Suranand Vejjajiva has a most useful column in the Bangkok Post. PPT readers will know that we have been saying similar things for a long time. However, it is a measure of growing concerns when the Post publishes such a column.
He begins by stating: “n the aftermath of the bloodless coup d’etat of Sept 19, 2006, many people _ politicians, academics, and even the military _ came to the realisation that a coup may not have been the best solution to resolve a political conflict.”
However, such lessons seem lost on army boss General Prayuth Chan-ocha. Suranand points to Prayuth’s constitutional clout:
Section 77 of the 2007 constitution stipulates that “the state shall protect and uphold the monarchy, sovereignty, independence and integrity of its jurisdictions and shall maintain necessary and adequate armed forces and ordnances as well as up-to-date technology for the protection and upholding of its independence, sovereignty, security of the state, the monarchy, national interests and the democratic system of government with the King as the Head of State, and national development.”
This provides legal leeway for the role of the military _ implicit before, but now written as a constitutional requirement that extends to military procurement. When Prayuth Chan-ocha took the helm as army commander-in-chief, he sent out signals that the role of the army under his command would be in accordance with Section 77.
If interpreted as broadly as it is written, then military could do anything under the sun.
On Prime Minister Abhisit Vejjajiva’s role, Suranand says: “Having allowed the military to manipulate him into a position of power as the prime minister, Mr Abhisit should not be surprised when the military starts flexing its powers. By not exerting his political leadership in a more democratic manner, PM Abhisit has allowed the already strong military to extend its regime over a supposedly democratic country.” He concludes: “Coups may be out of favour in this day and age, but a creeping military regime is getting creepier by the minute.”
That will likely be Abhisit’s position in future history: the man who allowed the military to reassert itself in the name of royalism.