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Not So Easy To Eradicate The Coup And Its Effects: Thai Opinion


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Not so easy to eradicate the coup and its effects

The Nation

With the government already actively supporting the red shirt movement, even the pro-Thaksin camp has little time for the academic proposal to nullify the 2006 takeover

Once again, the academic group calling itself "Nitirat" has come out to defend its call for all the legal consequences of the September 2006 coup to be nullified. This proposed move has been interpreted by many as something that would only benefit Thaksin Shinawatra and his political and business associates. But where Thaksin is concerned, nothing is easy.

The latest statement from Nitirat, which brings together some prominent law lecturers, insists that the group's goal is nothing but a democratic ideal. It blames the 2006 coup for all of the political suffering the Thai people have had to endure over the past few years. The group, however, thanks members of the public for all the feedback which it says it has taken totally into consideration.

One reason why this move has been met with such widespread scepticism must have to do with the fact that a pro-Thaksin government is now in power. The rise of the Yingluck administration means that a major negative consequence of the coup has been more or less been corrected. The dissolution of both the Thai Rak Thai and People Power parties was the biggest controversy stemming from the coup because it affected a large number of people, not just corrupt politicians. While the two parties' dissolution has been condemned by many as an injustice, the political order that existed before the 2006 coup has been very much restored. Thaksin's youngest sister has become Thailand's first female prime minister and those devoted to campaigning for Thaksin both in Parliament and on the street have taken up important government positions. Bureaucrats associated with his former enemies have been either removed or tamed.

The second reason why Nitirat is finding it hard to push its agenda must be the ongoing process to help the red shirts. Commissions and committees have already been set up, and the Yingluck government itself is obviously keen to help its supporters who are in legal distress. In other words, with or without Nitirat's proposals, a legal and political momentum is already there to support red shirts who are in trouble with the law. "Erasing" the coup wouldn't make much difference in this regard.

The third reason may be the most important. Take away the need to restore a political party affected by the coup and considering that a process to help the red shirts is already ongoing, and there is only one major thing left to be dealt with: the issue of Thaksin's criminal conviction. That's probably why sceptics are saying that the one to benefit the most from Nitirat's campaign is Thaksin Shinawatra himself and other political big guns close to him.

Thaksin has divided Thailand, and, naturally, so has the coup that toppled him. Nitirat, which has to tread tricky waters, should be praised for taking all the negative feedback and scepticism in its stride. After all, Thailand's political crisis has more than one dimension. While the triumphant return of the pro-Thaksin movement makes it seem like a good time to get back to what brought him down in the first place, the big picture must be seriously pondered.

The black and white attitude should be no more. Perhaps it was the black and white attitude that brought Thailand to this predicament in the first place because it made everyone forget the big picture. To provide a long-lasting solution, therefore, Nitirat may have to start admitting that there were other political demons apart from the coup-makers, and those other demons may have been causing Thai democracy setbacks as well.

Nitirat obviously has tried to distance itself from Thaksin. The fact that it has had to go out of its way many times to do so, and may yet have to do so again, underlines how difficult that is. But most important of all, the fact that Nitirat cannot proudly identify itself with him speaks volumes on where he stands when it comes to democracy, the coup and all the relevant issues.


-- The Nation 2011-10-04

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