Coming soon: the parliamentary dictatorship of the good people

On Friday, 19 June, Chatchai Phromlert, Permanent Secretary of the Interior Ministery, sent an urgent letter to all provincial governors. They must allocate vaccination for all ThaiBev employees and their families nationwide.

Weekend social media went nuts with cries against privilege and VIP treatment. By Sunday, Chatchai said the letter was just to “survey the demands,” there’s no special treatment and no special vaccine allocation. The order is canceled.

Who is Chatchai?

His nickname is ปลัดฉิ่ง (Palad Ching, or Secretary Ching). The 60-year- old bureaucrat will soon retire and follow the footsteps of Palang Pracharat’s newly minted party secretary, Thamanat Prompow.

The all-powerful Interior Ministry controls the 76 provinces and the Royal Thai Police. Even in Bangkok, when we pay our electricity and water bills, we don’t pay the BMA. We pay the Interior Ministry. To control the Interior Ministry is to control Thailand down to the village head in the borderland.

Secretary Ching has been at his post since 1 October 2017. He’s a man of immense talent for creating political networks. To make a long story short, he can wink at a local boss in some remote village, and the villagers of voting age would know what to do.

With an obscene amount of sponsorship money, words have it Secretary Ching is setting up a new political party on behalf of the two generals.

There will be Opposition MPs defecting, especially from Pheu Thai party. Those MPs who realize their political ambition is not to better Thailand but to make wealth and power, which is best done if you’re in the government. They can find two new homes, Palang Pracharat and the new party.

A big drawback for Palang Pracharat is public image. Enter Secretary Ching’s new party, which will try to recruit politicians, technocrats, and people from the private sector who have a better public image. Secretary Ching’s entrenched bureaucratic networks will support them.

Troublesome political cliques and annoying coalition partners will be put in a corner, if not entirely discarded.

Thamanat controls the politicians. Secretary Ching controls the bureaucracies. The two generals have the military. Big-money tycoons will swing to whoever wins.

If we Thais cried and whined about “parliamentary dictatorship” with Thai Rak Thai’s 375 MP seats following the 2005 election, we would have a collective seizure attack following the next election.

Some of us from hopelessness, some of us from the ecstasy of truly realizing “the parliamentary dictatorship of the good people” that foreign governments and Wikipedia would pretend to recognize as a democracy.

Not only will we get four more years of the same, but it’s also the same on steroids.

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