How to be a model citizen for the regime
It must be a tantalising question for the military regime: why can't some Thais keep their heads down and toe the government line while waiting for democracy?
How difficult is it to keep a smile on your face? Tourists are flocking in. They want to see happy people, not grumpy protesters. It should also be easy to keep your mouth shut. Disagreeing with the government is a sign of instability. Hold your thoughts. It won't kill you.
If you still have no idea how to behave in the happy land of peace and order, these guidelines may be helpful.
Maintain the correct attitude
Be grateful to the military government led by Prime Minister Prayut Chan-o-cha. Be very grateful.
The premier has recounted many times how much personal sacrifice was involved by him stepping in to take care of the bloody political mess.
He never wanted to stage the coup. He never wanted the power, let alone the near-total control he is enjoying now. He did it out of duty, out of an obligation to prevent Thais from killing Thais.
The coup was a noble mission. It was not a democratic means to tackle the problems, the military leaders know it. But it was still done with the best intentions. There should be no arguing on this point.
Of course, there may be people who fundamentally disagree with the putsch but what is the point of criticising it now? There is nothing to gain. The deed is done. The correct attitude regarding this matter is to wait, in silence. Follow the military's instructions and all will be well.
You will not be invited to stay in a military camp and the government will not have your "attitude adjusted". The United Nations will get to hear beautiful tales about Thailand and it living happily ever after during its General Assembly. The PM will not feel embarrassed. Everyone wins.
There are no what-ifs about what could have been or what should have been in today's Thailand so why bother with the critiquing, thinking or imagining?
The country is stable. This should be what any good citizen of Thailand would ever wish for, especially after over a decade of non-stop conflict and occasional armed clashes.
The National Council for Peace and Order (NCPO) has restored an atmosphere of calmness and citizens should not have thought the perception of peace and order would come for free. The price of political stability is people's liberty. There is no public order if people do not adhere to strict discipline.
The military regime does not ask for much. It only wants its citizens to do as they are told and to believe what the government asks them to believe without questioning it. Those who find this instruction difficult to follow would do well to stop thinking altogether. This will save their brains from being damaged if logic and blind faith clash.
An example of this is that the government keeps insisting the Erawan shrine bombing had nothing to do with the deportation of more than a hundred Uighur migrants to China. But most of the suspects involved are Uighurs.
It also claims the bombing could be the work of human traffickers suffering business losses after the government cracked down on those illegal networks. But would human traffickers go so far as to bomb a country they supposedly have to rely on to do their illegal trade?
To dwell too much on the government's messages that conflict with people's basic reasoning is obviously not healthy for the brain. That is why it is recommended that citizens set aside their thinking abilities for now and just follow the government's lead, blindly.
Keep your sense of humour
During a transition to democracy, which nobody knows how long will take, a lot of things will happen that will make people not sure whether to laugh or cry.
When faced with such an awkward situation, it is advisable that citizens try to find some good laughs. The other day, the PM gave a mildly startling statement. He challenged those who have any criticisms of his government to a fist fight with him. Pacifist citizens need not scream. The PM has informed the country many times that despite his resentment against an unnamed diplomat who does not understand the Thai political context, he does possess a dry sense of humour often associated with a certain country.
His opting to resort to physical violence instead of an exchange of opinions should thus be taken as a military way to display his wit.
These guidelines show it's not difficult to become good Thai citizens. Just park your brain. Place blind trust in the military. And laugh along, while you still can.
Atiya Achakulwisut is contributing editor, Bangkok Post.
Columnist for the Bangkok Post
Atiya Achakulwisut is a columnist for the Bangkok Post.