16 July 2024

April 30, 2022: An exiled anti-government extremist’s latest comment has underlined the progressively awkward relationships between Thailand’s biggest opposition party and its friends.

Somsak Jeamteerasakul, an Article 112 suspect now in exile in France, said a lot of voters would be supporting the Pheu Thai Party in the next election because they have no choice.

In a way, he wrote in a Facebook post, that was what dictators did _ giving people no choice so they live with them.

The post was directed at a pro-Pheu Thai writer and celebrity, Lakkhana Panwichai, and the party she supports in general.

Somsak’s move followed Lakkhana’s statement that Pheu Thai was “always like that”, and that the party was not hypocritical to the point of “sitting in air-conditioned rooms cheering children who are out there fighting.”

She also said if ones “hate Thaksin Shinawatra so much”, they could go and support the Move Forward Party.

Somsak told Lakkhana, better known as “Kam Phaka” to “calm down”. “Pheu Thai’s fan base who don’t see fundamental problems is no different from the Salim. In the next election, they will vote Pheu Thai again because they have no other choice,” he said.

Wikipedia’s meaning of Salim is this: “In contemporary Thai politics, Salim is a Thai slang referring to people who are skeptics of democracy and support the military’s involvement in politics.”

Lakkana recently said that “Salim Phase 2” has emerged. They are those who have become disillusioned with “non-democratic intervention” in politics but cannot bring itself to support Thaksin.

While Pheu Thai and Move Forward are both in the opposition bloc and are fighting together to overthrow Prayut Chan-o-cha, several analysts think it’s a matter of time before they turn against each other in the “red ocean” electoral market. Somsak against Kam Phaka may be just the tip of the iceberg, and accusing each other of being a new phase of Salim could be a big part of the “frenemy” battle.

April 29, 2022: There was little doubt concerning the allegiance of a new political party considered to be heavily linked with Deputy Prime Minister Prawit Wongsuwan, but he must have been further encouraged by what its leaders are saying right now.

They virtually are confirming that the Thai Economic Party had him, the Palang Pracharath Party leader, as its prime ministerial back-up plan. Both Vitch Devahasdin Na Ayudhya and Thammanat Prompao who are Thai Economic leader and secretary-general respectively, insisted that Prawit had proved to be qualified for the top job and Thailand should be ready for a deadlock where no routine nomination fits the bill. Vitch even implied he would not mind if he, a party leader himself, was overlooked by his own party.

It is no secret that that the Thai Economic Party was activated largely because of conflicts between Prime Minister Prayut Chan-o-cha and Thammanat. Keeping its options open and speaking highly of Prawit have been all expected, but Prawit must like what he’s hearing anyway.

More than a year ago, expressed admiration for Prawit was also admiration for Prayut, but that’s not necessarily the case today in the Thai political context.

However, there might be a slight piece of good news for Prayut now. Thai Economic backing Prawit means it can’t switch to the opposition that easily. Future parliamentary moves by Thai Economic, therefore, can benefit his government as a whole.

April 28, 2022: In a matter of days, the world has gone from seeing the leader of the “free world” appear like an ageing and ignored grandpa at a family party to discussing why one of his top enemies looked shaky and ill in public.

After Joe Biden had Barack Obama steal a White House show lately, Vladimir Putin had the whole world look at his hands and legs because the limbs “seem to shake uncontrollably” at a videoed public appearance.

“Is Putin ill?” has been trending on the social media. Parkinson’s disease was mentioned. Some posts were sympathetic, saying his look and demeanor can be naturally expected from someone turning 70. Others insisted that healthy old men did not look that way.

The viral online scrutiny is against a backdrop of Putin repeating his threat to retaliate any nation that “interferes” militarily with his Ukraine affair.

“Ender’s Game” is a famous sci-fi movie featuring cunning adults tricking children into fighting for them. Considering the ages of the leaders of two of the most powerful nations on earth (Biden is around 80), life can imitate art really soon, if it’s not happening already.

April 27, 2022: Tired of seeing Chadchart Sittipunt having comfortable leads in opinion surveys? A Thammasat poll may give you a bit more excitement in the run-up to the city gubernatorial election.

A far-reaching survey was conducted between April 15-April 22 by Thammasat’s research and advisory center, involving nearly 20,400 eligible voters in Bangkok and each district had at least 400 representatives spanning all across age groups, education backgrounds and covering various professions. With that, an intriguing result has emerged.

Chadchart’s lead, according to this survey, is not as big. He received about 28 per cent of support, with second-place Suchatvee Suwansawat of the Democrat Party trailing at about 22 per cent despite all the trouble battering Thailand’s oldest political party. Aswin Kwanmuang came third at about 14.7 per cent, leapfrogging Wiroj Lakkhanaadisorn who had about 10.2 per cent backing.

Scanning all recent Thammasat surveys, Aswin has enjoyed continuous jumps, from just 5.7% four polls ago. Suchatvee scored a roughly 3 per cent rise from the previous survey, but he had used to record a 28.3 per cent support. Chadchart’s peak was over 33 per cent. Wiroj was 11.8 per cent last time, compared with Aswin’s 11.3 per cent.

April 26, 2022: Elon Musk. Donald Trump. Twitter. These names could feature in a tumultuous soul-searching in the near future regarding how and to what extent a man can express his opinions.

Twitter had banned Trump. Musk is very close to acquiring the platform for $44 billion, if he has not done it already. The anti-Trump American media are squirming. Some Republican politicians have started calling on the potentially new Twitter owner to lift the ban. Trump said recently when creating his own social media tool that he would not rejoin Twitter, but not many people believe he would not change his mind.

What would happen is anybody’s guess. Trump is the Democratic Party’s enemy of the state even without Twitter. If he regains access to the platform, America’s politics, already simmering, will be superheated ahead of important elections.

April 25, 2022: High-profile resignations have rocked Thailand’s oldest political party and piled pressure on leader Jurin Laksanavisit, reopening old wounds caused when he rose to its helm.

Internal online messages leaked to reporters suggested there had been sexual gossips involving leading party members before the Prinn controversy broke out. News analysts suspect that the resurfacing gossips are a subplot of a deep divide that occurred when Jurin took over from Abhisit Vejjajiva and still remains.

Kanok Wongtrangan said in his Facebook post today that he decided to quit the role of deputy leader out of moral conscience. Unlike party board member Mallika Boonmeetrakool Mahasook, who stated no reasons for her resignation from the board, Kanok directly cited the Prinn case, which he said led to many questions being raised by the public regarding political ethics and integrity.

Last Friday, veteran politician and another former deputy leader Vittaya Kaewparadai, quit the party over the Prinn controversy, demanding a bigger show of party responsibility.

Jurin had vowed to stay put, but that was when the political storms were just brewing. He must be the most uncomfortable man at the Democrat Party at the moment.

April 24, 2022: Floods, traffic jams, city planning and related bribes feature heavily in voters’ minds before next month’s city gubernatorial election, but so do broken promises of previous candidates, potential conflicts of interest past and present, and tendency to favour big businesses instead of caring about man on the street, according to an opinion survey.

A total of 1,320 eligible voters were asked by SUPER POLL what kind of Bangkok governor they want. An overwhelming majority, or around 80 per cent, said they wanted someone who would not ask for under-the-table money, no matter how small and who is not involved in any kind of conflict of interest and nepotism.

Violations of city planning rules were cited in particular. When it comes to construction related to big businesses, Bangkokians want the same standard and strictness that ordinary citizens have to obey, the poll said.

The survey also shows Bangkokians are sick and tired of broken promises to make traffic run faster, air cleaner and poor children’s education better. They want real action and realistic policies, not promises that will fall through the moments they are made.

Floods and broken CCTV devices are examples of what need to be tackled. About 80 per cent _ just about the same number who insisted that integrity was important _ said they want a governor who can solve Bangkok’s basic problems like those issues as well as safety in currently ignored communities and constant traffic nightmares.

April 23, 2022: Increasingly, Twitter, Facebook, YouTube and Instagram are praising, loathing and critiquing city governor candidates, and the one whose smile is the broadest must be the top favourite.

Independent Chadchart Sittipunt leads in terms of generating social media talks and drawing positive comments, according to Real Smart Co Ltd, which specializes on digital marketing researches.

Chadchart has drawn over 700,000 social media comments, followed by Move Forward’s Wiroj Lakkhanaadisorn (over 228,000 comments) and Aswin Aswin Kwanmuang (over 180,000 comments).

Of the massive number of comments on Chadchart, over 210,000 were positive and about 490,000 were “in general.”

It’s anything but straightforward between Wiroj and Aswin. The former’s “positive” and “negative” comments were almost equal at around 25,000 each, with over 177,000 comments were “in general.” The latter has attracted about 22,000 “positive” comments and around 5,500 negative comments. More than 152,000 comments on Aswin were “in general.”

Coming a distant fourth is the Democrat Party’s Suchatvee Suwansawat with nearly 42,000 comments overall. He’s followed by independent Rossana Tositrakul with over 38,600 social media comments.

April 22, 2022: Wars are bad, but tennis star Novak Djokovic said he did not understand why Russian and Belarusian players wanting to compete at Wimbledon have to pay a big price for them.

He has called a ban on Russian and Belarusian players from Wimbledon “crazy”. The man was reacting to an announcement from the oldest tennis tournament in the world that, in light of the invasion of Ukraine, Russians and Belarusians could not be participants.

Wimbledon, which is based in the United Kingdom whose government is vocal against Russia and has made sport authorities turned against Moscow and key allies, became the first tennis tournament to prevent individual athletes from the competition amid the continuing conflict. Football has already suffered from several high-profile measures.

Speaking to reporters at the Serbia Open, former winner Djokovic said he “cannot support the decision of Wimbledon”. “I think it’s crazy,” he said. “When politics interferes with sport, the result is not good.”

That doesn’t mean he condones wars, he stressed. He said will “always condemn war, I will never support war, being myself a child of war … I know how much emotional trauma it leaves. In Serbia, we all know what happened in 1999. In the Balkans, we have had many wars in recent history.”

He is not alone, judging from microscopic and macroscopic reactions to the Wimbledon measure.

April 21, 2022: Today marks the birthday anniversary of one of the region’s oldest capitals which was once a village on the west bank of the Chao Phraya River.

Bangkok was officially founded on April 21, 1782 with the installation of the city pillar during the time of King Rama I. During the reign of King Rama IV, Bangkok’s population was between 100,000-200,000 residents. The capital’s early days were heavily about international trade with China and major western countries and, on later days, the city became Siam’s hotbed of colonial conflicts with foreign powers. On the bright side, those colonial problems helped speed up Bangkok’s modernization.

Today, Bangkok’s estimated population is around 10 million. The 240-year-old capital will elect its new governor next month.

April 20, 2022: A new political party founded by former economic ministers may do well focusing on the economy and advertising a prime ministerial candidate with a fine economic reputation and background.

However, how Sarng Anakot Thai, controlled by former leading members of the Prayut government, can stay away from ideological conflicts cutting a deep swathe through the Thai political landscape remains to be seen. The party has introduced itself many times and done it again today, reaffirming its firm economic focus.

Despite its obvious attempts not to get anywhere near divisive issues, they may come to its door without invitation. For one thing, the party’s prime ministerial choice Somkid Jatusripitak, who once served in highest economic posts, used to be deeply associated with Thaksin Shinawatra and had to struggle to avoid a “traitor” hashtag among red-shirted people over the past few years.

Simply put, Somkid’s economic background is second to none among present contenders for the national chief executive post, but his political background will likely become a big issue.

April 19, 2022: The leader of the embattled Democrat Party was close to tears at times today while addressing a major sex scandal affecting his camp and his solemn face could be all ones need to know while assessing its electoral chances.

Only weeks ago, talks were about whether the Democrats could bounce back from the previous political humiliation a few years ago after signs showed party leader Jurin Laksanavisit’s popularity was quietly growing.

Before that disastrous election, the party had been there before, going through many kinds of lows, be it devastating insurrection, embarrassing electoral results or public perception of them as a bunch of timid politicians too fearful or cautious to take an aggressive stance.

Before the Prinn setback, one thing about the Democrats was that they always crawled their way back, particularly at the expense of extremists. But they have never fought back from a scandal like this, one that turns away _ or at least plants seeds of doubt among _ many women.

At today’s press conference, Jurin said accepting Prinn Panitchpakdi into the party was his major responsibility although the process as well as the young man’s rise through the ranks involved collective decisions of the Democrat board. Jurin said he himself was quitting two committees that deal with gender matters. The party would not protect Prinn and would cooperate fully in the justice process as well as step up its own scrutiny of internal matters, he said.

Asked if the party would have hard electoral times as a result, he replied in a choked voice: “I can’t say that (for certainty). All I can say is that the party’s leadership has the responsibility to move the party on. The current situation may present considerable obstacles, but it’s our job to overcome them.”

On unconfirmed reports that the party had been warned about Prinn before allegations hit, he said: “I don’t want to go back to discuss a matter that could affect many people.”

On whether his own leadership status has been shaken, Jurin said: “I’m not replying to that question. Let me just say I will do my best (as the party leader).”

April 18, 2022: One of Thailand’s best-known communities have been rattled by claims that some of their leading members have been infected by the coronavirus.

Mukdahan province’s Kok Kork village has been torn apart by the death of a three-year-old girl, Nong Chompoo, in 2020 but somewhat gained fame due to intense and widespread online fighting between ardent supporters and haters of the suspects. It has been warned that the village could become a “cluster” due to secretive dealing with infections among high-profile villagers who have gone places and been frequently visited by relatives and fans and whose residences have become some sort of gathering venues, according to the claims.

Whether it’s a rumour or has some grounds, calls are being made to health authorities to investigate the COVID-19 situation in the village thoroughly. Whispers of fear are threatening to become rumbles, it is said.

Popular as it is, more than 90 per cent of “news” content from Kok Kork is now coming from heavily-biased social media users nowadays, as conventional media have been turned away by hostile portions in the community. The suspects, Chaiphol Wipha, better known as “Loong Phol”, and his wife, no longer talk to reporters and are broadcasting their own content online and only a selected group of “YouTubers” can access them.

April 17, 2022: Young people turning against an old leader. Sounds familiar? Well, it’s happening in America, too.

It’s arguably worse news for Joe Biden, 80, if he is to compare himself with Prayut Chan-o-cha, 68. For starters, he could be Prayut’s uncle or eldest brother. More importantly, though, an American survey he should be worried about has focused on young adults who are not so young when compared to the rebellious activists in Thailand. In short, the target group is quite big.

In a Gallup analysis of its polling released just a few days ago, in the early days of Biden’s presidency (from January 2021 to June 2021), an average of 6 in 10 adult members of Generation Z — those born between 1997 and 2004 — approved of what he was doing, CNN reported. During the period between September 2021 and March 2022, that number plummeted to an average of just 39%.

Among millennials, or those born between 1981 and 1996, data doesn’t look good, either. Biden’s approval rating among that group stood at 60% in aggregated Gallup numbers in the first half of 2021, compared with 41% more recently.

If the numbers go down a few more notches and the words “free fall” could be seen all over the place. The revelation is a big setback, nonetheless, particularly when it is hot on the heels of the “Obama embarrassment” just a few days ago.

Some may look at the poll numbers, shake their heads and say this is IN SPITE OF the fact that he has Donald Trump as his arch-enemy. Others will say it’s BECAUSE he has Donald Trump as his arch-enemy.

April 16, 2022: Are the allegations serious? Yes. How long will the scandal hold? Nobody knows, because it’s the kind of issue that, if dug deep enough, can affect many on both sides of the Thai political divide.

The legal and political developments regarding former deputy leader of the Democrat Party, Prinn Panitchpakdi, who has announced his resignation from all posts in the party and is facing legal action, are giving Thais another big test. It challenges the country to have a fair, politically-unbiased attitude and process when something like this happens.

He has categorically denied multiple allegations of sexual harassment. His image had been all but impeccable. He is with a party that is on onside side of the national polarity. Yet he is young, and his youth and previous image could have made political rivals perceive him differently. He is in a country where “right” or “wrong” has a lot to do with politics, not just what the court says.

He is also the son of former World Trade Organization (WTO) director-general, former secretary-general of the UN Conference on Trade and Development (UNCTAD) and former Thai deputy prime minister Supachai Panitchpakdi. The future had been bright.

All those point to a very complicated time ahead. Sex scandals, as we know, are never easy to investigate, let alone judge. Add the other complexities and Thais have on their hands a highly-unpredictable issue that could determine social directions in the short term at least.

April 15, 2022: A leading anti-establishment activist has warned that the Pheu Thai and Move Forward parties must not fall into a trap where they attack each other for political gains.

“I don’t want it to come to a point where Move Forward supporters wait for an opportunity to attack Pheu Thai and its supporters and vice versa,” Anon Nampa wrote in a Facebook post. This followed another anti-government activist’s comment lambasting Thaksin Shinawatra.

Thaksin’s recent statement blaming the crux of Thailand’s problems on Prayut Chan-o-cha and suggesting that rebellious Thai youngsters were missing the point did not please Parit Chiwarak, better known as Penguin. In a Twitter message, Parit said: “Is it because kids don’t understand or adults are too afraid to speak up? For the record, I voted Pheu Thai in the last election.”

It’s not just Parit against Thaksin lately. Local election campaigns have pitted supporters of Move Forward against their Pheu Thai counterparts in a few areas although both parties are key allies in the parliamentary opposition bloc.

Anon said “blind support” must end and “tolerance” of different opinions is important.

“I know conflicts over popular bases exist,” Anon said. “But open-mindedness is also important. I’m not calling for absolute unity. All I want is we have to establish a culture where differences are accepted as an integral part of democracy.”

He is almost right, although he focused on only Pheu Thai and Move Forward and stopped short of addressing all kind of differences throughout all political spectrums.

April 14, 2022: Politics can make an apparently-minuscule “crime” look gargantuan, as England’s prime minister must have learned, especially when a high-profile office holder has quit his job over it but he himself is remaining in his post.

In a move that must have piled great pressure on Boris Johnson over the “Partygate” scandal, David Wolfson has resigned as a justice minister saying he can no longer serve in the government because of its disregard for the rule of law. The distinguished lawyer who joined the government in 2020, said he was shocked not just by the extent of law breaking at No 10, but by the “official response” to a court verdict ordering many including Johnson to pay fines.

Johnson’s own statement featured heavily in that “official response” in which the prime minister suggested that briefly attending a birthday party held against lockdown rules was an honest mistake so small he did not even think it was a legal violation at the time.

Rhetoric in England is resounding. Among good ones is “Lawmakers can’t be lawbreakers”. One news commentary said Johnson couldn’t use the war in Ukraine as an excuse to go on. Many people ask: If political leaders can’t set good ethical examples, who will?

Johnson must be working on a further response after having virtually said he would continue serving. Opposition politicians have called for his resignation, saying his position was no longer tenable.

Moral of the story: Political ethics are easy to preach but hard to observe.

April 13, 2022: What Boris Johnson said in the wake of being told to pay a fine for the “Partygate” scandal is not atypical of what politicians holding any ideology say when caught with their pants down.

He has become the first serving prime minister in British history to be penalised for law-breaking in office after receiving a fixed-penalty notice for attending a Cabinet room afternoon gathering at which cake was served. Both Johnson and his wife have paid their fines, believed to be £50, and apologised for the party on June 19, 2020 which broke government-imposed lockdown rules.

But amid mounting calls for him to quit, he said he was obliged to continue serving. He insisted he had only attended for 10 minutes between a heavy rota of meetings and events on his 56th birthday. He refused to rule out receiving more fines for other events in future.

‘The best thing I can do, having paid the fine, is focus on the job in hand … I feel an even greater sense of obligation to deliver on the priorities of the British people.’

Does his job also involve setting a good example, no matter how petty a “crime” may sound? Well, to cope with that kind of question, all you need to do is drafting (or having someone draft) a good response that appears somewhat remorseful but subtly downplays what you did, making it an “honest mistake” without having to say it out loud.

“I have to say, in all frankness, at that time it did not occur to me that this might have been a breach of the rules.

“But, of course, the police have found otherwise and I fully respect the outcome of their investigation.

“I understand the anger many will feel that I myself fell short when it came to observing the very rules which the government I lead had introduced to protect the public.

“And I accept, in all sincerity, that people had the right to expect better.”

It was a good statement. He was wrong on one thing, though. Regarding political cases like this, people don’t “expect”. They wish.

April 12, 2022: Omicron was “weak”. A semblance of normalcy was returning to many countries on earth. Attention has turned elsewhere and to Ukraine in particular. Then the coronavirus has managed to slip past China’s tight guards and threaten to wreak havoc.

It’s a big deal. When the world’s most-lauded fortress against COVID-19 has been breached, panic can be widespread, no matter how “less scary” it was recently.

But international politics may be playing a big part in the new scare. Western media, as expected, are highlighting China’s trouble. On the one hand, that is justified, because the surge is raising a lot of questions regarding the virus’ ability. On the other hand, the frantic reporting was not seen when daily numbers of new cases in Europe and America were beyond hair-raising just a few weeks ago. A classic headline in The Guardian said the United States, of all the countries, is so scared that some consulate officials have been ordered to leave China.

April 11, 2022: Good ventilation is much more effective against the coronavirus than you think, according to health experts who have begun to say that the importance of open space is catching with those of vaccines, mask wearing and handwashing.

According to CNN, which interviewed a few scientists and went through some studies, the virus is like cigarette smoke that can annoy you in small or low-ceiling rooms but will not disturb you as much in open air. Great ventilation being good and daytime outdoor atmosphere providing strong immunity are a common knowledge in the pandemic but the effectiveness has been hugely understated and not quite got the attention it deserved until recently, the news outlet says.

It’s the responsibility of the owners of hospitals, workplaces, restaurants and so on to provide the best and healthiest ventilation possible. Enclosed private spaces also need to be improved because “We all are indoor species. All human beings think it’s safe to stay inside.”

COVID-19 may have thrived in no small part on fears that drove people indoors.

Here’s a good suggestion: “One of the easiest and cheapest ways to do it is open your windows.” And do so thoroughly to create cross-ventilation.

April 10, 2022: Don’t mess with a woman scorned, goes a conventional wisdom. When it’s a political, not romantic, punishment, be more afraid.

Pareena Kraikupt of the Palang Pracharath Party has been shocked by the court’s extremely-harsh verdict on her controversial land case, but is vowing that the “death sentence”, as she describes it, will not be the last.

The authorities and the court will get more “evidence” from her and she will apply pressure to ensure that slow-moving cases involving other politicians move faster, she has promised. Among said targets is Pheu Thai’s secretary-general Prasert Jantararuangtong.

Nobody shall ever underestimate her. After her Ratchaburi land controversy broke out, she dragged a few high-profile names into similar problems and those cases, just like hers, have received national spotlights.

April 9, 2022: Nattawut Saikua’s online comments marking the Red Shirt “uprising” in 2010 are Exhibit A of political narratives not speaking the whole truth.

“We are just people peacefully demanding a House dissolution,” he wrote, saying he did not understand why a state of emergency and armed crackdown were chosen to deal with political protests.

April used to be a politically volatile month in his days. Roughly a year before the state of emergency was declared in April, 2010 to Nuttawut’s “puzzlement”, an angry mob violently battered a government car thinking that ex-prime minister Abhisit Vejjajiva was inside.

The wild men did not pelt the vehicle with eggs or plastic bottles. Big bricks, iron pipes and other heavy objects were used, then prime ministerial aide Niphon Prompan was hurt, and only God knows what would have happened if Abhisit had been in the car and captured. The incident was not a “conspiracy” allegation fabricated by the government. Clips and pictures of the mobbing and attacks on the car were all over the news. Legal convictions ensued, with the court labelling the incident violent and disruptive of law and order.

In remembering his “struggles”, Nattawut did not mention that, of course. Nor did he talk about other incidents that were far from peaceful and gave his leadership a bad name in the eyes of the other side. He only recalled how the authorities were after him and portrayed his actions as heroic.

His online comments only focused on remembrance of violence resorted to by the state against ordinary people. However, the coin, as they say, has two sides.

This kind of attitude and twisted or selective narratives thrive everywhere in the political realm, causing big social rifts and providing recipe for more violence. Nattawut’s are just one of the most outstanding.

April 8, 2022: It has to be said that Move Forward’s criticism of a certain Chadchart Sittipunt Bangkok gubernatorial policy is well mannered. Problem is that the city race still has more than 40 days to go.

Frenemy fights will mark the run-up to the May 22 election, with candidates from camps sharing the same ideologies starting to battle it out.

Legally, Pannika Wanich is not supposed to represent Move Forward, but her post criticising Chadchart immediately brings to mind the party’s own candidate, Wiroj Lakkanaadisorn. That she is a key leader of the Progressive Movement, which is technically and virtually Move Forward’s branch, means she is speaking for most, if not all, in the second-biggest opposition party.

Chadchart has suggested public demonstrations or protests should take place in selected locations approved by the authorities. Pannika said she didn’t like the “dictatorial” smell of it. In an online post, she told Chadchart: “Selecting venues for demonstrations is a method used by dictatorial governments that want to show off a deceptive semblance of democracy.”

“Now it has begun,” declared a right-wing media outlet in a headline. “They have started fighting each other.”

Chadchart is running as an independent, but his past links with Pheu Thai are coming into play, whether he likes it or not.

April 7, 2022: Thai politicians are no stronger to land problems, and the fate of Palang Pracharath MP Pareena Kraikupt must have sent chills down many spines.

The Supreme Court’s Criminal Division for Political Office Holders has delivered a heavy, jaw-dropping penalty, and sympathy for her has come from many fronts, including the opposition bloc.  The verdict banning her from parliamentary politics and political positions for life came after the National Anti-Corruption Commission (NACC) had found her guilty of encroachment on 113.76 hectares of land. Ordinary people may find such an area huge, but she was far from being the biggest landlords in the Thai political realm.

Her crime was deemed a conflict of interest, as well as something that damaged the integrity of MPs. Ethical principles apparently played a big part in the verdict, a situation that the average Joe might see promising but many politicians might find hair-raising.

April 6, 2022: At 60, Barack Obama must have felt incredibly young when greeted by the sitting president at the White House who is just shy of 80.

Obama’s first return to the White House in years was described as a rock star appearance and generated mainstream media photos of smiling and applauding cordiality, but the US social media were on fire, with many saying Joe Biden was being disrespected and ignored too much.

Clips of Biden allegedly looking somewhat abandoned and “lost” among the happy pro-Obama faces were shared and went viral. In an address, Obama referred to Biden as the “vice president”, saying swiftly afterwards that it was a joke, but, considering all that happened at the White House on Tuesday, it was not a perfect occasion to call the commander in chief and “leader of the free world” so.

Biden did humbly mention his past, talking about his position in the Obama regime, but social media clips and still photos caught what appeared to be genuinely unsmiling, “grandfather” moments and portrayed Obama as the more energetic of the two. Certain mainstream media analysts, echoing some social media comments, said they were not sure if the White House event would benefit the Democrats in the mid-term elections.

On the one hand, every good host naturally makes visitors feel important. On the other hand, Biden did walk around aimlessly too much for comfort at his house while everybody else was mobbing Obama. Many media reports used the word “upstage” in unison.

According to one mainstream media article, Biden “has found himself back in former president Barack Obama’s shadow” on Tuesday as the two appeared together to celebrate 12 years of Obamacare.

Biden served as vice president for two terms under Obama before winning the White House in his own right on the third try. But, the report said, “there was little doubt which of the two Democrats is still viewed as the top dog inside their party.”

April 5, 2022: Big election campaign posters are good in many ways, and the more the merrier, but think twice if you are a Bangkok gubernatorial candidate promising to make the Thai capital clean and easy on the eye.

With city streets increasingly strewn with advertisement messages and photos of candidates, squabbles, satires, gloating and bluffing involving posters’ sizes have become part of the Bangkok race.

No sooner had popular independent candidate Chadchart Sittipunt’s supporters boasted about lean posters that do not expand beyond electric poles than the Democrat Party claimed credit for such an innovative way of making campaign materials least obstructive on walkways.

“Make no mistake, Chadchart’s posters’ sizes are good, but the Democrat Party has done it before,” said a former Democrat MP on his Facebook.

There are other traffic issues as well, which may be less important if this race was not all about great arrangement, safety and cleanliness. The social media have been leading battles over poster sizes and placement, with supporters of each candidates attacking rivals’ senses of metropolitan look and orderliness.

“This is just the beginning, as candidates have just registered,” a radio commentator said. “Pavements will change beyond your recognition in a few weeks.”

April 4, 2022: Problems with Russia aside, the American president, leading a country that purportedly cherishes media freedom, has described Fox News as “one of the most destructive forces” in the United States.

The shocking assessment of Fox News appeared in a forthcoming book, and was made after a pair of New York Times reporters and CNN political analysts asked Joe Biden about American media.

He did not only describe Fox News “as one of the most destructive forces” in America, but also was very critical of Fox Corp patriarch Rupert Murdoch.

According to the book, Biden told an unnamed associate in mid-2021 that Murdoch was “the most dangerous man in the world.”

That was apparently before Vladimir Putin occupied Biden’s mind and considered by the US president as a war criminal who should not remain in power.

Biden’s feeling about Fox News and Murdoch comes many chapters into “This Will Not Pass: Trump, Biden, and the Battle for America’s Future,” which launches in May.

The book describes Fox as a “torrent of anti-Biden programming, stoking skepticism about vaccines and disseminating wild conspiracy theories about the January 6 (capitol) attack.”

To be fair to Biden, who never let his feeling about Murdoch be known in public, his predecessor Donald Trump was not impressed by the entire mainstream media either and even held many outlets responsible for “fake news”.

April 3, 2022: An online post and social media reaction have suggested that an issue that has fascinated and obsessed the Thai public may soon cause consternation at the Pheu Thai Party.

The post, declaring itself as an open letter to the Pheu Thai leadership, was shared virally and triggered warnings that being associated with key defenders of high-profile suspect Chaiphol Wipha, or “Loong Phol”, might backfire on the biggest opposition party.

Chaiphol, when he was an unofficial suspect in the disappearance and death of his three-year-old niece in Mukdaharn in 2020, drew a groundswell of sympathy, with the mainstream media, social media and celebrities rushing to his side to give overwhelming support. That was up until the middle of last year, before his official implication, other legal setbacks, his temperament and his fast-rising wealth gained through product endorsement, online sales of his own products, the setting up of his own business company, enormous “fan club” backing, catwalk employment and sporadic hiring by the music industry changed everything.

There are a lot more anti-Loong Phol doubters than before and that could badly rather than positively affect Pheu Thai, the post warned, and in the process drew comments that Pheu Thai will not like. The warning has come amid pro-Pheu Thai clips emerging from the pro-Loong Phol camp, like a video of party leader Cholnan Srikaew addressing northeastern villagers.

April 2, 2022: A focus of political and legal attention will be on words that the Juangruangkit family wrote for the record when its members bought plots of land in Ratchaburi acknowledging there is possibility that their ownership might be illegal and thus revoked in the future.

Simply speaking, the wording, signed by the buyers, stated they wanted the transaction to go ahead despite uncertainty surrounding the land status, and that they wanted to take responsibility for future legal problems.

Somporn Juangruangkit, Thanathorn Juangroongruangkit’s mother, signed her name under a statement: “We the contractual parties will bear responsibility for possible correction, revocation or any case of damage (involving the land) in the future. It’s not the responsibility of officials who oversaw this transaction or ownership registration.”

Chanapan Juangruangkit, Thanathorn’s sister, stated more or less the same thing in her contract.  She stated she had checked an aerial survey which identified the land that she was purchasing as possibly being in national forest. “I have been told by officials that the (related) Nor Sor Sam Kor documents might have been issued illegally and may be subjected to further correction or changes that could nullify this land purchase. I acknowledge and fully understand that but I hereby reaffirm my request for the registration of this transaction to go through. Any future damage concerning this is my sole responsibility, not the officials (who oversaw the transaction),” Chanapan stated in the contract.

With the Juangroongruangkit family having come out to vehemently defend the purchase, whose controversy Somporn said has negatively affected her image, this long, drawn-out political issue will extend some more and get hotter.

April 1, 2022: In the past, when the United States was involved in an international armed crisis, a patriotic surge occurred and often helped the sitting American president by nudging his rating up a few notches. That has not happened for Joe Biden, despite the Ukraine invasion being carried out by his country’s arch-rival and taking place in the full glare of the world.

Biden experienced a brief popularity poll rise early last month but is now back in a worrying low (40 something percentage) amid the Democratic Party’s mid-term political fights against the Republicans and Donald Trump’s persistent loose-cannon threat. Why? To quote an old adage, “It’s the economy, stupid.”

In a Quinnipiac University poll released on Wednesday, 30% of Americans said inflation was the most urgent issue facing the country at the moment. Less than half that number (14%) named what’s happening in Ukraine.

That finding is echoed in a Kaiser Family Foundation survey released Thursday. More than half of those polled, or 55% of Americans, said that the biggest issue facing the country was inflation and rising prices. Just 18% named Ukraine as the America’s biggest problem.

So, the economy is what’s on Americans’ mind the most. And Biden has basically flunked the test. Just 1 in 3 Americans (34%) approved of how Biden was handling the economy in the Quinnipiac poll, with 58% not satisfied. (That same poll had Biden roughly even — 44% approve, 45% disapprove — in how he is handling Ukraine.)

 

Daily update of local and global events by Tulsathit Taptim