September 21, 2006


Many in Bangkok Embrace Military Takeover: Thai Army Chief Vows to Turn Power Over to Interim Leader Within Two Weeks (Anthony Faiola, 9/21/06, Washington Post)

Despite the new period of uncertainty, ushered in by a coup that was denounced by the United States and other foreign governments, many Thais in the capital appeared overjoyed.

"Democracy has won!" said an ecstatic Orathai Dechodomphan, 59, a tailor and Thaksin opponent who joined hundreds of people handing out roses to soldiers near the army headquarters. "Thaksin tried to steal power and did not respect our king. He never would have left on his own. What happened yesterday is our first step toward recovering a real democracy."

King Bhumibol Adulyadej, who was seen by many here as having effectively allowed Thaksin's removal, endorsed Sonthi, appointing him the official head of a new governing council charged with creating "peace in the country," according to an announcement televised nationally.

Sonthi is close to the king, and there had been speculation that the monarch played a role in the coup. Sonthi dismissed those suggestions Wednesday, telling reporters: "I am the one who decided to stage the coup. No one supported me."

The general, who only a week ago had ruled out the chance of a coup, said the military had been forced to act because Thaksin's moves to remain in power had divided the country. At the same time, Sonthi said, Thaksin's actions were dangerously bordering on lese-majeste, a powerful charge in a country where the king is widely revered.

The ousted prime minister, a billionaire tycoon who rose to power in 2001, was extremely popular among rural Thais largely because of a series of lucrative local programs he backed. But allegations of corruption and abuse of power earned him the hostility of the country's elite, mostly in Bangkok. He had been accused of monopolizing the media, altering the constitution to enhance his powers and stocking electoral commissions with his supporters. He was also scorned for mishandling the increasingly violent Islamic insurgency in the south of Thailand, a mostly Buddhist country.

In a public opinion poll released Wednesday by Rajabhat Suan Dusit University, almost 84 percent of respondents supported the coup. The overwhelming majority of those taking part in the poll were from the capital.

One of the main reasons that it's a mistake to do away with monarchy is because a king acts as a final brake on a really rotten elected government.

Posted by Orrin Judd at September 21, 2006 12:00 AM

I suppose so if you accept "rotten" as defined by intellectuals, university academics, leftwing journalists, a priveleged urban middle-class, and military generals who might, just might, have a stake in removing a threat to their own power.

Posted by: MB at September 21, 2006 9:03 AM

Yes, a government that opposes the middle class and the military is rotten by definition.

Posted by: oj at September 21, 2006 9:11 AM

What if the King is rotten?

Posted by: Shelton at September 21, 2006 9:27 AM

That's why their power is limited.

Posted by: oj at September 21, 2006 9:30 AM

Hmm, all semantic differences aside let's wait a few weeks or months and then compare notes to see if the results of this coup are as acceptable as you apparently believe them to be.

Posted by: MB at September 21, 2006 9:39 AM

Here we go again, dragging our all our "king" lines, such as: "King? We had one of those once, but he didn't work out and we had to let him go.", or, "That 'king' stuff isn't our cup of tea, if you get my drift."

It were better to work on why democracy works here and not in other places. Just maybe it has something to do with our constitution whereby checks and balances set ambition to check ambition.

Posted by: Lou Gots at September 21, 2006 10:26 AM

Yes and the necessary final check is the monarch.

Posted by: oj at September 21, 2006 11:12 AM

Conservatives don't measure by months.

Posted by: oj at September 21, 2006 11:16 AM

"How do you do, good lady. I am Arthur, king of the Britons."

"King of the who?"

"The Britons."

"Who are the Britons?"

"We all are, we are all Britons, and I am your king."

"I didn't know we had a king, I thought we were an autonomous collective."

Posted by: Mike Morley at September 21, 2006 3:16 PM

The king looks a little like a cadaverous Yul Brynner who famously said while playing one the king's ancestors, So shall I say it, so shall it be!


Posted by: erp at September 22, 2006 12:14 PM