On February 23, the NCPO published an infomercial attached to The Nation. Februuary 23 is admittedly some time ago. However, a high resolution scan has only recently come into my possession. The infomercial is presumably meant to reassure the English-speaking world that the NCPO knows what it is doing.
Here is the inside spread of the infomercial:
Figure: Inside of infomercial from February 23, 2016 (See larger image here)
Some obvious questions follow:
1) Why does the National Reform Steering Assembly have 11 committees while the National Legislative Assembly has 16 committees? Where are the missing committees for agriculture and cooperatives; transport; foreign affairs; natural resources and the environment; commerce, labour and industry; and religion, art and culture, and tourism? Are they all subsumed under ‘Others’? If so, why not have an ‘Others’ and only 11 committees for the National Legislative Assembly.
2) Why does the government have 11 policies, 18 urgent policies, 11 areas of national agenda, and 9 strategies, some of which overlap?
3) Given that color coding is used, under the 37 Reform Agenda of National Reform Steering Assembly, why is Agenda Item 27, ‘Preparation for “Inundated Bangkok” Crisis’ not in red, as with ‘Reform of Natural Resources and Environment’ and ‘Natural Disaster and Global Warming Management’? Further, where is an agenda item for ‘Preparation for “Drought in all of Thailand [except Bangkok?]” Crisis?
4) Under the 37 Reform Agenda of National Reform Steering Assembly, what is ‘Protection Against Intervention Into the Media’? Is this a reference to General Prayut’s media management skills?
5) Why do the only foreign affairs issues listed concern the AEC and regional connectivity? What about China? The EU? The US? North Korea?
6) Why does the Committee to Mobilize Implementation of Key/Urgent Government Policies only have 5 ‘Areas of Mobilization’ when the color coding for the 18 urgent policies shows 8 different areas?
7) Under ‘5 Areas of Mobilization by the Committee to Mobilize Implementation of Key and Urgent Government Policies’, does the order indicate any level of priority? Or any indication of logical ordering whatsoever?
8) Why are there seven sub-committees under the Committee to Mobilize Implementation of Key/Urgent Government Policies as well as six other committees directly under the Committee to Mobilize Implementation of Key/Urgent Government Policies? Is this not duplication of effort?
9) Under the Six committees, what is the difference between reform agendas and agendas for mobilization?
10) Under the Six committees, why are some ministries in a red font and others in green?
11) Under the Six committees, what do the regions mean at the bottom of the columns?
12) Why do the Seven Sub-committees not have names when other committees do and there is space?
13) Why do the Seven Sub-committees not have numerically ordered strategies?
14) Why are all the committees so complicated that there is a need for a ‘Committee to Coordinate Policies Between Committees’?
15) Under the Government Budget Spending and Monitoring Committee and Six Subcommittees, why are so many acronyms used when the space is quite large?
16) Why is the ‘Task Force for Mobilizing the State of the People (Private Sector)’ under ‘Committee 2: Economy Monetary Matters Government Investment and Infrastructure’ and not under any other committees? What is so special about this committee, or what is the reasoning?
17) Why is the main mechanism for mobilizing a “State of the People” process centralized and top down through non-elected provincial governors?
18) On this Google search for “state of the people”: https://www.google.com/?gws_rd=ssl#q=%22state+of+the+people%22, does General Prayut mean the ‘State of the People’ as in Governor Scott Walker’s State of the People address or as in Ho Chi Minh’s ‘State of the People’ concept?
19) Why are the Public Relations under the Secretariat of the Prime Minister exactly duplicated in another box directly under it labelled ‘Public Relations’?
20) Why was this infomercial sponsored by the Government Savings Bank, KTB and the National Lottery and no one else? Why use other organizations funds for a publication of the Prime Minister’s Operations Center Task Force in any case?
21) Why does the formatting look like it was done in excel by someone with no idea of how to use a space bar?
22) Given that connectivity is presented through colors, was it perhaps a bad idea to use white as one of the colors when white is used a lot in other places?
23) Why is the font so small? Seriously, why not summarize and provide a link to an expanded version on a website?
24) Why are army officials involved in mobilizing a ‘State of the People’ process? Seriously, is not using military officers, by nature centralized, top down and hierarchical, actually not helpful with reducing ‘vertical power’ and improving ‘horizontal power’ structure, as in another page of the infomercial?
25) Why are the following words spelled wrongly or wrongly singular etc. in what should be a confidence-inspiring infomercial (corrections provided)?
Social -> Society
Comittee > Committee
Operation -> Operations
Cost -> Costs
Dimension -> Dimensions
Prime Minister -> Prime Minister’s
Necessary Disaster -> ??? The May 2014 Coup?
Embassy staff and diplomats, NGO staff, international entrepreneurs and businesspeople, employees of multinationals, educated Thais, students, expatriates and foreign tourists were all an audience for the infomercial. The 25 questions above barely touch on the actual policies of the heavily centralized, wildly functionally differentiated nature of the Royal Thai Government, which the different overlapping agenda items, policies, committees, and ministries implies. And, at the top of the chart sits one man, an absolute military dictator, by whom all major policies must be vetted, by whom all major decisions must be made.
And what about the elephant in the room? Given that no political party endorses the 2016 draft Constitution, how could there be a handover to an elected government in 2017 if the referendum rejects it? How can the winning coalition rule without a constitution when the military have overturned both the 1997 ‘People’s Constitution’ and their own 2007 constitutions? This is the best we can do?