News / Asia

    Thai Junta Chief Announces Temporary Constitution

    Thailand's Army commander Gen. Prayuth Chan-ocha (L) arrives at the Royal Thai Army Club in Bangkok, June 13, 2014.
    Thailand's Army commander Gen. Prayuth Chan-ocha (L) arrives at the Royal Thai Army Club in Bangkok, June 13, 2014.

    The chief of the military junta who has led Thailand since last month's coup says a temporary constitution has been drafted.  But no details have been released yet.

    Army General Prayuth Chan-ocha says work on a temporary constitution has been completed and it has undergone a legal review.

    The army chief says the charter will be submitted for royal endorsement next month. After that, he predicts it will be another two months before the temporary document comes into effect.

    Prayuth, known as an ardent royalist, disclosed no details of the interim constitution during his nationally televised broadcast Friday, except to assure the nation that Thailand's king will remain head of state.

    General Prayuth says he expects a draft of a permanent constitution can be ready in 10 to 12 months.

    After that, the military leader says, “free and fair elections” will then be held. He predicted parliamentary elections in October of next year (2015), but urged patience until sweeping reforms are implemented, which he expects will take about 300 days.

    “Please take it easy,” the army chief urged. “We need some time for reforms.”

    Prayuth also announced that new urgent laws will soon be drafted, and he summoned representatives of all ministries to join that discussion.

    The general himself currently holds all executive and legislative powers after seizing control of Thailand 37 days ago in a bloodless coup that abrogated most of the existing constitution.

    It was Thailand's 19th successful or attempted putsch since the end of the absolute monarchy in 1932.

    Since then Prayuth has issued dozens of decrees on matters large and small - from making payouts to millions of cash-strapped farmers in a rice subsidy scheme bungled by the previous government to ordering free telecasts of all World Cup football matches.

    The junta, known as the National Council for Peace and Order (NCPO), has also summoned hundreds of academics, activists, politicians and journalists for questioning. Political activity is banned and news media operate under military scrutiny.

    Prayuth's Friday evening addresses have become a regular event since the May 22 coup. This week he defended the continuation of martial law, imposed three days prior to the coup, contending that “limitations on freedom are few.”

    He also warned the media not to report unverified information about the junta.

    He said this after denying that he had conspired to overthrow the elected government through consultation with a former deputy prime minister who led anti-government protests earlier this year.

    Last Saturday, Suthep Thaugsuban boasted to supporters at a banquet that he had been advising Prayuth since 2010 on how to get rid of former Prime Minister Yingluck Shinawatra.

    Ms. Yingluck is the sister of former Prime Minister Thaksin Shinawatra, who was deposed in a previous coup in 2006.

    One of the goals of the junta, according to its supporters and opponents, is to permanently eradicate Thaksin's influence from Thai politics.

    Thaksin, a telecommunications mogul, is in self-imposed exile to avoid imprisonment for a corruption conviction. The parties he has backed have won every national election in Thailand since 2001.

    The army chief pledged that reforms will extend through Thailand's bureaucracy, reputed for its corruption. All public servants must exhibit morals and virtues, Prayuth declared in his weekly speech.

    The general cautioned that the junta's timeline for the second phase of reform could be derailed if there is chaos or violence. There have been no large-scale demonstrations opposing the coup and a scarcity of political violence during the past month.

    Dissidents have resorted to a cat-and-mouse game with soldiers and police. They have organized flash mobs at shopping malls, signaling their defiance by displaying the three-fingered salute popularized by the Hunger Games movies, eating sandwiches in public and silently reading copies of George Orwell's dystopian novel 1984. Such seemingly innocuous acts have resulted in arrests, making such gestures even more popular among coup opponents.

    Leaders of a democracy organization in exile, Free Thai, formed this past week and told VOA they will emulate the teachings of Gandhi and the Dalai Lama in opposing the junta.

    They rejected as a farce a public-opinion poll showing significant support for the military takeover and General Prayuth as the favorite candidate to be Thailand's next prime minister.

    Prayuth, in his weekly address, mentioned to the top two leaders of the anti-coup movement by name. He said the pair of former government ministers, Jarupong Ruangsuwan and Jakarapob Penkair, should return to Thailand and surrender.

    Otherwise, the junta chief warned, the number of charges they face would continue to grow.


    Steve Herman

    A veteran journalist, Steve Herman is VOA's Southeast Asia Bureau Chief and Correspondent, based in Bangkok.

    You May Like

    Video Rubio Looks to Surge in New Hampshire

    Republican presidential candidate has moved into second place in several recent surveys and appears to be gaining ground on longtime frontrunner Donald Trump

    UN Calls for Global Ban on Female Genital Mutilation

    Recent UNICEF report finds at least 200 million girls and women alive today have undergone female genital mutilation in 30 countries

    UN Pilots New Peace Approach in CAR

    Approach launched in northern town of Kaga Bandoro, where former combatants of mainly Muslim Seleka armed group and Christian and animist anti-Balaka movement are being paid to do community work

    This forum has been closed.
    Comment Sorting
    Comments
         
    by: Prayuth4Ever from: Bangkok
    June 28, 2014 12:16 AM
    Prayuth must be pretty confident he will have settled in as Regent by September 2015.

    by: Brian Sumpter from: California
    June 27, 2014 4:59 PM
    Its sad that the General threatens those who want democracy, while Suthep brags about how he advised the General how to steal democracy in Thailand. The General is failing in the appearance of fairness.

    by: John Doe from: San Diego, California
    June 27, 2014 3:25 PM
    The dying king and general prayuth are not to be trusted.

    Featured Videos

    Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
    German Artists to Memorialize Refugees With Life Jacket Exhibiti
    X
    Hamada Elsaram
    February 05, 2016 4:30 PM
    Sold in every kind of shop in some Turkish port towns, life jackets have become a symbol of the refugee crisis that brought a million people to Europe in 2015.  On the shores of Lesbos, Greece, German artists collect discarded life jackets as they prepare an art installation they plan to display in Germany.  For VOA, Hamada Elrasam has this report from Lesbos, Greece.
    Video

    Video German Artists to Memorialize Refugees With Life Jacket Exhibit

    Sold in every kind of shop in some Turkish port towns, life jackets have become a symbol of the refugee crisis that brought a million people to Europe in 2015.  On the shores of Lesbos, Greece, German artists collect discarded life jackets as they prepare an art installation they plan to display in Germany.  For VOA, Hamada Elrasam has this report from Lesbos, Greece.
    Video

    Video E-readers Help Ease Africa's Book Shortage

    Millions of people in Africa can't read, and there's a chronic shortage of books. A non-profit organization called Worldreader is trying to help change all that one e-reader at a time. VOA’s Deborah Block tells us about a girls' school in Nairobi, Kenya where Worldreader is making a difference.
    Video

    Video Genius Lets World Share Its Knowledge

    Inspired by crowdsourcing companies like Wikipedia, Genius allows anyone to edit anything on the web, using its web annotation tool
    Video

    Video Former Drug CEO Martin Shkreli Angers US Lawmakers

    A former U.S. pharmaceutical business executive has angered lawmakers by refusing to explain why he raised the price of a life-saving pill by 5,000 percent. Martin Shkreli was removed from a congressional hearing on Thursday after citing his Fifth Amendment right to stay silent. Zlatica Hoke has more.
    Video

    Video Super Bowl TV Commercials are Super Business for Advertisers

    The Super Bowl, the championship clash between the two top teams in American Football, is the most-watched sporting event of the year, and advertisers are lining up and paying big bucks to get their commercials on the air. In fact, the TV commercials during the Super Bowl have become one of the most anticipated and popular features of the event. VOA's Brian Allen has a sneak peek of what you can expect to see when the big game goes to commercial break, and the real entertainment begins.
    Video

    Video In Philippines, Mixed Feelings About Greater US Military Presence

    In the Philippines, some who will be directly affected by a recent Supreme Court decision clearing the way for more United States troop visits are having mixed reactions.  The increased rotations come at a time when the Philippines is trying to build up its military in the face of growing maritime assertiveness from China.  From Bahile, Palawan on the coast of the South China Sea, Simone Orendain has this story.
    Video

    Video Microcephaly's Connection to Zika: Guilty Until Proven Innocent

    The Zika virus rarely causes problems for the people who get it, but it seems to be having a devastating impact on babies whose mothers are infected with Zika. VOA's Carol Pearson has more.
    Video

    Video Solar Innovation Provides Cheap, Clean Energy to Kenya Residents

    In Kenya, a company called M-Kopa Solar is providing clean energy to more than 300,000 homes across East Africa by allowing customers to "pay-as-you-go" via their cell phones. As Lenny Ruvaga reports from Kangemi, customers pay a small deposit for a solar unit and then pay less than a dollar a day to get clean energy to light up their homes or businesses.
    Video

    Video Stunning Artworks Attract Record Crowds, Thanks to Social Media

    A new exhibit at the oldest art museum in America is shattering attendance records. Thousands of visitors are lining up to see nine giant works of art that have gotten a much-deserved shot of viral marketing. The 150-year-old Smithsonian American Art Museum has never had a response quite like this. VOA's Julie Taboh reports.
    Video

    Video Apprenticeships Put Americans on Path Back to Work

    Trying to get more people into the U.S. workforce, the Obama administration last year announced $175 million in grants towards apprenticeship programs. VOA White House correspondent Aru Pande went inside one training center outside of Washington that has gained national recognition for helping put people on the path to employment.
    Video

    Video New Material May Reduce Concussion Effects

    As the 2016 National Football League season reaches its summit at the Super Bowl this coming Sunday (2/7), scientists are trying to learn how to more effectively protect football players from dangerous and damaging concussions. Researchers at Cardiff and Cambridge Universities say their origami-based material may solve the problem. VOA’s George Putic reports.
    Video

    Video Saudi Arabian Women's Sports Chip Away at Stereotypes

    Saudi Arabian female athletes say that sports are on the front line of busting traditions that quash women’s voices, both locally and internationally. In their hometown of Jeddah, a group of basketball players say that by connecting sports to health issues, they are encouraging women and girls to get out of their homes and participate in public life. VOA’s Heather Murdock reports.
    Video

    Video A Year Later, Fortunes Mixed for Syrians Forging New Lives in Berlin

    In April of last year, VOA followed the progress of six young Syrian refugees -- four brothers and their two friends -- as they made their way from Libya to Italy by boat, and eventually to Germany. Reporter Henry Ridgwell caught up with the refugees again in Berlin, as they struggle to forge new lives amid the turmoil of Europe's refugee crisis.
    Video

    Video Zika Virus May be Hard to Stop

    With the Zika virus spreading rapidly, the World Health Organization Monday declared Zika a global health emergency. As Alberto Pimienta reports, for many governments and experts, the worst is yet to come.