Today, we’re going to talk about the army and making money.
But let me start with this:
Unlike his predecessor, the current army chief General Narongphan Jitkaewtae refuses to comment on politics.
And he should be commended for this.
However, on February 4, the army chief said something I find very disconcerting.
To allocate the budget for COVID-19 relief, there’s a public call for the army to cancel weapon purchase
temporarily, not permanently.
But the army chief countered with this quote:
This failure in logic explains how Thailand operates.
It explains the mindset of the generals, be them General Prayut, General Pawit, or the previous army chief, General Apirat.
When you go to the toilet, you use toilet paper. It would be uncivilized not to.
When you go to war, you use weapons. It would be suicide not to.
We shit every day. We use toilet paper every day. We are not in a war.
Neither Laos, Cambodia, or Myanmar are invading us. In fact, the generals of all these countries are the best of friends… and business partners.
They are like this…
Unless the army chief meant to say the army wipes its ass with taxpayer money…. Which, actually, that makes sense.
You see, in a country like Thailand, the generals don’t just control politics, they also run businesses.
They do whatever they want at the expense of liberty, democracy, and taxpayer money.
On February 3, I did a Facebook Live to explain the real reason behind the Myanmar military coup.
It’s all about power and money, and that the Myanmar army is a business operation running on both taxpayer money and profits.
The Thai army is also a business entity, competing with the private sector, using taxpayer money.
สุรชาติ บำรุงสุข Surachart Bamrungsuk, a renowned army academic, recently discussed this.
According to him, the following are some of the army businesses. At least, the legal ones.
Army television stations. The army runs Channel 5 and has the concession to operate Channel 7.
Army radio stations, four of them.
All of which, compete with the private sector for advertisements and concessions.
Army horse race tracks: In Nakhon Ratchasima and Chiang Mai.
Again, competing with privately-owned race tracks.
Golf courses, boxing stadiums, a football club, construction businesses, renting lands to private businesses, etc, etc, etc.
All of which are:
1) Not subjected to transparency and accountability. You can’t check books of people with guns pointing at you.
2) Operate above and beyond the law.
Remember the army boxing stadium that remained open while all other stadiums were ordered to close?
The stadium that became a “super spreader” in Thailand’s first wave of COVID-19 pandemic?
The police weren’t going to force the army to close it. The army has more guns.
3) And most importantly, all of these businesses were started using taxpayer money.
Why do they have such privilege?
The people pay their salaries to defend the country, not to run businesses or to overthrow democracy.
How many of us, civilians, get to use taxpayer money to start a business?
Thisrupt is all my own money, and trust me, it hurts.
But I digress.
Think about it.
The government takes taxpayer money to build a road. We get to use that road. Fair exchange.
The army takes taxpayer money to build a golf course. We pay the army to play golf on that course.
Let me tell you, they don’t teach this at Harvard MBA.
And I’m not blaming the entire military, it’s the core group of generals who have been in charge of Thailand for decades, transferring power from one batch to the next.
The generals, who have the power to speak and act with impunity.
Conducting military coups.
Writing the constitution.
Allocating national budgets.
So when Thanathorn Juangroongruangkit said there should be army reforms, the resounding answer from the generals is,
“hell to the no.”
Reforms mean losing out on wealth, power, and privilege.
The mindset of the generals is simply this: we can do whatever we want. We got guns.
That’s the commonality between the generals of Myanmar and the generals of Thailand.
That’s why the people of both nations are but the dust under their boots.
Now, in Thailand’s political divide, whether you are the so-called “salim” or “nation-hater,”
at least we can agree that this is wrong…