Politics: Thai military “Leveraging” flood relief success to re-gain “Political Clout”

  • By Ranger, Thai Intel’s political journalist
  • The Human Memory:

Some people have long memories while others forget rather quickly. Then short attention span and long attention span.

If anything, that also applies to Thailand-but mainly, events moves so swiftly, as shadows, and drastically in Thailand, very few here in Thailand remembers anything for long.

  • A Crazy Thai Military:

It was an all out war on the Red Shirts protesters and their political arm, Pheu Thai Party-since the 2006 coup. That all out war, was conducted by the Thai military, off course.

But in every election in the past 10 years, the Pheru Thai Party have won a landslide. And thus what can the Thai military do, as it is getting very obvious that the majority of the Thai people are against them.

  • Yingluck’s Powerful Mandate:

When Yingluck first came into power, again, through an election landslide, it started off on a confrontational road with the Thai military. Talks of coup was everywhere. But that was impossible. Laws governing the military human resource practice was going to be change to give the government more say in military promotions. And the Thai military dominated intelligence apparatus, was going to be revampt.

Yingluck was on an offense, and the Thai military, mostly, kept quiet-only reminding Yingluck that what ever took place, needs to be done according to the law. And it is the law, that thai Thai army chief, Prayuth had held up as a shield. The word law was mentioned so many times by Prayuth, it became a broken record. Even with the bloody crack-down on the Red Shirts protesters that killed about 100 protesters and civilians-Prayuth maintained that the military was under order of the then Democrat Party government-shielded by law.

  • Yingluck Weakened by Flood:

But then something happened-and that was a major flooding of Thailand, and the only organ that is capable of deploying enough people to address the situation was the military. Thus Yingluck and the Thai military bagen marching towards a close-working-relationship.

With most of Thailand’s media being anti-Yingluck and pro-establishment, the media reports propelled the Thai military into a “Hero” of the flooding status. Several polls after the flooding, confirms this re-surging popularity of the military-with the latest poll of the best Thai CEO, going to Prayuth, the Thai military chief.

  • Yingluck and the Thai Military Co-Exists:

As for Yingluck, all the pre-flooding talk of reform in the military came to a complete halt-and it seemed, that Yingluck and the Thai military have reached a new level of understanding-being mostly in maintaining the status quo.

Therefore, from a very long battle with the Thai military since the 2006 coup, the relations developed to the point that Yingluck have decided to cater off the military as “Witness” in the Red Shirts massacre, and go after the then government of Abhisit.

But time does not stand still!

  • Differences Still Stand:

Fundamentally, Yingluck and the Red Shirts are about Democracy, and therefore, even with the status quo, there is no doubt that the military drawn Thai constitution that puts Thailand under a “Judicialized” system, as being in control of Thailand, needs to be changed. Then the Red Shirts are fundamentally liberal political activist-and thus they are against the in-humane lese majeste laws.

What is occuring now in Thailand, is that the Thasi military is leveraging its success with the flooding situation for political clout, and for the past two weeks have been making political statements-that is indicative of a politicized military-all over again.

First came statements, from the military, on the constitution situation, then lese majeste.

“Yingluck must not amend the constitution based on the electoral winning but must ask the majority of the Thais how they feel about amending the constitution,” said a Thai general yesterday. Before that, Prayuth, the Thai army chief said, those who wants to amend the lese majeste laws should leave Thailand and be shunned by the Thais.

  • Discouraging Trend:

From a Yingluck on an offensive to reform the Thai military, now the Thai military is on the offensive against Yingluck reforming-the whole of Thailand. And Things have gotten so negative for Yingluck, her Deputy, Chalerm, says, the government should make the Thais feel “happy” before tackling hard issues.

Already, one hard issue is the anti-monarchist mind-map, produced during the crack-down, linking a hord of people, mostly Red Shirts and Pheu Thai Politicians as having a conspiracy to overthrow Thai royalism.

Many are in jail because of that mind-map for lese majeste. Now it appears, the mind-map is a creation of the military-just a figment of the imagination.

Thailand on the Edge – Again

by Joshua Kurlantzick

January 6, 2012

Having just returned from Thailand, I found that the country, which nearly succeeded in destroying itself in 2010 and early 2011, seems determined to continue trying to do so in 2012. As anyone who follows Thailand (and its independent news sites like Prachatai) knows, despite the election of the Puea Thai party there have continued to be a staggering wave of arrests for lèse-majesté (LM) in recent months. What’s notable about these arrests, as the excellent Thai commentator Pavin Chachavalpongpun notes, is that the LM attacks have moved beyond a tool to blunt and ostracize political enemies and have become a weapon by royalitsts to attack average people who have little connection, if at all, to Thai political discourse. The LM crackdown is now approaching McCarthyesqe levels of vindictiveness and outright nuttiness in the “evidence” presented to supposedly convict someone of the crime.

The most notable of these arrests, of course, was the jailing – and twenty-year sentence –of an elderly Chinese-Thai man for allegedly sending four text messages critical of the king. The accused claimed he had no knowledge of the messages, and barely knew how to work text messaging. But academics in Bangkok privately say that many more LM cases are coming, but have been kept quiet for several months as the authorities pursue the claims. A group of academics have quietly tried to convince the authorities to drop some of the cases, which include cases against young university students. Alas, thus far the authorities do not seem interested in dropping any of the cases. The mood, among many academic and liberal circles in Thailand, can only be compared to that of activists in a truly authoritarian country like Burma or Vietnam; the level of fear among Thai activists is equivalent to what I have seen in these other nations, which Thailand of course holds itself high above. But not any longer.

I feared for the future of Thailand in 2010. I fear even more for its future today, as the LM campaign has broadened beyond elite political battles to become a broader war for society. I also wonder why, if the royal institution in Thailand is devoted to free speech – the king memorably said that he was not above criticism – it does not use its right to pardon LM “criminals” en masse?

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