If we are to believe a report in rightist newspaper The Nation, General Prayuth Chan-ocha, who has ordained himself as prime minister, is one very confused military dictator.
As the leader of the 2014 military coup, Prayuth states that he accepts that a “[d]emocratic society needs an elected government and good governance…”. But he adds that a “democracy” in Thailand needs to be “conflict free.”
Nurtured in the hierarchical and murderous organization that is the Army, this royalist-military man displays his lack of understanding of politics and democracy. Democracy is about managing the conflicts that are inherent in any society. Conflicts over resources of all kinds are normal and, indeed, essential to the electoral contention that is meant to underpin party systems.
He sounds even more confused when he states that the “country is already democratic … so there is no need to rush [to an election].” The notion that Thailand is “democratic” is a nonsensical claim by a very erratic and ignorant military dictator.
He then decided to defend his government’s “populist” economic policies by denying they are populist. He declared: “Our national anthem clearly states that Thailand is a nation state (Pra Cha Rat) not populist (Pra Cha Ni Yom)…”. As the report points out, his recent changes to economic policy, implemented by a resurrected Thaksin Shinawatra minister, have “been widely criticised,” mainly by anti-Thaksin activists for plagiarizing Thaksin’s innovations in 2001-05.
Meanwhile, that Thaksin returnee, Deputy Prime Minister Somkid Jatusripitak “defended his economic policy of strengthening the grassroots economy.” Clearly, Thaksin’s policies worked in the circumstances at the beginning of the century. They generated growth based on consumption and produced political popularity. The junta wants a bit of both.