Democracy Rising

"Those who make peaceful revolution impossible will make violent revolution inevitable" ~ President John F. Kennedy

Tuesday, September 19, 2006

Thai Coup - Potential Leaders

The King - An unlikely possibility, the monarch has often intervened to prevent such putsch attempts in the last 15 years, although he had been an apparent supporter of military regime's in the earlier years of his reign. The King still retains several strong powers, and it would be fair to say that Thaksin Shinawatra's resignation (later reversed) earlier in the year was as a result not only of massive street protests but of the monarch's own personal preferences. Needless to say, I would rule this possibility out.

The Government - This option has been bandied about on the BBC this afternoon, but it seems unlikely. Why would Thaksin Shinawatra launch a coup to seize power? Granted elections are forthcoming and the opposition is looking strong, but with a robust economy and strong rural support the P.M should be able to secure a victory. Additionally to launch such an audacious attempt whilst out of the country seems slightly bizare to me

The Opposition - Unlikely the opposition have the necessary resources and contacts to launch such an attempt. Needless to say they do have a strong distaste for the 'Thai Love Thai' ruling party.

Opposition Leaning Army Units - A more likely possibility, but still remote. Whilst some in the army may no doubt dislike Shinawatra, his recent activities lack anything severe enough to warrant a forceful removal from power.

Nationalistic Army Units - The most likely source of the coup. Thailand has been fighting an extremist insurrection for several years now, and much of the south remains under martial law. Perhaps certain elements feel that only under a military dictatorship can these 'terrorists' be defeated. Shinawatra appears to be thinking along a similar line -the chief of the army has just been sacked. Only recently police arrested five army officers over a suspected coup plot.


If the latter option is infact closest to the truth, then an extremist insurgency will ironically be the biggest winner from the coup. During the chaos of a civil service and interior ministry unsure of how to act, law and order can quickly break down. Such power vacuums are dangerous and would be easy to exploit for enemies of the Thai state. Gaining a stronger hold over the south, or even expanding into the remainder of the country become increasingly likely possibilities in such a scenario. Furthermore, any attempt to deal with the insurgency through stronger and more ruthless repression than that of a Democrat (no matter how much of a dysfunctional one) are only doomed to further failure.

My quick analysis of the coup attempt, and I'm no professional mercenary, is that it will fail.

Shinawatra's rule may have been marked by cronyism and an erosion of some freedom's, but it has also brought greater wealth for many, has increased opportunities for Thai's and generally presents a greater prospect for future prosperity than that of a Burmese style Junta. It is safe to say that Thailand's people have awoken to Democracy. This is why they poured on to the streets earlier in the year, and why, no matter how much of an autocrat Shinawatra may seem, many thousands of supporters and detractors will be prepared to face this attempt head on. I cannot see even the Thai Democrat Party who are fiercely opposed to the government welcoming the current developments.

Finally, you must ask yourself what kind of amateur job is this coup? The instigators of such an attempt have clearly got their ideas straight out of the 'Kurmanbek Bakiev: How To Be An Incompetent Dictator' school of thought. Firstly boys you don't seize government buildings and leave half the media in the hands of the man you're overthrowing, allowing him ample time to broadcast statements to the nation, and whipping up anti-coup feelings. Furthermore if you're going to take the nation, a good power-cut or complete switch off of external communications, ala Pakistan, usually is sufficient to keep people in the dark for long enough to overthrow the existing regimes. School-boy errors

*I'll update later, but for now I have work. Please leave comments


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