The Nation also reports on the group of the junta’s handpicked National Reform Council (NRC) members led by academic Sungsidh Piriyarangsan should also launch its very own “civic group” which they have called the “Thailand Reform Institute” at Rangsit University.
The Nation unaccountably refers to ” noted academics and reformers” when it should be calling them anti-democratic ideologues. It goes on to say that they want to “transform the country’s democracy into a ‘dhammocracy’, or democracy based on Buddhist philosophies and principles.” We thought we have heard this before. Sure enough, it was something appropriated by Buddhadasa in the 1960s and appropriated by the palace as an alternative to real democracy. Paul Handley mentioned it in the context of the notorious Tanin Kraivixien royalist-rightist regime of 1976-77:
Handley concludes that Bhumibol essentially impedes Thailand’s transition from kingdom to a modern nation-state. He primes the public to taint democracy, secular laws, and constitutions so that the alternative of “dhammocracy” is the only option left. He obstructs political reform by nurturing mass cynicism for elected authorities and contributes to rising criminality by undermining the rule of law. With an uncertain dynastic succession in the prospects, the 79-year-old patriarch risks plunging the country into chronic instability once he is no longer at the helm. Such is the legacy of this cold-blooded Chakri king who always puts himself above the interests of his people.
A return to the base repression of the Tanin regime might be what the extremist yellow shirts have in mind.