Readers will recall that the military announced some time ago that it was “training” young cadets – Reserve Officer Training Corps (ROTC) students – to propagandize for the draft charter. Yes, the brass said it was “neutral” and meant to get people out to vote in the referendum.
We doubt the military could train anything in a neutral manner. Still The Nation has a long story on this “training.” It is stated that a:
one-day charter introductory course is part of the “ROTC Volunteer” project the Army introduced a few months ago to recruit the corps to do extra volunteer work, including raising public awareness on issues of importance.
Under the project, up to 80,000 ROTC students have registered with the consent of their parents. Army chief General Theerachai Nakvanich has expressed a wish to see students help to move the country forward.
Since the first charter draft was developed more than a year ago, opposition has been growing, raising fears that the trend could undermine efforts ahead of the referendum. A low voter turnout is among the issues of concern as it could result in the referendum being considered invalid.
The training is attending to complicated topics like “new election methods for MPs, Senators and the premiership; the prime minister’s role; and stringent measures limiting politicians’ power and governing their conduct.”
After their “training,” the “volunteer students will be visiting communities in every district from March to May before the referendum near the end of July.”
The “training” is, as expected, anything but neutral. In one of the training session, a military trainer “explained the NCPO’s [the junta] roadmap and mission with a large picture of Prime Minister Prayut Chan-o-cha in the backdrop.” The trainer prompted the trainees with this: “If [during the 2014 coup] the NCPO had not taken the country over and governed it, what would have happened[?]… How would Thailand have been seen in other countries’ eyes[?]” The required answer is “Bad.”
The junta’s roadmap is extolled as it the junta’s draft constitution: “The new election method enables people to get involved in politics more…”. Perhaps the trainer meant “more or less.”
How has the indoctrination been going? The Nation, in another, related story, has some clues. After their “training,” students are on the campaign trail.
As the story makes clear, the students “did not appear to know much about the drafting.” One stated: “I have no idea about the draft and have not read it yet…”. The trainee propagandist is probably in the company of the rest of the population.