Jun 11, 2014

In Thailand old traditions die hard

Is it possible to have a just coup? The Thais might find the cure worse than the disease, reports our anonymous stringer in Bangkok

Thailand experienced its 24th coup in 82 years on May 22 — that’s almost one every three years. As a Thai journalist observed, “it is almost a tradition — like Songkhran without wet T-shirts”.

Military intervention can be like surgery or chemotherapy: undesirable, but perhaps justifiable in certain circumstances. Is it possible to have a “just” coup?

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5 thoughts on “In Thailand old traditions die hard

  1. mrbmrm

    ‘Hydra’ rather than Medusa?

  2. Tony Kevin

    Interesting piece by Anonymous. i would love to know who he/she might be, as a former DFAT officer! Readers might like to compare this with my analysis on Eureka Street at time of initial coup. I took a more pro-Yingluck/Red Shirts position.I found Thaugsuban’s strategy and tactics odious and contrary to Thai democracy and the Thai national interest. I still believe this. Tony Kevin, former ambassador to Cambodia 1994-97.

  3. Peter Snashall

    The difference between this and previous coups is the influence and support of China. It’s a monumental difference. Just Google “Thailand China” news and you’ll learn more than any piece
    of journalism anywhere I’ve seen anywhere.

  4. Robert Jameson

    I am Robert Jameson – a subscriber to Crikey. My wife and I recently spend 10 days with my friend Kev (Ric) Richardson in Chiang Mai, Thailand. I sent him a copy of the above article and the following is his reply:

    I plead with you to respond, not on your own behalf, but on mine. You make no claims, merely say the Aussie friend you visited only two weeks ago, who has lived in Thailand 20 years, was insisting that this coup is proving the best tonic for one of the most corrupt countries in the world.

    Your friend insists that this junta is proving itself out to rid the country of the government’s corruption which has strangled so many of its people–keeping them poor so come elction time, they can buy votes.

    The Junta’s first action was to pay the warlike rice farmers their 2013 dues. The corrupt government had twice this year, approved payment, but every baht of it ‘disappeared’ before reaching the farmers. The Prime Minister (Thaksin’s sister and his puppet) and nine of her Ministers have not been arrested, but ‘detained’. Their houses have been searched and multi-millions of dollars confiscated, along with large cashes of illegal arms. Their assets have been frozen while Junta bloodhounds, working hand-in-hand with the courts, search through their records for evidence of massive corruption – yes, this by the Junta. The PM is not under House Arrest – she is allowed take to the streets so long as under the watchful eyes of two armed guards. The Junta right now has its soldiers, alongside civilian volunteers, cleaning the beaches of litter, because local councillors prefer sweeping the moneys approved for beach-cleaning into their own pockets. The books of many local councils are under investigation by Junta sleuths who declare there will be elections only when corruption has been wiped out.

    It is common knowledge in Thailand that corrupte candidates in elections distribute 500 baht notes ($au16) by the million, to voters. With half the locals over 50 years of age illiterate because they never went to school, so unable to get decent jobs, and there being no such thing as pensions (except for politicians), this 500 baht is the most money these people have had in their hand all year. It is these who vote in the corrupt Pheu Thai party.

    The Junta on Monday last, put ‘paid’ to even the CEO of Thai Air, getting free flights. That was another stone cast at the corrupt. The junta is also arresting business proprietors who don’t pay the legal minimum working wage. They had been getting away with it by paying graft money to police and other law-makers.

    “This junta is the best thing that has happened in Thailand for years,” the majority of western retirees here are shouting. All you people at ‘Cricky,’ come and hear it for yourself. Why cannot you report the truths of what is happeing in Thailand? — That at last, some honest poiticians seem to be doing something about stopping corruption by government after government!”

    Ric Richarrdson

  5. Peter Snashall

    Just read an interesting article that supports my comments about the influence of China on the recent coup. “China: Winners From Thailand’s Coup”

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