Article 44 has been extensively used by the military dictatorship since the end of the martial law on 1 April 2015. It was immediately criticized by a range of commentators, law lecturers, activist groups and even the National Human Right Commission for allocating General Prayuth Chan-ocha absolute power.
Reuters reports that critics complain that The Dictator “is relying increasingly on a security measure [Article 44] dubbed ‘the dictator’s law’ to push through unpopular policies and kickstart stalled reforms…”.
Prayuth has used Article 44 for all manner of things: to remove seven officials from a government health promotion foundation, fast-tracking projects ranging from power stations to special economic zones, for detaining scores of opponents, breaking up meetings and seminars, “reforming” air transport and the fishing industry and more.
According to iLaw, Prayuth has used Article 44 more than 50 times since the 2014 military coup, “and increasingly so since the middle of last year…”.
Reuters says that Colonel Winthai Suvaree, the junta’s loudmouth, says The Dictator is “using Article 44 more often to get things done more quickly, before an election promised for 2017, to the advantage of all.” The cagey colonel declares: “There is limited time left to govern and reform the country…. All orders have benefited the people.”
A Western diplomat observes that: “The junta feels that it came in on a platform of reform and very little has been reformed…. So they have used Article 44 to…show they are reformers.”
In fact, it shows they are military men with few clues about public administration and the use of Article 44 proves their power and their incompetence.
Naturally, the reprehensible and failed academic Panitan Wattanayagorn, again “a senior government adviser,” seeks to deny that “reforms had stalled and said Prayuth and his team had laid ‘complicated’ groundwork for lasting change.” As you’d expect from a rightist anti-democrat in the pay of the military, Panitan declares that: “They [the junta] see a real opportunity to move the country forward…”.
Remarkably, Reuters quotes Panitan, then ignores him and his statements, declaring that “reforms appear stalled, [and] the economy is a major worry.” Perhaps they should stop asking for this lugnut‘s paid opinion.
Whatever way it is looked at, the use of Article 44 is a statement of political failure. The military junta stays in power because it has guns and can threaten with impunity. It is incapable of administering anything that requires actions more complex than torture, commission payments and murder.