Updated: It’s still a military regime II

22 05 2020

The Bangkok Post has had a flurry of stories about the proposed extension of the regime’s emergency decree.

The most recent of those stories states that:

The National Security Council (NSC) will propose extending the state of emergency for another month to the Centre for Covid-19 Situation Administration (CCSA) today out of concern over the lingering pandemic.

Frankly, we doubt the health justification. For one thing, if the data are as good as the state agencies claim, then the number of cases in the country has been tiny since late April. The economy is in such bad shape that some have estimated unemployment rising to unprecedented levels.

NSC secretary-general Gen Somsak Roongsita said a meeting of security agencies and public health officials will propose to the Centre for Covid-19 Situation Administration, dominated by the military, that “the state of emergency should be extended for another month to June 30…”.

Gen Somsak added that “continued enforcement of the emergency decree is necessary for the third and fourth stage of relaxation expected in June.” In other words, the emergency decree may stay in place until July or August or even longer.

An earlier report was more forthright, noting that the decision on the extension of the emergency decree came in a meeting Prime Minister Gen Prayuth Chan-ocha had with “military top brass to address the Covid-19 outbreak…”.

Yes, this is the same military brass responsible for one of Thailand’s major virus outbreaks.

An unnamed “source said military chiefs are ready to act in line with the government’s wishes if it decides to extend the decree.”

Thailand seems to one of the few countries where the military is overseeing the response to the virus:

The National Security Council, the National Intelligence Agency and military agencies have been keeping a close watch on the easing of business shutdowns since May 17, a day which saw large numbers of people flocking to shopping malls.

This emphasizes just how much Thailand is a military state.

The military worries that:

Without the executive decree … the CCSA will be dissolved and the government will lack the legal tools, including shutdowns and a curfew, it has used since March 26 to quickly contain the spread of novel coronavirus should further action be necessary.

Clipped from Prachatai

In the view of security authorities, the enforcement of the Communicable Diseases Act alone is not enough as legal power will be mostly exercised by the Public Health Ministry.

They want Gen Prayuth to continue “to give a ‘single command’ integrating the work of both security and health officials.”

Given that the military and its regime have used the virus crisis for political purposes, we can’t help but wonder if the real concern of the military isn’t to maintain the repression of political opponents.

Update: Instead of a new post, it seems appropriate to add to this one and observe the 6th anniversary of the 2014 military coup. Khaosod reports that “University students staged a brief protest in front of the Royal Thai Army HQ … on Friday.”

And it seems entirely appropriate that the current military/military-backed regime should celebrate its illegal 2014 putsch by deciding “to extend the emergency decree for another month through June, although no new cases of coronavirus were reported on the same day.” Move Forward Party general secretary Chaitawat Tulaton commented: “The public is fully aware of the problem and have already adapted to the new norms. There is no reason to extend the decree further…. The future of Thailand should be decided by the benefit of the majority, not for Gen. Prayut’s security.”

A selection of pictures from 2014:


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