Tuesday, September 27, 2011

The Politician Promise Nullification Loophole

Thai Chamber of Commerce chairman Dusit Nontanakorn passed away earlier this month but the battle he spent his professional life fighting against corruption is one Thailand cannot afford to abandon ...
Here's the gist of a speech he gave about conditions in 2010:

"When government concessions are offered to the private sector there is often an under the table payment of 30%. He estimated that added up to two trillion baht per year and the trend is on the upswing - it could soon reach 50%."

"The Thailand Information Centre for Civil Rights and Investigative Journalism last week released a study which showed that 317 MPs were found to have become richer than they were when they took office on Jan 22, 2008.

Of those, seven MPs saw their bank accounts swell by 100 million baht in their three years in office, 10 had become 50 to 100 million baht richer, the wealth of 54 grew by to 10 to 50 million baht, and 61 were between five and 10 million baht richer. The wealth of the rest only grew five million baht each. Overall, it was a 4.3 billion baht increase in wealth.

The study, however, stated that this new found fortune was through investments made by spouses and family members and other ''legal'' means.  The average monthly salary of an MP is about 100,000 baht."

In the US, crossed fingers behind your back means that there is a nullification of whatever statement or promise you’re making.  

This act exercises the supposed “promise nullification loophole” but there must be a different tradition for Thai politicians when they make promises to stop corruption.  The breaking of a promise to stop corruption is so big that they actually cross their entire arms. And it is so well known publicly that they go ahead and cross them in the open instead of behind their backs.

Thailand opposition leader Abhisit Vejjajiva, front left, anti-corruption network Chairman Phongsak Assakul, front center, and Thai Prime Minister Yingluck Shinawatra, front right, use the Thai promise nullification loophole at an anti-corruption campaign in Bangkok, Thailand Sunday, Sept. 25, 2011. 

Friday, September 23, 2011

Eat Your Spinach And Free Joe Gordon

In the words of the great American philosopher, Popeye the Sailor Man, “I've had all I can stand, I can't stands no more!

That is the gist of an email I received earlier in the week from the president of the organization I am associated with: the Agents of the Free.  The American Orange Shirts are finally doing something as an organization about a tragedy of justice and requested my help in publicizing our latest campaign.

I enthusiastically accept the request.

American citizen Joe Gordon has been in jail four long months since Thailand’s Department of Special Investigations arrested him for the bogus offense of lese majeste. Accused of lese majeste, an offense that is punishable by up to 15 years in prison, Joe has been denied bail on eight different occasions. He maintains his innocence but is unable to help plan a defense because he is in jail.

Joe will be prosecuted as a Thai national although he lived in the United States at the time the police say he, among other things, posted a link on a web log in 2007 to the book “The King Never Smiles.”  

DSI Deputy Director General and jack booted sourpuss thug Yanaphon Youngyuen said that it does not matter which country Gordon lived in.

Evil vs Good:  DSI Deputy Director General Yanaphon Youngyuen (left), a Statue Symbolizing Justice (right)
He also said that the Internet comes into Thailand and can be seen because it is in cyberspace. He says cyberspace has no boundary or country but has an impact on Thailand’s national security. He says it is clearly defined in Thai law.

Boy, what a big steaming pile of crap the DSI comes out with.

Four months in jail for an abominable law is four months too long.  Please join with the American Orange Shirts in their campaign to free Joe Gordon by participating in our “Write A Letter For Joe” campaign.
Write A Letter For Joe

More information can be found on:

So please eat your spinach and start writing.

Saturday, September 17, 2011

New Frontrunner for Democrat Party Leader Appears

After failing miserably as Prime Minister and embarrassingly losing that post which was handed to him by the Thai military, Abhisit Vejjajiva will step down as leader of the Democrat party after a leadership contest in October. This leaves the amart/military nexus scrambling to replace Abhisit in their puppet political party.

However, there have been rumors that the next leader of the Democrat Party should be The Grim Reaper.

Both the amart and the military see the political viability of the “Angel of Death.” Clearly he is popular with the Democrat Party base. He’s got all the qualifications they’re looking for:  he’s almost as old as Prem Tinsulanonda, he doesn’t have dark skin like the prai, he’s packing a weapon, he’s got an incredible war record, and, believe me, no one wants to get rid of government sponsored health care for the poor more than this guy.

He’s also well recognized, appearing in many of Sakda Sae-aew’s Thai Rath Political Cartoons.

Plus, he was a close second to the Thai military in sniper victims last year and is close friends with Suthep Thaugsuban. Evidently they use palm oil to power the flames in hell.

Monday, September 12, 2011

Monumental Paraphrasing

I recently spent time in Washington DC, and whenever I go there I enjoy visiting the National Mall. I was especially thrilled to see the recently unveiled monument honoring the Reverend Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., one of my personal heroes. It is certainly fitting that we finally have a monument there to the man who reminded an entire nation that the words of Jefferson and Lincoln must carry the full faith and credit of the United States. Otherwise, we are bankrupt. He reminded us that we are a nation whose deeds have their genesis in ideals and words – often beautifully articulated.
He’s not only been to the mountaintop, he’s been glued to it.
But there is some controversy around this memorial and not just because the sculptor made him white.
It is over a quotation from Dr. King inscribed on the memorial which is from a sermon in 1968. King was preaching against the lead-the-parade instinct of self-importance and superiority.  He said, “If you want to say that I was a drum major, say that I was a drum major for justice. Say that I was a drum major for peace. I was a drum major for righteousness. And all of the other shallow things will not matter.”
Let’s hear it from the man himself:

Stirring, humble and, according to the memorial committee, a little wordy. Which is why, on the monument it was paraphrased so that it would fit on the north side of the statue. The memorial version reads “I was a drum major for justice, peace and righteousness.”

There you have it; short, pithy, and to the point – but not particularly Dr. King’s point. Evidently the memorial’s committee believes in the age old saying, "Brevity is the soul of saving money on chiseling fees."
C’mon!!! Why the need to edit?  Across the mall, every word of Lincoln’s second inaugural address is carved in stone without so much as an ellipsis to mar its poetry.
I realize that capturing the essence of a human being in stone is a flawed enterprise anyway. To make poetry jump out of fountains or from a narrative carved in granite is next to impossible. And even though its surely possible to paraphrase a quote in such a way that it’s not stripped of its original meaning and intent… it’s so improbable the result will be an improvement that there’s little to recommend it, and no reason at all when the very point is to memorialize the content of an individual’s or group of individual’s character.
However there are exceptions to this rule with regards to some Thai monuments. Thais, like Americans, are a monument-building people. However a few of their monuments would be tremendously improved if we could paraphrase – even only a little bit.
For instance, one of the relief sculptures at the base of Thailand’s most famous monument, the Democracy Monument in Bangkok, shows a heroic and united armed forces doing battle (it is not clear against whom).

This panel is entitled: "Soldiers Fighting for Democracy" but by cutting the fat out and making it to be just “Soldiers Fighting Democracy” allows a more historically accurate description of Thailand’s military. I mean since when in history did the Thai military ever fight FOR democracy? On the other hand, there are many instances where they have been shown to be directly opposing it; the 18 coups in 80 years, the violent and deadly repression of democracy movements (1973, 1992 and 2010), the interference in politics, and, of course, their own admittance that their role is to protect their monarchy.
Ironically, this October 14th marks the 38th anniversary of the deadliest massacre of innocent Thai citizens peacefully protesting for democracy by the Thai military. Two days after this anniversary, on October 16th, Dr. Martin Luther King’s memorial will be officially dedicated.

Thursday, September 8, 2011

Surapong, Stooges, SIFA and Swastikas

I’d like to introduce my readers to Surapong Jayanama. The nature of Surapong’s politics can be seen in the histories of the countries where he was the Thai ambassador; Vietnam, South Africa and Germany.  He also comes from a family of Thai diplomats who also do not support democracy. He is related to Direk Jayanama, Thailand’s ambassador to Japan during World War II when the military dictatorship back then chose to support the Axis Powers against the free world. Surapong’s brothers, Asda and Apipong also have been diplomats for Thailand (but mostly for themselves).

Surapong and his brother Asda joined with another member of Thailand’s foreign service, PAD member Kasit Piromya, in publicly criticizing Thailand’s democratically elected government and openly supporting the military coup in 2006. Surapong, Asda, and Kasit have often been referred to in the US as the “Three Stooges of Thai Diplomacy.

Surapong is also the Director of the Saranrom Institute of Foreign Affairs (SIFA). SIFA is funded by Thailand’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs to “promote public awareness and understanding of current foreign policy issues. It also seeks to create policy and issue-related discussion opportunities to assist in formulating and conducting foreign policy.”  Part of SIFA’s activities is to “organize academic conferences, lecture series and seminars on international issues in Thailand and abroad.”

In other words, it’s a public relations/propaganda machine. But it’s also much more than that… 

According to a report at New Mandala, on July 27th, before Thailand’s democratically elected government took power, Surapong held a meeting with the Thai students attending theAustralian National University in Canberra.  The Thai students were summoned using their association’s Facebook page. 

According to the report, Surapong’s address to the students included “general attacks on Thaksin and a defense of the 2006 coup.” Students were also “urged to defend Thailand and the monarchy from attacks by foreigners and to avoid being influenced by some of the things they may hear about Thailand while studying in Canberra.”

There we have it, Thai government representatives involved in a back-room attempt to influence and guide the thinking of Thai students studying abroad.  Thai students study abroad to participate in a free and open academic culture – something that has been hard to find in Thailand since the coup.

There is more information on SIFA at their website.  I’ve taken the liberty of modifying the format of their structure chart in order to better reflect the true nature of that organization and its director.

Thursday, September 1, 2011

Ambassador Kristie Kenney: A Dismal Failure in Defending Democracy

The Philippine foreign minister on August 31 slammed the former US ambassador to his country as a "dismal failure" in an angry reaction to a secret cable published by anti-secrecy website Wikileaks.

Albert del Rosario assailed Kristie Kenney, who stepped down as US ambassador to Manila last year, after she allegedly criticized the Philippines' revered democracy heroine, the late president Corazon Aquino.

"She (Kenney) was a dismal failure in helping the Filipinos defend our democracy. It would seem that she preferred to be favorably looked upon by the (Philippine presidential) palace," del Rosario said.

Del Rosario's comments, via text message to AFP while he was in Beijing, were in response to requests for a reaction about a leaked cable apparently sent by Kenney in July, 2009.

According to the Wikileaks documents, Kenney wrote that Aquino had been a weak and tarnished leader.

Aquino led the "People Power" revolution of 1986 that overthrew dictator Ferdinand Marcos, then served for six years as president.

Her son, Benigno Aquino, was elected president in July last year in a landslide victory, partly due to the outpouring of public sympathy for his mother after she died of cancer in August, 2009.

The comments from Del Rosario, a key member of the latest Aquino administration, about Kenney referred to what he indicated was her apparent desire to curry favor with the president of the time, Gloria Arroyo.

Aquino's administration has repeatedly accused Arroyo of vote fraud and massive corruption during her nearly 10 years in power.

Kenney, now the US ambassador to Thailand, replied to a discussion on the microblogging site Twitter about the cable with a short message saying: "Good morning! Don't believe all you read."

And why shouldn’t we believe what we read about Kenney being a “dismal failure in defending democracy?” Why shouldn’t we believe what we read about her preferring to be favorably looked upon by those in the country’s “palace?”

Because she is doing exactly the same thing in Thailand by not vigorously attempting to release American Joe Gordon from a Thai prison on bogus lese majeste charges; all part of her modus operandi of failing democracy in an attempt to be favorably looked upon by a palace.

If Wikileaks has shown us anything, it's that US ambassadors have tended to be closet royalists/fascists who care little about the denial of civil rights that Americans take for granted. Their main concern is that Thailand be a stable and reliable ally, and to hell with democracy. This is a mistake that career diplomats have made all over the world. Our current diplomat in Bangkok with the frozen Pepsodent smile looks like she's cast from the same mold: don't rock the boat, even if a lot of people are drowning.

US Ambassador to Thailand, Kristie Kenney
As a US citizen, I am wondering if we've made some vacuous career bureaucrat the Ambassador who hasn't a clue that what's going on in Thailand right now is a life and death struggle for freedom and democracy. And if she is not going to lead the way, she should get the hell out of the way.