Thai Media Project – June 2009



H.U.G. - Matichon Weekend, June 5, 2009

The three letters in the abbreviation represents “I will take it” which is written in full in the parenthesis below where it reads "I will take it no matter what happens." If you remove the dots in the abbreviation, the letters read “hug.”

The men are Prime Minister and Newin Chidchob. Newin's Bhumjaithai Party plays an important role as a coalition party in forming the Democrat government--represented by the hug between Abhisit and Newin. The blood stain on their shirts refers the NGV project to rent 4,000 buses and its impact on the Democrats who attempt to represent themselves as a more upstanding party.
The NGV project was proposed by the Transport Minister from the Bhumjaithai Party. Like most transport projects it is riddled with irregularities and the costs of the individual vehicles turn out to be many multiples of the actual cost. The extra money is normally spread throughout the cadres of a party and the party financiers as part of the recouping of investment made to come to power in the first place.

The NGV project, if approved, is thought to cause problems to the Democrat-led government which has tried to present itself as a party that does not have to continually push through mega-projects to fill the coffers of its financiers. However, to the Bhumjaithai party, the project will promote its populist policies to develop transport system--and is very likely the price that tempted them into forsaking Thaksin and joining the Democrat government. The Bhumjaithai Party has erected billboards around town to explain the NGV deal and since the party is key in countering Thaksin-family influence in the Northeast, the Democrats seem to have to accept the deal in some form. Such a coalition would have been in the realm of fantasy even in last December, but the parties were pushed together in an attempt to forestall another Thaksin-dominated government.

What this means is that the stain of the Newin-based party and the NGV deal is impacting the Democrats who have had to embrace them into the coalition.

Cancel the NGV bus rental project! – It would be a sign of "new politics" - translated and summarized from Thaipost; Column: The editorial; June 3, 2009
The NGV bus rental project is one of the proposals in the cabinet meeting which is held on June 3, 2009. This project will impact on the future of the Democrat party. Many groups of people disagree with this project, except the Bhumjaithai Party because of its undisclosed reasons.
It is possible that some politicians can get benefits from purchasing the buses so the people will have no faith in the government if it approves this project. Conversely, if the government postpones this project, it may have to dissolve the House as the government’s action makes the Bhumjaithai party dissatisfied.
However, PM Abhisit Wejchacheewa should first think of people’s benefits. Although he may administer the country only three months due to the Bhumjaithai party’s desertion, many people have seen in Aphisit a touch of "new politics." Specifically, he can work continuously and can be insulted by Thai people if he first thinks of the personal interest. The government should show its power to cancel this project because cancellation would be good for Thai people. Even if the PM has to dissolve the House, Thai people will support him to work as a prime minister again because of his goodness.

The hidden agenda: 60 billion is a budget for the NGV bus rental project - translated and summarized from Komchadluek; Column: The editorial; June 2, 2009
The NGV bus rental project has been proposed since the Samak government, but many groups of people disagreed with this project, including the Democrat Party which was part of the opposition at the time.
Democrat party leader Abhisit Wejchacheewa gave many reasons showing that some politicians could obtain [corrupt] benefits from purchasing 4,000 buses and tried to cancel this project. We are seeing that Sophon Sarum [part of Newin’s group], acting as Transport Minister, tries to push this project by putting it on the agenda of the cabinet meeting which will be held on June 3, 2009.
Why the politicians, who came from Newin’s group, have been trying to push this project after Samak proposed it? This may be the cause of the breaking of the good relationship between the Democrat Party and the coalition party [Bhumjaithai party], because the Bhumjaithai Party seems to be run by Newin Chidchop, who supported the Democrat Party to form a new government. The Bhumjaithai Party may definitely need this project to be carried out. Thus, it is possible that a good relationship between the Democrats and the Bhumjaithai party may be broken if this project is cancelled.
Although Thai people can get benefits from this project, there is a way to see the personal interests of politicians and parties are served as well. The government should show its moral bravery and cancel this project. Possibly, PM Abhisit Wejchacheewa realizes that a disordered situation [lack of support for a Democrat-led coalition] will occur if he cancels this project. However, the government should not shirks its responsibility by simply asking other sections of government to address this case for prolonging time [thus forever stalling the project].


June 5, 2009, Nation Weekend - Let's see the little panda
June 12, 2009, Matichon Weekly - We come to the right way already? [commenting on PM Abhisit riding a country tractor and the unlikely juxtaposition of his patrician image and this rural scene]
June 12, 2009, Nation Weekend - Victims! of the unfair [referring to the shooting in a mosque last week]


Not the same fortune between bear and men - Thai Rath, Chai Ratchawat, June 14, 2009
[This cartoon contrasts the birth and other circumstances of the Giant Panda in Chiang Mai with the lives of common people.]

Top left: Many flock to see baby bear [the baby panda], but never watch their own child.

Top middle: The pregnant bear is widely reported in the news, but pregnant girls secretly get abortions.

Top right: In joy when a bear’s eye sockets turn black [meaning people like pandas], but in worry when men’s eye sockets turn black [referring to brawling students].

Bottom left: The zoo joyfully greets the baby bear, but men greet their "freshy" with bruises. [Refers to the brutal hazing practices of universities.]

Bottom middle: The baby bear resides in a 60 million baht dorm, but some man’s child resides in a garbage pile [contrasting the pandas' expensive winter environment in the zoo with the living conditions of some people]

Bottom right: Baby bear promote tourism, but man’s child destroys it [Noting how the actions of man have hurt Thailand tourism.
]


Punch to punch - Thairath; June 8, 2009
Left: Chaowarat Charnweerakul: Although the 4,000 bus NGV rental project belongs to Ministry of Transportation, the Cabinet does not approve or postpone this project. They should have a good reason to explain why they act like this.

Right: Abhisit Wejchacheewa: The Cabinet will consider everything carefully and would assure the public’s benefit--in so many words. We will keep an eye on anyone who acts illegally or tries to create corruption. We would not let anyone create corruption during this economic recession. [This refers to the controversial NGV bus plan.]

Violent problems in the south - Krungthep Turakit, 500  type + 1 Author: Mor, Column: Tassanavijarn, June 11, 2009
On the side of the elephant: Violent problems in the south
The men pushing the elephant are PM Abhisit and a figure representing the military. They are saying: petty [conversational language to indicate something trivial]


Repeated old film - Matichon, Cartoon column: Kaolao Ruammit, Author: Tin, June 14, 2009
[This cartoon refers to incidents and situations that have been repeated time and time again.]

Top left: The caption reads: The gang of four
[Explanation: In the government of Samak in 2008, Samak joined with Newin Chidchob, Deputy PM Surapong Suebwonglee, and Theerapon Noprumpa, the PM's secretary to reshuffle the cabinet in such a way to sideline Thaksin influence. MP Sakda Kongpetch said this group was trying to seize power from Thaksin (who was obviously controlling and had bankrolled the People Power Party).
Recently, Mr. Sakda claimed again that there was a new gang of four monopolizing power. The figure on the right looks like the Bhumjaithai Transport Minister.
Or, the cartoon figures could refer to a group of four men mentioned by Democrat MP Chalermchai Sriorn who failed to a receive ministerial post. He complained that there is a gang of four in the Democrat ruling party consisting of Deputy Democrat Party Secretary General Siriwan Prasjaksattru, Democrat Party bursar Anchalee Vanitch Theppabutr, Democrat executive Sathit Wongnongtory and deputy party leader Wittaya Khaewparadai. These men alleged have the ear of the most powerful party executive members.]

Top middle: Finance Minister Korn Jatikavanit rips a document. The caption reads: Inheritance tax aborted [This refers to Korn, who is one of the richest people in government, expressing the government's line that Thailand is still not ready for an inheritance tax.]

Top right: Bhumjaithai Party ministerial members ride on a tractor. The caption reads: Reality Show [This refers to trips that government members have made to the countryside to meet with rural people. These trips have been the butt of jokes and parody in the Thai press for their obvious and perhaps insincere attempts to curry favor with Thaksin supporters.]

Bottom left: Minister to PM Office Sathit Wongnongtoey says: Gas carrier truck. The words on the truck’s gas tank reads: To bomb the south. [This refers to the April incidents when Red Shirts stationed LPG tracks around Bangkok and rigged at least one to blow up. Here, a government minister fancifully thinks of attempting the same type of threat to pacify the deep south.]

Bottom middle: The caption reads: Cruel freshy welcome [This refers to the violent hazing that new university students ("freshies" or "freshmen") endure each year.]

Bottom right: The caption reads: Dissolve Thaksin’s party. The words next to the hammer read: Framing Bhumjaithai. [This is a series of Thai letters that are the symbols of political parties controlled by Thaksin and dissolved by the Election Commission. On the left is That Rak Thai, then the People Power Party, then Pheu Thai. The letters and design are intentionally designed so voters can tell the new party is really the successor to the old party. Both the Bhumjaithai Party and the Pheu Thai Party have urged the Election Commission to dissolve each party for election fraud.
]


Left: Matichon Weekly
The cover reads: 800,000 million - A-ro-ka - Nee [debt] - Pa-Ra-Mee-La-Pa?
[This is a a play on a Buddhist Sanskrit saying "arokaya parama lapha" which is a blessing that refers to good health (no disease). The phrase on the cover is a rhyming phrase that puts the word “debts” into the blessing to say something like "being without debts is a blessing."

Right: Nation Weekend
The cover reads: Sood Kan San Rak [A song by Lookthung (Thai country) singer Poompuang Duangchan pictured on the cover. The song tells the story of a woman who faces disappointment in love. Poompuang died June 13, 1992. The conflict between Poompuang’s only son and his father is the talk of the town.]


 

True situation in the Deep South? - Smart News, No. 184, June 16-30, 2009
Left to right: The first man says: Mr. Suthep [Deputy Prime Minister Suthep Thaugsuban] says it will take three years for the South to be in peace, what do you think?
The second man says: I am not sure... (because) the chaotic situation in parliament has not been solved.


Unclear and untrustworthy - translated and summarized from Matichon; Column: Editorial; June 19, 2009
It is now nearly two weeks after people praying in a mosque in Amphoe Joh I Rong, Narathiwat, have been killed and injured. However, no progress is seen in the investigations. Several parties come out to unveil their opinions. They question whether Abhisit’s new strategy to let the politics lead the military works.
High-ranking officials and politicians in the cabinet all believe that the mosque attack was committed by southern insurgents. But local politicians in three southern border provinces do not believe so. They see that the attack could also be done by local officials. Lots of Thai Muslim people see that it is not possible that Thai Muslim people will kill people in the same religion in a mosque. They think that it was the government.
To end the rumors and recover the government’s image, the government should form a central committee, consisting of local people and experienced ones, to investigate the matter, instead of letting the police do so. If the mosque attack still cannot be solved, insurgents could successfully coax the mass into siding with them.


Southern unrest - The new “war” - translated and summarized from Naewna; Column: Kuanjai Hai Sa-ard; Author: Tapo Paopee; June 19, 2009
The government has to renew its thoughts and concept on tackling the unrest problem. The government’s declared politics leading army policy needs some clear visions on the matter before it starts. The politics-led war refers to a “no bloodshed” war, but the Army war refers to blood in the war. The “politics leads army” policy for the unrest needs the right approach in operation as well as the right understanding on the characters of the “new war” in the unrest. I comment that 3 important issues to be reviewed clearly are
1) The fight of the militants ; the strategy, events and aims
2) the understanding of masses; the winning over masses in the unrest (this is important at this moment as the government still face problem on local masses supporting government )
3) the understanding of the power in hand of authority or militants ; including the new concept of war
The government has to understand the points clearly to move on the right track for the ongoing violence in the unrest south.


Unexpected conspiracy theory - translated and summarized from Matichon; Author: Thavi Meengern; June 18, 2009
The unrest in the three boundary provinces of southern Thailand has lasted for many years, but the violence in the area has continued unabated.
Criticizing about the issue, people in the area remarked there might be other groups that obtain advantages from the upheaval apart from those insurgents. This could be an unexpected conspiracy and a source of the violence.
Local and national politicians who are familiar to the area analyzed that the insurgents commit crimes and terrorism in a bid to raise the violence and put Thailand in the spotlight. As a result, the United Nations would interfere the issue, and separatists would have more bargaining power. Demonstrating their power shows their potential to foreign supporters who provide them financial assistance.
Meanwhile, some mentioned that civil servants in security departments is another group gaining advantages from the violence. It cannot be denied that the more severe the situation, the more budget is earmarked for the south. However, it seemed the huge budget did not actually resolve the violence and it is deemed a “gold mine” for those opportunistic officials.
The last group is general criminals such as smugglers, human traffickers, and so on. These other  crimes are outweighed by the separatist issue and state officials usually overlook these crimes.


JI members arrested in the South – DSI says they are involved in 9/11 attack - translated and summarized from Naew Na; June 18, 2009
High-ranking authorities jointly announced that following collaboration among four agencies, the Security Centre, the National Intelligence Agency, the Royal Thai Police and the Department of Special Investigations, a Rohinya suspect named Mahamad Ali Husen, arrested on June 15 in Kaset Sombun district, Chaiyaphum province.
On 5:00 pm of the same day, officials from four agencies jointly arrested Mr. Mahamad Madbameh, a 39-year-old Rohinya, and Mr. Chubri Awae, aged 20 years old, with several document-making devices, in Hat Yai, Songkhla province. They were arrested for official document forgery.
The agencies confirm that all suspects have a relationship. Mr. Mahammad Ali Husen is a step brother of Mr. Mahamad Madbameh, who is capable of forging official documents for Rohinya people.
Evidence also shows that they have something to do with an international criminal network, which is involved in the southern unrest.
It is disclosed that the human trafficking movement is related to influential people in the South. It is found out that Mr. Mahamad Ali Husen is a leader of an international terrorist group. He is involved in human trafficking, document forgery as well as weapon trading.
It is also found out that Mr. Mahamad Ali Husen was the one who provide the Al-Queda with fake documents, allowing the movement’s members to undergo the 9/11 sabotage. Later, he hid in Malaysia and then Thailand. Here, he contacts influential people in the South, including people involved in the unrest.
Former Fourth Army Region Commander Gen. Watanachai Chaimuenwong said that southern insurgents have revised all strategies. New commandos are formed, using members from Al-Queda or JI. He added that following the new strategy, the attack will be more severe. Government officials are not likely to overcome them.


Al-Furqan incident – Abhisit-Suthep-Anupong’s reaction - translated and summarized from Matichon; June 17, 2009
From March to June this year, four teachers were killed and five were injured. 15 soldiers were also wounded. Moreover, another 11 bombing attacks led to the death of two civilians and injured 19.
The one deemed the most brutal was a massacre at the Al-Furqan mosque in Ai Payae village of Narathiwat’s Cho-airong district that left 10 Muslims dead. After the incident, the insurgents attempted to frame the government of the charge by means of word of mouth and leaflets.
The attempted frame-up made Deputy Prime Minister Suthep Thaugsuban, as well as Army Commander-in-chief General Anupong Paojinda to defend the administration, saying state officials were not behind the attack.
The point is that the result of those incidents is worrying because, no matter how the case comes out, it is to the advantage of insurgents.
Meanwhile, Prime Minister Abhisit Vejjajiva did not refute that officials were not involved clearly, but explained that no policy legalizes the use of violence.
In the case of Al-Furqan mosque, it is relatively complicated as there are a number of likely motivations such as personal revenge, drug dealing, and smuggling. Therefore, the government should not rush to the conclusion and distort the truth.
During an interview on his Sunday television talk, Mr. Abhisit answered Vatsana Nanuam, a reporter, that every case should not be hastily concluded as long as the suspect is not tried.


Government warned not to provide citizens with firearms - translated and summarized from Matichon; June 16, 2009
Nonviolence International South East Asia warns government not to provide citizens and volunteer units with firearms. According to the organization’s research report, arming the citizen and expanding the civil volunteer unit would fuel the situation, causing more conflicts in the restive south. The government’s intention would involve the issue concerning religious discrimination as only Thai Buddhists are allowed to carry firearms while Thai Muslims are not. If they do, they would be suspected of being insurgents.
Some of respondents who are officers admitted that security in the area is currently under responsibility of those volunteer and semi-military units which were screened and trained incompetently. Consequently, instead of reducing the violence, it may spark anger and dissatisfaction in the area.
The research report suggests improving police’s potential rather than supporting people with firearms. The problem should be solved by peaceful means and good governance. Moreover, strict law enforcement are also vital.


Two army members holding general rank and one colonel involved in militant attacks in the south - One more teacher shot dead - Blast attack killing police - translated and summarized from Matichon; Page: First page, June 17, 2009
Two militants on their motorcycles on June 16, 2009 staged attacks targeting female school teacher Rekha Issara from the Banpormeng School in Yala’s Raman district, killing her in Tambon Kayuborkoh in the district while the teacher was traveling to school. At the same time, the militants in Pattani lured police at the Saiburi district in Pattani to inspect an accident on the Maikhaen-Saiburi road in Tambon Taluban. The militants detonated a bomb that was hidden on the motorcycle killing 2 and injuring 1 police officer.
Meanwhile, an MP of the coalition parties reveals to a source that he believes that the mosque massacre in Narathiwat was a plotted scheme and claims that many MP in the unrest province and high-rank army officials and Army Commander-in-chief General Anupong Paojinda and Defense Minister General Prawit Wongsuwan have information about the group that was involved. According the coalition party MP, leaders of the group that staged violence for their own benefit consist of one army member holding General rank in the Narathiwat area, another army officer holding the same rank looking in Pattani and one colonel in the Yala area.


Analyzing why the Southern Border Provinces Administrative Office plan has been shelved – obstructed by soldiers? - translated and summarized from Matichon; June 11, 2009
The Abhisit Vejjajiva government announced during its campaign for election on December 29, 2007, that it would launch a tool to ease the unrest in the southern border provinces. It believed that the tool would bring peace back to the provinces again. The tool is to set up a special organization called the Southern Border Provinces Administrative Office.
The new organization will be directly supervised by the Prime Minister. It is aimed at solving administrative problems in the area and create unity in operations. However, five months have passed and the plan has not been proposed yet.
The reason is that the government manager, Deputy Prime Minister for security Suthep Thaugsuban, fears that the proposal will offend the ‘Big Green’. We all know that the government is backed by the military.
The Internal Security Operations Command is now the lead actor in the three southern border provinces with around 60,000 military officers.
After the robbery of guns in Amphoe Joh I Rong, Narathiwat province, more and more budget has been allocated to the southern provinces – from 13.45 billion baht in 2004 to 27.547 billion baht in 2009. Over 50% of the budget is under the control of the Defense Ministry and the Internal Security Operations Command. The ISOC receives around 7.5 billion baht in advance. They will come up with projects later.
People wonder if the budget will be spent on the right stuff. It is said that high-ranking authorities get a lot of money for themselves per month. Meanwhile, the Southern Border Provinces Administrative Command got less than 10% of the 27 billion baht budget.
Are these the reasons the military oppose the plan to form the new Southern Border Provinces Administrative Office? The Abhisit administration should restructure military organizations and revamps strategies under the approaching and understanding concept.


Half a decade of southern unrest – fighting for the masses or fighting for the budget? - translated and summarized from Matichon; June 21, 2009
The unrest in Pattani, Yala, Narathiwat and some districts in Songkhla has been going on for half a decade, from January 4, 2004. The situation is not stable, depending on chances of both sides.
Commander of the Southern Border Provinces Administrative Command (SBPAC) Pol. Lt. Gen. Peera Poompichet says that so far, administrative officers cannot thoroughly stop them. He adds that we are now fighting with criminals who have high capacity and resources to carry out their plans.
According to the Royal Thai Police, from 2004 to May 2009, a total of 3,513 people were killed. 3,078 out of them were ordinary people, 223 were policemen and 222 were soldiers. A total of 6,220 people were injured. 92 teachers were killed, while 96 were injured. Five monks were killed and 15 were injured. Officials were able to seize 316 gun from insurgents.  The police have been working hard for five years to get the statistics.
However, there are several units trying to intervene with the operations to get this work and the budget that goes with it.
On June 8, 2009, a tragedy happened again when insurgents attacked the Alfrugon at Ban Ai Payae, Tambon Chuab, Amphoe Joh I Rong, Narathiwat province. Eleven Muslim people praying in the mosque were killed and lots were injured.
It is still doubtful who killed those people. Is it insurgency movement, or another group with a secret goal?
The incident intensifies the unrest. Teachers, monks, old people, soldiers and policemen are victims.
Prime Minister Abhisit Vejjajiva insists that he will let the politics lead the military to end the southern unrest. He also mentions about a plan to form the Southern Border Provinces Administrative Office.
Several parties wonder if those billions baht spent in the South for the past five years were worthwhile. The budget does not include the secret budget and another 20 billion baht which has just been approved.  People wonder if the government is able unveil the information on budget allocation during the past five years?
It is also doubtful if it is a fight against insurgents in the South, or a fight for budget allocated to ease the southern unrest.


Local force teamed up to fight militants in the South - The Army on alert - translated and summarized from Naewna; Column: political news; June 21, 2009
The Region 4 Internal Security Operations Command Public Relation Head Colonel Parinya Chaidilok reveals that the Narathiwat task force along with police and military will closely perform security operations in every district in the province, especially in the Chorairong district, following many tense violent attacks operation in the area recently. The army strategy is aimed at controlling militants operating in the area and regaining public confidence. The hunting operations are launched in the suspected militant hideouts. Helicopters are used in the air force operation against militants in mountainous areas and checkpoints are set up in communities. He adds that the local force is to be teamed up by village security force, village guard defense volunteer team, and popular training units in the local areas.
Meanwhile, four Islamic Khmers were seized at the border area in the Aranyaprated district in Sakaew province. The authorities found that the four have items such as radio transmitters, Kratom leaves used to produce hard drugs, electric volt transformer machine, and mobile devices in possession. The four claimed to travel to the Southern border province and to visit cousins in Malaysia. Police are investigating the case.



(Photo: Naewna)

Islamic Khmers: Deputy task force commander of the Burapa force Lieutenant Ekkarat Methawattananan seized four Islamic Khmer people while they were entering the Aranyaprated border in Sakhaew province with many items used in forest and Kratom leaves. The four are suspected militant supporters.


Revealing the ‘Taksin 2’ plan – Fugitive Thaksin aims to run a war to hunt ‘Mark’, privy councilors - translated and summarized from Manager Online; June 24, 2009
[The concept of a "Taksin" plan draws parallels between deposed PM Thaksin and King Taksin. King Taksin was deposed by a coup in 1782. His reign was followed by the founding of the present Chakri Dynasty.]
On June 24, it is reported that a security unit has reported about the Taksin 2 plan to the government. The five-page plan comes with a more violent strategy and more aggressive than the Taksin 1 [the term applied by the first attempt of Thaksin to return in April].
The Taksin 2 has seven strategies and six methods, aiming to destroy the 2007 Constitution and promote a new one. More violent measures will be applied to bring down the government.
A source said that red-shirt people are responding to the strategy. They create conflicts among Thai people. They are urging the change of national day from December 5 to June 24, in order to reduce the importance of the royal institute.
All media will be used to spread negative rumours about the Prime Minister and other ministers. Government’s information units will also be interfered with.
From June 27, which is a big meeting day of the red-shirt people, people will be mobilized to fight against the government’s power. All violent measures will be applied through well-trained forces. Teams will be set up to hunt down aristocrats like privy councilors, and government members. The first target in the government is Prime Minister Abhisit Vejjajiva, followed by deputy security minister Suthep Thaugsuban.
Security units have already sent a report about the Taksin 2 plan to deputy security minister Suthep Thaugsuban. All authorities are working hard to prevent all problems.

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