theJustice System and the Privy Council of Thailand
An Article by John Thomas
Crime and Thailand 's Privy Council
Appointment of Crime Figure to Privy Council Points Out Spreading Influence of Organized
Refocuses Attention on the Country’s Primitive Judicial and Penal Systems
The date of the following article is April 10, 2005; it was posted on June 30, 2005
By John Thomas
of a former chief justice of Thailand's Supreme Court, Santi Thrakal (pronounced Trakan) (Thai: สันติ ทักราล), in March of 2005 and his inclusion in the King’s annual honors
list on Coronation Day on May 5 point to the spread of organized crime to country’s highest and most sacred institution
- the monarchy. It calls into question the credibility of the country's most prominent officials, including the
king’s closest advisors.
of Santi (the surname is spelled also as Trakal, Thrakan, Thakran and Thakal) to the Privy Council also draws attention once
more to Thailand’s conspicuous lack of a credible legal system and to its deplorable penal system.
legal codes, judicial procedures, courtroom facilities and judicial officials are primitive and inadequate-and allow for gross human rights abuses, especially through the criminal justice system.
cronyism, corruption and the lack of basic education, especially training in logic, of judicial officials preclude a working
and reliable judicial system. (Proficiency in English, for example, is a prerequisite for a law degree, yet fewer than one
percent of licensed lawyers, prosecutors and judges understand the language.)
pedophilia, pimping and prostitution are common in Thailand and have a drastic effect upon the conduct of a large number of
government officials, including police and court officials.
and judges use the courts for their own criminal purposes or for those of gangs that they consort with.
complainants and witnesses by the police, prosecutors and judges is common.
and judges conspire to accuse plaintiffs and witnesses of committing criminal offenses, usually defamation or contempt of
court, to prevent them from pursuing a case or testifying against criminal gangs and exposing corrupt officials.
with one another to pursue cases based on false charges against innocent persons; they operate freely, without fear of
reproach by their superiors: provincial court chief judges, regional court justices and Supreme Court justices ignore complaints
against other judges and evidence of misconduct.
Experience of Expatriates and Foreign Travelers
As much as 90 percent of felons brought before the courts in Thailand go completely
free. As much as 35 percent of persons condemned by the courts are wholly innocent of any wrongdoing.
A survey of expatriates
and seasoned travelers in Asia would list Thailand and Indonesia as the least desirable (and most treacherous) places for
an individual to pursue a criminal matter through the courts.
and expatriates often complain of discovering Thai acquaintances conspiring with local policemen to set them up for arrest
on false charges, usually drug trafficking offenses. This, of course, is an old story in much of Asia, but
it is particularly so in Thailand.
are held in crowded police station cells, immigration jails, or prisons for weeks, months and even years. Some of them are
ignored or forgotten by their embassies.
Many persons perish
while in police custody and prisons. (Countless young migrants from Burma , Cambodia and Laos age 14 and under, including
infants, languish in small and crowded cells in police stations for many months before deportation.)
In nine cases
out of ten, Thai lawyers cheat their clients. Foreigners, in particular, complain that Thai lawyers are corrupt, ineffectual
and untrustworthy-and ultimately of value only as conduits for the
payment of bribes to their embassy’s officials to complete urgent and essential official paper work.
The American embassy
in Bangkok offers a list of lawyers, available to Americans upon request, that includes some of the sleaziest and least
reliable lawyers in the country. Some notoriously bad lawyers employ Americans in their offices who assist them to set up
American clients for arrest and imprisonment on false charges, for extortion, and to deny them legal representation.
(There is conclusive
evidence that in December 2000 and January 2001 personnel of the American Embassy in Bangkok conspired with editors of an
English-language daily newspaper in Bangkok and corrupt Thai judicial officials to urge lese majeste charges against
American expatriates in Thailand who exposed pedophiles, homosexuals and traffickers in children at the embassy.)
have delayed complicance with extradition requests to Thailand because of the country’s appalling human rights
record, unreliable judicial system and dangerous prisons. (See article regarding the recent extradition of an American
to Thailand in the next column.)
During his tenure
as chief justice (a position officially called “president”) of the Supreme Court from 2000 to 2003, Santi, the
son of an Indian Sikh and a Thai, from Phrae Province in northern Thailand,conspired with the court's long-time
secretary, Jiranti Havanon (Thai: จิรนิติ หะวานนท์),
criminalgangs and other corrupt judicial officials to falsely accuse and condemn complainants, witnesses
and other innocent persons, particularly in cases involving the traffic in women and children.
Santi and Jiraniti
conspired with international pedophile rings, procurers, corrupt policemen, welfare, foreign ministry and other judicial officials
to obstruct investigations and prosecutions of pedophiles and traffickers in women and children, to obstruct victim recovery
efforts, and to imprison and murder complainants and relatives of victims.
Santi and Jiraniti
conspired with officials of the Central Juvenile and Family Court, which is under the direct supervision of the Supreme Court,
in particular the chief judge, Deungman Silpa-archa, a relative of the former Prime Minister, Banharn Silpa-archa, to obstruct
victim recovery efforts.
Santi and Jiraniti
conspired with Thai lawyers, including lawyers assigned by the Law Society of Thailand to represent victims and
witnesses, to obstruct victim recovery efforts and to imprison and murder complianants, relatives of victims and other witnesses.
Santi and Jiraniti
conspired with officials of foreign embassies who hide behind diplomatic cover and so-called "non-governmental organizations"
("NGOs") that have arrangements with the police to traffic Thai women and children abroad and to obstruct victim recovery
Santi and Jiraniti
also conspired with lower court judges to deny bail to plaintiffs falsely accused of minor criminal offenses, like contempt
of court. Some foreigners have been detained in the country for more than a decade without bail or permission to leave. Their
embassies destroy all trace of them.
immediate successor as chief justice of the Supreme Court, Atthaniti Disathaamnarj (pronounced "Atanitti Ditam-nat") (Thai:
who retired last year, conspired with Jiraniti, organized crime figures and complicit judicial officials,
particularly in the traffic in women and children, and followed Santi’s misconduct. Atthaniti ("Atanitti") was honored
by the king on Coronation Day last year.
Two other, much
older, former chief justices of the Supreme Court, who preceded Santi, sit on the Privy Council.
if not all, criminal cases in Thailand are referred to the country’s Supreme Court-usually as an appeal, or to request a change of venue, or to complain about the misconduct of lower court
the misconduct of judges (and justices) are often advised to send their complaints to the president of the Judicial Commission
of the Office of Judicial Affairs, or to the president of the Office of Judicial Affairs, or to the permanent secretary to
the Office of Judicial Affairs. Ultimately, according to current regulations, all complaints to the Office of Judicial
Affairs must be referred to the Supreme Court for a final determination. Needless to say, Supreme Court justices discard the
complaints - and complainants require protection.
The Thai press
likes to tout the National Counter Corruption Commission (NCCC) as the country’s leading graft fighter. But the NCCC
has yet to respond to a single complaint against officials of the Supreme Court, Attorney General's Office, police, and ministries
of Labor & Social Welfare and Foreign Affairs for human rights abuses, especially for complicity with international pedophile
rings and the traffic in women and children. The NCCC is utterly powerless against the courts. Last year, the Supreme Court
suspended all NCCC commissioners for giving themselves a pay raise and forced them to resign last May. The
NCCC, which is under the direct supervision of the Thai Prime Minister’s Office, is generally considered a joke and
a rubber stamp for the prime minister.
The United Nations
Human Rights Commission ignores 99% of complaints of human rights violations it receives because the perpetrators are
Thai Monarchy and the Privy Council
In the last resort,
cases are referred to the king of Thailand
The king is the
country’s head of state. However, the king does not have
the power and influence at home that do absolute rulers in Asia like the king of Bhutan and the Sultan of Brunei. He is a
constitutional monarch. Nor does he have the freedom of the king of Nepal , also a constitutional monarch, who can, if he
decides, take over the government and rule as he sees fit. Nor does he have the influence of the king of Cambodia , another
constitutional monarch, who often plays a pivotal role in his country’s affairs.
The king of Thailand
is not a mere fiigurehead, however, like most European monarchs today. He is not just a rubber stamp. He can object to requests
and decisions of his advisors, the Prime Minister and cabinet ministers.
The King of the
Belgians has been accused of all sorts of hideous things in public. In marked contrast, the monarchy in Thailand is considered
sacred and the king is considered beyond reproach. He cannot be criticized in public. But the king’s men-his closest aides, advisors or relatives-can
be held to account.
An 18-member Privy
Council screens all petitions for pardons to the king.
members are from the royal family or former high-ranking military and government officials.
current president, a former Prime Minister, General Prem Tinsulanonda, earned the king's favor by protecting him from two
army generals who were out to kidnap him during a failed coup
d’้tatattempt 24 years ago.
of Santi-notorious for ties to organized crime, particularly to regional
mafiosi and smugglers of contraband, like narcotics, counterfeit goods, and women and children for prostitution, and his
persistent abuse of office for criminal purposes-to the Privy Council,
If given the benefit
of the doubt, it could be said that the king’s advisors did not consider sufficiently the significance of Santi’s
appointment to the Privy Council (or the Coronation Day honor) and its possible implications.
It is possible
that the king’s advisors are out of touch with the world around them, that they failed to read the changes in the times,
that they are unaware of crucial goings-on and uninformed.
appointment could indicate also that the king’s advisors are unconcerned about what they do and the possible consequences.
closest advisers and relatives make lucrative deals and reap millions of dollars in bribes every year from individuals seeking
royal appointments, royal patronage, royal pardons, etc.
appointment could indicate that the Privy Council was up for sale and that someone paid a substantial bribe to place Santi
like the government, in lavishing undue praise, awards, honors and appointments upon unworthy public figures, can be used
for negative purposes and appear to be lording over crime and corruption.
points out growing cronyism of Privy Council members with corrupt judicial officials who front for organized crime and the
establishment of a conduit to extort more money through the courts.
and prostitution rings; traffickers in women and children, narcotics, counterfeit goods; etc., and their criminal associates
in the government, including the courts, with whom Santi openly conspired as a judge, will make use of Santi in the Privy
The appointment of Atthaniti Ditathaamnarj to the Privy Council
by the king, on August 17, 2007, further points out the
abuse of the monarchy by the king's advisors in pursuit of the traffic in women
and children for illicit labor, pedophilia and prostitution.
of Santi and Atthaniti to the Privy Council should be thoroughly investigated by an independent international panel, with
emphasis on crime and human rights.
Other Thai officials using the monarchy to cover criminal behavior
President of Thai Red Cross Society
President, Law Society of Thailand; heads of law firm, Dej-udom & Associates
President, Law Society of Thailand
Ministry of Labor & Social Welfare
Thai Foreign Ministry
Human Rights Division, Law Society of Thailand
Dej-Udom & Associates, Bangkok law firm
President of Regional Court
Office of the Inspector General, Ministry of Labor & Social Welfare
A Comment from Andrew Garrison, Boston, Massachusetts, October 22, 2007:
John Thomas has every right to post this website.
Very recently, the president of Thailand's Supreme Court (there is no chief justice because the position
would entail too much responsibility for a Thai to handle) tried to get a bill passed through the "puppet' one-house parliament
appointed by the junta that would have protected all members of the Privy Council from any criticism by making it
an act of lese majeste to criticize a Privy Council member.
Can you imagine such a thing?
I was there at the time and some judges confided to me that if the bill passed another bill would be
proposed to offer Thai judges the same protection.
Can you imagine that?
Alas, the chairman of the Privy Council said the bill was not wanted by the Privy Council. But that was
only after some criticism from the public.
So the bill just protects members of the royal family from criticism. I think that applies only to members
of the king's immediate family. (Ed.: Some of the king's close relatives are in jail, including one for murder.)
This won't work, of course, because the Crown Prince has been
unpopular for a long time.
V i s i t o r s' C o m m e n t s
A comment from Victor Kowlaski, Bankok, October 1, 2006:
I noticed that this website was deleted on the eve of the recent
military coup d'etat in Thailand (September 19, 2006) and that several of the officials exposed in this website have since
accepted high posts from the ruling junta.
Victor Kowalski, Bangkok
Ed. note: Other websites, critical of the same lawyers and judicial
officials, were also deleted. See comments by Vance Lewin, below.
Parents Shocked by King's Appointment of Santi Trakal
A comment from Patiwat Panurach, June 8, 2006
I read with great interest and dismay your startling accusations that Santi Thakral was involved in drug and child trafficking. These
crimes are disgusting, and I find it horrible that the Thai King would appoint someone like this as one of his personal advisors.
I wish to do further research into this issue, and would greatly appreciate it if you could send me some more links or
articles involving Santi and the trafficking charges.
Patiwat Panurach (A concerned father)
Santi Trakal, Attaniti Dijam-nat and Jiraniti Havanon conspired with an international pedophile ring
that included Thai police, welfare, foreign ministry and judicial officials. The relevant documentary evidence is
in the Thai criminal courts.
The Thai judicial system is extremely slow. Some cases take decades to conclude.
By the time some criminal cases come to court, the statutes of limitation have run out. That is what happened in the case,
for example, of Sobraj, a French national accused of committing numerous murders in Thailand. The statutes should
be changed so that murderers and kidnappers and their accomplices do not get away.
About the Privy Council
Comment from Puang Phanich, Bangkok, March 26, 2006
Just who sits on the Privy Council? The public would like to
Just who is on the Privy Council? And who are the secretaries?
the news today, it is understandable that readers should demand more details.
Now would be a most appropriate
time for the the Thai press to describe the duties of the Privy Council and list the names of all 19 Privy Council members.
Not a single website provides an accurate up-to-date listing of the Privy Council membership. The press should also include
biographical details about the Privy Council members.
The press should also tell the readers something about
the King's secretaries. After all, they too are often in the news these days.
Puang Phanich Bangkok
Ed: the King's Principal Private Secretary is Arsa Sarasin
Comment by Arisa Ratanakul of Bangkok, June 10, 2006
Abuse on royal power by crooks
At the beginning of the year the King expressed
concern about the unusually high and increasing number of lese majeste complaints and stated that the king was not
infallible; His Majesty invited and welcomed personal criticism.
The scandal-ridden night safari of Chiang
Mai obtained use of public land by a royal decree.
This is but one of many instances of abuse
of royal powers by crooks in Thailand .
Ultimately, and above all, responsibility
for such royal decrees lies with the king - then his aides, the privy council and the prime minister’s
Arisa Ratanakul, Bangkok
A Comment by
Siriphon Prousakh of Bangkok , May 31, 2006
Thailand will have to implement French presidential system
The King could have responded to persistent
requests to appoint a new prime minister by appointing an interim prime minister. He chose not to. Instead, he deferred to
The costly political impasse in Thailand
, which will not be resolved before late October at the earliest, could have been avoided by a strong presidential system.
It appears that the King, who is almost
80 years old, acted as he did to warn his fellow countrymen to prepare for the day when they will be without him.
The king seems to realize that eventually
Thailand will have to replace the monarch by a president as head of state and that the president will have to have considerable
power, like the president of France .
About Lese Majeste
August 20, 2007
A message was posted on the webboard of Thailand's second-biggest English language daily newspaper, The
Nation, "Why did Thaksin attack the king?" by "Professor" on Aug 5, 1007, attributing attacks on a website,
Panthip.com, against the king of Thailand to "cronies" of ousted prime minister, Thaksin Shinawatra. Click: http://www.nationmultimedia.com/board/thaipol/view.php?id=1432&offset=0
In response, someone called "Joe" posted a message that Thaksin or his associates were not
attacking the king and that they were actually attacking the Privy Council chairman, General Prem Tinsulanonda.
"Whatever Thaksin's views on constitutional monarchy or the institution of the monarchy in Thailand, he never attacked
"Thaksin had a disagreement with Prem somewhere along the way. I can't recall when and where exactly. They never got
along after that.
"Prem himself never claimed that Thaksin attacked the king. But his cronies, pointing out that he was the Privy Council
chairman, claimed that to attack Prem was to attack the monarchy.
"Judges in Thailand do the same thing. When exposed for criminal wrong-doing, they are quick to stress that they represent
the king. They say nothing more. But someone else takes it from there to intimate (or warn) that to expose the judge of criminal
wrong-doing is an act of lese-majeste.
An attack against Prem does not constitute an attack against the monarchy. To say that it does drags the monarchy into
the fray. So, actually, it is Prem's supporters who are attacking the monarchy, not Thaksin."
Indeed, the same point can be made against judges who insist that to expose their criminal conduct is to attack
About the NCCC
From Yuan Jammkrapong, Thonburi
August 1, 2005
Dear Mr. Thomas,
There are several anti-graft and anti-corruption
agencies in Thailand. The National Counter Corruption Commission (NCCC) is the most highly-touted and the best known. The
NCCC has reportedly more more than 7,000 complaints against government officials to investigate. But aside from one or two
highly publicized cases, it has accomplished very little.
Last year, the Supreme Court took the NCCC commissioners
to task over a self-pay hike proposal. Almost one year later, the Supreme Court found the NCCC commissioners guilty of breaking
the law and forced them all to resign.
In the next day or so, nine new NCCC commissioners are to be selected
in a process overseen by the president of the Supreme Court.
The Supreme Court is not above the law. But it is
certain that the NCCC will remain ineffectual if the new commissioners must be approved by Supreme Court justices who will
blackmail them or suspend them if they consider complaints against judiciary.
The governing rules and regulations
of the NCCC should be redrawn and the public should elect NCCC commissioners.
Yuan Jammkrapong, Thonburi
Visitor's Comment, August 2, 2005
From Tharm Wasawang, Bangkok
Dear Mr. Thomas,
I submitted the following letter to the Bangkok Post and The Nation. One printed it recently after editing.
Feel free to add it to your visitors' comments.
The Thai public should be allowed to elect the commissioners of the National Counter Corruption Commission (NCCC). Otherwise,
the NCCC will never function properly or effectively.
An NCCC selection panel, composed of government officials and others who work for the government, is not free of conflicts
of interests and cannot be trusted to make a fair and impartial selection of NCCC commissioners.
The chief justice of the Supreme Court is one of 15 members of the NCCC selection committee. Two years ago a notoriously
corrupt and ineffectual Supreme Court justice made it all the way to the semi-final round of voting for NCCC commissioners,
largely through the support of cronies. Judges can make deals with one another to ensure that one is appointed to a committee
or commission now in order to help the other onto it later.
The public should elect NCCC commissioners from persons who are not personally associated with or obligated to the government
in any way.
The government should provide candidates with a set amount of funds to campaign for a position on the NCCC. The government
should prohibit the use of personal resources in the campaign. The campaign should last three to four months to allow the
public to familiarize itself with all of the candidates. Candidates should be allowed the same amount of free air time on
television and free space in newspapers.
Tharm Wasawang, Bangkok
Visitor's Comment, August 3, 2005:
From Martin Bishop, Bangkok
The current procedure for selecting candidates for the Thai government's National Counter Corruption Commission (NCCC)
ensures that there is no possibility that the anti-graft body will ever live up to its name.
A government selection panel, made up of 15 members, is to choose 18 candidates from all applicants and present
them to the Senate for final selection this week or next.
The public has often complained that NCCC commissioners had conflicts of interests, usually stemming from ties to
government and government officials.
Thus, the selection panel should keep government officials off the NCCC.
But the selection panel itself is composed almost entirely of government officials and appointees, including several
chief justices (or presidents) of various courts - the Supreme Court, the Constitution Court, the
Administrative Court, etc. - and it is chaired by the chief justice of the Supreme Court. According
to the Bangok Post today, August 3, the applicants for the NCCC are "many active and forner Supreme Court judges,
a number of former provincial governors . . ."
Outside of Bangkok Province, where the provincial governor is an elected official, provincial governors are still appointed
by the Ministry of Interior. District chiefs, provincial and regional court judges, and other government officials are also
Two days ago, Thais nation-wide chose their township (tambon) headmen for the first time through popular elections.
It appears that Thais are also ready to elect provincial governors, district chiefs, provincial and regional court
Some have advised choosing NCCC commissioners through a national election. Indeed, that would be the best
way to do it.
By the way, note that according to The Nation today, August 3, " . . . as of yesterday . . . . only 16 people
had asked to be considered . . ." but, according to the Bangkok Post, also today, " . . . althogether, 39 people
have applied . . ."
Martin Bishop, Bangkok
Comment, August 6, 2005:
Khun Mongkhol, Bangkok
to the visitor’s comment by Tharm Wasawang of Bangkok on August 2, I should like to say that indeed the English-language
newspaper, the Bangkok Post, published all but part of one paragraph of his comment, which he submitted
as a letter to the editor, on July 25.
to Mr. Tharm's comment in this website, the part of his letter that was edited by the Bangkok Post referred to a former Supreme Court justice, unnamed, who failed to get a seat on the National Counter Corruption
Commission (NCCC) two years ago. Mr. Tharm described the judge as "notoriously corrupt and ineffectual".
was clearly referring to Prasert Kiennilsiri, who is again seeking a seat on the NCCC.
court chief justice in northeastern Thailand and, later, a Supreme Court justice, Prasert had a foul reputation for ineptness,
dishonesty, corruption, perversity and conspiracy. He joined criminal gangs, pedophiles, pimps, and other corrupt judicial
officials in the traffic in women and children and the intimidation of victims and witnesses.
should have been impeached long ago. He should be prosecuted for malfeasance and other criminal offenses. He should be taken
to task also for human rights violations. Since the findings and recommendations of all investigative bodies in the judiciary
must ultimately pass through the Supreme Court, Prasert is free.
is the judiciary's leading candidate for a seat on the NCCC is symptomatic of a thoroughly corrupt criminal justice system
in Thailand .
note: The second name, Kiennilsili, is also spelled Khieninsili,Khienninsilli, Khienilsiri, etc.
first name, Prasert, is pronounced as two syllables: pra (short a) - sairt'. The second or family name, Kienninsili,
is pronounced as four syllables: Kyen (hard k, short e) - in' (short i, pronounced "in"; (the n is
sometimes pronounced as an l and the syllable is pronounced as "il") - si (short i) - ri' (i as long e); the last syllable
is also pronounced as li' (i as long e).
Comment, August 9, 2005:
are actually 80 applicants for a seat on the Thai government’s much ballyhooed National Counter Corruption Commission
(NCCC). The government-appointed selection panel must trim the list to 18 candidates and refer it to the senate by August
25. The senate will appoint nine commissioners from the 18.
your article, you pointed out that proficiency in English is required for a law degree in Thailand and yet few lawyers in
Thailand can understand the language. Indeed, it is obvious that those deficient students made deals with their instructors
to get the passing marks that they did not merit. It is, therefore, ironic to see a former Supreme Court justice, Prasert
Kieninsilli, requesting a seat on the NCCC. Prasert does not understand English. He needs a translator. He could not have
gotten a law degree without corruption.
should add that Prasert hates foreigners, especially Americans. While chief justice of the regional court in northeastern
Thailand and a Supreme Court justice, Prasert formed a criminal conspiracy with several provincial court judges; two other
northeastern regional court justices, Nipon Jaisomran and Sootichok Teptrairat; two successive chief justices of the
Supreme Court, Santi Trakan and Attaniti Dit-am-nat; and the Supreme Court secretary, Jiranati Havanon, to reject cases presented
by foreigners and also back complainants against them.
Teth Sarasin Bangkok
comment from Mr. Teth, similar to the comment above, appeared as a letter to the editor in the Postbag section of
the Bangkok Post on August 15, 2005.
The first name, Nipon, is pronounced as two syllables: Ni (short i) -
pon' (short o); the second or family name, Jaisomran, is pronounced as three syllables: Jai' (ai as a long i) - som (short
o) - ran (short a).
The first name, Sootichok, or Sutichoke, is pronounced as three
syllables: Soo ' (double as in the English words look or hook) - ti (short i or long e) - choke (long o and silent e); the
second or family name, Teptrairat, or Teptairat, is prounounced as three syllables: Tep' (short e) - trai or tai (ai
as long i) - rat (short a).
photo of Prasert Khienninsilli
Prasert Khiennilsiri, former
Michael Whitman in Khon Kaen, Thailand, August 15, 2005:
judiciary is the most corrupt branch of the government in Thailand. There are infinite reasons for complaints, including the
fact that complaints against judges are passed around from one office of the judiciary to another without receiving proper
consideration before they are finally squelched by Supreme Court justices and judges serving as their secretaries.
must be resubmitted, therefore, to offices outside the judiciary. The result, however, is almost always the same.
leading anti-corruption agency is the National Counter Corruption Commission (NCCC) and as such it is one office that receives
complaints against the judiciary. But, like other government offices, the NCCC is ineffective. It’s not even a decent-looking
year, for reasons having more to do with showing off one’s bureaucratic superiority than with enforcing proper ethics,
the Supreme Court justices suspended all NCCC commissioners over the commissioners’ attempt to give themselves a pay
increase. The Supreme Court found all the commissioners guilty nine months later, gave them suspended jail sentences and forced
them to resign.
month, a government-appointed selection panel of dubious design and qualification, chaired by the chief justice of the Supreme
Court, and the senate are to select new commissioners for the NCCC.
contest to fill the post of NCCC commissioners is a reminder that notoriously corrupt government officials enjoy great freedom
in Thailand and that they expect to run the government's anti-corruption agencies to maintain their status-quo.
an agency with more power and authority than the NCCC should be created to keep the judiciary in check.
remains for the press, therefore, to point out the need for more transparency, allowing for closer public scrutiny. The local
press, however, has not released the names of all the 80 candidates for the NCCC and it has, by reference to merely a few
candidates who are government officials, given the impression that journalists and editors themselves have conflicts of interests.
Visitor's Comment from
Jang Boonyai of Bangkok , August 19, 2005
to Thailand 's leading English-language daily newspapers, the Bangkok Post and The Nation, on August 19, 2005,
a government panel of 15 officials selected 18 candidates from 80 applicants for the nine posts of commissioner on the government's
National Counter Corruption Commission (NCCC) yesterday and referred the shortlist to the senate.
shortlist is an example of cronyism at its worst.
selection panel was chaired by the current chief justice of the Supreme Court. It is not surprising, therefore, that the shortlist
of 18 includes three former Supreme Court justices: one chief justice and two associate justices. One of the former associate
justices, Prasert Kienninsili, is unqualified for a position on the NCCC and was rejected two years ago. He is a crony of
a former chief justice, Santi Trakal, and Supreme Court secretary, Jiraniti Havanon.
senate wull show better sense than the selection panel.
In the future, the NCCC selection panel should be composed of persons outside the government who have demonstrated
an understanding of corruption and proved their sincerity and honesty in combating it.
Ed. note: The above comment from Mr. Jang appeared in similar form, abbreviated or edited, in The Nation,
an English-language daily newspaper in Thailand, on August 21, 2005.
Thaksin and his cronies, the
appoints new NCCC commissioners.
the purge is imperfect and Klanarong returns.
A commment by Grapan Ladikul in Bangkok, September
The army has desposed Thaksin
Shinawatra, the Prime Minister, and is purging his cronies from the government and armed forces.
The army has dismissed the
nine commissioners elected by the senate to the NCCC earlier this year and appointed new commissioners:
Klanarong Chantik is one of
the nine new commissioners appointed by the army.
Klanarong was secretary-general
of the old Office of the Counter Corruption Commission (OCCC), which was formed in 1996, to investigate complaints against
public officials. This office was "under the direct supervision of the Prime Minister's Office". It changed its name to the
National Counter Corruption Commission (NCCC) around 2000.
As secretary-general, Klanarong
handled thousands of complaints submitted to the NCCC against public officials after other agencies and offices had failed
to consider them.
A teacher up-country molesting
pupils? A cop demanding bribes from victims of crimes to pursue their complaints? A headman not doing his job? A criminal
court judge lost his marbles? A prosecutor ignoring trafficking in children by welfare officials? Superiors ignoring complaints?
Complain to the Prime Minister!
That was the last step. 999 times out of 1000, the Prime Minister's office sent the complaint to the OCCC/NCCC. Within a couple
of years, Klanarong wrote to the complainant to announce, with regret, that the OCCC/NCCC could not pursue the complaint.
No explanation given. Thousands of people throughout Thailand have such letters from Klanarong. 999 cases out of 1000 were
never investigated by the OCCC/NCCC.
In 2000, the local press made
Klanarong a hero for pursuing a complaint of assets concealment against Prime Minister Thaksin Shinawatra.
As secretary-general, Klanarong
did not have a role in determining the NCCC's commissioners' decision to eventually drop the case. But for bringing the case
to the commissioners, Klanarong was dismissed from his job.
In 2003, Klanarong was accused
of defaulting on a Bt1.9-million loan.
Also in 2003, Klanarong was
accused also of adultery.
Also in 2003, Klanarong ran
for a vacant NCCC commissioner's seat and lost.
Earlier this year, 2006, Klanarong
joined the anti-Thaksin bandwagon. For having presented a complaint against Thaksin to the NCCC commissioners years ago, he
was hailed as a graft fighter.
Also earlier this year, Klanarong
declined to run again for a commissioner’s post on the NCCC.
Now, the military has staged
a coup, taken over the government, scrapped the NCCC that was elected by the senate earlier this year and appointed Klanarong
as one of the NCCC commissioners.
And Klanarong has accepted
The same worm who sidetracked
thousands of legitimate complaints from the public against government officials while secretary general of the NCCC is now
an NCCC commissioner because the military does not know any better.
What will Klanarong do now
on the NCCC?
Toss out thousands of complaints
resubmitted to the NCCC since he was dismissed from it!
Comment, from --------------------, January 12, 2006:
US Embassy gave
Thai judges visas
I can confirm personally
that two of the above-named Thai judges, who conspired in the traffic in children to pedophiles abroad, received visas to
travel to the United States. They are Jiraniti Havanon, secretary to the Suprme Court, and Sootichoke Teptrairat, associate
justice of the regional court in Northeastern Thailand.
A comment from Sukhon Thinakhon, Bangkok, March 19,
Some of the Thai judicial officials
named by John Thomas in his website as complicit in the traffic in women and children and intimidation of witnesses have American
citizenship. Others reside in the U. S. Others travel freely to and from the United States.
And some of them have been in contact with the
U. S. Central Intelligence Agency (C. I. A.).
When Thai judicial officials do a real dirty job on someone, check to see who else is involved. Often
enough, when the traffic in narcotics or in women and children is involved, the C. I. A. is involved too.
Visitor's Comment, September 6, 2005
Constitution Court Chief Justice Phan Chantraphan was guilty of misconduct at Ministry of Labor and
Comment by Wattana Jongkal na Ayuttaya, Bangkok:
The current chief justice of the Constitution Court of Thailand, Phan Chantraphan, committed malfeasance and other felonious
offenses while holding successive posts at the Ministry of Labor & Social Welfare ten years ago.
Mr. Phan failed to take proper action when informed of the complicity of welfare officials in the traffic in women and
Acting Chief Judge, Constitution
Who are the Constitution Court judges? For a listing of each of the 15 judges, with brief biographies, see:
A Comment from Sonkheth
Rejwanwan, Bangkok , November 24, 2005
Add Dej Bunnag to the
list of Corrupt Officials in Complicity with Pedophile Rings
With reference to the
comment by Wattana Jongkal na Ayuttaya about the misconduct of Phan Chantraphan, current chief justice of the Constitution
Court, while he was at the Ministry of Labor and Social Welfare ten years ago, I would like to add that another well-known official
in the same ministry at the same time, Dej (pronounced "Det") Bunnag, was also guilty of similar misconduct.
Dej Bunnag ignored
complaints about traffickers in women and children and the complicity of ministry officials in the illicit trade. It was his
responsibility to investigate the complaints and take proper action. He did absolutely nothing.
Sonkheth Rejwanan, Bangkok
was Anupote Bunnag!
I would like to point out
a crucial error in one of the letters from the public to the John Thomas website.
In one particular letter its
author complained that Dej Bunnag was involved in the traffic in women and children. This was a mistake. The letter mentions
Dej Bunnag as having conspired in the illicit trade while at the Ministry of Labor & Social Welfare.
Bunnag is the surname of many
people in Thailand. The Bunnags are an old family of Muslim merchants from the Persian Gulf who settled in Thailand some 500
years ago. You will find Bunnags everywhere today. Eventhe King of Thailand is related to the Bunnag (pronounced
Boon - agh) family.
The Bunnag concerned in this
matter was not Dej Bunnag, who has worked mostly for the Foreign Ministry.
It was Anupote Bunnag.
Anupote worked in the Inspector-General's
Office of the Ministry of Labor & Social Welfare in the mid-1990s. He was the one involved in trafficking cases.
Panich, Nakhon Ratchasima, Thailand, September 27, 2005:
Thailand, a committee of the legislature’s upper house, the senate, is soon to decide the composition of the government's
much-ballyhooed graft fighting agency, the National Counter Corruption Commission, also known by the acronym NCCC.
Thai media has long played up the NCCC while the public has complained that the commission is a political ploy, set up solely
for cosmetic purposes, and that its commissioners are as lazy and corrupt as the officials and organizations they are asked
to investigate. Another oft-repeated complaint about the NCCC has been that it was set up to function under the direct supervision
of the prime minister's office.
year, when NCCC commissioners voted themselves a pay-raise, there were protests from other government officials. The Supreme
Court suspended the agency. Nine months later, the Supreme Court declared that the commissioners had acted unconstitutionally.
Earlier this year, the Supreme Court gave the commissioners suspended one-year jail sentences and forced them to resign.
a committee was formed by the government to recommend 18 candidates to the senate, which would select nine new commissioners
for the NCCC.
were protests from the public that the government's selection committee was composed almost entirely of current and former
government officials and dominated by the military, police and judiciary. The committee was chaired by the chief justice of
the Supreme Court. Two Supreme Court associate justices also sat on the committee.
give the committee the appearance of some legitimacy, the head of a local university was appointed to it. In an immediate
display of unethical conduct, this person invited a former NCCC commissioner, who had been tossed off the NCCC two to three
years ago, to apply to the selection committee for a commissioner's post. This particular ex-commissioner, about whom there
had been many complaints from the public, has been the darling of the media in stories about anti-corruption since his removal
from the agency, pointing out the corruption and conflicts of interests of newspaper editors.
persons applied to the selection committee for the nine commissioners' posts on the NCCC.
by complaints of cronyism and bias, the selection committee proceeded to nominate three former Supreme Court justices, including
one who had failed to get a commissioner's post last year.
fact that this particular ex-judge, Prasert Khiennilsiri, is again a candidate for an NCCC commissioner's post and has made
it as far as the senate screening committee points out the cronyism, ignorance and irresponsibility of the Thai government
officials who have considered his candidacy thus far.
chief justice of one of Thailand's regional courts, in northeastern Thailand, and, later, as a Supreme Court associate justice,
Prasert conspired with pedophile rings that included government officials to traffic in women and children, obstruct investigations,
thwart victim recovery efforts, and intimidate victims and witnesses.
was the subject of numerous lengthy and well-documented complaints to the NCCC, which the previous NCCC commissioners sat
on or filed away. He would like to get his hands on those complaints. If he does, many people will require round-the-clock
joined the political party, Tai Rak Tai, of the multi-billionaire prime minister, Thaksin Shinawatra, in the hope that the
prime minister or his party would pave the way for him.
Thaksin himself was involved in at least one child trafficking case in which Prasert was complicit: Thaksin, after he had
become prime minister, ignored the pleas of a family for his cooperation in rescuing a child.
could be another reason that Prasert, who knew all about the case, joined the Tai Rak Tai.
Puang Panich, Korat, Thailand
Visitor's Comment from ThanaHethisethiran of Bangkok,
October 13, 2005
When lawyers in Thailand
cheat their clients the latter can complain to the Law Society of Thailand and often do.
Unfortunately, Law Society
officials seldom take any action against the lawyers, especially when the lawyers concerned are Law Society staff members
or were appointed to the complainant by the court at the request of the Law Society.
Worse still, Law Society
lawyers and officers often form criminal conspiracies with government officials, including court officials, to cheat
of the National Counter Corruption Commission (NCCC) claimed that they could not accept complaints from the public against
lawyers or the Law Society because the lawyers were not government officials and the Law Society was not a government agency. NCCC commissioners maintained also that they could not consider
complaints against lawyers who had been appointed by the courts at the request of the Law Society.
Law Society lawyers and
officers work hand in hand with the courts. Thus, the
NCCC should take Law Society officers and lawyers to task for cheating the public or conspiring with government officials
against the Law Society's clients.
Senate to select NCCC commissioners today
from Wong-wong Kaiwanlit of Bangkok , November 1, 2005:
The senate is to select nine commissioners
for the National Counter Corruption Commission (NCCC) from 18 candidates today.
A senate screening panel is to submit its
findings to the senate for consideration before the vote.
There is wide-spread concern that the process
by which the commissioners are selected is seriously flawed.
One of the 15-member selection committee
that paired the list of 80 candidates down to 18 in August was himself the object of a complaint to the NCCC.
Complaints to the NCCC were also made against
12 of the 18 candidates.
The senate screening committee deemed five
of the 18 candidates unfit for NCCC commissioners’ posts.
Many of the candidates, including Police
General Darun Sotthibandhu, Supreme Court Justice Surapol Ekyokha, army chief Gen Prawit Wongsuwan, Provincial Administration
Department director-general Siva Saengmanee, Attorney General Kampree Kaeocharern, former judge Prasert Khiennilsiri, and
the Prime MInister's deputy secretary Naengnoi na Ranong, are cronies of high political and government figures. There is great
concern that they could cripple the NCCC if posted to it. All complaints of corruption against government officials and politicians
must pass first through the NCCC, which can accept or reject them.
The pro-government press in Thailand , especially
the English-language daily newspapers the Bangkok Post and The Nation, which are owned and run by local and
foreign Chinese interests, has been touting the above-mentioned candidates “as highly favored”.
There are rumors of bloc voting. Politics,
particularly “money politics”, could determine the composition of the NCCC.
In the past, the NCCC refused to investigate
so-called "independent" non-governmental agencies. Apparently, it will have to do
so in the future. But that seems to be the only new positive aspect of the NCCC. The commissioners are to serve nine-year
terms, far too long in a country where corruption is a way of living. Furthermore, it will be difficult to impeach corrupt
commissioners. Three to four-year terms would be more than long enough.
Another comment from Michael Whitman in Khon Kaen, Thailand, November 18, 2005:
New NCCC unlikely to be anything new
On November 1, Thailand's senate selected nine commissioners for the country's number one anti-corruption office, the
National Counter Corruption Commission (NCCC). All complaints of corruption against politicians and government officials must
be considered first by the NCCC.
The senate selected the nine commissioners from 18 candidates.
There were many complaints that the selection process was seriously flawed. The 15-member selection panel, which selected
the 18 candidates from a list of 80 (or 88) in August, consisted of high present and former government officials and chaired
by the chief justice of the Supreme Court. One member of the selection committee was himself the object of a complaint to
Complaints to the NCCC had been made against 12 of the 18 final candidates. A senate screening committee deemed five
of the 18 wholly unsuited for a post on the NCCC.
Most of the new commissioners are cronies of high politicians and government officials.
The commissioners are to serve for nine years - absurdly long terms -
and it will be difficult to impeach them. Three to four-year terms would have been long enough.
Previously, the NCCC had refused to accept complaints against private or "independent" agencies, like the Law Society
of Thailand and the Thai Red Cross Society, or so-called "non-governmental organizations", better known by the acronym "NGO",
like local United Nations agencies. Apparently, the NCCC will accept complaints against these organizations now and investigate
One of the candidates for the NCCC, Prasert Khienninsili, was a former chief justice of the regional court in northeastern
Thailand and an associate justice of the Supreme Court. While on the courts, Prasert conspired with pedophiles and traffickers
in children and their accomplices in government positions to obstruct search and recovery efforts and to intimidate relatives
of victims and complainants and witnesses. (There is documentary evidence to that effect.)
Twice, after his retirement from the judiciary, Prasert tried to get a commissioner's post on the NCCC. After he was
rejected last year, he tried again this year, this time with the backing of the Prime Minister's political party. It appeared
also that the local press was behind him. While, in fact, few expected him to get a post on the NCCC, the press described
him as a "favorite". But the senate, meeting in full session on November 1, rejected his candidacy.
Prasert has yet to answer for his crimes. Complaints against Prasert have been made to the NCCC. But few expect the NCCC
commissioners, former Supreme Court justices among them, to deal him proper justice.
Un-Dead! Perverts Masquerading as Juvenile Court Officials!
comment by Michael Whitman, New York, August 19, 2006:
Khienninsilli is a retired judge in Thailand.
Several years ago, Prasert was chief justice of one of the country’s four regional courts, region # 4, northeastern
Thailand, located in the city of Khon
recently, Prasert was one of 87 judges on the Supreme Court, located in Bangkok.
While on the Supreme Court, Prasert tried twice to get a post as one of the nine commissioners on the Thailand’s much-ballyhooed National Counter Corruption
Commission (NCCC). He failed both times. The first time he reached the final list selected by the senate. The second time
he was cut out early by the senate.
down from the Supreme Court, Prasert was posted as a consultant to the Juvenile & Family Court in Khon Kaen.
could Prasert, who was in complicity with pedophile and prostitution rings, get posted as a consultant to a Juvenile &
Family Court should be thoroughly investigated?
After all, that is how organized crime works.
recently, in July 2006, Prasert resurfaced in public in an attempt to get one of the five commissioners’ posts on the
highly controversial Election Commission (EC). But he was turned down.
Prasert’s ties to the Thai Rak Thai political party of the prime minister, Thaksin Shinawatra, could not help him.
should be the end of Prasert.
the whole story, "The Un-Dead! Perverts Masquerading as Juvenile Court Officials!" visit the website: http://whitmanth.tripod.com/
A visitor's comment by James Page of Bangkok on January 7, 2006, 2005:
King should reject senate's NCCC nominees
The nomination of the post of auditor-general requires the approval of
the king of Thailand.
The king has refused to approve a new nominee for the post, which was meant
to replace the current auditor-general who has upset many by her determination to take corrupt officials to
The King of Thailand should reject the senate's
nine nominees for commissioners' posts on the National Counter Corruption Commission (NCCC) because the nominees have connections
to high officials in government, non-governmental organizations, politics and even the media.
In fact, the King's approval of the senate's nominees would ensure that
the NCCC would not function as an honest anti-graft body should. His approval would be inconsistent with his earlier
refusal to approve a new nominee for auditor-general.
The King should return the list of NCCC nominees to the senate without
his approval and with the recommendation that the senate select nominees with less obvious conflicts of interest.
The King should recommend also that the senate reduce an NCCC commissioner's
term from nine years to a more realistic, or reasonable, two to three years.
from Vance Lewin in Bangkok, November 6, 2005:
American woman in Bangkok is in conspiracy with the Thai Mafia to commit crimes against foreigners, including other Americans.
of Jane Puranananda
foreigners in Thailand get into legal trouble and need a local lawyer, they ask friends and their embassies for advice.
of local lawyers, handed out by embassies to their nationals upon request, are merely a suggestion and often list unscrupulous
lawyers who habitually cheat clients. Unfortunately, treacherous lawyers remain on
embassy lists many years after they have been roundly denounced and should have been disbarred and imprisoned.
the last resort, some foreigners, from the East as well as the West, have asked the Law Society of Thailand (LST), a private
organization of local lawyers that provides free legal assistance to those who cannot afford it, for representation.
the LST rarely helps foreigners. In almost every case, foreigners who contact the LST are given the runaround and dissuaded
from trying to obtain legal help. LST officials pretend not to speak English. They skip appointments. They insist that all
foreigners are rich and can afford to pay lawyers whereas Thais are poor and cannot.
the LST has on rare occasions provided lawyers to foreigners who could not find a one even for hire. But the lawyers
provided by the Law Society often cheat their clients and, in many cases, deliberately make matters worse for them. And they
are covered by senior LST officers. It is useless to complain.
the past several years, foreigners contacting the LST have been referred to a local American woman, Jane Puranananda, who
works for a local law firm, Dej Udom, named after the firm’s owner, Dej Udom Krairat. LST officials maintain that Ms.
Puranananda will explain to them what is required of them.
Indeed, Ms. Puranananda is listed as the law firm’s contact. And her boss, Dej Udom,
is currently also the president of the LST. Before becoming president, he was LST vice-president.
Ms. Puranananda has published a book on local textiles and is currently co-chairman
of the advisory board of the James H. W. Thompson Foundation in Bangkok .
Puranananda, however, seems to be under instructions to get rid of anyone referred to her by the LST. She gives them the runaround.
She even claims that Dej Udom is not actually with the LST. In other words, she’s
part of a scam, with Dej Udom and other LST officials, and often corrupt government officials, to deny foreigners urgently
required legal assistance.
Puranananda is one of those Americans in Bangkok who thinks nothing of cheating other foreigners, including Americans, for
local swindlers. Perhaps she thinks her connections, through her marriage to a Thai royal, place her beyond reproach?
Puranananda should be charged with conspiracy and other felonious offenses, not just in Thailand but in the United States
and other countries as well.
course, Ms. Puranananda is not the first American woman in Bangkok to conspire with local Thais to cheat other Americans.
But she is one that many people know about. The press should too.
Ed. note: The above letter was submitted to Thai
English-language newspapers but editors refused to publish it. The letter was posted on the website forum of The
Nation, Thailand's second biggest English-language daily, and drew several comments before the editors withdrew it, apparently
at the request request of one of Purananda's or because the newspaper has conflicts of interests. The article and comments
can be viewed at
The above letter
was sent to this website on November 6, 2005. I submitted
it to Thailand's two major English-language daily newspapers, the Bangkok Post and The Nation. The
Nation posted it on its on-line forum on January 16, 2006. The posting drew numerous comments before the editors removed
it shortly afterward.
Around the time
of the September 19 coup d'etat in Thailand the website, along with many others that criticized the same lawyers and judicial
officials, who have since resurfaced through appointments by the junta to high positions, was deleted by Lycos/Tripod,
a South Korean company.
Since then, I learned
that one of the editors of The Nation was related to Ms. Puranananda's Thai husband and, also, that one of the editors
was a client of the law firm, Dej-Udom & Associates.
Further, a former staffer of The Nation informed
me that the newspaper had working agreements with the law firm, Dej-Udom, the Law Society of Thailand, and the government's
National Counter Corruption Commission.
Considering other information that I have received, I believe that I
have good reason to believe that The Nation, Dej-Udom and certain employees of the American Embassy in Bangkok were
behind the website deletions.
Vance Lewin email:
firstname.lastname@example.org website: http://vancelewinreposted.tripod.com/ For American Expatriates and Tourists
in Thailand - Americans with
legal problems in Thailand are easy prey for Thai mafiosi and American accomplices
Comment by Harold Schwartz, Washington, D. C., June
American agents of foreign interests
Considering the work that Jane Puranananda,
who is an American citizen, does for Dej-Udon Krairat, she must be registered with the United States government as employed
and representing a foreign agency. Apparenlty, she is not registered as such. This is a violation of U. S. laws. Ms. Puranananda
is not immune to prosecution in the United States for her conduct abroad.
Harold Schwartz, Washington, D. C.
A Visitor's Comment from John Reasoner in Bangkok, March 18, 2006:
The letter from from Vance Lewin, about the criminal behavior of a local American
woman in Bangkok who is in conspiracy with local criminal elements to swindle other Americans, is a warning to
expatriates and tourists in Thailand .
Mr. Lewin's letter was posted on the Forum website of the English-language
Thai newspaper, The Nation, for many months. There were nine replies to it. The newspaper took it down recently.
The editors seldom remove a site.
Why did the editors remove the site? Did someone make a specific request
to have it removed? If so, who? What were his or her objections?
American embassy employee in Bangkok told me that Jane Puranananda conspired with Central Intelligence Agency (C. I.
A.) operatives at the embassy. These persons were usually officials from the consular and political offices. Indeed, their
intention was to cheat and endanger Americans in Thailand who were not professionally connected to the American government.
This was often done in conspiracy with local Thais, including Thai lawyers. Usually, this involved committing fraud.
The American and Thai public
should know about this.
John Reasoner, Bangkok
Comment by Thomason L. Keller,
Washington, D. C., April 10, 2006
What can Americans do about
bad American officials
I have been interested in the comments about
Americans in conspiracy with local Thais to swindle other Americans.
Traveling aboard as a tourist, or living
abroad as an expatriate, especially in the Third World, has always posed risks and dangers that do not ordinarily exist at
home in the Western world.
Many Westerners in the Third World have
been the victims of theft and, after identifying the thief or thieves, have been accused and sometimes charged with defamation.
Many Westerners have been innocent victims
of a car accident and wrongly accused of causing the accident or accused of defamation by the driver at fault.
Often, locals and policemen defend a local
involved in an incident even if he or she caused it.
Thieves can come from all walks of life.
There are kleptomaniacs and psychopaths from wealthy families. They inflict injuries upon others. They run away. They refuse
to own up. They often have the backing of local residents, the police and law courts against their foreign victim.
Indeed, there are many western tourists
and expatriates in Thailand who refuse to report crimes to the police or appear in court as witnesses. They have learned from
experience that it serves no purpose to do so and can even lead to accusations against them, physical injury and internment.
Often, the Thai police fail to report accurately
a witness's account of an incident. And the policeman's superiors, all the way to the national police chief, will not respond
positively to requests to correct an errant policeman or report. They are unlikely to heed a report or complaint submitted
directly from the public.
Prosecutors are reluctant to accept complaints
directly from the public or question a policemen's report.
The Attorney General seldom acts upon complaints
submitted directly from the public.
There are no stenographers or audio recordings
in Thai courts. There is only a secretary who takes dictation from the judge. The judge dictates to the secretary a summary
of a witness's testimony. Often, that summary is inaccurate, sometimes very much so and sometimes entirely so. Witnesses can
petition the court, with an affidavit, to correct a judge's summary of their testimony, but such petitions, though accepted
by the court, are seldom heeded.
A low court judge's superiors, all the way
to the Supreme Court, seldom accept complaints against the judge or oppose the judge's decisions.
Often enough, witnesses, translators and
lawyers are intimidated by the police with harassment and threats of arrest to dissuade them from making or pursuing a complaint
A policeman, prosecutor and judge can charge
a witness with any number of offenses to dissuade him or her from testifying or pointing out their misconduct.
Worse, for a Westerner involved in a legal
matter in a Third World country, like Thailand , the employees of his country's local embassy are often reluctant to help.
Instead, they prefer to take issue with him and back the native locals against him.
Unless a Westerner has a personal contact
in the embassy of his country who can persuade local officials to cooperate the embassy is useless to him and can even make
There are many Westerners employed abroad
by native businesses, including law firms, who, without the least compunction, will oppose other citizens of their countries
if asked by their native employers to do so,
Embassy officials, including police and
intelligence operatives, have established relations with native policemen, prosecutors, judges and law firms that they do
not want to use to help a fellow citizen who has been injured, victimized, cheated, harassed or wrongly accused or detained.
This is usually due to timidity, pettiness and mendacity that is typical of many Foreign Service personnel and government
desk jobbers. They feel it inconvenient to question their local contact's actions. Often, they prefer to agree with the native
officials, just for the sake of agreement, regardless of the facts. Consular, political and economic officers at the American
embassy in Bangkok are definitely this sort of Foreign Service official. They can also perpetrate crimes against an innocent
individual through their native contacts.
There are provisions in the laws of the
United States that allow an American who was wronged by fellow citizens abroad or by the natives of a foreign country abroad
to pursue prosecution of those persons as well as sue them for damages 9n the United States.
The best known examples of such cases are
the recent prosecutions of pedophiles in America who committed criminal acts abroad. In another well-known example, victims
of human rights abuses committed by the Burmese Army, who used forced labor to build the Yadini pipeline for the American
oil company Unocal and the French oil company, Total, had recourse to an American court in pursuing claims for damages against
Americans can be insured at home against
many types of injuries and losses abroad, but not all. In the end, they will have to turn to American courts for justice and
compensation. Perpetrators of crimes against Americans in Thailand, be they Thai or American, common civilians or government
officials, acting individually or in conspiracy with others, in committing crimes or trying to cover up, can be prosecuted
in the United States under certain provisions of certain laws. Diplomatic immunity is limited.
Thomason L. Keller
Washington, D. C.
A comment from James Page, January 28, 2006:
The King and the NCCC (senate)
The King has just rejected the senate's list of nine commissioners for the National Counter-Corruption Commission (NCCC)
because they were selected from a shortlist of 17 instead of 18 as required. One candidiate withdrew at the last minute. The
senate did not bother to select another candidate. Some senators argued that an eightheenth candidate had to be
added to the shortlist before the senate could select the nine commissioners. Others were tired of the lengthy process
and wanted to get on with it.
Apparently, the King has agreed and asked the senate to chose again.
Having rejected the list of commissioners for a purely technical legal reason, will the King find it difficult the
next time around to reject the list again for the more evident reason that the nine commissioners-to-be have conflicts of
interests that will inhibit proper conduct on an anti-corruption body?
following comment was published also as a letter to the Bangkok Post on March 11, 2006
The Public has a Right to
The Thai press has been extremely
sloppy in its reporting of developments in the selection of new commissioners for the National Counter Corruption Commission
The press has repeatedly reported
that the King rejected the senate's selection of nine commissioners who are to serve nine-year terms on the NCCC, which requires
royal approval, last January.
According to the press, the
King rejected the senate's list on a simple legal technicality: the senate selected the nine would-be commissioners from a
list of 17 instead of 18, after one withdrew his name from the list at the last moment.
According to the press, the
King felt that complaints that the senate should have selected the nine from a list of 18 instead of 17 were just.
But in an article, "Rejected
NCCC nominees reapply" in the March 3 issue of the Bangkok Post, a reporter, Tul Pinkaew, revealed that "seven of the eight
candidates were rejected by the King's principal private secretary in January on the grounds that the process was 'inappropriate'".
Thus, readers learned for the
first time, two months after the fact, that it was not the King who rejected the senate's list of nominees, but actually his
"principal private secretary".
Which was it? Who rejected
the senate's list? The King or his principal private secretary? There is a world of difference between the two. And what was
the reason? A simple legal technicality, as previously reported? Or was it, as the reporter seemed to have trouble saying,
because the King deemed seven of the eight candidates unfit?
Further in this matter, it
has been more than a week since the senate panel that is to select the NCCC commissioners announced that 44 people had applied.
But the press has not listed the 44. Only a handful has been mentioned. To provide for transparency the press should list
all of the candidates for the NCCC and details about them. In a democratic society, there can be no excuse for not doing so.
The press should be more careful
in its reporting. It should report the news more fully and precisely instead of beating around the bush and offering doubletalk.
The public has a right to know to full facts.
Wattana Jongkal na
Organized Crime, the Justice System
and the Privy
Council of Thailand
last updated: Monday June 4, 2007 1:21PM
The Thai military junta and dictatorship has just deleted John Thomas' Website, "Organized Crime, the Justice System
and the Privy Council of Thailand", again.
The website pointed out corruption in the Privy Council and the complicity of the Thai judiciary in the traffic in women
The website, www.johnthomasgo.tripod.com, was posted in 2005 and frequently updated and revised. It was deleted on the night on the Thai coup d'etat, September
19, 2006, by Lycos, a South Korean company.
The website was posted again almost immediately as www.johntohomasrestored.tripod.com, deleted by Lycos within several
days but, after protests, quickly restored.
The website is posted again here, today, May 2, 2007.
John Thomas Website (restored)
Saturday April 21, 2007
You are probably searching for the following
John Thomas' Website: "Organized Crime, the Justice System and the Privy
Council of Thailand" ( website: johnthomasgo.tripod.com/index.html ) was
deleted by Lycos/Tripod in mid-September 2006.
According to Lycos/Tripod, the site "violated terms of service". The site has asked Lycos/Tripod for a more precise explanation: Just what particular terms of service did the
site violate? Was Tripod asked by someone to remove the site? If so, who?
Thai officials in conspiracy with international
pedophile and prostitution rings and traffickers in children
Your comments are welcome.
The original site was deleted with this counter
It was reposed and then deleted again with counter
It was reposted and delted again at this meter reading: 97;
It was reposted and deleted again at this meter reading:
It was reposted and delted again with this meter reading:
The previous website was deleted and then reposted,
with the same meter reading but then deleted again with the meter reading: 266;
Welcome back to John Thomas's website!
This is the fifth time that the site has been posted. It was just
blocked by the Thai junta again, a fourth time.
It is reposted here.
site was deleted five times by the Junta!
original website, John Thomas, was deleted by Lycos/Tripod on September 19, 2006, the night of the most
recent coup d'etat in Thailand.
This site was one of some 15,000
websites deleted by the junta over the next 16 months.
Contrary to its guaranty, Lycos/Tripod did not provide an explanation
for its deletion of the site, which, according to its legal obligation, it had to do within 72 working hours of deletion,
other than to say that terms of service had been violated. To this day, Lycos/Tripod has not explained what terms were violated
Lycos, an American firm founded in 1994, merged with a Spanish firm, Terra Networks, in 2000 and, as Terra
Lycos, was sold to a South Korean firm, Daum Communications Corporation, in October 2004.
The original website, which
was reposted as "John Thomas (restored)," was a copy of the deleted website with updates and revisions. This website, too,
was deleted several days after posting, but restored several days later upon demand. Yet it was eventually deleted again.
In all, this website was deleted five times and reposted each time.
Numerous Thai officials identified by
the website for ties to organized crime accepted prominent posts on advisory boards to the new government that was installed
by the military junta, in particular, the lawyers Jiraniti Havanon, Sak Khaosangrung and
Dej Udon-Krairat, and also Klanarong Chantrik. The website also named Privy Council members with ties to organized crime.
The website had not been objected to by the previous government of ousted Prime Minister Thaksin Shinawatra.
Lycos is in the habit of blocking sites whenever requested by someone who can exert some influence on the
company. In future, if Lycos receives a request to block this website, it is advised to inform the webmaster at once of any complaints, with details, before
doing anything rash.
A prime minister, Surayud Chulanond; a cabinet; advisory panels; and a one-house parliament,
the National Legislative Assembly (NLA), were all appointed by the junta after the coup d'etat in late 2006.
To ensure his position, the junta leader, General Sonthi Boonyaratglin, appointed cronies of the 86-year-old Privy
Council chairman, Gen. Prem Tinsulanonda, to key positions.
Almost all of the cabinet members were over 60 years old
and close associates of Gen. Prem. The new prime minister, Gen. Surayud, was also a privy councilor.. Members of the new
cabinet, advisory panels, and the NLA were "handpicked" by Gen. Sonthi, who later claimed that they were actually chosen by
General Vinai Paetayakul, son of the leader of a previous coup. General Vinai was invited into the
junta, known as the Council of National Security (CNS), as secretary-general, "for his legal expertise".
appointments had to be approved by Gen. Sonthi, as well as by the King, which meant that they had to be approved also by Gen.
The stated objective of the junta was to remove Thaksin Shinawatra from power, to maintain public order
and to hold new nation-wide elections. Howevere, many believed that the leaders of the junta, the cabinet and the police
were paid or bought off by Thaksin, who remained in exile, to do his bidding.
Shortly after the coup, Thaksin's wife, Pojamon, met privately with Gen. Prem. This caused a furor.
The press - and the public - questioned Gen. Prem's motives.
The junta promised to stay out of politics. But
some junta members made it clear that wanted to stay on after the promised elections as civilian rulers.
weeks after the coup, the press exposed conspicuous connections and meetings between Gen. Vinai and Thaksin's # 1 man,
Somkid Jatusripitak, who had left Thaksin's Tai Rak Tai (Thai Love Thai) party and started his own party. It appeared
that Gen. Vinai was preparing for a career in politics after his retirement from the military and that he expected Somkid
to pave the way for him.
In February 2007, the interim government of Surayud appointed Somkid, known as Thaksin’s
top economic advisor, its economic envoy. But Somkid quickly resigned when ex-newspaper publisher, Sondhi Limthongkul, and
Sondhi’s People's Alliance for Democracy (PAD) protested.
Many believed that the coup d'etat was staged
with Thaksin's connivance to offer him a way out of political and business problems, that the coup leaders were in
his pocket from the beginning and that Thaksin, through General Vinai, was pulling strings, particularly in appointing advisory
panels easily corruptible lawyers, prosecutors and judges to the courts who would eventually toss out corruption charges against Thaksin
and protect his many industrial enterprises for him.
In mid-March 2007, there were large public protests and demonstrations
in Bangkok against Gen. Prem, who widely considered to be
the instigator and mastermind of the coup and the ruling junta.
In May 2007 the Constitution Court
banned Thaksin's Tai Rak Tai party and many of its officers from politics for five years although two of them soon accepted high
posts in other parties – remarkably without causing a stir. Eventually, more former TRT members joined other parties
In August 2007, the Thai attorney general's office issued a slew of arrest warrants for Thaksin in several
corruption cases. Thaksin, settling in England, hired lawyers to fight extradition requests.
Rolling back democratic gains
Upon seizing power, the junta promised parliamentary elections within a year. Eventually, elections for the
lower house, the House of Representatives, were scheduled for October 2007. In late August 2007, the elections were rescheduled
for December 23, 2007.
Many people in Bangkok feared
that eventually there would be a repeat of Black May 1992, with protests by pro-democracy forces leading to a confrontation
with the army and much bloodshed in the streets.
Indeed, the conduct of the junta could be viewed as provocative.
Gen. Sonthi and Gen. Surayud, who was generally viewed as Gen. Sonthi's puppet, made numerous proposals to roll back some
of the most crucial democratic gains in Thai history and to fill certain civilian posts with military personnel.
is most crucial to practice democracy at the local level. But Gen. Sonthi and the Surayud cabinet proposed abolishing recently
instituted local elections.
Until the early 1900s, villagers determined matters themselves, usually through public town
meetings. In the early decades of the 20th century, the Thai royal family, through the army, police and officials who were appointed
directly by the Minister of Interior, spread its reach to the provinces. Local town meetings were supplanted
by orders from a small group in Bangkok. Village (muban) headman (phu yai ban) and the township (tambon)
headman (kamnan tambon) were appointed by the Ministry of Interior. They kept their positions until reaching mandatory
retirement age at 60.
In 2005, for the first time in a more than a century, villagers elected their headmen in elections
held throughout the country. The headmen were elected to five-year terms. (Some believed the term was too long.)
early 2007, Gen. Sonthi proposed extending the terms of headmen to ten years. Gen. Sonthi claimed that this was necessary
to fight the Jawi-speaking Malay Muslim insurgency in the country’s three southernmost provinces-Pattani, Yala and Narwathiwat. But, almost
immediately, the suggestion was applied to the entire country. Then Gen. Sonthi proposed extending the terms of headmen to the age of mandatory
retirement, age 60, throughout the country..
The puppet Surayud cabinet passed the proposal to abolish local elections and to make headmen
officials who were appointed by the provincial governor to retirement age.
Were Sonthi and Surayud bribed by the Tambon Administrative Organization (TAO)?
and the Surayud government also proposed replacing one of the two deputy provincial deputy governors with a military official.
Until Black May 1992, the upper house, or senate, had been made up entirely of appointees,
with one-third of senate seats reserved for the military. Appointments were rubber-stamped by the King. After 1992, however,
both houses of parliament were elected directly by the voters.
In 2006, the junta scrapped the directly-elected
senate. Now, half the new senate was to be appointed, with the judiciary dominating the nominating process.
Junta reinstated discredited officials
to be no lessening of the conflict in the South. The junta reinstated of Gen. Panlop Pinmanee, who, against the orders of his superior,
Gen. Chavalit Youngchaiyudh, had ordered an attack on suspected native Muslim militants hiding in a mosque in April 2004.
The resulting massacre provoked the wrath of local Jawi-speaking Malay Muslim inhabitants, who for hundreds of years have
bitterly resented the dominance of Thai Buddhist rule by Ayuttaya and Bangkok, and triggered
the current bloody civil war in the three southern-most provinces of Thailand.
The junta appointed corrupt
The junta removed from active duty the national police
chief, Pol. Gen. Kowit Wattana, who, along with Thaksin, was implicated in themurder of a Muslim human
rights lawyer, Somchai Neelaphaijit, in 2005. But the junta’s replacement for Pol. Gen. Kowit, Pol. Lt.
Gen. Seripisut Temiyawej, immediately reinstated and promoted the suspected killers and challenged Somchai's widow when she
sued the police.
Junta obstructed public expression The police, the judiciary and the press
were made to heel and obey Gen. Sonthi.
The junta blocked more than 15,000 websites since the coup d'etat.
The puppet National Legislative Assembly (NLA) and the Supreme Court proposed a bill making criticism of Privy Council
members an act of lese majeste. The bill was turned down by the Privy Council chairman, General Prem. If passed, the bill would have
given Prem and other Privy Council members unlimited leeway and unusual powers, just what they wanted but dared not take.
Is another coup possible?
controls the army can have great say over who controls the country.
Gen. Sonthi was due to retire from the army at
the end of September 2007. There was concern about his successor as army chief, who was to be chosen by him. Few wanted Gen.
Prem's favorite, assistant army chief Gen. Saprang Kalyanamitr, who was the most senior army official after Gen. Sonthi.
favored Gen. Anupong Paochinda, next in line after Gen. Saprang.
Gen. Sonthi was said to favor the army chief-of-staff,
Gen. Montri Sangkhasap.
There were reports that Gen. Saprang, fearing that he would be passed over, was preparing
In late August 2007, there were hints that Gen. Sonthi would delay his retirement and remain the junta's
leader for another six months, to March 2008.
But in mid-September 2007, Gen. Anupong was appointed Gen. Sonthi's
There was concern also that Gen. Sonthi intended to accept a post in the puppet Surayud government as
deputy prime minister and defense minister and that Surayud would eventually step aside to let him assume the post of prime
The army is led by what some call "Southeast Asian cowboys", "Third
World tinhorns" and "fascist punks". Indeed, some junta members displayed behavior that encouraged and drew such
For instance, in 2007, a top Thai army general publicly stated that the generals of the oppressive
and universally unpopular Burmese junta were the ideal model for Thai soldiers to follow.
Just a few days after the coup d'etat, Gen. Sonthi made a sudden and unexpected trip to Burma to meet the leaders of the Burmese junta. The trip appeared to have
been a way of congratulating himself and celebrating his coup. He closed out his military career with another similar
short trip to Burma in late August 2007,
the official purpose of which was unclear. He offered to mediate a peace between the Burmese junta and the insurgent
Karens and Shans.
Gen. Sonthi retired from the army on September 30, 2007. Shortly afterward, he was appointed deputy
prime minister. He resigned from the CNS but he oversaw all security matters. He supervised the national election, held on
December 23, 2007. He was determined to keep Thaksin political party fronts from competing.
Thaksin-front party wins lower house elections
The newly formed People Power Party
(PPP), headed by Samak Sundarewej, 72-year-old veteran politician and former governor of BangkokProvince, was actually Thaksin’s
political party without Thaksin and top TRT leaders. It was believed that Thaksin, or his cronies, were operating behind the
scenes and pulling strings.
There was a surprisingly large voter
turn-out for nation-wide parliamentary elections for the lower house. The media predicted that the PPP would win the elections
and perhaps do so by a considerable margin.
In the event, the PPP won 233 seats of the
480-seat lower house, just eight short of a majority. The country’s first and oldest political party, the Democrat Party,
won only 165 votes.
Some in the media called the vote a rejection of the
junta by most of the country. But this was actually a secondary
factor. In the nation-wide elections, the poor northeastern region of Thailand,
which is predominantly Lao, and the northern region of the country, which contains many poor ethnic groups, including many
Laos and ethnic Tais, voted overwhelmingly
for the PPP, as expected, because it was Thaksin's party and the two regions had supported Thaksin in two previous elections.
Many in the two northern regions benefited from Thaksin's populist programs and democratic reforms.
above, the junta had suspended some populist programs and cancelled democratic reforms at the local and national levels.
The junta wanted government bodies run by appointed
civil servants who were to be monitored by military officials.
The southern region of the country, the traditional
strong-hold of the Democrat Party, voted overwhelmingly for the Democrat Party, headed by the young Abhisit Vejjajiva. Muslims
in the southernmost provinces detest Thaksin, who, while prime minister, behaved obnoxiously and provocatively toward them,
like a Chinese businessman who thoght he could take over the region through geneocide and exploit it for personal gain.
Central Thailand was split among the PPP and Democrat Party. Most of BangkokProvince, as expected, voted for the
Democrat Party. This vote included many voters who disliked both Thaksin and the junta.
Samak, sure of becoming
the next prime minister, said he would pardon all 111 politicians from Thaksin's Party, dissolved by the courts, who were
banned from politics for five years by the junta (or, actually, the courts-at the insistence of the junta), including Thaksin.
There appeared to be a possibility that Thaksin could return to Thailand. The courts announced that Thaksin would be arrested if he returned.
new head of the army, Gen. Anupong, was unhappy with election results. But he said the army would not step in unless there
was fighting in the streets between Thaksin supporters and anti-Thaksin groups.
Short of a majority, the PPP could
not form a government on its own. Samak sought other, smaller parties to join him in a coalition.
The PPP asked former prime minister Banharn
Silpa-archa and his party, Chart Thai, to join it in a coalition government. But Banharn remained aloof. His party did
not join the coalition. (Banharn unexpectedly became prime minister in 1995 when a northern senator, Narong Wongwon, who was
considered a front-man for big-shot narcotics traffickers and next in line to become prime minister, died suddenly after a
heart attack. Banharn was not considered very different from Narong.) He soon put relatives in key government posts from
which they conspired with notorious pedophile and child trafficking rings.)
The Election Commission, headed by retired
General Sonthi, declared that it had found irregularities in the victories of 83 PPP members, thus jeopardizing the PPP's
chances of forming a solid coalition and government with other parties. This appeared to be the intent of the junta.
on the sturdiness of his coalition's margin in parliament, totaling 315, Samak, who had a four-year term, was expected to
remain prime minister only for six months to a year.
Half of senate appointed
above, the 150-seat upper house, the senate, is no longer the democratic institution it was before the coup d’etat. It is made up of 76 provincial senators, who were elected directly by
the voters on March 2, 2008, and 74 appointed senators who were nominated by 12 organizations from five sectors
(professional, government, academic, business, and private).
The nominees for the 74 appointed
seats were screened by the president of the Constitution Court.
The judiciary had first and final say in the appointments. Thus, the judiciary, which had become the tool of the military,
dominated the appointment process. (One could point out that this was, of course, an undemocratic procedure and
not what the King had in mind when he lectured the heads of the courts on democracy in 2006.)
An example of the absurdity of this
nominating procedure was the nomination of a nominee for the senate by a notoriously corrupt government agency, the National
Counter Corruption Commission (NCCC).
The Samak Government and
In Thailand, politicians, the press,
the government, the Privy Council and the judiciary are too corrupt and ineffectual for the country to maintain a stable democracy.
Thailand could be without a strong civilian
government for some time to come. The army, could, by necessity, continue to play a dominant role in the country. There could
be a long era of domination by a few military strong-men and unpopular puppet governments.
The Samak government was indeed
actually the Thaksin government but without Thaksin. This was, however, just what many people wanted. Samak said he would
restore the populist programs of the Thaksin government that had been appreciated by the poor rural north and northeast.
However, the Samak government
appeared to be unprepared to respond to the insurgency in the South. Shortly after the cabinet was sworn in by the King, the
new interior minister, the veteran politician Chalerm Yoobamrung, proposed granting autonomy to the troubled southern region.
The suggestion was quickly shot down by Samak. Chalerm then set up a “war room” to confront the conflict
in the south.
The head of the army, Gen. Anupong,
stated in April 2008 that the insurgency would be ended in the following year, 2009. However, the insurgency shows
no sign of abating.
While Samak was generally acknowledged
as more intelligent than Thaksin, who was considered street-smart rather than intelligent, his government was quickly hi-jacked
by Thaksin stooges. Military leaders appeared to be in Thaksin's pay. Thaksin's friends and relatives in the police were reinstated.
to Thailand. He was free on bail and
could travel abroad. One brother-in-law, Somchai Wongsawat, was a deputy prime minister and another brother-in-law was
next in line for the post of national police chief.
In late May 2008, Gen. Chamlong, Thailand's "Mr. Clean", and the newspaper magnate, Sondhi, launched a long protest-drive,
with popular rallies, in Bangkok against the puppet government.
Samak backed down from using force to break up the rally and the army did not intervene.
In June 2008, a huge PAD rally besieged
Thaksin's wife was eventually
found guilty in a shady land deal and sentenced to jail. She appealed the case. Thaksin was charged with a similar
crime. Amid the widespread expectation that Thaksin was preparing to flee the country, the Supreme Court mysteriously allowed
him and his wife to go abroad for the Olympic Games in China.
Thaksin and his wife failed to return to Thailand for their court dates and surfaced in England, announcing their intention
of staying there. Eventually, they requested polirtical asylum.
The PAD clashed with Thaksin-supporters
in Bangkok and Udon Thani. One PAD demonstrator was brutally
beaten to death before television cameras by PPP-supporters in Udon Thani. One PAD-supporter was killed in Bangkok.
In August 2008, thousands of PAD supporters stormed
Government House. They barred Samak
from entering his office. They demanded his resignation. The police surrounded the compound but acted with restraint. There
were some clashes between PAD and policemen, resulting in injuries to both sides. The police did not act to clear the protesters
but remained nearby and watched.
In August 2008, thousands of PAD supporters
demonstrated at the British Embassy in Bangkok, in a demand that the British government not grant Thaksin asylum but return
him to Thailand to face charges. Considering the British government's treatment of Chilean Gen. Augusto Pincohet recently,
there appeared little chance that Thaksin would escape extradition to Thailand.
Eventually, the British government barred Thaksin's entry to England. Today, many countries have barred entry to Thaksin.
He is a fugitive. He is beleived to hold the passports from five countries, including NIcaragua.
The PAD held round-the-clock rallies
at Government House. Samak declared a state of emergency in Bangkok
and ordered Gen. Anupong to clear the PAD protesters. But Gen. Anupong refused. He expressed the hope for a government
of national unity.
In September 2008, Samak was convicted by a
law court of conflicts of interests and was sentenced to jail. He was forced to resign the prime ministership. This caused
divisions within the PPP and the party refused to renominate Samak for the toppost.
Shortly afterward, Samak went to the U. S. for medical care. He had liver cancer. He passed away in December 2009.
The PPP selected Thaksin's
brother-in-law, Somchai, as acting prime minister. He took office on September 18. PAD leaders demanded an end to
the PPP and its leaders. But Somchai was the front-runner among three candidates for the prime ministership in national elections
scheduled for late December.
PAD and other anti-Thaksin groups besieged parliament and, on November 26, seized the country's two biggest airports
Somchai, who sought to retain his post,
did not have the support of the army and the police.
As an inevitable bloody encounter between
the police and protesters neared, a court ruled on December 2 that that the PPP and two coalition partners had acted
illegally in the last elections. The parties were dissolved and Somchai was forced to resign.
In the scheduled December 2008 elections, Abhisit, head
of the old Democrat Party, won most of the votes and formed a coalition government.
But Thaksin forces, employing PAD tactics, sought to force Abhist from office.
The Thai courts requested Thaksin's
extradtiion to Thailand.
Early in 2009, the PAD turned itself into a political party,
to contest in elections. Retired army general Sonthi also formed his own political party but he seems to have no support from
Thaksin lost out because he had a good thing going and, as
inevitably happens in Thailand, others wanted it and took it from him. This was foreseen long ago and he was not expected
to last his entire second term in office.
Were Thaksin and his party allowed to stand in
elections today they might win a majority of votes.
The conflict between Thaksin forces and the present ruling coalition
government (and its supporters, like the PAD) is often described by the press as a confrontation between two groups.
One group is considered an old, entrenched, shrinking ruling
elite, determined to hang on to power by any means. They are opposed to democracy. Indeed, Abhist's
government has not done much to restore long-sought democratic reforms made by Thaksin.
The other group
is a growing mass of up-country peasants and urban
laborers who are demanding more say in their lives. Thaksin
is often portrayed as a free-spending multi-billionaire who lavished money on peasants in the north and northeast to
buy their political support.
Thaksin's supporters are often
accused of trying to overthrow the monarchy. There does not appear to be any truth to
this. Rather, their accusers are old, corrupt and long out of step with the times. The King himself is not opposed to
democracy or to democratic reforms and neither Thaksin nor his supporters up-country care to
topple the monarchy. In fact, many hilltribes and refugees from
Burma in northern Thailand have sought and received protection by the monarchy.
There are big Chinese business
interests on both sides.
Some "minorities", like the Karen and the Jawi-speaking Malay
Muslims, have reason to dislike Thaksin.
But the conflict is actually one of regional differences,
between the northern and southern regions of the country - the north and northeast against the
Thai part of the Malay Penisula.
The head of the army, Anupong Paochinda, is the strongest
man in Thailand today. Thus far, he has exerted his influence wisely.
Nobody wears the yellow shirt anymore!
For three years, from 2006 to 2009, many Thais wore a yellow golf-knit short-sleeve
shirt on Mondays to display their support for the king. But by December 2009 few people still wore the yellow shirt. They
numbered one out of a hundred at the most. They were mostly in big cities.
The yellow shirt, identified with the King of Thailand for more
than three years, came to be identified with the PAD and the poilitical ambitions of
its leader, Sondhi Limthongkul. PAD supporters were seldom seen without yellow shirts. Thaksin-supporters wore red shirts.
The press liked to describe the nation's political conflict as one between yellow shirts and the red shirts. By the end of
2008, many shop owners, concerned about business, ordered their employees not to wear red or yellow shirts to work.
In April 2009, Sondhi mircaculously survived an assassination attempt. His
van was ambushed and one hundred or more bullets from M-16s and AK-47s were poured into it. Somehow he lived.
Who was behind the assasssination attempt?
Sondhi blamed the army leader, General Anupong Paochinda. But others could
have had reason to get rid of Sondhi. Thaksin, above all, was suspected of masterminding the attempt. Sondhi's son believed
that the prime minister, Abhisit, was behind the attempt.
Will Abhist restore democracy to Thailand?
In early September, there were nation-wide elections (in all 76 provinces)
on the local level and villagers chose their village (muban) and township (tamboon) headmen. (In fact, however, many districts
are holding elections at different times.)
But the nation's current senate was not democratically elected. Abhist must
call for new senate elections. This time, all senators will be elected by the people - not by the
courts, government panels or NGO-fronts.
Thaksin's star is fading, but he might still win a majority in both houses
of parliament in fully democratic elections.
In Southeast Asia today, Cambodia is the most democratic country. It is hard
to believe but it is true. And thanks to the PAD, who made a political issue out Pre Vihear to embarrass Thaksin in 2008,
the Cambodian prime minister, Hun Sen, rallying Cambodians to a national cause, won a victory at the polls fairly for the
very first time in his political career last year.
Gen. Chavalit Yongchaiyudh visited the Jawi-speaking Malay Muslim region in
the south of Thailand in October 2009 and declared, once again, as he did four or five years ago, that the region should
have autonomy. He pointed out that several regions in Thailand - Bangkok, Pattaya and
Mae Sod - are special administrative zones where the people elect their own provincial
governors and other provincial officials instead of accepting officials appointed by the Ministry of Interior in Bangkok.
But will Gen. Chavalit follow up his suggestion with action in parliament?
Will he pursue it?
Calls for autonomy in the south are unlikely to be accepted in Bangkok
at this time. But Gen. Chavalit might seek nation-wide decentralization, with elections in all provinces for
provincial governors, district chiefs, judges, prosecutors, et al.
This will be resisted by thousands of royals who have for centuries controlled
or dominated the minsitries of Interior and Foreign - and also by many others who got their
positions through the army, or through political cronyiam or family connections. (Two-thirds of the employees in the provincial
hall of Buriram, for instance, are from one family.)
But the change is inevitable. Indeed, for the first time in history, the Privy
Council office was besieged by hundreds of demonstators from Thaksin's political front party, the UDD, demanding the resignatioon
of the privy council president, Prem Tinsulanonda, and Surayud Chulanond, who is a councilor. The two are accused of using
their positions to swipe land from forest reservations, among other things.
The days when royal officals could disregard the law are fast disapppearing.
It must be remembered that in up-country Thailand images of Che Guevara are still the most popular after those of the
Buddha and the king.
For a few months in late 2009, the color
yellow was replaced by pink. The king, who has resided at Siriraj Hospital since September 2009, put on a pink blazer
one day in November. So, on Mondays pink golf-knit shirts were very popular and to be seen everywhere. But this fad
eventually faded out.
The poor take on the government
In considering the political situation in Thailand today, one must remember that the current upper house of parliament-the senate-was not democratically elected. Abhisit has
not returned to the people (or the country) that which Thaksin gave them and Sonthi and Surayud took back from them.
Half of the current senate was selected by panels made up of members of the
judiciary, government agencies and NGOs. The other half was elected directly by the people in the provinces. This method of
selecting the senate was actually the result of a compromise with the 2006 coup leaders who wanted to appoint military men
to a large percentage of the seats in the senate.
Like the Americans before them, many Thais have tried to establish a government
with a separation and balance of powers between the executive, representative and judicial branches of government.
The current senate is an example of a system dominated by the judiciary and
against the system of checks and balances that many Thais would like to see in the government. The current system gives far
too much influence to a judiciary that is one of the slowest, most corrupt, most ineffective and most unjust in the world.
(In Thailand, if a person says he has
a case in court, the other asks if he expects to have grandchildren.)
The involvement of smaller government agencies and NGOs, who are really nothing
more than government-sponsored fronts, in selecting senate members was considered absurd and smacked of more corruption.
Some question why the king, who has said that he is not opposed to democracy,
signed the current government charter that created the current undemocratic senate. Or why he did not discourage the judiciary
from obstructing universal suffrage when it denied voters their rights to elect the nation's senate and, worse, took over
the role of the voters.
No one has addressed this matter in public. Some maintain that the king, like
most monarchs today, is merely a figure-head and a rubber stamp. He is an aristocrat who cannot be disturbed by everyday political
matters and that it is unrealistic to depend on the king to resolve political matters. Others have pointed out that on a few
occasions the king has refused to sign an order or a bill and has sent it back to its source. In this case, as in many others,
the king seems to have set the matter of principals aside in order to take the most expedient route. He assumed that the government
would straighten the matter out eventually.
People are aware that in fair and democratic national elections Abhisit could
not win. He has nothing to gain from democracy.
Upon assuming office, Abhisit and his party, the Democrats-should have given the people back everything
that Thaksin had given them. And they should have offered more. That would have been a reasonable strategy to pursue and it
could have assured them a longer stay in power. But from the start that did not appear to be their intention. Abhisit was
never interested in offering the people more than Thaksin had, or even offering as much. Certainly, not right away. Thus,
he was not an appropriate alternative to Thaksin. Over time, Abhisit, like the previous Democratic Parry prime minister, Chuan
Leekpai, looked more and more out of touch, unconcerned, inept and inane.
Thus, the inevitable bloody confrontations in the streets of Bangkok on the eve of the Theravada Buddhist New Year in mid-April.
Thaksin, who is believed to be financing the "Red Shirts", is an obnoxious
Chinese businessman, a tyrant who knew no limits, and few will argue that the region is better off without him.
Far better for Thailand
would be Chaturon Chaisang. He is a rare Thai-he listens, he is sensitive to the needs of others, and he responds favorably. He gets along with
all races and all classes. He is intelligent. He is not a trouble-maker. But he does not have the financial backing that Thaksin
had. And, he was a Thaksin man. But he was the bright star of Thaksin's government.
As the confrontations in the streets of Bangkok
continued and the blood flowed, many "Yellow Shirts" agitated for military intervention. But there was no coup d'etat, no
martial law. Instead, the army leader, Gen. Anupong, advised a dissolution of parliament and new elections
Abhisit and the Democrats agreed but stalled for time. They asked for a six-month
Some sought direct royal influence, recalling that the king had put an end
to the May 1992 confrontations. Gen. Chavalit visited the king. It is believed that Chavalit sought the king's involvement
in resolving the crisis, probably by summoning all the leaders of the various political factions to the palace, as he did
in May 1992, and asking them to cease and desist from violent confrontations in the streets. But this time the king did not
The protests, demonstrations, counter-demonstrations, confrontations, and clashes
with the police and army continued. More died, more were injured.
The king seemed to have preferred to let things run their course.
But many wondered if the king, who has been hospitalized since
September 2009, was too ill to respond to the situation. Others say the king
sees himself as above the fray and not to be bothered by arguments among political factions.Others believe that the people around the king-the secretaries, the privy councilmen, the sycophants-are in the pay of Thaksin, as were many of the 2006 coup leaders
after the coup, and did not want to move against the "Red Shirts".
The head of the army, Gen. Anupong, opposed military rule. He opposed a coup
d'etat and martial law. The general seemed to believe that the matter would play itself out. And for a while he appeared to
have been right.
On May 3, 2010, after two months of violent street confrontations with the
police and the army, the opposing political faction, the "Red Shirts", accepted Abhisit's proposal to hold new elections in
six months, on November 14, 2010. The confrontations finally came to an end.
But November was probably too far off for most people. The "Red Shirts" were
distrustful of Abhisit and the protests and confrontations resumed. Many more were killed. Abhisit revoked his agreement to
hold elections. Gen. Anupong sought to contain the "Red Shirts", wait them out, cut off their water and electricity supplies,
and offer them safe and free passage back to their homes.
On May 19, the army finally overran the last barricades and encampment of the
"Red Shirts", greatly weakened by defections, in Bangkok.
"Red Shirt" leaders surrendered. A few hours later, as Abhisit and the press claimed it was all over, big clouds of black
smoke rose up above the Bangkok skyline. "Red Shirts" set
Bangkok on fire. Shopping malls, banks, newspaper offices,
convenience stores, the stock exchange and other buildings were in flames. For the next 15 hours Bangkok burned. Thaksin Shinawatra, living in exile in France, made the ominous remark that the "Red Shirts" had lost their camp but turned
to guerrilla warfare. Much more damage was caused by the "Red Shirts" in the hours after the army overran their last camp
than in all the previous months of confrontations. If they wanted to make a political statement, it was made most clearly
in the afternoon of May 19.
Newspapermen, viewed by "Red Shirts" as pro-government, were physically attacked
in the streets.
There is reason for this. Take, for example, the international TV channel Aljazeara
in Qatar. Its a half-hour special on the
political confrontation in Thailand, aired on May 22 on its program "101 East", left the impression that Aljazeera was white-washing
the events of May 19 to make it appear that Abhisit had prevailed and the "Red Shirts" had been thoroughly routed.
Except for a brief remark at the beginning of the program, there was no mention
of the critical events that occurred later that day-the incineration of Bangkok and the
burning of government offices in Chiang Mai, Udon Thani and other up-country cities by the "Red Shirts". To Aljazeera, the
burning of Bangkok and government offices up-country was almost
a "non-event". For Aljazeera everything ended when the army took the last "Red Shirt" camp in the morning. That was irresponsible
journalism. In a subsequent airing of the program, updated and revised, as on May 23, there was still scant mention of the
tremendous damage the "Red Shirts" caused in the afternoon of May 19. The torching of scores of buildings about the country
in the afternoon was glossed over. The "Red Shirts" caused the most damage to Bangkok
on that day since the biggest Allied bombing raids in World War Two but Aljazeera was not interested.
The "Red Shirts" are the rural and urban poor. They are the have-nots. They
seek a slice of the pie, a greater say in their lives. They look to government for help and they are fed up with corrupt and
unresponsive public officials. The small ruling elite-dominating the military, the privy council, the Ministry of Interior-long entrenched in power, wants only more power and cares little
about reality of life beyond the office window. The latter will have to give in or give way.
If the "Red Shirts" are called anti-monarchist and republican that is because
they have had a bit of schooling, they have television, they have scooters, they have seen a bit of the country and know something
about life that their parents did not. They might sound like idiots but they do not want to (literally) crawl on their hands
and knees to petty officials as their parents did. And they are fed up with corrupt and inept policemen and judges who threaten
them with charges of lèse-majesté.
But there is another reason. Bangkok was never
as good for shoppers as Hong Kong and Singapore.
There was never a C. K. Tang in Bangkok. Nonetheless, Chinese
business community leaders in Bangkok ensured that shopping
centers were stocked with myriads of western goods desired by middle and upper classes at tolerable prices in the 1980s and
1990s. In recent years these goods have disappeared and prices have doubled and tripled. The bulk of shoppers in malls today
are laborers and the bulk of the products are really for them. A new generation of store owners, with no idea of common tastes,
has noticed all the peasants and laborers in the malls and decided to cater to them. Thus, one might say that in Bangkok stores carbonated grape has replaced Canada Dry ginger ale,
licorice crush has replaced chocolate milk shakes. Hotdogs with sweetened condensed milk and shoes with square toes are the
rage. The poor want more.
However the matter is finally resolved, the courts recently decided that Abhisit's
party, the Democrats, violated election laws in the election. A final court ruling is due in October. Thus, it appears that
Democrats is to be dissolved and Abhisit and the current ruling government coalition doomed. A legal technicality will end
the government before the next elections.
* The media and academics often claim that the king personally ended the bloody
Black May 1992 uprising. It is recalled that the king summoned Chamlong Srimuang, leader of the democracy protesters, and
Suchinda Kraprayoon, unpopular dictator, to the palace to order them to cease and desist from further confrontation. That
ended it all, we are told.
However, the two leaders were summoned to the palace long after the confrontation
was over. The violence had already ended. Suchinda was obviously finished and he was even reported to have fled to Denmark.
At the time, many wondered why the king acted after the fact. Had he acted
24 hours earlier, hundreds of lives could have been spared. (The “official” toll of some 50 dead has always been
dismissed as the obnoxious taunt of jokers and "pro-fascist punks" and "stooges". There are many eye-witnesses who recall
the hundreds killed over a period of three days and nights.)
Many believe that Chamlong or Suchinda orchestrated the meeting with the king
as a face-saving device to offer Suchinda an honorable way out. It is believed also that the meeting took a long time to arrange
because the king could not be contacted directly but had to be reached through numerous secretaries and officials. Some suspect
that the king would never have bothered to talk to Chamlong and Suchinda otherwise.
SHADES OF 1980s
In an effort to pry George Bush cronies from Thaksin, is Abhist trying to stir
up a red scare in Washington? Is he seeking to resurrect
Thailand's Vietnam War- era CIA-ISOC death
squads to liquidate Red Shirt leaders?
Post, June 13, 2010:
Thai envoy asks US to steer clear of mediation
"Prime Minister Abhisit Vejjajiva dispatched Kiat Sittheeamorn, president of
the Thailand Trade Representative Office, to Washington on Friday to make the case that the
red shirt protesters who occupied central Bangkok for weeks
included armed and Marxist elements."
Are some overreacting to the Che Guevara t-shirts worn by some protesters?
Burmese migrant laborers in Thailand are accused of hiring out as Red Shirt protesters. Claims that thousands
of Burmese workers were sent by Thai employers to protest in Bangkok
as Red Shirts.
The Neo-Axis fascist punk stooge, Anand Panyarachun, returns to government
service with the notorious academic, Prawas Wasi. Commissioned by the Thaksin government, they deliberately
provoked Muslim wrath in Pattani with Thaksin.
Indeed, many wonder, “Does Abhisit have a brain? If so, where did he
Monarchy in Thailand
The current Chakri dynasty of
Thailand rose out of the destruction of the city of Ayutthaya, capital of Siam for four centuries, by invading Burmese armies in 1767.
After the fall of Ayutthaya,
the governor of Kampheng Phet, formerly the governor of TakProvince,
or "Phraya Tak", who was of Teochiu Chinese and Siamese origins and whose name was Sin, rallied forces against the Burmese
and restored Siam to its former strength.
As King Taksin, he established a new capital of Siam south of Ayuttaya,
in Bang Mak Kok, or Thon Buri, on the Chao PhrayaRiver.
King Taksin was deposed and replaced
by one of his generals, Chao Phraya Chakri, in 1782. Born Thong Duang, he was the son of Phra Aksorn Sundara Smiantra, the
Chao Phraya Chakri Pitsanuloke, of an old Mon noble family of the former Ayutthaya
ruling elite. Thong's mother was from a family of Mons and
a family of Teochiu Chinese merchants in Thon Buri.
Chao Phraya Chakri was known
as King Ramathibodi (the third Siamese king with that title). He was given the posthumous title of Phra Yuttha Yod Fa Chulaloke.
He is better known today as Rama I, however, and best remembered for his establishment of Bangkok
as the new capital of Siam, across the
river from Thon Buri. Under Rama I, Siam
reached its greatest territorial extent.
The Chakri dynasty's fourth king,
Mongkut, is probably the best known king in Siam's
history. Mongkut was popularized by a best-selling book written by the English tutor of his children, Anna Leonowens, which
was published in 1870.
A long-running popular Rogers
& Hammerstein stage musical on Broadway, "The King & I", with the legendary movie star, Yul Brynner, portraying Mongkut,
and several big Hollywood films, of which the best known was "The King and I", also starring Brynner, in 1956, were based in part on the book by Leonowens.
Absolute monarchy was abolished
in a coup d'etat led by young western-educated soldiers and politicians in 1932. The lawyer and politician, Pridi Banomyong,
led the civilian faction; the future dictator, Plaek Pibulsonggram, was one of the leaders of the military faction. The king,
Prajadhipok, Rama VII, went abroad two years later, in 1934, and abdicated in 1935. The coup leaders dominated Thai society
for 25 years, until 1957.
The throne passed in 1935 to
a nine-year-old nephew of Prajadhipok, Ananda Mahidol (born in Germany in 1925), then living in Switzerland. Except for a two-month trip to Siam in 1938, Ananda remained abroad until late 1945.
On June 9, 1946-six months after his return-Ananda, age 20, was found dead in his bed, shot
through the forehead by a Colt .45 that had been given to him a short time earlier by an American
O. S. S. agent in Thailand.
Initially, the shooting was considered
a tragic gun accident. But, soon afterward, there were rumors of a suicide.
Eventually, murder was suspected.
The two main parties vying for
power in Siam accused one another of murdering
the young king. One side, backed by the British, was accused of supporting a Communist take-over of Southeast
Asia. The other side, backed by the U. S., included fascist
(Axis) war criminals who wanted a military dictatorship in Thailand.They accused one another of wanting to abolish the monarchy and getting rid of the
Eventually, three of the dead
king's closest servants were accused of negligence, an accusation widely considered unjust. They were illegally executed,
many years later, personally by the national police chief.
Ananda Mahidol's younger brother,
Bhumipol Adulyadej, 18 years old, inherited the throne on the same day of his older brother's death, June 9, 1946.
Bhumipol was born in Cambridge, Massachusetts in 1927 while his father, Prince Mahidol (1892
– 1929) , was studying medicine at HarvardUniversity; his mother, Sangwal Talabhat (1900– 1995), a commoner, the daughter
of a Chinese goldsmith in Thonburi, was a nurse. Bhumipol was educated in Lausanne,
Following Ananda’s death,
there were fears that Bhumipol had been targeted for assassination.
Bhumipol returned to Switzerland to study. He married a cousin, Sirikit Kitiyakara,
daughter of the Thai ambassador to France,
in 1950. He was coroneted shortly afterwards, also in 1950.
KIng Bhumipol did not become
a prominent public figure, however, until 1957, The country's military dictator, Marshall Sarit Dhanarajata, a Bangkok native
who had lived in Northeastern Thailand and who was related by marriage to the Laotian royal
family, encouraged him to take an active roll in public affairs by traveling about the country, supporting government projects
and participating in ceremonies.
Bhumipol has been king longer
than any monarch in Thai history. He is the ninth king, with the title of Rama IX, of the 228-year-old Chakri dynasty.
Bhumipol is also the world's
longest reigning monarch. As of June of this year, 2010, he has
been king for 64 years.
Bhumipol lost an eye in a car
accident while studying in Switzerland.
He has suffered health problems for more than 25 years. He had a severe heart ailment in the mid-1980s which, for a while,
he was not expected to survive.
He appeared to play an active
role in his country's political affairs on several occasions. He had a prominent role in resolving the country's political
crises in May 1992, March 2006 and May 2007.
The king was born on a Monday.
In Thailand, Monday is the day of Chandra,
the god of the Moon in the Hindu Vedas. The color of Chandra is yellow. Thus, for three years, from 2006 to 2009, many Thais,
to display support for the king, wore yellow golf-knit shirts on Mondays.
The king, now 83, has been
in Siriraj Hospital in Bangkok since September 2009 due to health problems. He could be in for a long stay. (The king is not
the only high figure who resides in a hospital. The Supreme Patriarch, the Sangharaja, age 96, has stayed for the
past six years at Chulalongkorn Hospital.)
For many years, the king was
closest to the oldest of his four children, a daughter, Ubon Rattana. She studied at the Massachusetts
Institute of Technology (M. I. T.) and University of California
in Los Angeles (U. C. L. A.). She married an American, Peter
Ladd Jensen, who she met while studying at M. I. T., and relinquished her royal titles. They had three children. She lived
in the United States for many years. The
couple divorced in 1998. Ubon Rattana returned to Thailand.
Ubon Rattana lost her oldest
child, her only son, to the tsunami that swept the southwestern coast of Thailand on December 26, 2004.
Like her mother, Ubon Rattana
was a highly attractive woman, and for some time one of the most prominent social figures in Thailand.
The king’s second child
and only son, the crown prince, Vajiralongkorn, however, has long been unpopular and criticized at home. He was a playboy
in his youth. He threw his weight around; his personal body guard of commandoes bullied the local population wherever he went; in
a jealous rage once, he forced the country's most popular rock singer, Thongchai "Bird" McIntyre, to go into exile. He salted
away millions. He was a womanizer. He has three wives-in a country where polygamy is widespread but illegal and polygamists have been sentenced to jail.
The queen, Sirikit, was once
considered one of Thailand’s most
beautiful women. But Sirikit has not always been popular at home. Long ago, she was blamed by the Thai Buddhist clergy for
a plane crash in Thailand in which many
monks on board were killed.
The queen and the crown prince
made themselves unpopular for many years by their response to the democracy uprising in Bangkok
in October 1973 that temporarily ended military rule in Thailand.
The queen beckoned the crown prince, then studying at the DuntroonRoyalMilitaryCollege
in Sydney, Australia,
to hasten home to join in suppressing the protests. At the same time, the king threw open the gates of the royal palace to
offer sanctuary to students fleeing policemen and soldiers who were gunning them down.
During mass protests in Bangkok three years later, in 1976, students hanged and burned effigies
of the crown prince.
Most Thais do not want the crown
prince to succeed his father as king. They recall an old prophecy that there will be nine kings in the Chakri dynasty and
point out that Bhumipol is the ninth. Many have suggested that the king's second daughter, Sirindhorn, who never married,
could succeed her father as the country's monarch instead of the crown prince.
The law of succession was changed many
years ago, at the instigation of the king, to allow a woman to succeed the king. Both the Crown Princess Sirindhorn and
the Crown Prince Vajiralongkorn have been designated as first heirs to the throne.
For many years the Crown Princess Sirindhorn has
appeared to be more active and more prominent than her older brother.
Playing with the System
The recent extradition of an American from the United States to Thailand was unprecedented - and shocked many people.
The American, a native Caucasian, was an alleged swindler. He was extradited to Thailand to stand trial for the murder of a New Zealander who was one of his partners in an
underground stock brokerage and swindling operation in Bangkok.
It is widely believed that the extradition was bought by the Thai Prime Minister, Thaksin Shinawatra, with sizable
bribes to judicial officials in the American state of Georgia and officials of the State Department, so he could show
off an honorary doctorate recently awarded to him by a criminal justice college in Texas - to
which the American president, G. W. Bush, and former Secretary of State, James Baker, are associated -
and/or that Bush, in a private deal with Thaksin, leaned on American officials to allow the extradition.
Some likened the extradition to Bush spitting in the soup of Asia watchers,
legal experts and human rights monitors. They point out that the US has not complied with the requests of Southeast Asian countries for the arrest and extradition of thousands of
Thais currently in the US.
There followed, however, a surprisingly short trial and swift acquittal of the alleged murderer by the criminal
court, without an appeal by the prosecution, widely suspected of having been contrived by the American Central Intelligence
Agency (CIA), which has a hand in local stock swindling operations run by underground stock brokerages called “boiler
rooms”. The American was returned to prison in the US,
where he faces charges of swindling
Traffickers in Women and Children
Was a foreign power-perhaps Japan, the
United States or the United Nations-behind the appointment of Santi Trakan to the Privy Council?
The Yakuza, the Mafia, State Department, Thai Red Cross Society, and
UN agencies in Bangkok are notorious for their
involvement in the traffic in women and children. In Thailand, so-called “non-governmental organizations" (“NGOs”)
have privileged access to the courts.
Officials of foreign governments in Thailand, including
the US, are involved in the traffic in Thai women and children. They ignore complaints from the public, including their own
nationals, against corrupt Thai policemen, lawyers and judicial officials complicit in the illicit trade. American embassy
personnel tip off local police contacts in attempts to stop complainants. They use the complaints for excuses to establish
contacts and networks with corrupt local officials in the traffic in women and children. They conspire with local lawyers
and judicial officials to frame and extort money from American tourists and expatriates. They grant visas for travel to the
US to their co-conspirators in the local police, judiciary (like Jiraniti) and other government offices. They pave the
way up the ranks of officialdom for criminal associates in the Thai government.
For full listing of Privy Council members and biographies, see:
For full listing of of all 87 judges of the Supreme Court and biographies, click here.
More about the Monarchy in Thailand
Last year, 2006, marked the 60th year since Bhumibol Adulyadej inherited
the throne, at age 18, when his older brother, King Ananda, who died in "mysterious circumstances" in 1946; Bhumibol's
coronation was four years later, in 1950.
As of this year, 2006, Bhumibol is the world's longest reigning monarch, havng been on the
throne for 60 years.
For the latest news about the 60th anniversary see:
About King Rama VIII, Ananda Mahidol, older brother of Bhumibol Adulyadej,
his succession to the throne at age nine in 1934, his return to Thailand in late 1945, and his death, for which
no explanation was ever fully satifactory, a short time later, at age 20, in 1946:
Is the King sacred and divine? An absolute ruler? A tyrant? Some of
his men, and other government officials in particular, would like others, especially foreigners who are visiting, living
and working in Thailand to think so.
For a long time, malicious Thai officials, and policemen especially, have
tried to intimidate foreigners by threatening to charge them with two crimes in particular - possession
of narcotics or lese majeste (defamation of the monarchy) - in order to put them in prison, to extort money
from them, to force them to flee the country, or to simply to harrass them.
The King of Thailand, addressing the country on his 78th birthday,
spoke out on the matter for the first time. He said he was not opposed to criticism and invited personal criticism from
There was considerable discussion about the Thai monarchy in Thailand
in September 2005.
The king delayed for many weeks his required approval of military
appointments that were submitted by the prime minister.
The king also withheld his
required approval of the appointment of a new auditor-general that was submitted to him by the speaker of the senate. Eventually, after
more than 100 days, the appointee withdrew the appointment.
See articles from two English-language daily newspapers in
Bangkok, The Nation and the Bangkok Post, on the websites listed below.
A graph, listing the prerogatives and limitations of the Thai monarch,
mentioned at the end of the text of the article, was not included in the newspaper's on-line edition and is thus provided
privately on the following link: http://johnthomasgo.tripod.com/scanneddocument
The country's first auditor-general assumed office in 2001. The
State Audit Commission elected a woman, Jaruvan Maintaka, to the post. As required, the senate approved, or endorsed, the
appointment, and so did the king.
But the auditor-general stepped on many toes and became unpopular
in many quarters.
Thus, a year later, eight senators petitioned to the Constitution Court
to remove Jaruvan by ruling that she had been appointed illegally.
The auditor-general's office was padlocked and Jaruvan was prevented from
going to work.
Last year, 2005, the Constitution Court agreed that Jaruvan had been
appointed to the post illegally. But the judges maintained that the court had no authority to rule on
The State Audit Commission elected a new auditor-general, Wisut
Montriwat, in June 2005. The speaker of the senate submitted the appointment to the king for approval.
But the king did not approve the appointment of a new auditor-general.
It was the first time since Thaksin Shinawatra became prime minister, in
2001, that the king withheld approval of an appointment.
After 100 days, four senators inquired to the King's
Principal Private Secretary, Arsa Sarasin, about the delay in royal approval of the appointment of a new
auditor-general. Then four members of the staff of the speaker of the senate asked the police to charge the four
senators with "lese majesty" - defamation of the monarchy. Then, many senators called for the resignation
of the speaker of the senate for having submitted the new appointment to the king for approval.
The new appointee, Wisut, withdrew his appointment. The king accepted
The incumbent auditor-general, Jaruvan, refused to resign until the
king approved a new appointee, to be selected by the Office of the Auditor General.
All the relevant offices beat about the bush, apparently determined to keep
the auditor-general from resuming work, as many viewed the office as against their interests.
The senate withdrew a motion to reconfirm Jaruvan. The State Audit
Commission asked the Constitution Court again to rule on the matter. The Constituiton Court left it up to the senate. The
senate asked the State Audit Commission is to select another auditor-general.
The senate committee on administration planned to submit to the NCCC complaints
of malfeasance and lese majesty against the SAC for failing to reinstate Jaruvan.
Finally, on February 1, 2006, the SAC reinstrated Jaruvon.
Many cases of alleged corruption have been shelved for years.
The investigation of many "high-profile" corruption cases
await the return of the auditor-general: investigations into the refurbishing of parliament, the government's purchase
of rubber saplings (for latex) and American bomb detectors for the new international airport south of Bangkok; bidding irregularities
for the new airport's catering facilities, electric power distribution, unbalanced compensation to poultry farmers who
were victims of the bird flu epidemic, etc.
2001, the SAC named Prathan Dabphet as its first choice for nominee for auditor-general. The SAC chairman, Panya Tantiyavarong, submitted
Prathan's name along with two failed candidates, including Jaruvan, to the senate. In the end, however, the senate endorsed
Jaruvan and the King appointed her.
In 2004, the Constitution Court ruled that Jaruvan's appointement was unconstitutional.
On May 30, 2006, a criminal court decided that the SAC chairman,
Prathan, was guilty of malfeasance for submitting the names of the two failed candidates and sentenced him to three
years in jail.
Last year, NCCC commissioners gave themselves a pay raise.
The Supreme Court ruled that the NCCC commissioners acted without authoritzation, gave the commissioners one-year suspended
sentences, and forced them to resign.
Now, Constitution Court justices, having voted themselves a payraise
too, are accused of violating the same law and are to be taken to task.
Up-to-date news items about the selection of NCCC commissioners:
Nine commissioners were selected by the senate, meeting in full
session, on November 1, 2005 but the nine, including a former Supreme Court justice who they chose as their chairman, had
questionable ties to high politicans and government officials.
The speaker of the senate expressed reservations about the
qualifications of the nominees for commissioners' posts on the NCCC that were selected by the senate and that he was
to send to the king for approval:
The King rejected the senate's list of nine NCCC commissioners,
pointing out that the nine commissioners were selected from a shortlist of 17 candidates instead of the required number of
18. One of the 18 candidates was forced to withdraw at the last moment. He claimed health reasons but really wanted to avoid
an investigation into his qualifications. Some senators argued that the senate should have selected another candidiate to
replace him. The King agreed on this point and he returned the list to senate. The King's decision astounded many who believe
he is merely a figure head and a rubber stamp monarch.
As of March 29, 2006 there are 51 applicants for nine commissioners' posts on the NCCC
The King and the Prime Minister
The current prime minister of Thailand, Thaksin Shinawatra, has
angered the king several times since assuming office in February 2001. More than once, the king, who is Thailand's official
head of state, felt that Thaksin took him for granted or tried to by-pass him.
Likewise, the Thai Buddhist clergy (sangkha) was angered recently
by Thaksin's appointment of an acting head of the clergy (sanghkarat) to conduct the duties of the current head of the clergy,
who is elderly and ailing. Thaksin made the appointment without consulting the clergy.
Matters could reach a critical point one day if Thaksin
and his cabinet determine that the king is unable to carry out his duties and responsibilities and decide to assume the
position of acting head of state.
Thais demand more and more transparency
In late 2005, a newspaper publisher in Bangkok, Sondhi Limthongkul,
started regular nightly rallies, eventually attended by 100,000-plus people, in publicparks in
Bangkok, denouncing Thaksin and cabinet members for corruption, cronyism, nepotism and dictatorship.
Sondhi and Thaksin agreed not to invoke the king's name in their
attacks and rebuttals - that is to say, not to accuse one another of lese majeste.
Showdown between the Prime Minister and the Privy Council
The most popular man in Thailand, General Chamlong Srimuang ("Mr.
Clean"), joined Sondhi in demanding Thaksin's resignation. Chamlong led the democracy protests in 1992 that brought an
end to military domination of Thai society, government and politics. Chamlong was Thaksin's mentor and got him started in
Sondhi and Chamlong led a non-stop marathon mass rally of 50,000
to 200,000-plus protesters against Thaksin in Bangkok.
Chamlong and Sondhi petitioned the King to appoint a new prime
In mid-March 2006, The Nation reported that on March 8
the Privy Council voted 15 to 4 to replace Thaksin as chairman of the committee in charge of celebrations of the
60th anniversary of the king on the throne, with the Privy Council president, Prem Tinsulanonda.
Around this time a bomb exploded outside Prem's quarters.
Thaksin disputed The Nation report of his replacement
by Prem as master of ceremonies. So did Privy Council spokesmen. The Nation stuck to its reports. Thaksin insisted
that he was still in charge of the celebrations. So did the Privy Council.
What is the situation? For an assessment: "Thaksin has the edge, for now"
Amid countless complaints
of lese majeste, suits and counter-suits, the anti-Thaksin protesters and their leaders, Sondhi and Chamlong, persisted and
Well, not quite .
In a long-delayed
response to mounting demands for his resignation, the Thai prime minister, Thaksin Shinawatra, dissolved the lower house of
parliament in February 2006 and called for snap elections, to be held in early April. (This followed a suggestion by a former
military dictator, Suchinda Kraprayoon, published in the press.)
But the nationwide
parliamentary elections were boycotted by opposition parties and a vast section of the voters.
Thus, Thaksin's Thai
Rak Thai ("Thais Love Thais") party ran unopposed in many constituencies. Thaksin claimed an overwhelming victory and scoffed
at calls to quit.
On April 5, Thaksin
met the King and an hour or so later he announced his resignation. (Was it at the king's urging that he quit?)
Thaksin said that
he was going on a long vacation abroad and named a deputy prime minister as acting prime minister of a “caretaker”
Thaksin declared that
he would resign when the lower house, dominated by his party, convened.
Although Thai Rak
Thai party candidates, running unopposed, swept the elections, some candidates did not win the required 20% of the vote in
their constituencies to claim a seat in the lower house. Thus, the House of Representatives did not have the 500 members needed
When Thaksin returned
from abroad, he assumed the position of "caretaker prime minister" himself and remained in control of the government.
Many foreign governments
announced that they were suspending some of their dealings with Thailand
until a legitimate government was installed. The political impasse impeded the conduct of government and business.
The leader of many
popular mass rallies against Thaksin, local newspaper magnate, Sondhi Limthongkul, petitioned the King to appoint a new prime
minister. The King refused to do so. However, the King acknowledged that the recent elections, with one party running virtually
unopposed, could not produce a democratic legislature.
The King summoned
the heads of the country's top three courts-Supreme Court, Constitution Court and Supreme Administrative Court-and admonished them to resolve the political problem through legal
means or to resign from their posts.
The opposition parties
then announced that they would not boycott the next election.
The courts nullified
the results of the April elections and called for new elections. (The courts decided that there had not been enough time,
as required by the constitution, between the date the elections were called by Thaksin and the date they were held.)
Eventually, in August,
new elections were scheduled for October 15.
Despite the growing
resentment of Thaksin across the country, Tai Rak Tai appeared to be headed for another victory at the polls.
In an opinion poll
conducted in Bangkok by AssumptionCollege, Thaksin was the preferred choice of respondents for prime minister,
polling more than 40%, far more so than all other possible rivals. The leading opposition politician polled only a tiny fraction
(Bangkok has a large
Chinese middle class, whose opinions are usually a year or two ahead of inhabitants of the provinces, where Thaksin had his
days appeared numbered.
Alliance for Democracy (PAD) and opposition parties sought
to dismantle the Thaksin political machine completely.
Above all other matters,
the long-simmering age-old conflict in the South, between the native Jawi-speaking Muslim Malay inhabitants and the governing
Buddhist Thais from Bangkok, which flared up in 2004 and had
since claimed some 2000 lives, had to be settled. But Thaksin appeared to have little or no real interest in the matter.
In late 2005, following
the advice of his closest aides, Thaksin appointed Gen. Sonthi Boonyaratglin as commander-in-chief of the armed forces. Gen.
Sonthi, a capable general, was the first Muslim to hold the most powerful military post in the country. It was hoped that
Gen. Sonthi would be able to end the growing separatist insurgency in the South.
Thaksin also wanted
the active support of the army in suppressing his political opponents. But Gen. Sonthi refused to let the army be drawn into
the conflict. He gave repeated assurances that the army would not intervene. This was crucial to the success of the massive
democracy drive against Thaksin.
This irked Thaksin.
Nonetheless, at Thaksin's
request, Gen. Sonthi and the leaders of the army and navy accused Sondhi of lese majeste.
The police arrested
Sondhi, charged him with lese majeste and released him on bail.
Denied the backing
of the army in the streets, Thaksin sent mobs of his supporters, led by professional thugs and undercover policemen, to attack
and break up PAD rallies. Sondhi and PAD leaders complained to the police about the attacks. The police refused to act against
the mob leaders.
An ignorant and irresponsible
local press played up the possibility of a coup d'etat by the army-and appeared to encourage one.
Thaksin sought to
replace Gen. Sonthi with someone who would back him in a coup d’etat so he could assume emergency dictatorial powers.
There were reports that Thaksin intended to transfer key supporters to top army posts in the annual military reshuffle in
the coming October. There were reports also that Thaksin intended to replace Gen. Sonthi by kicking him upstairs to the ceremonial
post of Supreme Commander of the armed forces.
advisors, concerned about the South, urged Thaksin to retain Gen. Sonthi as commander-in-chief for another year.
An apparent assassination
attempt by army officers in Bangkok, nipped in the bud, might
have been a boggled attempt to kill Thaksin, or it could have been staged by Thaksin to give him an excuse to declare an emergency
and assume dictatorial powers.
Gen. Sonthi transferred
key officers loyal to Thaksin.
At this point it appeared
that Thaksin had lost the upper hand in a power struggle.
The last coup d’etat
in Thailand had been 15 years earlier,
in 1991, when Gen. Suchinda Kraprayoon, head of the armed forces, toppled the government of Gen. Chatchai Choonhaven, the
There was brief talk
of a coup d’etat during the dramatic collapse of the Thai currency in 1997, when several Thai business leaders blamed
the prime minister, General Chavalit Youngchaiyudh, and lobbied the military to oust him.
Still, it appeared
that as long as Gen. Sonthi headed the army there would be no coup d'etat.
Elections were scheduled
for October 15, but going into the third week of September no one appeared to campaigning seriously or very hard. There were
calls from all sides to postpone the election date to allow parties more time to prepare and the concerned election officials
were considering setting a later date.
On September 19, 2006,
as the PAD prepared to stage another mass protest rally in Bangkok,
and many forest rangers, armed by Thaksin and brought to the capital, prepared to confront them, Gen. Sonthi staged a coup
d'etat, overthrowing the Thaksin government, suspending the constitution, both houses of parliament and the Constitution Court. He arrested some of Thaksin's men.
Thaksin, on a two-week
trip abroad, was in New York, preparing to address the United
Nations. He was due to return to Thailand
in two days.
There were hints that
Thaksin had anticipated a coup d’etat, possibly two to four weeks earlier. (He packed 54 suitcases onto a second plane
that joined him abroad later.)
Crucial to the success
of Gen. Sonthi’s coup d’etat was the backing of the 86-year-old chairman of the Privy Council, Prem Tinsulanonda, and the King.
Gen. Sonthi announced
that the new government, initially called the Council for Democratic Reform under the Monarchy (CDRM), would remain in power
for one year, when new nation-wide elections would be held.
A new constitution
was to be drafted during the year.
Thai Rak Thai and
Thaksin cronies were to be purged completely from power.
Gen. Chamlong Srimuang,
popular leader of pro-democracy protests against the Suchinda regime in 1992, expressed the feelings of most people that Gen.
Sonthi’s coup d’etat was the only way to avert a major crisis. He expressed faith in the heads of the armed forces
to set the country back on course.
To ensure success,
Gen. Sonthi had to appoint, on October 1, a privy councilor, Surayud Chulanont, retired army general and former armed forces
Supreme Commander, as the new “interim” prime minister.
Gen. Sonthi also had
to ensure that cronies of the Privy Council chairman, Gen. Prem, dominated the 242-member one-house National Legislative Assembly
that was to select a 1000-member assembly that would draft a new constitution.
Gen. Sonthi handpicked
the members of the National Legislative Assembly. Predictably, there were 60 military men in the assembly, including 35 in
active service, making up one-quarter of the assembly. Together with policemen, the military occupied one-third of the assembly's
The assembly was to
oversee the drafting of the country's new constitution.
The King approved
the new 242-member National Legislative Assembly on October 11.
According to a long-standing
tradition the King presides over the opening session of parliament. He was to have presided over the opening session of the
National Legislative Assembly, scheduled for the throne hall on October 20, but the Crown Prince presided over the session
instead. The exact significance of the change was not explained but it was believed that the King, was recovering from a fall
last June and forced him to miss the event.
Gen. Sonthi retained authority over the prime minister, the cabinet and the National Legislative Assembly, which would not
have real power. Again, he had the backing of the King and Prem.
With Thaksin and his
crony, Surakiart Sathirathai, out of office, there appeared to be a change in the air in Thailand’s relations with Burmese ethnic groups and exiles on the border.
Thaksin and Surakiart were staunch supporters of the Burmese military junta and often derided the democratic and human rights
forces in Burma. According to Robert Htwe,
a Karen Baptist pastor in Mae Sod, the “interim” Thai prime minister, Surayud, an ethnic Mon from Nonthaburi,
“is a friend of the Karen”.
(There were reports
that the Burmese head of state, Than Shwe, had relinquished the top military post to a much younger army man, Shwe Man, who
is a Karen.)
With Thaksin in exile,
there appeared also to be a real chance of reconciliation with the South.
Many believe that
Thaksin and other prominent Thais, like Anand Panyarachun, wanted to provoke the Malay Muslims in the South into escalating
the insurgency, thus providing an excuse to conduct “ethnic cleansing” with the Thai army, if possible with American
forces, by killing and exiling most of the Malay Muslim population and replacing it with Chinese Buddhists from Thailand and
exploiting the region for commercial gain with Chinese interests from Thailand and China.
Gen. Sonthi favored
conducting negotiations with the leaders of the separatist insurgency in the South and offering amnesty to the insurgents.
Thaksin had opposed negotiations. Negotiations were opened with the leaders of popular insurgent groups but the latter maintained
that the insurgency was actually led by a new generation of younger and unknown leaders they did not control.
of the National Legislative Assembly selected to form parliament yesterday have only one clear mandate: to become a rubber
stamp for establishing legal instruments for the junta-installed government to run the kingdom for the next 12 months.
Initially, the Thai
middle class and ruling elite appeared to be behind Gen. Sonthi. But soon there was growing general unease about plans to
retain a military-controlled rubber-stamp government, overloaded with persons generally considered less suitable than those
in the Thaksin government, for a year.
The coup did not appear
to have been a Muslim coup, as some believed. Only one cabinet member, the Minister of Interior, was a Muslim. (This post
was held by a Muslim politician several years ago.) There were only 13 Muslims appointed to the 242-member National Legislative
Rather, the coup could
be called a royal coup. The King was informed of plans to stage the coup beforehand and gave his approval. After staging the
coup, the six leaders of the armed forces presented themselves as the Council for Democratic Reform under the Monarchy (CDRM),
with Gen. Sonthi as the leader. The major immediate beneficiaries of the coup were clearly Prem and his cronies. The name
of the junta was changed several days later, by dropping the phrase “under the Monarchy”, to Council for Democratic
Reform (CDR), after grumbling from the public about the intentions of the junta to remain in power for a year. Eventually,
on October 1, the CDR renamed itself the Council of National Security (CNS).
Many among the public
complained that Thaksin cronies had not been purged and held key positions, such as, for instance, Prem's closest aide.
A growing number of
people suspected that the coup was staged with the connivance of Thaksin and Prem to let Thaksin off the hook over his financial
dealings. Earlier this year, Thaksin sold 49% of his Shin Corporation to a company, Temasek, in Singapore without paying the required taxes. Subsequently, numerous small companies
in Thailand, discovered to be nominee
companies of Temasek, bought the rest of Shin. Thaksin wanted to halt the growing scandal about the sale of Shin and to avoid
prosecution, jail, and paying huge taxes and fines.
In late October, there
were rumors that Thaksin, who met Tai Rak Tai leaders in Singapore, was
returning to Thailand. Thaksin’s
wife then met privately with Prem to request permission for Thaksin to return. This triggered a public outrage against Prem.
A growing number of
Thais believed that the time to abolish (or suspend) the Privy Council was approaching.
Meanwhile, Gen. Sonthi,
in a show of strength, ordered 2000 troops to the capital. The order was later cancelled, and one battalion, half-way to Bangkok, returned to its camp.
There have been complaints
that members of CNS, the cabinet, advisory panels, National Legislative Assembly and the Crown Prince (or top aides to the
Crown Prince) are in league with Thaksin. There have been complaints also about conflicts of interests, interlocking directorships
and padding of expenses.
At the end of October,
one of the six (later increased to eight) CNS members, General Vinai Paetayakul, permanent secretary for defense and CNS secretary-general,
was alleged to be secretly plotting for a future political career with a top Thaksin crony.
According to the press,
in late October, Gen. Vinai was the "brain" behind the coup d'etat (he engineered it) and Gen. Sonthi carried out his plans.
Gen. Vinai is the
son-in-law of an admiral who led the coup d'etat that toppled the government of Kukrit Pramoj after violent demonstrations
and protests in Bangkok in 1976.
According to Gen.
Sonthi, in a press interview at the end of October, all the legal officials for the advisory panels and the National Legislative
Assembly, including the president of the assembly, were handpicked by Gen. Vinai.
On October 30, the
CNS revealed that it had evidence tying a top Thaksin aide to the disappearance of a leading human rights lawyer, a Muslim,
in February 2004. The lawyer is thought to have been murdered by top police officials over his defense of Malay Muslims in
the South who were accused of raiding a police arms depot two months earlier.
The local press shows
increasing signs daily that it has been bought and corrupted by Prem and his cronies.
On New Year’s
Eve eight bombs exploded in Bangkok and Chiang Mai. The bombs
were said to have been identical to the homemade bombs used by insurgents in the South. But
it was widely believed that the bombers hoped that the public would blame insurgents in the South.
Two more bombs exploded
a day or two later.
Two people were killed
by the bombs and 15 or more, including foreigners, were injured.
One of the bombs was
thrown at the Chinese mosque in Chiang Mai and the Burmese caretaker was seriously injured.
and other politicians were suspected of conducting the bombings.
The junta was also
suspected of conducting the bombing, to point out the necessity of the September 19 coup.
There was talk also
of a power struggle within the junta, army and government.
A look inside the power politics of the Thai armed forces
The Nation, Bangkok, November 8, 2006
How army is linked to return of democracy
Sonthi's ability to keep control, especially of his successor,
is vital to future
named 10 people it believes will play influential roles in shaping future politics.
In its report released
last Friday Citigroup identified:
1.Noranit Setabutr (age
2.General Saprang Kalayanamitr (59)
3.General Winai Phattiyakul
8.Kowit Wattana (59)
9.General Anupong Paochinda
number of Thais realize that General Sonthi is the only person who can handle the situation in the South. It appears likely
that he will be asked to stay on as the country's leader beyond his retirment next September.
Initially, members of the new cabinet, advisory panels, and the National Legislative Assembly
were said to have been handpicked by Gen. Sonthi. However, Gen. Sonthi saidthat they were actually chosen by General
Vinai Paetayakul, who was brought into the junta as secretary-general, for his legal expertise.
Shortly afterward, the press exposed conspicuous connections andmeetings between Gen. Vinai and Thaksin's # 1 man, Somkid Jatusripitak,
who had left Tai Rak Tai and started his own party. It appeared that Gen. Vinai was preparing for a career in politics following
his retirement from the military and that he expected Somkid to pave the way for him.
In February 2007, the interim government of Surayud appointed Somkid its economic envoy
but Somkid quickly resigned when ex-newspaper publisher, Sondhi Limthongkul, and the People's Alliance for Democracy (PAD) protested.
In mid-March 2007, there were large public protests and demonstrations in Bangkok against Gen. Prem, believed to be the instigator and mastermind of the coup
and the ruling junta.
The junta has promised elections next October and to stay out of politics. But there are
signs that some junta members would like to retain power as civilian politicians.
Many people in Bangkok
believe that there will be a repeat of Black May 1992 next December, with protests by pro-democracy forces, a confrontation
with the army and bloodshed in the streets.
Yesterday's announcement of the mid-year military rotations
was a watershed event in the line of succession - for those who will take power when Army chief and junta leader General Sonthi
Boonyaratglin retires in September.
The armed forces reshuffle will take effect on April
The new line-up of 456 officers shows two important trends:
the rise of the Pre-Cadet Class 9 clique as the dominating force in the Army, and Sonthi's rearguard tactic to leave trusted
aides as vanguards for the future.
Sonthi may be uncertain on what the future holds for
him after the next general election but at least he has the loyalty of his top brass to catapult him into power - or ensure
a golden retirement.
Under Sonthi's intervention, Lt General Sujit Sithiprapa
is set to become commander of the Second Army Region, while Maj General Sunai Sampattawanit will take charge of the Special
Sujit is an inner-circle aide of the junta leader and
seen as close to the Class 9 clique, although he is a Class 8 graduate. His appointment comes at a crucial juncture, as the
Northeast is slated to be a decisive battleground for the next coalition government.
Sunai is from Pre-Cadet Class 11 and known for his staunch
loyalty to Sonthi as the two share the kindred spirit of the Special Warfare Corps. Sonthi's choice of Sunai is seen as his
trump card to safeguard his future.
With the promotion of Maj General Jittipong Suwanseth
as commander of the Anti Aircraft Artillery Command, the Pre-Cadet Class 9 clique now has complete control over all the major
Army Chief of Staff General Montri Sangkhasap is the
de facto leader of the clique and his influence in naming Sonthi's successor is expected to increase along with the clout
of his fellow officers.
In contrast to the ascent of Montri's clique, Pre-Cadet
Class 10 officers are now seen as quickly moving into obscurity because of their past ties with ousted premier Thaksin Shinawatra.
Class 10 officers like General Pornchai Kranlert and
Air Chief Marshal Sukamphol Suwanthat have been moved twice in six months from key positions to lesser jobs and inactive assignments.
Pornchai has descended from assistant Army chief to deputy
joint chief of staff to be a special adviser in the Defence Ministry.
Sukamphol will also become a "senior expert" - a fall
from his heyday when he looked to be the heir apparent at the Air Force.
Lt General Chatchai Thawornbutr, Thaksin's former military
aide, will lose his coveted position as deputy Army chief of staff and move to an inactive post in the Defence Ministry.
But the Class 10 graduates are far from being in the
dustbin of history.
Assistant Army chief General Anupong Paochinda remains
a top contender to succeed Sonthi and Lt General Sanit Phrommas is slated for reassignment. He will be elevated to a four-star
Sanit, the former commander of the Second Cavalry Division,
was promoted upstairs following the September 19 coup.
Amid the horse trading among the top brass, Prime Minister
Surayud Chulanont managed to promote his military aide Lt General Ninnart Beaokaimook to a four-star general.
Ninnart will continue to serve in Government House although
his new position is the Army's senior expert.
Key rotations include the promotion of outgoing Second
Army Region commander Lt General Sujet Watanasuk to a four-star general in the Defence Ministry. Sujet is due to retire in
Lt General Woradej Phumijitr, Sonthi's fellow graduate
from Pre-Cadet Class 6, will be promoted as chief staff officer for the Army chief, a four-star position.