- Posted May 25, 2014 by
This iReport is part of an assignment:
Thai military declares coup
Day Three of the Coup - Ripples in the Sand
It’s the morning of Day Three of Thailand under military governance, and HBO and Cartoon Network are back, although alas, not CNN. As CNN and the BBC are fully available online, however, this is either indicative of an utter lack of media savvy, or a cunning ploy to seem stern while turning a blind eye.
Meanwhile, the US has suspended 3.5 million dollars in military aid to Thailand, though this is widely perceived as a slap on the wrist.
Rather more alarmingly, although we read in the paper yesterday morning that the senate and judiciary would remain in place, it appears that by evening, the senate had been disbanded.
Of course, its existence was a bit of a murky thing anyway, since parliament was technically dissolved, and the senate had only reconvened in a special session to consider certain specific agenda items.
Nevertheless, it now seems clear that General Prayuth intends a clean sweep. He told diplomats on Friday that that a national legislative assembly would be set up.
There have been reports of “ugly scuffles” between protesters and military. No confirmable reports of injuries or deaths. So far at least, the level of political violence seems lower than it was before the coup.
Perhaps some motivation for the general’s precipitous assumption of total power can be found, not in the localized protests which continue, but in reports of weapons caches and the seizure of explosives in various locations around the country.
Overseas, ex-prime minister Thaksin’s high-profile lawyer, Robert Amsterdam, also published an incendiary blog implying that a government in exile might be set up, presumably with Mr. Thaksin no longer calling the shots by proxy, but actually in the flesh.
While no scientific poll has been done yet, one can speculate that the number of people who don’t want Suthep’s cronies to run Thailand is equaled only by the number of those who don’t want Thaksin’s gang to do so.
This perceived intention of going for broke from the puppetmaster’s camp may well cause the army to dig in its heels and delay the thing that everyone in the end wants — an elected civilian government with real checks and balances.
The word “democracy” is bandied about by all sides, in this conflict. But Thailand’s most credible period of democracy occurred in the 70s, after a traumatic and bloody student uprising. This was a freewheeling period with unprecedented media freedom and a vibrant multi-party system. It lasted only three years. Those old enough to remember this period may well conclude that every period of ostensible democracy since then has been tainted in some way or another.
Jon Springer, in Forbes Magazine, shows a different perspective from the kneejerk condemnation of some western bodies, comparing Thailand to that most Buddhist of metaphors, the sand mandala: “The periodic interventions of the military in Thai politics are perhaps simply the momentary dismantling of their sand mandala democracy so that they may once again begin the process of building the Thai version of democracy. It is simply their way and it is certainly their country.”