A coup missed?

12 06 2012

Jim Taylor from the University of Adelaide in Australia, sends us this post, which kind of links in odd ways to an earlier post on “couping.” We reproduce it as received:

The 1st June Coup that was, or was not?

Imagining coups? Everyone bored of hearing about coups? In the past few years we have often anticipated coups, based on rumours, innuendo and speculation. The last one (doing the rounds) was supposed to have taken place on 1st June, plotted at the end of May in Ayutthaya. At the time the king, dressed in military uniform, went to receive 1.7 ha “donated” land at Thung Makham Yong from PM Yingluck on 25 May.

Not that we should give much credence to signs or symbolic gestures. The coup organisation was in place with Admiral Tanasak Patimapragorn, Thailand’s Chief of Defence, selected as leader. General Wasit Dechkunchon, former Deputy Director General of Thailand’s national police, came out in the media and said, somewhat ambiguously given the current tensions, that the king was prepared to lead “the war” (songkhraan)…What war? The Burmese invasion at the site which, as myth has it, Queen Suriyothai was killed in defense of her husband?

General Daopong volunteered to assist Tanasak and was prepared to take a risk because he was believed to be firmly behind the massacre April-May 2010 and had everything to lose if he were called to account. If the coup proved successful, it would of course clear him from earlier charges. Anyway, they were ordered from somewhere above and had little choice – not that they needed one. Prayut has too much at stake, many career years ahead of him and even a tentative compact with PTP. He does not want to be involved in high risk stakes. At the same day in Ayutthaya, when the King and Queen were there, a meeting was held among top military brass at the royal Siriyalai Villa in that township. This was designated as the “war room”. The day after his Ayutthaya visit the King called in the Administrative Court; while the Queen sponsored feasting for military personnel. The coup plotters were told (by whom?) to finalise the coup before 24 June.  The period 30 May to 1st June was a crucial time for PTP.

Interestingly, the army sent field units to the “community” (around Bangkok) to ask people how they would feel if the army were to take care of country instead of politicians. This was after DP’s planned fracas in parliament over the Reconciliation Bill and amendments to the constitution (in fact PTP was only interested in one Section 291, on Amendments and in setting up a Draft Constitution Committee). The Constitutional Court was then ordered (by whom?) to act on 30 May. This was part of a well articulated plot among the amaat situated in various strategic positions of power to discredit the government. Contra to Somsak’s thesis (http://thaienews.blogspot.com.au/2012/06/blog-post_6844.html) that the five levels of the amaat regime function autonomously it is a well oiled single machine.

The coup plot initially planned for 1st June was leaked out and thus the amaat had to immediately use the powers invested in the Constitutional Court. That day Prayut called a meeting and announced to the media that there would be an important announcement that afternoon at 1 PM. The army in fact was going to detain Yingluck at Regiment 11.  The Queen’s personal aid Thanpuying Jarungjit Thikara and DP’s Suthep Thaugsuban went to Regiment 11 for talks with the army. Arresting Yingluck would destroy the government and prevent her, as head of government, from fleeing overseas and creating a legitimate government-in- exile (she would then also be a hostage to negotiate with Thaksin). That was also the day when PAD and Dr Tul Sitthisomwong’s mob/multicolours blocked the entry of PTP parliamentarians. A signal was sent to Yingluck of the intended coup plot and she cancelled all her appointments around this time.

DP brought in people from “blue” areas in Petchaburi and Prajuab Provinces to help Chamlong/Santi Asok and PAD surround parliament. The air force had also been called to prepare for the coup; while the special airborne unit of the Thai police had pledged its support to government/UDD in case of violence.

In fact, the 2006 coup leader Sonthi “Bang” Boonyaratglin’s first Reconciliation Bill was a clever earlier ploy to discredit PTP and include Thaksin in the amnesty along with those responsible for the massacre in 2010. Prem around the time also called in Yingluck for talks to give an impression of collusion. It worked! Thaksin was then told to back off support to red shirts in a new deal with the amaat. He thought he could gain some mutual benefits not only for himself/family but for PTP’s graduated reform process in negotiating with elites who seemed amenable to dialogue with the elected government (hence the row among red shirts, and Thaksin’s recent regrets made at a mass red shirt gathering last week in Muang Thong Thani after realizing [if he was not aware before] that he was utterly deceived by the amaat).

In the next step the government will have no alternative but to press ahead and pass the amendments on 12 June, or else wait until end of Parliamentary sitting. It must make a move to reform the constitution and replace all the stacked independent bodies (e.g. courts, NCCC, & EC), which were established with connivance of high level amaat and the military to bring down Thaksin and stifle emerging democracy with social and economic reform. This is something the amaat never wanted to see ever since 1932 as it took power away from them.  Thailand’s problem may be because, especially during the period of economic modernization, Thailand’s political institutions were not allowed (by the royalists) to mature and thus maintain tension of instability where the military could always step in and justify its regrouping of power and control over society and the economy. In its justification the army would always refer to a higher authority above the elected institutions of the state.

If PTP overrules the Constitutional Court, the latter will of course now refer to Article 216, Clause 5, to say that deliberations are final and Parliament committed to follow the court’s ruling. If it does not accept the court ruling it will say that the Party is not respecting the constitutional law and that consequences would follow. This scenario, along with the anticipated final decision over Phra Vihaan (Preah Vihear) by the International Court of Justice (anticipated to be in Cambodia’s favour) will see far-right (ultra-nationalist) elements inside and outside Parliament attacking the government’s “sell-out” of the nation, and will thus allow a space for the military to finally take control – the next and final coup:  Enter the Falangists.

Jim Taylor

10 June 2012

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