Prayuth Chan-ocha has been Thailand’s dictator since 22 May 2014. He seems increasingly comfortable in that position, even if he abhors even the slightest criticism.
He seems especially willing to use Article 44 of the interim constitution – put in place by himself and his junta and which replaced martial law – to get what he wants. Recently there has been timid criticism of his repeated use of this dictatorial article to push through the simplest and most mundane of policies (such as changes to the Social Security Office).
According to a report at the Bangkok Post, Prayuth has sounded very much like other dictators by claiming that Article 44 was used “to cut through red tape and run the government more effectively…”. Of course, dictatorial powers are not necessary for he speaks of normal government activities. But dictators like Prayuth seem to love using special powers.
He added that his use of these powers “does not run counter to the achievement of democratic ideals.” We are bemused by this claim, for Prayuth’s junta has no notion of democratic ideals and does not operate as anything other than a military dictatorship.
For some reason, The Dictator then decided to lecture Thais on democracy. As a leader who has no experience of democratic principles and has shown no democratic intent, this strikes us as arrogant. But that’s how dictators are.
Dictatorspeak saw him warning of Thais being “deceived by illusive democracy.” He claimed to know what “real democracy is…”.
Like the old men in his Constitution Drafting Committee, Prayuth’s dictatorspeak is that “instead of electing politicians and handing power to them, people need to learn how to exercise their power to achieve what they really want.” Or is it what Prayuth and his royalist and anti-democratic elite wants?
Indeed, anti-democrat ideology is now dictatorspeak: “… politicians will help only the people who vote them in…”. Of course, he’s talking about Thaksin Shinawatra and his various parties and governments. Yet his memory is flawed in that Thaksin circa 2001-05 actually implemented several universalist policies.
As dictators often do, Prayuth declared: “Don’t pay much attention to the elections.” He never has.
Like previous military dictators, he also complained about the media and opposition.