Saving the nation

10 09 2010

A couple of days ago, PPT posted on the claim by Thailand’s auditor-general-for-life Jaruvan Maintaka, who claimed that her continued occupation of her office represented some kind of effort to “save the country.”

Another group thinks they know who “saved the country.” The Bangkok Post has an really interesting and revealing story on outgoing army boss General Anupong Paojinda.

He recently received a standing ovation from “commanders under his direct supervision [and this] was an unprecedented farewell gesture…”. Apparently, the gesture “pleased the retiring general immensely.”

Anupong “thanked his lieutenants for following his command over the past three years even though it meant they had to be involved in tackling the political crisis.” He again claimed that the violent crackdowns on red shirt protesters, which he says was a “military operation” has been praised and admired by many. Anupong reckons that it was a great job: “I would like all of us to feel proud…”.

His replacement, General Prayuth Chan-ocha, “rose from his seat and led the group in a standing ovation that lasted about two minutes. This act of appreciation brought a smile to the face of the usually reserved general.” Posterior polishing, perhaps, but a genuine gesture, for Prayuth believes that Anupong “helped save the country and ensure its survival.”

General Anupong

In a very real sense, Anupong has saved the elite’s nation for them. His activities, from his involvement in the 2006 coup, to his refusal to take action against yellow shirt demonstrators, and to his use of lethal force that left at least 91 dead and some 2,000 injured during the Battle for Bangkok, Anupong has been the praetorian guard of the royalist ruling class, headed by the king and his family and privy council.

If the political weight had lodged elsewhere, Anupong would not be applauded by his armed supporters, but would have been jailed for involvement in the illegal overthrow of a legal and elected government. He could equally have been charged with mutiny for failing to follow the lawful orders of a legal government, when he threw his lot in with yellow-shirted royalists. Finally, he should face charges for the deaths and injuries of red shirt protesters in April and May. And then there could be investigations into military corruption.

Such charges are entirely unlikely in a situation where the government and elite owe their current existence to Anupong and his weapons.


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