webfact 167921 Posted January 31, 2011 Share Posted January 31, 2011 BURNING ISSUE Coup remark stems from reds' doubts By Avudh Panananda The Nation Under the Constitution, Thai citizens are duty-bound to uphold and safeguard democracy, yet speculation persists about another power seizure. People here talk about the coup like it's the common cold, even though military intervention can snuff out democracy. The last coup took place in September 2006, and soon after the December 2007 election, held to restore democracy, rumours spread again about the next power seizure. A "silent coup" was said to have occurred in 2008, when top military leaders appeared live on television to demand the departure of the Somchai Wongsawat government. Tanks did not roll out on the streets because the Somchai government collapsed over electoral fraud. Then the most curious thing started happening - negotiations to form the Abhisit Vejjajiva government started taking place inside the military barracks. Last week, Pheu Thai MP Jatuporn Promphan called attention to what he claimed was a coup plot. All sides joined the fray, offering their views - some said it was a figment of Jatuporn's imagination, while some conceded the possibility of various coup scenarios. Unfortunately, no military leaders, coalition politicians, opposition members or commentators of various political shades came out to condemn the idea of a coup. Army chief General Prayuth Chan-ocha said he was bored with the never-ending speculation, while Prime Minister Abhisit said he was sure the top brass would not oust him. Military spokesman Maj-General Ditthaporn Sasamit issued a succinct statement, saying the situation did not warrant military intervention. However, it's worth noting that he did not rule out a power seizure. As long as Thais are willing to tolerate the use of force to grab power, speculation about coups being staged will never go away. In order to put Jatuporn's remarks in context, the speculation can be divided into two categories - statements made for self-serving reasons and an actual warning. If a coup is actually in the making, then those behind it are obliged to see if the forces are prepared and this is often done by running mock alerts through the Army. From February to September 2006, coup leader General Sonthi Boonyaratglin ran the troops through a number of mock exercises. Once democracy was restored in 2007, not a single military leader invoked his discretionary power to mobilise troops. The military was only put on alert for routine training or to rein in unruly crowds under government supervision. Remarks about a coup being planned, including those made by Jatuporn, just seem to be a move to see which way the political wind is blowing. The timing of Jatuporn's remarks might be an indication as to why he chose to comment on a power-seizure, which was not actually in the offing. Jatuporn and his colleagues in Pheu Thai pointed out key players in this so-called coup plot, and their comments coincided with the voting on charter amendments meant to pave the way for elections. Since politicians are gearing up for an early poll this year, it is in the interest of the main opposition party to keep an eye out for the military's reaction to the voting outcome, especially if Pheu Thai defeats the Democrats. Despite scepticism about whether Pheu Thai will win, Jatuporn and members of the red shirts genuinely believe they have a strong chance to form the next government. The red shirts have bitter memories about what the military did to governments led by Somchai and Samak Sundaravej, and they suspect a military clique led by Prayuth and Defence Minister Prawit Wongsuwan might step in to stop Pheu Thai from forming a coalition and taking office. Maybe they're also keen to gauge public reactions and sentiment about this clique. Unnamed military sources keep leaking news about the possibility of a coup. Yet, Prawit's job hinges on the blessings of the prime minister, and speculation about a coup might be a means to keep his job prospects intact for a second term. -- The Nation 2011-02-01 Link to post Share on other sites More sharing options...
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