Events overnight in Bangkok are an indication of the difficulties faced by those who have pressed Thailand’s political “reset” button. Introducing a glossy new draft constitution does not erase the harsh realities that lie just beneath the surface – a democratically elected, but flawed, government has been forcibly overthrown and a much lauded, but flawed, constitution has been consigned to the dustbin.
In less than a month, the Thai electorate will be asked (does the junta and its puppet government really care what they say?) to make their judgement on the draft constitution. As argued on New Mandala last week, the explicit vote on the draft charter matters a lot less than the more volatile, but implicit, vote on the legitimacy of political reform via military coup. Every effort will be made to carefully stage-manage the campaign leading up to the vote, but there is bound to be sufficient off-stage and back-stage manoeuvrings to provide for an enthralling few weeks.
As part of our on-going analysis of Thai politics, New Mandala is launching a special focus on the constitutional referendum. Our regular posts will be supplemented by guest contributions from observers in Thailand. We want to provide readers with accounts of the referendum that go beyond yellow-shrouded public relations and the high profile events in Bangkok.