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Fwd: [demleft] Thailand -- Onus now on coup leaders to restore trust of the people

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  • Reihana Mohideen
    ... From: josephp@focusweb.org Date: Sep 20, 2006 8:31 AM Subject: [demleft] Onus now on coup leaders to restore trust of the people To:
    Message 1 of 1 , Sep 20, 2006
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      ---------- Forwarded message ----------
      From: josephp@... <josephp@...>
      Date: Sep 20, 2006 8:31 AM
      Subject: [demleft] Onus now on coup leaders to restore trust of the people
      To: demleft@yahoogroups.com

      Dear all. Interesting developments in Thailand. Here's a commentary from
      THE NATION newspaper on the coup. The military has set up an Administrative
      Reform Council which is now headed by Army General Sonthi. It would be
      interesting to find out how long the military will hold on to power and how
      soon if at all will civilian control be restored.

      * *


      * *

      * They proclaimed to be doing it in the name of democracy, to wipe out
      rampant corruption and to rehabilitate a badly divided nation. Now the
      coupmakers have to prove their intent. And unlike those before them, the
      Thai armed forces leaders who seem to have overthrown caretaker Prime
      Minister Thaksin Shinawatra in a bloodless coup, have very little time to do

      The world is watching and scrutinising. To many democracy lovers,
      Thaksin'sdownfall, engineered by top military officers, led by Army
      CommanderinChief Sonthi Boonyaratklin, turned back the clock on Thailand's
      political development.

      The use of military force, instead of a free and fair election, to change
      government can hardly be condoned in a democratic society like ours, let
      alone the fact that the coup took place just months before the country was
      due to hold a general elec�tion.

      The coupmakers are luckier than those before them in that much of society
      now believes they have done the wrong thing for the right reason. But the
      perception that this is something done in good faith will be extremely
      fragile. Public trust in power in the hands of men with guns can last as
      long as the smoke that follows when a shot is fired.

      The slower the coupmakers are in the pledged transfer of power back to the
      people, the more Thaksin will look like a "pretext" and not the "reason" for
      the power seizure. Today, he is seen as a seriously flawed political leader,
      who had tried to propagate and perpetuate a culture of corruption and deceit

      threatened to undermine democracy as we knew it. Throughout his five and a
      half years in power, he was exposed as a greedy politician who had pursued
      selfinterest at the expense of public good. Even called a tyrannical leader
      by some, he was accused of rolling back civil liberties, suppressing
      dissenting voices, not to men�tion his flagrant violation of human rights as
      part of a sinister design to dominate and then monopolise political power so
      as to indulge

      in corrupt practices unimpeded.

      Ideally, the likes of Thaksin should be rejected at the ballot box or
      through public pressure in the form of peaceful protests. The problem is
      most people did not believe both options available to them would succeed in
      removing him from power. To many people the military coup against
      Thaksinmay be a necessary evil.

      But make no mistake, the seizure of power, albeit one that was achieved
      without the loss of lives, is nonetheless a form of political violence that
      is incompatible with the democratic aspirations of the Thai people.
      Democratic aspirations will live on even as the Constitution has already
      been abrogated by the coup leaders.

      The spirit of democracy that undermined Thaksin's apparent omnipresence will
      now shift its watchful eyes to the coup leaders.

      The Administrative Reform Council has pledged allegiance to democracy under
      the constitutional monarchy and cited Thaksin's corruptionprone leadership
      and his disrespect for the monarchy as justification for the coup. But it
      cannot be emphasised enough that the coup party has now also concentrated
      all power of government in its own hand unrestrained by public
      accountability or system of checks and balances.

      The coup group wanted the public to take them at their own word that they
      would do their best to implement needed reform and rid politics of
      corruption for now. They will be expected to promise to return sovereign
      power to the people, organise a free and fair election and then ensure a
      smooth transfer of power to the next democraticallyelected civilian

      We expect the coup group to make clear how exactly it will implement its
      plans to restore democracy in this country, complete with def�initetimeframes.

      A transitional government headed by a respected and
      politicallyneutralcivilian leader with unblemished personal integrity
      must be installed and a
      provisional parliament must be set up to draft a new constitution within
      specific timeframes leading up to a fresh general election and a return to

      Once a transitional government is installed, all coup leaders must submit to
      the authority of the new civilian leader and bring back their troops to the

      They must also prove beyond any reasonable doubt that they do not seek
      personal gains from the absolute power they now hold or intend to retain
      indirect control of the provisional government for ulterior motives.

      It must be stressed that the first task of the coup group is to restore the
      confidence of both democracyloving Thais as well as the international
      community and foreign investors that democracy will be restored and this
      time democratic development will be sustainable and democ�racy will come
      equipped with inbuilt selfcorrecting mechanisms so that military coups will
      be put to rest for good.

      [Non-text portions of this message have been removed]
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