Tag Archives: Prayuth Chan-ocha

Huge anti-junta demonstrations in Bangkok in August/september

Giles Ji Ungpakorn

The protest at the Democracy Monument in Bangkok on 16th August 2020 was a great success with crowds of up to 50,000 people coming to show their anger at the continued parliamentary dictatorship of Generalissimo Prayut and the behaviour of king Wachiralongkorn.  A month later, on 19th September, the anniversary of the military coup against the elected Taksin government in 2006, over 100, 000 filled Sanam Luang. 



The protest was organised by the organisation “Free People”. It has 3 major demands: stop intimidating activists, re-write the constitution and dissolve parliament. People are fed up with the fixed elections, the appointed senators and the military designed “Guided Democracy” system in general. In addition to these demands, student activists and the lawyer Anon Numpa are now openly demanding the reform of the monarchy. People are angry about laws which prevent the monarchy being subjected to criticism and accountability. They are angry that he spends his time with his harem in Germany and changed the constitution to allow him to do this more easily. They are angry that he changed the constitution to bring all wealth associated with the monarchy under his centralised control. They want to curtail his privileges and power.

Activists demand the reform of the monarchy

For the first time since the military and the Democrat Party murdered pro-democracy Red Shirts in cold blood in 2010, Red Shirt activists and older people joined the students in protesting. The Red Shirts had been specifically invited to come along at a student rally a few days earlier at Chulalongkorn University.


The movement needs to keep up the momentum and spread to all sections of the population, especially organised workers. Progressive trade unionists were on the protest, but organised workers need to come out it their thousands and be prepared to take strike action if necessary.


Many activist leaders face prosecution and the movement must insist that all charges are dropped immediately.

For background to this protest see https://bit.ly/2Ed22ug


On the Monday after the huge protest on 16th August, secondary school students at hundreds of schools up and down the country defied teachers to staged “3 finger” protests against the dictatorship during the compulsory singing of the national anthem and flag raising before classes.



See video: https://youtu.be/gUiZOPZlWdM

On Wednesday 19th, hundreds of school students demonstrated outside the education ministry after the minister had threatened them. He made an attempt to address the crowd of students but was prevented from doing so by shouts of “lackey of the dictatorship!” and loud whistle blowing. This particular minister was part of a reactionary whistle-blowing mob who helped the present junta come to power.

Face says it all!! Minister of Education being shouted down by students with cries of “lackey of the dictatorship”.

School students outside the Ministry of Education

Listen to this podcast: https://bit.ly/31kJqBI 

Read this article in Socialist Worker (UK) https://bit.ly/3l4oSpb

Protest movement grows

Over 100,000 on 19th September



Some of these photos are from Prachatai….

LISTEN TO THIS: https://soundcloud.com/perth-indymedia/gilesjiungpakorn

Thai mass shooting reflects a sick, military dominated society

Giles Ji Ungpakorn

The tragic deaths of 30 people in the mass shooting by a crazed sergeant major in Korat reflects a sick militarised society.

Apart from the psychological state of the soldier, which is obviously important, there a number of other significant factors that contributed to this event.


The fact that the military is still in power after staging a number of coups and fixing the recent elections, means that society is dominated by a military culture. This culture normalises the use of state violence in politics. Soldiers not only control the levers of power, but they intervene in the day to day running of society, acting like the police. Armed soldiers visit opposition activists in their homes in order to intimidate them. They act to ban freedom of expression on a regular basis. Merely being in military uniform and holding a weapon is enough to justify these actions.

The Thai military has repeatedly shot unarmed pro-democracy demonstrators in Bangkok with total impunity. Not only did they do this during the red shirt protests, but this obnoxious history goes back to the military induced bloodbaths in 1973 and 1976. The present Prime Minister, Prayut Chan-Ocha, was one of those responsible for the deaths of nearly a hundred unarmed Red Shirt protesters in 2010.

20080219 6 Tula

The military also act with impunity in Patani, carrying out extra-judicial killings of Malay Muslims. In neighboring Lao. military death squads have killed exiled dissidents.

Within the military there is a culture of brutalising young recruits and this has often resulted in a number of deaths.

Because none of this military violence is ever punished; no military personnel have ever been prosecuted for killing unarmed protesters, it has become normal behaviour for armed soldiers to act as though they are above the law. Soldiers swagger around like gangsters, intimidating citizens and aping their bosses who are in government. In the 1970s it was common to see military vehicles driving the wrong way down one-way streets with their lights on.


On National Children’s Day the military bring out all their hardware to “entertain” kids. Some of the real weapons available for the kids to use as “toys” are probably the same as the gun used by the sergeant major in Korat. This socialising of children leads to a tendency among many boys to want to become soldiers so that they can feel important, macho and tough. This has little to do with heroics. The Thai military is not heroic, it is more like a massive mafia, engaged in business deals and bullying. It is probable that the angry soldier in Korat was being swindled by his commanding officer in such a deal.

Members of the Thai army take part in Thailand’s National Armed Forces Day at the Thai Army 11th Infantry Regiment in Bangkok, Thailand January 18, 2016. REUTERS/Chaiwat Subprasom – RTX22VQS

Finally there is a total lack of justice and security for the majority of people who are poor. When people have no faith in the justice system and they have no life security, there is a feeling that you need to take things into your own hands or act like a gangster. This is also partly the reason why Thailand has one of the highest levels of gun ownership.

The finger of blame for the tragedy in Korat has to be pointed firmly at those military officers in charge of the country, starting with Generalissimo Prayut.

bloody prayut

Not even an attempt to hide the lack of democracy

Giles Ji Ungpakorn


Generalissimo Prayut’s dictatorship continues without any attempt to hide the lack of democracy after the sham elections in March.

Pig face
Pig-face Prawit

The line-up of government ministers is the same as during the period after Prayut’s coup in 2014. The current parliamentary dictatorship merely brought in a handful of unprincipled anti-democratic politicians to act as decoration for the government. Apart from Prayut, the corrupt General “Pig-Face” Prawit is still in charge.

Ja New

Following the recent brutal attack on the pro-democracy activist Sirawit Seritiwat or “Ja New”, Pig-Face Prawit and the chief of police made the outrageous statement that Ja New would only receive police protection if he ceased his pro-democracy political activities!

The only thing we can conclude from this is that the military organised the gangsters who attacked Ja New as a warning to opposition activists to cease their activities or face violence.

Academics and activists who have raised the issue of this violence have received visits from soldiers.

Rather than trying to catch those who attacked Ja New, the police have concentrated on tracking down people who implied on social media that the authorities were involved in the outrage.

Meanwhile Generalissimo Prayut continues to rule by decree, using article 44 of the military constitution. He seems to see no real difference between his military government, with its appointed parliament after the coup, and the present parliamentary dictatorship, and he is right.

Prayut’s parliamentary dictatorship has retained the power of the military to detain pro-democracy citizens in military camps, without charge, for infamous “attitude changing sessions” [See  https://bit.ly/30ycYc1 ].

village land rights activist jailed

More social inequality is being perpetuated with poor villagers being thrown off their land to make way for so-called national forest parks, and then receiving draconian jail sentences, when they try to reclaim their land. Meanwhile the rich and powerful can break the law with impunity.

The General Secretary of the junta’s Palang Pracharut Party, has announced that the rise in the minimum wage that the junta party advertised in their manifesto before the election will not now take place. The supposed reason is that Thai workers are lacking in skills!

Chatumongol Sonakul with best friend

The new Minister of Labour is reactionary aristocrat Chatumongol Sonakul, who is a member of Sutep’s whistle-blowing anti-democrats. As a former Governor of the Bank of Thailand, appointed by the Democrat Party, when they bailed out the rich at the expense of the poor after the economic crisis, he opposed Taksin’s measures to stimulate the economy and was replaced. He is clearly an extreme neo-liberal.

Both the above examples show that dictatorship is designed to reduce the democratic space and justice on a class base. Dictatorship and military coups are good for the rich and the business class. Dictatorship facilitates the use of neo-liberal, free-market policies against the interests of the poor.

As I have previously stated, it will take more than verbal opposition in parliament to get rid of Prayut’s parliamentary dictatorship.

Further reading:

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

What now after the election: https://bit.ly/307AgpF

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

Guided Democracy after the Flawed 2019 Election: https://bit.ly/2Wm6bzI

Parliamentary Dictatorship:  https://bit.ly/2RTlleU

Electoral Commission facilitates Thai junta’s election fraud

Giles Ji Ungpakorn

There is an old saying that “voting changes nothing”. This is absolutely true in the case of Thailand, where the military junta are still in power and there is no new government, despite the fact that the junta lost the popular vote to pro-democracy parties in the March election.

One month has now elapsed since the Thai junta’s flawed elections and incredibly the final result has yet to be announced. The reason for this is that the junta-appointed electoral commission is busy trying to engineer and cover up the election fraud.

The commission is yet to release voting figures for each constituency. This is probably because there are some clear irregularities is some areas. But the real fraud is taking place with the Electoral Commission’s complex formula for calculating the number of “Party List” MPs. Seats in the 500 seat elected parliament are split between 350 constituency seats and 150 party list seats. The formula for calculating the number of Party List MPs is so complicated that even the Electoral Commission does not understand it. It has sent its formula for the junta appointed courts to approve.

Thai Electoral Commission’s formula for calculating Party List seats

The details of the complicated formula for the number of Party List seats does not really matter. What matters is that the result can be manipulated so that Generalissimo Prayut stays as Prime Minister and that his party manages to create an overall majority to back up this fraud. So the process seems to start with writing down the number of Party List seats necessary for a junta majority, irrespective of the number of votes. The Electoral Commission can then work backwards to construct a formula which allows this to happen. This involves giving some small irrelevant anti-democratic parties some Party List seats.

Even before this outright fraud, the junta did all in its dictatorial power to make sure it was “seen” to “win” the election. This involved giving civilian parties serious handicaps in the run up to the election, dissolving Taksin’s Thai Raksa Chart Party for no legitimate reason, and stacking the Senate with military appointees.

After the election, the leader of the new Future Forward Party was then charged with sedition and told that his trial would be held in a military court. The Future Forward Party won a large number of votes on an anti-military platform. Military figures and junta toadies have also been threatening all those who oppose the military, in a return to crude Cold War tactics.


The upshot of all this is that the March 2019 elections were not in any way free or fair and Thailand cannot be said to have “returned to democracy”. The junta is intent on continuing its illegitimate and authoritarian rule by claiming to govern through an elected parliament.

The struggle for democracy and human rights must continue.

[See “Thai Politics after the 2019 Election” https://bit.ly/2UsA30a .]

Muddling along towards the flawed Thai elections

Giles Ji Ungpakorn

The Thai Junta’s party: Palang Pracharat Party, is going to nominate dictator Prayut for Prime Minister if it wins enough votes at the general election, which is scheduled for early 2019. Given that the junta has appointed the entire senate and given that the senate and lower house can vote on the Prime Minister together, Palang Pracharat does not even need a majority of elected MPs for Paryut to continue his authoritarian rule.


But just in case this scenario does not happen, the junta’s servants have been gerrymandering the constituencies to help ensure an advantage for the junta’s Palang Pracharat. [See https://bit.ly/2EbX685 ].


Then there is the 20 year National Strategy, which I have previously written about, which will tie the hands of any elected government which is opposed to the military junta.

Taksin’s Pua Thai Party has budded off into at least 3 sister parties to try to get round the ridiculous voting regulations which will give smaller parties an advantage in terms of the number of seats they gain from the party list system.


So all in all the elections are likely to be a farce. That is, if they aren’t postponed under some pretext!

The only positive thing to be said about this period before elections is that it has raised interest among the population about alternative policies to the junta and it has exposed a number of politicians for being opportunist mercenaries who have switched allegiance to join up with the junta. No doubt there have been financial incentives promised to them.

In addition to this, when the elections are finally held, the total number of votes for pro-democracy, anti-junta parties, will be of interest in terms of measuring the political pulse of the nation.

Meanwhile the Future Forward Party has been shaken by an internal dispute between the leadership and the youth wing (NGN). Committee members of the youth wing were suspended. The official reason is that they are supposed to have spent money inappropriately. But no details have been given and no real explanation has been offered either. This does not bode well for transparency and internal democracy.


Some commentators have explained that it is a dispute over policy, with the youth wing wishing to engage in more militant activities than the leadership. According to this explanation, the youth wing were trying to emphasise progressive policies while the mainstream of the party was relying more on the personal charisma of business tycoon and party leader Thanathorn Juangroongruangkit. The Future Forward Party has tended to stress that it is “New” without bothering too much about detail. It also seems to have attracted a diverse group of people with different political stand-points who want to oppose the dictatorship and are disillusioned with Taksin’s parties.


Another explanation put forward by observers is that the youth wing are “left-leaning”, whereas the top leadership are pro-business liberals. The fact that the party has tried to create an image of “moving beyond left and right” may account for left-leaning youth joining a pro-business liberal party. Sooner or later tensions arising from this contradiction and the emphasis on Thanathorn, with its associated imbalance of power between the leadership and the rank and file, were bound to cause problems. Similar tensions may arise between the handful of trade union members and the pro-business leadership. [See https://bit.ly/2IpUUJa ].

It is difficult to see how the democratic space can be significantly expanded if people remain mesmerised by these flawed elections.


The ASEAN Dictators and their Sham Elections

Giles Ji Ungpakorn

The recent sham election in Cambodia was yet another example of the lack of democracy in many countries of South-East Asia. Dictator Hun Sen banned opposition parties, outlawed dissent, controlled the media and then held an “election”. Not surprisingly, Hun Sen’s governing party “won” a land slide victory.


Generalissimo Prayut, the Thai dictator, must have been following events in Cambodia with interest.


Another example for him to follow has been the “Burmese Model”. This involved fixing the constitution to ensure that the Burmese military remained in charge, with powers to veto government decisions and step in at any time, regardless of who may win elections. This is the situation under which Aung San Suu Kyi is operating, although after years of opposition to the generals, she seems to have decided to willingly go over to their side and adopt the military’s policies. She has even become a mini-dictator in her own party.


Of course, the dictatorships of the “Stalinist” communist parties in Lao and Vietnam have been holding sham elections since the end of the Indo-Chinese war in the late 1970’s. Only candidates approved by the ruling party are allowed to stand in elections and there is heavy control and censorship of the media.

Prayut’s much delayed elections in Thailand may or may not take place next year. But what is clear is that the military will still be in charge, whatever the outcome of the election. This will be achieved through the National Strategy, outlining junta approved policies which all governments must adhere to for the next 20 years. The military domination of the Senate and the judiciary will also ensure this.

At the same time, the Thai junta is harassing opposition parties for organising meetings or making statements in the media. Both the Future Forward Party and Pua Thai are facing such repression through bogus legal sanctions. If necessary the junta can even convict party leaders on trumped-up charges and get them banned from politics. Incidentally, this latter tactic is a favourite of the ruling party in Singapore, yet another ASEAN dictatorship.

Prayut himself has not ruled out running in the elections, although this could be risky. Quite a few “politicians for hire” are jumping over themselves to join the military party.

Prayuth Chan-ocha
Democracy difficult for Prayut to swallow

At a recent junta event, the police issued “guide lines” to the press on how to approach the “Dear Leader”. No one was to approach him at a distance of less than 5 metres, journalists were told to bow and scrape before taking pictures or asking questions and no unflattering photos were to be taken. After an avalanche of amusement on social media, with people referring to Prayut as a dangerous wild animal who should not be approached, he relented and ordered the police to scrap the guide lines. But he hates being brought to account by some sections of the media.

Prayut and frog
Prayut talking to a frog

There are some in ASEAN who oppose Prayut’s dictatorship. A recent article in the Jakarta Post argued that Thailand should not be allowed to be the next chair of ASEAN, given that Prayut has not stepped down to hold free elections [see https://bit.ly/2vHiHOM ]. It is good that this article was published, but it is doubtful that it will prevent Prayut from being the next chair of ASEAN. It is interesting to note that Indonesia is the most democratic of all ASEAN countries at the moment.

Of course there are many voices of opposition to the destruction of democracy from within Thailand and these voices, should they succeed in mobilising large numbers of people, will be key to achieving democratisation. At the same time we need to condemn the various European governments, and that of the United States, for deciding that it is “business as usual” in their relations with Thailand.

Q & A about the coup

Giles Ji Ungpakorn

Did the army “have no choice” but to intervene to stop the warring factions?

This is one hell of a stupid question, since the military staged the 2006 coup and appointed the unelected officials who helped with the various judicial coups in the first place. When Sutep’s mob started to cause havoc using armed gangs to take over government buildings and wreck the elections, the army stood by and did nothing, knowing that their time would come to intervene again. So the army are firmly part of the anti-democratic faction and Prayut has killed pro-democracy demonstrators back in 2010 to prove it.

Will the army now organise democratic political reforms before the next elections?

LOL!!!! The military is the main obstacle to democracy, freedom and transparency in Thailand. Will they reform themselves away, cut their own budget, retire all the bloated generals, stop meddling in politics and relinquish control of their media holdings? The hell they will!! They’ll be looking to the Burmese model where they stack parliament with their men and neuter any future elected government.

What is the crisis about?

The long running Thai crisis is a result of a clash between the conservative way of operating in a parliamentary democracy and a more modern one. It is equally related to attempts by Taksin and his party to modernise Thai society so that the economy could become more competitive on a global level, especially after the 1996 Asian economic crisis. In the first general election since the 1996 crisis, Taksin’s party put forward a raft of modernising and pro-poor policies, including the first ever universal health care scheme. Because the Democrat Party had previously told the unemployed to “go back to their villages and depend on their families, while spending state finances in securing the savings for the rich in failed banks, Taksin was able to say that his government would benefit everyone, not just the rich. Taksin’s TRT won the elections and his parties have won every election since. The government was unique in being both popular and dynamic, with real policies, which were used to win the election and were then implemented afterwards. This is something that the conservative elite could never accept. Taksin’s government committed human rights abuses, but none of the elites and middle classes care about this.

Was Taksin corrupt?

Probably. Are the rest of the elites, Democrat Party politicians and military men corrupt? Do bears shit in the woods?

Who are the guilty people?

Those who have joined the anti-government protests and supported military and judicial coups are the guilty people. They include the top conservative elites and officials, the military, the Democrat Party, the middle class academics and the NGO leaders. The National Human Rights Commission, the Election Commission and the Counter Corruption Commission and the courts are also guilty.

Will the Redshirts fight back?

Either Pua Thai mobilise their millions of supporters and the Redshirts to tear down the old order, or they make peace with their conservative elite rivals. Given that Taksin, Yingluk and Pua Thai are basically “big business politicians”, they naturally choose the latter option every time. This is not to avoid civil war, but to avoid revolution from below. They want to use the Redshirts as voting fodder, but not risk mobilising a mass movement. The UDD leadership of the Redshirts is tied to Pua Thai. After the 2011 election Pua Thai and Taksin made an uneasy peace with the military and this was reinforced in late 2013 when the Pua Thai government tried unsuccessfully to push through a disgraceful amnesty bill covering the military and Democrat Party leaders who murdered red shirts in 2010. Naturally, it also covered Taksin, but not lèse majesté political prisoners. This blew up in Yingluk’s face and gave an excuse to Sutep and his mobs.

To organise a real fight-back, grass roots Redshirts and other democracy activists need self-leadership independent of the UDD, real organisation, and most importantly, the confidence to organise like this. They need to link with the progressive sections of the working class. This is a long term project which needs to be started now and all those who believe in freedom, equality and democracy should actively encourage such a development.

[There are two other “sensitive questions” which I answer elsewhere on my facebook wall and also my redthai socialist blog…..]

The stupid legacy of the Thai conservatives in language

Giles Ji Ungpakorn

What do Thaksin Shinawatra, Abhisit Vejjajiva, Suthep Thaugsuban, Prayuth Chan-ocha and Prem Tinsulanonda all have in common?

What they all share is the idiotic way in which their names are spelt in English. It is almost as if there is a conspiracy by Thais to spell names so that all foreigners who do not know Thai will mis-pronounce their names. Then backward Thais can laugh at the ignorant “Farangs”.

What we have to remember is that in the Thai language there is no “th” sound (as in “this” or “that”) and there is no letter in the Thai alphabet which corresponds to the sound. Hence many Thais will pronounce an English “th” with a “d”.

Even the word “Thai” or “Thailand” has an idiotic “h” added to it and I have often heard some Westerners pronounce the words exactly as they are written.

Those old hands who have travelled to Thailand will no doubt have landed at “Suvarnabhumi Airport” in order to go on to “Phuket” after a few Singha beers. They may have travelled along “Phahonyothin Road”. What is even more appalling is that many Thai Airways staff even refer to “Fuket” instead of calling the island of “Puket”, as it is pronounced in Thai. The beer is also pronounced by those who sell it to tourists as “Sing-ha” instead of “Sing”. The airport is really called “Suwanapoom” and the road which I once lived near is “Paholyotin”.

So the politician that all the anti-democrats love to hate is in fact “Taksin Shinawat” and the mobster leader is “Sutep Tuagsuban”. The appalling head of the army is “Prayut” and the past-his-sell-by-date privy councillor is in fact “Prem Tinsulanon”. The anti-Democrat Party leader is also “Appisit Wecha-chiwa”, not “Mr Vegi-burger” which perhaps his class mates at Oxford or Eton may have called him.

So why all the spelling nonsense and the added crap at the end of names and words? Blame the conservative linguists and conservative educationalists.

Thai spelling, even in Thai, is unnecessarily complicated. But at least where there are extra bits hanging off the end of words or names there is a “Karan” symbol to indicate that the specific letter is not pronounced. All this spelling nonsense was abolished in the Laotian language after the communist victory in 1975 and progressive Thais tried to bring in similar measures in the 1930s and 40s. Such measures encourage literacy among the general population and modernise the language to fit how it is used. But just as the conservatives want to freeze Thai politics and society in the stone-age, they also want to keep the language “pure” according to the conservative linguists. The linguists are fanatical about preserving the archaeology of the language to show its Sanskrit roots. They are the only people in the country who give a damn about this. They fail to see that language is a living organism, constantly changing by its use among ordinary people. Just like the anti-democrats, they only have contempt for ordinary people and their choices.

The conservative linguists have decreed that when Thai names are written in English, all the letters in Thai, and even more, should appear in English without any “Karan”. They are fanatical in there explanation that the letter “” is not exactly the same as “t” or that “ and ” are not identical to “p”. Maybe so, but they are sure as hell never like “th” or “ph”!!! I removed the “h” after the “p” in my surname long ago so that British people wouldn’t use it as a swear word.

Just to further illustrate my point, I suggest that when we try to explain “democracy” to the block-heads in Sutep’s mob, we call it “demos-kratos” according to the original Greek. We can also talk about the economist “Adamus” Smith or the fictitious character “Alicia” in wonderland and the dangerous twins “Antonius” Blair and “Georgius” Bush, thus preserving the original Latin roots.

Finally I would just like to say that it shows how far conservative racism has spread among Thais because the word “Farang” is as offensive as calling Thais “slitty-eyed Chinks”.

In order to expand the democratic space in Thailand, we have to get rid of the military and the judiciary, but also revolutionise the language. I feel tired already.