Things seem to be getting complicated for the military dictatorship. Earlier on, ruling required a heavy boot and an iron fist. Throw activists in jail, charge them, repress intellectuals and academics, press the media, cut off the red shirt leadership and use lese majeste to silence opponents. All a bit 1960s really.
Now, its looking a bit more difficult as the challenges come from several sources. Managing the new king is not all that simple as he’s erratic and dangerous. Some on social media are saying he’s killing minions.
Puea Thai’s Watana Muangsook seems to be bothering the generals again. He’s got an “invitation” from the junta’s thugs for another “talk.”
The Wat Dhammakaya dispute seems to have The Dictator flummoxed. With one man having committed suicide as a response to the dictatorship’s heavy-handedness, the whole affair is remarkably complicated.
The most recent move by The Dictator is one that will have many Thais scratching their heads. General Prayuth Chan-ocha has placed an officer of the Department of Special Investigation (DSI) official has been appointed as new chief of the National Office of Buddhism. He used Article 44, again.
This means there’s now a cop in charge of Thailand’s Buddhist religious hierarchy. We think this is a first.
THe DSI is also pushing for more involvement from the Sangha Council, further politicizing that body. One explanation for this turn of events is provided in The Nation:
The temple’s core leaders have refused to talk to the DSI, so the agency thought it may be better for the temple’s monks to discuss the situation with their superiors on the Sangha Council, the source said.
Some members of the Council were previously believed to have close ties with the temple, the source said, but at that time a new Supreme Patriarch had not been appointed. But the situation seems to be changing now that the new Supreme Patriarch is in office.
DSI has also accused the monks of holding their followers as “hostages.”
The dictators seem to realize that cracking down on Buddhist monks is politically dangerous, but their methods are now quite odd, suggesting confusion and fractionalization within the junta.