Blog Note: A Western intelligence operative in Thailand told Thai Intel over a year ago of the secretive “Songkhla Network” of senior Thai judges that is helping the royalist elite military rule of Thailand-by using of the Thai justice system to make favorable rulings on important cases. Subsequently, Thai Intel published the story about the Songkhla Network-but very few took Thai Intel seriously. But we have been making correct calls on one important case after another, based on information of the Network.
The following is Thai Intel’s latest contact with that Western intelligence operative
& his analysis
on the problems at the the Thai Constitutional Court and other issues:
………..I think the interesting point in the Economist story on the Constitutional Court is not that there is any new information than we don’t have already, other than the actual structure of the Songkhla Network, more that such a prominent world publication with such a hi-end international group of followers is still not buying into the present Thailand government‘s narrative and instead, constantly contradicting that narrative with stories like the one on the Constitutional Court and the earlier one on Thaksin’s Healthcare Plan which point out and underline the murk and mud lying beneath and around the present government’s political situation……….
…………………What I find interesting about the new publicly-announced campaign by General Prayuth to snoop on the phones and internet usage by his officers and soldiers is that one, Prayuth feels there are enough of these “non-loyal” Red Shirt sympathizer officers and soldiers to make such an effort and such a warning necessary and worthwhile, and two, that Prayuth is so ignorant technically that he doesn’t realize how fruitless such a snooping program will be in that any Thai soldier who wants to avoid the snoopers will have a couple of extra SIM cards and/or make use of the internet shops that seem to be on every soi throughout Thailand……….
………….For some reason, the Economist Court article seems to be completely unblocked at this time…….
The following is from the Economist:
Court scandals in Thailand
Judges in the dock: Accusations of political manipulation at the constitutional court
Nov 11th 2010 | Bangkok
SINCE 2006, when the armed forces ousted the then prime minister, Thaksin Shinawatra, Thailand’s constitutional court has dissolved two popular pro-Thaksin parties and disqualified hundreds of his allies. Now it may be the turn of the ruling Democrat Party, which is accused of campaign-finance fraud. A final hearing in the first of two cases is scheduled for November 29th.
The party denies wrongdoing. Yet in the court of public opinion, it is the judges themselves who are in the dock. A series of leaked videos posted on YouTube by “ohmygod3009” has dealt a blow to the court’s standing. In one, a member of parliament for the Democrat Party appears to be lobbying the secretary to the court president, Chat Cholaworn, to go easy on the party. In other videos, senior judges appear to discuss how to cover up the leaking of exam papers to relatives applying for jobs at the court. A new batch of YouTube videos released on November 8th, and swiftly blocked in Thailand by court order, also relate to alleged nepotism in hiring. More videos are promised. “Hold on tight,” exhorts a mysterious poster.
The court’s haughty response has been to claim a conspiracy by “ill-intentioned people” out to discredit it. The Democrats accuse their opponents of leaking the videos in the hope of forcing the court to dissolve the party, since to do otherwise would be to imply that it had bowed to political pressure. The MP caught on tape discussing the party’s case said that it was a set-up by Mr Chat’s secretary, who has since fled overseas and may be the source of the videos. Government critics say the court has shown its true, biddable colours.
A guilty verdict in the case and a break-up of the pro-establishment Democrats would tip Thailand back into political chaos after months of relative calm. At the time of the alleged fraud, the current prime minister, Abhisit Vejjajiva, was a deputy leader of the party. Under the latest, military-imposed constitution, party executives share collective guilt for any wrongdoing. Should Mr Abhisit fall on his sword, other Democrats are waiting in the wings. A former deputy prime minister, Suthep Thepsuban, is one candidate. A more likely replacement may be Chuan Leekpai, a two-time prime minister and party elder. But any new leadership would be unstable, and early elections may beckon.
Manipulation of the courts would be nothing new. In 2008 Mr Thaksin’s lawyers were jailed for offering a cake box stuffed with cash to officials at the supreme court, which was trying his wife. The Democrat MP was not seen doing anything as gauche, though the affair has left a nasty whiff. Paradoxically, the scandal may yet help the Democrats if it delays a final verdict. Judges caught on tape may have to recuse themselves from the trial. With more embarrassing videos perhaps to follow, there may be less haste in deciding the fate of Mr Abhisit’s party, determined to hang on to power until its term ends in a year. How very convenient.
The following is from the Bangkok Post:
Prayuth wants acts of lese majeste monitored
Published: 12/11/2010 at 12:00 AM
The army plans to step up its monitoring of soldiers’ mobile and fixed-line phones and internet activity to “keep tabs on acts of lese majeste”, a source says.
The source yesterday quoted army chief Prayuth Chan-ocha as saying soldiers’ use of phones and the internet would be monitored to prevent leaks of classified information and to monitor acts of lese majeste.
The source said Gen Prayuth ordered a special unit to tap soldiers’ phones to see if anyone was leaking army secrets to anti-government red shirt operatives. “From now, conversations on all kinds of phones in army offices will be monitored for any trace of insult to the [royal] institution or the leakage of state secrets,” the source said.
“Superiors in the army were taken by surprise that the red shirt leaders had known about developments in military plans very fast, fresh after a meeting. This shows there are spies in the military.”
The source said the task force responsible for the monitoring was set up after the Sept 19, 2006, coup d’etat.
Gen Prayuth supervised the special task force when he was the 1st Army commander under the coup-installed Surayud Chulanont government.
The task force comes under the Internal Security Operations Command.
It found that a colonel phoned the late red shirt core member, Maj Gen Khattiya Sawasdipol, after a grenade attack on the office of then army chief Anupong Paojinda. The colonel was transferred out of the army headquarters.
The army chief has prohibited soldiers from bringing mobile phones to meetings as a precaution against spying.
He also cautioned that the use of PowerPoint presentations should be kept to a minimum. PowerPoint files containing classified information could be easily reproduced.
The source said Gen Prayuth had brought in 12 special warfare officers from Lop Buri to join the security protection team for Prime Minister Abhisit Vejjajiva. They include counter-sniper officers.
Mr Abhisit had a brief talk yesterday with red shirt demonstrators Sommai Inthanakha, 32, and Boonyarit Sodakham, 24, at parliament house after their release from jail.
The two were released on bail from the Bangkok Remand Prison where they had been detained for six months for violating the executive decree on public administration in emergency situations. Their cases are pending trial.
They joined the May red shirt protests.
Mr Sommai said the prime minister inquired about the conditions of detained red shirt protesters. He quoted him as saying the government was helping protesters who had proven they had not been involved in serious crimes.
Mr Abhisit said the government was considering lifting the emergency decree in Bangkok and surrounding areas. A final decision would be made after assessing the “whole security picture”.
Writer: Wassana Nanuam & Manop Thip-Osod
- Thailand’s Opposition Red Shirts Balk at New Army Chief (time.com)
- Thailand’s Opposition Red Shirts Balk at New Army Chief (time.com)
- Thai Opposition Red Shirts Balk at New Army Chief (time.com)
- Court scandals in Thailand: Judges in the dock (economist.com)
- New Thai Army Chief Named (online.wsj.com)
- Thailand Braces for Anniversary Protests (online.wsj.com)
- You: Thai PM in court as party faces ban threat (france24.com)
- Red Shirts Stage Protests in Thai Cities (online.wsj.com)
- Thai Premier Rules Out Thaksin Amnesty in Talks on Peace Deal (businessweek.com)
- Thai prime minister accused of war crimes (telegraph.co.uk)