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Political and economic reform urged by a civil society group in the 89th Revolution anniversary

On the 89th anniversary of the 24 June 1932 Revolution in Thailand, the People for Democracy Movement of Thailand (PDMT) calls for an absolute political reform and fairer resources distribution. 

24 June 1932 marks the change from an absolute monarchy to a democracy whereby the King has to be bound by the Constitution. It laid the path toward democracy in Thailand. These 89 years, however, saw the ups and downs and various obstacles under successive military dictatorships. The military has made several attempts to seize ruling power and topple a democratically elected government. Otherwise, interventions have also been made by the state within a state to form governments which have done much disservice to democratization. Given the first military coup in 1947, Thailand has been ruled under dictatorships longer than a half of the combined time since the 1932 Revolution. 

For over seven years, the Prayut regime has taken root and proliferated its ruling power. It started with the military coup staged in 2014 and then the utilization of the Constitution 2017 and the 20-year-National Strategy Plan. This has paved the way for such a power structure that allows military dictatorship to flourish and tighten their grip in the political structure and public administration overriding the power of civilian sector even though they have never contested in a single election. The Constitution 2017 also bestows on the appointed Senators the power to vote for a Prime Minister. 

In such a situation, Thailand is left subjugated to a new form of absolute monarchy whereby public administration is virtually subject to the whim of the military and the parliamentary dictatorship. Members of the House of Representatives who dare to criticize the performance of the government, particularly the Prime Minister, have been subject to harassment by the PM during the parliamentary sessions. The current budget planning has made the problem of inequality even worse in all aspects of life. 

Thailand is shrouded in the climate of fear in which freedom of expression of dissenters is heavily suppressed. Youth, students and members of the public have been enmasse charged and prosecuted for participating in political assemblies. Thailand is also in the midst of the deadliest outbreak of Covid-19 which attests to a lack of capacity of the government to deal with the pandemic in a timely fashion.

The government has been monopolizing power and only allowed private investors to have exclusive power of the production and import of vaccines. The vaccine drive has been conducted based on the patron-client system making Thai people’s lives so vulnerable to crises. People become hopeless about the chance to live a safe and happy life based on equality and freedom and have access to education. This is a betrayal to the six milestones spelled out in the declaration made by the People’s Party. 

The People’s Movement for Democracy in Thailand calls on all political parties advocating for constitutional reform to adhere to the spirit of the People’s Party by pushing for the constitutional reform to uphold democratic values and ensure equal access to benefits of all people. The reform should not just aim at changing electoral rules for the exclusive interest of politicians. The Constitutional Drafting Council must be directly elected by the people and the new Constitution must be geared toward heightening rights and freedoms of the people, particularly political rights and freedoms, public participation in politics, policy development process and budgeting.

It should also promote fair distribution of resources, more accountability of the state, the exercise of direct power by the people to remove political position holders, and the distribution of resources to local administration organizations. This will help to ensure a peaceful life and ensure their access to equal rights and freedoms. 

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