Thai army cadets march in formation west of Bangkok with one goal: to win the people’s hearts and minds ahead of next month’s referendum on a new constitution. Fresh-faced student recruits, local government officials and schoolchildren thrust leaflets into the hands of shopkeepers, restaurant owners and passers-by — and urge them to vote on August 7 as a national service. “We want everyone to do this referendum,” says Chinnapat Laohachaibun, a 16-year-old green-uniformed cadet flanked by a banner showing the monkey-god Hanuman casting his vote. “If everybody does, our country can go forward.” Propaganda blitzes like these are taking place across the nation as the generals, who have cracked down on dissent since their May 2014 coup, seek to consolidate power along with their allies in the bureaucratic elite. At the heart of the plebiscite lies a paradox: the public is being pressed to turn out yet new laws threaten them with 10 years in jail should they debate the subject on which they are voting.Full Article: Thai military marches to get out the vote and keep control - FT.com.
Jul 26 2016