Campaign troubles amid enormous electoral spending

17 01 2019

One of the interesting aspects of waiting for the royal decree is the knots that the military junta is tying itself in when it comes to the division it has tried to maintain between itself and the devil party, Palang Pracharath.

Somehow or other the puppet party released a policy on land reeking of Somkid Jatusripitak’s influence.

A proposal by Palang Pracharath’s Suchart Tancharoen for restrictions on the the use of Sor Por Kor land be eased to allow for a deeper marketization of this land, allowing economic activities in addition to farming was the cause of a “rift” between military men and the puppet party.

The amount of land potentially marketized and fully commodified was about 35 million rai. Surely a prize for big capitalists.

The Bangkok Post reports the junta and The Dictator were concerned that this proposal deviated from long-held positions within the military on the control of this land, including its efforts to “regain” land from “loan sharks” and “local capitalists” developing land like this into “resorts.”

Suggesting the oddity of the position it is now in, government spokesman Buddhipongse Punnakanta, who is also a member of Palang Pracharath, contorted himself to announce that The Dictator “disagreed with the idea.” It was also reported that “Gen Prayut had ordered his deputy Somkid Jatusripitak, in charge of the economy, to reject the proposal.”

Seemingly unable to dissemble on this, hilariously, “Buddhipongse said he never acknowledged this was a move by the PM and did not understand why Mr Somkid was named.”

Magically, a Palang Pracharath leader said the “party is considering revising it [the proposal].”

This intra-party and intra-junta tiff has not prevented the junta from continuing its use of taxpayer funds as electoral “gifts.” A few days ago, the junta’s cabinet went on a huge spending spree in northern Thailand. Oddly, perhaps ironically, the ostensible excuse for the cabinet’s campaign visit was to “follow up on efforts to eliminate the annual northern haze, as well as address land rights issues.” At the same time, Bangkok choked and the junta was convulsed over land (see above).

But back to the electoral giveaways. The Bangkok Post reported that the cabinet/junta/members of Palang Pracharath “approved in principle 10 infrastructure projects worth a combined 17.7 billion baht for four upper northern provinces.” That budget was for road, rail, airport and other logistics-related spending.

In addition to that, the campaign-cabinet meeting “approved three irrigation development projects in the North with a budget of 559.6 million baht.” With a claimed benefit for 1,168 households, the junta could have bought those families a new house each.

And, on top of all that, the cabinet/junta/members of Palang Pracharath “agreed to extend the second phase of measures designed to improve the lives of welfare card holders by another six months until June of this year.” The cost is 4.37 billion baht.

Is anyone keeping a tally of this “populist” spending? Or is it just open to The Dictator and his cabinet/junta/members of Palang Pracharath to do what they like in garnering votes?


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