Thai People Restive Under Military Rule
May 30, 2016
Two years after a military coup,
it's becoming clear that the
generals are not interested in restoring
democracy. The people are getting restless.
"Semper Castleton" a British ex-pat, reports
the views of people from all segments of society.
"What is certain is that the younger generation of Thais have been made to realize that freedom and democracy cannot be taken for granted. We are now seeing a small but a very active group of university students playing a pivotal role in protesting and resisting the militarization of Thai society." - newspaper reporter
by Semper Castleton
General comments made by Siamese people from all walks of life, picked up by foreign media, include the following :-
i) from a university professor:
Thailand has changed, but in a way that goes back to the past rather than into the future. A lot of people had some relief when the coup took place [two years ago] after six months of mayhem and protests.
On a daily basis, Thailand became unworkable, ungovernable. Initially, there was relief that we had some law and order and safety in the streets without demonstrations but at the expense of pent-up frustrations and of popular rule that people have come to expect. Two years is a long time in Thai politics and now people are saying, yes, we had some law and order, to the extreme in fact, too much of it. People have been detained. There has been a lot of coercion, violations of basic civil liberties, at the expense of longer term stability. The way ahead is murky. Most worryingly, the coup makers do not have an exit strategy. And it looks the generals aren't taking over for the future of Thailand and the Thai people, but for the generals themselves. So I think that more people are seeing that and more people are showing dissatisfaction which will get worse.
ii) from a newspaper reporter
There's been a lot of self-censorship as well as the arbitrary detention of those who refuse to stop calling this regime illegitimate. There exists repression against the media here in Thailand.Thailand needs able journalists to continue to do their jobs properly despite the fact that they are facing the threat of arbitrary detention and charges as well as possibly the threat of being put on a military tribunal. The future is pretty uncertain."
iii) from a student
There has been more activity for student and youth movements. Public expression for normal things in public has been by the government. The government have 'attitude adjustment' camps. They have physically invaded human rights. After speaking out against (government) corruption the military court jails and detains people. Some groups of people have become less vocal. Some people have closed down their Facebook pages after the army apprehended the administrators of an (anti-government) Facebook page. But the only reason students are still fighting is because the more students get threatened or punished, the more students feel the need to act.
iv) from a senior citizen
The country has changed for the better. Before and during the political turmoil, the country was at a standstill because the two political sides didn't like each other. Because of that country was not able to move forward in business or politics. Since the coup, even though the two political sides still don't agree with each other, it's like there's a mediator who forces things along.In the long term having a junta might not be good because so many international countries have failed under military rule. Coups are not a good thing, in general. At this point right now, it's a good thing because the country was not moving forward for so long. It's what we needed at the time.
v) from a parent
The coup was not the right thing to do, considering we're supposed to be a democracy. You can't trust this government. They keep promising things like reforms, changes, and this and that. They promised us elections and that hasn't happened yet. Things have just gotten worse and worse, and if we go out and try to voice our opinions, we get silenced and put in jail. They say that we have to follow the law and the rules that they made but they haven't even followed it themselves. Instead, they abuse their power.It feels like our breath doesn't belong to us anymore, it belongs to the army. If we breathe too loud, we get in trouble. I'm one of the few people who are publicly against the government.
For the past two years the military establishment is doing things that should not be done and not doing things that should be done. The military power have not been answering to the cries of the people on the street but they say that they should be in power because they are the stabilizing factor.
So now Thailand now has less democratic practices, less freedom of expression and human rights. The political divide hasn't disappeared. It has just been silenced. The military has promised to hold elections in the summer of 2017 but previous election pledges have not been honored. A controversial new constitution will be put to a referendum in August 2016. The military have warned that any rejection of it might result in elections being further delayed.
It should be acknowledged that Thailand's political uncertainties could be exacerbated by the failing health of its 88-year-old monarch, who lives peacefully in the seaside resort of Hua Hin, as competing elites jostle for power ahead of the succession.
There will be an election but we don't know when. However it does seem like the military are bringing Thailand into further crisis. Thailand could become a mini-Myanmar or a mini-China with one party. We watch . We wait . In the meantime Siam is suffering.
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Henry Makow received his Ph.D. in English Literature from the University of Toronto in 1982. He welcomes your comments at