Thailand has seen two military coups in the last twenty years, one in 2006 and one in 2014.
Both coups were led by generals from the Royal Thai Army who claimed that they were taking power to end corruption and bring order to the country. There was also some hot air about reconciliation but that’s just empty rhetoric for those without grey matter between the ears.
The 2006 coup government lasted just over a year and democracy was ‘quickly’ restored. The 2014 coup leaders are still with us like a bad rash.
But beyond the generals’ empty rhetoric both coups were carried out with the support of Thailand’s conservative upper and middle class for a myriad of reasons.
The conservative class supported the military because they thought they were getting rid of the Shinawatra’s influence on politics and the corruption that came with the Thaksin and Yingluck governments. They also held media-inspired suspicions that Thaksin was secretly an anti-monarchist hell bent on destroying an institution held sacred by many Thais.
On all counts, the cure is worst than the disease.
If the aim of the military coups was getting rid of Thaksin’s influence once and for all then both have failed. The 2006 coup failed spectacularly because Thaksin-aligned parties won the election right after democracy was restored.
The 2014 coup tried to do a better job eradicating the legacy of Thaksin inspired governments but a Thaksin-aligned party won the most number of seats once democracy was restored five years later.
Only this time, the chipmakers learned from their previous mistakes and installed anti-democratic clauses within the constitution to allow them to cling onto power and relegate Pheu Thai to the opposition.
So on that count, both coups have failed.
If the goal of the coups was to end corruption once and for all then the 2014 coup has failed spectacularly as well.
The involvement of big business in funding politics is more present than ever before with ministerial positions being bought by corporations who have an active interest in governmental decisions.
At Thai Enquirer, we love beating a dead horse so let us remind the reader of keywords that have cropped up over the course of the last half decade under the military rule. There were watch scandals, Australian cocaine smuggling scandals, national park land encroachment scandals, building contracts from the army scandals, nepotism scandals, using army housing to register businesses, just to name the most obvious ones.
Ask any businesses leader and they will tell you that corruption is actually more endemic, the rates much higher, and more prevalent under the current government than the previous ones.
It seems in their bid to secure power and rid the country of corruption, the generals forgot to take into account their own avarice and evil.
Finally, perhaps the underlying reason many conservative, powerful Thais supported both coups was because they saw Thaksin as this anti-monarchist figure ready to fund and destroy the good works of King Bhumibol the Great.
Well if the aim of the coup was to elevate the monarchy beyond politics and keep it cherished forever, then this is the most spectacular failure of all.
By constantly evoking the monarchy as a reason for their actions, the generals have, ironically, destabilized the institution far more than anything Thaksin could have done.
The rise of Future Forward, the movement of students on the streets calling for royal reform, these are all consequences of the junta’s action. The generals are the ones that have tainted the institution with their constant evocations.
So why exactly did we have two coups in the last twenty years? Beats me. Unless the answer is to line the pockets of a few generals and businessmen with cash – there is no good reason.
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