In an interview with Prachatai following the constitutional referendum, Nidhi Eoseewong maintained that the results were due to the lack of free and open debate and criticism. Many people consequently made what seemed the easy choice giving the National Council for Peace and Order (NCPO) a sort of split legitimacy: While Thais may accept the results, it will be difficult to claim legitimacy with the international community where the process has been seen as unjust from the start. Despite the referendum result, he holds out hope for democracy future.
People from various backgrounds who voted ‘yes’ in last Sunday’s referendum revealed to Prachatai that they want the country to move “forwards” even though they have read very little, if anything, of the actual draft.
The embattled politician from the Pheu Thai Party believes that no matter what the referendum result is, elections must be held by 2017 but in any event democracy will not return to Thailand in the near future. What is the future of Thailand’s politics ? Why do some Thais decide to ‘vote yes,’ while some go for ‘vote no,’ and some decide not to go to vote at all? Most importantly, what is the possible result of the referendum?
Under the junta’s climate of fear and intimidation where politicians, academics, and civil society are silenced, a high school student, Parit Chiwarak, withstands the pressure and actively protects the right to free education from the junta’s attempts to abolish it.
Citing arms race in Southeast Asia as a primary reason, the Thai junta has embraced a plan to equip the Royal Thai Navy with submarines. However, many wonder if the extra 36 billion baht in military spending could be a burden to the struggling Thai economy when it could be spent on other necessities.
The liberation movement engaged in armed struggle for the independence of the three southernmost provinces has always cited Thailand’s assimilation policy and its discrimination against the use of local Malay language as one of the main reasons of the armed struggle. The policy of language discrimination in Thailand dates back at least 80 years ago. These decreed that Thai nationals, whatever their ethnicity, must speak Thai, learn Thai in school. This greatly affected people in the Deep South whose first language is Malay.Due to this uncompromising assimilation policy, the state of Malay in Patani has become very weak and marginalized. Hara Shintaro, an expert in Malay and and fierce critic of Deep South politics discusses how the language, Malay identity and violent conflict are intertwined
Prachatai talked with a key member of Thailand’s restive Deep South’s liberation movement engaging in a peace dialogue with Bangkok about the violence during Ramadan month, their strategy and the future of the peace process.
“The NCPO’s motto is ‘Returning Happiness to the People’, but I receive only bitterness. I don’t know where my happiness is,” said a community leader arbitrarily detained because he allegedly is an 'influential person' which must be suppressed under NCPO Head Order No. 13/2016.
Following a meeting with the Election Commission of Thailand, on 18 May, Damaso G. Magbual, chairperson and co-founder of the Asian Network for Free Elections (ANFREL), met with Prachatai English for an interview to discuss what the presence of an election monitoring group may mean for the upcoming referendum vote.
Weakening elected government officials, enhancing bureaucracy, and increasing relations with influential capitalists is what the military is trying to do to secure its legitimacy after “the transition”, says Prajak Kongkirati, a political scientist from Thammasat University.