Friday, July 20, 2018

How US Influence is Co-Opting Malaysia's Governance

July 21, 2018 (Joseph Thomas - NEO) - The Diplomat, which claims to be "the premier international current-affairs magazine for the Asia-Pacific region," has recently published a piece granting credit for Malaysia's recent general election results to what it calls, "everyday activists."


The article is in fact titled, "The Everyday Activists Behind Malaysia’s Democracy Struggle." The article begins by claiming:
Audiences worldwide have been transfixed by the Shakespearian twists and turns that saw Malaysia’s opposition defeat the world’s longest-ruling coalition. But the unprecedented May 9 win was also the culmination of a decades-long civil rights movement by activists who took great personal risks to bring about change.
The article cites Maria Chin Abdullah who headed Malaysian street front Bersih, online media platform Malaysiakini, political cartoonist Zulkiflee Anwar Ulhaque (also known as Zunar), Malaysia Muda and legal group Lawyers for Liberty as examples of those that have finally helped make Malaysian democracy "work."

Yet there is something else all of these examples cited in The Diplomat's article have in common. They are all either directly funded by the United States government through the National Endowment for Democracy (NED), or their activities are facilitated by other organisations in Malaysia that are. 

From Abdullah to Zunar, Funded by the US Government 

In essence, The Diplomat's piece is arguing that the organisations they covered represent the custodians of Malaysian democracy, and thus play a role in determining Malaysia's future. Yet the disturbing common denominator among them indicates a paradoxical dilemma. If these custodians themselves are a function of foreign influence, how could they possibly play a role in the Malaysian people determining for themselves a path that serves their own best interests and not those of these organisations' foreign sponsors?


We begin with Maria Chin Abdullah, now a newly elected member of the Malaysian parliament. She had previously been chief of the Bersih street front whose rallies were regularly led by opposition politicians including Anwar Ibrahim who is now the defacto leader of the victorious Pakatan Harapan party.

In 2011, The Malaysian Insider would report in its article, "Bersih Repudiates Foreign Christian Funding Claim," that:
[Bersih 2.0 chairman Ambiga Sreenevasan] admitted to Bersih receiving some money from two US organisations — the National Democratic Institute (NDI) and Open Society Institute (OSI) — for other projects, which she stressed were unrelated to the July 9 march.
The article would also cite Maria Chin Abdullah as well, claiming:
Fellow Bersih steering committee member, Maria Chin Abdullah, explained that both NDI’s and OSI’s funding were specifically for to the electoral watchdog’s delineation projects.
The NDI is a subsidiary of the NED. Details of funding provided to Bersih were disclosed on the NDI's website, stating (our emphasis):

In July 2005, NDI organized a national-level workshop for party leaders on election reform. NDI has since conducted workshops across Malaysia to promote electoral reform in collaboration with Research for Social Advancement (REFSA), the secretariat for BERSIH. In 2006, NDI conducted a workshop for BERSIH that focused on pimproving the action plancs of each participating organization or political party. In 2007, NDI and BERSIH conducted a series of workshops in the politically neglected provinces of Sabah and Sarawak to educate previously disenfranchised political aspirants.
It is clear that Bersih's leadership, including Maria Chin Abdullah attempted to first conceal their US government funding from the public, then attempted to downplay the implications this funding had regarding their work.

Bersih faces fair criticism over their stated objective of "clean, free and fair elections" contradicting the foreign interference their dependence on US government funding represents.

The Diplomat next makes mention of Malaysiakini which describes itself as "independent media." However its financial disclosures reveal it instead heavily dependent on foreign funding.

Like Bersih, Malaysiakini is funded by both the NED and the Open Society Institute. It also receives funding from the Canadian government, the Asian Foundation (which in turn is funded by the US State Department) and the Media Development Loan Fund (which in turn is funded by Open Society).

While political cartoonist Zunar's financial sponsors are unknown, The Diplomat itself notes that work like his would not be published were it not for US government-funded media platforms like Malaysiakini.


Thursday, July 19, 2018

Twitter Bot Armies Target Thai Politics

July 20, 2018 (Tony Cartalucci - NEO) - It appears that the Western-backed opposition in Thailand is attempting to create the illusion of popular support online after failing repeatedly to create it in the streets of Bangkok, the nation's capital.

Hundreds of suspicious accounts either clearly bots and sockpuppet accounts, or exhibiting suspicious behavior have begun promoting pro-opposition propaganda in unison after nearly a year of apolitical but equally similar activity.



The campaign resembles the manifestation of US government programs admittedly aimed at manipulating public perception through the use of false social media accounts which were revealed as early as 2011.

The US Has Sought to Manipulate Social Media for Years  

Attempting to control what is and isn't popular is the desire of all involved in the field of marketing and politics. The ability to amplify the perceived popularity of a political idea or party to tap into the bandwagon effect is a temptation most involved in politics are not ethical enough to avoid.

During World War II, British operatives regularly manipulate US public opinion polls to reverse steadfast anti-war sentiment.

Today, the US has admittedly taken this process to social media where it uses - among many other techniques - software solutions like automated bots and multiple sockpuppet accounts used by single users to spread pro-American propaganda.

This was revealed as early as March 2011 by the Guardian in an article titled, "Revealed: US spy operation that manipulates social media," which admitted:
The US military is developing software that will let it secretly manipulate social media sites by using fake online personas to influence internet conversations and spread pro-American propaganda.
The article would continue by describing contracts already awarded to companies to procure this technology - and by describing the capabilities of such technology:
The Centcom contract stipulates that each fake online persona must have a convincing background, history and supporting details, and that up to 50 US-based controllers should be able to operate false identities from their workstations "without fear of being discovered by sophisticated adversaries".
The article also admits:
Once developed, the software could allow US service personnel, working around the clock in one location, to respond to emerging online conversations with any number of co-ordinated messages, blogposts, chatroom posts and other interventions. 

In other words, the US seeks to influence public perception by creating a false consensus through an avalanche of manufactured content serving US interests. While the Guardian article claims the technology would only be used against "terrorists," it has become abundantly clear that fake accounts were used during the US engineered "Arab Spring" and subsequent political and military interventions around the globe to stampede government out of power through the illusion of mass uprisings.


Today - such technology is available to political parties, movements, and marketing operations around the globe. Real users can create and manage multiple accounts via such platforms. Other applications allow varying degrees of automation for social media platforms like Twitter and Facebook.

This allows a single user to manage several, dozens, even hundreds of accounts at once - amplifying any desired message from promoting a favorite band during an online competition - to manipulating public perception in favor of a political party or movement.

Twitter Bot Armies

As recently as April this year, the Western media began to notice and report on the appearance of Twitter accounts appearing across Asia - exhibiting the same characteristics as described by Centcom's contract requirements. They appeared to be similar - automated - but also appeared to use local languages for names and followed the Twitter accounts of mostly pro-Western media and institutions attempting to influence news and politics in each respective nation.


Saturday, July 14, 2018

US Propaganda: Time Magazine Takes Swipe at Thailand

July 15, 2018 (Joseph Thomas - NEO) - Time Magazine's article titled, "Thailand’s Leader Promised to Restore Democracy. Instead He's Tightening His Grip," reflects Wall Street and Washington's growing displeasure with the current Thai government and its seemingly successful efforts to pivot the nation away from US-backed proxies including the ousted regime of Thaksin Shinawatra and his Pheu Thai political party (PTP), and toward a more multipolar footing in Asia and internationally.

This includes stronger ties with not only Thailand's other Southeast Asia neighbours, but also with China and even Russia.

China is now Thailand's largest trading partner, unseating the US.

Thailand is also systematically replacing its ageing US military hardware with Chinese, Russian and European systems including Chinese tanks and submarines, Russian helicopters and European fighter jets.

There are also large infrastructure deals signed between Bangkok and Beijing extending China's One Belt, One Road initiative through Thailand.


Attempts by the US and its media to disrupt this pivot have been ongoing, with Time's article being only a more recent example.

The Thai government, in good faith, provided Time Magazine writer Charlie Campbell an interview with Thai Prime Minister Prayut Chan-o-cha.

Instead of objectively portraying the prime minister's words, Campbell predictably twisted them, intentionally took them out of context, all while interjecting misinformation and lies of omission throughout the article.

The Thai Foreign Ministry denounced Time's article in a statement here, refuting many of Time's many mischaracterisations and outright lies.

Time's Mountain of Lies   

Time's article covers the military coup in 2014 and its aftermath, but suspiciously omits any of the events that actually led up to the coup.

Time dishonestly frames Thailand's political crisis as follows:
For more than a decade, Thailand has been wracked with color-coded street protests between the typically rural supporters of Yingluck and her brother Thaksin–who served as Prime Minister from 2001 to 2006–and their mainly urban opponents, backed by the powerful royal palace, military and judiciary. The pro-Yingluck faction wear red. Their opponents wear yellow.
However, this is patently untrue. In Thailand's 2011 elections, Thaksin Shinawatra's PTP won support from a mere 35% of all eligible voters. Of those that voted, PTP failed to win a popular majority. PTP's opponents include not only Bangkok, but also Thailand's central and southern provinces which are unmistakably agricultural and rural.

Thus Thailand's political crisis is owed not to some sort of class struggle, but to Shinawatra and his foreign sponsors attempting to reassert Western hegemony over both Thailand, and to a much greater extent, Asia, versus Thailand's attempts to maintain its long-standing sovereignty.

Nothing leading up to the actual 2014 coup is mentioned in Time's article. Had it been mentioned, the coup would not only have seemed reasonable, but as unavoidably necessary. Should Time have also mentioned that current protests are merely Shinawatra and his foreign sponsors pressuring the current Thai government to rush elections while they both still believe they can win, the government's intolerance of these protests would also appear to be reasonable rather than "repressive."

Before the 2014 Coup 

Thaksin Shinawatra is a convicted criminal and a fugitive. After accumulating the worst human rights record in modern Thai history and indulging in unprecedented, overt corruption, he was ousted from power in an earlier 2006 coup. In 2008 he was convicted of corruption and sentenced to 2 years in prison. He fled the country and has been a fugitive since.

Despite being a fugitive, he still openly runs Thailand's largest opposition party, PTP. Yet, none of this is mentioned in Time Magazine's article.



It is difficult to believe Campbell or Time Magazine are unaware of these facts, since such facts were published in previous Time articles themselves, including a 2011 Time article titled, "Thai Parliament Dissolves: Let the Campaign Season Begin," which openly admits (my emphasis):
A slew of parties will contest the elections, but the race will chiefly pit Abhisit and his Democrat Party against the opposition Pheu Thai party, which is led remotely by wealthy businessman Thaksin Shinawatra. The elected prime minister who was ousted by the army in the 2006, Thaksin lives abroad, having fled after being convicted of corruption and given a two-year prison sentence he did not serve. Pheu Thai's campaign slogan is "Thaksin thinks, Pheu Thai acts," and party executives acknowledge that Thaksin is expected to name his sister, Yingluck Shinawatra, a businesswoman with no political experience, as the party's candidate for prime minister.
Thus, a convicted criminal and fugitive led a party contesting Thailand's 2011 elections, and having won them, became the defacto prime minister of Thailand with his sister Yingluck Shinawatra merely a placeholder.