January 10, 2014 00:00
By Samudcha Hoonsara
More talk of a possible coup and the recent political developments have only added to speculation of another military putsch.
Army commander-in-chief General Prayuth Chan-ocha, who has refused to rule out the possibility of a coup, recently urged the authorities to prevent clashes between anti-government People’s Democratic Reform Committee (PDRC) supporters and pro-government groups.
The PDRC is calling for a mass rally to shut down Bangkok on Monday, while the pro-government red shirts plan to hold counter-rallies in the North, Northeast and Central regions.
Nobody can be certain, at this point, if any clashes will break out between the two sides as they are bound to cross paths at some point.
Besides, the latest remarks from the military’s most powerful figure have caused some unease for the politicians in power who are pushing for the February 2 elections to be held as scheduled. However, at this point it is not clear if the elections will be held amid the ongoing political uncertainties.
A reporter recently asked the Army chief if he could assure the public that the military would not stage another coup after the one in 2006, noting that speculation of a pending putsch had led to a drop in the stock market. Prayuth only responded to this by saying that the stock market plunge had nothing to do with the military.
“Don’t expect the military to do this or that. It’s the media that paints the picture. You want me to issue an affirmation, but I will not,” he said.
Prayuth’s latest stance is not very likely to bode well for the country’s political stability. It is clear that both sides of the conflict have not been able to sit down and seek a common solution. They should look at what has been happening in Ukraine, Bangladesh and Cambodia and realise that being stubborn and refusing to listen to the other side will bring nothing good. Besides, giving in to yet another military coup is not good for Thailand’s reputation in the eyes of the international community.
Caretaker Prime Minister Yingluck Shinawatra might have sensed something when she responded to a question about coup speculation by saying: “As defence minister, I believe the military commanders will look for a long-term solution rather than some measure that is not acceptable to many countries.”
Plus, Chaturon Chaisang, a key Pheu Thai Party politician, recently posted on his Facebook page that a coup was more likely now.
“In Thai political history, when military leaders insist that there will definitely not be a coup, they stage one not long after that. Then what can you expect when a military leader says that the door to a coup is neither open nor closed? Isn’t there a higher likelihood for a coup?” He was referring to an earlier remark made by the Army chief.
“If you look at previous coups, you will see that now conditions are almost ready for another,” Chaturon said.
When asked about the possibility of a coup, caretaker Deputy Defence Minister General Yuthasak Sasiprapha confessed that if the political situation worsened, the possibility would be higher.
With comments such as these flying around, many people are left wondering what will happen. Will there be bloodshed or a coup? Will the elections go ahead as scheduled and how will the ongoing political conflict end?
It looks like the public should be getting answers to these questions soon.