He’s Back!

Our Bangkok correspondent H. Numan sends this follow-up to his previous report about recent political shenanigans in Thailand, plus other news from the Land of Smiles.

He’s back!

by H. Numan

A few weeks ago I wrote an article about the prime minister of Thailand being ousted. The opposition found the perfect stick to beat the hopefully dead horse with: Under the new constitution, a prime minister cannot serve longer than eight years continuously. Prayuth Chan-ocha executed his coupe in 2014. So, time’s up! He did the crime, did the time, and now it’s time to go. Which he duly did. While I wrote that I thought: great, for as long as it lasts.

That long lasted a whole fourteen days, in which time the Constitutional Court deliberated about his future. Thailand is a democracy, but not quite the same as in western countries. For example, we have an National Anti-Corruption Committee. That’s like Marlboro being in charge of an anti-smoking campaign. To a lesser degree, the same goes for the Constitutional Court. Compare it with McDonald’s being in charge of the Weight Watchers.

However, in this case I cannot disagree with their ruling. The court ruled that time served in office only counts after the new constitution was approved, and after being elected in office. Both of which exclude time served as a junta member. Prayuth didn’t fight his ousting; he knew his political banishment wasn’t going to last long.

So, Prayuth is back in office again. The vice premier took great care to show he didn’t have any ambitions whatsoever to replace him. Perhaps a bit over the top, he intentionally didn’t take the seat of the PM during meetings, ‘as he was only temporarily taking care of the job.’ I think that was overdoing it, but that’s me being a cynical falang (foreigner). In Asia, Thailand in particular, great emphasis is placed on seniority and appearance. It might very well have had consequences if khun Prawit had acted any differently.

Did anything change? Of course not! As we say: same old, same old. What I did notice before and during his absence is that the number of arrests for lèse-majesté has gone through the roof. As you may or may not know, Thailand’s lèse-majesté laws are the strictest not of the planet, but of the entire solar system. It’s extremely easy to get indicted for it; the accused has to prove he didn’t do it. Not exactly, but it comes pretty darn close. Compare it with rape accusations in the West. The maximum sentence is fifteen years. Per offense! There was a man who ‘liked’ six insulting pictures of the king on Facebook, and he got 6×15=90 years in jail. He confessed, and got 50% reduction. Now he only has to serve 45 years…

Nothing unusual going on. Thaksin’s preferred method of getting rid of his opponents was the same: accuse them of lèse-majesté. Until the late king Rama IX yanked his trousers down in public, by saying that the government can accuse someone of lèse-majesté, he as the king would immediately pardon such offenders. After that, Thaksin had to find other ways to get rid of his opponents. Don’t feel too sorry for Thaksin. He was quite creative, and found plenty of other ways. And to be honest, those pardons didn’t come immediately, and certainly not automatically. Each case was examined at length to determine whether a royal pardon was warranted.

Why the sudden mass arrests of “anti-royalists” happened, no real idea. Republicanism in Thailand is less popular than monarchism in America. King Rama IX was really beloved, his successor much less so. Students were demonstrating and rioting a year back, but those riots were squelched. However, the police are known (usually on orders from very high) to investigate with a microscope to find all perpetrators and have them severely punished. The students were also vocal in their dislike for Prayuth government; that might be main reason.

The day the court announced its verdict, the Constitutional Court and the police headquarters were completely sealed off by riot police, expecting and preparing for the worst. Nothing happened.

Now another story, which I hate to write about. The very worst mass killer ever in Thailand has been cremated. The cremation had to be done anonymously in a different province, as no crematorium accepted his corpse.

What happened? You probably heard about it; it was front page news worldwide. A Mr. Panya Khamrab, 36, ex police-sergeant, went on a killing spree. He murdered 24 toddlers and infants in a day-care and 12 adults. The children he stabbed to death with a knife, the adults he shot. After that, he committed suicide. We do not know why he went bananas. From what I read, he was a singularly unpleasant person, but that usually is not a good reason to become a mass murderer. He was a drug addict, and was fired from the police for possession of methamphetamine.

The whole nation is shocked. I can’t find any words for it. All I can say is that I can fully understand the feelings of the crematoria that refused to burn his remains. Most prisoners are in jail for drug charges, usually methamphetamines. That stuff alters your brain, as it clearly did with this scumbag. It’s not the first case I’ve hear about of drugs addicts going completely crazy, but this is the worst case by far.

The only bit of news I can add here is that two CNN journalists face criminal charges and deportation for their actions while they were reporting on the case. They ignored the police barrier at the crime scene and continued to work. The Thai police were not amused and arrested both of them. The penalty is likely around Bt 5,000 ($133), plus served jail time plus extradition with a little note stapled in their passports not to come back during the next ten years.

What I particularly like in this case is that both journalists are white as snow, and woke as hell. Otherwise they wouldn’t be working for CNN. They didn’t say it with so many words, but their actions were very much in line with: We, the politically correct demigods of CNN, don’t have to abide by rules set by yellow monkeys. As wokes often do when found out, they profusely apologized. Clearly hoping to get off the hook free of charge. Which they won’t; the police today charged them another Bt. 5,000 each for working without a work permit. That’s something else they “forgot” to do. Something one does not expect from a professional news outlet operating worldwide.

My respect and condolences are with the victims and their next of kin.

— H. Numan