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.
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.
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.
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.
At time of writing (3rd April 2020) the official figures for those infected with the corona virus stood at 1,978 with 19 deaths. This figure may well under-estimate the spread of the virus as there have not been any systematic tests like in South Korea. We also know that the parliamentary junta is prone to lying. However, if other countries are anything to go by, Thailand may well be at the beginning of a steep rise in viral infections.
Despite warning signs from China in early February, the Thai government has failed to properly implement basic measures necessary for containing the viral pandemic. These should include closing non-essential workplaces and postponing public events, encouraging social distancing, organising efficient testing and tracking and making serious provisions for treating patients in hospitals. Support for workers affected by the viral pandemic have been minimal and often are chaotic.
The blog site “Doctor on Duty” reports that there is no proper coordination between the Ministry of Health, state hospitals and private hospitals. There continues to be serious shortages of face masks and protective equipment, with profiteering and corruption rife. Testing is uncoordinated with little evidence of the free testing promised by the government. In fact the government has been caught lying on a number of occasions.
On March 3rd, the government ordered the suspension of all sporting events, but the army-run stadium in Bang Khen district still went ahead with fights on March 6th in front of a large number of spectators. People who attended this event have caught the virus and some have died. This is a typical example of how the military behave like the Mafia, doing what they like and making money on the side at the same time.
On 22nd March the governor of Bangkok ordered the closure of shops, restaurants, tourist sites, educational institutions and service sector establishments. The next day there was pandemonium at the long distance coach stations, as thousands of laid-off workers hurried to return to their family homes in the provinces to avoid destitution. The effect was to export the virus out of Bangkok to provinces all over the country. On 26th March a state of emergency was declared, with several travel restrictions.
Thai migrant workers returning from places like South Korea have been insultingly called “little ghosts” in the media and have received appalling treatment in quarantine centres. According to Khaosod newspaper, Thai fishery workers who returned from Malaysia were surprised to find that the coronavirus “quarantine facility” they had to stay in for the next 14 days turned out to be nothing more than tents pitched on the side of a road.
For middle-class Thais and students, trying to return from abroad, the government has forced them to obtain a doctor’s certificate and an embassy letter before they are allowed on a flight. Imagine getting a doctor’s certificate of good health in a European country under pandemic lock down!
The government announced some financial aid for the self-employed and temporary employees. People were to be given 5,000 baht per month for 3 months. At the end of March almost 20 million people registered for this aid in less than 48 hours, almost seven times the number estimated by authorities. Not only were there problems with the on-line registration, but large tightly-packed queues gathered outside the government savings banks, thus helping to spread the virus. But all those who registered might not even be guaranteed payments.
Large multinationals Honda, Mazda and Ford closed their auto production lines in late March, for a period of at least 3 weeks, laying off 11,000 workers on full pay. They claimed that this was to protect workers. It is likely that this was a measure to retain skilled employees during a time of very low orders, so that production could be resumed quickly. Workers in company accommodation were not allowed to leave the premises.
In other areas, workers in small parts factories have been laid-off due to orders drying up from China and other manufacturing countries. These workers will have to rely on Social Insurance pay-outs.
The World Bank has predicted that the Thai economy will shrink by around 5%, almost double the shrinkage in GDP following the 2008 global recession. Yet the situation could turn out to be much worse. Prolonged shut downs in major economies could cause shrinkages of over 15% worldwide and this would have a knock-on effect on Thailand.
Government spending on Covid 19 was only about 3% of GDP in early April, far less than some other countries such as Singapore. No doubt the majority of the money was being channelled to businesses rather than citizens. Yet an editorial in the Bangkok Post on 3rd April stated that: “Instead of offering deferrals on principal and interest payments on residential mortgages, auto and business loans for a long or indefinite period, the majority of banks and financial companies have come up with packages which are tailor-made to ensure handsome profits will still go into their pockets.”
Meanwhile it is business as usual for the military, with more planned weapons purchases.
But the most disgusting scene of all is the Oaf-King Wachiralongkorn living it up in style in a German luxury hotel along with his concubines and servants. This has caused much anger among the public and people have been expressing this anger on social media in indirect ways, despite the draconian lèse-majesté laws.
It is high time to sweep away the monarchy and the military junta which props up this long-out of date relic. This is a time when people should be increasing their criticism of the Prayut government and preparing to build movements to overthrow the military in the future.
SEE A MORE UP-TO-DATE ARTICLE ON COVID 19 IN THAILAND HERE: Is poverty a greater threat to Thais than Covid 19? https://bit.ly/2WsTqFq
The behaviour of King Wachiralongkorn resembles the antics of a spoiled brat rather than that of some powerful ruler or head of state.
Wachiralongkorn has a long history of dumping and mistreating his women after he has grown tired of them. His behaviour has not changed.
In the months since he became king, the adulterous Wachiralongkorn has appointed his wife and also his mistress to ridiculous positions in the military and the elite hierarchy. These position have little to do with the limited abilities of these women. A couple of weeks ago he sacked his mistress and stripped her of all her ranks. He also sacked two male guards from the “bedroom section” of the royal household for “adultery”.
This ridiculous soap opera shows that Wachiralongkorn is just a spoiled brat, prone to tantrums, rather than anything approaching a statesman or national leader.
Since becoming king Wachiralongkorn has also demanded that he can personally control all the funds associated with the monarchy and demanded that sections of the military act as his personal royal guards.
Anyone following this palace nonsense would be reminded of an infant screaming for more toys and then throwing a tantrum when things don’t go all his way.
This behaviour has nothing to do with any so-called power. Real power lies in the hands of the military and the capitalists.
What explains Wachiralongkorn’s outrageous behaviour is that since his youth he has been badly spoiled, mainly by the military, but also by his father Pumipon, his mother Sirikit and various member of the capitalist class. These people have not spoiled him and allowed him to behave in any way he wants because they are or were afraid of him. He has been spoiled mainly because the military needs to use the institution of the monarchy to provide itself with legitimacy.
Most Thai citizens value democracy, social justice and modernity. But because the military lack all credibility in democratic terms, because they are not associated with promoting social equality or modernisation and because they never played a role in national liberation, unlike in some neighbouring countries, the military have come to rely on the monarchy to justify military coups and military intervention in politics.
The military promoted and glorified former King Pumipon so that they could then use him to legitimise themselves. This also involved spoiling other members of the royal family, especially Wachiralongkorn, in order to keep them happy and on board with their project. They fed Wachiralongkorn with things that he greedily wished for and in return could use him. But they are unlucky because Wachiralongkorn has no idea how to behave in civilised society and he risks turning the Thai monarchy into a laughing stock with all his scandals.
Meanwhile the generals who are running the present “parliamentary dictatorship” are demanding that Thai citizens grovel to this nasty infantile king. The Monarchy is rotten to the core and many, many, Thais know this.
The result is that the political system is dysfunctional, the democratic space has been reduced, parliament is a sham and Thai society has been locked in a backward era from the past with no hope of modernisation and development into a progressive democracy.
Unless a progressive mass social movement outside parliament and a political party of the working class are built, there is little likelihood that things will significantly change.
Day in day out it becomes very clear that Prayut has a “personality disorder” problem.
Prayut is relentlessly revealing his absurd gaffes on a number of issues. He said the army will not intervene in the running of the government, but he is an unelected Prime Minister. He gave a suggestion to rubber farmers that if they wanted to get a good price for their rubber they should go and sell their products on Mars. He also showed his vision on how to tackle the flooding crisis by saying that if people want to avoid facing floods they need to relocate to some places that are safer. There are endless of examples of his gaffes.
One of the worst examples of his outrageous statements is to blame the two murdered British tourists for not dressing modestly. Meanwhile his government has rounded up the “usual suspects”… migrant workers.
It is a known fact the Thai soldiers organise parties where naked women dance for them. What gross hypocrisy!!
Recently, Prayut has set up a new set of moral values to give guidance to school kids for good behaviour. There are 12 guidelines in his reactionary doctrine. He demands that children must respect the main national institutions as a priority.
What are the main institutions? They are Religion, Nation and Monarchy. Prayut insists that new the generation needs to understand “Thai-style democracy” under the king as the head of the state. Thai-style democracy is incomparable with the rest of the world, he claims. Present and past dictators of Burma, Indonesia, North Korea and Singapore have made the same idiotic claims.
Prayut says that “good boys and girls will not challenge their elders and betters”. Thai people have to put the nation before their own interests. Poor people have to learn to be happy according to their means by following the old pathetic king’s Sufficiency Economy ideology.
One glaring omission form Generalissimo Prayut’s Teachings is about killing fellow human beings. At no time does he say that shooting down unarmed citizens in the streets is sinful. Well, he wouldn’t would he?
To sum up, in the new set of values, promoted by Prayut, there is no place for ordinary people. There is no place for creative ideas. There is no place for self-respect as he repeats that we are unequal. Only the privileged will have their say.
For the sake of all Thai children we need to reject all of his filthy agenda. Children need to be encouraged to think outside the box. Children need to be taught to respect fellow citizens and human beings. If not so, we will see the endless racism and sexism continue in Thai society. Recently, a warning sign was put up in the temple of Emerald Buddha telling tourists to beware “non-Thai” pickpockets!
Keep children safe from the mad dictator. We have no need to listen scum like him.
Originally, “Mother’s Day” in Thailand was brought in by Field Marshal Pibulsongkram as a political tool to reinforce the idea that Thai society was a big family. We would live together as a big family. Everybody in the family had a duty to perform. Citizens needed to love the nation as their own family. Citizens were expected to behave as good children by obeying their parents without question. Citizens were not allowed to criticise the army because it would undermine national security. Mother’s Day was also about promoting conservative family values.
The generation of dictators that came to power after the 6th October 1976 bloodbath against the students and the Left, rearranged Mother’s Day to suit their royalist purposes. Queen Sirikit was deemed to be “Mother of the Nation”, as though all Thai citizens are merely children.
These days the same nasty concepts are still in use. Why? It works very well to serve the conservative elites and army. The royal family is built up as a “holy family”. The King and Queen are like gods. Then they are used to legitimise the military dictatorships. It enforces the idea that people are unequal and that Thais are no ready for democracy.
The conservatives have tried to single out one mother, the Queen, as a role model. Then if the rest of the mothers “fail” to live up to these high standards it becomes an individual mother’s fault instead of a problem caused by an unequal society. Therefor the elites can avoid taking responsibility for imposing policies that create inequality.
But there is a real problem with the myth that Sirikit is a role model. She is a terrible mother, having never taught her son how to behave. She is extremely vain, having constant cosmetic surgery to unsuccessfully hide her aging process. She is unbelievably greedy and loved to spend millions on shopping trips. She is stupid and holds nasty and violent political views. So the lèse-majesté law is required to cover all this up and stop people criticising her. But it does not work. All Thais know the truth about Sirikit.
The conservative elites proclaim that having Mother’s Day is to show respect to women as mothers. But we know that their words are only empty propaganda.
Do we need this day in order to salute ordinary mothers?
No, it is very awful to see ordinary mothers gathering in school so that their children can be forced to grotesquely perform their love and respect to their mothers. The relationship between mothers and their children becomes like “God worship”. These kind of activities are designed only encourage children to be obedient to authority. The simple daily love between mothers and their children is much more beautiful than the Mother’s Day that the military dictatorship is promoting.
If the state wants to salute the role of mothers then they should impose useful policies to minimise the burden of being mothers. Thailand needs to have decent nurseries near work places provided by state, increased parental leave and child benefit.
It would be much better if mothers have their rights and dignity. Therefore they can give answers to all of the questions from their children. It would be very wonderful if mothers can bring up their children in democratic way of life instead living in a climate of fear.
The junta is working overtime to rebuild Thailand by turning the clock back to a yesterday world. In doing so, they are intensifying a conservative ideology and values of “Thainess”. An example of the absurd propaganda, which has been launched in the previous week, is the “Happiness Project” where grotesque women soldiers in uniform sing songs to “cheer up” the public. They also provided free meals, hair-cuts, snacks and sweets. I cannot help thinking that the sweets must have a terribly poisonous taste. The junta is forcing people to be happy and giving out sweets as though we are all “children”.
Recently, the junta boss Prayut even composed a song to return happiness back to Thai citizens. Was the song nice? The right answer in this case would be “absolutely awe-inspiring”. Otherwise you might be invited to the army camp.
Prayut fought back against the three fingers symbol, used by anti-coup protesters, by lecturing us that the Hunger Games symbol was not compatible with Thai culture.
The military junta are also trying to add more values of “Thainess” to the day to day work of civil servants. The office of the Permanent Secretary to the Prime Minister has issued an order that all letters address to H.E. Generalissimo Prayut must start with “I grovel at your feet, your excellency” (กราบเรียน)and the letter must end with the phrase “With Great Respect”.
If you think the “Happiness Project” was the ugliest form of political propaganda then you might be wrong. At the moment the junta has started releasing several video clips to assist Thai citizens in order to conduct themselves “correctly”. There is a video which targets students. The main messages in the video suggest that they stop thinking of themselves and put The Fatherland first. When you hear the national anthem then you have to stop and stand up in order to pay respect to the ARMY who guard the country! The military has never fought a successful battle against any invaders, but it is well practiced in shooting down unarmed Thai citizens.
On Friday Kasetsart University students tried to organise an anti-coup event by picnicking and reading books but they were intimidated by the university security guards and more than 100 soldiers. Students failed this time, but they will not give up and are seeking new techniques to exercise their views.
Some university vice-chancellors in the Northeast informed police to arrest their own students because they protested against the coup. The vice-chancellor of Ramatibodi University went further by clapping his hands to warmly welcome the coup. He said, “We need to have educational reform urgently; our students should study morals and technology”. In his plan, a “good” education system should reduce academic subjects because they generate different views among people and caused the political crisis.
The Office of The Basic Education Commission has announced the new education programme to suit the military junta’s criteria. All academic documents that criticise the junta are forbidden. Teaching programmes will promote the junta’s achievements. Political activities are not allowed to take place in schools and universities. Teachers, lecturers and staffs are told to avoid taking part in political events.
Freedom is Slavery; Ignorance is Strength!!
The best way to handle these absurdities is to relentlessly defy the junta’s New Order.
I have always opposed the nationalist first clause in the Thai Constitution that says that the Thai State cannot be separated. The most pressing reason is to give the people of Patani the right to self-determination.
Therefore I have no worries about the disintegration of the Thai ruling class’ state. It does not bother me, the way it bothers the military and the reactionaries, if Red Shirts want to split the country in half. This proposal is born out of anger against the impunity of the anti-democrats and the way the anti-democrats and the military, together with their academic and NGO supporters, are trampling over the rights of the majority.
But the proposal to split the country in half is a silly proposal.
Firstly, it is silly because it assumes that the political crisis results from a geographical split. This is simply not the case, with half the Bangkok population supporting the Yingluk government and more than half supporting the democratic process. In all provinces there are splits along complicated class lines. There is a clear tendency for workers and poor to middle income farmers to support Pua Thai and the Red Shirts, irrespective of geographical location.
But secondly, and much more importantly, dividing the country between the north/north-east and the rest, would leave the majority of wealth in the hands of the anti-democratic elites. The new break away country would have no seaport or natural gas and millions of pro-democracy people would be trapped in a repressive regime. What is more, the military and the conservative elites have always been ultra-nationalists and they would wage a bloody civil war to prevent it happening.
Economic data from the national economic and social development committee shows that the GDP for metropolitan Bangkok, the central region, the eastern seaboard and the south, stood at 7,148,323 million baht in 2009. The equivalent figure for the north and north-east was 1,902,393 million baht. Any new country in the north and north-east would be very poor, with little industry and investment.
What is even more important is that this GDP comes from the work of ordinary workers and peasants. It was not created by the capitalists and various parasitic organisations like the military. So it is a very bad idea to just hand it over to them.
What we should be striving for is a “new state” where the rich are highly taxed and the military domination of society is ended. We need a welfare state, an end to impunity for state crimes, the abolition of the never-independent bodies and complete freedom of expression and democracy. Ultimately ordinary working people should collectively own and control society. This can be created when we destroy the old authoritarian Thai State.
“Shameless”, seems to be too polite to use with the Democrat Party. It has just announced that it is not going to participate in the coming round of elections on 2nd February 2014. One simple fact to bear in mind, before probing into the false arguments of which the Democrat Party choose to use, is that the Democrat Party will not gain a majority from the voters and that is why they have to boycott the election. The Democrats has never had policies that benefit the poor. They have never polled more than a third of the votes in the last 20 years, even before Thai Rak Thai was formed.
Here are their excuses why they choose to boycott the election. They claim some groups in Thailand have distorted the democratic principles, which makes people lose faith in parliamentary democracy and the electoral system. More importantly, they claim that political reform cannot emerge from these circumstances. The Democrat Party wants to stop the election because they say it will lead to a new crisis, endless violence and corruption.
I just want to gently remind the readers that the Democrat Party has had endless record of corruption scandals from when it was in power. The Agricultural Land Reform Policy was a good example.
Abhisit Vejjajiva, the leader of the Democrat Party, proudly boasts that this is not the first time that his party has boycotted an election. It did it in 1952 and again in 2006 at the time when he was the leader of the party. In the coming round of the planned general election, his party will do it again and they also demand that if fellow parties want to participate in the election, they should declare to the people that they want to promote the “Taskin System” and therefore they must be blamed for they failure of political reforms.
Abhisit said, the unforgivable mistake that the Pau Thai Party has made recently, was to try and pass the amnesty bill for those who are corrupt. He also criticised Pau Thai’s plan to amend the constitution in order to make sure that all senators are elected. Abhisit hates elections. The Democrat Party wants to finish the “political reform” process before any general election, in order to make sure that the minority of the middle class who support the party can gain more influence than the majority of the electorate.
Naturally, Abhisit failed to mention his crime when he ordered the killing of 90 un-armed Red Shirted protesters in 2010.
Yingluk and her Pua Thai government were pressurised into dissolving parliament by a nasty coalition of Sutep Tuaksuban’s Democrats, middle-class protesters, pro-military academics, conservative civil servants and NGO groups. This is the same coalition which supported the 2006 military coup.
Having now tasted blood, they want more. They are demanding that Yingluk resigns her position as caretaker Prime Minster, a role stipulated by the Constitution. They want the election to be boycotted by opposition parties. They also want to postpone the general election, which is due in early February. They are justifying this by their dishonest claim to want to “reform” Thai politics before any new election. But what they are really seeking is to change the election rules so that the Democrat Party can win more parliamentary seats. The Democrats have never won more than a third of the national vote over the last 20 years. This is because the party is a conservative party of the elites and big business which is against using public funds to provide jobs, welfare and decent health care. In addition to the vote-fixing which they seek, they want to reduce the role of elected politicians and increase the role and power, even further, of elite-appointed conservatives. Already the military appointed Constitutional Judges have ruled that they can prevent an elected parliament from changing the Constitution.
Disgracefully, the Electoral Commission, which is supposed to over-see free and fair democratic elections, is also putting pressure on the government to postpone the election and compromise with those who wish to reduce the democratic space. The Pua Thai Party and their supporters in the UDD Red Shirt leadership have failed to counter these attacks on democracy. Yingluk is sleep-walking into a trap set by elite anti-democratic forces. Earlier, her party made a dirty deal with the military, promising to give amnesty to the generals and the Democrat politicians who murdered protesters in 2010. Pua Thai hoped then to be able to bring Taksin home. Another part of that deal was to assure the military that it would retain all its power and privileges and also defend the continued use of lèse majesté. So far the military has been sitting on the fence in the confrontation between Sutep and Yingluk.
Real democratic reforms would involve a complete overhaul of the judiciary, the introduction of a jury system, the withdrawal of the military from politics and the media, the scrapping of the lèse majesté law and the end to impunity for state murderers and coup makers. However, this is very far from the minds of those who now bleat out the call for “political reform”.