Tag Archives: General Prayut Chanocha

Thailand is ruled by a parliamentary dictatorship run by the military

Giles Ji Ungpakorn

It should not be necessary to remind people that Thailand is not a democracy, even after the elections this year. Yet some governments and individuals are turning a blind eye to this.

The military junta is still in charge and repressive actions are still being taken against those who oppose the government. The only thing that has changed is that the election process and the parliament are being used as a fig-leaf to cover the present parliamentary dictatorship run by the military junta.


But as we say in Thailand, this is like covering up a dead elephant with a single lotus leaf!


The latest outrage is the disqualification and banning of Thanathorn Juangroongruangkit, leader of the Future Forward Party, from being an MP. This was carried out by the junta-appointed Constitutional Court on the dubious charge that Thanathorn held shares in a media company. He denied the charge. Compare this with the status and suitability of Generalissimo Prayut!

The Human Rights lawyers’ organisation iLaw has published an article explaining ten reasons why Generalissimo Prayut cannot claim to be an elected Prime Minister [https://ilaw.or.th/node/5292 ]. These reasons are: Prayut  is not an elected member of parliament, he held full powers as head of the junta during the entire period of the election, the junta wrote all the election rules, the Electoral Commission and Constitutional Court were appointed by the junta, Opposition parties faced numerous obstacles, the second largest opposition party was dissolved during the election, the opposition Pua Thai Party won most seats in parliament, parties opposed to the junta took nearly double the popular vote compared to the junta parties, opposition parties won more than half the number of seats in parliament and the 250 junta appointed senators were used to support Prayut.


The Thai Lawyers for Human Rights organisation [https://bit.ly/35dDry0 ] and the independent news outlet “Prachatai” have reported that although the use of article 112 or the lèse-majesté law has decreased in recent months, the repression against those critical of the monarchy and the establishment has not disappeared. Previously article 116 or the “Computer Crimes” law was being used to target dissidents instead of the lèse-majesté law. Now the military have changed tactics by circumventing the law altogether. Soldiers turn up at peoples’ homes, without a proper warrant and subject citizens to intimidation and interrogation while demanding pass words for phones, computers and social media accounts. They force people to sign statements agreeing to all this and agreeing not to engage in any further dissident activities. Those targeted are not just critics of the monarchy but include people criticising the government. These actions are all “illegal”, but the military is a law unto itself.

Myths about the so-called power of the idiot and thug King Wachiralongkorn are merely diversions. The power lies with the military and their conservative allies in the ruling class.

It is a pipe dream to believe that governments around the world or the United Nations will help to establish Thai democracy. It is a pipe dream to think that the “dictator’s club” of ASEAN will do anything positive. The key lies with ordinary Thais.

There are plenty of Thai people opposed to this lack of freedom and democracy. Yet the junta’s rule is yet to be seriously challenged because activists lack the confidence to build a mass social movement outside parliament, involving ordinary working people and farmers.

Guided Democracy under the Thai Junta’s Jackboots

Giles Ji Ungpakorn

Finally we can see the end result of the March 2019 Thai election. As predicted, the junta and its servants have fixed it so that Generalissimo Prayut can continue to be Prime Minister, extending the life of the military junta under a veneer of “democracy”. It doesn’t take a genius to see that this is a system of “Guided Democracy under the Junta’s Jackboots”.

Generalissimo Prayut has taken a lesson from the brutal General Sisi of Egypt. He can now pretend to have been a “democratically elected Prime Minister”, despite the fact that he is not even an elected member of parliament.

Most of us could see this coming for years before the actual election was held.

From iLaw

Prayut’s first act was to stage a military coup, overthrowing a democratically elected government in 2014. Before and after the coup, Prayut’s team brutally suppressed opposition to his regime. The junta then set about designing their “Guided Democracy” system by drawing up the military Constitution, the 20 year National Strategy and the warped election rules. As the election approached, the junta used the Constitutional Court to dissolve one of Taksin’s parties. The junta appointed all 250 of its people to the Senate. It then delayed the count after the election. This allowed the Electoral Commission to take seats from the Future Forward Party and give them to a number of small parties which had won miniscule numbers of votes. This helped to reduce the number of anti-junta seats.

On 5th May, the entire senate obediently raised their hands for Prayut and together with pro-junta parties he was able to claim the post of Prime Minister. He had previously changed the rules so that an unelected figure could become Prime Minister and the Senate and Lower House would sit together to elect the Prime Minister.

This is despite the fact that anti-junta parties had won more popular votes and constituency parliamentary seats than the pro-junta parties. Generalissimo Prayut lost the election, but is now claiming to be a democratically elected leader. No doubt Western governments will use this fig-leaf to restore full and friendly relations with the Thai government and sell it more arms.

Needless to say, the idiotic and nasty King Wachiralongkorn had nothing to do with any of the plans for Guided Democracy or the outcome of this election. To claim that the King is behind all this is to divert attention from the real gangsters in the military. [See https://bit.ly/2EOjsNL ].

Democrat Party prostitutes itself to enter the government

As usual, the mis-named Democrat Party prostituted itself to enter the junta’s government. The party has never won an election and even lied to the electorate before this election that it would not support Prayut, but eventually it showed its true colours and got into bed with the bloody dictatorship. This is the second time that the party has loved up to the military. In 2010, it was part of a military installed regime that shot down a hundred pro-democracy demonstrators in cold blood.

Future Forward and Pua Thai Parties obsessed with playing by the rules

The leadership of the Future Forward and Pua Thai Parties remain obsessed with playing by the junta’s rules. Before the election they promised that merely voting in the junta’s election would result in the end of military rule and an end to the military’s Constitution. When they felt they had been treated unfairly they only resorted to the junta’s kangaroo courts. This strategy has reached a dead-end.

The leadership of the Future Forward and Pua Thai Parties threw away the golden opportunity to use the legitimacy of winning the popular vote to organise a broad-based social movement against the dictatorship. Even now they are refusing to consider building such a movement.

Against Dictatorship

Lessons from Thailand and all over the world show that entrenched dictatorial regimes can only be overthrown by mass movements outside parliament. [See https://bit.ly/2aDzest ]. It will be up to grass-roots activists to build such a movement, independent from the politicians of mainstream parties. This is what I am advocating in my Thai language blog “Turn Left Thailand”.

Further Reading:

Flawed Thai elections.  https://bit.ly/2RIIvrD

The Thai Junta’s Road Map to “Guided Democracy”.  https://bit.ly/2QMrGf9

Thai Politics after the 2019 Election. https://bit.ly/2UsA30a


Shame on British and French governments for inviting Thai Dictator to London and Paris!

Giles Ji Ungpakorn

In a few days’ time Generalissimo Prayut, head of the Thai military junta, will be wined and dined by the British and French governments in London and Paris. This is a disgrace!!


Since Prayut took power in a military coup in 2014, the number of political prisoners and pro-democracy exiles has increased dramatically. The number of people charged and jailed under the lèse-majesté law, merely for daring to express opinions, has rapidly increased. In recent months pro-democracy activists who have staged peaceful protests demanding free and fair elections have been slapped with multiple charges for “violating the junta’s orders”.

[See reports from Amnesty International: https://bit.ly/2M8bnmW and https://bit.ly/2sOhCmT ]

Generalissimo Prayut was also a key state official responsible for the cold-blooded murder of nearly a hundred unarmed pro-democracy Red Shirts in Bangkok in 2010. Snipers were deliberately used to pick-off protesters and other members of the public, including paramedics and journalists.



Added to this, the junta is engulfed in corruption scandals. However, no general is facing any charges.

The junta’s so-called “road map” towards elections and returning the country to democracy has been continuously changed, postponing elections repeatedly. Even when elections are eventually held, they will not be free and fair because the junta has crafted a system of “Guided Democracy”, intended to restrict the democratic space, tie the hands of any future elected government and also to censor the policies of political parties. The military constitution, the appointed senate, judiciary and electoral commission, and the junta’s National Strategy are all weapons in prolonging the influence of the dictatorship for the next 20 years. [See https://bit.ly/2JdK9xc ]

Given that Theresa May and Emmanuel Macron have a history of entertaining various despots from around the world, including the leaders of Israel and Saudi Arabia, it is not very surprising that the British Tory government and the French conservatives are happy to see Prayut and discuss trade links and weapons sales with him.


They justify this by claiming that the junta is “making progress” towards democracy. But the real reason is that these governments do not give a damn about freedom and democracy in Thailand or anywhere else. They are only interested in “global stability” and the opportunity to do trade deals, including the sale of weapons. [See https://bit.ly/2Jir2SP and https://bit.ly/2JfK5gx ]

There will be small protests against Prayut when he comes to Europe. But the real lessons from this shameful state of affairs is that democracy activists in Thailand should never hope that Western governments or the United Nations will ever help them in their struggles.

Unfortunately pro-democracy activists place too much faith in Western governments

The emancipation of Thai citizens can only be achieved through the building of strong pro-democracy social movements.

Mass resistance to the coup smashes political myths

Giles Ji Ungpakorn

The most striking thing about this coup d’etat is the speed and size of the anti-coup protests. For the last 3 days, immediately following the coup, mass protests of ordinary people have simultaneously erupted in many areas of Bangkok but also in Chiangmai and other towns. This is history in the making.

These protests are spontaneous but it would be a mistake to think that they were “unorganised”. For years pro-democracy activists have been creating their own grass roots networks which are independent from Taksin, Yingluk, Pua Thai and the mainstream UDD leaders of the redshirts. Never the less, many redshirts who are still loyal to the UDD are also taking part. So are ordinary working class people, although not as organised trade unionists. The more the protests grow, the more confidence is gained by those taking part and those watching and sympathising. Such grass roots protests make it more difficult for the military. There are hundreds of grass roots leaders, with new ones emerging every day. Arresting a few will only enrage people. It is not like arresting the UDD leaders and stopping the redshirt protests as before. Communication in these networks can be via social media, but “word of mouth” is also extremely important. This is the most positive development in Thailand’s political crisis for years.

Do not doubt for one moment that it is easy to defy a military junta and stand in front of armed soldiers who in the past have not hesitated to shoot down unarmed protesters. Some activists have been arrested and taken away. Others have been taken from their homes. Many people have been ordered by the junta to report to the army. This includes prominent progressive academics, some from the Nitirat group, and also including people like Ajarn Charnwit and Ajarn Suda. Some have been incarcerated in army camps. Those who are charged with “offences” will face military courts and prison.




     But amazingly the protesters return in larger numbers. The hope is that this movement will grow and will reach out to the organised working class. But this will take time. It may well be a case of “two steps forward, one step back”.

There are a number of myths that have been shattered in the last few days. The first myth, constantly repeated by lazy journalists and elitist academics, is that the pro-democracy movement is predominantly rural. Millions of rural people will be enraged by this coup and hopefully they will organised themselves to oppose it in the coming days. But what we are seeing is an anti-coup movement developing in Bangkok and containing many redshirts. I have argued for years that the redshirt movement has significant support in Bangkok and that the capital city is not just made up of the conservative middle classes.

The second myth that has exploded is the idea that the palace is all powerful and controls the army. General Prayut staged his coup d’etat without even bothering to inform the king until one day after the event. There were no pictures of the monarchy behind the junta as they read out their declaration. Again this is something I have been arguing for years. The military is a law unto itself, only using the monarchy to legitimise what it does. Given this fact, the Thai crisis cannot be explained as merely an elite dispute over the issue of royal succession. There is no point in fighting over a weak and powerless institution.

What the succession mongers are saying to the brave people who are on the streets and facing arrests is that they “shouldn’t bother”. “The gods on Mount Olympus will fight it out and determine your fate”.

The crisis is really about the democratic space in society. It is a two-dimensional struggle with an elite fight over the conduct of politics linked, in a contradictory and dialectical manner, to the struggle of millions of ordinary people for freedom, democracy and social justice. On the streets this is not a fight between two groups of people who support different elites, as conservative academics and NGO leaders claim.

Whether the rumours put out by Robert Amsterdam that Taksin is considering setting up a government in exile are true or not, such a move would be irrelevant to the real struggle for democracy. Taksin is firmly in the camp of the elites, though he favours the democratic process as a means to achieve power. He and his fellow party members have no intention of leading a real struggle for democracy which could tear down the structures of the old order, destroying the power of the army, abolishing lèse-majesté, punishing state killers and bringing in standards of human rights and equality via a welfare state. As Leon Trotsky argued in his theory of Permanent Revolution, such a task lies with the modern urban working class, in coalition with the small farmers.

A third myth which has been exploded is the claim by the junta that it was “an honest broker”, trying to bring about peace and stability between two warring sides. No one with half a political brain really believed this because the army and Sutep’s mobs were working together. They also were on the same side as the PAD yellow shirts back in 2006. What is now very clear is that almost all the people who have been arrested and ordered to report to the military are redshirts or progressive pro-democracy activists.

There has been a total silence from the various NGO and conservative academic “worthies” over this coup. In fact they helped create the conditions for it to occur in the first place, by demanding the elected government resign and compromise with anti-democratic thugs. The National Human Rights Commission, which is stacked with uniforms, has pleaded with the junta not to be too harsh. It is a disgrace to its name. The most that a small group of NGO figures linked to “FTA Watch” and consumers’ and environmental groups could bring themselves to say is that they hoped that the junta would return Thailand to democracy “at the earliest opportunity”. In other words, the junta should relinquish power when it feels the time is right. They also called on “both sides” in the crisis to negotiate and compromise. The result would be “half democracy”.

Supporters of Thai democracy abroad can do two simple and very important tasks. The first is to try to protect and publicise the plight of those who are arrested and imprisoned, including those who are already in jail for lèse-majesté. The second thing is to try to counter the lies and nonsense coming from the junta which appears in your own national media.

Photos: Facebook


Army turns the clock back to the Stone Age

Giles Ji Ungpakorn

After pretending that it wasn’t a coup when they initially declared martial law two days ago, the military has now admitted that in fact it is a coup with General Prayut Chanocha as head of the military junta. This will come as no surprise to anyone except some naïve commentators.

It is the second military coup in 8 years and follows 3 judicial coups, the last of which overthrew elected Prime Minister Yingluk.

Over the last couple of days the military has taken control of all mass media, shut down redshirt satellite and community stations, raided bookshops to remove “political books” and started to increase even further the censorship of the internet. The raiding of bookshops and libraries was last carried out in Thailand after the brutal 6th October 1976 bloodbath and coup.

They have now cut foreign media broadcasts and announced a curfew.

Following the “official” announcement of the coup, Prayut claimed that he “had no choice” but to step in to protect peace and security. He is lying. The army sat on its hands for months and watched Sutep’s mob take over government buildings, use armed violence on the streets and then wreck the February elections.

Prayut is also lying when he claims that the army will now “reform” Thai politics. The military are the main obstacle to democracy, freedom and social justice in Thailand. What the military and the other anti-democrats really have in mind is to fix the system so that the democratic space is reduced. They also want any elected governments, after elections in the distant future, to be powerless and under the control of unelected forces.

General Prayut is a man with blood on his hands. Four years ago he oversaw the shooting down in the streets of almost ninety redshirt demonstrators.

Democracy can only be built if significant numbers of redshirts realise that Pua Thai and the redshirt leadership are unwilling to lead a fight. Taksin is a billionaire who does not want to lead an all-out struggle for democracy. The building of an independent pro-democracy movement based upon the redshirts, with clear links to the progressive working class and peasantry is long over-due.