Today, Thailand woke up to news that Thanatorn Juangroongruangkit might be facing up to 10 years imprisonment and up to THB200,000 in fine.
For what crime?
The crime of filing a day too late, his previous shareholdings in a celebrity gossip magazine, before running for political office. Which, if you really hate Thanatorn, coups and dictatorships are okay (mai-pen-rai); a day late with paperworks however, is crime against humanity.
But his real crime — in the eye of the ruling regime and its supporters — isn’t about a celebrity gossip magazine, or party loan/donation, or even illuminati. His real crime is because he wants to change Thailand, to turn our country into a democracy.
This is the real threat to the generals and the powerful forces behind the shadow.
What to do with Thanatorn?
To the ruling regime, Thanatorn is a problem that just won’t go away. Stripped of MP status. Political party dissolved. Banned from politics for 10 years. Why won’t he just give up?
Perhaps, the fate of 10 years imprisonment might persuade him to run. With his billions, he can go anywhere in the world and live a luxurious life, like Thaksin and Yingluck Shinawatra. But if we are to believe the words of Thanatorn, we would know that he’s not going anywhere.
I once sat on the same political panel with Thanatorn. He said these words to the room: “They can send me to prison. I’m not going to flee anywhere. I’m ready to die for democracy and Thailand.”
Whether one agrees with his politics or not, it is this passion that helped win his political party 81 MP seats in the 2019 national elections and awoken the young generation to get involved in politics. But if you really, really hate Thanatorn, you would interpret the passion as rude, aggressive and offensive. You would detest (หมั่นไส้, mun-sai) him.
Meanwhile, General Prayuth’s behavior? Well, he’s just a manly man, a soldier.
What if Thanatorn is actually imprisoned?
A possible scenario is nation-wide protests, which may force General Prayuth and his government to step down, paving the way for new elections and starting the process of rewriting the constitution. One that would be for the people and by the people, not just for the generals and by the generals.
Or, another possible scenario is nation-wide protests, leading to widespread violence, prompting Army Chief General Apirat Kongsompong to launch a military coup. The Army Chief would then become prime minister.
Now if you really, really, really, hate Thanatorn, you would cheer and applaud, singing this tune of once again:
“We are saved from destruction by nation-haters (พวกชังชาติ, puag chung-chart). Let’s give thanks to our hero, the General, for saving our country. Truly, Thailand is protected by our guardian deity, Phra Siam Devadhiraj. The general is a khon-dee (good person).”
You see, an important reason as to why the generals get away with coups, dictatorships, double-standards and injustices is because too many of us Thais support them in doing so.