Thai political parties say junta has achieved little in three years
ON THE EVEÂ of three years in government, the countryâ€™s military junta has been criticised by Thailandâ€™s two major political parties forÂ its failure to achieve any important reform.
Having seized power on May 22, 2014, the military appointed a so-called National Council for Peace and Order (NCPO) promising to restore order and a pathway back to democracy. But it has since implemented a new constitution which cements its position to oversee a decades-longÂ national strategy to approach Thailandâ€™s â€œuniqueâ€�Â challenges.
Senior figures from the Pheu Thai and Democrat parties this week criticised the juntaâ€™s lack of progress regarding the economy and its sustained attacks on democratic freedoms and human rights â€“ particularly regarding crackdowns on activists and media.
ARMY CHIEF PRAYUTH SEIZES POWER — The NATION Front Page, May 23, 2014 (1st and 2nd editions) pic.twitter.com/4aC80aYYIs
— The Nation Thailand (@nationnews) May 22, 2014
SEE ALSO: TIMELINE: Thailand Coup 2014 â€“ May 22-23
â€œPoliticians dare not make eye contact with anyone these days,â€� said Democrat Party deputy leader Nipit Intarasombat, as quoted by the Bangkok Post. Conflict and threats of violence continue unabated, he said, but have merely moved from street demonstrations online.
The NCPO has led a crackdown on dissent by tightening restrictions on the media and silencing activists through imposing the kingdomâ€™s strict lese majeste and cybercrime laws.
The cornerstone of this is the controversial Protection of Media Rights and Freedom, Ethics and Professional Standards Bill, deemed a â€œdeath blowâ€� for media freedom by the South East Asian Press Alliance (SEAPA).
On the night of the coup, Thailand’s military played Prayuth Chan-ocha’s announcement of the coup on all free-to-air channels on repeat. Source: Twitter @Thai_Talk
Human Rights Watch has warned that the bill is â€œmisnamedâ€� and rather â€œwould mean that reporters in Thailand will be constantly looking over their shoulder at a government-appointed panel that can have them jailed.â€�
While debating the Bill, a senior government official said that journalists reporting on views critical of the military â€œshould be executed by firing squad.â€�
SEE ALSO: Thai junta creating â€˜climate of fearâ€™, watchdog says as another critic disappears
Reports on Sunday suggested that the junta is moving to target citizens simply viewing content seen to insult the royal family, not only those that produce or post such material.
Bangkok Post headline on Sunday: Lese majeste drive targets web viewers https://t.co/9IetjVfUqj #Thailand pic.twitter.com/dGyvDl2bny
— Richard Barrow (@RichardBarrow) May 20, 2017
This suggests Thai authorities will go after browser history, not just what you share or post. Thais will need to wise up to #Infosec pic.twitter.com/TqFGpsZlkc
— Jerome Taylor (@JeromeTaylor) May 21, 2017
Whatâ€™s more, the Democratic Partyâ€™s Nipit said he continues to hear â€œlots of complaints from the publicâ€� regarding economic matters.
The World Bank has described Thailand as â€œone of the great development success stories.â€� Its economic growth took a massive hit due to political unrest in 2014, however bounced back to 3.2 percent in 2016, with forecasted growth of 3.5 and 3.6 percent in 2017 and 2018, respectively.
But secretary-general of the Pheu Thai party Phumtham Wechayachai said â€œwhat really determines economic management is not sets of numbers, but how much the people have in their pocket.â€�
SEE ALSO: Thailand: Three years after coup, junta deeply embedded into daily life
â€œWhat they face are rising costs of living. Businesses hesitate to invest because they lack confidence.â€�
â€œI think it has done a fair job in keeping peace and order. Economic management and reforms are completely different,â€� said Nipit.
Tourism is a vital sector of Thailandâ€™s economy at around 11 percent, and despite a brief drop in tourist arivvals post-coup has remained steady since 2014. â€œThe government wants all of you have confidence that you will be safe during your stay in Thailand,â€� asserts the junta.
â€œElephants trampling on tourists and tourists having their legs cut off by speed boats, this wonâ€™t happen any more.â€�
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