Manager Group weekly news magazine under pressure from the junta

ASTV Manager Weekly_26 July 2014

From ASTV Manager Weekly, July 26, 2014
Cover reads: Jenny 91, when it’s time for the Lost Star Begins Again
[Refers to photos of an alleged assault posted on an Instagram account. The victim in the posted photos looks like television actress Janie Thienphosuvan. The Thai net is abuzz with speculation that her husband assaulted her. The headline, like many headlines on news magazines, plays on words connected to the actress such as the name of her Instragram accounts as well as song and movie titles she is connected with.]
On green color at bottom: Big Tou charter, NCPO’s the father of every institute?

[“Big Tou charter” refers is to the interim constitution which was recently enacted in the Royal Thai Government Gazette. The article emphasizes the overwhelming power of the junta that is a key part of the new charter. The article claims the new constitution is all about the power of the junta and that the document makes the junta super-powerful. The most controversial point it makes is that the junta now has the power to simply fire the prime minister and the entire cabinet.

Almost immediately upon publication, the junta released a tersely worded rebuke of Manager Group (NCPO warns ‘Manager Weekly’Bangkok Post, July 26, 2014).

The Manager Group was behind the initial opposition to Thaksin via the PAD and eventually became as angry at the opposition Democrat Party as they ever were to Thaksin’s Thai Rak Thai. Thus it is not surprising that they would eventually begin attacking the junta as well (having relentlessly mocked Gen. Prayuth through most of 2013 for his rumored deals with Thaksin).

The military does not want to be painted like juntas of the past that ended up becoming greedy and insinuating themselves into power forever for their own benefit. Gen. Prayuth has been trying to portray the military as a force restoring accountability and fighting crime–something that previous democratically elected governments were unable or unwilling to do.

Knowing that the pro-Thaksin opposition to the junta is likely to center on the perception of a military dictatorship and an undemocratic charter, the army is sensitive to interpretations of the interim charter (and the permanent charter that will soon be drafted) that contend the documents are designed to install the military into power forever.

This situation is also instructive of how the powers in Thailand constantly interact and challenge each other. While it is true that the military, business groupings, and political factions all have a common goal of eliminating Thaksin and his family from politics, they also have their own particular interests centered around preserving their prerogatives and freedom of action within the political and business worlds. One of these interests is ensuring that no other power becomes so overwhelming that it impinges on the prerogatives of the other centers of power.

The last ten years have been spent battling one such power–Thaksin Shinawatra–who openly (particularly through the Pheu Thai Party) vowed to rewrite the laws to ensure no check could be placed on a sitting government’s authority.

While Thaksin is far from vanquished, the fight to unseat him has ironically has led to a state of affairs where the military is now proudly and popularly (if the polls are to be believed) holding absolute sway over the Thai world.

Although the military is ultimately reactionary–intending to reset the old balance of politics that the Thaksin revolution upset–it is still likely that there will be an overwhelming military tendency to overreach and resist the return of control, even once it is clear that politicians have given up any loyalty to Thaksin and his political machine.

All other powers now have to scheme to insure military control is tempered or risk another critical imbalance that might ignite years of struggle as prerogatives are once again fought over.

Amusingly, the Thai newspapers, wary of military power over them at this time, have been coyly (and falsely) reporting that it is not clear what the military objects to in the Manager Weekly.] Editor Ron Morris’ book, The Thai Book: A Field Guide to Thai Political Motivations, is available in the Kindle Store.

Press Council eyes ‘Manager’ mysteryBangkok Post, July 28, 2014
The National Press Council of Thailand is launching a probe into alleged false reporting by Manager Weekly magazine — even though it has no idea what it is investigating…

Junta asked to explain what offended them in newspaperThe Nation, July 28, 2014
…Junta warns Manager Group over “dishonest intent to undermine the credibility of the NCPO…”

The ‘big stick’ of martial law must be used sparinglyBangkok Post, July 28, 2014
…In a post on his Facebook page, National Press Council president Chakkrish Permpool asked the NCPO to submit its evidence in writing.
He urged the junta to clearly point to the false information contained in the magazine, as required by the council’s charter, so that his group can start its ethics probe…

More: Weekly News Magazines, August 1, 2014 and Manager Weekly’s response to junta pressure
Also: Junta blocks Economist’s “Five hundred days of dictatorship” article

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