Exclusive: Former foreign minister blasts Prayut government for being corrupt; undermining democracy

Former Foreign Minister Kasit Piromya has criticised the current government for being as corrupt as previous administrations and undermining the country’s democratic system.

Kasit Piromya was the Minister of Foreign Affairs under the Abhisit Vejjajiva administration and made his name as an anti-Thaksin crusader. He was tasked during his years as foreign minister to chase down Thaksin and hold him accountable for corruption charges that Thaksin said was politically motivated. In recent years, he has been heavily involved in grassroots education projects involving democracy and good governance.

“All my life, I’ve hated coups and soldiers,” the former foreign minister said. “When I was ten years old, I thought to be the prime minister of Thailand you had to be a Field Marshall or a General.”

Kasit said that he was privileged to receive an education abroad where he saw numerous countries transformed from autocracies to democracies.

“It is incredibly sad that Thailand is still stuck in this coup cycle while countries in our region that were once the same have moved to real democracies. South Korea, Taiwan, even Bangladesh.”

Corruption

Kasit said that there was not much difference between the Prayut administration and the Thaksin administration as far as corruption is concerned.

“There is no difference between the two. Maybe it is even worse under this government,” he said. “The corruption is blatant with little to no oversight. It has maybe even increased.”

Kasit also criticised government’s economic policies which he said only benefits the few while the rest of the country is being left behind.

The former minister said that since being given the keys to the economy, Somkid Jatusripitak’s policies have only benefited the ‘top twenty families’ while the masses are left to starve and suffer especially under the coronavirus pandemic.

Kasit also argued that the government’s populism program is just a continuation of Thaksin Shinawatra’s ideas.

“Somkid’s policies are like trying to buy popularity, it does not decrease inequality, it doesn’t help the middle class,” he said. “He did the same thing when he was a minister in Thaksin’s administration and it didn’t work.”

“Right now, twenty families in Thailand own 60 per cent of our wealth.”

Democratic undermining

“I think it is time people accept that coups do not solve problems,” Kasit said. “The idea that this coup would stop corruption and fix the system has been proven to be false.”

Kasit said that the conservative thought that the coup was carried out to reform the country and reconcile the political divide is fanciful thinking. If anything, the country is more divided than ever.

The reason that the military placed such heavy emphasis on the constitution is because there are clauses in both the interim military constitution and the 2017 constitution which absolves Prayut and his conspirators from responsibility in carrying out the coup.

The constitution has also proven to be undemocratic and enshrining the military’s hand in civilian rule, according to Kasit.

“There is no guarantee of progress when it comes to coup,” he said. “They buy weapons that do not work, and carry out mega-infrastructure projects that we do not need and benefit the contractors.”

“The time for military involvement in politics needs to be over, now.”

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