The 2014 Thai Coup
Back on 22 May
2014 the Thai army removed the elected government from office (again!); the army
declared a curfew and started a crackdown on any and all objections to their
seizure of power.
Here is a
record of events leading up to the coup; together with events in the months
Above all else
this is not a repeat of the 2006 coup which after a short period of calm
allowed the PTP (in Thaksin's name) to return to elected office.
The army says that
it will restore democracy to Thailand; but the “democracy” Thais inherit
the junta eventually steps down is going to bear little resemblance to the political
system in Thailand of the past fifteen years–or to internationally
accepted norms of what constitutes democracy.
The likely 2015 constitution, for which there may be no referendun, will be
written to ensure that no red shirt, Thaksin-backed or
provincially-supported numerical majority will again prevail over Thailand's
historically established power centres.
There are two
collections of pictures that are linked to this story.
Pictures of Bangkok under military government.
Pictures from the Thai coup leaders' happiness campaigns.
I was in Thailand
from 14 May to 23 June 2014. Below are a collection of notes, reports,
twitter comments and links to news reports and online commentaries as events
unfolded over the last year since the most recent coup.
(most recent at the top)
Democratic Contraction in South East Asia New Mandala
Thailand and the Specter of ‘International Standards’ The Diplomat
Military expands powers with Bangkok black site Bangkok Post
Thailand beach murders: A
flawed and muddled investigation BBC (@pakhead)
Tao Murders: Court Says DNA Trumps Other Flaws in Case Khaosod English
Proustian questions for
our leaders Bangkok Post
The World That the Junta is 99% Popular Khaosod English
Media told not to revive doubtful issues regarding the murder of British
backpackers in Koh Tao Thai PBS
Reform Committee Considers a Crackdown on Online Media Using Article 44
Prayuth Releases Another Patriotic Ballad Khaosod English
Myanmar pair face verdict over British murders on Koh Tao Malay Online
Dog v dog: Theatrics of the Thai interregnum New Mandala
Thailand's netizens are living in a climate of fear TelecomAsia
A long list of unimpressive achievements Bangkok Post
Who are you calling a bitch? The Economist
Police summon 11 activists for violating political gathering ban
We Talk? Khaosod English
Freedom of speech reaches 'new low' in junta-ruled Thailand Reuters
Democracy delayed, democracy denied in Thailand East Asia Forum
Rajabhakti Park: The corruption case the Thai junta doesn’t want you to
talk about Asian Correspondent
This absurd dog story augurs ill for Thailand’s future The Guardian
Facebooker Charged For Defaming Royal Dog 'Tong Daeng' Khaosod English
Outsider view of Thai politics Benedict Anderson died in December
2015. Prachatai reprints a speech in gave in Chiang Mai in 2011. Well
worth a read.
Thailand: Junta Critic Feared ‘Disappeared’ HRW
“Liking” the wrong picture on Facebook can get you 32 years of prison in
exposes corruption claims and murky politics BBC
Will Thailand's Military Be Held Accountable for the Country's Economic
Woes? The Diplomat
Hundreds more face arrest over Facebook posts on scandal The Nation
Junta to charge hundreds more with lese majeste for pressing ‘like’ on FB
Junta presses lèse majesté, sedition charges over man liking Facebook
Revealed: Thailand's most senior human trafficking investigator to seek
political asylum in Australia The Guardian
Thai junta hits out at British ambassador for ‘supporting law-breakers’
over student detentions The Telegraph
Police Probe US Ambassador for Defaming Monarchy Khaosod English
What's Going on Inside Junta's 'Black Site?' Khaosod English
The Thai Monarchy and Its Money New York Times
Yingluck barred from talking politics at EU parliament Prachatai
Abused too easily and often, lese majeste law is indefensible The
Ultra-Royalists Nationwide Demand Investigation of US Ambassador
Ultra Royalists Call for Removal of U.S. Ambassador Khaosod English
Thailand knew deported Chinese were refugees awaiting resettlement in
Canada: U.N. document Reuters
Thai Economy and Spirits Are Sagging New York Times
More Warrants Issued For ‘Royal Impostors’ Network Khaosod English
Blind love of nation is the blindest of all Bangkok Post
Nestle Admits to Slavery in Thai-Sourced Seafood Khaosod English
Still better then Thaksin? New Mandala
PM accuses red shirts of unrest plot Bangkok Post
What happens when the King's gone?
Police Allege Radical Redshirt Cell Behind Foiled Terror, Assassination
Plot Khaosod English
Assassination Plot Foiled, Police Say; Conspirators Arrested Khaosod
Purge Continues as Cops, Army Chief Aide Charged Khaosod English
Embattled lecturers charged with junta’s gathering ban deny charges
Prayuth’s Brother Appointed to Lead Review of Rajabhakti Park Graft
Thailand Deports 2 Dissidents to China, Rights Groups Say New York
US Voices Frustration Over Democracy Progress in Thailand Associated
Thai Junta's persecution of the media Reporters without borders
Kingsguard Named ‘Royal Impostor,’ Stripped of Decorations Khaosod
Detained Famous Thai Fortuneteller Dies in Military Prison Associated
Thai junta coins new
history book to legitimise its rule Prachatai
Thailand: The Clock is Ticking International Policy Digest
Thailand’s Junta Leader Threatens to Stay on “Forever” CFR
Source: Disgraced CIB Chief’s Assets Found at Dead Lese Majeste Suspect’s
Home Khaosod English
Military Summons Prachatai Reporter Over Lese Majeste Infographic
‘New’ Rice Scheme Reveals Thailand Junta’s Dearth of Ideas The
In Thailand, come for the fun. Snap a selfie, though, and go to jail.
Military summons students commemorating 1973 student massacre
Dissent and dictatorship in Thailand New Mandala
Bangkok bomb: Has the case been solved? BBC
Troubling questions about Bangkok blast probe Straits Times
Novak Djokovic, Rafael Nadal mix tennis, politics on Thailand trip AP
A conversation with Chomsky New Mandala
How my attitude was 'adjusted' by the NCPO The Nation
Thai authorities to step up surveillance via ‘single internet gateway’
Prayuth Threatens to Silence Critics Amid Uptick in Detentions [Transcript]
Thai Draft Constitution Is Rejected by Junta-Backed Council New York
controversial draft constitution explained BBC
Special Report: Thai junta hits royal critics with record jail time
Opinion: Low stakes for Thai military junta in constitution draft vote
Exclusive: Who's Really Behind Thailand’s Erawan Shrine Bomb Blast?
Thailand’s Military Delivers Oppression Rather than Happiness Cato
Riding for the royals New Mandala
Peaceful yet violent: the Thai paradox that still baffles the West
Bangkok bombing: Was it the Grey Wolves of Turkey? Daily Telegraph
Thai TV uses fake suicide vest image for Bangkok bombing TRT (Turkey)
The Thai Government Is Whitewashing the Bangkok Bombing to Reassure
Tourists New Republic
Thailand Blames Troubled Bombing Inquiry on Lack of ‘Modern Equipment’
Backdrop of Bangkok bombing: A country sliding into dictatorship LA
Thailand's new draft charter drawing fire Nikkei Asian Review
Thai junta turning tragedy to farce New Mandala
thrones The Economist
Bangkok Bombing: Governor Defends Rushed Reopening of Shrine Khaosod
Thailand’s slipping smile: Bangkok bomb blows hole in country’s image
Globe and Mail
Analysis: Transparency is essential in Bangkok bombings probe Asian
Contradictions mount as Thai authorities hunt Bangkok bombing suspect
Story of Sasiwimon: Mother of two given 28 years by military court
Despite Lack of Evidence, Thai Media Points Blame at Uighurs Khaosod
Bangkok bomb blast wrongfoots Thailand's junta Guardian
Thai Coup Alienates US Giving China New Opening Yale Global Online
UN 'appalled' by
Thailand's disproportionate lèse-majesté sentences Prachatai
Northern military court sends mother of two to 28 years in prison under
lese majeste Prachatai
Military court sets new record on lese majeste sentence; man gets 30 years
behind bars Prachatai
Man jailed for 30 years in Thailand for insulting the monarchy on Facebook
Chief Says Elections Could Be Delayed Khaosod English
Thailand's generals don't have an economic plan Bloomberg
Thai sex shops, street bars survive graft crackdown; some call it a junta
show Bloomberg/Japan Times
Thailand’s Junta Pushes Back Election Date Again The Diplomat
Political implications of Thailand’s royal succession New Mandala
Revealed: how the Thai fishing industry traffics, imprisons and enslaves
Junta Govt to Stay Until 2017: Official Khaosod English
A Thai House Divided New York Times
don't hold your breath Bangkok Post
Thailand on global trial Bangkok Post
Australian and Thai journalists on trial for human trafficking report
Thai Minister Asks French Diplomat to Extradite Lese Majeste Suspects
Asks Overseas Thais to Explain Coup to Foreigners Khaosod English
Junta says international organizations don’t understand the Thai political
context of the 14 activists' arrests
Thai monarchy on verge of dramatic change Japan Times
we're building democracy Bangkok Post
Thai authorities to add heavier penalties for online threats to national
Happy 48th Birthday Yingluck NickoBuongiorno blog
Country Reports on Human Rights Practices for 2014: Thailand US
Department of State
How the West Helped Thailand Became a Dictatorship Foreign Policy
Pro-Yingluck activists summoned for talks with military Bangkok Post
Prayuth Rebukes Reporters in Gloomy Rant
- Violations of cultural rights under Thailand’s lèse-majesté law FIDH
Thailand: UN committee slams abuse of lèse-majesté laws FIDH
Transcript: Prayuth Chan-ocha Al Jazeera
NCPO to ask
reporters not to upset PM Bangkok Post
Prayuth: Thai Lese Majeste Suspect Living in Exile 'Not a Thai'
Thai Junta bans criticism of law on criticism Asia Sentinel
Testimony from wife of
lèse majesté prisoner serving longest Article 112 sentence in history
Prayuth watches game of thrones and wants Thailand's faceless men
PM Prayut won't rush Thailand's transition to democracy Channel News
Fighting the junta from abroad: Struggle goes on for Thailand’s political
exiles Asian Correspondent
The Contrecoup in Thailand New York Times
Disgraced Palace Official Faces Death Penalty, Police Say Khaosod
A Kingdom in Crisis – What’s All the Fuss About? Journal of
Tells Reporters to Stop Asking Confrontational Questions Khaosod
Thailand’s Quiet Dictatorship International Policy Digest
Thailand haunted by the ghost of absolutism East Asia Forum
Military court in northern Thailand holds lèse majesté deposition hearing
in camera Prachatai
UN experts express 'grave
concern' over 21 lèse majesté cases Prachatai
The Thai Junta's doublespeak New Mandala
Specter of Instability Rising Again in Thailand The Diplomat
Yingluck Shinawatra in display of 'ordinary life' BBC
Infographic: Thai junta leader to cut short ‘boring’ Friday night rants
junta presses lese majeste charge against ex-PM, Thaksin Prachatai
Between Two Worlds: Thailand’s Coup One Year On Asia Foundation
Govt Revokes Thaksin's Passports, Citing 'Damaging' Interview Khaosod
revokes ex-PM Thaksin's passports on 'security' concerns
27 May 2015 AFP
Thailand's foreign ministry Wednesday said it had cancelled fugitive
former premier Thaksin Shinawatra's passports because he was deemed to
have "endangered national security" in a recent interview.
The billionaire telecoms tycoon-turned-prime minister, who was toppled by
a coup in 2006, sits at the heart of Thailand's bitter political divide
and now lives in self-exile to avoid jail on a corruption charge.
The foreign ministry said it was asked to take action against Thaksin
after police deemed that "part of his interview endangered national
security or national reputation".
It was not immediately clear which interview was being referred to or why
it was deemed to breach security rules, but last week Thaksin made rare
public comments in an overseas interview broadcast on CNN and at the Asian
Leadership Conference in Seoul.
In its statement the foreign ministry said two passports belonging to
Thaksin had been cancelled with effect from May 26.
Since going into self-imposed exile, he has travelled frequently and has
been based in Dubai.
"The Foreign Ministry decided that reasons cited (by security agencies and
police) were enough to cancel his passport under the ministry's
regulations," the statement said.
It was not immediately possible to confirm the impact the move would have
on Thaksin's ability to travel but he is also believed to hold passports
from other countries.
Last May Thailand's generals ousted the government of Thaksin's younger
sister Yingluck in a coup shortly after she was removed as premier by a
controversial court ruling.
Parties led by or aligned to the Shinawatras have won every election since
2001, and they are loved in the nation's rural north for their populist
But opponents comprising large swathes of the military, judiciary and
royalist elite in Bangkok and the southern portion of the country accuse
them of cronyism, corruption and financially ruinous politics.
In a CNN interview broadcast last week as Thailand marked a year since the
military takeover Thaksin said he would wait for the right moment to
re-enter Thai politics.
Thaksin: 2014 Coup Makers Helped by Traditional Elites Khaosod English
Prayuth on Anti-Monarchy Plot, the 'Two Types of Thai People,' and Student
Activists Khaosod English
One Year After the Coup, Thailand Languishes in Darkness Robert
Thailand’s Banned “King” The New York Times
Thailand: Unprecedented number of lèse-majesté detentions call for urgent
reform of Article 112 Interntaional Federation of Human Rights
Thailand’s Section 44 Could Be Worse Than Martial Law Global Voices
Thailand's media under pressure Al Jazeera
Red shirt sacked from job
after bullying by ultra-royalists Prachatai
Thailand’s push for democracy falters as junta tightens up on civil
freedoms The National
It's not possible
to eradicate those with different views The Nation
Thailand’s Self-Absorbed Dictatorship The Diplomat
Red shirt TV issues statement against blackout order Prachatai
There Was No Crackdown in 2010, Says Abhisit Witness Khaosod English
Pol-la-muang: The making of superior Thais New Mandala
Thai bookseller given jail term for royal defamation Zee News India
Thai junta enjoys absolute power as opposition quietly bides its time
Prayuth Asks Media to Expose Redshirt Violence in 2010 Crackdown
False Promises in Thailand
10 April 2015
New York Times editorial
In a cynical sleight of hand, Thailand’s military junta lifted martial law
last week only to replace it with even more draconian powers for the
ruling military junta led by Gen. Prayuth Chan-ocha.
This is not what Thailand’s friends and allies, including the United
States, had in mind when they encouraged the junta to lift martial law
imposed after a military coup last May. No one should be fooled by this
move, designed more to provide a political fig-leaf for foreign investors
and for Thailand’s tourism industry, which is suffering because tourists
have trouble getting travel insurance for countries under martial law. It
has little to do with restoring democracy.
After seizing power last year, General Prayuth promised elections and a
return to civilian rule of law. Not only do those promises remain
unfulfilled, but General Prayuth, in place of martial law, has now granted
himself sweeping executive, legislative and judicial powers under Article
44 of Thailand’s interim Constitution.
Under Article 44, military personnel down to the rank of second lieutenant
may be appointed as “peace and order maintenance officers,” with the power
to search, arrest and detain people with no judicial oversight. Since the
May coup, more than 1,000 academics, activists, politicians and bloggers
have been detained or sent to Thai military installations for “attitude
General Prayuth also now claims “the power to close down the media, arrest
people, order for people to be shot.” He said recently with apparent
seriousness that he would “probably just execute” journalists who did not
toe the government’s line. The United States, the United Nations, the
European Union and human rights groups were quick to condemn the general’s
Back in January, Daniel Russel, the assistant secretary of state for East
Asian and Pacific affairs, delivered a message from President Obama
warning Thailand’s military junta it was “losing credibility in the eyes
of its international friends and partners by not moving more quickly to
end martial law.”
General Prayuth appears to have heard the part about martial law but
apparently did not choose to hear the rest of the message, which urged the
restoration of civil rights, the drafting of a new constitution with
democratic participation, and free elections.
Those are the main ingredients of any plausible strategy to heal the
political and regional divisions that have fomented political chaos and
now risk transforming Thailand, a major regional power, into a pariah
Thai princess celebrates birthday with amnesty of 38,000 prisoners The
The pen and the sword :
The junta’s plans for Thailand’s future grow
clearer, though no more welcome
2 April 2015 The Economist
Ten months after seizing power in a coup, Thailand’s junta chafes at still
having to defend its record. It will soon start handing out to passers-by
in busy parts of Bangkok the first of 10,000 glossy booklets recounting
the junta’s glorious achievements. It probably hopes the missive will help
to quell creeping discontent in the capital, and save Prayuth Chan-ocha,
the general serving as Thailand’s prime minister, from endless
questioning. He recently said he had been tempted to punch a journalist in
The army’s propagandists have plenty to scribble about. Unburdened of
democratic process, its rubber-stamp parliament, the National Legislative
Assembly (NLA), has been cranking out new laws—more than 60 since it was
set up in September. Among other things it has banned foreigners from
paying Thai women to be surrogate mothers. It is mulling economic reforms
to help online entrepreneurs (critics warn of more censorship and cyber
snooping). It is also legitimising aspects of martial law, including
tougher rules on protests and the right to detain civilians for nearly
three months without charge.
Just as busy are the bigwigs whom the junta has put in charge of writing a
new constitution. Many of the constitutional proposals, which will be
published in draft form in mid-April, aim to shrink the power of political
parties. They may include reducing the size of the national assembly’s
lower house and encouraging the growth of independent candidates. It all
seems designed to prevent any party gaining the dominance that was enjoyed
by Pheu Thai, a populist outfit abhorred by Bangkok’s coup-backers but
which easily won both the general elections it contested.
A new constitution may well allow for an unelected prime minister in times
of crisis—a similar rule kept the army in charge throughout the 1980s.
Thailand’s half-elected senate will probably be replaced by a
fully-appointed one with more powers—a “House of Citizens”, the idea’s
supporters call it. The constitution may also create high-level committees
to make sure that future governments continue social and economic
programmes which the junta is now launching.
Yet as the army tightens its grip on the political machinery it is finding
it harder to command obedience among ordinary Thais. Student protesters
are proving indefatigable. Prosecutors will soon decide whether or not to
charge four high-profile activists who staged a mock election. An uptick
in low-level violence is perhaps the biggest concern. Recently someone
threw a grenade at a Bangkok courthouse. In February two pipe bombs
exploded outside a shopping centre in the capital. And on March 22nd
police found a cache of explosives hidden in forests not far from where
the junta will soon hold a cabinet meeting.
Heavy-handedness could embolden dissent rather than suppress it. Two young
people sentenced to 2½ years in prison for their part in a satirical play
are among many feeling the stricter enforcement of Thailand’s lèse-majesté
law. On March 19th Yingluck Shinawatra, prime minister until last May,
learnt that she faces a trial for negligence in political office that
could see her jailed for a decade. Anti-corruption officials want the NLA
to consider banning more than 200 of her former MPs from holding political
The junta says that its new constitution will be finalised in September,
perhaps allowing for a general election to be held next February. But
before that it will have to decide whether the constitution should be put
to a referendum, as happened in 2007. The junta’s supporters seem to be
discouraging the idea, claiming that it would delay the return to
As for politicians from Thailand’s two main political parties, both turfed
out of parliament by the coup, they are starting to look unusually united
in their opposition to the junta’s plans. This month Abhisit Vejjajiva,
leader of the pro-establishment Democrat Party and a former prime
minister, called the constitutional proposals “a step back for democracy”.
Members of Pheu Thai warn that the new constitution could cause fresh
conflict. The generals had always promised that their takeover would help
Thailand’s feuding politicians find common ground. It has happened in ways
they did not intend.
Four media organizations voice concern over press curb order Thai PBS
UN Human Rights Chief alarmed by Thai Government’s adoption of potentially
unlimited and “draconian” powers UNHCR
Thailand 'still in the same boat' after martial law lifted The
Thai PM Prayuth Chan-ocha moves to 'consolidate military power' DW.de
Thailand PM 'to
replace martial law' with new restrictions BBC
Beware of those who
see the need for Article 44 The Nation
Thai leader moves to lift martial law, impose absolute power The Japan
Times - via AP
In Thailand, a mercurial junta ruler known for his words Associated
Thailand’s social media battleground New Mandala
Police detain, aim to jail prominent democracy activist Prachatai
Thai PM Prayuth warns media, says has power to execute reporters
Leader of Thai junta threatens to 'execute' journalists who 'do not tell
the truth' Khaosod English
Rights Officials Barred From Visiting Alleged Torture Victims in Prison
Ex-princess's brothers jailed 5.5 years Bangkok Post
Thai man jailed for 18 months for insulting monarch Asian
Terror Suspect Charged With Insulting the Monarchy Khaosod English
Thai Court Says Ex-Premier Yingluck Will Be Tried Over Rice Bloomberg
Old Man Thailand Feels Pain of Economic Arthritis Bloomberg
It's scary when the abnormal becomes normal The Nation
Nattatida accused of bomb plots Bangkok Post
Missing 2010 Crackdown Witness Emerges from Army Custody Khaosod
Witness of Redshirt Crackdown Deaths 'Abducted by Military' Khaosod
Thailand's mass impeachment action 'aimed at destroying Shinawatras'
political network' Deutsche Welle
Thai panel urges impeachment of 250 The Boston Globe
Police Detain Activist on Anti-Coup Walk Khaosod English
Big Brother’s watching me watching him Bangkok Post
Wreck/Conciliation? The Politics of Truth Commissions in Thailand
Journal of East Asian Studies
Anti-coup group creates situation: junta spokesman Prachatai
Political heavyweights debate Thailand’s future… under heavy scrutiny
Anti-junta activists urge court of justice to defy military rules
Thai Coup Alienates US Giving China New Opening Yale Global
Parents of former Thai princess jailed for 2-1/2 years Reuters
Fed Up With Media Coverage, Prayuth Launches PR Gazette Khaosod
King visits royal project at Dusit Palace - and yes this is the 21st
Must Do More Than Report Facts, Says Prayuth Khaosod English
For sale: What Rolexes, Dom Perignon reveal about Thai police corruption
Rolexes, Buddha statues: A unique auction in Thailand opens window to
police corruption Associated Press
Law unto itself: Thai junta fuels doubt by churning out legislation
Thailand’s Big Step Backwards The Diplomat
A high price is necessary to prevent military takeovers The Nation
Channel 3 Investigated for Misidentifying Crown Prince’s Ex-Wife
Prayuth Threatens to Summon TV Hosts 'For Discussion' Khaosod English
Thai graft regulator expands its influence FT (registration required)
PEN International condemns 'Wolf Bride' verdict Prachatai
Thammasat university fires lese majeste critic Somsak Jeam Prachatai
Old man indicted for lèse
majesté for asking questions about constitutional monarchy Prachatai
Junta-appointed lawmakers pass controversial Military Court bill
Thailand’s generals have failed: it is time that democracy, in spite of
its problems, is restored The Guardian editorial
Democracy, Thai-Style Boston Review
Liberty Dies As Thailand's Military Monopolizes Power: Junta Dispenses
Repression Instead Of Happiness Forbes
In latest outburst, Thailand's Prayuth reminds reporters of his powers
The U.S. Needs to Get Tough on Thailand The Diplomat
Deconstructing Panitan Watanayagorn: Can Thailand be Isolated from the
Thai junta lays groundwork for its own guided democracy Asian
Prachatai has an infographic listing (12 February 2015) some of the
ordinary activities the authorities have suppressed over the past nine
months. People who've “committed” these acts have been arrested for
“undermining Thailand's national security.” It is a remarkable list and
indicates just how insecure the military government is:
1.Holding a blank A4 paper or A4 paper with anti-coup messages
2.Covering one’s face, eyes, and mouth
3.Helping arrested protesters
4.Holding “Peace Please” T-shirt
5.Imitating the Hunger Games three-fingered salute
6.Gathering at McDonald’s
7.Reading George Orwell’s 1984 novel
8.Eating sandwiches in public
9.Playing the French national anthem
10.Wearing a Red Shirt while selling crispy fried squid
11.Issuing a statement denouncing the coup
12.Wearing “people” mask
13.Wearing “respect my vote” t-shirt
14.Approaching or being approached by journalists
15.Running for democracy
16.Holding placards that read “holding placards is not a crime”
17.Posting a photo with anti-junta and “No Martial Law” messages on
18.Holding academic seminars on the political situation
19.Gathering people to watch the premiere
of Hunger Games 3
20.Distributing leaflets featuring a poem about democracy
21.Giving three-fingered salutes to Prayuth, the leader of the junta
22.Selling fruit products with (former Prime Minister) Thaksin
Shinawatra’s square face logo
Army Chief Threatens Legal Action Over Torture Allegation Khaosod
Parents of Thai ex-princess arrested for lese majeste BBC
Thailand’s Dictators in Denial Wall Street Journal
Different Battle Bloomberg
Junta to Diplomats: Lese Majeste is 'Cultural Offense'
Tariq Ali in conversation with journalist and author, Andrew MacGregor
From Telesur - via YouTube
Press briefing notes on Libya, Malaysia, Thailand and Venezuela - UN
Commissioner on Human Rights
Thai junta’s new censorship bill the first to define right/wrong sexual
NACC To Prosecute Former PM For Yellowshirt Crackdown Khaosod English
Former Pheu Thai MP Held Incommunicado by Army for 3 Days Khaosod
Lese Majeste Charges Filed Against Parents of Former Princess Khaosod
Sister of Former Princess Jailed for Insulting Monarchy Khaosod
A case of double standards, both Thai and American The Nation
The right wing doth protest too much, methinks Prachatai
Police arrest 6
suspects in the alleged online lese majeste network Prachatai
In red heartlands, Thai army keeps a lid on dissent Reuters
Yingluck Impeachment Not Unexpected – Thai Democracy 2.0 ßeta Under
Development Establishment Post
Editorial: Grow Up Thai Junta, and Learn About Democracy Khaosod
Thailand: Human Rights in Free Fall Human Rights Watch 2015 annual
Whatever the generals think, smashing
Yingluck Shinawatra and her brother is no cure for Thailand’s ills
Jan 31st 2015
For 15 years Thaksin Shinawatra has dominated Thai politics—and for most
of that time the country’s generals and their supporters around the ailing
king have tried to destroy him. The populist billionaire fled into exile
two years after a coup deposed him in 2006, but his sister, Yingluck,
still won an election in 2011 and ruled as his proxy, with Mr Thaksin
pulling the strings from Dubai. But she was ousted last May in a
constitutional wrangle—and soon afterwards the army took over. Now rampant
abuses stemming from a rice subsidy programme that was overseen by her
government, have led to a sham impeachment of her. Criminal charges will
This time, finally, the generals and courtiers may have cornered the
Shinawatras (see article). Ms Yingluck is in effect a hostage in
negotiations with Mr Thaksin, whose position has weakened. He has lost the
backing of Thailand’s crown prince, while a purge in the police force has
weakened a key bastion of his support. Mr Thaksin may now sacrifice his
political ambitions to safeguard his family and fortune. Some Thais will
cheer, longing for calm after years of political stand-offs and street
protests that often spilled into violence. But the junta’s determination
to abolish democratic politics spells trouble, probably the bloody kind,
in the future. It should think again.
There was much to fault in the way Mr Thaksin ran his country, both before
and after he fled abroad to avoid a jail sentence for abuse of power. With
support from a poor, rural heartland in the north and north-east, neither
he nor his sister paid enough heed to the interests of Bangkok’s middle
classes or the southern provinces. In office Mr Thaksin favoured his own
considerable business interests and weakened public institutions. He was a
Berlusconi with less of the bunga-bunga. Appallingly, in 2003-04 he
ordered an extrajudicial assassination programme that killed thousands of
supposed drug dealers. His sister was less authoritarian but also less
And yet the Thaksinite governments were probably no more corrupt than
their predecessors were. Crucially, the Shinawatras did much to transform
the lives of some of the country’s worse off. They built country roads,
boosted education and provided health care for the poor. The old elites
resented this, not least because they liked to think of the king
traditionally atop an ordered hierarchy with deferential peasants at the
bottom grateful for royal charity. Without putting it in so many words, Mr
Thaksin implicitly challenged that dispensation, and a majority of Thais
approved. But soon after he or his loyalists were back in office, the
political stand-offs and the street violence would resume.
Last May the generals intervened to break the dismal cycle, claiming
impartiality. They spoke of reconciliation and tried to start
discussussions with Mr Thaksin. But recently they have changed their
minds, perhaps to please the establishment around the court of the old
king. Impeaching Yingluck is only part of it. The generals are drawing up
a constitution designed to keep populist parties like Mr Thaksin’s Pheu
Thai from power. They intend to rule for as long as it takes to restore a
supposed moral order.
This will do Thailand no good. The lesson of the past 15 years is that
ever more Thais want a say in their country. Banishing the Shinawatras
will not change that. The West should make clear to the generals that a
constitution that bans Thailand’s most successful party from power is a
step backwards. If they still go ahead, military ties should be broken.
The era of Thaksin may be ending; but the democracy that he so imperfectly
represented is Thailand’s only hope.
Thaksin times The Economist
delivers tin-eared masterclass
30 January 2015 The Financial Times
Thailand’s military junta is delivering an Asian masterclass in the kind
of tin-eared elitism that is galvanising support for new
anti-establishment parties across Europe. While tensions linked to the
country’s class system, political representation and the division of
economic spoils are simmering in the pot, the ruling generals seem to have
chosen to screw the lid still more firmly on.
The latest example: a press conference given by the prime minister and
leader of May’s coup, Gen Prayuth Chan-ocha, who had already been
irritated this week by disobliging remarks made about the junta by the top
US diplomat on Asia during a visit to Bangkok. Never a fan of the media,
the Thai premier’s frustration boiled over when a journalist at Thursday’s
event asked him a pointed question about the military’s deepening habit of
summoning critics for “attitude adjustment”.
“You will be summoned too, if you keep asking many questions like this,”
he said. [Translation from Thai by Khaosod English]
“You ask unconstructive questions. I want to ask you, is it a right thing
to do, challenging my full power? Even though I have such full power,
these people still challenge it like this.”
That was just the warm-up. He went on:
“I am [the head of] the government. I have full power. Is it the right
thing to challenge it like this? I have relaxed my power too much already
When another reporter accused the junta of tightening its clampdown on
dissent, Gen Prayuth bristled further:
“So what? So what? In the past, you said I was incompetent. Now that I am
intensifying, you are angry. What the hell do you want me to do?”
He then complained about the recent publication in the media of a picture
of him pointing his middle finger. “I am not mad on power,” he said.
“You don’t understand it. You keep picking on me. Yesterday, for instance.
How can you photograph me like that? I was pointing my finger. You
bastard. You chose to photograph me pointing my finger. This is what they
call a lowly mind.”
The rant captures well how the junta is firmly in control of Thailand yet
jittery about the tensions roiling beneath the country’s surface. It also
shows how the top brass are strangely hurt by suggestions that they might
not be acting in the best interests of Thais.
The generals and their backers seem genuinely to believe they are doing
what is self-evidently right for the country – and outbursts like Gen
Prayuth’s suggest they don’t have the imagination to understand, still
less accommodate, anyone who disagrees.
Soldiers with democratic hearts? New Mandala
PM vows intensified martial law MCOT
Thai Junta Renews Summons Orders to Quash Criticism Khaosod English
prominent anti-coup politician over FB and twitter post Prachatai
Thailand: New developments, same old problems Nouse.co.uk
Opinion: Thailand-US diplomatic spat a sign of cracks in junta’s
confidence Asian Correspondent
Thai Military Govt Summons US Diplomat After "Disappointing Speech"
Prayuth blasts US envoy’s remarks, calls himself ‘democratic soldier’
Institute of South East Asian Studies in Singapore:
"The prospect for Thailand’s democracy is dim. The conservative middle
class and its movements have helped usher the old powers, especially the
military, back on to the centre stage of Thai politics. The longer Thai
society remains deeply divided, the more expansive military’s power will
be. The new Constitution, the new electoral system, the judiciary and
the armed forces will help them retain their domination. Thailand will
evolve into a full authoritarian regime in disguise.
This is not one of the reasons the NCPO claimed for staging a putsch but
it is the great consequence that Thai society will have to live with."
Yingluck impeachment is an execution of Thai democracy The
the Institute of Security and International Studies - Daniel R.
Russel,Assistant Secretary, Bureau of East Asian and Pacific Affairs
Chulalongkorn University US Dept of State
Yingluck's impeachment is a sideshow for Thailand
Nikkei Asian Review
Thailand's Military Junta Impeaches and Bans Former Prime Minister
The Unquiet Agony of the Young Doves: Thailand After the Coup
Thai royalists threaten New Zealand to hand over lese majeste suspect
English Text of Yingluck's Post-Impeachment Statement Khaosod English
The impeachment of Yingluck Shinawatra: Worth the trouble for a
show-trial? Asian Correspondent
Thailand’s Culture of Impunity The Diplomat
Junta leader admits controversial digital economy bills target lese
Royal succession, military rule come together in Thailand Nikkei Asian
Did foreign diplomats really praise Thai junta reforms? (UPDATE) Asian
Yingluck in the dock The Economist
Public Affairs Office
Embassy of Canada
15th Floor, Abdulrahim Place
990 Rama IV Road
Bangrak, Bangkok 10500
15 January 2015
Earlier today the Thai state-owned broadcaster - Mass Communication
Organization of Thailand (MCOT) issued a press release that noted
Ambassador Calvert as both praising progress on the government’s reform
roadmap and stating that Thailand would “successfully introduce true
I can only assume that the Ambassador has been egregiously misquoted.
Thailand is under the rule of a military junta that seized power in May
2014 from a democratically elected government. The army-written and backed
constitution of 2007 was torn-up. A new constitution is being drafted
which will be far removed from the democratic principles of the people’s
constitution of 1997.
Despite being removed from power, and despite their being no constitution,
the former Prime Minister is facing an impeachment process to remove her
from a post which has already been forcibly removed from.
Since the junta seized power all dissent has been silenced through a
series of arrests and detentions. Public meetings are illegal. Dissenters
are tried in military and not civilian courts. There is no right of
appeal. Thai citizens who believe that the actions of the military are
wrong have been forced to flee the country.
Elections have already been postponed from 2015 to 2016. When and if
elections are held they will ensure that the only possible outcome is one
that the ruling junta is willing to support.
The fact that the Ambassador’s name and position are being quoted as
praising Thailand (and by implication it’s military government) would be
acceptable if he were the North Korean Ambassador. But he is not.
Ambassador Calvert represents a nation that enjoys basic freedoms, such as
freedom of thought, freedom of speech, freedom of religion and freedom of
peaceful assembly. Our elected governments, and our official
representatives, remain accountable to Canadians
The Ambassador should issue a denial of the words attributed to him and
require a formal apology from MCOT.
Robert A Scott
The press release follows:
Ambassadors praise Thailand for implementing national reform roadmap
The compliments came from the ambassadors of Russia, Australia,
Switzerland and Canada who met Deputy Prime Minister/Foreign Minister
Tanasak Patimapragorn today.
Russian ambassador to Thailand Kirill Barsky said he welcomed the emphasis
on reform and was pleased with results of the official visit to Thailand
of Russian Industry and Trade Minister Denis Manturov last Friday. He said
that it was agreed to celebrate the 120th anniversary of Thai-Russian
diplomatic relations beginning next year. The anniversary falls in 2017.
Paul Robilliard, Australian ambassador, said he followed Thai politics and
admired the Thai government for allowing all parties to have their say in
national reform. Thailand is at the center of Southeast Asia and his
country's most important trading partner.
Ambassador Robilliard said that on the 10th anniversary of the
Thailand-Australia Free Trade Agreement this year, both countries would
increase mutual trade and investment. He promised to bring Australian
businesses to explore trade and investment opportunities in Thailand.
Gen Tanasak quoted Swiss ambassador Christine Burgener as praising the
government for listening to all parties on national reform. She promised
that Switzerland was ready to share its experience in election
organisation and suppressing corruption with Thailand.
Canadian ambassador Philip Calvert said that Thailand had progressed in
its reform as planned in the government's reform roadmap, Gen Tanasak
Ambassador Calvert hoped Thailand would successfully introduce true
democracy. He also praised Thailand for its leading role in forming the
ASEAN Community and its coordination of relations between ASEAN and China.
He promised to boost bilateral cooperation in trade and investment. (MCOT
UNHCR closes FB page after being threatened by Thai royalists over lese
majeste suspect Prachatai
Impeaching Yingluck Shinawatra New Mandala
Hunting in the name: Thai junta’s fervor over lese majeste fugitives
abroad Asian Correspondent
Thai Junta Engineers a Thaksinless Constitution Asia Sentinel
Thai authorities to publish fable books for children to promote junta's
nationalistic Thai values Prachatai
Thai junta takes further steps towards online mass surveillance,
censorship Asian Correspondent
Editorial: Thai refugee right to push for democracy NZ Herald
Thailand sets up lese majeste panel Asia One
Thai junta gives green
light to bill on mass surveillance Prachatai
Thailand wants refugee returned New Zealand Herald
Thai junta warns against protests ahead of former prime minister's
impeachment ABC Australia
Lockdown and anxiety in Thailand Straits Times
Don't Oppose the Junta, Thaksin Instructs Redshirts: Source Khaosod
Land of wiles Focus Asean
Prayuth regime tightens the screws on critics of monarchy Straits
Thailand Blocks Overseas Opposition Voice Asia Sentinel
Thai King's Chief Adviser Praises 2014 Coup Khaosod English
updates (most recent at the top)
Thai authorities to seek Facebook’s help to crack down on lèse majesté
The ‘Thaksin Regime’ vs. the ‘Good People’ Asian Correspondent
Historian Summoned Over 'Elephant Battle' Lese Majeste Charge Khaosod
Thai Defence Minister Repeats Threat To Shut Down Media Khaosod
Pledges To Sniff Out Anti-Monarchy Chat Messages Khaosod English
Thailand's Military Junta Destroys Democracy, Enjoys Exercising Power:
Generals Postpone Elections Before Rigging Them Forbes
Thai Smuggling Ring Tied to Prince? Asia Sentinel
Thailand’s crown prince vying to become a modern Henry VIII
Thai monarchy facing the end of an era SCMP
The making of pseudo-democracy New Mandala
Junta Chairman Vows to Hunt Down Critics of Monarchy Khaosod English
Le crime de lèse-majesté confisque le débat public thaïlandais Le
Thailand's game of thrones Phnon Penh Post
Thailand’s Royal Succession Battle Comes Into (Slightly) More Open View
Delaying the day of reckoning
In Bangkok, Filmmaker Takes Break From Zombies for Patriotic Fare WSJ
Wear yellow this month campaign begins Thai PBS
prince causing the elites anxiety Japan Times
Ex-Pheu Thai MP Sentenced to 30 Months For Lese Majeste Khaosod
Lese majeste warrant for billionaire related to crackdown on high ranking
police network Prachatai
What's behind the downfall of Thailand's Princess Srirasmi? BBC
Thailand’s Bar Girl Princess is ‘Disappeared’ Asian Correspondent
Family of Thai Princess Is Stripped of Royal Name New York Times
prince strips wife's family of royal name BBC
Let Thais choose their own constitution Nikkei Asian Review
Reports of Thailand's Revival Are Greatly Exaggerated Bloomberg
6 ways to get into trouble with Thailand’s military leaders Toronto
Star (of all places!)
'defamed': Top policeman charged in probe BBC
Jonathan Head, BBC News, Bangkok (27 November 2014)
"What are we to make of the dramatic arrest of so many senior police
officers, of allegations of massive wealth and corruption, and charges of
insulting the monarchy?
The military government that seized power six months ago has promised to
rein in corruption, but until now had little to show for this.
But why the serious charge of lese majeste? And why did one suspect, the
key to this network we have been told, jump to his death from a tall
building after being arrested?
The police accuse the suspects of somehow using the monarchy in their
gambling and smuggling deals. But how could they do that? No ordinary
police officer would be able to pretend that they had a connection to the
royal family to advance their business interests.
As a journalist based in Thailand, the lese majeste law bars me from even
mentioning what every local journalist is quietly saying this is about.
This is an especially sensitive time, with King Bhumibol's health so
I know this will be infuriating for readers eager to understand some of
the hidden currents swirling in post-coup Thailand, a country whose future
is still clouded with uncertainty. But I am afraid that is a reality of
Any suggestion that this purge is somehow connected to the monarchy must
be left unexplored, unconfirmed, and undiscussed."
Thai Prince Said to Trigger Police Purge Asian Sentinel
The Military Vows to Rule Thailand Until 2016 and Ramps Up Political
Interview: Thai Democracy Is Gone and Won't Return Anytime Soon
after the coup here are a few reports on the current state of Thailand
Thai junta struggles to move forward Nikkei Asian Review
Thailand: Unending Repression 6 Months Post-Coup HRW
Can Thailand move beyond the Coup Foreign Policy
Why Thailand's Junta Is Afraid of The Hunger Games Bloomberg Business
PM orders intensive "civic education" for students Bangkok Post
Thai news website editor jailed for ‘defaming king’
ranking police arrested for lèse majesté
appears to have started a crackdown on senior police allied to Crown
Prince Vajiralongkorn. One of those facing charges is Srirasmi's uncle.
Another died in suspicious circumstances
A court on
Saturday approved an arrest warrant for two high ranking police officers
accused of defaming the King, asking for bribes, money laundering and
On the same warrant, three other police officers and three civilians were
named. Their charges relate to bribery, encroachment into protected areas,
and illegal possession of wild animals.
The arrest warrant was issued by the Royal Thai Police.
The two high ranking police officers charged with lèse majesté are Pol Lt
Gen Pongpat C., Commander of the Central Investigation Bureau, and Pol Maj
Gen Kowit R., Deputy Commander of the Central Investigation Bureau.
Now the thing to
note here is that Lt Gen Pongpat is the uncle of Srirasmi, the wife of the
(effectively a government news agency) reported today that more than one
billion baht in cash and many other valuables such as rare Buddha images
and land title deeds were found in the house of CBI commissioner Pol
Lt-Gen PongpatChayapong, according to informed police sources.
The sources said that police teams searched the houses of Pol Lt-Gen
Pongpat and seven other policemen and civilians arrested by the police and
seized large amount of cash and other valuables especially at the house of
the CIB commissioner.
Police are now investigating to determine how the commissioner had amassed
Pol Lt-Gen Pongpat, his deputy, Pol Maj-Gen KowitWongrungroj and four
other police officers were arrested on charges of malfeasance in office
and bribe taking among others. They have all been temporarily relieved
from police service pending investigation.
All the eight arrested suspects are currently separately held in eight
different detention cells. Pongpat is held at Taopoon police station
whereas his deputy is held at Paholyothin police station.
It was reported that a committee has been set up to consider disciplinary
actions against the CIB commissioner and five other officers.
According to ASTV-Manager Online who cited a high ranking officer as the
source, the five have been arrested. They were interrogated at an unknown
place and have pleaded guilty to all charges.
Khaosod noted that the five police were earlier removed from their posts
and were transferred to the Operations Centre of the Royal Thai Police,
along with the late Pol Col Akkharawut Limrat, who died under mysterious
circumstances on Thursday.
To add to the
mystery surrounding death of Col Akkharawut his body was cremated the day
after his death without a proper autopsy. Such a rapid funeral is very
unusual in Thailand.
This does appear
to be a purge of police officers that are close to the Crown Prince's wife.
What this means in the medium and longer terms remains to be seen.
A Kingdom in
Crisis: Thailand’s Struggle for Democracy in the Twenty-First Century’, by
Andrew MacGregor Marshall
Review by Paul Handley in The Financial Times
Sulak Sivaraksa has hovered for decades at the edges of Thai politics,
never a real threat to anyone as he advocated a socially activist
Buddhism, mainly to audiences of university students. Last month Sulak
nevertheless was accused for the fourth time of lèse-majesté, which can
bring 15 years in prison. His offence? To challenge the heroic battlefield
story of Naresuan, who ruled the kingdom of Ayutthaya at the turn of the
The Thai constitution holds it a crime to defame, insult or threaten the
king, queen, heir or regent. It says nothing about others in the royal
family, the monarchic institution or the current Chakri dynasty, much less
an earlier realm full of bellicose royals. But that is where Thailand is
now, as it endures the long twilight of the reign of Bhumibol Adulyadej.
Applied sparingly during most of Bhumibol’s 68 years as king, the law of
lèse-majesté has been invoked dozens of times over the past five years in
a desperate effort to shore up respect for the throne.
This is just one of the symptoms, Andrew McGregor Marshall writes in A
Kingdom in Crisis, of a country in existential panic over what happens
when Bhumibol, almost 87 and in poor health, passes away. The overthrow
and exile of popular prime minister Thaksin Shinawatra, the deadly street
battles of pro-throne yellow shirts and pro-Thaksin red shirts, and the
two military coups since 2006 are all manifestations of the same problem:
who controls the succession and who succeeds.
Like this writer, Marshall, a former Reuters journalist, has given up a
comfortable existence in Thailand, and any hope of returning, to tell the
story of how the succession crisis has paralysed a country once seen as
Asia’s democratic beacon. And it is a deep crisis: it is no secret that
Crown Prince Vajiralongkorn is disliked and feared. But there are no great
alternatives to his rule.
Readers of Marshall’s work will know him as a strident advocate against
the royal family. With little direct information on the thinking of the
king and palace elite, he mines the WikiLeaks files of US diplomatic
cables, which show that succession is on everyone’s mind. One document,
from early 2010, is especially devastating. Three top royal advisers, two
of them former prime ministers and one a foreign minister, freely
disparage the crown prince to the US ambassador. Yet what they also make
clear is they have no idea what to do about him.
Marshall suggests that generals of the current junta, as well as other
elements of the Thai elite, aim to sabotage the prince’s accession even at
risk of a civil war. Here he is on weak ground, however, offering no
evidence of a plot besides fear of Vajiralongkorn and a history of
succession intrigue in ancient Siam. It is possible that the crown prince
could be blocked but what then? For Marshall, popular revolution is
nigh-inevitable: “The people of twenty-first-century Thailand will not
allow democracy to be taken away without a fight.”
Never mind that the people are deeply divided themselves. Thailand’s
history is also replete with pragmatic, last-minute deals done to pull
back from the brink. Marshall at least owes it to readers to sketch out
other possibilities – that the prince’s sister Sirindhorn could take the
throne, or that it could skip a generation and fall to one of his
daughters or even a once-estranged son. Indeed, the prince, 62, does not
appear to exhibit a strong desire to don the crown.
But whether Marshall’s theory is right or not is secondary. The fact
remains that Thailand’s elite have violently wrested control of the state
from the elected government in order to manage succession, and yet have
not convinced anyone that they have a viable plan. That is frightening for
Thai people, red shirts and yellow shirts alike. And as Marshall makes
clear, this ominous void has in turn made Thai people increasingly
question the role of the monarchy itself – not exactly the outcome the
A Kingdom in Crisis: Thailand’s Struggle for Democracy in the
Twenty-First Century, by Andrew MacGregor Marshall, Zed Books, RRP£14.99/$24.95,
Paul Handley is author of ‘The King Never Smiles: A Biography of
Thailand’s Bhumibol Adulyadej’ (Yale)
Exclusive interview with
Khon Kaen student activist detained for 3-fingered salute Prachatai
28 weeks later in post-coup Thailand: Some personal thoughts Asian
Democracy and the rule of law must be restored to Thailand The
Prayuth: Don't Ask For Democracy - And Don't Ask For Election, Neither
Thailand martial law to stay 'indefinitely' BBC
General Prayuth Meets Katniss
Everdeen Human Rights Watch
Hunger Games Premiere cancelled ahead of abti-coup protest Khaosod
'12 Values' Film To Launch On 6 Dec
A film depicting Prime Minister Prayuth Chan-ocha’s moral teachings will
premier across Thailand this December, officials say.
Panadda Diskul, Permanent Secretary of the Office of Prime Minister,
announced yesterday that the film will be shown on all state-owned TV
channels and screened in 73 cinemas owned by Major Cineplex across the
country for free on 6 December.
The film, called "Thai Niyom (Thai Pride)," is also intended as a tribute
to the 87th birthday of His Majesty the King, which falls on 5 December, a
public holiday in Thailand, Panadda said.
The film is based on the "Twelve Values" that Thai junta leader and Prime
Minister Prayuth penned soon after leading the 22 May coup.
"This is our first effort to comply with Gen. Prayuth's policy that called
for a production of a film that promotes national identity," said Panadda
when he announced the start of the filming on 9 October.
According to Panadda, the film consists of twelve separate 10-minute
shorts, each of them dedicated to illustrating one of the values. The
short movies were directed by twelve different directors, Panadda said.
"The presentation of each film is different, but it's all based on the
principle of encouraging children and young people, and all Thais, to
uphold good morality," Panadda explained at the press conference
An example of the Twelve Values banners public schools are required to
hang in classrooms.
In July, Gen. Prayuth said in a public address that he wants every Thai to
adhere to the following principles:
1. Loyalty to the Nation, the Religion, and the Monarchy
2. Honesty, sacrifice, endurance, and noble ideology for the greater good
3. Gratitude for parents, guardians, and teachers
4. Diligence in acquiring knowledge, via school studies and other methods
5. Preserving the Thai customs and tradition
6. Morality and good will for others
7. Correct understanding of democracy with the King as Head of State
8. Discipline, respect for law, and obedience to the older citizens
9. Constant consciousness to practice good deeds all the time, as taught
by His Majesty the King
10. Practice of Self-Sufficient Economy in accordance with the teaching of
His Majesty the King
11. Physical and mental strength. Refusal to surrender to religious sins.
12. Uphold the interest of the nation over oneself.
In addition to the upcoming film, Ministry of Education has already
unveiled a poem and pop song based on the Twelve Values.
To ensure that all Thais will take the Twelve Values to heart, authorities
have also instructed public schools and state agencies to hang a banner
listing Gen. Prayuth’s teachings on their premises.
Gen. Prayuth, who is wielding a near-absolute power as Prime Minister and
junta leader, is frequently extolled as a champion of the Thai people by
A patriotic ballad Gen. Prayuth allegedly wrote "in one hour" has been
played nonstop on state-owned media for months. The General also gives
weekly televised lectures about morality to the public and has banned
protests or any display of dissent against his rule.
Thailand: Beautiful and Bitterly Divided
New Yorker magazine - Richard Bernstein -
November 20, 2014 Issue
This report was supported by the Pulitzer Center on Crisis Reporting.
Thailand has long had the image of a benign, stable country, which is a
chief reason it has long been seen, at least by Americans, as a great hope
for the future in Southeast Asia. It is relatively prosperous, growing not
quite as fast as nearby China but at impressive rates of up to 7 percent a
year. It is the world’s second-largest exporter of rice and the leading
exporter of computer hard drives. Its troubling Muslim insurgency in the
south is mainly restricted to a small part of the country. Thailand is
ethnically largely homogeneous, overwhelmingly Buddhist, and ruled by a
revered, exceedingly long-serving king. It is a beautiful country, with
verdant mountains, a gorgeous seacoast, and rich alluvial, if flood-prone,
plains. Millions of visitors have been drawn to Thailand for its
cosmopolitan atmosphere and its physical charm, not to mention its
reputation as a sex-tourism destination, for those who can pay for it.
But for the past eight years, Thailand has been in the grip of an
extraordinary political crisis, pitting two intransigent mass movements,
known as Red Shirts and Yellow Shirts, against one another, each ready to
take to the streets whenever it feels that the other has gained the upper
hand. More than one hundred people have been killed in political violence
as the crisis has unfolded and many more have been injured. Four elected
governments have been removed from power, two of them by military coups
d’état, the second of them on May 22 this year, when the army commander in
chief, General Prayuth Chan-ocha, took control of the country after
several months of disorder.
Between November last year and the time of the
coup, twenty-eight people were reported killed in political violence. The
two sides were reported to be arming themselves and preparing for battle.
Many people in Thailand feel that the coup was unjustified, that different
measures could have been taken to restore order, but many others welcomed
the army’s takeover, convinced that if Prayuth had not stepped in, the
country would have descended into civil war.
What is it about Thailand, America’s chief ally in Southeast Asia, that
has led to so fierce and intractable a struggle for power? The standard
explanation is that a new, politically aroused, and determined rural
majority—largely current or former rice farmers—has emerged, and it
threatens to take power from the entrenched establishment—what is called
the Bangkok elite. This elite has lost every election held in Thailand for
the last thirteen years. Beaten at the polls, it has kept itself in power
through police and military and judicial intervention. In one instance, a
prime minister opposed by the elite and its supporters was dismissed by
the Constitutional Court because his appearances on a television cooking
show violated the rule against working for private companies. The latest
elected leader to be ousted is Yingluck Shinawatra, youngest sister of
Thaksin Shinawatra, the populist billionaire who was elected in 2001 and
ousted in 2006, notwithstanding his support from the Red Shirts. Weeks
before the latest coup, Yingluck was removed from office by the courts,
which acted as thousands of Yellow Shirt protesters paralyzed the
day-to-day functioning of the government. They wanted to do away with
democratic elections altogether.
The central figure in the confrontation between new power and old is
Thaksin himself, a charismatic business tycoon whose election as prime
minister in 2001 marked the first stage of the Thai conflict. Thaksin was
a dynamic and even visionary figure. He revolutionized Thai politics,
creating a new majority among previously ignored and disenfranchised rural
people in the north and northeast. He had a chance to go down in Thai
history as the man who led his country into a new, more prosperous
democratic era. But Thaksin also had a very Thai tendency to use his
office for personal enrichment, and he was persuasively accused of
resorting to dictatorial methods, for example, appointing relatives and
cronies to key positions, thereby undermining the independence of
important regulatory agencies. This gave his rivals a good reason (or, in
the view of his many loyal supporters, a flimsy pretext) for resorting to
a kind of mob action to get rid of him.
A second feature of Thai politics is its apparently ineradicable tradition
of interference by the army, a powerful and often admired institution in
the country, which has a history of tense relations with some of its
neighbors. There have been literally dozens of coup attempts, at least
twelve of them successful, since 1932, when Thailand became a
constitutional monarchy. Other times, when the army has not taken control
directly, it has used its power behind the scenes to select a civilian
leader to rule in its place. It did that at least once during the current
crisis, in 2008, when it pressured some parliamentarians from one party to
defect to another, so that the army’s choice of a new prime minister could
take office without a popular election.
Finally, there is Thailand’s monarchy, with its king, Bhumibol Adulyadej,
who has been on the throne for nearly seventy years and is regarded as a
kind of bodhisattva, an embodiment of wisdom, a living saint. His
semidivine image is deemed by those seeking power to be of crucial,
legitimating importance, an essential ingredient of national unity. King
Bhumibol has always come across as modest, unpretentious, and under the
control of the super-elite group of counselors who surround him. He is
popular and respected—and protected from criticism or even any deep
questioning by the strictest lèse-majesté laws in existence in the world.
It is criminal to question his legitimacy. But he is reported to be in
poor health, nearing death, and the expectation of his demise has added to
the stakes in the Thai struggle.
Thaksin, who now lives in Dubai but exercises a powerful influence over
the Red Shirts, is a threat to the establishment, not merely because he
wins elections and is corrupt, but because he is the only nonroyal figure
in Thailand whose prestige rivals that of the king. It is likely to be far
greater than that of the king’s successor, his son Maha Vajiralongkorn,
with whom Thaksin is reputed to have cultivated close relations. Thaksin,
in other words, threatened to supplant the super-elite groups whose
privileged status derives from their closeness to the current king. This
explains why throughout the political crisis of the past eight years the
gravest accusation made against Thaksin, whether accurate or not, is that
he aimed to put the monarchy under his control. Conversely, the proudest
boast of the Yellow Shirts and of the establishment figures who supported
them is that they are defenders of the royal family, without whom, they
are convinced, Thailand would fall into disarray.1
The slogan of the new military junta that took power last spring from
Thaksin’s sister is “Returning Happiness to the People,” which, it says,
it will achieve in part by promoting reconciliation between the two
contending sides. General Prayuth, the commander in chief of the Royal
Thai Army at the time of the coup, and a career officer with a plainspoken
and confident manner, might try to appease the Red Shirts by continuing
some of the populist programs of rural investment that were invented by
Thaksin and by suppressing any flare-ups of protest.
But the Thai political divide may be too wide and bitter, with too much
accumulated enmity and too many incompatible interests at stake, for it to
go away because an army commander orders it to do so. The junta may
present itself as politically neutral and striving for reconciliation
between what are called “the colors,” but its seizure of power is
nonetheless and with good reason perceived to be a victory for the Yellow
Shirts. If it tries to crush the power of the Red Shirts, then the calm
that has prevailed in Thailand since the coup is very likely to give way
to another round of furious confrontation. “The coup may have reduced
chaos and violence…in the short term,” a study by a leading Washington
think tank said a few weeks after the military takeover, “but it will not
solve this crisis, nor Thailand’s core problems.”2
Thaksin is the scion of a wealthy Sino-Thai family from near the ancient
capital of Chiang Mai in the Thai north. He made his fortune in the 1990s
from a government-granted telecommunications monopoly. In 1998 he created
a new party, called Thai Rak Thai (Thais Love Thais), that permanently
transformed Thai politics.
Thaksin turned out to be an inventive and popular campaigner with new
ideas; in the elections in 2001, his party won more seats in parliament
than any party had ever won in a Thai election. He became prime minister,
and he immediately began to fulfill his campaign promises. His underlying
idea, inspired by the Peruvian economist Hernando de Soto, who came to
Thailand for a visit, was to increase the number and kinds of assets that
could be used in the countryside as collateral for low-interest loans.
“Capitalism needs capital, without which there is no capitalism,” Thaksin
said in a speech in 2003. “We need to push capital into the rural areas.”
He created a stimulus program that included microcredits to farmers, cash
infusions to Thai villages, low-interest education loans, and a new
national medical plan by which anybody could get treatment for a flat fee
of 30 Thai baht, about one American dollar.
His opponents accused him of overspending, but Thailand’s growth rate,
which was low following the 1997 Asian financial crisis, quickly went up
to about 7 percent. Thaksin’s program marked a shift in the amount of the
national budget that went to Bangkok, with more now going to the
provinces. The country’s debt-to-GDP ratio has over the years varied
between 40 and 50 percent, moderate for a developing economy.
Throughout the countryside, peasants felt that for the first time a
dynamic, forceful national leader had made the prosperity of the rural
areas his main priority. Thaksin fortified his position with a somewhat
heterodox Buddhist concept in a country where Buddhist concepts are part
of the political discussion. The dominant philosophical strain of
Buddhism, associated with the king, stressed what was called the
sufficiency economy: the notion that a certain economic simplicity, an
absence of greed, and an acceptance of modest circumstances were virtuous.
The desire for more was a manifestation of the illusion of the self.
In his speeches, Thaksin promoted a different strain of thought
represented by a contemporary figure named Buddhadasa Bhikkhu, who
emphasized the obligation to improve the world rather than store up merit
for the next. After the anti-Thaksin coup of 2006, a new constitution that
enshrined the sufficiency economy as a guiding principle was adopted in a
national referendum, but despite a propaganda campaign in its favor, polls
show that it was rejected by 62.8 percent of people of the northeast
The rural awakening that expresses itself now in Red Shirt activism was
not all due to Thaksin. He came along at a time when the Thai countryside
was already becoming more aware of the outside world, more sophisticated,
and more demanding. Over the years, tens of thousands of farmers or former
farmers have gone to work at the thirty industrial parks scattered across
the country where computer hard drives and other advanced products are
made. Many thousands of other villagers have gone to the cities, Bangkok
especially, where they work as motorcycle taxi drivers, domestic servants,
or in the country’s highly developed tourism and sex industries.
These rural immigrants are well aware of glamorous shopping malls that
remain outside their economic reach, and they keep close contacts with
their original villages, sending back money to parents and children they
have left behind, or going back to vote. The anthropologist William
Klausner, who has studied rural Thailand for sixty years, observed in one
of his essays about a visit he paid to a village during the Thaksin era
that the traditional Buddhist abbot had lost his importance to a political
activist who is pro–Red Shirt. “Political views are held adamantly and
aggressively, at least by Thaksin supporters,” he wrote, estimating that
those Thaksin supporters made up 95 percent of some villages.4
In the north and northeast most villages designated themselves Red Shirt
villages. A Red Shirt flag would often fly at the their entrances along
with a poster of Thaksin. A local Red Shirt radio station broadcast news
and interviews with him even after he was ousted from power and went into
exile. All this Red Shirt activity was banned by the junta.
Thaksin served out his full term as prime minister, and then, in the
regularly scheduled elections in 2005, his Thai Rak Thai party won 375 out
of 500 parliamentary seats, a crushing defeat for its main rival, the
Democratic Party. Thaksin started his second term as the most powerful
elected official in Thai history. “He did the proper studies and sent the
right message to the rural voters,” Pichai Chuensuksawadi, editor in chief
of the English-language Bangkok Post, told me on a visit I made to
Thailand a couple of years ago. “Most important, he delivered [some
improvements] right after the 2001 election. From there, his popularity
increased and there was support even from the establishment. On the other
side, he gutted the democratic processes.”
It was that “other side” that was Thaksin’s fatal flaw. In the early days,
opposition to him consisted of wealthy businessmen in Bangkok who began to
see him as a threat to their interests. But anti-Thaksin feelings rapidly
grew into a genuine mass movement, consisting of journalists, many civil
servants, people in the professional classes, a few labor unions, parts of
the military and the police, and some members of the royal family,
although they did not openly say so. Many people within this opposition
had no apparent economic interest in Thaksin’s fall from power. But they
came to see him as a potential elected dictator, a strongman in the
Vladimir Putin mold, or perhaps comparable to Hun Sen, whose tight control
of neighboring Cambodia has always been legitimized by supposedly free
Thaksin’s chief biographers, Pasuk Phongpaichit and Chris Baker, have
documented his dubious practices.5 He was accused of withholding state
advertising from newspapers that reported critically on him and pressuring
news organizations to punish journalists who did the same. He trampled on
individual rights in a campaign against drug traffickers that involved
literally thousands of extrajudicial killings by Thaksin’s forces—not a
minor violation of the rule of law.
And then there was Thaksin’s conspicuous, even brazen use of his political
position to further enrich himself and his family. In 2006, after his
landslide election victory, his family sold its holding company, the Shin
(for Shinawatra) Corporation, to a Singaporean sovereign fund, making a
profit of nearly $2 billion, on which Thaksin managed to pay no capital
gains taxes. The courts found no criminal wrongdoing in this transaction.
Still, the sale showed how Thaksin could manipulate the law for his own
benefit, and it gave new ammunition to a former supporter, a media tycoon
named Sondhi Limthongkul, to win over mass support for an anti-Thaksin
Sondhi in 2006 founded the People’s Alliance for Democracy, which adopted
yellow, the color of the monarchy, as its symbol, and soon the Yellow
Shirts embarked on a series of demonstrations demanding that Thaksin step
down. This is what led, after a few months of turmoil, to the 2006 coup,
when Thaksin was in New York for a meeting of the United Nations General
Assembly. Two years later, he was convicted of abuse of power in a
transaction involving a land deal in Bangkok. He was sentenced to two
years in prison, which caused him to leave Thailand in 2008.
Still, he remains a dominating presence in Thailand, making decisions for
his Thai Rak Thai party or, since that party was banned after the 2006
coup, its differently named successors. In 2010, after the military
oversaw the installation of an unelected Democratic Party government,
300,000 members of a group formally known as the United Front for
Democracy Against Dictatorship—aka the Red Shirts—occupied the commercial
center of Bangkok, a district of expensive shopping malls and hotels
adjacent to the expansive greenery of the Royal Bangkok Sports Club—all
symbolic of the social and economic gulf between the rural insurgents,
with their weathered skin and unrefined accents, and the paler, more
refined establishment that was keeping Thaksin out of power. After three
months, the army, using guns and live ammunition, cracked down on the Red
Shirt occupation, clearing the commercial center and killing roughly
eighty demonstrators. Twelve soldiers were also reported killed.
The military attack of 2010 remains a vivid memory for the Red Shirts, and
a deep grievance. There has been no comparable effort by the police or the
army to control the Yellow Shirts, even when their actions were clearly
not just disruptive but illegal. In 2008, the Yellow Shirts commandeered
hundreds of buses and occupied Bangkok’s airports for over a week,
basically sealing off Thailand from much of the outside world. Among other
things, they surrounded the parliament building with razor wire to prevent
a newly named prime minister from running the government. Such actions
were used by the army to justify installing a new, anti-Thaksin civilian
government in 2008, but in 2011, elections were held and, as usual, the
Thaksin party won a clear majority of votes. Thaksin’s sister, Yingluck
Shinawatra, who had been named by Thaksin himself as the leader of his
party, now called Pheu Thai (For Thais), became prime minister.
In November 2013, the Red Shirt–controlled lower house of parliament
passed a general amnesty. It would have forgiven Yellow Shirt leaders for
their part in the 2010 anti–Red Shirt crackdown, but it would also have
enabled Thaksin to return to Thailand. This set off a new round of furious
protests. Yellow Shirt militants forced their way into several government
ministries, which they occupied for months. The police, in a rare official
attempt to keep the Yellow Shirts under control, attempted to block them
from seizing Government House, the office of the prime minister;
nonetheless the building was surrounded and Yingluck had to be taken to an
undisclosed location for her protection.
She called for new elections, but the Democrats refused to take part in
them, instead sending their party workers to block polling stations. This
led the Election Commission to invalidate the election results on the
grounds that not enough votes had been cast. During their protests, Yellow
Shirts seized several television stations in Bangkok and forced them to
broadcast a speech by Suthep Thaugsuban, a ferociously anti-Thaksin former
deputy prime minister who had emerged as the Yellow Shirts leader. Suthep
demanded that Yingluck resign and “return power to the people” within two
days. He also called for the abolition of Thailand’s system of democratic
elections and for the government to consist of a council appointed by the
king. That is essentially what Thailand got after the army took power: a
council of ministers appointed by General Prayuth whose members, wearing
identical white uniforms with gold braid, presented themselves to the
king, who approved them, early in September.
The speculation in Thailand these days has mostly to do with General
Prayuth and how he will manage the Thai crisis in the coming months. So
far he has kept the country quiet, announcing a great many new measures in
weekly broadcasts and promising a return to civilian rule, eventually. But
perhaps the more important question is what the Red Shirts will do, and
whether they will return to mass protest. The Red Shirts are not
practitioners of nonviolence; many people felt threatened by them when
they took to the streets in Bangkok in 2010. And yet it is hard not to
sympathize with them. The leaders they voted for in free and fair
elections have been removed from power as a result, essentially, of mob
rule, encouraged by the elite and, in the end, validated by the army.
As for Thaksin, he is in many ways a compromised figure, ready to use his
vast fortune to gain power. But was he the kind of strongman whose actions
justified his overthrow by the military? What is clear is that the
opposition party refused to participate in elections because it knew it
would lose to him. “The solution would have been to enforce the law,” a
prominent business consultant, Apirux Wanasathop, told me in July. He was
speaking of the refusal of the police and army to restore order in
Thailand by stopping the rampages by the Yellow Shirts. While Thaksin was
in power, he said, he “still had to be accountable” to voters and the
courts. “He would have been checked, but there is no check on the
The junta has sought to eliminate Thaksin’s long-distance influence by
banning Red Shirt activity, closing down the Red Shirt radio stations, and
keeping watch on former Red Shirt leaders, who risk going to prison if
they speak out. In an especially Orwellian touch, the regime has deleted
Thaksin’s name from school history textbooks.6 Meanwhile, the Thai economy
has slowed to an estimated 1.5 percent growth per year; rural indebtedness
is rising, and the rice farmers who owe the money have been unable in
places to plant crops because of a threat of severe drought.7 In other
words, as that Washington think tank put it, the junta remains saddled
with Thailand’s “core problems,” and chief among these is the anger and
alienation of the rural majority whose awakening is what brought about the
Thai political crisis in the first place. Don’t be surprised if the Red
Shirts try once again to take power.
1 See Andrew MacGregor Marshall’s A Kingdom in Crisis: Thailand’s Struggle
for Democracy in the Twenty-First Century (Zed, 2014) for a full
elaboration of the theory that a crisis over Thailand’s looming royal
succession is the root cause of the turmoil. ↩
2 See Phuong Nguyen, Gregory B. Poling, and Kathleen B. Rustici, “Thailand
in Crisis: Scenarios and Policy Responses,” Center for Strategic and
International Studies, July 2010. The CSIS study outlined three possible
future scenarios: the rise of a moderate middle, continued military rule,
or civil war. ↩
3 See Claudio Sopranzetti, “Burning Red Desires: Isan Migrants and the
Politics of Red Desire in Contemporary Thailand,” South East Asia
Research, Vol. 20, No. 3 (2012). ↩
4 See William J. Klausner, Essays on Thai Culture in Transition: Social
and Political Implications (Bangkok: Institute of Security and
International Studies, 2010), pp. 64–67. ↩
5 Thaksin (University of Washington Press, second edition, 2010). ↩
6 Thomas Fuller, “Loved and Hated, Former Premier of Thailand Is Erased
from Textbook,” The New York Times, September 16, 2014. ↩
7 Thomas Fuller, “Household Debt and Signs of Drought Squeeze Economy in
Thailand,” The New York Times, October 6, 2014. ↩
A Kingdom in
Crisis - Banned
Once again the
Thai junta's attempt to conceal facts and silence opinions backfired.
Yesterday they banned "A Kingdom in Crisis", a new book on the Thai monarchy
by Andrew MacGregor Marshall. Today the ban received international coverage,
which is sure to boost the book's sales worldwide. Here are some reports:
AP: "Thai Police
bans book criticizing monarchy"
AFP: "Thai police
ban British journalist's book for 'defaming' royals"
BBC: "Thai police
ban Scot's book for 'insulting' royal family"
"Thailand bans Briton's book that 'defames monarchy'"
international media ran AP's and APF's stories:
Game of thrones South East Asia Globe
Junta leader chides newspapers' use of dramatic headlines Khaosod
Media To Stop Reporting About Thaksin
Thailand’s military ruler has asked the media to “cooperate” by not
publishing news about the controversial former Prime Minister, Thaksin
"The media should not publish news about that," Prime Minister Prayuth
Chan-ocha said today after a reporter asked him about Thaksin’s recent
trip to southern China. Photos of the trip have been widely shared by
Thaksin's devoted supporters on social media.
Gen. Prayuth continued, "Don't publish photos of persons who violate the
law. That is all. Why are you still featuring news [about him?]"
He then stressed that he was merely asking for "cooperation," not issuing
a prohibition of any kind.
Thaksin, a telecoms tycoon turned politician, was ousted in a military
coup in September 2006. Shortly before a court convicted him in absentia
of corruption charges in 2008, Thaksin fled the country and has been
living in self-imposed exile ever since.
Despite living abroad, Thaksin has continued to wield considerable
influence over Thai politics, mostly through the successive governments
and political parties that have pledged their allegiance to him. The
former Prime Minister is an immensely polarizing figure in Thailand, and
the Kingdom’s political factions are still largely drawn along pro- versus
Since staging a coup this May against the government of Yingluck
Shinawatra, Thaksin's younger sister, Gen. Prayuth's military junta has
sought to dismantle Thaksin's extensive network of supporters. Hundreds of
politicians, activists, and academics perceived to be sympathetic to
Thaksin were summoned and briefly detained by the military after the coup,
while a handful of Thaksin loyalists have fled the country to avoid
The junta has also ordered a number of reshuffles to minimize the
influence of Thaksin's allies in the police force and bureaucracy.
In a press conference this morning, Gen. Prayuth claimed that news and
photos of Thaksin could cause conflict in society. He asked the media to
exercise good judgment and avoid creating disputes with their coverage.
"Everyone is entitled to freedom of the press, freedom of the people," the
junta chairman said. "But if these freedoms lead to conflicts or violate
other people's rights, they become inappropriate. Therefore, please don't
make me use laws or power or force. I ask you to engage in conservations
and find solutions for the problems that have been building up in the
Thailand’s post-coup ‘reform’ process: Only a few ‘good’ men at the helm
fear junta's school reforms will dim job prospects
2014 - from
old and studying 13 hours a day, high school pupil Worapot doesn't have
time to waste matching up to a military-led government's idea of what
makes a good Thai.
The generals who led a coup in May have prioritised school reforms to
inculcate a strong sense of national identity - or Thai-ness - in a
country whose traditional values hinge on unquestioning respect for the
monarchy, religion and elders.
For Worapot, the son of junior civil servants who together earn $1,800
(1,124.5 pounds) a month, a more practical goal would be creating an
education system that commands respect in the job
"Now the system might get even worse," said Worapot, as he sat on the
steps of a language school in a bustling Bangkok shopping district where
he is taking extra lessons in English.
Still to lift martial law, the junta has given education the biggest slice
of the 2015 budget, raising teachers' pay and redrawing the national
curriculum with the aim to introduce it at the start of the next school
year in May.
Aside from giving Thai history and culture more emphasis, classes in
"moral soundness and virtues" will be introduced.
Worapot's frustration with the new policies is magnified by the prospect
that the job market will become tougher once a trade pact, due to start
next year, brings together 600 million people in Southeast Asia.
He wants to be able to compete with better-off Singaporeans and Malaysians
rather than be patronised for quaint moral codes or nationalist
"I want to be their equal or better. Not to be ridiculed," he said, while
using a Thai-to-English application on his iPad.
For years, education in Thailand has been handicapped by a reliance on
rote-learning and stress on skills that support basic jobs but just do not
cut it for a booming middle class that aspires to better jobs and better
Technocrats have long called for changes to put more stress on developing
critical thinking skills rather than conformity, whereas Thais often shy
away from showing individuality for fear of "losing face", or causing
The reforms envisaged by the junta - including civic duty and morality
classes to promote "a sense of pride in being a Thai" - do not appear to
be the answer.
"The way the government promotes certain values may not fit well with the
development of 21st century skills," said May Sripatananskul, education
initiative project manager at the Thailand Development and Research
Institute (TDRI), a Bangkok-based independent think-tank.
Multinationals based in the kingdom already complain of a shortage of
skilled and professional labour.
"Most graduates may not have basic skills adequate to the needs of the
company - for example, practical command of the English language,
communication, time management and behavioural skills," Krisda Utamote,
director of corporate communications at BMW Group Thailand, told Reuters.
Thailand's education system is routinely ranked as one of the worst in
Attempts by previous governments to bring students up to speed with their
Asian peers - from free, "Made in China" computer tablets for primary
school children to foreign exchange programmes - have proved ineffective
In the UN Development Programme's 2014 human development index, Thailand
ranks 89th out of 187 countries for education.
Taking over an economy laid low by months of political unrest and martial
law, Prime Minister Prayuth Chan-ocha, the former army chief, has said he
will do "everything" to ensure Thailand remains a hub for foreign
The policymakers chosen to oversee the school reforms have raised some
Prayuth's education minister, Narong Pipathanasai, was chief of Thailand's
navy until September. And Art-ong Jumsai Na Ayudhya, the aristocrat tasked
by the Office of Basic Education Commission (OBEC) with re-drafting the
curriculum, believes in UFOs and the paranormal powers of ancient Egyptian
A petition calling for his removal has gathered over 3,000 signatures.
Art-ong did not reply to a Reuters request for an interview, while OBEC
said it was "under orders from the highest level not to comment on
As a percentage of gross domestic product, Thailand already spends more on
education than Germany, but that has not brought success.
TDRI's May bemoaned the amount wasted through inefficiency, and the
failure of higher pay to translate to better quality teachers. The largest
chunk of the budget is spent on the primary and pre-primary segments.
Yet, Thailand ranked 90th out of 144 countries for the quality of primary
education, the latest World Economic Forum Global Competitiveness Report
showed. Neighbouring Malaysia, whose per capita GDP is double Thailand's
$5,779, ranked 17th.
Past studies by U.N. agencies have noted that while access to primary
education is fairly equal across Thai society, more should be invested in
secondary and tertiary levels, where both access and quality need
Better-off families avoid public schools if they can. The well-heeled,
living in Bangkok, have the choice of sending their children to
international schools where annual fees average 400,000 baht ($12,300),
according to a 2013 survey.
"I can do without patriotism and morality classes," said businessman
Krissada Pornweroj, while waiting for his son outside a British school in
"We want him to get in to a good English boarding school."
The negative economic implications of the country's weak classroom
performance will be compounded by a shift in Thailand's demographics.
While most of Southeast Asia will enjoy relatively young populations
decades from now, Thailand bucks the trend. It currently has a population
of around 66 million people.
Once the working-age population starts to decline in 2020, according to
U.N. estimates, economic growth could suffer.
"Thailand does run the risk of losing competitiveness," said Rahul Bajoria,
an economist in Singapore at Barclays Plc.
"Historically, the Thai labour force has been more productive than
Singapore, Malaysia and Indonesia but without sustained focus, that
productivity gap can narrow." (1 US dollar = 32.4200 Thai baht).
Thailand’s lese majesty law stifles legitimate dissent Al
Thailand Has Entered the Interregnum : Paper from
concentration of power in the hands of PM Gen. Prayut Chan-ocha and the
NCPO, the high level of repression, the widespread censorship and heavy
propaganda, are signs not of strength but of the weakness of the current
health of the King and Queen appears to be in decline. The reign of the King
is coming to an end and the succession is imminent.
Thailand has entered an “interregnum” phase. The political situation is much
more uncertain, unstable, and fluid than it appears. The lèse majesté
law, which prevents discussion of the monarchy at this crucial time,
distorts the true political situation.
objectives of the military regime and its supporters are the same as after
the 2006 coup, which are, to destroy Thaksin Shinawatra and his support base
and to neutralize the threat that electoral politics poses to the domination
of the royalist bureaucracy symbolically led by the King.
its weakness and the political uncertainty surrounding the imminent
succession, it is unlikely the regime will succeed in achieving these
Patrick Jory is Senior Lecturer in Southeast Asian History at the
School of History, Philosophy, Religion and Classics at the University of
Queensland. This issue is part of ISEAS’s Thailand Studies Programme.
Thailand: Breaking the silence Asian Correspondent
Thailand loses bid to join UN rights body
Thailand: Address human rights concerns in order to be a credible and
legitimate UNHRC member FIDH
Not saving Thailand’s face: the backlash of police corruption in tourist
murders Asian Correspondent
Murder, Scapegoats, and a Coup d’État Columbia Political Review
Thai regime hunts for legitimacy in Myanmar The Japan Times
4 months on -
a coup assessment from the Indo-Pacific review
2014 - Junta
policies set Thailand back
months after seizing power, Prayuth has firmly consolidated political
power. Yet the institutions and policies that he has enacted are so
blatantly partisan that one must seriously question how they will bridge
the Thailand’s deeply divided society. As Atiya Achakulwisut so elegantly
put it, “what the coup leaders want is an obedient Thailand,” not an
inclusive democracy. His policy missteps and gaffes have raised serious
questions about his ability to garner legitimacy through performance.
Everything Prayuth has done has systematically disenfranchised a majority
of the population and the reforms that he has identified in his roadmap to
establish a “Thai-style democracy” will consolidate power in the hands of
the military and unelected bureaucrats and jurists amongst the Monarchist
elite. Once again, the military’s intervention into politics has sown the
seeds of the next political conflict, which will be in the absence of King
Bhumipol. Thailand may appear calm now, but it’s in for a very bumpy ride.
The full article
Asian Review of Books: A Kingdom in Crisis
Thailand’s Prayuth Becomes a Philosopher King or not....
Lights, Camera, Junta, Action: Film About Prayuth's Teachings Announced
Thailand’s Coup and the Threat of the King’s Death
9 October 2014 Written by Pavin Chachavalpongpun,
This is excerpted from a much longer article discussing the implication
of the Royal succession which can be in Strategic Review magazine.
The Thai Army’s claim that it is politically neutral, is seeking to find a
peaceful solution to the country’s crisis and that it genuinely wishes to
broker reconciliation between different political factions is simply
In retrospect, from November 2013 to May 2014, it was evident that the
military had cooperated closely with antigovernment protesters to make the
country ungovernable in order to oust Prime Minister Yingluck Shinawatra,
the sister of deposed premier Thaksin Shinawatra, and her government.
At the time, there were relentless anti-government demonstrations,
accompanied by the occupation of state offices, the blockage of roads and
highways and the disruption of general elections on Feb. 2.
The demonstrators held Bangkok hostage, defying arrest warrants and
resorting to violence against some “red shirt” activists who support the
Yingluck government. As antigovernment “yellow-shirt” protestors roamed
the streets in defiance of the law, the military was waiting for the
appropriate moment to directly intervene in civilian politics. It was
clear that the chaotic situation served to legitimize the coup.
In addition, while politicians from the ruling Pheu Thai Party were
summoned or even in some cases arrested after the coup, no members of the
antigovernment faction led by Suthep were detained. In fact, they were
allowed to continue their political activities. For example, the Suthep
faction organized several post-coup parties to celebrate what was deemed a
political triumph – but one that ended in a military coup.
Maj. Gen. Amnuay Nimmano, the acting deputy commander of the Bangkok
Metropolitan Police, even attended a birthday party for Suthep on July 5,
despite political gatherings being prohibited by the military. This
reaffirmed the existence of a plot drawn up by the military and
antigovernment protesters to remove Yingluck from power.
In retrospect, I was among many analysts who were initially convinced that
the time was not ripe for the military to stage another coup. This was
simply because the previous coup of 2006 offered various valuable lessons
for the Army. That coup gave birth to the pro-Thaksin red-shirt movement
with their strong anti-coup agenda. I was convinced that the military
would not want to become entangled in another complicated situation. For
one thing, the brutal crackdowns on the red shirts at the hands of the
Army in Bangkok’s Rachaprasong district in 2010 have not been resolved,
and no soldiers have been brought to justice. With this still in play, it
should have kept the Army out of politics for a while.
It is important to note that the Thai Army has never worked alone in
staging a coup; it has often received instructions from the Royal Palace.
However, it seemed that the monarchy was not in a position currently to
influence internal politics the way it once did. Partly, this is because
King Bhumibol Adulyadej, 86, is in ill health, in addition to his many
years of self-politicization. When there were no instructions from the
palace, not making a move was usually seen as the best move for the
There were other political weapons that could have been used to undermine
political opponents, rendering the blunt instrument of a military coup
unnecessary or even counterproductive. Here, the role of the Thai courts
and independent state agencies is crucial.
Months prior to the coup, these institutions apparently launched
coordinated attacks against the Yingluck government, with the
Constitutional Court ordering her to step down over the bizarre case of
her transferring Thawin Plainsri from his post as secretary-general of the
National Security Council, and then there was the Anticorruption
Commission’s ardent investigation into the state rice-pledging scheme.
Topping this off, following the dissolution of parliament in December, the
election commission initially obstructed the government’s plan to hold a
new election. Meanwhile, the highly politicized Human Rights Commission,
led by Amara Pongsapich, was rather quiet when the Suthep-led protesters
threatened the electoral rights of fellow Thais by blocking polling
stations and even harassing voters.
On the contrary, Amara rushed to condemn the government whenever possible,
for example, by warning Yingluck not to “touch” antigovernment protesters.
All this convinced me that a coup would have been redundant. Meanwhile,
the Yingluck government seemed passive, with the prime minister agreeing
to step down at the behest of the Constitutional Court. Obviously, there
seemed to be no incentives for the coup. But how wrong I was.
Taking into consideration the context, in many ways, the coup came as a
surprise. Its abrupt nature could well indicate some changes within the
walls of the Royal Palace in Bangkok. Yet without solid evidence, any
discussion on what could have happened among key figures of the Royal
Family would only be speculation.
Instead, the 2014 coup was a Royal coup. But it is a Royal coup in a
slightly different political context, compared with the one in September
2006. Back then, the military and Royal Palace worked together to try and
permanently remove Thaksin, who was first elected prime minister in 2001,
from Thailand’s political scene. Thaksin had emerged as a looming threat
to the political domination, economic wealth and social status of the
country’s old establishment.
Thaksin’s effective populist policies were successful in winning the
hearts and minds of Thailand’s remote regions, thus competing with the
long years of Royal projects that underpinned the relationship between the
King and his subjects.
The 2014 coup was staged to manage the imminent royal succession.
Therefore, it was a royal coup with the urgent task of taking back
political control of Thailand. “It’s like a musical chairs game,” said
Ernest Bower, an expert on Southeast Asia at the Center for Strategic and
International Studies in Washington. “When the music stops – when the king
dies – whoever has power gets to organize the next steps.”
Getting rid of Thaksin and his proxies remains a priority, but more
importantly, the coup makers wanted to ensure that the next monarch would
benefit their own position in the country’s power structure. It is an open
secret that key members of the “network monarchy,” which is driven by the
old establishment, have expressed disapproval of the heir apparent, Crown
A series of cables turned up in Wikileaks in 2010 detailing discussions
between Gen. Prem Tinsulanond, head of the Privy Council; Anand
Panyarachun, a former prime minister; and Siddhi Savetsila, a Privy
councilor, with John Eric, who was US ambassador to Thailand 2007-2010.
The contents revealed that these palace representatives perceived the
Crown Prince as unsuitable to be the next monarch.
With his complicated personal life and lack of popularity and moral
authority among the Thai public, the palace’s inner circles feel the Crown
Prince is not a good choice. But more importantly, what the traditional
elite fear most is the possibility that the Crown Prince forged some kind
of political alliance with Thaksin, a claim that had been reported in the
press a decade ago.
This could prove to have been the underlying cause of the 2014 coup. The
military may seek to hold onto power until after the royal succession.
Thailand’s military ruler and prime minister, General Prayuth, has a
reputation as a staunch monarchist and has ruled that violations of the
controversial lèse-majesté law – a sweeping ban against anything deemed as
offending the monarchy – will be heard in military, rather than civilian,
Of course, one may never know the real relationship between the Crown
Prince and Thaksin. Yet, the unknown itself stirred up enough anxiety on
the part of the palace and its network for it to ensure that during the
royal transition, they must be in charge of the parliament and that the
military will be on their side.
The elite also needed to guarantee that Thaksin and his proxies were not
able to make decisions that could affect the royal succession in ways that
would serve Thaksin’s own interests.
It is premature to assume that the network monarchy might already have an
alternate candidate in mind to be the next monarch. But according to the
Succession Law, it is clear and undeniable that the Crown Prince will
ascend to the throne. He was given the title in 1972 – a quintessential
step that prepares the king-in-waiting for the throne. There is a
misperception that Princess Maha Chakri Sirindhorn, his younger sister,
was elevated to Crown Princess. It is not true.
Much of the talk about other candidates reflects wishful thinking, or a
lonely hope, by members of the traditional elite who may dream about
replacing Vajiralongkorn with Sirindhorn.
The looming transition and its political impacts
The point of this essay is not to discuss possible candidates to become
Thailand’s next monarch. Rather, it is about discussing the reasons why
the royal succession has become so important for Thailand in reshaping the
contour of its politics, and how the crisis has deepened on the eve of the
First, one must come to terms with the fact that the monarchy has an
immense role in politics, and that King Bhumibol has been an active
political actor. The King sits at the apex of the Thai political
structure, and since the early days of the Cold War, has worked closely
with the military to build a new political landscape.
As Australian professor Andrew Walker argues: “Thailand’s democratic
failure is the most striking legacy of his [Bhumibol’s] long reign. For
decades, antidemocratic forces in Thailand have been able to use the image
of the King to undermine the credibility of elected politicians. A long
series of military coups have been staged in the name of the King, in
order to supposedly protect the country from the depredations of corrupt
“The King has never used his pre-eminent stature to challenge the use of
military force to overthrow an elected government, but has consistently
permitted antidemocratic acts to be staged in his name. Since Prayuth’s
seizure of power, there has not been one word from the palace about the
importance of protecting Thailand's democratic system. Thailand’s
overinvestment in the monarchy as a symbol of national unity means that
institutions which can constructively manage conflict have never been able
Sadly, it is unlikely the monarchy will be willing to negotiate with
democracy anytime soon.
The next significant conundrum concerns the coup’s impact on Thailand’s
political and societal landscape. The fact that the monarchy has become
politicized over the decades, while openly taking sides amid the political
divide, will also accelerate its decline.
At the same time, there have been mounting lèse-majesté cases since the
2006 coup. The more royal defenders use the law as a weapon, the more this
will hurt the monarchy, and overusing it could inevitably bring an end to
the institution. Currently, there is a move by the junta to silence, not
just critics of the coup, but also those critical of the monarchy. Writers
and academics have been hunted, not just because they have spoken out
against the coup, but also because they were seen as a threat to the
Despite this pessimistic view of the current political crisis, the
eventual Royal succession could benefit Thai democracy in the long run.
Any conflict inside the palace would be a lose-lose situation for the
current Chakri Dynasty. Conflict between contenders for the throne would
likely bring instability to the monarchy, and possibly enable democracy to
find a way to blossom.
Second, the Army itself will be affected by the coup. This is Thailand’s
19th coup since it abolished the absolute monarchy in 1932. The latest
putsch will surely further deepen military involvement in Thai politics.
The military has long lost its professionalism. In many ways, the coup
paved the way for the military to perpetuate its role in politics. Once
entering politics it is difficult to withdraw. This time, like during many
past coups, the military used its so-called mission to defend the monarch
to justify its intervention.
That explains why the military is keen to exploit the lèse-majesté law to
prove its responsibility and duty as the defender of the monarchy, which
in turn means the defender of national security. But the longer the
military remains in politics, the more it will serve to obstruct
Already, the military has sought to weaken democratic institutions,
aroused by the fear that strong politicians such as Thaksin could return
to the political scene. It is therefore expected that the military will
redesign the Constitution to be even less democratic. Some analysts
already suspect that the junta will adopt Myanmar’s parliamentary model,
which reserves 25 percent of its seats for the Army.
Alternatively, the coup leaders could opt for a combination of elected and
appointed members of parliament. And if the ultimate objective is to take
control of the Royal succession, which could be a few years away, we may
see the military further entrench itself in politics.
This is dangerous for Thailand’s long-term prospects. The Army has
reportedly begun the process of totally dismantling the red-shirt movement
in the country’s North and Northeast provinces. Troops have been sent to
these peripheral regions to harass and detain its members. Already, many
red-shirt villages have been closed down and core community-level leaders
have been detained and released on condition that they don’t get involved
in politics again. Some have been forced to befriend the yellow shirts. In
early July, there were cases of Thai soldiers forcing a squid vendor to
take off her red T-shirt, and a shopkeeper to remove a Pheu Thai sticker
on her icebox, citing the need to prevent conflict. The eradication of red
shirts could weaken democratic networks in Thailand.
Third, the coup will have implications for key independent state
institutions, including the courts. It is clear that during the past
decade, these institutions have not really been independent, but
instruments of the traditional ruling elite used to undermine its
In the period leading up to the May coup, there was a formulated attack
against democratic institutions to bring down Yingluck. These institutions
have been politicized and employed by the country’s leaders to safeguard
their interests. But in so doing, they have destabilized the judicial
system. In the long run, if the courts cannot guarantee justice for all
Thai citizens, it will remain a source of conflict. Violence could be
Indeed, the political role of the courts has already instigated a sense of
anger and resentment among the red shirts over the persistent injustice
and double standards of the judicial system.
Fourth, Thai society will directly taste the sour fruit of the coup. The
deep-seated polarization has gone beyond the point of reconciliation. It
all began in 2005 when the yellow-shirt People’s Alliance for Democracy
began politicizing the monarchy to separate itself from its enemies. A
political fault line has been drawn along the monarchy to the extent that
those who disagree will immediately be painted as an enemy.
Yet, the rhetoric has continued among the Royal family and Army generals
about the need to create a kingdom of unity, reconciliation and, now, a
“happy society.” The fact that the military has embarked on cracking down
against “one color” while leaving the “other color” untouched is a double
standard. The coup has done nothing but widen the rifts within Thai
society. Unless all sides come to terms with the country’s political
changes and begin to respect democratic rule, Thailand might never have a
Where will Thailand go from here? It seems that the military is there to
stay, assuming that its political interference is linked with the Royal
transition. The Army chief has not clearly stated when an election will be
held. The short-term prospects for Thailand remain grim. Freedoms will be
curbed, the media will be further controlled, and political parties will
cease to exist.
Human rights violations will become the new normal. In the long term,
Thailand will move backward, perhaps as far back as the 1960s, when
authoritarian regimes were considered a political necessity, on the
pretext that Thai society needs to be urgently healed and only the
military can do the job.
Without a doubt, the royal succession will add another layer of
complication to Thai politics. If Vajiralongkorn becomes the next king,
the royalists may be unhappy, while his supporters, possibly within the
red-shirt camp, may approve. This will prolong the conflict. If the
Princess somehow becomes the next monarch, then a bigger problem is
waiting for Thailand. A Royal struggle will come to define Thai political
life, as the eligible heir apparent will exercise his legitimate right to
defend his throne. Thailand could slip into a political coma.
Somewhere along this road, democracy will eventually re-emerge. The
question is: when and in what form? It will take time before democracy can
be restored, especially after so many years of politics being dominated by
the network monarchy. Hopefully a new monarch – no matter who it is –
operating in a shifting political environment will realize that the
monarchy will have to adapt and become compatible with democracy. Its
survival depends on how well it does so.
The Army has been entrenched in politics for several decades, and it will
be a challenge for future civilian governments to depoliticize the
military. It will not be an easy task, and the Army will not allow it to
happen easily, as was evident in the case of Thaksin when he tried to
emasculate the military during his premiership. The result was the coup of
However, one must also bear in mind that while domestic factors, such as
the role of the future monarch and possible actions by the red-shirt
movement, are important, international factors can also play a role in
strengthening Thailand’s battered democracy. Democratization has swept
across Southeast Asia, most notably Indonesia but even Myanmar seems set
to go in that direction.
Thailand cannot turn its back on such a phenomenon. External pressures
will come to partly influence future governments in accepting
international norms and practices, and in behaving as responsible members
of the international community.
Pavin Chachavalpongpun, a frequent contributor to Asia Sentinel, wrote
this for the Asian Strategic Review, a journal of policy and ideas based
in Indonesia. He is associate professor at Centre for Southeast Asian
Studies, Kyoto University.
This Is Not A Book
Review Chiang Mai News
Yingluck Barred From Attending Fireball Festival Khaosod English
Martial Law and the
Criminalization of Thought in Thailand Asia-Pacific Journal
The two entangled conflicts that are tearing Thailand apart The
An ailing king and succession intrigue put coup leaders on edge The
Reconciliation Trainings Target Northeastern Villages Isaan Record
road map will lead to uncertainty
Since it seized
power on May 22, Thailand’s military junta, led by General Prayuth Chan-ocha,
has plowed ahead methodically with its declared intention of suspending
Thai democracy to repair it while “returning happiness” to the people.
But as political
power becomes increasingly concentrated within the National Council for
Peace and Order, as the junta is officially known, its declared roadmap
for peace, order and economic stability appears to be leading Thailand to
some place likely to prove unpalatable to the electorate. It is already
clear that a miracle is needed for Thailand’s latest coup to end well, but
the risk that the adventure will turn sour will grow in the coming months.
To be sure, the junta signaled from the start it means business. In just
over four months, it has promulgated an interim constitution and stacked
the hand-picked, 220-member National Legislative Assembly with active and
In turn, the NLA
unanimously chose then army commander Prayuth as caretaker prime minister.
As if on cue, he promptly selected a 32-member cabinet, again dominated by
the military. As he reached mandatory retirement age on Sept. 30, Prayuth
hand-picked Gen. Udomdej Sitabutr to succeed him as head of the army. Both
generals were battalion commanders in the 21st Regiment of the 2nd
Infantry Division, known as the Queen’s Guards. This military unit under
the Queen’s longstanding patronage is now ascendant in Thai politics.
Retired generals Prawit Wongsuwan and Anupong Paochinda, also former army
chiefs from this faction, are both ensconced in cabinet — Prawit as deputy
prime minister and defense minister, Anupong as interior minister.
Prayuth’s iron grip on Thailand during the coup is therefore unmistakable.
The NCPO is his
politburo (military spokesmen do not deny this), and the assembly his
rubber-stamp legislature. Unlike past coup leaders, Prayuth and his
military cohorts are ruling and running Thailand themselves, rather than
delegating authority and autonomy in areas such as foreign relations and
investor liaison to technocrats and policy professionals, as previous
coup-installed governments did. Generals occupy crucial technocratic
portfolios in the Prayuth cabinet — notably foreign affairs, transport,
commerce and education. Only a few technocrats have found their way into
cabinet, and they are mostly holdovers from the last coup administration
back in 2006-07.
the NCPO is also shaping the transition back to democratic rule. After
four months in power, the junta has come up with a 250-member National
Reform Council whose task is to propose political reforms, and oversee and
approve a new constitution. A 36-member committee that will draft the new
constitution will be nominated by the NRC, the assembly, the cabinet, and
of course the junta, which will also select the committee president.
Leaving no doubt about its intentions, the NCPO has already codified 10
broad charter preferences into Article 35 of the interim constitution,
mainly addressing past corruption and abuse of power among elected
politicians. The article also stipulates that the permanent constitution
must ensure a democratic system that is “suitable for Thai society.”
constitution-drafting formula evokes the arrangement following the 2006
coup. The 2007 charter was largely oriented toward keeping former Prime
Minister Thaksin Shinawatra and his party machine at bay. This time, the
net will be cast more widely. The new constitution is likely to be a
broader, more “anti-politician” document that removes political power from
elected forces and restores it to the traditional pillars of the
bureaucracy, the military and the monarchy. This is in line with Prayuth’s
view of Thailand as a country with a glorious past that has been corrupted
response is to minimize elected popular representation and elevate the
role of unelected institutions deemed to draw legitimacy through
traditional moral authority. The constitution-drafting process next year
will thus be a battleground for competing visions of Thailand, pitting
supporters of this long-established but undemocratic political order
against a more recent but unformed and incomplete system based on
electoral rule. Thailand’s key problem is that it has not yet found a
middle path that both establishment centers of power and their electoral
opponents can live with.
The evidence so
far suggests the NCPO is not attracted by the idea of a new compact
between the two that could carry Thailand forward.
implications are an inevitable mess. With unaccountable absolute power,
Prayuth and his NCPO members will have the incentive to hunker down beyond
the limits of their roadmap, which pledges to restore democracy and hold
elections by October 2015. If they are widely seen to be doing a good job,
the generals in and out of uniform will want to keep doing it. If they are
seen to be doing a bad job they will want a second chance.
The top brass
will also fear retribution from opponents once they leave power. In
addition, the generals are accompanied by their own vested interests,
which have much to lose without political power. At least, Prayuth and his
military comrades may insist on being the midwives of Thailand’s
transition beyond the glorious but fading era of King Bhumibol Adulyadej —
who is now 86 and has been on the throne for 68 years.
Not for decades
has Thailand been ruled so directly and blatantly by a military government
in strongman fashion, with a pervasive hold on the decision-making
apparatus. The mounting risks of an unfolding collision are clear. Thai
society has grown up opposing military rule for the past four decades,
including popular uprisings that famously restored democratic rule in 1973
There is no
evidence it will put up with a military dictatorship for the long term,
notwithstanding the initial positive reception of the coup. On the other
hand, the military government is hierarchical, its organizational culture
based on chains of command and control that are not open to debate and
public participation. An unaccountable government will in any case lose
touch with popular sentiments and grievances. This mismatch of top-down
military government underpinned by traditional institutions with
democratic trappings can only be a recipe for disaster.
Pongsudhirak teaches international political economy and directs the
Institute of Security and International Studies at Chulalongkorn
University in Bangkok
Book depicts Thai monarch as pawn of country's elite SCMP
Divided Kingdom National Geographic
Thailand stifles memories of past conflicts Financial Times
2014 - The Economist
The top generals
have swapped their uniforms for civilian dress, some four months after
toppling Thailand’s electoral democracy in a coup d’état. On September
30th, the coup leader and prime minister, Prayuth Chan-ocha (looking natty
in blue, pictured), stepped down from his position as army chief. His
successor, General Udomdej Sitabutr, has assured Mr Chan-ocha that the
army will not oust his brand-new government with a military counter-coup.
It almost went without saying that General Sitabutr will do everything in
his power to protect the monarchy.
Thailand’s political future is still up in the air. To survey predictions
for the duration of military rule is to hear estimates ranging from one
year to indefinite. The overall direction will become clearer once the
civilian-styled former generals draw up a replacement for the constitution
they shredded. They have already handpicked a 250-member panel to draft a
new document within 120 days—and with it, to devise political reforms for
the country’s broken political system. The idea is to repair the whole
thing from the top down. Thailand’s new rulers have been candid: they
intend to prevent the reinstatement of the winner-takes-it-all system that
allowed the party of Thaksin Shinawatra, a telecoms tycoon who became a
populist prime minister, to win every election held since 2001.
The king was supposed to appoint the members of the panel on October
2nd.The body will consist of one representative from each of Thailand’s 77
provinces, plus and 173 people from eleven “subject areas” specified in a
retrograde interim constitution. Those subject areas range from politics
and public administration to the economy and civil society. The make-up of
the panel shows that those who disagree with the current political order
will find no place in it. The nature of the political reforms they are to
dream up remains a mystery. Whether Thailand’s self-appointed rulers wish
to subject the new constitution to a popular referendum remains unclear.
Thailand’s politicians have been kept out of the process of “political
reform”. Most of them have agreed to refrain from political activity
following a brief “attitude-adjustment” programme the junta administered
to them in the week after the coup. Suthep Thaugsuban, the leader of the
triumphant mob, which had set out to oust the government of Yingluck
Shinawatra, has sidestepped public life to become a monk. Abhisit
Vejjajiva, the leader of the main pro-establishment Democrat Party,
continues to give the occasional bland statement. Ms Yingluck appears to
be going about her life quietly. And her brother Thaksin has been watching
Thailand’s new political order take shape haplessly, from his exile in
The Thai military and business elites have traditionally scorned the
elected politicians as a venal lot, the sort who promote their own
personal status with little regard for the welfare of the kingdom. It is
typical of Thai elites to cast populist policies as corrupt. The Bank of
Thailand is perhaps one of the few central banks to keep money supply
unchanged even as GDP growth plunges to zero. It has kept money supply
unchanged since end-2013—a remarkably irresponsible act. The Fiscal Policy
Office, the finance ministry’s think-tank, is drafting a monetary and
fiscal package designed to control populist policies. (It might yet find
its goals undercut: on October 1st the government sanctioned a $11 billion
stimulus package to help farmers and create jobs. In essence it is a cash
transfer to farmers, an expensive sop offered with the hope that it might
revive the listless economy.)
As is the case throughout much of South-East Asia, the power elite in
Thailand does not accept the fundamental nature of democracy. They believe
that the rule of an “accomplished” few is preferable to the judgments of
So what might their new rules look like? There is a strong expectation
that the junta may put restrictions on voting. The idea is popular among
some circles in Bangkok, where people have long grumbled that their votes
do not count more than those of poor and uneducated farmers. But junking
universal suffrage outright would probably be hard to get away with. A
more likely path is a partly appointed parliament. That would leave those
with the power to appoint—the monarch, the army and the bureaucracy—to
retain control over the balance of power. At the same time, power might be
shifted further away from parliament, into the hands of appointed
regulatory groups. All such “reforms” would be likely to meet the scorn of
Thailand’s silenced majority, as well as that of university professors and
intellectuals, and some foreign governments.
The streets of Bangkok are calm these days. The only reminder that anyone
is resentful about being governed by unelected leaders is the image of the
protests in Hong Kong, which has been splashed across the front page of
Thai newspapers. The same papers have also reported the results of a
recent poll which shows that 90% of Thais are either “satisfied” or “very
satisfied” with the junta’s performance. (How would you answer if the army
asked how you like their rule?) However doubtful the poll results, many
people do seem prepared to let the junta try improving governance and
reboot the political system. The same people are uncertain whether it will
be successful. The dissenters are keeping quiet but there are a large
number of unhappy people from all parts of the political spectrum.
Arbitrary power is arbitrary power, and Thais do not remember it fondly.
The only way the army can get away with its dictatorship is if it embarks
urgently on the only reliable path to political stability in Thailand: a
policy to redistribute wealth in ways that stimulate growth and draw the
whole population into the modernisation process. This is the path that
will make most Thais happy. It also happens to be the only way in which
the junta can justify an extended period of acting as the sole caretaker
of a broken system.
The junta’s rule is likely to go on for a while, if for no other reason
than that its members cannot bear even the thought of the politicians
being in charge when the king dies. It helps that the bureaucracy and most
of the wealthiest Thai families back the military government. These rich
Chinese-Thai families, along with the Thai elites, control much of the
country’s assets. In the course of the 20th century a small group
courtiers and businessmen have played their cards right with the monarchy
and managed to join them. The result is that 0.1% of Thais own half the
nation’s assets, a concentration of wealth that makes America’s
mind-bogglingly unequal wealth distribution (where 0.1% of citizens own
22%) look like a socialist dream come true.
These very wealthy families crave control and stability above all, not the
sort of rapid economic growth that raises living standards for all. So it
has always been in their rational interest to support conservative
governments. Badly burned in the economic collapse of 1996 and 1997, they
fear permanent shifts in government policy, competition and a rising price
of access to capital, labour and land. Many saw the rise of the
Shinawatras as an immediate threat to their own status, if not their
The current lot of generals must have noticed that as the only guarantors
to the moneyed establishment they find themselves in a good bargaining
position. They might as well raise their price for having re-established
peace and order—and so they are considering a tax on land and inherited
wealth. That is surely not populism, but it might not feel so different to
Have Funds, Will
Thailand’s leader will write soap operas to ‘return
happiness’ to the people
Turning Junta Leader's Teachings Into Ballad Khaosod English
G'ment faces self-imposed bumps ahead Bangkok Post
Junta leader offers his services to the nation… in writing soap opera
scripts Bangkok Pundit
The Wheel of Crisis in Thailand A series of articles in Cultural
Anthropology magazine - 23 September 2014
Ongoing criminalization of thought and expression in Thailand Asian
Human Rights Commission
Thai students required to recite Prayuth’s 12 core values daily Asian
Law and irony in Thailand New Mandala
Thai junta hounds opposition across borders Japan Times
"Unelected Prayuth" warns against political forums Bangkok Post
Thailand's military junta raids university seminar on democracy arresting
Its really best when you sya nothing at all Bangkok Post
Thailand’s Election Commission travel to Scotland to 'learn how to vote'
Thailand beach murders: Thai PM suggests 'attractive' female tourists
cannot expect to be safe in bikinis Independent
Students to recite '12 core values' of the nation daily Nation
16 September 2014 by Harrison George
Educational reform is going to be tricky. I mean, where to start?
The Office of the Vocational Education Commission or OVEC (sibling to
Basic Ed or OBEC and Higher Ed or OHEC) (stop giggling there; if they
hadn’t called it that it would be Further Ed) (OK you may laugh now) has
already had to start its reform by recalling its Basic Mathematics
textbooks. Or more accurately the covers.
It seems that the modus operandi for graphic artists tasked with finding
something that will bore the pants off students looking at it time and
again throughout their course is simply to nick a picture or two from the
internet. And this time they decided on the image a young lady holding a
folder whose label could be changed from the original Japanese to read
‘Mathematics’ (use of English and a general non-Thainess is de rigueur on
educational book covers).
They had not counted on the numerous Vocational Education students taking
Basic Mathematics who (a) consume significant amounts of Japanese internet
porn and (b) don’t mind betraying this by gleefully pointing out that the
young lady is a well-known porn star.
This time, fortunately, the Ministry had used a fully clothed image. Some
years ago, they shipped out some misprinted primary textbooks with more
hard-core stuff inadvertently included.
So reform will mean cleaning up more than the water hyacinth that seems to
exercise the military mind. (Why don’t they just prosecute whoever
introduced that noxious weed into Thailand?) (Oh, I see.)
But perhaps a bigger problem exists over at OBEC who took out a full page
ad in last Friday’s Bangkok Post to set out their policies for 2015.
And the first question is ‘Why?’
It’s not as if OBEC needs to tout for custom. Education, at least the bit
that OBEC is responsible for, is compulsory in Thailand, so they’re
guaranteed a market and even the schools that OBEC doesn’t run itself have
to abide by OBEC’s policies.
And how many students under OBEC’s care could have sufficient command of
English to read what they intend to offer over the next year? Well, not
very many, I’ll bet, because the deficiencies in the English of the policy
statement are baffling to this native speaker.
The manifesto begins with a paragraph-long 50-word sentence that tells us
that ‘developing children’ in the ‘context for development of Thai
students’ is a ‘vital basis’ for ‘improvement of living standards going
So ‘developing children’ takes place in the context of the development of
students. And driving buses similarly takes place in the context of, er,
bus driving and, well, the universe exists in the context of the existence
of the universe. Hmm.
And what exactly is an ‘improvement of living standards going forwards’.
Are there improvements that go backwards?
But this is just the opening blurb. We soon get down to the nitty-gritty,
and we learn that as of next year, ‘primary students in Grade 3 should
have Literacy, numeracy and reasoning abilities.’ Well, yes, I think we
can all support that, even if numeracy and reasoning fans might be miffed
at not getting the capital letter that Literacy enjoys. But what are
Prathom 3 students getting now? Not Literacy, numeracy and reasoning?
We also learn under ‘Focus on teachers and educational personnel’ that
‘Principals who must be helped are urgently developed.’ Now I would have
thought OBEC would prefer to develop principals who don’t need to be
helped, but I admit to knowing little about educational management. Or
culture, so I am bemused by upper secondary students adjusting to ‘live in
a multi-cultural society on a basis of Thai culture’.
But what we all want to read about is the morals/civic duties/patriotic
history bits that have already been heavily trailed by the junta punters
over at the Min of Ed. And these are fascinatingly enumerated in Policy 2
of Focus on Learners: ‘Students are instilled with ethics, moral values,
in harmony, reconciliation, conformity, patriotism, devoutness, imperial
loyalty, pride with Thainess and drug free.’
Now I think we’d suspected all along that all this talk of harmony and
reconciliation was a smokescreen for demanding conformity, but I am
mystified by ‘imperial loyalty’. What empire? The nearest empire to here
must be Japan and loyalty to that doesn’t quite square with patriotism.
Why should Thai students be instructed to worship something Japanese?
Unless this goes back to the young lady on the cover of the maths
No, I’m afraid that this waste of OBEC’s advertising budget has proved
only one thing. Educational reform can’t be left in the hands of people
who clearly need reform themselves.
About author: Bangkokians with long memories may remember his
irreverent column in The Nation in the 1980's. During his period of
enforced silence since then, he was variously reported as participating in
a 999-day meditation retreat in a hill-top monastery in Mae Hong Son (he
gave up after 998 days), as the Special Rapporteur for Satire of the UN
High Commission for Human Rights, and as understudy for the male lead in
the long-running ‘Pussies -not the Musical' at the Neasden International
Palladium (formerly Park Lane Empire).
Loved and Hated, Former Premier of Thailand Is Erased From Textbook
New York Times
Meet Asia's newest
strongman: Thailand's General Prayuth CNBC/Global Post
Uniform reaction:The generals introduce “true democracy”, Thai-style
12 September 2014 - The Economist
The senior officers who seized power in a coup in May are stepping up
their campaign to establish what they call “true democracy”. In late July
the junta appointed a parliament stuffed with cronies and officers from
the Queen’s Guard regiment. Now General Prayuth Chan-ocha, the coup leader
and prime minister (pictured, above), has formed a cabinet made up of the
junta and former officers plus a few senior bureaucrats. The election
commission has been called upon to appoint a group of people to write a
new constitution. It has also, of all institutions, been asked to come up
with ideas for preventing populist parties from winning office in future.
The streets of Bangkok, the capital, are calm; indeed many residents were
relieved when the army stepped in to end months of debilitating
confrontation between the government of the then prime minister, Yingluck
Shinawatra, and her opponents on the streets. Still, the junta refuses to
lift martial law. Meanwhile, the officers who in 2006 ousted Ms Yingluck’s
billionaire brother, Thaksin Shinawatra, have made their comeback.
A former army chief, Prawit Wongsuwan, is a deputy prime minister. Anupong
Paochinda, who preceded General Prayuth as army chief, is interior
minister. Tanasak Patimapragorn, the Thai army’s chief of defence forces,
is the new foreign minister and the contact for Western governments—who
remain unsure how to deal with a country now run by soldiers.
The consensus among most seasoned observers is that the latest spell of
army rule will blow over like the last one, which was soon followed by
civilian rule and then fresh elections (which Ms Yingluck won in a
landslide). Pro-establishment newspapers report that the new government’s
term is just a year. But what if, instead, the generals’ “road map to
democracy” intends to put an end to electoral democracy altogether, recast
Thai society, and establish a long-term rule of “moral people” who are not
chosen through the ballot box? Their sense of purpose plays into fears of
such a possibility.
The junta’s moral underpinning is a brand of puritanical paternalism. A
clean-up is in full swing intended to purge the informal economy of
unregistered labour, smuggling, prostitution, gambling and drug-dealing.
There is also a sense that the generals feel the need to play Mr Thaksin’s
populist game. The last government’s scheme to subsidise rice was
financially disastrous. Yet the junta has insisted that the farmers should
be paid off, so boosting incomes in the poor countryside. A planned rise
in the consumption tax has been frozen, and fuel prices have been sharply
cut. Entry to cinemas showing patriotic films (or the World Cup) has been
made free of charge. And to much surprise the generals, guarantors of the
monied establishment, are considering a tax on land and inherited wealth.
The junta’s many difficulties may explain all this populism. The economy
has stopped growing because exports are stagnant, consumption is sluggish
and investment and tourism figures have declined. Bangkok’s main
international airport is the only one in Asia with falling passenger
numbers. The government insists that Thailand remains one of the best
places to do business, with reliable electricity, an industrial base and
educated workers. Yet even it can see that some of the country’s magic has
There will now be much emphasis on investment in infrastructure. The
generals love railways as much as any planners. They have earmarked $23
billion for rail links to China that are unlikely to pay for themselves.
Thailand does not have much in the way of bulk goods that need to be
transported by rail. Meanwhile, passengers have been shunning railways for
decades because fuel is cheap and the road network good.
What lies ahead? For now, managing expectations downwards so far as the
economy is concerned seems a sensible precaution. Much depends on the
health of the ageing King Bhumibol Adulyadej. His demise could well
entrench the junta and prolong its illiberalism. The junta has already
seized on the king’s long-held notions of a “sufficiency economy”, which
in essence is a call for everybody from the rural poor upwards to take
their place in a social hierarchy overseen by the king’s benevolence.
Arch-royalists are telling people that in a sufficiency economy the
correct measure of your standard of living is happiness, not income.
Superstition is never far away. The prime minister has complained that
anti-coup groups have resorted to the use of black magic against him. For
all that the generals are out to smash the movement that Mr Thaksin
created and runs from self-imposed exile, they are handling the task
delicately. A court has delayed a ruling on whether Ms Yingluck will face
charges over her messed-up rice policy. When it feels more confident, the
junta may deal with the Shinawatras more harshly.
Ordinary Thais may sense a greater threat. Human-rights groups fear that
military courts, last seen in the 1970s, might be set up in Thailand’s
restive south, scene of a rumbling Islamist insurgency. And the generally
kid-glove treatment of the political classes since the coup sits
uncomfortably with reports of the disappearance and even torture of
anti-coup activists. A better sense of the new direction will come with
details of the constitution. Its contents are not yet openly discussed.
Education Commission Recalls 'Porn Star' Math Textbooks Khaosod
Unhappy Ending:The future is not bright for the leader of Thailand's coup.
Amnesty Alleges Torture in Thailand Since Coup VOA
thailand: attitude adjustment: 100 days under Martial Law Amnesty
Thailand’s Military Ruler Grows Increasingly Eccentric but No Less
The Bangkok Post
reports today that the annual Thai army reshuffle will see the appointment
of a record 1,092 generals; this for an army that totas 555,000 troops or
whom 245,000 are reservists. One general for every 500 soldiers
The USA has a
total military strength of 2.2 million soldiers with a maximum of 652
generals - a number enshrined in Law. And by the way an army that
reports to a civilian elected government.
meanwhile has a remarkable 41
admirals for its 17 ships.
Thai authorities reportedly to conduct mass surveillance of Thai internet
users, targeting lèse majesté Prachathai
Simple logic seems to have fallen victim to the coup The Nation
New crackdown on criticism has ominous overtones Bangkok Post
Majeste Theatre Activists Denied Bail Again Khaosod
The wisdom of General Prayuth New Mandala
Thai elites and coups; it is all about controlling the people
2 September @pakhead
"Lots of cops and NCPO guys at the @FCCThai now to stop human rights
programme going ahead this afternoon."
@W7VOA "Thai Lawyers for Human Rights, Cross Cultural Foundation & Amnesty
Int’l had planned to unveil #Thailand human rights report"
"Please note: This afternoon's event, "Access to Justice in Thailand:
Currently Unavailable" has now been cancelled."
Uncertainty over rights talk after warning from military
Chaturon testifies in military court Bangkok Post
Thailand's military run government
31 August 2014
So Thailand has a new government with the King's
endorsement of junta leader Prayuth Chan-Ocha’s new cabinet.
Military men are in charge of almost every key ministry.
Not one of them has been elected.
Prayuth, who took power in a May 22 coup, placed 11 military officers in
the 32-member cabinet, including as defense minister, foreign minister,
interior minister, commerce minister, education minister and justice
minister. The new finance minister is a civilian, Sommai Phasee, who was
part of the government installed by the Thai army following Thailand’s
last coup in 2006.
The appointments, which include two former army chiefs from Prayuth’s
faction of the military, indicate that Prayuth will continue to rely on
those close to his junta.
Even those not from the military are “at least people who are devoted to
one side of the political divide and see themselves as more righteous
leaders,” said Andrew Stotz, chief executive officer of A. Stotz
Investment Research in Bangkok. “These people may see a rebalancing of
power as a higher priority” than a rush to elections, he said.
There will be no rush to elections. Let us be clear here.
There will be no election until after the next succession. And the
electoral map will be rewritten such that there can only be one winner of
the election....and that will not be the red shirts, Thaksin or anyone
affiliated to them.
The junta and its appointed bodies have to write a new
constitution and enact unspecified measures to “reform” Thai politics and
Several members of Prayuth’s new cabinet were also members of the
government appointed after the 2006 coup. Pridiyathorn Devakula, a former
Bank of Thailand governor who will serve as Prayuth’s deputy premier for
the economy, was finance minister after that coup. Sommai, the new finance
minister, served as Pridiyathorn’s deputy before resigning in 2007 after a
court convicted him of abuse of power over suspension of state agency
official three years earlier.
“Recently, Sommai Phasee has said he would focus on tax reforms and
boosting the economy,” said Tim Leelahaphan, an economist at Maybank Kim
Eng. “We believe it is hard to see exciting policies from him or this
interim cabinet that focuses on economic reforms rather than populist
From the military, Prawit Wongsuwan, a former army chief and defense
minister, will be a deputy prime minister and defense minister, Thanasak
Patimaprakorn, the supreme commander of the armed forces, will be a deputy
prime minister and foreign minister and Anupong Paochinda, a former army
chief, will be interior minister.
Prajin Juntong, the air force chief who has overseen the economy for the
junta since the coup, will be transport minister, Chatchai Sarikulya, the
assistant army chief, will be commerce minister, Paibool Khumchaya, the
army assistant commander-in-chief, will be justice minster, and Narong
Pipathanasai, the head of the navy, will be education minister, for which
he is clearly well - qualified!
The NCPO has control over the ministires that have always
been considered the wealthiest for the people in power - transport,
interior and finance.
The new cabinet has only two female members, Tourism and Sports Minister
Kobkarn Wattanavrangkul and Deputy Commerce Minister Apiradi Tantraporn.
Thailand’s ultra-monarchists export vigilante justice FT
Crackdown Victims Families Demand PM Prayuth Tried In 'People's Court'
Jonathan Head on
twitter commented on the arrest and charging of relatives of people killed
in the 2010 crackdown: "So
the Thai army shoots dozens of people in 2010. Now it charges relatives of
those it shot with criminal libel for protesting about it." Exactly.
Relatives of those killed in 2010 crackdown arrested for defaming junta
leader, released Prachathai
In Praise of
the Junta Chiang Mai City News
Thailand: Court Ruling Furthers Impunity HRW
Is the Thai Junta Really Going to Jail Sommeliers for Recommending Wine?
ruling dismisses ex-Premier’s murder case
A criminal court in Bangkok on Thursday dismissed a murder case against a
former prime minister and his deputy. Prior to the most recent coup the
court had accepted this case.
Abhisit Vejjajiva, the former prime minister following the 2006 coup, and
Suthep Thaugsuban, the former deputy prime minister, are accused of
premeditated and attempted murder for ordering the military to clear
central Bangkok of antigovernment protesters in 2010, an operation that
resulted in more than 90 deaths and hundreds of injuries.
Both Mr Abhisit and Mr Suthep denied the charges and submitted a petition
to the court arguing that the DSI did not have the power to handle the
investigation against them.
General Prayut Chan-O-Cha, who was last week annointed as Thailand's prime
minister by a junta-appointed legislature, is often described as the
architect of the 2010 crackdown.
The Criminal Court said today that it was true that the two men had
declared the state of emergency and ordered soldiers to crackdown on the
protesters, and allowed them to use weapons and live ammunition. But the
court addede that Mr Abhisit and Mr Suthep issued the order while
performing the duties of the prime minister and deputy prime minister
The Criminal Court, therefore, ruled that the case against the two men
comes under the jurisdiction of the Supreme Court's Criminal Division for
Holders of Political Positions and that it has no authority to handle the
The Criminal Court of Thailand had previously ruled that some of the
protesters were killed by bullets coming from the direction of troops.
The decision was disputed even from within the court itself. The Thai news
media reported that the decision was accompanied by a separate “note of
disagreement” by Thongchai Senamontri, the president of the Criminal
Court, who said the court had the authority to rule on the case.
The court’s decision transfers the prosecution into the hands of the
National Anticorruption Commission, an institution that has no experience
with murder trials and has made little progress in investigating the case.
Chokchai Angkaew, a lawyer for the families of the deceased protesters,
struck a pessimistic tone about the future of the case. He also disputed
the notion that the case must be transferred to a special court for
officeholders. “Killing people is not part of their job,” he said.
Mr. Chokchai said he would appeal the ruling. He added that there had been
many cases tried in criminal courts involving officials accused of causing
death, including police officers shooting the wrong person.
Payao Akhard, the mother of a nurse killed during the crackdown, said the
decision on Thursday followed a pattern in Thailand where politicians
involved in wrongdoing elude prosecution.
“This is Thailand, where the people are always the victims and politicians
from all sides never learn any lessons,” she said.
Ms. Payao said she realized that prosecuting a military crackdown might be
difficult now that the military has seized power. “Many people who are in
power today were involved in the crackdown,” she said. “No murderers will
put themselves in jail.”
National Anti-Corruption Commission is now expected to consider whether
the pair abused their power with the crackdown.
If it believes there is sufficient grounds, the panel can forward the case
to the attorney general for possible submission to the Supreme Court's
Criminal Division for Holders of Political Positions.
Suthep, who went on to lead months of street protests against Abhisit's
successor Yingluck Shinawatra, appeared in court sporting a shaven head
and the orange robes of a Buddhist monk after entering the clergy.
Abhisit meanwhile was seen smiling in court after the ruling.
The idea that a
criminal court cannot try a murder charge is silly. But it is likely that
the court was either doing what it thinks the junta expects or doing as it
was told. Whatever the facts it is a fair bet that this is now case
Thaksin's lawyer, Robert Amsterdam, commented on twitter that "dropping
murder charge is junta's payback to Suthep for services rendered. This
reprehensible and shameful farce will not stand." All mouth and no action,
Thai army arrests hundreds under martial law Al Jazeera
Martial Court sentence 7 anti-coup protesters to 3 months in jail
Thailand's crisis explained ZenJournalist
Is Khon Kaen the new model of justice? Bangkok Post Spectrum
junta’s anti-majoritarian rule
Newly instituted laws show a disdain for electoral politics and will
reduce power of majority voters
23 August 2014 by Puangthong Pawakapan for AlJazeera America
On Aug. 20, Thailand’s rubberstamp parliament appointed junta leader
General Prayuth Chan-ocha as the country’s prime minister, paving the way
for the formation of a new interim government. In late July, nearly two
months after ousting former Prime Minister Yingluck Shinawatra’s
democratically elected government in a bloodless coup, the military junta
running Thailand declared an interim constitution that gave Prayuth
sweeping powers. The unconstitutional dispensation of power has drawn
comparisons to 2006’s military takeover, which tried and failed to ban
then-Prime Minister Thaksin Shinawatra and his political party from Thai
politics. As in 2006, the 2014 coup alleged Yingluck’s rule was corrupt.
The latest attempt similarly promises to end corrupt politics in all forms
and drastically reform the country’s electoral democracy.
While Prayuth’s appointment by a legislature he handpicked is simply
procedural, the ongoing constitutional politicking suggests a dangerous
backward slide into the kind of authoritarianism not seen in the country
since the 1970s. The coup leaders have in essence forced Thailand back to
being a bureaucratic polity, where the military, bureaucrats and business
elite maintain unchecked political power over elected representatives.
The constitution already awards Prayuth the power to issue orders and
suppress protests. It also allows the National Council for Peace and Order
(NCPO) – the governing body formed after the coup – to claim that its own
power is lawful while its opponents are violating law, peace and order.
There is a historical precedent for the NCPO’s totalitarian power grab.
After staging a similar coup in 1959, military strongman Field Marshal
Sarit Thanarat instituted martial law; section 17 of the 1959 constitution
carried statutes similar to section 44 of the new constitution. Though he
ruled over a dark time for Thai democracy, Sarit was popular among the
people for revitalizing the Thai economy. The NCPO hopes to replicate
Sarit’s model by galvanizing popular support.
However, unlike Sarit, Prayuth has yet to earn the respect and awe of the
public. For example, while critics in Thailand have largely remained quiet
for fear of repercussions, anti-coup activists on social media continue to
poke fun at the general’s lack of charisma. The NCPO’s repressive measures
against peaceful anti-coup activities — barring people from eating
sandwiches, reading George Orwell’s classic novel “1984” or showing
symbols of resistance such as a three-finger salute in public — have drawn
public ridicule. Moreover, unlike in the 1960s, Thais today understand
participatory politics and are well aware of their political and economic
rights. Sooner rather than later, such stringent suppression will likely
face popular challenges.
The junta’s constitution reveals its strong distaste for politicians and
electoral politics. This is unsurprising: It was drafted by members of the
National Legislative Assembly (NLA) who were singlehandedly chosen by the
junta; of 200 NLA members, 106 are military generals. It bars members of
political parties from being appointed to the Cabinet until they have been
party members for more than three years. It also prohibits all active
politicians and voters from participating in the country’s future design,
leaving political power exclusively in the hands of the military and top
Such anti-democratic sentiments and distrust of politicians, particularly
among the urban middle class, have long dominated Thai politics. The trend
began in the late 1980s, when then-Prime Minister Chatichai Choonhavan’s
Cabinet was ridiculed as a highly corrupt “buffet.” The military toppled
his government in 1991 after two and a half years, to little public
opposition. Since 1992, several elected governments have faced corruption
scandals and were similarly forced out of office before serving full
Military intervention has traditionally been seen as an effective step to
end corruption. For example, protests led by the yellow-shirted People’s
Alliance for Democracy repeatedly urged the military to intervene and end
entrenched corruption in Thaksin’s government, a wish that was fulfilled
by the 2006 coup. However, despite concerted efforts by the judiciary,
army, Democrat Party and media to ban Thaksin and his allies, Thaksinite
parties made a comeback, winning a parliamentary majority in the 2007 and
“Even if it strengthens check-and-balance mechanisms on corrupt
politicians as promised, the junta's reforms will likely erode Thailand’s
electoral democracy by reducing the power of majority voters. ”
Popular support from rural communities played a large role in ensuring
Thaksinite parties’ electoral successes. This is another familiar
political grievance: Rural voters are generally viewed as unqualified to
vote, prone to selling their votes in exchange for short-term personal
gains. Conservative elites have long alleged the rural regions of northern
and northeastern Thailand are susceptible to “vote buying.” (During last
year’s protests, the anti-Thaksin movement led by Democrat leader Suthep
Thuagsuban, which paved the way for the latest coup, loudly echoed these
sentiments and managed to obstruct early elections planned for February.)
Most of these allegations are not true. A number of recent studies confirm
(PDF) that vote buying is no longer a decisive factor in election results
and that voters are increasingly motivated instead by development
projects. For example, schemes such as universal healthcare coverage and
rural-based funding projects have significantly enhanced the livelihood
and political participation of local people. But inflammatory political
rhetoric from Bangkok-based intelligentsia and media continues to paint a
picture of rural voters easily bribed by populist policies, which in turn
fuels the middle class’s distrust in electoral politics.
The junta has taken several steps to pre-empt future populist politicians
and policies — at all levels. On July 3, shortly after the coup, it
ordered its legal arm to include permanent constitutional measures
preventing populist policies that it claimed could endanger the Thai
economy. On July 15, the NCPO issued another order suspending local
administrative elections, including provincial, sub-district and Bangkok’s
district council elections. Instead, it appointed government officials to
replace members of these agencies when the current officials’ terms
The 1997 constitution and 1999’s Decentralization Act mandate local
agencies to provide public services to their constituents. Research shows
that their work has improved local services and the quality of living, as
well as increased public participation. But the media, anti-democracy
academics and the anti-graft agencies continue to lament widespread
corruption and nepotism in community-based projects run by local
Prayuth plans to undertake yearlong political reforms and reconciliation
before holding a new election in late 2015. Even if it strengthens
check-and-balance mechanism on corrupt politicians as promised, the
reforms Prayuth is trying to create will certainly erode Thailand’s
electoral democracy by reducing the power of majority voters. It will
ensure that rural voters will not have a say in who represents them in
government. Unfortunately for these voters, the military regime will
remain stable as long as its suppressive machinery is intact. The
prosperity the junta promises to create will serve elites and the urban
middle class in Bangkok. It will also deepen the precarious social rifts
Puangthong Pawakapan is associate professor of political science at
Chulalongkorn University in Thailand.
Amid outward calm, climate of fear cements Thai military rule Reuters
Top General Is Named Thai Prime Minister, Sealing Military’s Rule NYT
Thailand’s travails in five charts FT
Gen Prayuth Chan-ocha anointed Thailand’s interim prime minister FT
Thai Junta Chief Takes Title of Premier to Add Legitimacy Bloomberg
Thailand’s Crooked Army Asia Sentinel
Abhisit’s stories PPT
stagnation : As the economy stumbles, the junta has an image problem
8 August 2104
The army has
long been the most powerful force in Thai political life, and has wholly
monopolised it since its latest coup in May. Bangkok, the capital, remains
calm, and many ordinary Thais do not miss the self-serving political
classes who were booted out. Still, how popular the National Council for
Peace and Order, as the junta calls itself, really is remains hard to say.
It is a criminal offence to criticise it, and the press is muzzled.
Lèse-majesté cases are piling up. The junta has even banned a computer
game, Tropico 5, in which players set up their own military dictatorship
in a fictional paradise where sunny beaches and political corruption
“coexist in perfect harmony”.
The coup leader, General Prayuth Chan-ocha, and his fellow soldiers have
been busy putting up a façade that bespeaks legitimacy. The coup has the
endorsement of the 86-year-old king, Bhumibol Adulyadej. On August 7th the
crown prince, Maha Vajiralongkorn, chaired the opening ceremony for a new
national assembly to replace the elected politicians who were kicked out.
Stuffed with army officers and members of the old Thai establishment, it
will be a rubber-stamp affair.
It is all a throwback to an earlier, simpler era. Unlike the generals of
2006, when the last coup took place, the current lot are intent on
retaining complete control. A temporary constitution grants the army men
absolute powers. And to safeguard against the generals ever coming before
the courts in some future reckoning, it grants an amnesty for actions
related to the toppling of the democratically elected government of
The 2006 coup leaders ousted her brother, Thaksin Shinawatra, a telecoms
billionaire turned authoritarian politician whose populist parties have
for years won every election that has been permitted. Back then the
generals thought they could marginalise Mr Thaksin as a political force
and encourage a return to a tutelary democracy guided by the establishment
around the king. Those who removed Ms Yingluck now realise that they must
ensure the Shinawatras are wholly spent as a political force. The generals
let Ms Yingluck leave Thailand for Paris on July 20th to attend a birthday
party for Mr Thaksin. They did so on the condition that she returns to
face possible charges relating to her time as prime minister. Yet some
must be calculating that she will join her brother in self-imposed exile.
Without competitive elections, the Shinawatras are powerless.
The Orwellian name the junta has given the new dispensation is “genuine
democracy”. There is, in truth, a reformist element to its programme,
including a desire for less inequality and an impartial enforcement of
laws. Many of the populist proposals, such as reforms to health care, are
taken straight from Mr Thaksin’s playbook.
Yet finding people with stature and experience to front the new order is
not proving easy. For foreign minister, the junta tried to recruit Surin
Pitsuwan, a former secretary-general of ASEAN, the Association of
South-East Asian Nations. At home and abroad, he is one of Thailand’s most
respected figures. But he could not be tempted. South-East Asian diplomats
say the Thai foreign ministry is paralysed, lacking guidance.
With no proper interim government, portfolios are unlikely to be filled on
merit. Although a non-businessman is running the state airline, at least
he is the air force chief. How, though, to explain the head of the navy
heading the ministry of culture?
The junta seems to realise it has an image problem. This matters to it
because for all the emphasis now on political stability, the economic mood
is jittery. The economy has shrunk precipitously this year. Exports, in a
country that depends more than most on them, have stopped growing. High
household debt further complicates matters. Thailand is likely to be
Asia’s most lacklustre economy this year. Economic revival is the
From day one, therefore, General Prayuth has tried to reassure investors.
He has made himself head of the Board of Investment, which has swiftly
approved billions of dollars worth of pending applications. General
Prayuth is leading a splurge in infrastructure spending, including on two
high-speed railways worth $23 billion that are seen as vital future links
to China. But approving such projects is one thing; getting them up and
running so that they start to have a positive economic impact is quite
another. Nor is the quest to reassure outsiders helped by the certain
knowledge that cronies of the army (whose officer corps at times resembles
a business club) will be hungry for the juiciest deals.
As for democracy, that will have to wait. General Prayuth gives October
2015 as the probable date for an election. The junta will not say,
however, what restrictions it might impose. Given that the whole point of
this coup, and the last, was to overturn a winner-takes-all electoral
system that served Mr Thaksin so well, it would be a wonder if no
restrictions applied. Whether the next full constitution, Thailand’s 20th,
will be put to a popular referendum is equally unclear.
What the generals want, above all, is for “moral people”, not elected
populists, to run the country. It is heartening that the junta has shown
some concern to bring about a reconciliation, however unlikely, between
the pro-Thaksin “red shirts” and their opponents, who paralysed Bangkok in
giant protests from late last year. But that does not necessarily mean the
army will allow Thaksinite politicians to take part in drafting the new
constitution, let alone run in the proposed election.
Most Thais would like to see their country emerge one day as a prosperous,
truly democratic leader within South-East Asia. Thailand’s economic growth
since the 1960s has raised incomes and provided education to most of its
citizens. But the pillars on which future prosperity rests are crumbling.
A strong commitment to the rule of law, a well-regulated financial system,
and transparency in how fortunes are made are all in short supply.
For now the army men taking Thai society back to the past are legally
unassailable. Many Thais may in any case give them the benefit of the
doubt. But at some point the self-appointed leadership will be unable to
justify its continued existence. The junta may yet surprise everybody by
pushing reforms, healing society’s deep rifts, and restoring democracy.
But do not count on it.
Thailand junta reactivates ‘cyber scout’ program to curb online dissent
An 8 per cent salary rise for government officials will cost the state
about an additional Bt20-30 billion per year.
Rungson Sriworasat, permanent secretary for the Ministry of Finance, said
that in response to the National Council for Peace and Order's intention
to increase government salaries, an initial study found that the salary
rise would cover all government officials including retirees.
Why was Thai red shirt activist Kritsuda detained for so long? Bangkok
Five hundred days of dictatorship
Aug 5th 2014, 8:05
by The Economist | BANGKOK
The Army has been the most powerful force in Thai political life since the
introduction of constitutional monarchy in 1932. Since its most recent
power grab, in a coup d’état sprung on May 22nd, a junta has been busy
building a façade of legitimacy—as if to obscure from view their new
dictatorship. An interim constitution grants absolutistic powers to the
military men, who effectively administer the monarchy. It also grants an
amnesty for crimes related to the toppling electoral democracy and the
tools necessary to ensure that martial law persists. A handpicked bunch
will draft a similar piece of paper within the next 120 days. It is
unclear whether the expected result, which is to be Thailand’s 18th
constitution, will be put to a referendum.
To make it all fly, General Prayuth Chan-ocha, Thailand’s military
dictator and prime-minister-in-waiting, had to prostrate himself in front
of the 86-year-old king, Bhumibol Adulyadej. The ailing monarch’s blessing
was the only available source of legitimacy. Accordingly, the interim
charter makes mention of the king no fewer than 38 times. Shunting
responsibility to the king in this way is a time-tested trick.
On July 31st the king endorsed the members of a new national assembly, a
200-member strong rubberstamp composed of 105 military officers (including
40 generals, 21 lieutenants-generals, 17 chief air marshals and 14
admirals). Professional politicians were ineligible. The civilian half of
the new legislature includes civil servants, academics, ex-senators and
figures from the private sector (in all, ten women made the cut). An
opening ceremony for the assembly will be chaired by the crown prince on
August 7th. One of its tasks will be to give General Prayuth, the man who
appointed all legislators, the job of prime minister. Unlike the
coup-makers of 2006*, who quickly delegated power to handpicked civilians,
General Prayuth and his classmates are intent on retaining complete
The army has given itself 500 days or so to establish “genuine democracy”
by fiat. It will appoint a 250-member strong National Reform Council and
then task it with proposing political, social and economic reforms. The
stated point of the exercise is to “create the democracy with the King as
the Head of State appropriate to the Thai society”. The key
characteristics of such a democracy are supposed to include free and fair
elections; an end to corruption, misconduct and inequality; and the
impartial enforcement of laws. It all sounds perfectly “appropriate”. But
it seems the generals have in mind a few extra characteristics.
For a start, no political comeback for Thaksin Shinawatra or his sister
Yingluck, the siblings who won every election since 2001. Without
competitive elections, the Shinawatras are powerless, albeit rich. The
generals let Ms Yingluck leave Thailand to attend the Mr Thaksin’s
birthday party in Paris on July 26th. That puts Ms Yingluck in a position
to decide whether to return to Thailand—and face criminal charges—or join
Thailand’s long list of exiled former prime ministers.
The junta says there will be a big election in October 2015. Thus far it
has refused to say if it will impose any restrictions on the franchise.
But it would be a wonder if it didn’t. For the whole point of the coups of
2006 and 2014 has been to overturn the winner-takes-all system which
served Mr Thaksin so well, in favour of governance by “moral people” who
cannot win elections.
Much of the elite feels offended to hear a spade called a spade. But there
can be no mistaking that Thailand’s government has slipped from the reach
of any popular majority. The dictatorship which has replaced it will make
every effort to outlast the lifespan of the current king.
Most Thai citizens (and most Western governments too) would like to see
Thailand emerge someday as a prosperous, democratic republic, a leader
within South-East Asia. For them the near-term future looks unpromising.
Large parts of the economy are essentially criminal conspiracies based on
smuggling, prostitution, gambling and corruption. Research by the World
Bank shows that only half of all income shows up in Thailand’s
national-accounts data—which is among the lowest rates in Asia.
And while the benefits of Thailand’s economic growth since the 1960s have
raised incomes and provided health care and education to most Thais, the
pillars of future prosperity look shaky. The things that will be required
by further development—rule of law, a well-regulated financial system,
transparency of wealth, a strong commitment to a scientific society—are in
The junta’s very existence represents a rejection of the rule of law.
While its commitment to stamp out corruption sounds good, graft is too
entrenched to be rooted out by the army alone; like the government it
replaced, the officer corps is essentially a business club, serving the
country’s elite. The financial system, long under the control of the
wealthiest Thais and leading Thai-Chinese business groups, will remain a
closed shop. The central bank, which became notorious for its
mismanagement of the financial crisis in 1997 and 1998, has since pursued
a course that is directly supportive of the wealthy and has significantly
slowed growth. Much has been written about the successes of the Thai
economy, but Thailand’s record in raising peoples’ standards of living
post-1997 is actually worse than that of any other country in East or
South-East Asia (with the notable exception of North Korea**). The
secretive policies of the Crown Property Bureau, the palace’s investment
arm and the biggest conglomerate in Thailand, reflects a deep resistance
to transparency. Finally, if freedom of thought and expression are to be
the basis of any scientific society—then Thailand will just have to wait.
The forces that are leading the society backwards are now unassailable,
according to the letter of the law. They shield themselves from every
other kind of criticism by their association with the monarchy.
Challenging a state that has been endorsed by the king is socially
unacceptable—and now it is a criminal offence, too.
Eventually public opinion will turn against the junta. But a social
response to economic failure will take time to develop. Thailand’s economy
is short of labour, with nearly full employment. Its fiscal position is
enviable by most European and Asian standards.
Yet a meaningful economic recovery in the second half 2014 would be
nothing short of a miracle. Imports fell 14% year-on-year in June and
industrial output fell 6.6%. Overall production, consumption, investment
and tourism all slumped. Investment, which follows demand, will not pick
up until the collapse in domestic demand has been reversed. High household
debt and consumers’ reluctance to invest their black money are likely to
complicate a return to rapid growth. Whatever happens in the next few
months, Thailand is likely to be the slowest-growing economy in Asia this
At some point the self-appointed leadership is bound to weary of defending
itself on the pretext of building a democracy. Most dissenters appear to
have resigned themselves to the fact that their views will not matter for
a while, perhaps two or three years. Many are too busy simply trying to
make ends meet.
To stay in power till the next royal succession, the generals must prove
that their brand of authoritarianism can improve the lot of 68m Thais. If
they pulled it off, theirs would be the first coup anywhere since the end
of the cold war that actually raised the pace of income growth. It will
never be known what Thailand could have achieved for itself this decade
within a democratic framework. If Thailand’s own history is a reliable
guide, abandoning democracy can be expected to lead straight to economic
stagnation and exacerbated inequality.
Thailand: Investigate Alleged
Torture of Activist HRW
Military court to try first
Thai government bans 'military rule' computer game The Guardian
the Nation on 5 August:
Ministry on Tuesday explained that the simulation game Tropico 5, which
allows players to build their own forms of government on a remote island,
was banned because it contained content that appeared to be offensive to
Cultural Promotion Department chief Chai Nakhonchai said a subcommittee of
the Video and Film Office had examined the game and voted 5-1 to ban it,
with two abstentions.
He said the prohibition under the Film and Video Act 2008 was because the
game allowed players the freedom to name the country and its leader or
king as they pleased, and therefore the content was deemed offensive to
the Thai monarchy and might affect national security and the country's
Honestly - I do
not make this nonsense up!
Former Thai minister faces jail for defying junta Channel News Asia
Thitinan Pongsudhirak: Geopolitical ripples from Thailand's coup
Nikkei Asian Review
Thai authority bans game which allows players to stage a coup
Major General South East Asia Globe
Transport plan takes
lead from Pheu Thai Bangkok Post
Junta denies torturing red-shirt activist Kritsuda, insists her happiness
was real Prachatai
Pongsapat sorry for shooting mistake Bangkok Post
A Thai Political Detainee’s Story of Abuse Asia Sentinel
NCPO ‘deterring’ honest opinion polls Bangkok Post Spectrum
The deafening silence of those defying orders Bangkok Post
2 August 2014
reports today that the high-profile academics who have made it onto the
National Legislative Assembly (NLA) clearly have one thing in common - a
stance against the so-called "Thaksin regime".
The Nation story
makes it clear that sharing an anti-Thaksin outlook is of utmost
importance. Instead of sharing an outlook for law and order, equal justice
for all, due process, freedom of speech, individual and equal opportunity
for all, the Junta has focused on "selecting" those holding anti-Thaksin
hope that Thaksin does not return to Thailand. The country does need to
move on. But it also needs to move on from the rule of elite and
privilege. The trouble is that the new leaders are overwhelmingly a part
of the Suthep camp. Thaksin and the red shirts are painted as the sole
reasons for protests, deaths and injuries; the army is not a neutral
player (and it never was).
The junta is not preparing for a future "democracy;" it is preparing to
solidify a regime in which one side (the red shirt side) can never win
The academics chosen to join the NLA also played an active political role
during the protests against the government of former premier Thaksin
Shinawatra's younger sister Yingluck Shinawatra, which rocked the country
for about six months from late last year.
Among these academics are the top executives of higher-educational
institutes, namely, Somkid Lertpaitoon of Thammasat University (TU),
Rajata Rajatanavin of Mahidol University, Chalermchai Boonyaleepun of
Srinakharinwirot University, Wutisak Lapcharoensap of Ramkhamhaeng
University, and Pirom Kamolratanakul of Chulalongkorn University.
The academics expressed their stance against the Yingluck-led government
mostly under the banner of the Council of University Presidents of
These academics also opened their campus grounds for people interested in
joining an anti-Yingluck march on December 9 led by the group that is
today known as the People's Democratic Reform Committee (PDRC).
Moreover, they ordered the temporary closure of their campuses on some
days, citing risks of violence from the political turmoil. Their move,
however, was widely interpreted as a tactic to heap more pressure on the
After she called for the House's dissolution, the CUPT still recommended
the postponement of the general election and urged the formation of a
The council's sixth statement also recommended that the caretaker
government led by Yingluck following the House's dissolution step down to
take responsibility for the political violence.
Somkid, from Thammasat, is also a drafter of the 2007 Constitution, which
was introduced in the wake of the 2006 coup.
Taweesak Suthakavatin, head of the lecturers' council of the National
Institute of Development Administration (NIDA), has also been appointed an
NLA member. People who are against the "Thaksin regime" will have heard
his name before, too.
A few years ago, he co-founded the political group Siam Prachapiwat to
press for political reform and a tough crackdown on corruption.
When the PDRC took to the streets, he also often appeared on its stage.
Other academics recruited to the NLA are Kittichai Triratanasirichai,
president of Khon Kaen University, Niwes Nantachit, president of Chiang
Mai University, Wuttichai Kapinkan, president of Kasetsart University,
Pradit Wanarat, president of NIDA, and Noranit Setabutr, president of the
In years gone by
Thammasat University was at the forefront of Thailand's movements in
support of democracy. Lies were lost on 1973 and 1976. That great legacy
is being eliminated.
world should be at the forefront of protests against military rule, the
elimination of free speech and unlimited powers of arrest and repression.
Instead by aligning themselves with the junta they are compliant in this
Sadly, regardless of how many innocent people are killed in the coming
weeks, months, and years, Thailand will remain an undemocratic country
lacking social justice until it allows people to openly criticize its
powerful institutions — government, military and monarchy. And Thailand's
academic institutions should be supporting that critical thinking. Not
simply becoming a mouthpiece for a ruling military.
Coup as counter-insurgency in Thailand
Thailand has more
military in its parliament than Burma
turns army green
31 July 2014
His Majesty the
King on Thursday night endorsed a list of 200 members for the National
Legislative Assembly (NLA). This is effectively Thailand's new government.
All hand-picked by the coup leaders. Non were elected by the people.
More than half
of them are former and active military officers as expected.
One member is
the coup leader's own brother. Gen. Prayuth’s brother Lt-Gen Preecha Chan-ocha
(who is 3rd army region commander) as well as Gen Prawit’s brother
Patcharawat Wongsuwan and another member from the Wongsuwan family are in
legislature includes 105 people holding military ranks and 11 from the
police. The 84 civilian members include academics, businesspeople,
technocrats and former senators.
This is an
assembly hand-picked by the Junta. Inevitably it is an assembly that
supports the coup and the army. In also includes former two-time PTT CEO
Prasert, Khunying Songsuda Yodmanee (daughter of former dictator Field
Marshal Thanom Kittikachorn and who as AUA President protested against the
US position on the coup), former Senate President Surachai
Liengboonlertchai and Pornpetch Wichiatcholchai, legal adviser to the
National Council for Peace and Order and who is tipped to be voted in as
President of the NLA.
The NLA members inevitably include many people who are seen as being members of
the anti-Thaksin movement. They include Klanarong Chanthink, former member
of the National Anti-Corruption Commission, former senator Surachai
Liangboonlertchai and former senator Somchai Sawaengkarn.
Several of them are active and retired military officers, including Adm
Kamthorn Pumhiran, Lt Gen Chart-udom Tithasiri, Lt Gen Preecha
Chanthara-ocha, and Gen Boonsang Niampradit.
Several leading academics were also appointed, including Noraniti
Setthabutr, former rector of Thammasat University, and Somkid
Lertphaithoon, former rector of Thammasat who is known to be against
former prime minister Thaksin Shinawatra.
Former envoy Kitti Wasinon, Boonthak Wangcharoen, chairman of the Thai
Bankers Association, and Naronchai Akrasanee, former Commerce Minister,
were also appointed.
Som Chatusriphithak, an elder brother of former finance minister Somkid
Chatusriphithak, was also appointed.
Leading businessmen in the NLA include Boonchai Chokwatana, chairman of
Saha Pathanapibul, Suphan Mongkolsuthee, chairman of Federation of Thai
Industries, and Issara Vongkusolkit, chairman of Mitr Phol Sugar and
chairman of the Thai Chamber of Commerce.
Out of 200
members there are twelve women. Very representative?
The legislature is to convene August 7 and will nominate the interim prime
minister, who will then choose Cabinet members.
An appointed reform council will also work with a constitution drafting
committee to create a permanent charter to take effect July 2015,
according to the timetable. Neither body has yet been appointed.
The New Thailand-Myanmar Axis The Diplomat
25 July 2014
Nation newspaper is reporting that the NCPO may pick trusted allies
for the Legislative Assembly. Not so much "may," of course it will.
The National Legislative Assembly is likely to be packed with military
officers, bureaucrats and those with close ties to the junta as the NCPO
will favor those they can trust to ensure unity within the 220-member
unelected law-making body.
In addition many military brass are also expected to join the future
cabinet and other organisations, such as the reform and reconciliation
this is a surprise but here is the view of Panitan Wattanayagorn who was
an advisor to Abhisit's Democrat government and is now a political science
lecturer at Chulalongkorn. He says that the problem with the country's
political system is that only one group of people has acquired power and
previous charters have given them huge power but provided a weak checks
and balances system.
"We must design a mechanism that gives opportunities to people from
various sectors of society to become MPs,'' he said.
Besides, the charter should reflect "Thainess" from the Thai way of life,
the submission culture, the belief in seniority and military hierarchy, he
While there is a third alternative to the dictatorial parliamentary system
and military dictatorship, Thais choose not to go for the third way out
because they prefer populist policies and favour totalitarianism, he
Thailand gets governed by military rule because of its "submission
A passport to happiness is all you need Bangkok Post
Thailand's draft constitution will not restore democracy, expert says
Thailand’s Military Government Thinks John Oliver Is a Threat to Its
Thailand: Two Months Under Military Rule HRW
Thailand: Interim Constitution Provides Sweeping Powers HRW
23 July 2014
After tearing up
the 2007 army drafted constitution Thailand now has a new provisional 48
clause constitution that was apparently endorsed yesterday by the Thai
king in a phot-op with the coup leader.
But the military junta will remain in power to give advice to the new
government in running the country smoothly and peacefully until some form
of elected government is in place.
The army is also given absolute power to resolve any real or perceived
problem not just relating to national security but also to bring
reconciliation, and unity to the country.
constitution's clauses have raised concerns among critics about the
enormous powers granted to the junta chief.
"This gives the power for the NCPO to commit any actions that might
contradict or even go beyond the power given under this constitution,"
said Ekachai Chainuvati, a law lecturer at Bangkok's Siam University. "It
states explicitly that he can perform any actions, such as reshuffling
civil servants, drafting any laws or even punishing people judicially."
NCPO head Gen Prayuth Chan-ocha was granted an audience with the King on
tuesday evening at Klai Kangwon Palace in Hua Hin.
On television a legal adviser to the NCPO, Dr Wisanu, stressed the
necessity to give special power to the NCPO so that the past two-month
efforts in reconciliation and reform would not be a waste.
The charter also states that the NCPO will have no more than 15 members
and will work in cooperation with the government.
But he said the NCPO will not interfere in the work of the government but
merely to give advice, or sitting outside to make sure it functions
The cabinet will comprise 36 members, including the prime minister, while
the national legislative assembly will have 220 members, the national
reform council not more than 250, and a 36- member charter drafting
committee, he said.
the 48-article document makes no provision for a referendum on a permanent
constitution that is to be drafted.
The interim charter’s Article 48 granted amnesty for the coup makers and
the subordinates. In Thailand there are good and bad amnesties!
There is more
here from the splendid Bangkok Pundit.
Thailand’s Democracy Under Siege
Thailand under the junta: Paranoia and conspiracy Al Jazeera
Can Thailand save its democracy? Washington Post editorial.
Thailand's Inevitable Revolution
can shut media down if found criticising junta: NCPO
18 July 2014
The National Council for Peace and Order (NCPO) issued its 97th
announcement stating that the authorities can shut down any media, whether
print, television, radio or online, if it disseminates information deemed
threatening to the monarchy or national security, or criticises the work
of the NCPO.
The announcement, which was issued at around 9.30 pm on Friday, is similar
to the 14th and 18th announcements which prohibit media from interviewing
academics and government officials in a controversial way. They also
prohibit media from disseminating information that could incite violence
or create rifts in society.
The NCPO has also granted to provincial governors, Interior Ministry
officials and the police the power to halt any activity that opposes the
work of the NCPO.
What Life Is Really Like Under Military Rule in Thailand (old 29 May
article but very relevant)
Thai Junta’s Pledge to Send Back Burmese Refugees Sparks Concern
Email on 14
June to Travel Daily News Asia
Your article of 14 July “Downtown Bangkok to host spectacular “Thailand
Happiness” street festival extravaganza” in Travel Daily News states that
Bangkok will host an event that is a “big-bang effort to show the world
that Thai tourism is more than back to normal.”
This is embarrassing nonsense unless you regard the following as normal:
Suspension of basic human rights and free speech; arrests made for simple
acts such as eating a sandwich or reading “1984”.
Massive suppression of “red-shirt” politics and activities in particular
in Thailand’s north and north-east.
Significant increase in press and media censorship. Many tv/radion
Huge propaganda campaign to justify army-led coup.
Army detentions of anyone who is suspected of anti-coup activities.
Payments to civilians for providing evidence of anti-coup activity.
Cancellation of Thai citizenship/passports of Thai citizens overseas who
have not responded to junta orders to return to Thailand for detention.
Increasingly zealous use of articles 112 (lese majeste) and 116 (computer
crimes) to detain citizens under highly questionable charges.
Martial law. Use of military courts rather than civilian courts with no
right of appeal.
The country is under a military-led dictatorship and will remain that way
for the foreseeable future. Any future election will be under a new
constitution that ensures only an army-supported/approved government may
If you truly believe that this is a rapid move back to normality then you
have given up on fundamental human rights and freedoms; and that should
embarrass you and your organisation.
Email on 9
June to David Shepherd organisation:
Your 9 July article “Nature benefits from Thailand's military coup” is
“If you are considering a holiday in Thailand, please do not be concerned
about the politics or problems and feel safe to continue with your
vacation here. It is not dangerous and everything is quiet and moving back
towards normality very rapidly,” wrote your correspondent.
Suspension of basic human rights and free speech; arrests made for simple
acts such as eating a sandwich or reading “1984”.
suppression of “red-shirt” politics and activities in particular in
Thailand’s north and north-east.
Significant increase in press and media censorship. Many tv/radion
Huge propaganda campaign to justify army-led coup.
Army detentions of anyone who is suspected of anti-coup activities.
Payments to civilians for providing evidence of anti-coup activity.
Cancellation of Thai citizenship/passports of Thai citizens overseas who
have not responded to junta orders to return to Thailand for detention.
Increasingly zealous use of articles 112 (lese majeste) and 116 (computer
crimes) to detain citizens under highly questionable charges.
Martial law. Use of military courts rather than civilian courts with no
right of appeal.
The country is under a military-led dictatorship and will remain that way
for the foreseeable future. Any future election will be under a new
constitution that ensures only an army-supported/approved government may
If you truly believe that this is a rapid move back to normality then you
have given up on fundamental human rights and freedoms; and that should
embarrass you and many of your supporters.
Thank you for your email. We would like to apologise for the article you
mention. It was not checked properly and has now been removed.
Head of Brand and Communications
The David Shepherd Wildlife Foundation & TigerTime
Thailand and Myanmar: Traditional rivals now brothers in arms
Revocation of passports by junta restricts freedom of movement and creates
spectre of statelessness
Thailand Trafficking Downgrade Likely to be Maintained, Says Phuketwan
Thailand's New Military Government Is Secretly Vacuuming Up Facebook Data
BBC to run 'pop-up' news stream in Thailand
10 July 2014
The BBC World Service will run a ‘pop up’ news operation in
Thailand from Thursday 10 July. It will launch at 18.30 Thai Time (GMT
The operation will be digital-only and ‘social first’, that is, a news
stream on social media, with both Thai and English content, and it will
run for an initial period of three months.
The move follows the military coup in May after which international
channels, including BBC World News TV, were taken off air temporarily.
Liliane Landor, Controller of Language Services for the World Service,
said: “One of the fundamental principles of the World Service is to bring
impartial and accurate news and to countries when they lack it. We think
the time is right to trial a new Thai and English digital stream to bring
trusted news and information to people inside Thailand.
“Thailand is one of the most digitally advanced societies in South East
Asia and this means we can set up this operation quickly and
The World Service’s Thai Service closed in 2006 after more than 60 years
The BBC has sought and received approval from the Foreign Secretary for
this move, as set out in the Operating Licence governing the relationship
between the World Service and the Government.
Hugo Swire, the Minister for South East Asia, said the move was an
"excellent idea" which would "help support the freedoms of expression and
thought which are such critical parts of any successful democracy", and
that "this initiative embodies what the BBC is all about".
The news stream will launch tomorrow on Facebook, with Thai, regional and
international news in Thai and English.
Thailand has 96m mobile subscriptions out of a population of 67m.
Thailand has 24m Facebook users, with over 13m in Bangkok alone (a growth
of 320% in last 12 months).
singer-turn-red-shirt activist Tom Dundee with lese majeste
9 July 2014
The police charged Thanat Thanawatcharanon, aka Tom Dundee, a country
singer-turn-red-shirt activist, with lese majeste and offences under
Computer Crime Act.
About 20 military and police officers, led by the Technology Crime
Suppression Division, arrested Tom, at his house in Phetchaburi province
Tom’s wife told Prachatai that he was charged for his speech at two
red-shirt rallies, held by Kotee Red Guard, in November 2013, and the
video of his speeches was uploaded to Youtube.
The singer was earlier charged with defying the junta’s National Council
for Peace and Order (NCPO) order for not reporting himself with the
military after summoned. He was then released on bail.
In 2010, the Network of Voluntary Citizen to Protect the Monarchy on
Facebook pressured the Department of Special Investigation (DSI) to
prosecute Tom for his speech at a red-shirt rally in Ratchaburi province.
Thailand: Editor Arrested for Facebook Comments
8 July 2014
Human Rights Watch - Brad Adams, Asia director
(New York) – The arrest of a magazine editor for posting comments critical
of the military on his Facebook page is emblematic of the military
government’s deepening disregard for fundamental rights and freedoms,
Human Rights Watch said today. Thai military authorities should stop
arbitrarily arresting and detaining peaceful critics of the May 22, 2014
military coup and of martial law.
Thanapol Eawsakul, the editor of Fah Diew Khan (Same Sky) magazine, was
placed under a seven-day administrative detention order on July 5 and
transferred to police custody.
“Arresting an editor for a Facebook criticism of military rule shows just
how far the junta will go to silence critics,” said Brad Adams, Asia
director at Human Rights Watch. “The military can neither arrest all
critics nor wish them out of existence.”
Thanapol posted a Facebook message at 3:30 p.m. on July 4 indicating that
the military junta, the National Council for Peace and Order (NCPO), had
ordered him to stop making critical comments about the military
authorities. Thanapol told colleagues that he then received a phone call
from an unidentified military officer asking for a private meeting on July
5 at a coffee shop in Bangkok’s Soi Paholyothin 7 neighborhood. The
officer assured Thanapol the meeting was only to exchange opinions and
that he would not be arrested.
On July 5, Thanapol went to the meeting at about 12:30 p.m. and talked for
10 minutes with a man in civilian clothes who was later identified as Lt.
Col. Pasakorn Kulraviwarn. Then Thanapol made a telephone call to a
colleague, saying he would be taken into military custody. Shortly
thereafter, soldiers in civilian clothes escorted him to a car.
From the car, Thanapol told his colleague by phone that he was being taken
to the 2nd Cavalry Division. Around 6:30 p.m., the authorities imposed the
seven-day administrative detention under martial law and transferred
Thanapol to the police Crimes Suppression Division.
The military had previously detained Thanapol on May 24, after he was
summoned under a martial law order. When he was released on May 30,
Thanapol had to sign an agreement that he would not make political
comments, become involved in political activities, or travel overseas
without permission from the NCPO. Failure to comply could result in a
sentence of two years in prison or a fine of 40,000 baht (US$1,250).
Since the May 22 coup, the military authorities have severely restricted
the rights to freedom of expression, association, and assembly. The
authorities have targeted numerous dissidents and critics for censorship,
arbitrary detention, and prosecution before military courts. More than 300
people have been held in military custody, including ruling party and
opposition politicians, activists, critics, and journalists, as well as
people accused of supporting the deposed government, disrespecting or
offending the monarchy, or taking part in peaceful anti-coup activities.
The military authorities continue to arbitrarily arrest and detain people
despite publicly asserting that the practice has stopped. In an apparent
response to international condemnation, the NCPO announced on June 24 that
everyone being held without charge in military custody had been released.
Yet, the NCPO has provided no information about them.
Two days later, the military authorities announced that the formal summons
procedure would be discontinued. However, Human Rights Watch found that on
June 30 the NCPO issued at least one summons order without any public
announcement, targeting Jom Petchpradab – an outspoken news anchor – and
17 other people.
University professors from Bangkok and other provinces have also been
ordered to report to the military authorities, sometimes without written
orders. In one such case, Hara Shintaro – a well-known Japanese professor
at Prince of Songkhla University in the southern province of Pattani – was
threatened with arrest on June 17 by the 4th Army Region commander, Lt.
Gen. Walit Rojanaphakdee, who accused him of making comments that caused
“disharmony in the society.”
“Arbitrary arrests of dissidents and critics are part of a wider human
rights crackdown under military rule in Thailand,” Adams said. “Concerned
governments should take a strong stand and demand that the military
authorities fully abide by Thailand’s international obligations and build
a road map for the restoration of a democratic government based on human
Protester may face lese majeste for holding “Long Live USA” placard on
8 July 2014
Thai police arrested and charged a woman protester for gathering to show
support for the US in front of the US embassy, Bangkok, on 4 July, or the
The police charged Chaowanat Musikphumi, aka “Nong,” with defying the coup
makers’ order. The police also told her that by holding the placard “Long
Live USA Day,” she may have violated the Article 112 under the Criminal
Code or the lese majeste law. The police accused that the phrase aimed at
parodying “Long Live the King.”
She tried to explain to the police that the phrase “long live” can be used
in many contexts.
Other messages on the placards of Chaowanat read:
“Long live USA day
Pl. help us, we need democracy. But, Thai elite dislike democracy.Thai
junta pretended not to know, Thanks God give today.
USA, AUS, EU, NZ, etc... Please help us. No martial law. No coup”
On 4 July, while Chaowanat, 52, gathered with other protesters at the
embassy, she was detained twice by the plain-clothes authorities, but was
then released. The military and police later arrested her at her house in
eastern Bangkok o 6 July. She was now detained at the Crime Suppression
The police also had the record that she also joined the
protest against the coup at the Bangkok Art and Cultural Center a day
after the coup, Chaowanat told Prachatai
Thai Junta Compares its Coup to Burma’s 1988 Crackdown
simply depressing but it does show how the Junta is thinking and where it
has found its inspiration/encouragement
2 July 2014
military on Friday compared its seizure of power in May to restore
stability after months of unrest to the brutal crackdown by Burma’s former
junta in 1988 to snuff out a pro-democracy movement.
Thailand’s military justified its intervention by the need to restore
stability after months of unrest and demonstrations by pro and
Perhaps unwittingly, the deputy chief of the Thai junta likened its
seizure of power to one of the darkest chapters in the rule of Burma’s
junta, its crushing of pro-democracy protests in 1988 when at least 3,000
people were killed.
“Myanmar’s government agrees with what Thailand is doing in order to
return stability to the nation. Myanmar had a similar experience to us in
1988, so they understand,” said Tanasak Patimapragorn, supreme commander
of Thailand’s armed forces, following a visit to Bangkok by Burma’s army
chief General Min Aung Hlaing."
Siamese dreams in the time of the junta
Thai Game Plan: Drive Shinawatras into Exile : Asia Sentinel
There’s Going to Be a Thai Civil War, Isaan Will Be Its Front Line :
Vice Media News - on
one month since the coup
NCPO keeps special powers over govt Interim charter grants
When truth is missing from the land of (pretended) smiles
When truth is missing from the land of (pretended) smiles
Leaning on Thailand’s Junta New York Times
Some thoughts on Thai political crisis: Claudio Sopranzetti
Suthep’s gaffe will haunt the junta
The Ratchada-Phisek land
Thailand's Divided Military
30 June 2014
Thailand's generals justified last month's coup as a necessary step to
prevent political conflict from escalating. But the military has larger
objectives: bringing the loyalists of former Prime Minister Thaksin
Shinawatra to heel; rewriting the constitution again; and ensuring the
dominance of arch-royalist forces at the twilight of the current monarch's
However, the Thai military is itself riven by factions, making these goals
difficult to achieve even after the coup. In a worst-case scenario, the
competing forces within society could form alliances with sympathetic
generals, leading to civil war.
Ever since its formation in the late 1800s, the Thai military has suffered
from factionalism. Some military cliques have been based around military
personalities, graduating classes, units or corporate interests, while at
least one has been somewhat ideological. But the most powerful factions
have been centered around and most favored by Thailand's monarch.
In 1978, the arch-royalist military faction of Prem Tinsulanonda came to
dominate the armed forces. That year, Gen. Prem became army commander.
Then from 1980-88 he served as prime minister. In 1988, he joined the
king's Privy Council and in 1998 became its chair. Throughout this time he
continued to hold sway over the military and built up a following of
officers in all branches.
Then in 2001 Gen. Prem's faction was directly challenged by incoming Prime
Minister Thaksin Shinawatra, a former police officer who also possessed
extensive military connections. Mr. Thaksin succeeded in appointing his
own loyalists within the military and police. In 2003, Mr. Thaksin's own
cousin Chaiyasit Shinawatra was made army commander, and Mr. Thaksin
gained influence within the Wongthewan army faction based around the elite
But Gen. Prem and his followers fought back. In January 2004, he managed
to install a member of the "Eastern Tigers" faction based on the Queens
Guard, Gen. Prawit Wongsuwan, as army commander. Though Gen. Prawit
retired in 2005, the 2006 coup against Mr. Thaksin was led by Gen. Sonthi
Boonyaratklin, Gen. Prawit's former deputy.
Moreover, the 2006 coup was spearheaded by crack officers belonging to the
Eastern Tigers clique, and led by Generals Anupong Paochinda and Prayuth
Chan-ocha, successive unit commanders of the Queens Guard.The 2006 coup
resulted in most Wongthewan officers being relegated to peripheral
positions while Eastern Tigers officers gained top leadership posts.
Such a situation meant that Thailand's military became increasingly
divided between those who benefited from the post-coup promotions and
those who did not. Lower-ranking and intermediate-level officers tended to
be more sympathetic to Mr. Thaksin while higher-ranking officers were
vehemently anti-Thaksin. In the 2007 and 2011 general elections, most
armed forces personnel voted in favor of pro-Thaksin parties.
In 2009 and 2010, the armed forces violently repressed pro-Thaksin
protestors, but this tainted the image of the military and increased the
popularity of Mr. Thaksin's sister Yingluck Shinawatra. In the 2011
election, she led the pro-Thaksin Puea Thai party to victory and became
That was an opening for the pro-Thaksin forces to again increase their
influence within the military by promoting loyalists. However, Gen.
Prayuth outmaneuvered them and the Eastern Tigers continued to dominate
key positions. Today, Gen. Udomdet Sitabutr—an Eastern Tigers loyalist and
confidante of Gen. Prayuth—holds the position of deputy army commander and
is expected to succeed Gen. Prayuth in October.
Though the Eastern Tigers faction dominates the military today, the King's
Privy Council, which is still headed by Gen. Prem, has recognized that
military stability demands the Wongthewan faction also receive some top
postings. Since 2010, Wongthewan members such as Gen. Daopong Ratanasuwan,
Gen. Paiboon Khumchaya and Gen. Kampanat Ruddit have been given high-level
Why did the 2014 coup take so long to happen? It could have been carried
out when demonstrations began in November 2013. However, in late 2013 and
early 2014 Thailand's generals and palace courtiers were divided about
what course of action to follow. With no clear instructions, the troops
stayed in barracks.
By May, however, arch-royalists composed of persons from the palace, privy
council, judiciary and the Eastern Tigers faction coalesced to jettison
the Yingluck government. The National Council for Peace and Order (NCPO)
was established shortly thereafter, headed by Army Commander Gen. Prayuth
Chan-ocha. Most of the NCPO army leaders are members of the Eastern Tigers
faction, though some belong to Wongthewan.
Today, Gen. Prem's arch-royalist military faction continues to dominate
the military in conjunction with the Eastern Tigers. The 2006 coup placed
this clique in the military's top positions while the 2014 putsch
sustained and reinforced their power.
By casting Mr. Thaksin in the role of bogeyman, the senior brass has
rationalized a leading role for itself. But Thailand remains highly
polarized over Mr. Thaksin's hold over popular politics and repression
only increases sympathy for him. The military is itself divided with many
lower ranking officers supporting the former prime minister.
This dynamic will make it impossible for the military to return real power
to an elected government in the foreseeable future. Even if civilian
government resumes, the generals will continue to exercise control from
behind the scenes. The hard choices that could lead to reconciliation and
political development are unlikely to be addressed until the next monarch
is securely on the throne.
Mr. Chambers is director of research at the Institute for Southeast
Asian Affairs in Chiang Mai, Thailand.
on a Post-Coup Thailand
30 June 2014
On a TV screen in one of Bangkok’s BTS trains, a skit with the theme
samakkee (unity) was playing again and again, featuring all parts of Thai
society talking about the importance of unity in Thailand. With the new
post-coup military government in power, headed by General Prayuth
Chan-ocha, the message conveyed in the propaganda piece is clear – the
Thai military government wants Thai society, deeply divided between Yellow
Shirts and Red Shirts, to bridge their differences, and that the Thai
military is the only legitimate institution that can maintain the unity of
the royal kingdom.
The concept of “samakkee” dates back to the reign of the Rama VI King
Vajiravudh (1910-1925), who incorporated it into his nationalist ideology.
The same concept was also featured significantly by Thai governments
(military and civilian) during the Cold War period in its anti-communist
insurgency campaigns. Right now, after another military coup that ousted
the Pheu Thai Party government, it seems the military is once again
tapping into royal-nationalist ideology, such as samakkee (unity),
samanchan (social harmony), and sandiviti (peaceful means), to convey the
legitimacy of its control.
Authoritarian governments prefer the use of these slogans to justify their
control. The Chinese Communist Party in the recent past, for example,
propagated the concept of hexie shehui (harmonious society) at a time when
it perceived rising social unrest that began in the early 2000s. Indeed,
there are quite a few similarities between Chinese “harmonious society”
and Thai “unity & solidarity.” We can observe a similar kind of
acquiescence amongst the general public toward authoritarian power in both
countries. Certainly there are sporadic protests in Thailand against the
coup, and there are also many individuals openly challenging the military
government, like those using the three-finger resistance hand gesture. In
reality, though, these open gestures of political defiance are few and far
between. Indeed, there have been few large-scale, anti-military social
This is not to suggest that ordinary Thai people do not have grievances
about the coup and the military government: They do, although there is
considerable support among the urban, middle-class Yellow Shirts. What is
noticeable is the tremendous degree of political conformity within Thai
society toward the military as the legitimate political authority. This
conformity is partly a result of political repression. Hundreds of former
government officials, liberal academics, and political activists have been
summoned to report to the military. There has also been a crackdown on
freedom of expression in social media, shutting down alternative
viewpoints in the Thai public sphere. Many people have also practiced
self-censorship and refrained from openly challenging the military
government out of fear of losing their jobs or attracting trouble for
Nevertheless, conformity to military authority is evident on a much wider
scale. It was manifested in Bangkok immediately after the coup, when most
people willingly abided by the curfew with minimal enforcement from the
military. On a taxi ride from the Suvarnabhumi Airport to a hotel in
central Bangkok, two days after the coup when the military government
imposed a curfew from 10:00 p.m. to 5:00 a.m., I saw that the otherwise
boisterous Bangkok streets were silent and dark at 11:00 p.m., even though
no clear military enforcement was in evidence. During the day when walking
around central Bangkok, everything seemingly normal and it was almost
impossible to realize a coup had taken place just three days before. It
was this sense of “everything is normal and life goes on” that made the
coup difficult to comprehend.
In the immediate aftermath of the coup, the U.S. and several other Western
governments voiced criticisms of the military government. The U.S.
government’s punitive gestures in canceling military aid, although more
symbolic than substantial, has drawn noticeable backlash and opposition
from Thailand. Further speculation abounds as to whether such diplomatic
pressure could instead push Thailand closer to China, particularly after a
high-level Thai military delegation visited Beijing on June 11. Although
the diplomatic relationship between China and Thailand cannot be defined
within the general Sino-U.S. rivalry dynamic, there will likely be a
further increase in political, military, and economic cooperation. Given
that Thailand and China do not have any major conflicts of interest
(unlike Vietnam and the Philippines, which have ongoing territorial
disputes with China), and that China’s general tendency is to work with
whomever is in power, the current Thai military government might find in
China a willing and workable partner.
Every day, Thai TV stations broadcast a national song clip repeatedly. In
it, the royalty and military are heavily featured as symbols of Thai
national unity. With the military and the royal family exerting such
strong control over Thai politics, and with both evidently deeply
intertwined, it is indeed difficult to imagine a clear future for a
democratic Thailand. For one, the royalty, as the symbol of Thai national
unity, is allegedly embroiled in a succession problem, and it is difficult
to predict what will happen after the aging king is gone. There is also
little societal pressure to demilitarize Thai politics. Although Prayuth
promised elections after 15 months, once the military government has
carried out some necessary “reforms,” it is still impossible to envision a
Thailand (even if a democratic election is carried out) without the deeply
entrenched military as a political force that intervenes in politics at
Dr. Enze Han is lecturer in the International Security of East Asia,
Department of Politics and International Studies, SOAS, University of
- day 37
In The Land Of Smiles, One Must Be Happy — The Military
Says So - Mint Press news
Thailand's Military Rulers Criminalize These 4 Harmless Acts Global
Army chief slams Suthep and anti-coup duo Bangkok Post
- day 36
The Seismic Shifts
Behind the Coup in Thailand The Asia-Pacific Journal
China steps into the breach Nation.
Thailand Military Junta Needs to Ease Back on its Repressive Freedom of
Expression Policy The Establishment Post
Thai army to
appoint national assembly stacked with military officers
26 June 2014 AFP Thailand's army rulers will appoint a national assembly
stacked with military officers to pick an interim government leader,
officials said on Thursday, as they seek to retain their influence over
the kingdom's political transition.
In the first real hint of the shape the politically fraught country's next
administration may take, army sources told AFP that the military will
select the 200 assembly members and that the junta itself will not be
"We have learned our lesson. By pushing power in other people's hands,
they may not do what we expect them to do," said an official under the
condition of anonymity.
The kingdom's generals are keen to avoid ceding as much power to the
interim government as they did following the last coup in 2006.
- See more at: http://www.straitstimes.com/news/asia/south-east-asia/story/thai-army-appoint-national-assembly-stacked-military-officers-201406#sthash.LODtoBDW.dpuf
junta sets up media watchdogs to monitor anti-coup dissent
26 June 2014
Saiyasombut Siam Voices
military junta has set up watchdogs to monitor all kinds of media for
content that is deemed as “inciting hatred towards the monarchy” or
providing “misinformation” that could potentially complicate the work of
the National Council for Peace and Order (NCPO), as the junta calls
The committee is chaired by Pol Gen Adul Saengsingkaew, deputy NCPO chief
for special affairs. Its members comprise representatives of agencies
including the Royal Thai Police Office, army, navy, air force, Foreign
Ministry, Prime Minister’s Office and Public Relations Department.
The meeting agreed to set up four panels to “monitor” the media:
◾A panel to follow news on radio and television stations, led by the
National Broadcasting and Telecommunications Commission (NBTC);
◾A panel to monitor news in the print media, led by the Special Branch;
◾A panel to monitor news on the social media, headed by the permanent
secretary for information and communication technology; and
◾A panel to monitor international news, led by the permanent secretary for
Upon finding news items deemed detrimental to the NCPO and the royal
institution, they are to send a daily and weekly report to Pol Gen Adul
and the NCPO chief [army chief General Prayuth Chan-ocha].
“Media censorship panels formed“, Bangkok Post, June 25, 2014
“All agencies have a duty to the people and the various media to make them
understand the work of the NCPO, while at the same time to clamp down on
the spread of ‘information’ that could incite hatred towards the monarchy
and also on misinformation,” Pol Gen Adul was quoted as saying by the
Isara News Agency.
The set up of the panels and the large-scale cooperation between the
military, government sectors and “independent” federal agencies is another
sign of attempts to tighten the control over the narrative in the news and
social media, which have been repeatedly warned by the junta not to
broadcast content that “could negatively affect the peace-keeping work of
the authorities”. There has been no clarification on what this would
During the military coup of May 22, 2014 all TV stations were only
broadcasting announcements by the military and several satellite TV
stations (mostly associated with the political protest groups) were
ordered to cease broadcasting and have remained off air since. Others,
including foreign news channels, were gradually allowed back on air under
the condition that they do not air shows debating the political situation.
The junta has also been trying to combat dissent online, especially on
social media. Efforts are made (with the cooperation of Thai internet
service providers) to block access to anti-coup and anti-monarchy content.
Reportedly, at least 200 websites have been blocked and social media users
have been warned not to spread “wrongful” information that may “incite
Authorities have suggested creating a national online gateway in order to
filter out undesirable website and are even considering a national social
network that they’re in full control off. The junta has also reportedly
resorted to gathering user information via phishing, fooling the
unsuspecting user into installing an app on their social network.
In late May, a brief block of the social network Facebook sparked uproar
online, while statements by the Ministry for Information and
Telecommunication Technology (MICT) and the NCPO over whether or not the
Facebook-block was ordered or it was an “technical glitch” contradicted
each other. It emerged later through a the foreign parent company of a
Thai telco company that there actually was an order to block Facebook, for
which it got scolded by the Thai authorities.
The special emphasis by the junta on alleged anti-monarchy content is
highlighted by the fact that since the military coup all cases that fall
under the draconian lèse majesté law are now under the jurisdiction of a
Manop Thiosot, a spokesman for the Thai Journalists Association (TJA),
voiced his concern over the establishment of the junta’s media monitoring
bodies. “Without clear guidelines it could negatively affect the public’s
right to information and severely restrict the work of the media,” Manop
said in an interview with the newspaper Krungthep Turakij. He called on
the NCPO to clarify their working process and make it transparent.
The junta is making it again clear that it will not tolerate dissent and
criticism, all in the name of “avoiding misunderstanding” as it puts it.
It aims to control of the post-coup narrative, but will struggle to get a
handle on the multiple ways people are getting their information and
communicating with each other, as well as the diversity of opinions those
media outlets have spawned.
- day 35
Thai general denies
military coup was planned BBC
I've seen coups in Thailand before. This one feels like
it's for keeps The Spectator
newspaper reports next wave of anti-coup protesters will be wearing white
at malls on Sunday
Thai junta to
censor media causing “hatred toward monarchy”
25 June 2014 Prachatai
Thai junta has set up working groups to monitor all media channels and
will censor media that spread information which lead to “hatred toward the
monarchy,” and false information.
Police General Adul Saengsingkaew, Commissioner-General of the Royal Thai
Police, in his capacity as Deputy Leader of the National Council for Peace
and Order (NCPO), the junta’s temporary administrative body, told the Thai
media on Tuesday that five bodies have been set up to monitor five types
- Broadcast media will be monitor by the National Broadcasting and
Telecommunication Commission (NBTC), the state regulator,
- Print media will be monitored by the Special Branch Police,
- Online media will be monitored by the ICT Ministry
- Foreign media will be monitored by the Foreign Ministry.
“All agencies are responsible for clarifying about the works of NCPO to
the people and the media and keep an eye on all kinds of media, suppress
the news which cause hatred toward the monarchy, spreading false
information,” Issara News Agency quoted Pol Gen Adul as saying.
- day 34:
to an official twitter account of Thai Student Center for Democracy.
All of our updates will be officially announced here.
members had to go to the Army Club near Rangsit to pick up their stuffs
today at 10.00 but later they were brought to Army club at Dheves to
discuss with Gen.Paiboon instead and were released at 1530. They all are
1. When we
reached at the army club, a colonel stared and asked us
"You guys ate sandwiches, you are the foreigners? Are you Thais?
2. One of our
members answered "I'm born and have been raised in Thailand"
3. the colonel
"You're Thai, why did you have to eat sandwiches? you adore those
foreigners? then, better to go eat in somewhere else..."
4. the colonel
"Here is Thailand, you should eat the things belong to Thais, why did you
have to eat those of the foreigners? "
5. Our member
"Sir, i'm thinking to eat
Pat-Krapao" The colonel was silent and later said "Well, if you dare
to eat, i'd dare to arrest you"
(I have linked
to the Pad Krapao reference - after it was banned! In a Thai Army
Thai chargé just told me king didn't endorse #ThaiCoup or appoint Prayuth,
just "noted" an "institutional change." Meaning: a constitutional
monarch's role is merely to passively note whoever has seized power in
Bangkok as the new govt.
John Oliver on the Thai coup
Thai Police General Offers Cash for Snapshots of Dissidents
Missing activist appears on Army TV, saying she’s “more happy than words
Embarrassing Cracks Emerge in Thailand’s Post-Coup Establishment -
Four years of planning. Not such a reluctant leader.
Thailand - A democracy at risk
- US State Department
Political Satire From Buddhist Lent Candles
24 June 2014
annual giant candle parade in Korat will lack its usual touch of humour
due to the Thai army's order that no political satire can appear on the
The parade of giant candles marks the beginning of the three-month
Buddhist Lent (Kao Pansa), during which monks are required to stay
overnight at their temples throughout the entire rainy season.
In previous years, the parade's magnificently crafted candles not only
featured Buddha and mythical beasts in Buddhist cosmology, but also
political figures to raise laughter from the crowds of worshipers and
However, artisans interviewed by Khaosod say that there will be no
reference to politics in this year's celebration in compliance with
instructions from the 2nd Region Army, which is stationed in the province.
According to the candle artists, the soldiers told them that the ban on
political satire is necessary to maintain the atmosphere of
"reconciliation" and to avoid any further conflict in the society.
Some of the political figures featured in last year's candle parade
include then-Prime Minister Yingluck Shinawatra, former Prime Minister
Abhisit Vejjajiva, and the Democrat Party's Deputy Chairman Suthep
The ban is the latest attempt by the military junta's National Council for
Peace and Order (NCPO) to "decolourise" Thailand's politics and stifle any
display of political expression in the wake of the military coup on 22
Instead of the traditional tongue-in-cheek references to politics, the
main features of the candle parade this year will involve Lord Buddha and
His Majesty the King, artists say.
The event is scheduled to take place on 12 July along the seven-kilometre
stretch of road in Nakhon Ratchasima's town centre.
A panel of judges will pick the most beautiful candle in the parade, and
the winning team of artists will receive a special award from Her Royal
Highness Princess Maha Chakri Sirindhorn.
vow 'fightback' against coup
24 June 2014
leader of the toppled Pheu Thai party on Tuesday launched the first
official opposition group to the nation's coup-making junta, bidding to
draw together dissidents within the country and outside its borders.
Ruangsuwan, who was leader of the Pheu Thai party as well as a senior
minister, will lead the "Organisation of Free Thais for Human Rights and
Democracy" from self-exile in an unnamed country, according to the
following declaration marking the group's founding.
It is now
tragically evident that Thailand has returned, once again, to a vicious
cycle of absolute dictatorial governance. The military junta regime that
enacted this - in the name of the National Council for Peace and Order (NCPO)
led by the Army chief, Gen. Prayuth Chan-Ocha - has used force to seize
power from a democratically-elected civilian government. This is an
outrageous act that has violated both Thai and international laws.
It is clear that the junta’s actions are nothing but a grand larceny. What
they have stolen, however, are your most precious sovereignty and
fundamental rights that are legally guaranteed under democratic
governance. It’s impossible to put a price on these rights because they
are directly equivalent to basic human dignity - a treasure whose value is
Moreover, the junta has violated the rule of law, abused democratic
principles, and destroyed your rights, liberties, and human dignity. These
are their most destructive crimes. The junta’s attempts to propagandise
these criminal acts as legitimate are predictable - with their false
promise to return “peace and order” - being nothing more than a deception
wherein they attempt to rationalise and excuse their criminal actions.
Their ultimate aim is to attempt to persuade ordinary Thai people to
believe that dictatorship is superior to democracy. This game plan of
demeaning and discrediting your sovereignty is one that has always been
played out by Thai dictators and, as always, it has failed and will fail.
We condemn all the arbitrary and repressive violations of the rights and
liberty of Thais and foreigners by the Thai military regime and its allies
in their continued attempts to turn Thailand into a “state of fear”. The
military regime have also claimed that at some point they will transfer
sovereign power back to civilian authorities.
What they mean is that that will have created a new puppet structure whose
sole purpose will be to re-entrench anti-democratic elements into
Thailand’s body-politic and to sabotage the development of Thai democracy.
Any such structure will need to be removed before a more democratic and
civilised society can be built.
On behalf of Thais worldwide who are committed to the principles of
democracy and universal human rights, I hereby announce our complete and
total refutation of the legitimacy of the NCPO. The military regime and
its conspirators have no legitimate power whatsoever to govern the
country’s economy and society.
Furthermore, we will do everything in our power to prevent the
re-entrenchment of anti-democratic elements in Thailand, to defend all
forms of freedom, to demand respect in all forms of human rights, and to
establish a full democracy as permanent pillar of Thai society.
In order for Thais to establish a full democracy in which sovereign power
lies fully with the people, we again completely refute the legitimacy of
the Thai military regime and officially announce the establishment of the
“Organisation of Free Thais for Human Rights and Democracy (FT-HD) on this
day Tuesday, June 24th, 2014. This organisation will now become the centre
for all Thais who possess an unyielding desire for full democracy, in full
compliance with the principles of democracy, universal human rights,
international laws, and non-violence.
The term “Free Thai” or “Seri Thai” - with its connections to the
resistance movement during World War II - has a deep resonance with
ordinary Thais, reflecting their genuine desires for freedom and dignity.
We are fortunate today that Thais have such an historical role model in
order to struggle against yet another oppressor. And our oppressors need
to be clear - we will not remain inactive and accept the imposed order and
we will fight together until victory is fully realised.
Colleagues in Thailand and other nations around the world have therefore
agreed to pursue the following initial goals for the establishment of the
“Organisation of Free Thai for Human Rights”:
1. To oppose the military dictatorship and its aristocratic network, and
establish the people’s complete and unchallenged sovereignty;
2. To restore and strengthen Thai democracy so that it becomes the stable
founding pillar of the Thai state;
3 To guarantee and nurture respect for human dignity, equality, freedom,
4 To promote a free and fair economy;
5 To reform Thai culture so that its values are fully consistent with
6. To fully develop and improve the quality of life for all Thai citizens
I hereby announce the establishment of the Organisation of Free Thais for
Human Rights and Democracy (FT-HD). Our struggle will become possible when
all groups and sectors work hard and actively together so that we can meet
our common goals.
Announced on Tuesday, June 24th, 2014
- day 33
Suthep in talks
with Prayuth ‘since 2010’ Thaksin regime target in secret talks
A Yellow Shirt Leader Says the Thai Coup Was Planned in 2010 :Time
Suthep’s statement is clear, concise and incriminating.
He simply claims that he and Gen Prayuth have been discussing the need for
a coup since 2010. Prayuth will be angry. He will want
it withdrawn or may even deny it, but the damage is done.
Suthep worked together, engaging in a conspiracy to overthrow the elected
Yingluck government from a time prior to its election, after it was
elected and obviously schemed and plotted “to bring down former prime
minister Yingluck …, including the period leading up to the coup when she
was defence minister.”
Later in the day a spokesperson for the military junta has rejected the
revelation by the former anti-government protest leader that the army has
been seeking to overthrow the previous government for years.
According to Mr. Suthep, he has discussed with Gen. Prayuth how to root
out the influence of Former Prime Minister Thaksin Shinawatra and his
political allies as early as 2010 - a year before Former Prime minister
Yingluck Shinawatra won the 2011 election and took the helm of the
Col. Winthai Suwaree, spokesman of the military junta's National Council
for Peace and Order (NCPO), said on Friday that the report was false,
insisting that there is no such talk between the protest leader and the
Suthep also said that he and Gen Prayuth continue to communciate regularly
using the Line app.
Protecting Thailand’s king with a gag Pavin
Chachavalpongpun in the Gulf News - originally Washington Post
your friends; citizens as spies.
23 June 2014
The Royal Thai Police would give rewards of 500 Baht for each picture
taken of any person taking part in the anti-coup activity as clue for
arrests, according to Royal Thai Police deputy commissioner Pol Gen Somyot
He said if the public see anyone expresses symbolic intention that opposes
the control of the National Council for Peace and Order, and can take
photos and send them to the police as a evidence leading to the arrests,
the person would get 500 baht as rewards.
He said such photos can also be taken from social media or other
application in the internet.
Note from @pakhead
people welcome coup. But how many oppose? Real fear in RS areas. Who dares
speak now, when they cd face years in jail?
But when will
election be? And under what kind of constitution? Limiting franchise to
finish TS will only stoke RS resentment.
- day 32
In all fairness ...surprising
article from Andrew Biggs in the Bangkok Sunday Post magazine
On twitter today
from Jonathan Head:
Saw a middle
aged woman bundled into a police truck at Wat Pathum just for wearing
'Respect My Vote' T-shirt. 1 month after #Thaicoup
Am now told 2
women arrested at Wat Pathum this morning. 1 just accompanied 72 year-old
with offending T Shirt. Neither said or did anything
reading 1984 and eating sandwich arrested at Siam Paragon. Cops
everywhere. 6 more detained for holding sandwiches. Madness!
8 anti-coup protesters
22 June 2014
The Bangkok Post
Police arrested eight people Sunday for demonstrating
against Thailand's military junta, including a man who was dragged away by
undercover officers for reading a copy of George Orwell's "Nineteen
Eighty-Four" outside one of Bangkok's most luxurious shopping malls.
The arrest was the first known case of anyone being detained for reading
as a form of protest since the military seized power last month.
Handfuls of anti-coup protesters have staged several silent readings of
the classic book elsewhere in the capital in recent weeks because they say
its indictment of totalitarianism has become relevant after the army
deposed the country's elected government in a May 22 coup.
A police officer said all the arrests took place in and around Siam
Paragon, a crowded, upscale mall in downtown Bangkok that is one of
Southeast Asia's largest. It was the world's most photographed location on
Instagram last year.
The officer spoke on condition of anonymity because he is not authorised
to give information to the media.
A reporter who witnessed the lone man reading Orwell's book said he was
taken away by half a dozen plainclothes police. The reporter, who asked
not to be identified because of the sensitivity of the situation, said the
man first read the book quietly, then held it up as officers approached
and journalists took photos.
When questioned, the man said he was reading the book for "liberty,
equality and fraternity" — the slogan of the French Revolution. The man
was also playing the French national anthem on his smartphone, the
Several other people were also detained in the shopping mall's food court
for preparing to hand out sandwiches, mimicking another recent protest in
which a small group of student activists from Bangkok's Thammasat
University gave out what they said were "sandwiches for democracy".
The eighth arrest Sunday was of a woman wearing a T-shirt with the words
"Respect My Vote" on it. The phrase became popular among pro-democracy
groups trying to counter anti-government protesters who obstructed
elections on Feb 2 that were later annulled in a controversial court
The protesters had accused the then government of corruption and abuse of
power, and had repeatedly called for it to be overthrown and urged the
army to intervene. The government, meanwhile, had argued that the nation's
fragile democracy was under attack by protesters, the courts, and finally
the military which staged the coup.
The junta that took power last month has proven to be one of the most
repressive regimes in Thailand in more than four decades. Military
authorities have made clear they will tolerate no dissent. They have
summoned hundreds of people perceived as threats to public order - mostly
members of the ousted civilian government, activists and intellectuals;
most of those released have had to sign pledges saying they will not
- day 31
Grim outlook for human rights after a month of martial law
21 June 2014
There appears to be no end in sight to violations of a range of human
rights one month after martial law was declared in Thailand, Amnesty
International warned today.
Since the military declared martial law on 20 May 2014, the rights to
freedom of expression and peaceful assembly have been harshly restricted
and extended powers of detention have resulted in some 511 individuals
including political activists being arbitrarily detained, though most were
held for a few days.
“Sacrificing human rights for political expediency is never a price worth
paying – Thailand’s National Council for Peace and Order must ensure that
the rights to freedom of expression and peaceful assembly are protected.
They must stop arbitrary detentions and prosecutions of peaceful critics,”
said Richard Bennett, Asia-Pacific Director at Amnesty International.
“It is high time Thailand’s military rolls back the repressive and vaguely
worded orders it has put in place, many of which violate Thailand's
obligations under international human rights law.”
Waiving constitutional protections and detention safeguards has undermined
respect for human rights and the rule of law, and may have contributed to
the possible enforced disappearance of at least one activist.
Kritsuda Khunasen, a prominent political activist, has not been seen or
heard from since she was reportedly arrested in Chonburi Province,
south-east of the capital Bangkok, on 28 May.
Arbitrary detention, denial of bail and prosecution are increasingly being
used as measures to keep people from speaking out about the political
situation. Hundreds of people – more than 90 per cent of whom are
political allies or supporters of the former government, as well as
academics and journalists – have been arbitrarily detained, after being
ordered to report to authorities.
Failing to report to authorities is now a criminal offence, and those who
have reported and been released are threatened with prosecution if they
engage in activities perceived to be against the military takeover.
Authorities have charged critics for acts of peaceful dissent under
security legislation and laws that severely restrict human rights, in
violation of Thailand’s international legal obligations. Using social
media to call for demonstrations, and even clicking “like” on certain
Facebook posts may be treated as criminal offences.
Authorities are also speeding up prosecutions under Thailand’s lèse
majesté law – which criminalizes criticism of the monarchy – and is
denying bail to those charged under it.
Beyond directly silencing the media, the restrictions are creating an
environment of self-censorship and uncertainty about freedom of expression
that is not conducive to free participation in discussions about
reconciliation and Thailand’s political future.
“The raft of repressive measures in place in Thailand paints a grim
picture of the state of human rights under martial law. The military
authorities must immediately revoke these restrictions and stop detaining
and prosecuting activists for peacefully exercising their human rights,”
said Richard Bennett.
Amnesty International renews calls for authorities to make public the
identity and whereabouts of all individuals held under martial law. The
organization is calling for the immediate and unconditional release of all
those detained solely for exercising peacefully their human rights to
freedom of expression and assembly. Anyone suspected of a recognizably
criminal offence should be charged and prosecuted in civilian courts, and
in proceedings which meet international standards of fairness.
activist #Kritsuda detained by military since 28May; won’t disclose
detention location-‘she needs focus’
And no, Kritsuda
hasn’t got any lawyer b/c “she hasn’t been charge w/ any crime”; all
treated “like family” w/ 24 hr access to medical care.
explained to @hrw: #Kritsuda was “in a reporting process” & there are “no
violations of her human rights.” - She has been detained in an unknown
location without charges and without legal support for four weeks -
exactly what would be a violation of her human rights?
abt post-coup period is no one in PT or RS will openly demand answer on
issues like Kritsuda.
NCPO Detains Red Activist 'To Help Her Meditate'
Thailand: Account for
‘Disappeared’ Political Activist
Former minister Chaturon
faces Computer Crime charges
Thai police create fake
FB app to get Thai net users’ information, target users trying to open
Open up to spur cultural revolution
For all the
economic meddling do not forget the clear primary agenda of the coup
leaders is to create a parliament that royalists control.
- day 30
The elephant in the room; Thailand's royal succession and the coup
cannot move forward when it is up against an elitist bureaucracy that is
deferential to the crown, a military that acts in its own self-interest,
though in the name of the crown, and the crown itself, three institutions
that are – if not anti-democratic – then at least skeptical towards
majoritarian rule. A weakened monarchy will also undermine the military
and bureaucracy. Then and only then, will Thai democracy have a fighting
chance. Nothing scares the generals more than this."
Thailand’s Post-Coup “Democracy” Look Like?
June 20 2014 Council for Foreign Relations - Joshua Kurlantzick
"As an excellent piece in the Associated Press notes this week, Thailand’s
junta appears to be entrenching itself for the long haul. Junta leader
Prayuth Chan-ocha has named himself to Thailand’s Board of Investment. The
junta is putting other cronies at the heads of major state-controlled
companies, Prayuth has left the timetable for a total return to civilian
rule purposefully vague, and the coup leaders also have refused to say
exactly what that civil government will look like, or what Thailand’s next
constitution will look like either. (The generals essentially ripped up
the previous constitution after launching the coup in May.)
However, you can bet that the “democracy” Thais inherit some time after
the junta steps down is going to bear little resemblance to the political
system in Thailand of the past fifteen years–or to internationally
accepted norms of what constitutes democracy. Having learned from
Thailand’s 2006 coup, when the army failed to totally undermine the power
of rural voters, the junta likely will push through new legislation that
will never allow Thailand’s numerical majority to prevail over other power
Instead, expect the post-coup “democratic” government to look like this:
1. Appointed members of parliament or those selected from Hong Kong-style
“functional constituencies” will have immense power in the next civilian
government. The People’s Democratic Reform Committee protestors, who
paralyzed Bangkok for months in late 2013 and early 2014 and helped
trigger the coup, often pushed for such a scheme. A scheme in which
appointed members of parliament constitute a large percentage of the
chambers would dilute the rural majority’s power and keep Bangkok
effectively in control of the legislature, which is especially important
during a monarchical succession. (This idea of non-elected MPs has a long
history, and dates back to previous elite protests in Thailand in the late
2000s.) The army leaders have said that they want to cool political
temperatures and do not favor any side of Thailand’s poisonous color-coded
politics, but that vow of neutrality already has been proven completely
false. Expect the military to push through an appointed/functional
constituencies scheme in which at least half of parliament’s upper and
lower house (the Senate previously had non-elected members) is selected
2. Prominent members of Thaksinite parties will be banned from politics
for life, unless they have already turned tail and totally given into the
junta, like former Thaksin ally and former Minister of Agriculture Sudarat
Keyuraphan. Since Thaksin first won the prime ministership in 2001, the
judiciary, the palace, and the military have used five-year bans to keep
pro-Thaksin politicians out of office, but the elites underestimated the
staying power of Thaksin and of rural voters. Indeed, many politicians who
were banned, like former minister Chaturon Chaiseng, were able to come
back after five years and again lead Thaksinite parties and serve in
ministerial positions. Expect the army and its selected constitution
drafters (all of whom will be appointed and not elected) to find a way to
keep the most important pro-Thaksin politicians out of politics for the
rest of their lives. It used to be said that, in Thailand, everyone in
politics always gets a chance to come back, no matter what they have done
in the past…but that was then, and this is a different time in the
3. The judiciary and other institutions will be made even stronger. Since
2006, the judiciary and other bureaucratic institutions have been key
weapons in the Bangkok elites and middle classes’ battle to maintain
control of politics, but at times Thaksinite parties have managed to put
some of their own allies in key judicial and bureaucratic posts. No more.
The junta will leave a constitution and legislation that both makes the
judiciary and other institutions stronger and insulates these institutions
from any control at all by an elected prime minister.
4. The army’s constitution drafters will figure out a way to provide an
amnesty for the 2014 coup-makers who, after all, broke the law by seizing
power. Amnesty for the coup-makers? That’s one Thai tradition that isn’t
going out of style."
As for the new
constitution - Post Today:
Military source says there will be no constitution referendum
Many articles appearing - usually from self serving people in the industry
- saying that tourism to Thailand has never been safer. Safe does not
equal ethical. Look at Thailand for what it is. If 25 million people
stayed away the military would get a very loud message.
Thairath Online reports that the Commander of Technology Crime Suppression
Division admits the mistake of shutting down the Association of Tennis
Professionals websites (www.atptennis.com and www.atpworldtour.com) due to
his misunderstanding of being gambling websites.
He said the Police's Technology Crime Suppression Division has beefed up
on measures against all kind of gambling websites. They would be shut down
if found to constitute any kind of gambling.
- day 29
Red Shirt DJ
interviewed by BBC was invited for a talk with military in Udonthani;
Jonathan Head confirmed that the "farmer in my report also summoned. But
message was clear: don't say anything negative to foreign media."
Thailand junta tries to silence its critics to protect the king
China is a big winner from Thailand’s coup East Asia Forum
Military raids and Thai Red Shirt disquiet Al Jazeera in Khon Kaen.
Thai police, foreign ministry join forces to arrest 'Rose' Utterly,
utterly clueless. She is a British citizen living in the UK. She will
never be extradited to face a military court in a country living under
military rule following the removal of an elected government.
NCPO rebukes Human Rights Watch on rights issue (and the government
has blocked HRW Thailand's web site).
Cambodia blames Thailand as 220,000 migrant labourers cross border -
this would be the leading story across news networks if it was not for the
unfolding civil war in Iraq.
twitter: "Andy Hall, Phuketwan, Reuters, Telenor. Message is don't deliver
bad news abt Thailand even if it is true." He is right.
Hunger Games salute, no eating sandwich as a form of protest, no drawing
of 3-finger on banknotes, no protest >NO RIGHTS?"
needs 'organised' corruption
Investors, local and foreign, understand corruption. It’s a natural
extension of the economy. It can’t be avoided. But it can be dealt with.
19 June 2014 Bangkok Post Editorial Opinion - Writer: Voranai Vanijaka
Investors prefer organised corruption to disorganised corruption. They
would like to know who needs to be paid, and once paid they like things to
get done. This is organised corruption. The key is, only one group should
be paid. No more.
In Thailand, the problem is the payments never stop. New faces always come
to collect, old faces keep getting hungry again, and you’ve got to pay
Over the past 20 years, most of the times corruption in Thailand has been
a gangbang. It keeps going. It doesn’t stop. And, then, maybe only half
the work gets done.
Here’s a firsthand story. Once upon a time there was a famous Hollywood
director filming in Thailand. It was a movie about a bisexual Greek
general who tried to conquer the known world over 2,000 years ago.
Being a fan of the drinks and the ladies, of which we have plenty, the
director quite enjoyed working in Thailand. But he also swore to the gods
that he would never film a movie in this country again. Why? Because the
payments never stop.
There were always new faces showing up to collect their tea money, and
even old faces keep asking for more.
This director understood greed. After all, in one of his most famous
movies the main antagonist did proclaimed this famous line, ‘’Greed, for
lack of a better word, is good. Greed is right. Greed works. Greed
clarifies, cuts through, and captures, the essence of the evolutionary
Well, this was before the director experienced Thai greed.
Investors know that to invest in Thailand, they have to prepare a special
budget for corrupt politicians and officials. But it’s very difficult for
the accountant to prepare a tea money budget when corruption is so
Foreign investors often marvel at Thailand’s resilience, or luck, or a
combination of both, even while at the same time making complaints about
Given that we are notorious for corruption and inefficiency, our economy
continues to push through in even the worst of times. Take the last decade
of political upheavals, natural disasters and worldwide economic melt
But it isn’t going to last forever without some drastic changes,
especially with the beating the Thai economy has been taking of late.
If there’s capitalism, then there’s corruption, especially in a developing
country. The two go together like a horse and carriage.
There is no getting rid of corruption; no one understands this better than
investors, local or foreign. But again, make it organised corruption (and
keep it to a minimum), rather than a disorganised one.
- day 28
Thailand's 'polite coup' should put itself on right side of history:David
Streckfuss Nikkei Asian Review
A Young Thai Activist Has Vanished, and the Junta Isn’t
In Thailand, a Struggle for Control of State Firms
So HRW Asia in Thailand is now blocked by the military
junta. Not good.
- day 27
Telenor Group axes Asia chief over Facebook row - how do you embarrass
a military junta - you tell the truth! This was a Bangkok Post story that
the newspaper has now deleted as Telenor have argued that the story is not
true. Which suggests that the BP should check its sources.
Jonathan Head on
twitter: "I suppose the message is clear. Corporates can be bullied by
threatening their bottom line. I'm sure it won't be lost on NCPO."
HRW: Thai junta has 'severely harmed' faith in democracy
- day 26
NCPO targets universities in PR drive - Education, indoctrination,
Military raids and Thai Red Shirt disquiet
"A source said
Gen Prayuth placed great emphasis on the need to educate scholars and
students at Thammasat University on NCPO objectives as the campus is an
important venue for anti-coup protesters and Nitirat Group members."
Thailand’s Junta Flexes Its Muscles Online
Mr. Heinecke cannot have his coup and eat it too
Ominous signs for migrant workers in Thailand
The Bangkok Coup: Shock and Awe
Cambodian exodus from Thailand grows to 160,000
Rojanaphruk@PravitR "I have no problem with patriotism but I have a big
problem with ultra nationalism & xenophobia"
leaders' goal: Democracy on their terms
16 June 2014
The Associated Press
From the day
Thailand's military coup leader seized power last month, he has promised
unspecified reforms to restore stability and return to civilian rule and
democracy. Yet, Gen. Prayuth Chan-ocha has mentioned a striking obstacle
to a "fully functional democracy" - elections.
According to the general, elections themselves have contributed to years
of bitter political division and sometimes-violent street protests in
Thailand. The military says intractable turmoil forced it to step in and
topple a government for the second time in a decade.
"We need to solve many issues, from administration to the budget system to
corruption," Prayuth said in a recent radio address, "And even the
starting point of democracy itself - the election."
He continued, "Parliamentary dictatorship has to be removed. All these
have caused conflict and unhappiness among Thai people."
The statement was the strongest sign yet of what many analysts suspect is
the true aim of the May 22 coup: limiting the impact of future elections
in Thailand by relying more on appointed institutions or some other
formula to limit majority rule.
The elected government led by Prime Minister Yingluck Shinawatra was
weakened by six months of often massive protests and a succession of court
rulings. Anti-government protesters blocking polling places and a
subsequent court ruling scuttled February elections that Yingluck's party
had been widely expected to win.
Opponents of the ousted government are intent on removing the influence of
Yingluck's brother, Thaksin Shinawatra, the billionaire former prime
minister who was himself ousted in a 2006 military coup. He has lived in
self-imposed exile for years to avoid serving time for corruption charges
he says were politically motivated, and it was a proposal to grant him
amnesty that sparked the protests against his sister's government.
Thaksin's supporters have won every election since 2001, to the ire of
many in Thailand who see him as a corrupt demagogue who abuses power and
buys votes with populist promises.
The general didn't explain what he meant by "parliamentary dictatorship,"
nor has he elaborated on any specifics of reforms, but he made clear his
opinion that the current electoral system was not working.
"They always say 'reform,' and what does 'reform' mean? At one level, it
means get rid of Thaksin, his people and control his power base," said
Thongchai Winichakul, a Thai scholar and professor of history at the
University of Wisconsin.
Support for Thaksin is strongest among poorer, rural Thais, particularly
in the country's north and northeast. His opponents are concentrated in
Bangkok and the south, and are more likely to be wealthy or middle-class.
"In their view, people keep electing the wrong government. There is the
core of it," said Duncan McCargo, professor of Southeast Asian Politics at
Britain's University of Leeds, said of the anti-Thaksin forces who have
repeatedly turned out into streets, taking over government buildings and
once even occupying Thailand's international airport for a week.
The most recent protesters, led by a former leader of the main opposition
party, Suthep Thaugsuban, complained of "the tyranny of the parliamentary
majority" and called for setting up an unelected council to usher in
reforms. That roughly matches the plans of the junta - officially known as
the National Council for Peace and Order - though for the moment it is
promoting "happiness" and reconciliation as it cracks down on all forms of
It is unclear how coup supporters intend to reform Thai democracy, but
Thongchai expects they will attempt to balance the popular vote of the
electorate with the wisdom of what is known as the "khon dee," or
"The most important matter to those who speak of traditional principles is
rule by the virtuous." Thongchai said. "Harmony and consensus is supposed
to be the behavior of this rule by the virtuous because the 'subjects' are
supposed to be grateful and loyal to the virtuous."
Many opponents of the ousted government say they are the ones who stand
for true democratic values, and that it is Thaksin's brand of roughshod
politics that goes against traditional Thai values of harmony and
consensus, as columnist Tulsathit Taptim suggested in a recent article for
the Nation newspaper.
"A 'winner takes all' democracy is too much for Thailand. It makes the
losers sour and the triumphant side do whatever is necessary to keep the
status quo," Tulsathit wrote, adding, "This style of democracy is not
totally democratic, at least over here."
Or as Prayuth said in his speech June 6, saying, "We understand that we
are living in a democratic world, but is Thailand ready in terms of
people, form and method?"
From 1932, when Thailand became a constitutional monarchy, until 2001,
when Thaksin was swept into office, the country was for the most part
ruled either the army itself or, later, a select group of politicians who,
while elected, were closely aligned with the country's elite. Thaksin, a
former policeman turned telecoms tycoon, upset the status quo in the eyes
of many by amassing power for himself and refusing to give it up. He has
remained powerful even from his current home in the United Arab Emirates;
when his sister's Pheu Thai Party rose to power in 2011, it employed the
slogan "Thaksin thinks, Pheu Thai acts."
Thaksin's opponents, unable to beat him at the ballot box, have used other
methods to counter him. After the last military coup in 2006, a new
constitution was written that made the Senate partially appointed, though
the House of Representatives remained a fully elected body. The Senate, in
turn, appoints judges and leaders of other institutions who have largely
been viewed as anti-Thaksin.
"In many ways, this coup is an extension of the 2006 coup, which many in
the military see as a failure in that it didn't go far enough in
eliminating the Thaksin network," said Michael Connors, a scholar in
Apparently, Thailand's coup leaders still haven't figured out how to
restore at least the appearance of democracy while avoiding yet another
election victory for Thaksin supporters, said Charles Keyes, a longtime
scholar on Thailand at the University of Washington who has written a book
on the rise of the populist movement in Thailand's northeast.
"What the military has to do is to be seen as restoring democracy or else
they are going to be a pariah. There has to be some movement in that
direction and I think there will be movement in that direction," Keyes
said. "But whether it will be really restoration of democracy as most of
the rest of the world would see it - well, that is the question."
Another question: Will Thailand's next version of democracy be accepted by
the millions who keep voting for Thaksin-allied parties?
"Many things have changed in Thailand. Measures that may have been
acceptable even a few years ago may well not be today," said Michael
Montesano, co-coordinator for the Thailand program at Singapore's
Institute of Southeast Asian Studies. "If the result is something that
many Thais see as undemocratic, then that is a recipe for more
A culture of
16 June 2014
- The Bangkok Post
This could be the worst week ever for Thailand and its international human
rights image. Overseas media has been heavily criticising the nation for
lack of action on slave labour. The sudden and highly alarming raids and
forced deportation of tens of thousands of migrants has attracted strong,
negative attention in the region and among non-government groups. And in a
couple of days, it is almost certain Thailand will be dumped by a US human
trafficking report into the "worst of the worst" offenders category, equal
to North Korea, Saudi Arabia and other slavery enablers.
How did it come to this imperfect storm of humiliation? It is particularly
galling that the country is making such headlines in international circles
while trying to adjust to yet another military regime. Between global
refusal to welcome the army's actions and a storm of criticism on the most
basic questions of human rights, it is a trying time. It is clear what
happened to get the country into this mess. It is equally clear that
vigorous action against human trafficking will solve the problem.
But it's not quite that simple to do. Take the latest problem first. For
reasons that are as unclear as most of its actions, the National Council
for Peace and Order (NCPO) last week began sudden and forceful roundups of
illegal migrants. Army spokeswoman Sirichan Ngathong said the roundups,
most of them during the curfew, were a security measure to remove all
illegal aliens from Thailand. So tens of thousands of migrants were
crammed inhumanely into military trucks, taken to the border and dumped.
It is only an extension of similar, recent treatment and extortion of
migrants and refugees, most notably Rohingya.
Immediately, there were reports from NGOs of brutality, beatings and —
from Cambodian sources — alleged nine deaths by troops. NCPO chief Prayuth
Chan-ocha issued a statement praising migrant workers, meaning those with
work papers. But around the region, there was only negative reaction. The
reports of savage handling of the migrants should be addressed; the
indiscriminate raids and heartless dumping should stop. But the new
regime's appeal to nationalism and deportations will likely prevail,
ensuring the country's image abroad will continue to suffer.
Last week, Thailand was the only country in the world to vote against a
new International Labour Organisation pact that calls on each nation to
free slaves and provide help. Also, a series of articles in the British
media has once again exposed the indentured labour that supports
Thailand's thriving seafood industry. Even the largest national
conglomerate, the CP Group, was able to confirm that only 72% of its
output is untainted by forced labour.
This week's US report on human trafficking, considered a "gold standard"
by the world, will most likely further shame the country. Dropping
Thailand into the so-called "Tier 3" of nations comes after three years of
cautions from Washington, the UN and elsewhere.
A culture of acceptance of exploitation of migrants from neighbouring
countries has enveloped the country. This has been caused by lack of
action by successive governments, political and military. The current
regime, instead of taking action against human trafficking, has piled on
yet another layer of problems with its deportations at gunpoint.
It is not necessary to pass more laws, but to track and arrest traffickers
under current laws. It is not necessary to protest international
criticism, but to note the problems and act accordingly.
- day 25
Over 70,000 Cambodians leave Thailand. Why? UPDATE: Now,
No Detail Too Small for Thai Junta
Absolutism is fashionable
Thai cyber police step up royal slur patrols
promoted free movie - The Legend Of King Naresuan 5 - as
reviewed by the Bangkok Post "If you find this review boring, sorry,
but that’s my feeling thinking about the film, too. Thinking is still
allowed, I believe, in this place and time."
sacks news director for violating junta’s order
The National Broadcasting Services of Thailand, or Channel 11, “suspended”
news affairs director for violating junta’s orders forbidding media to
create conflict or oppose the work of the National Council for Peace and
The order said that Charoensri Hongprasong, Channel 11’s news director on
June 13 broadcasted content deemed violating the junta’s orders no.14 and
18 that forbid all kinds of media to disseminate information criticising
Channel 11’s director decided to replace Charoensri with Jittima Wutthiwat,
a senior communication officer to work as a news director.
- day 24
Nganadeeleg : 'Reconciliation' in Thailand
really means: 'know your place in the hierarchy'
Rojanaphruk@PravitR OBEY THE JUNTA LEADER / BELIEVE IN HIM / DO NOT
QUESTION HIM / CARRY ON AS A FREE CITIZEN OF THAILAND
Thailand's 'polite coup' should put itself
on right side of history: David Streckfuss Nikkei Asian Review
Coup? What Coup? The Thai Junta Is Denying Everything
websites include The UK's Daily Mail, Zen Journalist,
Police were at
my niece's school yesterday representing the NCPO to tell the students
that there should be no gambling...
labour exodus from Thailand continues today
14 June 2014
International Organisation for Migration (IOM) for Asia-Pacific said
37,000 Cambodian migrants left Thailand on Friday and another 6,000 tried
to leave Saturday morning, bringing the total to 60,000 over the past
IOM is an inter-governmental organisation in the field of migration, with
155 member states, a further 11 states holding observer status and offices
in over 100 countries.
IOM’s Cambodia office has sent three buses to help transport the
returnees, but is concerned that flows have suddenly increased over recent
days, placing a strain on services at this, the main border crossing,
between the two countries.
“There are usually only about 100 migrants coming through each day,” said
Leul Mekonnen, IOM’s acting chief of mission in Cambodia.
“But we are already seeing more than 1,000 a day and we do not know what
the coming days hold.”
IOM Cambodia is working closely with Cambodian immigration officers at the
Poi Pet Immigration Centre at the request of the Department of Immigration
to assist the migrants with onward transport to their provinces.
More than half of the migrants are women and children. Aside from
transport, there is also a growing need for food, water, health care and
shelter. IOM is currently assessing needs and looking for emergency
funding to deal with the sudden influx.
“IOM’s primary concern now is the safety and dignity of vulnerable
migrants,” said Mr Mekonnen. “We are doing our best to get them home as
soon as possible.”
Pol Lt Col Benjapol Rodsawat, deputy chief of Sa Kaeo immigration police,
said local officials were trying to explain to Cambodian workers that they
should not be afraid if they work in Thailand legally, saying that the key
border checkpoint in Aranyaprathet would never be closed.
Pravit Khiengpol, director general of Thai Labour Ministry’s Employment
Department said a number of Thai companies would suffer a shortage of
workers following the mass exodus of the Cambodian workers.
Official statistics show that a total of 441,569 Cambodian workers have
registered with the Employment Department.
Meanwhile China’s state news agency Xinhua reported Friday Cambodian Prime
Minister Hun Sen had ordered 150 military trucks to transport those
migrant workers back to their home provinces.
On Wednesday, Koy Kuong, spokesman for the Cambodian Ministry of Foreign
Affairs, said the massive deportation was due to the Thai military coup,
which forced factories and enterprises to stop using illegal migrant
workers, according to Xinhua.
He also dismissed news reporting that Thai military had shot Cambodian
Coup updates -
On twitter: @PravitR:
Notice: I am restricted by my 'agreement' under duress in order 2b freed
not to join, aid or lead anti-coup movement
said about psychological warfare is becoming clearer and more obvious
every day. Oh, look! Free movies and football!
If you are with
us, we give you cash. If you are against us, we will send you to jail.
Choose wisely #ThaiCoup
Unity is a
codeword for conformity which is a code word for "shut up if you dont
agree with us."
to delay fare hike by 90 days in line with #ThaiCoup junta directive to
return happiness to the people
Just fyi -
Bangkok and Chiang Mai are still under a midnight to 4am curfew
leader nabbed at airport. How many more arrest will it takes before the
Thai military junta feel secure? #Thailand #ThaiCoup #ป
curfew 3 weeks after coup means Thai junta feeling not in control yet.
Quora Question: Why Is Thailand So Prone to Military Coups?
Thai Junta To Foreign Journalists: 'Don't Call It A Coup'
Thai military boosts
ultra-nationalism, hopes to bring “reconciliation
CAMBODIA: statement calling for Thai government to humanely treat
Cambodian migrant workers with respect for their rights and dignity
On CP Foods and
slave labour: (all from Patrick Winn of the Global Post)
series offers best chance yet of consumer-led push to fight forced labor
in Thailand's fisheries. But don't hold your breath.
sea-caught fish supply chain — ghost ship to mothership to fishmonger — is
nearly lawless. A crackdown would be daunting.
Ppl asking me if
@guardian really "broke" the story. No. Nor did I. But they implicate CP
Foods and supermarkets by name — and that's HUGE.
labor requires overhaul of Thai police. Cops aren't just ignoring the
problem. Some are profiteers and abettors of the trade.
What are the
odds of Thai police eradicating seafood slave trade? Similar to odds of
police shutting down all the brothels in Bangkok.
Bangkok Post editorial: Close net on slave trade
Burmese migrants working in shops at Pratunam being arrested and taken for
deportation regardless of legal status & work permit.
military has block @vicenews documentray http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=V6nCNlnNXcg&feature=youtu.be
As junta vow 2
crackdown anti-coup message on social media, most vocal Thai voices on
Twitter now those using false name.
In March, the
constitutional court struck down Yingluck's gov't plan of ฿2 trillion
infrastructure plan as unconstitutional - meanwhile the Thai junta is
considering a ฿3 TRILLION infrastructure plan, adding ฿1+ TRILLION to
ousted gov't plan.
And this time there are no checks, no balances, no accountability and no
one to day no.
Andrew Hurd on
twitter "junta should have no trouble implementing PT's policies now that
Dems/PDRC are no longer obstacles. funny, that."
Activist denies violating NCPO order
Thai junta ushering migrants across Cambodian border
Thai leaders employ ancient hero to boost their
13 June 2014 By Michael Peel in Bangkok for the Financial Times
Thailand famously banned the Hollywood movie The King and I for its
allegedly offensive and distorted picture of the country’s monarchy. Now
the new military junta in Bangkok is delivering its riposte: 35,000 free
seats to see the sword-wielding biopic of an earlier royal ruler promoted
as a nationalist hero for these troubled post-coup times.
Just as the gentle Oscar-winning 1956 musical starring Deborah Kerr as a
British governess in the 19th-century court of King Mongkut drew criticism
from inside and outside Thailand over its accuracy, so The Legend of King
Naresuan Part V’s tale of triumph over the Burmese also relies on a
contested version of history.
The official glorification of the film fuels the increasingly patriotic
atmosphere conjured by Thailand’s rulers of three weeks, as they seek to
crush dissent in the fractured country and bind people to a traditionalist
vision of nation, king and religion.
“We need Thais to understand sacrifices made by monarchs in the past, the
sacrifice of Thais and the unity of Thais in the past,” Col Winthai
Suvaree, an army spokesman who also plays the king’s brother in the latest
film, told reporters this week. “So Thais today will have love and harmony
after many years of political divisions.”
The junta’s push behind the biopic of the ancient King of Siam includes a
special showing for military officers on Saturday at Bangkok’s swish Siam
Paragon mall, due to be attended by General Udomdet Sitabutr, right hand
man to coup leader General Prayuth Chan-ocha. The links between the army
and the film are already strong: King Naresuan has been played throughout
the series by Wanchana Sawatdee, a cavalry officer plucked from the
barracks for the role.
The movies, depicting the king as a heroic defender of the realm during
his 1590 to 1605 rule, have been lavished with state funding and are
already a popular hit. One teacher who has seen the latest episode
described being in tears at scenes of Burmese forces killing Thais, adding
half-seriously that she would never visit Myanmar as a result.
Only a minority of critics pause over the veracity of events depicted in
films that even their director, MC Chatrichalerm Yukol, has admitted are a
“blend of history, plausibility and imagination”. There are scant reliable
written records of the period, with doubts cast over whether famous events
such as a cockfight between the king and the Burmese crown prince even
King Naresuan has been celebrated during previous times of crisis in
Thailand, including after the 1767 Burmese sacking of the ancient Siamese
capital of Ayutthaya and then again during the 1960s battles with
communists, noted a sceptical 2007 analysis of the monarch by a writer
using the pseudonym “Little Elephant”. The author’s hidden identity is a
wise precaution in an environment where draconian lèse-majesté laws
threatening 15 years in prison have been extended so that they now cover
past kings as well as the living monarch.
Critics see the films as more than mere escapism, forming part of a
culture of patriotic and even jingoistic propaganda that is undermining
the Thai education system and in particular its ability to teach critical
thinking. The junta has already said it wants to change the curriculum to
give even more weight to the values of “being Thai, national pride and
upholding the institution of the monarchy. One student recalls how she
learned nothing negative about the country’s past until one of her
university lecturers observed that history tended to be written by the
“That was the first time I learned something about the possible truth,”
she recalls. “We were always told we should feel grateful to our
ancestors, including the nobles, because they faced difficult times to
protect the nation.”
Despite relatively high spending on education, Thailand ranked only 50th
out of 65 countries surveyed in the Organisation for Economic Co-operation
and Development’s 2012 Pisa reading, maths and science test – well below
its much poorer neighbour, Vietnam. Asked what the best way to reform the
education ministry was, one despairing academic told the FT: “Dynamite”.
Coup update -
Thai military boosts
ultra-nationalism, hopes to bring “reconciliation
Migrant labourers flood border
Pact to halt forced labor snubbed by Thailand, Gulf: ILO
Thai Military Junta Says the Putsch Should Not Be Called a Coup
Thais Win Free World Cup Soccer Broadcasts
Thai junta orders
free World Cup TV
Prominent Thai activist Sombat Boonngamonanong could face up to 14 years
in jail for inciting unrest and disobeying the junta
threatens to arrest people who post anti-coup messages
June 12 2014
Deputy Metropolitan Police chief Pol Maj Gen Amnuay Nimmano Thursday
threatened to track down and arrest those who posted anticoup messages on
the social networks.
He said the Metropolitan Police was now cooperating with the Technology
Crime Suppression Division to track down the people who posted anticoup
messages as well as items seen as encouraging people to come out to
protest against the junta. He said the messages violated Article 116 of
the Criminal Code.
Amnuay said the first batch of arrest warrants against those who have
posted such messages could be approved by the court in a few days.
He added that anyone sharing anticoup messages would also be in violation
of the law and could face arrest.
He said police had taken photos of seven persons who made the Hunger Game
salute during a rally on June 7 and would seek arrest warrants against
The Story of Thaksin Shinawatra
London Review of Books - Richard Lloyd Parry
The man who came closest to persuading me of the virtue of toppling a
democratically elected government was a former investment banker and
English public schoolboy called Korn Chatikavanij. All the foreign
journalists in Bangkok know Korn, and a conversation with him is one of
the pleasures of any reporting trip to Thailand. You meet him in the lobby
of one of the big hotels, or in his office above a coffee bar – a tall,
self-deprecatingly dashing figure with high cheekbones and exquisite
shirts. He is brilliant, charming and droll, and his presence works like
air-conditioning on the perspiration and stench of Thai politics. Over the
course of an hour with Korn, it resolves into the clarity of a well-turned
op-ed, a tutorial with a bright young don, a conversation at a
metropolitan dinner party. Then you step outside, and it is all blood-heat
and anguish again.
Korn went to Winchester, then to St John’s College, Oxford, then to S.G.
Warburg and J.P. Morgan. His great friend and confrère Abhisit Vejjajiva,
the leader of Thailand’s Democrat Party, was at Eton (where he was known
to contemporaries such as Boris Johnson as Mark Vejj), then at St John’s
with Korn. A former Democrat MP from a younger generation, Akanat Promphan,
now spokesman for the anti-government People’s Democratic Reform
Committee, was educated at Charterhouse and Oxford. The first time I met
Akanat was at a vast government office complex in central Bangkok which
had recently been taken over and occupied by protesters intent on driving
the elected prime minister, Yingluck Shinawatra, from office. I had just
come from a very different scene on the other side of Bangkok, a sweaty
open-air stadium filled with Yingluck’s supporters in the pro-government
Red Shirt movement, many of them country people from the north of
Thailand. But Akanat and I drank cappuccinos among a visibly more affluent
crowd. Some of them stood outside in the sun, listening to speeches of
ear-dunning volume from a battery of amplifiers. Many of them curled up in
the air-conditioned atrium beneath the immigration department, passing the
time on tablets and smartphones.
Thailand’s political crisis is a sorry tale of bad losers and a broken
political system. But it is also an old-fashioned, 20th-century-style
class war. Above all, it concerns one of the great dilemmas of
democracies: what to do about unacceptable politicians who, for all their
obvious iniquities, are elected fair and square. Which is to say that it
is the story of Thaksin Shinawatra.
Thaksin became prime minister in 2001, after making a billion in telecoms,
and early on distinguished himself with the kind of policies that could
have been designed to alienate Western governments and liberal public
opinion. In southern Thailand, he launched a brutal campaign against
Islamic insurgents which left scores of innocent people dead. In his
version of the war on drugs, the police were permitted to shoot anyone
whom they suspected of being a dealer. He bullied his critics in the
media, and deployed his wealth to political and personal advantage. (In
2008, in a verdict that may or may not have been political in nature, he
and his wife were convicted in absentia of a multi-million-pound property
cheat.) He was cheerfully unabashed about diverting government largess
towards regions that voted for him, and depriving those that didn’t.
‘Democracy is a good and beautiful thing,’ he once said, ‘but it’s not the
ultimate goal as far as administering the country is concerned. Democracy
is just a tool … The goal is to give people a good lifestyle, happiness
and national progress.’
‘Democracy, but …’ has been the unvoiced slogan of postwar authoritarians
across South-East Asia, and it has generally been tolerated so long as
happiness and progress are indeed delivered. Like earlier leaders in
Singapore and Malaysia, although in double quick time, Thaksin changed the
lives of millions of Thais for the better. Unlike them, he was not merely
feared and respected for his efforts, but adored.
His cheap healthcare programme gave many poor villagers access to
affordable medical treatment for the first time. A micro-credit scheme
allowed them to lift themselves out of subsistence-level poverty. His
energetic response to the 2004 tsunami – hugging victims, directing the
aid effort, galvanising bureaucrats and politicians – made him a hero.
Until Thaksin, no Thai prime minister had served out his allocated term.
Thaksin won, and then won again with an increased majority, and after he
was deposed in a coup, his supporters won too, and went on winning.
The horrified loathing that he excited in the minority was partly
political, the response of an established ruling class that found itself
abruptly and indefinitely locked out of power. Thaksin’s populism – the
fact that he put into effect policies that many voters supported – was
held to be a hideous confidence trick perpetrated on credulous people of
inadequate education. The shock of defeat became entangled with older,
atavistic feelings, an unacknowledged contempt on the part of the
‘light’-skinned, prosperous merchants of the centre and south for the poor
‘dark’ farmers of the north-east, with their distinct languages, and
ethnic affinities with the historic enemies, Cambodia and Laos. By the
mid-2000s, an anti-Thaksin campaign, the Yellow Shirt movement, mobilised
against him and in support of Abhisit and Korn’s Democrat Party. In
September 2006, the tumultuous demonstrations they unleashed became the
excuse for the generals to step in.
The Korn argument was that in order to preserve Thai democracy in the long
run, it had first to be saved from Thaksin, and from itself. The vast
Shinawatra wealth and Thaksin’s strategy of appointing his own placemen to
powerful government jobs was rotting the country’s institutions from
within. This was the justification for tolerating the 2006 coup (Korn said
at the time that it made him ‘sad’, but raised no objection). Ever since
then, to an almost comical degree, Thai people have been demonstrating
over and over how strongly most of them disagree.
After the coup, which shooed Thaksin off into exile in Dubai, the generals
convened an assembly of tame delegates who rewrote the country’s
constitution to give the Democrats a better chance of winning. An election
was held, but Abhisit lost again, to a party of self-declared Thaksin
supporters. The Yellow Shirts responded with a new campaign of mass
protest and disruption, occupying the prime minister’s office and then
Bangkok’s international airport. Soon Thaksin’s proxy prime minister,
Samak Sundaravej, was forced out of office for the crime of having
appeared on a cookery programme, in violation of new rules about
politicians having two jobs (in an earlier incarnation, he had been a
well-known TV chef). After a few months of confusion and more court
rulings in his favour, Abhisit, with Korn as his finance minister, ended
up in power – without the bother of having to win an election. Thaksin’s
Red Shirt supporters mounted huge demonstrations of their own, which were
suppressed by the army with the loss of 91 lives. But, inescapably, the
moment came for Abhisit’s Democrats to do what they have always done least
well, and fight an election. In 2011, they lost again, to Thaksin’s
sister, Yingluck Shinawatra, a businesswoman with no political experience.
Thaksin referred to Yingluck as his ‘clone’ – and this was exactly what
many of those who voted for her wanted to hear. Not surprisingly for one
so green, she struggled as prime minister, badly mishandling the response
to a season of devastating floods. Even more serious was a
catastrophically misjudged rice ‘pledging’ scheme in which the government
bought the crop from farmers for about 50 per cent above the world price,
in the belief that by cornering such a large supply, it could move the
market. When prices remained stubbornly low, the government found itself
unable to pay the farmers, and – thanks to the atmosphere of jeopardy
engendered by the political crisis – unable to borrow money from the
banks. There were stories of desperate farmers hanging themselves in their
barns: a policy intended to help the Thaksin family’s most loyal rural
supporters inflicted grievous hurt on them instead, and gave more
ammunition to Yingluck’s enemies.
Her worst mistake, though, was a bill that would have delivered a broad
amnesty for crimes associated with the political turmoil of the post-coup
years. Among its beneficiaries would have been Abhisit, who has been
charged with child murder in the aftermath of the 2010 crackdown on the
Red Shirts – and at this even some of Yingluck’s own supporters jibbed.
The opposition insisted that it was a ploy to get Thaksin off his own
criminal conviction and allow him to return to Thailand and to politics.
By the time the government abandoned the bill, crowds of more than a
hundred thousand had taken to the streets of Bangkok in protest.
At this point, the end of November 2013, the opposition faced a choice.
Yingluck, out of her depth from the start, was doing more harm to the
Thaksin brand with every month she remained in office. At this rate, the
Democrats would have a chance at the prize that had eluded them since
1992: victory in a democratic election. Not the next time around perhaps,
but maybe in the election after that. With a few more of Yingluck’s
cock-ups, and a lot of well-organised, patient campaigning in Thaksin
country, it should have been possible to re-engineer for good the
polarised demographics which had done such damage to Thailand. This, as he
more or less admitted to me in February, was Korn’s intention. ‘After we’d
won the first round [when Yingluck dropped the amnesty bill], a lot of us
thought that was the time to channel our efforts to winning an election,’
he said. ‘But we didn’t do that.’ Instead, Abhisit and Korn had the reins
of opposition torn from their hands by a very different figure – Suthep
Suthep is a Democrat, but the opposite of Abhisit in image and
temperament: a pot-bellied man of the people, a sneering, relentless
demagogue, fizzing with gleeful cunning. A former local headman from Surat
Thani in southern Thailand, where his family were big in shrimp and oil
palm, Suthep had been deputy prime minister under Abhisit, and is blamed
by many for the brutality of the suppression of the Red Shirts in 2010. He
had led the charge against the amnesty bill. Now, instead of banking his
winnings, he threw the entire pot on the table in a wild, all-out effort
to force Yingluck from power.
The crowds that had marched in such numbers to knock down the amnesty bill
found themselves summoned again to demand the immediate resignation of the
cabinet in favour of an unelected People’s Committee made up of ‘good
people’ who would ‘reform’ politics (again) in preparation for a return to
some kind of vaguely democratic system at an unspecified point in the
future. The intention – to find a way of neutralising Thaksin’s majority
support in the country – was transparent: no elected government could
accept such terms. When Yingluck offered to talk, Suthep refused. He
wanted the army to step in and enforce his demands in another coup.
Suthep’s people invaded government ministries, blockaded Yingluck’s office
and built encampments at traffic intersections in central Bangkok. The
campaign ebbed and flowed, but from last December the atmosphere of
disorder and low-level violence was constant. Twenty-eight people,
including anti-Thaksin protesters, loyalist Red Shirts and policemen, have
died since then, many in mysterious drive-by shootings and grenade
attacks. The point was to make it as easy as possible for the generals to
use the traditional pretext of coup-makers – the need to restore order.
But the army commander, General Prayuth Chan-ocha, proved stubbornly
Since the end of absolute monarchy in 1932, Thailand has averaged a coup,
or an attempted coup, every four years, so it could almost be regarded as
one of a general’s ceremonial duties. But even Prayuth – a former head of
the Queen’s Guard and, by reputation, a reactionary conservative – could
see how disastrous for Thailand the 2006 intervention had been. The
sickening polarisation of Thai society did not begin then, but it received
a jolt of malevolent energy when Thaksin was precipitated from power.
Overnight, he went from being a dodgy quasi-authoritarian – a tackier
version of the rulers of Singapore and Malaysia – to a democratic martyr,
an elected leader driven out at the point of a gun. Inside Thailand and
abroad, those who had disdained his methods and style found themselves
compelled to take his side. The reproaches from foreign governments, and
the suspension of US military aid, made the anti-Thaksin forces shrill and
defensive. And the whole costly effort turned out to have been futile:
having fixed the system to the best of their ability, the opposition lost
at the ballot box again. ‘This is a political problem that needs to be
solved by political means,’ Prayuth said last November. ‘Don’t try to make
the army take sides because the army considers that all of us are fellow
Thais, so the government, state authorities, and people from every sector
must jointly seek a peaceful solution as soon as possible … However, we
are monitoring from a distance.’
The distance lessened drastically on 22 May when Prayuth unilaterally
suspended the constitution, dissolved the senate and arrested, for a few
days at least, everyone who was anyone in Thai politics (including Abhisit,
although not Korn, who deftly remained above it all). So far, at least,
this coup has been as bloodless as the last, although the post-putsch
atmosphere is darker and more strained. More than five hundred people have
been detained, the junta refuses to say how many of them are still locked
up or where, and Prayuth, a humourless, epauletted Dalek, has made it
clear that anyone who annoys him can expect to join them. (In the firing
line are Thai journalists, two of whom were called in and threatened for
the offence of pressing him with ‘inappropriate’ questions as he stalked
off the stage during a press conference.) ‘Our intentions are pure, and we
will remain transparent,’ Prayuth said, brandishing a document apparently
signed by King Bhumibol Adulyadej, the ex post facto licence for sedition
without which no Thai junta could flourish.
It is still not clear why Prayuth changed his mind about intervening, but
he is already showing signs of the haste and naivety that make many
military men unsuited to politics. He laid the ground for the coup two
days in advance when he declared martial law, and ordered the government
and opposition to a meeting to resolve their differences. For a moment it
looked as if this might work in the Thaksinites’ favour: negotiation was
what they had been calling for all along. Predictably enough, the first
session did not accomplish very much. When there was no narrowing of
differences the following day, Prayuth stormed out and had everyone in the
room arrested. A wilier and more patient man would have made a bit more
effort to cajole and bully the two sides into a compromise.
Unclear as always – and the subject of heated disagreement among observers
of Thailand – is the influence on public events of Bangkok’s royal court.
As a constitutional monarch, King Bhumibol has ruled for 67 years, and has
become the repository of deep-seated longings for authority and stability.
To describe him as adored is inadequate: there is no deeper or more
enduring cult of leadership outside North Korea. He is 86, and up until
last summer had spent four years, on and off, in hospital. His heir, Maha
Vajiralongkorn, is protected by lèse majesté laws which mandate a
punishment of up to 15 years in prison for anyone judged to have insulted
members of the royal family. Take what follows, then, as prudent
understatement: the crown prince may not be quite as popular as his
It is a widely held conviction among opponents of Thaksin
Shinawatra that he exerts a sinister influence over Vajiralongkorn. Their
fear is that when the crown prince succeeds to the throne, he will use his
influence to oversee the political and legal rehabilitation of Thaksin,
who will return to Thailand and pick up where he left off so abruptly in
2006. As the US ambassador, Ralph Boyce, wrote in 2005, in a cable
published by WikiLeaks, ‘the king will not be around for ever, and Thaksin
long ago invested in crown prince futures.’ This apprehension may be what
has driven the anti-Thaksin campaign in the past seven months, and what
motivated General Prayuth’s coup last month: if Thaksin is not stopped
soon, it may be too late.
In 2006 the generals got in, wrote their new constitution within a year,
and got smartly out. The National Council for Peace and Order, as the
junta calls itself this time around, speaks of a vague ‘roadmap’,
including a three-month cooling-off period and the drawing up of another
new constitution, leading back eventually to ‘full democracy’ in 15 months
or so. By shutting down the protests, the coup has improved traffic in
Bangkok, and may eventually calm investors and tourists (the economy
shrank by 2.1 per cent in the first quarter of the year). But it is
impossible to see how it will do anything but aggravate Thailand’s
long-term problems, which derive from the inability of a minority, and an
entrenched political establishment, to accept the will of the majority.
Thaksin himself has remained prudently quiet, but there can’t be any doubt
that support and sympathy for him have increased even more since the coup.
After the last one, the Red Shirts embarked on a campaign of peaceful
civil disobedience which was quelled with bullets. Having been foiled for
a second time by the army, they have an even stronger case for taking
violent and radical action. A band of Red Shirt escapees has already
established in Cambodia what may turn into a government in exile, while
the junta has announced the seizure of guns and explosives, and put in
front of a court martial 22 Red Shirt ‘terrorists’ accused of plotting
attacks in the north – of course the existence of such a threat helps to
justify the curfew, censorship, indefinite detention, and other offences
against civil liberty the coup has brought with it. I don’t yet credit the
talk of a Red-on-Yellow, North-on-South civil war.But a scenario of that
kind is no longer the crank fantasy that it seemed to be even a year ago.
This coup will further polarise the country. Either it will end like the
last one, in another victory for the Thaksin side, which will be even less
inclined to compromise and forgive. Or the coup leaders will succeed in
finding a structural way to suppress the will of the pro-Thaksin majority,
which will embed deeper still its sense of injustice and rage.
Many people bear responsibility for Thailand’s divisions, prominent among
them Thaksin, who must dearly wish that he had rubbed his enemies’ noses
in it a bit less gleefully during his years in office. But the suave
villainy of the Democrat Party, and of men like Abhisit and Korn, is
insufficiently recognised. They understand how democratic opposition
works, and how defeat, over time, strengthens losing parties, by purging
them of what is unrealistic and superfluous, and forcing them into
congruence with the aspirations of voters. Twice they have had the
opportunity to reject military force and to insist on the primacy of
elections; twice they have held the generals’ coats for them, and watched
civil rights being trampled on, in the hope of gaining some respite from
their own chronic unelectability. The Democrat Party’s leaders – young,
attractive and cosmopolitan – could have positioned themselves as
mediators between a corrupt, complacent old elite and a corrupt, arrogant
new power. Instead, they chose their natural side in the class war, and
achieved the feat of losing the moral high ground to a man such as Thaksin.
Their responsibility, and their disgrace, are very great.
Thailand: Salute to the past
12 June 2014 - The Financial Times - Michael Peel and David
Banners unfurled near Bangkok’s Victory Monument proclaim that what
Thailand needs most is unity for the sake of “nation, religion and King”.
The message, part of the new military junta’s campaign to “return
happiness to the people”, is backed by a programme of festivals featuring
free food, orchestral music and young women in camouflage miniskirts.
“Foreign people don’t do coups but Thai people do because they want better
politicians,” says Natt, a medical student scurrying past a poster in the
pre-curfew throng. He hopes the officers who appeared on television three
weeks ago to announce the military’s 12th successful putsch in 82 years
will step aside as they have done before – but only once harmony has been
restored. “A little time in the future, the army should stop ruling and
create a new group of politicians, who can be peaceful like 10 years ago.”
Turning the clock back to a simpler age shorn of ideological disputes has
emerged as the core goal of General Prayuth Chan-ocha, the coup leader,
who portrays himself as having reluctantly taken action to save a divided
nation from itself. One senior politician opposed to the ousted government
blames his own political class for forcing the military’s hand and likens
it to a national “reset”.
This coup, though, shows signs of developing into something less neutral
than that term implies: a conservative counter-revolution against forces
assaulting the old paternalist certainties of southeast Asia’s
second-largest economy. Thailand now stands not so much at a crossroads as
on the verge of a full-scale U-turn. With each day, the gap grows wider
between its reputation for liberal openness and the military’s rule by
arbitrary detention, censorship and diktat.
Critics say the generals and their allies have parlayed genuine concerns
about the failings of Thailand’s shaky parliamentary system into a war on
societal changes. Those shifts have consistently delivered governments not
to the liking of Bangkok’s royalist, military, bureaucratic and business
establishment. A campaign by coup supporters to curb the influence of
Thaksin Shinawatra, the exiled former prime minister, is broadening into
an effort to force the politically awakened rural Thais who support him –
and civil rights campaigners who do not – to unlearn their new ideas and
return this formerly feudal absolute monarchy to an age when everyone knew
their place. “Certain groups in society have come to the conclusion that
democracy is not going to suit them,” says an academic who, like many
others, asks not to be named because the junta has outlawed criticism.
“They’re unreconstructed. They think they have a natural right to rule.”
General Prayuth launched his putsch after more than six months of street
protests and debilitating political crisis had left almost 30 people dead,
the elected Puea Thai-led government paralysed and the economy pushed
towards recession. The coup also came amid whispered talk about the
succession to King Bhumibol Adulyadej, the 86-year-old monarch who marked
68 years on the throne this week. A widespread theory is that some members
of the establishment are uneasy about the prospect of Maha Vajiralongkorn,
the crown prince, becoming king, and favour instead the accession of
Princess Sirindhorn, his sister. Strict lèse-majesté laws that carry
prison sentences of up to 15 years make open discussion of royal
Years of political turmoil have sapped Thailand’s growth rate, which is
now consistently behind the pack of southeast Asian nations it once
powered. Big infrastructure projects designed to tap Thailand’s potential
as a regional hub have mostly stayed on the drawing board.
Gen Prayuth has said elections will not be held for at least a year,
during which time the military will oversee the appointment of a
government and the running of political reconciliation camps for opposing
groups. The security forces have already raided homes, made scores of
arrests and unearthed what they say are secret weapons stockpiles held by
militant “redshirt” supporters of the ousted government. Thousands of
troops and police have periodically flooded Bangkok’s streets to stifle
scattered, peaceful and, until now, small-scale, flashmob-style
So far Gen Prayuth’s brand of autocracy has been more Singaporean than
Syrian. Intimidation through the law – for example freezing critics’
financial assets – is preferred to torture chambers or shooting
protesters. But rights groups says some activists are being held
incommunicado, while the ban on dissent is as sweeping as in a
totalitarian state. Academics are being summoned to answer for their
opinions and demonstrators hauled off for making a three-fingered protest
salute borrowed from the film The Hunger Games. The permanent secretary of
the prime minister’s office took to Facebook to call for people to snitch
on government officials who express ideas that were “unconstructive and
threatening security”. The junta is stepping up its use of lèse-majesté
laws, with the threat that offenders will be tried by military tribunals.
The redshirt movement and other supporters of the ousted government are
lying low. Some have gone into hiding, others into exile, and still more
have kept quiet after being forced to sign gagging orders. Asked why they
do not fight back, an otherwise measured member of the toppled
administration offers a flash of anger – and an implicit warning of
conflict to come. “If an insane person is holding a knife at your throat
would you tell him he has no legitimacy to do that?” he says. “Now is not
Supporters of the coup skate over the repression and hail the stability
that has returned after what they describe as the military’s light-touch
intervention. A sign above the exit roadway at Bangkok’s Suvarnabhumi
airport warns visitors that martial law is in force, yet it is possible to
tour the city and its many tourist spots without seeing a soldier.
The stock market has rallied, a leading consumer confidence index is up
for the first time in more than a year and the anxiety created by sporadic
grenade attacks and gun battles during the anti-government demonstrations
has largely disappeared. Even some Thais who consider themselves democrats
and are instinctively uncomfortable with military intervention speak of
their relief, given what they see as the lack of alternatives to an
increasingly violent political battle. A song supposedly written by Gen
Prayuth has attracted more than 190,000 hits on YouTube, concluding with
the promise: “The land will be good soon. Happiness will return to
For coup opponents, the army is no neutral restorer of peace, but the
central agent of a traditional elite whose interests it is now acting to
protect. The junta’s plans for change are likely to prove the most
sweeping gerrymandering yet of a system changed repeatedly to stifle the
influence of elected representatives and bolster the power of the courts,
regulators and appointed bodies of the great and the good. Asked what the
military means when it speaks of reform, a political analyst says: “I
know exactly what they mean. It will mean some sort of rigging of the
rules in favour of the political establishment.”
This great rupture in the former kingdom of Siam was triggered by Mr
Thaksin, a telecoms and media plutocrat who more than a decade ago threw
his resources into reinventing himself as a populist politician. Where
weak, elite-focused coalition governments once fought for spoils between
long periods of military rule, Mr Thaksin sought to cement his power by
appealing to the previously marginalised, but electorally numerous, voters
in the poorer north and northeast of the country. He offered subsidised
healthcare, cheap credit and rice subsidies. The perception that he
honoured his pledges made him the first prime minister to serve a full
term – and to be re-elected with an increased majority. His run ended in
2006 when, amid a swirl of corruption and human rights abuse allegations,
he was ousted in a coup. He fled the country to escape a corruption
conviction but continued to exert strong influence on the governments of
proxy parties elected after he left. Critics accused him of remotely
running the administration of Yingluck Shinawatra, his sister who was
prime minister until May, by phone.
Coup opponents say the military and the establishment behind it have drawn
the wrong lessons from Mr Thaksin’s rise and fall. They see him as a demon
whose influence can be exorcised, rather than a cipher for change in a
country where the World Bank says income inequality had grown to the
highest levels in east Asia. “[Bangkokians] think he . . . mesmerises the
people,” says a businessman. “Get rid of him and the people will become
nice and subservient again.”
This nostalgic view sits comfortably in a country where the “deep state”
has grown increasingly gerontocratic. The 18 members of the privy council,
an influential but opaque royal advisory body of former armed service
chiefs, judges and politicians, have an average age of 78. Gen Prem
Tinsulanonda, the 93-year-old president, spent his junior school years
under an absolute monarchy that lasted until 1932. A prime minister from
1980 to 1988, Gen Prem has played a powerful role in moulding Thailand’s
political landscape for decades.
If some in Thailand’s elite are rooted in the past, other parts of the
country have moved on. Rural Thailand in particular is now richer, more
aware of its power and less tolerant of being patronised by educated
urbanites. At its worst, the elite attitude descends into grotesque
characterisations of rural Thais as ignorant “buffaloes” who do not
deserve the right to vote. Weluree Ditsayabut, the recently crowned Miss
Universe Thailand, tearfully renounced her title this week after she was
lambasted for social media comments in which she accused redshirt
activists of dirtying the country’s soil and called for them to be
The military’s answer to these profound schisms is to double down on what
some see as an already overweening culture of patriotism. Gen Prayuth has
said he wants schools to “reinforce the values of ‘Being Thai’, national
pride, and upholding the institution of the monarchy”.
The junta’s often guileless public statements suggest a degree of
sincerity or even an idealistic, belief in its mission to protect
Thailand. But when security forces talk of the need for critics to “have
their attitude adjusted”, it shows the lack of any sense that other Thais
might have a different vision, or that the country is being shaped by new
and perhaps irresistible forces.
The suspicion is that the generals are trying to recreate a Thailand of
their imagination, not deal with the country as it now exists. It is a
misalignment that could make a sporadically violent struggle even more
As Natt, the student at Victory Monument, puts it ominously: “In my
opinion, this isn’t finished. There will be more controversy – and more
Economic policy: Junta battles own legacy and long neglect of investment
Thailand’s military junta has pledged to revive the country’s spluttering
economy. But the generals are already grappling with fears about
instability, unhelpful regional trends and doubts sparked by the legacy of
their own history in power, writes Michael Peel.
The new rulers in Bangkok promised consumer-friendly policies after their
May 22 coup but have yet to show how they will reverse the impact of a
seven-month political crisis that has sent tourism numbers plunging and
chilled private sector investment.
China Mobile’s deal this week to buy 18 per cent of True Corp, the Thai
telecommunications company, was a vote of confidence of sorts. Yet General
Prayuth Chan-ocha’s junta faces pressing decisions on how to direct public
spending to renew decaying infrastructure that has left Thailand trailing
“In the past 10 years, governments have failed to implement projects,”
says one banker. “The point is: where is the vision to link Thailand with
the rest of southeast Asia?”
A Thai stock market rally that drove the benchmark Set index up almost 5
per cent after the coup appeared to be finding its limit on Wednesday, as
shares were 0.4 per cent down in afternoon trading. Figures from the
government’s Board of Investment delivered another reality check this
week, showing that the value of applications for foreign and domestic
projects plunged 42 per cent to $9.5bn in the first five months of this
year compared with the corresponding period last year.
The military has raised questions with initial appointments ahead of the
selection of a new government
The economy shrank 2.1 per cent quarter on quarter during the first three
months of 2014, and could well go into recession in the second.
The junta has tried to lift the financial gloom of both the public and
business by signalling transport investments, capping fuel prices and
starting to pay billions of dollars owed to rice farmers under the ousted
government’s botched subsidy scheme.
It says it wants to exploit closer economic integration between southeast
Asian states, some of which have been taking business from Thailand’s
flagship manufacturing sector.
But the military has also raised questions with some of its initial
appointments ahead of the selection of a new government slated for later
this year. Gen Prayuth has made himself chairman of the Board of
He has also appointed as junta economic adviser Pridiyathorn Devakula, a
former central bank governor. He played a similar role after the coup in
2006 and upset foreign investors with what some saw as economically
- days 20 and 21
Punished For Revealing Junta’s Role in Facebook Shutdown
Liking anti-junta Facebook is crime: Thai police
The issue of Heinecke’s open letters: Businessmen must not distort the
Western nations, media must not distort the facts
The Thai Junta Wants to Its Force Critics Living Abroad to Return Home
Welcome to the Thai junta! We’ve got fun and games
Thai Junta Promises to Spread Happiness With Free World Cup Matches
Note on twitter: When the #junta does it, it is restoring
national happiness. When its the elected governments that do it, it's
Junta spokesman at the FCCT on Wednesday night: a few notes
from various twitter feeds:
Werachon: we avoid the word coup because what happened in
Thailand is completely different."
"This was not coup!" Says Col. Weerachon, "just a change of
Col. Weerachon just compared the military detentions to the
US’ Patriot Act…!
Speakerperson reiterates AGAIN that how many people are
detained. Answer maximum 15 ppl from Col. Weerachon
Those detained were asked to "put the country's interests
before their own interests" (Col. Werachon to @FCCThai)
Col Weerachon just played down Yingluck's "detention" for a
few days to a simple invitation to lunch
"#Thaicoup aftermath is same as USA after 9/11."
Col. Weerachon claims that conditions of detainees are good
w/ ”air condition, good food, entertainment etc - is that detention?”
Thai junta holding the mother of all garage sales
TelecomAsia - 11 June 2014
A couple of weeks into the coup and the intentions of the National Council
for Peace and Order are now becoming clearer with the junta working hard
at winning the hearts and minds of the people through their wallets. For
farmers, the junta has arranged for long-delayed payouts for rice and has
ordered a crackdown on loan sharks, while the middle class has seen food,
fuel and income tax freezes or cuts. On the other extreme, investors are
promised a wide menu of infrastructure projects to pick from ranging from
water management to rail, but key of which for the telecom sector is the
900/1800-MHz auction pencilled in for August.
Army commander and junta leader General Prayuth Chanocha also appointed
himself as the chairman of the Board of Investment and has been busy
courting Chinese investors while his minions hold happiness concerts and
crackdown on sandwich-wielding protesters (do not ask).
State-owned telco TOT corporation has announced it has written to the
Junta asking for permission to participate in the spectrum auction.
But, what about deregulation? What of the promise for non-competition with
the private sector? Well, dear reader, that was part of the 2007
constitution that was torn up by the army.
After the coup there is no more article 47 calling for an independent
telecommunications and broadcasting regulator, no more article 84
paragraph one prohibiting the state from competing with the private sector
and no more article 48 banning politicians from holding interests in
telecom companies, not that 48 is relevant in any argument just yet.
Without 84(1) state telcos TOT and CAT are arguably free to compete with
the private sector, turning back the deregulation clock by decades.
Indeed, without a constitution it effectively means the auction can be
held any which way they want as there are no laws to provide checks and
Is that a good thing? For the people of Thailand, definitely not.
Disastrous management by meek pencil-pushing bureaucrats under the control
of politically-appointed boards have turned the two state telcos into a
bottomless money pit, squandering spectrum, resources and creating two
fat-cat rent collectors that have used their prodigious lobbying power to
stonewall deregulation and reform.
But sheeple can be controlled with propaganda and psyops and hardly matter
in a dictatorship. The question is what will the foreign investors think
if the NCPO approves TOT’s bid? Will they cry foul and run to the WTO to
call for sanctions? Or would it make more sense for them to take advantage
of the lack of checks and balances the military is offering and
participate in the spectrum grab before a new constitution is in force?
Judging on the stock market gains, it is safe to say that foreign
investors like what they are seeing so far.
However, there is always the risk that the NCPO simply gifts the state
telcos spectrum and leave scraps for Telenor, Temasek and now China Mobile
(True) to fight over. Currently, TOT is only asking for permission to bid,
but in the past, it has argued that the government should just hand over
spectrum ostensibly for national security.
This is not an unthinkable scenario.
On the broadcasting side of the NBTC, commissioner Supinya Klangnarong has
expressed her frustration and said that the regulator might as well give
up on the digital transition and reallocation of spectrum as the junta was
micro-managing the show and taking direct control.
Meanwhile, the telecom regulator has been given a stay of execution. A
subcommittee of the National Anti-Corruption Commission had recommended
that the four of the five telecom commissioners of the National
Broadcasting and Telecommunications Commission be indicted for corruption
following the 3G non-auction. If the full committee accepts the report and
indicts the regulator, they will be forced to cease work immediately.
However General Prayuth has signalled that he will disband the
anti-corruption watchdog as well as the election commission, the
constitutional court and all political parties in order to create an
atmosphere of unity and reconciliation in a move that has seen most of the
redshirts, the pro-Thaksin supporters that the junta was ostensibly
against, fall into line.
Elsewhere, in the MICT, the Ministry of internet censorship in Thailand as
it is commonly called, bureaucrats are eager to please their new military
bosses pushing forward plans for a single international internet gateway
run by, hardly surprisingly, CAT and TOT so as to make monitoring and
This plan, in fairness, started before the coup, but has found a second
Sources have confirmed rumours that the MICT is at least in the vendor
consultation phase of a total lock-down of the domestic internet. Under
the plan, every Thai citizen will need to authenticate an internet log-on
session with a smart ID card.
Earlier reports said that every citizen will have at most 6 IP addresses
allocated at any one time. Asked how foreigners can access the internet,
the permanent secretary answered, “I have not thought of that yet,” one
The MICT is also pursuing the Chinese playbook and is working on what is
often referred to as a Thai Facebook that would allow for easier
identification of perpetrators who dare to not be happy, though plans for
that seem less well developed as of now.
Telenor has confirmed that the total Facebook outage days after the coup
was because Dtac has received orders from the regulator, the NBTC, to shut
down Facebook access, putting end to speculation on what caused the
One news channel said the shutdown was on orders from the MICT, while the
official line, towed by most telcos said that it was simply a massive
NBTC secretary-general Takorn Tantasit has flatly denied issuing any such
order, not that many people believe what he has to say at this juncture.
But none of that matters as everyone is happy in this country now. Farmers
are happy, office workers are happy, investors are happy and even
supporters of the ousted government are happy and now joining in
reconciliation meals photo-ops and happiness concerts. Anyone not happy is
simply called in for attitude readjustment (yes, the junta actually uses
that term) until they are happy and sign a letter promising to stay out of
the way, or, in just a few cases, court martialled.
- day 19
Thai junta to explain itself to international rights groups
Expands Power Over Lucrative Sectors
Telenor says Thailand’s recent Facebook outage was ordered by the
government (note that Finnish company Telenor controls DTAC)
Thai Generals Go After Exiles and Academics
Veerachon Sukondhadhpatipak, deputy spokesmen of the Royal Thai Army
claims that there has been a lot of misinterpretation of information, and
suggests the public follow only the official channel to get the right
information - National News Bureau of Thailand
Nitirat key man
Worajet Pakirat is among those summoned today, who include many red-shirt
leading figures. Bangkok Post
A man and a
woman arrested at a Bangkok mall yesterday for protesting
against the coup will undergo a process to “have their attitude adjusted“,
said deputy national police chief General Somyos Phumpanmuang.
The pair, who come from Chon Buri and Samut Prakan, had got news about
anti-coup activities from social media, Somyos said.
He said police had been unable to convince them to change their attitude
because “the chip was implanted too deep in their brain”. The Nation
As Bangkok Pundit noted : "Need one even comment?"
And finally here
is what the schools are allowed to teach now:
- day 18
In Thailand, Growing Intolerance for Dissent Drives Many to More
Authoritarian Nations - New York Times
Who's going to check the generals? BKK Post: "The question then
becomes, who’s going to check and balance the ruling military regime? The
answer is, no one. Such is the nature of absolute rule, and therein lies
"Thailand: Deepening repression as high-profile activist arrested, others
summoned by military courts" Amnesty International
as soldiers, police deploy to curb Thai anti-coup flashmobs
Cheer up, Thailand! Junta aims to return happiness AP
"Pol.Gen. Somyot Pumphanmuang, deputy chief of the Royal Thai Police, said
that today's operation relied heavily on undercover agents to mark, track
down, and arrest potential protesters." - that was very clear today.
Arrests as soldiers, police deploy to curb Thai anti-coup
"Please remember that #ThaiCoup junta lifting curfews on tourist places
isn't helping any detained people, freedom of speech nor democracy."
It is telling to
note the number of new twitter accounts that have emerged in Thailand
since the 22 May coup. They are all anonymous and all appear to be
pro-coup - many targeting comments at the foreign media. Sometimes they
have western sounding names. As new accounts they are almost certainly a
part of the junta's pr campaign - eg @richard50691454
Tweet of the
Day: "Tourists - Remember, your civil rights ARE NOT affected. The
suspension of civil rights will ONLY affect the people cleaning your hotel
- day 17
Thai police: We'll 'get you' for junta criticism
Thai junta rolls out PR campaign for the “courteous coup”
Thai Junta Gears Up Against Antiroyalists: Army Threatens To Try Anyone
Who Criticizes Royal Family
Foreign countries urged to understand Thailand better
NCPO hits back at Human Rights Watch
And the award
for most unlikely headline goes to
"Gen Prayuth says junta respects democratic process"
want to rule for years without elections. The United States will never
endorse that, so the dictators are turning to China for support - this
started with a meeting between the Junta and Chinese business interests
soldier in Chiang Mai report that they have arrested 613 suspects in 5
days - 66 for illegal firearms, 302 drug related, 145 others
6,000 troops and
police should be deployed Sunday at 5 locations in #Bangkok to deter any
"Pol Gen Somyos
(the national deputy police chief) warned whose who planned to join the
protest either voluntarily or involuntarily to think twice that they might
be used by foreign media to tarnish the reputation of Thailand. He accused
foreign media of harbouring ill-intent against Thailand"
that authorities were also checking if any foreign news agencies were
directed to intentionally exaggerate reports and pictures of
confrontations between demonstrators and police and soldiers in the way
that affected the image of Thailand.
Propaganda time: Reports of miraculous weapons finds. The most recent
“news” is another example of the unbelievable peddled, via a compliant
media, as justifying illegal/unconstitutional rule by military dictators.
That anyone believes that neatly packed bags of weapons are suddenly
“found” by police and military in obscure places is remarkable. It is
little more than crude propaganda.
Meanwhile the coup leaders are summoning rampant nationalism to defend
their cause with “traditional values” associated with “being Thai” to “be
reinforced, especially through the school system” and attacks on the
foreign media for damaging the image of Thailand.
More on last
Prayuth’s Speech: A Manifesto for Failure
June 6, 2014
"Thailand’s new military dictator, General Prayuth Chan-ocha, gave a long,
rambling, televised address today which is worth reviewing to see how it
relates to my analysis of the recent coup and its prospects.
The speech justifies the coup as necessary “to stop the ongoing violence”.
But as I stated, there was no obvious “ongoing violence”. Violence had
peaked some months ago and apart from the odd incident here or there, did
not appear to be escalating at all. This is indeed I found puzzling about
the timing: the opportune moment had passed. This is why I suggested
something else must have been happening behind the scenes. Prayuth goes on
to say that martial law was needed to uphold the law, specifically to
“stop movements of military-grade weapons and explosive devices… [and]
stop armed groups from committing violent acts. Since 22 May, many members
of armed groups have been apprehended and a large amount of military-grade
weapons have been seized.” This lends further support to my suggestion
that the Eastern Tigers faction may have been alarmed by movements of
Prayuth presents the junta as a neutral arbiter just wanting to make Thais
“happy” again, insisting that “all sides must cooperate and unite, and
stop using violence. Differences should be discussed in order to find
agreeable solutions, move the country forward”. He presents the rounding
up of over 300 individuals as perfectly even handed, the length of
internment merely determined by the degree to which the individual is
violent, and says anyone needing prosecution under the law will be
prosecuted. In reality, of course, the junta has already shown its deep
bias by rounding up many more red-shirt figures than yellow-shirts, and by
treating the latter less harshly than even relatively neutral figures.
While PDRC leader Suthep Thaungsuban – wanted on murder charges and public
order offences – was quickly released and has yet to face justice,
journalist Pravit Rojanaphruk was interned for a week.
The regime’s hypocrisy also goes further, of course. Prayuth justifies the
purging of government offices by saying those moved “were involved with
the previous government and needed to be moved in order to resolve the
conflicts”. Conversely, Yingluck and half of her cabinet were removed from
office by the constitutional court for reshuffling just one official.
Similarly, Prayuth announces the payment of THB92,000m to farmers as part
of the rice-pledging scheme. This scheme was the basis of a corruption
charge that was similarly filed against Yingluck to remove her from
office. Prayuth even says the junta will consider long-term infrastructure
projects such as railways; again, Yingluck’s policy of building high-speed
rail links was overturned by the constitutional court. As Prayuth
observes, the “caretaker government was unable to perform their duties
effectively” — but he does not note that this was because his anti-Yingluck
allies in the judiciary, parliament and the PDRC deliberately paralysed
the government while the security forces did nothing to uphold the
government’s right to govern. Now he has the nerve to copy the very
policies for which Yingluck’s government was flayed. Prayuth laughably
insists that projects will not be undertaken to court “popularity or [for]
political reasons like in the past”; in reality, the junta is courting
political support just as much as Yingluck had.
As these infrastructure plans suggest, the speech ranges extremely widely
across many policy areas, illustrating my observation that the junta is
unusually ambitious this time around in terms of undertaking a
“comprehensive” reform of Thai society. The detailed plans cover public
utilities, road building, agricultural price fixing, the use of natural
fertilisers, pro-competition interventions, the creation of special
economic zones, and the development of green energy through public-private
The real ambition lies in their political “roadmap”:
1. “Reconciliation” through army-facilitated talks at every level of
2. The imposition of a new constitution and the appointment of a new
government, alongside a “reform council” to “resolve the conflicts”.
3. An election, once “reconciliation and unity have been achieved”.
The gap between 2 and 3 is of course exactly where this military regime
will fail. The claim is that, through the Internal Security Operations
Command (initially established in the Cold War to kill leftists), the army
can bash heads together and make people come to a consensus on how the
country can be taken forwards in a peaceful and stable manner. As I argue
in my piece, the only way out of the decade-old crisis is a new settlement
among key social forces that more equitably distributes power and
resources and permits social conflict to be contained within stable state
institutions. The army’s claim to wish to attempt something like this,
whilst obviously undesirable, might just be workable if (a) the army was
genuinely a neutral broker among the protagonists and (b) the two sides
were genuinely willing to compromise.
In reality, neither condition obtains. As indicated above, the faction
behind this coup, the Eastern Tigers, are blatantly partisan. This faction
overthrew Thaksin in 2006 and have been predominant ever since. General
Prayuth led the bloody crackdown on the red-shirt protestors in 2010 in
which over 90 people were killed. The Eastern Tigers’ god-father, General
Prawit Wongsuwan (now chair of the junta’s “advisory board”, possibly soon
to be PM in phase 2 of the roadmap, if Prayuth himself does not take the
job) was defence minister under the anti-Thaksin, Democrat-led
administration of 2008-11 (itself brought to power by behind-the-scenes
military manoeuvering), and was seen as a backer of the anti-Yingluck PDRC
protests. While the military under General Prayuth’s command did nothing
to defend the Yingluck government, failing to maintain the public order
necessary for elections to proceed, it is now copying the very policies
for which Yingluck and her colleagues were pilloried. The military is not
just incapable of serving as a neutral broker – its dominant faction has
always been a part of the yellow-shirt faction. The only heads Prayuth is
interested in bashing are those of red-shirts; and he threatens to stay in
power as long as necessary to make them submit. The purge that has already
begun is about constraining their power to resist a settlement that will
inevitably be one-sided and anti-democratic.
As for the second condition, the traditional elites that form the powerful
core of the yellow-shirt faction show no willingness to make fundamental
concessions to their opponents. They maintain a fundamental contempt for
the lower orders, seeing them as “uneducated people” who do not deserve to
play a full role in Thailand’s governance (when in reality they are savvy,
rational voters). They promote nonsensical ideas of a “sufficiency
economy” – attributed to the king – which basically instructs poorer Thais
to be satisfied with just getting enough to get by, to lower the
“unreasonable” aspirations for socio-economic advancement that Thaksin
courted and responded to. While they occasionally flirt with Thaksinistas’
policies – like the rice-pledging scheme and low-cost healthcare – this is
merely a cynical ploy to buy off Thaksin supporters, which has never been
fully successful because it does not represent a genuine reallocation of
power. The traditional elite looked to the coup precisely to avoid having
to make any real concessions. Given that their allies are now in control,
it beggars belief that they will suddenly reverse their position and make
the concessions necessary to achieve a just and lasting social compact.
The most likely way forward is therefore a re-run of 2006/7: a more
interventionist junta, for sure, meddling in many policy areas, but one
that can only produce a biased, one-sided settlement that can only elevate
its yellow-shirt allies in a successor democratic regime by fundamentally
rigging the system against the forces that actually enjoy majority popular
support. That did not work in 2006/7, and there is no good reason to
suppose it will work now."
- day 16
Curfew lifted in
Cha Am, Hua Hin, Krabi and Phang Nga - in effect immediately
General Prayuth is giving his second weekly tv propaganda address...and it
lasted nearly an hour.
by Thai junta chief Gen Prayuth touched on everything from morality and
tourism to waste disposal and football gambling.
done ”to safeguard democracy”, judiciary not working, country was becoming
Prayuth: HM The King has clearly shown us that good governance is
Gen. Prayuth: I
do not want the international community to view us as lawless people who
use violence to get what we wan
problems have been going on since 9 years and not resolved in the
democratic process as it should have
My intention is
to create unity among Thai people, who live in a moral and just society
that doesn’t accept corruption.
We must help
teach each other Thainess, cultural values, respect for the monarchy.
come to Thailand thinking they can do illegal things here…
Media that are
known for polarizing content (…) their contracts will be reviewed. I ask
for all media to stop creating conflict.
To students, HR
groups and younger gen., please refrain from movements, understand
Thailand needs time to improve and heal.
government does not had much respect on the international stage. Really?
How about now?
Some other notes
from his speech tonight:
The song you
hear on TV Pool right now is written largely by Prayuth.
Prayuth: We need
to ”reinforce of meaning of being Thai”, with the help of Minstry of
Prayuth to activists: If you want to protest today, how longer will you
have to keep on protesting? Over and over and over?
Prayuth: Don't fear us if you do nothing wrong, or if you prove you've
done nothing wrong.
Prayuth to activists: Why 3 fingers? Why not 10 fingers or two full hands
and help rebuild our nation?
Prayuth, complaining: When I speak too little, you don't understand. When
I speak a lot, small things are picked on and distorted.
On foreign reaction, Prayuth: We are not quarrelling with anyone. Thais
have wasted too much time fighting each other. This must end.
Prayuth on TV also claimed success in war weapon crackdown and vowed to
heed social media feedback.
Pratyuth on TV has vowed investigation of rice stocks, and gradual sale of
rice bought from farmers due to concern over prices.
Prayuth on TV has stressed strict control on budget use and project
approval, pledging utmost transparency.
A quick summary
of where things are now:
So-called populist policies were previously denounced as spendthrift and
corrupt and blocked by the anti-democrat street protests that shutdown
government and by the courts and “independent agencies.” Now the
dictatorship is unashamedly promoting theses such as the dual track rail
“Be happy” campaigns that urge the population to forget the coup and its
repression are all the rage.
The junta is emphasizing patriotism and the role of the monarchy in its
propaganda and has expanded use of lese majeste to restrict opposition to
Law is now determined by the dictatorship, and enforced through military
Censorship and the monitoring of the population is expanded to
Meanwhile, the dictatorship expands the number of people “called in,”
detained and arrested and imprisoned for opposing the regime, its laws and
Kasetsart University threatens to expel students who take part in
anti-coup protests - that will happen elsewhere as well.
Chaturon Chaisang's prison detention has been extended to 20 June; he was
not granted bail. The former education minister, on Friday, was brought
from Bangkok Remand Prison to a Court Martial. He is the first civilian to
be tried in the Court Martial which is empowered by military junta to try
civilians; he has been charged with resisting the junta’s order to report
himself and with instigating unrest in the country.
He was seen handcuffed and in brown prisoner outfits when he
arrived at the court at about 8.30am.
detained him after investigators told the court that they had to question
four more witnesses.
Come on, get
6 June 2014 The Economist - Banyan
A Few days after the country’s return to despotism, a reporter asked
Thailand’s new military dictator about a timetable for elections. General
Prayuth Chan-ocha snapped at him, and stormed off the stage. The junta
later summoned two journalists for asking “inappropriate” questions.
At some point General Prayuth will face subtler questions that are no less
delicate. Now that Thailand’s 18th constitution has been binned and needs
a replacement, will there be a referendum asking the people to approve it?
Or, even more disconcerting: Did the men behind the coup, a group of
arch-royalist officers who set out to dominate the army a decade ago,
bother to clear their actions with the crown prince, Maha Vajiralongkorn?
If not, then has he, the heir-apparent, at least been reassured that the
military establishment is not seeking to displace him with a different
royal successor, when the time comes?
In Thailand, in 2014, curiosity about such questions can land an
inquisitive mind behind bars for at least two reasons. First there are the
strict lèse-majesté laws, and now a new civic duty has been announced,
which is to keep criticism to oneself. But not to worry: the generals have
alternative activities planned for the people.
One of their priorities is a push for Gross National Happiness. The day
after the coup General Prayuth told diplomats that economic revival was a
big priority. Returning happiness to the people is to be counted a
separate issue, apparently. A week later, and state agencies have been
reported to be working on a Happiness Index. The Nation, a
pro-establishment newspaper that has come to read like a Thai variation on
one of Vietnam’s Party-controlled papers, reported that under the generals
all of the existing economic plans have been amended—in order to boost
gross national happiness. Perhaps this is all an allusion to the
happiness-minded people of Bhutan, also Buddhists who adore their king?
Then try picturing Bhutanese marching through Bangkok in jackboots.
On June 5th the junta organised its first “Return Happiness to the Public”
event. Staged at Victory Monument, which had recently been the site of
small-scale protests against the coup, it featured dancers in camouflage
outfits; a spicy routine by the orchestra of the Royal Thai Army; plus
free food, and haircuts. A few hundred or so fans of the army showed up,
and its Thai Psychological Operation team says it was pleased with the
attendance. The next gig is planned for Sunday.
The generals’ path to happiness is not to be confused with a plan for
prosperity. Instead “happiness” provides a conveniently fuzzy sort of
camouflage for Thailand’s new government and its repressive policies. And
for all it may be found lacking in conceptual rigour, the idea of
happiness does seem to be catching on in some quarters. For the elite,
nostalgic dreams have suddenly become reality. The good old days—when the
idea that Thailand might one day become a meritocracy looked comical—are
It remains the case that Thailand is a great place to do business. The
World Bank ranks its business environment 18th of 189 countries rated. But
it is also true that the Asian financial crisis of 1997 and 1998, and the
fear it instilled in the elite, led to an erosion of the groundwork for
fast economic growth. There is no real reason why Thailand’s GDP, which
grew at nearly 10% a year in the decade before the economic collapse,
should have been trundling along at an average of just 4% in the years
The tectonic friction between the traditional elite and electoral
democracy has played a big part for the relatively sluggish growth. The
1997 crisis marked the beginning of a turf war over resources, a war which
has only worsened with time. The elite’s greatest success after the crisis
was to retain ownership of the financial system. The crash had reduced
many billionaires to being merely rich. Throughout—both during the period
of impressive growth from 1957 to 1996, and in the period of reduced
expectations that has followed—Thailand’s rigid social pyramid has meant
that the monarch is still richer than anyone else. The palace sits on
assets worth an estimated $40 billion; more than the combined wealth of
the country’s next four richest tycoons.
This imagination of Thai society as a pyramid, with the king for its apex,
a tiered bureaucracy to assist him, and a broad peasantry living happily
at the base, is still alive in many minds (a government agency published a
memorable depiction of the pyramid in 1984). The idea that everything good
should radiate from the top downwards has had the effect of blunting
popular pressure for widespread benefits. In a striking contrast, China's
GDP per capita surged from $650 to $5,700 between 1997 and 2012 (measured
on a GNI-per-head-basis, per the Atlas method). In the process China has
overtaken Thailand, where incomes rose from $3,000 to $5,200. And
Thailand’s relatively poor performance is not the result of a somehow
predestined middle-income trap. It is something more like a self-inflicted
wound (see chart). Pick any country in East or South-East Asia and make
the same comparison. Thailand’s record post-1997 in raising peoples’
standard of living is thoroughly unimpressive.
This failure to return to more rapid growth has been the foundation for
the deep divisions that have riven Thai society since 1997. The emergence
of Thaksin Shinawatra, a telecoms-tycoon-turned-populist-politician,
coincided with ordinary citizens’ demands for greater participation in
politics. Mr Thaksin had many deep flaws. He unleashed a “war on drug
dealers” which was in effect a programme of extra-judicial killings. His
brutal and incompetent policies in trying to quell an insurgency in
Thailand’s south, in its mainly Muslim provinces, only brought more
bloodshed. And like Sarit Thanarat, a military dictator who had been at
the centre of a American-sponsored revival of royalism that began in 1957,
Mr Thaksin made sure that economic rents accrued to himself and his
But also like Sarit, Mr Thaksin insisted Thailand had to become a modern
state and set out to build the foundations for it. He introduced a simple
idea to Thai politics that had been ignored by his rivals: find out what
people want, and give it to them. Ever since he has been unbeaten at the
polls. The national discussion of economic policy, including that led by
the current junta, has concentrated on the idea of reducing the cost of
To the chagrin of the traditional elite, “Thaksinomics” also had the
effect of diverting the flow of public money to where his voters live.
When Mr Thaksin came to power in 2001 the Thai state spent 84% of the
national budget on the capital, Bangkok, and only 16% on the provinces. By
May 2014, when the courts removed his sister from the post of prime
minister, the provinces’ share had increased to a quarter.
Thailand’s junta has been blunt. The point of its methodically executed
coup is to eradicate the influence of the Shinawatra family from the body
politic. The country should expect a new constitution that puts paid to
the idea that the people chose their own government. If it takes deploying
soldiers in the malls of Bangkok to stifle coup protests, so be it, or so
the regime seems to think. At the moment everybody appears to be bending
like bamboo to the power of the junta. One wonders what will happen when
the novelty of repression wears off.
The army inherits an economy that was rendered stagnant by Suthep
Thaugsuban, the street-level embodiment of the traditional elite—the civil
service, the judiciary and the royal court that surrounds the frail King
Bhumibol Adulyadej, and the army itself. If history is any guide, its
first priority will be to set up a system that maximises their slice of
the pie, disregarding the size of the pie as a whole. One consequence of
this time-tested approach is likely to be prolonged economic and social
failure. Another is that Thailand is likely to retain one of the most
unequal income distributions in the world.
It is unclear what the army can do to reverse a collapse in domestic
demand. The coup itself is perhaps the biggest obstacle to reviving it.
The junta has begun paying off rice farmers and some of that cash will be
spent, but much of it will be used to service existing debt. The coup has
put a hedgehog in the pockets of consumers and producers. Some 62
countries have issued travel warnings for Thailand. The army is talking
about big infrastructure projects, trains and urban transports. But few of
these projects are shovel-ready and their impact will not be felt for some
time. Crucially, investment follows demand; with the latter collapsing,
the former will show little patience for languishing on.
This leaves exports as a possible route out of stagnation. The relatively
strong baht, supported by a current-account surplus that was fed by a
collapse in imports, does not help. The day investors hear about a
currency’s shock devaluation to spur on hyper-competiveness, they tend to
forget everything else. Were that to happen, it would also be the day the
generals started talking economic sense.
The shadow of the next royal succession is hanging over the kingdom. In
the words of someone who has spent time with people near the top of the
pyramid, this sense of anxiety is like the curvature of the universe: you
cannot see it, but its existence can be proven empirically. Absolutist
rule, administered by the army, is not likely to end any time before the
current king’s death. The generals are claiming that they aim to bring
about a new kind of restoration, of the “happiness of the people”.
Whatever that may mean, it had better not depend on the arrival of
Reconciliation centers push for peace and unity
National news Bueau of Thailand
Date : 5 มิถุนายน 2557
In response to the roadmap of the National Council for Peace and Order (NCPO)
regarding national reconciliation, various relevant agencies have begun to
launch programs and activities as part of the national reconciliation
In its roadmap, the NCPO wants to achieve national reconciliation as soon
as it could-- within two to three months' time if at all possible.
The Internal Security Operations Command (ISOC) has set up Centers of
Reconciliation for Reform in both the central and the regional areas of
the country. A working group has also been formed to set guidelines for
the operations of the centers. The reconciliation process will begin from
family units to villages, sub-districts, districts, and provinces.
The NCPO has tasked the ISOC with the responsibility of organizing
dialogues between all rivals in order to achieve social harmonization. At
the same time, activities and programs aimed at restoring happiness to the
people have been held by several agencies.
For instance, concerts have been performed by soldiers, policemen, and
civilians at various areas, such as the Victory Monument in Bangkok. Apart
from concerts, medical check-ups have also been offered at no charge. The
objective is to “return happiness to the people” after lengthy political
The Government Public Relations Department (PRD) is scheduled to organize
a program dubbed “Music in the Park,” starting from 5 June 2014. The
program takes place at the park within the compound of the PRD
Headquarters in Bangkok every Thursday evening.
Meanwhile, the PRD will establish reconciliation centers in Bangkok and
other provinces to provide channels to create better understanding between
the people and the military. The department will produce spots, programs,
and features to be disseminated through its radio and television networks,
as well as websites.
The Ministry of Culture is adjusting its cultural activities to promote
national reconciliation. For example, cultural tours and mobile cultural
events, to be arranged soon, will include content on reconciliation and
unity. Emphasis will be placed on creating awareness and unity among the
people. The Ministry of Social Development and Human Security is also
preparing activities to rehabilitate society, reduce conflicts, and bring
about peace and happiness.
In the meantime, the Ministry of Interior has instructed all provinces to
set up reconciliation centers to help create an atmosphere of social
harmony and encourage local people to accept different views.
The reason why the NCPO decided to take control of the nation was that the
prolonged political deadlock and protests had been massively damaging the
nation as a whole. There were also various violent incidents prior to the
coup, many of which involved the use of war weapons.
According to the NCPO, when the situation returns to normal and a
successful reform and national reconciliation as well as social harmony
have been achieved, the country will move towards the next phase-- a
Note: AP on NACC
investigation of Yingluck's assets: Regimes that come to power through a
coup usually seek to publicize alleged corruption by the governments they
overthrew as a way of discrediting them and justifying their own takeover.
Thailand's Army Bristles at U.S. Criticism of Coup
Chiang Rai Martial Court summons anti-coup protesters to hear charges
In Thailand, a Growing Intolerance for Dissent
Free Speech Under Attack in Southeast Asia
Thai Military Looks to Boost Nation's Spirits
The round up of
coup dissenters continues : Anti-coup leader Sombat Boonngam-anong (on
twitter @nuling) has been taken from Chon Buri to Bangkok reports the
Siam Voices "Due to the military coup of May 22, 2014 and subsequent
censorship measures we have placed certain restrictions on what we
How sad it is
that debate is now impossible; that stating your opposition to the coup
endangers the personal freedoms that people have fought for throughout
support for the coup
6 June 2014
I have been
meaning to write about this for a while.
One of the
surprises of this coup is how extensive its support from foreigners living
in Thailand. Their views are widely written in the forum pages of ThaiVisa
and in the letters pages of the Nation and the Bangkok Post.
One of my
friends is an academic leader; someone who has liberal views on many
things and strong views on most.
His view of the
coup is simple:
have done this weeks ago, to pre-empt any of the violence that has already
occurred, cos there is no common ground between the 2 parties, so its just
a continual stalemate. What choice do they have but to adapt the
constitution before the next election to give it a chance to be accepted
by both parties and to represent the majority... AND at the same time
protect the significant minority, which right now is not the case.
Agree the curfew might last a few days till this settles down over the
weekend, but then it will be back to normal and the army will appoint a
nominated PM and interim government, right?
Final comment…..All the condemnation from the UK and the US and others is
crap and a load of bollocks really.…and are not helping the situation by
such rhetoric and bluster…typical though!:)"
noting that the Yingluck government was "not addressing the needs of
the other significant minority thru some type of reform that would give
them a voice and protect their interests.....agree the coup cuts across
and against all rights but if it's to stop imminent violence to give time
to put something workable in place, if rather that happen than see carnage
on the streets.... They need to decide way forward sooner than later
The views he
expresses about potential carnage and the need for action are common; they
are widely stated by the coup leaders as well; they are also not backed up
by any supporting evidence: the reality of this coup is fairly simple:
1. There was no
evidence of imminent violence. There were sporadic attacks – there have
been for years.
2. There was no evidence to support any claim of expected "carnage" on the
streets – that is simply hyperbole
3. What significant minority are supposed to be protected; in this case he
means the yellow shirts/ the people that Suthep was leading around Bangkok
– the Democrat party who had two years in power to develop an agenda and
policies that appealed to the people in order to get the party elected at
the ballot box….and who then decided to sabotage democracy by not
participating in the February election.
4. The 2007 constitution as I keep saying gave more than enough checks and
balances to restrain any non Democrat government – they had huge
protections built in through a largely unelected bodies and so called
independent institutions created by the 2007 constitution – the NACC and
the Constitutional Court just for starters.
5. In the meantime journalist, academics, professionals and politicians
are being hauled in/summonsed to meet with the junta, and then spirited
away to unknown locations for an unknown period of time and held without
contact to families or friends. That cannot be right.
6. The objective for this army led coup will be to eliminate Thaksin and
all his support from Thai politics. Business leaders/CEOs with connections
to Thaksin have been summoned today – including Premchai at Italian Thai
who I know. They will to be told to stop all contact and all contracts
with Thaksin and his businesses. But, eliminating Thaksin from politics is
not going to stop the political awareness/movement that he mobilised.
7. The coup is more likely in the long term to increase violence; this was
the Bangkok Post the morning after the coup: “it’s the very act of a
military takeover that is likely to stir up stiff resistance, provoke acts
of violence and possibly cause more loss of life. This coup is not the
solution.” People who value freedom and democracy will oppose the coup and
will oppose military dictatorship. Contrary to the propaganda machine you
do not have to be a Thaksin supporter, a red-shirt or anti monarchy to
oppose the coup.
8. As for the UK, US, Germans, Japanese, Singaporeans, French, UN, HRW,
EEC – they are all saying the same thing. As significant investors into
Thailand they have every right to be heard and their message to Prayuth
and his merry men is very consistent. This idea that foreigners should
stay out of Thai affairs in simply nonsense.
Two interesting facebook posts from Sulak Sivaraksa
Sivaraksa, born March 27, 1933, is the founder and director of the Thai
NGO “Sathirakoses-Nagapradeepa Foundation”, named after two authorities on
Thai culture, Sathirakoses (Phya Anuman Rajadhon) and Nagapradeepa (Phra
Saraprasoet). He is also the initiator of a number of social,
humanitarian, ecological and spiritual movements and organizations in
Thailand, such as the College SEM (Spirit in Education Movement
May 31 - 2014 Coup: Old Wine in a New Bottle?
At first sight, the most recent coup d’état on 22 May 2014 seemed to have
learned admirably well from the failures of the previous coup in 2006. But
what have and what haven’t the military leaders learned from the 2006
coup? Here are some observations.
1. The martial law was declared two days in advance of the actual seizure
of state power. The Senate was allowed to linger on for a brief while and
was subsequently dissolved. Power was seized and monopolized by one
leader. Royal endorsement only came on 26 May at a ceremony in which the
king was not present. The president of the Privy Council didn’t seem to
play any role in this process too. And the junta leaders didn’t have an
audience with the king. These measures were taken to show that there
wasn’t any connection between the monarchy and the coup; the military
alone was responsible for it. Whether or not this is plausible is entirely
a different matter.
2. This time the coup group, officially known as the National Council for
Peace and Order (NCPO), didn’t appoint a prime minister to govern on their
behalf. The junta has moved swiftly to undermine or destroy Thaksin
Shinawatra’s power-base by transferring to inactive posts the Ministry of
Defense permanent secretary and the National Police Chief—along with a
number of senior police officers and provincial governors who are said to
be connected to Thaksin. We will have to see whether or not the military
junta will be successful in eradicating Thaksin and Co.’s political power
this time; the 2006 coup failed dismally in this feat.
3. The junta’s appointment of MR Pridiyathorn Devakula and Somkid
Jatusipitak as advisors to handle economic and foreign affairs matters
respectively is interesting. Both men belong to the opposite poles. They
are however honest and highly competent. It will be interesting to see if
they can work together and whether or not NCPO listens to their advices.
Professor Yongyut Yuttawong is also capable and upholds a strong sense of
ethics. Ultimately, how many more qualified technocrats will be enlisted
to work for NCPO—aside from the legal experts who have served under every
recent military dictatorship?
4. We have to wait and see whether or not the new set of administrators
will courageously work to dismantle structural injustice and to what
extent they understand the sources of poverty, oppression and exploitation
faced by the majority of people in the country. Moreover, will they
continue to denigrate local knowledge forms as well as autonomy? Will they
attempt to move beyond the populist and corrupt policies of Thaksin and
NCPO’s plans to construct roads and dams around Bangkok may prove as
disastrous as Yingluck’s approval of a massive budget for dam construction
in the name of flood relief. Is it far-fetched to demand that NCPO call
for a referendum before launching any massive construction projects?
5.The creation of the Military Court is a double-edged dagger. If the
objective is to improve the justice process in the country, then it must
be accompanied by the nourishment of mindfulness, emancipatory knowledge,
and tolerance—and not to say of a major overhaul of the education and
Sangha systems. I’m afraid these issues are not on the priority list of
6. Summoning individuals to report to the junta or detaining them seems to
have spiraled out of control. It may lead to a culture of misinforming and
denouncing innocent persons, a kind of McCarthyism. The sooner this path
is avoided, the better. (The suspension of US military aid to Thailand is
simply a weak PR ploy. The US has always had deep ties with every postwar
military dictatorship in the country.)
7.As shocking as this may sound but the present military leaders should
look to Field Marshal Sarit Thanarat as a role model. Despite his
terrifying flaws Sarit was also pretty clever. Sarit’s closest confidant
as well as advisor was very talented. The Field Marshal was able to make
highly competent individuals work for the wellbeing of the country such as
Puey Ungphakorn in the domain of finance and economics and Tawee Boonyaket
in the field of constitutional drafting.
8. NCPO won some praise as it disbursed payment to rice farmers under the
rice pledging scheme of the previous government. But in the wake of the
1947 coup in an effort to reduce public dissent, the price of certain
essential commodities was also cut. The 1947 coup-makers justified their
action under the pretext of fighting corruption. Arguably, they ended up
being even more corrupt than the deposed government.
9. Hopefully, the drafting of a new constitution and formation of a
civilian government will not take an inordinate amount of time as during
the Sarit years. Likewise, let’s hope that oppositional intellectuals and
politicians will not be liquidated as during the Sarit dictatorship.
10. The Sangha Act of 1962 issued by Sarit is a root cause of the Sangha’s
downfall in the country. If this Act is not amended or revoked, the future
of Buddhism looks bleak in the kingdom.
PS : Perhaps, the leader of NCPO should take the time to study the life of
Pompey, a great military-general-turned-political-leader. In his biography
of Pompey Plutarch writes:
“Life out of uniform can have the dangerous effect of weakening the
reputation of famous generals…. They are poorly adapted to the equality of
democratic politics. Such men claim the same precedence in civilian life
that they enjoy on the battlefield…. So when people find a man with a
brilliant military record playing an active part in public life they
undermine and humiliate him. But if he renounces and withdraws from
politics, they maintain his reputation and ability and no longer envy
him.” Anthony Everitt adds that “The trouble was that Pompey was a poor
political tactician and also uninspiring public speaker.”
I am aware that the leader of NCPO doesn’t have the time to read this
article. But if his trustworthy and clever subordinates alert him to the
message in this postscript it may be beneficial to the present situation.
The English name of คสช is National Council for Peace and Order. Its Latin
equivalent would be “otium cum dignitate.” That is, peace/leisure (otium)
is inextricable from dignity (dignitate). If human rights are trammeled on
and freedom of expression is denied, then an order is peaceful only in
name. It will be a false peace.
23 May Reflections on 22 May 2014 Coup
Now is the time
to rely on humor more than sorrow, anger or hatred. It’s not good to be
attached to any particular sentiment. And the dream that the military
would not launch another coup d’etat proved to be illusory, implying that
perhaps subconsciously we have given too much respect to soldiers.
We must not forget that the military is a state within the state. If
politicians—popularly elected or otherwise—deviate too far from the lines
drawn by the military, they won’t accept it. Unfortunately, the military
hasn’t learned much from their previous mistakes; that is, every coup thus
far has been a fundamental failure, and the military must take full
responsibility for this. As in the wake of previous coups, the military
might appoint a ‘neutral’ person to be prime minister or ask for a
royal-appointed premier. In any case, the military cannot deny
responsibility for the consequences of such decision. Let’s look at the
case of royal-appointed premiers like Sanya Dharmasakti, Thanin Kraivixien,
and Anand Panyarachun. These three are all good and honest individuals.
The first is good like a monastery-attendant or church-goer. The second is
a good rightwing extremist. And the last one is a good neoliberal. The
royal-appointed prime minister in the wake of the 2006 coup is a highly
disciplined military general as well as a devoted Buddhist. A simple
question must be asked: to what extent have these four individuals been
successful? Have they been good to the poor and excluded in society?
Will the National Council for Peace and Order, which seized the helm of
state power on 22 May 2014, be able to find a better knight on a white
horse than any of these four individuals? Even if the junta cannot find a
white knight to solve the multiple crises the country is confronting, does
any one of them truly understand the structural injustice of Thai society
as well as the asymmetrical regional order in the Asia Pacific? Are they
aware of the dangers of American or Chinese imperialism—or MNCs, some
which are Thai-owned such as CP and ThaiBev? The latter two actors may not
be as ‘bad’ as Thaksin Shinawatra simply because they have refrained from
becoming directly involved in politics. But they have benefited enormously
from state power in a way that the remaining 80-90 percent of the people
have not. In sum, if the right questions are not posed, even a white
knight will not be able to deliver better answers or solutions. We will be
stuck in a vicious deadlock.
Let’s now move on to more specific issues.
1. Let me repeat an important point yet again. When we say that we want
our country to be a constitutional monarchy, shouldn’t we also emphasize
that fact that the monarch must be under the constitution and therefore is
not a divine ruler? As such, the monarch must not possess any divine
rights or celestial privileges. Royal activities and management of royal
property must be rendered transparent and accountable. Thus, for instance,
the Crown Property Bureau must be put under state control and made
accountable to public scrutiny. Furthermore, the notorious Article 112 of
the Criminal Code must be abolished (in accordance with the king’s wish,
which was expressed publicly several times). These measures will also help
enhance the stability of the monarchy.
2. Many Red Shirts are not pawns of Thaksin Shinawatra. They have bravely
struggled for freedom from domination by the “ammarts” (e.g., the royal
class, forces of absolutism, state officials who oppress ordinary
citizens, well-to-do Bangkokians who look down on the poor and rural
folks, etc.). If we cannot grasp this important point we will not be able
to cope with the intensifying class antagonism in the country. At the same
time, we must also not forget that this struggle should also be
articulated in the direction of freedom from exploitation by capital. This
is because often times we are not only dominated but also exploited. And
the dominated can also be one of the exploiters.
3. The problem of class domination and urban-rural divide can be traced
back at least to the reign of King Chulalongkorn. Of course, King Rama V
initiated many reforms that truly benefited the kingdom. At the same time,
many of them also had disastrous consequences, which can be felt till the
present. A case in point is the centralization of power in Bangkok. This
has led to asymmetrical and oppressive relations politically, culturally
and economically between Bangkok and the provinces (especially in the
Southern and Northeastern parts of the kingdom). The pertinent point may
not be to make everyone enjoy the privileges and benefits of the rich, the
dominant, the included or the powerful but to make the latter refuse or
forgo these privileges so that they will be on a par with the marginalized
or excluded. This may be a true basis for equality.
4. There must be a major land reform in the country that guarantees equal
land rights to everyone. Land-grabbing must be halted. Unproductive
landlords who extract monopoly rents must pay much higher taxes; or the
landless poor should have the right to make good use of unproductive
lands. The Crown Property Bureau owns approximately 30 percent of the land
in Bangkok. ThaiBev owns roughly the same size in Chiang Mai province. Is
this acceptable? Must this issue be politicized?
5. When talking about democracy, the focus must be on its emancipatory
kernel, not its form. Take a look at Thai MPs during 1932-1947. Despite
the Japanese occupation and the autocratic prime minister, many MPs were
autonomous and possessed moral courage. They admirably devoted themselves
to the wellbeing of fellow citizens and the country as well as to the
causes of democracy and national independence. A number of them joined the
Free Thai Movement, which helped to restore de jure sovereignty in the
country in the wake of WWII. However, after the Second World War several
of them were assassinated such as Tiang Sirikun a politician from Sakon
Nakhon province, Chamlong Daoruang from Mahasarakham, Tawin Udul from Roi
Et and Thong-in Phuriphat from Ubon Ratchathani. Although Pridi Banomyong
was not assassinated his reputation was seriously tarnished and he had to
spend the rest of his life in exile. If we fail to recognize the virtues
of these figures it will be difficult to restore moral courage in
parliament. The majority of our MPs will simply be bootlickers and
servants of the powers-that-be. Many in the public will continue to
venerate false heroes like militarist figures who massacred the people and
trammeled on democracy such as P. Phibunsongkram, Sarit Thanarat, Phao
Sriyanond and, more recently, Chatichai Choonhavan.
6. Thus the importance of education cannot be overemphasized. When Pridi
Banomyong founded the University of Moral and Political Sciences (Thammasat
University), he intended not only to cultivate knowledge but also Dhamma.
He saw Dhamma as a powerful weapon to serve emancipatory causes as well as
to empower the people. If universities today understand the substance of
this idea they will rethink and arrest the trend towards privatization and
move education in the direction of the Threefold Training. Suffice it to
say that this entails using morality, meditation, and wisdom for
emancipation; that is, the overcoming of the forces of greed, hatred, and
delusion in the contemporary world. For instance, an education guided by
the Threefold Training will work to narrow or eliminate the obscene gap
between rich and poor; will take environmental sustainability seriously;
will see the perils of capitalism and consumerism; will reduce
selfishness; will cultivate truth, goodness, and beauty; and so on.
7. Lastly, the mainstream mass media needs a major overhaul in both
structure and contents if it is to serve as a means of emancipation, if it
is to help us envision alternatives to the present order. How this will
come about requires a collective undertaking.
These are just some of the crucial issues to think critically about in
order to rejuvenate the emancipatory potentials of democracy. My wager is
that democracy will be rejuvenated only by first passing through Dhammic
Pridi Banomyong envisioned democracy along the lines of Dhammic Socialism.
He tried to learn about Dhammic Socialism from Buddhadasa Bhikkhu in order
to adapt it to Thai society. He failed. The military coup in 1947
destroyed Pridi’s political life and quashed the democratic movements in
the country. The emancipatory potentials of democracy have yet to be
reclaimed to these days. NCPO may be successful in breaking the back of
Thaksin Shinawatra and Co., but if the junta doesn’t grasp the
abovementioned issues it will never be able to transform the crisis into a
new beginning. In other words, the junta or any post-coup government
established by it will fail as disastrously as in all previous coups.
Please take my words as a cautionary advice, not as a curse or
belittlement because I have always tried to be a kalyanamitta or virtuous
companion to everyone. As a kalyanamitta I have to say things that the
junta may not want to hear. If the junta doubts my sincerity, then this is
the best that I can do to help it.
23 May 2014
Press : Thailand's new
military government moved against two of its top targets on Thursday,
capturing a top organizer of protests against its recent takeover and
launching a probe into the finances of the former elected prime minister.
Protest leader Sombat Boonngam-anong himself was the first to announce his
own arrest, posting a message Thursday night on his Facebook account
saying simply, "I've been arrested."
Thai media later reported that Sombat, also known as Nuling, was captured
in a house in Cholburi province, about two hours east of Bangkok.
Sombat had defied an order from the new military government to report to
the authorities, and went into hiding, going online to organize anti-coup
protests in Bangkok.
The website of the newspaper Khaosod reported that he was arrested by
police officers of the Technology Crime Suppression Division working with
the army, and that he had been traced on the internet by the National
The new government has warned that it is closely monitoring online
activities, and plans to expand its surveillance capabilities.
Several dozen people have defied the order to turn themselves in, and some
are known to have fled to neighboring countries. The junta has declared
that those who don't surrender themselves may be subject to a two-year
Sombat was one of the first people to organize protests against Thailand's
previous coup, in 2006, and became known for imaginative and non-violent
Earlier Thursday, Thailand's state anti-corruption agency said it would
investigate the assets of former Prime Minister Yingluck Shinawatra and
four members of her Cabinet involved in a controversial rice subsidy
The move by the National Anti-Corruption Commission followed the May 22
coup that overthrew the elected government Yingluck had led. She was
forced from office herself by a court ruling earlier in May that she had
abused her authority in approving the transfer of a high-level civil
Coup leaders in Thailand usually seek to publicize alleged corruption by
the governments they overthrew as a way of discrediting them and
justifying their own takeovers. Yingluck's brother Thaksin Shinawatra
faced similar treatment after a 2006 coup ousted him from the prime
minister's job. He is in self-imposed exile to escape a jail term for a
conflict of interest conviction.
The National Anti-Corruption Commission had already indicted Yingluck over
charges of dereliction of duty in overseeing the rice subsidy program,
charging that she failed to heed advice that it was potentially wasteful
and prone to corruption. The Senate could have held an impeachment trial
that might have barred her from politics for five years, but the
parliamentary body was dissolved by the army after the coup.
The commission is known for having made several significant rulings
against Yingluck and her government, which her supporters suspect was part
of a conspiracy to oust her from office.
They believe that independent agencies such as the commission, along with
high level courts, are aligned with Thailand's conservative traditional
ruling class - guided by royalists and the military - who were alarmed at
the political power of the Shinawatra family and its political machine.
Thaksin and his allies have won every general election since 2001.
The independent agencies and courts were seeded with anti-Thaksin
personnel after the 2006 coup.
In its earlier ruling, the commission said it was unclear whether Yingluck
was involved in corruption or had allowed it to take place. Very few, if
any, prosecutions in court have been launched in connection with the rice
Yingluck, along with most of her government, was briefly detained by the
army after the coup.
The brief announcement said three former commerce ministers and a former
deputy commerce ministers would also be investigated, without elaborating
why it was forming a new subcommittee to probe them.
The subsidy program bought rice from farmers at above-market prices in an
effort to boost rural incomes.
As the world's top rice exporter, Thailand hoped to control the market and
push up prices. But India and Vietnam increased exports, which prompted
stockpiling by Thailand as it tried to contain losses from its subsidy
policy. The program incurred huge financial losses for the government,
though there is no reliable estimate of the total.
The program was denounced by Yingluck's critics as being designed to win
votes. But it became a major political weapon against her when protesters
began rallying against Yingluck last November and successfully pressured
banks not to lend to the government, delaying the payments to farmers.
Shortly after the coup, the new military government announced that it
would make the long-delayed payments.
- day 15
Thai Junta Is Using Pretty Girls in Skimpy Camo to Win Some Popularity
Thai junta 'brings happiness to the people' with parties and selfies :
Thailand's junta sidelines pro-Thaksin police, governors : Reuters
Songsuda Yodmani and the 2014 coup : New Mandala
"Returning Happiness to the People" fair will be held at Nong Chok Park,
BKK, on Saturday 5 pm - 7 pm
cronyism; the coup leader's younger brother Lieutenant General Preecha
Chan-ocha is in charge of restructuring police - not so different from
having your sister as Prime Minister!
Thailand becomes the land of the inverted smile
5 June 2014 The Financial Times
Much of the electorate has tasted the fruits of democracy. For the elites
that is the problem
Thailand’s coup is a public relations fiasco. A short-tempered general
talking breezily about his junta’s wish to “restore happiness to the
people and stamp out conflict”. Hundreds of people, including academics,
rounded up for questioning. Soldiers descending on tiny groups of
protesters. People facing arrest for reading books (Nineteen Eighty-Four)
or for making three-fingered salutes (The Hunger Games). It is all so
horribly retro. Thailand has become the land of the inverted smile.
That is not, though, how it looks to many in Bangkok, at least not to
those loosely described as “the elite” and their supporters. To them, the
coup has ended a period of mob rule in which allies of Thaksin Shinawatra,
the self-exiled former prime minister, hijacked democracy for their own
nefarious ends. Some may not exactly relish living under a military
dictatorship. But many view it as a necessary evil, a prelude to a more
workable form of democracy purged of corruption and winner-takes-all
Songkran Grachangnetara, a columnist and one of a few people in Thailand
who still dares to speak his mind, is scathing about such views. “People
were crying out against a democratic dictatorship,” he says, referring to
widespread concern about the perceived abuses of majority rule. But few,
he says, seem as worried about a real dictatorship run by real soldiers.
Still, it is worth considering why many in the Thai elite – a useful if
imperfect term broadly defined as the military, bureaucracy and
monarchists – find Thailand’s version of democracy so offensive.
It all began when Mr Thaksin, a business tycoon turned politician, became
prime minister in 2001. Initially supported by sections of the elite, he
quickly lost favour. He was widely seen as corrupt, dishing out goodies to
his businesses and those of his cronies. His government was accused of
human rights abuses. Perhaps worst of all, many saw his grab for power and
patronage as disrespectful to the king.
For those who hated Mr Thaksin, there was a huge problem: he was
unstoppable. He convinced a huge and previously marginalised voting bloc
in the north of Thailand that he represented their interests. It took a
coup, in 2006, to dislodge him. That got rid of Mr Thaksin but not
Thaksinism. After the junta left, allies of the exiled prime minister
swept back into office. In 2011 his sister Yingluck Shinawatra – whom Mr
Thaksin unhelpfully called his “clone” – was elected.
General Prayuth Chan-ocha will not repeat the “mistakes” of 2006. From his
point of view, the military handed back power too quickly. It also left a
constitution that could not prevent the election of a pro-Thaksin
government. For many in Bangkok, democracy is a busted flush. It has
become equated with corruption and with what one critic calls the “disease
Not all the criticism is wide of the mark. There is much to dislike about
the governments Mr Thaksin has run, in person or by proxy. As in many
other fledgling democracies, the law is too weakly enforced to prevent the
abuse of power or the installation of crony capitalism.
But much of the criticism is spurious. It is doubtful whether Mr Thaksin’s
government was any more corrupt than many others, including some notorious
former military rulers. Nor is Thailand’s democracy necessarily more
compromised than those of its neighbours. India, Indonesia and the
Philippines have all persevered with voting anyway. The idea that Thai
politics has no checks and balances is also flawed. One could just as
easily argue it has too many. In recent years, no fewer than three prime
ministers have been dismissed by the courts – a powerful check if ever
there was one.
Dislike of democracy stems largely from the paternalistic idea that
peasants cannot be trusted to vote sensibly. The assumption is they simply
elect whoever promises to offer them the biggest bribes. In fact, Mr
Thaksin won his popularity by offering rights over charity. Whether he was
sincere, or whether he was simply playing a cynical numbers game, is
almost beside the point. His policies struck a chord with an electorate
for whom previous systems had been devoid of democratic meaning. Much of
the Thai electorate has now tasted the fruits of democracy. For the elites
that is precisely the problem.
The generals envisage harmony through the use of “reconciliation centres”.
No wonder Nineteen Eighty-Four is a touchy book. They also propose to
enact electoral “reform”. People speculate that could mean a partially
appointed lower house or multi-seat constituencies. Almost inevitably, the
aim will be to dilute democracy, not to strengthen it.
Such tactics might work for a bit. But in the long run, the social forces
unleashed by Thaksinism will not be so easily ensnared. Democracy is not
perfect. Unequivocally, it can be abused. In the end, however, it does
mean majority rule, albeit with certain safeguards for the minority. That
must be the basis of any lasting political settlement. It is not one
likely to emerge from the generals’ playbook.
activists-lèse majesté suspects in exile
5 June 2014 - Prachatai
"The National Council for Peace and Order (NCPO) on Wednesday around 10.30
p.m. summons 21 more people including activists in exile and facing lèse
majesté charges, such as Gi Ungpakorn, Junya Yimprasert, Jakrapob Penkair
as well as Chatwadee Amornrapat who was recently sued by her parents for
offending the monarchy.
Jakrapob Penkair, former Minister to the Prime Minister’s Office under the
premiership of Samak Sundaravej and a founding member of the red shirt UDD,
was sued for his alleged offensive speech at Foreign Correspondents’ Club
of Thailand in 2008. He lives in exile since 2009.
Joe Gordon, a naturalised American citizen who was in 2011 given 2.5-year
sentence for posting a translation of “The King Never Smiles” on his blog,
was also summoned.
Thai-British Gi, former political science lecturer at Chulalonkorn
University and a red shirt faction leader, and Chatwadee now reside in the
UK, while Jakrapob now lives in Cambodia.
Junya, a labour activist and campaigner, has left the country since 2010
and recently received asylum status from Finland. Police issued arrest
warrant for Junya in 2013 due to content in one of her books.
The list also includes Choopong Teethuan, who was issued arrest warrant
2011 due to the alleged defamatory content on his online radio show. His
whereabouts is unknown.
They were ordered to report themselves at the Thai Army Club in Theves,
Bangkok by June 9th, 12 p.m.
The Article 112 of Thailand’s Criminal Code, or the lèse majesté law,
stipulates that "Whoever defames, insults or threatens the King, Queen,
the Heir-apparent or the Regent, shall be punished with imprisonment of
three to fifteen years." Critics of the law say it is abused as a
political tool and severely limits freedom of expression."
breath; these people are not coming back to Thailand. Though it does beg
the question of why is Thaksin not on the list?
- day 14
The curfew has
been lifted in Pataya, Samui and Phuket - as the generals try to salvage
their tourism industry
“Not only Thais
but foreigners opposing #Thai coup on Twitter now being reported 2 junta
Twitter account by vigilante. #ป #รปห #Thailand” – Pravit Rojanaphruk on
Twitter this evening.
Thailand’s coup: brokered by the army and PDRC
Oddly timed Thai coup a sign of trouble in military and monarchy
Despite the threats, I will not bow to Thailand's despots
Thailand's Military Is Forcing People to Stop Worrying and Love the Coup
Life as a 'guest detainee' of the military
- day 13
BBC World is
back on the air in Thailand after being blocked for 12 days - and the lead
story is about a royal abdication (in Spain!) closely followed by events
remembering the 25th anniversary of the army crackdown on students in
Tiananmen Square (#TAM25)
Under the military regime, are we still citizens?
Taxi driver charged with lese majeste over politics talks with passenger
Chiang Mai academics report themselves to the military
they can wean people off Thaksin by adopting his populist policies, but
their ruthless unfairness just helps Thaksin
bureau of Thailand announcements:
Council for Peace and Order (NCPO) has urged Thai people to cooperate with
the NCPO and considered the benefits for all, said the spokesman Col
Protesters against the seizure of power are urged to comply with the
orders and announcements of the NCPO, because if they continue to violate
them, the laws will be enforced more strictly. The demonstrators fall into
two categories: those who do not really understand the facts, and others
who oppose the officials intentionally. Meanwhile, he is convinced that
the majority of Thais are ready to make sacrifices for peace and order in
society, and cooperate with the officials.
The Ministry of
Commerce and Big C Super Center collaborate in organizing a low-priced
food court project in line with the policy on assistance for low-income
people of the National Council for Peace and Order (NCPO).
Deputy Director-General of the Department of Internal Trade Santichain
Sarathawanphaet said food courts in Big C would offer 26 food items at the
special price of just 30 baht each. As for food prices in food courts in
general, the official said most of them fell within the price range
announced by the department. Internal trade officers would still randomly
inspect the food prices, Mr Satichain said.
The department will peg the prices of 205 commodities until 31 October
2014. Entrepreneurs who have been affected by rising costs of production
can request the department to consider allowing them to increase prices of
Police Region 5 has mobilized a force numbering about a thousand officers
to suppress crime, drug dealing, and other social vices, in order to
maintain peace and order in the Chiang Mai region.
Because of criminal activity which has caused social and economic problems
in the province, the NCPO and Provincial Police Region 5 are confronting
the criminals and suppressing their activities to return harmony to the
community, and restore confidence to the many tourists and residents of
Chiang Mai Province.
- day 12
Who’s who in the Thai coup?
Still no foreign
news media broadcasting in Thailand.
to Q whether the 3-finger salute is illegal: "It depends on the intention
and context". Hmm, what intention/context is bad?
caches and arrests everywhere all over the country, where do those new law
enforcement skills come from all of a sudden? - For instance:
3,000 people arrested over 5 days in Khon Kaen (Police region 4)
The Nation - 2 June 2014
More than 3,000
people were rounded up and a large number of heavy weapons seized under a
coordinated crackdown by police, military officials and civilian
volunteers in provinces that come under the jurisdiction of Provincial
Police Region 4. The raid began last Wednesday and wrapped up on Sunday.
Pol Lt-General Detnarong Suthichanbancha of Provincial Police Region 4
said the 279 teams led intelligence and sting operations before laying
siege to 500 areas and 2,700 illegal entertainment venues. Some 3,413
suspects were rounded up and slapped with charges ranging from gambling,
drug trafficking, prostitution and the illegal possession of arms.
Of those arrested, 382 were charged with illegally possessing arms and 407
guns, 1,028 bullets and seven grenades were seized from them.
Army ponders arrest for three-finger sign - Bangkok Post
Meanwhile Lumpini police
confirm [3 salute finger lady] was detained by undercover cops; she is in
military custody now - source
today Dep. Police Chief was dismissive that it was undercover police that
had kidnapped the protestor in a taxi. He
stated that police did not detain that way and he said it could be her husband;
although he added he was unsure. Really!
Thai police criticized for posing as journalists - Associated Press
press association has voiced concern that undercover police appear to be
posing as journalists after a video circulated showing a man with official
press ID arresting an anti-coup protester in the capital.
The Thailand Journalists Association said Monday the tactic would have an
“immense impact” on the safety and credibility of journalists and urged
police to revise their strategy.
The video posted on the website of the Matichon newspaper shows several
men escorting a woman to a motorcycle, as she calls for help and asks them
not to arrest her.
One of the men is wearing a black badge around his neck that says “PRESS”
along with a green cloth that looks like the arm bands issued by the
journalists’ association for reporters to wear at public protests.
authorities to build state-owned social network site
2 June 2014 Prachatai
The ICT Ministry will propose a plan to build state-owned Facebook-like
social networking site called Thailand Social Network.
Surachai Srisarakam, permanent secretary of the ICT Ministry, said the
Thailand Social Network is part of the ministry’s plan to build the
country’s digital infrastructure, called “Smart Thailand,” according to
The plan includes building the state-owned nation Internet gateway and
creating the nation’s social network site, in order to increase the
efficiency of the authorities’ censorship.
In the plan, initiated by the military junta, the private Internet Service
Providers (ISPs) will have to connect to the state-owned ISP TOT, so that
it will be easier for the authorities to block websites and prevent
terrorism, he said, adding that the ICT Ministry will oversee the national
The concrete plan will be finished within two month, the official said.
Thai authorities have long been complained that major social media
operators, such as Google, Youtube, Facebook and LINE, do not cooperate
with them when asking for users’ data and blocking sites.
On 'Happiness' Project
2 June 2014
In an effort to "return happiness" to Thai society after months of
political unrest, the military junta is organizing road cleanups,
army-band concerts, and free haircuts for the people
Gen. Prayuth Chan-ocha, the army chief who led a coup on 22 May, recently
said that "happiness" of Thai people is among the top priorities of the
military junta, known as the National Council for Peace and Order (NCPO).
"Thai people, like me, have probably not been happy for nine years, but
since May 22, there is happiness," Gen. Prayuth said in a national address
laying out a roadmap for the country, which includes 2-3 months of
"national reconciliation" followed by about a year of constitutional
Today, soldiers from a cavalry division based in Saraburi province were
deployed to cleanup the area around Victory Monument in central Bangkok -
the site of several anti-coup demonstrations last week.
Billed by the military as "Big Cleaning Day," the effort was aimed at
bringing beauty and cleanliness back to the people, army officers said.
The military also held free concerts over the weekend, with soldiers
playing guitars, keyboard, saxophone, trombone, and drums to the applauses
of enthusiastic and happy-looking audiences.
The concerts also featured free haircuts and dessert.
This Friday, the NCPO will begin airing its weekly television program
keeping the public informed of the army’s efforts to return happiness to
"It will be an explanation of the NCPO's works, and will answer people's
questions," said an army spokesman 31 May.
Since seizing power, the NCPO has summoned and detained more than 300
people, censored and closed down a number of TV stations and radios, and
arrested protesters who voiced their opposition against the military
NCPO spokesman Col. Winthai Suwaree said today that the military's
crackdown on dissidents is a necessary part of the happiness project.
"Although those who disagree with the NCPO's ways are few, they affect the
NCPO's mission to return the happiness to the country," Col. Winthai
- day 11
video posted by the Bangkok Post on its facebook page and widely shared
online - A woman was forced into a taxi by suspected plainclothes
police officers after she allegedly flashed three-finger signs signalling
her opposition to the military coup near Asoke BTS station this afternoon.
(Bangkok Post video)
Thailand have adopted the 3-fingered salute from the movie The Hunger
More political figures called in
Bangkok is in
near lockdown today with 8,000 troops and police protecting eight
different locations where they anticape there may be anti-coup protests.
The question is where was the army when the PDRC/Suthep mob was running
rampant around Bangkok. Note also the compliance of the BTS in closing
stations at Chitlom, Ploenchit and Rajdamri so that possible protestors
cannot easily move around the city. Different world.
from the BBC "The army have deployed the sort of security in Bangkok today
that would have made the Feb elections a walk in the park."
tweeting on his time spend in captivity:
"Will write as
full story as possible abt my detention inside army camp very soon. Both
in Thai & English. Stay tune!
inside army base was like being in Big Brother reality show but 1 who
decides not viewers but mil. junta.
Despite all our
differences I thank all army officers from the Commander downward who
treated us well & accorded us with respect.
attribute some quotes or describe some surreal scenes bcoz some will b
affected. But d story is there!
Day 2 we ate
breakfast as nat'l anthem was played on TV a Col. told us who didn't stand
up. "I know u all r patriotic 2."
I have been
'freed' from the military base but neither I nor Thailand is free.
I was under
detention inside military base with people including a former deputy PM,
PAD leader Sondhi L., former Dem MP Jittitsara
detention in Military Base I told base's top brass shutting down streets 2
stop protests won't solve problem."
- day 10
31 May 2014
Thailand’s secret story: the battle for a $37b royal estate
Jonathan Head (BBC) on twitter: "It is clear Thai military
are coming down very hard now on anything negative about the monarchy.
Seems a big concern of theirs."
Since 1932, when the absolute monarchy was abolished,
Thailand has had 25 general elections and 19 coups, 12 of them successful.
best estimate - no one is entirely sure of the correct number.
Reconciliation activities start with get-together parties, friendly talks
- ThaiPBS news reading like the Pyongyang Times. Such nonsense.
The Junta plan
31 May 2014
We were blessed to have a 40 minute speech from coup leader
General Prayuth to listen on all tv and radio channels on Friday night.
The man has a style of delivery that is devoid of all
personality. And he is going to present to us every Friday night.
In a speech that went everywhere, even to wind turbines, he
said he would appoint an interim government, write a new constitution and
carry out large-scale public works projects. The junta also disclosed for
the first time how long it intended to remain in charge — at least into
the second half of 2015.
The country may return to democracy in around 15 months as long as “peace,
order and reform is achieved,” said Gen. Prayuth Chan-ocha, the head of
He said it would take at least two to three months to
achieve reconciliation in the deeply divided country (after over 8 years
of protests and deaths he is being optimistis. You cannot effect
reconciliation at the point of a gun. It would take about a year to write
a new constitution and set up an interim government. Only then could
elections be held, he said.
He said there are three phases to work through:
1. Phase 1 of roadmap will involve efforts to achieve national
reconciliation ASAP and take about 2-3 months. Aside from security
operations, reconciliation centers will be established to pave the way for
reforms in the second phase.
A reform committee will be set up to pave the way for a
confrontation-free second phase. It is unclear as to its objectives or who
the members will be.
In Phase 2 there will be a temporary constitution which will be draw up by
legal experts. Again no specifics. Will the new constitution address
issues around the succession?
A national assembly will be set up to choose a PM. Again no
discussion of who will be on the assembly. I assume Prayuth already has a
good idea who he wants as PM.
To appoint the PM and Cabinet Ministers and to rewrite the
Constitution would take around one year (after the reconciliation period),
"but it will depend on the situation." ie it can be delayed as long as we
In Phase 3 there will be a general election under a
democratic syste that is acceptable to all sides. "Laws will be changed so
we can have just and good leader" and to ensure that Thaksin can no longer
form a government!
“We understand we live in a democratic world,” General Prayuth said.
“Please give us time to change attitudes, values and many other things.”
The military has closed a number of television stations, barred criticism
of the coup in the news media, blocked websites and arrested members of an
as-yet small movement that has protested the coup. A curfew that was
imposed when the junta seized power has been relaxed to only four hours a
night and most businesses in the country are operating normally.
General Prayuth said he was seeking to “return happiness to the Thai
people and foreign nationals residing in Thailand.” He also said that he
had been unhappy for nine years; which made you think he should have taken
a holiday at some stage. Or even gotten a dog.
His plans will appeal mainly to one side of the country’s
political divide. The general’s plan for an appointed legislative council
was similar to the demands of Suthep's protest movement, rooted in
Bangkok’s conservative establishment, that in the months leading up to the
military coup had paralyzed the now-deposed governing party.
The general used the moralistic language of the protest movement to
describe his goals. “Rules and regulations will be amended in order to
have a good, honest and moral leader to govern the country,” he said.
General Prayuth said the government would continue large-scale projects
started by the previous government for flood prevention around Bangkok and
a revamped train network.
He did not offer specifics on what reforms might be enacted, but analysts
have speculated that the junta may seek to further reduce the role of
elected representatives. After the last military coup in 2006, the upper
house of Parliament was changed from a fully-elected body to a
half-appointed one. One of the framers of the Constitution written after
that coup, Wicha Mahakhun, said then that “elections are evil.”
Mr. Thaksin’s movement has won every national election
since 2001, but its leaders have been removed from power five times, three
times by courts that have sided with the Bangkok establishment.
The new constitution will be written to ensure that Thaksin
and his supporters can never lead Thailand through a general election.
Expect a large part of the elected house to change to functional
General Prayuth talked of a reconciliation process that
would last three months. But it will be reconciliation through criticism
of the previous regime. Criticising this coup is illegal.
Seeing red no longer: Thai Army smothers dissent
31 May 2014 Reuters By Aubrey Belford and Pairat Temphairojana
NONG SAE, Thailand, May 30 (Reuters) - The red flags that once hung in
this Thai village of green and gold rice fields in Thaksin Shinawatra's
northern heartland have been taken down.
Hidden or burned, too, are the red T-shirts, protest horns and membership
cards of the street movement that had rowdily supported the ousted
government of Thaksin's sister, Yingluck.
"We don't trust that if we put a red flag in our house that our family
will be safe," Jamrus Lunna, a local farmer, told Reuters. "We need to
think for our family first."
Since seizing power in a May 22 coup, the army has rapidly imposed its
grip on the northern and northeastern strongholds that have been loyal to
the billionaire Shinawatra clan since Thaksin's populist premiership that
began in 2001. (To read a Special Report on the coup, click on )
Radio stations run by the "red shirts" - the movement formed to oppose the
2006 coup that deposed Thaksin - have been raided, activists rounded up
and protests thwarted.
In Chiang Mai and Chiang Rai provinces in the far north, at least 20 local
red shirt organisers were detained. Most have now been freed, but the
military appears to have successfully muzzled their movement and disrupted
Mahawon Kawang, a red shirt DJ, closed down his Chiang Mai radio station
and went into hiding shortly after Prayuth announced the coup. Within
hours, troops had surrounded the shophouse of his sister, Ampai Khayan, on
the city's outskirts.
Failing to find Mahawon, troops took his brother-in-law, Duangkaew Khayan,
instead. Surveillance camera footage seen by Reuters shows Duangkaew being
escorted into the night at 10:01 p.m., one minute past the junta's newly
"He's not a leader. I've never seen him mobilising anyone," Ampai said.
Mahawon said the army's tactics won't work for long, especially since the
seven-day detention period has expired for many activists.
"There will be resistance but it will be without any leaders, it will be
natural," he said. "There will be more and more dissent because the people
see the injustice."
The heavy-handed approach appears to be stemming the kind of uprising
warned of by Thaksin's loyalists in the lead-up to the military takeover.
Daily anti-coup protests peaked in Thaksin's hometown, Chiang Mai, on
Saturday, when at least 200 people jeered at and sporadically jostled with
police, but have fizzled since. Red shirt radio stations have been
silenced and troops and police have been posted at points throughout the
In a flower shop in the village of Non Harn, Pichai Phetpiphut said he
spent the night of the coup at a military base. His wife, red shirt
organiser Manussaporn, was released on Tuesday.
Nearby, Sangwalae Siwichai, a 54-year-old red shirt sympathiser, sat with
other activists making signs for a planned flash mob protest.
"We gather in small groups peacefully in several landmarks of the city,
take photos, leave the area, and post it on Facebook so that people can
share it. Then we repeat it," she said.
"The army is probably keeping an eye on us. It's scary and our protests
may not be noticed, but we need to keep on trying." (Editing by Robert
Birsel and Alex Richardson)
Thinks, Prayuth Acts
31 May 2014 By Anders Engvall,
Guest Contributor New Mandala
The coup by the National Council for Peace and Order under General Prayuth
Chan-ocha will lead to an acceleration of Thaksinomics, rather than its
The junta has already embraced key elements of the Thaksin’s dual track
development policy, combining international economic liberalism with
domestic populist schemes, by reviving the 2-billion baht infrastructure
program and rapidly making payments to farmers under the rice-pledging
program. As hypocrisy knows few boundaries, Democrat and former Finance
Minister Korn Chatikavanij has quickly hailed the junta’s payments to
farmers under the rice scheme, after years of criticizing the same program
when implemented by Yingluck.
A key message in the 2012 election campaign was that “Thaksin Thinks, Puea
Thai Acts” and the junta seemingly tries to adapt a “Thaksin Thinks,
Prayuth Acts” model when restoring key economic policies of the party they
Economic policies may be a minor issue compared to the gross human rights
violation in the aftermath of the coup, including arbitrary detentions,
restrictions on free speech, and the suspension of democracy. Yet,
reviving the ailing economy is top priority for Thailand military junta
and its success in reinitiating growth will have a major impact on events
in the aftermath of the coup.
Realizing that the complexities of a modern economy is beyond the grasp of
aging generals, the junta quickly brought in a policy making team largely
made up of former Thaksin loyalists. Somkid Jatusripitak a co-founder of
Thai Rak Thai that held both commerce and finance positions in Thaksin
cabinets will oversee foreign affairs for the military government.
Pridiyathorn Devakula overseeing the juntas economic policy, was appointed
Governor of Bank of Thailand during the first Thaksin administration. He
also served as finance minister in the military government following the
2006 coup that introduced disastrous capital controls leading to a
collapse of the stock market. Narongchai Akrasanee, a former Minister of
Commerce that served as an advisor to the Thaksin government, will assist
The rapid adoption of Thaksinomics by the junta, is a reflection of the
model’s total dominance within Thailand’s policy circles. It’s dual track
nature – with economic liberalism to attract foreign capital combined with
populist domestic programs to attract broad domestic support – is
attractive to policy makers seeking to both maintain Bangkok centered
economic growth and appease the largely rural electorate. Thaksinomics is
likely to continue to dominate the country’s economic policies given the
repeated electoral success of Thaksin’s political parties and the lack of
credible alternative models, as the elitist sufficiency economy has failed
to attract widespread rural support.
The junta’s economic team faces a difficult task with an economy in
contraction. Political uncertainty has stalled investment and consumer
sentiment fell to a 12-year low in the months before the coup. Key
economic decisions will put the military government at a test. While
future support to rice farmers will be difficult to swallow for the
Bangkok-based supporters of the military takeover, removing all subsidies
is out of the question. With market prices at a third of the price
guaranteed under the Yingluck government program, ending rice subsidies
would ensure a quick demise of any rural support for the junta. We are
most likely to see a continuation of rice support and other populist
programs under new names, in moves similar to the rebranding of Thaksinite
policies done after the 2006 coup and the Abhisit government.
The suspension of all checks and balances under direct military rule opens
up opportunities for gross corruption. A country with a long history of
military power grabs, Thai generals inevitably amass huge fortunes while
in power. Resumption of the 2 billion-baht infrastructure program,
appointment of generals to the boards of state-owned enterprises and the
inevitable increase of the military budget will ensure that the junta
leaders not only grab political power, but also a fair share of the
Anders Engvall is a Research Fellow at the Stockholm School of
- day 9
30 May 2014
Dire Straits - I
want my, I want my, I want my BBC....
"army control of the country's traditional media is Big Brother-like in
scope and absurdism"
message of military benevolence has been reinforced with looped footage on
morning news of farmers emerging from banks counting fistfuls of notes and
others sporting ''We love the army'' stickers, holding placards thanking
the new government for paying up. The propaganda machine is in full swing
to discredit anti-coup demonstrators, with bulletins interrupting
programming to ask the public to resist what they say are inducements of
400 baht offered via Facebook to attend protests."
Just a reminder
that these are the people running the country now:
"Thai security forces spend $30 million on fake ‘bomb detectors’"
Bangkok Post: "The coup junta's National Council for Peace and Order (NCPO)
on Thursday night summoned leaders of the red-shirt movement in Nakhon
Ratchasima province, demanding they report to the Army Club in Bangkok on
Friday....Others also ordered to report by the NCPO were former government
chief whip Amnuay Klangpha and other politicians of the Pheu Thai Party in
This is really
no more than an example - in the north and east most people are just
rounded up and taken away rather than summoned.
It is a
purge....and it is extensive.
PDRC leaders draw flak for lavish party
Brace for it: Thailand could be run by a military junta for years
MOPH warns against mental stress resulting from over-consumption of news
Special Report: Option B - The blueprint for Thailand's coup
Social-Media Companies Skip Meeting With Thai Junta
Thailand's Generals in a Corner
Thailand Isn't Banning Social Media, It Needs It For Propaganda
Thai coup-makers controlling the message
relieved as threat of democracy recedes
May 29, 2014 Pan Arabian Enquirer (For Egypt read
CAIRO: Egyptians were this morning breathing a sigh of relief following
reports that the country had narrowly escaped a brush with democracy.
With news from Cairo confirming that an army general with a list of human
rights abuses to his name had won an election with over 90 per cent of the
vote, many were now looking forward to a renewed period of military-led
democracy-free stability for Egypt.
“Sure, we’ve had an exciting few years,” said Tina Alamuddin, a
supermarket worker in Alexandria. “But just like when you’ve been on
holiday somewhere, it is nice to be back.”
“I did enjoy putting a tick in a little box,” added Ali Palais, a retired
janitor in Cairo. “But knowing that there could be serious consequences
should it put it in the wrong one gave me that warm, familiar feeling of
A few home
30 May 2014
There is some
appalling propaganda and self-justification coming from the Thai junta who
now rule this nation.
So let's deal in
a few truths:
1. The junta has
justified its power seizure by pointing out that the elected government,
led by a Pheu Thai, was too dysfunctional to govern the nation.
That dysfunction was largely owed to Suthep's street movement that chased
elected politicians out of their offices, took over government house,
occupied the streets and sabotaged an election because they knew Pheu Thai
would win. The movement — linked to Thailand’s pro-establishment Democrat
Party, which hasn’t won an election for two decades — repeatedly egged on
the military to seize power and deliver their demands.
And that is what has happened. The movement called for a suspension of
elections so that a hand-picked council of statesmen could run the
country. The junta is now busy setting up a council similar to what the
“people’s coup” movement imagined.
2. Farmers are
happy because they have been paid.
The money was
held up because the government was barred (as a caretaker government) from
either borrowing or passing a budget while the country awaited elections.
The February election results were annulled. A July 20th election will not
happen now that the coup has taken place.
Veera in the Bangkok Post on 30 May. "Thaksin, it was reported, told
the government not to back down on its demand for an early election as a
solution to the political conflict. The hardline and uncompromising stand
prompted the military takeover and the suspension of the Constitution,
except for the provisions regarding the Monarchy."
demand was the government
resign and essentially give power over to the Establishment to appoint
their own government. The government refused. In other parliamentary
democracies, when there is a crisis in confidence in the government, a
dissolution and a new election is the way out. To Veera and other coup
apologists, this is seen as a hardline and uncompromising stand….
Note that the
government had resigned. There was an election in February. The Democrats
refused to take part.
4. Veera again
"At least as far as we can see, a potentially violent confrontation
between the two rival groups, PDRC and UDD – and even the much-feared
civil war as wildly predicted by some foreign media – have been thwarted
for now and perhaps during the period the military is in power." You here
this a lot - that there was certain to be a bloodbath. There is no
evidence that this was likely. The same was argued to justify the 2006
coup. Repeating the same argument loudly does not make it right.
5. Veera on
vote-buying: "How do you stop vote buying? And how can you stop a party
which is in full control of local administrators such as kamnan and
village heads from using these men and women to help in their election
without certain reforms being made to the electoral process?
To quote Bangkok
Pundit - "There is no evidence that vote-buying is the reason why the
Democrats cannot win. If you are looking for a reason, look at the word
Bangkok Post - 6
December 2013 :
"Vote-buying claims nothing but dangerous nonsense"
6. Veera on
mega-projects: "Veera continues: "How do you deal with your elected
representatives if they blindly endorse trillion baht mega projects,
backed by only a few fact sheets and completely lacking feasibility
studies or public hearings, simply because they were told to do so? Mind
you, many of these hopeless MPs will stage a comeback in parliament if an
election is held soon, as demanded by the international community and
In this case we appear to have staged a coup so that the militar can
implement the same projects but in this case without any oversight as the
Constitution is suspended and all executive and legislative power rests
with the junta?
The reason that those MPs can stage a comeback is they will be elected. No
one elected the junta.
7. Veera continues on understanding democracy: "Almost a decade of colour-coded
political conflict and after more than six months of protests against the
government, many Thais have a clear understanding of democracy but in a
different light from the western perception of it. To them, democracy is
not all about elections and going to the polls and then leaving the fate
of their country in the hands of the elected representatives. Or giving
them a blank cheque so that they can fill in any numbers they wish."
It is not “many”. It is a minority. A minority who can’t win and continue
to lose so they need to rewrite the rules so they can become a majority.
This would be achieved if Thailand gets a Constitution which makes around
30-50% of MPs functional constituencies (where professional organizations
select the respective MPs from their members). Think Hong Kong with a
guaranteed pro-China legislative assembly.
continues: "Democracy is about more than just elections. It is also about
accountability, transparency and good governance. And since many of the
politicians do not believe in and do not have accountability, transparency
and good governance desires, many voters will not go to the polls without
reforms that hold their representatives accountable.
They do not just yearn for the return of democracy but also for a truly
responsive and accountable parliament and government."
Parliament accountable to who? The minority who boycotted the election? If
the majority do not like the government they can vote it out. But
successive elections since 2001 have shown what the majority want.
So post coup does Thailand have accountability, transparency and good
governance now? And how can a new appointed government supported by the
minority meet those high minded objectives?
Generals in a Corner
Rule by fear risks repeating the darkest hours of Thai history.
29 May 2014 - Wall Street Journal editorial
The military coup in Bangkok is getting nastier by the day, as the army
continues preemptively to lock up academics, journalists and opposition
politicians. At least 250 people have been detained since last week,
although perhaps half have since been released and spokesmen say the
remainder are being treated well.
Criticism of the junta is now a crime. Universities have been told not to
hold any political events. Gatherings of more than five people are banned.
Reporters were told to ask easier questions of their new rulers. Facebook
FB +0.50% was briefly blocked on Wednesday. Meanwhile protests made up of
hundreds of people continue to occur daily, including Thursday at
Bangkok's Thammasat University.
The Thammasat campus is a significant venue because the military massacred
about 100 students and other protesters there in October 1976, an event
that led to nationwide killings and repression. While the situation in
Thailand now is different, some Thais are drawing parallels to that
period. Those who have criticized the military in the past now fear for
their safety and are preparing to leave the country, at least temporarily.
Their fears may yet prove unwarranted, but they are not irrational. The
generals claim unlimited powers in the name of national unity; nobody can
hold them accountable. They have backed themselves into a corner so that
any criticism must be silenced before they can hand power back to a
civilian government that will grant them amnesty. The fact that criticism
keeps coming suggests the coup will lead to a prolonged period of military
Former Education Minister Chaturon Chaisang refused an order to surrender
and gave a speech at the Foreign Correspondents Club of Thailand Tuesday
calling for new elections. He predicted that rather than damping down
political conflict, this coup will exacerbate it. As he finished, he was
pulled from the stage by soldiers and taken away. The junta says he and
others will be tried in a military court without defense counsel for
breaking martial law.
We should be clear, given Thailand's strict lese majeste laws, that King
Bhumibol Adulyadej is not responsible for this dangerous situation. In
recent years he has said that he should not be above criticism, and
opposed an appointed prime minister to replace the elected government. The
Thai generals who claim to serve him have ignored his instructions.
The result is likely to be huge economic losses and a further blow to the
military's prestige. After the 2006 coup, the junta appointed retired Gen.
Surayud Chulanont to run the country. But other generals continually
interfered, and the country veered toward economic nationalism. Corruption
also worsened, which was especially damaging because that had been the
main justification for overthrowing the elected government.
The military has not yet revealed its government lineup, but a 10-member
advisory board announced Wednesday was heavy on generals, including the
leaders of the 2006 coup. Thailand seems to be condemned to go on
repeating the worst episodes of its past. The generals are intent on
ruling by fear, but as Thais continue to resist they risk a showdown worse
than that in 1976.
- day 8
coup to the foreign media: Lt. Gen. Chaichalerm to foreign journalists
"Thai people have different way of thinking to you. I have a different
upbringing to you."
Thailand: Halt Military Trials, End Arbitrary Arrests
(the HRW Thailand page is now blocked by
Thai military raids target ‘red shirt’ protest leaders
- Channel 4 news from Chiang Mai
Thailand’s Army Tears Up the Script
Thai Military Steps Up Efforts To Control Coup Narrative
Surveying the wreckage of Thailand's monarchy - Philip Bowring
Thai coup-makers controlling the message Al jazeera
Coup updates -
28 May 2014
BTS, MRT and
Airport Link open until 23:00 from today
Army says 200 of
253 people summoned appeared. 124 have been released. 53 at large. And those
124 released from military custody aren't allowed to give any political
Top MICT official
told Jonathan Head at the BBC that they are considering a single government
ISP 4 all internet access - but it would take months.
leadership ordered the creation of "reconciliation centres" around the
country, in order "to create unity and end the division," according to an
army spokesman. The centres will be a run by community leaders chosen by the
junta and will disseminate information approved by the leadership to the
police officers in redshirt provinces of Pathum Thani, Nonthaburi, Chonburi,
Chiang Mai, Khon Khaen, Udon Thani, and Bangkok were transferred Tuesday to
inactive posts at the Royal Thai Police head office.
They were ordered to report to the Special Action Operation Centre at the
head office at 4.00 p.m. on Wednesday.
Jonathan Head on
the arrest of Chaturon at the FCCT yesterday: "Honestly, I didn't know if
army would come. Our job at FCCT was to provide venue for news maker 2 meet
media" - "It is not my job to advise army but sending soldiers in like that
to detain an unarmed man is overkill." - "He was there to talk to
journalists. He offered no resistance. Could have been detained outside."
Bangkok Pundit who has been blogging for a decade about Thailand's
politial morass said tonight "that in mind together with the increasing
censorship restrictions, summoning of anyone critical of the junta (and the
summoning and rebuking of journalists for asking Prayuth “aggressive”
questions), incommunicado detentions etc it is clearly not the best time for
critical blogging. Hence, until things change, will need to slightly alter
the style of this blog to one that will be quoting more from articles and
giving emphasis to interesting details. Readers will need to draw their own
conclusions. An example is from this post about the summoning of
journalists. You can draw your own conclusion whether you think the
summoning of 2 journalists for asking Prayuth questions is justified because
you could view that those with good intentions should never be questioned
and the Thai military is the entity to save all of Thailand and always acts
with the nation’s interest at heart….. Or you could take a different view…."
Reading between the lines will be needed!
Thailand's Military Coup
28 May 2014 By Walden Bello,
Foreign Policy In Focus | News Analysis
After declaring martial law on Tuesday, May 20, the Thai military announced
a full-fledged coup two days later. The putsch followed nearly eight months
of massive street protests against the ruling Pheu Thai government
identified with former Prime Minister Thaksin Shinawatra. The power grab by
army chief Gen. Prayuth Chan-ochacame two weeks after Thaksin’s sister,
Yingluck, was ousted as caretaker prime minister by the country’s
Constitutional Court for “abuse of power” on May 7.
The Thai military portrayed its seizure of power as an effort to impose
order after two rounds of talks between the country’s rival factions failed
to produce a compromise that would provide Thailand with a functioning
Deftly Managed Script
The military’s narrative produced few takers. Indeed, many analysts saw the
military’s move as a coup de grace to Thailand’s elected government,
following what they saw as the judicial coup of May 7.
It is indeed difficult not to see the putsch as the final step in a script
deftly managed by the conservative “royalist” establishment to thwart the
right to govern of a populist political bloc that has won every election
since 2001. Utilizing anti-corruption discourse to inflame the middle class
into civil protest, the aim of key forces in the anti-government coalition
has been, from the start, to create the kind of instability that would
provoke the military to step in and provide the muscle for a new political
Using what analyst Marc Saxer calls “middle class rage” as the battering
ram, these elite elements forced the resignation of the Yingluck government
in December; disrupted elections in February, thus providing the
justification for the conservative Constitutional Court to nullify them; and
instigated that same court’s decision to oust Yingluck as caretaker prime
minister May 7 on flimsy charges of “abuse of power.” Civil protest was
orchestrated with judicial initiatives to pave the way for a military
The military says that it will set up a “reform council” and a “national
assembly” that will lay the institutional basis of a new government. This
plan sounds very much like the plan announced in late November by the
protest leader Suthep Thaugsuban, which would place the country for a year
under an unelected, unaccountable reform panel.
The military’s move has largely elicited the approval of Suthep’s base of
middle-class supporters. Indeed, it has been middle-class support that has
provided cover for the calculated moves of the political elites. Many of
those that provided the backbone of the street protests now anticipate the
drafting of an elitist new order that will institutionalize political
inequality in favor of Bangkok and the country’s urban middle class.
The Thai Middle Class: From Paragons to Enemies of Democracy
The sociologist Seymour Martin Lipset once celebrated the middle class as
paragons of democracy. But in recent years, middle-class Thais have
transmogrified into supporters of an elitist, frankly antidemocratic agenda.
Today’s middle class is no longer the pro-democracy middle class that
overthrew the dictatorship of General Suchinda Krapayoon in 1992. What
Worth quoting in full is an insightful analysis of this transformation
provided by Marc Saxer:
The Bangkok middle class called for democratization and specifically the
liberalization of the state with the political rights to protect themselves
from the abuse of power by the elites. However, once democracy was
institutionalized, they found themselves to be the structural minority.
Mobilized by clever political entrepreneurs, it was now the periphery who
handily won every election. Ignorant of the rise of a rural middle class
demanding full participation in social and political life, the middle class
in the center interpreted demands for equal rights and public goods as ‘the
poor getting greedy’… [M]ajority rule was equated with unsustainable welfare
expenses, which would eventually lead to bankruptcy.
From the perspective of the middle class, Saxer continues, majority rule
overlooks the political basis of the social contract: a social compromise
between all stakeholders. Never has any social contract been signed which
obligates the middle class to foot the tax bill, in exchange for quality
public services, political stability and social peace. This is why middle
classes feel like they are “being robbed” by corrupt politicians, who use
their tax revenues to “buy votes” from the “greedy poor.” Or, in a more
subtle language, the “uneducated rural masses are easy prey for politicians
who promise them everything in an effort to get a hold of power.”
Thus, Saxer concludes, from the viewpoint of the urban middle class,
policies delivering to local constituencies are nothing but “populism,”
or another form of “vote buying” by power hungry politicians. The Thai
Constitutional Court, in a seminal ruling, thus equated the very principle
of elections with corruption. Consequently, time and again, the “yellow”
alliance of feudal elites along with the Bangkok middle class called for the
disenfranchisement of the “uneducated poor,” or even more bluntly the
suspension of electoral democracy.
However, the elite-middle class alliance is deceiving itself if it thinks
the adoption of a constitution institutionalizing minority rule will be
possible. For Thailand is no longer the Thailand of 20 years ago, where
political conflicts were still largely conflicts among elites, with the vast
lower classes being either onlookers or passive followers of warring elite
What is now the driving force of Thai politics is class conflict with Thai
characteristics, to borrow from Mao. The central figure that has transformed
the Thai political landscape is the exiled Thaksin Shinawatra, a
charismatic, if corrupt, billionaire who managed through a combination of
populism, patronage, and the skillful deployment of cash to create a massive
electoral majority. While for Thaksin the aim of this coalition might be the
cornering or monopolization of elite power, for the social sectors he has
mobilized, the goal is the redistribution of wealth and power from the
elites to the masses and—equally important—extracting respect for people
that had been scorned as “country bumpkins” or “buffaloes.” However much
Thaksin’s “Redshirt” movement may be derided as a coalition between corrupt
politicians and the “greedy poor,” it has become the vehicle for the
acquisition of full citizenship rights by Thailand’s marginalized classes.
The elite-middle class alliance is dreaming if it thinks that the Redshirts
will stand aside and allow them to dictate the terms of surrender, much less
institutionalize these in a new constitution. But neither do the Redshirts
at present possess the necessary coercive power to alter the political
balance in the short and medium term. It is now their turn to wage civil
Since the coup, about 150 people have been reported detained—including
Pravit Rojanaphruk, a prominent reporter for Thailand’s Nation newspaper
known for his criticism of the anti-government protest movement that
precipitated the military’s intervention.
What now seems likely is that, with violent and non-violent civil protest by
the Redshirts, Thailand will experience a prolonged and bitter descent into
virtual civil war, with the Pheu Thai regional strongholds—the North,
Northeast, and parts of the central region of the country—becoming
increasingly ungovernable from imperial Bangkok. It is a tragic denouement
to which an anti-democratic opposition disdaining all political compromise
has plunged this once promising Southeast Asian nation.
says blocks Facebook to stem anti-coup criticism
28 May 2014 -
Thailand's information technology ministry blocked Facebook on Wednesday and
planned to hold talks with other social networking sites to stem protests
against the military government, a senior official said.
"We have blocked Facebook temporarily and tomorrow we will call a meeting
with other social media, like Twitter and Instagram, to ask for cooperation
from them," Surachai Srisaracam, permanent secretary of the Information and
Communications Technology Ministry, told Reuters.
"Right now there's a campaign to ask for people to stage protests against
the army so we need to ask for cooperation from social media to help us stop
the spread of critical messages about the coup," he said.
Print and broadcast media have already been instructed to refrain from
critical reporting of the military's May 22 takeover.
Army Loudspeaker 'Hijacked By Imposter' At Victory
Monument, Military Says
28 May 2014 Khaosod (You really cannot make this up!)
The military officer who berated anti-coup protesters and called the
foreign media "scoundrels" at a protest at Victory Monument earlier this
week was not a military officer after all, the army has claimed.
According to deputy army spokesperson Col. Sirichan Nga-thong, the man
behind the loudspeaker was an imposter who collaborated with anti-coup
protesters to smear the Thai army.
"At this moment, there has been dissemination of texts or video clips that
intend to portray soldiers as power abusers," Col. Sirichan said, citing
the video clip of an an hour-long rant against anti-coup protesters and
foreign media emanating from an army humvee at the anti-coup protest at
Victory Monument on 26 May.
The video, which has since been blocked in Thailand, captures a speaker
accusing anti-coup demonstrators of being unpatriotic "scums" who are
being paid to protest. He also directs an unusual amount of scorn towards
the foreign press covering the protest, going as far as calling them
"scoundrels" who want to sabotage Thailand.
However, Col. Sirichan insisted that the speaker in question was in fact a
provocateur "dressed up in military uniform," and that the anti-coup
movement is circulating the video clip to vilify the army.
"Such action is inciting hatred against security forces. I beg you to
stop," Col. Sirichan said in a press conference yesterday. "I insist that
all soldiers perform their duty with restraint in every aspect."
Col. Sirichan also threatened to take legal action against those who
published the video clips.
Curiously, during the several hours in which the alleged imposter was
manning the loudspeaker from inside an army humvee, none of the
surrounding military personnel made any effort to stop him.
In the past week, military spokespersons have made a number of bold
assertions that appear to lack substantial evidence.
When a photo of a crying soldier went viral on the internet over the
weekend, the army came out with a public statement clarifying that the
soldier was crying from pepper spray fired by an anti-coup protester, not
from ympathy for the demonstrators his troops were trying to contain.
Witnesses at the scene did not report seeing any use of pepper spray.
On Monday, another army spokesperson accused anti-coup demonstrations of
being organised and funded by tuu maa (illegal slot machine) mafia, who
allegedly pay each demonstrator 400 - 1,000 baht to join protests.
The military has repeatedly warned the media not to report any material
that might "incite unrest" or undermine the mission of the National
Council of Peace and Order (NCPO), which seized power from the former
government on 22 May. The NCPO has already blocked over 200 websites, and
is drafting plans for a internet gateway that will allow the military to
censor online material more efficiently, Prachatai English reports.
Junta Consolidates Power With Police, Governors Reshuffle (DPA)
28 May 2014 By Cod Satrusayang for Khaosod English
BANGKOK (DPA) — The ruling Thai military junta said Wednesday it had
ordered the reshuffle of key positions within the national police force
with immediate effect.
Several provincial governors, including in the northern city of Chiang
Mai, have also been reassigned to positions that hold no executive power.
Most of those that were reassigned were put in post by the previous
Earlier Wednesday, the leadership ordered the creation of "reconciliation
centres" around the country, in order "to create unity and end the
division," according to an army spokesman.
The centres will be a run by community leaders chosen by the junta and
will disseminate information approved by the leadership to the public.
The junta announced late Tuesday the members of an advisory council that
will help it administer the country.
The council will advise the junta in several fields including security,
foreign affairs and the economy.
General Prawit Wongsuwan, coup-leader Prayuth Chan-ocha's old commanding
officer, will lead the council, the junta said.
Also included is Pridiyathorn Devakula, an aristocrat who will advise on
economic matters. Pridiyathorn will be reprising a familiar role, as he
served as finance minister under the last coup-appointed government in
Army chief General Prayuth Chan-ocha seized power last week after seven
months of anti-government protests that led to violence and a political
Since coming to power he has imposed a curfew, censorship of the press and
summoned more than 200 people including journalists and academics, many of
whom are detained on army bases.
Late Tuesday, the hours of the curfew were shortened from 10 pm to 5 am
(1500-2200 GMT), to midnight to 4 am.
The New York-based Committee to Protect Journalists (CPJ) called for the
immediate release of journalists.
"Journalists are vital to the flow of information, particularly during
this time of political upheaval," said CPJ deputy director Robert Mahoney.
"It's not the army's job to decide what news organizations can publish."
A climate of fear sweeps Thailand
27 May 2014 Financial Times Editorial
No one should be in any doubt about the nature of the Thai coup. This is no
benign military intervention aimed at restoring order to the fractious
democratic process. Rather, General Prayuth Chan-ocha, the
coup-plotter-in-chief, has imposed a brutal dictatorship that has snuffed
out freedom of expression and civil liberties. The constitution has been
suspended, giving the military free rein to act without fear of reprisal.
Freedom of the press has been ended. Gatherings of more than five people are
banned and Gen Prayuth has warned that anyone who disobeys will face a
military court. Extraordinary to think it, but Thailand may now be a more
repressive country than Myanmar.
Tales coming out of Thailand over the
past few days are disturbing. Not only opposition leaders but also members
of the press, academia and non-governmental organisations have been told to
report for questioning. Many have re-emerged, although few have yet spoken
of their ordeal. Human Rights Watch has documented cases such as that of
Sukanya Prueksakasemsuk, a human-rights activist who was taken on Sunday,
along with her son, to Bangkok’s Army Club. Released on condition they spoke
to no one, their whereabouts are unknown. Ms Sukanya has campaigned for the
freedom of her husband, convicted of anachronistic laws designed to shield
the monarchy from criticism. In such cases, Gen Prayuth’s grimly mordant
pledge not to violate human rights “too much” is more of a warning than an
Make no mistake about it. There is a climate of fear in Thailand. Especially
in the northeastern provinces where the self-exiled former prime minister
Thaksin Shinawatra has his support base, many local leaders have gone into
hiding. Even in Bangkok, where the “yellow shirts” who strongly oppose Mr
Thaksin hold sway, a 10pm curfew is in operation.
Gen Prayuth likes to give the impression of being a reluctant dictator,
forced to take control due to the increasing risk of violence and civil
unrest. That does not bear scrutiny. This coup appears long in the plotting.
Valid criticism against the democratically elected government of Yingluck
Shinawatra was buttressed by a steady stream of propaganda and half-truths
that brought demonstrators on to the streets. Her government slowly became a
shell, weakened by a campaign of civil disobedience and the decision of the
constitutional court, which dismissed her as prime minister. When the army
finally moved into the vacuum, there was in effect no government to topple.
Some yellows may genuinely prefer a military government run by unelected
generals than an elected one in the hands of a leader they despise. But some
have been suckered into preparing the ground for a military coup de grâce.
What should happen now? First, western governments should move decisively to
show their abhorrence of the military takeover. The US has already suspended
joint manoeuvres with the Thai military. It should now consider sterner
measures, including sanctions. The EU should follow suit. The west must make
clear it will not turn a blind eye to human rights abuses. Gen Prayuth
should be urged to restore democracy as quickly as possible by charting a
path back to elections. In truth that will be impossible if the opposition
remains implacably opposed to a Thaksin-leaning government. Thais of all
colours must learn to accept the will of the majority even if it challenges
their perceived interests. Parliament, not the streets, is the place to
battle out differences.
Sadly, Gen Prayuth looks unlikely to step aside quickly. This time the
generals – or possibly their proxies – may be hard to budge. These are dark
days for Thailand. The hope must be they do not grow darker still.
Reporters Reprimanded For Asking Prayuth 'Aggressive'
27 May 2014 -
The military has rebuked two reporters from prominent Thai newspapers for
asking "aggressive" questions to military junta leader Gen. Prayuth Chan-ocha,
an army secretary says.
"Gen. Prayuth has instructed me to tell them that today he is not only the
commander-in-chief of the army, he is now the leader of the country, who
exercises both legislative and administrative powers,” said Lt.Gen.
Pollapat Wannapak, chief secretary to the Royal Thai Army. “Therefore, in
order to answer any questions for the public, he has to carefully consider
The chastised reporters are Supparerk Thongchaiyasit from Thai Rath
newspaper, and Wassana Nanuam, a self-styled "military reporter" from the
In a press conference yesterday, Mr. Supparerk and Ms. Wassana asked Gen.
Prayuth whether he planned to appoint himself as the new Prime Minister,
and when he expects a new election to be held.
Gen. Prayuth refused to answer either question.
"Do you want to be Prime Minister? Do you?" Gen. Prayuth taunted Mr.
Supparerk in response.
"I do! I do!" the Thai Rath reporter shouted back, provoking laughter from
Today, army secretary Lt.Gen. Pollapot called Mr. Supparerk and Ms.
Wassana’s behavior unacceptable.
"Now it is not the time for [Gen. Prayuth] to answer these questions,
especially about the appointment of new Prime Minister,” Lt. Gen. Pollapot
said. “Furthermore, asking questions in such an aggressive manner is not
appropriate. Therefore, we ask for their cooperation not to do that again
in the future."
The army secretary added that Gen. Prayuth has expressed concern that
"aggressive" questions from the media may affect the public's confidence
in his ability to lead the country.
Lt.Gen. Pollapot said that Ms. Wassana, who consistently reports favorably
on military affairs, was also "asked" by the army to close the comment
section on her official Facebook account. However, Ms. Wassana informed
them that while it is impossible to "close" the comment section on her
Facebook, she has asked others to stop debating about military issues on
her page, Lt.Gen. Pollapot said.
Freedom of press in Thailand has been severely restricted since the army
seized power from the elected government on 22 May. The military junta has
shutdown TV and radio stations, blocked dozens of websites, and "asked"
the Thai media to avoid reporting anything that undermines the military's
A prominent journalist from The Nation, Pravit Rojanaphruk, was ordered to
report to the NCPO two days ago and has not been released since.
Thai military detains ex cabinet minister
27 May 2014 -
Thailand's ruling military has detained a minister in the
ousted government, minutes after he denounced last week's coup as
Soldiers burst into the Foreign Correspondent's Club of Thailand Tuesday
and took former education minister Chaturon Chaisang, who had just given a
Chaturon had defied the junta’s order to surrender under martial law.
Speaking to journalists minutes before he was taken away, Chaturon
insisted it was legitimate for anyone to peacefully demonstrate or speak
out against the coup - acts also deemed illegal by those now in control.
"Coup d'etat is not a solution to the problems or conflicts in Thai
society but will make the conflicts even worse," he said.."It is also a
great concern that if those with authority cannot handle the problems
well, it may lead to violence and greater losses."
The army seized power Thursday, saying the move was necessary to end
violence, restore public order and carry out political reform.
Chaturon, an ally of Thaksin Shinawatra, who was deposed in a 2006 coup,
disputed that the military intends to carry out true political reform.
Rather, he said, it intends to put a system into place ensuring only those
favored by the elite, the military and the royalists will be able to
govern the kingdom.
Army Col. Weerachon Sukondhapatipak, a spokesman for the National Council
for Peace and Order, was asked during a VOA interview shortly after
Chaturon’s remark whether the junta believes the billionaire former prime
minister’s influence is the root cause of Thailand’s troubles.
“That is the main reason that caused the fundamental problem of Thailand,”
The coup leader, army chief Prayuth Chan-ocha, is now running not only the
country’s military, but all the instruments of government.
Weerachon said the military does not have a timetable for return to
civilian rule and elections.
“If suppose we had a magic medicine to fix all the problems in Thailand
within one week we would be more than happy to restore peace and order,
the same system back to Thailand within one week," he said. "It depends on
all the conflict parties, if they cooperate, if they agree that ‘OK, let’s
take a break.”
Former prime minister Yingluck Shinawatra, Thaksin's sister who was
brought to power after her party won a majority of the legislative seats
in the 2011 election, was forced to resign May 7 as caretaker prime
minister when a court ruled she and nine members of her cabinet had abused
Her successor as interim prime minister, Niwattamrong Boonsongpaisan, lost
his job in last Thursday's coup.
The director of City University of Hong Kong’s Southeast Asia Research
Center, Mark Thompson, said Thailand’s army clearly has an agenda.
"Each time the military has shown it clearly sides with the so-called
'Yellow Shirts,' the traditional elites who oppose Thaksin, who are based
in big business, the bureaucracy, the courts and have support in the
monarchy,” he said.
Thaksin has lived in self-imposed exile for years because he has faced
prison for a corruption conviction should he return home.
Still, he remains Thailand’s most influential and polarizing political
figure. He or his allies have won every national election since 2001,
supported by the rural poor.
The military has carried out 19 coups or attempted overthrows of civilian
governments since the end of the absolute monarchy in 1932.
Thailand’s 86-year-old King has been ailing for years but remains a deeply
A royal command was issued in his name Monday to General Prayuth to run
the governing military-led counsel.
The coup has drawn international criticism. The U.S. Defense Department
says it is canceling U.S. military exercises with Thailand and planned
visits by U.S. and Thai military officials.
Thailand's army has staged 12 coups in the last 80 years.
VOA's Ron Corben and Gabrielle Paluch contributed to this report.
Junta appoints advisors
27 May 2014
Gen Prawit Wongsuwan [former Army C-in-C] has been
appointed Chairman of the NCPO.
Somkid Jatusripitak [former Finance Minister under Thaksin] is responsible
for foreign affairs
Pridiyathorn Devakula [former Finance Minister under the Surayud
government] and Narongchai Akrasanee [former Senator and Minister of
Commerce] are responsible for economic affairs
Wisanu Krue-ngam [former cabinet secretary-general under Thaksin] is
responsible for legal and justice affairs
Gen. Anupong Paochinda [former Army C-in-C and main person behind 2006
coup] is responsible for security affairs
This looks like the beginning of a cabinet. Jonathan Head
at the BBC gave this analysis:
Interesting there are 2 people from Thaksin's former
cabinets in Thai military council now. Both distant from Thaksin now. But
inclusion of Generals Prawit and Anupong - both hardliners behind PDRC -
shows real character of military council. Gen. Prawit, new chairman of
NCPO, has long wanted a top job.
More on the support that Anupong and Prawit gave to Suthep
and the PDRC can be seen in this Reuters article from December 2013
Powerful forces revealed behind Thai protest movement
Friday December 13th - Reuters - By Jason Szep and Amy Sawitta Lefevre
His whistle-tooting crowds of supporters are dwindling. His threats
against Thai Prime Minister Yingluck Shinawatra veer from the bold to the
But behind Thailand's fiery anti-government protest leader, Suthep
Thaugsuban, are two powerful retired generals with palace connections, a
deep rivalry with the Shinawatra family and an ability to influence
Thailand's coup-prone armed forces.
The forces behind Suthep are led by former defense minister General Prawit
Wongsuwan and former army chief General Anupong Paochinda, towering
figures in Thailand's military establishment, said two military sources
with direct knowledge of the matter and a third with connections to Thai
A glimpse into Suthep's connections sheds light on how he could prevail in
a seemingly improbable bid to oust a leader who won a 2011 election by a
landslide and impose rule by an unelected "People's Council" of appointed
"good people", even as his street rallies start to flag.
Although retired, Anupong, 64, and Prawit, 67, still wield influence in a
powerful and highly politicized military that has played a pivotal role in
a country that has seen 18 successful or attempted coups in the past 81
It is unclear how far that influence goes, or how decisive they could be.
But both have close ties to army chief General Prayuth Chan-ocha. And all
three have a history of enmity with Yingluck's billionaire brother, former
prime minister Thaksin Shinawatra, who they helped oust in a 2006 coup.
The military sources said that if Suthep's protests lead to violence, the
two could help sway the military to intervene or even to seize power on
the pretext of national security, allowing Suthep to go ahead with his
People's Council, though analysts say such a scenario appears unlikely in
the immediate term.
The two were not available to comment despite requests from Reuters.
Anupong and Prayuth served with the Queen's Guard, an elite unit with
greater autonomy from the rest of military, with its allegiance foremost
to the monarchy rather than the direct chain of command, said Paul
Chambers, director of research at the Institute of South East Asian
Affairs in Chiang Mai, Thailand.
While most Thais still express steadfast loyalty to 86-year-old King
Bhumibol Adulyadej, his throne is seen as entwined with the political
forces that removed Thaksin, especially ultra-nationalists who in the past
have worn the king's color of yellow at protests and now back Suthep.
As his reign gradually draws to a close, long-simmering business,
political and military rivalries are rising to the surface, forcing
Thailand to choose sides between supporters of the Bangkok establishment
or those seeking to upend the status quo - a constituency associated with
Crown Prince Maha Vajiralongkorn has yet to command the same popular
support as his father, raising questions over whether royal succession
will go smoothly. The palace did not reply to requests for comment.
Prawit and Anupong had expressed readiness to intervene if there was a
security crisis, such as a crackdown by police on protesters or clashes
between pro and anti-government demonstrators, and if Suthep's plan for an
interim government was constitutional, said the source with military
Army leaders say they are neutral in the crisis. But Tanasak Patimapragorn,
supreme commander of the armed forces, will meet on Saturday with Suthep
and his allies, who have openly courted violence on Bangkok's streets in
hopes of inducing a military coup or judicial intervention to bring down
Suthep says the meeting shows he has public backing of the military. But a
statement from the supreme commander says the meeting is a "public forum"
that includes civic groups.
On the face of it, Suthep's bid to upend Thailand's current political
order looks far-fetched.
The former deputy prime minister has called for a parallel government and
a volunteer police force. He wants Yingluck arrested for insurrection and
has ordered civil servants and the army to report to him, not the
Struggling to defuse the crisis, Yingluck has set parliamentary elections
for February 2, which Suthep and his allies have ignored but which a pro-Shinawatra
party is almost certain to win, as they have in every election since 2001.
The military has provided little security for her caretaker government at
protests, such as on Thursday when demonstrators cut power to Government
House, Yingluck's office, and scaled a wall to enter the compound.
The military has left police to control the crowds, unlike 2010 when a
Democrat-led government was in power and the soldiers used force against
"That means a government that is not supported by the elite cannot enforce
the law. Once a lot of violence takes place and the government cannot
enforce the law, then this country becomes a failed state. Then there can
be a pretext for the military to come in," said a senior member of
The army denies it is taking sides.
"We try to avoid getting ourselves involved directly or be seen as taking
sides," army spokesman Colonel Werachon Sukondhadhpatipak said, adding
that the military is trying to encourage all sides to remain peaceful
rather than conduct crowd control.
Asked if the military supported the government, he replied: "At the
The impasse is a reminder of the turmoil that has overshadowed Thailand
for much of the last decade.
On one side is Thaksin, a former telecommunications tycoon who redrew the
political map by courting rural voters to win back-to-back elections in
2001 and 2005 and gain an unassailable mandate that he then used to
advance the interests of major companies, including his own.
On the other are the elite and establishment, threatened by his rise.
Thaksin's opponents include unions and academics who saw him as a corrupt
rights abuser, and the urban middle-class who resented, as they saw it,
their taxes being used as a political war chest for Thaksin, his sister
and their allies.
Failure to quell the demonstrations makes her vulnerable to the same
military and judicial forces that toppled two Thaksin-allied prime
ministers in 2008, said Boonyakiat Karavekphan, a political analyst at
Ramkamhaeng University in Bangkok.
"If Prawit and Anupong back Suthep, it could help sway the decision makers
in the military to not side with the government which gives Suthep's
movement more legitimacy," he said.
"No matter how you look at it, the military is an important pressure group
in Thai politics," he said. "The people's movement has come as far as it
can on its own. It now needs a push from other quarters."
Anupong was a leader of the military coup that removed Thaksin in
September 2006 and two years later recommended on television that the
Thaksin-allied prime minister step down. As army chief, he oversaw a
bloody crackdown on Thaksin's red-shirted supporters in 2010 in which 91
people, mostly red shirts, were killed. Anupong made Prayuth his heir
A former army commander, Prawit was a mentor of Anupong and a defence
minister under the previous government replaced by Yingluck in the 2011
election. He's also a close associate of former general Sonthi
Boonyaratkalin, leader of the coup against Thaksin, who now lives in
self-exile to avoid jail for corruption, a charge he says was politically
"Suthep is playing the game on the outside while Prawit tries to play the
game on the inside," said a senior military official who could not be
identified because he was not authorised to speak to the media. "General
Prawit has been clear about his aspirations to become prime minister."
Anupong and Prawit were present at a December 1 meeting between Suthep and
Yingluck at a military camp, according to three aides of military
officials who attended.
One military source said Prayuth was being pulled in two directions, with
Anupong and Prawit on one side, and a need on the other to restore the
military's image after the 2010 clashes and ensure an untarnished
retirement in 2014.
Thai coup updates - day 6
Democracy hits a dead end in Thailand
Thailand's 1950s coup - Wall Street Journal
Game over for democracy in Thailand - Sydney Morning Herald
Photo report -
Thailand at night under the curfew
NCPO targets social media rumour mill
Ex-minister speaks to BBC before arrest
Thai military faces hurdles in controlling Thaksin country in the north
From tonight the
curfew will operate from midnight until 4am.
Council for Peace and Order has set three conditions for individuals
ordered to report themselves to the military junta and later set free. The
three conditions are: they must not leave the country unless with
authorization from the NCPO chief; they must refrain from all political
activities anywhere; and they are willing to face legal actions and to
have their financial transactions frozen if they break to first two
conditions. The punitive actions for violating the conditions are two year
imprisonment and/or a fine of 40,000 baht.
appointed to the Junta - see above. Including two hardline Generals. General Prawit
Wongsuwan appears to be the real power behind the 2014 Thai Coup d'Etat.
He may still be appointed Prime Minister.
Prayuth, and Anupong are also "Queen's guard" - appointments reflect the
influence of this clique within the Thai military
Chaisaeng - ex education minister who was arrested at the FCCT today will
be indicted in a military court. Troops detained Chaturon after entering a
conference room at the Foreign Correspondents’ Club of Thailand in Bangkok
where he was speaking.
International, Thailand Chapter, has called on the NCPO to compile and
release a list of all those summoned and held, including the place of
detention. "The NCPO should stop arresting people who decently and
innocently organise peaceful anti-coup activities," Amnesty International
Thailand said. "If arrested, they should be charged with a criminal
offence; otherwise they should be freed."Detainees should also have access
to lawyers and family contacts, the group added. (Bangkok Post)
Big question is
what is happening to those people still in detainment and why aren't
people talking upon their release?
Still no major
international news broadcasts with CNN, CNBC< Bloomberg and the BBC still
Dan Fineman of Credit Suisse produced the following key points:
"No one in 2006 expected that the coup would usher in eight years of
political turmoil, but we could certainly envision several more years of
conflict following this coup. We do not take seriously forecasts of civil
war, but we fear that GDP and EPS forecasts will need to be marked down
for the next 2-3 years."
"We do not expect elections for another 1.5 to 3 years."
"We estimate popular support for the military as barely sufficient at
present, with a likely bias toward declining support over time. Based on
voting patterns in the 2011 elections, we estimate that just 30% of the
population are strong supporters of the army, with 40% strongly opposed
and 30% in the middle."
"It would be wrong to consider the Reds a spent force."
"We fear that the military has mounted a tiger and will not be able to
"We still see no clear end game for Thailand's political conflict."
rice farmers has changed from being a "dangerous populist measure" to
being "an important economic stimulus."
cancelled her Bangkok concert after the coup - “I’m sending my love to the
fans in Thailand,” Swift tweeted.” I’m so sad about the concert being
canceled.” Ironically the tour was called The Red Tour.
Phuketwan trial set for 2015
26 May 2015 -
Two journalists are to go on trial in March on charges of defaming the Thai
Navy, for posting online an article on human trafficking, one of the
defendants said Monday.
Phuket Criminal Court set March 18-20 as the trial date for Australian Alan
Morison, editor of news website PhuketWan, and his Thai reporter Chutima
Sidahathien, Morison said by phone.
"It's pretty unusual for a judge to schedule a trial that far ahead," he
The pair were indicted on April 17 for putting online parts of a Thomson
Reuters article on the trafficking of members of the Muslim ethnic Rohingya
group in southern Thailand and Myanmar.
They face charges of criminal defamation and violating the Computer Crime
Act, and possible imprisonment if found guilty.
It is the first time the Thai military has used the Act, designed to
prosecute hackers and other IT offences, in a defamation case.
The journalists' first day in court Monday in Phuket, 750 kilometres south
of Bangkok, follows Thursday's coup by the military.
The coup makers have put in place strict controls on the media.
"So far the coup has been bad for our case in that we had planned a
mediation meeting with the navy at the National Human Rights Commission on
Friday, but after the coup the navy had a good excuse not to show up,"
The defendants maintain that the Thai Navy was not named as a participant in
the alleged trafficking.
Thomson Reuters journalists Jason Szep and Andrew Marshall last month won
the Pulitzer Prize for investigative reporting for the article, which was
reprinted on the PhuketWan site in July.
Who to believe - the Thai army or a BBC reporter
26 May 2014
this story: Source:
Viral Photo of Tearful Soldier
BANGKOK — It was pepper spray, not sympathy for anti-coup protesters, which
drove the soldier in the now-viral photo to cry, claimed the Royal Thai Army
in a statement posted on Facebook.
The widely-circulated photo shows a soldier with tears rolling down one of
his cheeks as he stood alongside other troops.
The photo was accompanied by a caption alleging that he was one of the
soldiers that attempted to contain anti-coup protesters near Ratchaprasong
Intersection in downtown Bangkok on Sunday. The caption said he was driven
to tears by the demonstrators who berated him for siding with the military.
However, according to a statement posted on the Facebook page of the 1st
Cavalry Division, King's Guard, the soldier did not cry in response to the
"The truth is, it was caused by demonstrators spraying pepper spray on his
eyes," the army statement said. "That's why he cried."
There was no information on whether the alleged pepper-sprayer has been
Then read this tweet from Jonathan Head - the BBC's SEA correspondent:
"This is nonsense.
Nobody sprayed anything but verbal abuse in his face. Dozens of us saw it."
Now which is more
likely - I know which the army wants most Thai people to believe.
over 2008 airport closures
26 May 2014
The Criminal Court
has postponed to December 15th the examination of evidence in the case
against 96 People's Alliance for Democracy (PAD) members indicted on various
charges relating to the seizure of Don Mueang and Suvarnabhumi airports in
2008....which for the mathematically challenged was a mere 6 years ago and
caused billions of baht in damage to the Thai economy as well as ruining
travel for tens of thousands of people and causing financial damage to all
airlines operating into and out of Bangkok.
The court initially set today, May 26, for examination of evidence in the
case in which the 96 defendants have been indicted on terrorism and other
charges related to the airports' seizue.
Defence lawyers asked the court to postpone the hearing because many of the
defendants were not able to appear before the court.
Some of them had been detained by the National Council for Peace and Order (NCPO),
some taken by the Department of Special Investigation (DSI) to report to
prosecutors, some were summoned to report to the NCPO, and others including
Maj-Gen Chamlong Srimuang were sick.
The court examined the request and decided to postpone the hearing to Dec 15
To date not one
person has been prosecuted for the airport closures. It is unlikely that
anyone ever will be.
Coup update -
26 May 2014
Time magazine -
and On the Run, Thailand’s Red Shirts Prepare for a Long Fight
Thai coup leader: Don't protest, it's no use
Japan Times -
Desperate Thai elites get their wish for a coup
There was another
protest at Victor Monument this afternoon. Having got the local media under
its control the army has turned its attention to the foreign press - with
army loud speakers calling in english: Foreign press. Game is over. Go home.
just-erected barriers around Victory Monument read (in Thai): “Closed for
Just like the BTS
did not stop at Victory Monument due to overcrowding!
media organisations will NOT be able to help their journalists who post "inciteful"
message's on social media
Junta asks media
to avoid using the term "seize power"; suggests "control national
administrative power" instead.
curfew from 10pm to 5am remains in place tonight.
Army just stated that the country administration will be based in the Army
Club, future Ministers will be based there
instructed to ‘cooperate’ with junta’s orders, academics summoned by army.
protest leader Suthep Thaugsuban and 24 core members of the People’s
Democratic Reform Committee were given bail by the Criminal Court after they
were indicted by the public prosecutors with eight criminal charges,
Birthday Party at Bangkok's British Embassy on 11 June will not now take
I was not invited!
Commander-in-Chief Gen. Prayuth Chan-ocha has been appointed as head of the
NPCO by royal command, confirming him as prime minister. The ceremony, held
at 10.40am this morning, was not televised. In a speech to media Gen Prayuth
Army Not Seeking Power For Itself
Military Coup Staged to Preserve Order
Military Working With Senior Bureaucrats to Ensure Smooth Running of
Urged Media to Provide Accurate Information
Warned of Action Against Persons Posting Inflammatory Social Media Messages
Reiterated That Lese Majeste Cases to Be Heard by Military Court
Army Has Capability and Experience to Run the Country
King Endorsed Coup as Matter of Tradition and Protocol
Indicated Election Can Be Held if Calm Returns
No Timeline For Election
The nation reports that coup leader General Prayuth has asked for public
understanding over the transfers of three senior officials, saying they have
done nothing wrong but the move was made for the "sake of suitability" in
the current situation.
This is exactly
the same action at ex Prime Minister Yingluck took to remove a civil servant
- yet she was removed as PM by the constitutional court for her action. One
rule for some and one rule for others.
Coup update -
25 May 2014
The military has
explained its reasoning to launch the military coup to the international
community. Presented without comment:
1) Thailand has different situation and political environment to other
countries. 2) The military has clear evidences and reasons to seize power.
The evidences and reasons will later be shown to the international
community. 3) Democratic ruling in Thailand has caused a lot of lives.
1.This is Thailand
2.We'll tell you later
Source: “NCPO cites three reasons to explain to need for coup making:
Winthai“, The Nation, May 25, 2014
report stated that "Referring to a telephone conversation between US Pacific
Fleet commander Admiral Harry Harris and National Council for Peace and
Order chief General Prayuth Chan-ocha, Winthai said the conversation was
initiated as both countries were old allies. During the conversation,
Winthai said Harris expressed concerns but as a military officer he
understood the situation."
The US Embassy
tweeted - "Beware of false reports regarding alleged statements; the U.S.
remains concerned by #ThaiCoup and calls for immediate return to democracy."
This was after it identified the above report in The Nation newspaper
(suggesting that the US Pacific Fleet commander had called Prayuth to tell
him that he understood!) as an outright lie stating : "@nationnews your
"understanding" article is completely false, there has been no call from @USPacificFleet."
The Nation has not
retracted the story. Amazing.
Banyan in The
Economist is scathing of the coup:
"The darkened horizon".
In the days main
curfew is still in effect from 10pm to 5am.
junta warned protesters it would not tolerate any further rallies against
its coup after tense standoffs Sunday between soldiers and angry crowds in
the capital Bangkok. - See more at: http://www.straitstimes.com/news/asia/south-east-asia/story/thailand-coup-junta-ultimatum-defiant-anti-coup-protesters-20140525#sthash.VoPO14Lp.214zPXiQ.dpuf
Still no major
international news networks allowed to broadcast.
The NCPO has instructed more people to attend its HQ. Most of those invited
are widely seen as having links to Thaksin. 5 more academics have been
summoned together with a range of business leaders.
The five academics
1 Banjerd Sinkaneti, Faculty of Law, Thammasat University
2 Surapon Nitikraipot, Rector of Thammasat University
3 Harirak Sutabutr, ThammasaT Business School
4 Chai-anan samudavanija, a former Professor of Political Science at
5 Teerayut Boonmee, Faculty of Sociology of Thammasat University.
Among 30 (approx) business leaders are Premchai Kanasutra (Italian-Thai),
Srettha Thavisin and Anant Asavabhokhin.
On twitter someone
wrote "The Thailand military is clearly targeting at the Thaksin
affiliations at the moment. Clear sign of the false pretense of #ThaiCoup ."
I think that just about nails it.
A royal command
appointing Gen Prayuth Chan-ocha leader of the National Council for Peace
and Order (NCPO) is expected to be issued on Monday, reports said.
A ceremony for the army chief to receive the royal command would be held at
the army headquarters Ratchadamnoen Avenue at 10.49am. I assume the timing
is in some way auspicious.
After the ceremony, Gen Prayuth will address the nation via the Thai
Television Pool to outline further steps to be taken including the
proclamation of an interim constitution and the setting up of the national
legislative council (to act as Parliament).
This is 2006 all
over again but more draconian and more determined.
CNN: Military says
Yingluck Shinawatra no longer in detention. The former PM's aides tell us
she does not have freedom of movement. She appears to be under house arrest.
protests in Bangkok today. They started at Amarin Placa and moved to Victory
Monument, which commemorates the Thai “victory” in the brief Thai-Franco
War. Bizarrely there was also a small pro-coup rally at Democracy
Monument…oh, the irony!
Pravit Rojanaphruk, an outspoken columnist for English-language daily The
Nation, tweeted that he was reporting to the junta: "On my way to see the
new dictator of Thailand. Hopefully the last."
He has not been
heard from since.
The FCCT issued
the following statement today:
the detention of Thai journalists
The professional membership of the Foreign Correspondents’ Club of Thailand
is deeply concerned by the detention of journalists by the new military
authorities in Thailand, following the imposition of martial law on Tuesday
and a full coup d’etat on Thursday.
Thanapol Eawsakul, the editor of Same Sky magazine, was arrested following
an anti-coup protest on Friday. On Sunday, 25 May, Pravit Rojanaphruk, a
journalist with The Nation newspaper, was taken into custody after answering
a summons to report to the military.
The military is already imposing strict censorship on the media, blocking
access to foreign television networks, restricting what Thai networks can
broadcast and blocking hundreds of internet websites. While this may impede
coverage in the short term—and make it harder for journalists on the ground
to produce accurate, balanced reports—it will not diminish interest in this
story or make it go away.
Freedom of expression and the right of journalists to work without fear of
arrest or physical violence are core principles of the FCCT. The
professional membership of the FCCT therefore urges the new military
government to stop detaining journalists, lift media restrictions and
release those already being held.
At this difficult time for Thailand, the free flow of reliable information
is vital to finding a peaceful resolution to this long-running and seemingly
intractable political conflict."
Banyan's column in
the Economist is scathing of the coup - under the title "The
The NCPO issued a
37th announcement, granting authority to the Army Court to prosecute all
crimes in violation of Article 107-112 of the Criminal Code, or the crimes
against the monarchy including Thailand's lese majeste law. Crimes regarding
national security and sedition as stipulated in Article 113-118 of the
Criminal Code will also be prosecuted by the Military Court.
The announcement also said that those who violate the NCPO's orders will be
subjected to the Military Court.
Civilians are not allowed to have lawyers representing them in the Military
Court, and cannot file a lawsuit at the Court by themselves.
The following is
attributable to U.S. Department of State Deputy Spokesperson Marie Harf and
was released today:
"We are increasingly concerned about actions the military has taken, just
a few days after it staged a coup. It has dissolved the Senate, detained a
number of people, called in some academics and journalists, and continued to
restrict the press. We again call on the military to release those detained
for political reasons, end restrictions on the media, and move to restore
civilian rule and democracy through elections."
7.00am At least 100 people, mostly top politicians, have been detained
incommunicado so far. Deputy army spokesman Col. Weerachon Sukondhapatipak
said they were all being well-treated and the military's aim was to achieve
a political compromise.
Weerachon said all those held have had their cellphones confiscated because
"we don't want them communicating with other people. We want them to be
themselves and think on their own."
"This is because everybody involved in the conflict needs to calm down and
have time to think," Weerachon said. "We don't intend to limit their freedom
— it's to relieve the pressure."
bizarre comment on twitter : Abhisit Vejjajiva : "I sincerely thank you for
your concerns. I apologize for not being able to defend democracy by pushing
for reforms under the Constitution." If he wants to apologise try
apologising for sabotaging democracy!
24 May 2014
So where are we
The army have now
taken full control of the political process with the removal of the final
(partially) elected body, the Senate.
Now he has full
control where next for General Prayuth. Does he really want reform; if so
what are his objectives and what is his timescale?
forces think the 2007 Constitution did not go far enough; supported by the
fact that Thaksin's parties have won every election since then. Any new
constitution is likely to impose further controls to reduce the chance of a
"red" government winning and to limit the policies that an elected (red)
government could implement through so-called “independent”
The “pro-Thaksin” forces (including the red shirts) think the 2007
Constitution went too far and want fully-elected Senate (which is key as the
Senate appoints the members of the “independent” organizations). Basically a
return to the 1997 constitution.
Given how far the
two major groups are apart it will be the make-up of any reform body that
determines where power lies.....and it is unlikely to be in support of
Thaksin related parties.
The big difference between now and 2006 is that back then the pro-Thaksin
protest element was weak. There were few protests against the coup or the
interim government. The Thaksin forces were not strong enough to vote
down the 2007 constitution and even if they had the alternative was no more
palatable. So it made sense for Thaksin to seek to win the 2007 election
with the opportunity to change the Constitution later. That has not worked
out so well either.
In addition the coup will also attract support from some of the so-called
silent minority. There are those who are not necessarily Puea Thai
supporters who oppose the coup. They may not agree with or share a pro-Thaksin
agenda, but they want an election before reform; they have no wish for
military rule and the sacrifice of a democratic structure.
Early protests are
in greater numbers than in 2006. They are likely to grow. I suspect the
North is in uproar. Anger is real. But so is the tension driven by
Of course there
are also many people who support the army and who believe the coup was
necessary. Their memory is short. The 2006 coup solved nothing. It is hard
to be in the middle of this winner-takes-all fight. Both sides are that
polarised. This could get ugly very easily.
Thai coup - day 3 update
24 May 2014
Bangkok Post: "An army spokesman said the unavailability of CNN and BBC on
pay-TV was due to "technical problems" and attempts were being made to solve
However, TrueVisions said the channels remained off the air because "there
may be materials that do not comply with NCPO announcements".
The army has to do
better than straight-faced lies.
Curfew again tonight and major news networks are still not available.
Nation’ journalist Pravit Rojanaphruk has been summoned to report to the
military. His is the only name on the latest order. This is sad news.
NCPO also announced on Saturday evening that Pol Gen Adul Saengsingkaew had
been moved to an inactive post in the Prime Minister's Office.
Also moved to inactive posts were Tarit Pengdith, the head of the Department
of Special Investigation, and Nipat Thonglek, the permanent secretary of the
Defence Ministry. Both men had been seen as loyalists to the ousted
government and former premier Thaksin Shinawatra.
Curiously it was
moving a civil servant who was considered an opponent of the Yingluck
government that has her removed from office two weeks ago. I guess once the
constitution has been torn up the old rules do not apply.
Prayuth dissolved the Senate and took over parliamentary authority.
prime minister Thaksin Shinawatra has revealed plans to set up a government
in exile, in a direct challenge to the legitimacy of the military, following
confirmation of a coup to remove the government led by his presumed proxy
and sister Yingluck Shinawatra.
The decision was relayed by Mr Thaksin's legal adviser, Robert Amsterdam,
and revealed exclusively by the ABC. (Australian)
The idea of a
government in exile is frankly silly. And it will be motivated more by
Thaksin's self interest than by any thought for the UDD and Puea Thai
support in Thailand.
Bangkok Post military correspondent Wassana Nanuam the junta claims that the
Office of His Majesty Principal Private Secretary has ’acknowledged’ the
letter by army chief General Prayuth Chan-ocha informing the King of taking
over power and also the declaration of martial law earlier this week. Unlike
in previous coups, the coup-leader (i.e. the army chief) didn’t seek an
audience with the King this time in order to avoid “dragging His Majesty
into the conflict”, as he was reportedly saying.
very different from approved.
NPOMC calls in 18
Thai newspaper to a meeting at Army Club at 2PM tomorrow.
have also been taking place in the northern city of Chiang Mai this evening.
The army presence there was strengthened noticably today and a number of
arrests have been reported
The military junta
has changed its English name from the clunky “National Centre for
Maintaining Peace and Order” (NPOMC) and is now the National Council for
Peace and Order (NCPO) (2006 revisited when the name changes were almost
academic Pavin Chachavalpongpun responded to army summons by asking if he
can send his pet chihuahua instead. Pavin is works at the Kyoto University
as a professor of Southeast Asian studies.
stations have been ordered not to broadcast interviews with political
analysts and academics.
The National Peace and Order Maintenance Council (NPOMC) has summoned
another 35 critical acdemics and activists for 1.00pm today. Some of them
were former lese majeste prisoners. The list included some members of the
critical legal scholars Nitirat (the Enlightened Jurists), Thamasat
historian Somsak Jeamteerasakul known for his outspoken criticism against
the monarchy. Others include Law Prof Vorajet Pakirat, Pol Gen Pracha
Promnok. Sonthi Limthongkul, Suwat Liptapanlop, Suthin Klangsaeng, Dr Pawin,
Suda Rangupan, Sudsanguna Suthisorn.
that Yingluck and the Shinawatra family have been detained to bargain with
Thaksin. If true the army is little more than a hostage taker.
junta spokesman tells BBC they are detaining people to "help them relax"...
who were told to report and dont show up face not more than 2 yrs in prison
or 40,000 baht fine.
anti-coup protests at Major Ratchayothin cinema in Lad Phrao.
Thai coup -
23 May 2014
Curfew time - goodnight Bangkok.
Gen Prayuth to
diplomats this afternoon: NPOMC to take care the country till peace and
order return, and reform before election. He is sounding more like Suthep by
the day. This really is giving Suthep everything that he asked for.
(remember him) weighs in: Nothing explains Thailand more clearly than elites
citing "approval polls" of a coup while at the same time refusing elections.
spokesman Col Werachon Sukhondhadhpatipak says Gen Prayuth "doesn't want to
bother" the King with a personal visit. Presumably he does not have to
explain himself if he already has approval.
military spokesman on detentions: "We want them to stay away from tensions.
We want to give them some free time to relax" Colonel Werachon
Sukhondhadhpatipak says Yingluck Shinawatra and family will be detained for
"not longer than a week
Prayuth playing hardball with the Shinawatras. Homes in Chiang Mai searched.
Yingluck et al locked up. Maybe to pressure Thaksin to give in. About 30
army troops from Kawila camp today searched the houses of fugitive former
prime minister Thaksin Shinawatra and her sister, Mrs Yaowapa Wongsawat, at
Green Valley housing estate in Mae Rim district of Chiang Mai.
detains ex-PM Yingluck - BBC
Announcing his new
government structure Gen Prayuth also said that General Prayuth said NPOMC
had attached importance to the protection of the Monarchy and that those who
defame or insult the Monarchy would be dealt with harshly in accordance with
the lese majeste law.
few protesters in central BKK. No habeas corpus applies, and they don't have
to appear before a judge. That's Martial Law.
Insider's report on coup decision
on twitter - and there may be some truth to this: I expect within the next 4
weeks armed resistance will start in Chiangmai Mai and Isaan. Lots of
sabotage in Bangkok
There is a small, well-organized protest against coup staged near MBK, this
is a trial balloon to gauge the army’s reaction.
Prayuth says 4 TV stations will be allowed to broadcast this evening,
provided they do not violate the law. Not sure what this means for foreign
At the border -
Direct from a Laos border official: Thais cannot come into Laos, Lao cannot
go into Thailand. Foreigners can pass freely.
market fell more than 2 percent a day after the country’s military seized
power in a bloodless coup. Other Asian markets were mostly higher Friday,
helped by weakness in the yen. (Source: Associated Press)
arbitrary detention, and restrictions on freedom of movement still exist.
reported to Army HQ. She is reportedly still detained.
The Peace and
Order Maintaining Council (POMC), which has seized power, has told social
media users not to post content that could be considered opposing or
critical of the Thai military.
twitter - "Consensus of vox pops on Thai TV (in full military control): ”#ThaiCoup
is good, everyone was fighting, things will calm down. Yay!” - when you
control the medium the message can be whatever you want it to be.
Members of Thaksin Shinawatra's family have been banned from leaving the
services operate from until 21.00 tonight
The MRT services
are operating from 6.00 - 21.00 with the last train leaving from Hua
Lamphong and Bang Sue at 20.13
My mother in law
says that the army coup is good for the country - for her anything is good
for the country except the reds.
York Times: "After a decade of misrule, the Thai people deserve greater
respect for human rights, stronger institutions and more accountability.
Rule by martial law is the opposite of the rule of law; it fosters an
environment conducive to rights violations and should be revoked." — The New
York Times condemns Thailand's coup
John Kerry - US
Secretary of State on twitter: "No justification for #ThaiCoup. Urge
restoration of government & return to democracy for sake of ppl ASAP"
In a statement
Kerry said: “While we value our long friendship with the Thai people, this
act will have negative implications for the U.S.-Thai relationship,
especially for our relationship with the Thai military,” Kerry said. “We are
reviewing our military and other assistance and engagements, consistent with
Secretary William Hague also urged Thailand to restore a democratically
elected civilian government. “I am extremely concerned by today's coup,”
Hague said in a statement. “We look, therefore, to the authorities to set
out a quick clear timetable for elections to help re-establish the
democratic framework of governance.”
Part of the military engagements include the U.S.-backed Carat naval drills
in the Pacific that Thailand and several other countries are participating
All Thai TV is
being run by the Military, international broadcasters including Australia
Network still off air
providers have also been ordered to report to the military
Former PM Yingluck
Shinawatra has been ordered to report to the military - Ousted PM Yingluck
and ministers to report to army this morning.
family members have also been ordered to report to the military
Min. Bishop tells ABC the country reviewing its relationship with Thailand,
"gravely concerned” by Thai Coup.
ruling junta on Friday warned it would block social media platforms in the
country if they carry any content provoking violence or opposing their
military coup. "If we find any to be in violation, we will suspend the
service immediately and will summon those responsible for prosecution," said
a directive read out on national television.
reported overnight during the curfew hours.
A Reckless Coup
23 May 2014 -
New York Times
"BANGKOK — The Thai military removed all doubt about its intentions in
declaring martial law earlier this week, and on Thursday officially
announced that it was taking control of the government, the 12th time it has
done so since 1932.
The newly created Peace and Order Maintaining Command, composed of the
commander in chief of the army and the commanders of the Royal Thai Navy,
air force and police, announced that it had suspended the Constitution —
except for articles related to the monarchy, the activity of the courts, and
some “independent” administrative agencies. The military said that it was
acting to protect the peace and resolve the long political impasse that had
brought mostly peaceful protests and counterprotests to Bangkok. It arrested
the leaders of different political factions even as they were engaged in
But unless the P.O.M.C. can quickly establish a road map for return to
civilian rule, it risks setting off a cycle of violence and human rights
violations. The sooner the military revokes martial law, the better for
Thailand. The army chief, Gen. Prayuth Chan-ocha, imposed martial law on
Tuesday and declared himself the “supreme commander” but strenuously denied
that he had, in fact, carried out a coup.
The P.O.M.C.’s authority is based on Thailand’s martial law statute, which
has been severely criticized for the unfettered powers it grants the
military. Using it, the military asserts superiority over all civilian
authority in matters of security and public order, including the power to
arrest and detain people without charge for up to seven days and carry out
Martial law enables the military authorities to rule by fiat, in effect
suspending the human rights guaranteed under the Constitution and the
International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, to which Thailand is a
party. The law also provides the military with immunity from any claims for
compensation arising from its actions.
The military has imposed a curfew and set strict controls on the media. This
follows its actions in the first hours of martial law, when the P.O.M.C.
moved to shut down TV and radio stations, and issued orders forbidding the
media to issue reports “that might distort the facts, cause confusion among
the public, or lead to further violence.” In addition, social media sites
and users were prohibited from publishing content that “misleads the public”
or “escalates the conflict” or “opposes the operation of the P.O.M.C.”
Initially, the P.O.M.C. had been careful to invoke only a few of its powers
under the law, in order to bolster its assertion that its actions did not
constitute a coup. But now it risks an internal backlash and possibly
international sanctions — including from the United States, the Thai
military’s main backer.
The acting prime minister, Niwatthamrong Boonsongpaisan, was the only
political leader who escaped arrest. Mr. Niwatthamrong was already in a weak
position as a caretaker leader who only recently replaced Yingluck
Shinawatra, ousted earlier this month by the Constitutional Court on
Ms. Yingluck herself was standing in for her brother, Thaksin Shinawatra,
the leader of the so-called Red Shirt movement. His period in office as
prime minister proved deeply divisive and was characterized by serious human
rights violations; he was ousted in the last coup in 2006 and fled the
country to avoid prosecution for corruption.
The Red Shirts, who keep winning national elections based on a constituency
drawn largely from the provinces, have been at a political impasse with
their rivals, the Yellow Shirts, who represent Bangkok’s more affluent
population. The Yellow Shirts have been able to overthrow various Shinawatra-linked
governments through a combination of military intervention and judicial and
It is this conflict, largely played out in protests in Bangkok, that allowed
the P.O.M.C. to justify its intervention. In the nation’s capital, troops
and police officers appear to be exercising restraint. Let us hope this
continues, for there is a long history of rights violations under martial
law in Thailand.
In some 30 of Thailand’s 76 provinces, martial law was already in place
before Tuesday, in some cases for years. Extrajudicial executions, deaths in
custody, enforced disappearances and torture have been documented under
military jurisdiction. There has been almost no accountability for these
General Prayuth has provided little explanation for his actions this week,
given that the political friction of past months was confined to Bangkok.
Moreover, it’s hard to justify shutting down media outlets: There is an
escalating risk of violence if the media is unable to report on the
After a decade of misrule, the Thai people deserve greater respect for human
rights, stronger institutions and more accountability. Rule by martial law
is the opposite of the rule of law; it fosters an environment conducive to
rights violations and should be revoked."
- a summary
22 May 2014
The situation is
still confusing. At 23:00 in Bangkok here is a summary:
What has happened:
A coup ostensibly led by the Army Chief, General Prayuth Chan-ocha. It is
less clear who planned the coup and who gave it permission to go ahead.
Political leaders from both side are ‘in control/custody’ by the army. The
list includes Suthep Thaugsuban (PDRC leader), Abhisit Vejjajiva (Ex-PM and
opposition leader), key ministers in Pheu Thai government, 5 key red shirt
Some red shirt leaders throughout the country are in custody.
Acting PM Niwatthamrong Boonsongpaisan is missing.
2007 Constitution is now defunct. The Cabinet and elected government is
The junta have maintained the senate and the justice courts.
All TV stations are under army control. Normal programs are replaced by a
military graphic and occasional briefings.
There is a 10pm to 5am curfew.
Whereabouts of Niwatthamrong, also Yingluck Shinawatra.
Suggestions that the Shinawatra family members fled the kingdom. No
Nothing from Thaksin yet.
The location of people that have been detained.
The role of Hua Hin in this latest coup.
This coup has been planned in detail. Two days ago the 3.00am introduction
of martial law was carefully executed with troops in place at key locations.
Political leaders were invited to army HQ for negotiations. Those
negotiations lasted just one day. On the second day with all the leaders in
one place and attending in good faith to negotiate they were rounded up and
detained in from of the world's media. It really could not have been easier.
The question is
who planned and approved the coup? It does appear to be that hard line
conservatives are behind the army putsch. The big picture of this coup is
‘conservative forces consolidate their power’. How the red shirts react and
how determined the generals are to eliminate the potential for red shirt
power or government will determine the direction of this coup.
We will probably see a new Prime Minister appointed over the weekend. The
senate will act for the full parliament and nominate a new PM. That is
likely to be General Prawit Wongsuwan, ex-Army chief and a genuine
The new junta government will run the country for 1-2 years.
A new Constitution will be drafted, call it the 2015 Constitution. It will
be more draconian than the 2007 Constitution and will greatly limit the red
Suthep, Abhisit, PDRC, Democrat Party, and all anti-Pheu Thai leaders will
be released in the next few days. Pheu Thai and red leaders will be in
The short term (1-3 months) outcome will be stable but it is a lull, a
Red Shirts will be driven underground almost like a resistance movement.
There will be unrest not dissimilar to the threats in Southern Thailand. If
the Constitution is undemocratic and the election is postponed indefinitely,
the country (especially the junta government) will face the insurgency in
North and Northeastern which is the red shirts’ bases.
The worst possible scenario is a chronic civil war. Same as Thailand’s
ongoing Deep South Insurgency.
This all needs to be considered alongside the one issue not openly discussed
in Thailand; but is hugely relevant to the timing and to who the key players
Now the Thai
coup is real
22 May 2014
Updates on the
army coup announced to day at 4.30pm
Foreign Minister Frank-Walter Steinmeier has condemned today’s coup and
urged the army to restart political dialogue.
Soldiers weapons are loaded, unlike yesterday (Wednesday).
gatherings of more than five people are banned with one year prison term for
8.30pm All major
shopping malls in #Bangkok will close until further notice at 8pm every
night due to the curfew
French President officially “condemns takeover of power by the Army”
reporting that "many of our co-leaders have been detained without
whereabouts - families have not been informed - they are most likely
detained at army camp"
8.00pm - new name
- The Peace Maintaining Committee is now the National Peace and Order
8.00pm - all
foreign tv networks are now blocked.....cnn, bbc, cctv, "All radio and
television stations, satellite and cable, must stop normal programming and
broadcast army content until told otherwise," Winthai Suvaree, a deputy army
spokesman, said in a televised statement.
Constitution has been temporarily suspended. The caretaker government has
been dismissed. Army chief Prayuth Chan-ocha has announced himself as head
of council that will run a temporary government.
7.30pm Army says
that the 2007 Constitution abolished except monarchy articles. Senate still
functions. So do 'independent' orgs and courts.
7.20pm Thai army
spokesman says that people heading to the airport to leave Thailand can do
so at any time day and night.
7.00pm BTS (skytrain)
closes at 9pm and MRT (subway) at 8pm due the curfew.
advise that the army has arrested all the red shirt leaders at their Aksa Rd
location. Some gunfire was heard. Protestors are leaving for home.
military announces TV and radio stations to cease normal program and air
army’s programs & announcements.
6.20pm The Thai
army has ordered a nationwide curfew from 10pm to 5am. Assume all night
events have been cancelled. No announcements yet what will happen to foreign
tourists who are arriving at airport tonight. Can they get into Bangkok or
censorship in Thailand this evening seems to be limited to domestic
television and radio. Foreign television stations can still be accessed and
the Internet is still online:
are dispersing protesters at the rally sites in Bangkok. Red shirt leader
Jatuporn and PDRC leader Suthep, the chief figures of the two rival
factions, have both been detained by the military.
5.00pm A coup has
taken place in Thailand this afternoon. Army chief Prayuth is addressing the
nation live on television now. To summarise, he said the army has taken over
and asked people not to panic. He also said the military would ensure the
safety of all foreigners.
reported that "The meeting mediated by Prayuth was attended by
representatives of the red-shirt movement, the government, the Pheu Thai,
the Democrat, the People’s Democratic Reform Committee, the Senate and the
Only representatives of the Senate and the EC were not taken away in the
This is the 12th
coup d’etat since Thailand became a constitutional monarchy in 1932. Seven
others have been attempted since then
Another Coup in
21 May 2014 -
Wall Street Journal
General Prayuth Chan-ocha, chief of the Thai army, is at pains to explain he
did not stage a coup at 3 a.m. Tuesday morning. The imposition of martial
law, he says, is merely an intervention to restore order and break the
deadlock between the elected government and royalist protesters. Acting
Prime Minister Niwatthamrong Boonsongphaisan remains officially in charge.
That's laughable, as Gen. Prayuth showed when reporters asked about the
status of the government. "And where is this government?" he joked.
It's a telling quip. Mr. Niwatthamrong has not held true power since the
Constitutional Court removed Prime Minister Yingluck Shinawatra and nine of
her ministers earlier this month. Now the army has given itself unlimited
powers for an indefinite period. Sure sounds like a coup.
Moreover, there is no public safety justification for the generals' action.
Thailand may be wracked by political conflict, but it remains largely
peaceful. Even when protesters derailed a general election in February, the
troops stayed in their barracks. If there is a political vacuum in Bangkok,
the army and other elite-controlled institutions created it.
So why did Gen. Prayuth act now? One clue is the way Mr. Niwatthamrong has
gone on calling for new elections later this year. The military and the
aristocracy need to close off that possibility.
Once elections are on hold, Thai elites, represented by the anti-democratic
Democrat Party, can engage the elected Puea Thai party in talks to force it
to accept "reforms" that will further neuter the power of future
governments. If that fails, they can appoint a caretaker government to write
a new constitution, as they did after the last coup in 2006.
In other words, the protest movement led by former Deputy Prime Minister
Suthep Thaugsuban over the last six months has succeeded. It demanded that
the elected government be removed from power and institutional changes be
carried out before new elections were held.
The 2007 constitution was already bad enough. It created a partially
appointed Senate and empowered nondemocratic institutions controlled by the
aristocracy to threaten the elected government.
But after Ms. Yingluck was elected in 2011, she proved it was possible for a
populist government to sidestep these controls, at least for several years.
With time she might have succeeded in neutralizing them. A series of
missteps last year created an opening for Mr. Suthep's street movement.
Thailand's elites realize their stranglehold on the country's resources is
slipping away, so they want to impose more restrictions on an already rigged
democracy. This will provoke a backlash from the government's "red shirt"
supporters in the north, which would be disastrous for the country.
In 2010, supporters of Ms. Yingluck's brother, former Prime Minister Thaksin
Shinawatra, occupied the center of Bangkok for months. Army snipers killed
almost 100 unarmed protesters. Some of the red shirts say this time they are
prepared for civil war.
That danger scares everybody, but especially investors. First quarter GDP
figures show the economy contracted by 0.6% year on year, largely because
billions of dollars sit on the sidelines waiting to see if the impasse can
The only way forward for Thailand is to go back to the voters for a new
mandate. Sooner or later the army and aristocracy will have to accept that
the populist forces unleashed by the Shinawatra family are here to stay. If
they persist in rigging the political system, the anger may become
uncontrollable. Extremists on both sides have gained momentum, and closing
down their television stations won't stop them. Statesmen are needed to find
a compromise and prevent Thailand from sinking into mob rule.
Introducing the non-coup
20 May 2014
Banyan in the Economist
At 3am Thailand’s
army, the institution that determines the fate of the country’s civilian
governments, declared martial law.
It invoked a draconian 100-year-old law that was most recently used by Sarit
Thanarat, a military dictator, following his second coup in 1958. This time
the army took up positions in key areas in the capital, Bangkok, but kept a
light footprint. The more partisan TV stations were captured and ordered to
stop broadcasting. For most Thais the imposition of martial law was of no
consequence. Life in the capital and across the country was largely
It may look like one, it may sound like one, but the army insists this is
not a coup, and that the civilian government is still in place. It dissolved
the Centre for the Administration of Peace and Order (CAPO), the government
agency tasked with overlooking security. A so-called “Peace-Keeping Command
Centre” now enforces martial law.
The army will be keen to keep it regarded as a “non-coup” to prevent
Thailand’s being cut off from international capital markets, and to prevent
its officers’ prosecution at a later date. “What’s happened is that the army
has given itself the legal means of achieving an army coup”, says Paul
Chambers, an expert on the Thai army at Chiang Mai University’s Institute
for South-East Asian Affairs.
An immediate consequence has been the silencing of all sides in the
rancorous debate between civilians. The army ordered both anti-government
and pro-government protesters not to move from their respective rally sites
in Bangkok. Since the current round of anti-government protests erupted in
November 2013, at least 28 people have been killed, and hundreds more
At noon on May 19th, the day before martial law came down, the state
planning agency had released figures showing that Thailand’s squabbling
politicians had managed to tip the economy into recession. So far the army
has not said which side it is on. This has allowed both parties to the
grinding war of ideologies to claim that the intervention works in its own
It is still too soon to determine the ultimate aim of this surprising
intervention. Likewise with the end result: it could be a political
framework that will allow the historical elites to continue to be in charge
of the country (in which case the anti-government side would feel
vindicated) or it could prove to be an intervention that paves the way for
the people to use their sovereign power to put in place political leaders
who will champion their causes (in which case the pro-government side would
have won). Whichever way it goes, there is little doubt that the army chief
acted on behalf of the palace and the powerful privy council.
So what are the more immediate possible outcomes? One idea is that martial
law will create a face-saving exit for Suthep Thaugsuban, the leader of the
anti-government protests. He has led the movement for six months now and so
far failed to topple the elected government. His plan to have it replaced by
an appointed government was going nowhere; there is no constitutional basis
for toppling Thailand’s electoral democracy.
While Mr Suthep might welcome a break after six months of marching in the
sun, this is surely not what motivated the imposition of martial law. The
better bet is that martial law is something like a last ditch effort on the
part of Mr Suthep’s sponsors. He had been playing the role of a front man
for the old Thai establishment—representing the street-level id of the civil
service, the army, the judiciary and the monarchy—and he has failed to
In this scenario, today’s move might then be a more forceful bid to dislodge
the government and appoint a new one with the aim of rewriting rules of the
game. The point would be to depose Thailand’s democracy and with it the
chances of electing yet another government loyal to Thaksin Shinawatra, the
one figure who has united democratic majorities in recent years.
Mr Thaksin, who is living in Dubai to avoid prosecution in Thailand, has
advisers who alerted him about the imposition of martial law at 5.30am this
morning. One of them, a member of the government’s national-security team,
said that if the army has decided to prepare the ground for elections, then
“there is no reason for us to go crazy”. But, he added, in fact “this is a
coup under a different name. It is a new style of coup; they call it
‘martial law’—it is very clever, a new style of Thai coup.”
All will now depend on how the army chooses to use its new powers. Martial
law gives it total control over the territory of Thailand, even without the
king’s endorsing it. The law itself creates a framework for total impunity;
the potential for militarist adventures against the monarchy; and, contrary
to the army’s assurances today, it is anathema to democracy.
20 May 2014
leader Suthep announces several evening rallies this week to force ouster of
entire interim gov't.
announcement: bureaucrats, academics, and justice professionals may not give
any interviews to media that could escalate conflict - but how does one know
if one's interview will provoke or escalate conflict or not? The only way to
be sure is not to talk or question anything. Basically, Order #9 forbids all
print and TV media from showing interviews and opinions that might create
8.00pm Voice TV
(controlled by Thaksin's son, Panthongtae Shinawatra) is taken off the air.
No prior notice. Media freedom continues to be main target of repression
under Martial Law.
7.15pm Thai Army:
In its latest announcement the Thai army said it will shut down and
prosecute any social media sites that mislead the public, break the law or
on twitter: "My journalist friends have informed me that heavy censorship is
being enforced by troops stationed at various media outlets. TV stations
that remain unshut are not allowed to air criticism of the martial law. My
fellow Thai citizens watching the media, please be aware that what you are
hearing from Thai media is not the whole truth (and hence not the truth at
6.55pm Acting PM
Niwatthamrong said Army Chief has sent letter of notice for him to report to
the Army after declaring Martial Law
6.00pm Acting Thai
PM said he’s already proposed a Royal Decree draft for Aug 3 Election.
5.30pm A number of
embassies and foreign ministries issued updated advisories on travel in
Thailand today. The general message was that it’s okay to travel but caution
should be exercised.
Rights Watch: Imposition of martial law nationwide in Thailand was not
necessary to prevent further violence. Brad Adams at HRW wrote: Martial law
in Thailand is a de facto coup. The US and others should demand power
returned to civilian govt immediately.
The Commander-in-Chief of the Royal Thai Army Gen. Prayuth Chan Ocha
spoke to the press in Bangkok after meeting government officials and heads
of major government agencies. He called on both sides to come together to
find a solution. He said the country needs to move on as quickly as possible
so he needed everybody’s help. He said the shut down of television station
was temporary, but added that censorship would be in place for “as long as
A couple of key, telling moments from the press conference:
When asked about if his actions require the approval of the government and
what its status is, his response was: “Where is the government?”
When asked if a curfew would be imposed, he “jokingly” threatened to impose
a curfew on the media first: “How about a curfew for the press?!”
"Where's the Government Now?" Army Chief Asks Reporters
12.30pm 8th army
TV announcement: Supreme Commander, Natl. Police Chief and c-n-c of navy and
air force now ”advisers” overseeing martial law.
law allows the military to:
- Take action
against war or riots;
- Use arms to suppress unrest;
- Search, confiscate or occupy any premises or vehicles;
- Censor information;
- Block, search and control postal services;
- Activate the military court to judge on crimes within the area under
- Mobilise civilians to help the military;
- Procure resources such as vehicles or logistical materials to support
- Prohibit public gatherings, publications, broadcasting, transport,
communication, travel, the movement of people or any action that the Defence
Ministry deems necessary;
- Enforce curfews;
- Destroy, remove or adjust any premise or location for the purpose of
- Arrest and detain suspects for a maximum of seven days.
- People are not entitled to any compensation for damage incurred during
such military operations;
- Martial law can only be ended with a Royal Decree.
10.15am 6th army
TV announcement calls several TV satellite channels incl. political ones
like DNN, ASTV and Blue Sky to STOP broadcasting. Each announcement is more
and more restrictive. Clearly all planned in advance and implemented bit by
A coup in all
20 May 2014
Martial Law was
declared across Thailand at 3am this morning, ostensibly "to keep law and
The army chief
insists it is not a coup & that soldiers are in place for public security
To do this General
Prayuth and the army must have been given permission. But by whom? The
government was not consulted before General Prayuth made his announcement.
The Thai government was not consulted ahead of the imposition of martial
albeit "caretaker," government is silent this morning, which cannot be a
army only deployed around the Red Shirts and not around the PDRC camp?
The PDRC have
cancelled today’s march. However, they will not abandon their rally site.
Protest leaders will meet at 10:30am.
Protest groups are ordered to remain peaceful and remain at their respective
There are armed
soldiers at media outlets, who have been instructed to air army broadcasts.
the government asks the army to step in it is Martial Law. When the Army
steps in without invitation then it's a coup.
Army Chief General
Prayuth has rescheduled his meeting with the permanent secretaries of all
ministries and department chiefs from 9 am to 2 pm.
This is the moment
of truth for Thailand. Will the army set out plans for elections as soon as
possible? Or will they appoint a government?
This is just the
Thailand Is A
Powder Keg Of Instability
17 May 2014
Daniel Bodirsky, Global Risk Insights for Business Insider
Minister Yingluck Shinawatra’s ousting at the hands of the Thai Supreme
Court on May 7th, Thailand’s political paralysis is set to restart. The
anti-government Yellow Shirts have welcomed the move, but Shinawatra’s
zealous Red Shirt supporters have flocked to Bangkok. More ominously, the
health of King Bhumibol (Rama IX) continues to decline, presenting a
succession crisis before current political turmoil is resolved. The king’s
death is sure to reopen a number of fault lines, creating a veritable
perfect storm for Thais and international investors alike.
Thailand has been deeply split since the ouster and exile of billionaire PM
Thaksin Shinawatra in 2006. Thaksin’s brand of populism earned him immense
support in the country’s agrarian north, much to the ire of the Bangkok
elite and middle-class, who decry the Shinawatras as crony capitalists and
dictators. His sister Yingluck mobilized this support in the 2011 elections,
becoming Thailand’s first female prime minister.
Yingluck’s attempt to pass an amnesty law for Thaksin in November 2013
sparked the current bout of instability, as the opposition contends that she
is little more than her brother’s puppet. After months of demonstrations,
Yingluck and nine of her cabinet members were dismissed by the Thai Supreme
Court after being found guilty of abusing her office.
Largely absent from the political drama is King Bhumibol (Rama IX), who has
served as Thailand’s deus ex machinain times of national duress. Veneration
for the king runs deep in Thailand, both by the Thai public at large and as
a semi-sacred figure in the country’s Buddhist hierarchy. Since ascending
the throne in 1946, Bhumibol has waded into the kingdom’s toxic politics
many times to pull the country back from the edge.
Now 86 and in poor health, the king has retreated from the public eye,
leaving many to privately speculate on the inevitable succession crisis.
Crown Prince Vajiralongkorn is a controversial figure, holding neither the
stature nor the respect of his father. Many doubt his ability to hold the
Kingdom together as his father has for 64 years.
Further complicating the succession issue is lese majestere, the law
preventing any criticism of the royal family, which is invoked liberally to
stamp out any public discussion of the royal family in general. At a time
when Thai society needs to have an open discussion on the post-Bhumibol
life, public discourse on the biggest wildcard of Thailand’s political
fault-lines is muted and pushed out of mind.
The king’s death and subsequent succession crisis will reignite a host of
other issues across the country. The Islamist insurgency in Southern
Thailand – quiet in recent years – could be given new life as opportunistic
militants would seek to exploit Bangkok’s preoccupation with the royal
secession. The power vacuum would also create fertile grounds for Thailand’s
coup-happy military, and could pave the way for a long-dreaded civil war.
The Thai economy is already feeling the heat: Thai stocks have tumbled,
consumer confidence has dropped to a 13-year low, and analysts warn that GDP
growth forecasts will be slashed. While day-to-day life in Thailand is
typically unaffected by the chronic political instability, a full-fledged
armed conflict would quickly put an end to this.
Thailand’s hugely lucrative rice export industry would be directly
threatened. The Kingdom is the world’s top rice producer, and rice subsidies
have been a hallmark of Yingluck Shinawatra’s tenure as Prime Minister. The
country’s chief rice-producing regions in the centre and the north are Red
Shirt strongholds, meaning strife is likely to occur there should the
country fall into conflict. Global rice prices would spike, which, as events
in 2007-08 showed, could trigger food riots in neighbouring countries where
rice is also a staple. This could directly affect regime stability in
Vietnam, Laos, and Cambodia.
Thailand’s other cash cow – tourism – would also be affected, after slipping
through so many past crises unscathed.
Thailand is sitting on a precipice. A host of unresolved issues – political
gridlock, class divide, and the insurgency in the deep south – have created
conditions that could lead the country into civil war. The king’s death
could be the spark to set it alight.
Short-circuiting Thai democracy
17 May 2014 -
The Japan Times editorial
With the removal of Thai Prime Minister Yingluck Shinawatra, Thailand has
honed its unique form of government — juristocracy — in which the judiciary
repeatedly overthrows democratically elected governments on transparent
Last week’s decision by the Constitutional Court was widely expected but
that did not make it any easier to swallow. Antidemocratic elements — and
there is no other word for them — in Thai society refuse to tolerate a
government that they do not control, the sentiments of the majority of the
Thai people be damned.
This is the third time that judges have removed a prime minister they did
not like and this indifference to the popular will is hardening sentiment in
Thailand and pushing the country closer to civil war.
The ruling that forced Yingluck from office was ostensibly based on her
decision to replace the secretary general of the National Security Council
in 2011. While most prime ministers have the right to select their own
Cabinet and staff, Thailand’s top court instead decided in a unanimous
ruling that it was an abuse of power for her to transfer a civil servant and
ordered the prime minister to step down immediately, along with all the
other members of her Cabinet who were in office at the time of the offense.
The court said in its ruling that the prime minister’s move had a “hidden
agenda,” was intended to create a job for her relative and not done
according to “moral principles.”
Sadly this judicial activism is not unprecedented. In an earlier case —
cited by the court as precedent — a previous prime minister, also aligned
with Yingluck, was forced from office because he appeared on a televised
cooking show (supposedly because he accepted payment for the appearances).
The real issue is the ongoing battle between forces in Thai society that are
vehemently opposed to former Prime Minister Thaksin Shinawatra, forced from
office in a coup in 2006, and forces that support him and his policies.
The anti-Thaksin group sees Yingluck as a proxy for her deposed brother —
and dismisses any political group that espouses his platform as nothing more
than a fig leaf for his return (Thaksin is currently in exile in Dubai).
The problem is that Thaksin is popular: Despite his removal from office in a
military coup and a constitution written by a successor government that
institutionalizes barriers to his return, his party keeps winning elections.
That has not stopped the opposition from doing everything they can to keep
his allies from running the government.
The result is coup after coup, followed by one loss after another at the
ballot box, until pressure builds and another extraparliamentary change is
The most recent crisis was triggered by an attempt last year to rush through
Parliament a bill that would give the deposed prime minister amnesty and
allow him to come home. Yingluck dissolved Parliament as protests mounted
and the capital of Bangkok descended into violence.
Knowing that they could not win, the opposition decided to block polling
stations, preventing votes and preventing some candidates from registering.
As a result, the constitutional court nullified the ballot and Yingluck
stayed in office as head of a caretaker government — until the court
intervened again last week.
Now, anti-Thaksin forces have occupied the government compound where they
hold press conferences and issue demands. Suthep Thaugsuban, leader of that
group, is calling for the Senate to install a prime minister to implement
political reforms ahead of elections scheduled for July.
While the constitution says the Lower House should appoint the prime
minister, Suthep argues that duty now falls to the Senate since the
Constitutional Court invalidated the February elections — conveniently
neglecting to mention that his supporters boycotted and disrupted that vote.
The opposition argues that Thaksin’s populist policies are every bit as
antidemocratic as their alleged behavior. They charge that he has been
buying votes and politicians, and Exhibit A in the latest catalog of
offenses is a government rice-buying scheme that created a huge hole in the
There were hopes that Yingluck’s dismissal would reduce tensions, but it
looks like the anti-Thaksin forces are merely riding the momentum to step up
The question is whether a compromise is possible or if both sides will
hunker down and let violence prevail. Periodic outbreaks of unrest over the
years have left dozens dead and hundreds wounded. Since November, more than
20 people have been killed in protests, but each time the country has pulled
back from the brink.
Thailand’s opposition may be successful in its rear-guard battles against a
democratically elected government, but these “victories” are Pyrrhic. Not
only does the resulting instability and chaos do as much damage as Thaksin
did to entrenched business and economic interests, but it erodes the
foundation of the state’s very legitimacy.
Military intervention was once a norm in Thai politics, but that period has
ended. Incredibly, the situation in Thailand today could portend an even
worse development — drawn out violence and even civil war.
It’s a Thai thing: ditching the new for the old
16 May 2014 by Tom Plate for the Japan Times
More than almost any other political crisis on the face of the earth today —
more than in Russia, Ukraine and Crimea; even more, in a way, than in
dreadfully miserable Syria — it is the crisis in Thailand that seems so sad.
Because this tragedy need not have happened — not at all.
Very many people live in the shadow of unelected governments that they
dislike, or even under elected governments for which they did not vote and
perhaps even despise. But in this world (and quite possibly even in the
next) rarely does one get everything he or she politically wants, certainly
not all the time and maybe not even often.
But in Thailand some people — too many people — do want it all, and to
achieve that aim they are prepared to deny everyone else almost everything.
And so one feels terribly sorry for all those many people in Thailand that
voted for the government of Yingluck Shinawatra (who became the 28th prime
minister — and first woman prime minister — in Thailand’s history from the
2011 general election) and who now find this nice and hardworking lady out
of the job.
Why? Essentially because a smaller number of people don’t like the political
taste of a larger number of people.
What is so loathsome is the selection of this fine lady as the punching bag
of the Bangkok elite, which has just pulled off what many are terming a
“judicial coup.” Unable to beat Yingluck’s coalition in an honest
us-against-them election, the elite’s allies on the so-called Constitutional
Court (packed with anti-government elitists) found cause the other day to
disqualify the prime minister and much of her Cabinet.
The ruling — that a series of sudden appointment maneuvers by the government
was legally invalid and required dismissal — required of the court a
reasoning style from the legal school of Alice in Wonderland.
The ruling creates a bad precedent for governance; worse yet, it may pave
the way toward a civil war of un-Thai-like violence. It is, after all, the
view of no less than Ramkhamhaeng University political scientist Pandit
Chanrojanakij that the justices exercised unwarranted political power in
order to undermine political parties allied to Thaksin.
“The rulings of the Constitutional Court in recent months have decreased the
credibility of the court itself,” said Pandit. “If the law cannot create
principles equally used by everyone, violence in the future may be
Behind the anti-Yingluck coalition, of course, is a deep hatred of her
brother, Thaksin, also expelled from the prime minister’s office — not by
court coup in 2006 but by a less subtle military coup.
The hatred that gushes at Thaksin, in self-exile, seems unquenchable and,
because it is so limitless, unreasonable.
Perhaps the closest hate analogue I can think of in our own politics here
was the American left’s inconsolable loathing of President Richard Nixon,
whom now, in fact, history seems to be treating with a little more respect
(reflecting his brilliant opening to China, surprisingly expansive domestic
Consider the arguable parallels. Thaksin’s 2001-2006 reign coincided with
the greatest uptick ever in the Thai economy. His government was repeatedly
reelected. There were many policy innovations in health and income
redistribution. To many voters outside of Bangkok, he offered hope for
escape from the cruel box of poverty.
Yet, he was brought down, they said, for his “corruption” — as if he were
the first politician in the history of Thailand to (allegedly) take personal
shortcuts while in office. Whatever.
The anti-Thaksin crowd’s dubious bile was then piled on his younger sister
Yingluck, a lady of substantial charm and I-try-hard work habits. The Thai
Constitutional Court that invalidated her as prime minister thus jumped in
with a shortsighted movement that took a country suddenly doing so well and
yet managed to begin to bring it down.
I find it all beyond sad. I suppose some people in Thailand find me biased
because of my work as the author of “Conversations With Thaksin.” This was
the 2011 book that tried to tell the former prime minister’s side of the
story as much as possible using his own words.
In 2010, I spent a week and a half with him in Dubai where he has been in
frustrated exile. Frankly I found him pleasant, smart and patriotic about
Thailand. Did I find him self-serving? May I ask you this: Have you have
ever heard of any politician who was not?
In fact, his enemies have lauded this book for how it presents Thaksin’s
views with plain candor, almost as much as his supporters have embraced it
for letting the controversial man have his say. But that is what true
journalism does: It seeks to embrace unblemished reality.
I wish Thailand itself would do that. Instead, it is — at least to me — on a
course of serious self-destruction that seems totally unreal.
Little in today’s political world makes me sadder. Almost nothing terrible
going on now is less necessary than this nightmare in Thailand. This is a
remarkable tragedy: the utter self-destructiveness of it all.
We can only hope that someone or something inside Thailand can bring it back
from the brink.
columnist and journalist Tom Plate is the Distinguished Scholar of Asian and
Pacific Studies at Loyola Marymount University, and author of the “Giants of
Asia” quartet of books on Lee Kuan Yew of Singapore, Mohamad Mahathir of
Malaysia, Ban Ki-moon of South Korea and Thaksin Shinawatra of Thailand
12 May 2014
As Thailand progresses
ever deeper into a black hole it is clear that reason, debate and common
sense no longer apply. The country barely functions.
I have lost friends
because I am not an ardent royalist; because I question the yellow shirt
mantra; because I think Suthep is a dangerous fascist; because I believe
that democracy matters as does the rule of sensible respected law.
The yellow shirted
proposals of reform before election are nonsense if those reforms are merely
to disenfranchise enough people to allow the bangkok establishment to govern
under the guise of the otherwise unelectable Democrat party.
The 1997 constitution was
a sensible and respected document. It was torn up after the 2006 coup and
replaced by the army backed 2007 constitution which is still in place today.
That constitution was thought sufficient enough to keep the Thaksin backed
parties out of government. It failed. And the courts set up to defend this
constitution have removed three prime ministers and assorted ministers and
briefly put the Democrats back into government.
I am bored silly with
head in the sand Thais telling me that foreigners should have no interest in
Thailand and have no right to comment on Thai politics or its ruling powers.
Like it or not Thailand
chose to be part of a global economy; it has encouraged massive foreign
investment; it lives off the huge number of international tourists that
visit each year and create wealth and work in the provinces and in Bangkok.
Anyone visiting or
investing has the right to comment and take an interest in Thai affairs. And
it is good that they do take an interest and gain an understanding of the
country and its people.
The trouble for Thais is
that people think independently. Visitors and investors are not brainwashed
by the thai media, bluesky tv and The appalling Nation newspaper. We give
credibilty to news organisations such as the Economist, the Financial Times
and the BBC.
Of course these news
organisations are not spewing royalist propaganda. They are not fond of
And in Thailand if you do
not agree with us you are clearly against us. So the argument runs that
Thaksin has bought the foreign media.
Utter nonsense. But it is
remarkable how many apparently sensibly educated Thais actually believe that
and how vehemently they believe it.
The other recurring
nonsense is to support the yellow shirt and Suthep's ranting nonsense
because the red shirts allegedly don't like the King and want a republic.
There is no evidence to support this. Indeed Thaksin himself sort royal
support. The red shirts do see themselves aligned with the Crown Prince, who
will in time succeed as Rama X.
In twenty years Thailand has barely progressed. It survives
on a mixture of mass tourism, self-sufficiency and lower grade manufacturing
jobs for foreign investors. Even these are under threat with talk this week
of 30,000 redundancies at Japanese car plants in Thailand due to lack of
The country survives; but does not build. A subway is built
without building enough capacity for future growth. A new airport is built
but was inadequate on the day that it opened. The rail network is pathetic.
The road network little better. Investment in education at all levels is
feeble. Corruption is a way of life from top to bottom. It is how anything
gets done. Livable incomes are created not from salaries but from tea money.
Thailand is being left behind. Look anywhere else in Asia and
people are building and planning for the future. The country needs to move
from tradition, nepotism, the infantile attraction of bad soap operas to
thoughtful debate about its long term future, followed by planning,
investment and implementation. A move away from rule by an unelected elite
minority to leadership based upon meritocracy.
Failure to change and adapt will leave Thailand as little
more than a holiday camp. It deserves to be so much more than that.
Phuket Police v
13 May 2014
Phuket police say
that Reuters reporters will be charged after their Pulitzer prize winning
Rohingya investigations - do the local police really think that it is wise
to prosecute an international news agency for an article that they won the
Pulitzer Prize for.
Someone is going
to look very foolish and I do not expect it to be Reuters.
summonses nominate a date and a time at which two Reuters journalists and a
Reuters company representative will be required to present themselves to
police, the investigating officer, Lieutenant Somkid On-Jan of Phuket's
Vichit Police Station, said yesterday.
If there is no appropriate response, those named are liable to be arrested.
Lt Somkid did not name the journalists facing summonses but the two authors
of the Reuters article at the centre of the legal row are now living
overseas so are unlikely to go on trial.
The case is being brought by the Royal Thai Navy which alleges criminal
defamation and a breach of Thailand's Computer Crimes Act. Conviction
carries a penalty of up to seven years' jail and a fine of 100,000 baht.
Two journalists from Phuketwan were similarly ordered to present themselves
last December and have since been charged.
Both Navy actions concern a single paragraph from a Reuters special report
on the Rohingya boatpeople.
The report was published by Reuters on July 17 last year. Phuketwan carried
excerpts, including the 41-word paragraph, in a news report later the same
day. Phuketwan is not a Reuters subscriber.
The Royal Thai Navy also lodged complaints about both news organisations
with Phuket police on July 17.
Phuketwan staff Chutima Sidasathian and Alan Morison were ordered to appear
at the Vichit Police Station. At the time, the Phuketwan journalists (Case
No. 489) were told that Reuters (Case No. 490) would also be charged.
However, the Reuters case was delayed for months because the police
paperwork was initially sent to the Department of Justice in Bangkok.
The Reuters story won the 2014 Pulitzer Prize, journalism's highest honor,
for its coverage of the Rohingya.
The Pulitzer board commended journalists Jason Szep and Andrew R.C. Marshall
last month for their '''courageous reports''' and noted that the Rohingya in
fleeing Burma (Myanmar) ''often fall victim to predatory human trafficking
Jason Szep and Stuart Grudgings were bylined on the Reuters special report
of July 17.
Mr Szep was the Bangkok bureau chief at the time the Rohingya series was
written. He has since been transferred to Washington. Mr Grudgings was the
Kuala Lumpur correspondent.
The Phuketwan reporters are due to reappear in court on May 26. They are
currently free on bail of 100,000 baht each.
Reuters has been criticised for not speaking out in defence of the two
Reporters Without Borders said in a statement that "It is intolerable that
journalists are being prosecuted for just doing their job by relaying
information of general interest that had already been made public,"
Reporters Without Borders said. "Bringing charges under the controversial
Computers Crimes Act in a defamation case is indicative of the critical
state of freedom of information in Thailand and amounts to an attempt to gag
the media. We support these journalists, who are facing a jail term, and we
call for the immediate withdrawal of these proceedings."
Meanwhile the Committee to Protect Journalists noted that "'Rather than
shooting the messenger, the Royal Thai Navy would be better suited launching
an internal investigation into the serious allegations of abuse that have
been raised,'' said Shawn Crispin, CPJ's senior Southeast Asia
representative. ''This type of legal intimidation aims ultimately at
discouraging media reporting on allegations of serious human rights
130th out of 180 countries in the 2014 Reporters Without Borders press
freedom index. Shameful.
PDRC back on
Suthep is back on
the streets; he senses victory after this week's court removal of Prime
Minister Yingluck. He led a march to Government House today. Other PDRC
leaders were to lay siege of CAPO to all Thai TV stations to stop their
broadcast of government information. TV3,5,7,9,11 were targeted. Thai PBS
was not mentioned.
The protestors now
include Sondhi Limthongkul and Chamlong Srimuang, two key figures from the
2008 People's Alliance for Democracy protests. Mr Sondhi also made a speech
from the PDRC stage.
Neither Sondhi or
Chamlong have ever been prosecuted for closing down Bangkok's international
airports in 2008.
protestors surrounding local TV stations demanding no coverage of "Thaksin
regime" with the PDRC ordering TV stations to show only soap operas,
cartoons and entertainment programmes.
There was little
if any rebuke of Suthep from the Thai media who continue unfazed by the
PDRC's threats to media freedom.
The PDRC also set
3 days for Senate president, chief judges & chairs of "independent agencies"
to topple PT government & nominate unelected PM; this was after anti-Thaksin
senator Surachai Liangboonlertchai became Senate president today.
This is Jonathan
Head's analysis for BBC News
"It was as though we had gone back five months. There was Suthep Thugsuban,
marching with his entourage through central Bangkok, once again promising a
"final push" - his ninth by my count - to oust the government. For the past
three months his PDRC movement had dwindled to a core of mainly southern
tough guys, camped out in a city park.
One of his principal targets, Yingluck Shinawatra, was finally forced from
office this week, along with nine of her ministers, some of them top hate
figures for the PDRC.
But the failure of the Constitutional Court to plunge the knife in the whole
way, and take out the entire cabinet, has left PDRC followers dissatisfied.
Their goal, an appointed government of "good men" to cleanse the political
system in such a way as to cripple Ms Yingluck's election-winning party
machine, remains unfulfilled. The resumption of their rallies is to remind
Thailand that they have not gone away, that their job is not done.
That job, though, will have to be accomplished either through yet more legal
cases against the remaining ministers, and perhaps against MPs and senators
in the governing party as well, to weaken its electoral prospects, or
military intervention. The armed forces have shown no appetite for a coup
yet, conscious of the certain backlash from Ms Yingluck's supporters, but
that could change if there are violent clashes or, eventually, if the crisis
just cannot be resolved."
The elite cannot turn back the tide of Thai
9 May 2014 - The Financial Times
The divide between the urban middle class and rural voters is vast,
writes Duncan McCargo
When Thailand’s counter-corruption agency called for the impeachment of
Yingluck Shinawatra on Wednesday, the news had a surreal quality: the prime
minister was already gone. The country’s conservative establishment, having
dithered since November about how to respond to a wave of anti-government
street protests, has finally turned on Ms Yingluck’s Puea Thai party.
This week the constitutional court removed Ms Yingluck and most of her key
ministers from office; the acting administration is struggling for
credibility as the remaining members try to cover multiple cabinet roles. In
the absence of a foreign minister, no one is sure who will represent
Thailand at a meeting of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations this
weekend. Consumer confidence is at its lowest level in more than 12 years,
and foreign investors are eyeing the country with growing wariness.
For decades Thailand was managed by a “network monarchy” – an alliance of
senior bureaucrats and other elders and betters, who worked closely with the
palace. Elected governments came and went, growing in power from the 1970s
onward, but subject to veto by the Bangkok elite.
All that changed with the arrival of Thaksin Shinawatra, a police officer
turned telecommunications magnate – and Ms Yingluck’s older brother – who
moved into Government House in 2001. Mr Thaksin was the first politician to
understand the aspirations of the country’s millions of urbanised villagers
– people who voted in the provinces but made a living in and around Bangkok.
Dismissed by the middle classes as ignorant “buffaloes”, urbanised villagers
have ensured that pro-Thaksin parties won every election since.
Mr Thaksin was ousted from power in a 2006 military coup but continues to
exert considerable influence from his self-imposed exile in Dubai. Thais are
divided into two camps: admirers of the former prime minister; and opponents
who see him, with some justification, as a manipulative populist who is
synonymous with corruption. Even the highest echelons of the Thai state are
now split, including senior ranks of the military.
After months of street protests led by Suthep Thaugsuban, a former deputy
premier from the opposition Democrat party, anti-Thaksin forces sense they
have the upper hand. They are calling for a mass rally, symbolically set for
9.09am on Friday May 9. This is a coded reference to the long-reigning King
Bhumibol Adulyadej, Rama the Ninth, whose legacy the protesters claim to be
defending. But this is the 11th time Mr Suthep has called for a “final
battle” to oust the Shinawatra clan. He repeatedly urges “the people”
(meaning his own groups of supporters) to seize “sovereign power”, as though
hot air alone could topple the government.
The increasingly demagogic anti-Thaksin movement is now guilty of many of
the same shortcomings it ascribes to Mr Thaksin: it is highly personalised,
stubborn and self-interested. The movement – calling itself the People’s
Democratic Reform Committee – disrupted a general election held on February
2, which was boycotted by the opposition and subsequently annulled by the
Mr Suthep and the Democrat party have demanded “reform before elections”,
pre-emptive and unconstitutional moves intended to curtail the power of
ordinary voters and prevent another pro-Thaksin government from coming to
power. Unable to triumph at the ballot box, Thailand’s oldest political
party has turned against electoral politics. Whether the elections scheduled
for July 20 will go ahead remains in doubt.
This latest iteration of Thailand’s nine-year political crisis has been the
darkest and most difficult so far. Anti-Thaksin protests, elections, a
military coup, a new constitution, judicial interventions, pro-Thaksin
protests – all have been tried since 2005, some of them several times, and
all have failed. At the root of the problem lies the disputed legitimacy of
the Thai state. Is it a constitutional democracy? Or a traditional kingdom
in which deference for the monarchy and attachment to notions of what it
means to be Thai are more important than either laws or votes?
The latest constitutional court decision to remove Ms Yingluck from power
had a tendentious basis in law but a rather more robust extra-legal
rationale. The powers that be had finally decided the premier had to go.
For many Bangkokians, the decision of the constitutional court will come as
a vindication of their hostility to the Puea Thai government. But there is a
vast psychological divide between the metropolitan middle class and the
masses registered to vote in the country’s most populous regions.
The conflict is pitting an entrenched elite that is destined to lose power
against new political forces whose rise seems inexorable. Ousting Ms
Yingluck on a technicality was an act of desperation, not a show of
The writer is associate fellow in the Asia programme at Chatham House
Thailand’s crisis displays epic quality of social
9 May 2014 The Financial Times
Suthep Thaugsuban swept through Bangkok’s business district protected by a
phalanx of toughs while gathering fistfuls of banknotes thrust his way by
supporters at the roadside.
He bowed his head and clasped his hands as he took 10,000 baht ($307 ) from
Eumporn Wethyavivorn, a 60-year-old housewife, who had come to implore the
fiery Thai opposition leader to finish off a government already decapitated
by this week’s court-ordered ousting of Yingluck Shinawatra, its prime
“We want to support Mr Suthep to finish his work,” said Ms Eumporn, who
added that she had popped over from lunches at the nearby Holiday Inn many
times during the past six months of street protests to give Mr Suthep a
total of 200,000 baht. “We can’t live like this for the next generation.”
Her remarks convey the epic quality of a social conflict whose magnitude
another royalist anti-government protester said was as dangerous as Oliver
Cromwell’s 17th-century English revolution. As Mr Suthep’s supporters
marched on television stations and parliament yesterday– and pro-government
loyalists prepare for their own counter-rally today – it is clear that the
opposition movement wants to dismantle a political system as comprehensively
as it defenestrated a premier it loathed.
Thousands of protesters followed Mr Suthep’s call to descend on five
television stations, the prime minister’s offices and parliament, in a fresh
effort to topple the government and replace it with an unelected council.
The opposition leader – a former deputy prime minister – told the targeted
channels they had nothing to fear, urging them to stop broadcasting
government statements and stand by to transmit his movement’s messages
Mr Suthep’s latest self-declared “D-day” capped a week that showed both the
strength and the weakness of the elite-backed opposition: while it can rely
on favourable treatment from establishment institutions such as the courts,
the evidence of elections, opinion polls and the numbers at its protests
suggest it has never convinced a majority of Thais. Some analysts think this
makes the latest phase of this eight-year crisis the most dangerous yet, as
a still-powerful old elite and its allies use any means they deem necessary
to battle a historical tide of poll defeats at the hands of populous rural
“They want to preserve the old order and they see change as a threat,” said
Kaewmala, an online social commentator. “But the tsunami has already started
and there’s no stopping it.”
Much of the heat of this periodically deadly struggle for a country has
focused on the absent figure of Thaksin Shinawatra, Ms Yingluck’s brother,
who was deposed in a 2006 military coup and has driven his sister’s
government from the Dubai self-exile he lives in to avoid a corruption
conviction back home.
But the many legitimate concerns about cronyism, graft and authoritarianism
during the Thaksin era have obscured the structural weaknesses that allowed
them to flourish in a nominal constitutional democracy long plagued by coups
In response to criticism that their agenda is fundamentally undemocratic,
many protesters offer what they see as a comfortingly complete retort: all
elections are bought by the Thaksinistas, so a free and fair poll is
impossible until the former prime minister’s influence is eradicated and the
voting system reformed.
The argument brushes over inconvenient truths such as the lack of evidence
that fraud has significantly influenced voting and the main opposition
Democrat party’s acceptance of its result.
More broadly, some opposition supporters still seem to find it hard to
conceive there are people in this country of more than 65m who – whether
they articulate it directly or not – are looking for some kind of variation
to the culture of ultra-monarchism, militarism and deference at the heart of
A Coup by Another Name in Thailand
9 May 2014 New
York Times editorial
A decision by
Thailand’s highest court to remove Prime Minister Yingluck Shinawatra from
office is almost sure to send the country deeper into crisis. Pro- and
antigovernment groups are already massing for more protests that will
further divide the polarized country and further disrupt an already weak
In a decision that smacked of bias, the Constitutional Court ruled on
Wednesday that Ms. Shinawatra and several other ministers could no longer
serve in their positions because, it said, the prime minister had abused her
power when she reassigned a government official in 2011 and gave his job to
a relative. Ms. Shinawatra was replaced by an acting prime minister who is
one of her former deputies. It was the third time the justices have removed
the head of the government in recent years using dubious legal reasoning; in
2008, the court removed the prime minister, who also belonged to Ms.
Shinawatra’s political movement, because he accepted payments to appear on a
TV cooking show.
Opposition politicians, some of whom brought the court case that led to Ms.
Shinawatra’s dismissal, have been campaigning for months to remove her
government and replace it with a team of unelected officials who would then
carry out reforms, so far unspecified. Separately, the National
Anti-Corruption Commission began proceedings on Thursday to impeach Ms.
Shinawatra in connection with a subsidy program for rice farmers. Those
proceedings could eventually result in her being banned from Thai politics
Many of Ms. Shinawatra’s troubles are of her own making. Unrest and
violence, which has claimed about 20 lives, began in November after she
tried to push through an ill-conceived amnesty law that would have pardoned
her controversial brother, Thaksin Shinawatra, and others involved in the
country’s political conflicts of the last decade. The current crisis is also
fueled by longstanding regional and class divisions that have been exploited
by both the Shinawatras, who have cultivated the support of more rural and
poorer Thais in the north and northeast, and by their opponents, who tend to
be based in the south and in Bangkok.
The latest ruling will do little to calm the waters. A national election is
tentatively scheduled for July 20, and as it comes closer, the
antigovernment protesters who have been in the streets for months are likely
to be joined by red-shirted supporters of the Shinawatra family. Thailand,
which has managed to grow despite its chaotic politics and frequent coups,
appears to be approaching a breaking point.
But more protests will not solve anything. What the country needs now is
compromise and reconciliation. In the past, the country’s king, who is 86
and ailing, or its army often stepped in to resolve political conflicts.
Now, neither appears able or willing to do that. That makes it all the more
important for both sides to come to their senses.
Everything is broken
9 May 2014
The Economist (leading article)
Look on and
despair. A decade ago Thailand was a shining example—rare proof that in
South-East Asia a vibrant democracy could go hand-in-hand with a thriving
economy. Contrast that with Thailand on May 7th, left in disarray after the
Constitutional Court demanded that the prime minister, Yingluck Shinawatra
(pictured), step down with nine members of her cabinet over her decision to
remove the country’s head of national security in 2011, in favour of a
For all the pretence of due legal process and distaste at Ms Yingluck’s
nepotism, this was not an offence that merited the ousting of a prime
minister. Instead, the ruling is a measure of quite how far Thailand has
fallen, how deeply it is divided and how badly its institutions are broken
(see article). Unless Thais step back from the brink, their country risks
falling into chaos and anarchy, or outright violence.
In kicking out Ms Yingluck, the court accomplished what months of
anti-government street protests in Bangkok, led by a firebrand populist,
Suthep Thaugsuban, had failed to bring about. It is far from the first time
the court has ruled against her. To break the impasse on Bangkok’s streets,
she had called a February election, but the opposition Democrat Party
boycotted it, and the court struck down the results. Ms Yingluck had been
limping on as a caretaker. The message for many Thais is that the court is
on the side of a royalist establishment bent on purging politics of Ms
Yingluck, who came to office three years ago in a landslide election,
and—especially—her brother, Thaksin Shinawatra, himself ousted in a coup in
2006 and now in self-imposed exile.
The entire apparatus of government has been sucked into the conflict between
two visions of Thailand. For Mr Thaksin’s supporters, his emergence in 2001
marked a welcome break from decades of rule by corrupt coalitions or
military juntas. Helped by a new democratic constitution in 1997, he gave a
voice to Thailand’s majority, many of them in his northern and north-eastern
heartland. In their view, he transformed the lives of the poorest with
health and education programmes, and he challenged Thailand’s privileged
elites in the bureaucracy, the army, the judiciary and the palace corridors
of an ailing King Bhumibol Adulyadej. To the Thaksinites, both the recent
street protests and the Constitutional Court’s activism are the work of an
establishment that cannot accept the results of the ballot box: in 2001,
2005, 2006, 2007 and 2011 parties loyal to Mr Thaksin won elections fair and
square, and Ms Yingluck’s Pheu Thai party would have done so, too, in
There is merit in this interpretation. But so is there in what the
Shinawatras’ enemies have to say. In particular, they charge that Thaksinite
governments have been run for the benefit of his rural supporters (a mad
scheme to subsidise rice threatens to bust the budget) and of the
billionaire himself. There is something creepy about the way that the
exiled, unelected Mr Thaksin has been calling the shots from Dubai.
Now stalemate beckons. An election is supposed to happen. Ms Yingluck should
have had the right to confront her undemocratic royalist foes at the ballot
box. But an election is no solution because the opposition will boycott it.
Mr Suthep has proposed a “people’s council” of the great and the good, but
Thaksinites will rightly see it as a stitch-up designed to keep them out.
The irreconcilable differences between the two sides have swallowed up
Thailand’s courts, its army and even the monarchy—and left Thailand at the
abyss. Investors, having borne years of simmering discontent, are taking
fright. Blood has already been spilled this year. The prospects of wider
violence are growing as Thaksinite supporters threaten conflict on the
If Thailand is to avoid that catastrophe, both sides must now step back from
the brink. The starting point is the devolution of Thailand’s highly
centralised system of governance. At the moment only the capital has a
democratically elected governor, yet all 76 provinces should also have
one—this would not only help a rumbling Muslim insurgency in the south, it
would also offer a prize to Mr Suthep, because the winner of the national
election would no longer win all the power. In return for this reform, the
Democrat Party must pledge to accept election results; and in return for
that, the Pheu Thai should run without a Shinawatra at the helm.
Goodwill is in short supply in Thailand today. Yet by fighting on, the two
sides risk bringing ruination to their country. Compromise would, by
comparison, be a small price to pay.
A bad day for the Shinawatras
7 May 2014
Thailand has a new
[acting caretaker?] Prime Minister, Niwatthamrung Boonsongpaisan, after the
Constitutional Court as predicted found previous PM Yingluck Shinawatra
guilty of abuse of power.
Yingluck removed a civil
servant from office who she not unreasonably did not trust given his loyal
support of Abhisit and the previous unelected Democrat government.
But there were bizarre
events at the court today as Jonathan Head for the BBC reported that fellow
journalist Nick Nostitz was attacked by PDRC thugs at the court building.
Police and soldiers were right next to Nostitz but were too scared to
Nick got out reported Mr
Head who added that the "PDRC heavies were trying find him and detain him.
And we all know what happens to people they detain."
So the PDRC were managing
security at the highest court in Thailand which was in the process of making
a major verdict. Head reported that the PDRC guards controlled access to the
court and had cameras filming the crowd and the journalists. Nostitz was
inside the Constitutional Court. Reporting. Wearing a journalist's armband.
This should be unacceptable but as usual nothing will happen.
Ms. Yingluck was
PM/Acting PM for 2 years, 9 months, 2 days. She led her party to two strong
The court also dismissed
9 other ministers, including foreign minister Surapong, finance minister
Kittiratt, and labour minister Chalerm - Chalerm will not be missed.
While the court behaved
utterly predictable the Pheu Thai party did the same thing and appointed
another Shin/Thaksin insider as the new caretaker PM and party leader.
Boonsongpaisan served as the Chairman of the Executive Committee-Media and
Advertising Business of Shin Corp. Public Co. Ltd. since 1995 and as Vice
Chairman of Group Executive Committee since 2000. Mr. Boonsongpaisan served
from 2001 to 2002 as Vice Chairman of the Executive Committee of ITV PLC and
from 1993 to 1995 as President of Shinawatra Computer and Communicaitons
Mr. Boonsongpaisan served as Director of ITV Plc since 2002. He served as a
Director of Shin Corporation Public Company Limited from 2001 to March 16,
2006. He has been Chairman of the Executive Committee of ITV Plc since 2002.
Mr. Boonsongpaisan holds Master’s Degree Course work in Computer Sciences
from Chulalongkorn University and Bachelor ‘s Degree in Education from
So Yingluck lost her job
not based upon an law - but as the Court kept emphasing it was a matter of
morality. She lost her job based solely on suspicion of aiding a relative
(who actually is not a relative).
To add insult to injury,
the NACC may rule on Yingluck’s indictment tomorrow as well in the
rice-pledging case - that could see her receive a 5 year ban from politics.
To finish off a bad day
for Thaksin's Puea Thai Office of the Auditor-General demands 3.8 billion
baht compensation from the Yingluck Shinawatra government for the failure of
the February 2 election.
That last note is truly
bizarre as it was the PDRC who blocked the polling booths and the Democrats
who refused to take part.
7 May 2014
Banyan for The Economist
A few months before Yingluck Shinawatra became prime minister, German spies
in the state of Bavaria found themselves facing an exotic problem: her
billionaire brother, Thaksin Shinawatra, was to be granted a royal audience.
The crown prince of Thailand, Maha Vajiralongkorn, was already a familiar
visitor to southern Germany’s Alpine foothills. But in deigning to greet Mr
Thaksin on foreign soil, the prince was meeting not only a former prime
minister but also a fugitive from Thai justice.
Little is known about what the two men discussed. The old Thai establishment
represented by the civil service, the army, the judiciary and the monarchy
despises them both. For Mr Thaksin and the heir-apparent personify the end
of the old tutelary democracy and the beginning of Thailand’s political
future: a European-style constitutional monarchy with the king as titular
head of state. With it will come an end to the kingdom’s Byzantine court
culture, which reveres rank and rewards status, and devalues electoral
The elites’ fear is well-grounded: In the words of a cable sent by America’s
ambassador to Thailand in 2005, Mr Thaksin “long ago invested in
crown-prince futures”. A Singaporean diplomat judged that the
telecoms-tycoon-turned-populist-politician had been “pursuing a relationship
with the Crown Prince by paying off the Crown Prince's gambling debts”. And
the Germans knew of a gift that Thaksin gave the crown prince in early 2001:
a Maybach, a €500,000 luxury car, which was subsequently integrated into the
Their next meeting on Thai soil is probably still one royal succession, a
few elections, court rulings and perhaps a new constitution away. On May 7th
Ms Yingluck is poised to become the third prime minister to be removed from
office by court order since Thailand’s revolution of 1932 (another unlucky
nine, including her brother, were simply kicked out by coup d’état). On May
6th she appeared before the constitutional court to defend herself against
allegations that she abused the powers of her office in 2011 by transferring
a national-security adviser. The speculation has it that, if she were
removed by a court order, it could trigger a civil war—which would be the
first ever in a modern, upper-middle-income country. (For anyone planning to
keep score: in 2011 Thailand’s upper-middle benchmark of $4,400 gross
national income per capita put it in a higher bracket than Ukraine, with
$3,100; the World Bank regards that as the difference between upper-middle
and lower-middle income brackets.)
So on May 2nd, Abhisit Vejjajiva, the leader of the establishment political
party, the Democrats, made an offer. He wants for a general election that is
scheduled for July 20th to be scrapped; for Ms Yingluck and her cabinet to
step down; and for the senate to appoint an unelected prime minister and a
“neutral” government who would oversee reforms to be drawn up by the foes of
the Shinawatra clan. Some of those planners include people who have been
trying to topple the government in six months of street protests. The whole
affair could take two years. Economic advisers were not consulted,
apparently—they would have pointed out that Thailand’s grinding war of
ideologies has already tipped the economy into recession. Mr Abhisit said
that if his plan were successful he would not run in the next poll (leaving
it to his critics to point out that he is anyway already barred from
standing in it).
The government rejected his proposal as unconstitutional. It must have been
hard for them to see how Mr Abhisit’s bid to dictate democracy differed from
the ideas of the coup-mongering Mr Suthep, an ex-Democrat MP who is leading
the street protests. Mr Suthep’s movement has been boxed into a public park
in Bangkok since March. On May 4th village headmen organised against Mr
Suthep and descended on the capital, forcing him to call off his six-month
long siege of the interior ministry. Nevertheless, he issued another call,
his ninth, for a “final battle” to rid the kingdom of evils, i.e. to topple
the Shinawatra-led government.
Meanwhile, the election commission looks ready to prepare a royal decree for
elections on July 20th, to be presented to the king to for his endorsement.
Ms Yingluck’s Pheu Thai party won a poll on February 2nd. But it wasn’t much
of a fight; the opposition Democrats had boycotted it and the constitutional
court subsequently annulled it. Under the constitution a party that boycotts
two consecutive polls faces the prospect of being disbanded. Since the most
recent poll was annulled however, the Democrats can have another go at
boycotting. They may well wish to. Parties loyal to Mr Thaksin have won six
consecutive elections (2001, 2005, 2006, 2007, 2011 and 2013).
The Democrat party, what the reds call “the king’s party”, says that this is
not a battle over royal succession nor is it a case of the army, courts and
bureaucracy defending the old order. Instead, on their view, it is about the
“abuse of parliamentary power, majoritarianism and corruption”, in the words
of a former finance minister and Democrat politician, Korn Chatikavanij.
They have a point. The government must confront corruption, stop treating
the state as its cash till—and instead use its electoral mandate for the
good of the country.
But the idea that majoritarianism lies at the heart of the mess in Thailand
is silly. Majoritarianism typically involves an elected government that
captures the courts, silences media critics and tinkers with the
constitution to perpetuate its rule. In Thailand the opposite is true: the
courts, the media, the bureaucracy, and the universities are extensions of
the old Thai establishment, with the palace at its centre. The king’s
advisers on the Privy Council are powerful. They oversee military
appointments and then use their appointees to bless coups. After the coup in
2006 a military government abolished the (1997) constitution, which the
advisers felt had made Mr Thaksin’s power unassailable. In its place they
put a charter that gives the courts tremendous powers, making it possible
for them to remove the head of an elected government on the slightest of
Despite the expectation of Ms Yingluck’s imminent ousting, there is a whiff
of futility about the larger effort to cement the old order in place. The
Democrats, who were founded as a party on April 6th, 1946 (the coronation
day of King Rama I, who established the Chakri dynasty in 1782) are looking
oddly out of touch. Former military heavyweights have openly lobbied the
Privy Council, the body Mr Thaksin refers to derisively as “the help”, to
step in. Many of them were, like the men on the Privy Council, born in the
days when Thailand’s army chose to support the losing side in the second
world war. The consequence of that decision still looms large: unlike Japan
or Germany, who were defeated by the Allies, for Thailand democracy is still
a shaky concept.
So why now? Some supporters of the Shinawatras say this represents the old
order’s last chance to secure its privileges and prevent royal wealth
falling into public coffers. Many would have preferred the crown princess to
her brother. But the palace recently made a decision that matters a great
deal—and counts as a snub to the Privy Council. It named the crown prince as
the new commander of the Royal Guards’ 1st Army Division and their 2nd
Cavalry. These units, both headquartered in Bangkok, have determined the
success of past coups and continue to be seen as indispensable for the
pulling off of any future coup d’état. To give them to the crown prince is
to pre-empt any fiddling with the royal succession. An adviser in Ms
Yingluck’s government reckons this has made a coup in Thailand “less likely
than at any time in history”.
The crown prince’s strengthened position, in effect an insurance policy
against coups and meddling, was only made official in April. It had been
initiated much earlier, before Mr Suthep began his “shutdown” of the
capital. For as long as Mr Suthep’s sputtering revolution filled the streets
of Bangkok, the military establishment held out hope that the government
might be made to fall—while the possibilities for succession were vague. Now
it is hard to see any way in which the crown prince’s path to the throne
might be subverted. Which should make Mr Suthep’s antics that much less
Mr Thaksin, holding court in Singapore last month, summarised the state of
play: “the help is trying to egg on the king, to take down this government”.
Whatever happens next to Mr Thaksin’s sister, the Germans’ early hunch looks
spot on. Thailand’s future seems to have begun in Bavaria.
Yingluck ousted by court
7 May 2014
Constitutional Court on Wednesday ordered that Prime Minister Yingluck
Shinawatra be removed from office immediately for abusing her power when she
demoted the country's top security adviser.
The court said Ms. Yingluck violated the Thailand's constitution by
improperly demoting the country's then-chief of national security, Tawin
Pleansri, in 2011.
In almost a two-hour long verdict, judges said Ms. Yingluck's action was
"dishonest" and a conflict of interest because Mr. Tawin's transfer was
intended to pave the way for her brother-in-law to be named national police
Except that he was
no longer Yingluck's brother-in-law.
Ms. Yingluck "abused her premiership to benefit herself and people close to
her…which violated the constitution and therefore resulted in the
termination of her status," a judge said in a televised verdict.
In a stark symbol
of the dysfunction of the Thai government, Mr. Thawil was reinstated, on
court order, last week as secretary general of the National Security Council
and told the Thai media that even while in office he will continue to
support the movement to remove the government. Mr. Thawil, who before his
reinstatement joined demonstrations calling for the overthrow of Ms.
Yingluck, refused to attend his first meeting back at work, according to
The court also removed nine cabinet members who were involved in Mr. Tawin's
transfer from office, including Finance Minister Kittiratt Na-Ranong.
Twenty-four other ministers and their deputies will remain in office until a
new cabinet is in place, according to the court's order.
The court's ruling is final.
The Constitutional Court has previously delivered unfavorable rulings
against Mr. Thaksin and his allies, including the 2007 verdict that
disbanded his Thai Rak Thai, or "Thai Love Thai", Party and the 2008 rulings
that remove two prime ministers close to him.
In one of its most
notorious decisions, the Constitutional Court in 2008 removed another prime
minister, also from Mr. Thaksin’s political movement, because he had
appeared on a televised cooking show. On Wednesday the court cited the
cooking show case as precedent in its decision.
The verdict, which was read on national television, was unanimous among the
court’s nine judges and reached with unusual speed. It was delivered just
one day after Ms. Yingluck gave evidence at the court.
The constitutional court had also backed the PDRC anti-government protest
movement, saying in previous rulings that protesters, who also led a
campaign to block elections, had the “right to exercise their rights and
liberty.” A lower court barred the government from dispersing protesters.
The decision to remove Ms. Yingluck is “total nonsense in a democratic
society,” said Ekachai Chainuvati, the deputy dean of the law faculty at
Siam University in Bangkok.
The court appeared to overturn its own precedent — a similar petition
against Abhisit Vejjajiva, a former prime minister and the current
opposition leader, was dismissed in 2011 because Mr. Abhisit had already
called for elections. Ms. Yingluck called elections in December and heads a
Constitutional Court to rule tomorrow and it does not look good for Yingluck
6 May 2014
It is likely that
by this time tomorrow Yingluck Shinawatra will no longer be prime minister
of Thailand;- ousted like other Thaksin Shinawatra backed leaders before her
by the consitutional court set up to support the army backed constitution of
The complaint against Yingluck was filed to the court by a group of
non-elected, no government, senators who said that the replacement of
then-national security chief Thawil Pliensri after Yingluck was elected in
2011 was for the benefit of her party.
Since when has a
government been unable to replace a civil servant who is not supportive of
Under the 2007 constitution this alleged offence could lead to her removal
from office. Ms. Yingluck vigorously defended herself on Tuesday, saying, "I
didn't do anything that is prohibited by the law, and I have carried out my
duty in the administration with the country's benefit in mind."
But Mr. Tawin argued otherwise, telling the court Tuesday the transfer
violated code of conduct and the country's Civil Service Act.
The court could also extend its verdict to key cabinet members who endorsed
the decision to remove Thawil, potentially dislodging a layer of ruling
party decision-makers with ties to Thaksin, who lives overseas to avoid jail
for corruption convictions.
Six months of political street protests have so far failed to force Yingluck
from office. But it is likely that this legal challenge will end her
Yingluck has also been charged by the National Anti-Corruption Commission (NACC)
with neglect of duty in connection with a costly and bungled rice subsidy
scheme that critics say has caused rampant corruption.
If indicted by the NACC Yingluck would be suspended from office and face an
impeachment vote in the upper house of parliament that could lead to a
five-year ban from politics.
If the Constitutional Court does not rule against Yingluck, and it probably
will, then the NACC would likely impeach her forcing her to step down while
the Senate decides on convicting her.
Critics accuse the
Constitutional Court of rushing through Yingluck's case and allege previous
rulings show that it is politically biased against the Shinawatras. In 2008,
the court forced two Thaksin-linked prime ministers from office.
The Constitutional Court in March nullified the February general election
disrupted by protesters, leaving the kingdom in legislative limbo with only
a caretaker government.
Election authorities and the ruling party have agreed on July 20 for new
polls to find a way through the political paralysis, which has chiselled
away at Thailand's once-dynamic growth. But it is likely that Yingluck will
not be leading her party to the polls.
reforms - anything that gets the Dems elected
3 May 2014
So Abhisit having
tried to sound like a potential voice of reason all week has announced his
supposed reform plan - and guess what - there is no difference from the
PDRC's proposals other than a toning down of the rhetoric.
The Democrat Party
spokesman Chavanon Intharakomalsut said yesterday that the Democrats would
once again boycott the July 20 general election again if party leader Abisit
Vejjajiva’s reconciliation proposal is rejected.
So effectively an
ultimatum. Agree our proposals of there will be no election. But Abisit had
not even announced his proposals.
He did that today.
And guess what; the Dems want the election postponed.
that the Peua Thai government (which has now been elected twice in the last
three years) should resign to pave way for an establishment of an interim
administration to carry out urgent reforms before holding a new election.
The post-election government would spend another year to carry out further
reforms and then dissolve the House and hold another election.
The proposals are part of ten-point blueprint for bringing Thailand out of
the political deadlock and were drafted by Abhisit after he held meetings
with some political parties and some government agencies.
Abhisit raised the following proposals:
1) The enactment of election royal decree (for July 20th) must be postponed.
2) The Election Commission must issue regulations for improving the
3) The National Reform Network and the People's Democratic Reform Committee
must draft a master plan of reforms within 30 days.
Reform Network call themselves a “coalition of various professional sectors
and organisations.” Basically the usual yellow-shirt, establishment
4) The reform master plan must be sent for a national referendum within 90
5) The atmosphere of peaceful and orderly election should be created during
the referendum time.
6) The prime minister must resign and the Senate speaker must nominate a
nonpartisan prime minister for King's approval.
7) The interim nonpartisan government must focus on reforms and solve urgent
8) After the reforms are done, a new election must be held in 45 to 60 days.
The new government must carry out further reforms or else the coalition
leader and partners must be dissolved and banned from election.
9) The new
government must complete reforms in one year and dissolve the House and hold
a new election under new election rules.
10) Reforms must be carried out on the remaining issues after the second
Oh dear. Message
to Puea Thai, the government and the UDD. Please roll over and give Mr.
Suthep exactly what he has been asking for and please do not contribute to
or participate in the reform process. There is only one acceptable party of
government in Thailand even though we have not won an election since most
voters were born!
Simply - Abhisit
is giving opponents of government carte blanche in drafting the reforms.
Just bizarre that he might think that the government would accept this
In 2012, the
Yingluck government tried to set up a reform committee whose proposals would
be put to a referendum. Abhisit and the PAD opposed this.
We had street
protests against the Yingluck government proposal. Then, Court warned the
government about the constitutionality of their proposed reform method so
the government dropped it.
Now, in 2014, AV’s
proposal completely hands over power of reform to the government's opponents
with Peau Thai and the red shirts having no direct power or influence over
It is like 2007
where pro-TS supporters were told to accept reforms & that the new
army-backed Constitution could be changed later, but since 2007 the Court
has blocked all attempts by pro-Thaksin side to amend the constitution.
under the Constitution" plan is "under the Constitution" in the same way the
PDRC is "Democratic" i.e. not at all.
massage king Chuwit simply said that "If Abhisit & Suthep stop and do
nothing today, the country will return to normal tomorrow" which is just
The problem for
Abhisit in a nutshell is that under the existing constitution a judicial
coup just leads to an election which the Democrats once again cannot win. So
here instead is a desperate attempt to rewrite the constitution which was
already stacked in the Democrats favour in 2007.
28 May 2014
Surprised at how many
believe coup leaders have claimed their motive is to make Thailand
peaceful when they were active players in creating a sense of turmoil.
coup supporting argument is that the anti-democracy protesters were about
to be attacked or massacred. Someone showed me an email with this nonsense
earlier today. It was a remarkable collection of made up non-truths
dressed up as facts.
It says a lot about
Thailand that a man like Chaturon is in jail while Suthep and gang walk
free. Chaturon was charged charged with inciting unrest and defying a
military summons at a military tribunal by the Thai coup junta, he was not
granted bail, and is now in Bangkok remand prison - reported by Jonathan
Head for the BBC.
The NCPO has moved Thongthong Chandrangsu, permanent secretary to the PM's
Office, to an inactive post at the office.
Of course moving civil
servants is now accpetable under military rule.
For Bangkok based journalists: there will be a briefing by the Thai
Foreign Ministry Thursday 29 May 1030 at MFA Sri Ayutthaya Road.
22 May 2014
One question not
openly discussed in Thailand is who was involved in the coup plans? And who
gave Gen Prayuth approval to proceed? It was clear that the troops were
organised; had specific objectives and were executing a plan....this was not
"Prayuth thinking I cant sleep, its 3am, lets have a coup." How divided in
their loyalties are the army commanders?
21 May 2014
In Thailand a Committee
has been set up to censor the internet under martial law. Content opposing
the law shall be censored.
They have not got me
Kinokuniya, one of the biggest bilingual bookstores in Thailand, decided
to take a number of books on Thai politics off the shelves, citing the
need to follow the army’s announcement. The Kinokuniya store
representative told Prachatai that they chose to remove books that contain
“political conflict” deemed causing “rifts” in society.
Store staff told me
that they were given a list of books to remove by "upper management."
The Rector of Naresuan University in Phitsanulok Province prohibited its
staff and students from taking part in political activities or giving
interviews to the radio or television.
NYT reports that "the military imposed martial law on Tuesday using an
obscure, century-old law that is so archaic it allows the army to inspect
telegraph messages and requisition “beasts of burden.”"
Thai television is reporting that Prawit Wongsuwan could be proposed as
the next Prime Minister. He’s a retired army officer who was formerly
commander-in-chief of the Thai army and later minister of defence.
Not of course that
anyone voted for him. And that he is firmly part of the "yellow-shirt"
establishment and has been a constant support of rabble-rouser Suthep.
This would be a major
step backwards for Thailand.
Coup or no coup, it's
definitely a military take-over. The caretaker government is almost
powerless. The generals are running clearly running Thailand now.
Brad Adams at Human Rights Watch: "Military in Thailand pulls 100 year old
law off the shelf effectively rendering the executive, legislative and
judicial branches powerless."
20 May 2014
blocked in Thailand - "The page you are trying to visit has been blocked by
the Ministry of Information and Communication Technology."
The Army reasoned that they need to shut the TV channels down “in
order that people have correct information without bias which may cause
misunderstandings, which may amplify the conflict, and affected the
peacekeeping duty of the officials.”
"Without bias": too
funny: just say the army are doing a great job.
Pavin Chachavalpongpun, associate professor at the Centre for Southeast
Asian Studies at Kyoto University, says, “I think you can call this a coup
… because this is about taking away power from the people, taking control
of the political situation and human rights.”
19 May 2014
The winner of Miss
Universe Thailand has offended a number of people by referring to the
pro-government red shirts as ‘’dirty’’ and writing ‘’they should all be
executed’’ on her Facebook page.
Weluree “Fai” Ditsayabut, 22, was crowned Miss Universe Thailand on
Saturday night in a popular beauty pageant broadcast live on the
state-owned Channel 3 and pro-government followers quickly found the
offensive comments on her wall.
In one comment from November, Ms Weluree accused red shirts of being
“anti-monarchy” dissidents, and suggested that Thailand will be cleaner
once the “dirty” red shirts leave the country.
“I am not neutral. I am on the side of His Majesty the King,” Ms Weluree
wrote. “I’m so angry at these evil activists. They should all be
child preaching hatred rather than tolerance and acceptance. Just what
Thai Coup - Reading material (leading up to the May 2014
Thailand’s coup: brokered by the army and PDRC
Watching Thailand’s coup from Myanmar -Trading places
The coup makers and the use of lèse majesté law to purge anti-coup activists
Who’s who in the Thai coup?
There is no “crisis of succession” in Thailand
In junta-ruled Thailand, reading is now resistance
Thailand’s Army Tears Up the Script
Thailand's 1950s coup
Game over for democracy in Thailand
92-Cent Doctor Visit Shows Power of Thaksin Base Thai Army Faces
Men With Guns Shoot Thailand in Foot
Thailand is now ruled by a military junta. Here are 4 things to expect.
To the world: Please don't become part of Thailand's internal affairs problem
Coups, Rebellions and Uprisings in Thailand Since 1902
Thailand: waiting for democracy
German photojournalist just one victim of Thai conflict
Understanding Thailand’s Persistent Crisis
Thailand’s latest coup is different this time
Thai coup leader tightens grip
A Cold War Coup
Thai army detains ex-PM Yingluck
Taking refuge in 5-star Hampshire hotel: Thailand's Crown Prince and his retinue
Coup offers no solution - Bangkok Post
Insider's report on coup decision
Thailand coup could lead to civil war
Questions remain about Thai army's sudden takeover
The path to the throne
Thailand coup: A brief history of past military coups
Thai Military Tries to Break Political Deadlock as Foes Meet
Thailand’s democracy is being dismembered, limb by limb
Thailand: If It Looks Like a Coup, and Smells Like a Coup, It Is a Coup
Thailand's Army Chief Declares Martial Law Nationwide
Thailand's Miss Universe beauty queen in political row
Thaksin's real war
There’s no cure-all for political quagmire
Thailand’s political crisis exacerbates: Welcome to Quagmire Country
How Thailand is contributing to the misery of Burma’s persecuted Rohingya
‘Don’t Touch the Cone:’ Frustrated Thais Mock Bangkok’s Protests
Nitirat academic: what most people understand about the charter court's ruling
on Yingluck dismissal is likely to be incorrect
Buddha Issara Defends Brutality of PCAD Guards
The Travails of Thailand
Thailand’s Prime Minister Toppled by ‘The Iron Triangle’
Thai leader Yingluck Shinawatra was more than just her brother’s clone
Thailand's Aristocratic Dead-Enders
Thai Prime Minister Ordered Removed From Office
Ten Things to Remember When Thinking About Thai Politics
Meet the world’s richest royal families