No more coups!

2 09 2009

Readers will be pleased to know that a group of academic commentators have apparently agreed that there can be no more coups (Bangkok Post, 2 September 2009: “Another coup by military unlikely, say academics”).

Why? Two reasons:

(i) Political Development Council president Suchit Bunbongkarn said: “Launching a coup is one thing; governing a country is another.”  PPT doesn’t find this convincing because of the next reason; and

(ii) according to political scientist Paul Chambers, the “armed forces have already created themselves a niche in the current civilian government.” PPT finds this more convincing. As the military found in 1991 (until they got too ambitious) and has found with the failure of the Surayud government but now the great success of the Abhisit government, having civilians run government while the military shapes it and protects it is more efficient. And, the military gets to control its own resources. In fact, as Chambers points out, the Abhisit government needs and relies on the military for support and its power.

Missing, though, seems to be any discussion of the monarchy and palace. They played a critical role in putting the 2006 coup into action and in the formation of the Surayud government. Perhaps this is what is meant by Chris Baker’s comment that “the decline of Thai democracy did not start with the Thaksin administration. It had been continuing for decades…”. He adds, “We might also have to look at why support for the coup has been institutionalised,” for “Thaksin’s premiership challenged the consensus on the military’s role, which was one reason he was ousted in the 2006 putsch…”.

It seems that the military would continue to run coups if the palace demands it, at least while Prem and the king continue to have the barami necessary  for  such interventions.


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