Locking ’em up

29 08 2017

Yingluck Shinawatra may have escaped her likely jail term – anyone seen her yet? – the military dictatorship continues to lock up opposition politicians, especially those it considers key for any “election” competition that the junta may eventually permit.

Watana and Yingluck

Watana Muangsook is a serial irritation agent, and the junta keeps trying to keep him locked up. Prachatai reports that the “Criminal Court has once again handed two months jail term [to the]… embattled anti-junta politician accused of contempt of court, but suspended the jail term for two years.” It was contempt of court this time but it is the case he was discussing on social media that may be his real problem.

His “contempt” was “informing the media through Line Chat application about his court hearing on 27 August in another case in which he was charged with sedition and importation of illegal computer content.” How really terrible is it to inform the media?

According to the report, it is not terrible at all or even against the law:

The court concluded that although the action did not breach any court procedure directly, but the accused should have known that he should have asked for the permission from the court first as Watana used to be a lawyer himself.

The courts seem skilled at making stuff up.

The other recent case goes back 15 years. Former Puea Thai Party leader Yongyuth Wichaidit “has been sentenced to 2 years in jail for illegally approving the sale of monastic land for the Alpine golf course in Pathum Thani…” by the Central Criminal Court for Corruption and Misconduct Cases.

The case has been associated with Thaksin Shinawatra, but at the time, “Yongyuth was a deputy permanent secretary at the Interior Ministry, serving as acting permanent secretary.”

The National Anti-Corruption Commission “found him at fault for approving the sale 732 rai of land owned by Wat Thammikaram to privately owned Alpine Real Estate Co and Alpine Golf & Sports Club in 2002.”

He was “found guilty of dereliction of duty  under Section 157 of the Criminal Code and of serious disciplinary violations. He was sentenced to two years in prison, without suspension.” However, he got bail before an appeal.

Dereliction of duty seems the charge of the moment.

Updated: Democrat Party dissembling, Puea Thai hopelessness

28 06 2012

Leader of the opportunistic Democrat Party Abhisit Vejjajiva and several of his best buddies have again demonstrated their capacity for dissembling.

At the Bangkok Post, it is reported that the NASA-proposed project has been canceled. PPT has no particular position on the project but point out the opportunism and desperation of the Democrat Party and the hopelessness of the Puea Thai government.

PPT has shown in two recent posts, here and here, that several governments, including the one led by Abhisit and his so-called Democrat Party, have allowed continuing US use of the Utapao base for all kinds of previously undisclosed military purposes.

A couple of days ago, an editorial at the Bangkok Post stated:

… Democrat Party spokesman Chavanond Intarakomalyasut has emerged as an outright opponent of this scientific endeavour. Mr Chavanond has engaged in questionable tactics, but one stands out. He owes the foreign minister an apology for claiming that Mr Surapong “lied” when he said that China allowed Nasa to make flights from Hong Kong. China did exactly that, as early as 2001, less than four years after regaining sovereignty of the former British colony.

Mr Chavanond’s party leader, former premier Abhisit Vejjajiva, has toyed with the issue of U-tapao flights. He should now take the correct stand and back them.

Chavanond is a loudmouthed liar on many things. The comment that Abhisit “toyed” with the idea of flights is incorrect, for as shown by Wikileaks cables, his government allowed hundreds of flights a year.

But the Democrat Party cabal gets worse. In another Bangkok Post story, Abhisit shouts that “critics did not oppose Nasa’s request to use U-tapao airport for its programme…”. The Post editorial seems to deny that.

He was joined by his Eton debating partner Deputy party leader Korn Chatikavanij who took the “its all about Thaksin Shinawatra” lie when he said: “… I doubt there is no hidden agenda…”. We doubt he was taught to dissemble like this at Eton.

Meanwhile, party spokesman-cum-obnoxious blowhard Chavanond:

called for the removal of Foreign Minister Surapong Tovichakchaikul and Science and Technology Minister Plodprasop Suraswadi for distorting facts and lying to the public about the shipment of equipment for use in the weather research project.

Every single thing that Chavanond has bleated on this controversy has been plagiarized from yellow shirts and their media.

His DemoPAD/PADocrat Party saw yet another chance of getting the courts involved in actions against a pro-Thaksin party under Article 190 of the constitution. That is their single opportunistic motivation, and they know the Constitutional Court is with them.

Abhisit also claimed that it “was absurd that the government was pointing the finger of blame at the opposition for doing its job…”. And then he added: “Why doesn’t the government back down on the reconciliation or charter amendment bills? Things would have been better…”. Frankly, Abhisit is simply pointing out that the opposition is not doing its job, unless that is simply doing  the ultra-royalist work.

But what of the government? They are equally hopeless. And those who voted for them are left hopeless. It matters little that the issue is NASA. Rather, the Yingluck Shinawatra government’s continuing demonstration of spinelessness in the face of ultra-royalist threats is simply pathetic.

Yingluck, Yongyuth and the boss

We have to agree with Education Minister Suchart Tadathamrongvej when he states that this government is finished by the end of the year. The riposte to him from Puea Thai boss Yongyuth Wichaidit that the government will last its full term confirms that, six months or three more years, the  government has had it. Whether it is the Constitutional Court dissolving the party, which we expect, or a full term, the government is finished.

PPT takes this view because the only way the Yingluck government can stay as at the whim of the ultra-royalists, military and palace. Doing their work for them means that the election of July 2011 was pretty much a waste of time. We don’t think those who voted for Puea Thai voted for a bunch of toadies who do the work of royalists. What good is staying in office if the party simply betrays its supporters again and again?

Update: PPT refrained from commenting on People’s Alliance for Democracy madness on the Utapao-NASA issue. Bangkok Pundit has a post on it, although we wonder if mad conspiracies deserves serious attention.

Puea Thai failing red shirts I

28 04 2012

This post could have been titled “Puea Thai failing red shirts on justice III,” yet as the focus is moved away from justice and is more on the failure of the Puea Thai government, we have chosen a slightly reduced headline.

A report at The Nation alludes to the remarkable capitulation of the Puea Thai Party to the interests of the royalist elite.

Prime Minister Yingluck Shinawatra said of her “non-political,” red shirt deserting visit to “pay homage” to the near-devaraja “elder statesman”:

We talked and exchanged views about the many projects under General Prem’s various foundations. There was no talk about politics. General Prem is not involved with politics….

This “talk” more or less guarantees that even more taxpayer money will go down a royalist rat hole.

Perhaps more significant was Deputy Premier Yutthasak Sasiprapha’s comment that “he thought Yingluck was likely to have discussed national reconciliation with Prem,” although he wasn’t privy to the personal talk the premier had with the privy councilor. He swore he didn’t even ask her afterwards. Because he didn’t ask, she didn’t tell, so he could not:

confirm speculation that Yingluck had apologised to Prem for her brother, ex-premier Thaksin Shinawatra, who earlier had identified the elder statesman as his arch-rival and had accused him of political interference.

He could confirm that “the government would seek Prem’s advice on problems in running the country.”And he added that the “prime minister respects him in a way a young person does a senior person.”

Yutthasak could also affirm that the almost supine Puea Thai government had:

offered to revive Prem’s Love Thailand sport project. Yingluck also offered government support to Prem’s projects in the deep South, including one that provides scholarships to local students.

This capitulation to a person who planned a coup, backed it, and worked vigorously to have red shirts defeated, jailed and incessantly supported the overturning of pre-Puea Thai governments and parties, represents a remarkable insult to all of those who supported Puea Thai because they considered it was the alternative to the royalist version of Thai-style democracy.

If it is possible, party spokesman Prompong Nopparit makes matters worse by treating red shirts as fools when he “dismisse[s] media reports that many red-shirt supporters of Pheu Thai were unhappy about Yingluck meeting Prem.” He knows this is a huge lie and stating it is adding injury to insult. One thing that red shirts have wanted is an end to lies and double standards and Prompong’s party has betrayed them.

At least deputy premier Yongyuth Wichaidit was more truthful when he said “that it was normal for some red shirts to be dissatisfied.”

Even opposition leader and inveterate dissembler Abhisit Vejjajiva got it right when he observed that Puea Thai’s sudden embrace of Prem meant “red-shirt supporters [of the party] were confused…”. PPT would add that Abhisit and his lot are probably just as confused, seeing “their” royalists dealing with Thaksin, Yingluck and Puea Thai.

It is interesting to note that red shirt leader Thida Tawornsate Tojirakarn was clear when she said the red shirts were still firm about “fighting against the ‘elitocracy’ to achieve a democracy in which the sovereignty really belongs to the people”. Her view is that:

her movement still adhered to its “two-leg strategy” – one leg being the Pheu Thai Party and the other the red-shirt group – with the two legs moving independently and not obstructing the other, in a bid to achieve the ultimate goal.

While Thida added that “a number of red shirts disagreed with government figures meeting Prem,” she might have also observed that one of the so-called legs was now withered and essentially useless.

At the Bangkok Post, there is more assessment of the “homage” paid to Prem, noting red shirt opposition and more. It begins with a comment by red shirt leader Chinawat Haboonpat who:

said that many of his cohorts had phoned him to complain about the Prem meeting. He said the red shirts were severely disappointed about the meeting because they had lost their jobs, their husbands and children during their past political battles and many of them remained in jail.

Political scientist Kasian Tejapira said “the visit represented a symbolic reconciliation among the two main rival groups in Thai politics of recent years, arguing that it was a:

culmination rather than the start of this process, which seemed to have begun late last year in the aftermath of the big flood. Each side has to yield somewhat and give up the non-essential parts of their interests….

If ditching and demobilizing red shirts is the “non-essential” part of Puea Thai’s interests, then the party is probably doomed to be just another elite party.

Kasian thinks that the “deal” bringing Thaksin Shinawatra/Puea Thai and the royalist elite back together is “a raw deal” for red shirts but that it is the “only feasible political deal at the moment, given the present balance of political forces…”. He argues that real justice will be achieved if the red shirts break from “the current Thaksin-directed Pheu Thai Party…”. That break, he says, will take time.

Another political scientist, Puangthong Rungswasdisab declared that “Yingluck was compelled to walk the reconciliation path with Gen Prem because of Thaksin’s need to return home.” She a split between Puea Thai and its “large support base especially from the red shirts.” She declared that:

since the red shirts have become politically aware, it will not be easy for a few individuals in leadership positions to strike a deal and impose peace on the people…. “The red shirts are no pawns. They exist in large numbers. They could topple a leader if they unite. People in leadership positions must consider this factor.”

Tellingly, it was the royalist Gothom Arya who “hailed the meeting between Gen Prem and Ms Yingluck and said the meeting could be seen as a political symbol of some kind.”

Of course, there are plenty of other rumors about what’s happening: the palace is split, Prem feels that he can still control succession even with Thaksin “reconciled,” it’s all about Thaksin’s return, it’s the deal that was made early in 2011, and so on.

In our next post, PPT turns to the meaning of the betrayal perpetrated by Thaksin and Puea Thai.


Prem and Puea Thai

10 02 2012

In The Nation, Deputy Prime Minister Yongyuth Wichaidit of the Puea Thai Party proudly stated that:

General Prem

those questioning the government’s motive for the party should know that he too was a subordinate of [Privy Council President, General] Prem [Tinsulanonda], saying their ties dated back to 1994….

He said it was a misconception to portray the Abhisit Vejjajiva administration as being close to Prem and the present government as being distant.

He also stated that he did not want to talk about the past when the red shirts rallied in front of Prem’s residence.

Being subordinate is an interesting way of putting it, but what exactly is closeness to Prem measuring? Perhaps it is subordination.

In a Wikileaks cable, before the 2006 coup, Prem was reported as complaining that: “over Thaksin [Shinawatra]’s first five years as prime minister, he had not met much with Prem; Thaksin thought he knew everything already.”

Prem seems to have thought that he was the fount of considerable wisdom on government and politics, a bit like the monarch. Maybe Thaksin and the Puea Thai Party really have learned how to roll over and play dead.

Updated: Spineless politicians meet a stooge

6 01 2012

Pardon our cynical rudeness in this post but PPT is flabbergasted by the notion that former 2006 coup leader and junta boss  Sonthi Boonyaratglin is chair of a parliamentary “reconciliation committee.” The former Army boss now heads up the barely noticeable Matuphum Party and somehow managed to get this peculiar post.

According to the Bangkok Post, the politically compromised general got leaders and representatives “of all nine political parties in the parliament” to a lunchtime meeting “to discuss ways to bring about national reconciliation…”. The meeting apparently agreed to constitution change so long as it doesn’t benefit Thaksin Shinawatra.

Sonthi stated that “all agreed that the lese majeste law should not be amended.” He said: “All party leaders are in agreement that the government should put any plan to amend the Criminal Code’s Section 112[the lese majeste law] on hold…”. Why? Apparently showing less backbone than a jellyfish, these party bosses worry that amending the draconian law is “a sensitive issue.” It seems Puea Thai Party leader  Yongyuth Wichaidit promised “no changes … to the law.”

Politicians meeting to consider not amending the lese majeste law. Sonthi is not the brightest one

On amending the constitution these brave lads agreed that “the changes must not touch on sensitive or ambiguous issues…”. We are wondering if these lads have the brains of jellyfish as well.

Perhaps not, and we are being just too judgmental. After all, Sonthi is a stooge. He showed that in the manner he was led into the coup and he continues to act in the interests of his bosses. This is seen in his claim that reconciliation talks “would not involve Privy Council president Prem Tinsulanonda or the judicial sector, since they were not the main parties in conflict.” That logical contortion is unlikely to be convincing for many.

Unsurprisingly, Army boss General Prayuth Chan-ocha welcomed the meeting. It was a meeting that advances the political cause of reactionaries who have never stopped fighting despite electoral defeat. That Puea Thai joins it shows how little the party understands its constituency.

Update: At the Bangkok Post it is reported that DSI-eel-in-chief Tharit has responded. As might be expected, Tharit “has rejected an accusation that the agency is serving the government’s interests and vowed to carry out any inquiries in an honest and straightforward manner.” That would be a first! PPT can’t wait to see that. That the DSI is even investigating is, for us, bizarre.

Usefully, Tharit adds a denial and affirmation. He: “denied the DSI was involved in making the graphic, insisting it had received it from other security agencies, mainly the military. It must have taken all of military intelligence’s collective imagination to concoct this “map.”

Baby steps and backward steps

21 09 2011

While there has been some good news on the new government, especially in recent days, there are also some odd reverses being reported.

Good news has come with, for example, Yingluck Shinawatra’s statement that lese majeste is to be addressed. Bad news is seen in a report from Prachatai where it is revealed that Minister of Interior Yongyuth Wichaidit has had the not too bright idea that the previous government wasn’t all that good at protecting the monarchy.

PPT might agree if Yongyuth meant that the emphasis on lese majeste and the monarchy’s willing political entanglements had done little more than reveal the true nature of the monarchy and its associated regime.

Yongyuth, however, states that the monarchy is “above” policy and “to protect the institution was the soul and spirit inherent in the blood of all Thai people.” That’s royalist nonsense and ahistorical drivel. But then this bombshell:

The government has the idea to revive village scouts in concrete form for the sake of the reconciliation of Thais to encourage them to love the country and religion, and to be an important force in the future.  No budget will be allocated for this, but [the government] will promote the idea of sacrificing for the country.  And the main task is to fight the drugs problem….

PPT recognises that there is some mixing of policies going on here, but the sentiment associated with “reviving” the village scouts is truly retrograde. Of course, the scouts were never gone. They may have aged, been turned into cyber-scouts seeking out lese majeste, and so on, but they remained close to the Border Patrol Police and cherished their links to the monarchy (see the scan of the first page of an old academic article (left). Here is how they were described in the official U.S. history of the period:

Political tensions between leftist and rightist forces reached a bloody climax in October 1976. On October 5, right-wing newspapers in the capital published a photograph of student demonstrators at Thammasat University reenacting the strangling and hanging of two student protestors by police the previous month. The photograph, which was later found to have been altered, showed one of the students as being made up to resemble the king’s son, Crown Prince Vajiralongkorn. The right wing perceived the demonstration as a damning act of lèse-majeste. That evening police surrounded the campus of Thammasat University, where 2,000 students were holding a sit-in. Fighting between students and police (including contingents of the paramilitary Border Patrol Police) broke out. The following day, groups of Nawa Phon, Red Gaurs, and Village Scouts “shock troops” surged onto the campus and launched a bloody assault in which hundreds of students were killed and wounded and more than 1,000 arrested. That evening the military seized power, established the National Administrative Reform Council (NARC), and ended that phase of Thailand’s intermittent experimentation with democracy.

The idea of re-engaging the right-wing village scouts belongs to the right-wing of the 1970s and the Jurassic royalist elite of today, not to any serious government.

A second story that reminds PPT of old days and bygone ideas is the Bangkok Post report that the self-proclaimed killer General Panlop Pinmanee is an adviser to Prime Minister Yingluck and wants his old job back at the International Security Operations Command (ISOC).

It isn’t that often that we agree with both the Post’s yellow-hued opinion page scribes and with the bitter Suthep Thaugsuban on anything. However, we agree that the ever-ambitious Panlop is simply someone who should be bypassed. In fact, he is another general who should be tried for his abuses over many years.

Panlop was once accused of involvement in an assassination attempt on Thaksin. Panlop denied this in a curious way:

Thaksin sacked Pallop, a retired Army general, after a car belonging to an Isoc officer was found packed with a significant amount of explosives and parked near the prime minister’s residence on the route normally taken by his motorcade.

The officer, Army Lieutenant Thawatchai Klinchana, was later arrested and charged with possessing explosive materials, including TNT, without a permit.

“You know me. If I was behind it, I would not have missed,” Pallop, visibly shaken, said. “I wouldn’t have sent Thawatchai to drive around Thaksin’s residence. I would have set it off without any warning.”

The officer involved was Panlop’s driver. Panlop explained he was an experienced leader of “death squads,” so he would not have pussy-footed around in killing the premier.By 2008, Panlop was a yellow shirt (see picture right).

Oddly, Panlop later went over to Thaksin’s side and was a divisive but dangerous figure, apparently accepted because he was prepared to spill the beans on royalist coup plotters.

Prior to this, Panlop was already notorious for his murderous actions at the Krue Se mosque. This is Wikipedia’s account:

It was revealed that Pallop’s order to storm the mosque contravened a direct order by Defense Minister Chavalit Yongchaiyudh to seek a peaceful resolution to the stand-off no matter how long it took. Pallop was immediately ordered out of the area, and later tendered his resignation as commander of the Southern Peace Enhancement Center. The forward command of the Internal Security Operations Command (ISOC), which Pallop headed, was also dissolved. A government investigative commission found that the security forces had over-reacted. The Asian Centre for Human Rights questioned the independence and impartiality of the investigative commission. In 3 May 2004 during a Senate hearing, Senator Kraisak Choonhavan, noted that most of those killed at Krue Se Mosque were shot in the head and there were signs that rope had been tied around their wrists.

Why anyone would even think of dealing with Panlop is remarkable statement of extreme pragmatism. But Panlop says “he was ready to work there [ISOC] once he was ordered to do so.” Let’s hope the order never comes and this ambitious old man is sent packing or down with the navy’s submarines.

These are worrying and contradictory times.

Updated: Reconciliation is about the monarchy

9 09 2010

There have been several reports lately of machinations in and around the Puea Thai Party, a possible new party and Thaksin Shinawatra wanting reconciliation and trying to push the Puea Thai Party to a “reconciliation” that distances the party from the red shirt movement. Prime Minister Abhisit Vejjajiva has been pushing this line on the PTP. Two reports in The Nation suggest that there might be some kind of deal being done, something PPT first alluded to about 4 days ago.

The first story has PTP leader Yongyuth Wichaidit resigning the leadership saying “he wanted to pave way for party restructuring to gear for the next general election.” The Nation, as is its wont, immediately jumped to speculation about Thaksin, saying he “had applied a direct pressure on him to step down to make way for former national police chief General Kowit Wattana to get the job.” Kowit is close to Thaksin, but the important point seems to be this: “Kowit ... is well connected to leading figures linked to the monarchy and the establishment while Yongyuth is advocating the red-shirt movement.”

The second story has Abhisit commenting on a new PTP leader. What traits did he want to see? A leader who “would strive to safeguard the monarchy…”.

It seems clear that the desire to safeguard the monarchy from perceived or real threats remains the number one consideration for the Abhisit regime and its backers. Nothing matters more than this. The national interest is the monarchy for this royalist elite. And it seems possible that, while some of the Thaksin haters may choke on their johk, this paramount interest might just extend to a deal with “the evil one.” There would be a lot of red-faced red shirts if this comes off, but all Thai political leaders are skilled practitioners of the underhanded deal. Let’s see….

Update: Newin Chidchob, said to be the target of yet another of Thailand’s many rumored assassination plots, weighs in on this: “Asked about speculation that Pol Gen Kowit Wattana would become the new leader of the Puea Thai Party, Mr Newin said it would be good for Puea Thai if this was true.  The former police chief is a good man and there is no doubt about his loyalty to the monarchy.”

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