The impending passing of the king creates the need for arrangements that replace him as the political fixer for the ruling class and its allies.
The 2006 military coup showed that the king’s political interventions were not necessarily considered legitimate, even in a manufactured crisis.
The role of the Privy Council in planning the 2006 coup showed that the interventions by a bunch of unelected old men was considered illegitimate.
From that point the ruling class, recast as an anti-Thaksin Shinawatra opposition acting in the name of the king, followed the king’s own lead and placed consider emphasis on the royalist judiciary as the political fixer and interventionist.
That didn’t work out all that well, with the judiciary identified as politicized and implementing law with double standards. Of course, it still does that, but a politicized judiciary was also shown to be rather too fragile and sometimes too slow in seeking a judicial solution to political demands by the ruling class.
Even the military brass has realized that its capacity for political intervention is increasingly limited, even if The Dictator has managed it again in 2014 and has maintained a strong grip on power. Being the world’s only military dictatorship is a bit of a problem. Hence the military dictatorship’s concentration on rigging the political system for the ruling class.
Fixing the constitution – in the manner of race fixers – is seen as a permanent solution to the challenges to the social and economic order emanating from the simple desire by some who want to vote for a preferred government. This is a “threat” that royalists have feared and vehemently opposed since 1932 and which royals opposed prior to that.
Despite a remarkable and sustained effort to fiddle the constitution and associated institutional arrangements, the ruling class remains fearful that it hasn’t done enough to replace the king’s interventionism and control a new and potentially unpredictable king.
What if there are extra-parliamentary threats to a government? in this scenario, the Bangkok Post has reported another effort to rig things.
Lawyer-for-hire Borwornsak Uwanno who serves the military as chairman of the puppet Constitution Drafting Committee “has agreed to include a clause to set up a national strategy and reconciliation panel that will be given special powers over the executive and legislative branches to intervene in a political crisis.”
The provisional clause of the draft charter will allow “members of the crisis committee [to]… vote among themselves to decide if it will intervene when a political crisis arises.”
According to Borwornsak, the “committee chairman’s order to resolve a crisis is considered legitimate and constitutional, whether the order has legislative or executive implications.” The “crisis committee” is planned to “have no more than 22 members and one chairman, with the members divided into two batches.”
Who will they be? No prizes for guessing:
The first batch of 11 members comprises the parliament president, the Senate speaker, the prime minister, the supreme commander, the army, navy, air force and national police chiefs, a former prime minister, a former parliament president and a former Supreme Court president. The 11 other members will be specialists from various fields selected by parliament.
Remember that ‘parliament” will also include military appointed senators.
What defines a crisis? Hiree Borwornsak says that “the committee is empowered to intervene in an event that may lead to violence by taking over both executive and legislative powers from a government and parliament.” He adds: “This measure could be taken if there are various protests that threaten to become a riot and the government is at its wit’s end in resolving the situation.”
Prayuth seems at his wit’s end every day. Abhisit was witless. Wit may not be the issue. Rather, it is the desire to maintain control after the passing of the “crisis resolver” of first resort over the past few decades.