Tuesday, January 28, 2020

US Propaganda Reorganises in Cambodia

January 29, 2020 (Joseph Thomas - NEO) - US State Department-funded and directed Voice of America recently noted that its networks in the Southeast Asian country of Cambodia are reorganising, though no in such straightforward terms.


VOA's article, "Journalists Form A New Press Association, Plan to Protect At Risk Reporters," claims:
The development comes amid an ongoing press crackdown by the government that has seen the shuttering of independent news organizations and radio stations in the country.

The article then obliquely mentions that the "at risk reporters" include Radio Free Asia employees; Radio Free Asia being part of the US State Department's media presence inside Cambodia and across the rest of Asia.

Only until the very last paragraph of the article does VOA admit who the founding members of the new association, The Cambodian Journalists Alliance (CamboJa), are, admitting:
CamboJA’s fifteen founding members consist of current or former journalists from six news outlets, including Voice of Democracy, The Cambodia Daily, Radio Free Asia and Voice of America, as well as freelance journalists.
In other words, CamboJa is merely the US State Department reorganising its interference within Cambodia under the pretense of upholding media freedom.

US-Funded and Directed Media Augments US-Backed Opposition 

Far from impartially and objectively reporting any actual news, the members of CamboJa serve merely as the public relations arm of Cambodia's US-backed opposition party, the Cambodia National Rescue Party (CNRP).

CNRP's senior leadership includes Kem Sokha who himself openly admitted he served as a proxy for US interests who ran his opposition party practically from top to bottom.

The Phnom Penh Post in an article titled, "Kem Sokha video producer closes Phnom Penh office in fear," would go over the many admissions made by Kem Sokha: 
Sokha says he has visited the US at the government’s request every year since 1993 to learn about the “democratisation process” and that “they decided” he should step aside from politics to create change in Cambodia.

“They said if we want to change the leadership, we cannot fight the top. Before changing the top level, we need to uproot the lower one. We need to change the lower level first. It is a political strategy in a democratic country,” he said.
Regarding US assistance, Kem Sokha would reveal:
“And, the USA that has assisted me, they asked me to take the model from Yugoslavia, Serbia, where they can changed the dictator Slobodan Milosevic,” he continues, referring to the former Serbian and Yugoslavian leader who resigned amid popular protests following disputed elections, and died while on trial for war crimes.

“You know Milosevic had a huge numbers of tanks. But they changed things by using this strategy, and they take this experience for me to implement in Cambodia. But no one knew about this.”

“However, since we are now reaching at this stage, today I must tell you about this strategy. We will have more to continue and we will succeed.”
Kem Sokha would elaborate even further, claiming:
“I do not do anything at my own will. Their experts, professors at universities in Washington, DC, Montreal, Canada, hired by the Americans in order to advise me on the strategy to change the dictator leader in Cambodia.”
Kem Sokha's daughter, Kem Monovithya, has also openly worked with the US to seek the overthrow of the Cambodian government.

Thursday, January 23, 2020

Thailand: The Lingering Spectre of US Colour Revolutions

January 23, 2020 (Joseph Thomas - NEO) - Thailand's opposition is openly backed by powerful foreign interests, particularly those in Washington. As the opposition attempts to secure power and help serve as a vector for Western special interests, the spectre of a Western-sponsored "colour revolution" increasingly looms over Thailand's future.


Thailand is a key Southeast Asian nation, with the second largest economy in the ASEAN regional bloc and a key regional partner for China's Belt and Road Initiative (BRI). By disrupting Thailand's political status quo, Washington hopes to introduce complications to China's regional and global rise.

Taking to the Streets 

In early December Thai opposition party "Future Forward" took to the streets with several hundred protesters, obstructing pedestrian bridges and sidewalks in downtown Bangkok.

While Future Forward's defacto leader, billionaire Thanathorn Juangroongruangkit, claimed he clogged Bangkok's downtown shopping district with followers to fight for "democracy" and "freedom," it was abundantly clear  the mob he assembled was a direct reaction to recent court cases leveled against him and his party for repeated and blatant violations of Thai election laws.

This included Thanathorn's holding of media shares while campaigning which is illegal under Thai law. It also includes a supposed "loan" Thanathorn made worth tens of millions of Thai baht to his own party, a loan the party itself has no means of ever paying back, meaning that it was in fact a donation and therefore absolutely illegal under Thai election laws.

Rather than face justice, Thanathorn has assembled a street mob as a means of hanging the threat of eventual violence over the head of Thailand's courts in hopes of either reversing case decisions or reducing the penalties resulting from various court rulings.

Should nations like the US aid and abet Thanathorn's street politics, the potential for widespread violence may allow Thanathorn and his political machine to exercise further leverage not only to circumvent justice, but to assume the power and influence his party failed to render from general elections earlier this year. Future Forward came in distant 3rd.

The Spectre of Malign Foreign Interference 

The most troubling aspect of Thanathorn's recent foray into street politics is his open and deep ties to fellow billionaire and now fugitive Thaksin Shinawatra and his own use of violent street politics to divide Thai society and to pressure Thailand's institutions into making concessions.

Thaksin, like Thanathorn, is likewise backed by large foreign special interests, particularly in Washington. For years he has secured the largest and most powerful lobbying firms in Washington to help shape Western media narratives favourably around his and his foreign sponsors' agenda of tipping Thailand back West and away from its growing ties with Beijing.

In 2009 Thaksin's street mobs disrupted the annual ASEAN summit held in southern Thailand while rioting across Bangkok, carrying out arson and killing two shopkeepers while looting local businesses.

In 2010, Thaksin augmented his street mobs with hundreds of heavily armed terrorists. With the use of war weapons, nearly 100 would die with the violence ending in a day of citywide arson causing billions in damages.

While many have attempted to write Thaksin off as a fading power and introduce Thanathorn as "new blood," the fact is that Thanathorn is little more than a nominee who represents Thaksin and his still dangerous political machine. Thanathorn's Future Forward Party headquarters is next door to Thaksin's Pheu Thai Party headquarters with both parties sharing resources, conducting joint press conferences and adopting a singular political agenda aimed at ousting the current government and assuming power.

Just as the US has done in other nations around the globe, it has selected and is backing political forces in Thailand it hopes can either one day assume power and serve as a vector for US interests, or at the very least render Thailand divided and weakened and "unavailable" to aid in and benefit from China's regional and global rise.


Thanathorn has already visibly enjoyed the benefits of US support. The US has marshalled its own embassy and the embassies of Western US allies to come out in displays of support for Thanathorn when summoned to face criminal charges.

The US also openly funds a small army of supposed "nongovernmental organisations" (NGOs) that not only support Thanathorn and his Future Forward Party, but also have supplied employees to Future Forward as founding members.

Under the guise of advocating for "human rights" and "democracy," US-funded NGOs use their resources and influence to shield Future Forward from justice by claiming criminal charges are politically-motivated or that Future Forward's conduct is merely "freedom of expression."


Tuesday, January 7, 2020

Laos: West's War on Asian Development

January 7, 2020 (Joseph Thomas - NEO) - At face value, the Financial Times' article, "Laos’s Belt and Road project sparks questions over China ambitions," reads like a politically-motivated attack on infrastructure development in Asia. Because it is.


The article's subheading, "High-speed train line in one of Asia’s poorest countries may benefit Beijing more than locals," alone contradicts the correlation between the development of infrastructure and the alleviation of poverty. It also reveals the article as indeed, a politically-motivated attack on China and Asian development couched behind flimsy concerns over the nation of Laos and its people.

The article reports:
 Near Bom Or, a village of dirt streets and shacks in northern Laos, Chinese construction crews have cut a tunnel through a mountainside to carry high-speed trains along a 400km rail line across the country, a section of a planned route from Kunming in south-west China to Singapore. 
The tunnel is part of a $6.7bn project through the rugged countryside around Luang Prabang, the ancient capital of Laos, one of the highest profile being built under China’s Belt and Road Initiative.
The article also claims:
Beijing has used the programme to build roads, ports and power stations in some of the world’s poorest countries. But critics have raised concerns about the social and environmental impact of the projects, saying that many of them are white elephants that have left states heavily indebted to Beijing. 

The project in Laos, one of Asia’s poorest countries which has no independent media and limited civil society groups, has been carried out with little public consultation.
Of course, by "independent media" and "civil society groups," Financial Times means fronts funded by and for US and European interests.

The construction of massive infrastructure projects always incurs debt. The construction of nation-spanning or region-spanning mass transportation systems always displace locals living in their proposed paths and locals will always protest having to move from their homes. These are problems that mega-projects throughout history have always faced and are not unique to China's Belt and Road Initiative.

While these issues are noteworthy, the fact that the Financial Times (and other Western media outlets) omit the obvious benefits for Laos exposes the lopsided narrative of political propaganda dressed up as journalism.

Landlocked Laos is Finally Being Unlocked 

Anyone who has previously set foot in Laos would have immediately seen and felt its isolation from the rest of the world and the impact it had on Laos' economic prospects.

A little more than a decade ago, those travelling through Laos would have noticed a severe lack of modern highways and a complete lack of rail.

To move from one part of the country to another, tourists, cargo and business people would have to travel through narrow, winding mountain roads. To travel from Laos' northern border with China to its capital near Laos' border with Thailand required around 3 days of travel only if team driving was used and no stops were taken for sleep.

The isolation of Laos because of its geographical location, mountainous terrain and lack of transportation infrastructure was an obvious obstacle for economic progress. The obvious solution was developing transportation infrastructure.

Now that China is working with Laos to do just that, it has been met by concerted and constant condemnation from the West.


With the completion of Chinese-built highways alone, an influx of business and tourism has predictably followed. The movement of tourists and products is expected to expand even more with the completion of high-speed rail (expected to be completed in 2021).

The Financial Times even admits:
One likely source of business will be Chinese tourists visiting Laos, whose numbers have roughly doubled from 400,000 in 2014 to 800,000 last year. 

“It is Chinese tourists and products in, and raw materials out,” said Nadège Rolland, an expert on BRI with the National Bureau of Asian Research, a US think-tank. “But eventually the BRI is about much more than infrastructure — it is policy co-ordination that will align the claimed needs of the region with those of Beijing.” 
Not only will transportation infrastructure in Laos connect it with China, Chinese as well as Thai projects seek to extend road and rail projects being built in Laos into Thailand and onward to Malaysia and Singapore.

Laos will go from a mostly isolated, underdeveloped nation, to a key corridor linking China to 3 of the top 5 largest economies in Southeast Asia. Its location will go from hindering its development to being central to its future development, wealth and trade.

China is indeed benefiting by transforming Laos into a corridor it can reach the rest of Southeast Asia through. But it is connecting Laos, its people and economy with the rest of Southeast Asia as well.