Sunday, August 26, 2007

The Economist: No Such Thing as a Good Coup

The long march back to the barracks

Aug 23rd 2007

From The Economist print edition

There may be such a thing as a good coup; Thailand's was certainly not one

FROM Pakistan to Fiji, from Bangladesh to Thailand, the men in green are finding what they should have known all along: that it is far easier for soldiers to topple an elected government than to manage their own exit from the front of the political stage. Many generals, however, never learn that lesson. What is surprising in Thailand, which on August 19th held a referendum designed to smooth their exit (see article), is that so many of the country's elite cheered them on when they staged their coup a year ago. Critics of the coup—such as this newspaper—were denounced for misunderstanding both the depth of the evil of Thaksin Shinawatra, the prime minister they deposed, and the wonders of Thailand itself.

We had no fondness for Mr Thaksin: the human-rights abuses perpetrated by the security forces on his watch were deplorable and some of his nationalist economic policies were loopy. But he had a mandate. His Thai Rak Thai (TRT) party won 375 of the 500 lower-house seats in the last valid election, in 2005. Democracy produces some nasty leaders. But that is no reason for ditching it. Even the best-intentioned coups leave an ugly mess, such as that now facing Thailand.


In May a constitutional tribunal created by the junta found the TRT guilty of electoral fraud and dissolved it. But the charter-drafters wanted to make it harder for any other dominant majority party to emerge in future. For that reason, the new constitution tweaks the voting system in favour of smaller parties. This is ironic: the whole point of Thailand's last democratic constitution, passed in 1997, was to free the country from the cycle of weak and unstable coalitions and frequent coups. The danger is now that the charter will succeed too well and Thailand will be back to weak governments.

This would suit the military-royalist elite. They could go back to running the country from behind the scenes. But there is a risk of stagnation. Thailand's economy is already growing slower than its neighbours' in part because of the continuing political uncertainty. A fractious coalition government, or one run by bumbling generals, might make things worse.

Read the rest here

If you want to read some great comedy, go over and read the reaction over at The Nation.

Korbsak Sabavasu, recipient of General Saprang's propaganda slush fund money, seems to still have his panties in a bunch about Thaksin hiring American lobbyists.

The rest are upset because The Economist refuses to believe The Nation's unsubstantiated propaganda about Thaksin.

Of course, I am not allowed to comment, because The Nation has made me persona non grata over there and eliminates my blog account every time I make a comment, which demonstrates that The Nation believes in free speech only for itself and its ideological allies.


sooksiam said...

I think the Nation reports fairly and is an excellent source of unbiased political news and information.

Have you ever heard the song by Amy Winehouse called "Rehab"?

I think you should get help to cure you of your unfounded obsession with the objectivity of the Nation.

Fonzi said...


OK, I have stopped laughing now.

Unbiased source of political news and information?

That is funny.

Anonymous said...

But of course there is "No such thing as a good coup". All coups are grabs for power.

That is why Thaksin Shinawatra gets my profound condemnation for provoking the coup . . . this after nearly two decades whereby the military had been effectively confined to the barracks with a succession of democractically elected leaders.

Thaksin Shinawatra's brand of corrupt democracy was by itself criminal. With extrajudicial killings, tax evasions, rampant corruption and the dismemberment of institutional checks & balances being directed by the PM Thaksin Shinawatra himself thereby rendering useless the spirit of Thailand's constitution, that was enough provocation for the ambitious generals towards a coup.

We are lucky the latest junta general abided with their promise of a quick constitutional rewrite, and an election to soon follow.

But Fonzi is a paid sycophant of Thaksin and his website is Thaksin funded for sure. Who else would hire a Ponzi scammer like Fonzi but the Mother of Thailand corruption "Thaksin Shinawatra".

Just for once Fonzi spit at Thaksin for his extrajudicial rampage . . . then maybe I could strain to see you in a better light.

Fonzi said...


You show me one piece of evidence that Thaksin ordered the murder of innocent people, then I will condemn Thaksin for extra-judicial killings.

If you recall, it was the king, in his birthday speech, who called for a war on drugs. I agreed with that war, because I was tired of reading in the papers everyday about ya ba crazed maniacs holding children at knife point. Do you remember those wonderful times, Matty?

Thaksin never pulled a trigger to kill anybody. As far as I know, he didn't order anybody to be murdered. And why should he be blamed for something that the king requested of him? That makes no sense.

As far as taxes go, he pulled a fast one, but that still doesn't justify a coup, especially considering there were never any impeachment hearings against him, and there was an election scheduled in October, when the people could have decided to keep Thaksin or not. Plus, after the Constitutional Court nullified the election, charges could have been brought against him, just like what happens in normal countries that adhere to the rule of law. Instead, we got a kangaroo court that banished TRT, and now we have other junta picked tribunals going after Thaksin that have no credibility whatsover. The junta has sent back the Thai justice system back decades with its meddling.

There were many options to get rid of Thaksin, Matty, but you and your buddies chose the easy way out, instead of remaining loyal to the 1997 constitution.

You can call me a Thaksin lover, Matty, but at least I am not a traitor.

hobby said...

Just a reminder:

Thaksin's culpability

Thanks to Vichai N, Thaksin Skeptic & Asian Legal Resource Centre.

Fonzi said...


I just read that piece from the ALRC.

Not one part of that report was documented. There were no foot notes or end notes.

And nothing from that report justifies a coup.

Funny, you, Matty, Sooksian and the rest cry about Thaksin's human rights violations against drug dealers, yet with your support for the coup, you defend human rights violations against the entire Thai population.

Your intellectual inconsistency never ceases to amaze me.

hobby said...

Fonzi, you can continue defending Thaksin and I will keep calling you out.
Who cares about footnotes/end notes - is this some sort of school exam?

I have posted Vichai's comment about Thaksin's culpability many times on the usual blogs, and because none of the usual suspects (you, Pundit, Andrew Walker, Republican, fall etc) have been able to 'deconstruct' it, the only conclusion I can reach is that you agree with his analysis.

Not going to bother rehashing old ground, but for clarity, I wish to point out that I never called for a military coup, however once it had occurred I have chosen to support it as I still believe it will be easier to get rid of the generals than Thaksin.

Fonzi said...


You have serious cognitive dissonance problems.

You just believe what you want to believe and think it is the truth--with no legal, philosophical, moral and political logical reasoning or empirical evidence to back it up.

I have never defended Thaksin. I defend constitutionalism and the rule of law.

Thaksin was never convicted of any of the crimes you have accused him of, there have been no investigative reports in the Thai or international press proving his guilt, so, unlike you, I am not going to convict a man of crimes that so far nobody has proved in the press, in academia or in court.

Now, we can live in your little world where all that matters is your personal opinion, and that we should capriciously topple governments based upon that opinion, but sorry, I refuse to live in the sort of world where we illegally topple governments based on flimsy reasoning and non-existent evidence. The world suffered enough the last century because of people with your reasoning.

Further, you have yet to prove, or even reasonably argue, why it was acceptable for an illegal junta to bypass the checks and balances mechanisms in the 1997 constitution, such as impeachment, recall, and an election that was scheduled for last October in favor of a coup.

Just to say that Thaksin was guilty of undermining the constitution isn't good enough.

All the Thaksin haters say he was rich and he bought off everybody, yet nobody has prosecuted all of Thaksin's enablers and accomplices who were supporting all his supposed illegalities. Nobody has actually proven how he bought off and corrupted all the constitutional bodies. How come?

I guess Thaksin operated in a vacuum, where he was some sort of miracle man who ran the government single-handedly without any help.

Lastly, you call Thaksin a criminal, yet justify a coup, which is the highest form of state terror, which makes your argument intellectually inconsistent, unless, of course, you believe military generals are immune from the law and Thaksin and his allies are the only one criminally culpable.

I'm sorry but Thaksin's alleged criminal acts don't justify the military's crimes against the entire population.

Instead of calling me a Thaksin supporter, as if that was an intellectual argument, come up with some actual facts that justify illegally overthrowing the government.

By the way, neither Vichai's opinions nor the ALRC's undocumented report justify a coup.

hobby said...

Fonzi: The coup happened!

Once it happened, we each had a choice to go along with it (support if you like), or fight it.
I chose to go along with it because it is my view (Yes, my OPINION) that a re-start is preferable to a return by Thaksin.

As for Thaksin operating in a vacuum - I have consistently criticized TRT for rolling over (bending over IMO) to Thaksin, instead of moderating his worst behaviors.

All your talk about rule of law is crap when you keep defending Thaksin who couldn't care less about rule of law (apart from employing a team of lawyers to cover his tracks & sue anyone who went against him).

Vichai's comment may not justify a coup, but it goes a long way to justifying blocking a return by Thaksin because if he could do that in the war on drugs, who knows how far he would go next time.

BTW, I keep linking to Vichai's comment to remind your readers of what Thaksin was capable of, because they might get a different opinion if they only read your blog defenses of him.

fall said...

...Nation reports fairly and is an excellent source of unbiased political news and information

Yes, they report who-said-what and what-the-junta-said very accurate. Investigative reporting is non-existance, but to be fair, so does other papers.
However, the opinion section is shamefully bias.

fall said...

Oh, the Nation method of indirectly criticizing The Economist via proxy(blog) is quite sublime.
Guess they learn from last time, where direct attack cause them to be laughing stock and lost credibility.

But to use proxy attack, is that really ethical journalism? May be they should at least post two blog-column wise, with two opposite point of view. That would have been more constructive.

Anonymous said...

"You can call me a Thaksin lover, Matty, but at least I am not a traitor." - Fonzi

Yes you are definitely a die-hard Thaksin adulator Fonzi. At least those Isans, those poor hopeful easily-hooked-on-promises Isans, were rooting for (false) hopes. What has Thaksin done for you Fonzi?

You are BOUGHT Fonzi. I guess it could pass for 'honest' calling - whatever it is you think you are doing.

But anyone who is BOUGHT carries a lot of BAD FAITH in his words and in his deeds. Samak too is clearly bought by Thaksin because Samak almost admitted as much (proud to be Thaksin's nominee, Samak says).

Bought nominees always say and write stupid things, if you get my drift Fonzi.