Oct. 9, 2006

Thailand Coup

I was in Thailand as a junior monk in 1992 at the time of the last coup. That was a very different affair from the present one. There was a major uprising against the military followed by a bloody repression. The King intervened and settled things down, leading to early elections. I remember a symbolic photograph in the papers that showed the King seated on his throne wagging his finger at the coup leader and the leader of the democratic faction, who were kneeling at his feet, hands in anjali.

The King is a remarkable man. He was actually raised in quite humble circumstances and was not considered to be in line for the throne. He has consistently been a force for stability and democratic progress in the country. He is certainly not a figurehead.

That's why it is significant that he has endorsed this current coup. He didn't have to do that. This coup also seems to have a strong measure of popular support, at least in Bangkok.

The Thaksin government was notoriously corrupt, and the elections almost as sketchy as Ohio's.

Another interesting angle; the coup leader is a Muslim and he wants to try and settle the Muslim insurrection in the south with negotiations. Thaksin was eager to make points with the Americans and was hopping on the War on Terra bandwagon, taking a hard line in the south. This aspect bears watching.

In short, not all coups are created equal.

No comments: