In occupying Thailand’s political space and institutions, the military junta recently extended its absolute control over Bangkok.
The middle class must be pleased that the special benefit they were granted long ago by Prem Tinsulanonda’s military-backed regime, being trusted to elect their governor, is now gone. (Bangkok first elected a governor in 1975, but Thanin Kraivixien removed that.)
Aswin Kwanmuang, a retired police general, was summarily appointed by The Dictator, using Article 44.
He says junta leader General Prayuth Chan-ocha ordered him to be unelected governor of Bangkok. Aswin explained: “In police and military systems, they don’t usually give you a reason…. An order is an order. Our duty is to say ‘yes sir’.” Prayuth loves such loyalty.
Khaosod states that Aswin is a “well-connected police official” who has repeatedly stated his disdain for “politicians.” He declares: “I definitely said no to politicians…. I don’t want people to be associated with any political parties. I have never been a member of any party in my life.” Prayuth loves this anti-politics stance.
Like Prayuth, he doesn’t mean all politicians. Just “bad people.” Khaosod states that Aswin is “known for being snug with former protest leader Suthep Thaugsuban. When Suthep served as deputy prime minister in the administration of Abhisit Vejjajiva, Aswin was promoted to the special position of police adviser, a position made equal to deputy police chief.”
Aswin is known for “clearing out popular night markets and sidewalk vendors in the name of reclaiming public space.” Some business people love this.
Khaosod says that “Aswin was chosen by Gen. Prayuth to serve on the 200-strong advisory group which replaced the National Reform Council. Although he’s been criticized for pulling double duty – and double pay – on the National Reform Steering Assembly, Aswin has refused to step down…”.
He’s certainly just the kind of loyal bulldog Prayuth appreciates.