Saritdet Marukatat in an op-ed in the Bangkok Post entitled “Safe in the embrace of the military”. Key excerpt:

Yet a party held exactly one week after the coup indicated an otherwise benevolent feeling toward the military. The party at a Bangkok restaurant was held to celebrate the birthday of Nataphol Teepsuwan, a PDRC key member. Many among the select party-goers wore military-style camouflage outfits.

They included Chitpas Kridakorn, who is so impressed with soldiers from the Burapha Phayak camp that her T-shirt was boldly imprinted with its name. One member of that camp is army chief Gen Prayuth Chan-ocha, the man who decided to end their fight and give them what they wanted to see — the end of Yingluck Shinawatra and her proxies.

BP: Indeed because using the example of a scion of a wealthy and connected family partying in an expensive restaurant in Bangkok is the best example….

The op-ed continues:

Down at the village level, villagers in Surin used a more direct approach – they were not shy about calling for help from the army.

The residents of Ban Sapanhan in Muang district of the northeastern province were fed up with police inaction over a makeshift gambling den in their village.

They complained constantly about loud noise disturbing the village and questioned why police allowed illegal gambling.

Last Monday, they held a parade through the provincial town to lodge a complaint with the Surin Army District. Soldiers from the barracks promptly went to the village and caught five gamblers making a fortune with the hi-low dice game.

The crackdown sheds light on police turning a blind eye to this problem. One of the five arrested was Surasak Sinprakhon, who is chief of the Tambon Thung Mon Administration Organisation.

He was not a gambler.

In fact, the host was a local politician.

If that was not embarrassment enough for local police, the next move certainly was. The soldiers took the arrested gamblers to Thung Mon police station and did not return to their camp until police had recorded the arrest and filed charges against the suspects.

What happened in Bangkok and Surin shows there is something wrong in this country. Had Pheu Thai not abused its power in parliament, the military coup would not have happened. Had police in Surin done their job, the soldiers would not have taken over their duty.

BP: The shutting down of this massive gambling den yielded…….. five gamblers. It is astonishing that Thai society functioned before the military came along and brought safety for us all with arresting 5 gamblers.

Interestingly, today’s editorial in the Bangkok Post is entitled “Military and the mafioso”. Key excerpt:

The arrest of a senior military officer in the company of a suspected extortion gang presents the country’s new authorities with a dilemma. Police charged Army Maj Gen Jennarong Dechawan over alleged involvement in a protection racket in the Silom Road area. Four men were charged as accomplices. Gen Prayuth Chan-ocha and the National Council for Peace and Order will have to decide whether to back legal authorities and work to expose a part of the country’s criminal underground long known as the “military mafia“.

Gen Prayuth said last week that he expects a fair investigation of Maj Gen Jennarong’s alleged role in the extortion ring that has long victimised vendors at the Patpong Bazaar, on and near Patpong Road. The existence of the actual protection racket is well known. At issue is the role, if any, of Maj Gen Jennarong. Vendors have already testified to police and submitted evidence against the military man known to them as “Seh James”. They accuse the officer of leading a gang that shakes down vendors in an organised criminal enterprise. If the vendors pay monthly and “special” fees to the gang, their businesses are safe. Otherwise accidents happen, they lose their allotted sales areas and — supposedly — violence is possible.

In other words, the two-star general known as Seh James has been accused by vendors of heading a classic mafia-style, strong-arm operation. Such protection rackets are far more common than the public generally realises. Some “military mafia” gangs are extremely powerful. A gang that has long operated in the Klong Toey area made headlines a couple of years ago when market vendors who stood up to its intimidation were beaten and, in at least three cases, killed.

BP: Indeed. Pleasantly surprised that the Bangkok Post raised this….