Putting the military on mute | Bangkok Post: opinion

Society should challenge the military, as a matter of honour, integrity and the uniform, to stay true to its words as spoken by top military brass past and present. That is to stay out of politics and respect the democratic process. Thai democracy started off with the 1932 revolution. But then, the main actor that messed it up was the military. Understandable though, really, with the regional and global political climate of the day, fascism and military dictatorship was en vogue. So military involvement became fully-fledged, unabashed military rule with Plaek Phibulsonggram. He actually went so far as to decrease the relevance of the monarchy and built his own cult of personality in place. Another military dictator, Sarit Thanarath came to power in 1958. He, along with the royalist movement at the time, and the CIA collaborated to shape present-day Thailand, building the national identity.

Again, context is important. This was the time of the Cold War and communist expansions. If you were a third-world country, likely you had to play nice with either the CIA or the KGB. At least we were on the winning side. Either way, some sort of dictatorship was the norm. Sarit brought back the image of the Thai king and the Thai concept of the monarchy. He introduced the playing of the royal anthem in cinemas and the slogan of “nation, religion and king” as represented by the red, white and blue on the Thai flag.

From attending public ceremonies, to visiting the provinces and rural areas, to being patron of development projects and to presenting diplomas to graduates of government universities, the images we see in the cinema and on royal news each night can be traced to Sarit’s influence. In fact, he even brought back the practice of prostrating before a royal audience, once banned by King Chulalongkorn.
I think thats the first time I have seen a mainstream newspaper state so openly how much of that evolution and media spin was involved.