The junta has been showing its blunt determination to ensure its preferred result in the charter referendum. It has been arresting, intimidating and repressing.
It has also been campaigning for a Yes vote in rural areas, sending out the military and local authorities. But, for the junta, the local is not trustworthy, so it wants total control.
When it seized power almost two years ago, local elections were scrapped. Elections were replaced by provincial panels, headed by the governor of each province, that selected councilors. This is insufficient for the dictatorship. The Bangkok Post reports that not even governors can be trusted: “the [junta’s new] order was made to prevent any conflicts of interest among provincial governors…”.
In fact, the junta’s puppet permanent secretary of the Ministry of Interior has confirmed that the junta will now control the selection and appointment of members of local bodies.
The permanent secretary will appoint a committee “to pick the councillors of the local bodies…”. All appointments will be made by this Bangkok-based committee of senior bureaucrats. The rollback to a regime that existed long before the 1997 Constitution.
The military’s selected bureaucracy is back in charge because, as puppets, they can be expected to do their masters’ bidding.
While the puppet permanent secretary claims the junta “wants to make changes that comply with good governance practices.” Most observers recognize that the members of the junta could not spell “good governance,” and that they certainly favor nepotism and political subservience over anything that might reek of principles.
The permanent secretary’s disclaimer can be read as an admission: “This also has nothing to do with the preparations for the referendum…”. Of course, it has everything to do with the referendum and what follows that event.