Monarchism has underpinned all governments since 1957. It has been required since General Sarit Thanarat crushed the last of the Khana Ratsadon and any others who favored a politically restricted monarchy. Strikingly, when monarchism has become ultra-royalism, it has been the regimes closest to the palace that have been most fanatical. Think of the right-wing palace fascism of privy councilor Tanin Kraivixien in 1976-77, the Abhisit Vejjajiva regime of 2008-11, and now the military dictatorship under The Leader, General Prayuth Chan-ocha.
reign dictatorship is already emerging as one of the most hardline and reactionary of this selection of ultra-royalist regimes. Here are some recent examples of the nature of the regime.
At Khaosod it is reported that the newspaper has been forced into outspoken self-censorship. We understand that this hardly makes sense, but look at the editorial Khaosod has published.
Khaosod English states it had to make changes “to a recent article about an anti-royal video posted on youtube last week.” The editors removed some rather innocuous direct quotes in the original posted article, fearful of the lese majeste law. The editorial stated that as “a news agency based in Thailand, Khaosod English is obliged to comply with Thai laws. However, we always strive to find a balance between the boundary of the law and our strong commitment to an objective, accurate news reporting.”
That is a moving boundary, moving mostly to the right, and a boundary that is almost impossible to locate, meaning that self-censorship is the rule, and it becomes more extensive under repressive lese majeste regimes like that of the curent military dictatorship.
Also at Khaosod, the nature of the royalist nature of the regime is further revealed in story headlined, “Hardline Royalist Elected Head of NLA.” By NLA is meant the puppet assembly, handpicked by The Leader. That The Leader’s choice as head of the puppet assembly was “unanimously” voted into the position tells you a great deal about how slavishly loyal this “assembly” is. No independence, no thought, no representation. Asia Sentinel has a useful article on this “lap dog.”
The one chosen as The Leader’s boss of the puppet assembly is Pornpetch Wichitcholchai, a former Supreme Court judge. Judges are, by definition, ultra-royalists who leave snail trails on the path when they slither off to the palace.
The last time he was a member of a puppet assembly after the 2006 coup, Pornpetch wanted tougher lese majeste laws. Yes, sentences of 15, 20 and 30 years are simply insufficient when protecting the royalist elites wealth and political power.
Khaosod states that his proposal back then was to expand Article 112’s coverage to “cover members of the Royal Family, the Head of Privy Council, all of the Privy Councilors, and ‘any person who has been appointed a representative of His Majesty the King’.” He also “suggested granting judges the power to outlaw media coverage of ongoing lese majeste trials.” Pornpetch reportedly withdrew his bill “because he was told to do so by the Privy Council…”.
This time, as the slave of The Leader, Pornpetch has said that choosing a premier is not something that is urgent for the puppet assembly. ho need a prime minister when you have an all-powerful and palace-sanctioned dictator.
Meanwhile, getting right down to the most important things, Prayuth has barked about lese majeste (again). Perhaps he’s been excited about the queen’s birthday and the lavish spending to “celebrate” yet another propaganda moment. More likely, he has been enraged by the video calling for the king to abdicate and return power to the people.[clicking opens a YouTube video, banned in Thailand]
The Leader identified some of those he considers opposed to the monarchy and who he wants locked up for decades. He said, in a televised address: “Let me name them,” he said. “[They are] Chupong Theetuan, Anek Chaichana, Saneh Thinsaen, Amnuay Kaewchompoo and Ong-art Thanakamolnan.” PPT has no links for Ong-art or Saneh. Each of the named men is reported outside Thailand. Prayuth warned that he’s hunting more.
Just for good measure, The Leader, joined by even some of his blogosphere “enemies”, decided to condemn Kritsuda Khunasen for claiming she was tortured while in Army detention. He said the claims were untrue and just meant to attack his military dictatorship. Why should anyone believe Prayuth on this? It makes little difference, for under the dictatorship, the military can do what it wants and there is “no plan to investigate the issue.”
At the Wall Street Journal it is pointed out that Prayuth is in firm control. It observes: “The point of this tight control is to rig Thailand’s future political system to prevent supporters of former Prime Minister Thaksin Shinawatra, who the majority of Thai voters support, from forming a future government.” This is too soft and and too narrow. Even The Economist is remarkably weak in identifying military authoritarianism for what it is: a dictatorship. Thailand’s military dictatorship is winding back to a Premocracy, denying democracy, and cementing the foundations of the royalist state.