A day or so ago, PPT wrote that we suspected that, not only will the propaganda be heavy for the draft charter but that all opposition voices will be excluded. We also noted that getting a Yes vote in the referendum would depend entirely on repression and coercion.
Sadly, we were correct in these assumptions. Even before the final draft has been released, the repression is reaching new depths.
Significantly, Prachatai reports that the “draft referendum bill sets heavy sentences for denouncing the referendum or publishing polls predicting the result too close to voting day on August 7.”
The military junta does not care about international condemnation for repressing and fixing the referendum so that it may pass. It is determined to have its way.
This is why the fetid Election Commission is being given the power to “regulate all campaigns, both supporting and opposing the draft charter.”
Of course, campaigns for the charter will be full-throated and it will only be the voices of opponents that will be strangled. The bill that makes the EC an arm of the junta and of anti-democrats “sets a heavy sentence for anyone who tries to oppose the referendum.”
Opponents are now risking a jail term of up to 10 years and a fine of up to 200,000 baht. The military and its puppet EC can decide if “anyone who publishes text, images or sound, through either newspaper, radio, television, electronic media or other channels, that is either untruthful, harsh, offensive, rude, inciting or threatening, with the intention that voters will either not exercise their right to vote, or vote in a certain way, or not vote, will be considered as a person creating confusion so that the vote will not proceed properly.”
Recall that only a few days ago, opposing the the 2014 election was considered an anti-democrat hero by the politically prejudiced judiciary. You can bet the junta will interpret “opposition” very, very broadly and will use this law to repress and jail.
Only EC approved events on the draft constitution will be allowed. All radio, television and other communications will be required to air junta propaganda.
Will this repression and weight of information, resources and weapons overcome the opposition?
Sadly, we think that the military dictatorship is so determined to have the draft accepted that it will resort to all kinds of tricks, including preventing opponents from voting and any other form of cheating it can think of, including ballot box stuffing.
Update: Read Pravit Rojanaphruk on the increasing repression to get the referendum passed.