วันจันทร์, กุมภาพันธ์ 05, 2561

Decline and fall : Anti-regime protesters insist that 'no one fears the dictators any longer' and indications pile up that the beginning of the end is at hand for the military regime

Anti-regime protesters insist that 'no one fears the dictators any longer' and indications pile up that the beginning of the end is at hand for the military regime


Decline and fall

4 Feb 2018 
Bangkok Post

It now becomes pretty predictable, until the moment of push comes to shove-them-out. The form of the actual end game remains unknown but the beginning has ended, and the end has begun.

Some regimes accept their demise and go meekly, such as in 2007. Some go out violently, believing they simply failed to kill enough fellow citizens, as in 1973 and in Black May, 1992. But either way, once opponents in number state, as an opponent stated last week, that "no one fears the dictators any longer", the die is cast.

For now, at the beginning of the end, the multiple fissures are opening between the National Council for Peace and Order (NCPO) cronies and the people of Thailand, like a long, violent earthquake. Both sides are just holding on. From now until the very end, everything will be a spectacle of deja vu. You can, literally, look it up.

There are already skirmishes between the re-harshing regime ("no gatherings of five or more people", again) and small groups darting out to test and to push the limits. There's goading and intimidation on both sides of the line.

The general prime minister predictably wants an indefinite (in truth, infinite) stay of election ("Give me some more time") but the polls say 70%-plus of voters won't willingly give him a day past the last Sunday in November. The general in his suit actually thinks there is public support for embracing with loyalty his chief deputy, Gen Prawit Wongsuwon, over an unexplained, world-class collection of million-baht watches. "This is a personal matter. Leave it to the anti-corruption agency."

Talk about not understanding his fellow citizens. When 85% of respondents told pollsters they disagreed with the presence of the unexplained timepiece collector, president Pradit Wanarat of Nida, who is also a junta-appointed legislator, ordered self-censorship. He may have thought that bussing buttocks would endear him to men who wear stars on their epaulettes. But it marked him to the public as a fearful Bowdlerian, and made yet another unwilling hero of resistance, now-ex director of the Nida Poll, Arnond Sakworawich.

Certainly and predictably coming are mass protests, sham dismissal of the Watchman, rumours of counter-coup and a serious sliding away of outright regime support by notable military and police officers, as well as senior civil servants. Many politicians will take sides, mostly against (but some for) the regime.

Minor heroes or villains already are popping up like whack-a-mole figures for the soldiers to smack.

SIGN OF THE TIMES: Popular opposition to the government is rising. (Photo by Pattarapong Chatpattarasill)

The Khon Kaen 8 are on the road to the Northeast, every step harassed despite court order to protect them. The Pathumwan 7 are on bail, preparing regular weekend protests. The Ratchaburi 5 including a Prachatai reporter are celebrating acquittal on charges of speaking against the constitution referendum process. The MBK 39, including a Khaosod reporter, are awaiting arrest for protesting near a royal site. The regime was shocked that anyone believed they would try to censor yesterday's football floats but of course everyone did.

Unsurprisingly, the Watchman Deputy Prime Minister Prawit Wongsuwon got a near-unanimous thumbs-down response when he clumsily challenged the public. He said he'd quit if the people wanted, and within 24 hours, hundreds of thousands of Thais voted or posted they wanted him out. Every local survey was 90%-plus against him.

This is not a groundswell the junta commander can survive until November, let alone until February or, laughably, indefinitely. Ambitious leaders-for-life who ignore history are bound to repeat the part where people pour out of their homes, take to the streets and disabuse the military regime of its dreams of bottomless power.

A reader's note: The general prime minister's personally selected and heavily enabled Minister of Truth has suggested in his specially persuasive way that the media refrain from using the words "dic**tor" and "dic**torship". Relax, Lt Gen Sansern Kaewkamnerd. It never crossed our mind.

So anyhow, the tick-dater took three years and eight months to go from promising democratic elections in 2015 to blacking out all promises of any election, ever.

Down the memory hole. "I haven't delayed anything," he claimed. "It all depends on the law," he explained. "It's nothing to do with me," he asserted. And the frosting on this notice of indefinite Section 44 rule: He "never promised an election date".

This is eligible for the Billclintonism Award, named after the man who, ironically testifying under oath, said the charge that he lied under oath "depends on what the meaning of 'is' is".

Fact: Gen Prayut has at least six times promised a month and a year for a democratic election, starting with December 2015 and. most recently, November 2018. Also fact: He has not named a specific Election Day.

It should be noted that Gen Prayut honestly (probably) believes this: "With determination and good intentions, I can do anything."

That wasn't part of last week's decision to stop pretending to be a well-meaning democrat. That was on May 26, 2014, four days after he became El Supremo. Then, it was ego talking. Now, it is power hunger, and that is fatal ambition.

EDITORIAL: Civilian dissent is not a crime