Friday, December 18, 2009
Thursday, December 10, 2009
Friday, December 4, 2009
*All Images Copyright* (this means that newspapers like the Seoul Times should not be stealing my photos!)
Monday, November 23, 2009
View of Narathiwat from a Black Hawk helicopter. November 12, 2009.
Friday, November 20, 2009
Tuesday, November 17, 2009
* All images copyright *
PAD supporters in Sanam Luang on Sunday November 15, 2009.
* All images copyright *
"Saken Sutthiwong said that Cambodia was afraid that [Thai] F16 fighter jets would miss their targets and bomb Angkor Wat and Prear Vihear instead, because they earn their living from those ‘old stones’."
"Then some students came up to condemn Hun Sen and Thaksin, the traitor. They vowed to fight to the death to protect the Nation, Religion and King. "
"...Gen Preecha Iamsuphan, who had led yellow shirts in raucous protests near the Prear Vihear site in September, spoke to the crowd that it was time to get rid of traitors, as they all had appeared before their eyes. ‘We have to quickly finish them off for the sake of our beloved King and ancestors, so that Thais stop quarrelling with one another because of these scoundrels.’"
"Sondhi Limthongkul said the nation was important because it was composed of religion and the King. When people have faith in religion, religion is strengthened and so is the monarchy. Religion and the King will never be separable."
Friday, November 13, 2009
As chief of the Royal Thai Army in the deep South for the past one year, Lt Gen Pichet Wisaijorn commands respect for his dedication to stop the violence once and for all. He focuses not only on military methods but also on development issues, including agricultural and environmental strategies, to improve for Southern residents who are among the country's poorest.
Lt Gen Pichet started his military career in Isaan and maintains a special position in the Queen's Guards [Special Force Military for Queen Sirikit]. He also commanded Thai troops in East Timor in 2000.
Please join us for what will no be fascinating insights into the country's counter insurgency tactics and a discussion of the challenges ahead for Thai government in the restive South.
Friday, October 30, 2009
By June 2009, Prime Minister Abhisit Vejjajiva, while speaking on his weekly television program, had already floated the idea of turning Pattani, Narathiwat, and Yala into a “special administrative zone” while still being in line with the one and unitary state precondition established in the constitution.
Monday, October 19, 2009
Village defense volunteers (Chor Ro Bo) demonstrating their skills at a Buddhist temple in Maigaan (ไม้แก่น) district of Pattani province. August 2009.
In June 2009, at a seminar hosted by the King Prajadhipok’s Institute called “Politics Outweighs the Military: A Solution to Sustainable Peace in Southern Thailand”, Prime Minister Abhisit talked about bringing justice to the Deep South.
He said that the perpetrators of the June 2009 mosque shooting in Narathiwat, “no matter who they are”, would be brought to justice and that this issue is a key point from which to judge the performance of his government.
I would like to now pass judgment on the performance of his government: failed.
Failed misserably might be more accurate.
In regards to the mosque shooting, a warrant was issued a few months ago for a Thai-Buddhist township defense volunteer (Or Ror Bor) named Suthirak Khongsuwan, yet the whole case seems, like every other legal case in the Deep South, to have disappeared without resolution and certainly without justice.
Obviously, Abhisit's bold rhetoric is fundamentally disconnected with the fact that his weak government is beholden to the military.
Worse, the fact that Thai-Buddhist militias, such as the one Suthirak Khongsuwan belonged to, are armed under patronage of the Kingdom's highest institution which ensures that Abhisit's rhetoric is simply rhetoric.
The Nation is reporting today that the Patani United Liberation Organization (PULO) is not happy about the failure to see justice in the Deep South:
"Four Prime ministers passed by in just two years and all have failed to deliver justice and really sustainable development as hoped by the Malay Muslims, who are naturally anxious to manage their own affairs," it said.
Implicit in the PULO statement is that the Thai state's failure to deliver justice is a rational for autonomy or separatism.
They may have a point.
Not a single official has been prosecuted for any human-rights violations or killings since the surge of fighting began in 2004. Even the Tak Bai case in which state security forces killed 86 protesters – 76 from mistreatment after being taken into custody – were ‘acting in accordance’ of the law as judged by a Songkhla provincial court.
More worrisome, is that Abhisit's failure is part of a habitual failing of the Thai state that is akin to the symptoms of a failed state.
What exactly is a failed state?
From the Failed States Index: A state that is failing has several attributes. One of the most common is the loss of physical control of its territory or a monopoly on the legitimate use of force. Other attributes of state failure include the erosion of legitimate authority to make collective decisions, an inability to provide reasonable public services, and the inability to interact with other states as a full member of the international community. The 12 indicators cover a wide range of state failure risk elements such as extensive corruption and criminal behavior, inability to collect taxes or otherwise draw on citizen support, large-scale involuntary dislocation of the population, sharp economic decline, group-based inequality, institutionalized persecution or discrimination...
When a failed state can not provide justice, politically motivated armed groups (separatists) will try to take over the functions of a state as a means of garnering legitimacy in the eyes of locals.
As reported in Matichon today (sorry, cant find the story on their website but saw a copy of it early), separatists have released their own 'wanted' poster complete with photos and names of the five Thai-Buddhist suspects from the mosque shooting incident. While it does look like a wanted poster for criminals, theirs is titled 'จับตาย' which translates as 'wanted dead'.
Such vigilante actions are a symptom of the Thai state's inability to provide justice.
And that, of course, supports PULO's argument for autonomy or even independence.
Thursday, October 15, 2009
*ALL PHOTOS COPYRIGHT*
Well-wishers at Siriraj Hospital. September 25, 2009.
While local Thai papers are towing the official line that all is well with King Bhumibol Adulyadej, there have been serious rumors since he was admitted to hospital on September 19th.
Some rumors told directly to me have suggesting it is time to stock up on black clothing, others are more opaque.
From the Nation:
"There was a panic in early trading due to rumours, but the market rebounded," said Therdsak Taweethiratham of AsiaPlus Securities. "In recent weeks the stock market has been rising. Now investors are profit-taking."
The Bangkok Post:
"Rumours circulated throughout Wednesday that his condition [King Bhumibol] had deteriorated, prompting a 2.04 percent drop in the Stock Exchange of Thailand (SET).
The blogs are a little more creative.
New Mandala's cleaver use of a single quote:
"Less than forty-eight hours before he died the First Queen had reported that “His Majesty has improved in all respects.” - Extracted from Vella and Vella 1978. Chaiyo! King Vajiravudh and the development of Thai Nationalism, p1.
"There is sense of deja vu : Sovietology… When during the Cold War people were spending huge amount of energy and time to try to decipher what was going on at the Kremlin…"
"It’s a shame to serve such bullshit to the public. Shame on those people. Shame on Nation to write such non sense. The thai people have the right to know the truth."
Political Prisoners Thailand, while verging into conspiracy territory, comes up with something much more worrisome about the number of troops scheduled to descend upon the streets. (Also, they are the right on track to critically question the 2,000 "civilian volunteers" which are part of the security force):
"That’s a total of 36,000 security personnel mobilized. Even leaving aside the questions of human rights and intimidation, this is clearly way, way more than would be reasonable for controlling a rally that the government estimates will be “about 10,000 people.”"
"Suthep stated that “Attention will be given specially to Government House, parliament and Chitrlada Palace.”"
"PPT has no answers that we haven’t given before.However, this kind of mobilization is suspiciously large. If we were being really cynical and conspiratorial, we’d be tempted to link to an earlier post."
And finally, Bloomberg has a good story which captures how the King's health is making the market jittery:
"Speculation that the King’s health had deteriorated helped spark the biggest drop in the benchmark stock index in two months yesterday and the biggest decline since June in the baht."
A theme that emerges in this is that the Palace is seriously mismanaging their communication with the people leaving unanswered questions and fears to morph into dark rumors.
But an even bigger theme is that the whole succession, the embargo on honest reporting on the monarchy, fears of lese majeste, the unpopularity of the crown prince, republican sentiments, and all the other Yellow Elephant in the Room issues which the country is forced to try to ignore have left the nation unprepared for the inevitable outcome of all this.
The market is jittery because the nation is jittery.
Simply put, Thailand is not prepared for what will be the most profound cultural and political upheaval this country has seen in decades, some suggest the biggest upheaval ever, and all because we simply can not openly talk about the monarchy.
Long live lese majeste.
Sunday, September 20, 2009
The whole country belongs to the Thai people,
Maintaining thus far for the Thai,
All Thais intend to unite together,
Thais love peace, but do not fear to fight,
They will never let anyone threaten their independence,
They will sacrifice every drop of their blood to contribute to the nation,
Will serve their country with pride and prestige-full of victory.
Chai Yo (Cheers)
Monday, September 14, 2009
For 16 September 2009
ASIA FOUNDATION TO RELEASE SURVEY: THAI PUBLIC
WHEN: 9.30 a.m. – 12.00 p.m. Wednesday, September 16, 2009
WHO: Presentation of key findings of survey by Mr. Tim Meisburger,
Director of Elections and Political Processes Program, The Asia Foundatio
Guest Speakers: Associate Professor Surichai Wun’Gaeo
Director of Social Research Institute, Chulalongkorn University
Dr. Thawilwadee Bureekul
Director of Research & Development Office, King Prajadhipok’s Institute
WHERE: Saladang Room (2nd Floor)Dusit Thani Hotel Bangkok
946 Rama IV Road, Bangkok 10500