The political struggle over Thailand’s coup

27 06 2014

The Financial Times has a useful article assessing the current situation in Thailand. It refers to a “political struggle over Thailand’s coup” that is developing “beneath the country’s surface calm, as military rulers crush dissent, opposition forces mobilise in exile and western powers warn that the generals could be here to stay.”

The Leader

Becoming The Dictator

Much that has happened looks grim for those interested in democracy in Thailand, electoral or other forms. As the article states, the dictatorship is entrenching itself, “detaining people even over emblematic acts such as carrying sandwiches or reading George Orwell in public…”. The U.S. seems to have accepted that the dictatorship is “both more repressive and likely to last longer” than the 2006 junta and military-backed regime. It is clear that the current junta and its supporters are determined to “stamp their conservative vision on politics and business.”

Business? Yes, the report mentions “economic interventions such as postponing a big telecoms auction and forcing the World Cup football broadcaster to give up its rights, have reinforced the impression of what one foreign government official dubbed a full caffeine coup’.”

The report turns to the opponents of the draconian military junta “who have fled overseas [and] have launched what they say is a non-violent movement known as the ‘Organisation of Free Thais for Human Rights and Democracy’, in a nod to the ‘Free Thai’ movement that fought the Japanese occupation during the second world war.”

Its leader, Charupong Ruangsuwan, said: “We are fortunate today that Thais have such an historical role model in order to struggle against yet another oppressor. The military regime and its conspirators have no legitimate power whatsoever to govern the country’s economy and society.”

On this movement, Kyodo News International reports that a member, Jakrapob Penkair, speaking in Hong Kong, stated that “he and other dissidents will form an opposition group in exile [not]… a government-in-exile as previously contemplated.”

Jakrapob said that a base in a Western country was likely for the movement as “Asian states [are]… likely to be influenced by the military dictatorship…”. He stated that “the group will seek international support for its push for restoration of democracy in Thailand through a free and fair election.”

Jakrapob also “predicted that the current period of stability in Thailand following the coup and the revocation of the martial law will be short-lived, saying the people will react differently when they see the true colors of the junta.”




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