INTO THE MOUTH OF THE CROCODILE
As the Thai military led government tightens its grip on the throat of the media in the country it has now arrested and is in the processing of re-educating Nation columnist Pravit Rojanaphruk.
The former Chevening scholar, Reuters Fellow at the University of the Philippines and son of a diplomat, is unlikely to be re-educated easily, as the Thai military continues in its course of Chinese communist style programmes in the name of the Royal family.
In his last tweet he wrote: “Freedom cannot be maintained if we are not willing to defend it.”
Pravit has been an open critic of the military government which is supported by Thailand’s middle class.
Middle to upper class himself he has refused to bite the bullet with his peers. He wrote addressing yellow shirted supporters of the military:
“You are not the majority of the people Bangkok is just one part of Thailand….I know that you middle class and well-heeled Bangkokians are used to snapping your fingers and having your maids, drivers, waitresses and even sex workers jump to satisfy you.
“ It must be such a pain to see these people turning the tables and dictating the course of Thai politics….Some of you say these ‘red-shirt buffaloes’ are too stupid to be allowed to vote – a privilege that should only go to college-educated Thais or the middle class….The poor and less-educated Thais in rural areas and in Bangkok want their political opinions counted as well.
A lorry with 10 wheels cannot move forward with just one wheel dictating the speed.”
He also wrote about an “invisible tyranny subtly embedded within us as a result of culture, norms, political and religious ideology, the palpable pressure of social conformity and our own personal biases.
|Pravit’s last tweet|
General Prayuth will not have liked that. Nor perhaps his most recent article in the Nation (below).
Arrests like this make it an absolute pleasure for this websites to be blocked by General Prayuth’s boys. They also do the government not credit. I am afraid this country is in for a tough time now.
CRITICS of the military junta have warned that Thailand may be trapped in a never-ending cycle of drafting and rejecting a new charter because the public will keep on rejecting undemocratic drafts in a national referendum. And this cycle, they said, would deepen the political crisis.
The warning came as red-shirt co-leader Jatuporn Prompan challenged Prime Minister Prayut Chan-o-cha, who is also leader of the National Council for Peace and Order (NCPO), to try to hang on to power indefinitely, while key member of the People’s Democratic Reform Foundation (PDRF) Akanat Promphan insisted on having reform completed before a new election. Two panels discussing the future of Thailand’s constitution took place simultaneously at Thammasat University and the Thai Journalists Association (TJA) yesterday.
At Thammasat, Piyabutr Saengkanokkul, a Thammasat law lecturer and Chaturon Chaisaeng, a former education minister and senior Pheu Thai member, warned of a vicious cycle where people would keep on rejecting junta-sponsored draft charters that are deemed undemocratic, thus indefinitely lengthening the NCPO and Prayut’s stay in power and deepening the political chasm.
“The new draft may not be that different from the one rejected [by the junta-appointed National Reform Council on September 6].
Once such a charter is accepted in a referendum then it’s very difficult or even impossible to amend,” said Piyabutr, who is also a member of Nitirat group of legal experts. He added that any NCPO-sponsored draft will likely undermine the power of an elected government through various means. Piyabutr predicted that curbing elected politicians’ authority under the new draft would be more sophisticated than the one rejected.
“You can imagine the cycle of rejecting and redrafting of yet more draft charters and so there won’t be an election and the [NCPO] will continually extend their stay in power,” said Piyabutr, warning that people were not so stupid as to not see the motivation behind it.
“We’re in a situation where we flee a tiger only to be confronted with a crocodile,” the lecturer said, using a traditional Thai analogy.
“We’re always facing this crossroad,” said Chaturon, whose passports were revoked for repeated criticism of Prayut. “The choice is between bad and very bad as long as nothing is altered.”
Piyabutr and other panellists proposed that the interim constitution be altered or annulled and the 1997 charter revived so a truly participatory and democratic drafting process of a new charter can be carried out.
Rangsiman Rome, a key member of the New Democracy Movement who organised the panel, said it was time for Prayut to step aside. “The NCPO has lost its legitimacy already … It’s time they stop meddling with the charter drafting process,” he said
At another panel hosted by the TJA, Jatuporn, a former Pheu Thai MP and red-shirt United Front for Democracy against Dictatorship (UDD) co-leader, challenged Prayut to try cling to power indefinitely and vowed that he would keep on rejecting junta-sponsored charter drafts as long as they were undemocratic.
“I don’t care when an election will take place,” Jatuporn said, now that election will only take place at least 20 months from now. “I don’t care if General Prayut wants to try to stay in power forever.”
Akanat, meanwhile, reiterated the PDRF’s positions for seeing national reform completed before a new election. This, said Akanat, was because the PDRF do not trust elected politicians to carry out reform. He said the past had taught the people that the public will was always distorted by politicians and a quick return to elections would only produce an “ersatz democracy”.