It seems that the generals are helping themselves again to Thailand’s cookie jar. Here is an extract from today’s Bangkok Post internet coverage of yesterday’s 2008 budget:

The government officially unveiled its record budget for 2008 on Wednesday, featuring spending of 1.66 trillion baht, a deficit of 165 billion, and another increase of 24 per cent in military spending. The defence ministry will get the biggest increase in spending, with a budget of 140 billion baht, representing 8.6 per cent of the budget overall.

Note that that military increase of 24 percent follows a 34 percent in the post-coup 2007 budget. This sufficiency economy approach to military spending seems to be pretty good for business!

From a quick perusal of some of the newspapers it seems that the media response to the budget has been rather polite. This has angered at least one New Mandala reader who wrote to me earlier today:

I have been shocked by the coverage of this year’s budget debate in parliament yesterday, and in particular the 24 percent hike in military spending. Even though the Bangkok Post ran a Sunday editorial implying this was not quite cricket, its front page report of Surayud’s budget submission was shameful, even by the standards of the “Newspaper you can trust to bury the story.” The only mention of the defence budget was in the final paragraph of the piece – cut-and-dried evidence of total self-censorship if ever it were needed. And then the Thai press have the gall to say that foreign commentators don’t understand Thailand properly, but perhaps they are the only ones who are not marching to the tune of the men in uniform. Remember that the Post’s former Opinion Editor, Kanjana Spindler, is now Surayud’s main PR spinmeistress.

Is he being fair? Or have other newspapers taken up the case against the army’s self-serving expansion?