Promoting royalist conservatism (again)

6 03 2011

Prachatai has a revealing article regarding the land reform proposal by the National Reform Commission and the take on it by National Reform Assembly Chair and dedicated royalist Prawase Wasi. PPT isn’t about to repeat the article, which is worth reading in full, yet we can provide some context for it.

Prawase has explained that giving 5-6 rai (a miserly 0.8-0.96 hectares) to “farmer families for sufficiency agriculture will bring the country out of its crisis.” That’s an enormous claim based on, for PPT, some remarkably dubious, deeply ideological and outdated, ideas, coupled with a fear of conflict seen in the unmentionable red shirt demonstrations and the “massive political demonstrations in Tunisia, Egypt and elsewhere, [which] in essence, stem from economic problems.”

What’s the “current crisis”? Prawese suggests a complex pictures that he simplifies to 4 components: (1) An economic crisis that he identifies as an “overwhelming gap between the rich and the poor. Thailand has tied its macro-economy closely to the global economy which has been extremely volatile; as a result, it has seen repeated crises and foreigners have come to take over banks, hotels, retail businesses, etc. Free trade agreements benefit certain big business groups, but devastate small people.” (2) A social crisis involving a “lack of justice and overwhelming inequalities…” that leads to “social problems” and the “frustration” of the poor that “will burst open.” (3) An environmental crisis that has resulted in deforestation, floods, and droughts. He also refers to the “use of chemicals and pesticides in agriculture and the mining industries poison the land and the environment, and toxins have entered the human body, causing cancer and crippling fetuses.” Finally, there is (4) the political crisis which he blames on the previous three issues.

How is this complicated complex of crises to be rectified. For Prawase, that is simple: give people a small plot of land and they can farm it in a sustainable, non-market, and secure way. Prawase blusters that “His Majesty the King’s Sufficiency Economy will become the world’s new civilization…”. The king saves the world! These royalists really do get hopelessly lost when it comes to spit-polishing the royal image.

The first thing to notice is that  this is not a new account. Well before anyone even thought of using the term “sufficiency economy,” Prawase was making the same points sans the royalism. Look at his chapter in Seri Phongphit and Robert Bennoun’s collection, Turning Point of Thai Farmers, published in 1988, where the same argument is made. It is in a book that includes several studies that examine farmers seeking “self-reliance.” Some of these are now claimed in the literature to have been “sufficiency economy” successes. The book is not readily available now. The only thing that gets close on the Web is here, by Kevin Hewison, and it includes a critique of Prawase back then. Not much seems to have changed. [Related, see Hewison’s comments on sufficiency economy at New Mandala.]

Prawase harps on these things because he believes a “plot of land will give people security in their lives and the economy” and leaves them outside the market system. Prawase believes that “subsistence agriculture does not take much time, 1-2 hours a day.” PPT knows plenty of farmers who know that Prawase is displaying his ignorance of farming. But that doesn’t matter much because this argument is as much for the soft hands of the city as for farmers.

With a tiny subsistence plot, “each farming family can have a small reservoir to provide a year-round water supply for aquaculture, vegetables, fruits and poultry to meet their own needs in the practice of subsistence or sufficiency agriculture…” and can find “a balanced and sufficient way of life.” He provides examples drawn straight from the royal web page on sufficiency economy.

As an aside, he believes that this will reduce crime because having a plot means not having to “commit suicide or crime.” They will not have debt and they will live happily ever after.

This is a fairy tale and it is based on a profound misunderstanding of farming and farming families. It is also classic conservatism. More worryingly, it suggests a lack of understanding of the nature of Thai society in the present. Hence the solution is to promote a backward-looking policy essentially invented in 1997 to support hyper-nationalism and prevent expected social unrest from the economic crisis of the time. Keeping people on the farm or encouraging or forcing them back to tiny farms is now seen as a political solution for multiple crises [be aware, this is a big download].

What of the rich, including royal plutocrats? What of Sino-Thai business tycoons? Where is the land to come from? What of all those foreign-invested companies? What of those who have lost their farming skills? What of those who prefer a modern existence rather than farming?

This is good royalist talk that aims more to bring back alliances rather than solve any problems. Prawase is mouthing the same ideas that the king and his supporters used in 1997 to “save the country” – read save domestic capitalists – by avoiding social upheaval. These ides pulled at the heartstrings of so many NGOs, intellectuals and their ilk that they all piled on the royalist caravan that led to PAD, military coup and the current crisis. Will it work again? Will it keep the royalist elite in power a little longer?





Loyalty or blindness?

5 12 2010

What the regime expects (art by Aung Myint at http://yavuzfineart.com/past_exhibitions/citizen_of_the_world.html)

It is that day again. The day when all of the significant powers in Thailand call for undivided loyalty. Loyalty to the nation and loyalty to the king as the symbol of the nation, where “nation” and “loyalty” are defined by a blind adherence to hagiography and blindness to the combined repressive power of the palace, big business and the military.

This time the call for loyalty comes when the monarchy and its civilian-military state faces a greater skepticism than has existed for decades. The propaganda has again been exposed and the capacity for the ruling class to use violence to maintain its rule (again and again) has been clearly demonstrated.

Prime Minister Abhisit Vejjajiva called “on Thai people to show loyalty to His Majesty the King on the occasion of His Majesty’s 83rd birthday on Sunday,” according to the Bangkok Post. Abhisit apparently stated in his weekly broadcast that “people should adhere to the King’s sufficiency economy philosophy.”What has happened with that corrupt Office for Sufficiency Economy Community Projects (see here also) that Abhisit promoted for a moment? Abhisit has genuflected to sufficiency economy previously.

He then reportedly said: “Many of His Majesty the King’s royally initiated projects have benefitted the people of the country…. Many of the projects have solved social and economic problems…”. Did he choose his words carefully enough? Has he been translated correctly? We guess Abhisit must have meant “all projects” because to say “many” means that some have not benefited the people and not solved problems. That might be a correct assessment (perhaps even “many” have failed), but blind loyalty would suggest that Abhisit must have meant “all.”

The king made a speech that will now be sifted for meaning/s. In fact, as reported in the Bangkok Post, it seems to stress duty, loyalty and national unity, which has been one of his themes for decades.

The Nation has this from the king: “Our country has been prospering and peaceful for a long time because we adhere to our nation and we join hands to perform our duty by giving the utmost priority to public interests.” PPT imagines that he’s ignoring the past decade…. He’s made the same point plenty of times in the past. He is reported to have added: “All of you who are gathering here and all Thais from all sectors should seek clear understanding of your duty and perform your duty to the best with caution and awareness…. Being careless and imprudent can lead to mistakes and damages in one’s responsibility. When one becomes senseless and unreasonable, one can become forgetful and afraid and can abuse his or her authority. This is very dangerous. This kind of practice can lead to downfall to oneself and the country…. As a result, I would like to ask all of you to be prudent and keep your determination to perform your duty in line with your reasons for the sake of peace and security and sustainable happiness of our people…”. There will be interpretations of this that the military will find comforting.

A Suan Dusit Poll reported that, as must be expected, “Thais were impressed with HM the King’s work – particularly his visits to rural areas (41 per cent), his water-management, irrigation for agriculture, royal rain-making, the water-retaining ‘monkey cheeks’ project (22 per cent), and projects to rehabilitate natural resources, reforestation, mangrove forest conservation projects (20 per cent). On his birthday, the wish most expressed for the King was for a long life (43.5 per cent), followed by wishes for his good health and a speedy recovery (35 per cent) and for him being Thais’ ‘beloved forever’ (sic) (12 per cent).  Some 34 per cent of respondents said they were inspired to live their lives by the King’s work for his subjects, while his love and concern for his subjects also won support (25 per cent), as did his self-sufficiency economy philosophy (23 per cent), it said.”

We wonder what else would be expected in a “poll” when it is required by law (such as the lese majeste law) and by brutal force that Thais be loyal and say nothing critical of the monarch.

PPT is confident that this royal birthday has been one of the most muted for years as people reflect on the monarchy false steps and fall in recent years, the succession issue and alternatives to the current royalist regime and blind royalism.

More commentary will follow shortly.





Abhisit and the royalists

10 02 2010

In a Bangkok Post (10 February 2010) report on the long-known corruption in the police promotions round, mention is made of Prime Minister Abhisit Vejjajiva appointing an investigation panel to “investigate alleged irregularities in the promotion of senior officers in police regions 1 and 2.Abhisit seems to now take the view that when there’s a political problem, appoint a well-known royalist. So he’s appointed the palace-connected Police General Vasit Dejkunjorn.

PPT has mentioned Vasit before, in one of our most popular posts, A country for old men, we outlined Vasit’s position as a long-time palace favorite who was once the Chief of the Royal Court Police for the Thai royal family. When the military-backed government wanted to root out Thaksinites in the police, they called in this anti-Thaksin Shinawatra policeman. The Democrat Party in Bangkok also slotted this Cold War anti-communist with extremist right-wing views into a job.

Abhisit appointed another palace acolyte in Mechai Viravaidya to look after all the corruption troubles at the Office for Sufficiency Economy Community Projects. His PR skills and palace connections seem to have moved this corruption of the political stage.

What is Vasit expected to do? PPT would guess that he is meant to make a show of corruption while rooting out more alleged Thaksinites. PPT isn’t saying there isn’t corruption in the police – they are the most vile and corrupt agency of the Thai government – but when Vasit is brought in, there is a political task involved.





Sufficiency economy projects and corruption

20 01 2010

Update: The Bangkok Post (20 January 2010) reports that the first investigation into Thai khem kaeng (Strengthening Thailand) projects are just beginning in the Ministry of Education. At the moment it is an internal inquiry. This inquiry is worth following, although the external pressure is not as significant as in the Ministry of Public Health case.

The Post also calls for Prime Minister Abhisit Vejjajiva to be more open and transparent. It calls for him to release reports on the Ministry of Public Health and Thai Airways scandals. It says: “For a government that occasionally pledges openness and accountability, the actions of Prime Minister Abhisit Vejjajiva and his subordinates in two recent cases must raise eyebrows.” Importantly, it is added: “Abhisit should order their public release, and should also make members of the Banlu commission and the airline’s investigating committee available for close media questioning. These are rapidly becoming cases where justice may seem to have been done. But without full access to the reports Mr Abhisit used as the basis for punishment, no one can know if justice is actually being done.” An excellent point.

*** Original post is below ***

As regular PPT readers will know, we have repeatedly posted regarding the accusations of corruption within the Office for Sufficiency Economy Community Projects since 8 August 2009. We followed up on that first report with more detail on 19 August 2009, and continued to post after that, especially as the projects disappeared from the news. That disappearing act followed the appointment of well-known royalist MechaiViravaidya to take charge of the Office .

In these sufficiency economy scandal, Deputy Prime Minister for Economic Affairs Korbsak Sabhavasu resigned his role as chair of the Office and his brother, who was deputy head of the Office resigned, but there was no accounting of the corruption that was exposed. It was announced in October that Korbsak would step down as Deputy PM to become Abhisit Vejjajiva’s secretary-general. That only happened this week. No better than a slap on the wrist for an incompetent and allegedly corrupt minister.

Now Mechai has finally made comments that have been reported (The Nation, 19 January 2010).

Mechai is reported as saying that he will “reveal guidelines on fund allocation to district chiefs nationwide. He said these guidelines should minimise corruption because provisions have been made for those involved in graft to face criminal charges.” Interesting comment for it appears to admit corruption (but see below) and, second, seems to say that there were no measures for criminal charges previously. Is that serious? There are umpteen opportunities to bring civil charges and to seek anti-corruption agency investigation.

More interestingly, though, Mechai dismissed the earlier reports of corruption as a public relations problem: “Mechai attributed the negative news to poor public relations and lack of public understanding and participation.

Mechai plans to change this by having “anybody above the age of 15 … [being able to] voice their opinion. This is the first time that the country’s youth, numbering about 5 million, will offer opinions on how the Bt18.6-billion government budget should be allocated…” says Mechai. He also plans a “nationwide referendum for most-needed projects”. In addition, referendum “participants will be encouraged to point to all traces of corruption. At the same time, Mechai has decided that the budget will be used to first help the poor and the underprivileged, not purchase equipment.Mechai added that: “Different opinions are welcome, and a second round of the referendum is possible.

Mechai is a PR specialist. Is PR sufficient? Nationwide referenda will trump local needs assessments? Is this really the way to deal with this particular example of corruption? Thai Crisis also comments here.





Following up on corruption

6 01 2010

A reader has suggested that we follow these stories on corruption and the Abhisit Vejjajiva government and tha capacity for corruption allegations to destabilize the coalition, especially as the Deputy Health Minister holds out on resignation over the Thai Khemkaeng projects. Our reader suggests beginning with this interesting editorial in The Nation
http://www.nationmultimedia.com/2010/01/02/opinion/opinion_30119583.php

He them suggests looking at General Pathomphong Kasornsuk’s letter to Prime Minister Abhisit Vejjajiva to urge him to set up a committee to investigate the army’s procurement scheme for GT200 bomb detectors, and the surveillance airship being used in the South:
http://www.thailandoutlook.tv/tan/ViewData.aspx?DataID=1023045

Then see this claim by a contractor for the Thai Khemkaeng stimulus package of 20 % kickbacks to politicians in return for the Transport Ministry’s construction projects:
http://www.nationmultimedia.com/2009/12/30/business/business_30119468.php

Interesting how many of these reports are surfacing. It seems that the only corruption now “missing” from the growing list relates to the Office for Sufficiency Economy Community Projects. It is also interesting that many of these allegations are initially being raised through the Peua Thai Party.






Corruption admitted

29 12 2009

PPT has to give credit where it is due. The Minister of Health has announced that he will resign over a report on corruption in the Thai khemkaeng projects associated with his ministry (The Nation, 29 December, 2009, Public health minister resigns”). Less than 2 weeks ago PPT expressed concerns that these investigations were going nowhere, despite our first post on the topic that concluded: “It seems unlikely that this case – with complaints from groups that should be Democrat Party allies – will be able to be kept quiet and out of the headlines, unlike the earlier case of corruption and nepotism in the Office for Sufficiency Economy Community Projects. That case seems to have all but disappeared now that it is run by palace cronies.

Witthaya Kaewparadai “ announced his intention to quit as a show of responsibility for lapse of duty in supervising the … project.” The report that prompted his resignation statement is also reported in The Nation (29 December 2009: “‘Guilty’ of negligence”).

The investigation panel recommended “disciplinary action over purchase orders for overpriced medical equipment and supplies” in the ministry. In addition, several other political appointees and officials were named, accused of negligence.

The panel’s report made it clear that evidence and testimony showed a high probability that politicians and senior officials had been involved in unusual procurement of medical equipment under the Bt86-billion Thai Khemkhaeng stimulus package.” This included “budget allocations for hospital construction [that] were skewed in favour of some politicians’ selected constituencies…” and “procurement plans [that] were unnecessary...”.

There was evidence of direct intervention by Deputy Minister Manit Nop-amornbodiand who was also “incriminated in an agreement to purchase overpriced ambulances.” The latter case also involved the minister’s secretary.

The government must now send the case on to the National Anti-Corruption Commission. At the same time, the Democrat Party-led government needs to ensure that the other allegations of corruption in the Ministry of Education and Office for Sufficiency Economy Community Projects get proper attention. PPT expects that these cases will be used by the Peua Thai Party in their censuring of the government.






A different kind of body armor

12 12 2009

Also available as: เด็กอ๊อกซฟอร์ดก็กลัวตายเหมือนกัน

Not that long ago PPT pointed to a story alleging that Prime Minister Abhisit Vejjajiva was wearing light body armor when engaged in public duties. He later denied the claim. The Nation now claims that Abhisit has a different kind of protection (13 December 2009: “PM protected by amulet shield”).

The Nation reports that Abhisit’s protective amulet collection is growing. When Abhisit rebutted claims that he was wearing armor, he “unbuttoned his shirt to show journalists 10 amulets around his neck.” It adds that “Abhisit reportedly had been given several outstanding examples, so his collection could be worth an eight-digit figure.”

Democrat MP Thana Cheeravinij claims that as “Abhisit was Western-schooled so he was not into Thai amulets.” When he got the premiership courtesy of the judiciary, palace, military and PAD, he apparently “had none of the highly-regarded Benjapakhi amulets, but only the ‘Luangpor Thuad M16’ anointed at Pattani’s Sai Khao Temple in 1991, which was the only one that could impress [amulet] enthusiasts…”.

Now he has several other, apparently “lent” to him. These “include the Jatukham Ramathep amulet’s Lakmuang 1 edition anointed in 1987, which Democrat MP Thepthai Senpong lent to Abhisit, and the Luangputhuad Wat Changhai clay amulet anointed in 1954.” The Jatukham Ramathep is worth about a million baht and the latter up to 5 million baht.

The Luangpor Thuad M16 that the premier previously owned is “believed to bestow on the wearer the outstanding feature of immortality.” It gained its M16 moniker “because of a story in which the amulet wearer was shot at with a M16 assault rifle until all of his shirt was torn but the bullets could not penetrate his skin.” These amulets are mass-made and so of low value.

Amulets are said to have been offered by villagers “as a gift to Abhisit on several occasions.” In January, Abhisit visited the Tha Chin riverside community in Nakhon Chaisri and was “presented him a Luangpu Boon amulet and a Luangpu Pherm (First Edition) amulet from Klang Bang Kaew Temple, both worth over Bt100,000, to show moral support.” Later, in March, he was given another amulet, said to be the Luangputhuad clay amulet to “protect him from all harm and let him serve as the prime minister for a long time.” Later still, in November, tattoo master Noo Kanphai met Abhisit at Government House, and the “master … gave the premier … and his bodyguards a medallion inscribed with five lines of sacred Thai scripture and a Luangputhuad clay amulet.”

Is this a case of protection that might actually harm the premier? Abhisit had better hope that the judicial inspectors don’t get onto these amulets as gifts to the premier, which could constitute corruption. But he’s a Democrat, so the chances would seem slim. And the claim is that these are “lent” to him.

The Democrat Party-led government has continued to sweep corruption allegations under the carpet, mainly because the media are in it pocket. This of the sufficiency economy projects, the Ministry of Public Health, Ministry of Education and other cases and allegations, and all of them seem to have fallen into the great void of nothingness that is the government’s effort to root out corruption. If any reader ever sees anything on these cases, let us know.





Forgotten promises and commitments

8 11 2009

With the Abhisit Vejjajiva government adding overt nationalism to its  royalism, the military-palace government now enters an extremely dangerous phase of its decline into authoritarianism. Governments in the past that have mixed these ingredients have generally been the most absolute and most repressive.

This mix of shibboleths allows governments to cover a multitude of traits that would usually, in a freer environment, be the subject of vehement criticism. This is not to say that there’s no criticism of the Abhisit government in Thailand; it’s just that it’s becoming more difficult to find brave mainstream critics.

At the same time, the reliance on rabid nationalism, conservative royalism and ever more blatant repression allows the Democrat Party-led government to “forget” commitments it made in several areas. PPT lists some of these here, and we are sure we will be forgetting some:

  • liberalism and democracy – remember when Abhisit masqueraded as a liberal democrat? Wasn’t it the Democrat Party and this premier who kept saying that democracy was more than election victories? Didn’t they promise to be better at a truly liberal democracy than the elected governments associated with Thaksin Shinawatra?
  • reconciliation – that was the catch-cry when the Democrat Party was maneuvered into government with Newin Chidchob’s coterie by the palace and military. It’s gone now and all about rooting out “traitors.”
  • solving the Sondhi Limthongkul assassination bid. That was said to be a sure thing by the end of September…. PPT wonders if anyone cares too much now as the Democrat Party and PAD seem to be thrown back into comfortable alliance.
  • working out a relationship with webmasters that prevented “misunderstandings” on computer “crimes” and lese majeste. Abhisit made the statement several times that he was the first prime minister to meet and discuss with webmasters. Now the Democrat Party-led government seems intent on on shutting down rather than “communicating.”
  • solving the murder of Somchai Neelaphaijit. That idea seems lost now.
  • less corruption – the corruption stories from the Office for Sufficiency Economy Community Projects, Ministry of Public Health and Ministry of Education all seem to have gone quiet.
  • amending the military’s 2007 constitution – a dead issue?
  • there was a time when Abhisit said that some analysis of the monarchy was acceptable; that is now long forgotten, with any excuse used to invoke lese majeste against the government’s opponents and all those identified as “traitors.”
  • the lese majeste case against Chotisak Onsoog had been dropped or resolved – the case continues.
  • Abhisit claimed that all of the people charged will be “treated fairly” and “given due process” – patently absurd, with Darunee Charnchoensilpakul having been tried in a closed court.
  • and then there was the desire to protect the monarchy and depoliticize it in public discourse  – ironically, this is probably the government’s most notable failure, with the monarchy now central to political debate and damaged by the government’s own political use of the monarchy.

PPT will stop here, but welcomes reader additions, emailed to us.





Abhisit blames officials for corruption

18 10 2009

In the Bangkok Post (19 October 2009: “PM promises headhunt for bent officials”) Prime Minister Abhisit Vejjajiva has stated that corruption in the Thai khemkaeng (Strengthening Thailand) stimulus scheme will be rooted out. He says that the “heads of any government agencies linked to corruption” will be held responsible.

With “procurement contracts … signed and the budget … disburse[d]” the premier is fretting about the Public Health Ministry’s 86 billion baht purchase of medical supplies and the stain this is leaving as corruption appears to have been rampant. But the “prime minister gave assurances that efforts to tackle corruption have always been a government priority.” He says that his Democrat Party-led government is “serious about fighting corruption.”

Why should anyone believe him?

He has been slow in responding to each major allegation and is very reticent to even acknowledge claims regarding the Education ministry. Abhisit seems to have covered up the corruption in the Office for Sufficiency Economy Community Projects. There a Democrat minister was running the show. At the MOPH there is also a Democrat minister. They haven’t suffered and Abhisit wants to blame officials rather than his own ministers. The MOPH investigations have been tainted by the appointment of pro-Democrat Party investigators.

Investigating corruption while protecting Democrat Party ministers is hardly likely to build confidence. Blaming officials while sparing ministers is simply partisan. As we have said for several weeks now, in the end, this is political dynamite set to be ignited.





Is Abhisit serious?

11 10 2009

When PPT posted this story, we were giving attention to corruption allegations. The headline was “Is Abhisit serious about graft?” In this updated post, we extend this story to include the premier’s comments on constitutional amendment and have changed the headline to the simpler “Is Abhisit serious?”

Corruption allegations: Prime Minister Abhisit Vejjajiva always knew that the graft allegations about the the Ministry of Public Health’s procurements as part of the “Strengthening Thailand” (“Thai Khemkaeng”) stimulus spending was going to be tougher to deal with than those regarding the Office for Sufficiency Economy Community projects. As PPT has pointed out, the MOPH allegations came from the Rural Doctors Society, a group that has considerable respect. It might even be seen as a Democrat Party ally.

He has also realized, more than 3 weeks after the allegations were made, that the fallout from these allegations of corruption in the 86 billion baht project in a ministry headed by a Democratic Party minister is potentially very damaging. This probably explains why the premier has come out to explain that his government is serious about the graft claims (Bangkok Post, 12 October 2009: “Graft inquiry shows we’re serious – PM”)

Attempting to turn a negative into a positive, Abhisit lamely says that the government’s investigations of “alleged irregularities under the economic stimulus package at the Public Health Ministry would show how determined the government is in fighting corruption…”. He added: “I want to prove to the people that my government is determined to make state projects corruption-free…”.

Meanwhile, MOPH minister Witthaya Kaewparadai has vowed to “push ahead with the scheme.”

PPT would find Abhisit’s claims more convincing if he’d adopted a similar attitude to the corruption and nepotism in the Office for Sufficiency Economy Community projects. He seems to have buried that investigation. We wonder, too, if the allegations regarding similar issues in the Ministry of Education will be investigated? If he is to be taken seriously, Abhisit needs to show that he is prepared to deal with all difficult allegations.

Constitutional amendment: Prime Minister Abhisit has been conducting an odd campaign on constitutional amendment, appearing to be for it but engaging in considerable foot-dragging. The Bangkok Post (12 October 2009: “PM goes cool on charter change”) follows up on earlier reports that the PM was backing away from amendment. Now Abhisit is reported to have said that amendment may be unnecessary.

This is no surprise. PPT does not consider Abhsit to have ever been serious about meaningful change to the military’s 2007 constitution. There are several reasons for skepticism.

First, in the Bangkok Post of 16 August 2007, before it went to a referendum, Abhisit stated that his party accepted the new constitution. He is reported to have said that the draft was acceptable: “because it wanted the country to move ahead. Accepting the draft constitution would given some sense of political stability with a timeframe set out for issuing organic laws, he said. The party could not predict which constitution would be picked if the draft was rejected. Mr Abhisit said the draft and the 1997 constitution did not differ much from each other as both emphasised people’s rights and freedoms, and checks and balance mechanisms. They did differ regarding the origins of cabinet members and MPs. However, the draft was not as flawed as some people feared.”

Second, Abhisit has been lukewarm on the proposed amendments all along, seeking ways to delay an election for as long as possible. Even if the opposition agreed and amendments were accepted, the process of change was likely to take 9 months.

When opposition emerged, he immediately returned to his 2007 position, stating that the 2007 constitution is satisfactory. His reason: if enough parties disagree with the changes, leave it alone. He said: “If the PAD (People’s Alliance for Democracy) and the opposition disagree with it, why should it continue?” He’s known that PAD were opposed from the beginning.

He also said that ” the 1997 charter was problematic, leading to the enactment of the 2007 charter.” Yes, forget all that military coup stuff and the fact that the military and its friends in the palace wrote a new version.

Abhisit is not serious about constitutional change.








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