Oct 07

Slowly even the Thai supporters of the bloodless coup begin to realize, that having martial law in a ‘democratic’ country is a paradox per se.

Here a reporter of ‘The Nation’ is wondering what changed having the coupsters instead of Thaksin. What an interesting read:

The good (about Thaksin) …

Having never been a Thaksin supporter, it is very difficult to write anything positive about the Thaksin era. However, in a few crucial aspects, it’s actually preferable to live under Thaksin Shinawatra than under a military junta.

Though I have written against Thaksin in the paper over the years, and never voted for his Thai Rak Thai Party because it was too risky to indirectly vote for one of the richest men in the Kingdom to assume the most powerful post in the land, the time has come to show up the junta for what they are.

Two weeks under martial law is enough to convince me that we are yet to see any light at the end of the tunnel. Thailand has simply changed tunnels, from one of an abusive civilian prime minister to that of a junta that turned back the clock on Thai democracy.

While not calling for the return of Thaksin, neither am I convinced that staging a coup was the solution, or that we’re better off now than under Thaksin. And there are several reasons:

1) Though Thaksin didn’t play by the rules, and in fact shamelessly circumvented many, at least we had the 1997 “People’s Constitution”. Now we have martial law barring a political assembly of more than five persons, a crackdown on anti-coup websites and community radios, and a future “permanent” constitution to be drafted by people that the military and the interim government will select.

Thaksin may have been bad, but he simply exploited loopholes in the law and the constitution. The military junta simply tore up the constitution and expected people to respect their “interim constitution”, which also has a clause affording them a general amnesty for their actions.
Now are you beginning to miss CEO PM Thaksin, who “played by the rules” that were set by others?

2) Under Thaksin the rural poor, who constitute 60 per cent of the population, were feted like never before through populist freebies. Now, under the military, the poor are back to their old station in life according to traditional Thai social hierarchy – beneath the middle class and elite, and voiceless. Any political activity by them has been banned for the past two weeks and is set to remain so for some time.

3) There was at least some degree of democracy under Thaksin; now there is simply the military junta and an interim government that rule and pass laws without parliamentary oversight. Foreign governments used to think Thailand was a democracy in progress under Thaksin; now they correctly realise that there is no democracy.

4) Under Thaksin tens of thousands, if not hundreds of thousands, could peacefully hold protests against him. Now, under the military, more than five people getting together is illegal and subject to a 6-month jail sentence. For sure, only one arrest has been made in the protests by civil-rights activists to date, but one cannot be certain what the future holds.

5) Under Thaksin, the Internet and community radio were freer than they are now. After the coup, even an academic website (Midnight University) was shut. Under Thaksin, those who disliked him could read similar views in newspapers; under the military, many print and broadcast media outlets are fast becoming cheerleaders for the new order.

I would venture to say that the print media was also better under Thaksin’s years of media manipulation and interference. During the latter years of his rule the print media fought back and was critical and courageous in exposing Thaksin’s corruption. Now many of them have been led to believe that the coup was not just a necessary evil, but perhaps essentially good for Thai democracy.

6) No one could see any light at the end of the tunnel with regard to the political crisis under Thaksin, but do people really think they see any light after the coup?
Do people think the rural masses that supported Thaksin are now happy, content and reformed and that they will not vote to put another corrupt politician in power when the next election comes?
If the answer is no, then will Thailand not need more coups in future?

7) Thaksin’s CEO can-do attitude is now being replaced by a government not accountable to the public. Has Thailand solved the “Thaksin problem” by creating many more new problems? Was it a case of burning down the house of democracy to get rid of a pest?
Thaksin may be gone, but the travails of “Thai-style democracy” continue.

Pravit Rojanaphruk
The Nation

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written by Chris

2 Responses to “Thai View of Coup changes?”

  1. Laos: Coup Attempt Prevented | nomad4ever UNITED STATES Says:

    […] 07/10/2006 Thai View Of Coup Changes? […]

  2. Thailand: 6 Months After Coup - Little To Show | nomad4ever UNITED STATES Says:

    […] After the first doubts, if Thailand has a democratic future; the view of the Thai People obviously changes, they demand more clarity on how things will progress further. There are even the first demonstrations in Bangkok and the reputation of the Coupsters vanishes more and more. […]

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