Thailand is wrestling with the problem of democratic tyrants

your say June 09, 2018 01:00

Events in the Trump presidency keep exposing Western governments and media as biased and hypocritical.

When Trump fired FBI director James Comey and lambasted that agency’s probe into Russia collusion in his daily tweets, he was rightly criticised by respectable Western media – the New York Times, Washington Post, Financial Times – for attempting to subvert the justice system. However, for Thailand, Western governments and media believe that anyone who becomes a leader through an election can do no wrong, regardless of how the election is won. It does not matter if that leader is corrupt, interferes with independent organisations, or even supports extra-judicial killings. If that leader is later found guilty in court under a military government, the Western governments and media will choose to believe him/her and thereby continue to undermine the justice system by saying that is biased. Facts no longer matter to them.

Anyone who believes in democracy cannot condone a military coup. However, things have to be looked at in their context. America will survive the Trump presidency because its political and justice systems are strong and independent enough. Thailand does not have such luxury, and the military, in this particular instance, becomes a necessary counterbalancing force. The Western governments and media should keep in mind that while a free and fair election is a necessary condition for representative democracy, it is not a sufficient condition.  History has shown that tyrants are created not just by military coups, but also by democracies.