Giles Ji Ungpakorn
Not content with writing his own temporary military constitution just after the May 2014 coup d’état and appointing his cronies and lackeys to the so-called “parliament”, Generalissimo Prayut has also been using the “because I say so” law. Known officially as “Article 44” this law confirms that every whim of the egotistical general is enshrined into law immediately without any argument or debate. One wonders why he even bothers with his appointed parliament.
As 2015 draws to a close it is worth reviewing how this law has been used.
In April Prayut used his powers to decree that after the cancellation of martial law, the military had full powers to keep the peace and security of the land by repressing anyone opposed to the junta. Basically this was martial law used against political activists, while allowing shops and businesses to function normally.
“Prachatai” web newspaper has detailed every time when Article 44 has been used. The first act was to cancel elections to local administrative bodies.
It has also been used to force through “special economic zones” by changing land use at a stroke. Lottery income can be used for any project deemed “beneficial” by the junta. Taksin was also stripped of his police rank under this law.
In a pretend show of firmness, Article 44 was used to control illegal fishing, but it is doubtful whether any real changes will take place. This was just an attempt to avoid sanctions against Thai seafood exports.
Unruly motorbike youths have been “banned” from racing in the streets and their parents have been “ordered” to discipline their children. Any parent failing to do this can face a prison sentence or a fine.
The suppression of drugs has also been placed in the hands of the military, no doubt allowing the soldiers to make profits from doing business directly with the drug lords without competition from the police!
The general has also decreed that the “command centre for resolving civil aviation issues” is placed directly under the control of the junta. This was after international safety bodies had raised serious concerns about Thai aviation safety. The message from this and from the control of fishing is that “only the Generalissimo” can solve Thailand’s problems.
However, the vast majority of Article 44 decrees concern the moving, appointing, sacking and extension of tenure for government officials in a wide variety of departments. All this is designed to place trusted cronies in positions of power and to get rid of opponents …. just because Prayut says so. There was a time when Taksin was accused of appointing cronies and allies to top positions and this was deemed to be corruption by the yellow shirt royalists. But then Taksin was elected by a democratic vote, while Prayut just took power in a military coup, which makes it all alright!
More recently the deluded and vicious general has been ranting against pro-democracy academics who are facing prosecution for contravening his decrees. “If it’s prohibited to speak now, then they should keep quiet! It’s the same group of delinquent academics isn’t it?! I don’t care! If they want to be active then they and anyone who follows them will have to face the consequences! What if people start shooting at them and throwing bombs? They’ll just have to die then, won’t they?” The murdering general who shot down unarmed demonstrators in 2010 and staged an illegal coup in 2014, added: “Do they teach? They should be teaching kids to be good people and to respect the law”!
This is the man who is in charge of Thailand right now. He needs to be overthrown and put behind bars.