Just as the dictatorship in George Orwell’s book “1984” claimed that “war is peace, freedom is slavery, ignorance is strength,” the Thai junta is claiming that a military dictatorship that destroyed democracy is “kicking off a process of political reform.”
Let us be clear about this. General Prayuth Chan-ocha, the head of the junta, ordered the cold-blooded murder of 90 unarmed pro-democracy demonstrators in Bangkok in 2010. He and his military mates have taken part in two coups d’état against elected governments and they have threatened, imprisoned and tortured political prisoners.
The military’s allies in the Democrat Party have staged violent street protests against the electoral process with total impunity, while the army sat back and watched with satisfaction. This reactionary movement has repeatedly stated that Thai citizens are “too uneducated” to have the right to vote. They hate public spending that benefits the poor. These are people who support the use of the lèse-majesté law to jail activists for decades for merely criticizing the status quo. Those who protest against the dictatorship are summonsed to “have their attitudes changed” in military camps.
The anti-democrats hated Thaksin and his political machine because he won the hearts and mind of millions of ordinary people through real pro-poor policies. These reactionaries could never win mass support in society, so they resort to the use of force.
Thaksin’s parties were not leading the struggle for democracy, but that is not the point. The point is that most citizens used their brains to vote for these parties for very good reasons. This is what the anti-democrats hate about democracy.
If Prayuth and his loathsome cronies are trying to reform the Thai political system to make it more democratic, the Earth must be flat, there must be fairies at the bottom of our gardens and aliens must be able to control our thoughts through the TV!
Yet there is no shortage of lick-spittle, fawning, devious reactionaries lining up to take part in the military’s anti-reforms. Among them are right-wing university academics, judges, the Electoral Commission, business people and civilian and military officials. They tell bare-faced lies that this will “reform” Thailand and put us on the road to freedom and peace.
There is also no shortage of gutter journalists at the Bangkok Post and the Nation newspapers who report this circus as though it was a real reform process.
Finally there are the pathetic NGO activists and the worst sections of the labor movement who are falling over themselves to get on the anti-reform train with suggestions for the junta. They are either cheap opportunists or political idiots. Maybe they are both.
But the creation of a Burmese-style “guided democracy,” where the military and their allies control power whatever the election results, will be unstable in Thailand. People have a long tradition of fighting for democracy and they will not tolerate for long the turning of the clock back to the old dictatorship days.
When the fight for democracy resumes in strength, we shall have to sweep the military and all their fawning toadies from power and deny them any role in building a future democratic system.
The author is a refugee from lèse-majesté charges in Thailand. He is living in the United Kingdom.