1976 redux

1 07 2015

As we read the latest offering from The Dictator, as repeated by his puppet Deputy Prime Minister Wissanu Krea-ngam, in the Bangkok Post, PPT had a feeling that our collective body was time-traveling, back, way back, to 1976. We have said it before, and no doubt we’ll say it again, but The Dictator’s royalist regime thinks – if that word is appropriate in this context – a lot like the royalist Thanin Kraivixien regime.

Both are repressive royalist regimes, and some of the inputs are coming from the very same people. If not the same people, then there are political clones that walk zombie-like on the political field strewn with repression, lese majeste and royalist shibboleths about national security.

In the latest report, it is stated that the cabinet – essentially the junta and a couple of royalist lapdogs – “has approved a committee to draw up a 20-year national strategy blueprint to shore up reforms as it attempts to ensure future governments carry on with its changes.” By “carry on” they also mean cannot change any of the reactionary “reforms” of the military regime.

The report states that the “20-year strategy will cover security, the economy, social issues, legal and foreign affairs, which correspond with the work of the government’s five deputy prime ministers…”. The committee will be chaired by the secretary-general to the prime minister and is claimed to have been established at General Prayuth Chan-ocha’s “suggestion.” By “suggestion” they mean it was an order. No one, not even a few students, may oppose The Dictator’s views.

This is just one more way to prevent meaningful representation and people’s sovereignty in royalist Thailand.

Thanin 1We recall a similar move made by Thanin, and as we searched for the relevant old clippings we found others that matched this regime and the current royalists.

One of these was the ability to “legally” do anything the regime wanted. At right we have a clip from the Asiaweek magazine No. 45 in 1976.

It is clear that both Thanin and Prayuth operate with no real legal constraints, and can do anything they feel fits their warped royalist ideology.

In TIME magazine’s issue of 8 November 1976, we located a quotation from a then second-ranked Army boss, General Kriangsak Chomanan, who after the coup cheered for “democracy,” not unlike Prayuth has done.

Clearly Prayuth has no conception of democracy and we doubt Kriangsak did when he made the claim shown on the right.Kriangsak

Early in the regime that came to power over the bodies of massacred students, and as the military junta and Thanin royalist government initially came together, they announced that a return to democracy would take some 16 years, as reported by the Far Eastern Economic Review of 22 October 1976 (see left).16 years

Thanin later reduced this to a 12-year plan. While that “plan” was 4-8 years short of Prayuth’s 20 year plan, the resemblances are quite clear.

Both dictators feel the need to maintain a headlock on democratic decision-making in order to establish the rule of the royalist elite. Both claimed to be fashioning a democracy that would be strong and sustainable. In other words, a political regime for the elite, by the elite and of the elite. Backed, of course by the military’s weapons and the sharing of wealth and symbols of power between the elite and its praetorian guard.

Thanin failed and Prayuth is probably doomed to follow in those footsteps. We can speculate as to whether another dictator with blood on his hands will be promoted to the Privy Council where his sins will be laundered.

One of the other similarities is the attacks on students. Prayuth won’r allow students to demonstrate and has 14 currently locked up. Thanin had hundreds of students arrested – today they are threatened or called in – and jailed 19 students, keeping them locked up into 1978.

A further similarity between dedicators is in their views of what they are doing and their self-perception of having soothed a troubled polity.

For Thanin, as shown in a clip from a Newsweek interview published on 25 July 1977, his self-perception was a self-deception.Thanin

PPT tends to think that the same will be true for Prayuth’s regime.

Remarkably, so many of the “targets” and complaints remain common to the Prayuth regime that comes almost 40 years after Thanin. We guess that for military and royalist troglodytes, four decades is a mere blink of the eye.

While we can predict that Prayuth will stumble further down the Thanin path of self-destruction, it was another military coup that brought down Thanin. It was then a long decade before an elected premier was back in place in Thailand.

That cannot be allowed to happen again. Prayuth’s regime must be brought down in a way that allows representative and people’s politics to flourish.



3 responses

19 10 2016
All the king’s men | Political Prisoners in Thailand

[…] to “democracy” is modeled on Thanin’s 16-year plan for “democracy.” There are other similarities and comparisons can be made. Among them, the draft constitution draws inspiration from the Thanin era, with Meechai […]

19 10 2016
All the king’s men | Political Prisoners of Thailand

[…] to “democracy” is modeled on Thanin’s 16-year plan for “democracy.” There are other similarities and comparisons can be made. Among them, the draft constitution draws inspiration from the Thanin era, with Meechai […]

6 01 2023
Back to the future | Political Prisoners in Thailand

[…] 20-year “roadmap” to “democracy” is modeled on Thanin’s 16-year plan for “democracy.” There are other similarities and comparisons that can be made. Among them, the junta’s draft constitution drew inspiration from the Thanin […]

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