Posts Tagged ‘military’

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

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)

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.

 

Thai students, from high school to universities, have shown tremendous courage under martial law and subsequently under the interim constitution of the junta.

I recall my first story, on Global Voices, of a teenager, Nattanan Warintarawet, who protested against coup-leader General Prayuth’s 12 core values at the Ministry of Education. She led a small group of young people, braving the backlash, and even now continues to voice the concerns of her peers.

More young people spoke out, against an institution that sought to “reform” a country torn by political distrusts and decades of inequality. Despite the threats of repression, forced rehabilitation, detention, arrests and social stigmatization, many surge forth to exercise their right to peaceful assembly. Many protest in the form of flash mobs, which may not command the numbers of thousands, but effective in leaving a mark for others to contemplate about their suppressed rights or feel enraged at having none.

Student activism in Thailand / Art work by AKRockefeller

Student activism in Thailand / Art work by AKRockefeller

Students from the south, a conflict-torn area, are also affected by the presence of the junta. Though many feel their concerns on the lack of social justice has been around for over a decade, even before the coups of 2006 and 2014. Yet many now, brave the conflicts and the rampant crackdowns to call for positive change and liberty. Many student movements, such as PERMAS and its affiliates, demand for their right to self-determination and peace.

And recently, young people marched, rallied and stood in solidarity against injustices. They call for their right to mobilization towards a democracy that they desperately seek in their lifetime.

Obvious indicators show that they are rallying in small groups, with multi-dimensional goals, but all are demanding for a democratic process, one that we adults, sometimes, take for granted.  Despite the heavy military presence, the hordes of policemen, and the threats of detention, young Thais surge forth to claim what is rightfully theirs: Leadership, by young people for their communities.

Celebrating Children’s Day in Thailand is a mixed bag of contradiction, with yearly repeats of military might against a backdrop of Thai children. Uniformity, the high expectations of the ruling army generals, of their children and those who call the land of smiles their home.

Delayed flights, annoyed travellers and tourists, all stuck at the Don Muang international airport, as airlines were forced to delay their journey. The air force was busy with their aerial shows, to the gasps of urbanites in Bangkok, and the applauding officers who seem to be vastly impressed. They would say, all for the children, I am sure.

And then there’s this issue of recognition of children as subjects of rights. Is Thailand aware of its non-performance within the framework of the rights of the child? The right to be listened to and taken seriously. Their right to freedom of expression, and the right to education that promotes democracy and human rights. But then again, that’s all forgotten under the junta and the ultra right-wing.

After all, children are best seen but not heard, particularly marginalized children, who are ostracised because they are poor, living in the slum, working in the rubber plantation, detained in refugee camps, homeless, without identity or simply because of their non-conformist ways.

So how now?

A few day ago, Thailand authorities were busy removing signs placed in the conflict-ravaged south Thailand. The signs were said to have been the work of Pattani militants and their sympathisers.

One such sign states:

If the ‘Bring Back Happiness’ campaign is still on, with guns pointing at religious leaders and community or Melayu brothers and innocents, don’t you hope that the Thai people, civil servants, Buddhists Thai teachers will be the last body.

A threat directed at the Thai junta.