Wednesday, September 20, 2006

Thai coup

As you all probably already know, Thailand's caretaker government has been overthrown by a military coup. The Thai constitution has been suspended, Parliament dissolved, and martial law has been imposed. The new junta are claiming that the seizure of power is temporary, that they are acting to overthrow a corrupt and treasonous government and end "social division", and that elections will be held shortly - just as juntas always do. But the stark fact remains that they have stepped outside the role of the military in a democratic society and overthrown a constitutionally-appointed government at gunpoint. This cannot be allowed to stand.

The government of Thaksin Shinawatra is corrupt, and had attempted to manipulate the recent elections - but that does not justify their overthrow. The problem was being dealt with constitutionally, with the courts overturning the results of the elections and calling new ones (scheduled for November). Thaksin's government was widely expected to win those elections - despite its corruption and dirty tricks, it clearly still has majority public support - and so this coup looks more like an attempt to subvert democracy than "defend" it.

We'll have to wait and see how this turns out, and whether international pressure can make the junta back down. And we should hope that this doesn't follow the usual pattern of coups in Thailand. The last one, in 1992, ended in a massacre when people turned out to demonstrate against the new regime. We just have to hope this doesn't have a similar bloody ending.


Ultimately, all democracy does if properly implemented is allow the Government to be chosen by the majority of people - regardless of whether the Government chosen is moral or immoral.

That's why a country needs a robust and vigorously enforced constitution - to keep the powers of Government in check.

But if the citizenry have become dependent upon Government in most areas of life, and apathetic towards enforcement of the Constitution, even the best countries will slide towards fascism, socialism, or theocracy - just ask the U.S.A. :-(

One can see this in Thailand and New Zealand - where there are still many supporters of a provably corrupt Government [to forestall the inevitable: I'm not a National supporter, and I'm not right-wing either, so I'm denied membership of the Consipiracy :-)]

Posted by Duncan Bayne : 9/20/2006 11:34:00 AM

Agreed I/S. You should see what Farmer Bill says - Wilmot think's it's a great thing, and suggests that the NZ army do the same thing. Honestly.

Posted by Lewis Holden : 9/20/2006 12:18:00 PM

What I always love about these coup's claims to "give control back to the public" with new elections is the implied threat.... and if you make the "wrong" decision, we'll have another coup, and another election, until the public gets it "correct"... :)

Posted by Anonymous : 9/20/2006 12:39:00 PM

I'm outraged that you could call my government "corrupt". Personal politics like that have no place in democratic debate. I find them corrosive and cancerous.

Posted by Anonymous : 9/21/2006 10:06:00 AM