A long, long time ago, just one day after junta leader Gen. Prayuth Chan-ocha staged his May 2014 coup, I was asked by Al Jazeera TV what I thought of him.
My reply was that Prayuth, as army chief, had repeatedly said on the record that he would not stage a coup, then staged one. I reminded viewers that it means either he abruptly changed his mind or lied. Either one means Prayuth is unreliable.
Fast-forward to the first days of 2017, 32 months after the songwriting general begged for “a little more time” and promised elections within a year, and find he still hasn’t lived up to his word.
The elections promised for 2017 may not happen after all.
This time the harbingers of news were members of the junta-appointed National Legislative Assembly. On Sunday, assembly member Gen. Somjet Boontanom said another 15 months were needed to pass necessary legislation before an election could be held. That would mean rewriting the “roadmap” for restoring democratic rule yet again.
Some say the junta wants to ensure it can continue pulling the levers of power after an election. The thing is, even with his supposedly “absolute power,” Prayuth and his men still feel insecure, as witnessed by them sending undercover officers to trail former premier Yingluck Shinawatra and her son while they were on vacation.
There’s simply no way to make the junta leader feel secure, now or after elections, because Prayuth knows he robbed power from the people to make himself prime minister. It’s not hard to prevent thieves from feeling remorse as long as they still have a conscience reminding them of their guilt.
Prayuth is no exception. Unless he has no conscience, that is.
In case you missed it, after a few days of post-New Year chaos, Prayuth and his deputy cleared the air and insisted the original roadmap was still good.
The man who steadfastly denied he would stage a coup before he did, a man who has torn up his previously sworn roadmaps is once again telling us to take him at his word.
Truth or lie, junta-supporting Shinawatraphobes won’t care. In fact, some may wish Prayuth remains dictator for life without any future voting, so their favorite political faction won’t lose, or lose face, again.
As for those concerned Prayuth and his men will lose credibility by postponing the promised elections to 2018 or beyond, they should not be too alarmed. After all, what credibility does the regime have left after all the lies?
These days, lying has become part of the job description of not just some politicians but military dictators. Some Thais are willing to forgive the latter because they believe Good Men can do no wrong, even after repeated lies.
“Rule with an iron fist. Lie without shame.”
Could this be Prayuth’s slogan or that of the self-styled National Council for Peace and Order?
Prove me wrong, Prayuth. And acknowledge, I shall.