Tuesday, November 23, 2010

Thai Generals Don’t Wear Flip Flops

They wear jack boots (water resistant but not blood stain resistant).

Does anybody really believe the Thai generals are these great campaigners for Thailand, the white knights on white horses riding out to save the Kingdom? They are bloated, overpaid, power mad and inherently corrupt.

The de facto leader of Thailand, General Prayuth Chan-ocha, is no exception. This ‘waste of a hyphen’ has wasted no time since he took power last month in letting everyone know who is in charge.

Last Friday, General Prayuth signed an order banning “subversive goods” within Bangkok and adjacent provinces still under an official State of Emergency. The ban includes clothing and all consumer goods expressing opposition to or contempt for PM Abhisit Vejjajiva and his government.

The following is a translated excerpt from the ban, which took effect on November 19th: 

Item 1: Individuals are forbidden to have in their possession, or possess with intent to sell or otherwise distribute, products, clothing, consumer goods, or any other objects that contain printing, writing, drawing, photography, or any other method that conveys a meaning which provokes, incites, agitates, or causes disunity in the general populace, or acts or supports acts which cause a state of emergency.

Item 2: Authorities are authorized to order the seizure or confiscation of products, clothing, consumer goods, or any other objects as outlined in Item 1, and are authorized to act as necessary to maintain the security of the state or the safety of the public.

Item 3: These orders are to be made by authorities of commissioned officer level or equivalent.

Item 4: Any person violating this order is subject to up to 2 years imprisonment or a fine of up to 40,000 baht, or both. This order is enacted under Article 18 of the 2005 State of Emergency Administration Act and is effective from 19 November 2010.

General Prayuth Chan-ocha 

According to the Bangkok Post : CRES bans souvenirs that 'cause disunity', “an army source said Gen Prayuth was upset when he came across T-shirts and sandals carrying photos mocking important figures.” So in Thailand, a general decides he doesn't like a T-shirt and the next minute he implements a ban (along with fines and prison time) upon the nation. If that doesn’t scream military dictatorship, I don’t know what does. 

In the same Bangkok Post article, General Prayuth was also quoted as asking “the media to clearly state in their news reports the name of specific red shirt groups. He insisted that groups adopted different standpoints and it would be misleading to lump them together.” 

Friday's ban is reminiscent of the order from General Prayuth against political protest during the visit of UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-Moon in late October after it was learned that political groups and human rights activists wanted to air their grievances before the Secretary General. General Prayuth took it upon himself to outlaw demonstrations not for security reasons, but because HE FELT they would embarrass the country.

What to do, what to say, what to wear; the general decides. It's that simple. Not a judicial body or a government group, but the head of the army - the same army that has no trouble at all with coups. The same army which has always made the rules in Thailand and does not serve the people, the government nor the electorate. Nor does it care about human rights, fairness or equality and neither do the people that control it. 

Remember back in August that then Deputy Army Chief Prayuth pledged to steer the army away from politics once he takes the helm. “I will try to keep the army out of politics,” he said (Bangkok Post : Prayuth sets agenda). Well, instead of staying out of politics, it looks like the General jumped right on in with both feet - wearing jack boots, of course.

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