It seems that, after its second big meeting, the Nitirat group of lawyers and supporters are looking very, very scary for royalists. At The Nation, the royalist attacks are detailed.
It also seems that the idea of “proposing charter amendments that would require a new head of state to be sworn in and vow to abide by and protect the constitution before assuming his post” is just too much for royalists.
Revealingly, Army boss General Prayuth Chan-ocha demands that “the police should look into the matter and determine if there was any legal violation.”
PPT can well understand his position. After all, he is a coup planner and maker, so he has a record of not abiding by or protecting the constitution. Rather, he trashes them, trampling under his large military boot.
Prayuth seems more concerned that this suggestion by Nitirat is demeaning to the monarchy rather than “illegal.” He says:
I have always called for people to help protect the monarchy. Everybody should lend a hand, particularly the mass media…. People should follow the law. If what they are doing is not against the law, it is fine.
Even so, his point is clear. We can only wonder why he hasn’t said the same thing about People’s Alliance for Democracy’s (probably illegal) call for a military coup to protect the monarchy. Well, no, we don’t really wonder.
Komsan Phokong is a law lecturer at Sukhothai Thammathirat Open University and a supporter of the Sayam Prachapiwat group, making him an ultra-royalist and yellow shirt. He has decided that the best way to attack Nitirat is to yell that they are red shirt, Thaksin-supporting, Thaksin-funded republicans. He doesn’t use all those words but it is what he means.
Komsan said the Nitirat proposal “appeared to be intended to reduce the status of the monarchy.” Komsan said Nitirat “seemed to campaign in a manner that complemented the ideas and desires of former prime minister Thaksin Shinawatra and his red-shirt supporters.”
In an innovation – for us at PPT anyway – an ultra-royalist has used the 1932 revolution that overthrew the absolute monarchy as a negative, horrible event. Komsan says:
This proposal is aimed at changing the political system. It is similar to that of the Khanarat, which staged a coup in 1932″ to overthrow absolute monarchy….
We understand that some ultra-royalists want to turn back the clock to an absolute monarchy. We understand that much of the history of political struggles over constitutions going right back to 1932 have been efforts to roll back change. However, using the Khana Ratsadorn (People’s Party) as a denigration is new to us.
Komsan then demanded that Nitirat
disclose the source of funds used in its active campaign for constitutional amendments and changes to Article 112 of the Penal Code involving lese majeste.
The inference is that Thaksin is funding them. Konsum says that his call “is for the sake of transparency so that people can be assured the campaign has no hidden agenda…”. We don’t have a problem with transparency, but PPT doesn’t recall Sayam Prachpiwat revealing its funding. Nor to we recall Komsan calling for PAD to reveal its big-time funders.
Jumping on the fear train, Senator Kamnoon Sidhisamarn, an ASTV/Manager journalist appointed to the Senate by the military junta’s constitutional rules and yellow shirt fanatic, agreed that “politicians” were the root of all evil and Nitirat’s proposal would lead to “parliamentary dictatorship.” That’s PAD-speak for opposing free elections.
Kamnoon then rambled on about how the king was a really good guy, unlike all the nasty politicians of the last 60 years. In other words, an absolute monarchy would be so much better.
There can’t be many countries where political debate is circling on the question of monarchy versus democracy. Nitirat seem to be scaring the hell out of the ultra-royalists by proposing a version of constitutional monarchy.
Update: Over at New Mandala there is a related post on the way the extremist yellow shirts view Nitirat and the “threat” posed by its modest proposals. In part, the vehemence of threats and name-calling is reflective of the deep malaise amongst yellow shirts who are unable to get electoral support for a ridiculously antiquated political ideology. Related, it is also reflective of a long-held suspicion of political change inculcated by military and palace ideological campaigns over the past five decades. Combined, this is potentially fertile ground for dangerous and destabilizing fascist ideas.