The junta and its puppet parties campaign for the “election” while preventing others from doing the same. The blatant rigging of its “election” involves not just its rules on elections, but on making every aspect of the “election,” and the run-up to it, suit the junta and hobble and disadvantage opponents.
Silencing opponents through the use of junta laws and decrees is a pattern of rigging a result and seems likely to be a strategy the junta will be using to “train” and “tame” politicians and to shift further advantage to the junta and its parties.
One example of this is the use of computer crimes law against Thanathorn Juangroongruangkit and the Future Forward Party.
Most junta attention, however, has been to the Puea Thai Party. In just the most recent case, party member and former minister Pichai Naripatapan has “been summonsed to report to the Technology Crime Suppression Division on Thursday to answer a charge relating to his criticism of the regime.”
He is accused of having “posted a false statement which could undermine national security and the economy or trigger panic among the public.” Pichai says he has no idea what the summons is about.
As with Thanathorn’s case, the complaint against Pichai was made by the junta.
Of course, the junta has been undermining Puea Thai since the coup – indeed, it was one of the tasks set for the junta. Preventing the party from winning yet another election underpins almost everything the junta does.
Indeed, Pichai alone has “received a total of 11 summonses since the NCPO took power…”.
Pichai “criticised the regime for using the Computer Crime Act to restrict freedom of expression, especially as an election approaches, and insisted his comments and criticisms are based on public information and can be verified.”
It isn’t just the computer crimes law that the junta uses to silence critics. It uses lese majeste, sedition and other laws and decrees. It can do so with impunity because it controls the law, manipulating it as it wants and for its own advanatage.