One of the defining characteristics of this military regime has been its double standards.
While the temporary cessation of the planned coal-fired power station in the south is good news for the environment and represents a victory of sorts for the local villagers and supporting activists, this outcome demonstrates the regime’s embedded double standards.
The Dictator has urged “calm after the government decided to put the contentious projects on hold.” Not that long ago, the junta was arresting anti-coal protesters. These protesters have by and large been junta supporters. The junta’s actions against them were a serious splintering of the pro-junta and anti-democrat side.
It may be coincidental, but as the pressure has mounted on the junta from activists it identifies as opponents, the pressure on the anti-coal activists has gone and the junta is bending over backwards to be seen to be meeting their demands and end their Bangkok protest that has lasted more than three weeks.
Indeed, the most recent concession has been to order a fresh environmental impact assessment and to drop all law suits (well, “suspend” the legal actions).
That backdown by the junta was made politically symbolic when Energy Minister Siri Jirapongphan sat on the sidewalk with protesters after a court refused a police request to ban the assembly.
The political outcome was the protesters packed up and returned to their homes in the south.
Such a harmonious outcome is impossible when it comes to pro-election activists. The double standards are obvious. One side can protest for weeks. The other side sees police charges.
A second set of double standards is within the junta itself. As everyone knows, the Deputy Dictator has been caught out flashing luxury watches all over the place. Despite the case having been taken on by the National Anti-Corruption Commission, it has all gone quiet. The Dictator has refused to abandon his old boss and elder military brother.
Rather, he’s supported Gen Prawit. When Totrakul Yomnak, chairman of a junta sub-committee against corruption, a puppet committee, sent Gen Prayuth Chan-och “a letter expressing concern about the watch scandal,”and imploring the military “prime minister to take action and show his determination to address graft, which he [Prayuth] has declared a top priority.”
Prayuth “lashed out” and said leave it to the (quiet, compromised and slow) NACC.
Double standards define the regime.
Update: We have noticed on social media a strong rumor that Totrakul is said to have been told by “someone” to attack Prayuth. We haven’t seen anyone naming a name, but the assumption seems to be that the old meddler Gen Prem Tinsulanonda is the one. He’s long talked about corruption as a threat to the nation. If there is a Prem-initiated move against Prayuth, we can’t wait to see who is anointed to replace The Dictator.
Meanwhile, in Chiang Mai, making our point point on double standards on protesters, the military has filed charges against six participants in a pro-election rally at Chiang Mai University “for violating the junta’s ban on public assembly.” The six face up to six months in prison and fine up to 10,000 baht.
They did, anti-coal protesters didn’t. This six face court, the anti-coal protesters met a minister who came to them. The picture is crystal clear.