SENTRO condemns military coup in Thailand

SUSPICION on the real motive and direction of the dubious “mild” or so-called Thai-style martial law imposed three days ago by the omnipotent Thai military has been proven right when it formally seized power yesterday, May 22, by taking over the beleaguered government of Thailand. A classic doublespeak because the military announced only last May 20 that: “We declared a state of emergency; it’s not a coup.”

Army chief Gen. Prayuth Chan-ocha is now the country’s de facto Prime Minister for being the leader of the seven-person military junta dubiously (again) called the National Peace and Order Maintaining Council, which is composed of top military and police generals. The NPOMC immediately repealed the 2007 Thai Constitution (except for the provision which recognizes the King of Thailand as the head of state), dissolved the caretaker government, enforced curfew hours, banned political gatherings like rallies, detained a number of protest leaders, severely restricted the press, and closed all schools for several days. While the junta tries to project a semblance of normalcy or “democratic” functioning by not disbanding the Senate, the courts and other government agencies, the naked truth is that state powers are now almost absolutely controlled by this military clique. For how long it will stay and rule, only the junta knows; since it merely issued a sweeping statement that “until there is a Prime Minister, (the NPOMC) leader will exercise all powers and duties which the laws invest in the Prime Minister and the Cabinet …”

As expected, the coup d’état’s convenient excuse was to end Thailand’s political impasse caused by the huge demonstrations in Bangkok in the past six months by both supporters and opponents of ousted Prime Minister Yingluck Shinawatra. (She and nine of her Cabinet ministers were dismissed by a court for abuse of power last May 7. A caretaker government was formed which was similarly resisted by the opposition and was toppled yesterday by the military. Shinawatra is likewise accused of being a dummy of her exiled brother, Thaksin Shinawatra, an ex-Prime Minister also and a billionaire businessman who was deposed by a military coup in 2006 and was later convicted for abuse of power and corruption.)

However, whatever its vaunted claims, the Thai military has no right and capability to govern the Thai people. The military could never defend and develop justice, freedom and democracy by grabbing and destroying the very institutions that nurture those principles. Only the well informed and truly active citizenry could ensure those principles and ideals. Any form of political messianism or vanguardism, whether from the military or a political group, has already been widely discredited and proven as mere delusion. The coup will in fact squander the gains achieved to democratize the Thai society and will revert Thailand to its past notoriety – where military power grabs seemed to be routine as at least 12 successful and seven abortive coup d’états were staged since the country became a constitutional monarchy in 1932.

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