In response to the junta’s four questions on elections, Prachatai invited activists and members of civil society to pose their own questions to Gen Prayut Chan-o-cha and the National Council for Peace and Order (NCPO). The fifth question is whether they will dare to answer.
Last week, Prayuth posed the following four questions to viewers of his weekly televised address, seeking feedback on the issue of elections:
1. Will elections bring a ‘good governance’?
2. What then, if elections do not bring good governance?
3. Is it right to only focus on elections, at the expense of the country’s future and other issues?
4. Should politicians who engage in ‘inappropriate behaviour’ be given opportunities to participate in elections again?
Gen Prayut Chan-o-cha
These questions can be interpreted only as a test of how a continuation of the military government and further postponing of elections would be received.
People have answered these questions more than adequately already. So in return, here, Prachatai interrogates Prayuth and the NCPO. Will he dare to respond?
Democracy Restoration Group
1. How can the NCPO credit itself ‘good governance’ when principles of accountability, transparency and participation are still not upheld?
2. The constitution has been promulgated already, and the political framework set in place imbues various independent organisations the power to direct and watch over the next government. But these organisations have no relation to the people. How can we be sure that these organisations will direct the government towards good governance?
3. The NCPO has repeatedly praised its ‘20 Year National Reform Plan’ but worries the next government will not follow it. One interesting question is, who will be responsible if the NCPO’s national strategy leads the country to failure?
4. It seems the NCPO is worried elections will result in unsuitable persons entering office, even though the constitution and other regulations already address attributes and traits that are prohibited in public officials. Why isn’t the NCPO concerned that its own dictatorial system has selected inappropriate individuals to lead the country, that is, people who have no relationship to the people at all?
The New E-saan Movement
1. What democratic and human rights principles do the NCPO uphold?
2. Are you aware that coup d’etats violate democratic and human rights principles?
3. Who is responsible when the country’s interests—for example, the economy—are damaged after a coup d’etat seizes the power to govern from the people? Who is responsible when tax-payers’ money is spent in the interests of the NCPO’s friends?
4. If in the future, Thailand experiences another coup d’etat, will it be charged as a crime against the state? What is the appropriate punishment for destroying democracy and insulting the people?
Nottapon Boonprakob, director and author
1. Do you think bloodlines automatically pass down the characteristics of good leaders?
2. Have you ever successfully prohibited your children from asking questions or expressing their opinions?
3. According to the beliefs of various religions, and evidence from both history and biology, all people have the same origin in that we share the same descendants. So I want to ask you, are you and I kin?
4. It’s been a long time, I have seen you answer questions of almost every kind. On this occasion, I’d like to entrust a question with someone else, if that’s alright? Rats, I’ve wasted a question.
Sriprai Nonsee, unionist from Rangsit area
1. Coup d’etats to seize power from the people are unlawful. How, then, can a junta meet standards of good governance?
2. Three years of the junta’s governance has made the economy plummet: goods are expensive, wages are low, unemployment is high, taxes are rising and human rights violations are on the rise. Are these the pride and achievements of the NCPO?
3. When will you return power to the people, by restoring the right to vote and by revising the constitution—which should come from the people genuinely?
4. What laborers like me have constantly observed during the past three years is that the NCPO interferes in everything. Labour issues are no different. When labour disputes arise, NCPO representatives come and sit in our meetings, even though they are not familiar with labour laws, the rights of laborers or the principles of negotiation at all. The only message that labourers hear constantly from the NCPO is to stop mobilising, to have patience, to wait. I have repeatedly heard threatening language drawing upon NCPO Head Orders, Article 44 and the Public Assembly Act. Laborers like me haven’t received the happiness that the NCPO claims to be working for. We haven’t received the bright futures that the NCPO promised. My final question is, when will the NCPO leave? Will it be left to the people to come out and depose you ourselves?
Chumaphon Tangkliang, TEA group (an activist group dedicated to rights, democracy and equality for all sexes)
1. How will the NCPO address suspicions over its own corruption?
2. Will you be willing to take responsibility, if in the future either domestic or international investigations discover your various crimes, violations of human rights and other actions that have endangered many people?
3. Are the voices of females, males, gatoey, tomboys, lesbians and all people equal or not? Are the voices of all citizens equal? If they are not, which groups have the most important voices?
4. When will there be elections?
What would you like to ask Prayuth and the NCPO?