PAD, free ASTV campaign, PTT, and conflicts within the anti-Thaksin movementBy Bangkok Pundit Jun 23, 2014 9:29AM UTC
1. PAD former spokesman Parnthep Pourpongpan posted on his Facebook the below image on June 13:
BP: You can see Sondhi L doing his see no evil, hear no evil, and speak no evil impression while wearing “Free ASTV” t-shirts (which are on sale for 300 Baht a pop). This refers to the fact that the TV station ASTV was taken off the air after the coup and has not been allowed to return.
2. An article in ASTV Manager on June 10 which was republished in ASTV Manager Weekly (June 14 edition) about Dr Seri Wongmontha (yes, that Seri) where the headline he says he is not impressed. Article refers to a headline in Thai Rath on June 9 which stated “Prayuth to suppress Dems-PDRC” ( “ประยุทธ์” ปราม ปชป-กปปส.). Article says the Democrats are divided into two camps, those who support elections and those support the military (ฝ่ายหนึ่งสนับสนุนการเลือกตั้ง ขณะที่อีกฝ่ายหนึ่งสนับสนุนทหาร), but for the PDRC, why was there a need to warn them? (ทำไมถึงต้องออกมาเตือน).
The NCPO may forget the phrase “Those who love a lot you expect a lot” (คสช.คงลืมคำนี้ไปแล้วกระมังว่า “รักมากย่อมคาดหวังมาก”) especially on the issue of Thaksinocracy and reforming energy where it must be accepted that actions on these issues has not been quick as desired for the PDRC masses (โดยเฉพาะกับเรื่องหลักๆ อย่างการกำจัดระบอบทักษิณ การปฏิรูปพลังงาน เป็นต้น ซึ่งก็ต้องยอมรับว่า การดำเนินการในเรื่องนี้ไม่ทันใจมวลมหาประชาชนจริงๆ)
After the coup, Dr. Seri is one person who has called on the NCPO to deal with Thaksinocracy and called on the NCPO to publicise the bad deeds of Thaksinocracy to the public which will be an important key in dissolving the color movements and unity. Don’t do like the Surayud government did which caused the problems to exist until today and made a coup necessary to resolve the problems (หลังการรัฐประหาร ดร.เสรีเป็นคนหนึ่งที่ออกมาเรียกร้องให้ คสช.จัดการกับระบอบทักษิณ และเรียกร้องให้ คสช.เผยแพร่ประชาสัมพันธ์ความเลวร้ายของระบอบทักษิณให้เป็นที่ปรากฏต่อสาธารณชน ซึ่งจะเป็นกุญแจสำคัญในการสลายสีเสื้อและคืนความปรองดอง มิใช่ทำเหมือนเมื่อครั้งรัฐบาล พล.อ.สุรยุทธ์ จุลานนท์ ที่ทำให้ปัญหายืดเยื้อเรื้อรังมาจนถึงปัจจุบันนี้และต้องมีการทำรัฐประหารเพื่อแก้ไขสถานการณ์อีกครั้ง)
3. ASTV Manager Weekly cover for June 21:
NOTE: The quote is ”Let [petrol prices] be in accordance with market mechanisms because when the petrol prices are expensive the people will increasingly reduce usage of energy” which is by Dr. Piyasvasti Amranand and the headline in blue and red is “Chairman-elect of PTT Board? What the F_ck is he on about?” [That last part is quite difficult to translate, but needless to say ASTV Manager is not happy]
Then below is a highlighted excerpt from the cover story:
The choice of Chairman of PTT Board is only Dr. Piyasvasti or Dr. Pornchai?( ตัวเลือกประธานบอร์ด ปตท. จะมีเพียงแค่ ดร.ปิยสวัสดิ์ กับ ดร.พรชัย เท่านั้นหรือ?). If just these two then it [means] the NCPO does not dare to break the current framework/structure and intention to change the energy system structure of the country. Expectation of success will be difficult because in the past these people caused the energy structure of the country to be in this current state (หากมีอยู่เพียงเท่านี้ก็ถือว่า คสช.ยังไม่กล้าแหกกรอบ และความตั้งใจเปลี่ยนแปลงโครงสร้างระบบพลังงานของประเทศ ก็คาดหวังความสำเร็จได้ยาก เพราะที่ผ่านๆ มาก็คนจำพวกนี้ที่มีส่วนทำให้กิจการพลังงานของประเทศตกอยู่ในสภาพเช่นนี้)
BP: In this era of “unprecedented freedom”, there are no longer comments on ASTV Manager stories, but on the ASTV Manager Facebook page post of the cover there are comments and to say the commentators not fans of the quote would be an understatement… See 4 below for more details. Note Dr. Piyasvasti is a former senior energy bureaucrat and was Energy Minister under Surayud. He is one the technocrats referred to below.
3. Then on June 21, ASTV Manager had a video of Sondhi L speaking as per below:
BP: Basically, the substance is Sondhi L saying he doesn’t know when ASTV will be back on the air (see 1 above), but if there are conditions imposed on them and they can’t speak the truth then he won’t go back on air (video title from ASTV is “”สนธิ” รับ ไม่รู้ ASTV เปิดได้เมื่อไหร่ แต่ถ้าเปิดแล้วพูดความจริงไม่ได้ก็ไม่ต้องเปิด). He says if we are back on air, we won’t lose our dignity. Now, before you say, what would be the conflict between PAD and the junta? BP can tell you one clear and big issue and that is regarding PTT and reclaiming PTT for the nation. PAD was in conflict with the military leaders after the 2006 coup and the Democrats when they came to power in 2008.
As background, the PTT was partially privatized in 2001. As of now, the Thai government, through the Ministry of Finance owns 66.4% of shares in PTT (the Ministry directly owns 51.3% and a Ministry of Finance mutual fund holds another 15.3%). The remaining shares are traded on the Thai stock exchange (SET).
On one side you have technocrats and those in the business community who basically like the current structure. PTT is used as a cashcow to subsidize LPG and CNG/NGV to the tune of 70 billion baht a year (US$2.16 billion) – estimates vary. No one has dared to kill the goose that lays the golden egg whether it be the post-coup government in 2006 or the Democrats in 2008.
On the other you have the PAD wing, while rhetoric about PTT was largely absent from the main PDRC stage, it was a more constant theme from the People’s Movement to Overthrow the Thaksin Regime stage. They have called for PTT to be reclaimed for the nation – although it is unclear whether this would be renationalisation without compensation – stating that national resources are being misused for profit and that if it was under government control this would result in lower petrol prices for all Thais. Similar views have been expressed by the so-called “Group of 40 Senators” who are mainly made up of Appointed Senators, but so far these views are mainly expressed with little chance of implementation and these goals are not mentioned on the main Democrat-led stage.
We will have to see what way the junta goes, but BP wouldn’t be surprised if the PAD crowd is disappointed again although the junta will likely say they are reforming – Dr. Piyasvasti has talked about reform – although the reforms will likely be cosmetic (UPDATE: Now, when you have absolute power, decisions can be made erratically, e.g. capital controls in 2006). Now, when you had a pro-Thaksin government in power, you had a temporary, albeit uneasy alliance on some policy issues. These policy differences will become more apparent although it is likely to take 2-6 months before the divisions really appear (PAD have already filed a lawsuit for the return of PTT in the aftermath of the coup).
Finally – as don’t want to do another post on the issue and have already translated so might as well put it here – despite many reds being detained and some still locked up, the PAD is still not happy. Below is a cartoon from June 12 from ASTV Manager:
BP: So you can see photos of buffalos and other animals playing dead with military truck in the background going past. The captions read “Have they passed yet” and the answer is “not yet”. The cartoon is meant to serve as a warning to the military the reds are just being cooperative and just lying in wait for the military to pass and will rise up again….