Friday, 31 May 2013

Genuine Eton exam question - "what do you say when you're PM and have just shot your own citizens?"

An extraordinary story has surfaced at the Huffington Post relating to a question asked by Eton College - the prestigious and expensive private British school former-Thai Prime Minister Abhisit Vejjajiva attended - of 13year old boys seeking to gain a King's Scholarship.

The question asks 

"The year is 2040. There have been riots in the streets of London after Britain has run out of petrol because of an oil crisis in the Middle East. Protesters have attacked public buildings. Several policemen have died. Consequently, the Government has deployed the Army to curb the protests. After two days the protests have been stopped but twenty-five protesters have been killed by the Army. You are the Prime Minister. Write the script for a speech to be broadcast to the nation in which you explain why employing the Army against violent protesters was the only option available to you and one which was both necessary and moral."
Of course this question sounds like a replica of the situation Abhisit faced just after the Kok Wua massacre of April 10th 2010. As anyone who follows recent events in Thai politics knows that was the day Abhisit's troops ran amok and killed 20+ unarmed Thai pro-democracy protesters. 

Abhisit has since repeatedly tried to make the case his actions - which led to a total of 100 dead by mid-May 2010 - were justified, necessary and "moral".

There's little doubt he has failed. The Thai people loathe him, reducing his Democrat Party's vote share in the 2011 elections, he has been charged with murder on two occasions, once for the death of a 14year old boy and was eviscerated by a BBC news presenter when he was interviewed during his ill-fated trip to London in December 2012.

The simple truth is that Abhisit's actions were never justified, necessary or moral. In fact, Abhisit should never have been in power as he had no democratic mandate to govern and to take such decisions. 

But what this Eton question reveals is the kind of preparation that Abhisit's schooling gave him - the ground rules of how to justify a massacre. 

What Eton probably haven't prepared Abhisit for is a long stint in a Thai prison - a place where many people think Abhisit belongs.

Thursday, 30 May 2013

Human Rights Watch Thailand - confused or lying for Abhisit?

Yesterday the inquest into the death of Italian photo-journalist Fabio Polenghi - which happened during the Bangkok Massacre 2010 - concluded and found that he’d been shot by military bullets fired from positions then occupied by the Thai Army.

The inquest stopped short of actually naming the Thai Army as Fabio’s murderers – something which seems a bit bizarre given that on the balance of probability it clearly points to Thai Army involvement.

The Bangkok Post also published a piece on the inquest’s findings and gave a quote from Human Rights’ Watch Thai researcher and representative, Sunai Phasuk, where he seemed to be defending the Abhisit-led regime which had ordered the troops onto Bangkok’s streets in 2010, actions which ultimately led to Fabio's death.

Sunai is quoted as saying

According to Human Rights Watch's research, there was no order given to shoot unarmed civilians

Yet, strangely, only 12 days earlier on May 17th, Human Rights Watch published a lengthy report entitled Thailand: Deliver Justice for 2010 Political Violence where they state, in paragraph 6

 It is unknown what orders were given by political authorities to the army

 I’ve since written to Sunai and asked him to explain this very obvious contradiction. No doubt he won’t as he is unaccountable and sees no reason to ever explain his actions.

But he has been clearly caught out on this occasion.

So which is it? Is Sunai lying for Abhisit or is he just a bit confused?

Monday, 20 May 2013

Abhisit Vejjajiva - proving once again he leads the political wing of the Thai Army

Abhisit Vejjajiva recently gave a rambling, bizarre interview to the Bangkok Post. His interviewer, the incomprehensible arch-Democrat Party stooge, Voranai Vanijaka - a writer who opined during the violence of 2010 that "this rebellion" must be put "crushed" and who has voiced support for Thailand's lese majeste laws - fails to ask too much of his hero and fails to question Abhisit's obvious lies, mis-truths and obfuscations. If you read the interview you would think Abhisit wasn't even in Bangkok when he gave the orders for the Thai Army to open fire on unarmed civilians, such is his abdication of any kind of responsibility. 

But the pick of the bunch of Abhisit's very obvious lies was this 
The military has always acted according to the rulings of the court and under the constitution, just as they did in all actions carried out in 2010.
 Does Abhisit take everyone for idiots? Has he forgotten that the Thai Army has engaged in several massacres over the years, that they've done so with complete impunity, that they've abrogated constitution after constitution and expelled Thailand's democratically chosen leaders via illegal coup d'etats time after time? Has he also forgotten the big pile of dead Thai civilians in 2010, including unarmed women, children and medical staff like Nurse Kade, most of whom were almost certainly shot by the Thai Army, and all entirely innocent? 

Maybe Abhisit lives on a different planet to the rest of us. Maybe he has become so confused and bewildered by his own concoction of lies that he no longer has any meaningful grip of reality. And maybe stooge journalists like Voranai and the rag he writes for - the Democrat Party/Abhisit-family-linked Bangkok Post - are still bewitched by the fading good looks of the Butcher of Bangkok and the tales he tells. 

Luckily the Thai people have enough good sense to see through Abhisit's lies. That's why they will continue to reject him and his party at the ballot box no matter how much PR Voranai and the Bangkok Post engage in. 

Saturday, 18 May 2013

The heartbreaking story of Nurse Kade - murdered on this day by the Thai Army in 2010

Below is the story of Nurse Kamolkade Akkahad who was shot and killed by the Thai Army on May 19th 2010 during the Red Shirt pro-democracy protests. I've met Nurse Kamolkade's mother on several occasions in the years since the murder of her daughter and admire her dignity and her resolve as she seeks justice. Her search for justice is a universal struggle that has crossed cultures, histories and nations and has involved people in similar situations across the planet as they seek justice for murdered loved ones. 

Kamolkade Akkahad was 25 when she was shot dead inside Pathumwanaram Temple on 19 May. She was called Kade by her friends, but was Moo (pig) to her family members, as she ate a lot and was plump, according to her mother.

 Kade was born into a poor family. Her mother used to sell khao kaeng (rice with toppings), and then turned to selling flowers and garlands in the market. Her father works for an electricity utility. She had a warm family, with two younger brothers, 21 and 18, to whom she was very close. 

Her mother and brothers characterized her as outspoken and sharp-tongued, yet good-humoured, and she was loved by others and had many friends. She was popular at the market when she went to help her mother there. 

Kade was always stubborn, from her childhood until her last minute. In junior high school, she often skipped class to join friends who were volunteers with the Po Tek Tung Foundation. They went to help the injured and the dead. Her mother said Kade never feared anything, and liked this kind of challenging work, helping people. She could not stop her daughter, and could only let her go, like this time with the red shirts. 

She went to commercial college for a while, and then quit to study in the non-formal education system instead. She went on to get paramedic training and apprenticed at hospital accident and forensic departments. After training, she worked in the accident and emergency department of a hospital. 

She worked there for a few years until the hospital was shut down. She helped her mother at the market and got a temporary job with a relative. During the red shirt protests, she initially went as a volunteer after work, and then left her job completely. She told her mother that there were many elderly and children, and many got sick. Although there were many volunteers, there were not enough.

 Kade aspired to take the exam to be a nursing aide in the army, and vowed to her mother ‘if I pass the exam, I will go down South,’ to the southern border provinces. Her mother knew too well to oppose her, but could only suggest that she take the exam next year as she was not likely to reduce her weight in time for this year. 

When she was serving full time for the protesters, she hardly ever took phone calls from her family for fear of being ordered home. On the day she died, she took a call from her mother a few hours before she was shot. It was the last time that her mother heard her voice while she was attending the injured. She was hit while wearing a paramedic’s uniform. Doctors said she was hit twice, and her brain was damaged by the bullets. Her friends who received her body suspected that she had been hit more than twice. 

Her brother said that when they heard the bad news her family members were all in tears. Her mother finally controlled herself, and started arranging things for the last time for her daughter, while her father still could not eat. Her youngest brother watched old video clips of the family, crying all night. 

The initial plan to keep the body for 100 days before cremation, according to Thai tradition, was scrapped, so that her family members, her father in particular, could recover from their grief. 

A lot of people attended the funeral. The cremation took place at Pak Bung temple, Rom Klao, Minburi, Bangkok, on 26 May. 

Kade's family still seeks justice. So do we.

Coup talk update as Thai fascists launch the “Thai Spring” to overthrow democracy

In the days since Thai PM Yingluck made her impressive commitment to democracy in her recent speech at the Ministerial Conference of the Community of Democracies in Ulaanbaatar, Mongolia the reaction of the Thai extreme-rightwing and neo-fascists has reached new heights of hysterical absurdity. 

Led by prominent Thai fascist, Vasit Dejkunjorn - a man noted for his violent opposition to democracy – a new group has emerged calling themselves “Thai Spring”. Thai Spring's "position" is that the massively popular PM Yingluck, who won a huge landslide general election victory in 2011 is "not a responsible representative of the Thai people at all". It’s not certain what the group will amount to but they have launched an online petition that, so far, has attracted support from 0.028% of the Thai population. If they can’t even get people to turn out online it’s hard to view them as any other than a farcical joke. 

That’s not to say Vasit’s group don’t represent dangerous anti-democratic undercurrents in Thailand. Of that we can be certain. 

A well-placed government source recently told this blog that serious elements in the Thai Army have made substantial coup-preparations. However, these preparations have stalled on two counts. The first is a failure to identify credible political leadership within the military who could lead a post-coup junta government. The second is that the army are also concerned that they will meet serious resistance from the Thai population – something that could easily escalate very quickly. 

The generals are also concerned by the likely reaction of the international community. Abhisit, who is clearly chomping at the bit to be “returned” to his previous undemocratically assumed position of Thai PM, is now a busted flush internationally with most media commentators seeing through the Butcher of Bangkok’s carefully contrived act. The military leadership would likely maintain other concerns regarding the International Criminal Court and the fact that their counterparts in places like Argentina are now dying in prison. 

With the army likely to remain in the barracks for now my sources tell me that the government are more worried about an attempt to stage a "judicial coup" wherein the Constitutional Court dissolve the democratically elected party of government and ban its leaders. Such a strategy by the Thai elite is likely to be met with very stiff resistance from the Thai population equal to that which might be staged should the military attempt a take-over.

So, in summary, no Army coup for now but the military still view themselves as beyond normal democratic control. The rule of law isn’t staying their hand but the simple fact that this time they might actually lose. And badly. They may, however, attempt to enforce the decisions of the Constitutional Court should the democratically elected government choose to ignore them. Such a situation would be tantamount to a military coup in all but name. 

Friday, 10 May 2013

บรรดารถถังออกมาเคลื่อนขบวนกันในยามค่ำคืน ราวกับเกิดการรัฐประหารขึ้นอีกครั้งในกรุงเทพ

ภาพที่เห็นนี้ เป็นการเคลื่อนยานรถถังยานเกราะไปตามถนนในกรุงเทพ จนทำให้บรรดาสมาชิกของภาครัฐบาลที่มาจากการเลือกตั้งของประชาชนต้องกระวนกระวายใจ

เกมส์สงครามจิตวิทยา เป็นคำพูดที่เจ้าหน้าที่ฝ่ายรัฐได้บรรยายถึงการปรากฏตัวของบรรดารถถังในเมืองหลวง เหมือนราวกับว่าเป็นการเตือนหรือข่มขู่จากฝ่ายทหารว่าอะไรก็เกิดขึ้นได้ เมื่อสัปดาห์ที่แล้วหนังสือพิมพ์ไทยรัฐที่มียอดจำหน่ายสูงสุดในประเทศไทยก็ได้กล่าวถึง ข่าวลือเรืองรัฐประหาร

การพูดจาข่าวโคมลอยเรื่องรัฐประหารในกรุงเทพ เหมือนการสร้างสถานการณ์ ซึ่งมักจะเกิดขึ้นอย่างมีพื้นฐานจากการเมืองที่เข้าสู่ขั้นวิกฤต อันเนื่องมาจากการที่ทางฝ่ายทหารและฝ่ายอำมาตย์ ไม่ยอมรับรัฐบาลที่มาจากการเลือกตั้งโดยระบอบประชาธิปไตย

แต่จากการรัฐประหาร 18 ครั้ง และหลายครั้งที่ทำการสังหารหมู่ประชาชนที่ไร้อาวุธโดยเหล่าทหาร กองทัพที่มีความสัมพันธ์อย่างใกล้ชิดกับสหรัฐอเมริกา ก็ยังมีความพยายามที่จะทำการล้มล้าง ความเป็นประชาธิปไตยของประเทศไทยให้ได้อีกวาระหนึ่ง

แล้วใครกันล่ะที่นั่งเฝ้ารออย่างใจจดใจจ่อที่จะกลับมามีอำนาจอีกครั้งหนึ่ง? เขาคนนั้นคือ อภิสิทธิ์ เวชชาชีวะ

With Thai Army tanks on night-time manoeuvres coup rumours persist in Bangkok

As photos emerge of Thai Army tanks rumbling around Bangkok on unannounced night-time manoeuvres, members of the democratically-elected Thai government appear to be getting very jittery.

"Psychological games" is how one senior government member described these tanks appearing on the streets of the Bangkok capital to me and sources close to other senior figures are saying that "warnings" have already been passed along regarding their safety should "anything happen". Only last week Thailand's most important best-selling newspaper, Thai Rath, also published reports of "coup rumours".

Whether the talk of a coup is just the usual Bangkok rumour mongering - something that seems to be a constant and well-founded worry whenever Thailand's political situation reaches a crisis point, with these crises usually arriving when the Thai Army and other shadowy elements in the Thai elites fail to recognise the legitimacy of a democratically elected government - is hard to tell.

But with 18 coups and several massacres of unarmed civilians under their belt the Thai Army, a military force which has an extraordinarily close relationship with the USA, can never be fully counted out of attempting to subvert Thai democracy once more.

And who is waiting in the wings, desperate for power once again? One Abhisit Vejjajiva.

Saturday, 4 May 2013

Misogyny, defamation and Yingluck - Thailand's "liberals" show their true colours again

The debate about Thai Prime Minister Yingluck filing a case against the Thai Rath cartoonist, Chai Rachawa, after he made what can only be termed a misogynistic and clearly malicious defamation against her, is reaching absurd proportions.

First of all, let me be clear, I think she would’ve been better laughing it off with a joke about this obvious little squirt being scared of strong women – “maybe his grandmother used to spank him when he was a boy, who knows?” – something like that.

However, I also understand her need to protect herself from smears, libels and defamations. And let’s be frank – the extreme rightwing and anti-democracy movements that make up the opposition to Yingluck’s democratically elected and popular government are filled with racists, misogynists and fascists.

Yingluck herself has had to endure almost two years of malicious smear after malicious smear, defamation upon defamation, libel after libel and the worst kind of misogynistic abuse.

So, she finally had enough and used the defamation law to protect herself.

Let’s be clear – Thailand’s defamation law is open to ALL Thais. Yes, it is used far too often to shut up critics (how many cases have the Democrats and Constitutional Court now filed against Pheu Thai and the Red Shirts? Must be in the dozens and isn’t it weird how Thailand’s fake “liberals” have ignored all that?) but it doesn’t come close to 112 as a law suited only to political purposes. Only an idiot or someone with an agenda would claim that Yingluck’s use of the defamation law is equal to 112. In fact, it’s such an absurd claim it actually denigrates the lese majeste prisoners who are rotting in Thai prisons, serving real jail time.

I should also add that defamation is criminalised throughout Europe and in 17 US states. In many other countries where libel and defamation is settled via civil law the kind of malicious defamations and smears that have been used to denigrate Yingluck would get many newspapers sued out of existence. This notion that democracies can only function when we allow all defamation, hate speech etc is complete and total garbage and the argument of a delusional teenager.

Of course having an argument about whether Thailand should have criminal defamation laws is another debate completely. What I would say is that in countries with civil defamation laws the only people who end up able to sue are the very rich.

So please – less hyperbole, less self-promoting, more reasoned debate and lets stick to the facts.