Instead of investigating human rights violations, the National Human Rights Commission (NHRC) has been mandated to defend the image of the military government and this new measure is likely to be permanent, said Human Rights Watch. Two weeks ago, What Tingsamitr, the NHRC chairperson, told the media that the commission is initiating an investigation into the human rights report recently released by the US State Department. What stated that according to the 2017 Constitution, the NHRC is responsible for scrutinising reports on human rights in Thailand.
While the confronting political ideologies in western countries are the left and the right, their counterparts in Thai politics are moral politics and the politics of economic inequality. These ideologies will be represented through political parties in the upcoming election. In the 2018 elections, policies will not and cannot be a decisive factor since politicians have to conform to the NCPO’s National Strategic Plan which provides a policy framework that future governments have to follow for the next 20 years.
The recent announcement by a key leader of the Future Forward Party (FFP) that he would not press the issue of amending the l?se majest? law in the new party, has sparked a political debate on whether the politician is making a strategic move or retreating from his liberal stance. The newly-established FFP has continued to incite controversy after Piyabutr Saengkanokkul, one of the party’s most prominent members, announced on Facebook that he would not use the new party as a political tool to amend Article 112 of the Criminal Code, the l?se majest? law
A prominent anti-junta activist has formed a new political party, vowing that the party will ‘’not look for votes, but for problems’’, propose superior policies, and bring entertainment to Thai politics. The members include an environmentalist, a dog-lover, a historian geek and a software expert. In early March, Sombat Boonngamanong, a pro-democracy activist, announced that he was running a political party and was going to participate in the upcoming general election.
The newly established Future Forward Party (FFP) has been heavily criticised for its lack of political experience, and its left-leaning orientation, with lots of talk of a social welfare state and inclusive society. On 15 March 2018, Thanathorn Juangroongruangkit, Executive Vice President of the Thai Summit Group, hosted a press conference to launch a new party, Anakhot Mai, literally translated as ‘new future’, but whose official English name is the Future Forward Party.
Red shirts-turned-royalists, anti-election leaders, “moral politics” supporters, an ex-junta official and an anti-lèse majesté academic have all revealed their intention to participate in the upcoming election. And this is just the beginning. 2 February was the first day of registration for new political parties, with over 40 registered at the Election Commission of Thailand (ECT). But will these new parties lead to new choices for the people?
On 5 January 2018, the Thai authorities detained Sam Sokha, a prominent labour activist, and deported her to Cambodia on 8 February. The incident has raised concerns among various human rights organisations that Hun Sen and the Thai military government are covertly making a deal on exchanging political refugees. The Thai and Cambodian government officials cooperated in arranging a hurried deportation of the activist. She was deported little more than a month after she was arrested.
The Ministry of Energy and anti-coal protesters have reached an agreement to temporarily halt plans to build two power plants in Krabi and Songkhla.
Since the junta leader coined the term “Thai-ism democracy,” various politicians have observed that it is just another attempt by the junta to justify its authoritarian politics by using beautiful words. But looking at Prayut’s further explanations, it might be worse than that. “Thailand can no longer be in conflict.
A new organic bill appears to breach the constitution, by allowing the current National Anti-Corruption Commission (NACC) chair, who has a close connection with the junta, to continue in office despite being constitutionally ineligible. Over the past week, the Thai public has questioned the NACC over its ability to investigate corruption allegations surrounding the National Council for Peace and Order (NCPO), given that NACC Chair Pol Gen Watcharapol Prasarnratchakij has close ties with Gen Prawit Wongsuwan, the NCPO deputy chairperson.