THAILAND: Left condemns military coup
During the night of September 19 Thailand’s military
overthrew the government of PM Thaksin Shinawatra while he was in New
York to address the UN General Assembly, abolished the constitution and
imposed martial law. In a national TV broadcast the next day, Thai Army
chief General Sondhi Boonyarataklin said the military had ousted
Thaksin because his government was tainted with corruption and
cronyism. Below are two initial statements on the coup from the Thai
Focus on the Global South
Focus on the Global South views the recent military takeover of
government in Thailand as a most regrettable setback in the country’s
The rationale for the takeover — that Thai society has become
divided as never before in the nation’s history, and that the threats
of violence require measures to maintain peace and security — may be an
accurate reflection of the current political and social situation.
Undoubtedly, corruption and arrogance on the part of the Thaksin
Shinawatra government undermined democracy and the constitution, and it
led people to challenge the legitimacy of the regime. However, the
usurpation of power and trampling of rights and liberties by a group of
officers calling themselves the Democratic Reform Council is in no way
Indeed, before the coup, there were already attempts to resolve
the political crisis by democratic participation within the framework
of the constitution. These were forestalled by the military
As faithful advocates of participatory democracy, we demand
respect for the 1997 constitution. This constitution was derived
through the process of extensive consultation with all sectors of
society, and is the only one that could be rightly called the people’s
constitution. Thus, we join most of the Thai people in demanding the
expeditious and complete return of democratic rights to the Thai people
and an immediate restoration of the people’s basic rights to freedom of
information, freedom of expression and freedom of association.
Dictatorship rules Thailand
[Issued by Giles Ji Ungpakorn of the Workers Democracy group within the Peoples Coalition Party.]
Last night the military staged a coup against the elected, but
controversial, government of Thaksin Shinawatra. As usual, and in the
tradition of all Thai military coups for the last 60 years, the
dictatorship claimed to have staged the coup in order to “reform
politics”, “protect democracy” and that they had “no interest in taking
personal power” and would be “returning power to the people as soon as
possible”. And in the tradition of many previous coups, they later
sought and received support from the monarchy.
The military have taken over all Thai TV channels and have
blocked foreign news channels such as CNN and BBC. The TV is showing
pictures of the royal family along with various declarations from the
so-called “democratic reform committee”.
The Thai people’s movement had good reason to oppose the
Thaksin government, which presided over gross human rights abuses in
the south and in the so-called war on drugs and pushed for many
neoliberal policies, such as privatisation and free-trade agreements.
Yet the Thaksin government retained huge popularity among the poor.
On April 2, 16 million people voted for the government, as
opposed to 10 million who voted against. The reason was simple. The
Thai Rak Thai government of Thaksin had initiated many pro-poor
policies including a universal health care system and various measures
to cut poverty. Yet many of those who joined the anti-government
movement earlier this year, dismissed the electorate for being
uneducated and ill-informed.
Unfortunately, many social movement leaders also took this
position. Instead of respecting the poor and the electorate, they
demanded that the king sack the government. Although the king refused
to do this, the position taken by the anti-Thaksin movement has helped
pave the way for this coup.
It is now up to us in the people’s movement to once again
struggle for democracy in Thailand. This struggle for democracy can be
the only road to real and lasting political and social reform which is
much needed in order to make Thai society a more just and peaceful
In the near future we shall have to make sure that the Thai
Social Forum takes place in late October this year and that this forum
forms a nucleus for democracy and social justice.
From Green Left Weekly, September 27, 2006.
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