The May 22 military coup d'etat is not necessarily the last in Thai political history and it cannot be expected to end the conflicts.
Firstly, the military is not really known for its ability to mend political divisions, and this intervention only appears to have helped the elite, the Democrat Party and their allies in the People’s Democratic Reform Committee (PDRC) achieve their goal of toppling Yingluck Shinawatra’s government.
This coup, like the one in 2006, seems to have become a tool of a group of conservative elites to get rid of what has been dubbed the “Thaksin regime”.
The 2006 coup failed to rid the country of former PM Thaksin Shinawatra’s influence. Is this another attempt to finish the job?
The elite, the Democrats, PDRC and their allies in the judicial and legislative branches began trying to cut away components of Thaksin’s regime piece by piece six months ago. Thanks to the allegations of corruption and misconduct, Yingluck and other members of the Pheu Thai Party will most definitely be banned from politics for at least five years.
But will that be the end? The 2006 coup has already proved that military intervention is not actually the solution. Ousting him through a military coup has only left Thaksin standing strong on the podium of democracy, surrounded by his red-shirt supporters. The two rounds of military intervention in less than a decade have instead left Thaksin – who did not have a good reputation for democracy and human-rights practices while in power – now being considered a crusader of democratic principles.
Meanwhile, the military has no choice but to continue using force to suppress people they regard as elements of the Thaksin regime. Unfortunately, this can only be done at the expense of democracy, human rights and the rule of law.
Many of those rounded up due to their anti-coup sentiments are ordinary people who are trying to fight for the democratic rights and have absolutely nothing to do with Thaksin at all.
Sadly, officers have been led to believe that everybody on the streets protesting against the coup has been paid off.
Studies have indicated that the red-shirt movement was created due to grievances over inequality, not necessarily Thaksin’s money. Hence, for them, an election is not just a symbol of democracy, but an effective way to access national resources and wealth.
Thaksin became popular because he knew how to funnel some of this national wealth to the poor.
Sadly, the intellectual elite put this down to “addictive populism”, though for ordinary voters this “populism” translated to food on their table.
However, the latest intervention has once again cut the poor people’s access to national wealth and deepened the division even further.