Readers may have heard about a woman arrested and charged with sedition for holding a red bowl with Thaksin’s message on it for 2016 Songkran Day.
It gets worse in Thailand by the minute as the country is now under full military dictatorship and a chilling sign of things to come.
On 16 October 2008 I wrote a piece for New Mandala entitled “Whither Thai Democracy” saying that Thailand was becoming like Burma under its military rule, especially given the scenario of an imminent demise of the current monarch. I was lambasted by readers who thought I was exaggerating.
I also quoted Alice, the heroine of Lewis Carroll’s Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland & Through the Looking Glass, which made perfect sense (to me) at the time:
If I had a world of my own, everything would be nonsense. Nothing would be what it is, because everything would be what it isn’t. And contrary wise, what is, it wouldn’t be. And what it wouldn’t be, it would. You see?
Now to get the record straight, the Thai junta and its bosses behind the National Council for Peace and Order (Kor Sor Chor) will no longer need to use the nice term “attitude adjustment” for political miscreants. It now has Article 44, a gazetted Order 13/2559 (29 March 2016 , vol.133 Special Section).
A brief summary of the eleven points follows:
- Military officers above the rank of major will be able to suppress and arrest anyone at any time for any act (they) deem a threat to the (military) state; while all those military personnel below the rank of major can assist in this policing and suppression.
- No evidence is necessary for arrests and no arrest warrant is henceforth necessary.
- Any individual must report to the military and give any documents and information as requested. No justification is necessary.
- Military officers can arrest and detain anyone on the spot and can be involved in all aspects of the investigative and policing process.
- Military have the right to search any place at any time and detain anyone for seven days at any place other than a police station or a civil detention centre.
- Military officers can perform full policing and also the duties of civil administrators and they will not come under administrative law.
- All officers are legally protected in their duties under the emergency administrative act (2548 ).
Readers can check this at the Ratchakitcha website (if accessible), or for a summary (in Thai) see Thai-enews. A new English version has also appeared (at the time of writing) in Khao Sod.
Orwell was right about a dystopic world, such as we see in today’s Thailand (no wonder his 1984 was banned). The implications will be to create a further entrenched, divided and unjust autocratic system in Thailand, discrediting even further in the eyes of the masses what remains of the civil judiciary and even-handed policing.
It also opens the door to (further) wide scale corruption by the military, as democracy slides further into the recesses of a creeping new fascism.
Dr James L Taylor is an Adjunct Associate Professor in Anthropology & Development Studies at the University of Adelaide.