Academics warn against absolute power

national July 12, 2014 00:00

By Pravit Rojanaphruk
The Nation

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Academics say junta leader General Prayuth Chan-ocha might be able to execute administrative affairs more easily if he assumes the prime minister's post, but putting absolute power in his hands could potentially also come with the risk of power abuse and

Trakoon Meechai, a political scientist at Chulalongkorn University, pointed out that if Prayuth became premier he would be fully responsible for seeing through all plans laid down by the National Council for Peace and Order, which he also oversees.
“He could be responsible if things work or fail,” said Trakoon, adding that this way, nobody else could take the credit or blame.
However, Trakoon pointed out that absolute power may open the door to abuse, as nothing could be scrutinised. 
He also said that if Prayuth decided to push back his retirement beyond October and stay on as Army chief, he risked upsetting other senior officers vying for the post. 
Meanwhile, Thammasat political scientist Prajak Kongkirati said Prayuth would gain a lot of support from those who back the coup if he decides to become interim premier. However, Prayuth’s credibility would diminish in the eyes of others, as he has been insisting from the start that he did not stage the coup for his own benefit. Prajak also said that if he did become PM, it would be akin to General Suchinda Kraprayoon, who staged a coup in 1991 and took up the post of prime minister, despite insisting that he wouldn’t and it led to massive protests and his eventual ouster in May 1992. 
Prajak also shared Trakoon’s views, saying that the concentration of power was dangerous and that Prayuth ran the risk of making mistakes if he had too many things to handle, plus it would make scrutiny impossible. 
For Soraj Hongladarom, a philosophy lecturer at Chulalongkorn, Prayuth becoming premier would be undemocratic and his credibility would also be affected. He pointed out that though holding the PM’s post would make Prayuth feel secure, it was never good to put too much work in one person’s hands. 
“A single person cannot know everything and there’s a risk that he will be misled by his men. This is a universal condition faced by a dictator,” he said.

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