Regression not change

We usually consider claims about “change” as implying a move forward. When we read that “Real change is coming in 2017,” we realize that change can involve regression. In Thailand, regression as change is the task of murderous and repressive military regimes.

Accepting that the promised “election” is likely to be delayed to 2018, the Post claims that 2017 “is expected to mark a major change in the political landscape…”.

One change is that the draft constitution “passed” in a “referendum,” and “submitted the  for royal endorsement” will become the “permanent” constitution in 2017. That constitution is regressive and anti-democratic.

That “change” will feel something like 1984 when General Prem Tinsulanonda was Thailand’s royalist premier, Ronald Reagan was napping in the Oval Office and Margaret Thatcher was crushing miners. Indira Gandhi was assassinated, the U.S. embassy in Beirut was blown up and Michael Jackson’s album “Thriller” sold more than 37 million copies.

Interestingly, while the draft was voted on in August, as we enter January, it is still a draft.

The story implies that royal endorsement is not guaranteed, for the king can veto it: “if the draft does not receive royal endorsement on time, it will automatically be considered rejected.” We can’t imagine a king who is close to the military doing that.

A second “change” seems to be an “event”: the deceased king’s cremation. No change there as the new king is now in place.

Another change might be the junta’s “20-year national development strategy.” No change there either, just regression to a creepy Prem-like era of military dominance and manipulation of politics, all in the monarchy’s name.

Yellow shirts like Suriyasai Katasila believe that anti-democratic regression is “change.” However, he identifies a problem: “the military regime will continue to struggle to solve political conflicts which have lied dormant since the May 22, 2014 coup.” He says that junta “has not yet come up with substantive measures to deal with political divisions, which could flare up again when the military regime steps down…”.

In other words, he believes that the junta has failed to smash the red shirts, democratic activists and pro-Thaksin Shinawatra groups.  He predicts conflict.

There hardly seems anything new in the military’s political universe, with long-term “plans,” military-dominated upper house and assemblies and the military directing and manipulating political parties. Even many of the key players being resurrected from the Prem era.

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