Home  
Is Thailand on the way to political implosion?

Updated On: Jan 09, 2007

The political situation in Thailand is worsening with increasing public dissent and rumours of more coups, more attacks. 

In the Bangkok University Research Institute’s survey of 1,082 respondents in Bangkok, Nontha-buri, Pathum Thani and Samut Prakan from December 30 to January 4, the incumbent government barely made the passing grade, garnering only “5.27 out of 10 for its overall performance”. The government also scored poorly on all the other fronts –political and economic administration, security affairs, foreign affairs and social affairs were given about 5 points each.

Prinya Thaewanaru-mitkul, a Thammasat University law lecturer, did not mince his words, saying, “The government is wasting its time.” Sukhum Nualsakul, political scientist and former Ramkham-haeng University rector, pointed out the policy flaws –that an interim government post-coup should deal with short term problems and not “follow the law as if it were a democratic government”. In doing so, it had “no achievements during its three months in power”. What the Surayud government should do is to “quickly pave the way for an elected government to take charge” of the “growing tensions in society caused by poverty, drought and political conflict”.

In an exclusive interview with the Nation, anti-coup leader Sombat Boon-ngam-anong of the September 19 Anti-Coup Network expressed belief that more coups will follow. He said, “This coup revived the coup mentality which was already dead [and] there’s an attempt to legitimise the coup and attempt to use the mass media to portray the coup as soft, democratic, permissible and an exception… No real reconciliation was brought about by the coup. In fact, it has brought more conflict. This has just been suppressed. In fact, it led to a new round of nepotism by the Council of National Security (CNS) and the military command has been realigned. There may be another coup staged by a faction within the CNS.”

Such sentiments have led General Sonthi Boonyaratglin, to insist that the junta is still standing firm and united. Nonetheless, Democrat party leader Abhisit Vejjajiva has warned that Thailand cannot weather another coup, calling upon those who are intending one to desist. He chastised the authorities for not stopping political turbulence by those who had lost power, and also creating “such conditions themselves”.

A group of 200 disgruntled farmers from the People's Network from Four Regions have begun a march to Bangkok to demand “the government stop legal action against farmers in debt and write off all debts owed to government and private financial institutions as well as ‘non-system lenders’… They also want a sufficiency economy learning centre to be set up for farmers and for Deputy Premier and Finance Minister Pridiyathorn Devakula and Agriculture and Cooperatives Minister Thira Sutabutra to quit”, the Nation reported. The farmers protested, “It's been three months and the government has taken no action to solve the poverty, debt and land problems of farmers… although we are the majority in the country… We guarantee this rally is not a subversive movement and no political party has hired us… We are really in trouble.”

With shoppers staying home due to bomb scares, foreign investors being spooked by the Thai troubles and impending changes in business laws, the intractable violence of the South, and public anger and distrust against the authorities, it is difficult to imagine Thailand on the road to national reconciliation and peace before the interim government ends its term.

Sources:

Foreigners lobby Thai government against business law changes (Straits Times, 9 January 2007)

Crisis fast approaching Surayud govt: critics (Nation, 8 January 2007)

Coup resolved nothing, just brought on more conflict (Nation, 8 January 2007)

Abhisit: Nation can't afford another coup (Bangkok Post, 8 January 2007)

Urgent: Investigators have seen pictures of suspected bombers (Nation, 8 January 2007)

Shoppers stay home as fear of more bombs lingers (Nation, 8 January 2007)

Support for govt. hits a new low, says survey (Nation, 8 January 2007)

Farmers march on Bangkok (Nation, 8 January 2007)

Thailand coup leader denies split in junta (The Hindu, 7 January 2007)

Blasts may cut growth by half pct (Bangkok Post, 7 January 2007)

Critics fear CNS will use bombs to cling to power (Bangkok Post, 7 January 2007)