On the road to dictatorship or already there?

28 06 2010

Chulalongkorn University political scientist Thitinan Pongsudhirak is reported in the Bangkok Post: “Thailand is on the path to becoming a dictatorship…”. Thitinan predicts “further rounds of political violence.”

In fact, PPT would suggest that Thitinan gets it wrong. PPT’s been saying it for months that the Abhisit Vejjajiva government has been on a slippery slope to authoritarianism but we now think the regime has arrived at the point where it is a military-backed dictatorship.

Thitinan observes that the “government and the military are working together and exercising state power through the Centre for Resolution of the Emergency Situations.” He says that “the relationship has led to a state of authoritarianism.” He sees CRES as “new form of dictatorship” that arrests unchecked and is opaque in its operations.

On that he is right. However, this process began well before CRES. It should not be forgotten that Abhisit’s government was born of a coup, with military midwives.

Even the normally yellow-hued Nakarin Mektrairat of Thammasat University, “agreed the country is moving towards authoritarianism.” But he apparently “insisted it is not a dictatorship.”

How little tolerance there is for any dissent is seen in detained social activist Sombat Boon-ngarmanong’s appeal to the (totally hopeless) National Human Rights Commission, where he implores the government “to allow more room for dissenting viewpoints and encouraged the public to speak up against injustice.” He specifically singled out CRES and the emergency decree.

How bad things have become is evidenced by the Bangkok Post editors, who have been highly supportive of Abhisit and his regime. They are also critical of emergency rule (even if they are writing on Egypt’s emergency rule).