Editorial: Power grab in Thailand

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Tuesday, May 27, 2014


FILIPINOS can actually mine some lessons from the predicament Thailand is now in. For example, had the genie been let out of the bottle in the Philippines’ recent past, wouldn’t our practice of democracy have been as tumultuous as that of our Southeast Asian neighbor?

A military junta is now ruling Thailand after the Army seized power in the midst of a political impasse between the forces of former prime minister Yingluck Shinawatra and those of the opposition. This is Thailand’s 19th military coup in 82 years.

Gen. Prayuth Chan-ocha is now both the head of the military junta and Thailand’s interim prime minister. The junta is euphemistically called the National Council for Peace and Order.

Aside from arresting political leaders and other personalities, the junta has dissolved the country’s parliament and overruled an earlier court ruling that would have resolved the earlier political impasse. It has therefore taken all governmental powers.

Among those arrested was Pravit Rojanaphruk, an outspoken columnist of the Nation newspaper, who, according to a The Guardian report, tweeted after he was summoned by the junta, “On my way to see the new dictator of Thailand.” He has not been released yet.

Prayuth said the military has to take over to end six months of political turmoil.

Army spokesman Col. Winthai Suvaree put it this way: “Democracy in Thailand has resulted in losses.”

Shades of the “God Save the Queen” plot. That one was among the power grabs launched by disgruntled soldiers under the administration of Corazon Aquino, who took over from the ousted dictator Ferdinand Marcos.

Other coup attempts were hatched under the administration of Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo years later, with the plotters also using altruism to make their attempts to seize power look good.

The coup plots, the most violent of which was the one launched in 1987 by the Gregorio “Gringo” Honasan-fronted RAM, were all thwarted not only because of the resolve of the Malacañang occupants but more so because these lacked civilian backing.

Had any of those military power grabs succeeded, how would our “democracy” post-Marcos have unfurled?

Published in the Sun.Star Davao newspaper on May 28, 2014.

Opinion

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