The Dictator has “clarified” his statements that he doesn’t desire power or want to hold it or that he intends to stay on or have the military stay on in power. As the Bangkok Post reports it, General Prayuth Chan-ocha has “threatened his critics … that he would hold on to power … until peace has been fully returned to the country.”
Oddly, the erratic general was reportedly making these comments on the junta’s domestic political strategy to “a group of 134 developing countries known as G-77 at a forum in Bangkok.” He added that “he would use the 200,000 soldiers at his disposal to continue to lead the country.” The Dictator was clear still: “Without soldiers, Thailand can go nowhere. Nowadays, we are using soldiers to steer the country. Our troops aren’t meant to fight anybody or to persecute politicians…”.
In one sense, we agree with Prayuth. The military is not a conventional armed forces. It is a political agency that has for decades repressed and murdered the citizens of the country.
While the Post worries that the “general’s latest outburst flies in the face of repeated pledges to restore democracy through elections next year,” it should look more closely at the political rules the junta has set that will bound and corral any elected civilian regime to such an extent that the elite’s and military’s representatives in (non)independent agencies and the royalist judiciary will be what one academic calls the Deep State.
Prayuth’s rant continued as he said that “there are still some politicians expressing their opinions.” That’s a pretty clear statement of what Prayuth and the regime think of “politicians” and he is clear on what their subordinate, dominated and unrepresentative position must be. On his own extraordinary powers as The Dictator, Prayuth “explained” that “[m]artial law and Section 44 are crucial for Thailand keeping peace and moving towards the elections…”.
That all seems pretty clear, but the erratic Prayuth then played dumb, claiming he has no “thirst for power.”
Finally Prayuth defended non-democratic politics:”Western democracies” should not urge elections or people’s sovereignty. The Dictator said a one-size political “shirt” does not fit everyone. He declared: Dictators of the world unite, trumpeting, “We countries in the G-77 should have the liberty to select which shirt we want to choose to fit our people.”
That’s exactly what he’s doing in Thailand. The Dictator is defining the people’s political shirt. It is small, narrow and uncomfortable.
All hail The Dictator.