As the regime continues to feign a lack of knowledge of political and historical vandalism that saw the removal of the 1932 plaque, while it protects the new royalist plaque, the humble CCTV provides evidence of the links between the political past and present. But not how one might immediately think of it.
The political vandal responsible for the removal of the 1932 plaque will not be identified as the police refuse to investigate and the junta and its minions deny the significance of the plaque. In other words, the junta, the palace and assorted royalists have managed to expunge one more symbol of Thailand’s constitutional revolution.
Another reason no one will be identified is because “the 11 CCTV cameras that were situated at traffic lights around the Royal Plaza had been removed on March 31 when City Hall workers began work to improve traffic lights in the area.”
What an astonishing coincidence! Well, probably not, for as a Bangkok Post editorial observes:
what is more astonishing is that the 11 cameras were removed just days before the promulgation of the 2017 constitution by … the King which took place at the Ananta Samakhom Throne Hall. With such a big event being eagerly watched by the entire nation and where leaders and prominent figures had gathered, the BMA [Bangkok Metropolitan Authority] still managed to remove the cameras.
Most unlikely indeed. When looking at the question of cover up or cock up, PPT would usually go for cock up, but not in this case. This shouts cover up.
The more so when additional information is provided by Khaosod. The report states: “a representative said City Hall did not order the cameras removed, but declined to say which agency was responsible.”
(There’s the fear again. You get the picture of how very threatening the vandal is.)
The BMA “explanation” gets even more laughable: “[an activist] asked how police could hope to investigate any potential crime that took place there without aid from the cameras. Yutthayapan [Meechai, secretary to Bangkok’s governor] replied that crimes are unlikely to happen there because of high presence of security officers about the Royal Plaza.”
So no reason to have the CCTV in the first place – clearly a case of malfeasance – and there are “security officers” who know exactly what went on there and who ordered the removal of the plaque.
We can be pretty sure that the cover up includes lying about the non-operation of the CCTV cameras.
Here, the CCTV cameras and their alleged non-operation allow the state to blur political visions, blur crimes and erase history.
This is not so different from the case of the extrajudicial killing of Lahu activist Chaiyapoom Pasae about a month ago. That case has gone very quiet, and this also suggests a cover up and one that is likely to be successful simply because the junta (this time) wants it covered up.
Prachatai reports that “police have revealed that the military has not yet sent the CCTV footage of the crime scene to them.” We can guess why that is. Cover up. The “military unit whose personnel is responsible for the killing has not yet sent it to the police investigator.” Cover up.
The police make a ludicrous claim that “the fact that the military is still withholding the footage will not affect the investigation” while everyone can guess that the CCTV footage is incriminating for the military involved and they demand impunity.
Then there’s the lies. In earlier reports, “3rd Region Army chief Lt Gen Vijak Siribansop … said then that the military had already sent the CCTV footage to the police and that the military had no authority to reveal evidence to the public without court permission.”
So it is the police or the general who is lying, but probably both as they collude.
Even without CCTV coverage, the picture in both cases is clear. Lies, collusion, cover up, impunity.