Posts Tagged ‘junta’

Thailand’s military government has issued an order to seize US$16 million ($30 million) in assets from ousted prime minister Yingluck Shinawatra over a failed rice subsidy scheme for farmers.

A Thai court has also issued an arrest warrant for Ms Yingluck’s exiled brother Thaksin Shinawatra, after he failed to turn up for a defamation case filed against him by the army.

The moves intensify pressure on the powerful Shinawatra family whose parties have won every election since 2001 on a wave of policies that were popular with Thailand’s rural masses.

Since toppling Ms Yingluck’s democratically-elected government in a coup last year, the military has dismantled almost all of her family’s network in state institutions and side-lined its political allies.

Source: Thai junta plan to seize $30m from ousted PM Yingluck Shinawatra

Former prime minister Yingluck Shinawatra.

Former prime minister Yingluck Shinawatra.

Yingluck wrote an open letter to general Prayuth on her Facebook about her views on the rice subsidy scheme and the junta’s action against her. Her complete statement:

Open Letter
To: General Prayuth Chan-ocha,
Head of the National Council for Peace and Order

I am writing an open letter to you because I haven’t had the opportunity to communicate with or meet you in person since you came into power as the Head of the National Council for Peace and Order (NCPO) and the Prime Minister over a year ago on 22 May 2014. Since then, I have been continuously mistreated related to the “Rice Subsidy Scheme”, which I had declared to the parliament on many occasions;

1. National Legislative Assembly (NLA) impeached and removed me from the position of Prime Minister although at the time I was not in that position because I had already resigned and also was disqualified of the position by the Constitutional Court.

2. The Attorney General held a press conference stating his decision to indict and prosecute me to the Supreme Court’s Criminal Division for Persons Holding Political Positions just a mere “one hour” before NLA’s impeachment.

You may reject an issue and state that these are not relevant to your responsibility since these two matters are in the hands of the NLA and the Attorney General. However, the following matter will be in your direct authority.

Regarding the Order no.448/2558 signed by you and the Minister of Finance dated April 3rd, 2015 under the subject of “the Appointment of the Fact Finding Committee”, you have appointed a committee to find out whether anybody must be responsible to pay compensation to the government for the damages incurred from the Rice Subsidy Scheme. In this matter, you spoke to the press insisting that if someone was found responsible for damages, compensations must be claimed.

You also emphasized that “if the fact finding indicates that if someone is guilty, then the conclusion is guilty. If the fact finding suggests otherwise, then the conclusion would be not guilty. If guilty, the due process shall be followed in filing for civil claim. Single standard is applied for all parties to ensure justice in an equitable manner.”

I sincerely hope you assigned the Fact Finding Committee to investigate the case under due process of law to provide “Justice” and adhere strictly to the due process without any unnecessary acceleration to conclude the findings. I hope that you will ensure fair and just opportunity for related persons to present evidences.

I feel worried because one of your legal advisors had publicly stated that it was conducive to claiming damages in the civil case which would cost enormous court fees to the government although the way normally used to claim for damages and to bring the case to the court is the best way to maintain justice.

However, your legal advisor tried to “misinterpret the law and legal mechanism” to claim for damages by advising you to issue administrative order, forcing me to pay for damages and to seize my asset just to avoid the court fees. By exercising the Administrative Order, you do not even have to consult the cabinet. It means that you are using your power as if you were a judge while the criminal case trial is still under the legal process in court.

I am making this statement as the former Prime Minister who was in charge of the Rice Subsidy Scheme that was aimed at enhancing the living conditions of the Thai farmers, who are responsible for the production of our nation’s commodity. The scheme was also vital in addressing issues in the rice price and market mechanism. I performed my duties with the utmost dedication to ensure that it led to the economic and social advancement of the nation. The scheme was managed under the position of Chairman of National Rice Policy’s Committee during my term as it is with you in the same position today.

I believe all people are entitled to a fair trial in court which is fundamental to the rule of law. The Rice Subsidy Scheme was a public policy that was declared to the parliament and the implementation of the scheme was compulsory administrative act. The Scheme legally binds all related government departments to its execution.

Therefore, the claim process of civil charge must be transparent and fair. You, as the Prime Minister and as the Chairman of National Rice Policy Committee, are currently addressing rice issues in disagreement of my rice policy. This means that you are a “stakeholder” and cannot possibly offer “unbiased” views on the matter. Therefore, exercising the Prime Minister power as a judge to order a civil claim without the court’s decision is definitely against the rule of law.

To proceed in accordance to the rule of laws, I propose to you as follow:
1. Reconsider and terminate any executions regarding the Rice Subsidy Scheme’s civil claim proposed by your legal advisors and signed by the Prime Minister and the Chairman of the National Rice Policy Committee at the present which are unfair and is subject to conflicts of interest.

2. After the court’s ruling in the criminal case, the government should file a civil claim through the court in order to be just to the accused if found guilty.

3. The trial at the Supreme Court’s Criminal Division for Persons Holding Political Positions is still not final. Your legal advisor stated that the case’s statute of limitation still have enough ongoing time. The government should not accelerate or shortcut the fact finding procedure for the case. To be fair and just, you should provide sufficient opportunities for related persons to testify and present their evidences. I have sent many requests to you and the Fact Finding Committee asking for the opportunity to present evidences but many requests have not been considered and examined.

Finally, I have asked my lawyer to submit the formal letter in this matter to you on Tuesday October 13th, 2015 at 10.00 a.m. at the government’s Information and Complaint Channel. I sincerely hope that when you receive this letter, you would not simply ignore it but consider my request in a just manner since you have always claimed that you will ensure equal justice for all.

Thank you.
Yingluck Shinawatra
Former Prime Minister of Thailand
12th October 2015

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My thoughts.

Community-based programs, NGOs and privately-run social initiatives are actively involved in areas where Thailand military government support is not sufficient. Often the junta-led “government” projects are cosmetic, and fail to provide much-need policy changes that would greatly improve quality of life.

However efforts are still being made in forging partnerships between NGOs and the government. It’s a fact that the role of an NGO is important especially in the rural parts of the country where poverty incidence is high.

One of my concerns is rural micro-finance programs implemented by NGOs and provincial/federal authorities. Such programs provide valuable services to the rural poor although I have yet to see indicators of accountability and transparency in the financial aspects of these programs. There’s also the issue of questionable deliverables (unachievable expectations, low capacity) and the late dispersement of monies to the stakeholders.

Core problems of social programming are often related to the lack of participation in democratic decision-making. Perhaps some NGOs and officials do not want to see an empowered marginalized community to make informed decisions and lobby for their rights. In this case, from the absence of their rights to a transparent process of not just the budget allocation but also to the conceptualization and project monitoring.

I once mentioned to someone from a reputable local “poverty eradication” NGO that its within their interest to encourage communities to be part and parcel of problem-solving in the programs. But rather than consider and consult the stakeholders about this issue, the officer was rather defensive about the state of affairs. Apparently foreigners do not understand ‘Thainess’ and as such have no business expressing my views. It could also be that he and his organization prefer the comfort zone of prescribing solutions to the communities, rather than consultation.

Anyway as the national economy plunges, its difficult to not come to the conclusion that corruption will increase and that marginalized communities will be extremely vulnerability; as flawed systems, pride and human greed override the original objective of community-service.

Economic growth can help reduce poverty through an increase in household income, providing earnings to obtain the minimum basic needs. That being said, equality and other rights-based concerns must be tackled by all parties to enable a reduction of poverty. I’m not so sure whether the junta realise this, or maybe they just don’t care. I wonder.

 

It’s a positive sign to see peace-building initiatives in conflict-torn south Thailand, especially when people are invited to express themselves about their concerns and hopes.

As reported by Benar News:

Some 1,000 scholars, diplomats, social workers and students took part Wednesday in an international conference in Thailand’s violence-wracked Deep South aimed at fostering peace in the region, where at least five people died in continued fighting this week, according to officials and police.

The participants from Thailand, Indonesia and the Philippines – three Southeast Asian nations hit by Muslim insurgencies – agreed to forge a network among academics for research and other activities that promote peace-building and conflict resolution using various models.

They said the resolution of long-running conflicts in Indonesia’s Aceh province and an ongoing peace deal in the southern Philippines offered hope for an end to the insurgency in Thailand’s predominantly Muslim southern border region, which has left more than 6,000 people dead and 10,000 injured since 2004.

My thoughts: Key aspects of peace-building is sustainability of discussions, and where people could express their issues and needs without persecution from the junta or other overzealous authorities. That should include out-of-the-conference context, with small group discussions among rural, marginalized groups, and should include indigenous communities.

The Mani community, among a handful of tribes, has been neglected in the “Patani Melayu” equation of self-determination. I worry about the Melayu nationalism agenda, and how it may further ostracise others in the quest for identity. As it is, what is the junta doing to ensure fair representation of indigenous people in decision-making process in south Thailand? If nothing now, when will it happen?

The rural heartland of Thailand’s deposed leader Yingluck Shinawatra and her exiled billionaire brother Thaksin is hurting as a result of the military government’s economic policies, stirring discontent and the threat of protests.

The removal of generous agricultural subsidies has left rice farmers in northeast Thailand struggling with mounting debts, and they will get little relief when they sell their crop in coming months with rice prices near an 8-year low.

Petty crime is on the rise and retailers are struggling. The vast Platinum 168 shopping mall on the outskirts of the provincial capital of Udon Thani was built during the boom, but it is now less than a third occupied and no longer charging tenants rent.

“People are complaining about the rising costs of living, of having no money for spending,” said Teerasak Teecayuphan, the mayor of the neighboring provincial capital of Khon Kaen. “Their patience will gradually run out. Sooner or later this pot will boil over.”

Reuters’ story “Rising anger in Thailand’s boom-to-bust northeast” (See: http://www.reuters.com/article/2015/10/01/us-thailand-politics-idUSKCN0RU2R820151001)

Several Thai government websites have been hit by a suspected distributed-denial-of-service (DDOS) attack, making them impossible to access. The sites went offline at 22:00 local time (15:00GMT) on Wednesday. Access was restored by Thursday morning. The attack appeared to be a protest against the government’s plan to limit access to sites deemed inappropriate.

Reported by BBC (See: http://www.bbc.com/news/world-asia-34409343)

Screenshot of Digital Attack Map. DDoS of Thailand.

Screenshot of Digital Attack Map. DDoS of Thailand.

 

As reported by Bangkok Post (See: http://www.bangkokpost.com/news/general/714432/single-gateway-protest-halts-government-websites)

Sites affected as of early Thursday were the main government information website ThaiGov.go.th, the ICT ministry’s site at mict.go.th and the defence ministry’s website, mod.go.th.

Also knocked out briefly were the websites of the state-owned TOT Plc, the firm likely to host any single gateway if it is installed, CAT Telecom and the Internal Security Operations Command. Reports also said an attack also targeted the Democrat Party website.

The last site to recover early Thursday morning was the MICT website, possibly because authorities had actually taken it offline.

 

While Bangkokians are recovering from the shock of the Erawan shrine explosion, the southern “ThaiSouth” population are still experiencing the carnage between warring ultra-nationalist militants and the army. Its been over a decade, with over 6000 lives lost in the conflict, and yet we hear little outrage from Thailand’s capital.

A damaged army vehicle. No deaths reported. Bomb explosion took place in Narathiwat, 5 September 2015 at 12:30pm. Photo courtesy of Wartani.

A damaged army vehicle. No deaths reported. Bomb explosion took place in Narathiwat, 5 September 2015 at 12:30pm. Photo courtesy of Wartani.

 

A crater caused by the road explosion. Photo by Wartani FB.

A crater caused by the road explosion; 5 September 2015. Photo courtesy of Wartani.

 

"I have a question"

“I have a question”

A message (below) from 11th grade student, who protested in a packed auditorium where junta leader general Prayuth was speaking. Parit Chiwarak was forcibly removed by security personnel. Thai police did not charge the teenager, and he returned home after a briefing between his parents and the authorities.

Parit, who is also a student activist from the Education for Liberation of Siam, then posted an open letter to Prayuth.

Dear Mr.Prime Minister,

I would first apologize you for my attempt to deliver the open letter of the Education for Liberation of Siam (ELS), of which every words were written with sincerity, without informing in advance. My delivery of the letter might cause you some inconvenient, but to clear myself from any misunderstanding, I would hereby declare this statement to you, and the public.

1. It may be viewed “insolent” or “improper with the place and time” that I did not propose the letter in the normal bureaucratic procedure. However, there is possibility for the delivery of to letter to be late or misunderstood. In order to prevent them, I had to be some indecorous, and I hereby apologize you for this.

2. Some people might came up with ideas that my act was set in favor of some political group, or be motivated with political reasons. To tell the truth, I must inform that the motivation of my (attempt to) delivery of the letter was just sincerity and goodwill to our country and society, and there were no any abettor. My proposal was mere a proposal to replace the subject “civil duties” with philosophy and ethics, which are more effective in nurturing ethic and virtue.

3. I am just an ordinary youth with no extraordinary skills, but I have some courage to express my opinion about Thailand’s education reformation publicly in sake of our country and society. However, there are quite much more people who could not express their own opinions. I would like to propose you and your officers to insist on listening to the voice of everyone, including students like me, with sincerity, as every opinion would finally drive Thailand forward.

Even I eventually was taken to Pathumwan Metropolitan Police Station, I had no personal vengeance the agents who took me in and the officers who performed personal information interrogation with me as they did on their duties and they treated me in proper manner. Finally, I hoped that in the future there would be rights for everyone to express what they believe from the innermost of their heart.

With love and respect,
Parit Chiwarak

Source: Parit’s Facebook