Updated: A rigged election awaits

6 09 2018

It looks increasingly like that the military junta has decided on its rigged election in the first half of 2019. Things may change, but one indicator is the ditching of local elections.

These had previously been mentioned as needing to be held before the junta’s national election. Back in June, the junta was reportedly preparing to hold local elections as a way to “test the waters” ahead of its “election,” then being touted for February 2019. Now it is reported that honorary unofficial junta spokesman Meechai Ruchupan, touted as head of the Constitutional Drafting Committee, says the Election Commission simply lacks “sufficient time to make preparations” for local elections.

Now we thought that the constitution was well beyond drafting stage, so wonder what Meechai is doing but guess it is watching the drafting of bills resulting from the charter. Even so, we didn’t know he was also directing the EC. But as an Interfering Old Man, he always feels entitled to tells lesser persons what to do.

Meechai revealed that the six draft bills governing local elections haven’t been “scrutinised by the National Legislative Assembly (NLA)…”. He added that “it remains unknown at this stage if the election of district councillors will continue…”. In other words, there may be a period where local government has no councilors at all. We assume this means Article 44 will have to be used by The Dictator to enable local government to continue in the interim period.

That his junta twin Deputy Prime Minister Wissanu Krea-ngam agrees with Meechai confirms that local elections are off for this year.

Another sign of a forthcoming “election” is the promulgation of even more policies to keep voters onside with the junta.

Update: We note that at The Nation, Wissanu is quoted as saying: “If the general election is held in February 2019, local elections will take place around May 2019…”. At the same time, he is also saying that the junta has agreed that political parties (who are not in the junta’s pocket and already at work) will be able to “campaign” for 60 days and he gives a December lifting of the ban. Again, this points to late February, perhaps, maybe.





More on the (non-) Election Commissioners

5 08 2018

A few days ago we posted on the those selected as election commissioners and how we considered them engaging in the selection of a chairman in a process that can be considered either illegal or unconstitutional. We did say that we thought the legalities mattered little under the junta.

In a recent report, it seems that our interpretation gains some weight when it confirms that the five selected election commissioners do not officially hold their positions.

We say this because it is reported that their names have only recently been “submitted for royal endorsement…”.

While these men getting together and selecting one of their number as chairman without having been officially appointed to their posts can’t be considered constitutional except with considerable squirming. Yet that is exactly what the Constitution Drafting Committee chairman Meechai Ruchupan did.





Old farts and their lies

19 06 2018

Old fart is sometimes considered a pejorative term. In this case it certainly is meant that way.

Constitution drafter to several military and fascist regimes Meechai Ruchupan is an old fart. He’s a continual meddler on behalf of the past.

Recently he was forced to deny that the constitution he dutifully prepared the anti-democratic charter for the military dictatorship “was written with a goal of paving the way for a government of ‘national unity’ after the next general election.”

Meechai, chairman of the Constitution Drafting Commission, then lied. Not just fibbed, but lied big time: “He declared that the junta’s constitution … was based on suggestions from public members.”

Nothing could be further from the truth.

Meechai must not be permitted to lie about the junta’s basic law.

The junta’s constitution was drawn up on the military dictatorship’s orders, based on anti-democratic ideology, written by the junta’s puppets and approved by the junta’s puppet National Legislative Assembly.

While the charter was approved in a referendum, this vote was neither free nor fair, with the dictatorship’s thugs preventing any campaign against it or any criticism.

The only major changes made were ordered by King Vajiralongkorn who took the opportunity to grab more power for himself, which the junta granted in secret sessions of the NLA.

Meechai lied again when he claimed it was impossible to scheme on an election outcome: “You can’t plot such a plan that is speculated…”.

That’s buffalo manure. The most basic reason for the2014 military coup was to ensure that pro-Thaksin Shinawatra parties could never win another election. It plotted to do this by changing the electoral rules in ways that seek to ensure such an outcome.

Meechai’s lies were piled one on another as he declared that the junta’s Constitution was written to benefit of the public. The charter was drawn up to benefit the amart, the elite, royalists, anti-democrats and the military.

Meechai’s lies are a part of a process to prevent changes being made to the junta’s constitution should all of the above fail and an anti-junta regime somehow comes to power.





“Election” news

13 06 2018

There’s much in the news about the military junta’s “election” campaigning. Just in the Bangkok Post we found four stories of the junta on the campaign trail.

The first Bangkok Post story reports that instead of dealing with political parties as it said it would, The Dictator’s legal whipping boy Wissanu Krea-ngam – he always the one sent to deal with legal news and bad news – “will meet the Constitution Drafting Committee (CDC) and the Election Commission (EC) Thursday evening to discuss preparations for the general election.”

Screw the parties that are meant to participate in the general election unless, of course, the junta like you and feeds you information.

Wissanu and that other anti-democrat since the 1970s, Meechai Ruchupan, chairman of the Constitution Drafting Committee, seem to be the junta’s finger pointers.

Even so, Meechai “said that an agenda for the talks has not yet been set.” That seems to mean that he and Wissanu have yet been given their orders.

Meechai did say that the Election Commission “will specify the date from when, legally, an election can be held,” but that’s untrue because the process of approving legislation has maximum dates but also elastic periods in it as well.

Meechai dismissed the idea that parties should be able to communicate with the public – voters – saying they should be “sending the information electronically.” The idea of prospective politicians – other than the junta – talking to voters is off limits.

Getting in on the “election” act, National Legislative Assembly president Pornpetch Wichitcholchai said: “Everything will happen next year as set out in the roadmap…”. He was “referring to the premier’s earlier statement regarding a poll next February.”

Even Wissanu doesn’t buy that claim.

The second Bangkok Post story is a bit of a re-run with the Puea Thai Party accusing “people in power” – the junta and its military minions – of “increasing their efforts to lure its politicians into their fold, asking whether this behind-doors approach is the best four years of political reform has to offer.”

The junta’s people have invited “some former Pheu Thai MPs … to meet authoritative figures to talk about switching parties in the lead-up to a general election next year.” As lures and bait, they were offered “positions, budgets and financial help during the election…”.

While some complain that this is “Thai politics is still trapped in the old cycle,” it is exactly what the junta intended by its “reform” efforts.

The junta’s vacuuming up of politicians makes James Dyson look like an amateur.

A third Bangkok Post story is about the junta’s “populist” policies. The junta is reacting to potential negative electoral impacts from rising fuel prices by subsidizing them.For gas, they’ve been doing it for some time already.

When previous “bad” elected governments did this there was considerable criticism, not least from the those campaigning against “populism” at the Thailand Development Research Institute. We await their market-friendly criticism of the junta. We won’t hold out breath.

The Energy Policy Administration Committee “will only be able to subsidise the cap until mid-July, assuming additional resources are not channelled into the fund.” That’s another junta decision to be made. It comes on top of diesel subsidies.

Almost 8 million households and vendors will benefit.That’s a lot of voters being influenced by what was called “policy corruption” when elected governments were involved.

But its not just using state funds but making huge promises almost everywhere The Dictator campaigns.

The last Bangkok Post story involves the money trail through the near north. There, the junta’s “cabinet accepted in principle Tuesday a proposal to construct a double-track railway linking Tak and Nakhon Phanom as part of the transport routes under the East-West Economic Corridor.”

That proposal goes back to the 1980s!

Junta spokesman Lt Gen Sansern Kaewkamnerd “said the proposed 902km railway development” would begin in Mae Sot and go to Nakhon Sawan on the Lao border. Presumably, scenic carriages will be used as the train runs through the mountains around Mae Sot.

No funds have been promised. Maybe in the 2019 budget, when The Dictator is still premier, “election” or not. Feasibility? Economic, environmental and social impacts? No news. It’s just an “election” pitch.

There’s also a “26.8-billion-baht road expansion proposal covering 486km for the same cluster” of towns on the route.

Another pitch was a “a proposal to build an airport in Nakhon Sawan” that would be “considered”even with so-called high-speed railway scheduled to zoom through that city. Even the junta knows this but promised some kind of airport to voters.

We are sure the “election” news will continue to mount as the junta seeks to rig the “election.”





Updated: The Dictator declares victory

23 05 2018

There have been many reports on the rally by hundreds of anti-coup activists that ended yesterday, blocked by hundreds of police.

The report at The Nation interested PPT as it seemed The Dictator declared victory over the protesters.

While the leaders of the rally could not reach their objective of marching to Government House and were arrested, they vowed to fight on.

The Dictator, Gen Prayuth Chan-ocha dismissed the rally. He stated, again, that the poll “would be no sooner than early 2019” but, as usual, provided no specific date.

He declared that the protesters “cannot march, whether they support or oppose us. It breaks the law. They will just cause conflict and upset the economy…”. That’s Prayuth’s mantra, selectively enforced and it is his electoral campaign slogan: the junta means political stability.

As usual, The Dictator deliberately confused junta decrees and human rights, stating that “[e]nforcing the law and breaking up the protest did not violate their human rights…”. He added, “the law is the law,” except that junta law is the law of double standards and selective use.

The junta boss referred to the organic laws for the election. An election can only be held within 150 days of the four laws coming into effect.

On cue, Constitution Drafting Committee Chairman Meechai Ruchupan warned of further delays on the laws, seeming to predict that the Constitutional Court would rule on Wednesday that it violates the 2017 charter. He said: “If the court rules they [the provisional clauses] break the charter, the whole bill will be revoked and we will have to start over and draft a new one…”.

He says that shouldn’t delay an election. He means the one for which there is no stated date. Delaying an unannounced election does indeed seem improbable.

Update: Meechai, while touted as a constitutional ‘expert” was wrong. The Constitutional Court unanimously approved the bill.





Junta election, rules and agenda

25 02 2018

Under pressure the military junta is shedding blame for “election” delays by blaming others, mostly their puppets.

More recently, a different pressure release strategy is to embellish the junta’s “roadmap” by adding processes and conditions for its “election” that are likely to further drag the process out.

The Nation reports that The Dictator has decreed that he “will call a meeting of relevant parties to discuss and decide an appropriate and acceptable date for the next general election.”

Under pressure, he used his weekly national address on television on Friday to say that “after all the four necessary organic laws for the next election were published in the Royal Gazette, his Cabinet would inform the National Council for Peace and Order (NCPO) [the junta] to invite political parties, the Constitution Drafting Commission and the Election Commission to discuss the matter.”

Most of this process is already known. So far the laws have been delayed time and again. But why the junta’s cabinet needs to tell the junta to do anything is bizarre and we aren’t at all sure that it is constitutional. The new bit is calling a meeting, which will again slow the process down.

Gen Prayuth Chan-ocha says:

The election date depends on the readiness and agreement of parties involved. It’s an important national agenda. We may have to commit it as a mutual contract on how we will move the country forward in accordance with the road map….

This sounds like setting conditions – yes, even more conditions – after having set all the conditions that are involved in the junta’s constitution and related laws.

As the Bangkok Post reported, The Dictator said an election delay would be because “there are circumstances such as public disorder, violent conflict, or political divisiveness like in 2014. Political divisiveness is pretty difficult to avoid in a free and fair election the junta’s election will be neither, but divisiveness is more or less guaranteed.

What the junta demands is this:

Political parties, political groups and other concerned entities will be required to make a public commitment on national unity and pushing the country ahead after the election, he said.

“A mutual contract on how we will move the country forward in line with the national roadmap will be required,” he said.

“They [political parties and political groups] have to make a commitment that after the election, we will have a government and the opposition that join hands to move the country forward following the national strategic plan,” he said.

In other words, for an election to take place, the political parties that participate in the junta’s “election” under the junta’s laws and rules must also agree to accept and implement the junta’s political agenda.





Election (and) time and “deadlines”

8 02 2018

The general election will take place after all election-related laws are promulgated. That’s the word from The Dictator. But don’t ask him when that will be. Unbelievably, not least because the laws are all being considered by handpicked junta hacks and cronies, General Prayuth Chan-ocha is now coy on a date. Are we the only ones who think this is a political strategy by the junta to hold onto power for as long as possible.

This non-announcement came as Prayuth campaigned for his junta in Chanthaburi.

The various puppet assemblies are now engaged on such minutiae that it seems that the National Legislative Assembly and the Constitution Drafting Committee are seeking to make decisions about the most insignificant matters.

Delaying tactics and no deadline.

The other deadline, according to the Bangkok Post is for Deputy Dictator General Prawit Wongsuwan “to submit a third statement explaining all the luxury watches spotted on his wrist expires Wednesday…”. A third explanation? Another delaying tactic, this time by the seemingly corrupt National Anti-Corruption Commission.

The NACC is said to have written to Gen Prawit on 24 January “asking him to explain the watches but has so far received no response from the deputy premier.” We thought they had written to him in December when the scandal broke.

The NACC claims it has “interviewed four people reportedly linked to the watches and received good cooperation.” It says it will complete its investigation by the end of the month. That sounds like a deadline.

We can hardly wait.