In a move that raised eyebrows among human right advocates, the junta announced on 21 November, after three years in power, that human rights would be incorporated into the regime’s so-called Thailand 4.0 sustainable development initiative.
While taking credit internationally for the country’s healthcare scheme, the Thai junta has begun the process of amending the law which could put at risk the health of millions of Thais who rely on public health coverage.
After three years of the junta’s ‘returning happiness’ mission, the country’s poor and ethnic minorities are still suffering from the junta’s ‘return the forest’ policy while the junta opens up more land for investors and cuts environmental regulations for big business.
More than three years after the first bill in Thai history to recognise the existence of same-sex couples was introduced, the Thai junta still shows no sign of passing it. Meanwhile, many LGBT activists point out that although the bill might provide greater equality, it still discriminates against LGBT people.
The disappearance of the 1932 Revolution memorial plaque is the latest of many attempts by the nation’s conservative elites to erase the history of Thailand’s democracy.
After almost three years in power and billions of baht spent in drafting the new constitution, the 20th Constitution of the Kingdom of Thailand was officially enacted on 6 April 2017. Thailand has gone through 19 constitutions in less than a century and there is no guarantee that the latest one drafted by the junta-appointed Constitution Drafting Committee will be the last one.
Not even a month after the summary killing of Chaiyapoom Pasae, a 17-year-old Lahu activist, on 17 March 2017, paramilitary officers and soldiers shot dead two insurgent suspects in the restive Deep South. The authorities claimed that the two resisted arrest and exchanged gunfire with the officers. However, the sister of one of the slain insurgent suspects said they were unarmed and shot point blank after they were asked to step out of their car.
Behind the summary killing of a young ethnic minority rights activist lies a deep-rooted culture of impunity and discrimination against ethnic minorities long stigmatised as drug traffickers.
News of police scapegoating innocent victims has inspired public calls for police reform. But amidst announcements by the junta that it will push ahead with planned reforms to the police force, some believe the initiatives will only increase the regime’s grip over the nation’s law enforcers.
In a bid to lure investors, Thailand’s junta plans to evict some 300 citizens from their homes to construct a Special Economic Zone (SEZ) in the southern province of Songkhla. While the military’s development plans could boost a stalled economy, the country’s poor are paying the price.