BANGKOK — A pro-junta politician said Wednesday a coup would be staged if opponents of the military regime win the election.
Benya Nandakwang, MP hopeful for Action Coalition of Thailand Party, also slammed anti-junta factions’ dream of winning at the polls as wishful thinking, since the government already has the stage set to its advantage.
“Do you really think you can just ‘pick up a pen and kill the dictatorship?’” Benya wrote online, referring to a slogan of the pro-democracy camp. “Dream on. Do you know how to play chess? Look at the game. They already have their pieces set on the board.”
“Personally, I think if the hell money democracy faction wins the election, eventually there will be another coup. Wanna see it?” Benya added.
Similar to others in her pro-establishment party, Benya helped lead a street protest that culminated in a coup which brought Gen. Prayuth Chan-ocha to power in 2014.
Her remarks also appeared to reference arson attacks blamed on Redshirt supporters in the wake of a May 2010 military crackdown on their street protests. Many netizens criticized Benya for alluding to the overthrow of an elected government even before Thais vote on Sunday.
“Am I living in the time when insurrection can be announced openly?” user Narunart Zonine Kumpa wrote in a Facebook news thread.
“Let’s screencap her name. This amounts to insurrection,” Wittawat NK Suwan wrote.
“Where’s the fun if she spoils the ending for us like this?” user Sadaharu Ner wrote in a status.
Later Wednesday afternoon she posted a video in which she confronts zombie voters and politicians.
“The zombies are back. They can’t be killed, whether with laws or rules,” Benya says in the video. “Let’s stop this abominable cycle.”
The controversy comes at the time in which anxiety is growing among pro-democracy factions that the election result may not be respected by the ruling junta if it favors the opposition. Army chief Gen. Apirat Kongsompong himself hasn’t ruled out another putsch if he perceives the government to be corrupt.
He also pledged to only support a government loyal to the royal family, a vow seen as a jab at the opposition, who’s routinely accused of plotting to overthrow the monarchy.
The Election Commission has until early May to formally endorse the results. An academic who studies Thailand’s armed forces warned that the junta may seek to invalidate the poll by any offense it can find in the meantime. They might also simply launch a coup as a last option if its defeat becomes clear.
“The junta is not stupid. They may look stupid, but they are not,” lecturer Paul Chambers said Tuesday night at a panel discussion in Bangkok. “This election will be very important to them because the junta has to survive.”