Thailand's return to democracy is not yet in sight as senior members of the military government signaled with the news that the elections initially promised in 2015 could be delayed until as late as 2016. This looks particularly grim when the comments came from two ministers, one in charge of security, and another in charge of economy.
Spreading anti-coup leaflets continues to be seen as a cause for arrest and the Thailand page of Human Rights Watch poses enough threat to be blocked by the junta. No real positive progress has been made six months after the coup as the junta are working to ensure that there remains a climate of fear, or as one blogger called it the perils of different thoughts.
On the economic front, the World Bank has predicted that Thailand would remain the slowest-growing economy in South-East Asia till 2016 (see pages 153-156 of this report). While there may be efforts by the junta for short term push, the long term negative effect on investment and economic growth will be felt. Morgan Stanley for instance noted that companies are now looking to expand elsewhere.
Much uncertainly awaits in the coming weeks as the junta-appointed National Assembly is set to deliberate whether or not to engage in a bizarre retroactive impeachment of former Prime Minister Yingluck Shinawatra. Also full of speculation is the sensational cleaning up of a high-level corruption ring alleged to have falsely claimed links to the royal palace, and who knows where this story might lead us to next.
Thailand’s military government is severely repressing fundamental rights and freedoms six months after its May 22, 2014 coup. The ruling National Council for Peace and Order (NCPO) has shown no genuine signs of restoring democratic civilian rule.
According to a report by Morgan Stanley, “private companies were focused more on expanding internationally either in neighboring countries or other ASEAN countries, rather than committing significantly to domestic growth in 2015.”
Eight student activists, including a student who was arrested for giving the anti-coup three-fingered salute at the Hunger Games 3 premiere last week, were arrested after they distributed anti-coup leaflets at Thammasat University, Tha Prachan campus.