Major-General Surachart Jitjaeng is a spokesman of the Defense Ministry’s Public Relations and Information Office. He is reported at Thai PBS, commenting on politics, sent to us by a reader. Of course, a professional military is expected to keep its collective trap firmly clammed up on politics, but this is the Thai military, and it is a political military, not a professional one.
The spokesman is said to have commented that “the political situation has intensified after the ruling of the Constitutional Court…”, which everyone already knows, so there is no reason for the military to be making a statement on the obvious. The report says that the spokesman’s statement was “the first time” that the military had “directly criticize[d] the ongoing political turmoil…”.
While he went on to “call for all sides to put an end to the widening and deepening conflict in the country before it gets out of control and is too late,” this is the first rattle of the sword, reminding all players that the military is interested and the institution that often matters most in political disputation, always supporting the palace and royalist elite.
His observation was that the political struggle “would jeopardize national security,” providing the beginning of a justification for any future military intervention. When he adds that these struggles may mean that “the country could not survive,” the military is staking a political claim.
Surachart “said that national conflict has developed throughout the past nine years and was deepening.” Ahem. Nine years is an interesting time frame, taking us back to 2004. Recall that there was no “national conflict” when Thaksin Shinawatra won the biggest-ever election victory in Thailand’s history in February 2005. It was that victory that saw Thaksin engage in political acts born of arrogance and sent a shiver of fear through the military and, most especially, the palace as they saw an alternative popular power center develop.
And, the political conflict was irrevocably deepened by the palace-military coup of 2006. A little political amnesia and historical revision always assists in propaganda activities.
The military spokesman then embarked on the usual military-nationalist-palace rhetoric on solving problems: harmonious love for king and country.
He saw the need to remind people that “past history” showed that “whenever Thai people disintegrated and struggling for power emerging, disaster will ensue.” We guess he means during the Ayudhya period, but we’d remind people that in modern times power struggles have usually involved monarchy and military preserving their interests, often with guns blazing, shooting down citizens.
Naturally (or so it seems) the spokesman then called on all “people love their monarch, love the country and religion and therefore should come together to build the country before it was too late.” “Too late” might mean chaos but probably is meant to suggest that the military coup remains an option.