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September 6, 2010


Promoting Crime and Defending Impunity

To draw up a list of the nefarious historical characters who’ve been promoted after engaging in oppressive acts on behalf of the various governing Thai regimes would be a lengthy and drawn out process. What is clear is that from Sarit Thanarat to Tanin Kraivixien, those who are willing to commit the grossest anti-democratic violations do so knowing they can act with the greatest impunity.

Fast-forward to 2010 and this synchronous and mutually-dependent culture of entrenched impunity and promotion to higher office not only still persists but has been increasingly ramped up during the post-crackdown period.

Numerous army officers connected to the notorious April/May Bangkok Massacres have already been promoted to higher positions within the labyrinthine hierarchies of the Thai military. Deputy army chief Prayuth Chanocha – a hardline senior army man seen as being most closely linked to the elite and a driving force behind the violent oppression of the Red Shirts – has now cemented his appointment as the new army chief, a position he will take up in the next few weeks. Given Prayuth’s lack of commitment to democracy and accountability, that he should be placed in such a powerful position is exceedingly worrying for anyone who considers reconciliation as necessary for Thailand’s progress.

Other figures such as Lt. General Daphong Rattanasuwan, seen as one of the tactical masterminds of the April/May Bangkok Massacres, have been promoted along with, more astonishingly, his wife (who is also an army officer). Even Anupong Paojinda’s (the outgoing army chief) sister – as if one act of extravagant nepotism wasn’t enough – has been bumped up the hierarchy a notch or two.

However, the most shocking recent promotion has been that of police Lt. General Somkid Boonthanom to the position of assistant national police chief. According to today’s Bangkok Post, Lt Gen. Somkid has been “indicted along with four other active and former police officers by the Office of the Attorney-General on Jan12 in connection with the disappearance in 1990 of Saudi businessman Mohammad al-Ruwaili.”

That a police officer should even be allowed to serve with such a serious charge hanging over him, never mind being promoted to such a senior role, is just further evidence of a government and regime who lack any notion of legal accountability.

And who was brought out to defend Somkid’s promotion? None other than the Democrat Party’s Deputy PM Suthep – a man appointed, not elected, to his position, who had to resign as an MP in order to deflect numerous corruption charges and who is now head of CRES, the body directly responsible for implementing the crackdown which led to the April/May Bangkok Massacres.

In short, Dep. PM Suthep has to defend the very system that has granted him his own position and the impunity that comes along with it. Promotion and appointment within the Thai regime’s hierarchy isgeared only to one’s willingness to serve the system. Ability and accountability have nothing to do with it.

These promotions, in the face of ongoing international demands for a full and fair investigation of the Bangkok Massacres, serve to demonstrate the ruling elite’s commitment to the continuation of perpetrating crimes and unspeakable violence against its own citizenry.

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  1. Sep 6 2010

    They always got anything they want, everything are their sure thing.

  2. sulasno
    Sep 6 2010

    no one can change the system; only the Thai people can; I hope the Thais will wake up finally to say “I have enough; and I am going to fight for what is mine” Be patient and use the power in the next elections; Vote for the one that can improve your lives and not for 100 Baht.

  3. akedemo
    Sep 7 2010

    @sulasno This Democract-led government is not the one that won 2007 election (the latest election). The party that won the majority vote is Pheu Thai Part (PTP). Actually the root problem in Thai politics system is not in the election, but in those who do not accept the election.

  4. JJ
    Sep 7 2010

    @akedemo: You are wrong, PTP didn’t even run in the election.
    PPP did and they got a minority vote. Together with several other parties a large coalition was able to form. But later the coalition partners switched allegiance again and a new majority coalition was formed, this time with the sequel party PTP (as PPP got disbanded for election fraud but most MPs still retain their seats in the parliament) was left outside the coalition.

    Get your facts straight.

  5. David Brown
    Sep 7 2010

    thank you for your clear exposure of the ruling elites contempt for the Thai people

    because it seems impossible to believe that the King of Thailand willingly condones this behaviour we have to assume that the Privy Council are manipulating the view he can see from his hospital rooms so he is willing to sign his formal; approval of Military promotions and the other acts of this government

    People of vision and integrity are badly needed to lead the Thai people out of this morass

  6. Frank Frank
    Sep 9 2010


    In the 2007 TRT’s reincarnation – the PPP – came within a whisker of forming a majority govt – not bad for a party who’d been ripped apart after the coup with the ban of most senior TRT members.

    The Dems were far behind.

    And just so you get your facts right in advance, the vote that really matters in Thailand is the constituency vote – and PPP beat the Dems by a sizeable margin in that one (6%).

    The other, less important vote in terms of weighting in parliament, the proportional one (where the Dems stacked up huge numbers of votes in South/Bangkok but much less elsewhere, hence their much poorer showing in the constituency vote, which reveals width, not depth of vote) was much closer with Dems slightly edging it.

    Yet, still the PPP won 68 more seats (233 – they only needed 241 to be only the second party in Thailand’s entire history to win a majority alone) than the Dems who only won 165.

    According to Thailand’s constitutional, parliamentary vote in 2007 Abhisit was absolutely hammered – he lost by a landslide. How he has ended up as PM is miraculous and while he may legally be PM he clearly has no democratic mandate. In any other democracy on earth he wouldn’t have survived more than a year at best.

    But Thailand isn’t really a democracy any more – Abhisit survives because he is prepared to kill lots of people to do so.

  7. JJ
    Sep 13 2010

    Frank Frank>> You clearly have no idea what ‘voter mandate’ means.

    Unless you want to say that some states in Europe right now has governments that lack mandate just because no party had almost or full majority…that is the deal with coalition government. It doesn’t matter if the elected PM’s party has 1% of the votes, the coalition in itself has the majority and hence can rule.

    Deal with it.

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