Thai PM's achievements reports fails in some critical tests

Thai PM's achievements reports fails in some critical tests
Deputy Prime Minister Wissanu reiterated the Prayut government and the NCPO did not intend to remain in power beyond the implementation of the reform roadmap.

The military regime's presentation of its six-month progress report - as if it were business as usual - can either be seen as them being considerate or plainly pretentious. After all, no matter whether you like this government or not, we don't really have any choice on how long it wields absolute power - this decision rests with Prime Minister General Prayut Chan-o-cha alone.

Though it was called the six-month "achievements" report when presented on Friday, the reality is that this junta has been in power for nearly 11 months.

So, I thought I'd take this opportunity to come up with my report on Prayut the junta leader, Prayut the PM in three significant areas:

ROADMAP TO ELECTION

Prayut was vague and non-committal when he said last Friday that his government's ability to stay within the set timeframe would depend largely on security and order in society. The timeframe for the country's return to democracy has tentatively been set for early next year.

It is Prayut who will decide whether Thailand is secure and orderly enough by next year, otherwise the chance of seeing an election held by early 2016 may be too optimistic and unrealistic.

This, combined with the fact that there's no certainty as to whether the junta-sponsored draft charter will go through a referendum or not does not bode well for the so-called roadmap.

The premier's unwillingness to announce whether or not a public referendum will be held at this late stage when the first draft of the charter is already completed possibly reflects the lack of confidence the powers-that-be have in Prayut's popularity and the acceptability of the charter itself.

NATIONAL RECONCILIATION

One must not be misled by the facade of calm and order engineered by restricting civil rights, such as the banning of public assembly or forbidding more than five people to get together as a sign of national reconciliation. If one looks at the nasty accusations and counter-accusations as to who was behind the recent car bomb in Koh Samui or the hate speech prevalent on social media by different political sides, one can recognise that reconciliation is still as great a phantom as it was 11 months ago.

The National Council for Peace and Order (NCPO) and the Prayut regime has so far failed to bring about national reconciliation - what we have is an ersatz facade of something made to look like reconciliation.

THE ROAD TO DEMOCRACY

Remember the NCPO slogan promising to foster and return full-fledged democracy to Thailand?

Last Friday, Prayut implied that it was too late for people to push for full-fledged democratic principles and that society should focus instead on reconciliation and reform.

If anything, 11 months under this military regime has encouraged more and more Thais to rely on dictatorship as a means of solving problems and regulating people's coexistence. If you consider the suggestions made for the use of absolute power as per the interim charter's Article 44, one will realise that people are indeed addicted to dictatorship.

There are no signs of Thailand moving towards democracy. In fact, the Kingdom's political and cultural grounds are actually being prepared for a long-term dictatorship disguised as a limited, quasi or "Thai-version" of democracy.

Prayut's only accomplishment by default, however, is teaching young Thais that freedom and democracy cannot be taken for granted no matter how good the promises sound.

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