Thailand’s Military Dictatorship Lives On

Doug Bandow
Reuters

Doug Bandow

Security, Asia

Thailand offers yet another example, as if one was needed, that elections are not enough for democracy.

Thailand’s Military Dictatorship Lives On

The junta headed by Gen. Prayuth Chan-ocha lives on. He seized power five years ago, installing himself as prime minister at the head of the self-proclaimed National Council for Peace and Order. He proved to be a clownish figure, befitting a starring role in a Gilbert and Sullivan comic opera. His delusions of grandeur were apparent from the start—sending military entertainers throughout Thailand to herald his seizure of power and penning songs about happiness to highlight his rule.

Unfortunately, he was highly sensitive to the slightest criticism in what once was a vibrant if dysfunctional democracy. He whined that people were “harsh” towards him, adding ominously, “I will have to be harsh in return.” He complained that newspapers “made me lose my manners and have ruined my leader image.” His response: “I will shut them down for real. I cannot allow them to continue their disrespect.” When obstreperous citizens used Facebook to mock his manifold foibles, he ordered their arrest. “They can’t make fun of me” the apparently very unhappy generalissimo opined.

Only praise of the generals was allowed. Seminars and meetings even discussing political issues were canceled or shut down. Political gatherings of more than five people were forbidden. Anyone could be arrested for any act viewed as defying the military rulers.

Read full article