Rolling back 1932 one piece of property at a time II

7 04 2018

The palace and Crown Property Bureau have been active in recent months as they seeks, for the king, to consolidate what he considers the “royal precinct.” We have previously mentioned assertions of royal control over the Bangkok or Dusit Zoo, Suan Amphon and the Ananta Samakhom Hall. And who can forget the illegal (and still unexplained) removal of the 1932 plaque that the king and the junta must have thought sullied the “royal precinct.”

The most recent territory marking involves the Royal Turf Club and the Nang Loeng horse-racing track, also in Dusit district. It is reported that the CPB has demanded the Royal Turf Club vacate the property in 180 days.

Anant Waiwitaya, a CPB legal affairs officer recently wrote to the club “to demand the departure.”

For many years the very large property has been in the hands of aged military people who benefit from gambling and while having been in operation for more than 100 years, is most recently remembered as the home of anti-Thaksin/anti-Yingluck grey activists under General Boonlert Kaewprasit’s Pitak Siam. This group was supported by all kinds of old royalists and conservatives who began the initial agitation against Yingluck. Boonlert was – maybe still is – secretary-general of the Royal Turf Club.

The CPB’s Anant noted that the lease had expires and that the Royal Turf Club had to vacate the property and its “track, five-storey stand, two six-storey parking buildings, a five-storey management building, a one-storey structure and a swimming pool.”

The CPB stated that it “had to use the land and the buildings.”

The report says: “Initiatives to relocate it were discussed during the previous governments of Chuan Leekpai and Thaksin Shinawatra.” Nothing resulted.

We see the action as another effort to create the “royal precinct,” rumored to include plans for a massive palace. The map below shows that the king’s moves over the last six months have massively expanded his territory.





The Dictator’s double standards

4 04 2018

Gen Prayuth Chan-ocha has complained about the recent appearance of Thaksin and Yingluck Shinawatra in Japan and other places.

He slammed them: “I don’t have any feeling about them. They should have been ashamed. They broke the law and they still dare to go out…”.

Double standards? You bet. After all, if the military junta hadn’t exonerated itself with retrospective “law,” The Dictator himself would be in trouble. When it comes to breaking the law, overthrowing a legal government is seditious, treason and mutiny. Grinding a constitution under his boot is also illegal.

And then there’s the murder of dozens of civilians in 2010 by troops commanded by Gen Prayuth.

He should be ashamed and imprisoned.





Supporting the junta’s political agenda

3 03 2018

New political parties are emerging from the junta’s primeval electoral rules slime.We apologize for all the square brackets and inverted commas that follow, but these are necessary to indicate the contrived nature of politics arranged by the military dictatorship.

According to a Bangkok Post source at the Election Commission, several parties “want their party names to include the words ‘Pracharath’ (people-state partnership) or ‘Thai Niyom’ (Thai-ism) — from the government’s [they mean the junta’s] key [populist-electoral] development schemes which are now becoming popular catchphrases among the people [sic.].”

In other words, following the junta’s lead and its rules, a bunch of parties look like forming to support the junta and its dismal political objective of maintaining “Thai-style democracy” – i.e. no democracy at all – into the future.

These “parties” – really just junta factions and political opportunists – reckon that the junta’s dishing out of populist-electoral cash will have an “impact on voters as there are many who benefit from these projects.” The “parties” also want voters “to believe that the newly-registered parties have the backing of the government…”. Some do and others are hoping that they can suck up the loot that might result from a military-backed coalition government following an “election.”

The EC source particularly pointed to survey “parties” set up with the “clear intention of supporting the National and Council for Peace and Order (NCPO) [the junta]…”. These are the devil or Satan parties.

One is the Pracharath Party “which is speculated to include key figures from the government [junta + a few trusted anti-democrat civilians] and the NCPO [the junta – those civilians]. Speculation is rife that Deputy Prime Minister Somkid Jatursripitak, who is the head of the government’s economic team, will be the party leader.” Somkid is one of those +/- civilians.

Then there’s the “Muan Maha Pracha Chon Party pushed by Suthep Thaugsuban, former leader of the defunct People’s Democratic Reform Committee is also meant to back Prime Minister [Gen] Prayut Chan-o-cha [The Dictator] to return as an outsider prime minister after the general election…”. Recall Suthep’s faux denial but remember his long alliance with the junta and the military coupsters.

Former senator and extreme yellow shirt Paiboon Nititawan is establishing a devil party to be “registered as the People Reform Party and will also support Gen Prayut making a comeback as premier.”

Then there are a bunch of hope-to-be-Satan-parties. These are micro-parties that have a hope of “joining an NCPO-sponsored government after the election.” They are presumably setting up money-laundering arrangements as we write this. One is the “Pheu Chart Thai Party. The group is led by Amphaphan Thanetdejsunthorn, former wife of the late military strongman Gen Sunthorn Kongsompong, who led a coup that seized power from the Chatichai Choonhavan government in 1991.”

Then there’s the New Palang Dhamma Party (NPDP), inaugurated on Thursday. Apparently a self-proclaimed devil party, it seems likely to throw its support to Gen Prayuth “if he bids to become an unelected, outside premier.” The party vows to fight corruption. It isn’t clear how supporting Prayuth and fighting corruption fit together. But, hey, this is the junta’s Thailand.

The real link between the junta and the reconstituted party is anti-Thaksinism:

[Rawee] … played an active role in bringing down two Shinawatra governments. Most recently in 2013 with the People’s Committee for Absolute Democracy With the King as Head of State, or PCAD, aka the People’s Democratic Reform Council. Before that, Rawee was once a member of the former People’s Alliance for Democracy, the Yellowshirt party which played an instrumental role in opposing both Thaksin Shinawatra and Yingluck Shinawatra.

In summary, the formation of a myriad of minor parties supportive of The Dictator is in line with the junta’s script for post-“election” politics.

Yellow shirted “academic” Sombat Thamrongthanyawong, rector of Walailak University, observed “there is nothing new to expect and the next election will not bring any change.” Sombat’s own role in creating this neanderthal political system is not mentioned.





Another believe it or not story

13 02 2018

Skepticism alert! Whenever we see a report from the military dictatorship claiming it has busted political opponents with bombs, we are necessarily skeptical.

The most recent report in the Bangkok Post demands skepticism.

For one thing, the sudden “discovery” of a cache of bombs comes at a time when the junta is under great pressure, with the Deputy Dictator’s watch scandal, protesters appearing on several fronts and delays to (rigged) elections. Finding a “threat” just now is ever so convenient.

Then there’s a whole bunch of “coincidences” that seem just too lucky by half.

Pol Capt Somphot Suebwongsakon, duty investigator at Pak Kret police station said that the discovery of explosives was reported about 8.30pm on Monday evening by a condo cleaner who just happened to be working late.

This woman was cleaning the room for a new tenant. It was getting a new tenant because the existing tenant Kritchapol Poolsil, 53, a former soldier from Yala, who had rented the room for at least five years, “had not paid the rent,  electricity or water bills for so long the owner found a new tenant to replace him.

Police “found an untidy room with items scattered around it, including a bag sitting in one corner. The room appeared to have been unused for a long time.”

Inside that bag the police found an M26 grenade. They also located “four homemade ping-pong bombs, two small pipe bombs and more than 20 giant firecrackers.” More incriminating “evidence,” seen in television coverage, was a bunch of red shirts.

Then a remarkable bit of luck: “Around 10pm, police spotted a man walking in the direction of the room being searched suddenly turn back and walked away. When police followed him he began to run away.” After a very long time, Kritchapol suddenly showed up at his apartment!

Kritchapol was immediately “confessed” that the bombs were his and that he was “working for fugitive Wuthipong ‘Kotee’ Kochathamakun, a leader of a group of hard-line members of the red-shirt United Front for Democracy against Dictatorship (UDD) who is wanted for lese majeste.”

We had long believed that Thai commandos had abducted Ko Tee in Laos and “disappeared” him.

All in all this was a huge coincidence of luck for the regime!

It could all be true, but it just seems so unbelievable. An d the coincidences seem too convenient, just as The Dictator fumes about Thaksin and Yingluck and activists he identifies operating with “impure purposes,” seeking “to create conflicts, mistrust or unrest…”.

The junta has regularly  come up with arms and bomb finds, all linked to “red shirts.” Usually these finds just melt away after political advantage has been made.

Finding allegedly red shirt bombs associated with a (missing) republican opponent just seems really very convenient for the military dictatorship.





Drunken sailors and soldiers

2 02 2018

In seeking to bolster its “popularity” and electoral appeal, the military dictatorship is spending like a ship full of drunken sailors (well, a massage parlor full of soldiers).

The Nation reports that the Agriculture, Interior and other ministries will shortly begin spending 47 billion baht on The Dictator’s “Thai Niyom” development program That’s about 670,000 baht for every village and community in the country. We are always pleased to see funds flow to the poor but this looks more like a hastily cobbled together vote buying program seemingly developed just in the past few weeks (or the time of the Deputy Dictator’s luxury watch problems). If Thaksin and Yingluck Shinawatra parties could be accused of populism for programs that were taken to the electorate, what’s this large bucket of money?

Another program has had longer term planning. It also involves a heck of a lot more taxpayer loot: almost 1 trillion baht. The Bangkok Post reports that the junta’s cabinet “has approved 168 infrastructure development projects worth a combined 989 billion baht for its flagship Eastern Economic Corridor (EEC) scheme.”

Interestingly, the military is in for its cut. The report observes: “government spending will account for 30%, with public-private partnerships making up 59%, state-owned enterprises 10% and the Royal Thai Army 1%.” The junta has stuffed state enterprises with its cronies. The navy isn’t listed, but it has a project in this scheme as well. Almost all of this investment (minus commissions and cuts) will be shoveled into formerly pro-Puea Thai Party electoral districts.

Such spending is calculated to bring electoral and popularity gains for soldiers who will fill their pockets along the way. More luxury watches?





The Yingluck extradition charade

13 01 2018

Before we forget, a couple of questions for the military dictators: how’s that extradition of Thaksin Shinawatra coming along? And what about Red Bull scion Vorayuth Yoovidhya coming along? Readers will recall that Vorayuth is on the lam following a brutal hit-and-run case in which a police officer was killed. Since then he’s been able to postpone court appearances, hide in plain sight and skip the country. All of that requires that officials and political bosses are complicit. His last “escape” was on 25 April 2017 and since then the authorities have been pretty much silent.

We ask about these two cases as mere examples to suggest that the sudden flap over Yingluck Shinawatra’s recent appearance in London after months of invisibility and all the high profile statements by the junta about extraditing her are simply a charade.

Officials who state that “Thailand cannot seek the extradition of fugitive former prime minister Yingluck Shinawatra despite confirmation that at least one of two photos taken of her in London recently appear to be authentic…” are correct.

There are all kinds of reasons for this: there’s insufficient evidence of a criminal act by Yingluck that would also be a crime in Britain and plenty of evidence that her trial was a political act by the military regime; if she’s applied for asylum in the UK, then that case must be concluded before the Thai regime can seek extradition; there’s no Interpol arrest warrant; the Office of the Attorney-General has not requested she be extradited; and the regime doesn’t actually know exactly where she is. Then there’s the question of whether any real democracy would send Yingluck back to the military’s Thailand.

But this is a charade. Our instinct tells us the last thing The Dictator wants as he maneuvers for his ongoing premiership is a jailed Yingluck.

Even General Prayuth Chan-ocha has basically said forget about it: “He pointed to the case of Thaksin … ‘Has anyone sent him back? Please don’t make this an issue’…”.

But this approach seems politically unacceptable and the need for the charade was emphasized by none other than that model of probity – trips to Hawaii, Corruption Park, a score of luxury watches notwithstanding – General Prawit Wongsuwan. He has decried the lack of action on Yingluck’s extradition. We guess some yellow shirts still matter politically.

The Bangkok Post reports that the dumpy Deputy Dictator, weighed down by luxury watches, has declared that “[o]fficials risk facing malfeasance charges if they make no attempt to hunt down former prime minister Yingluck…”.

The political charade will continue.





A Yingluck sighting

30 12 2017

For those who haven’t seen the news, after several months of rumor and a somewhat odd silence, Yingluck Shinawatra seems to have surfaced in London.

This recent report includes both a photo and comments by a source who claims to have visited her in London. That source said this:

A source close to Yingluck said the woman in the photo was “likely” to be the former prime minister but she could not say when it was taken.

“I’ve visited her in England once [since August] and she was well and in good spirits. It’s like she has let go of things, politically,” the source said.

Yingluck is leading a “normal” life rather than acting like someone who is on the run but she still avoids places where Thai people may recognise her, the source added.

One of the mysteries of 2017 was Yingluck’s location and her (continuing) silence.