04 Jun In The Eye of the Coup
The recent coup d’état by General Prayuth Chai-Ocha following the imposition of martial law has largely been condemned and criticised by foreign powers. The United States, for one, has suspended military aid as a result, while international media outlets have accused the military of threatening democracy.
Despite the negative reactions from overseas, the reactions of Thai people have been mostly mixed. The general consensus is that foreign powers have judged Thailand’s situation without understanding its full scope. Countries such as the US have trumpeted their democratic ideals and forgotten the forces that led to the coup in the first place, alleged reasons such as corruption and abuse of power. Thailand and many of its neighbours, like Cambodia, have proclaimed it an “internal matter” which should be solved domestically.
Many Thais have welcomed the coup as a force of change, with the civilian chant of “we can’t live without coups” gaining popularity. They believe that the military regime is the only platform for reform in a country where divisions have continually led to political stalemates and coup d’états.
But there has also been dissent against the military. Some Thais have turned to silent protest; they are blacking out their profile pictures on Facebook and adopting the Hunger Games-inspired three-fingered salute in public to symbolise their disapproval of the junta’s crackdown. Most demonstrations have been banned by the military, although the Red Shirts have vowed to return to the streets once they find a political leader to replace the recently ousted prime minister Yingluck Shinawatra.
Thais who disapprove of the coup have proclaimed their value for freedom over all else, in response to the military’s strict imposition of martial law. Civil liberties have been curtailed and a nightly curfew remains in place, while scores of people have been detained, including activists, academics and journalists.
However, the military shows no signs of leaving until a new civilian government is formed, which may take at least another year. At the same time, reform has become the prevailing mantra in Thailand. Regardless of their political affiliation, the Thai people have made it clear that they want a government that values accountability, transparency and responsiveness. In other words, they want an active democracy, one that restores a checks-and-balances framework and prevents corruption.
To the world: Please don’t become part of Thailand’s internal affairs problem [The Nation, 23 May 2014]
We want to put our house in order [Bangkok Post, 26 May 2014]
Bitter and On the Run, Thailand’s Red Shirts Prepare for a Long Fight [TIME, 26 May 2014]