By Pravit Rojanaphruk
Senior Staff Writer
Notice anything missing? Unceremoniously dumped some weeks back was that least-requested song penned by junta leader Gen. Prayuth Chan-ocha, “Returning Happiness to Thailand.”
After being broadcast for over a year on television and radio, the song suddenly vanished. Although no official explanation was ever given, it had clearly overstayed its welcome, especially due to the part where the junta asks “for a little more time” from the people.
That “little more time” requested day and night since days after the May 2014 coup was obviously no longer “little,” as we close in on two years under military rule, and a shrinking number of people believe the latest roadmap to restoring democracy by early 2018 will happen as suggested by the junta.
Spending years “asking for a little more time” has become an embarrassing oxymoron and proof of the elastic sincerity of the junta’s words.
Prayuth and his deputy Gen. Prawit Wongsuwan are now busy defending the novel idea that members of the junta could morph into senators after the general elections promised for next year. They speak as if this were a reasonable and normal thing in order for them to see through the vague “reforms” which were never convincingly explained or justified in the first place.
As the junta continues market-testing ways to extend its hold on power, some may well wonder if it the public wants to see them out the door already. The hallmark of considerate guests is knowing when they’ve overstayed their welcome.
Good guests look for signs that perhaps the host is tired or uncomfortable and it’s time to thank them for their hospitality and bid farewell.
You cannot really count on the good graces of the junta to conduct themselves like polite guests who should know when to leave.
The junta simply forced themselves into the house we share uninvited, guns drawn, and appointed themselves the boss. Then they tried smoothing it over with a veneer of polite society by “asking” us for a “little more time.”
Yet the longer they stay and suppress the voices of dissent from their “hosts,” the more farcical the metaphor becomes. By now, only die-hard junta supporters or the intellectually challenged would believe that the junta is our “guest.”
Prayuth resorts to detaining unhappy hosts (read: opponents and critics) without charge to have their attitudes “adjusted.” Others are charged with violating a selectively enforced ban on political gatherings of five or more people despite government polls showing the military regime’s popularity exceeds 99 percent.
Matichon TV, a sister organization of Khaosod English, reported that Dictator Prayuth himself admitted earlier this week that he almost punched the face of a journalist because the journo dared ask about the regime’s accomplishments. Why would Prayuth do that to a “host?” Why would Prayuth not give a straight answer?
If Prayuth and his cohorts truly believe they’re 99 percent popular, they should quickly form a new political party and compete in elections. This way Prayuth can become the legitimate prime minister of Thailand with people truly hosting him as their elected leader. The only reason why the junta is not thinking of making such a move and instead trying to convince the public they should be appointed to the senate after the promised general elections reveals that these people have no confidence in their make-believe.
Prayuth and his men will probably be the last to admit that their power rests upon the threat of force, coercion and arbitrary detention.
In a land where politeness is a virtue, the junta is more than happy to continue to try to maintain the metaphor of guest-host relations no matter how shattered it becomes. Try publicly demanding the junta leave now and quickly discover that it’s a myth.
We were never their hosts and asking for more time is not a request but an order. It’s bad form to overstay a welcome, but again the junta probably never saw us as their hosts, but their hostages.
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