Giles Ji Ungpakorn
All the tedious hype surrounding King Pumipon’s death should not deflect us from looking at what the military junta is doing. Now that the military junta have settled in to maintaining power long term, with or without elections, they are busy making themselves comfortable and enjoying life.
General “pig-face” Prawit Wongsuwan is Deputy Prime Minister for National Security, Minister of Defence, Deputy Junta Head, Chairman of the advisory committee of the junta, Chairman of the Traffic Jam-Solution Committee for Bangkok, and Deputy Chairman of the National Land Policy Committee.
He has done such a good job in his various posts, especially in solving the terrible traffic problem in Bangkok, that, no doubt, he deserves to receive separate salaries for all his duties. He has also solved the land problem by encouraging soldiers to evict small farmers from so-called illegal land settlements and by cutting down their rubber trees.
In late September, he and his mates therefore took a well-earned rest and holiday to Hawaii under the pretence that they were all part of a vital delegation to the “ASEAN-US Defense Informal Meeting”. The total cost of the Thai Airways flight was 21 million baht, which included 600,000 baht for food and drinks consumed on board. All of this was paid out of public money. We don’t know how much was spent on accommodation or special “Hawaii Shirts” for the occasion.
Naturally, the military, the anti-corruption committee and all the various “independent” bodies dedicated to fighting corruption and abuse of power, have said that the budget for this trip was all “correct and above-board”. Thai airways also threatened to sue anyone who revealed the passenger list for this junket due to “issues of confidentiality”. The junta added that because they used Thai Airways, it was like “moving the money from one public purse to another”. Of course there are also generals on the Executive Board of the airline and we can only guess how much this scheme saved for the personal purses of Prawit and his mates.
In May this year Generalissimo Prayut took a trip to Russia which cost 16 million baht. On that trip the cost of food and drink for the party on board the flight amounted to 1.8 million baht. The excuse for this holiday was an ASEAN-Russia meeting.
Again this junket has been deemed “correct and above-board”. But former elected Prime Minister Yingluk is facing prosecution for organising a rice price protection scheme which benefitted small farmers. Farmers are suffering from low rice prices today and the junta is clueless as to what to do. They probably don’t even care.
While the uniformed snouts are in the feeding trough, the junta is trying to impose “co-payments” on the public for health care, some villagers are so angry that there are no funds to repair the roads into their villages that they have been bathing in the pot-holes, and the generals are always saying that there is no money for increasing the minimum wage.
In a recent move the junta has just appointed 28 MORE military and police generals to its rubber-stamp parliament. This is to ensure the necessary “peace and stability” for feeding at the trough and so that there can be more jobs for the boys.
Military coups and military regimes are truly carried out to eradicate corruption in society!!