Junta shenanigans I

21 11 2018

A Bangkok Post editorial chastises the military dictatorship for what it does best: limiting freedom of expression. In this case, the Post is concerned about the rigged election:

Three months away from a possible election, the ban on political activities and basic freedoms is truly a mystery. There seems no logical reason to continue the bans. They were imposed by the National Council for Peace and Order (NCPO) in the wake of the May 22, 2014, coup. They were regularised by formal edict early in 2015. The army-controlled junta continues to state it will not lift the bans “yet” and refuses to state an ending date.

The logic the Post searches for is that of military authoritarianism and the junta’s desire to extend it on and on and on. Everyone knows this and the only really interesting question is whether there’s any chance that this rigging can be overcome.

But when the Post states that the “bans apply to everyone,” this is a distortion of the facts (as it later shows). In fact, the restrictions have been selectively – one might say strategically – applied. As far as we can tell, most parties the junta favors have been campaigning in various ways. Most restricted is the Puea Thai Party. Even some of the new anti-junta parties have fond ways to get out among voters.

So the junta intimates all, but some more than others.

The Post knows this. And, it knows that the main pressure the junta is applying is to “restrict what people, newspapers, broadcasters and internet users can say and write.”

This restriction is to allow the military – via ISOC – the bureaucracy (now junta compliant) and pro-junta political groups access to voters particularly in rural areas and places known to be strongly pro-Puea Thai, while restricting that party.

The Post also points out that there’s still “no election date.” That’s also part of the election rigging. No date, hence no lifting of restrictions.

In the editorial, the Post does recognize double standards in a broader political context:

Arguably worse than the bans of free speech, free assembly and free press has been the highly selective prosecution of alleged violators. It is safe to say no supporter of the coup, the government, the junta or the Palang Pracharath Party (PPRP) has faced censure for their activities.

It is certainly true that the “public has the right to hear all political facts and opinions from politicians and the media,” but the junta needs restrictions until it feels it can “win”/steal an election with impunity.


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