Coup, Capital, Crown
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Coup, Capital, Crown

I earlier blogged about the discussion that would take place at the FCCT this past Thursday which touched on that Special Issue of Journal of Contemporary Asia. New Mandala has Kevin Hewison’s speech/presentation. Red & White was there and has a report. I have highlighted a couple of interesting passages (but there is plenty more at his site):
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[Professor] Kevin [Hewison, University of North Carolina]: The conservative agenda in Thailand is challenged and the heaviest challenge comes from the rural poor, hence Thaksin’s immensely successful populist policies.
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/>4) Are some “old money” powerful families part of the think tank behind the coup?
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/>[Professor] Pasuk [Phongpaichit of Chulalongkorn University]: One theory says that the military wanted to make a comeback and engaged the support if some business groups frozen out by Thaksin.
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/>Ukrist [Pathmanand of Chulalongkorn University]: Certain figures like General Saprang were crucial to the legitimacy of the coup.
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/>Kevin: Look at the financial data for Thailand. Pre – coup the biggest profit makes were in the telecom sector, such as the Thaksin owned Shin Corp. Post – coup, the biggest profiteers were those in the land and hosing sector. It is interesting to look at people such as Privy Council head General Prem and see where they have listed directorships.
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/>5) What are your hopes and fears for the next eighteen months?
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/>Pasuk: I hope PPP get a lot of seats simply to send a message to the military. However, I fear the coalition government will be weak and will collapse or be dissolved within one year. The possibility of violence cannot be ruled out.
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/>6) Was Thaksin a threat to the monarchy?
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Kevin: Yes. His economics – such as the use of SCB in the Shincorp sale – could be an issue. Also, Thaksin appealed to the same demographics in Thailand with a very different message: work your way into business and city life.(capitalism, compared to sufficiency economy)
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/>9) Is popular sovereignty on the rise?
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/>Kevin: No. People in the north east are becoming purposely disenfranchised. Election campaigns are huge in Bangkok and nearby – where Abhisit is popular – and non existent in former TRT strongholds. The election will not progress democracy.
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/>Pasuk: We do not want a regime that killed 2,500 people (“war on drugs” reference) but sadly more violence may be ahead.
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/>MC: Based on personal interviews, rural people don’t care about Samak but they think a PPP vote will bring Thaksin back.
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/>Kevin: People should also consider the human rights record of Samak (it’s poor).
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/>MC: The VCD’s of Thaksin are “very slick”. Thaksin seems to be purposely copying the speaking style of the King and it is a powerful message that the rural folk are being exposed to in a campaign where the military have already attempted to disenfranchise rural voters.


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NOTE: I understand the moderator/MC was Jonathan Head from the BBC.
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/>COMMENT: I understand Pasuk predicted (hoped?) PPP would win 200+ MPs. Pasuk was the optimist, but Kevin the pessimist. Despite Pasuk being an optimist, she thought the new government would last only a year.
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/>We will have to wait for the results, but I am not so sure that this disenfranchisement of rural voters (that Jonathan and Kevin mentioned) is going so well. Every time Thaksin does something, the government/EC/Surayud government reacts and it almost seems as if they are ganging up on Thaksin and further making him into some kind of hero. It will have some affect
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/>On Thaksin being a threat to HM the King – I think it is really a threat to the power base of the minority as opposed to wanting to overthrow the monarchy – I recommend this Daily Yomiuru piece by the Bangkok bureau chief.