Tuesday, September 19, 2006

Coup in Bangkok

Looks like PM Thaksin, in New York to address the UN, is now ex-PM. Seems a well-plotted and managed army coup with the backing of the police has taken over the reins of govt., led by a Lt. Gen. Sondhi.
Thai Visa thread
Nation newspaper

A couple of Thaksin's top men have been arrested, and with tomorrow having been declared a bank holiday, perhaps the army will weed out more of his supporters. In his two terms of office, Thaksin's filled the higher levels with relatives and cronies, including some of the generals, which I guess he'd hoped would insulate him against this very situation.

Thailand's been undergoing a constitutional crisis since this April when non-stop demonstrations temporarily ousted him, new elections were boycotted by the opposition parties, and further elections had been scheduled for October though many of the election officials had been accused of partiality. The constitution's now suspended; many had had high hopes for it, that it would take Thailand away from the frequent military takeovers that bedevilled it over the last 30-odd years. But for all that, Thaksin's corruption had to some extent already subverted it - think Berlusconi on steroids.

I hope it doesn't cause bloodshed, the main danger of this being from a counter-coup, of which there seems no signs so far. Another determining factor may be the attitude of the king, while he doesn't tend to get publicly involved in such affairs, he no doubt pulls many strings behind the scenes. Sondhi seems to be in well with him.

The army has taken the main institutions of Bangkok whereas most of Thaksin's support is based in the north and the north-east. I haven't come across any reports of any action outside the capital, but any public reaction to the coup could well be in those provinces.

Thaksin has done some good, particularly his version of the NHS, the 30-baht scheme - far from perfect, but vastly better than anything the country's poor could have previously expected. Let's just hope the positive aspects are preserved and the army hands back control to a democratically elected civilian govt soon.

Meantime I'm trying to get in touch with my mates in the country, particularly one who lives just north of the govt. building / palace area.


Post a Comment

<< Home