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'Coup should not revive old woes'

Anand warns junta to clear the decks, but insists he does not back seizure

Former prime minister Anand Panyarachun said that coup-makers should ensure that the problems that led to the coup in the first place do not return.

"We should not let problems such as corruption or complete control of power to return, otherwise people will ask what the coup has achieved. We should ensure this doesn't happen," he said.

Anand, who was appointed prime minister after the 1991 coup, said a military power seizure was not always a bad thing, though he did not support it.

"I insist, I don't want to see another military coup in Thailand. But, if there is a government that offers space for the people to take part in politics and the economy, and also returns power to the people, then the military will have no reason to stage a coup," he pointed out.

He was speaking at an interview entitled "Ask Khun Anand about Today's Issues" conducted by media personality Pinyo Trisuriyatamma at the Montien Hotel on Thursday night.

After much pushing, Anand finally said he was not afraid to voice his thoughts about the latest coup, but his answer would not change what had happened, adding that there was no point in discussing the power seizure.

"I was not a democratically elected prime minister, but what did I do that was not right while in government?" he asked.

"I don't think democracy is just about elections. Democracy entails several other things such as democratic values, organisations set up to ensure checks and balances, transparency, a fair judicial system, the right to express opinions.

"An election gives us our representatives. But once elected, these representatives try to make personal gains while claiming they are honorary representatives. This is worrying, as people get tired of democracy. People become sick of politicians even though there are many good politicians."

Yet, the former PM appeared to be optimistic about post-coup politics.

"What I desire to see is not just democracy, but good governance under a democratic framework. Can this be achieved after a military coup? Why not? Provided you have good intentions and forget your personal gains," he said.

However, the subject of the interview changed less than 30 minutes into the session after some officers of the ruling National Council for Peace and Order present in the audience signalled the interviewer.

Anand was then asked about his tenure as a post-coup prime minister.

"The situation then was very worrying. The junta did not know which direction it should take the country, so they invited a civilian like me. Initially, some people did not accept me as PM, but eventually they were fine.

"The question as to where I came from and whether I was justified to take over became less important. The real question is when you're in power, what can you do for the country?

"I don't think the military is having fun, as it realises that there are many risks," he said.


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