Politics 'worse' than before 1992 uprising

Politics 'worse' than before 1992 uprising

Parties compare Black May to NCPO rule

Relatives of the victims of 'Black May', a series of protests in Bangkok in 1992 that was quashed by the military, perform a ceremony to remember those who disappeared, at Suan Santiporn on Ratchadamnoen Road Thursday. Pattarapong Chatpattarasill
Relatives of the victims of 'Black May', a series of protests in Bangkok in 1992 that was quashed by the military, perform a ceremony to remember those who disappeared, at Suan Santiporn on Ratchadamnoen Road Thursday. Pattarapong Chatpattarasill

Thai politics is now in a more backwards state than it was before the Black May uprising of 1992, representatives of major political parties said at an event in Bangkok Thursday marking the 26th anniversary of the popular street protests that were later crushed by the military.

The rules laid down by the National Council for Peace and Order (NCPO), which came into being after the 2014 bloodless coup that installed Gen Prayut Chan-o-cha as prime minister, are designed to prolong its grip on power, according to some speakers at the event.

However the NCPO's regulations, including the 20-year national strategy, are even more "far-reaching" and systematic than those of former coup leaders, they said, citing the National Peace Keeping Council (NPKC).

The NPKC was the name assumed by a Thai military junta that overthrew the elected civilian government of Chatichai Choonhavan in 1991.

Khunying Suradat Keyurapan, a prominent figure within the ranks of the Pheu Thai Party, said Thursday the NPKC had tried to cling to power by resetting the rules and the current regime was doing more or less the same with its roadmap to democracy via next year's election.

She described the roadmap as an instrument designed to guarantee the military remains firmly in control of the country without interruption.

The current constitution, which was promulgated last year, was also written in such a way that excludes public participation in important decision-making processes, while some of the organic laws are also detrimental to the workings of political parties, she added.

"This is worse than what we went through in 1992," Khunying Suradat said.

The poll, which has been delayed several times but is now expected in February, will be fought between parties that support the administration and those which favour democracy, she added.

She declined to comment on the possibility of Pheu Thai joining a military-backed party to form a future coalition government.

Democrat Party leader Abhisit Vejjajiva said current rules are a legacy of those put in place in 1978 when the Senate had the power to select a prime minister.

The current charter allows senators, who the NCPO must endorse at the end of the selection process, to take part in voting for a non-MP prime minister if the House of Representatives fails to agree on the choices proposed by political parties represented in the chamber.

Mr Abhisit noted that even though the NCPO may have rewritten the rules, the public has not fought back with as much gusto as it did in 1992.

"In 1991, the prevailing sentiment was that if we had MPs, our problems had a chance of being resolved. Today, that confidence has subsided," he said.

"Also, people harbour fears that parties may wreak havoc if they ascend to power," he said.

Sora-at Klinprathum, advisory chairman of the Bhumjaithai Party, said the chief takeaway from the Black May uprising is that governments must never ignore the voice of the public.

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