Monday, August 08, 2016

Debbie Wasserman Schultz Isn't The Only Dishonest Power Broker Who Rigs Elections-- Meet Thailand


I can't remember how many times I've been to Thailand; I lost track years ago around the 20th time. And we're planning another trip with the idea of introducing 3 of our friends to the "Land of Smiles." Thailand is a monarchy and people there who like democracy may not have been smiling with the referendum results came in Sunday evening.The military junta proposed a constitution and it passed with upwards of 60% approval.

The drafting of the constitution was as closed and secretive the drafting of the TPP-- and as antithetical to democracy. Peaceful opposition to the military junta's proposed constitution is a punishable criminal offense-- up to 10 years imprisonment-- in the Land of Smiles. The Senate will now be an appointed body which can easily lead to the military retaining power.

If the Election Commission is to be believed-- and there's no reason to think it should be--the referendum passed 15.56 million (61.4%) in favor to 9.78 million (38.6%) opposed (with 94% of the votes counted). Remember, a "no" vote would have meant that the military dictatorship definitely stays in place. A "yes" means... well, we'll have to see. The other question on the ballot, to allow the appointed Senate to play a role-- along with the House of Representatives-- in selecting the prime minister passed by a slightly narrower margin-- 58-42%.

Only 58% of eligible voters participated in this ruse. AP reported that "the junta-- led by Prime Minister Prayuth Chan-ocha, a retired army general who has severely curtailed dissent since coming to power in a 2014 coup-- imposed severe restrictions on public discussion of the proposed constitution," banning political rallies and even open discussion.
Critics say the restrictions ensured that most people were unaware of the pitfalls of the charter, and were probably anxious to get the long-drawn process over with so that they could move on.

The "yes" vote "adds that touch of legitimacy to the coup makers," Pavin Chachavalpongpun, an associate professor at the Center for Southeast Asian Studies of Kyoto University in Japan, told The Associated Press.

"It gives them the green light for the next few steps they want to take. They will say the opposition cannot say anything now," said Pavin, who is Thai and is a vocal critic of the junta.

Prayuth's office, however, said in a statement late Sunday that the referendum "was conducted with a high degree of transparency and openness on part of the government."
Which is, of course, what all dictators and authoritarians say, no? AP listed 4 widespread criticisms of the constitution:
A transition period of at least five years to civilian rule.
A 250-member appointed Senate that includes the commanders of the army and other security services.
A deadlock in the 500-member elected lower house could trigger a selection of a prime minister who is not an elected member of parliament. Under the abolished 2007 constitution, half the Senate was elected, and the prime minister had to come from the lower house.
Emergency decrees enacted by the junta without any parliamentary consent remain valid.
No amount of smiling will make that into a democracy.



At 9:39 AM, Blogger paintedjaguar said...

"The drafting of the constitution was as closed and secretive [as] the drafting of the TPP"

Are you talking about Thailand or Philadelphia?


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