THAILAND’S military junta has come under fire for a history textbook which claims that its non-elected government has established “true democracy” in the Southeast Asian kingdom and has eliminated corruption.
While History of the Thai Nation was released by the Ministry of Culture’s Fine Arts Department in 2015 to promote nationalism and patriotism among the Thai people, it recently came under scrutiny when a snippet of the book was posted by prominent scientist Jessada Denduangboripant to Facebook.
“Gen Prayut Chan-o-cha as Prime Minister has carried out a policy of reforming the country, reforming politics to be truly a democracy, eliminating corruption and using moral principles to lead the country to be truly a democracy,” reads the textbook as quoted by Prachatai English.
The so-called National Council of Peace and Order (NCPO) has ruled Thailand for almost four years after the army staged a coup d’état on 22 May 2014, with General Prayut Chan-ocha becoming Prime Minister.
While the NCPO promised to reinstate electoral democracy once the country was deemed stable, it has since repeatedly delayed elections, with the likely date now set for February 2019.
According to the Economist Intelligence Unit (EIU), its political system has slid from being a “flawed democracy” in 2013 to “hybrid regime” in 2018. It is approaching the EIU’s “authoritarian regime” characterisation alongside China, Cambodia and Vietnam.
“The content of the book is misleading and it will lead to the distortion of the country’s history if the department leaves it just like that,” activist named Srisuwan Janya said as quoted by the Bangkok Post. He has said he will sue Thailand’s government if it fails to recall the book.
“If they are not destroyed, these books will end up in public and school libraries. The misinformation will seep into the minds of students. I cannot let that happen because the reality has been so different.”
“The prime minister has not restored democracy nor brought the end to corruption as portrayed in the book,” Srisuwan added. Other netizens have mocked the book’s claims.
Thailand was ranked 96 out of 180 countries on Transparency International’s Corruption Perception Index in 2017, below neighbouring Brunei Darussalam, Singapore and Malaysia. Its ranking improved only marginally from 101 in 2016.