Submitted on Tue, 7 Mar 2017 - 04:02 PM
According to a recent political survey, most Thai people believe Section 44 of the Interim Charter, which gives the ruling junta absolute power, is crucial to the country’s political reform. A majority believes the Section should remain in place even after the next election.
On 4 March 2017, Bangkok University published a poll on "Section 44 and Progress of Reform in Thailand”. The survey data was collected between 1 and 3 March from a sample of 1,279 people selected for gender, education, age, locality and income.
48.5 per cent of the respondents are fairly confident that the Section will successfully contribute to reforming the country’s politics, as the junta has promised. 14.1 per cent are highly confident while 20 and 9.8 per cent are fairly and highly unconfident respectively.
When asked what Section 44 evokes in the mind of respondents, 47.5 per cent think about peace and order, 32.9 per cent about power and law enforcement, 23.2 per cent about decisiveness, 23.2 per cent about suppression and the remaining 16.2 per cent about urgent and immediate command.
The survey also asked for the biggest contribution Section 44 has made to Thailand so far. Over 50 per cent answered the suppression of corruption in the state bureaucracy, 45.7 the prohibition of public protests, 42.2 per cent drug suppression, 40 per cent the suppression of mafia and influential figures and 25.9 per cent the attempts to arrest Dhammachayo, the former abbot of Wat Dhammakaya.
The poll also shows that only 19.3 per cent of the respondents think that Section 44 should be abolished after the next election. 60.7 per cent believe it should remain but only be invoked when the political situation is beyond control. 17.7 per cent want the section to remain to secure the country’s peace and order. The remaining 2.3 per cent are uncertain.
But though a majority of respondents overwhelmingly embrace the junta’s absolute power, the survey also found that most respondents lacked understanding of Section 44. 34.5 per cent believe they have little understanding while 37.8 per cent have minimal understanding. Only 21.2 per cent and 2.8 per cent rated themselves as possessing a fair and deep understanding respectively.
Abhisit Vejjajiva, the leader of the Democrat Party, recently warned that frequent use of Section 44 may make state officials addicted to absolute power since it allows them to bypass all legal processes.
“The use of this special power will make people addicted. Those who are satisfied will want more. Officials will feel that it’s easy to use this power because no one can argue with it or even petition the Administrative Court. There is nothing to stand in its way,” stated Abhisit.
Photo from Asia News Weekly