Fear and repression II

25 07 2017

As PPT said in a recent post, the “threats,” “enemies” and “opposition” that give the military dictatorship the shakes are mainly red shirts, elements of the Puea Thai Party and the Shinawatra clan and its associates. Despite more than three years of heavy duty repression, the military and anti-democrats live in fear that they may rise again.

Supporters of Yingluck Shinawatra have again been warned against participating in public gatherings when the Supreme Court hands down a ruling on her controversial rice-pledging scheme next month.

The new warning is from The Dictator. General Prayuth Chan-ocha said that “security [he mean repression] remains the top priority for the regime and anyone who attempts to challenge the law [he means the junta] by mobilising a crowd with malicious intent would face legal consequences [he means repression].”

General Prayuth is flummoxed and worried by “reports that huge crowds would show up to extend their support to Ms Yingluck on Aug 25 when the Supreme Court’s Criminal Division for Holders of Political Positions is due to hand down its ruling.” His response is: “You can love anyone [he means Yingluck], but [you] shouldn’t cause trouble for others [he means the junta and its minions at the court] or undermine the law. If anyone mobilises crowds they must know they are breaking the law…”.

Somewhat oddly, Army boss and junta secretary-general General Chalermchai Sitthisart seemed less worried, simply saying that the junta “will have to ‘regulate’ people who arrive to support Ms Yingluck next month.” He then made a very unusual remark: “The NCPO [junta] does not prohibit people from coming to support her in good faith but any organised gatherings are against the law…”.

Who does one believe? The point about “organizing” and “mobilizing” seems clear, but one general is saying stay home and the other is saying come if you are mobilized.

Even odder, “Gen Chalermchai insisted the NCPO will not dispatch soldiers to block her supporters from Pheu Thai or red-shirt strongholds…”. That seems to contradict earlier reports.

Echoing some of his anti-democrat members, (anti-)Democrat Party leader Abhisit Vejjajiva reckoned that gathering supporters of Yingluck at the court was an “implicit threat …[and] may be an attempt to pressure the judges.”

Meanwhile, the Finance Ministry has begun the process of seizing Yingluck’s assets, “based on an administrative order,” seeking some $1 billion “in compensation for her alleged dereliction of duty in the rice-pledging scheme.”





Updated: Fear and repression I

24 07 2017

Talk of “reconciliation” seems pointless in the junta’s dictatorship. The task of the junta has been to repress those it identifies as “threats,” “enemies” and “opposition.” As it was largely through the efforts of the anti-democrats, led by the (anti-)Democrat Party, that paved the way for the 2014 military coup, it should be no surprise at all that the coalition of military and anti-democrats coalesces to continue the fight against those “threats,” “enemies” and “opposition.”

As everyone knows, the “threats,” “enemies” and “opposition” are mainly red shirts, elements of the Puea Thai Party and the Shinawatra clan and associates. After more than three years of heavy duty repression designed to decapitate these groups, there is limited evidence that they retain much capacity for mobilization. Yet the military and anti-democrats live in fear that they may rise against them.

As reported in The Nation, the pending verdict against Yingluck Shinawatra, due on 25 August, is causing considerable angst among the ruling regime and its anti-democrat allies.

This deep anxiety was inflamed by the sight of “[h]undreds of Yingluck’s supporters [who] gathered at the high court last Friday during the last hearing of the case against her.”

The Democrat Party, never very popular anywhere except in the previous palace hierarchy and among the royalist military, immediately went back to their rhetoric of anti-Thaksinism that has been a feature of their efforts to bring down each elected government since 2001. They claimed that “many of the supporters travelled together in an arranged trip from the northeastern provinces of Ubon Ratchathani and Amnat Charoen.” In other words, they reflexively denigrated their opponents as unthinking and unintelligent people/buffaloes, led around by money and bosses.

At the same time, Somchai Sawaengkarn, reported as “a member of the National Legislative Assembly (NLA)” but in fact a former unelected senator, dedicated anti-democrat, anti-Thaksin campaigner for more than a decade, hard core royalist and prone to accuse opponents of lese majeste, claimed “that he has learned of a plot to incite riots in a bid to overthrow the government and the NCPO [he means his buddies in the junta].”

Somchai has concocted plots in order to denigrate political opponents in the past and we assume he’s at it again. “Good” people like him are skilled liars but usually claim they do it for the greater “good.” This usually means ousting an elected government, supporting the crown or lapping the military boot or, as in this case, encouraging it in political activism. This is why he invents a plot: “They will try to bring down the government and the NCPO [junta] through riots. Hard-core groups that are their allies have clearly said that they want to wage a ‘people’s war’…”. He predicts a “mobilization” of 10,000 people.

While we might hope he is right, based on previous “inventiveness” by Somchai, we can be reasonably sure that, tongue on military boot, he’s making this up to encourage his junta allies in further political repression.

Indeed, the military thugs are already at work.

The Nation reports a source in the ruling junta as revealing that the military and its bureaucratic handmaidens are “closely following movements by certain groups of people ahead of the Supreme Court verdict in the case against former prime minister Yingluck…”.

That source adds that “Army commander-in-chief General Chalermchai Sitthisart, in his capacity as secretary to the National Council for Peace and Order (NCPO), has instructed the local peacekeeping forces to monitor the movements of ‘all groups involved’ over the next month…”.

The Army’s regional commanders have been ordered “to make sure any suspicious movements are under their microscope…. If the local peacekeeping forces, which were formed after the military coup in 2014, discovered any plan to mobilise large groups of people into Bangkok, they would need to persuade their leaders to cancel such a trip…”. That will mean detentions, threats and other forms of repression. Indeed, the leaking of these orders are a part of that repression.

Military officers have already “been dispatched to different areas of the country in an attempt to persuade Yingluck’s supporters not to come to Bangkok … [and t]hey are going to meet with local community leaders and administrators and ask them to ‘create a better understanding’ among the local residents.” The order is that there “should be no mobilisation of the masses…”. In other words, the military presence at all levels is being heightened and the threats made real.

Update: Part of the fear of Yingluck’s supporters seems reflected in the estimates of the number who showed up last week. The Bangkok Post reports almost 1,000. The official red shirts of the United Front for Democracy against Dictatorship (UDD) have warned The Dictator that his threats inflamed the situation and brought out even more supporters. More threats and intimidation could would damage the junta.





“Election” readiness II

22 07 2017

In an earlier post PPT, commented that preparations for the military junta’s election were moving along and that the signals for this were getting stronger. They included the anti-Election Commission that the junta could arrange its election sometime from August 2018. Another signal were the efforts to neuter the Shinawatra clan and Puea Thai Party, with the cases against Yingluck Shinawatra is drawing to a close next month.

The Bangkok Post reports that other cases at the Supreme Court’s Criminal Division for Holders of Political Positions are scheduled for rulings with “three major cases involving politicians from the Pheu Thai Party” also scheduled for next month.

One is Yingluck’s case. A second case “involves a group of 28 people including former commerce minister Boonsong Teriyapirom and former deputy commerce minister Poom Sarapol. It deals with their involvement in government-to-government rice sales to China.” All are from the Yingluck government that was thrown out by the 2014 military coup.

The third case, set to be ruled on 2 August, involves a set of senior figures associated with the pro-Thaksin People’s Power Party government from 2007-08. Included are former prime minister Somchai Wongsawat, former prime minister Chavalit Yongchaiyudh, who was deputy prime minister in charge of security under then premier Somchai and two senior policemen of that period.

They are on trial for their roles in the crackdown on the People’s Alliance for Democracy which had had its protesters lay siege to Government House from 20 June 2008, seeking to force the pro-Thaksin elected government out of office. Despite a court order for the eviction of protesters, the siege continued. To bring further pressure on the government, PAD laid siege to parliament, to prevent Somchai from making a legally required policy speech in the assembly. On 7 July 2008, police announced that they would use tear gas and clear protesters. Clashes continued for several hours, with two deaths and 471 people injured. One of the deaths was a PAD supporter who accidentally blew himself up.

Students of Thailand’s double standards will recall that former premier Abhisit Vejjajiva, his deputy Suthep Thaugsuban and General Anupong Paojinda were charged with malfeasance and murder for their crackdowns on red shirt protesters in April and May 2010 resulting in a 100 deaths and thousands of injuries. Several courts denied that they had jurisdiction, the National Anti-Corruption Commission ruled they had acted lawfully and the case did not go to the Supreme Court’s Criminal Division for Holders of Political Positions.





“Election” readiness I

20 07 2017

It seems to some of PPT’s pundits that preparations for the military junta’s election are moving along. The signals are getting stronger.

For one thing, the middle classes seem to be getting bored with the military dictatorship. They are increasingly disgruntled by poor economic data and are beginning to complain about corruption. Another sign is that the military has seemingly filled its shopping list for new kit, just in case a civilianized post-“election” regime is less able to hand over all that lovely equipment.

The hopeless anti-Election Commission recently let it be known that it believes that the earliest the junta could arrange its election is sometime about August 2018.

More telling of the preparations being made is the continuing efforts to neuter the red shirts, the Thaksin clan and the Puea Thai Party. One of the major “cases” against Yingluck Shinawatra is drawing to a close. The linked report states:

A not guilty verdict is unlikely…. A not guilty verdict would be a huge blow for the junta. It would exonerate Yingluck while galvanising her support and the populist movement. The trial has already cost the junta a significant amount of money. It would threaten the junta’s hold on power while calls for a return to civilian-led democracy would grow louder.

But a guilty verdict would pave the way for an “election” with the Shinawatra clan further “damaged.” That said, her supporters are fighting back and are not done yet.

In another case, despite two courts rejecting accusations against him, the junta’s more politically reliable and predictable Supreme Court has jailed red shirt leader Jatuporn Promphan to a year in prison for defaming former prime minister Abhisit Vejjajiva.

Plenty on Abhisit’s side of politics were able to defame red shirt leaders and their supporters and used state power to murder dozens of them, but it is Jatuporn who is jailed.

The military and the royalist elite rightly consider Jatuporn a threat because he is a powerful orator and organizer. They have jailed him several times in recent years, overturned election results to keep him out of parliament and more. Yet red shirts also remain defiant.

Meanwhile, the courts have continued to exonerate yellow shirts. Clearly, the junta knows who its opponents and supporters are as it prepares to civilianize its political authoritarianism via an “election.”





Double standards are the only “standards”

16 07 2017

PPT has several times posted on the undermining of the rule of law under the military dictatorship. The essential underpinning of the junta’s injustice system is double standards.

Readers may have noticed a swathe of cases brought against the junta’s political opponents of late. These include cases against the Shinawatra clan, including laws to be used retroactively, red shirts and anti-coup activists.

At the same time, there have been precious few cases against the junta’s allies. Yellow shirts, where cases go back to at least 2008, have barely been touched. The anti-democrats of 2013-14 have seldom been subject to any legal action, and when they are, the outcomes seem to be benign when compared with the treatment meted out to junta opponents.

Political double standards are everywhere. The latest iteration is the support to rubber growers. Of course, they were supporters of the anti-democrats and the military coup. Yingluck Shinawatra is being tried and harassed for price support to rice growers.

The legal double standards that serve the rich go back decades, but this dictatorship has done nothing to change them. Indeed, the symbolic case of the rich getting away with murder is that involving Vorayuth “Boss” Yoovidhya, of the filthy rich Red Bull family, who has been free and living the life of a domestic and international playboy since 2012. Despite occasional movement among authorities, usually caused by media reports, nothing much has happened.

The latest report is that “[p]olice have yet to send a request to the Attorney General’s Office for the extradition of … Boss … accused of killing a policeman in a hit-and-run case five years ago, according to an official in charge of extradition.”

Amnat Chotichai at the Attorney General’s Office said “they were waiting for the request. Amnat stated: “As of now, the police have yet to send us the request. I don’t know what’s causing the delay…”.

Everyone knows what the delay is. It is that the Yoovidhya’s are fabulously wealthy, very powerful and have lots of friends in the regime and in the bureaucracy. The longer they delay, the closer the statute of limitations.

Notice that the puppet National Legislative Assembly was able to vote “unanimously … to pass the controversial draft organic law on criminal procedures for holders of a political position.”

The double standards are so wide that a fleet of buses could be driven through the dictatorship’s gape. The double standards gap expands still further when the military dictators begin to talk of morals.

What can we make of the deputy chairman of the junta General Prajin Junthong telling “education officials” that they need “increase focus on religions in their teaching curriculum”?

Rather like a historical clutch of military and royalist commentators, the general reckons that education is about shaping the lower classes to ruling class ideology. A tepid subaltern class and a strong moral ideology have long served the rich and powerful. Of course, the rich and powerful are not held to this same moral ideology; its just about political control. But it’s also a double standard.

General Prajin declares that education can be dangerous: “Having only education to increase one’s knowledge, ability and talent is not enough…. Because they may use that knowledge in a wrong way and take advantage of other people…”. It is the lack of “religion” in education leads to immorality and corruption.

By “religion,” we can assume that the general means Buddhism, but we can assume that he means particular state-authorized or junta-sanctioned Buddhism. (Certainly not that Wat Dhammakaya stuff!) We can assume this because the general goes on to babble that “schools should also teach their students to appreciate ‘Thainess’.”

“Thainess” and “religion” have little to do with “morals.” For the junta, they mean order and stability, not to say political docility. And, naturally enough, the junta is not bound by “religion” or “morality.” It prefers nepotism, corruption, torture, commissions and unusual wealth.

Double standards? Yep. The junta didn’t invent double standards but has made them stark. In doing so, the junta has seriously undermined justice and the rule of law.





Inside sucking noises

7 07 2017

PPT hasn’t previously commented on the junta’s decision to spill the Election Commission and create a new Commission with new members. The main reason we have ignored this is because it is like watching a movie with no good characters. It’s bad guys vs. bad guys; no white hats, just black hats.

The military junta is an abomination and the EC is a bunch of self-important jerks who did all that they could to prevent and election in 2014. The EC is anti-election. So what is there to support in any of this? Its going through the swill at the bottom of the barrel.

However, a report at Prachatai is of some interest. The EC, which has seen its members jumping about and saying how terrible it is that they are losing their positions, has decided on a counter-attack.

The report states that on 4 July 2017, the EC “initiated an investigation into 90 members of the NLA [that’s the puppet National Legislative Assembly] over alleged conflict of interest in their stock holdings.”

Up until this point, as far as PPT can recall, the puppet EC has had no interest in the puppet NLA. Thus, its action can only be interpreted as some inside politicking to keep lucrative posts.

It might be said that this action has only become possible after the passage of the junta’s constitution, but that also means that the action can only apply to activities by the NLA since the constitution was promulgated. So probably not much action possible at all. It is mostly bluster by the unhappy EC members.

One of the most reprehensible anti-election commissioners is Somchai Srisuttiyakorn, who must be especially miffed as he did more than others in binning the Yingluck Shinawatra administration, facilitating the anti-democrats and getting the military in place.

He says his lot is forming a committee “to investigate the issue with a two-month time frame. If the commission find reasonable suspicions, the ECT will submit the case to the Constitutional Court for a final judgement.”

At the very same time, the EC continued to make up rules that make any “elected” government that is not military-backed weaker than ever before.

The EC is a waste of political space and of taxpayer funds. Its a remora that seems to have lost its host.





Troops to threaten Yingluck supporters

5 07 2017

Yingluck Shinawatra has already been ordered to pay “compensation” of Bt35 billion – yes, more than $1 billion – for allegedly “causing losses” to the Thai state and taxpayer due to her government’s rice pledging policy.

Yet that’s insufficient for the military dictatorship and for the anti-Thaksin Shinawatra/anti-democrats. They want to grind her, her family and party into dust so that they are unable to challenge anti-democrats whenever the junta decides to hold its “election.”

But her widespread popular support challenges The Dictator, the junta and its supporters.

The Nation reports that this fear has prompted the “military will deploy troops to help the police maintain security later this month during the final hearing in the rice-pledging case involving … former prime minister Yingluck Shinawatra.”

The Supreme Court’s Criminal Division for Holders of Political Positions has scheduled its final hearing for 21 July and it is expected that a “huge number of people” will “turn out to show their support for Yingluck on the last day of her trial.”

Army boss General Chalermchai Sitthisart warned that “public order would be maintained” by the troops.