Thai history already holds answer to good governance – it’s not coups
New army chief General Apirat Kongsompong is to be praised for his candour in admitting that another coup d’etat is possible if political unrest returns – thereby unwittingly confirming that the 2014 coup has been a total failure in reconciling us.
We should look to our history and our national father, the late King Rama IX, for a more lasting solution. In 1991, the military coup-makers under Supreme Commander General Sunthorn Kongsompong quickly appointed a civilian, the highly-respected Anand Panyarachun, closely linked to the Palace, business community, and highly-regarded overseas, as interim prime minister. The strongly independent Anand selected Cabinet members for their proven ability, not the stars on their shoulders. The proof is in the pudding, since his government instituted many key reforms, including in taxation and education.
I suggest that when it comes to choosing our next prime minister, we look for one who has similar proven ties to the monarchy, business sector and international audiences – and is his own man.
Our beloved national father’s close relationship with the common man is legendary. To solve hilltribes’ dependence on opium-growing, for example, His Majesty literally took to the paddies and the hills, interviewing farmers, tribesmen and public officials to learn about local conditions first-hand. He then consulted Thai and foreign experts before coming up with possible solutions to try out.
Anand adopted His Majesty’s approach to constitution-writing, holding Kingdom-wide public hearings, the fruit of which was known as the “People’s Constitution”. His constitution was “by the people, for the people, and of the people”, to borrow a line from Lincoln, achieving buy-in from all.
Let us learn from our history – both in choosing our leaders and using problem-solving approaches – and put coups behind us.