Whose security is it?
Like other Subdistrict Heads in Thailand, Kamnan Thong commands respects from people in his community, though not at the level of the "extra-constitutional power".
During election campaigns, like other Kamnans, he works as a canvasser for politicians who give him favours or those who he claims to be his close allies.
But in the election later this year, he will hardly be able to help marshal votes for any politician. It will be difficult for him to persuade people to attend their speeches at the rallies, even though his pockets are stuffed with travel expenses. A few days ago, a ranking military officer approached him and told to him bluntly that martial law is still in force in this area. To mobilize people for any purpose may simply affect reconciliation and security.
An ordinary Kamnan, though he has a big gut, he is not too stupid to understand what the officer meant.
He passes as a "good person" and the Commander in Chief recently remarked that no "good person" would be affected by martial law. Yet, he will not be able to help the same politician. At most he can simply try to see to it that canvassers of opponent politicians will not have the chance to mobilize people to attend their political rallies, either.
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This is a common phenomenon in the forthcoming election. And this has nothing to do with the notion whether or not good people are affected by martial law which is still in force in almost half the country.
Incredibly, the Commander in Chief backed his refusal to lift martial law by saying that "good people will not suffer (from the enforcement of the law)." This is the same reason touted by every previous military dictator to justify their cause. When Field Marshal Sarit Thanarat was in power, he invoked a Coup Order to have people shot without any judicial review. The same reason was used by Thaksin Shinawatra during the launch of his War on Drugs which led to rampant killings. Of course, "good people" did not suffer then, either.
Though the enforcement of martial law in the past months deserves condemnation and opposition, there was a certain justification. But now that the draft Constitution has been endorsed through a referendum held under martial law, and the national charter which is claimed to promote rights and freedoms has come into force, martial law is still in place. Those pro-coup factions who held high in their hands the flags of rights and freedoms and pushed people to come out in support of the Constitution have not come out to campaign to lift martial law. They show indifference to the fact that half of the country is ruled under this state of warfare as if these 35 provinces were "insecure". And these provinces are all strongholds of voters who support political parties which have opposed the coup.
Let us be frank with ourselves, let us be straightforward, the security claimed by the coup makers is in fact their own security. And their insecurity stems from their fears and cowardice. Yet, they trade this off against fairness in elections and the national image. They do not care if this security comes at the expense of the consent and cooperation of people in society, even though it would really be a stepping stone towards genuine reconciliation.
Here is the demand.
We call on those who seized the power (and who so far have failed to return it to us) to allow a fair election by lifting martial law.
This is because fair elections and respect for the people's free will are our fundamental rights and freedoms. And these political rights and freedoms are the watershed of all the rights to set our own policies and enjoy self-determination.
This is because the country belongs to "all Thai citizens", whether they come from Isan (Northeast), whether they are poor, or stupid, or love Thaksin, or hate Thaksin. It definitely does not belong to a handful of military officers and their few lapdogs.
Please listen (to others) again, the refusal to lift martial law is tantamount to a deliberate attempt to conduct unfair election.
And an unfair election is the only means through which the coup makers can sustain their power.
Only an unfair election can guarantee security for the coup makers.
And of course, your security has nothing to do with the national security. On the contrary, it has prolonged divisiveness in society.
Only through a fair election based on the collective consent can people in society learn to live in peace under political rules based on mutual respect. And that is true national security.
Translated by Pipob Udomittipong