Giles Ji Ungpakorn
Having bullied and threatened the population into accepting its authoritarian constitution, the Thai military is busy expanding its political influence in order to dominate political society in the decades to come.
Already, each area of government is dominated by military personnel, either directly or indirectly. Apart from dominating the cabinet, soldiers are in charge of administrating matters in the provinces, acting to suppressing dissidents, acting like police officers, supposedly “solving” local disputes, and overseeing development projects. The junta have also used its dictatorial powers to transfer various officials and replace them with pro-junta cronies.
The process involves much nepotism and corruption, both legal and illegal. It is a great time to be in the military. The opportunities for rich picking abound.
Added to this is the process of acting more and more like royalty and political celebrities. This process started some time ago with the egotistical General Prayut who gave himself supreme and unchecked powers. He also started to behave as though he himself was the king, with only a brief nod to the incapacitated invalid Pumipon.
Recent pictures from the north of Thailand show the wife of Prayut’s younger brother opening a small dam which she is supposed to have “graciously given” to the local people. Like royalty, she doesn’t seem to be able to walk herself and a large banner proclaims her generosity. Officials are seen fawning around her. It is a mini version of all the nonsense surrounding the King’s rural development works, and also shows an attempt to establish the military as a benefactor to the people. This would be useful in any future elections where the military might wish to set up its own political party.
Latest reports, however, indicate that this expensive dam has been washed away by heavy rain.
Of course Prayut’s younger brother was promoted to a command position by the Generalissimo himself. Other relatives of top generals have also benefited from the destruction of democracy. Prayut’s nephew, the son of this same younger brother, is in charge of a company which has been involved in 11 government contracts worth 155,603,000 baht. Naturally, this and the various military coups were carried out with the aim of eradicating corruption and political bribes to the people by politicians.
On further consideration, the generals are not very dissimilar from the royals. They both share qualities of self-delusion, greed, the belief in their “devine right” to govern without ever being elected, and tendencies towards bullying mixed with stupidity.
Meanwhile the generals have just published their budget for 2017. The Ministry of Defence and Police get 312 billion baht while the
Ministry of Health gets less than half that amount at 126 billion baht. No mystery about their priorities here!