See More on Facebook

Opinion, Politics

The cult of Prayut Chan-o-cha

Support is growing for the general’s continued role as premier, but there’s a catch that’s being overlooked.


Written by

Updated: April 11, 2018

They have turned to Prayut Chan-o-cha as though he was a movie hero, offering him their hearts and souls like teenagers drooling over a Korean pop star. They are led by Paiboon Nititawan, a former member of

the National Reform Council, who this past week reiterated his

commitment to ensuring that Prime Minister Prayut is returned in (or soon after) the election as head of government. Paiboon stood firm that his People Reform Party will join forces with other blocs and the 250 junta-appointed senators to back General Prayut as an outsider prime minister.

According to the Constitution pushed through by the junta, if the House of Representatives cannot reach consensus on selecting a prime minister,  the Senate will effectively make the selection. Paiboon declared his party’s support for a candidate “who is not affiliated with any party – he should be neutral”. The logic is that politicians are fundamentally untrustworthy and are to blame for Thailand’s political division and other woes.

On the surface, Paiboon and company are responding to something they don’t like. They are not basing their platform on any principle or ideology that could provide the nation with the much-needed moral compass and equilibrium that all of us, regardless of political affiliation, could utilise in resolving our differences. They are also presenting a glaring contradiction: that the people they support came to power by ripping up the previous constitution.

And while the current constitution and the election arrangements favour the junta – the National Council on Peace and Order – it would be foolish of Paiboon’s party and other pro-junta parties to believe the military-appointed Senate will always and forever remain loyal to the armed forces. If Paiboon properly understood Thai political behaviour and culture, he would see that the senators, once fully fledged as politicians with a mandate to rule, will likely develop the same appetite for clinging to power as their fellow lawmakers in Parliament display.

The real questions are who will (or who can) keep these 250 senators’ appetites sated, and who will provide them the financial means to keep their dreams alive?

Instead of relying on people who lack the courage to tell the general he is naked, why doesn’t the NCPO come clean and tell us what it has in mind for Thailand over the long term? If the junta wants a mandate from the people, it needs to be straight with the people, instead of relying on proxies to keep Prayut at Government House as premier. Soldiers speak of duty and honour, but we wonder where the honour is in misleading the country.

What is the junta’s platform? Surely it has to be more than the 20-year reform strategy foisted upon an electorate that was kept in the dark and thus ill equipped to consider the ramifications. The grand plan came into effect this past week and already is drawing criticism from various quarters.

The junta thinks it can force people, with the threat of further military intervention, to follow this reform strategy. It doesn’t recognise the Catch-22 in this way of thinking. It doesn’t understand that it cannot earn a mandate from the people and at the same time continue with the form of governance that puts the rulers above the law.



Enjoyed this story? Share it.


The Nation (Thailand)
About the Author: The Nation is a broadsheet, English-language daily newspaper founded in 1971 and published in Bangkok, Thailand.

Eastern Briefings

All you need to know about Asia


Our Eastern Briefings Newsletter presents curated stories from 22 Asian newspapers from South, Southeast and Northeast Asia.

Sign up and stay updated with the latest news.



By providing us with your email address, you agree to our Privacy Policy and Terms of Service.

View Today's Newsletter Here

Opinion, Politics

Pakistan says Asia Bibi’s rights will be respected

Imran Khan on Tuesday reaffirmed his government’s resolve to respect the Supreme Court’s judgement in the case of Asia Bibi, a Christian woman recently freed from prison after her blasphemy conviction was overturned. “As citizens of Pakistan, Asia Bibi and her family are entitled to all rights as guaranteed by the Constitution of Pakistan,” the premier told European Parliament President Antonio Tajani, who had telephoned Khan. According to a press release issued by the Prime Minister’s Office, Tajani thanked Khan for ensuring the safety and security of Bibi and her family. Assuring the prime minister of the EU Parliament’s cooperation with the Pakistani government, Tajani said that a debate on Bibi scheduled to be held in the EU Parliament had been postponed. Bibi has been blocked from leaving Pakistan after the overturning of her conviction prompted a wave of


By Dawn
November 14, 2018

Opinion, Politics

Malaysia Cabinet agrees to scrap death penalty

If approved by lawmakers, capital punishment will be replaced with minimum 30 years in jail. Malaysia’s de facto Law Minister Liew Vui Keong told Parliament yesterday that the Cabinet has agreed to scrap the death penalty, including for murder, but Deputy Prime Minister Wan Azizah Wan Ismail appeared to hedge over the matter by telling reporters that the government would review abolishing it for murder. “We are reviewing it. The death penalty is one of those that we will review,” she said when asked if the government would keep the death penalty for child murders. But when The Straits Times contacted Datuk Liew again, he insisted that “all 32 death penalty offences found in eight of our laws” would be abolished.


By The Straits Times
November 14, 2018

Opinion, Politics

President Xi emphasizes role of Hong Kong, Macau

Both Hong Kong and Macao were told to integrate with nation’s overall development. President Xi Jinping underlined on Monday the unique and irreplaceable role of the Hong Kong and Macao special administrative regions for China’s reform and opening-up in the new era. He also called on the two regions to better integrate themselves with the nation’s overall development. Xi’s remarks came as he met with a delegation of about 210 representatives from the two SARs who were in Beijing to celebrate the 40th anniversary of reform and opening-up. The position and role of Hong Kong and Macao will only be strengthened rather than weakened, Xi said. The two regions should continue to play a leading role and enable more capital, technology and talent to take part in the country’s high-quality development and in the new round of high-level opening-up, he said. People of the two regions should continu


By China Daily
November 13, 2018

Opinion, Politics

Suu Kyi stripped of Amnesty honour

The Amnesty International has stripped Aung San Suu Kyi of its highest honour, the latest of several honours taken away from her since last year’s brutal military crackdown on the Rohingyas. This is the eighth honour that the former Nobel peace prizewinner has been stripped of over the past year, with Amnesty following the example of Canada, US Holocaust Museum, UK’s Edinburgh, Oxford, Glasgow and Newcastle and Canada’s Carleton Universities which also revoked Suu Kyi’s honorary degrees and awards. The long-celebrated Nobel Laureate was given Amnesty’s most prestigious honour, the Ambassador of Conscience Award for 2009 marking the 20th anniversary of her arrest and 20 years since it declared her a prisoner of conscience. The AI yesterday announced withdrawal of its highest honour fr


By Daily Star
November 13, 2018

Opinion, Politics

Date set for Bangladesh elections

Bangladesh will hold a parliamentary election on December 23 despite the failure of political parties to resolve major contentious issues over the polls. The country’s chief election commissioner KM Nurul Huda said there was a “congenial atmosphere” to hold the polls and promised it will be free and fair. “We hope we will be able to hold a free, fair and acceptable election,” Huda said in a televised address. A day before, Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina wrapped up week-long talks between the ruling Awami League-led 14-party combine and at least 80 parties under the banners of different alliances. During the dialogue, Jatiya Oikyafront, an alliance of the Bangladesh Nationalist Party and several other opposition parties, demanded for a dissolution of parliament before the polls and the creation of a caretaker government. The ruling party, however, rejected it over const


By Asia News Network
November 9, 2018

Opinion, Politics

Woman accused of blasphemy freed in Pakistan

Asia Bibi was initially found guilty of blasphemy and sentenced to death. After her release from Multan’s women prison in the light of the Oct 31 Supreme Court verdict overturning her conviction and death sentence, Asia Bibi was brought to Islamabad on board a special aircraft on Wednesday night, reliable sources told Dawn Newspaper. The aircraft carrying Aasia Bibi, whose acquittal of blasphemy charge sparked countrywide protests by religious parties and groups, landed at the old Benazir Bhutto International Airport of Islamabad adjacent to Nur Khan Air Base. Soon after her landing, she was taken to an undisclosed place in Islamabad amid tight security. The authorities were keeping her movement and whereabouts secret for security reasons. Authorities concerned were also tight-lipped about her future plan and it was unclear if she would be kept in Islamabad or would be allowed to fly out of the


By Dawn
November 8, 2018