Our “reform” is not your reform

14 08 2015

Chairman of the puppet National Reform Council Thienchay Kiranandana is reported by The Nation, from a publicity stunt chaired by the Nation Multimedia Group’s Suthichai Yoon, as saying that “he was never concerned the military would use him.”

In fact, this is what he was asked and how he replied:

When you first accepted the invitation to chair the NRC, did you think that there was a risk you would be used by the military?

It’s not a risk, but a must, as the country had no way out. As the time came, we knew that it was such a big bet because if we didn’t do it now, how would we be able to tell our children why we didn’t do it when we had had a chance to do it for them and the country?

That doesn’t sound anything like “he was never concerned the military would use him.” But this is a kind of fairy tale, creating an impression of a “reform” process that was not directed by a military junta. Confirming tutelage he says:

I cannot put it in words, but we at the NRC know how many “orders” we have torn up. Actually, I prefer to call them “requests”.

Thienchay tries to make the “reform” process something other than the military and royalist elite’s “reforms.”

He refers to “public hearings” as if there was an atmosphere where free expression was allowed. He tries to make it a part of a legal process by stating that the “reform blueprint is not isolated, but has been placed under the constitution.” That too is a draft document that has been established and tutored by the military dictatorship. He talks about the “heated debate” on reform and elections by saying this represents the “the beginning of true democracy.” In fact, the debate is limited by the military and is mainly a discussion between the military and right-wing “reform before election” ideologues.

The extent of junta control is illustrated when he is asked about the “referendum and voting on the charter”:

They are sensitive. I will not answer.

He demonstrates how his version of “reform” requires “special powers”:

We want to see every issue placed before us for reform. You don’t have to use absolute power under Article 44 for all issues, but you may have to start working on every issue with a different set of resolutions, so we can more toward a strong democracy. That’s our goal.

When asked if “reform” and those pushing it are “addicted” to special powers (i.e. martial law, Article 44, military coup), he says:

Sometimes we may need a mechanism to help us reset the system or fix long-standing issues. If you say that is an addiction, well, if it’s in small doses, I don’t think we will get addicted.

That’s a yes.

In fact, in a related story, The Dictator, General Prayuth Chan-ocha tells the real story of how his junta’s “reforms” will be taken forward. The special powers will, in part, be a National Strategic Reform and Reconciliation Commission (NSRRC) [that] … will ensure that the subsequent government continues with implementing reform plans…”. Prayuth “explained:

The future government must implement reforms and this panel would be responsible for making sure that happens. Do you think an elected government would do it voluntarily?… I don’t think they will…”. He will never trust a “politician” and most especially those who are the people’s choice.

Constitutional huff and puff

2 05 2015

In recent days we have posted on the draft 2015 constitution and some of the restrictions on comment that have been put in place.

The military dictatorship has attempted to limit “debate” to its puppet National Reform Council. Even in this friendly space, some quite trenchant critiques have been forthcoming regarding a fundamentally flawed and anti-democratic charter.

However, as reported at The Nation, the NRC “debate” is likely to have been of little consequence.

The report at The Nation points out that the puppet NRC was directed to spend a week giving the military junta’s draft charter some “scrutiny.” Many points were made, with NRC members expressing “reservations about many provisions in the draft constitution…”. Several NRC members “voiced concerns over allowing a non-MP to become prime minister, the mixed-member proportional electoral system, and selection of senators.” Anti-democrat “political reform panel chairman Sombat Thamrongthanyawong and legal and justice system reform panel chairman Seree Suwanphanont, … both disagreed to half of the charter’s content.”

With two heavyweight puppets, and Sombat being a representative of the anti-democrat movement that paved the way for the 2014 military coup, disagreeing with so much of the work of the drafting committee, observers might be excused for thinking that the draft charter was in deep trouble.

Far from it.

For one thing, as the report points out, “[p]roposals raised during the NRC’s meeting would mean nothing if its members do not submit their suggestions to the charter drafters.” It is unclear if any have done this.

In addition, the report observes that NRC members had their “do not have the courage to vote it [the draft charter] down.” Part of the reason for this is that these members are conscious of their own interests.

The Nation’s report observes that, according to the post-coup interim constitution, voting down the draft in the NRC would mean that “all CDC and NRC members will be replaced and the constitution drafting process would go back to square one…”. Few NRC members want that.

One reason for this, according to unnamed “observers” is that “many NRC members have already planned their future political careers,” and voting down the draft would take them out of politics for at least a year as there is no guarantee that they would be reappointed to their highly-paid puppet positions.

Another reason is that the draft constitution creates powerful positions for the puppets in future administrations. The report points to “the new independent agencies to be set up under the new charter. NRC members would be appointed to these new agencies, including the [appointed] Reform Movement Council and the National Reform Strategy Committee.” Another powerful and appointed creation is the “National Ethical Committee,” which many suggest would be chaired by the decidedly unethical anti-democrat and current NRC president Thienchay Kiranandana.

So has the NRC been just about huff and puff, providing an illusion of “debate” and substance? Probably.

Updated: The people are still stupid

16 04 2015

We at PPT are not big fans of the notion of a referendum for the military’s new constitution. We have made this point before, so we will not belabor it.

Yet a report at Khaosod caught our attention for one line from┬áThienchay Kiranandana, the military dictatorship’s chairman of the puppet National Legislative Assembly.

He is reportedly worried that “the new charter will not pass a referendum vote if the Thai people are not properly informed about its new features.” We had thought that the military would behave as they had in 2007 and force people to accept their charter.

Thienchay, who has a background in elementary education, is more concerned that people will not understand the many and varied contents of the “constitution draft in a clear manner, and if there is referendum, the draft certainly will not pass…”. He wants more effort expended in explaining the dog’s breakfast that is the draft constitution.

We are sure that some readers will consider PPT full of dopes, yet we consider ourselves reasonably well read on constitutions in Thailand. Hence, the “explanations” recently provided by such hired legal prostitutes as Bowornsak Uwanno in his recent “paper” explaining that the king is right on everything, the dictatorship is good and the attempt by charter drafters to right every “wrong” ever identified by a royalist in Thailand mean that no one is likely to understand the whole document.

But back to the puppet Thienchay. He observed that: “If there’s only television shows with the hosts simply sitting there and talking, people will be bored. It won’t be effective. So, we have to find ways to combat people’s boredom.”

Then he showed the contempt he and others amongst the high and mighty have for citizens when he suggested “we can use animated cartoons. That will be more likely to get attention and spread understanding on important points, like requirements for the Prime Minister, and requirements for Senators.”

Cartoons might be appropriate for the work of the puppets, but Thienchay is simply expressing a view that the hoi polloi are stupid and “uneducate.”

Nothing changes and prejudices are reinforced. The draft constitution is by and for the elite.

Update: We fear we may have been unclear. We doubt anyone can understand every item in the draft constitution, not even the puppets making it up. However, the claim that it requires cartoons for the “uneducate” to understand it is revealing of the disdain the elite has for the average citizen.

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