- Posted May 31, 2014 by
This iReport is part of an assignment:
Thai military declares coup
Party Poopers in Post Coup Bangkok
The Baht is down and stocks are up as we slide into the eighth day of the coup. There are now few indications in the street of a major change in the country’s system of government. The curfew has relaxed and is in any case laxly enforced, and there is talk of eliminating it soon in tourist-heavy areas.
Whether in confinement or in upscale party venues, Thais love “sanook” - loosely translated as “fun”. Like many “sanook” things, gambling is illegal in Thailand, so reports that, while “guests” at the military barracks, some the of Pheu Thai MPs were losing up to four million baht in card games aroused much interest when reported by Manager website. Reports of huge amounts of money being gambled, and a subsequent fist fight between the MPs, were in stark contrast to the former ruling party’s image as champions of the rural poor.
The MPs involved categorically denied the stories. “There was no fighting or gambling,” stated former MP Woravat, “because we are mature.” It should be pointed out that Manager is a not unpartisan media outlet.
A wild birthday party thrown by celebs associated with the former anti-government protesters also drew fire. Suthep himself attended the extravagant upscale fling at the 4 Garcons restaurant in Thonglor, and photos posted online showing partygoers dressed in military camouflage upset even fellow members of the PDRC. The Bangkok Post reported that one complainant, Jarin Wimarnamonman, said “Why don’t they invite their brothers and sisters who have been sleeping on the street for months to join their celebration?” Others commented that these people deserved a break after all they had been through.
Indeed, a bit of “sanook” is surely called for after all the trauma. Why not lose a few million in a card game? As long as corruption remains, one can easily get it all back.
Meanwhile, the Post has begun to run some feel-good stories, such as one about a hard core red shirt activist, Suporn Atthawong, announcing that he will give up politics after having been through the military’s “invitational” crash course in reconciliation. The Post also reported that Suthep's "imprisonment" included the services of a partisan cook, and that he gained weight.
The Post’s arch-rival, The Nation, however, is still missing one of its star journalists, Pravit Rojanapreuk, who is currently an involuntary guest of the military.
Environmentalists were having a angst-filled day as thousands of teak logs were discovered up north on land belonging to the Shinawatra family. Teak logging is a highly controlled in Thailand in order to protect the environment and prevent deforestation, but there have long been rumors about members of the previous government being involved in profiteering from illegal logging. No linkage has been proven however, though an investigation is now ongoing.
For the first time, a publicly announced time frame has come from the ruling junta ... with elections planned for fifteen months from now at the earliest. General Prayut affirmed that elective democracy was his ultimate goal and that the military had no desire for a protracted stay.
After initially receiving almost universal condemnation from the international press, the coup’s avowed good intentions have begun to elicit a number of cautiously optimistic Op Eds, notably one from the L.A. Times which was headlined “Thai coup holds promise of democracy” and provided some historical perspective. Reuters also reported that “some welcome the coup as necessary medicine.”
Given the Thai military’s mixed performance in previous coups, however, skepticism still seems to be the prevailing mood within the international community, and the major powers have not actually endorsed the coup.