rhetoric and by getting the yellow-shirted media, intellectuals and organizers in motion.

Further updated: Wichien runs to Prem

30 08 2011

The Bangkok Post has an interesting account of the troubles facing national police chief Police General Wichien Potposri. According to the Post, Wichien was appointed less than a year ago. That’s a little misleading, for then Prime Minister Abhisit Vejjajiva first appointed Wichien as acting police chief in August 2009, for a short time, but he remained the most powerful cop as the incumbent just served out his time for a further year.

Wichien’s appointment by Abhisit was full of controversy. PPT’s first post was here, and there were others. A useful summary is provided at Bangkok Pundit where the Class 12 links between Wichien and now Army boss Prayuth Chan-ocha are noted.

As Bangkok Pundit notes, Wichien was previously head of the Office of the Royal Court Security Police. Also, under the junta-backed government of privy councilor-cum-prime minister Surayud Chulanond, Wichien was responsible for security and in particular for working with provincial governors to “curb possible violence throughout Thailand.” In other words, he worked with the junta – the Council for National Security – to crack down on potential demonstrations opposing the military-backed government, including limiting the freedom of movement of rural people. During the 2007 general election, he was “in charge of advance balloting.” Under Abhisit he was given responsibility for security and “special operations.”

Back then, Wichien made clear he was a royalist. As reported in The Nation, he said “his top priorities included safeguarding the monarchy, ensuring the job performance of the police service, and developing the police forces to become worthy of the public trust.”

With a new government in place and, as the Post has it (who didn’t know?), “Chuvit Kamolvisit’s exposure of illegal casinos in Bangkok and other complaints that the police have been unable to contain rampant drug abuse and gambling in the city,” he’s in trouble. Deputy Prime Minister Chalerm Yubamrung has called for a reshuffle of the police.

Wichien’s first public move to protect himself is to run to see chief of the royalist faction, Privy Council President General Prem Tinsulanonda. Wichien claimed that Prem “offered him moral support during the meeting.” He added:

“[Gen Prem] said he is glad I’m the police chief and he acknowledged that I have tried my best and have sacrificed a lot, and he asked me to continue to do good…”.

Adding to the impression that Wichien’s replacement is going to stir up a royalist hornet’s nest, former Democrat Party Deputy Prime Minister Suthep Thaugsuban said he “opposed any replacement of Pol Gen Wichean. He said Pol Gen Wichean was capable and good, and illegal casinos and drug abuse alone were not enough to justify his replacement.” Interestingly, Suthep made the good point that if drugs and gambling were reasons for removal, “no successor could stay in office either.” He’s right. Thailand’s police are hopelessly corrupt to the top. However, the battle over Wichien is really about loyalty to the elected government. It is absolutely clear that the royalist Wichien owes his position to Abhisit.

Going to visit Prem is unlikely to have been without Prem’s instigation. This marks a significant point in the relationship between Yingluck Shinawatra’s government and the anti-Thaksin palace.

In an interview conducted after he met Prem and carried in the Bangkok Post, Wichien stakes out his royalist political ground:

I have said it before: I have never considered resigning from the position….

As the national police chief, when I make decisions I think about the country, the people and especially the institution of the monarchy….

He [Prem] gave me blessings. It is a delight to receive blessings from a respected person. Gen Prem reiterated the importance of loyalty and how the police are obligated to provide protection to Their Majesties. He has also talked about the police’s duty to safeguard the general public….

… He talked about His Majesty’s concern for the people. It is the police’s job to protect the people and look after them. It is the service we are obliged to perform for His Majesty.

He told me it is good to have me as chief of police. He told me he has heard a lot of good things about me. He encouraged me to keep up the good work and be a role model for the police. He told me that I should be proud of myself and happy that I have devoted myself to the job and sacrificed myself for others.

Asked if Prem wants him to stay as police chief, Wichien was clear: “Yes.”

Prem is a master of the political game and his meeting with Wichien makes it clear the palace is heavily involved in politicking on this case. It would also seem that the palace has a lot to protect. The Abhisit government placed plenty of loyal royalists in senior positions. The new government knows that the loyalty of these people is always going to be to their real political masters and not the elected government. Moving them is going to pose real challenges and will be a point of conflict between the government and palace.

Update 1: Pressure on Wichien to leave has increased and The Nation reports that he seems to have decided to go. So does the Bangkok Post, noting that he has agreed to leave “under pressure.” Yellow-shirted media are unhappy.

Update 2: It seems the yellow multi-colors shirts led by Tul Sitthisomwong are unhappy about Wichien’s ouster. They are to rally at police headquarters. Tul states: “The rally is not meant for protect Wichean Potephosee but to safeguard the police service from the political meddling…”. That’s odd, PPT doesn’t recall them rallying when Abhisit was trying to hoist his preferred candidate for police chief into place in a vociferously political manner…. While political meddling in the police is to be frowned upon, the control the Democrat Party sought is now to be rolled back. What the police really need is a complete clean-up. It is a hopelessly corrupt agency. It seems unlikely that such a needed process can take place in a highly politicized environment. The promotion of Priewphan Damapong to the chief’s job will see continued political action around the police (readers might like to search our blog for Priewphan to see his links to Thaksin Shinawatra.

Further updated: Innovation missing in plagiarized policy making

28 12 2010

Finance Minister Korn Chatikavanij felt moved to write to the Bangkok Post to defend the Abhisiti Vejjajiva government’s Pracha Wiwat scheme as “not populist”! Readers will recall that PPT commented on this scheme and an avalanche of other pay increases, handouts and so on, when we asked what had happened to all of the academic and political critics of “populism.”

A bit of innovation and then a cuppa

There has now been some relatively muted criticism, and Korn is commenting on an editorial in the Bangkok Post that was published a couple of days after PPT’s post. It stated: “No one disputes the need to help the needy. But what is needed are long-term, sustainable strategies to close the country’s social and economic divide, not stopgap measures that smack of political expediency.” It pointed out that Pracha Wiwat alone impacts more than half of the population. The Post states:

One may be forgiven for feeling a sense of dejavu. Ten years ago, Thaksin Shinawatra swept to power under the Thai Rak Thai banner with promises such as a debt moratorium for farmers and low-interest microfinance programmes for the poor. During the Thaksin administration, Mr Abhisit and his finance minister, Korn Chatikavanij, were vituperous critics of such schemes, labelling them as little more than well-marketed, populist programmes that traded off financial prudence for political pandering to special interest groups. The Democrat Party, then in opposition, also fiercely attacked the financing of such policies through state-owned banks as poor public governance by bypassing the parliamentary budget system.

Strange then to see Mr Abhisit and Mr Korn today tapping similar tactics and effectively putting old wine in a new bottle. It is hard to understand what has changed to make what was once populist, undemocratic and poor policies become sound development strategies today.

Korn’s response is interesting for a number of reasons. The first is in his definition of “populist policies” as “policies that are largely created by politicians, designed chiefly to win votes but are unsustainable and cause a heavy budgetary burden.” He rejects this account of his policies by referring to “process” that would also exempt Thaksin and the Thai Rak Thai Party from claims that it was “populist.”

Oddly, though, his comments bear little relationship with his own definition of populist, when he says: “It is new and is designed to created a ”total government” policy-making process that overcomes the age-old problems of departmental and ministerial compartmental approach. Most public issues require the involvement of a number of government agencies. Traditionally, these agencies will work independently from each other, sometimes at cross-purposes and often using different sets of data and assumptions.”

He then says that the “prime minister conceived of the Pracha Wiwat process where, upon his command, all relevant agencies were brought under one roof, literally, to work until a credible proposal was found. The Pracha Wiwat process started with the government listening to the needs of the people, prioritising their needs and posing them as problems requiring solutions.”Apart from making Abhisit appear king-like in issuing commands, the process still sounds remarkably similar to that employed by TRT prior to its election and then when in government.

Korn adds: “The government then ‘invited’ around 80 officials and academics from 30 agencies to work full time on these problems.” PPT wonders if there is any significance to “invited” being in quotation marks – was it another semi-royal command? These 80 were “provided with full facilities at the Government Centre, Chaeng Watthana and were encouraged to talk directly with the target groups. The prime minister empowered them to think out of the box and to address these problems in a practical and sustainable manner.”

Korn then assures us: “So far, nothing ‘populist’ in this.” Perhaps not, but then this comment would also apply to TRT’s focus groups and surveys in the period when the party developed its policies. For PPT, Korn is simply dissembling or just demonstrating that he has no idea about the nature of TRT’s political innovations.

Then he makes what is for PPT a remarkable claim. He says that the  “civil servants, academics and other interested parties, suddenly given this freedom and power, found a level of creativity that surprised themselves and certainly surprised us.” Apart from sounding like David Cameron, he again shows little knowledge of the TRT innovations that made the party so popular. And, he wants us to see plagiarized processes that produce essentially plagiarized results as innovative.

PPT doesn’t doubt that some good policy might come of repackaging and reconsidering the TRT innovations. Nor do we doubt that there isn’t continuing need for good policy that addresses real needs. But to claim innovation and difference when there is none demonstrated is sounding like the marketing men at work rather than anything else. They are the ones who must sell faux innovation to voters and hope that they ignore guns, censorship, repression and government mendacity.

Update 1: Suthichai Yoon at The Nation is critical of the Pracha Wiwat policies for several reasons, including this yellow-tinged epithet: “Don’t ask me what happened to the ‘sufficiency economy’ policy that the Democrats claimed as one of their top priorities. Don’t ask why they were saying that populism under somebody else was bad because it created grassroots dependency on the powers-that-be, and that it could be so addictive that the withdrawal symptoms could be fatal.”

Update 2: Readers will be interested in the interview in The Nation with Sungsidh Piriyarangsan, “who previously advised former premier Thaksin Shinawatra. Now, Sungsidh is chairman of Chandrakasem Rajabhat University’s PhD programme in good governance. Earlier this year, the academic was approached by Finance Minister Korn Chatikavanij to help formulate measures that work for the grassroots population.”

Further updated: Don’t criticize Abhisit (or his boss)!

15 07 2010

Think of the poor kid Withawat Thaokhamlue now having to withdraw from the rather awful Academy Fantasia television talent show. He criticized and damned Abhisit Vejjajiva on his Facebook page. He was then attacked by the yellow shirts, the media and others for it. Okay, he might have used some swear words, but many are frustrated. He’s then accused of attacking the monarchy – the redoubt of the political right in Thailand. Now he’s out of the show.

The lesson is that criticizing any of the higher-ups is likely to get you in deep brown stuff. Even the prime minister is now held to be above criticism by the plebs.

The horrid yellows argued for the kid’s “immediate expulsion from the show, insisting that while Withawat enjoys the right to free speech, his use of abusive language on a web page open to the public is intolerable and sets a bad example.” Oh dear, he expressed himself profanely.

More startlingly, the government’s political bully boys at the Department of Special Investigation and boss Tharit Pengdit “said investigators will look into Withawat’s alleged anti-monarchy comments….  Tharit heads a working group investigating lese majeste cases.”

PPT wonders if we should add the kid to our page of pending cases. Sadly, we probably will.

Update 1: AP has a story on this case. It says that the “hip-looking 17-year-old student, suggested on Facebook that protesters might not have set buildings on fire if the prime minister had dissolved parliament and called an election, as the demonstrators demanded. Government supporters attacked Witthawat, and many viewers expressed their disapproval. Many on the anti-government side became his fans. The whole affair received widespread media coverage.”

Free media advocate Supinya Klangnarong is cited: “More battles here and there — in the entertainment industry, in politics, in schools, in universities or even in homes — will be occurring, I think, throughout the country.”

AP adds: “Last Saturday, as the scandal peaked, Witthawat’s parents asked the show’s producer not to have their son perform on stage, saying they didn’t want him to be in the middle of any conflict. He still managed to get the most votes, apparently drawing support from both fans and political sympathizers.”

Lese majeste isn’t covered.

Update 2: Bangkok Post has an editorial that is reasonably sensible on the topic and the ever useful Suranand Vejjajiva has a good story on this sad topic.

PPT has added a page to pending cases, until we hear that the Gestapo-like DSI has dropped the silly and spiteful lese majeste investigation.

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