Kasit warns China-style regime awaits
Far from being the knight on a white horse that many had hoped for, the military is ushering in a bureaucrat-led guided democracy that will lead to "one-party China-style politics" in Thailand, a prominent critic has charged.
Kasit Piromya, a former foreign minister and Democrat Party figure, told the Foreign Correspondents' Club on Wednesday night he had thought the military would bring in reform leading to a mass-based democratic system that both the red- and yellow-shirt groups have been calling for.
However, the coup has only paved the way for an "authoritarian" charter to be introduced by the conservative bureaucratic elite which will create more conflict rather than democratise and decentralise the Thai political system, he said.
The conservative elements are giving Thailand one-party China-style politics where "the minority acts for the majority in a very authoritarian, fascist and communist manner", he said.
Mr Kasit was on a panel discussing the topic of "The Future of Politics in Thailand" along with members of the Pheu Thai Party.
Chaturon Chaisaeng, Pheu Thai's former education minister, said the major disappointment was the provision allowing for a non-elected person to become prime minister in the event of a political crisis.
"This is ridiculous because a claim can always be made or a crisis instigated to open the door for a non-elected premier," Mr Chaturon said. "This goes against the aspirations and values of Thais who have fought for democratisation for decades."
If promulgated, this constitution will create more conflicts and cause existing political problems to spiral, he said.
Phongthep Thepkanjana, Pheu Thai's former deputy prime minister, said it was ironic that key charter drafter Borwornsak Uwanno, who helped draft the 1997 constitution aimed at creating a stronger government, is now reversing this in the new charter that would ensure a weaker government would be in place.
He said even if there is a referendum on the draft charter, it would not help because there are no other choices for the public. "If the people vote against the draft charter, they might get an even worse one in its place," Mr Phongthep said.
Alongkorn Ponlaboot, a National Reform Council member and former deputy leader of the Democrat Party, defended the coup and highlighted the need for reform.
"It's us [politicians] who opened the door for the coup. Political parties have to resurrect their corrupt image before asking for a platform for politics," he said.
He said the new charter would be ready by Sept 4 and after another 60 days the associated organic laws would be ready. These would establish a new body to organise the election, register political parties, and create a new ethical and supervisory body.