It appears that there’s been a (so-far) bloodless coup against the Prime Minister of Thailand. (Bangkok-based independent news site.) While it’s a shame that it’s happened, it’s an over-reaction to mourn the death of democracy in Thailand.
Thailand was never really democratic. When I lived there (1996 -2000), elections were rigged; bribery and intimidation commonplace. “Influential figures” (whose names everyone knew) were totally above the law, controlling the drugs trade, illegal teak logging and trade with Burma. The millitary controlled the state-run TV, censorship was common and government corruption and patronage not just ignored, but regarded as legitimate behaviour.
It is also no loss to Thailand that Thaksin Shinawatra has been removed as Prime Minister. He approved a campaign of extra-judicial murder of 2,500 alleged drug dealers. His stupidly crass comments when 78 Southern Thai muslims died in police custody of asphyixiation (“they were weakened because of Ramadam fasting”) fuelled disquiet in the muslim southern states. He attempted to intimidate the press, expelling journalists from The Economist, and earned the rebuke of the much-revered King for elevating himself too high. He was becoming more and more authoritarian, and dangerous.
It is to be hoped that democracy will be restored (instituted?) soon. But I can’t help feeling that it’s good that Thaksin has gone.
Any Thais or Thai-residents around to comment?