From Thairath, January 11, 2017
PM Prayuth as he runs: Leave my section 44 alone..
[The bridge symbolizes “Thailand 4.0,” the junta’s slogan for the Thailand of the future.]
People on the bridge from left to right:
Solve the traffic and mini-bus problem;
Social organization to reduce the criminal problem;
Reconciled amnesty bill;
Make a living problem
Mouse: Having the power to grant wishes.
Mouse man: Fond of power.
[This points out a reality of the military’s absolute power. This reality is that, despite criticism of the military wielding it, everyone is demanding the military use its dictatorial power to fix the ills of society.
This impulse has become even more frantic with elections drawing closer. Once elected politicians return to power, the reign of law and order that has prevailed since the coup will end. Thus, there are more pleas that ever for the military to summarily address long-standing issues.
The military has forced illegal vendors off the streets, tackled illegal beach occupation through the country, closed down casinos, approved long-delayed infrastructure projects, and summarily dealt with law breaking that the police always refused to address.
In every case where the media reports “a joint police-military operation,” it indicates the military is forcing the police to take action–often sequestering police before the raid or using non-local police to participate in the raid. This is because the local police have an interest in tipping off the wrongdoers since they collect tribute in exchange for allowing the activity.
The use of Section 44 to solve problems has slowly grown. Initially the military was reticent to use it, but there has been a constant drumbeat from all sides insisting that the junta should use its boon to help society.
Despite Prayuth running away from the requests in the cartoon, the cartoonist is also likely emphasizing the anti-junta contention that the military loves its absolute power and will not easily give it up.]
More on Section 44:
2015: Prayuth: “I cannot use Section 44 to solve every problem” after pressed to solve EU concerns on fishing
2015: Pressuring the PM to use his absolute power: Everyone loves Section 44
2015: Section 44 to solve the drought?
2015: The Withering of Section 44
2015: It is important to realize that the military does not really have absolute power. Power in the Thai world is highly decentralized and it is extremely difficult for the military to control everything. In the following case, the police refused to strip Thaksin of his rank as ordered by the military by throwing up procedural hurdles. The use of Section 44 to strip Thaksin of his rank in this case demonstrated the failure of the junta to to be able to control the police: Bypassing official channels, Prayuth uses Section 44 to strip Thaksin of his rank