Related Issues

  • Review/142/06: Southern Thailand seeks justice, not apology, 22 November 2006
  • Review/134/06: Amnesia on Thai military junta, 27 September 2006
  • Review/133/06: Thailand's coup d'etat: Time for interventions by King Bhumibol Adulyadej, UNGA and UNHRC, 20 September 2006

    Thailand: Forgotten Coup and the indicted General

    Yesterday, the 19th June 2007, the Department of Special Investigation ordered deposed Prime Minister Mr. Shinawatra and his wife Khunying Pojaman to appear before it by 29 June 2007 to hear formal charges of concealment of assets involving Shin Corp or face arrest warrants and extradition. As we upload this ACHR WEEKLY REVIEW, the Assets Examination Committee reportedly decided to freeze a total of 35 bank accounts of Bhat 66 billion of Thaksin and associates while it already froze Bhat 52.88 billion last week.


    "Hate-Thaksin" is the only campaign that General Sonthi Boonyaratglin has successfully run so far.


    I. Business as usual


    Despite the 19 September 2006 military coup, business goes on as usual in Thailand as if the present military installed government headed by Prime Minister General (Retd) Surayud Chulanont is a democratically elected one. Not that Mr. Shinawatra is a saint but Prime Minister Surayud Chulanont's government being a selected one will increasingly lose credibility in the absence of a clear roadmap for the restoration of democracy. General Sonthi Boonyaratglin, the coup leader and de facto ruler, promised to hold of the next general elections by October 2007 but no indications has so far been given either by General Sonthi or his proxy government.


    II. Constitutional Tribunal: The Rubber Stamp


    In a democracy, political parties are the means through which the aspirations and mandates of the electorate are represented. The Generals in Thailand have adopted a methodical approach to destroy the political parties.


    After the coup, the military Generals first abrogated the 1997 Constitution and then imposed an Interim Constitution B.E. 2549 with a socalled Constitutional Tribunal. Thereafter they installed a socalled civilian government which filed petitions before the Constitutional Tribunal for dissolution of the Thai Rak Thai Party, Pattana Chart Thai Party, and Pandin Thai Party. The Constitutional Tribunal expectedly obliged and on 30 May 2007, it ordered dissolution of the Thai Rak Thai Party, the Pattana Chart Thai Party and the Pandin Thai Party. The Constitutional Court also suspended the electoral rights of 111 executive members of the Thai Rak Thai Party, 19 executive members of the Pattana Chart Thai Party, 3 executive members of Pandin Thai Party, for a period of five years, effective on the date of the order of dissolution.


    Among others, the Constitutional Tribunal ruled that the Thai Rak Thai did not have enough political ideology to remain as a political party and it had committed wrongdoings warranting dissolution; that the Thai Rak Thai-led government dissolved the House to help its party leader Thaksin Shinawatra over his personal problems; that Thaksin Shinawatra had power over party's ideology; that the political problem stemmed from the party leader's personal problems; that the Thai Rak Thai allowed the election to be abused as tool for the party leader to try to monopolise power; and that the party did not attach importance to elections and did not have political ideology to help the people to have well being as promised during election campaigns.


    The order of the Constitutional Court is neither legal nor constitutional. It is political to comply with the wishes of the Generals. Legally speaking, the socalled Constitutional Tribunal is not even competent to adjudicate, not to mention about the dissolution of democratically constituted political parties.


    It is a circus.


    III. Southern Thailand crisis: The scoundrels' last refuge in Buddhism


    Thaksin Shinawatra was rightly blamed for igniting the unrest in Southern Thailand through his hard-line polcies. Yet, have Prime Minister Surayud Chulanont or his master, General Sonthi Boonyaratglin been following different approach from Shinawatra?

    Obviously not, if one is to go by sheer number of killings. According to The Nation, the daily average rate of killing has increased more than triple in six months between 19 September 2006 and 19 March 2007 i.e. from 1.6 people a day in 2006 to almost four per day. Over 400 people, roughly 19 per cent of the 2,100 people killed since January 2004, have died since the coup.


    Since his assumption of the office on 1 October 2006, Prime Minister General (Retd) Surayud Chulanot visited the Southern region three times, the last being on 13 May 2007. He also apologised for Mr. Shinawatra's hard-line policies in an attempt to assuage the sentiments of the ethnic Malay muslims. 


    Contrary to the apparent reversal of Thaksin's policies by Prime Minister Surayud Chulanont, General (retd) Pallop Pinmanee, a self confessed assassin of the communists hired by the CIA, has been appointed as the special adviser to the Internal Security Operations Command to deal with Southern Thailand crisis. In Southern Thailand, General Pinmanee is best known for raiding the historic Krue Se mosque on 28 April 2004 where 32 persons were killed. In November 2006, an inquest by the Pattani Provincial Court found that out of the 32 persons, four had been killed in fighting with police at a nearby checkpoint and the remaining 28 persons who had fled to the Krue Se Mosque were armed only with knives and killed after the military stormed the mosque. The Pattani Pronvincial Court identified General (retd) Pallop Pinmanee as one of the guilty officers.


    The appointment of General Pallop Pinmanee, who has been indicted by the Pattani Pronvincial Court and can be credited with reigniting the centuries-old conflict between Thai Buddhists and ethnic Malay Muslims, not only shows utter disregard for law and sentiments but also the lack of options for the military Generals.


    Southern Thailand insurgents are simply not the communist insurgents of the 1960s and 1970s that General (retd) Pallop Pinmanee was hired by the CIA to assassinate. The sooner Hate-Thaksin campaign reaches the saturation point, Southern Thailand crisis will prevail over. Therefore, there are concious and concerted efforts to keep Thaksin Shinawatra controversy alive.


    Like all scoundrel dictators of Asia, the Generals of Thailand also sought the last refuge in Buddhist fundamentalism. Despite the teachers and Buddhist monks the symbol of the majority Thais being the primary targets of the insurgents, the Generals through backdoor proposed to make Buddhism as the State religion of Thailand.

    What is equally unsettling is the silence of the West on denial of democracy in Thailand or the absence of a clear roadmap for restoration of democracy. Obviously, the confession by General (retd) Pallop that Sonthi Boonyaratglin asked him to serve as the adviser during a round of golf in March 2007 does not ring democracy alarm bells in the Western capitals.


    To legitimse themselves, the only thing that the military junta in neighbouring Burma has to do is to find a civilian technocrat like in Bangladesh, Pakistan and Thailand. At this rate, that will be quite democratic in Burma in the eyes of the goalkeepers of democracy - the UN and Western countries. What a lowering of standards!

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