While the UN, ASEAN parliamentarians, academics and politicians have all made suggestions about allowing free speech on the constitutional referendum, the military junta has demonstrated in recent days that there is no chance of this.
More than this, the military regime, the dictatorship, is working to ensure a Yes vote through intimidation and repression.
Recent reports, however, suggest that the military junta is going to fix the result. Whatever the voters say, it seems clear that the charter will be made to pass.
The Asian Network for Free Elections, a regional election monitoring group which is based in Bangkok, is planning to deploy observers for the August referendum. However, it is stated in a Khaosod report, that this would only happen “[i]f the political climate permits,” meaning if the military junta permits.
Ichal Supriadi, one of the people at the Network said that a maximum of 10 observers would be allowed to be deployed. That’s a token effort, kept that way by the junta. But even that token effort “may be reduced again depending on the pre-referendum environment.” He means depending on the junta’s decisions.
Supriadi stated that the “fact that political gatherings are still banned by the junta also undermines the credibility of any ballot…”.
The same report states that the “European Union’s mission in Bangkok confirmed Monday that no European observers will be sent…”.
A few days later, The Dictator, General Prayuth Chan-ocha declared that he “will not allow international organizations to observe the referendum on the draft charter.” He “claimed that there has been no precedent for such an action by any country in the world.”
We think the junta is fully prepared to do anything it wants to ensure it gets the outcome it wants in the illegitimate referendum. Observers would only complicate their cheating.