How to “win” an “election” I

A few days ago, PPT posted on the strategies the military junta may use to keep delaying its “election.” One thing we added was that the junta could hold an “election” and cheat and manipulate to win it (the Cambodia model).

All of this discussion was motivated by reports that the Puea Thai Party remained the most electorally popular party in the country. This despite all the repression and money the junta has used to make itself and its preferred parties “popular.”

Of course, we should have mentioned a longer term strategy that the junta has had percolating in the background all along: ban Puea Thai or decimate it by banning dozens of its politicians from contesting an “election.”

We were reminded of this strategy by a report at the Bangkok Post. As the junta and its allies have been filching “members” from Puea Thai – this report says at least 50 – it has talked, threatened, teased these defectors with various “offers.” Widely reported have been offers of favorable treatment in legal cases.

The report refers to so-called graft investigations by the National Anti-Corruption Commission. (Such cases are what the junta uses the NACC for; it is not interested in cases against the junta, only in the cases against the junta’s opponents.)

It seems there are two such political cases against Puea Thai that the NACC can rule on when the junta tells it to pull the trigger.

One “investigation” is a quite ridiculous case that seeks to ban politicians for a endorsing for a vote in parliament a bill that was quickly withdrawn. This voting is termed ” abuse of authority.” Under the Yingluck Shinawatra government, these then-MPs endorsed the amnesty bill.

The second case is about the 1.9 billion baht compensation the Yingluck government made available to all victims of violence during political protests from 2005 to 2010.

Opponents declared that these funds were mainly for “red-shirt protesters that support the party.” Perhaps that was because, attacked by the military, it was mostly red shirts who were killed and who suffered the more severe injuries. But the point was that all were eligible.

What the NACC “will look into [are] claims that compensation was not paid out in line with the 1959 Budget Procedures Act, causing more than 1.9 billion baht in damage to state coffers.” That’s every single baht of the funds in a case that can be determined whenever the junta needs to ban Puea Thai and/or its former MPs (who don’t do deals with the junta).

That case against more than two dozen former MPs “will come to a final verdict and forward it to NACC’s main board next month.”

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