Week 21: Villain – The Thai Military

by George_East on May 25, 2014

Thai VillainThis Week’s Villain of the Week is the Thai Military for overthrowing the democratically elected government in a coup d’etat

Anyone who has had the privilege to go to Thailand will know that it is a beautiful and extremely welcoming country.   However, anyone who follows the politics of that country will know that it is bitterly divided and that that division expresses itself through the colours, red and yellow.

The reds emerged as the supporters of Thaksin Shinawatra, the populist billionaire, who Eva Peron-like, harnassed the support of the marginalised and mainly rural poor in the country.  On the other side, the yellows supporters are more urban and wealthy.    When one group is in power, the other tends to be on the streets of Bangkok.

Thaksin was overthrown in a military coup in 2006 amid allegations of corruption.

In 2011 the successor party to that of Thaksin, Pheu Thai, won a landslide victory under its leader, Yingluck Shinwatra, who became the country’s first female Prime Minister.      Like Thaksin’s party before, Shiniwatra was elected on a populist platform committed to poverty eradication, but also reducing corporation taxes.

This week saw another coup.  Thailand has, extraordinarily, had 12 military coup’s in the last 100 years.  The military (with the backing of the country’s still powerful royal family)  initially declared martial law as a result of what they said was ‘political instability’  but committed themselves to the constitution.   A few days later it was a full blown coup with leading politicians including Shinwatra and various journalists under arrest and others sinisterly asked to report themselves to authorities.

Coups in Thailand are depressingly frequent but they tend to happen, like this week, when the party in power is committed to more egalitarian policies and redistribution to the poor north away from the wealthy touristy areas.

Like Latin America in the 1970s and 1980s, the generals really do not seem to have got the hang of democracy in Thailand.   The Thai people deserve better than these villains.

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