Consolidation of Power In Security Forces – New Commander of Royal Thai Army & Police Chief

Time magazine has published an interesting article about the appointment of the new commander of the Royal Thai Army.

Thailand’s opposition movement expressed fears Friday over the appointment of General Prayuth Chan-ocha as the new commander of the Royal Thai Army, comparing the general to past military dictators and predicting he will be tougher on dissent. Prayuth’s promotion, along with the appointment of a new national police chief, consolidates power in the security forces among officers with strong royalist views.
Along with most of the generals appointed to top positions, he [Prayuth] is a veteran of the Queen’s Guard unit, as is the new chief of the Royal Thai Police, General Wichean Potephosree. The police were widely seen as sympathetic to Thaksin and the Red Shirts during the protests and were nicknamed “tomatoes” by the public. Factions of the military are also seen as still loyal to Thaksin, and some analysts have raised concerns that the apparent preference for placing power in the hands of officers from one particular unit and holding one particular political viewpoint will increase divisiveness within the military.
The 21st Infantry Regiment is also known as Queen’s Guard, because their special assignment is guarding HM the Queen, and who are strongly opposed to the red shirts. Soldiers of the queens guard are also responsible for securing Privy Council, Gen Prem Tinsulanonda, PM Abhisit and Deputy Prime Minister Suthep Thaugsuban.

Thailand’s Military Spending: Up, Up, And Up Some More

Meanwhile, Andrew Walker has published an interesting graph that shows what has happened to Thailand’s military spending. From 1998 until 2006 it was pretty much steadily on the decline. Whereas, ever since the 2006 coup it has risen sharply again.
There have been quite a lot of corruption scandals about military spending, like the purchase of highly overpriced explosive detectors that didn’t work  – of course, after a bit of fuzz in the media, pretty much happened. The fact that the media did take notice of these incidents is rather surprising too, given the fact that the spending often is not transparent.