|It all began in 1932 when a small group of Thai military officers executed a bloodless coup to remove King Prajadiphok, thereby bringing seven centuries of absolute monarchy to an end and creating a constitutional monarchy. Since that time, there have been eleven subsequent coups placing Thailand at the top of the international coup leaderboard. The cycle begins with the drafting of a new, incomprehensible constitution to be voted upon by the people which is an interesting throwback to democracy. Elections follow the constitution approval with the military becoming dissatisfied with the ensuing elected government. Often the courts are solicited to disband the successful political parties and, if everything else fails, the coup cycle resumes. The most recent coup occurred May 22, 2014 when Thai Army Chief, Prayut Chan-o-cha, declared a coup following months of "deadly turmoil."
It became obvious that General Prayut developed a fondness for civilian clothes and the media attention when the military created an "interim civilian" government. Accordingly, in August 2019, incumbent Prime Minister Prayut was the party delegate from Phak Phalang Pracharat, "People's State Power Party," which was formed with close ties to the military ruling party. Although they placed second in the election, Prayut somehow emerged as the Prime Minister. The author has experienced two coups in Thailand. One contributed positively and the other negatively to personal financial interests though that is not an appropriate measure of democracy. The author landed in Thailand recently to a host of headlines that were upsetting to some of the traditional ruling junta. The Nikkei Asia Review published an article entitled Thousands Join Thai Rally Demanding Regime Change which is the first milestone in creating "deadly turmoil." Thousands of Thais had participated in an organized run aimed at getting rid of Prime Minister Prayut. The run was entitled Wing Lai Lung, "Run to Oust the Uncle," which is a play on his nickname Uncle Tu. Runs were set up all over Thailand to protest the government while technically avoiding the government ban on public demonstrations. The numbers of runners, their enthusiasm and the T-shirt slogans, say it all.
Whereas Prayut dismissed the headcount of "protesters," Thanathorn Juangroongruangkit, leader of the popular Future Forward party (FFP), ran as well. He said "The crowd of attendees shows the great awareness and the time left for dictatorship is limited." You will likely need no assistance in identifying the players below.
It is clear that the current regime has taken note of the appeal of Thanathorn to the youth of the country who see privilege all around them on a daily basis. Surveys of social media themes related to the FFP indicate the degree to which young Thais are reacting to their perceived injustices and are proud to express their feelings. In the meantime, Thanathorn is struggling to keep his party intact due to continued attacks from the courts and the establishment. Anyone can sense the excitement and enthusiasm he exudes. In early December 2019, Thanathorn told foreign journalists, "After 262 days since we founded the party, we face 28 legal cases-the establishment doesn't want this transition to democracy to take place."
The power of the military establishment can be very intimidating to most anyone. In fact, the author was called upon to testify for the defense in a contentious civil estate suit in Thai court. The plaintiffs included a senior Thai general for which the defendant had received advice to be cautious. The defendant was a friend whose husband, a very close Thai friend for 34 years, was related to the wife of the general. In actual fact, the night before the trial, sleep was problematic in contemplation of how to handle defense testimony. The husband, who is disabled and receiving excellent care from his wife, had given me a family heirloom Buddha many years ago for a special birthday. I had the Buddha around my neck and ready to wear in the court shown below, when a text from the defendant indicated that the plaintiff had withdrawn their suit. All one can say in such an event is, phew, and wonder if there was some special spirituality with respect to the gifted Buddha involved in the events that had just occurred.
For many of us, democracy is taken for granted even though it may be abused from time to time in various places. However, when one gets close to situations of rampant abuse of power, it is frightening. Benevolent dictatorships are often referred to as the most efficient form of government. However, the power of the people eventually prevails for the good of mankind. For those who enjoy democratic governments, cherish them and include yourself in the election process at every opportunity. Abuse of power, be it the military or even an elected government, impede the due process of a freely-elected government and the freedoms of the people.