Friday, April 16, 2010

Thailand - Another coup would be a disaster

Thailand is now in such a precarious situation that people must try to handle the crisis in a mature manner in order not to lose what little democracy and liberty we have gained over the decades.

Twenty-two people on both sides have already died and more than 800 have been wounded as the deadlock continues.

Prime Minister Abhisit Vejjajiva, now regarded as a "tyrant" by the red shirts, talked tough on Monday and along with Deputy Prime Minister Suthep Thaugsuban claimed that some elements within the red shirts wanted to bring about a "major change" far greater than that of unseating the current administration.

The Post Today newspaper, a sister publication of the Bangkok Post and popular among the Bangkok middle class, yesterday stated in its front-page headline, "Turning the Country Upside Down: Suthep reveals a plan to change the country �".

This is a dangerous game that could set the stage for yet another coup and drag Thailand deeper into the political abyss and hatred.

The calls for a coup are mounting. On Tuesday night, this writer watched a popular political discussion programme on TV Thai (formerly TPBS) where a member of the Senate committee on military affairs demanded that soldiers quickly stage a coup.
It was another speaker, a former deputy Army chief, who warned that another coup would turn Thailand into a pariah state. The sad twist, however, is that this general believes a coup is "imminent".

We must remind ourselves at this critical juncture that an immature society cannot become democratic. A society that cannot deal with political conflict without resorting to a military coup every now and then is cursed and cannot hope to become democratic.

The September 2006 coup not only failed to genuinely restore peace but also failed to heal the social division. It might be fair to say that the red-shirt movement is an unintended by-product of the 2006 coup.

Now, if the red shirts refuse to surrender to yet another military coup, which might be in the making as you read these words, then civil war will break out and much more blood will be shed that would make Saturday's clashes seem like a walk in the park.

Even if a coup managed to send most red shirts back home without much violence and fatalities, does anyone truly believe that this will bring long-term peace and stability to Thailand and heal the political divide?

If the answer is no, another coup attempt must then be resisted. People must say no and NEVER, EVER be tempted to go down that slippery road to instant gratification and despotism again.

It's time for Thais to try their utmost to sail through this crisis with maturity. This not only means saying "no" to military intervention, but also requires a willingness to allow people to hold differing political views and enjoy access to their media or political mouthpiece of choice.

The government's clampdown on the red-shirt media and media sympathetic to the red shirts since last week has so far generated more hatred and anger among the movement.

Again, this immature way of handling the conflict by the government can never bring about democracy. It will bring about more social division, however.
And yesterday, the government even went further by trying to block all politically "divisive" comments and pictures online related to the bloody clashes of April 10.

This is most immature and will backfire. People can think for themselves. The fact that a week after the censorship started, more red shirts joined its rallies, is proof of this. The Nation, Bangkok

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