Blame junta, Meechai and the EC for crisis

20 04 2019

Wasant Techawongtham is a former news editor at the Bangkok Post. His op-ed today, summing up the Election Commission’s and military dictatorship’s finagling of the “election” result is worth a read.

That there are much bigger countries running huge elections without all of the screw ups Thailand has seen is a point made by Wasant and several others. Its also a running theme on social media. That’s not to say that elections in Indonesia and India have been free of problems. But those problems seem to be handled by EC’s that have shown better skills, more transparency and a deal more independence than Thailand’s puppet agency.

In Thailand, the election held a month ago, Wasant says, “will undoubtedly go down as Thailand’s messiest — some would say dirtiest — in its political history.”

nearly a month since Thai voters cast their ballots, Thailand is stilled mired in controversies, many of which emerged even before counting at polling stations was completed.”

As well as all of its bungling and failures, Wasant considers the “most astounding aspect has to be the EC’s admission that it has not yet decided on what formula to use to calculate the number of party-list MPs for each party.”

What has led to this mes? He has the answer: “This is clearly a direct result of the machination set in motion by the military regime to prolong its grip on power through a disguised transition from a military dictatorship to a form of ‘Thai-style democracy’.”

Wasant points to the overly complicated 2017 constitution, “approved in a sham referendum.” As we at PPT have noted, that constitution “design” was so determined to keep out the Thaksinites that it is now widely spoken of as a disaster and in need of immediate rewriting.

He adds that everyone knows that the charter was designed for the junta’s party. As he says, a mouthpiece for the “military-proxy Palang Pracharat Party” has publicly stated of the constitution: “It was designed for us.”

EC performing seals

On the EC, he observes:

The EC’s refusal to make a definitive ruling on how to apportion party-list MPs is seen as a transparent attempt to finagle a way to increase the number of MPs on the pro-junta side.

But with everyone looking on, it doesn’t have the guts to ram through its apportionment formula. Instead, it has passed the hot potato to the Constitutional Court, hoping for an unsavoury ruling in its favour.

As we at PPT have long said, Wasant states, “the EC is merely a tool and vehicle to deliver an electoral victory to the junta.”

And this is where he names names: “The mastermind behind this shameful political theatre, meanwhile, has gone missing…. Meechai Ruchupan is the man. He is said to be a legal wizard who has loyally served several military and military-backed regimes.” It was Meechai “who was able to satisfy the military’s specifications for a new charter.”

Wasant wonders why the military’s “constitution drafting genius” is MIA or AWOL. Meechai did much to satisfy the junta and they are responsible for “this political quagmire…”.

We at PPT have no idea where he’s gone into hiding, but we’d prefer never to have to see this interfering old man again. A “genius” he isn’t. A handy and complicit tool to be sure, but after yet another screw-up for the military he admires, let him fade from his inglorious history of anti-democratic destruction.

We also have more than a sneaking suspicion that crisis and delay is useful for the junta. Delaying has been a defining element of its dictatorship. Maybe it just goes on and on.


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