After months of urban protests against Prime Minister Thaksim, who somehow pulled off the feat of being both a rural populist and a pro-business billionaire, the Thai military has stepped in and declared an interim government. In typical Thai fashion, the military waited until the PM was out of the country, in New York to deliver an address to the UN General Assembly, and declared personal loyalty to the King.
I was just in Thailand myself a couple of weeks ago, and co-blogger Adam is currently there in his girlfriend’s apartment. He is not currently online, perhaps because the government has suspended Internet connections. This is just idle speculation though, I really have no idea what’s going on. While there is little reason to be concerned for his safety, today’s appointment to have his air conditioner repaired seems very unlikely to be kept. Coincidentally, his girlfriend is currently in Japan on a job interview, and was I believe scheduled to return to Bangkok today. Hopefully I’ll hear a report from one or both of them some time today.
Update: Adam is back online, and I was right about the air conditioner repairman not keeping his appointment.
I find this editorial from The Nation pretty interesting. Just a couple of weeks ago the paper was demanding Thaksim’s resignation and accusing him of engineering a false assassination attempt against himself to shore up his flagging support, but they are still firmly against military intervention to remove him from power.
Ideally, the likes of Thaksin should be rejected at the ballot box or through public pressure in the form of peaceful protests. The problem is most people did not believe both options available to them would succeed in removing him from power. To many people the military coup against Thaksin may be a necessary evil.
But make no mistake, the seizure of power, albeit one that was achieved without the loss of lives, is nonetheless a form of political violence that is incompatible with the democratic aspirations of the Thai people. Democratic aspirations will live on even as the Constitution has already been abrogated by the coup leaders.
The spirit of democracy that undermined Thaksin’s apparent omnipresence will now shift its watchful eyes to the coup leaders.
Latest headline from The Nation:
“PROFILE: GEN SONTHI BOONYARATGLIN
Meteoric rise to POWER”
Following the coup, General Sonthi has so much POWER that it needed to be in all caps.