National Council for Peace and Order
|This article is part of a series on the|
politics and government of
The National Council for Peace and Order (NCPO; Thai: คณะรักษาความสงบแห่งชาติ; RTGS: khana raksa khwam sangop haeng chat; abbreviated (Thai: คสช.; RTGS: khosocho)) was the military junta that ruled Thailand between its 2014 Thai coup d'état on 22 May 2014 and 10 July 2019. On 20 May 2014, the military declared martial law nationwide in an attempt to stop the country's escalating political crisis, and to force the democratically elected government out of office. On 22 May, the military removed the Yingluck Shinawatra government and formed the NCPO to take control of the country. The junta censored the broadcasting system in Thailand, suspended most of the constitution (except for the article concerning the country's king; the crisis began during the final years of the reign of Rama IX and continued into the reign of Rama X), and detained members of the Thai cabinet. The NCPO was formally dissolved following the swearing-in of the new cabinet on 16 July 2019. Critics like former Thai ambassador Pithaya Pookaman charge that the NCPO "...is practically still very much intact. Its arbitrary power[s] ... transferred to the existing Internal Security Operations Command chaired by the prime minister."
The original English name assumed by the junta was "National Peace and Order Maintaining Council" or "NPOMC". The name was later changed to "National Council for Peace and Order" or "NCPO" on 24 May 2014.
On 22 May 2014, the NCPO announced its composition and stated that its leader would exercise all powers and duties which the laws invest in the prime minister and the cabinet, until a new prime minister was elected or appointed.
On 23 May, the NCPO announced that short and long-term national administrative policies would be determined by its leader. It assigned its members to government ministries and agencies.
On 24 May 2014, the NCPO dissolved the Senate and vested legislative power in its leader. It also ordered the judicial branch to operate under its directives. Later that day, it transferred Police General Adul Saengsingkaew, who was the Commissioner-General of the Royal Thai Police and also its deputy leader, to an inactive post in the Office of the Prime Minister. Adul was replaced by Police General Watcharapol Prasarnrajkit.
On 26 May, King Bhumibol Adulyadej endorsed the coup, formally appointing General Prayut Chan-o-cha to "take charge of public administration" as of 24 May. The royal endorsement was seen as key to legitimising the coup.
|Office||Name||Military status||In charge of|
|Leader||Prayut Chan-o-cha||Royal Thai Army||General||Commander-in-Chief|
|Deputy Leader||Thanasak Patimaprakorn||Royal Thai Armed Forces Headquarters||General||Chief of the Armed Forces|
|Deputy Leader||Narong Pipathanasai||Royal Thai Navy||Admiral||Commander-in-Chief|
|Deputy Leader||Prajin Juntong||Royal Thai Air Force||Air Chief Marshal||Commander-in-Chief|
|Deputy Leader||Adul Sangsingkeo||Royal Thai Police||Police General||Former Commissioner-General
Minister of the Office of Prime Minister
|Secretary-General||Teerachai Nakwanich||Royal Thai Army||General||Deputy Commander-in-Chief|
|Deputy Secretary-General||Chatudom Titthasiri||Royal Thai Army||General||Deputy Commander-in-Chief|
|Spokesman||Winthai Suvaree||Royal Thai Army||Colonel||Vice Spokesman of the Army|
Board of consultants
On 26 May 2014, the NCPO announced the formation of its Board of Consultants:
|Chairman||Prawit Wongsuwan||Former Minister of Defence, (Abhisit Vejjajiva's cabinet)|
|Vice Chairman||Anupong Paochinda||Former commander-in-chief of the army|
|Vice Chairman||Pridiyathorn Devakula||Former Governor of the Bank of Thailand|
|Consultant||Somkid Jatusripitak||Former Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Finance, (Thaksin Shinawatra's cabinet)|
|Consultant||Narongchai Akrasanee||Member of Thai Monetary Policy Committee and Former Minister of Trade, (Chavalit Yongchaiyudh's cabinet)|
|Consultant||Wissanu Krea-ngam||Former Deputy Prime Minister, (Thaksin Shinawatra's cabinet)|
|Consultant||Yongyuth Yuthavong||Former Minister of Science and Technology, (Surayud Chulanont's cabinet)|
|Consultant||Itthaporn Subhawong||Former commander-in-chief of the air force|
|Consultant||Noppadol Intapanya||Former secretary to Minister of Defence, (Prawit Wongsuwan)|
|Consultant and Secretary||Dowpong Rattanasuwan||Former vice commander-in-chief of the army|
Political motivations and objectives
The stated objective of the coup and NCPO was to restore order to Thailand and to enact political reforms. Specifically, Thailand's military junta promised to clean up corruption, reduce political tensions, transform the Thai economy, solve the issues in Thailand's educational system and infrastructure, and equitably allocate state funding regionally. Since then, Thailand's military has failed to demonstrate it is a neutral, prudent economic manager that refrains from mixing business and politics. Top army brass appear to be inexplicably wealthy. The generals have been accused of larding Thai companies with junta cronies, of boosting defense budgets, and of making little progress on economic reform.
Since taking over, the NCPO has made full use of martial law to prosecute opponents, ban political activity, and censor the media. More than 1,000 people, including academics, political bloggers, activists and politicians, have been detained or sent for "attitude adjustment" at military installations. There are allegations of torture. Prosecutions under the country's strict lèse majesté laws, which protect the monarchy from insult, have risen sharply. In its annual report in January 2015, Human Rights Watch said military rule had sent human rights in Thailand into "a freefall".
Decisions and future
The NCPO repealed the 2007 Constitution, save the second chapter which deals with the King. In addition, it formally ordered the dissolution of the caretaker government, while the Senate was dissolved. Other state agencies, including the courts and the independent organs, remain operative.
The NCPO imposed a curfew throughout the country, ordering people to stay indoors from 22:00 to 05:00. It laid down a ban on political gatherings and directed all protesters to disperse. It also ordered all educational institutes, both public and private, to close from 23 to 25 May 2014.
On 2 August 2014, a law was issued to determine monthly salaries and other monetary benefits for NCPO staff. General Prayut was granted 125,590 baht per month. Each of the other NCPO members was granted salaries of 119,920 baht per month. These salaries are in addition to the benefits they are already entitled to receive by virtue of their posts in the armed forces.
Reactions to the coup
Immediately after the coup was announced, People's Democratic Reform Committee (PDRC) protesters expressed their support for the takeover. Phra Buddha Issara, a Buddhist monk and PDRC co-leader, went on stage and proclaimed the victory of the anti-Yingluck Shinawatra government protesters before requesting that protesters return to their homes. Some pro-Shinawatra government protesters dispersed at the behest of the military, while others refused to leave. The NCPO provided 70 military vehicles to send protesters from both sides home.
- Canada – Foreign Affairs Minister John Baird condemned the coup and said, "This decision violates Thailand's democratic principles and stands in stark contrast to the Army's earlier assurances that its role would be limited to securing public order. We hope and expect the Thai military will return Thailand to civilian rule as soon as possible, respect democratic processes and the rule of law, ensure freedom of expression and assembly, and guarantee due process for those who have been detained."
- EU – The European External Action Service (EEAS) called for the military to accept and respect the constitutional authority of civilian power and stressed "the importance of holding credible and inclusive elections as soon as feasible".
- France – President François Hollande condemned the coup and called for "an immediate return to the constitutional order and for a vote to be organised".
- UN – Ban Ki-moon, Secretary-General of the United Nations issued a statement expressing concern over the coup, and called for "a prompt return to constitutional, civilian, democratic rule" and movement towards cooperation between the parties.
- US – Secretary of State John Kerry condemned the coup and said that "this act will have negative implications for the US–Thai relationship, especially for our relationship with the Thai military".
- UK – Britain expressed concern over the coup, however it did not go as far as to condemn it. The British Foreign Office urged British travelers to follow travel advice, and stated that, "We are concerned at the announcement of a military coup in Thailand and are following developments closely. We urge all sides to put aside their differences, and adhere to the values of democracy and the rule of law. This is clearly in the interests of the people of Thailand." They also added, "ongoing political instability and the continued violence undermine Thailand's democratic framework."
The NCPO in action
- The government seized thousands of "divisive" blue medical boxes and towels intended for distribution to the elderly on 12 April 2016. The boxes were donated by the Democrat Party. The blue boxes carried the photo of Abhisit Vejjajiva, leader of the party. The military had only the week before seized almost 9,000 red Songkran water bowls from the Democrats' rival, the Pheu Thai Party. "The NCPO adheres to principles, righteousness and fairness under the same law. People may wonder why things cannot be handed out during this time of happiness, please understand the officials," said Colonel Piyapong Klinpan, NCPO spokesman. The Democrats had assembled more than 1,200 sets of medicine boxes and towels for the elderly in Phran Kratai District of Kamphaeng Phet Province, a party stronghold. The giveaways were aimed at marking Elderly Day on 13 April.
- In September 2018, the government arrested several alleged sympathizers of a vestigial political movement advocating the abolishment of the constitutional monarchy. Police seized as evidence T-shirts bearing the group's logo of a red and white flag. Deputy Prime Minister Prawit Wongsuwan declared, "They sell shirts and flags. We've arrested three or four of them now. Whoever we can get to, we will arrest them all," he said, adding "They are traitors."
- On 10 September 2018, police shut down a forum on the topic, "Will Myanmar's Generals Ever Face Justice for International Crimes?" organized by the Foreign Correspondents Club of Thailand (FCCT) in Bangkok. The reasons given by police for the shut down: it could damage national security, affect foreign relations, and a give a third party the opportunity to create unrest. It is thought that this is the sixth time police have forced the cancellation of an FCCT program since Thailand's military seized power in 2014.
On 6 April 2017, a new constitution drafted by the NCPO was promulgated replacing the 2014 interim constitution. The transitory provisions of the 2017 constitution state that the NCPO will come to an end when a cabinet established after the first general election under this constitution takes office, but until then the NCPO retained its sweeping powers under the 2014 constitution. These provisions also constitutionalised all the actions as well as the announcements and orders of the NCPO.
- 2013–14 Thai political crisis
- 2014 Thai coup d'état
- Constitution of Thailand
- 2014 interim constitution of Thailand
- Prayut Chan-o-cha
- 2019 Thai general election
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(1) มาตรา ๒๖๕ ให้คณะรักษาความสงบแห่งชาติที่ดำรงตำแหน่งอยู่ในวันก่อนวันประกาศใช้รัฐธรรมนูญนี้ ยังคงอยู่ในตำแหน่งเพื่อปฏิบัติหน้าที่ต่อไป จนกว่าคณะรัฐมนตรีที่ตั้งขึ้นใหม่ภายหลังการเลือกตั้งทั่วไปครั้งแรกตามรัฐธรรมนูญนี้จะเข้ารับหน้าที่. ในระหว่างการปฏิบัติหน้าที่ตามวรรคหนึ่ง ให้หัวหน้าคณะรักษาความสงบแห่งชาติและคณะรักษาความสงบแห่งชาติยังคงมีหน้าที่และอำนาจตามที่บัญญัติไว้ในรัฐธรรมนูญแห่งราชอาณาจักรไทย (ฉบับชั่วคราว) พุทธศักราช ๒๕๕๗... (2) มาตรา ๒๗๙ บรรดาประกาศ คำสั่ง และการกระทำของคณะรักษาความสงบแห่งชาติ...ชอบด้วยรัฐธรรมนูญนี้และกฎหมาย และมีผลใช้บังคับโดยชอบด้วยรัฐธรรมนูญนี้ต่อไป...
- "ครม.ประยุทธ์ เข้าเฝ้าถวายสัตย์ฯ 16 ก.ค." [Prayut Cabinet to be sworn in before King on 16 July]. Thai PBS News (in Thai). 14 July 2019. Archived from the original on 15 July 2019. Retrieved 15 July 2019.