September 29th, 2006

On the thailand coup…


I had an email exchange with a friend based in Thailand. Got his permission to repost part of his email

The King has openly showed his distaste for Taksin for some time. I think the King–or really Prem–gave the “go” signal for the coup. For months now, bank employees, toll collectors–any organization that wanted to show its
“devotion”–have had their employees wear polo shirts colored bright yellow
(a symbol of the Monarchy). More voluntarily, much of the Bangkok middle
class has also been wearing these shirts as an indirect slap at Taksin’s
face–one that he couldn’t complain about–so that the area around, say, the
Silom financial district has become a fiesta of color. Less so upcountry,
because Taksin was “their” man, but 1000 baht at election time only buys so
much loyalty.

That makes me think of my neighbor Thomas Fuller, who ended an article in
the IHT quite a while back about vote buying up-country with a cute
interchange with a humble old lady–a broom seller as I recall–who got a
cagey gleam in her eye when she misinterpreted being interviewed about
bribery in general and thought she was being canvassed for a bribe. . .

Fuller has been writing some interesting background articles around the coup
for the IHT–don’t know whether they bleed over to the NYT or not. . .But
yes, the fact that Sonthi is a Muslim helps in the South, and it’s also good
for national unity in general that he wasn’t really in the anti-Taksin camp
before the coup–another reason to think that he was put up to it by the

Now the match-making begins, with the junta looking for a properly
credentialed, “democratic” PM. The paper I had an article in yesterday, THE
NATION, which is pretty unabashed about its political stance, has been
playing yenta, announcing rumors about one candidate or another almost as
fact, I think in order to get the whole process going.

The military, for their part, would like to get somebody “like” Anand
Panyarachun (times, and politics, have changed, but I mean someone
well-reputed who would prove equally successful) to give them some
legitimacy. Or maybe the military will even step away as fast as they say
they’re going to do. But I’d be surprised if that happened–read Paul
Handley’s book if you want to understand why.

Comments are closed.