All media have dutifully reported that the king, who we guess is back from Germany or will be soon, will “formally enact the new constitution on Thursday, which also marks the anniversary of his dynasty’s reign over Thailand.”
That seems entirely appropriate in the sense that the regime came to power following a military coup that murdered the previous king.
But the symbolism doesn’t end there. It links the junta’s and king’s constitution to the monarchy. His father only seemed to take an interest in constitutions early on, when the hated Generals Phibun and Phao forced one on him and he had threatened to abdicate. After General Sarit ran his royalist coup, the king knew he wasn’t bound much by them. In 1991, he faxed the draft back and forth and said it was “good enough.”
The fact that citizens have “yet to see it in its entirety” is said to make the charter “unique.” It is that since the draft was “approved” in August 2016, in a “referendum” that was “organized by the military regime,” but after that, the king “instructed the drafters in January to alter some provisions in the charter, changes were approved by the junta’s rubber stamp parliament, but the document itself was never released to the public.”
More than that, the “referendum” itself was a sham event: “critics say many who voted for the draft did so because the junta never made clear what would have happened had they rejected it, and opponents of the charter were routinely punished for campaigning against it.” Punishment included fines and jail, along with numerous threats and a heavy military presence.
Another feature that marks out this charter is that it allows the military to control politics for years to come.
For all of that, “[a]ccording to a palace statement … [the k]ing … will preside over the ceremony at 3pm in the Ananda Samakhom Throne Hall.” Presumably, at some time after that, the citizens who are supposed to accept the bogus constitution will finally learn what is in it and, more interestingly, how the king has benefited from the changes he demanded.
To link the monarchy and the military to Buddhism, “[a]ll temples throughout Thailand are instructed to toll their bells at that hour to celebrate the occasion.”
We are sure “celebrate” is the wrong term. In fact, a dirge would be more appropriate as electoral democracy is to be buried by the junta.