Balance sheet of the coup



I sense, on purely anecdotal evidence, that most farang will agree with Charlie Cox (Mailbag May 30) that the recent coup is to be supported.  But it’s odd that he doesn’t name his former “past home country” which he doesn’t seem to like much.

But we shouldn’t get too carried away.  The 2014 Thai putsch is being justified by the junta because of the failure of the democratic system to deliver solutions, rampant corruption and attacks on the institution of the monarchy.  Those are precisely the reasons given for the coups of 1991 and 2006, neither of which can be termed as successful however you describe the term.

This time there are certainly some differences.  General Prayuth has wisely set up structures to pay the farmers the money owed to them, has abolished political rally stages encampments in Bangkok, has uncovered several caches of weapons which had been hidden for use in an insurrection and has released senior red shirts after a short incarceration to allow them to “rest”.  As with previous coups, we can expect the Thai stock market and the baht to improve.  The appearance of public order always pleases international financiers.

For the time being, coup opponents are leaderless and several of the Shinawatra clan are here in Thailand slapped with a travel ban.  But the military government has to move quickly to convince people that it has a genuine political and economic reform agenda with a clear date next year for a general election.  Also, the generals must abandon any thought of banning the bulk of the social media which would be disastrous from every point of view.

Incidentally, nobody should worry about the US and the EU governments denouncing the coup.  They solidly support the ruling clique in Saudi Arabia which has never held even one democratic election in the whole of its history.  It’s tokenistic hypocrisy.

Barry Kenyon