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Posts posted by Meerkat

  1. ^ Many thanks to SRJ for pointing out that article and quoting excerpts from it. In order to complete the piece cited:

    But the group has since interviewed four of the genuine boat people who landed in Indonesia last week after fleeing alleged repression in Burma. They used a translator who spoke the men's obscure Bengali dialect.

    While rebutting aspects of the initial account, their testimony still detailed brutal beatings by the Thais and confirmed that the men were set adrift in a flimsy wooden craft by the Thais during January.

    Link to the full, unabridged, article.

  2. It is truly heartwarming to see The Nation publishing breaking stories online of this gravity on a subject I'm sure is on everyone's minds in these trying times, and not frivolously wasting bandwidth on articles like the Bangkok Post does, on such throwaway subjects as the Election Commission filing criminal complaints against two coalition cabinet ministers - including the new Deputy PM - on the grounds of vote-buying in local elections. The Post should be ashamed of itself for resorting to such sensationalized political trifles to sell a few extra ads*, while giving scant regard for journalism that really matters.

    Three cheers to The Nation for seemingly ignoring these charges to report instead on an endangered mammal. Not only “Thailand's Biggest Business Daily”, but also a true friend of the Manidae Manis everywhere.

    More on this unending problem at TRAFFIC (the plight of the pangolin I mean; for the scholarships-for-votes allegations you'd have to lower yourself and check out the Post. But why would you?)

    *If anyone knows the expat forum which has teamed up with the Post for cross-marketing, as has our esteemed ThaiVisa with The Nation, please let me know so I can rebuke them for such short-sighted silliness.

  3. Another vote for the Pakchong/Khao Yai area from me - we have a weekend cottage about 5km from Toscana Valley (which I've yet to play). Stunning scenery and plenty of courses. On the downside land is becoming increasingly expensive as the area is becoming much more popular with Bangkokians as a second home/holiday spot. Best bet is to drive around the area - most land seemed to be advertised on notices on the side of the road rather than via agents when we were buying.

  4. It'll be a maximum sentence of 25 years if recent Dem proposals come into effect. At this rate the idea floated during the Junta's regime of extending LM to protect the Privy Council might be raised again. Given that the new Deputy PM has just advocated giving the Council increased powers over selecting the "Independent Organizations" (against the spirit of Section 14 of the 2007 Constitution IMO), and the fact that criticising the judiciary or their decisions can now get you thrown inside for Contempt of Court, it doesn't take a rocket (or political) scientist to see where we're heading as far as transparency and accountability in politics is concerned.

    As far as the PAD go, I thought one of their proclamations was to put an end to the use of LM as a political tool. It was one of the few things I agreed with them on (although their Royalist rhetoric to an extent seemed to go against this point). If the Dem's other new LM proposal is enacted (that a charge won't have to go to a police investigation first, but can go straight to "Contempt of Court-protected" court), then I find it difficult to see how this is good for Thailand, its people or - more importantly given the nature of the law - the monarchy itself.

  5. <SNIP>

    In October, the Supreme Court's Criminal Division for Police Office Holders sentenced Thaksin to two years in jail in connection to the Ratchadaphisek land scandal. Thaksin's then-wife Pojaman successfully bid for a coveted plot of plot of land but the price she paid was lower than the market rate. The ex-premier did not appeal the verdict, but claimed it was politically motivated.

    Source: The Nation - 09 January 2009

    [off topic]

    Oh hello.

    The land was valued at 700m, and all the bids were over that amount. Had their been evidence that the land was acquired for a less than market price, the courts would have been duty bound to unwind the deal or confiscate it. They didn't. In fact the only fishy price in the whole sorry saga was the inflated 2.14 billion that the FIDF paid the Erawan Trust for it given that the Trust itself had only paid 103 million.

    So either the paper's just practising inordinately amateurish journalism, or it's part of their recent spate of make-Thaksin-look-bad-and-don't-worry-if-you-twist-the-occasional-fact-for-the-good-of-the-country articles.

    It's a tough call where The Nation's concerned.

    [/off topic]

  6. I think it's more about removing "face" than keeping anti-Thaksin sentiment going. The recent spate of Nation articles which have tried to claim (with nothing more than supposition) that he's now a comparative pauper being a case in point. It is crucial to the Dems and their allies that the "poor, ignorant" Isaanites fall out of love with him; anything else and the next time parliament goes to the people, the remnants of the TRT are likely to get back in. I suspect we'll see more of the same over the next months; perhaps other titles being taken away or honourary doctorates rescinded - that kind of thing. Simultaneously we'll see more puff pieces about Abhisit and the monarchy (especially in the western media) as well, in an attempt to undo some of the bad press they've received thus far (via the actions of the PAD.)

    The irony about this particular incident though is that it is now up to the police chief, newly reinstated after having been mothballed by the previous government for the October 7th debacle, to determine how to proceed. He was touted by the PAD as a murderer for his role in October; no doubt his star is now rising...

  7. IMO it's a good sign, that Abhisit proposes to give similar broadcasting-rights to the opposition, something not available under previous administrations. :o

    Agreed. The perfect thing would be a government/opposition debate, or perhaps something akin to PMQs in the UK (if such a parliamentary discourse doesn't already exist).

    This administration seems to me to be a bit of a "same same but different" one from the PPP. Same same but different banned politicians involved in its setting-up; same same but different coalition partners; same same but different economic stimulus packages; same same but different internet censorship policies; same same but different PV temple policy, and now a same same but different "speak unto the nation" initiative.

    Ah, how "Thai". :D

  8. Tourist definition needed here.

    I think that most of these tourists are Thai nationals in the upp country national parks, and the national parks on the southern island are visiting foreign tourists.

    Could it be so?


    Kao Yai is only about two hour drive from BKK. Several farang friends have been there and say it's great. I've never been - but I want to go before the weather gets too hot. Any advice from anyone who's been there about nice places to stay? Don't want to camp/tent.

    Khao Yai is stunning and well worth the two hour drive from the city (took us four hours getting back on Sunday though, unsurprisingly). We fell in love with the area a few years ago and now have a weekend cottage up there. It is getting busier by the month with new resorts and restaurants springing up all the time.

    Kirimaya is probably the most upmarket resort in the area – very nice with prices to match (compared to most of the places at least). There's a Jack Niklaus golf course at the resort too.

    Chokchai Farm also has a boutique resort with air-conditioned luxury(ish) tents. It's a good place to go if you have kids – they do tours of the farm (whether you stay there or not), with all the usual “farmy” activities on offer; cow milking, horse riding etc.

    If you fancy staying in a French Chateau, there is even the newly opened “Chateau de Khao Yai” (I kid you not). We went to look around, but it was a bit chinzy for my tastes.

    Aside from them, there are dozens of other resorts, mostly of the bungalow type, which are pretty cheap.

    It's worth visiting one of the vineyards up there too. Granmonte and PB Valley are probably the best of them – Vincotto, the restaurant at Granmonte is usually very good, and some of the wines aren't half bad either (but not good value thanks to the taxman).

    Other places to eat. Again Kirimaya has a very good restaurant – usual Thai/Western fusion. There are branches of Bangkok eateries Cabbages & Condoms and FAB Cafe. Haven't tried the former, but FAB is OK, although the chef's abilities don't always meet up with the ambition of the extensive menu. Literally hundreds of other little places and stalls, especially at weekends, so plenty to choose from.

    Oh, at this time of the year it gets chilly at night. Goes down to around 15C outside the park, and if you're staying high up the mountain within the park itself will get down to (and maybe below) 10C. Daytimes are still warm though.

  9. From what I remember the relevent bit of the criminal code includes stuff about intent which makes the case very interpretable and definitley not clear cut. I think there is also something about exceptions too. Lesser charges would be a lot easier to prove.

    I agree that lesser charges would probably be the way to go. The exceptions in the code however only apply to demonstrations done in accordance with the Constitution, which is why the court's decision that the PAD rallies were not constitutional was so important. It's also amazing (read sad) that neither the Post nor the Nation deemed that decision important enough to report upon, instead choosing to highlight only the court's other conclusion from the same ruling, that whilst the police were right to try and break up the rally on October 7th, they went beyond the law in its execution [sic]. The Thai press did report it however.

    Anyway whatever charges get brought against the yellow guys and I think there will be some will set the bar for the reds promised action against ASEAN which if carried out will reach a similar height although with foreign diplomats in the firing line the authoriites may not be quite so lenient. The Thai public also seemed embarrassed at the international repuitation damage done by the airport seizure and may expect a far stronger future action on anything similar so it may be a tad different.

    Yup. One of the problems with the justice system here is that it is widely perceived that justice is selectively meted out - one law for the rich and so on. It is crucial that the yellows and reds are held up to the same standards within the law; otherwise not even the ridiculous contempt charges that can me thrown around by the courts will be enough to protect the judiciary IMO.

  10. trespassing, intimidation, criminal damage, assault, at least one murder or manslaughter, refusing officials access to investigate crime-scenes, slander

    Just seen the list. Thanks.

    Trespassing is hardly a terrorism charge. Were they in any areas of the airport where public is not supposed to be? Don't tell me "the lawns", or "Stuff only" doors to cleaner's closets.

    Intimidation - I agree their presense was intimidating, but did they actually threaten airport authorities in any way? Prior to airport closure?

    Criminal damage - like damage to what? Property? The airport was up and running in no time after they left. How much criminal damage was really there?

    Assault - what assault specifically?

    Murder - you can only link it to the leaders if they were aware of it.

    Refusing official access to crime scenes - I'm not aware the police even tried to access crime scenes there.

    Slander - how about someone sued you for calling them terrorists? Would it be fair?

    I'm not isolating the airport occupations, but treating the protests in aggregate (I'm not sure why it would be done otherwise). As to me being sued for slander, I'm not calling them terrorists, simply stating the relevant part of the criminal code. It's up to the public prosecutors to determine whether their actions constitute such a charge. Personally I think it's a weaker case than many of the other ones.

  11. I specifically asked for possible charges against PAD, all we get in reply is "terrorism".

    Let me clarify it a bit - did they break into the control tower? Did they break into any secure areas? Did they use force against airport security during this "takeover"?

    What exactly do you want them to be charged with? They blocked the road, true, there were present in public areas of the terminal, but that's not even trespassing.

    Crikey. Where do we start?

    How about (in no particular order): trespassing, intimidation, criminal damage, assault, at least one murder or manslaughter, refusing officials access to investigate crime-scenes, slander (a criminal offense here), theft... Weren't some people also held against their will at some point too? I'm sure the list is much longer. Given that many (if not all) of the violent charges would be directed at the PAD “guards”, and Sondhi himself has already stated in an interview that they were being paid by the PAD leadership, then there must be charges laid against them too.

    I'm always uncomfortable brandishing charges of “terrorism” about, but I suppose each country's laws define it in their own ways. In Thailand such charges do include damage to a public transport system or infrastructure if the intent is to force the government to do or abstain from any act (Criminal Code section 135). Damage can be interpreted in more than one way (ie is forcing the airports to close considered “damaging” a transport system?), but that is for the relevant authorities to decide of course.

    And then of course there is the big one; treason. Again, I don't like chucking that word around, but on the face of it the PAD were breaking the law (many laws) in order to topple the government. So if not treason, there might be a case for incitement.

    Just in case anyone's forgotten, the Central Administrative Court has already deemed the protests as illegal and not protected under the Constitution as they were not “without arms”, so the pathetic plaintive cries that they were just doing their constitutional duty as “good citizens” are nothing but just that: pathetic.

  12. In an interview with 'The Eastern CEO' magazine Thaksin admitted that the UK government had frozen over 4,000 million dollars or 140,000 million baht of his assets.

    CEO ME magazine is part of the same ITP group as the Arabian Business magazine that has been quoted here already. If you go to ITP's catalogue here, it shows CEO ME's website as the same, and a search for Thaksin interview still only shows Bhoyrul's article with the $4bn frozen claim, that the journalist (anyone who knows Bhoyrul's history might surmise that "journalist" is perhaps lavishing too much praise on him) has since admitted was made up.

    So basically the entire "down to his last half-a-bar" Nation piece comes down to a quote which has since been discredited, and anonymous "international financiers" who incredibly claim to have a pretty intimate knowledge of Thaksin's portfolio (I'll put 50 satang on Korn :o ). Add to that Thaksin's propensity for spinning/lying anyway as shown in the Swiss bank freeze saga, and the shining light of truth is still far from visible.

    Lke so much we read both here on TV and in the likes of the Nation, that which is verifiable is disproven, and the rest is impossible to verify. Still, there are many who are happy to lap up supposition as fact if it suits them.

  13. Do we actually know whether any journalist has bothered trying to find out from the British authorities if the assets have been frozen or not? You'd think that if asked, even if they would not give a concrete yea or nay, the very least they would say might be something along the lines of, "We cannot comment on individual cases". I've not read anything of that here yet, just that "London hasn't commented on rumours" (if they did comment on all rumours in the press without being asked first, they'd never get any real work done).

    Maybe something in the Thai language press?

  14. I double-checked to make sure I wasn't posting incorrectly:

    The MP requirements are under Section 101 (no degree), Cabinet under 174 (Bachelor's and up), and Senator under 115 (same as for the Cabinet).

    ballpoint, yes please do spread the word to your friends in the villages. As you say, it was widely unknown that the situation had changed (I was only corrected myself a couple of months ago).

    Of course if you're angling for one of the appointed Senate seats, getting pally with one of the (only) seven judges that do the appointing might be said by some to be an unwritten requirement...

    I, of course, would never countenance such an insinuation. :o

  15. The requirement for MPs to have a degree has – thankfully – been taken out with the introduction of the 2007 constitution (one of my few "Hurrahs" to the junta). It does remain in force for cabinet members however. So no “John Major” of Thailand then [nor a Nye Bevan as Splatter has posted]. It may still also be in force for Senators - someone correct me if I'm wrong on that bit though.

    As to why it's a bad thing, holding a degree in no way means that one is brighter than someone who doesn't hold one. It also in no way means that one is better “equipped” to represent the people, whether as an MP, Minister, or PM.

    There was a study done five years ago or so (could have been UNESCO, but I'm not sure), which highlighted the wealth disparity here specifically as manifested in the breakdown of uni students and the wealth of their families. No surprise that the vast majority of students came from wealthier families (and the study didn't take those – even wealthier – families that could afford to send their children to foreign unis into consideration. Add those and the numbers become even more skewed). Indeed it showed that it was all but impossible for many poorer families to send their children to uni at all (again from memory the entire income of many families was less than that required to send just one child to uni; paying living costs, replacing the student's work at home etc).

    Thus the requirement in one fell swoop effectively barred around two-thirds of the population from attaining office, and that two-thirds or so was disproportionately weighted towards the “poor”, but not necessarily away from the "smart".

    Good riddance to it, and may the cabinet requirement go the same way too. The only requirement to represent the people should be the requirement to persuade the people to vote for you (and stay within the law of course).

  16. No, people have been punished without being proven guilty, thus it is bad law (in a society that claims that one is innocent until proven otherwise). Personally (and I've stated this many times), I'm in favour of vote fraud being punishable by a lengthier ban - perhaps for life - as well as jail, so please don't try and twist my argument to say that I'm arguing for politicians to escape fraud. You simply shouldn't be punished because, "it's impossible to ascertain which party member or exucutive was aware of the fraud" or, "it's impractical". Critics of the PPP should focus on some of the amendments that would have weakened some of the other checks and balances, not imply that they were trying to legalise fraud.

    Actually it might be interesting to see how an equivalent crime is dealt with in other countries, not something I've looked at.

  17. <snip>

    Anyone supporting a 'democratic' Govt who's top priority is to REMOVE vote-fraud rules needs to get their head out of the Economist (the printed version of FOX/Faux news)

    This keeps on getting repeated and should be clarified.

    The amendment in question would mean that an entire party is not dissolved and its executive banned for five years, for the crime of only one executive member. Any member caught and found guilty of vote fraud however would still be punished. As it stands, the law metes out collective punishment and guilt by association. Even the judges last week alluded to this when they said that as the law stands they had to ban members even though there was no evidence they had any knowledge of the crime in question. It is bad law, plain and simple.

    There are other constitutional amendments that are more questionable and rightly should be challenged. This however is not one of them.

  18. Sadly until the military's influence in civilian government is utterly expunged, and the laws which prohibit freedom of speech are erased from the lawbooks (LM and "libel" as a criminal offence where you can be sued for even writing the truth), I fear we're in for much of the same - regardless of who eventually sets up the next government.

    Actually, given that one of Sondhi's parting shots was that any new government must further the regressive abomination that is "New Politics" or the PAD will rise again, perhaps "more of the same" is being overly optimistic...

  19. The PAD only protected a couple of buildigs there against attack. The others were up for grabs, thus the footage of both plundered and unplundered property simply shows the two different areas - there's no mystery involved in the apparent disparity of pictures, and it's been well documented. From the PAD itself:

    PAD co-ordinator Suriyasai Katasila admitted leaders could protect only the Thai Ku Fah and Santimaitree buildings, which remain intact.

    "We couldn't keep a close watch on other buildings," Suriyasai said.


  20. You don't need to set up a political party to present your ideas to the public. All you need is a free and inquisitive media. Something which is not welcome in this thread. And I don't understand it at all - why would our defenders of democracy want to preserve the status quo and refuse the poor access to information, even as "alternative" as ASTV

    Fair enough; when you say, "present it to the people", I thought you meant put it to the vote. The PAD has been demanding a steam-rolling in of "New Politics" without a vote of course. Come to think of it, without even thinking about it much either. I still don't see what is so special about "New Politics" that only it should deserve debate. The other three forms of government I listed earlier weren't random choices; just the ones I've heard more mention of in the last year or two (yes, including the third one).

    Certainly not English language press, and rural folks who are alleged to be the most affected don't read newspapers and rely mostly on TV. No "new politics" on NBT, afaik.

    The English language press here is pitiful for starters. Your allegation that rural people "don't read newspapers" is false - where do you get this stuff? Again you portray yourself as someone who believes that rural people only watch NBT, tend the fields, and wait for the next election "hand-out" to choose who to vote for. I'm sure there might be people like that, but those "rural folk" that I spend time with would feel incredibly insulted at the stereotype you portray. People do talk politics; people do talk about "New Politics".

    I talked about meaningful debate, with all sides expressing their opinions and offering solutions. ASTV hardly qualifies, and it doesn't reach pro-government camp at all.

    ASTV does reach some pro-government areas. Sondhi was quite crafty by putting a channel called "e-san TV" on the same satellite transponder that ASTV & TOC are broadcast on; a channel devoted to Isaan issues with some programmes broadcast in the Isaan/Lao dialect. A perfect way to get "the punters" in (never let it be said that Sondhi is not clever in using the media, even if he has struggled to make money out of it.) The PAD have been instrumental in getting more of these satellite dishes erected in villages up north. Heck I even watch TOC here in Bangkok because (editorial bias aside) it has the best English language domestic TV news available to me.

    Again though you ask why there isn't meaningful political debate, and I tell you than in my experience there is. Just don't look for it on the op-ed pages of the Nation or the Post (ah, well that's not strictly true, but you have to go down to the readers' comments section to find it.)

    First of all it's not a prerequisite that the military will do the selecting. Would you relax a little if it was entrusted to the Senate, for example.

    I didn't say they would do the selecting; I said that "New Politics" will put the government under the military. It is a central tenet of "New Politics" that has remained unchanged throughout. The military will have the right to dissolve the house on a whim (couched in language like, "if they don't think the government is doing a good enough job"). This is IMO wrong. Very wrong. Military dictatorship is too extreme a term to use, but it is certainly getting close to what the PAD champions. You bring up the Senate. You mean the half of the Senate that is currently elected by the people, or the half that is appointed by seven judges that are themselves affirmed by the self same Senate? So in answer to your question, no I'd not like to see representatives appointed by anyone other than the voting population.

    Yes, so far I can't see absolutely nothing wrong with selected part of the Senate. Why not strengthen this practice?

    What have the Senate reps done to further the interests of the sectors they represent? Nothing IMO, so why strengthen them? As to what's wrong with them, well even if they carry on doing nothing for their "constituents", they still can't be voted out by them. This is the strength of democracy; whilst it doesn't guarantee getting the right people in, it does allow for the people to vote them out if they don't perform. The current Senate appointees are immune from that threat, as they only have to keep seven judges sweet to keep their jobs. Cosy (and saves on brown envelopes maybe?).

    You claim in a later post than the one I am replying to that the people haven't complained about omov with respect to the Senate. That's just nonsense; there has been outcry over it and is reflected in one of the constitutional amendments proposed by the PPP. The amendement would have turned the Senate back into a 100% elected body - not something widely reflected in the pages of the Nation (let alone ASTV) though is it? You talk about people distorting facts to their own ends; the constitutional amendments are almost always portrayed here is being solely to let Thaksin off the hook. It is the PAD line and has been repeated so often it is taken for gospel. It is &lt;deleted&gt;.

    Don't forget that the main thrust is to clear up the politicians, they are the ones who create all the political troubles in this country.

    Ok, you can say it's PAD, but look - now they want to appoint Chalerm as the PM and everybody tells them they should get lost, no one would blame PAD for taking to the streets again if they go through with this ridiculous idea.

    Right from the start the "new politics" was meant to kick the likes of Chalerm out. I don't see anyone who is against this basic premise. People might not agree with PAD, but no one have thought of any better way to deal with Chalerms yet.

    No. It is the courts' job to clean up politicians. They are doing this right now (although I still think that collective punishment under the present constitution is wrong). The main thrust of the PAD is to stop the majority (or plurality if you must) electing people that a minority don't like. I'd hate Chalerm to be PM, but I recognize that he can be voted out at the next election if that's the people's wish. I'd feel the same if there was a mass illegal uprising in the UK to kick out Brown, a PM who was not elected into office, but who nonetheless is there legally. As soon as you cherry-pick as to who should and should not be "allowed" to be PM (as long as they fit the legal requirements of course), then you are already on the slope leading away from people's representation.

    The crux of your arguments still come from the "Isaanites are too ignorant to vote" angle, even if in reality it's a dilution of the vote rather than a simple eradication of it that is being discussed. You've expressed this opinion implicitly in this and in many other threads, and on at least one occasion expressed it explicitly (the baboon epithet wasn't you - I remember now it was from an op-ed in Sondhi's Manager which referred to some Isaanites as being lower than baboons and that they should be stripped of their voting rights. I still can't remember what you called them but it wasn't pretty.) Instead of just believeing everything you read about them in Bangkok-centric newspapers, or what you hear from the likes of the gentleman quoted about in the original post on this thread, go out and talk with them.

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