General out of line

4 02 2012

In a democratic country, the relationship between the government of the day and the military is usually one that is governed by constitutional rules and practice. This has never been the case in Thailand. Never.

The Thai military is essentially a lawless institution in the sense that it does what it pleases on politics, orders governments and people even ordinary about and if it is really upset, it intervenes in politics. It has done this time and time again, virtually on a daily basis. Coups are just the times when the military uses its arms to get what it wants, for there are countless other, less obvious interventions.

In recent years, the justification for many of these interventions is glossed as loyalty to the monarchy and protection of what is the country’s largest capitalist conglomerate and symbol for hierarchical and authoritarian rule. Readers will likely know that an earlier generation of military bosses didn’t have such a justification for their political interventions and coups.

This is why no one should be surprised that the so-called Supreme Commander General Thanasak Patimaprakorn has demanded that the “government should rein in the debate on the monarchy … voicing opposition to the push by the Nitirat academic group to amend the lese majeste law.”

PPT had a post on this general when he was appointed to this post based on his links to the Army leadership and his royalist credentials.

Thanasak went on to declare: “As a soldier of the King, I strongly oppose the Nitirat…”. Sounding like a violent father waving a big stick at his cowed children,  Thanasak warned “every Thai citizen should know what to do, or not to do, regarding the country’s revered institution.”

In other words, if you don’t do as the military bosses say, you are in trouble and likely to be beaten to within an inch of your life.

This warning and threat is directed at the government and Nitirat and its supporters. The general thinks an elected government should close down a political debate and limit political space. This is a reflection not just of the general’s lack of democratic understanding but a view that all governments should order society about. In other words, it is quite simply an expression of the royalist, authoritarian and anti-democratic mindset of the military command.

Because the palace has never supported democratic governance and its rules, it has never spoken out against military interventionism, now always conducted in the name of the monarchy. Given Thanasak’s claimed close links with the queen, we can only draw the conclusion that his comments reflect a palace perspective.

Of course, in a democratic society, this military boss would be sacked for bleating about things he has no right to be saying and for interfering in politics. That won’t happen in Thailand and the government and people are expected to get the message: watch out!


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5 02 2012
Abhisit: no free speech here « Political Prisoners in Thailand

[…] doesn’t complain about royalist generals demanding censorship. He doesn’t speak against the censorship of Nitirat. He doesn’t […]

5 02 2012
Abhisit: no free speech here « Political Prisoners of Thailand

[…] doesn’t complain about royalist generals demanding censorship. He doesn’t speak against the censorship of Nitirat. He doesn’t censure […]




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