Poll Reveals 72% Know Little About Article 44

Junta chairman Prayuth Chan-ocha speaks to reporters last October at Government House in Bangkok

BANGKOK — Over 70 percent of the respondents to a poll conducted by Bangkok University said they had “little or very little understanding” about Article 44 of the provisional charter, which grants the junta leader absolute power.

The poll, whose results were revealed on Saturday, was conducted on 1,279 respondents. Although 72.3 percent said they have “little or very little understanding” of the article, 24 percent of respondents said they understood it “very well or almost fully.” Only 3.7 percent of respondents said they were unsure.

Article 44 of the military provisional constitution, which came into effect shortly after the May 2014 coup, gives ex-officio power to junta leader Gen. Prayuth Chan-ocha to override the authorities of the executive, legislative and judiciary branches.

More than 300 orders have been issued under Article 44 over the past two and a half years. Decisions have ranged from the removal of officials – including Bangkok Gov. Sukhumbhand Paribatra and more – to enabling the blockade of the controversial Dhammakaya temple two weeks ago.

When asked what respondents thought of when hearing about Article 44, 47.5 percent said they thought of peace and order. Thirty two percent of respondents said they thought about power, while 16.2 percent said they thought of the swiftness in the use of law.

A 59 percent of respondents said they believe Article 44 can tackle corruption among government officials. Another 45 percent said it could prevent protests while 42 percent said it could eliminate drug trafficking and consumption.

In another poll, 71.28 percent of respondents believed fake monks have infiltrated the Dhammakaya temple to act as agent provocateurs. The temple is currently facing over 300 combined charges including money laundering charges against its ex-abbot Dhammachayo.

The poll, conducted by the National Institute of Development Administration, was revealed today and conducted on 1,250 respondents between March 2 and 3.

Only 15 percent of respondents said they believed there are no fake monks infiltrating the temple in Pathum Thani province.

In a related development, the Pathum Thani Sangha order issued a command on Saturday for all monks not registered at the Dhammakaya temple to leave the temple and its vicinities. The Department of Special Investigation was trying to convince these monks – an estimated 150 of them – to leave the areas as of press time.