Chaiwat Satha-Anand is professor of political science, Thammasat University, and chairperson of the Strategic Nonviolence Commission, Thailand Research Fund has an op-ed in the Bangkok Post stating “Census holds key to defusing stalemate”. He states: Elections, admittedly with all their imperfections, are one of the most significant innovations in conflict resolution because “we the people” Read more...
Harrison George

Readers may already be aware of the Rights and Liberties Protection Department of the Ministry of Justice, a government agency that performs such sterling work as helping victims of crimes, arranging compensation, and giving legal advice when rights have been violated (more often than not by other government agencies).  Far less well-known is a parallel organization, the Duties and Responsibilities Enforcement Department.

While Ministry officials with a sense of fair play and social justice have naturally been attracted to work at Rights and Liberties, Duties and Responsibilities has lured a quite different kind of civil servant, as can be seen from the unedited transcript of a recent DRED meeting obtained by Prachatai through its normal unimpeachable channels (in this instance a feller wearing a balaclava in near 40C heat).

‘OK, now the next item on the agenda, er, ah yes, Section Heads were asked to come up with ideas along the lines of Khun Newin’s instant Songkran justice.’  (Ingratiating giggles round the table.)  ‘Now you have probably heard the whinging from our colleagues in Rights and Liberties about due process and all that bleeding heart liberal guff and even the National Human Rights Commission felt obliged to make a comment though I’m sure I don’t know why.’

‘Should we send them a note, sir?  Ask them what they think they’re playing at?’

‘No, I think not.  I’ll just give whatsername a quick buzz.  It’s probably one of their eager beavers trying to slip something through while everyone was on holiday.  She really needs to get a grip on that place.  Anyway, Khun Newin had these drunken brawlers put in the ring against real Muay Thai boxers to get the proverbial kicked out of them until they had some sense knocked into them by being knocked senseless.  And didn’t he get a good press among the more enlightened of our citizens?’

‘Yes, sir.  Do you think he’ll be using this as a springboard to get back into politics at the next election?’

‘Next election?  What next election?’  (General sniggers.)  ‘So what have you thought of?  Traffic Section?’

‘Yes, sir.  We thought we could use that patch just by the Courts, you know, next to the MRT multi-storey?’

‘It’s one of those mickey-mouse courses for learner drivers, isn’t it?’

‘That’s the place.  Anyway, we thought we could take it over once a week for a sort of demolition derby for all the drivers who have been caught doing 200 kph on the expressway or running red lights and so on.  They have to bring their vehicles and smash into each other until there’s just one left.’

‘Hmm.  Yes, I like that.  Especially if you can get a couple of Lamborghinis or something.  Nothing the punters will enjoy more than 20 million baht’s worth of supercar getting smashed to bits.  OK, move forward with that and have a look around for a suitable MC.  See if you can’t find some would-be Minister of Transport.  OK, who’s next?  Economics?’

‘Yes, sir, we thought of going after corruption.’

‘Excellent.  Can’t have those NACC glory-hunters getting all the headlines.’

‘We were thinking of a public auction of corrupt bureaucrats.  Invite bids for anyone who wants them working as their slaves for a day or two.’

‘Good idea, but why only a day?’

‘Perhaps the length of time could be calculated on how much they took in bribes?’

‘No, I don’t think so.  We’d have to prove how much they’d actually taken.  Or even that they’d taken any money at all.  Remember that this whole programme is completely independent of the normal judicial process so we won’t actually have to prove anyone is guilty.  No, I’m thinking in terms of weeks, maybe months, teach them a proper lesson.’

‘Any restrictions on what they could be forced to so, sir?’

‘I don’t see why.  If some official has been putting his hand out for a bribe, he deserves all he gets.’

‘Quite so, sir.  But, er, what if it’s a woman?  Possibly a young, attractive woman?  Selling her into slavery, even just for a week or two, might not get quite the right media response.’

‘See what you mean.  Perhaps we could have an internal auction in such cases.  If they’re that attractive.  But let’s cross that bridge when we come to it.  Do some thinking on the time frame.  Oh, and be careful how you draft the regulations so that the successful bids, er, end up in the right hands, eh?’

‘Will do, sir.’

‘OK, who’s next.  Political, what have you got?’

‘We thought we’d take on abuse of political power, sir.  Officials acting beyond their authority.’

‘How do you mean?’

‘Well, sir, something like deciding guilt without the benefit of a trial.  Or dictating punishments that are not on the statute books.’

‘Now hold on a minute there.  I’m not sure I like where you’re going with this.’

‘Well, sir, we can’t have civil servants or police officers and military men acting like tinpot dictators and ignoring all the laws and regulations and so on.’

‘Can’t we?’

‘So we were thinking about some form of public humiliation.  First we thought of the old-time stocks, with a placard round their necks, but it looked a bit medieval.  Then we considered forced confessions on prime time, but there is a risk they might blurt out something we don’t want.  But in the end we had a brainwave.’

‘Which is?’

‘Social media.  Facebook pages and tweets about would-be vigilantes in official positions, personal details provided and an invitation to the cyberworld to take all necessary measures.  We could go after judges who overstep the constitution, or army officers who openly talk of coups, or …’

‘Yes I think we’ve heard enough.  I don’t think you’ve thought this through properly.  Who the hell do you think is backing us in this programme?  Making sure we can get away with all this extra-legal stuff?  All Political Section personnel in my office immediately.  Meeting closed.’


About author:  Bangkokians with long memories may remember his irreverent column in The Nation in the 1980's. During his period of enforced silence since then, he was variously reported as participating in a 999-day meditation retreat in a hill-top monastery in Mae Hong Son (he gave up after 998 days), as the Special Rapporteur for Satire of the UN High Commission for Human Rights, and as understudy for the male lead in the long-running ‘Pussies -not the Musical' at the Neasden International Palladium (formerly Park Lane Empire).

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A Thai mother and father have sued their daughter, a vocal anti-establishment red-shirt residing in the UK, for posting video clips of herself defaming the monarchy after they received a storm of hate phone calls from Thai loyalists. 
 
Thai media reported on April 17 that Surapong and Somchintra Amornpat filed a police complaint against their daughter Chatwadee Amornpat, 34, who is now working as a hair stylist in London and holds British citizenship.
 
Declaring herself a “progressive red shirt” and republican, Chatwadee, aka Rose, recorded several video clips, voicing her opinions on the Thai political conflict and attacking the monarchy and published them on her Facebook profile.
 
In an interview with an overseas red-shirt YouTube channel, Rose cited the example of the UK monarchy as not untouchable, unlike the Thai monarchy which is protected by the lèse majesté law or Article 112. 
 
Chatwadee Amornpat, or Rose, talks on a video clip.
 
The King Never Smiles, an unauthorized biography of King Bhumibol Adulyadej by Paul Handley, was very often cited by Rose in her videos as she strongly recommended viewers to read the book in order to be “enlightened.” 
 
Rose’s parents provided police with seven video clips as evidence of her wrongdoing.
 
She said her background was a typical middle-class Bangkokian. She was raised by her pro-establishment yellow-shirt parents. She turned into a red shirt after the 2010 military crackdown on the red shirts. 
 
Her parents decided to press charges against her because they were threatened by phone calls from people in Thailand. Pressing charges is to show that they do not condone their daughter’s actions, the parents said, adding that they have warned her to stop defaming the King.
 
"I want people to understand that just because a daughter is doing something wrong, it doesn't mean the parents are also guilty, because we don't condone such actions," Khaosod English quoted Surapong as saying. 
 
Rose said in the interview that she was bullied and threatened by Thai loyalists living in the UK. She has also lodged a complaint with the UK police. 
 
“I feel safe in this country (UK). When I express different views here, they will not use violence,” she said. “I can express my thoughts freely.”
 
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Bangkok’s Democracy Monument was erected to commemorate the 1932 coup that ended Thailand’s seven-century reign of kings, and became a rallying point last year for protesters seeking to oust the government. Now, the landmark’s builder is going abroad for the first time in its 84-year history as political instability saps demand at home. Read more...
Posted in Okategoriserade.
Bangkok’s Democracy Monument was erected to commemorate the 1932 coup that ended Thailand’s seven-century reign of kings, and became a rallying point last year for protesters seeking to oust the government. Now, the landmark’s builder is going abroad for the first time in its 84-year history as political instability saps demand at home. Read more...
Posted in Okategoriserade.
Songkran, Thailand's Buddhist New Year festival, ended earlier this week but the holiday’s dark legacy of high road deaths continues to cast a pall. Thai PBS reported that 277 people died in road accidents during the holiday, and 2,926 sustained injuries in nearly 2,754 reported accidents. Read more...