The military has attempted to censor the anti-establishment Same Sky (or Fah Deaw Kan in Thai) publishing house again by banning its t-shirt models, one of which with a dinosaur, with possible charges of lese majeste. Earlier the military pressured its embattled editor to delete Facebook statuses on the military’s attempt to censor.
 
The military asked for the samples of three T-shirts models for inspection: 
  • White t-shirt with logo of Jurassic Park with messages “The Lost World of Monarchical Absolutism.” The image was derived from the theme of Same Sky Journal published in 2012.    
  • Blue t-shirt with a tree in the middle. The root of the tree reads “Constitutional Monarchy” that grows into a tree with messages “Absolute Monarchy” It is the image from the journal published in 2011.
  • The last one is on the cult symbol of “Khun Sab Sueng” or Mr. Grateful with his mout shut. The symbol of Khun Sab Sueng, normally shown when he is crying, has been used by the anti-establishment to mock the ultra-royalists. 

 

From Left: Blue t-shirt with a tree in the middle. The root of the tree reads “Constitutional Monarchy” that grows into a tree with messages “Absolute Monarchy” , White t-shirt with logo of Jurassic Park with messages “The Lost World of Monarchical Absolutism” and Khun Sab Sueng” or Mr. Grateful with his mout shut. 

 
Jaran Homtianthong, the president of the Publishers and Booksellers Association of Thailand which is the organizer of the annual Book Expo Thailand 2014, held at the Sirikit Convention Centre, Bangkok, revealed with the BBC Thai Service that three military officers and policemen on Sunday asked him to request the Same Sky to stop selling the T-shirts models at the fair.
 
The military claimed that t-shirts could be deemed defaming the revered Thai monarchy.
 
On the same day, Thanapol Eawsakul, the editor of Same Sky journal and publishing house, stated that the military ordered him to delete a Facebook status which stated that the military officials has come to search the Same Sky’s booth, claiming that some of the books have contents that could be deemed as defaming the monarchy as well.
 
Jaran, however, said to the military that he will not infringe upon the Same Sky rights and he has no rights to judge if the t-shirts could be liable for lese majeste or not. 
 
“Thanapol, the editor of Same Sky journal, was arrested and released twice already without being judged by the court. He has the right to set up the booth. If I infringe upon his rights then i would be guilty because he did not do anything wrong,” the BBC Thai Service quoted Jaran as saying. He added that he was not surprise that this might happen because the martial law is still in place. 
 
In 2006, Same Sky and Thanapol were threatened with lese majeste because of the journal issue “The Monarchy and the Thai Society” aka “The Coke Issue,” which was banned by the Thai authorities. Because of issue, Thanapol was charged with Article 112 but the police did not file the case. 
 
 
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The Military Court rejected a bail request of a man who wrote messages mainly criticizing the junta and allegedly making reference to the king in a shopping mall’s restrooms.

On Monday, the Military Court refused to grant 2.5 million baht bail request to Opas C., a 67 year-old man, charged with lese majeste after writing messages criticizing the junta and the Democrat Party and allegedly made reference to the king. The Court reasoned that the charges are serious and could not grant him bail because of the flight risk.  

Opas was caught by the guards of Secon Square mall in eastern Bangkok on 15 October and later handed to the military by the mall’s personnel. He was brought before the press on 17 October and charged with lese majeste by the Crime Suppression Division (CSD) from writing the following message:

“The government of clowns that robbed the nation, led by f*** Prayuth. They have issued ridiculous policies of amateur comedians. Their main job is to use the monarchy (uncle [censored by Prachatai*]). Their main weapon is Article 112. I’m sick of seeing your face [Prayuth] every day. It tells me that you [Prayuth] are near the end because of the looming internal conflict.”

*The censored phrase, allegedly a reference to the King, merely describes a physical description of a person.

At the press briefing last week, Opas,  next to Lt Col Burin Thongprapai from the military’s Judge Advocate General’s Office, said he wrote the messages because Thai politics stressed him out and that he was frustrated with the coup and the junta.

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Harrison George

The Changing of the Guard at Buckingham Palace is a bit of military flummery that nominally provides security for the monarch but in reality keeps the tourist dollars flowing.  The sight of humans imitating automatons in ridiculous hats attracts the gawping attention of those in need of regular trivial mental stimulation.

At 6 pm every evening a similar change-over occurs in police stations around the country.  This attracts no attention at all and the mechanics of it are unknown to the general public. 

But perhaps they should be.

The officers going off shift at 6 pm will be back again at 6 pm tomorrow.  Starting a new shift to work through till midnight.

You see, the good lord invented the 24-hour day, but the Royal Thai Police have invented the 30-hour day.  An officer who today is on duty from noon to 6 pm will be working the 6 pm to midnight shift tomorrow, then after 24 hours off, midnight to 6 am, then the next day 6 am to noon and start again. 

The average citizen only becomes aware of this when he files a report at, say 7 pm.  If the next day he needs to contact the officer in charge of the report (and the rules are that no other officer is allowed to interfere), he is asked to come back at any inconvenient time between midnight and 6 am.

Outside of their 6 hours, the officers may have to appear in court, write up case files, maybe even do some investigating.  And at some point, sleep.  Or try to.

And there’s a problem.  The planet turns every 24 hours, give or take the odd micro-second, and over the years the human body has adapted to it, as have animals, insects, even plants.  We are programmed for about 8 hour’s kip while it’s dark and 16 hours awake in the light.  Muck about with this and you make trouble for yourself. 

There is a copious medical literature on the effect of night shift on workers, who are still on a 24-hour cycle, but the wrong way round, so to speak.  There is an increased risk of diabetes, cancers, heart disease, obesity, poor sexual performance and, surprise surprise, insomnia. 

And that’s before we mention the cognitive effects.  Night shift workers make more mistakes, have more accidents, and generally exercise poorer judgement.  I have found no research that says they indulge in more corruption.

All this is exacerbated by the constantly shifting shifts that the police are expected to put in.  Is it any wonder that we get the uncoordinated cock-up on Koh Tao?

But maybe this is one of the things that will go under the junta’s ‘if it moves, reform it’ policy.  Because they, and the rest of the anti-corruption righteous right, are convinced that the police are a major source of evil in the land.  Why, you-know-who used to be one.  What more proof do you need?

Well, yes, there is evidence a-plenty of corrupt practices among the police.  But who exactly is pointing the finger?  If we are going to expose institutionalized stupidity in one branch of the security forces, maybe we should reveal a home truth about the military.

No one I know believes that the military are squeaky clean when it comes to money.  But most of us think that any hanky-panky is of the common-or-garden variety, of taking a cut off stuff, especially when they buy overpriced toys that are missing necessary bits (the aircraft carrier with no aircraft; the submarine pens with no submarines), or are utterly and irretrievably useless (the airship and magic bomb detectors).

But military officers have a scam that only they can indulge in.  I was alerted to this when someone told me of a base which on paper is home to hundreds of soldiers but has bunks for only about 50.  And no, they’re not all sleeping on the floor.

It works like this.  Once basic training is over, it is often hard to find work for all those conscripts.  Many go onto the books as ‘servants’ working in officers’ housing.  Many, many servants.  Dozens per house.  So many that they’d be falling over each other if they were actually there.  But on closer examination, you will probably find that the housekeeping is being done by an illegal Burmese skivvy on a couple of thou a month.

So where are all the servant-soldiers?  Well, along with many others at the tail-end of their compulsory 2 years, they are out in the normal world.  Some are working on the family farm or business, many make money in the informal sector, a few just goof off.  They do whatever they want to do as long as it doesn’t require a civilian ID, which they will not get back until demob. 

Another thing they don’t have is their TMB passbook and ATM card for the account that receives their admittedly pitiful military pay each month.  These are being safeguarded back at base by their officers, who happen to know everyone’s PIN.  In this way, an officer’s salary can be supplemented multiple times by however many conscripts have been given paid (but not to them) furlough for the duration. 

So now think again about those assets declarations by the uniformed members of the NLA.  Rich wives?  Inherited wealth?  Luck on the lottery?  Excuse me while I cough discreetly.


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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The military ordered the editor of anti-establishment socio-political Same Sky journal to delete a Facebook status which states the military’s attempt to censor the publishing house. This shows how serious the decline of basic human rights under the junta is in Thailand.

On Sunday afternoon, the military ordered Thanapol Eawsakul, the editor of Same Sky journal (or Fah Diew Kan in Thai), to delete the Facebook status on the conversation with Prajak Kongkirati, a renown political scientist from Thammasat University, at the annual Book Fair in central Bangkok.

Prajak, as a writer of political books published by SameSky, was at the Same Sky booth on Friday evening, waiting for his fans to come and talk about the book and ask for autographs.

It is the status of Same Sky publishing House, which states that the military mistook the fan meeting as political seminar and requested the book fair organizer to videotape and observed the event which the book fair organizer declined.

The deleted status also stated that the night before the opening of the fair, the military officials came to search the Fah Deaw Kan’s booth, claiming that some of the books have contents that could be deemed as defaming the revered Thai monarchy.

Same Sky on Sunday 3pm deleted the status and said it was forced to delete the status because the military felt “upset.”

A day after coup d’état in May , Thanapol was arrested at an Anti-coup protest in central Bangkok and detained for seven days by the military and was detained again for a second time from 6-9 July because he kept on posting opinion on Thai politics on his personal Facebook account.. He was among many anti-coup on the coup-maker’s summons list who were forced to sign a document stating that he will not participate in political activities or travel abroad without the permission of the junta’s NCPO.

Prajak volunteered to meet and have conversations with the readers of Fah Deaw Kan to talk about his books on student political movement in 1970s and the debate on elections and social movements in Thailand’s countryside. The academic was briefly detained on 18 September for his role as one of the speakers in the discussion about the end of dictatorships overseas at Thammasat University, which was forced to stop.

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