Old-style parties still pander to army

Old-style parties still pander to army

Prime Minister Prayut complained that troops in the deep South must used outdated equipment, but none of the new Chines armoured cars have been sent there - only the failed reconnaissance blimp. (File photo)
Prime Minister Prayut complained that troops in the deep South must used outdated equipment, but none of the new Chines armoured cars have been sent there - only the failed reconnaissance blimp. (File photo)

The Chartthaipattana Party's syrupy invitation to Gen Prayut Chan-o-cha to stay on in power for years to come is disappointing but hardly a surprise.

The pledge of support was made when Gen Prayut visited Suphan Buri, their political stronghold, on Monday.

The Chartthaipattana politicians, led by Prapat Pothasuthon, offered saccharine-coated words to the premier suggesting he continue running the country for the next eight to 10 years.

Soonruth Bunyamanee is deputy editor, Bangkok Post..

Mr Prapat, who took over the party from the late Banharn Silpa-archa after his death last year, said he would have no objection if Gen Prayut stays on as long as people are earning more.

The party is a reincarnation of the dissolved Chart Thai Party, which earned the nickname of pla lai (eel) for its slithering tactics -- switching from one side of the political spectrum to the other for the sake of political gain. Its latest move shows Chartthaipattana has inherited that old party's ways with barely a false step.

Mr Prapat's statement indicates how the party is stuck in old-style politics mode, with politicians kowtowing to the powers-that-be.

We have yet to hear from the emerging leaders of the party who are to replace their predecessors, namely Varawut Silpa-archa, Banharn's son, who is expected to be the new party leader; Korawee Pritsananantakul, son of former deputy party leader Somsak; and Samerkan Thiengtham, son of former party executive Jongchai, about what they think of all this.

As the party is in transition to a new generation of politicians, it's disturbing to see a political leader prostrating himself to the general who came to power through a coup and is unlikely to run in election.

As a political party, Chartthaipattana is obliged to uphold democratic principles.

According to the organic bill on political parties drafted by the coup-installed Constitution Drafting Committee, parties have the duty to "encourage people to engage in democratic values and freedom of expression", "encouraging people to participate in politics and the checks and balances process", and "to create unity and reconciliation and encouraging non-violent conflict resolution methods."

Any way you look at it, the stance taken by Chartthaipattana Party's executive is unacceptable.

No doubt Mr Prapat's remarks are music to the prime minister's ears, despite his ruling out a future for himself in politics in recent months.

Speaking to the Suphan Buri people, Gen Prayut delivered an odd message to his opponents, including politicians and pro-democracy groups, saying they should not waste time forcing him to step down as he "will not go anywhere", as he is determined to follow his political road map.

Unfortunately, no one knows where the end of the road map is and when an election will be held. It may be next year or in 10 years.

Chartthaipattana Party's invitation, together with moves by other political stakeholders, seems to suggest that an age of military-free politics may be far away.

Recently, former Democrat politician and leader of the now-defunct People's Democratic Reform Committee Suthep Thaugsuban indicated he might form a political party.

This would be a political U-turn for Mr Suthep who in the past has strongly ruled out a political role.

Mr Suthep is a big fan of Gen Prayut leading the country after the general election.

Meanwhile, calls for a national unity government have returned to a mixed reaction.

Some suggest in this content that the next government leader will be just old wine in a new bottle, even after an election.

Under such a circumstance, I have no doubt about why it was, for several months, that radio stations stopped airing the song composed by Gen Prayut after he took the premiership in 2014.

In its hook lyric verses, the military leader-cum-prime minister pleaded for public understanding as "We (the regime) will fulfil our promise", adding the regime needed "a little more time".

Democrat leader Abhisit Vejjajiva has urged Gen Prayut to be clearer about the country's political situation. He asked the prime minister to set an exact election date for Thais.

If there are legal hitches, he says Gen Prayut should explain how he would ensure there would be no problems leading up to the election.

I agree with Mr Abhisit. If Gen Prayut does not have a hidden agenda, he should instruct all radio stations to air his song, which also tells us the military will not stay on for long.

Soonruth Bunyamanee

Bangkok Post Editor

Bangkok Post Editor

Email : soonruthb@bangkokpost.co.th

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