Thursday, September 21, 2006

Anyone for a coup?

It has been a little quiet on Grub Street, a consequence of life's ebb and flow. Maintaining the GP Background Stories site has had precedence for the time that has been available.
I hope, once I get through the current obstacle course, to be back in the swing soon.

I have also been following dramatic events in Thailand. It's been 15 years since the citizens of Bangkok last saw the tanks roll out in the dead of night. Prime minister Thaksin has been holding onto office doggedly in the face of serious corruption and electoral fraud allegations. But for many in Thailand, it was a clash between two men: an arrogant prime minister and a humble king who always wins.

Not that the much loved king has said a word about anything yet, but speaking out is not the style of the 78-year-old monarch, who has shown that he remains the most powerful man in the country.

Coups are not new to Thailand, but the relatively long respite of 15 years reflects a serious effort to establish solid democratic government. His critics say Thaksin undermined those efforts by setting himself up as some kind of CEO rather then a standard parliamentary leader.

In that he was probably just following the current paradigm, neo-liberalism is after all government on business principals as opposed to socially responsible economics.

I'm not a big fan of military coups overthrowing legitimate government, but there is much about Thaksin's rule which is not legitimate. In the end he became a caretaker prime minister, hanging on grimly to de facto power. In fact he spends more time in London than in Bangkok.

There is every sign that the military leaders will be handing control back to a civil, interim government within a few weeks; an aspect which also signals the involvement of the silent king.

Creating a democracy is no easy task, but there seems to be a genuine will in Thailand to go the hard yards to make it happen. Unlike our Western governments who seem intent on destroying our democracies.


Praguetwin said...

Pretty damn sensible those Thais. I don't think I've ever seen such quiet coup. The currency barely lost 1% on the news which is unheard of.

Looking forward to you being back in the swing of things. Who knows, maybe I will be soon too.


abi said...

A bloodless coup sounds pretty damn good to me.

Cartledge said...

With all else going on in my life this coup still holds a certain fascination.
Given Thailand was the trigger for the Asian economic meltdown a few years ago the stable indicators really say something positive about the move.
It is a shame other leaders can't!