Each grovel is a democratic setback

20 10 2018

The various UN agencies have been a happy hunting ground for palace officials and royalist toadies who seek honor after honor to be conferred on royals. One example was the great sucking sound attached to the launch of the UNDP’s report on sufficiency economy under the previous post-coup government. And the UN award invented for the previous king.

Each grovel by the UN before the world’s wealthy monarchs is a setback for democracy because it lauds feudal ridiculousness.

The latest report of groveling involves UNICEF. It is revealed that Princess Sirindhorn “has been honoured with a life-time achievement award … in recognition of her relentless efforts to improve the quality of life of children in Thailand.” UNICEF executive director Henrietta Fore declared that the princess had made “significant contributions and unwavering commitment to improving the lives of children in Thailand…”.

An AP Photo

We scratched our collective head on this and decided to determine what she is said to have done for kids.

So, we looked at a UNICEF report.

It says Fore gushed that Sirindhorn got the prize most especially for “her advocacy and Royal Patronage projects on issues such as combatting iodine deficiency, promoting good nutrition for disadvantaged children, promoting literacy and education activities and her focus on marginalized groups living in remote areas…”.

Well, she may have patronized such things, but the ideas, work and outcomes have almost nothing to do with this royal.

Sitting atop stuff in Thailand is the way the feudal system of patronage is. So UNICEF is rewarding feudal patronage.

There are a bunch of dedicated medicos who worked on IDD from a time the princess was a coddled baby. The same is true for nutrition. They should be rewarded, not a feudal figurehead. We could go through the whole list of “human development, including nutrition, health and hygiene, education, water resource development and agriculture” and point to scores of deserving people and not one of them is a pampered princess.

The 1983 “projects to improve access to and quality of education for children in the remote areas and marginalized communities” was essentially counterinsurgency and run by the murderous police and military.

Her Royal Highness has also led an Iodine Deficiency Disorder Control Project since 1990. Combined with significant efforts by UNICEF around systematic salt iodization by salt producing companies in Thailand, Iodine Deficiency Disorder rate in primary school children has continuously been under 5 per cent.

UNICEF should know better, but its people in Bangkok are dedicated and servile royalists.





Suthep’s big lie

4 06 2018

We at PPT are bemused by some of the media commentary regarding Suthep Thaugsuban’s political resurrection over the past few days.

Our bemusement is regarding the fact that some commentators expected the Democrat Party’s former bagman and godfather to keep his word when he said he was finished with politics.

Suthep and friends

Few of Thailand’s politicians make promises and keep them. That’s one reason why Thaksin Shinawatra remains so popular – he made campaign promises to the electorate and pretty much kept them. He may have been sneaky and shady too, but he kept the big promises. Or at least the ones the electorate appreciated.

But renege on his promise he did. From never being involved in politics again, he’s back in thick of it.

His excuse for his return in lamentable. He says he has to defend the junta’s constitution. He added that his party – that’s the Action Coalition for Thailand – “will protect the 2017 constitution – arguing support for the charter was reflected when it cruised through the referendum…”. As an anti-democrat it must be remembered that he is content with the unfair and unfree referendum where the junta allowed only one outcome.

He also bellowed: “There will be no pardon for any political prisoners…”. We are not sure if it is the reporting or its his words, but Suthep is acknowledging that the junta has jails full of political prisoners. After all, it is only those arrested and charged sin mid-2014 that are the subject of any proposal for “pardons.”

In his old kit as “a recruiter and fund-raiser for the ACT” – something he did for the Democrat Party using all kinds of dark influences – he declared that he couldn’t just do that: “when brothers and sisters who share the same ideology approached me and told me they were establishing a people’s political party, I had to join…”. He went on with populist rhetoric: “I will not run for the election [we can check on that one later!]. I volunteer to be a slave for the people and serve the people. I will use my 40 years of experience in politics to push and accomplish the establishment of the people’s party.”

It is a minority party, with its organizers who sit in Suthep’s shadow hoping for just 30 seats.

Explaining his big lie, Suthep explained that he was a “good” person, so his lies don’t count. He then added more populist blarney.

Party jumper Anek Laothamatas, who also can’t be trusted on anything political as his spots change daily, said ACT would be “governed by religious ethics and truly owned by the people, is a coalition of citizens that respects and aims to safeguard the monarchy.”

It sounds a bit like Tea Party Thailand, and that’s dangerous stuff, not least for keeping the monarchy at the top of a political agenda. Explanation: using the monarchy for political purposes is okay for “good” people, including former Communists.

In case anyone wasn’t quite convinced of CPT-cum-Democrat-cum-Mahachon-cum-Puea Thai-cum-ACT Anek’s royalism, he added that ACT would be “reducing inequality using the late King Bhumibol Adulyadej’s approach to development…”. We assume that’s the sufficiency economy nonsense.

We understand that Anek has now resigned from the junta’s puppet work and the handsome salary he received there. We guess that ACT moneybags like Suthep and others who supported Suthep in the past, like the Rangsit University proprietor, will stump up the funds for Anek’s services as figurehead leader of ACT.

While ACT wants to “reform in police and justice system by ensuring that the institutions involved will not become tools of politics,” he very pointedly accepts the military’s murderous political role. We can’t recall the last time the police led a coup in Thailand.

Of course, ACT is likely to want to support The Dictator as premier after the junta’s election.





Royalist propaganda for the new reign

23 12 2017

Royal and royalist propaganda has not decreased with the new reign. Indeed, there has been a dogged determination to make the new reign look a bit like the old reign,

One of the reasons for this is that the military dictators view royal myths and propaganda as the keystone of the conservative political order.

The Nation reports reports on a new and permanent exhibition at Museum Siam that claims to display “the evolution of Thai culture” but which is little more than royalist propaganda.

The exhibition is claimed to explore “diverse aspects of Thainess” but there’s little “diversity” in the underlying codes of royalist determinations of “Thainess.” It does this “through 14 rooms spread across two floors.”

While the exhibitions play with notions of “Thainess,” there is nothing but standard and approved views of monarchy. One curator is quoted:

It is believed that the King has divine status and the architecture related to the monarchy is traditionally fashioned around this belief. To Thais, the King is the heart and soul of the nation….

So all of the playing with “Thainess” is okay when it is popular culture but not when it comes to the keystone of official “Thainess.”

The “Thailand’s Three Pillars” room has official “Thainess” in its invented traditionalism:

The core concepts of Thailand’s three deeply rooted institutions, nation, religion and monarchy, which collectively reflect the expression of Thainess, are featured in the “Thailand’s Three Pillars” room.

Using trendy gimmickry visitors are “invited” to accept this royalist traditionalism in a periodization straight out of school textbooks hammered into reigns.

In all of this standardization of “Thainess,” the 1997 economic crisis is highlighted as leading “many Thais to recognise the wisdom of the ‘sufficiency economy’ espoused by … King Bhumibol Adulyadej…”.

Royalism is “hipsterized” and made “normal” and “standard.” No alternatives views allowed. That’s royalist propaganda for a new reign.





Sufficiency economy and refugee repatriation

30 03 2017

We missed this gem of a story a few days ago and thought it still worth a comment.

The military regime is seeking to send almost 70,000 refugees displaced by fighting in Myanmar back home. “Voluntarily” is the term used, which is a change from past efforts.

Third Army chief Lt Gen Vijak Siribansop said the Myanmar government “has prepared areas for them and current peace talks with armed ethnic groups in Myanmar look promising…”. Perhaps not if you are reading the Myanmar press, but that’s his claim.

Lt Gen Vijak said the “United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees will coordinate and fund the refugees’ return, while the Thai government will act as a facilitator…”. If true, that’s better than previous efforts too.

But then this:

“We will also teach the refugees about King Rama IX’s sufficiency economy,” Lt Gen Vijak said, hoping these principles would be able to inspire them to pursue productive lives in Myanmar.

Like all displaced persons, it’s pretty sure that they will struggle when they return. Sufficiency economy is a way of making them feel grateful for their future suffering.





Political opponents are “dogs”

16 09 2016

Coup leader, self-appointed prime minister and prime ministerial “hopeful” General Prayuth Chan-ocha, together with some of his junta cabinet ministers spent “about five hours boasting of their achievements and performances for the past two years” a couple of days ago.

Five hours is a long time to sing one’s own praises, but the arrogance of The Dictator knows few bounds and no one in his gang of posterior polishers is able or prepared to tell him to shut up.

They apparently believe the polls that claim The Dictator is hugely popular. The “referendum” result has confirmed this for them and for The Dictator.

As far as we have seen no one has fact-checked The Dictator’s claims, but these days facts count for little. If The Dictator says it is so, then it is. The media is remarkably tame, although we admit that several newspapers have belatedly criticized the “report,” including the Bangkok Post and The Nation.

The item in The Dictator’s rant “report” that caught our attention was in a Thai PBS report, where the gloating self-appointee berated political opponents, calling them “dogs.”

He stated that “there are, today, dogs that keep harassing ‘phuyai of our country’ despite the fact that they have been working tirelessly for the good of the country.”

Prayuth perhaps sees himself as a “phuyai,” although we doubt the grandees of Thai society consider him other than a useful servant. His support of the existing ruling class is hardly news as it is this ability to serve the elite that has seen Prayuth rise to the top of the military and run a coup for the elite.

Prayuth declared that for “the country to move forward, to prosper and to be in peace, he said everyone in the country must abide by the law [his law], be responsible, not causing conflicts and not violating human rights [ignoring the junta’s own repeated and continual abuse of these rights].”

He also babbled a bit about royal ideology and sufficiency economy.

Prayuth seems certain he will be prime minister after any “election” the junta arranges.





The Dictator and “security”

5 06 2016

Readers might wish to speculate on why the International Institute for Strategic Studies  and its host and sponsors in the Singapore government would invite The Dictator, General Prayuth Chan-ocha to present a Keynote Speech to its 15th Shangri-la Dialogue. Sorry, but this is a long post.

For those who wish to watch and read The Dictator’s speech, the ISIS has provided a “provisional” transcript (in English) and a video of his speech (delivered in Thai and here with a voice-over). In fact, if a PDF of the speech is downloaded, it is a “draft,” produced by The Dictator’s staff.

Interestingly, Prayuth’s moniker on the speech is: “GENERAL (RETD) PRAYUT CHAN-O-CHA.” The “retired” bit is perhaps an attempt to appear civilianized, perhaps  not wanting to scare the Europeans? Later in the speech The Dictator says he is “an ex-military officer…”. Perhaps he’s thinking about a “political” career in the next “administration”?

The introduction of Prayuth begins about 5.40 mins into the video. It begins with a claim that The Dictator “came to politics late in his career.” Nonsense, of course, for Thailand’s generals are political animals who covet political status and they regularly engage in political actions, almost always in support of the royalist elite of the ruling class.

That said, the introduction of Prayuth is pretty much factual, although the claim that the draft constitution, if approved in a referendum, “will provide a framework for a return to democracy” is ludicrous. The introduction also seems to acknowledge that the IISS is the first to provide Thailand’s military dictator with a stage.

Prayuth was asked to provide Thailand’s “outlook” on regional security. That Prayuth spoke in Thai is interesting, not least because anti-democrats repeatedly ridiculed Yingluck Shinawatra for her less than fluent English. Prayuth is not a leader with any great international experience, education or knowledge. Hence, we doubt that Prayuth has an “outlook” on much at all – his view is inward – and we guess that the speech is not his own work but rather that of the hirelings, albeit reflective of the regime’s positions.

Prayuth’s speech begins around 8:30 mins into the video. Most of what he says about security is basic, at about the level one might expect from undergraduate studying security and international relations. Some readers may find his comments on China of interest.

Thailand’s military dictator begins his speech by saying that it is an “honour for me to have been invited by the Prime Minister of Singapore and the Director-General of the IISS to give the keynote speech…”.

In an early report, Khaosod picked up agency accounts of the speech, and concentrated on The Dictator’s defense of military rule in Thailand, again raising his well-known junta shibboleths, here using our words as well as Prayuth’s: that repression represents a transition to “a strong and sustainable democracy;” that the junta will eventually handover to another “administration;”and so on (readers know the drill).

Prayuth was big on defending his military regime. He begins in the 4th of 47 paragraphs in his speech. About a quarter of the speech is given over to Thailand’s domestic politics with The Dictator essentially pleading for understanding of the “need” for repression, censorship and more in the name of stability, security and something he calls “equilibrium.”

In his first mention of Thailand, the General (Retd) bemoans the difficulties of “maintaining security equilibrium” and claims “Thailand is an example of a country that has perhaps lost its equilibrium in the past several years…”. What he seems to means is that the ruling class’s control was upset by upstart elected politicians. He “explains” that Thailand had previously “been successful in maintaining a good balance and equilibrium in the past, even during periods of war and crisis.” Of course, most of that period was under a military leadership or military backed government.

Prayuth declares that “Thailand is increasingly getting back on track even though a number of challenges remain to be addressed…”. Oddly, he claims this is “through cooperation between many sides both within Thailand and internationally…”.

Of course, as a good royalist, Prayuth has to mention the king. He does this when linking security, development and the failed and ignored “sufficiency economy” notion:

Thailand … places importance on addressing the root causes and focusing on development from within. The Thai Government [he means his junta] has laid down a secure and sustainable foundations, whether in terms of politics, economics and society, and initiated the “Pracharat 4Ps” policy (Public-Private-People Partnership) so that all sectors of society are involved in the country’s development. In all this, we are guided by His Majesty the King’s Sufficiency Economy Philosophy, which is based on His Majesty’s development experiences accumulated over the course of 40 years and which places the people at the core. This year, in fact, is the 10th anniversary of His Majesty’s being awarded the ‘UNDP Human Development Lifetime Achievement Award,’ in 2006, in line with the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) of the United Nations, which is in line with the United Nation’s Sustainable Development Agenda.

Probably only royalists would recall and celebrate an award anniversary. But that award is a part of palace propaganda that The Dictator upholds.

The sixth part of his speech focuses on Thailand and is headed “Thailand in Transition,” followed by a seventh section, ” Solving Thailand’s Problems.”

The Dictator’s aide’s and advisers develop a line to justify a military dictatorship by harping on about the “security of every country and the region is intertwined.” Prayuth seems to imply that previously, elected governments somehow threatened regional security. The advisers seem to have had a light bulb moment on this, for they repeat it: “Thailand’s stability will have an effect on ASEAN and regional stability.”

This daft claim is a lead in to the usual elitist and paternalist and, no matter how many times we hear it, the junta’s preposterous justification of political repression cast as Thailand’s “transition towards a strong and sustainable democracy.”

The Dictator’s justification is initially couched in terms of “national security” where he mentions a litany of travails and failures that have beset the junta: “poverty, social disparities, the middle income trap, a fall in agricultural output as a result of  drought, and falling commodity prices brought on by the global economic slump.” He adds: “unrest in the southern border provinces,” hastening to add that this is “an internal problem and not a conflict stemming from religious tensions or one with foreign involvement.” For good measure he throws in “difficulties that have come with irregular migration and the need for foreign migrant workers who number in millions and this has led to  many social problems…”.

But he then gets to his point, essentially repeating the laundry list of anti-democrat claims about electoral politics in Thailand:

… our key problem recently has been political conflict and unprecedented divisiveness in the country.  This has stemmed from a political setting that has produced democracy only in form but not in function, thus resulting in national administration that lacked good governance. The public budget was used for political gain. There was ineffective populism and rampant corruption, which then led to political conflicts that could not be addressed through democratic process. There were legal deadlocks and the rallying of opposing sides in clashes. There was manipulation of the media to take sides, the escalation of violence, the breakdown of the rule of law and ultimately, the use of weapons in conflict.

As an ally of the anti-democrats and an ideological fellow-traveler, The Dictator seems to have convinced himself of this story. He goes on:

There was no order in society, which was increasingly characterized by demands for unlimited rights and freedoms that violated communal peace and the rights of other members of the public.

Readers will recognize the claims as a justification for military intervention and two years of unremitting oppression. And here’s that intervention justified in terms we have heard countless times, presented to an international audience:

This required an intervention to end hostilities, prevent further conflict, and bring the country towards a new era of reform.  If left unattended, Thailand would lose its equilibrium and head towards unprecedented civil unrest and perhaps even civil war.  There was no other way other than to intervene and restore peace and order in society and rebuild our democracy so that is stronger and sustainable.  I add that to this day, there are still politically motivated Thai individuals in and outside the country who abuse social media to distort the facts.

That last sentence actually sounds like Prayuth using his own voice.

More blarney is then pedaled, justifying repression again and again, this time trotting out a series of lies:

We do not have any intentions to violate human rights, or to restrict basic rights and freedoms, but that it was necessary for the military to take control the situation to prevent the escalation of violence and conflict, and to restore the rule of law and social order only for a while.  Given this, all our measures have been based on the rule of law, the equal application of the law and law enforcement. We have enforced the law only in situations when laws have been broken. Taking action in these stances should not be considered as in violation of  any human rights, even though they are separated only by a very thin line.

We have already commented on this list of lies, last presented to the United Nations Human Rights Council. No need to go there again. However, Prayuth’s forked tongue continues to flap, presenting the junta’s position in a way that his audience could not possibly understand:

The Royal Thai Government is currently committed to maintaining peacefulness and orderliness, addressing political problems through strengthening our democracy, fostering reconciliation, addressing economic problems, restoring confidence for investors and the international community, combating corruption, reforming and modernizing our laws, reforming our civil administration, instituting social orderliness, reducing disparities, developing the country to have a deep-rooted resilience through the adoption of His Majesty the King’s Sufficiency Economy Philosophy in national administration, with the Pracharat approach to cooperation to reduce social disparities and progress the country towards a Thailand 4.0 status through supporting modernisation of 5 existing industries and supporting capacity-building for 5 new industries of Thailand.

Democracy = the non-democracy of Thai-style democracy. Thailand 4.0 = no audience member could know. 5 exiting industries = who knows. 5 new industries of Thailand = who knows. It is as though the aides ran out of material and shook a couple of recent speeches, shook them and picked up the meaningless phrases that dropped from them.

Then there is the “20-Year National Strategic Plan and a Roadmap including phase one, two, and three…”. And the promise, long delayed as the “roadmap” has been altered and neglected: “I can assure you that Thailand will return to democracy in accordance with the Roadmap…”.

He means his and his junta’s plans for a regime that will come from token elections and that will be dominated for 20 years by the military.





No original thought

30 09 2015

One of the things about being a royalist is that one has standardized answers for all issues and not an original thought is ever possible (or necessary). Rather, there is simply a slavish adherence to feudal ideology and nonsensical notions.

The Bangkok Post has published a translation of royalist General Prayuth Chan-ocha’s speech at the United Nations Sustainable Development Summit 2015.

Prayuth is not known for his environmentalism. Indeed, his military dictatorship has been giving armed support to mining companies against villagers and has been throwing poor farmers off their land to create space for Special Economic Zones. At the U.N. he suddenly became concerned for the environment, saying:

We can continue on the path of rampant consumerism and maximise growth at all costs. Or we can choose to live sustainably, focusing on quality, moderation and balance in our lives. We can choose to respect nature, rather than viewing it as merely a commodity to be exploited.

That might be reasonable and sensible, but then The Dictator comes up with this nonsense:

What I have just said derives from His Majesty the King’s sufficiency economy philosophy. This philosophy — with its emphasis on reason, moderation and building resilience — saw us through several crises, including the 1997 financial crisis and the 2004 tsunami. It also helped Thailand achieve nearly all the MDGs, and guides our 2015-2020 vision and the forthcoming national economic and social development plan.

The king is the reason for everything in Prayuth’s royalist world. Of course, he’s making this stuff up (and writing all people and Thaksin Shinawatra out of his history). Prayuth has a delusional existence and forces the people and country to inhabit it as well.

As a report in The Nation makes clear, sufficiency economy is being banged and shoved into policy and appears to require “[g]reater economic self-reliance [that] will return … Thailand towards becoming the Land of Smiles once again…”.

In a junta newsletter, said to have been distributed to the public, and titled “From the Heart of the Prime Minister,” Prayuth demands that “Thais to become more self-reliant economically.” He wants people to “have enough food on the table” and to be able to “sleep.”

The Dictator reportedly stated that he wanted to return Thailand to the past, to again “become ‘Smiling Siam’ that is known to the world…”. Snarls not smiles under the military dictatorship and Siam? Back to the 1930s? Absolute “democracy” or monarchy, absolute sufficiency and absolute nonsense.





Selling the dictatorship

27 09 2015

Self-appointed Prime Minister Prayut Chan-ocha, The Dictator, is not the best salesman for his military regime.

There were some protests about his visit, with a series of red shirt TV programs showing some of it. The YouTube video below is one of three:

One of the Prayuth’s speeches to the U.N., on poverty and sustainable development, was a rapid-fire reading of a script in Thai.  He appears uninterested and so do most of the delegates around him. We wonder if this is a preview of an equally execrable speech to the U.N. General Assembly.

According to a report at the Bangkok Post, The Dictator has made various undertakings in New York, including a promise of an election in 2017. Speaking to a bunch from the “US-Asean Business Council in New York on Friday night,” Prayuth said that the poll would be held “with no detour of the political roadmap.”

He did not explain that the roadmap is regularly redrawn.

Prayuth told the business group that the junta:

will spend time until the new polls to increase competitiveness, improve infrastructure, upgrade labour skills, and revise rules and regulations to be in tandem with international standards to facilitate investors…. Clamping down on corruption was also high on its to-do list….

He might have added that the military regime is going to spend time repressing opponents and ensuring that it gets its political way going forward.

The Dictator did his royalist duty, opening a propaganda exhibition on sufficiency economy hocus pocus.

Furthering his own bizarre understanding of democracy and sufficiency economy, Prayuth said “poverty was the root cause hampering democracy in Thailand as it put the poor on the sidelines and gave the middle class and the rich an opportunity to manage the country and resources.”

Of course, the sufficiency economy ideology does nothing to challenge inequality as it tells people to be satisfied with their lot in life.

The notion that Thailand’s democracy is hampered by poverty is military sleight of hand. In fact, it is the military that is the main obstacle to democracy, especially as it is allied to royalist elite and Sino-Thai tycoons.

Prayuth’s view of Thailand and democracy is about as accurate and real as a VW emissions test.





The dictatorship’s work

9 09 2015

The draft charter is ditched and Thailand must suffer a military dictatorship for the next two years.

While the docile and dependent business community collectively shrugged its shoulders and said “business as usual,” the new business normal in Thailand is looking very sick.

Econ dataA reader drew PPT’s attention to a story at Nikkei Asian Review reporting Board of Investment for the first half of the year.

The article begins:

Applications by foreign companies to invest in Thailand have nosedived following the introduction in January of rules that reduce or remove incentives in certain industries.

The graphs picture this plunge. As the article makes clear, this plunge is “largely a reaction to a jump in demand at the end of last year, before the changes took effect.” Take that out and the data still look to have been on a downward spiral since 2012.

An important change noted is the rise of China to top promoted investor status, replacing long-time leader, Japan.

The new rules were determined in order to promote “Thai industry.” This meant that “high value-added industries, such as aviation, electrical appliance design and software development, are exempt from corporate taxes for eight years.”

At the same time, “benefits were reduced for companies engaged in simple metal processing and scrapped altogether for sewing and other labor-intensive operations.” Those job-creating industries have looked elsewhere.

Unaccountably, “Thailand also removed all sweeteners for businesses setting up operations far from the capital.” We wonder if this is punishment for supporting Thaksin Shinawatra or the promotion of sufficiency economy, demanding that the poor put up with their poverty?





Ji on the military dictatorship’s constitution

29 08 2015

As we often do, PPT reproduced Ji Ungpakorn’s most recent observations:

Thai Junta’s draft constitution pushes democracy back indefinitely

Giles Ji Ungpakorn

No one with an ounce of intelligence would have expected the junta, and its herd of “academics for hire”, to come up with a democratic constitution or anything other than a host of anti-reforms to set the authoritarian political agenda for years to come. Tedious as it may be, I and many other activists and academics have had to plough through the endless pages of garbage in the new draft constitution in order to establish a facts-based critique of this offensive document.

Overall, it differs little in its tone from the previous draft, although there is a shocking additional article towards the end. The general tone is patronising and banal, with constant references to the monarchy. Since the late 1950s, the monarchy has been a tool of the military and other elites, justifying all manner of authoritarian measures and human rights abuses. At the same time the king has been a pathetic and cowardly character, always willing to do the bidding of his masters, while keeping up the pretence of being a “God-like genius”.

The draft constitution reads like a Thai-style kindergarten text, talking about the “duties of citizens to be loyal to King and Country and to maintain discipline. Duty and discipline take priority over the rights of citizens. There are pages and pages of rubbish about the qualities of “good” political leaders and naturally they must be loyal to “Nation, Religion and King”. We should not forget that this draft constitution is drawn up by gangsters and thugs in uniform, who murdered pro-democracy demonstrators and used violence to stage military coups and pervert the democratic process.

It is also a neo-liberal constitution, like all the various constitutions since the 1996 economic crisis. So it talks of public health being organised according to a “fair” market economy, the need to maintain “fiscal discipline” and the importance of following the King’s reactionary “Sufficiency Economy” ideology. As usual, this is all aimed against redistribution of wealth and state spending which benefits the poor. Naturally, military and Palace spending are not a threat to fiscal discipline (in the interests of national security).

In this light, article 189 and other sections of the constitution outlaw what the reactionaries like to call “populist policies”. This is aimed directly at Taksin-style measures which were hugely popular among the electorate. Such policies need to be outlawed by wise men because the majority of the population are “too stupid” to know what is good for them. However, there will be “people participation” in managing communities through toy-like “citizens’ assemblies”.

People like Taksin and some other Pua Thai politicians will be barred from office for “legal” reasons, much like the gerrymandered electoral system in Singapore or Burma which bars opposition politicians for dubious legal reasons. However, state murderers like Abhisit and Sutep, will not be banned from office.

There will be 300 constituency MPs and between 150-170 national party list MPs. The number of party list MPs will be adjusted according to the national vote for each party and the number of elected constituency MPs, so that it will be a more proportional representative system. However, parliament will have reduced powers.

The Prime Minister need not be an elected MP, if supported by 2/3 of parliament. All ministers must have bachelor degrees, to weed out any ignorant poor people, and the Prime Minister cannot hold office for longer than 8 consecutive years.

The all-powerful senate will be made up of 77 senators, elected in each province, and another 123 senators appointed by the military and the elites. The senate will have extensive powers to appoint the Electoral Commission, the Anti-Corruption Commission and the Constitutional Judges. In the past these bodies exercised power over the democratically elected Yingluk government and paved the way for a military coup. The senate will also appoint the useless Human Rights Commission, no doubt ensuring that there are plenty of military and police officers on board.

The illegal and highly oppressive “temporary” constitution, which was drawn up by the military in 2014 immediately after the coup, will be a guiding force for the new constitution, making sure, in article 285, that all the anti-democratic acts of the junta are “deemed to be legal”.

However, the worst aspect of this new draft is the last section, from article 259 onwards, with the establishment of a committee to determine the strategy for anti-reforms and so-called reconciliation. This committee will in effect be a “Super Junta”, with powers to veto any decisions made by an elected government and to take power at any time via a “legalised coup”, if and when it deems fit. Naturally the Super Junta will be dominated by the military top brass. This Super Junta will be enshrined in stone for 5 years, but its length of duty can be extended.

The upshot of this is that whoever is democratically elected to form a government will have very limited room to determine policy.

Of course, the constitution can never be amended to make Thailand into a republic or to allow self-determination in Patani. Any other amendments which have been sanctioned by a parliamentary vote, must be approved by the elite appointed Constitutional Court.

Now, it stands to reason that anyone who supports democracy and human rights would oppose this nonsense of a constitution. Yet, all manner of threats are being issued to silence critics. Apart from threatening to push back elections if the constitution does not pass in a referendum, the deputy Prime Minister Wisanu Kruangarm, and the head of the Electoral Commission, have stated that it is illegal to campaign against this constitution using social media and other means. Wisanu also took the opportunity of saying to the media that it was the “best constitution ever written”.

We all have rights, but some have more rights than the rest of us!