Anarchy in Thailand

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By Mel Libre

Free Zone

Friday, May 23, 2014

SOME people never learn, so they end up in a thankless situation that is detrimental to freedom and democracy.

Such is the case of Thailand, where the Royal Thai Army invoked martial law on May 20 sans the knowledge and consent of interim Prime Minister Niwatthamrong Boonsongphaisan.

The mobilization of soldiers in key areas in Bangkok and media outlets was swift, coming immediately after the stalemate between pro-government officials and the opposition leaders during negotiations by Commander-in-Chief of the Royal Thai Army General Prayuth Chan-Ocha.


Ochoa said that “the military wants to prevent further violence, to maintain peace and order and to protect lives and properties.”

In that meeting, the interim prime minister did not heed the demand for him to step down for the formation of an interim government that allows the opposition and unelected protestors to govern the nation for a two years reform period.

If Boonsongphaisan agreed, that would effectively put in jeopardy the national elections set in July, as directed by the Constitutional Court that forced former Prime Minister Yingkluck Shinawatra out of power.

It is quite clear that the opposition, in connivance with the anti-government protestors, cannot win in the ballots, having disrupted the February elections by preventing the opening of 10,000 polling stations.

The current situation is just a replay of the ouster of populist Prime Minister Thaksin Shinawatra (brother of Yingkluck) on Sept. 19, 2006, after winning the elections in April of the same year.

The Army ousted Thaksin in a bloodless coup and declared martial law. But no matter how much the army and the anti-Thaksin movement (or the Yellow Shirts) pressured Thaksin loyalists, the latter came back to power in democratic elections.

Sour losers, the Yellow Shirts have been relentless in their protests, disrupting the peace and order for months; and without doubt, will hold ransom the elections in July, knowing Shinawatra followers will put their leaders back into office.

For its part, the monarchy is in disarray with sickly King Bhumibol nearing the end of his reign, and crown prince Maha Vajiralongkorn being tagged as eccentric and unpopular. As such the royalty cannot influence change in the sad state of Thailand’s political environment.

If martial law will put common sense in the minds of the leaders of the opposition and Yellow Shirts, then elections can proceed and democracy will flourish.

But if they hold on to their irrational demand for power-sharing, then the dark period of military rule will prevail. And everyone will be the loser, except the generals and their loyal soldiers.

Published in the Sun.Star Cebu newspaper on May 24, 2014.


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