Sunday, July 29, 2007

Asia Times: The Coup and Succession


Toward a less democratic Thailand

By Shawn W Crispin

Money Quotes:

The military's proposed new charter aims to uphold the monarchy strongly and simultaneously to prepare the country for a smooth royal succession - only this time through fortifying the military rather than the establishment of new democratic institutions. King Bhumibol turns 80 on December 5, and the new charter requires the next elected government to implement the monarch's inward-looking "sufficiency economy" concept and provide enough military force, weapons and modern technology to protect the monarchy, national security and interests, and democracy.

Many royalists feared that while in office a politically ambitious Thaksin could have moved to complicate the royal succession, explaining perhaps many of the new charter's provisions giving appointed officials discretionary censure and impeachment power over elected politicians, including the prime minister. Among the military's initial justifications for launching last September's coup were charges that Thaksin was disloyal to the throne - an explosive accusation that protest leaders had articulated during their anti-government rallies. A Thai court this year dropped the military's lese majeste charges against the deposed premier for lack of evidence.

Those concerns could also help to explain some of the illiberal measures in the military-appointed government's proposed national-security legislation, which if enacted would give the army commander more power than the prime minister during - undefined in the bill - times of national crisis. Opposition politicians and pro-democracy groups have protested the bill as a major step backward for democracy and have said it should not be passed until a new democratically elected government is in place.

Thailand's military leaders mobilized royal symbolism when launching last year's bloodless coup, and former TRT politicians are now complaining that the CNS is employing the same tactic in the run-up to the upcoming national referendum on the new charter. Some political analysts believe the CNS would likely interpret a majority "yes" vote at the referendum as a democratic endorsement of both their coup and their 11-month term in power. In turn, they say, the interim government may try to ram through the controversial national-security bill this year, perhaps at a time when the population and news media is distracted by the election campaigns of the new political parties expected to contest the next polls.

The unspoken subtext to all this is that the military is first and foremost loyal to the Thai crown and that the impending royal succession has important implications for political stability, national security and social cohesion. The new draft constitution and the proposed national-security legislation, although not overtly, speak to those concerns. And so long as the generational passing of the crown is still on the horizon, the Thai military will remain visible and highly influential in managing Thailand's new era of less democratic politics.

I wrote about this before. The coup was not just about Thaksin's corruption, but had to with succession also. The old money and aristocratic elite did not want Thaksin and his parevenu Chinese capitalist minions having a say about succession or leading the country during a very sensitive time.

Also, one must remember that Shawn Crispin with Rodney Tasker reported in the Far Eastern Economic Review back in the early 00's that King Bhumibol was not happy about Thaksin's business relationship with the Crown Prince, a story which almost got them arrested and deported.

You can read a short synopsis about it here.


Del said...

Mr. Fonzi are you turning into an old hen? a flibbertigbbet? a quidnunc?

That's what usually happens to Thaksin tail hangers who get zapped with Thaksin's Khmer voodoo. They turn into zombie blabbering gossip mongering idiots . . like Walker at New Mandala.

fall said...

Good God!
New sources, analysis, and topic.
Now, that what I call an expansion.