Misconception and myth mask Thai military – The Australian, May 1, 2012
…Before the September 2006 coup, the military perceived that Thailand’s parliament had been sidelined (particularly after the dysfunctional May 2006 elections); the judiciary had been co-opted; and Thaksin’s former service, the police force, had been given carte blanche to undertake a wave of extra-judicial killings in a savage campaign against drug runners. In addition, the military, which prided itself on having stabilised the situation in Thailand’s Malay Muslim-dominated deep south, had been ignominiously stripped of its long-held responsibility for maintaining the peace there. Then in September word started to circulate that, come October 1, 2006, when the annual military reshuffle was scheduled to take place, Thaksin planned to remove all the remaining senior commanders whom he felt were not completely loyal and subservient to him. In the minds of the Thai senior generals, as well as many of the urban Bangkok elite and middle class, someone had to check the apparently inexorable growth of Thaksin’s power.
…There are now several possible scenarios for the future. It appears the military has arrived at a point of recognition – that it has to maintain stability, particularly until the royal succession is completed. That means it may have to compromise a little – and the military has publicly shown respect for the elected government. This respect has been reciprocated through placatory actions and statements by the Yingluck administration. In engaging with Thailand during this difficult period of imminent transition, Australia should be supportive and recognise that the situation is not black-and-white…
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