That’s the message the military dictatorship wants Thai voters to hear in the run-up to the referendum. If you are anti-referendum, campaign for a No vote or do anything else the junta thinks risks a referendum victory for their charter, you will be watched, arrested or worse.
Such threats are meant to get compliance. This time, the military junta wants a Yes vote for its charter in an illegitimate referendum.
The Bangkok Post reports that the junta’s henchmen have been “deployed to monitor political movements suspected of violating the draft charter referendum law.” This is the junta’s get-a-Yes-vote “law” that promises large fines and up to 10 years in jail for doing anything that the junta feels is unacceptable in campaigning against the draft charter.
The National Security Council and “a range of state intelligence units” are snooping, seeking out dissenters and trying to enforce junta censorship on debate.
General Thaweep Netrniyom, the secretary-general of the NSC, “warned anyone intent on airing their opinions about the draft charter, or conducting a campaign for or against the draft, to carefully study the Referendum Act.” This huge law sets out, in very broad language, the “crimes” of “distorting,” “lying” and so on that mean that almost any statement against the junta’s charter could be interpreted as an offense against the junta’s “law.”
The general made it clear that for the NSC and other junta thugs, only the “Election Commission is responsible for explaining to the public the contents of the law in preparation for the early August referendum…”. Anyone who is opposed to the charter or the referendum is thus at risk of imprisonment.
The Thai people are being told that they must vote for the charter. The junta is seeking to prevent any negative voices.
The result of these actions is not just a deepening of the military authoritarianism that marks the country as so peculiar internationally, but marks a signal event for politics going forward: an illegitimate and coerced referendum for an illegitimate charter drafted at the behest of a power-hungry elite, fronted by military thugs who seized power in an illegal putsch.