The Nation on July 9:

Democrat Party leader Abhisit Vejjajiva said yesterday that it was not necessary for the interim charter to grant the ruling National Council for Peace and Order (NCPO) absolute control because the country was not facing any security threats.

Abhisit expressed disapproval of Article 17 in the proposed charter, which he said was similar to the charter put in place by Field Marshal Sarit Thanarat after the coup in 1958.

BP: The interim constitution did give the junta absolute power.

The Nation on August 21:

Former prime minister Abhisit Vejjajiva, leader of the Democrat Party, said the May 22 coup was different from the most recent previous coups in 2006 and 1991. The one led by Prayuth was more similar to that of Field Marshal Sarit Thanarat, who served as prime minister after the 1957 coup, he said.

Both coups have something in common in terms of trying to absolutely control the situation first. So the first phase of this junta’s road map is longer when compared with the Suchinda [Kraprayoon] and Sonthi [Boonyaratglin] coups,” Abhisit told The Nation.

Other coup-makers after Field Marshal Thanom Kittikachorn, who became prime minister in 1963, did not take the position of PM themselves, but the leader of the latest coup is widely expected to be the next prime minister, he said.

The military coup in May was not welcomed by the international community, notably in Western countries. Abhisit said the international community has its standards on such matters.

“It’s difficult to change their minds. But I think tomorrow the NCPO will choose to be achievement-oriented. They will choose [to follow] the path that will make them succeed,” he said.

BP: Sarit was an absolute dictator who carried out investigations himself and then ordered public executions, particularly of arsonists and communists, without trial. Sarit was popular because of his “toughness” and he is remembered fondly. Sarit’s first coup was justified on a number of grounds including corruption of the government it overthrew, but after he died he was even very corrupt and had siphoned off tens of millions of baht over the years.  This side of Sarit is well-known. The comparisons with Sarit has been made by Thitinan previously and with  implied negative connotations, but Abhisit is less clear whether he means it negatively or not. His vagueness may be due to martial law, but well the comparison with Sarit is very apt…..