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Wednesday, September 20, 2006

Coup d'etat a la Thai

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Walski apologizes for being a little tardy with the posts these past few days, but other pressing matters have forced myAsylum to take a back seat...

The incredibly wonderful thing about music is that there will always be something appropriate for any occassion.

Coup d'Etat by Level 42

Click to play
(For your listening pleasure
while reading this post)

Several international news agencies have confirmed that Prime Miniter Thaksin Shinawatra has been deposed in a quick, quiet and militarily non-violent coup last night, and this has also been diligently reported by many in the Malaysian bloggerhood.

The exact whereabouts of Thaksin is not known, but it has been reported that he did cut short his appearance at the United Nations General Assembly in New York City this week. According to Al-Jazeera, Thaksin plans to visit his family, currently in London, and indicated that he is not abdicating his post as Prime Minister.

Earlier, it was reported that all international news channels had temporarily been taken off the air during the coup. The leadership of the armed forces instead broadcast that it had taken control of Bangkok and declared marshall law. In addition, the armed forces also mentioned that (emphasis by myAsylum):

"We ask for the co-operation of the public and ask your pardon for the inconvenience"

which, to Walski, was a very nice touch, so politely and uniquely Thai!

AFP photo from BBC News, hosting by PhotobucketMeanwhile, BBC's latest report (at 4:43pm Malaysia Time today) indicated that Gen Sonthi Boonyaratglin, leader of the miltary coup that deposed Thaksin, has announced that the military has no intention to hold on to power and has indicated a period of two weeks.

In a press conference today, the general said that an interim prime minister would be named in 2 weeks, and that new elections would be called in a year's time, once a new and permenant constituion was put in place. The general said that the coup was carried in line with the Thai people's wishes and blamed "government mismanagement", forcing the military-led action.

The general indicated that the coup leaders were considering a suitable candidate for the post of interim Prime Minister. A new national assembly would also be appointed, with the prime responsibility being to draft the new constitution.
(Walki's thoughts on this in the full post)

Military coups in Thailand are, of course, nothing new. However, this is the first time in about 15 years that the military has stepped in. Thailand is unique in that the people rally around the King, more than around the government itself. Even the military had to get the King's blessings before going ahead with the coup.

Regionally, markets were a little shaken by the developments in Thailand, but the jitters have since subsided since the coup was carried out without firing a single shot. Walski admires the restraint that the military exercised in carrying out the take-over, and hopes that the transition back to democratic rule will be as smooth.

Walski sees the action as a case where the Thai people could no longer take the Thaksin government's BS. Of the other regional governments, it appears that Indonesia is the one that's looking at the developments very closely.

Like Thailand, Indonesia too has a very vocal and powerful military, and have, in the past, been active in that nations' political landscape.

And if the dissatisfaction with our own government grows - what then?

In Walski's view, the situation here in Malaysia is quite different, and as much as there is dissatisfaction with the incumbent government, our democratic process is still in relative working order. Sure, there are kinks in the machinery of democracy, but for the most part, that machinery still works. And let's hope that it continues to work, for many, many years to come.

We, as citizens, should never take for granted the parliamentary democracy that Malaysia practices, and must reject any moves to make Malaysia any less democratic than it currently is. What we have today may not be a perfect democracy, but it sure as hell is better than not having a democracy at all..