Why we are not surprised V

14 07 2011

It is not a surprise to see the Bangkok Post reporting that the People’s Alliance for Democracy “has asked the Supreme Court’s Election Cases Division to declare the July 3 election null and void.” Yes, that’s the same PAD that opposed an election and then campaigned for a “No Vote,” and was roundly rejected by the electorate.

PPT sees their strategy as one that is meant to spoil and soil the very idea of voting for political parties in a representative democracy. The ever more balmy yellow ones want to bury the democratic process because they want a political system led by the unelected “good” people of Thailand, backed by some kind of mandate from heaven.

Oddly, we agree with the yellow pack on the failure of the politicized and incompetent Election Commission that denied millions their voting right. The EC should be investigated and, if appropriate, sanctioned.

PAD is also trying to inflate its “No Vote.” In a second lawsuit it claims that “election officials at some units did not count ballots with ‘no votes’ on them but treated them as invalid…”. PPT is sceptical.

Meanwhile, PAD’s ally, the so-called People’s Council of Thailand, has demanded that the EC “disband six parties, including the Democrats and Pheu Thai [with Bhum Jai Thai, Chart Thai Pattana, Chart Pattana Puea Pandin and Phalang Chon], for allegedly allowing banned politicians to join in political activities.” This claim is made by PCT secretary-general Chaiwat Sinsuwong.

PPT wonders how many people actually know about the tiny People’s Council of Thailand that claims to speak for them all? PCT’s claim is a part of the same process of undermining the electoral process that is fundamental to a functioning democracy.

An arm wrestle and more is guaranteed between those wanting to push the EC (and the behind the scenes operators) and the red shirts.

Also on the unsurprising list is the threats made by Army boss Prayuth Chan-ocha, also reported in the Bangkok Post. The voluble Prayuth has been unable to keep his trap shut and barked his latest “orders” to journalists.

The Army chief, who has worked for a coup in 2006, been in charge of vicious crackdowns against protesters, expanded repression throughout the country, and had people sent to jail for alleged offences against a declining monarchy, “has brushed off worries about his fate at the hands of the next government, saying he has done nothing wrong as he has performed his duty as a soldier.”

In a sense, PPT can’t argue with the statement that “he has performed his duty as a soldier.” In fact, the Thai Army’s main job is repression. It has been responsible for the deaths of an unknown number of civilians over many years. But the statement, “I didn’t do anything wrong” is one that begs too many questions. We doubt that Prayuth is able to distinguish between right and wrong in any moral sense.

The claim he makes that “the military has done its best to restore order and normalcy in the country over the past few years, and the public should give moral support to soldiers” is simply rubbish. The military in Thailand is part of the problem, and its 2006 coup is the cornerstone of the political crisis.

It is then that Prayuth makes comments that suggest he is spilling his marbles: “The army belongs to the people and is ready to perform its duty to the fullest. If the army is weak, the country won’t be safe and may be in danger…”. A plea for support by the public may have some support, but many will see it as a statement of determination by the Army to remain well-funded and a law unto itself.

He engaged in his usual rant about the military being “duty-bound to protect Thailand’s three institutional pillars – the nation, religion and the monarchy.” That statement is a justification for repression and impunity.

Startlingly, Prayuth “warned that there should be no attempts to interfere in military affairs. The military has performed its duty as stated in the constitution and law…”. The constitution he presumably refers to is the 2007 version, drawn up by the military. Of course Prayuth and his buddies overthrew the 1997 Constitution in a demonstrably illegal act. Warning a government not to interfere with a military that should be under its control is a threat of mutiny. In most countries, such a statement would see the Army boss removed from his position. Prayuth should go now and spare Thailand further acts of military bastardry.

We are not surprised by Prayuth, just completely appalled by his impudence and by the fact that he is completely out of touch with political realities in what is meant to be a democratic country. We don’t think it will be long before Prayuth will symbolically match PAD (again) in opposing an elected government. His clash with the red shirts is bound to intensify.





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