Critic warns of NCPO plan to cement power
Seksan says ruling elites are 'laying roots'
The National Council for Peace and Order (NCPO) is systematically laying down the foundations to allow its power to take deep root in Thai politics and overshadow the role of elected politicians in the future, renowned political scientist Seksan Prasertkul said Monday.
The regime is using economic policies such as the push to move into the digital age under the Thailand 4.0 banner, the Pracharath state-and-people cooperation scheme, the national strategic plan, and the current constitution to change Thai politics and keep political power in the hands of the "state elites" and bureaucrats for at least 9-10 years, he said.
"This time, the state elites did not passively take power. They became intensely and systematically politically proactive; they even have a master plan to establish and stabilise their power in the era of globalisation," he said.
While the NCPO has been branding politicians who sought power through elections as bad people, if it succeeds in getting private and civil sectors to join hands in the Pracharath scheme and narrow the income gap, people might give the NCPO more support and ignore the means by which they came to power.
In such a scenario, however, the political power will be kept in the hands of the bureaucrats, Thailand's "old power" before the Thaksin Shinawatra era, when politicians came from the private sector and won the support of the masses.
Mr Seksan, a leading student activist in the 1973 political uprising and a well-known political scientist, has kept a low profile over the past few years.
He was speaking Monday on Thai politics and the "4.0 society" at Thammasat University's Direk Jayanama Research Centre's annual seminar.
He questioned the possibility of bridging the economic gap and preventing other social problems such as corruption and power struggles among politicians from flourishing under the bureaucrats.
The current charter makes it harder for major political parties to grab a lot of seats, paving the way for mid-sized and small parties to get more seats, he said.
"If political parties cannot think of anything better than to challenge state elites or don't dare touch the neo-liberalism model, or don't dare to think differently on big issues, it's no use our having these political parties because they will only be groups of power seekers.
"And they will simply be afforded the decoration of power that already drives the bureaucratic state and keeps Thai society under control," he said.
The alternative is for political parties to join forces and create a constructive opposition, coming up with suggestions and policy arguments that are different from the conservatives'. This would be an important contribution to the political development of our country, he said.
Government spokesman Lt Gen Sansern Kaewkamnerd defended the NCPO, saying he disagreed with what Mr Seksan said.
"Good measures and principles that make the country move forward without worsening the conflicts -- we are doing that. But this is not to make people forget politics or make bureaucrats flourish.
"It's just part of politics that we will return to the election system and let the people choose their politicians; choose those who come with good governance and get rid of those without good governance from politics altogether," Lt Gen Sansern said.