Interview – Mr. Prasang Mongkonsiri – Part 1 or How I almost scooped the New York Times.

Well It was a pretty awesome night for Hawkeye. I managed to get a pretty good interview with Khun Prasang Mongkonsiri, one of the UDD’s Committee Members. Now, I’ve only been blogging for a week and it’s my first time, so please take it easy on me. This is the first interview I have ever done. By the way, if I owned a laptop I could have scooped the New York Times by an hour. My salary ain’t that good, plus and addiction to baseball and softball drains my finances a bit. Also, I do not claim to be objective but I don’t lie, so here it goes.

Please note that Mr.Prasang Mongkonsiri was in a four and a half hour marathon meeting and had 45 minutes to talk before he went back into the second half of the meeting. He was full of energy and talked in a rapid fire manner. I have not quoted him verbatim but paraphrased our interview. He watched while I wrote every word and agreed with my understanding of his answers. I have tried to be as accurate as possible. There is one verbatim quote. I don’t know how to write short hand.

Hawkeye: “Will the UDD be leaving on Monday May 10th, 2010?

Mr. Prasang Mongkonsiri: ‘We are in negotiations, two days is not enough time. Last nights killing of two police officers and the bombing has influenced our decisions. The appearance of the PAD and Yellow Shirts has also influenced our decisions. We do not know what the relationship between the PAD and Government is.’

Hawkeye: “If Abhisit cancels the agreed upon election date will the UDD return to Bangkok in force?”

Mr. Prasang Mongkonsiri: “I believe that if Abhisit cancels the elections we will call for another rally in Bangkok.”

Hawkeye: “How will violence be avoided?”

Mr. Prasang Mongkonsiri: ‘That is the problem. We are in talks about how to control the violence because of last night’s shootings and bombing. Some UDD Committee Members have received information about the army and PAD. We have 300 plain clothes police volunteering to come and protect us. They will not be armed. They called Veera (UDD Committee Member) and told him that a high ranking police officer believes the military is responsible for the recent shooting of two police officers. They happened to not be wearing bullet proof vests because of budget restrictions.’

Hawkeye: “Is the subject of the 2007 Constitution a sticking point?

Mr. Prasang Monkonsiri: ‘We have not talked about it, yet. We are talking about the elections. Talking about the elections and talking about the who is responsible for the April 10th violence. Many relatives of the victims have already gone to the police stations and asked for investigations, twenty-five days have past and the police do nothing! If the commanding officer does not want to do anything with the cases, he will give a verbal order but no official paper order will be issued.’

I’m absolutely knackered. I was at the rally last night with my wife and we left at about 2:30am. I finally caught some shut eye at 4:00am and had to be at work at 8:00am. Woke at 7:00am. If you do the math it was a long day. I left the rally at 11:30pm tonight. The wife was worried so I left early. Part 2 will be coming tomorrow. It will be a continuation of the violence issue and the lack of investigations by the police. It will also cover the “terrorist charges leveled at many of the UDD’s Committee Members and the dreaded DSI.  Might be a part 3 if I can get some corrections on my notes form Mr. Prasang Mongkonsiri.  The speakers were blaring and tons of people were milling about in their own deep conversations.

On a lighter note, I had a truly entertaining conversation with Sean Boonpracong (UDD’s International Spokesman). I didn’t take any notes because it was a very informal conversation highlighted by sardonic quips and ironic banter meant to feel each other out. There was a sublime moment in the conversation. I told him that I blog for under the name Hawkeye. He replied “I guess I’ll be BJ.” It was one of the best moments of the night.

Content trumps grammar.


Mr. Prasang after a marathon meeting.

Spectres Stalking the Land of Smiles

What is the most serious problem facing Thailand today? Why, clearly, it is the spectre of foreign criminals stalking the Land of Smiles corrupting innocent local people. So, at least, we are to suppose from this story on Police Lieutenant General Wuthi Liptapallop*, who has become head of the Immigration Bureau. He talks a good game but only time will tell whether this will amount to more than continued persecution of undocumented migrant workers, sex workers and continually asking foreigners to produce their passports.

* Any relation to the similar sounding Liptapanlop? Apparently so. Funny how often it happens that so many members of influential families are so talented that they all achieve high office.

A New Evil

A new evil stalks the Kingdom seeking whom it might devour: a police officer ran his car down an embankment before shooting his wife and threatening people who had come to help with his gun.

The reason? An excess of diet pills.

Yes, really. Apparently, an excess of these dangerous poisons can increase the chance of an ‘out of character incident’ such as, presumably, offering to shoot everyone. It was not revealed whether these pills come from overseas but I think we can all make up our minds about that.

Boys in Brown Strike Like Lightning

From the Bangkok Post:

“The Department of Investigation will ask Interpol to help track down a key suspect in the murder of a Saudi Arabian diplomat 20 years ago.

DSI deputy chief Narat Sawettanat yesterday said he would visit the Interpol office in France later this month to make a request for the capture of Abu Ali, an Arab businessman.

Pol Col Narat said the DSI would ask Interpol to put Mr Ali on its wanted list and track him down before Feb 1, when the statute of limitations on the case expires.”

You really couldn’t make it up.

“Investigators do not believe he took his own life.”

The severed head of a western man in his forties has been found dangling some five metres from the Rama VIII Bridge. A note, apparently written in English, was found attached to the head, claiming I want but I cannot …,” and “I came to Bangkok to be [with] you.”

Top Bangkok police investigators seem to be concluding that this is not a case of suicide: how can they be sure?

Strange Bedfellows

“Misery acquaints a man with strange bedfellows,” so said Trinculo in The Tempest, which is a phrase more commonly heard in the form ‘politics makes strange bedfellows.’ So it has now become in Thailand with the pro-democracy UDD movement (the United Front of Democracy against Dictatorship) promising to become human shields for the police, who were repeatedly attacked by the right-wing PAD thugs last week.

For decades, the police have been one of the state agencies routinely used to hassle left-wing and community activists, beating up and killing many people. The military and para-military forces, especially the heavily-armed ‘Village Scout’ or ‘Red Gaur’ movements, have also been used to suppress many forms of dissidence, especially during the period when Communist forces were active in the outlying districts.

The police are also routinely linked with corruption, particularly the traffic police, who are said to stop drivers for various fraudulent reasons and request bribes to make the paperwork disappear. They are not, conventionally, figures of any great sympathy in society.

It comes to something, then, for the ‘boys in brown’ to be seen as, in some ways, heroes of democracy (not by the right-wing, of course, who are talking of police brutality, tyranny etc). This is partly because of the savagery of the PAD attacks, the refusal by certain doctors to treat police who have been injured (including being shot and deliberately driven into by vehicles) trying to enforce the rule of law against the illegal PAD mob, the fact that the police have been prevented from doing their jobs by certain highly-placed individuals who protect the PAD and because it has become clear just how ramshackle their equipment is (in contrast to the enormous increases in the military budget over the past few years). It is said that the police wanted to use water cannon but did not own any and the BMA refused to lend them city equipment. They were obliged, therefore, to use Russian-made tear gas grenades for lack of alternatives.

So, now it is that the right-wing talks about police abuses while those who have actually suffered from abuses for decades are coming to Bangkok to protect them.

Police Act against PAD Mob

The anti-democracy mob PAD blockaded parliament last night with a view to preventing the democratically-elected government from opening the new session and the convicted criminal Sondhi Limthongkul made another load of demands on behalf of the few thousand thugs who support his disgraceful attempt to bring an end to democracy in Thailand (reports that the demands concluded with ‘moon on a stick’ cannot be confirmed).

This morning, at 6:20, police moved in and used tear gas to disperse the mob and dismantle the illegally-erected barricades. This was to enable a path into and out of parliament for the democratically elected government (and junta cronies in the Senate). As would be expected, the police had to be careful because the PAD mob is known to be heavily armed and has murdered two people already, in addition to numerous beatings and acts of savagery.

A few dozen members of the mob suffered from the usual effects of tear gas – there were reports also that some people were suffering from ‘wounds’ caused by ‘shrapnel’ or ‘powerful explosives.’ The PAD has lied about this kind of issue before so it remains to be seen what truth there is in it or whether it was PAD mobsters who caused the injuries – mobsters are known to have attacked the police headquarters with tear gas of their own. Army chief Anupong Paojinda is said to be releasing a statement on behalf of the army this afternoon – so it’s back to turning on the radio in trepidation of the martial music that denotes yet another coup.

The government, led by PM Somchai Wongsawat, has now completed its duties in the house and made its exit – the PM had to climb over the wall to Vimanmek Mansion. The PAD again besieged parliament and turned off water and electricity, apparently.

Quisling Democrat leader Abhisit Vejjajiva (how long can he keep his job?) has led an unsuccessful boycott of proceedings, bleating about police actions and by no means supporting the rule of law. The Nation, meanwhile, has plumbed new depths of cynical lies – its website proclaims ‘Black October, 2008,’ disgracefully demeaning the memories of hundreds who were killed by the military in 1976 while protesting for democracy, the very same democracy that the PAD mob is trying to end. The Nation is a disgrace. Its editors, if they support this, should be deeply, deeply ashamed of themselves.

How To Humiliate A Thai Policeman (Hello Kitty)

Thai policemen can be tough guys.

Even the police has trouble keeping it’s own policemen under control.

Acting chief of the Crime Suppression Division in Bangkok, Pongpat Chayaphan had to come up with measures that would stop police officers in Bangkok from breaking the law – small things like littering, showing up late to work or parking in the wrong spot.

He tried several things, but finally called “Hello Kitty” for help – a popular cartoon character for young girls, the face of a sweet cat.

The plan is simple: a police-officer who gets caught breaking a rule while at work has to wear these pink-colored Hello Kitty armbands. That’s not exactly what a macho-guy policeman wants to do – it’s kind of like putting an Hells Angels rocker in a pink tootoo.

“This new twist is expected to make them feel guilt and shame and prevent them from repeating the offense, no matter how minor,” Pongpat Chayaphan said. “Kitty is a cute icon for young girls. It’s not something macho police officers want covering their biceps.”

Source: New York Times