General Udomdej Sitabutr is likely to resign within a few days. His presence as a junta member and Deputy Defense Minister is causing too much damage to the military dictatorship. If he doesn’t go, then the regime risks being seen as both corrupt and arrogant.
Yes, we know that the regime is both of these things and worse, but the point is that its allies in the royalist elite are now demanding a sacrifice.
The Nation reports that National Anti-Corruption Commission Secretary-General Sansern Poljieak has “gathered information on the scandal but found no clear evidence that the Rajabhakti Park project was mired in corruption.” No report, no evidence. But, it is known that “the project had used Bt63 million from state coffers” and it remains unclear if the NACC has investigated this.
Deputy Prime Minister and Defense Minister General Prawit Wongsuwan continues to declare the weakened regime “strong and stable.” He blathered: “We can be compared to multi-reinforced concrete,” and said “there would be no Cabinet reshuffle.”
He’s still covering up and being disingenuous.
Revealingly, it is in Udomdej’s rejection of calls for his head that fits perfectly into the thought processes and their self-justifications for repeated coups and their rejection of electoral politics.
Udomdej is a military officer, supposedly loyal to the monarchy and not an elected politician. By royalist definitions, this makes him a “good person.” Because he is a “good person” with “good intentions” his failures and faults can be accepted. Elected politicians are “greedy” and “selfish” and therefore “bad people.”
In line with this definition Udomdej has attacked “some ill-intentioned people might have tried to fan the scandal for their benefits.” It is not clear if he refers to pro-Thaksin Shinawatra political opponents but it seems he is, warning: “If they are successful in painting the white black, the country is in danger. I am not going to identify them by name. You can see for yourself who have jumped on the scene lately…”.
“Good people” are white. Elected politicians, pro-Thaksin parties and red shirts are “bad people” and black.
For the military, there is only black and white. However, the royalist elite that thinks it controls the military in its interests, are fickle and will seek to dump the current junta if it looks to them that the military dictatorship is threatening the elite’s long-term interests and plans.
While they may grind their collective teeth, Udomdej will need to go to avoid a deeper falling out within the broad royalist elite.