Barry Petersen MC JP June 13, 2014 Thailand Correspondent
Democracy, as most of us understand it, includes good governance by an administration as well as the conduct of elections. Prior to the Second World War, the German Nazi Party, led by Adolph Hitler, was democratically elected to govern Germany.
One could hardly say that good governance guided their administration of Germany. A copy of the complete article and Military reshuffle in Thailand may be downloaded by clicking on: Thailands justification for a military coup
There are several instances where an election has given a despot the right to rule. Unfortunately, here in Thailand, many Thai politicians think that if their party is elected to govern Thailand they can administer the country in whichever way they want to. Ex-Prime Minister Thaksin with his populist promises, a few of which were good, ran his government very much like a dictator.
Members of his cabinet did his bidding without question. Since the Supreme Court sentenced him to two years imprisonment for corruption, he fled and has virtually governed Thailand from abroad through a proxy prime minister. Already a fugitive from justice, there are a few outstanding charges Thaksin has yet to defend in courts of law. There was a saying: “Thaksin thinks, Pheu Thai acts,” or words to that effect. He was virtually addressing the recently deposed Pheu Thai cabinet from abroad through Skype and telephone calls. That is hardly a democratic way to administer a country.
The last several months has seen almost 30 people killed and approximately 200 injured in drive-by shootings and grenade attacks with the anti-government protestors suffering the majority of casualties in attacks allegedly carried out by pro-government supporters. Since the chief of the Royal Thai Army, General Prayuth Chan-ocha, declared a coup d’etat on 22nd May, that disturbing activity has ceased.
However, a few foreign governments have unwittingly criticized the coup, governments which ignored the virtual anarchy Thailand was experiencing prior to the coup. The military junta prefers to refer to the coup as a “takeover of the administration” which it is.
General Prayuth Chan-ocha, Chief of the Royal Thai Army and chief of the National Council for Peace and Order (NCPO). Thaksin and his successors had attempted to gain and retain control by appointing family, relatives and cronies to senior government appointments and the Royal Thai Police, under the command of Thaksin’s relatives and cronies has deliberately been ineffective in preventing the disorder of even investigating some of the shootings and killings using grenades.
Ex-Prime Minister and now a self-exiled fugitive, Chinese-Thai Thaksin Shinawatra. Since the coup, the Thai military junta has replaced many of the Thaksin family, relatives and cronies in key senior appointments and, led by soldiers, the Thai police are now ‘discovering’ caches of weapons and ammunition previously secreted by pro-government supporters. Two of the attached articles are open letters written by prominent people, one by a very successful American-Thai businessman who has been in Thailand for 51 years and the other by a Thai politician who has previously held the Thai Cabinet portfolios of deputy prime minister and foreign minister. The other article attached is a recent editorial from The Nation, one of the two major English language newspapers distributed daily in Thailand. All three articles clearly describe the situation in Thailand as it was and currently is, not as some foreign journalists portray it in their countries of origin. Since the coup d’etat on 22nd May 2014, the situation here in Thailand has been more peaceful than it has been for almost six months. Life again goes on as normal.
Thailand has experienced 12 military coups since the early-1930s, and a few have been declared to rid the country of corrupt governments. We are now hoping that this most recent coup d’etat can change the ‘democracy’ as it has been practiced here in Thailand by political parties since the 1930s and replace it with genuine democracy. However, it will take time and dissenters will have to be ‘kept in line’ until that is achieved. Only the military is strong enough to do that. General Prayuth Chan-ocha has said that an election could be held in 15 months time however, I personally think that he is being too optimistic. For a start, vote buying has to be eradicated first and some godfathers, in the guise of politicians, will have to be kept out of politics before a fair election can be held. That’s a tall order.