General Prayuth Cha-ocha and General Prawit Wongsuwan are engaged in a small struggle to embed military brass control of politics into the future. It is something of a delicate struggle because we have the feeling that those opposing them are expected to fold. Otherwise, the result could be further extensions of direct military rule via the junta. One way or another, the military goons plan to stay around and to control politics going forward.
The Dictator has stated that he “remained firm on his call for selected senators during a five-year transitional period…”. He wants the new charter to “empower senators” and argues the anti-democrat line that these appointed senators should “take care of the charter so it won’t be stripped out by politicians.” Sounding like he was on the stage at a People’s Democratic Reform Committee rally, he said a “selected Senate should also promote good governance, national strategies and the junta-led reform agenda…”. He dismissed elected senators because this system “had led to problems due to a lack of good governance in the past, adding that the Senate could be elected when voters were ready.” He seems to mean when they are “educate.”
He’s been supported by Deputy Prime Minister and Defense Minister General Prawit who added the important bit: the junta members “are qualified to serve as appointed senators.”
Any misguided speculation that the junta brass were going the way of the dodo is erased. These guys crave power, love positions at the top and think they are actually national heroes. In fact, they are the political equivalent of a criminal gang. They are thugs, seized power and enforce their rule by weight of repression and compulsory “persuasion.”
Using the ridiculous acronym it allocated to itself, Prawit declared that “NCPO members understand all these issues [of national significance]…. I don’t see anything wrong with that [NCPO members serving as appointed senators].” Putting all these men, who attain their positions from their control of the military, is actually an assault on politics, the people and notions of sovereignty.
Prawit said he did not consider appointing junta thugs as senators constituted “a prolonged stay in power…. I’m asking for five years in the provisional clauses. Just five years…”.
These words caused some concern and “[h]ours later, Deputy Prime Minister Wissanu Krea-ngam ‘clarified’ Gen Prawit’s comment on NCPO members serving as senators, saying Gen Prawit did not mean the NCPO would be made senators by default.” We think he did, but it makes little difference as they can presumably arrange nomination.
But Wissanu threw another curve ball, stating “he had no idea who would appoint the new Senate, and Gen Prawit had no idea either.” The details are still being negotiated.