As the junta’s hold on power extends and as the constitutional referendum gets closer, the double standards of the military regime and of its “agencies” and The Dictator’s personalized animosities are clearer than ever.
Prachatai refers to the Election Commission’s song campaigning for the August referendum, as “propaganda.” They say the song has “triggered public outrage on social media since it allegedly reflects the commission’s prejudice against the northerners and northeasterners, which are allegedly the main supporters of the red shirt movement.” The song reproduces some of the perceptions of royalists, yellow shirts and the ruling elite regarding the political conflicts of recent years:
The Isaan accent part of the song sings “Isaan people, don’t let anyone mislead your way. Be conscious and use your judgement. Don’t let anyone trick Isaan people.”
Similarly, the Northern accent part sings “All northerners, don’t let anyone dictate your mind. Be educated and study [the draft’s] content thoroughly.”
In contrary, the Southern accent part sings “Pak Tai (the South), the Southerners love freedom and democracy. Let’s join in the referendum. It’s a duty of all Thai citizen.”
Translated into anti-democrat speak, coup-supporting Southerners are allies while damn Northerners and those in the Northeast are duped, led about by the nose and incapable of “right” political decision-making.
Not surprisingly, the EC has brushed off the criticism. Anti-election election commissioner Somchai Srisutthiyakorn “said people are sometimes too sensitive and pay attention to trivial issues.”
It seems this criticism does not apply to the EC. The EC is hunting down “another song in a video clip which was posted on a Facebook page.” It charges that the “clip is … using rude words and influencing people in how to vote in the referendum.”
Meanwhile, The Dictator has expressed his contempt for the official red shirts (again). The Bangkok Post reports that General Prayuth Chan-ocha has had another temper tantrum over the “United Front for Democracy against Dictatorship’s action in setting up a centre to monitor for fraud in the scheduled charter referendum on Aug 7.”
He fumed, rhetorically demanding to know “why the UDD did not do this after the previous government launched the rice-pledging scheme that was plagued with corruption.” He steamed on: “Let them open it, but I don’t accept it as a legal entity…”, describing it as “meaningless.”
Even though he admitted that the UDD probably wasn’t against the law, The Dictator warned that the junta would be watching, meaning that it would try to catch the UDD breaking the law.
Almost immediately, the junta’s thugs were on the job, with Prachatai reporting that a “policeman and a military officer attempted to bar anti-establishment red shirts from holding a press briefing to open a centre to monitor the draft charter referendum…”.
The officers asked UDD leader Jatuporn Promphan and other UDD members “to cancel a press briefing to launch the Anti-Electoral Fraud in the Referendum Centre…”. The thugs stated that they had been ordered to demand the cancellation of the briefing.
The UDD refused.
Following this and Prayuth’s outburst, the Bangkok Post reported that the junta was “seeking to take legal action against the …[UDD]… for possible breach of the regime’s orders following the group’s launch of a centre to monitor fraud in the Aug 7 referendum on the draft constitution.”
Why? Well, apart from blind hatred of red shirts, there’s this:
A source at the National Council for Peace and Order (NCPO) said the launch of the centre is believed to have political implications and those involved in the launch are political stakeholders who were previously involved in political conflict and still continue to cause political unrest….
The source said the NCPO’s legal team is examining whether those involved in the launch of the centre have violated the NCPO’s 3/2015 order which is intended to deal with people suspected of trying to spark political and social unrest.
The team is also looking into whether they have broken the conditions of their release from detention shortly after the May 22, 2014 coup under the NCPO’s 39/2014 announcement.
The “source” also babbled about the center Being “unnecessary because the Election Commission (EC) is already entrusted to hold the referendum and ensure that it is free of fraud.”
The junta is as clear as it is nasty.
Update: Khaosod reports that the EC has declared that “no Thais could be granted election observer accreditation because the recent referendum law did not expressly permit it.” The same EC anti-democrat election commissioner Somchai mentioned above said “this omission [from the law] prohibited any domestic group from monitoring the polls…”.
(This is, of course, a major legal renovation. There are many everyday and political actions that are not covered by any laws at all!)