With The Dictator dressing in military uniform to display the junta’s demands for a Yes vote, it is also seen that the military regime is using all of the state’s vast resources to get its desired outcome.
The Bangkok Post reports that the junta “has pulled in all its resources, including provincial governors and military officers, to ensure it meets its ambitious target of a 70% ‘yes’ vote in Sunday’s referendum, according to government sources.”
Interior Minister General Anupong Paojinda and Defence Minister General Prawit Wongsuwan have been hard at work mobilizing the resources of two of the major ministries. They control a vast number of troops and administrative officers “which are the key machines to canvass for votes.”
The Interior Ministry established “a special panel to mobilise public relations campaigns for the referendum” in May, populated not just by officials but by “Election Commission deputy secretary-general Sawaeng Boonmee [who] assumed an advisory role on the panel.”
The panel tasks set up “provincial and district sub-panels handling the referendum campaign, organising the training of people assigned to teach locals about the draft charter’s contents, as well as launching public relations campaigns on the draft.” It is claimed that “[m]ore than 700,000 people [kamnan, village headmen, public health volunteers and teachers] have been deployed to explain the draft charter to locals in 5,903 communities and 74,588 villages across the country.”
Given that almost no one knows much about the contents of the military’s draft charter, this has been a massive propaganda exercise.
The ministries have also sent people out villages and communities “to survey the possible number of people who would come out to vote and educate them about the draft’s advantages.” (This contradicts the dictatorship, which denies surveying.)
The Post quotes a “source” as saying: “Verbal warnings [threats] have been issued that in any areas found to have low voter turnouts, local villagers, kamnan and village headmen risk being removed or changed.”
It also notes that “[p]rovincial governors are assigned to make sure public relations campaigns are proceeding as planned, while police have been instructed to ensure there will be no activities against the referendum…”. The junta has appointed, transferred and removed several “provincial governors and police station superintendents … across the country to make sure those in charge are supportive of the government…”.
They are also tasked with ensuring that “politicians” – they mean former elected politicians and members of political parties – “in each area have been obstructed from playing any roles on issues related to the draft charter…”.
Teachers have also been mobilized. The report states that: “Many of them underwent training on the draft charter and were urged to pass the word on to parents through their students…”.
All state agencies have been told to monitor their staff and report those “who fail to cast a vote to provincial authorities…”.
The charter referendum is a junta exercise in repression, threats, surveillance and propaganda. The way to oppose this is obviously a No vote.