Blog Archives

US Deems Thailand “Undemocratic:” US-Backed Opposition Terrorism Follows

US-Backed Regime Change in Thailand: When Warning Bells Should Go Off

US Seeks to Exploit Thailand’s Political Transition to Destabilize Asia

Does the U.S. “Support Terrorism” and “Regime Change” in Thailand? US Embassy Dismisses the Evidence…

West Backs Dangerous Plot to Divide Thailand Along Religious Lines

Throwing Thailand Into A Hybrid War Tumult

What Amnesty International Isn’t Saying About Thailand’s Referendum

Thailand: US-Funded Election “Monitors” Exposed

How the UK Sold Fake GT 200 Bomb Detectors to Thailand and Got People Killed

Food for Thought: How Corporations in Thailand Use Slavery to Bring You the Seafood in Your Fridge and on Your Tables

China-Thailand Military Exercise Launched Against Backdrop of US-China Confrontation

China-Thailand Military Exercise Launched Against Backdrop of US-China Confrontation

Pivot to Asia: US Meddling in Thailand Boosts Bangkok-Moscow Ties

Southeast Asia Must Not “Compromise” with Terrorists and Traitors

John Pilger’s Film “Cambodia Year Zero” Named One Of ITV’S Greatest Programs

Who Profits from the Bangkok Bombing?

Thai junta exploits Bangkok bombing

Thai military sends boat carrying hundreds of Rohingya refugees “out to sea”

Thailand’s draft constitution enshrines dictatorship

Rare Pro-Terrorist Protest in Post-Coup Thailand

US State Department Collaborating with Deposed Thai Dictator

Thai junta maintains firm grip on power

By Tom Peters

13 December 2014

More than six months after Thailand’s military seized power in a coup on May 22, the junta, known as the National Council for Peace and Order (NCPO), is keeping a firm grip on power. Martial law remains in place, including a ban on political gatherings of more than five people and strict censorship of the media. Critics of the regime, including academics, journalists and protesters, have been hauled before military courts. Meanwhile the junta continues to enjoy the support of Washington, Thailand’s main military ally.

Finance Minister Sommai Phasi and Deputy Prime Minister Prawit Wongsuwan last month announced that fresh elections might be postponed until 2016, instead of October 2015 as previously suggested by the self-appointed prime minister and former army chief, General Prayuth Chan-ocha.

No date has been announced and the NCPO clearly has no intention of giving up power. On November 21, Prayuth told the media: “Don’t ask me to give you democracy and elections. This is not the right time.”

A report released by the New York-based Human Rights Watch last month declared that “[r]espect for fundamental freedoms and democracy in Thailand under military rule has fallen into an apparently bottomless pit.” The report, which has been suppressed in Thailand, cites several instances of the junta’s repression.

Five Khon Kaen University students were arrested on November 19 for staging a silent protest during Prayuth’s visit to the region by wearing T-shirts emblazoned with the words “We don’t want a coup.” They were released the next day after a public outcry. Other people have been arrested for protesting at screenings of the new Hunger Games movie and for reading copies of George Orwell’s 1984 in public.

Several opponents of the junta have been charged with l èse majesté (insulting the monarchy). On November 18 radio host Kathawut Bunpitak was sentenced to five years in prison. Nut Rungwong, editor of the Thai E-News web site, was sentenced on November 24 to four-and-a-half years in jail for publishing an article five years ago that was deemed offensive to the monarchy. Thai E-News has been suppressed.

Patiwat Saraiyaem and Pornthip Munkong remain in prison after being arrested in August for taking part in an October 2013 production of the playThe Wolf Bride, which was deemed insulting to the monarchy.

Last week former Pheu Thai Party MP Prasit Chaisrisa received a two-and-a-half year prison sentence. He was arrested shortly after the coup and charged with lèse majesté for giving a speech titled “Stop Overthrowing Democracy.”

On November 28, the military-controlled legislative assembly began impeachment proceedings against ousted Prime Minister and Pheu Thai leader Yingluck Shinawatra. Yingluck was removed by a court shortly before the military coup, on bogus charges of “abuse of office” for failing to prevent financial losses from a subsidy scheme for rice farmers.

The junta is currently re-writing the constitution, in order to entrench the military’s power in any future government and to ensure that Yingluck and her allies can never return to office. A previous coup in 2006 toppled the government of billionaire Thaksin Shinawatra, Yingluck’s brother, who now lives in exile.

Thaksin’s government cut across the entrenched interests of Thailand’s traditional elites, monarchists and the military, when it sought to open the country to more foreign investment. These powerful ruling factions of the ruling class were also bitterly hostile toward the Shinawatras’ minimal reforms—including subsidised health care and subsidies for rice farmers—which won their Pheu Thai Party a base of support among the urban and rural poor.

The NCPO is seeking to permanently abolish Pheu Thai’s reforms and implement austerity measures to make workers and farmers pay for the country’s deep economic crisis. According to the Financial Times, Thai economic growth remains the weakest out of the “ASEAN five” (Malaysia, Indonesia, the Philippines, Thailand and Vietnam), with growth of just 0.4 and 0.6 percent in the second and third quarters.

Yingluck’s government ended the rice subsidy scheme, on which millions of farming families relied, prior to the coup. The NCPO, like governments in Malaysia and Indonesia, is beginning to axe fuel subsidies. A seven-year long subsidy for liquefied petroleum gas (LPG, which is used for cooking and in some vehicles) ended this month, pushing up retail prices by 4 percent.

The junta has also announced plans to increase the value added tax (VAT) next October, potentially from 7 to 9 percent.

Prices for rubber, a major export, have collapsed, leading to desperation in some rural areas. About 50 rubber planters rallied in Surat Thani province on Tuesday, following another protest last month, in defiance of martial law, to demand state subsidies. Soontorn Rakrong, a spokesman for 14 farmers’ groups based in the south, told Reuters that if prices did not increase, farmers would rally in Bangkok.

In a speech on November 15 following the G20 summit in Brisbane, Australia, US President Barack Obama declared that “in Thailand … we are urging a quick return to inclusive, civilian rule.”

Notwithstanding such occasional and essentially meaningless criticisms, Washington is supporting the military junta. Joshua Kurlantzick from the Council on Foreign Relations noted on October 21 that “US policy toward the kingdom remains largely the same as before the coup.” The US approved the 2006 putsch and was undoubtedly informed in advance of this year’s coup.

In May, Washington suspended a mere $10.5 million in aid to Thailand’s military and cancelled some joint exercises, in order to conform to US law whenever a coup is announced. However, strong ties have remained in place and in October the US embassy in Bangkok confirmed that the annual Cobra Gold exercise will go ahead in Thailand next year.

Anthony Davis, an analyst from the think tank IHS Jane’s, told the US Army publication Stars and Stripes in October that Cobra Gold was “the jewel in the crown in terms of America’s strategic image in the region.” This year’s exercise, held in February, involved 13,000 troops from Thailand, the US, Malaysia, Indonesia, South Korea, Japan and Singapore.

On December 8, Stars and Stripes stated the exercise was “part of the Army’s effort to develop a semi-permanent presence in the region, adding to the large forces already stationed in South Korea and Japan.” Washington views Thailand as a critical ally in its strategic “pivot” to Asia—aimed at encircling and preparing for war against China.

http://www.wsws.org/en/articles/2014/12/13/thai-d13.html

Thai coup leader installed as prime minister

By Tom Peters

23 August 2014

General Prayuth Chan-ocha, Thailand’s coup leader, was unanimously chosen as the country’s new prime minister on Thursday, by a National Legislative Assembly (NLA) he had hand-picked. The NLA, which is stacked with military figures and a handful of business leaders, was installed last month by the ruling junta, which seized power on May 22, ousting the elected Pheu Thai Party government of Prime Minister Yingluck Shinawatra.

Prayuth, who was due to retire as army chief in September, has now entrenched himself as the country’s de facto dictator. His appointment will undoubtedly receive the seal of approval from King Bhumibol Adulyadej, who endorsed the coup and has close relations with the military.

The installation of Prayuth indicates that the junta, known as the National Council for Peace and Order (NCPO), intends to rule directly, rather than by appointing a quasi-civilian government as it did following the 2006 coup against Yingluck’s brother, former prime minister Thaksin Shinawatra.

The NCPO—with the support of the state bureaucracy, the monarchy and sections of big business—is re-writing the constitution to ensure that politicians linked to the Shinawatras can never return to power. Thaksin, a telecommunications billionaire, was despised by the Bangkok-based elites for cutting across their own interests by opening the economy to more foreign investment, and by enacting limited social reforms, which won the Shinawatras a base of support among the rural and urban poor.

Business figures generally welcomed Prayuth’s appointment as a sign that the junta would take further steps to impose the country’s economic crisis on the working class and poor. Thai Chamber of Commerce chairman Isara Vongkusolkit told the Bangkok Post he hoped “the new interim government will build up more confidence among foreign investors.” Leigh Scott-Kemmis, president of the Australian-Thai Chamber of Commerce, said: “I don’t think anyone is surprised by the choice and … I think it is the safest option.”

The NCPO has appointed a “super board,” with representatives from the stock market and finance sector, who will advise on cost-cutting at 56 state-owned enterprises and make recommendations on privatising them.

The junta has begun to axe subsidy schemes implemented by Yingluck and Thaksin that have been denounced by big business as “populist” and “vote buying.” It has scrapped a government rice buying scheme that supported millions of farming families.

In a budget passed this week, a further 10 billion baht ($313 million) worth of programs targeted at rural areas was axed, including funds for small villages and “community enterprises.” The budget also increased funding for the military by 5 percent, to total more than $6 billion (double what it was a decade ago). Prayuth bluntly told reporters: “If we don’t … purchase new weapons, then nobody will fear us.”

Concerned about a popular backlash, Prayuth used a televised address on August 15 to urge farmers not to protest over declining prices. As well as rice farmers, rubber planters are facing a crisis due to over-supply on the world market. Rubber prices are down 27 percent this year and 60 percent compared with three years ago.

The junta is also maintaining martial law, including a ban on public gatherings. The media and web sites are subject to strict censorship, which according to a Reuters report is “more heavy-handed now than after the 2006 coup.” The military is also harshly enforcing draconian lèse majesté laws (which prohibit any criticism of the monarchy).

According to Reuters, on August 14 “Bangkok taxi-driver Yuthasak Kangwanwongsakul, 43, was sentenced to two years and six months in jail for talking about social inequality with a passenger.” On the same day, two students at Khon Kaen University were arrested for being involved in a play featuring a fictional monarch.

Since the coup, at least 300 people have been detained by the army—most of them Pheu Thai members or supporters, but also journalists, academics, students and protesters. Most of them have been released after a few days but the junta has not released any figures on the number still detained. Kritsuda Khunasen, an activist with the Pheu Thai-aligned United Front for Democracy Against Dictatorship (UDD) or Red Shirts, claims that she was tortured when the army detained her for nearly a month following the coup.

The junta has cracked down on undocumented migrant workers, resulting in 200,000 Cambodians fleeing the country out of fear. Refugees from Myanmar have also been threatened with deportation. Thailand’s largest refugee camp, Mae La, with a population of 40,000, is being guarded by soldiers and, since the coup, residents have been banned from leaving to seek work. Rations in the camp have decreased. One refugee, Mary, told Al Jazeera: “In [Myanmar], we were oppressed by the military government. Now here, we feel the same, oppressed by the Thai military.”

The junta’s consolidation of its grip on power has met with token criticism from Washington. Following Prayuth’s installation as Prime Minister, US State Department spokesperson Marie Harf merely called on the “interim government … to institute an inclusive reform process” and move towards elections.

In a speech on August 13, Secretary of State John Kerry emphasised that the US still regarded Thailand as “a close friend and ally.” He described the coup as “a temporary bump in the road” and a “setback to democracy.”

As such comments indicate, the US fully supports the dictatorship. It has cancelled $4.7 million in aid and suspended some joint military training—actions it was required to take under US law. Washington sees the Thai military as a vital ally in its “pivot” to Asia—a strategy to encircle China militarily and ensure US dominance in the region.

For their part, the Pheu Thai Party and the UDD have completely capitulated to military rule. The Nation reported yesterday that Thaksin told supporters in Pheu Thai “to support the government and give it a chance to run the country.” According to the paper, one Pheu Thai member and Red Shirt leader Korkaew Pikulthong even “offered his congratulations to Prayuth” on becoming prime minister.

The UDD and Pheu Thai, both capitalist organisations, are far more afraid of sparking mass opposition by mobilizing their own supporters, drawn from the rural and urban poor, than of military dictatorship.

For months leading up to the May coup, as Prayuth plotted with right-wing protest leaders to remove the government, the UDD repeatedly declared it would mount mass protests of its Red Shirt supporters if the army tried to seize power.

But when the army announced the coup, the UDD and Pheu Thai leaders did nothing. Most of them have signed agreements with the junta to cease their political activity. Some have gone into hiding or left the country, telling their supporters to wait, or to collaborate with the junta’s so-called “reconciliation” process.

http://www.wsws.org/en/articles/2014/08/23/thai-a23.html

Thailand: Coup Ousts US-Backed Dictator

Thailand’s military coup

New martial order in Thailand

Thailand: Mass Mobilization This Saturday – March 29, 2014

March 25, 2014 (ATN) – Protesters in Thailand’s capital of Bangkok are planning another mass march this Saturday in opposition of convicted criminal, fugitive, accused mass murderer, billionaire, autocrat Thaksin Shinawatra and his proxy regime. Protesters have been carrying out demonstrations continuously since late October 2013, including a lengthy “Occupy Bangkok” campaign preceding sham elections that saw 7 massive encampments across the city bring its major avenues to a standstill for weeks.

The elections resulted in an unprecedented nationwide boycott of the polls, where over half of all eligible Thai voters refused to cast their ballots. Of those that did, many chose to deface their ballots or mark “no vote” in protest of both the regime and the democratic process it has hijacked and hidden behind now for nearly a year of political division and national instability.

What Did Thaksin Shinawatra Do?

  • In the late 1990’s, Thaksin was an adviser to notorious private equity firm, the Carlyle Group. He pledged to his foreign contacts that upon taking office, he would still serve as a “matchmaker” between the US equity fund and Thai businesses. It would represent the first of many compromising conflicts of interest that would undermine Thailand’s sovereign under his rule.
  • Thaksin was Thailand’s prime minister from 2001-2006. Has since dominated the various reincarnations of his political party – and still to this day runs the country by proxy, via his nepotist appointed sister, Yingluck Shinawatra.

  • In 2004, he oversaw the killing of 85 protesters in a single day during his mishandled, heavy-handed policy in the country’s troubled deep south. The atrocity is now referred to as the “Tak Bai incident.”
  • Also throughout Thaksin’s administration, the Committee to Protect Journalists (CPJ) claimed in its report, “Attacks on the Press 2004: Thailand” that the regime was guilty of financial interference, legal intimidation, and coercion of the press.

What Have His “Red Shirt” Followers Done?

In addition to carrying out armed insurrection in both 2009 and 2010, Thaksin’s “red shirts” have carried out a campaign of violence, terror, and intimidation designed to keep Thailand’s “silent majority,” silent for years:

Image: While the regime and its Western backers claim violence in 2010 was the result of a brutal, unprovoked military crackdown on “unarmed” protesters, in reality Thaksin Shinawatra deployed some 300 armed mercenaries onto the streets to augment his “red shirt” supporters. Weeks of gun battles involving the above pictured “men in black,” would result in 92 deaths.

  • In 2009, in addition to large-scale street violence visited upon Bangkok which saw two shop keepers shot while trying to stop red shirts from looting their businesses, red shirts would violently disrupt an HIV/AIDS awareness march organized by homosexual & public health activists. “Out in Perth” reported in their article, “Chiang Mai Pride Shut Down by Protests as Police Watch On,” that organizers were locked inside a building while red shirts began throwing rocks and yelling abuse through megaphones. Police looked on until organizers decided to call off the event.
Image: Red-shirt supporters assaulted the monk near the National Anti-Corruption Commission office on Monday. (Photo by Thiti Wannamontha) 
  • Just this week, mobs of “red shirts” attacked a Buddhist monk who passed by their blockade of the National Anti-Corruption Commission (NACC) building. Several of the offenders have turned themselves in to the police.

Why Are Elections Currently Impossible? 

The regime and its Western backers insist that the solution to the current political impasse is an election. Of course, this is impossible because the current regime is openly run by Thaksin Shinawatra, a convicted criminal and fugitive who was neither on the ballot nor even in the country during last elections, and will simply resume control of the nation after any future election in which his proxy party wins.

While Thailand is technically under the premiership of Thaksin’s sister, Yingluck Shinawatra, by his party’s own admission, Thaksin is still literally running the country. The election campaign slogan for the last general election in 2011 was literally, “Thaksin Thinks, Puea Thai Does,” Puea Thai being his political party. Forbes would report in their article, “Thaksin in Exile: Advising Sister, Digging for Gold,” that:

Regarding his behind-the-scenes role in the party and policy, he is not shy: “I am the one who thinks. Like our slogan during the campaign, Thaksin thinks, Pheu Thai acts.”

The New York Times admitted in an early 2013 article titled, “In Thailand, Power Comes With Help From Skype,” that:

For the past year and a half, by the party’s own admission, the most important political decisions in this country of 65 million people have been made from abroad, by a former prime minister who has been in self-imposed exile since 2008 to escape corruption charges.

The country’s most famous fugitive,Thaksin Shinawatra, circles the globe in his private jet, chatting with ministers over his dozen cellphones, texting over various social media platforms and reading government documents e-mailed to him from civil servants, party officials say.

The NYT piece would also report:

“He’s the one who formulates the Pheu Thai policies,” said Noppadon Pattama, a senior official in Mr. Thaksin’s party who also serves as his personal lawyer. “Almost all the policies put forward during the last election came from him.”

ImageThe New York Times openly admits that Thailand is currently run by unelected convicted criminal/fugitive Thaksin Shinawatra. Clearly any proxy government or elections in which it participates in are illegitimate by both Thai and international standards. Thaksin’s foreign ties are what have afforded him impunity regarding an otherwise cartoonish, 3rd world dictatorship.

 There is no question that an accused mass murderer and convicted criminal hiding abroad from a 2 year jail sentence, multiple arrest warrants, and a long list of pending court cases, is illegally running Thailand by proxy. Being unelected, Thaksin Shinawatra is by all accounts a dictator, and his “government” a regime, however cleverly they try to dress it up.

Elections in any other country featuring a convicted criminal openly running a contending party would be unacceptable – and in Thailand as well, they are equally unacceptable until after reforms that prevent such a scenario from occurring again.

 The Illusion of Thaksin Shinawatra’s “Popularity” 

While the regime and its Western backers continue to claim they represent the majority of Thai people, it should be remembered that the final tally conducted in 2011 by Thailand’s Election Commission showed that Thaksin Shinawatra’s proxy political party received 15.7 million votes out of the estimated 32.5 million voter turnout (turnout of approx. 74%). This gave Thaksin’s proxy party a mere 48% of those who cast their votes on July 3rd (not even half), and out of all eligible voters, only a 35% mandate to actually “lead” the country.

In a 2010 Asian Foundation report titled, “Survey Findings Challenge Notion of a Divided Thailand,” it was revealed that a meager 7% of Thailand’s population identify themselves as being “red,” with another 7% describing themselves as “leaning toward red.” The survey also revealed that by far, most Thais constitute what is called the “silent majority.” The survey included multiple questions that explained the leanings of this silent majority.

For instance, regarding violence that erupted when Thaksin Shinawatra attempted to seize back power in 2010 with large street mobs augmented by armed mercenaries, only 37% blamed the government, 40% squarely blamed Thaksin, 4% held both sides responsible, and the remaining 19% weren’t sure. 62% found the army (which ousted Thaksin in 2006, and restored order in Bangkok both in 2009 and 2010 after pro-Thaksin mobs turned violent) as an important independent institution that has helped safeguard and stabilize the country.

Graph: Up from 62% the year before, the public perception of the military as an important independent institution stood at 63%. Even in in the regime’s rural strongholds, support stood at 61%. The only group that did not support the military, was the regime’s tiny “red” minority, but even among them, 30% still supported the army. With only 7% of the population identifying themselves as “red,” the illusion of Thaksin Shinawatra’s popularity crumbles under statistical scrutiny.
 Toward the End Game 

Peaceful protesters will continue to defy the illegitimate proxy regime of Thaksin Shinawatra until it crumbles under a withering undermining of its authority, legitimacy, and operational capacity to administer the country. The regime is expected to continue its use of violence and terrorism in attempt to intimidate protesters, but its fear of spurring the military to intervene means that it most likely will never be able to muster enough force to break the growing momentum of dissent against them.

For now, protesters are well entrenched in the streets and can easily continue to remain there for months to come. There is a golden opportunity for the protesters to form a “shadow government” to begin administering areas they have now retaken from the regime. Administering these areas publicly and attending to the needs of businesses and residents who may be affected by the protests would further undermine the legitimacy and credibility of the current regime – who already spends much of its time hundreds of miles to the north in the Thai city of Chiang Mai.

As reported many times before, current anti-regime protesters are not trying to end “democracy.” They are simply trying to end the abuse of the democratic process by an overt criminal. Elections must be carried only after Thaksin Shinawatra and his entire political machine have been safely and completely dismantled.

http://landdestroyer.blogspot.ca/2014/03/thailand-mass-mobilization-this.html#more

Economic and Social Crisis in Thailand, Political Regime in Disarray

By Tony Cartalucci

Global Research, March 19, 2014

Thailand: Regime’s Desperation is Tangible 

Elections, court decisions, and the people themselves have encircled the embattled regime of Thaksin Shinawatra, leaving it both desperate and dangerous.

Deposed autocrat, accused mass murderer, convicted criminal and fugitive, billionaire Thaksin Shinawatra continues to cling to power through his nepotist-appointed proxy regime led by his own sister, Yingluck Shinawatra. Despite the recent February 2, 2014 election being boycotted by over half of Thailand’s voting population, and with many who did vote defacing their ballots or checking “no  vote” in protest, the regime has clung to power – ignoring mounting court decisions against its serial acts of corruption and criminal conduct and ever expanding protests that have not only dwarfed its once formidable street presence, but in fact, stripped from it many of its own once stalwart supporters.

Among these supporters turned protesters areThailand’s rice farmers who have gone unpaid for over half a year after an ill-conceived rice subsidy program proposed by Thaksin Shinawatra collapsed in a whirlwind of corruption, scandal, and outright theft. Farmers have blocked roads upcountry, once considered the Shinawatra’s stronghold, in protest of the regime. Others have traveled to Bangkok to join the protesters on stage and to barricade various government buildings in search for their missing payments.

Courts and Independent Agencies Moving In On Regime

And while Thailand’s anti-regime protest continues to attract more people from across Thai society, Thailand’s courts continue to move in on the regime for a wide spectrum of outright abuses. It began when the courts ruled decisively against the regime’s proposed amnesty bill that would have whitewashed criminal cases stretching back years, and potentially pave the way for Thaksin Shinawatra himself, currently facing a two-year prison sentence and an extensive list of pending court cases, to return to power.

The courts would also rule against a proposed amendment that would have allowed the prime minister to sign treaties without parliamentary approval – another attempted power grab by the regime designed to further skew the nation’s checks and balances in its favor.

More recently, the courts found a 2 trillion baht spending bill put forth by the regime unconstitutional– based on both voter fraud that occurred during its proposal, as well as fears of unprecedented corruption in the wake of the scandalous, failed multi-billion baht rice subsidy program.

Next, the courts will decide on the validity of the failed February 2, 2014 elections – rife with irregularities and with the ruling regime itself overtly ineligible to hold office in the first place, let alone contest it in yet another election (the ruling party is admittedly run by a convicted criminal hiding abroad – Thaksin Shinawatra). In addition to the courts, Bangkok Post reports that the National Anti-Corruption Commission (NACC) will then rule on whether the 308 MPs and senators who supported another charter amendment shot down by the courts, violated the law. If found guilty, they face impeachment.

Astonishingly, instead of heeding the obvious turn of fortune against the regime with caution, it has decided to boldly dismiss both the results of the election as well as the various rulings of the court, leaving it without any semblance of a democratic mandate, nor any legal ground to continue holding office.

Shrinking Support, Growing Desperation

The regime’s strong-arm – its militant “red shirt” enforcers, have declared their intention across the pages of TIME Magazine to violently defend the regime. In TIME’s article, “”Bangkok Shutdown: Yingluck Supporters Prepare to Fight for Democracy,” it stated that:

As Thailand’s anti-government protests enter their fourth day, observers say prospects for violent confrontation are increasing, with reports of government supporters stockpiling weapons in case of Prime Minister Yingluck Shinawatra’s ouster.

According to the Bangkok Post, radical members of the Red Shirts — diehard champions of Yingluck and her notorious brother Thaksin Shinawatra — are readying a cache of arms in case the 46-year-old premier is forced from office by either military or judicial intervention.

The paper quoted a Red Shirt source as saying “There are strong anti-coup and anti-court sentiments among the red-shirt mavericks who are familiar and experienced with weapon use.”

And a terrorist campaign is all the regime’s supporters are capable of carrying out – with fears of a “civil war” all but laid to rest by the visibly diminished ranks of the regime’s “red shirt” movement on full display during recent rallies including one in Ayutthaya province that failed to attract more than 1,000-2,000 followers drawn from all across Thailand.

Indeed, a campaign of terror was carried out, in fact the day after the TIME Magazine article was published in January, but deadly as it has been, it has had a negligible effect on curbing the growing protests in the streets or halting the decline of the regime’s power, influence, legitimacy, and ability to administer the country.

As the regime’s impunity diminishes day-to-day, threats and violence used by it to intimidate its opponents will increasingly be used by Thailand’s independent institutions to further move against it. Thailand’s military has warned the regime and its supporters against pursuing its campaign of violence any furtherin a sign of exhausted patience and growing confidence that the regime is finally ready to crumble and be swept permanently from the pages of Thai history.

And while the regime teeters ever more precariously, leaders, protesters, and other activists must remain more vigilant than ever – because as the end approaches, many among the regime may decide to flee, but others may decide to dig in for a desperate and deadly fight, however futile it may ultimately be.

http://www.globalresearch.ca/economic-and-social-crisis-in-thailand-political-regime-in-disarray/5374445

Thailand: Night of Terror as Regime Attempts to Break “Occupy Bangkok”

By Tony Cartalucci

Global Research, January 15, 2014

Regime and supporters disingenuously pledge peace by day, wages war of terror at night, to manipulate public and break growing dissent against illegal/illegitimate government.

 Thai PBS reported in its article, “Gunfires, explosions and arson rock several protest sites leaving many injured,” that:

Gunshots were fired, small bombs were thrown into the sites where anti-government protesters were gathering last night and before dawn leaving three injured.

Meanwhile a double-decker bus parked near the protest site was also damaged in what the driver said was an arson attack. The bus carried protesters from the South to join the mass protest in Bangkok.

The most serious case was reported near Hua Charng bridge or near the Pathumwan intersection where several thousands of protesters were rallying to oust the care taker prime minister.

Gunshots were fired by unknown number of gunmen into the security guards of the protesters at about midnight forcing passers-by, security guards, and protesters near the bridge to run for cover.

Guards said the gun shots were fired from either the overhead BTS sky train station and tall building nearby.

The gunshots were fired periodically but in a series for half and hour.
One security guard and two protesters were injured. They were admitted to Chulalongkorn hospital.

Meanwhile ping pong bombs were also thrown into the security guards of the Network of Students and People for the Reform of Thailand (NSPRT)last night. But there was no injury. Throughout the night till dawn, explosions were heard near where the guards stayed to ensure safety for protesters.

In another related incident, a double-decker bus parked in front of the Narng Lerng horse race course was also attacked by arsonist.

While attacks have been ongoing almost nightly against protesters for weeks, last nights violence was clearly a large, coordinated effort. The attacks suggest the regime’s police are carrying out a campaign of covert violence, as they had threatened to do since late December.

Image: Thaksin Shianwatra’s “red shirts” disingenuously dress in white and claim they are campaigning for “peace against violence,” even though it is Thaksin Shianwatra’s regime that is carrying out nightly attacks against protesters, and his “men in black” gunmen have been present and accounted for during each deadly clash between protesters and police.

….

Meanwhile, during the day, the regime has been organizing “white shirt” candle lighting vigils it claims are for “promoting peace” against “violence.” The regime has also publicly stated it would not confront protesters. All of this is to maintain “plausible deniability” regarding the violence it is in fact organizing and carrying out at night.

Image: While “red shirt” protesters hung up banners claiming “Peaceful Protesters, Not Terrorists,” they had some 300 heavily armed, professional mercenaries augmenting their ranks and carrying out deadly violence for weeks, leaving 92 dead and scores of buildings in flames in April and May of 2010. A similar campaign of Orwellian doublespeak is being used today by Thaksin Shianwatra’s regime posing as peaceful and non-confrontational, even as it carries out a campaign of terrorism now nightly against protesters.

….

A similar propaganda ploy was used during 2010 violence in which pro-Thaksin protesters hung up banners stating “peaceful protesters, not terrorists,” even while a battalion of some 300 heavily armed, professional mercenaries filled their ranks and carried out deadly violence for weeks, leaving 92 dead and scores of building in flames by the end.

The ongoing “Occupy Bangkok” protests seek to oust Wall Street-backed, unelected dictator Thaksin Shinawatra and his nepotist, proxy regime from power.

http://www.globalresearch.ca/thailand-night-of-terror-as-regime-attempts-to-break-occupy-bangkok/5365010

Democrat Party to boycott Thai elections

By John Roberts 

23 December 2013

Thailand’s main opposition Democrat Party decided on Saturday to boycott national elections scheduled for February 2. The announcement falls in behind the seven-week Bangkok protest movement led by former Democrat deputy leader Suthep Thaugsuban, who is seeking to install an unelected council to rule the country.

Buoyed by the decision, Suthep claimed that 3.5 million people joined anti-government protests in Bangkok yesterday. Security forces estimated the crowds at 270,000, still making them the largest so far. Suthep urged protesters to block the registration of election candidates and declared that if the election went ahead “we will shut down the entire country and no one will vote.” His movement would keep “chasing” Yingluck until she either quit office or “was dead.”

The last time the Democrats boycotted elections was in 2006, another period of political stalemate, which culminated with a military coup against ex-Prime Minister Thaksin Shinawatra, the now-exiled brother of Prime Minister Yingluck Shinawatra. Suthep’s movement, calling itself the People’s Democratic Reform Committee (PDRC), is again pushing for military intervention.

The PDRC’s aim is to prevent the elections from taking place until an appointed “People’s Council” has rigged the country’s electoral system so that Yingluck’s Puea Thai party-led coalition government cannot return to office. Education Minister Chaturon Chaisang accused the Democrat Party of “setting conditions for a possible coup d’état.”

Announcing the boycott, Democrat leader Abhisit Vejjajiva, who led a military-supported government from 2008 to 2011, told the media: “Over the past eight to nine years, people have lost their trust in Thailand’s political system, and their respect for political parties and elections.”

PDRC leader and former Democrat parliamentarian Sathit Wongnongtoey announced that the Democrats would be fighting alongside the protesters. A crowd was sent yesterday to Yingluck’s private residence to again demand her resignation but she was away, campaigning in the north east of the country.

Yingluck responded by warning that an election boycott could fuel social unrest, and “the entire country would suffer the consequences of such unrest.” Her comments expressed the concerns shared by both sides in the conflict that it could trigger deeper working class discontent amid declining economic growth, rising joblessness and a worsening social divide.

On Saturday, Yingluck sought to accommodate Suthep’s demands. Having already called the elections and dissolved parliament on December 9, thus becoming a caretaker prime minister, she formally proposed an unelected “reform council” following the elections. Election candidates would take an oath to support the creation of such a council, which would finish its work within two years.

Suthep’s movement largely consists of middle-class Bangkok residents, right-wing monarchist groups and Democrat supporters shipped in from the country’s south. Behind them are sections of Thailand’s traditional political establishment centred on the monarchy of King Bhumibol Adulyadej, the military and the state bureaucracy.

These forces are bitterly opposed to Yingluck and Thaksin, who is accused of pulling the strings in the Puea Thai government. The protests were called after Yingluck proposed an amnesty that would allow her brother to return to Thailand without facing corruption charges enacted against him following the 2006 coup.

In office from 2001 to 2006, Thaksin, a billionaire businessman, alienated the old establishment by opening up the economy to more foreign competition and investment following the Asian economic crisis of 1997–1998. By making modest concessions, including health care and cheap loans for village development, Thaksin built a base of support in the rural areas of the country’s north east and north, and among sections of the urban poor, making him independent of the political and economic patronage exercised by the old establishment.

Yingluck’s government continued these populist policies, which the opposition equates to corruption and vote buying, with a price support scheme for rice farmers and a small increase in the nation’s minimum wage.

Thaksin and Yingluck have no more interest in “democracy” than Suthep. In office, Thaksin showed contempt for democratic rights in his “war on drugs,” which involved extra-judicial murders, and in unleashing the security forces against Muslim separatist demonstrators in the southern provinces. Meanwhile, the Shinawatra family and its cronies enriched themselves.

But for the Bangkok-based elite, his greatest crime was arousing the expectations of the rural masses and urban poor, and undermining its political and economic domination.

Suthep’s campaign seeks to bring the military into action, as in 2006 and in 2008 when a combination of Bangkok-based protests and political intrigues involving the military removed pro-Thaksin governments.

However the generals, while divided, have been reluctant to openly intervene so far. The violent crushing of pro-Thaksin “Red Shirt” protests, organised by the United Front for Democracy against Dictatorship (UDD) in May 2010, resulted in the death of over 90 people and the wounding of a thousand others. This discredited the Democrats’ last government and left deep and seething resentment.

UDD “Red Shirt” leaders report that in the current crisis they are having trouble controlling the anger in major rural areas. UDD chairwoman Tida Thawornseth said on Sunday that her followers were watching to see whether “rebels stir up violence or intimidate the candidates.” She added: “We will rise to fight only if there is a coup.”

In 2011 the military was behind a deal that accepted a Puea Thai election victory as long as the position of the monarchy and military was not challenged. Both sides were alarmed by the emergence among the 2010 Red Shirt protesters of broader demands for democratic rights and social justice.

On December 14, the military hierarchy, again fearing broader social unrest, declared it would back the February poll. Last Friday, however, army commander Prayuth Chan-ocha warned of civil war if the political conflict continued. He proposed a “people’s council” of his own that would exclude government and protest leaders, but include “non-core” representatives of “all colours.”

General Prayuth spoke after a meeting of the Defence Council, attended by all the armed forces commanders and presided over by Yingluck, who is also caretaker defence minister. Prayuth did not say if his proposed council would meet before or after the election. He denied that the armed forces had pressured Yingluck to quit.

http://www.wsws.org/en/articles/2013/12/23/thai-d23.html

Thai military leaders support new election to resolve crisis

By John Roberts 

17 December 2013

Thailand’s military leaders indicated last weekend they would back national elections, scheduled for February 2, in a bid to resolve the political crisis in Bangkok created by weeks of anti-government protests. Protest leader Suthep Thaugsuban has been calling for the replacement of the now-caretaker government of Prime Minister Yingluck Shinawatra by a non-elected “People’s Council.”

The armed forces chief and the commanders of the army, navy and air force met with Suthep at the Royal Armed Forces Headquarters in Bangkok on Saturday. Nobody tried to arrest Suthep, for whom an arrest warrant has been issued on the charge of insurrection.

At the gathering, Suthep repeated his call for Yingluck’s replacement by a royally-appointed 400-member council that would hold power for at least a year and introduce “reforms” before any new election. Suthep’s Peoples Democratic Reform Committee (PDRC) is determined to rig the electoral system to prevent Yingluck’s Puea Thai party from repeating its 2011 landslide win.

The PDRC is acting as a front for sections of the traditional elites—the monarchy, the military and the state bureaucracy—that are deeply hostile to Yingluck, and especially her brother, former Prime Minister Thaksin Shinawatra, who was ousted in a 2006 military coup. In office, Thaksin, a telecom billionaire, pursued economic policies that undermined the position of the Bangkok elites and created a base of support in the rural north and north east.

Thaksin is living in self-imposed exile in Dubai to avoid a two-year jail sentence on corruption charges. The trigger for the recent protests was an attempt by the Yingluck government to pass an amnesty law to allow Thaksin to return to Thailand, as well as protect opposition Democrat Party and military leaders from being prosecuted for their crimes during the past seven years of political turmoil.

Following large anti-government protests last week, Yingluck called early elections, which the PDRC has rejected. At Saturday’s gathering of military leaders, Suthep urged the army to be “a hero by siding with the people.” In fact, the protests have largely encompassed sections of the Bangkok middle classes, plus Democrat supporters bussed in from its southern strongholds.

Armed forces chief Thanasak Patimaprakorn rejected Suthep, saying, “the best way to solve the problem is through negotiation.” But he added: “Neutral observers should oversee the election and make sure it takes place on February 2.” This was the first time that a senior military figure had commented on the election since parliament was dissolved on December 9.

The military repeated its apparent support for an election at a forum on Sunday organised by Yingluck to discuss “political reforms” after the election. The meeting was attended by senior state bureaucrats, political figures, business representatives and leaders of the pro-Thaksin United Front for Democracy against Dictatorship (UDD). The PDRC and Democrat Party refused to attend.

General Nipat Thonglek, permanent secretary at the Defence Ministry, used the forum to state that the armed forces stood by the constitution and supported the February election. But he also warned the army could intervene. “If there are signs that the election will not be fair, the military is ready to make it fair and clean,” he declared.

The Thai military is far from united. A Reuters article last Friday, based on Thai military sources, reported that two powerful military figures—former defence minister General Prawit Wongsuwan and ex-army chief Anupong Paochinda—were backing Suthep. Both have close ties to the current army commander Prayuth Chan-ocha, who effectively controls the military.

Anupong was the central figure in the 2006 coup that ousted Thaksin and the subsequent interventions by the military to undermine the pro-Thaksin governments formed in 2008 after fresh elections. Anupong helped install a Democrat-led government in late 2008 and was army chief during the 2010 crackdown on mass UDD or “Red Shirt” protests against the Democrats. At least 90 people were killed and 1,500 wounded.

A senior military official told Reuters: “Suthep is playing the game on the outside while Prawit tries to play the game on the inside … General Prawit has been clear about his aspirations to become prime minister.” Another military source told Reuters that Prayuth, the present army commander, was being pulled in two directions—by Anupong and Prawit on one side, and, on the other, the need to restore the military’s image after the 2010 clashes.

In reality, it is not simply the military’s “image” that is at stake. There are fears in both the pro- and anti-Thaksin camps of the Thai ruling elite that another military intervention could trigger a political upheaval that neither side could control. In 2010, the urban and rural poor who joined the “Red Shirt” protests started to voice their own class demands, which went well beyond the UDD’s call for elections.

UDD leader Thida Thavornseth told Voice of America that the main problem for the UDD and Puea Thai is controlling the anger in the north and north east of the country over the moves against the Yingluck government. The deteriorating Thai economy is deepening the social divide between rich and poor, as well as heightening tensions within the ruling class.

Thai and international business representatives have warned of the impact of further political turmoil. Asia Plus Securities chief executive Kongkiat Opaswongkam told the Bangkok Post that the economy had a potential to grow at 5 percent, but the final estimates for this year were just 2.9 percent, and 3.6 percent for 2014. Since the protests started last month, foreign investors have withdrawn $US2.4 billion from Thai equities, which fell 8 percent in six weeks.

Some 40 nations have expressed support for the February election to proceed. European Union foreign affairs chief Catherine Ashton on Saturday called for “all involved to seize the crucial opportunity of the February 2 elections to move forward peacefully.” The opposition Democrats, however, are yet to decide whether to take part in the election or stage a boycott, which could lead to further political upheavals.

http://www.wsws.org/en/articles/2013/12/17/thai-d17.html

Thailand’s recession: “Emerging economies” dragged into global downturn

By John Roberts 

30 August 2013

The Thai government of Prime Minister Yingluck Shinawatra this month downgraded the country’s expected growth rate for 2013, from the previous range of 4.2 to 5.2 percent to 3.8 to 4.3 percent.

The slashing of the National Economic and Social Development Board’s (NESDB) forecast for economic growth, which had been 6.4 percent in 2012, followed data that showed that gross domestic product (GDP) unexpectedly contracted 0.3 percent in the June quarter. This followed a 1.7 percent fall in the first quarter, indicating a recession.

These are the first two consecutive quarters of negative growth in Thailand since the initial phase of the global financial crisis, when the economy contracted by 5 percent in the final quarter of 2008 and 2.5 percent in the first quarter of 2009.

Officials and economic commentators attributed the recession to weaker domestic demand, slowing exports and the government’s failure to implement a promised 2 trillion baht infrastructure program. The NESDB downgraded export growth predictions from 7.6 to 5 percent.

Within two days of the announcement, the Thai currency, the baht, dropped to its lowest level in three years, 32.12 to the US dollar. Thailand’s current account has dramatically changed from a surplus of $US1.3 billion in the first quarter of 2013 to a deficit of $5.1 billion in the second quarter.

Thai officials rushed to issue reassurances. Bank of Thailand (BOT) governor Prasarn Trairatvorakul said the overall economic condition of Thailand was “still OK.” Deputy Prime Minister and Finance Minister Kittiratt Na-Ranong claimed that seasonal factors were responsible for much of the decline.

In reality, the dramatic turnaround in Thailand is the product of global economic developments engulfing the “emerging economies.”

Thai exports, particularly motor vehicles, electronics, electrical equipment and rice, account for two thirds of its GDP. The country’s main trading partners are Japan (which takes 10 percent of exports and provides 20 percent of imports), China (12 and 15 percent respectively), the European Union, the United States and Malaysia.

Stagnation in the US, recession in Europe and the slowdown in China have already impacted on exports. Even the weak growth predictions of 3 to 4 percent for Thailand this year are based on an unlikely recovery in export earnings in the second half of this year.

Thailand and other so-called emerging economies are being hit by the quantitative easing policies of the central banks in the US and Europe that has poured billions into the international financial markets. According to International Monetary Fund chief Christine Lagarde, $1.1 trillion of net inflows has flooded into “emerging” equity markets and government bonds, driving up the value of local currencies.

This influx provided easy credit for private and government borrowing and, to a lesser extent, increased foreign direct investment. Foreign investors currently hold 20 percent of Thailand’s government debt, about 50 percent of Malaysia’s and over 30 percent of Indonesia’s.

Now the decline in export markets, combined with the US Federal Reserve’s signals that it will taper off its quantitative easing policy, has seen speculative capital move out almost as fast as it moved in. Among the first casualties were the inflated currencies. The baht has declined 2.3 percent so far, but may fall further. The Indian rupee is already down 16 percent and Indonesia’s rupiah 5.5 percent.

Equity markets have also suffered. Over the past month, foreign investors have withdrawn $1.04 billion from Thailand. Foreign direct investment is also down compared to other South East Asian economies. In 2011, Thailand was a net exporter of capital, mainly for intraregional investment.

The capital outflow has strained financial systems. As in Malaysia and Singapore, household debt has risen sharply in Thailand, reaching 8.97 trillion baht ($282 billion) in March. This represents 77.5 percent of GDP, up from 55 percent in 2007. Households are now spending an average of 34 percent of income on loan repayments. The need to attract capital has meant that the BOT has not been able to lower interest rates to stimulate growth.

The country’s budget is also under pressure. Public debt grew by 47.93 billion baht in June, to 5.22 trillion baht, or 44.27 percent of GDP. Yingluck’s 2 trillion baht infrastructure program depends on parliament passing a bill to allow the sum to be borrowed over seven years, a proposal expected to cause conflict in ruling circles.

The government is also under fire from big business over its rice pledging scheme, which pays rice farmers 15,000 baht a tonne. The idea was to increase farm incomes to stimulate the economy and shore up the electoral base of the ruling Puea Thai party. But the plan has proved a disaster, forcing high-priced Thai rice out of much of the international market and costing $15 billion this year, or 4 percent of GDP.

The deteriorating economic situation will only exacerbate tensions within the ruling class, between the traditional establishment centred on the monarchy, military and state apparatus and the wing led by Yingluck’s brother, exiled premier Thaksin Shinawatra, who was ousted in the 2006 military coup.

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 https://www.wsws.org/en/articles/2013/08/30/thai-a30.html
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