Views from Thailand on coup


Views from Thailand on coup

Three Britons who have been living in Thailand for several years describe the reactions around them as Tuesday’s coup unfolded.


ROBIN GRIFFITHS, MISSIONARY, ONGSIT, KANCHANABURI PROVINCE


Robin Griffiths

We have lived through about ten different coups since we moved to Thailand in 1973.

We are about 160 miles (260km) north-west of Bangkok in Kanchanaburi province.

Mr Thaksin had a lot of support around here, basically
because of the handouts he gave the village people. They were giving
out rice and free mobile phones to schoolchildren.


Map

This was before the April elections, although it’s been going on since then too.

But people were beginning to see through it.

One of our neighbours said recently: “We’re not as
stupid as he thinks we are. He’s not going to bribe me with his
giveaways”. But two years ago, this man was a big Thaksin supporter.

I’ve spoken to a few people here. Many are ambivalent – not that bothered.

One of our neighbours came round at midday and hadn’t
heard about it at all. He is normally someone who’s very clued up about
things, but there hasn’t been much on the local media.



The urban elite won’t tolerate another military dictatorship

He was quite suprised – but not that surprised. A lot of people have been expecting this to happen.

It may take a bit longer than two weeks to put a new
Prime Minister in. I’ve heard that this general in charge is a Muslim,
which will go down well with the population in the south.

I think we will be back to a democratic government within a year.

The army knows the urban elite won’t tolerate another
absolute military dictatorship again, because they are more politically
aware than they used to be.


ALEXANDER STARKEY, FINANCE MANAGER, KOH SAMUI


Map of southern Thailand

I haven’t met anyone who hasn’t been smiling today. Everyone came to work happy.

None of us is worried here, really. And a lot of people got a holiday today.

I can’t see any chance of violence, because Mr Thaksin had so little support.

It all comes back to the way he sold his Shin Corp shares and avoided paying tax.

It all happened so quickly because I think the army
thought Thaksin was planning something from abroad. He had been putting
his own Thai Rak Thai party supporters in top positions in the army.

The elections earlier this year were a joke. I guess the
coup leaders didn’t believe it was going to be worth having the
elections with Thaksin pulling the strings again.

It’s going to be hard for this general to pick someone to lead who’s going to be perfect in two weeks.

But the new person can’t do much worse than Mr Thaksin. He’s done nothing for the Thai people recently.

He hasn’t been fair on the people, so why should they be fair on him?


ADAM BROWN, GALLERY OWNER, BANGKOK


Bangkok, 20 September

Thai soldiers stand guard in front of the Royal Plaza in Bangkok

I was quite surprised by this. There have been a lot of rumblings over the past few weeks, but no one took it seriously.

It happened very quickly. I was in a place called Koi’s – a Japanese restaurant in the main business area of town.

I’d just ordered a drink. I had got half of it, but before the other half arrived I was on the street.

The lights came on in the restaurant and the staff just
said “go”. There were mutterings about a curfew, a drugs bust. I
wandered along the street and other places were still open quite
happily.

It will take a few days before the future becomes
clearer. It’s very calm at the moment. Everyone is waiting to see what
will happen in the next 48 hours.

Mr Thaksin was deeply unpopular here in Bangkok.

Many thought that the recent assassination attempt was a stunt by Mr Thaksin himself.

Mr Thaksin’s credibility has reached such a point that even if he was telling the truth, no one would believe him.

A Thai woman who works for me came in this morning as
normal. She said they all just got drunk when they heard the news!
They’ve been through it all before, but not for a while.

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