Military junta deeply embedded in Thai life
BANGKOK: On Friday evenings in Thailand, sandwiched between the evening news and a popular soap opera, is a prime-time programme that has been running for three years, or ever since the military took power in a May 22, 2014 coup.
Called Sustainable Development from a Royal Philosophy, it stars junta leader and former army chief General Prayuth Chan o cha speaking on a range of topics, from the virtues of modesty to the state of the economy.
The military has always played a prominent role in Thai life. But Prayuth’s show is just one of many examples of how embedded the junta has become in Thai society.
Thailand’s military government has acknowledged it wants to weaken political parties and maintain influence over future governments, partly through a new constitution approved by Thailand’s king last month.
But data compiled shows the military is leaving an imprint on nearly every institution of Thai society.
The military controls 143 out of 250 parliamentary seats. Under the previous junta after the 2006 coup, the military held 67 out of 242 seats.
Out of the 36 cabinet members, 12 have a military background. In 2006, only four military officers were among the 37 cabinet members.
More than half of the 13 members of the Privy Council, the body that advises new King Maha Vajiralongkorn — himself a former soldier — are military men. It was just under half in the previous council.
“The military coup of 2014 offered the armed forces the chance to put in place a wider footprint and they are doing so,” said Paul Chambers, a professor