We have power, you lose again and again

3 04 2016

The junta can do anything it wants. It is lawless.

It can suddenly decide on a “second” referendum question. Not satisfied with the draft charter and the power it allocates to the military, the junta has decided that it won’t ask just, Do you support our charter, Yes/No, but will add this one: Should senators jointly vote with MPs in choosing a prime minister, Yes/No.

One of the junta’s paid servants claimed this would allow “Senators can help screen out not-so-good or not-so-intelligent persons. At the same time, they can help support a good prime minister who in the past was usually not elected or toppled by street protests so he can steer reform and national strategy without the need to take to the streets, which may eventually lead to a coup…”.

What he means, translated out of juntaspeak is: “Senators selected by the military and other members of the elite are more intelligent than anybody who might have the people’s support. On this basis, the senate can reject the people’s voice and select an unelected premier, probably from the military brass or even the junta, who can run the country so that elections don’t matter and are just a performance so the rest of the world can be fooled by a fascist regime.”

The junta can do anything it wants. It is lawless.

It can ban all discussion of the charter so that no one can hear about it. Book Re:public, a Chiang Mai bookstore and cafe organized a seminar, “Reading Constitution as Literature and Art.” The 33rd Military Circle promptly banned it. They did this in between collecting thousands of red bowls.

The junta can do anything it wants. It is lawless.

It can exempt coal-fired power stations from public scrutiny and from environmental laws. All 29 coal-fired power plants are now free of city planning laws so they can pollute at will and, more importantly for the generals’ wallets, plants in Songkhla and Krabi provinces can go ahead despite considerable local opposition.

Sunai Phasuk , senior Thai researcher at Human Rights Watch, has joined with us in declaring the military regime rogue. Well, they are our words, not his. He said the military junta has passed the point where its promised Aug 7 referendum on the draft charter can be considered free and fair. He is quoted: “There’s no element to ensure a democratic and open space for a meaningful referendum. Every action of the junta indicates that the military wants this to be a one-sided [plebiscite] to encourage an approval [of the draft charter].

The charter is a military invention. It is a device to embed authoritarianism and plutocracy. The referendum for the junta’s charter is illegitimate. Thailand’s military state is a rogue state.

Fear the people II

22 11 2014

Fear of the people within Thailand’s military dictatorship extends to a fear of allowing the people to express their political preferences, whether through peaceful protest or via the ballot box.

Khaosod reports that The Dictator, General Prayuth Chan-ocha, has “dismissed call[s] for democracy from student activists who were arrested for protesting against his iron-first regime.”

The Dictator who has had hundreds of people locked up for various periods, commanded troops that murdered protesters in 2010, and who uses the lese majeste law to suppress and repress those he sees as opponents, reportedly stated: “I am not an enemy of anyone, but I’d like to ask all of you not to obstruct my works. I am willing to listen to all opinions. The students may send me what they have in mind…”.

The students hardly need to do this. They were crystal clear: they do not want the coup, The Dictator or his repression.

Prayuth knows this and he too is clear: “But don’t ask me for democracy. Don’t ask me for an election.”

The Dictator said that democracy is a pipe dream: “I may not be hundred per cent democracy, but I want to ask you, what can the country possibly has to gain from a hundred per cent democracy? Go and find me the answer.”

Sure, democracy can have problems and can be captured, but it does have some undeniable pluses. These might include: A say in who rules. The capacity and right to organize. The right to think and express opinions freely. A chance to change a government. Readers will think of many more.

Prayuth didn’t notice the idea of a free media when he stated:

The media has to assist me…. The media has two duties. One is to explain the situation and create understanding with the people, with some critical reporting and criticism. But you also have the duty to support the missions of this government. If you keep saying, that thing is [protesting] this thing, we won’t get anywhere. All the good things that I have done would have been in vain.

When a reporter asked The Dictator “if the media is still permitted to criticise his flaws,” seemed unable to comprehend that he had ever doe anything wrong.

Democracy, for all its potential and actual flaws, is really far superior to rule by a self-important dolt and murderous thug who controls guns and has the support of plutocrats and royalists.

Updated: Defying Thaksin

23 04 2012

The Bangkok Post has a really very interesting story on Thaksin Shinawatra in the region, even if it is, as often it is in the Post, from a “the source,” meaning an anonymous source.

The report says that the exiled former prime minister has appealed to several groups on “his side” of politics to “forgive and forget” all of the nasty things that have happened since the 2006 military coup. Such “reconciliation” might well serve Thaksin’s personal-cum-political interests, like trying to get his hands back on some of his confiscated lucre.

PAD's Double standard slippers

Thaksin has never been very adept at separating his own interests from those of the state and government, and this has long been his political Achilles heel. It seems he never learns on this score.

According to the Post, “tried unsuccessfully to ask relatives of the red shirts who were killed by government forces in 2010 to forgive for the sake of reconciliation.”

Good for them! Apparently, some of the relatives of those killed “at the Ratchaprasong intersection on May 19, 2010 could not accept what Thaksin asked, particularly for them to forgive those responsible for the death of 92 people.” Nor should they have to just to serve Thaksin’s personal/political interests or those of the elite who had them killed.

The report goes on to say that:

Thaksin also lobbied former classmates of Class 10 of the Armed Forces Academies Preparatory School to forget what happened to them after the Sept 19, 2006 coup, but also to no avail, a Class 10 member and one of Thaksin’s friends said.

Good for them!

Thaksin is said to have made:

his plea to UDD core members, relatives of the red shirts who lost their lives in political protests and his Class 10 colleagues who went to see him during Songkran in Laos, Cambodia and Singapore.

Apparently, “Thaksin wanted them to forget what happened and forgive all concerned, turn towards reconciliation and start anew.”

“The source” is said to have claimed:

Even though I am a friend of Thaksin, I and many other friends who fought together are of the opinion Thaksin was not right to have told them to forgive those who ordered the killing of their relatives. There must be people held responsible and punished. They can’t go unpunished after killing the people….

The source said that the relatives of the dead and former Class 10 officers, some of whom remain in “inactive posts,” claim they want “remedial action.”

UDD's Abhisit and Suthep slippers

Maybe such defiance will be a salutary lesson for Thaksin on Thailand’s new political mood.

Reconciliation is all fine and good, but the significant political change that Thaksin (probably unwittingly) unleashed through his election wins and “populist” politics has lessons that he has to learn just as much as those who occupy the rarefied heights of the royalist elite.

As Thaksin “reconciles” with that elite, whether as political tactic or through personal greed, he will be face defiance that, like other in the elite, will seem unfathomable. Undoubtedly Thailand’s politics has changed, but the plutocracy still wants to control.

Update: Readers will be interested in Nick Nostitz’s account of his journey to Cambodia with red shirts. It is at New Mandala, with some excellent pictures. The relevant parts of that report relate to: lese majeste, where Thaksin indicates a poor understanding of the issue; amnesty, where Thaksin seems vague and self-interested; and reconciliation where he seems self-interested and opposed by red shirts.

%d bloggers like this: