Tuesday, March 24, 2015

Thailand's Red Shirts Exploit Memory of Singapore's Lee Kuan Yew

Lee's misplaced admiration for Thaksin Shinawatra will now forever haunt his memory in Thailand. 

March 24, 2015 (Tony Cartalucci - ATN) - Singapore is not a democracy and the family who rules it, the Lees, are not democrats. In fact, the Lee family is essentially a modern day monarchy in all but name, complete with Le Kuan Yew's son, Lee Hsien Loong, succeeding him and having sat in power for over a decade as Prime Minister of Singapore.

In reality, that is how all nations are run - by institutions, powerful families, corporate-financier monopolies, or a combination of the three - and through varying degrees of success, under the thin veneer of  representative governance through "elections" and "democracy."

Rarely are these powerful special interests competent enough and qualified for the power and influence they hold, and even rarer still are they able to strike a viable social contract with the people. When they do, a balance of power is established and peace, stability, and prosperity ensue.

The Lees have, for now, accomplished this rare balance in Singapore and thus why Lee's recent passing has been the subject of mixed feelings leaning toward the more positive.

For Thailand's "red shirts," supporters of deposed prime minister Thaksin Shinawatra and self-proclaimed champions of "democracy," they have decided to seize upon Lee Kuan Yew's recent death, and his kind words afforded to Thaksin Shinawatra in the past, to vindicate their own political movement - no matter how hypocritical or ironic it may be.

Lee's Praise of Thaksin Shinawatra

Lee Kuan Yew in his book, "One Man's View of the World," praised Thaksin Shinawatra for "upsetting the apple cart" of Thailand's political status quo.

He admits Thaksin did this by exploiting the rural poor through populist policies - handouts essentially - and handouts Lee himself admitted were unsustainable in the long-term. Lee claimed Thaksin's actions would ultimately undermine Thailand's revered ancient institutions as well as the military, and predicted that the number of red shirts would continue to "outnumber" their opponents.

Lee believed this new course Shinawatra set Thailand on would narrow the income gap across the country and "drive domestic consumption." He assumed that over time, Shinawatra's brand of politics would prevail - but apparently he never foresaw the events of 2013-2014 unfolding as they did.

Sunday, March 15, 2015

Thailand: Burying Land-House Tax Bill Shows Government is Listening

When an "unelected government" becomes more representative of the people than an "elected" one." 

March 15, 2015 (Tony Cartalucci - ATN) - It was announced recently that the reviled, highly unpopular land and house tax bill proposed by the Thai government will be indefinitely shelved. This is good news for millions of Thais who understand that once one pays to live on their land or in their house, it no longer is "their" land or house and what once was private property, then becomes a "rental property" owned in all but deed by the Finance Ministry.

Some believe the land and house tax bill was simply a matter of people resisting taxes during an already economically uncertain time, and insist that "extra revenue" is necessary and the bill must still be inevitably rolled out. One such view was expressed in Bangkok Post's op-ed space. This is, however, not the case.

The idea of free people becoming tenants on their own land above all stirred opposition to the land and house tax bill, not the perceived financial burden it would cost amid an already shaky economy.

However, regardless, the government appears to have taken the widespread backlash to heart, reacting quickly and reversing the proposal. Part of that quick reaction may have been spurred by the fact that the ousted regime of Thaksin Shinawatra and his political party appeared to be positioning themselves to use the growing point of contention as a means to propel themselves back into popularity and political relevancy.

Some will argue the reversal was a sign of weakness, others can easily argue that it was the government simply doing what all representative governments are supposed to do - listen and respond to the people - particularly when a reasoned, logical, well-informed opposition voices specific concern regarding policy and legislation - which is precisely what many segments of the Thai population began doing in the face of the proposed tax bill.

How an "Unelected Government" Becomes More Representative Than an "Elected" One 

The widespread opposition to this recent tax proposal by an "unelected" government is not unlike what happened when the previous "elected" government of Yingluck Shinawatra proposed the reviled "amnesty bill." The amnesty bill would have exonerated politicians, particularly those associated with the Shinawatra family, of serial offenses (including corruption, human rights abuses, and mass murder) committed since Yingluck Shinawatra's brother, Thaksin Shinawatra first came to power in 2001. 

Thursday, March 5, 2015

Thailand's Proposed Land and House Tax Bill is Medieval, Theft

March 6, 2015 (ATN) - Centuries ago in Medieval Europe, despotic lords ruled over the land. They divided that land amongst their knights who in turn divided it amongst lesser servants and of course serfs. To live on the lord's land, one either gave a service or a determined amount of a good - usually an agricultural product. In other words, people would pay to live on the lord's land. Land may be passed down through families, but ultimately it never belonged to them. Ultimately it belonged to the lord who ruled over it.

In modern times, in most nations, the concept of owning your own land is considered one of several prevailing aspects of freedom. In Thailand, people have thus far enjoyed that freedom for generations. It was one of the many defining attributes that made Thailand truly free, as opposed to Western nations who claimed otherwise, even as they stripped their own people of such a basic right. That is, until now.

The Finance Ministry is considering what it is calling a "land and house tax bill." Thai PBS would report in its article, "Finance holds back land and house tax bill," that:
Finance Minister Sommai Phasiesrlier said that it was yet to be concluded the minimum value of a house which is to be taxed and the value of the house which will be exempted from taxation.
It was proposed that a house plus a land plot on which the house is located which are worth not more than one million baht will n be taxed and the one which is worth between 1-2 million baht will be taxed half of the tax rate whereas the one which is worth more than three million baht will be taxed the full amount of the tax rate.
Three tax rates have been proposed: 0.5 percent for land for farming and for residential purposes but in the initial period land for residential purpose will be taxed just 0.01 percent. The proposed tax rate for land for commercial purpose is 2 percent whereas the tax ceiling of unutilised land is 4 percent.
The concept of paying to live on your own land is, even at face value, absurd. Once one is forced to pay to live on their own land or in their own house, it is no longer their land or their house. It has become a "rental property." No matter how "small" the tax is the Finance Ministry claims it has planned, the moment people begin paying the Finance Ministry, they are essentially paying rent to live on the Finance Ministry's land, to live in the Finance Ministry's house.

Fake International Academics Sign Pro-Thaksin Statement

Hiding behind "freedom" and "democracy," US State Department-funded traitors, lobbyists, and frauds posing as "academics" and "journalists" sign letter of support for continued sedition in Thailand. 

Image: Somsak Jeamteerasakul literally leading Shinawatra's "red shirts." 
March 5, 2015 (Tony Cartalucci - ATN) - Thai PBS reported in a Thai article recently about a statement allegedly signed by "Scholars, Writers and Thinkers."  The statement disingenuously claims that Somsak Jeamteerasakul, a lecturer of history at Thailand's Thammasat University, was unfairly dismissed. The statement fails to mention that Jeamteerasakul and others, including the US State Department-funded "Nitirat" group, have abused their academic privileges and have used the university's facilities and resources to conduct political activity on behalf of deposed dictator, mass murderer Thaksin Shinawatra and his corporate lobbyist, Robert Amsterdam of Amsterdam & Partners.

The statement claims:
Over nine months after Thailand’s 12th military coup since the end of the absolute monarchy in 1932 was launched by the National Council for Peace and Order (NCPO), 238 scholars, writers and thinkers, issued a call in support of academic freedom in Thailand in solidarity with colleagues inside the country who did so the week before. Catalyzed by the summary firing of prominent historian Dr. Somsak Jeamteerasakul by Thammasat University, they note that there has been a sharp decline in protection of freedom of expression in Thailand since the coup. They are critical of the summary dismissal of Dr. Somsak and comment that it is an example of alignment between the NCPO and Thammasat University. 

It never mentions Nitirat's activities, using university facilities as a venue, including the busing in of Thaksin Shinawatra's violent street mobs known as the "red shirts" to fill an auditorium to make Nitirat's seditious activities appear "well attended." The events included at least on one occasion, Thaksin Shinawatra's lobbyist, Robert Amsterdam, who was reserved a front row seat.

Far from "freedom of expression," what these "scholars, writers, and thinkers" are instead promoting is the continued division and destruction of Thai society, driven by foreign interests for the sole aim of overthrowing Thailand's national institutions and replacing them with NGOs, political fronts, and opposition groups beholden to these same interests. Their claims regarding "freedom" and "democracy" are merely the smokescreen they are conducting this campaign of sedition behind.

In reality, these are in no way "scholars, writers, and thinkers," but rather lobbyists, frauds, and paid agents of sedition. There are also a number of unwitting signatories - as this letter was passed through an immense academic e-mail group with the majority simply signing it because it looked and sounded good.

One of these unwitting signatories is clearly Noam Chomsky, who has written entire books about US and Wall Street-driven regime change through organizations like the National Endowment for Democracy (NED), USAID, and private organizations like Open Society. Clearly he doesn't believe a statement serving as a smokescreen for this very campaign of foreign-backed sedition is a cause worthy of support - and simply signed it because he trusted the channel through which it landed in his inbox.

Among those who signed this recent statement with willful knowledge of its content, include Pinkaew Laungaramsri, admittedly a Thai "academic" funded extensively year-to-year by the US State Department via USAID and by convicted financial criminal George Soros' Open Society Foundation. Laungaramsri would call on her foreign sponsors for assistance in the wake of the coup in 2014, fearing her years of sedition had finally caught up with her. Unlike under the regime of Thaksin Shianwatra, whom she and the other signers of this letter seek to return to power, the incoming military-led government did not kill her, and despite her complaints that her "freedom of expression" has been curtailed, she is still clearly complaining openly and shamelessly to this very day.