This is another “catch-up” post and is thus quite long.
Accused by the military junta of being under the influence or in the pay of unnamed (meaning Thaksin Shinawatra) puppet masters, activist students have been relatively quiet for a while. Their return to activism was very public.
On Tuesday, no less than “three groups of student activists were led out of a conference room after they successively interrupted [military sycophant] Meechai Ruchupan, chairman of the junta appointed Constitution Drafting Committee, at Thammasat University’s Rangsit campus…”.
Meechai was interrupted first by the high school students of Education for the Liberation of Siam. After they were ejected, members of the League of Liberal Thammasat for Democracy, moved to the front of the stage “in masks of Prime Minister Prayuth Chan-ocha with a banner saying ‘Vote No’ to protest the draft constitution.”
Then, as Meechai concluded his talk, Neo-Democracy Movement activist Sirawith Seritiwat “and several of his counterparts appeared holding a protest banner and tried to ask Meechai questions. They were quickly swept out by the university staff…”.
Meechai’s response was to blame “a certain political party” of “trying to disrupt a CDC campaign to educate the public about the draft constitution…”. Some wags might think he meant the Democrat Party, but he is more a far more predictable puppet than that. He accused the students of having “acted on the order of someone else…”, meaning Thaksin and the Puea Thai Party.
Meechai declared that these parties opposed the junta’s draft charter because it was written to “stamp out corruption and keep the government’s exercise of power, particularly budget spending, in check.” It seems that those in the junta and those like Meechai who “work towards them” have convinced themselves of this in “explaining” opposition.
Like voters in previous election, it seems, the students are duped, paid and/or ignorant.
One student has declared these accusations nonsense. Parit Chiwarak, secretary general of Education for the Liberation of Siam, declared: “I didn’t take anyone’s money to protest…”.
He had something to say about the CDC. His group protested the charter’s reduction in funding to school education. He was asked about the reasons for this. The Khaosod report states:
Some have speculated that the decision not to fund the last three years of high school education under the new charter draft might be the desire of the junta, who appointed all the charter drafters, to create less-educated and more governable citizens.
Parit said this is “a frightening prospect.” He added: “It’s possible but I can’t confirm it. If this is the real rationale behind, it means the attitude of the charter drafting committee is scary and they must be a long-term threat [to society].”
Soon after these events, Khaosod reports that the Neo-Democracy students “chose a crowded public event on a national holiday today in the capital to open their campaign urging the public to reject the draft charter.” This was the National Book Fair the National Convention Center on Chakri Day.
(The day commemorates the founding of the current dynasty. Fittingly, the day marks a military coup that brought the first Chakri king to the throne.)
The students launched a campaign that they say will continue until the referendum. The message is: “Vote No, Don’t Accept an Unchosen Future.”
They pointed to “seven flaws of the charter.” Khaosod reports these as:
permitting a non-MP prime minister, an appointed senate, ongoing use of the junta’s absolute power, reduced social benefits, an unelected committee empowered to seize control from a civilian government, placing civil servants above citizens and a less representative district MP election process.
They might have added that the charter’s spawning and birth in a military junta, midwifed by junta puppets, means the charter and the junta’s referendum are illegitimate.
Immediately following the students’ campaign was launched, the junta became inflamed. The Dictator, General Prayuth Chan-ocha said “he would order an investigation into who is supporting groups campaigning against the charter…”. He bleated: “There must be someone [behind the students]. Everyone knows, why do you want me to answer who they are?” He means Thaksin, “whose political dynasty the military has attempted to dismantle.”
Dumpy Deputy Dictator General Prawit Wongsuwan immediately declared that “all public actions regarding the draft constitution, whether in support or opposition, were strictly prohibited.”
The junta was soon in another authoritarian tizzy. It is “threatening to take action against the people behind the protest on Tuesday at a forum held by the charter drafters at Thammasat University’s Rangsit campus.” Prawit babbled about “a hidden agenda behind the protest but he could not blame the student activists who took part,” implying that they were misled and juvenile. Even so, the police were investigating “crimes.”
The junta’s fear of opposition soon saw another set of its puppets at work. The National Legislative Assembly has decided that any person or party “disrupting” the referendum on the draft constitution will get 10 years in jail.
Now tell us we are wrong, but didn’t junta allies and all of those anti-democrats deliberately and violently disrupt the 2014 election? And wasn’t it the military and other royalists in the judiciary who declared all of this disruption legal?
The bill says that disruption includes: “creating disorder, telling lies, and using force to prompt eligible voters not to vote, to vote in any way or to choose the no-vote option in the upcoming referendum.” It continues to say that this includes “disseminating any text, picture or voice message via any media that is false, aggressive, rude, instigating or coercive in order to persuade eligible voters not to vote, to vote in a particular way or to choose the no-vote option in the referendum.” Readers can see how the junta can interpret and manipulate under such vague “laws.”