#Attitude adjusted? Pichai Naripthaphan: Attitute Adjustment for me is an order to be silent

 

Pichai Naripthaphan, the former Minister of Energy in Yingluck Shinawatra’s cabinet, former Deputy Minister of Finance in Samak Sundaravej’s cabinet and the working group on economic of Pheu Thai’s Party, has become an ordinary people with no authority in the regime of the National Council for Peace and Order (NCPO). Yet, his outstanding role as one of those voicing their opinions over the country’s economy and politics also marked his importance in the eyesight of the media.
 
Pichai was summoned by the NCPO for 10 times and was taken into the 'attitude adjustment' process for 8 times. He has faced a variant of intimidations, ranging from the incidents that he was taken into military camps, was blindfolded, was taken to the abandoned building as well as the incident that he was visited by the military officers at his place as an expected consequence from his comments on country’s economic situation under the rule of military government given through the press and his Facebook page which receives hundred thousand of followers.
 
 
 
914 Pichai
 
 
The first time: Being called to spend 3 days and 2 nights after the coup being staged

At the dawn of the next day after the NCPO seized the power to rule over the country, Pichai woke up and acknowledged that he was required to go reporting himself, as got told by his acquaintances that his name was listed. He packed his stuffs up and headed to the Royal Thai Army Club located in Thewet on the purpose to report to the military authority in accordance with the NCPO Order No. 2/2557, just as other politicians from Pheu Thai Party did, while being called to report themselves. This, among others, includes “Yingluck Shinawatra” and “Chalerm Yubamrung”.
 
In this time of the attitude adjustment, Pichai was hold in custody from 23-25 May 2014, making him spend 3 days and 2 nights in the military camp. 
 
Pichai told us that when he arrived at the Club, he found several politicians. All of them were arranged to wait there in a large hall. Then, the military came in to inform them regarding the need of this summon, and to inform that all of them would be separately brought to different places and that their communication gadgets would all be seized but their communications for work or for any particular person, if any, could be made via the military mobile phone.
 
Thereafter, Pichai told us, there came two armed military authorities brought him into a car heading to 11th Military Circle (Morthorbor.11) in Bangkok. When he arrived, one Colonel, known as a son of a seafood restaurant, together one Major General came to visit him. This Colonel often asked him what kind of food he would like to have. Whereas, the Major General, whom Pichai knew from studying at the same school, also came to greet him and said “everything is OK, Daeng (His nickname)”.
 
Pichai was brought into custody in the room where all military prize cups were exhibited. There inside, there were a bed prepared for him already by the officer, a toilet at the back of the room, an air condition and a TV which did not have anything for him to watch, aside from the announcements of the NCPO, as the coup was recently staged. He also went further that his foods inside this military camp came from the Colonel’s restaurant, serving him foods made with shrimps, crabs and fish. White sugar sponge cakes (“Pa-tong-go” in Thais) were served with soy milk for the breakfast. For lunch, Pichai could choose what food he would like to have.
 
“It was so stressful. I had never been held in custody like this before in my life. This was my first time. It was horrible. Actually, deep down inside, I knew I was scared, because I did not know how long I was going to stay at this place. I did not know if there was a riot out there and they would come to shoot me to death or not. I had watched too many movies (laughed) where the leaders would be eliminated in the first place, given that there was any revolution. So, what I decided to do was to pray, do meditation so as to alleviate my stress.” said Pichai with his sense of humor when thanking back to what he experienced 4 years before.
 
Pichai told us that he also met with “Manit Chitchanklap”, who was the leader and the counsel of the United Front of Democracy Against Dictatorship (UDD) and the former Judge of the Criminal Court. Manit told Pichai regarding the chaos of the military authorities who could not reach any agreement as to where to bring Manit to. Manit was then brought into a car heading to the other place, and then around 9.00 pm he was sent back to the old place, Morthorbor.11, to share his room with Pichai.
 
“Manit told me, when he had arrived the other place and had told the man in charge of controlling him that he was a former Judge, that man responded to him like “Oh…really?” And then, he made a call to his superior and received the order therefrom to bring Manit back to Morthorbor.11, instead of controlling him at the other place. Ajarn Manit also tried to cheer me up very well by saying that I was part of the history, for if I was not important enough, I would not get caught, even if I paid them 10 million to catch me. The fact that I got caught shows how important I was to them.”
 
In the first night, Pichai and Manit was held in custody together in the same room. Until the third night came, while Pichai and Manit was meditating in the evening, the military authority came in to inform both of them that they would be separated and that they had to pack up their stuffs to go home. Subsequently, the officer from the Internal Security Operations Command (ISOC) came to talk with both of them individually in the office. The content of their talk was nothing more than asking their political opinions. After the talk ended, both of them were requested to sign the MOU to stop having political movement any longer.
 
Pichai was released on the third day, while Manit was being held in custody until it counted seventh day without any piece of knowledge that Pichai had been released before.
 
 
The second time: after Gen. Prayut spoke on the TV, calling Pichai for further attitude adjustment. 
 
After his first attitude adjustment, Pichai did not stop giving his opinions as said to NCPO. Rather, he still criticized economy and politics until the date of 30 January 2015 came. General Prayut Chan-O-Cha spoke on the TV broadcasting that he would call Pichai for further attitude adjustment. Yet, Pichai did not know this message of General Prayut on his own, but was told by the journalist he knew. In fact, at the first moment Pichai did respond to that journalist “I had seen nothing”.
 
In the late morning of the same day, Pichai was contacted by military officers, calling, introducing themselves to him and informing him “we would come to bring you with us around 10 am”. At the appointment time, two uniformed military officers showed up at Pichai’s place, getting him into the van bearing an official emblem of the public authority and bringing him to see Lieutenant General Asawin Chamsuwan (the title he earned at that time) at the 1st Army Area.
 
Pichai said, this time, the talk went very well, as it focused more on economy. Afterwards, he was released back to his place on the same day.
 
Pichai also gave us an example of conversations during the talk “I explained him that the economy was getting worse, I would like to give him an early warning whether or not he believed me. Lieutenant General Asawin responded me that it was not true, and he betted 1,000 Baht that the economy was not getting worse. So, I told him I would love to lose my money, but I bet that it was getting worse. Then, he told me if I would like to say anything, say it to him, but not to the press.”.
 
Pichai went on saying that, after he came back from the 1st Army Area, the next day in the morning, he also received a basket filled with snacks sent from the military officers.
 
 
The third time: a coffee invitation which ended up at an abandoned building
 
Somewhere in May 2015, Pichai once again received a call from Asawin Chamsuwan. This time, Asawin acted as if he would like to invite Pichai to join a coffee talk at the café for the consultation and knowledge sharing. 
 
“So, I told him it was my pleasure if he only wanted to join a coffee talk with me. So, I offered him to go to “Kempinski”, but he said he did not know this place. We agreed to go to Princess Larn Luang Hotel instead. And we reminded each other 2-3 days before the appointed day.”
 
When the appointed day came, Asawin gave a call again and requested to reschedule the meeting place to be the café located in Royal Thai Army Club. Pichai, in turn, urged to bring one friend with him to that place. However, when Pichai and his friend arrived at the place, there was a military vehicle waiting for him and his friend. This vehicle then drove into very confusing ways and then arrived at an abandoned building where Pichai described as an old building with a military-like outlook, full with garbage, and having no one inside.
 
After we arrived, the military officers brought us to the 2nd floor of the building, to the most inside air-condition room wherein we found the same Asawin waiting for us.
 
“I was told right there that my friend could not stay there with me. Then, Asawin walked to me, together with 2-3 officers, who I noticed were busy taking notes, then asking me  who was the person suitable for running the economy, and whether Khun Tarin Nimmanhaemin was suitable for the position. My reply was like Oh seriously…Tarin? What age he thought we were in? I did recommend him certain names. Finally, he told me not to criticize anything anymore. This is how our 1-hour coffee talk went out. It ended up with no cup of coffee at all” told Pichai.
 
Pichai added that bringing him to such place aimed to scare him. He was lucky that he had a friend with him and he believed it was a military's psychological operation.
 
 
The fourth time: military officers visit at home, requesting for no comments on economy.
 
It came to this time, the 4th attitude adjustment, on 12 June 2015, Pichai told us that there was a change in the person who would be in charge of controlling him, to be Colonel Peerayut Sawetseni. This person once called Pichai, asking him if he was free for his visit to Pichai’s place. Then, he came to visit Pichai, together with his 3-4 military officers.
 
Pichai described this time talk as the talk requesting him not to criticize on the economic matter. This time took around 1 hour only. Peerayut also told him that this talk was due to the superiors and therefore he needed to come. Moreover, Peerayut attempted to show his understanding toward the worsened economy, without threatening Pichai. He left Pichai’s place once his talk was done.
 
“He did not think the way he showed me. He only asked me to keep quiet.” answered Pichai when being questioned if the military officers tried to convince him to believe what they believed.
 
 
The fifth time: arranging investigating room for talking on economy as a reconciliation.

It did not take days for Pichai to be once again summined by the military officers, after the talk at Pichai’s place. On 19 June 2015, Pichai was again contacted by the military officers and this counted as his 5th time of being called to military camp. The officer told him that they would like to arrange a talk on reconciliation, and accordingly, they would like to invite Pichai to come and join their talk in military camp. Pichai did negotiate with them by responding that “they just came to talk to him, so what talk now? I tried to change the talk to be on phone call instead, but they did not agree.”
 
When the appointed day came, Pichai travelled to Royal Thai Army Club on Vibhavadi Road. When arriving there, he was taken by the military officers to a meeting room which he described as an investigating room with a big table, filled with several high-ranking military officers. There was also a recording camera. But, the content of the talk still concerned economy as usual. This time, the talk lasted for around 1 hour in total.
 
“They started with asking for my opinion. I told them about how the economy was, how worsened it was, and also went further on how to resolve this situation. Then, they asked me what I meant by having given an interview before that “do not oppress people, as the oppression will make people get difficult”. They then told me that I said it right and asked if I could produce them a report so that they could pass it to the Prime Minister. Then, I talked back that they should invest more and write report themselves (laughed).” told Pichai.
 
Since, on that day, the journalists knew that Pichai would be called to the military camp again, they then gathered up and waited for his interview at the front of Royal Thai Army Club. The military officers told Pichai that, once he got downstairs, gave the interview only as necessary, not to talk much. In the aftermath, Pichai was also invited by the military officers to join the broadcasting of “Thailand Moves forward”.
 
 
The sixth time: during cabinet adjustment “MR Oui” was laid off, Pichai was urged not to speak on economy
 
On 11 August 2015, Pichai was summoned for his 6th time by Asawin Chamsuwan, who contacted him to come to meet at the 1st Army Area once again. This time, the talk also concerned economy as usual due to the period of the cabinet adjustment, and it seemed to be carried out with the same purpose, which is to urge Pichai to stop criticizing on the economic issue. After the talk ended, Pichai was allowed to go home.
 
Pichai added that, during that time, he was requesting the NCPO for a permission to go to “Dubai” and the military also granted such permission. “During that time, I was asking to go to Dubai, they told me that if I asked to go to Dubai, it must be only Dubai that I might go and not anywhere else. So, I answered them I asked for Dubai, it could only be Dubai. Why should I want to go other places (laughed). Finally, they permitted. It's strange.”
 
After that summon, there was a cabinet adjustment. What interesting was that there was an adjustment in the position of the Deputy Prime Minister on economy from M.R. Pridiyathorn Devakula to the team of Somkid Jatusripitak. Pichai also gave an analysis on this change to the press that it might not necessarily mean the economy becoming better.
 
 
The seventh time: when asking to stop not enough, then blindfolded and detained for 7 days.
 
Shortly afterwards, Pichai was taken for attitude adjustment again. This time, he stated, was the most terrifying one because he was detained in the military camp for seven days full, from 9 – 15 September 2015
 
“The seventh was the worst. The same Peerayut called me again in the morning and told me to go to the 1st Army Area. I asked him why. He informed me that the superior ordered so. I then invited 4-5 press people. At first, he wanted me to go into his car. But, when he saw such press, he told me to drive after them instead.”  Pichai explained.
 
Pichai went further that upon his arrival at the 1st Army Area , 4-5 military physicians came to examine his body and blood pressure. After that, another team of military officers, so called by Pichai as “brutal-face team” came to talk to him. They said that Pichai started to not understand that he should not be criticizing, due to the MOU. Then, such team took Pichai into the van where one said ‘Sorry Sir’ to Pichai, and wore him with black balaclava which doubled up with black fabric to cover his eyes.
 
Pichai described that there were military officers driving and sitting in the car front, in total around 4-5 personels. Two of which were armed. Pichai explained that on the way to the military camp, he wanted to go to the toilet. The military officers thus took him to the toilet where he did not know its location because of the blindfold. Until Pichai was reached in the front of the toilet, the military officers took out the blindfold and allowed Pichai to do his business in the toilet. Pichai said the toilet was similar to the one located in the military house. After finishing the business in the toilet, Pichai was blindfolded again, and headed to the camp.  
 
It took around two hours to get to “a house” where Pichai explained that it was a two-storey old military house. He was brought to the second floor, which had a living room, sofa and television. In addition, there were two separate bedrooms with air conditions where all windows were closed and covered by the fabric in order to prevent Pichai from seeing outside. When Pichai entered into the room, he found that all personal stuffs had already been prepared for him, including white shirt, boxer pants, and towel. He was detained in the house without permission to go anywhere. However, the military officers called Pichai’s family that they were allowed to bring Pichai’s personal stuffs for him.  
 
“I could not contact anyone this time. The food was not delicious and brought with tiffin carrier. Before my family sent my personal stuff, I was often refused when I requested for stuffs. The only thing I got was a sergeant talking with me when I was alone in this house. Since my blood pressure, on the first date of my arrival, was up to 150, the military physicians were sent to check-up my body… , the air condition in my bedroom was also broken on the first day, so I had to move to another bedroom which had no bed. But, I  turned on the air-conditioner in another bedroom so that the cooling air could flow from that room to my room, and used a fan to help.” Pichai described about his living condition in that house.
 
Until one morning, a lieutenant colonel came to talk with me. Pichai said his name was Sattawat, who later found by Pichai to be a military officers at Prachinburi Province.  
 
“He said he had known my reputation for a long time and was glad to meet me. I then teased him that he was young, so we still had lots of chances to meet. I further stated that from the world history, all people who were detained mostly were the powerful leaders (laugh). I said this because I expected him to take good care of me. Satawat did not tell me whether I was right or wrong on that. But, this detention was just a request to silent my voices. According to my understanding, the first thing was that Satawat seemed to come for learning from me, and the other thing was that he wished me to stop criticizing. This was because when I spoke, a lot of people listened, and that affected them. But, it did not mean that what I criticized was wrong.” stated Pichai.
 
Pichai told us that this detention nothing much, just keeping him in the house. During the detention, Pichai was praying and meditating as usual since no activity was provided for him. Until 7 days were passed, the military officers took him back to the 1st Army Area. Pichai explained that before leaving the 1st Army Area, he was threatening to be legally charged.

“I was waiting and Asawin to come back with Lieutenant Colonel Burin Thongpraphai (staff judge advocate) and told me that they would launch a legal action under the Computer Crime Act against me for six counts, three years in each count, in total eighteen years of imprisonment. However, since we were all Thais and the Prime Minister said to let it go, they just asked me to keep silent first, and took me home.”
 
After this release, Pichai asked NCPO to travel abroad, but got rejected. However, Pichai finally got the approval to go abroad around 9 months after that.
 
 
The eighth time: No contact for almost a year. Kai-ou told if Pichai said the economy was good, it would be so
 
After the military officers had made no contact to Pichai for almost a year, one day in 2017, Pichai got a call from an officer inviting him to the Army Area 1 again. So, Pichai invited media to wait at his house because such officer told him that they would pick him up at his house. A while later, such officer called him back and said that they would not come today. Pichai thought that the reason of such cancellation maybe because of the bomb took place in a military hospital. Nonetheless, Pichai was called again around June 2017. On the appointment date, Pichai was taken by the military officers. Since Pichai invited media to his house on that date, the photos of Pichai being taken by the military into a military vehicle were published in several media.   
 
At the 1st Army Area, Pichai was waiting at the coffee shop for a while. Then, the military officers took him to a meeting room. This time, Pichai said, Major General Sansern Kaewkamnerd or “Kai-ou”, the Army Spokesperson and Kobsak Pootrakool came to talk with him. Since Kobsak and Pichai had known each other before, they had a good talk and exchanged ideas in economic matter.
 
“He said that there were many problems. Kobsak knew that the investors has gone. During our conversation, Kobsak agreed with me that German investors wishing to invest in Thailand but were refused by the government. In response to this, Kai-ou immediately responded that Kobsak was just the academics, but I was the politician. Kobsak could not win the argument because I had better art of speaking. I then said to Kai-ou that we were talking about the economic issue, not the political one. I discussed based on the causes and the reasons. For example, I said that we have to be aware of monopoly issue with Alibaba. I thus proposed my idea on what should be done after the election… Kai-ou thus told me that if I said the economy was good, it would be so. I responded to Kai-ou that if I could say that, I would say it every day.” told Pichai.
 
After having discussed for two hours, Pichai said that the 1st Army Area Commander came to talk with him, and requested him to stop criticizing. After that, Pichai called someone to take him home.
 
 
Keep talking, then two more summons with charges
 
Apart from being attitude adjusted for 8 times, Pichai was also summoned to report with the police officer twice.  
 
The first time was occurred in August 2017. Pichai was summoned to report with police officer at the Technology Crime Suppression Division (TCSD) due to his messages on Facebook in relation to “The Boiled Frog Theory” which compare Thai economy to the fact that it was not often realized that the economy was not good until it was too late. Pichai stated that the police officer, at first, wanted to charge him for sedition under Section 116. But, after discussing for more than two hours, the police officer charged him on Sections 14 (1) (2) (5) of the Computer Crime Act instead.
 
“Burin charged me on the basis that I imported false statement into computer system … Before this, someone already warned me that TCSD would summon me to acknowledged on this charge. I wondered why they wanted to summon me. I thought maybe because they wanted everyone to be silent since the Yingluck's case was about to be adjudicated. Therefore, Wattana was also summoned too.” said Pichai.
 
Later in February 2018, Pichai got a letter from the police officer prescribing that he violated the NCPO Order because he did not comply with the MOU signed on the first detention which prohibiting any political movement. 
 
“At the tenth, there was a letter sent to me in February 2018 prescribing that I did not comply with the MOU and violated the Head of NCPO Order No. 3/2558. I therefore sent my lawyer to coordinate with the police. The police said he did not want to do this, but it was a case pending for a long time since 2015. The police informed in that way, and also said that there would be no need for me to come now. He will call when it was the time. The letter to postpone this summon has still been made until now.” explained Pichai. 
 
 
Attitude adjustment is an order to silence our voice
 
When Pichai was asked whether these attitude adjustments affected his decision to express his ideas to public or not, he answered that he still expressed his ideas in the same level. This was because he would be sorry if he did not express concern or warn on some issues and something bad eventually happened. Just like Myanmar which had high capacity, nobody dared to say anything during the military dictatorship. Then, Myanmar was downgrading. At least, he should warn that the direction which our country was about to go was not right. 
 
“When military officers warned me a lot, I sometimes stopped. But, I mostly try to find the way to encourage Thais to be aware on whether the direction of our country was right or not. I did not recklessly make reproaches. All of my comments had the reasons behind.”
 
“It was wondering that in such a bad situation, no academics said anything at all. They were probably afraid. There was only me who was still talking about the economic issue. On the other hand, some persons complimented the performance of the military, which was contrary to the truth. This seemed sad to me. These people should have been standing for the right thing instead.” 
 
“I did not think and fear of this because I had only one chance in my life to do the right thing. I did not think that I did something wrong. If you thought that it was bad, it was your right so. But, I thought that it was the right thing. If you did not agree, you could argue with me on this.”
 
From the experience on the summons and attitude adjustments for ten times, Pichai said “Attitude Adjustment” in his definition is not the change of attitude or thought at all, rather it is just an order to stop talking.
 
 
 
 
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