In a recent post, we noted how the military dictatorship seems enamored of its weird version of history. In that perspective, the 1976 October massacre is a victory for monarchists and the May 1992 massacre is seen as some kind of political mistake. As we noted, Marx put it this way: “Hegel remarks somewhere that all great world-historic facts and personages appear, so to speak, twice. He forgot to add: the first time as tragedy, the second time as farce.”
Appointing Meechai Ruchupan, a villain of 1991-2, as the chief constitution writer appears to support Marx’s contention. Farce becomes an absurdity when the junta and Meechai appoint the aged academic Tinnapan Nakata as chairman of the National Reform Steering Assembly.
The Bangkok Post reports that not only is Tinnapan 81 years of age, but he was a “minister in the 1992 ‘Black May’ government has been named over the protests of relatives of victims of the deadly street protests…”. He was a minister in the Prime Minister’s Office “during the brief, turbulent tenure of Suchinda Kraprayoon, who resigned after seven weeks in office following street protests in which 52 people officially were confirmed dead while hundreds went missing after soldiers opened fire on unarmed students and demonstrators.”
Naturally enough, relatives of Black May victims had protested Tinnapan’s appointment.
The junta is bumbling. Deliberately insulting the middle class who are associated with the protests against the Suchinda government is a political error. It isn’t a single fumble.
The Nation reports that the regime is after a middle-class NGO. The Thai Health Promotion Foundation (ThaiHealth) has been around for a considerable time, funded by so-called sin taxes. The Bangkok Post states that The Dictator “Prayut Chan-o-cha has ordered authorities to look into … ThaiHealth … to ensure its funds are being spent to improve people’s health and promote the well-being of the general public.”
A junta audit panel reportedly “found ThaiHealth’s budget this year may not have been spent properly. The report found that more than half of the foundation’s funds went on financing political reform projects, election procedures and assessing the Thai political landscape, which were not related to health promotion.”
ThaiHealth has denied the allegations.
Whatever the situation with ThaiHealth’s funding, this represents another attack on the middle class that has emerged from the 1990s. If they junta continues down this path, its tenure is likely to face broader protest.