A government watchdog has evaluated Thailand’s junta as ‘stable, prosperous and sustainable’ on the third anniversary of the last coup, warning that elections will not be enough to dismantle the National Council for Peace and Order (NCPO).
iLaw, after monitoring the laws issued by the NCPO over the past three years, describes in a new report the numerous mechanisms implemented by the NCPO to safeguard its influence no matter the outcome of future elections.
“The new Constitution drafted during the period of the NCPO provides for multiple mechanisms to protect their power … Therefore, even though there are new elections and regardless of who would win the elections, the same military clique remains in power and has the political space to exercise their power through a variety of mechanisms.
All the work that has been done during the time of the NCPO regime will remain applicable in Thailand for the foreseeable future,” concludes the report.
The NCPO, the report argues, has pushed the country’s democratisation backwards in the following ways:
- Power has been centralised in the executive
- Avenues for citizens to participate in governance have been cut off
- The mass media has been strangled
- The military has infiltrated the judicial process
- Checks and balances have been erased
Reforms designed to entrench the junta’s power have been pushed through a new constitution, at least 239 acts approved by an appointed parliament, the use of Article 44 (absolute power) at least 151 times, and various other NCPO announcements.
“The NCPO has destroyed the governance mechanisms and culture that the people built over the last two decades. It will probably be in power for a long time — long enough for the people to feel weary, to feel apathetic about the governance methods of these men who use absolute power, who do not have to listen to the voices of the people. Such an environment is dangerous, and makes it difficult for Thailand to return to democracy,” concludes Yingcheep Atchanont, the Director of iLaw.
iLaw is an independent organisation that supports citizen participation in the making of laws. The NCPO came to power in a coup on 22 May 2014.