About a week ago we posted on the statement by 176 of the 500 or so academics who attended the International Conference on Thai Studies. Later, we posted on how the military junta’s thugs could not ignore the “challenge” posed by the academics and their mild call for the return of freedom of expression.
According to a Bangkok Post editorial, the testy dictatorial regime can’t help itself in “responding”with negatives. It is its nature as a dictatorship.
That Army chief Chalermchai Sittisart has dismissed the academic call “comes as no surprise.” As the Post states: “His response perfectly reflects the military regime’s unreasonable fear and outrageous blockade of ‘different’ opinions.”
We have occasionally agreed that the junta is fearful of losing its power but we think the political repression is the nature of the dictatorship.
The “[m]any people [who] have been harassed, threatened, arrested and detained…” is the way a dictatorship deals with anyone considered “oppositional.”
The academics “asked” the junta to “give people back the freedom to express their opinions without fear of punishment or reprisal.”
It also asked they be granted full and free access to information and facts, and that prisoners of conscience — those jailed for their religious, political or other views — be released from jail or detention, among other issues.
None of this is going to happen under a military dictatorship.
Indeed, “at the Chiang Mai conference,” the junta had “[p]lainclothes officers record… who was in attendance and what they discussed.”
There can be no academic freedom and no freedom of speech. Indeed, the Post says, “Thai society has fallen under strict military control.”
We’d say it didn’t “fall” under military control. In fact, it was a planned military coup, planned by the current junta and coordinated with its tycoon, royalist and anti-democrat allies. Those groups don’t want a “democratic” politics that they are not sure that they can control.
Where the Post goes seriously wrong is in thinking that “democracy looms after the promised elections next year.” What looms is years of elite, royalist and military control of politics camouflaged as an electoral “democracy.”
After all, that was the very point of the coup in 2014.