We recall seeing a small story somewhere announcing that one party, the Bhum Jai Thai Party, has chortled that the military’s charter is just fine for them. That party was spawned by formed by Thailand’s vote-buyer-in-chief Newin Chidchob and midwifed by the military and did very poorly in the 2011 election, despite the military adding to Newin’s vote-buying capacity.
However, both the major political parties seem to have or are set to reject the junta’s draft charter. (The Democrat Party is somewhat unclear, being critical and rejecting the “extra question,” but is not yet declaring a position on a yes or no vote; we guess that Abhisit Vejjajiva is seeking some sort of deal with the military on some way to give him and his party some advantage.)
The result is that The Dictator has blown his top yet again.
In a story at Prachatai, we are told that General Prayuth Chan-ocha has “scolded politicians for disagreeing with a plan to add an additional question to the public referendum on the draft constitution.”
The junta leader and self-appointed prime minister went further and “said that politicians have no right to disagree with him over the proposal to include another question in the public referendum to pass the draft constitution.” The junta boss declared: “I think some people are with me in this. Therefore, will the people who are in the middle believe me or them (politicians)?”
He went on to chastise the Democrat Party. That party said the junta “should reveal a future plan in case if the draft constitution does not pass the upcoming referendum. The junta boss was not amused: “If it doesn’t pass, [the authority] will remain with me. Do you understand the word ‘authority’? And it’s up to me whether this authority is transparent or not.”
In a report at the Bangkok Post, The Dictator is quoted as declaring that “he would not care if they refused to run in the next general election.” He waxed populist: “political parties could voice opposition to the charter, but it was the people who would decide at the referendum…”. Referring to a long promised election, Prayuth stated: “If they don’t want to run, don’t run. Let other parties do so.” Recall that, in the past, boycotted elections have been used to overthrow elected governments.
In fact, under the new law the junta’s puppets just passed, the parties are not necessarily permitted to oppose. Indeed, Prayuth stated that “if those who were against the draft charter actively demonstrated their opposition, they would end up in jail.”
Another Bangkok Post: has the erratic general “warned political parties to toe the line … or they would face a summons.” Prayuth went on: “Do they want to be arrested? Those who break the [referendum] law will get up to 10 years in jail. Keep that in mind…”.
It seems that Prayuth only listens to two groups: the royalist anti-democrats who support him and the voices in his head. In the former group, Constitution Drafting Committee chairman Meechai Ruchupan who keeps saying “he was concerned about attempts to distort the content of the draft and cause misunderstandings.” We haven’t seen this. In fact, the draft charter is so bad and so steeped in anti-democratic articles that it would be difficult to misrepresent it.
Now the draft charter is complete, the military regime’s vision for the future of Thai politics is pretty clear.
The future is now…. What the National Council for Peace and Order (NCPO), which promised Thais a return to happiness and democracy when it seized power two years ago, seeks to establish is a system of governance that is similar to what we have at present.
In other words, we are going to have a Prayut-style regime for the next five to 20 years, except this time it will be legitimised by an election.
That’s what the junta and The Dictator and meddling royalist proxy General Prem Tinsulanonda want. Some might hope that the Thai people stand up and declare the whole charter a sham attempt to embed military authoritarianism. Others might want to declare the referendum and the charter illegitimate. If that happens, the problem is still there, in front of everyone’s face: the military, the junta and the establishment. How do they get pushed aside?