Forbes: “Thailand’s Military Junta Destroys Democracy, Enjoys Exercising Power: Generals Postpone Elections Before Rigging Them”

Thailand’s Military Junta Destroys Democracy, Enjoys Exercising Power: Generals Postpone Elections Before Rigging Them – Forbes, December 22, 2014

[This is the view of Thailand that is and will be pushed by the pro-Thaksin forces as the outlines of a new constitution become clear. It is the view already being expressed by anti-junta Thai exiles.

In this view, Thailand is portrayed as a country in crisis with a repressive, Burmese-like military regime wronging democratically elected Thaksin. Thai politics is cast as a battle of the elected against an elite that apparently objects, on principle alone, to the will of the majority.

The article is an amazingly comprehensive list of talking points for the pro-Thaksin, anti-junta opposition in English. It includes all the buzz words and concepts that have been used before to obscure the real nature of events–“Orwellian,” invoking the Burmese dictatorship, that Aphisit came to power in a “quasi-coup” and was intolerant of street protests, and that checks and balances benefit the elite (Thaksin apparently not qualifying as an elite). The author even points out Thaksin’s actions were not corrupt, but “imprudent” while acknowledging in the follow sentence Thaksin’s bloody purge of drug suspects.

It ends with typical advice for a U.S. response–aid should have been cut, military exercises should have been cancelled, and respect for human rights should be encouraged.

All of this is similar to the push made in the run-up to the 2011 elections when the pro-Thaksin clique feared that elections could result in a coalition created to block the Pheu Thai from power. Then, as now, the view presented to the world had to be that Thailand was in crisis and needed urgent reforms–if not revolution.

This time things are different. The contention that the coup was simply about an elite thwarting the will of the people or that Thaksin was a democratically elected leader merely minding his business are no longer taken at face value.

There is very little belief any longer that Thaksin has really retired from politics or that Yingluck was part of a rising tide of independent and trailblazing female leaders. The Pheu Thai’s blatant pushes for amnesty and constitutional rewrites at every turn and the intimidation that both the party and Red Shirts applied against the courts means that the old demand that “we came from election, so no one can stop us” is taken with much greater skepticism.

Recent world experience with elections in Egypt, Turkey, and Russia, not to mention Iraq and Afghanistan, has shown that democracy is a much more nuanced undertaking than the international community might wish. The Thai junta can rest easy knowing that the Obama administration has been little interested in taking diplomatic stands, either in Thailand or elsewhere (earlier: U.S. diplomatic drift and Thailand and Remembering U.S. Ambassador Kristie Kenney).

There is no doubt that anyone who is counting on the Thai military to selflessly reform the nation is sadly mistaken, if not delusional. However, the same talking points from the 2006 coup casting the Thai elite as objecting to the will of the people on principle alone are not going to have the same impact. Too much has happened and too much is now unequivocally known about Thaksin and his sponsorship of the Red Shirts and the Pheu Thai for those lines to work anymore.] Editor Ron Morris’ book, The Thai Book: A Field Guide to Thai Political Motivations, is available in the Kindle Store.

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5 Responses to Forbes: “Thailand’s Military Junta Destroys Democracy, Enjoys Exercising Power: Generals Postpone Elections Before Rigging Them”

  1. Wiz says:

    Not a surprising at all – for the press that praises a crook as the new millionaire on wind energy before he has become a fugitive.

  2. Wiz says:

    Thaksin apparently not qualifying as an elite? Nope, Thaksin and his cronies are another group of so-called “New elites” despite of the fact that they have become “New elites” by associated with the “Old elites” at the first place. This has shown how shallow the writer of Forbes is on the issue related to Thailand. They (writer and publisher) just believe what those intellectuals who are addict to revolution as the opiate of intellectuals have told them since it pleases them.

    respect for human rights should be encouraged? This only gives a mockery to that hypocritical writer and publisher.

  3. CJ Hinke says:

    While I must agree that the Forbes writer has a shallow understanding of the current Thai political scene, its recent and its historical background, my sense is we are on the edge of an abyss.

    Today’s Thailand has almost all the hallmarks of 1988’s Burma. The generals are already sealing vast economic deals which will affect our future for decades. Let’s remember that when Burma’s generals got a taste of the money, they decided to stay. All that remains is to close the universities–the military is already arresting our students.

    I am adamantly anti-Thaksin and am entirely neutral about the Royals. Both Reds and Yellows look like fanatics. Puea Thai certainly did little to support their Red voters; the Dems did a great deal to keep the status quo.

    I also don’t see any light at the end here. This coup feels very different from the last two.

    There can be no doubt top-down orders are being made for all of us against our will, with no public input. And the actions of NCPO have been truly 1984. Just look at the reasons for summoning, arrests, charges, prosecutions. These are human rights violations, by any standard!

    I don’t like it at all but, when elections are called, the Thaksinistas will win again. Does that mean no elections for 25 years as in Burma?

  4. Wiz says:

    Agree – this 2015 will be another year of trial indeed since Junta have to deal with so many conflicting demands within NLA and Reform Council … along with the cases of politicians who demand status quo and people who demand the real and lasting changes for better as they have fed up with those politicians who demand status quo to the point they want to terminate the lives of those politicians with the bloody reprisal. So, the election postponement to 2017 is not a bad idea after all.

  5. Wiz says:

    Here is the reason about the application of “Orwellian” term toward Junta:

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