The military dictatorship seems to have secret lists of who can and who can’t speak out against its draft constitution. Then again, maybe it is just Puea Thai Party, red shirts and fellow travelers who are prevented from commenting, while others can. Or maybe they are just making it up as they go along, identifying some critics as enemies and others as friends. Another possibility is that the junta is flustered and there are divisions within it.
Yesterday, according to a Bangkok Post report, “former Pheu Thai MP Watana Muangsook,” detained “for allegedly making inappropriate political remarks,” was now threatened with “a more intensive seven-day training course [they mean political re-education] if he continues to criticise the military regime.” Senior Deputy Prime Minister, the dumpy General Pravit Wongsuwon declared that re-education would be necessary “if talks [at the military base where he is held] are unsuccessful…”.
Watana reportedly shouted a statement that he’d done nothing wrong and demanded that he be released by the afternoon as he was “escorted by soldiers to the 11th Military Circle in Bangkok’s Dusit district.”
The Post states that “Watana is expected to be detained for some time.” His Facebook page showed no new posting at 00.30 GMT that might have indicated his release.
The military dictators have claimed that Watana’s Facebook post on 13 April “flouted an NCPO [junta] order, and committed an act deemed harmful to social order. The military has said that it feared new political conflicts could erupt if people are allowed to express divisive opinions.” (The English version of Watana’s statement seems to have been removed from Facebook. It is here.)
In the same newspaper, however, it is reported that Deputy Prime Minister and military minion Wissanu Krea-ngam said that comments by one group of academics “opposing the draft charter do not violate laws as they only reflect academic views…”. Wissanu’s view was that the”scholars only pointed out some flaws in the charter, prepared by the Meechai Ruchupan-led Constitution Drafting Committee, and also offered ‘reasonable opinions without a political agenda’.”
General Prawit disagreed, preferring they “keep what they think in their minds…”. He reiterated that “a campaign against the draft charter … is not allowed by law.”
In fact, the law that both Wissanu and Prawit refer to is, as far as we are aware, still not signed off at the hospital, so they are both referring to junta attitudes rather than law.
The junta seems confused and contradictory, with double, triple and quadruple standards confusing some of its members.
Update: It seems the junta’s General Prawit has decided to sort this matter out, end the confusion and rhetorically slap Wissanu. Prachatai reports that Prawit has “warned the public not to discuss about the content of the latest draft constitution, saying that it might lead to misunderstanding and conflict.”
He declared that “people should not host any campaign relating to the referendum to pass the draft constitution…”.
Prawit said that “the public[‘s] opinions on the draft should not be determined by politicians which can be misleading.” His ruling is that “only the members of the [puppet] Constitution Drafting Committee (CDC) can discuss the draft.”
No discussion he said, adding: “If you like the draft, just vote for it. If you don’t like it, then just vote ‘no’. Just let the [puppet] drafters publicly discuss about the draft constitution since other people don’t understand the draft as well as the drafters…”. No public discussion that is not controlled by the junta.