One of the PPT collective came across a pile of newspaper clippings recently. They were all about the various attempts to oust General Prem Tinsulanonda When he was unelected premier. This particular push was in 1987. There had been several other attempts to get rid of him, including two failed coups, one of which saw the king and queen fly to Prem’s defense.
As he again rejected calls to stand aside and allow electoral politics to develop, he called on the monarchy and military for support and relied on Meechai Ruchupan and Prasong Soonsiri to see off political opponents.
As we read the clippings, we were struck by how similar some of Prem’s statements of 1987 were with those of General Prayuth Chan-ocha today. Prem was justifying what was then considered a semi- or quasi-democracy, while The Dictator is justifying the 2014 coup and his continued stranglehold on power. How little attitudes seem to have changed. The following are Prem’s words:
On staying in power: “I never enjoy nor appreciate the power of the prime minister and I am not a power seeker.”
On obedience and rules: “[T]here were rules in the country which people had to comply with…. But there are certain groups of people who have failed to play by the rules. There are so many problems in our country because they have chosen to invent their own rules and ignore the universal rules. This is an obstacle to the progress of democracy…”.
On democracy and the masses: “They couldn’t care less about the political process and democracy. We want to draw them in to strengthen democracy. To do this we must educate them.”
Sounds like Prayuth to us.
Prayuth is busy retrofitting Thailand with a political system fit for a bygone era of authoritarianism, royalism and militarism.