National Council for Peace and Order (NCPO)
Tools of the state. Political opportunists. Foes of democracy. These are all rather harsh descriptions of NGOs. But for Pinkaew Laungaramsri from Chiang Mai University’s Faculty of Social Science, they are truly the roles many NGOs have played in recent Thai political history.
The junta has revealed its blueprint for national reconciliation, combining the late King’s philosophy with the junta’s 20-year national strategy. On 17 July 2017, Lt Gen Kukiat Srinaka of Army Region 1 presided over a public forum on the ‘social contract for unity and reconciliation’, the blueprint for the junta’s national reconciliation plan. The social contract was drafted by a subcommittee under the junta-appointed Committee on National Reform, National Strategy, and Reconciliation, most of whose members are military officers.
In the three years since the 2014 coup d’état, the regime has disrupted 157 public events, most for being politically sensitive. According to iLaw, a human rights advocacy group, from the day of the military coup d’état on 22 May 2014 until 10 July 2017, the junta has disrupted at least 157 public events.
A military court has acquitted a well-known labour unionist accused violating a summons from the junta. On 6 July 2017, the Military Court of Bangkok acquitted Jittra Cotchadet, a labour activist, former president of the Triumph Workers Union and MP candidate for the Democratic Force Party. Jittra was accused of violating National Council for Peace and Order (NCPO) Announcement No. 41/2014 for failing to report to the authorities in June 2014 when she was in Sweden at the time.
Military has attempted to ban a book about the rice subsidy programme authored by politicians from the Pheu Thai Party. On 14 June 2017, Gen Chalermchai Sittisad, Commander-in-Chief of the Royal Thai Army, spoke to the media about a visit to the house of Yuttapong Charasathien, a former Pheu Thai MP and Deputy Minister of Agriculture and Cooperatives, by eight soldiers on 11 June.
The junta’s cabinet has given the greenlight to the Ministry of Defence to spend 2.3 billion baht for buying tanks from China. On 13 June 2017, the cabinet approved 2.3 billion baht budget for buying 34 VN-1 tanks from the People’s Republic of China according to Voice TV. The government claimed that the procurement is necessary for replacing the obsolete tanks.
Despite a growing deficit, Thailand’s junta-appointed parliament has voted unanimously in favour of a draft government budget that allocates an extra 8.8 billion baht to the Ministry of Defence (MoD) in 2018.
Soldiers have paid visit to the house of a well-known anti-junta activist, demanding her to cease all political activities. At about 2 pm on 7 June 2017, soldiers visited a house of Chonticha Jaeng-rew, an activist from Democracy Restoration Group (DRG), in Lat Lum Kaeo District of Pathum Thani Province.
A democracy activist accused of defying the junta’s ban on political gatherings and the controversial referendum act has vowed to fight the case in a military court while the military prosecutor wants his right to vote to be suspended for a decade. The Military Court of Bangkok on 24 May 2017 held a deposition hearing in the case of Rakchat Wongathichat, a member of the New Democracy Movement (NDM).
Three years after the last coup d’état, human rights lawyers have argued that the junta could not hold power without the support of the country’s judicial institutions. Thai Lawyers for Human Rights (TLHR) on 27 May 2017 released a report about the relationship between the military government and judicial institutions.