Thailand is not the country with the greatest number of coup d'etats. According to Wikipedia that distinction belongs to Haiti, with 24. We have had only half as many.
Almost every major country has had a coup at some point in its history, including the US. The reasons have varied, but the prevailing images and connotations of coups have always been as violent and bloody usurpation of power, ending in dictatorships that benefit the instigator. That is not the situation in Thailand.
Perhaps it is time to invent a new word for what Thailand is doing and has had to do several times: to reset and try to reconstruct a democratic constitution more just and attuned to everyone’s needs.
Obviously our efforts have not worked well in the past. Whatever the political party in power, we continued to suffer vote-buying, rampant corruption and populist policies. The latest military intervention was the only course of action left to those who want to see a national reconciliation process and (we hope) future policies conducive to good governance. (By not using the word “coup”, I hope to avoid conjuring up the images being presented in the Western press and the condemnation that has followed.)
The recent action taken by the military is equivalent to stopping the symptoms of a disease first before treating the cause. Sometimes you have to stop siblings from quarrelling and make them sit down and talk so that their sense of family and reason can prevail. When rhetoric and violent confrontations reach a critical level, there is no easy road back. Clearly, the plan being drawn and actions being taken by General Prayuth indicate that his intentions are exactly as he has stated: to restore peace to Thailand and restore a just and democratic government that we can all accept. Most Thais see this and are willing to give him time and a chance to achieve his goals. Why won’t the Western press and governments do the same?
ML Saksiri Kridakorn