The international media is bothering the military dictatorship, not least because The Dictator is about to visit the United States.
The New York Times edition that includes a story on the monarchy’ decline has not been available in a print edition in Thailand as “its local printer in Thailand has refused to print its Asia edition because it featured an article on the ailing king.” The paper’s front-page article was considered “too sensitive.” However, it “can still be viewed online in Thailand.”
Meanwhile, in response to an editorial in the Washington Post from 16 September, “Jailed for a bad attitude,” Thailand’s ambassador has written to defend the junta and its jailing of persons alleged to be political opponents. He’s trying to manage perceptions.
Pisan Manawapat blames “deadly political violence” for having “sent the economy into contraction.”
In fact, it was the paralysis that came from months of anti-democrat protest that did that.
Those who oppose the military dictatorship are not democracy activists, but are claimed to be “[i]nciting lawlessness and divisiveness,” while Pisan bizarrely argues that it is an illegitimate military dictatorship that “hopes to craft a democracy that will be sustainable…”.
He claims, perhaps having neglected to get his story straight, that the “no vote on the draft constitution by the National Reform Council was a response by the majority of members to views expressed by major political parties and elements of civil society that opposed a draft they thought was not democratic enough…”.
He sees “democracy is a work in progress in Thailand” despite the fact that the junta cannot be criticized and political opponents are repressed. Democracy cannot be formed on such rotten foundations.
But, never mind, it is the attempt to shape perceptions that matter. Say the military dictatorship is building democracy and maybe someone will believe it.
For the U.N. audience and the American media, The Dictator will emphasize “reforms” on the “trafficking of people and wildlife as well as illegal fishing.” He will say his dictatorship is promoting “sustainable development, reducing inequality, building peace and fighting climate change.”
General Prayuth Chan-ocha is going to have a very long nose as he “shapes” perceptions of his dictatorial regime. He can compare his snout with the ambassador’s proboscis.