Wednesday, September 20, 2006

Thailand Coup

I just received this note from a Thai friend in Bankgok. And hell, as a nation, they sure do love their king.

"There's no violence here, I just saw kids ride their bicycle to take photos with tanks and soldiers, everybody enjoy today as holiday.... and we are very happy to boot out the corrupting prime minister, then setup new democratic constitution.
As you may heard from the news that there were people setting up mobs in BKK and planned to move to parliament this morning, however the whole plan was timely stopped by peaceful military coup.
In my personal opinion, this is our king's plot to prevent violence."

Seems that there is such a thing as a benevolent coup. Obviously our government and the UN thinks differently.

In this regard, the unconstitutional transfer of power from whatever quarter and in pursuance of whatever objectives should never be encouraged anywhere in the world," Pahad stated.

I don't buy that statement. If the objectives (and apparent outcome) are the diffussion of forthcoming violence and the creation of a government that reflects the will of the people then why not encourage this.

UPDATE: The Bangkok Pundit has some very interesting insights into the whole situation, the broader political history as well as the spectre of censorship that the coup has brought on. Also a fascinating point about the 'vicious circle' of Thai politics. Read this man's work. He is informed.


Champagne Heathen said...

I think I might agree with you on this one, ATW. It's just like board members kindly asking some CEO to pack up his stuff and quietly leave the building, cause he is abusing the system.

Our government is probably nervous that it might inspire some of their citizens on how to react to growing political abuse in the coming years.

Although, let's wait and see how bloodless this coup remains...

ATW said...

The difference is that the CEO probably gets the golden handshake after the fact whereas Thaksin (it seems)took his "gold" while still in office.

It is the question said...

I guess our opinion on a potential coup in Zimbabwe is far more relative to most South Africans.

There things are a little more complicated than dealt with by Pahad's statement (which I agree with in principal - if people democratically re-elect a corrupt head of state, they will have to suffer the consequences: sadly so to will those in the minority that vote against him/her).

Pahad's statement does not deal with a situation such as Zimbabwe where widespread intimdation and vote-rigging have occurred. Is a coup justified there? I would argue yes - but shudder at the thought of an even worse refugee crisis on our doorstep.

Of course this could become even more relevant should Jacob Zuma be our next president. He might well be elected despite a significant (but not majority view) believing him to be corrupt - despite the criminal justice system not having succesfully prosecuted and found him guilty. Is a coup justified then? I would argue not.

Ultimately we are reliant on public opinion and disfavour to be reflected in the polls and criminal justice system. If we look to revolution to express ourselves, it is difficult to see an end to the spiral.

If we strongly believe in what appears to be a minority view, we must get involved to make the virtues of our own view known. If we do not, then as Plato once said, "The price of apathy towards public affairs is to be ruled by evil men."

ATW said...

But perhaps the spiral is really what politics is all about.

As I pointed to in my my update to the post. The vicious circle seems to be an accepted part of Thai politics.

And for me it all heads back to Vico and his thesis of ricorso (recurring cycle) which he claims applies to all nations.

Sometimes the shift between ages happens peacefully, sometimes not.
My thinking on the value of minority opinion has been upset of late after reading Suroweicki's book. I'm still trying to get my thinking back on track.

But I think if one approaches this is a crass utilitarian way can quite reasonably decide if a coup would be a good or bad thing for a nation.

eg. Would Thailand on the whole be better off without Thaksin and with a leadership loyal to the King (who his subjects adore)? Probably yes.

Would Zimbabwe be better off without Mugabe? Yes, even if it is a forced removal.

Would South Africa be better off without Zuma as president? Probably not, if he is overthrown by an anarchic plot.