Sutep’s hypocrisy in exploiting the farmers’ plight

Numnual  Yapparat

Sutep is trying to boost his image by pretending to be Robin Hood and collecting money from the rich to help the poor rice farmers. What an absurd and laughable idea! Pure and simple, Sutep and the Democrats are playing a political game to exploit rice farmers’ suffering.

At the moment Pua Thai is still the “caretaker” government, ever since parliament was dissolved for the general election. Therefore, it does not have the power to spend money. If they need to do so they have to consult with the Election Commission (EC), otherwise the government action would be unconstitutional. When Pua Thai asked the EC for permission to release money to rice farmers under the rice subsidy scheme, the EC said that the government has to make its own decision. But this is a trick to catch out the government and then accuse it of unconstitutional activity. This would pave the way for an appointed government of conservatives, just like Sutep’s demands. The government is trapped by administrative problems which come from the Democrats and the EC’s refuse to do their jobs.

The problems of the rice farmers are spiralling out of hand because of Sutep and the Democrats’ attempts to wreck the election and prevent the formation of a democratically elected government.

The reality is that Sutep and the Democrats, plus their neo-liberal academic friends, have always been against the rice subsidy policy because they opposed to the state intervening in the free-market. In fact, Thailand is not a poor country and the sum of money that needs to be spent in supporting rice farmers is considerably smaller than the military budget or money spent on state ceremonies.

The rice subsidy policy is one of the best policies of the Pua Thai government and was initially used by Thai Rak Thai before the 2006 coup. The military-backed Democrat government abolished it. The policy helps poor rice farmers have a secure income. In the past government funding would fall into the hands of middle men in the rice trade, who would make a deal with farmers by holding down the price. Farmers would be charged with high interest rates if they got loans from private banks or shark loans to tide them over. Before Thai Rak Thai, previous governments had no idea at all how to plan production in agriculture sectors in a way that would benefit and provide security to farmers. They left this business in the hands of giant agribusiness companies such as CP, who control the agricultural market.

The Pua Thai government has tried to fix the problem by giving the funding directly to farmers. Pua Thai has improved on the Thai Rak Thai scheme by taking over the role of the middle men. They buy rice directly from farmers and pay in cash. The policy has created huge anger among the middle men. No farmer wanted to sell their rice to the middle men any more. However, the project is far from flawless because the big land owners can access large sums of government funding because they can grow more rice then small farmers. However Pua Thai has been discussing putting an upper limit on the subsidy.

Another problem is that Pua Thai’s calculations of the costs of the programme were based on “market forces” pushing up the price of rice, but the global recession and China’s economic slow-down has affected all agricultural products such as rice, sugar and rubber, pushing down prices.

The extreme neo-liberal Thai Development Research Institute and Sutep’s Democrats have fiercely criticised Pua Thai for spending “too much money” to support farmers. But they never criticise the huge military budget.

Photo credit from (Mthai web)

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Should 5% hold the country to ransom?

Numnual  Yapparat

In the February 2014 election, 44.7 million people were eligible to vote. On the day, 20.4 million cast their vote. Kasian Tejapira who is a lecturer at Thammasat University has estimated that there were about 12 million people who could not vote because Sutep’s mob were blocking polling stations and using violence to disrupt the election. It means that there were approximately 32 million in total who wanted to vote. This compares to 35 million people who voted in 2011.

It is absolutely clear that majority of Thai people disagree with Sutep’s demands to scrap the elections. Yet Sutep and the Democrats continue to lie that the majority are against the elections.

If we analyse the 20.4 million votes that were cast on 2nd February, there were 3.4 million “No Votes”. This is where the electorate can place a cross in a special “no vote” box. Another 2.5 million ballot papers were “spoilt ballots”. These could be mistakes or protest votes. If we generously assume that most of these spoilt papers were in fact no votes, it means that 14.5 million people voted for parties which were participating. Remember that the Democrats boycotted the election. The likelihood  is that the majority voted for Yingluk’s Pua Thai Party, but we do not know the exact results yet. What about Sutep’s supporters? People who wanted to pursue Sutep’s solution made up only 5 million. They are a clear minority in the country.

What is happening now? The result of the vote has been distorted especially by academics and elite figures those who are on Sutep’s side. The plain facts above show us that the majority of people in Thailand support the election and want democracy. They do not want the election rules to be fixed in favour of the Democrat Party before holding elections. But no doubt they are in favour of further political reforms to improve democracy. Should 5% hold the country to ransom and seek to destroy Thailand’s democratic space?

Photo credit: from google

 

Who is this buffoon Pridiyatorn?

Giles Ji Ungpakorn

Aristocratic right-wing economist, Pridiyatorn Devakul, has called for Yingluk to resign so that Thailand can have a “neutral Prime Minister”.

Suteps’ mobs have used violence to disrupt the election, yet most of the population wanted to vote and a majority support Pua Thai. The delay in completing the election is a golden opportunity for the vultures to come out and help along the death of Thai democracy.

To get a so-called “neutral” Prime Minister, a complete imbecile would have to be appointed; someone without a single political thought in their head. This is just more of the same anti-democratic rubbish that Sutep has been demanding. Pridiyatorn wants an appointed conservative Prime Minister, totally out of tune with the demands of the electorate.

Who is Pridiyatorn Devakul?

After the 2006 military coup, the new junta appointed cabinet was stuffed full of neo-liberals. The Finance Minister, Pridiyatorn Devakul, was a man who believed in “neo-liberal fiscal discipline”. He was opposed to “too much spending” on public health. After the coup the Budget Bureau cut the budget for Thai Rak Thai’s universal health care scheme by 23% while increasing military spending by 30%. Pridiyatorn also threatened to axe many good mass transit projects which could solve Bangkok’s traffic.

The junta promoted the Sufficiency Economy and Pridiyatorn explained that Sufficiency Economics meant “not too much and not too little”: in other words, getting it just right. He also explained that the Sufficiency Economy could be applied alongside free-market policies.

So Pridiyatorn is a long standing supporter of authoritarian governments with extreme free-market policies.

Fascist Monks and Thai Politics

Numnual  Yapparat

Red Shirts have been widely criticising the role of Luang Pu Buddha Isara who is Sutep’s pet fascist monk. This monk behaved as a thug, leading supporters to block the Lak-see polling station where Sutep’s gang brought in gunmen to attack those who wanted to vote. He claims that he is a “moral protector” and therefore he has to get rid of the Prime Minister because her family is corrupt. This is laughable. Sutep has a history of corruption but this monk chose not to say anything.

At the moment lots of people are complaining about Buddha Isara’s role, especially after the Lak-see events. The National office of Buddhism said that they did not have the power to expel Buddha Isara from monkhood. However, they did send a letter to the Buddhist organisation in Nakorn Patom. These Buddhist governing bodies will not allow women to be monks, but accept fascists.

Right-wing monks have a long record of intervening in Thai politics on the side of brutality. None of them are charged for their criminal acts. Kitti-Vutto encouraged his supporters to use violence against the Left. His most infamous words in 1976 were that “killing communists is not immoral; it is a good thing because you save the nation, religion and the king”. These words resulted in violence at Thammasart University that year.

Kitti Putto

(Kitti Putto)

“Syndromes and a Century” is a Thai film. It was produced in 2006 but banned because there is a scene in the film where a monk plays a guitar! Such behaviour is deemed “unacceptable” according to elite Buddhist principles. No doubt it would be OK if a monk made a Nazi salute.

Religion is one of the convenient political tools for the Thai elites. It has been used regularly to divert people from paying attention to government failures or injustice that prevails in society. The Thai State imposes the rule that at all schools in the morning, students have to sing the National Anthem and chant Buddhist prayers. Even some Muslim students were also forced to do so. Every week, Thai students have to attend moral classes.

Scandals about Thai monks have never gone away from newspaper headlines.  Some of them make money out of their disciples and have a lavish lifestyle. Some have a collection of expensive cars or even private planes. Buddhism and its mainstream institutions are very conservative, reactionary and out of touch with reality.

The Buddhist institutions need to be reformed urgently. The first step should be to announce that religion should be a personal thing. Religious ceremonies should not be funded by the state. Religion should not play any role in secular problems such as abortion rights. Monks should be involved in politics as individuals, but the monks who commit criminal acts must be charged with abusing peoples’ rights.

The 2nd February election in Thailand has solved nothing

Giles Ji Ungpakorn

 The 2nd February election cannot solve the Thai political crisis because those lined up against the government and the holding of democratic elections, are fundamentally opposed to democracy.

The election was marred by violence from Democrat Party thugs who were determined to prevent the election taking place. Armed thugs fired automatic weapons into crowds of people who were expressing their wish to vote. These thugs have been enjoying total impunity for over a month while intimidating voters and candidates.

Democrat Party leaders such as Sutep, Satit and Abhisit want the electoral process to be changed so that the middle class and the elites can have an absolute veto over the views of the majority of the electorate. Democracy doesn’t work for them because they only have support from less than 30% of the population. They are supported in their thuggery by the Constitutional Court, the top civil service, the mainstream media, sections of the Electoral Commission and the NGOs. The military is happy to stand by and watch Yingluk and Pua Thai’s discomfort. They may not want to stage a coup right now, but they will not lift a finger to defend democracy and the election. They want Yingluk to make more concessions to those who are opposed to democracy.

Despite the violence and intimidation, voting took place in most provinces and 20.4 million people cast their votes. This compares to 35 million in 2011. Given that the Democrat Party has in the past won no more than 14 million votes, and that in this election they called for a boycott, the turn-out was not too bad. It can be assumed that more than 20 million people wish to preserve democracy and many of those support Pua Thai.

No amount of compromise or negotiations with the anti-democratic thugs will solve the crisis. The only short-term result would be shrinkage of the democratic space and the further empowerment of those who view the majority of the electorate with contempt.

No amount of outrage at the violence and impunity of the thugs will push Yingluk or Pua Thai or the authorities into a crackdown on those committing criminal acts. As I mentioned in a previous article on “permanent Revolution” in Thailand, Yingluk would rather do a dirty deal with Sutep than to mobilise the Red Shirts and the general population to fight for democracy.

This means that pro-democracy activists, whether they be progressive Red Shirts, pro-democracy trade unionists, White Shirts, Nitirat supporters, socialists, or members of the Forum for the Defence of Democracy, all have to work together to prevent the destruction of the democratic space. They should also push forward with real reform proposals which will increase rights and the empowerment of the majority. The future of Thai democracy lies in their hands.

SUTEP’S MOB DEPLOY GUNMEN AGAINST PEOPLE WHO WANT TO VOTE

This is a video taken near Lak-see polling station in Bangkok. The polling station has been surrounded by an extreme right-wing Buddhist gang and Democrat Party thugs from the south, in an attempt to stop people from voting in Sunday’s election.  As local people and red shirts gathered to demand access to the polling station and ballot boxes, Democrat leaders Satit Wong-nongtuay and Sutep Tueksuban called on reinforcements to rush to Lak-see.  Among these reinforcements we see at least one gunman.

In the video clip below you will see a man in a black balaclava  holding a green and yellow plastic bag. There is an automatic rifle inside the bag and the gunman starts to fire at locals and police.

Some pictures from Thairath newspaper and Facebook.

Laksee1

Laksee2

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The poison of Thai nationalism

Numnual  Yapparat

There is a video clip that was recorded on the day when advanced voting took place. We see a woman who wanted to vote, accompanied by her five year old son, being blocked by Sutep’s mob. Those thugs tried to intimidate the poor woman by asking her “can you speak Thai?” and “are you Thai?” The question is soaked with the blood of extreme nationalism.

When the woman gave up and walked away, those thugs shouted at her “don’t forget to eat grass!” In Thailand if you want to call someone stupid, you can insult them by comparing them with buffalos. The yellow shirts and Sutep’s mob love to call the red shirts and villagers buffalos.

Today one piece of news in Matichon newspaper, tried to create a rumour about an armed force entering Thailand from a neighbouring country. It claimed that they are based in the Burmese migrant workers’ areas. The reporter tried to link this news with the death of one of Sutep’s thugs a few days ago. However, even General Prayuth denied the connection between the two events. Migrant workers from Burma are always convenient scape-goats.

When the red shirts were gunned down by the military in 2010, some people tried to spread false rumours that the red shirts were killed by Cambodian soldiers. Many people swallow the nationalistic nonsense that Thais do not kill Thais. Actually, Thais are killed by the Thai military and the Thai ruling class, not by foreigners. Thai bosses exploit Thai workers. The Thai elites and middle classes have only contempt for fellow Thai citizens.

In 1976 the military and their right-wing allies encouraged people to kill students who protested against the return of the former dictator Tanom Kittikajorn, in Thamasart University.  They alleged that the students were not Thai, claiming that they were Vietnamese who wanted to turn Thailand into a communist country. The violence at the time was absolutely appalling because some students were brutally hit and burned alive.

Thai nationalism poisons the minds of the population. It obscures the brutality and exploitation by the Thai elites. We need to smash the myth about the beauty of “Thainess”.

 

 

Thai politics