Duncan McCargo has an op-ed in the NYT on the political situation in Thailand
The junta’s pledge to overhaul Thailand’s political system sounds ominously like a call for “reform before election,” a slogan for the past few months of the anti-government protesters from the People’s Democratic Reform Committee (P.D.R.C.). This suggests that the military’s idea of a “genuine democracy” involves the creation of an unelected assembly and a reduction of the role of elected politicians.*
Siding with the people means listening to all sides. To preserve what remains of the army’s legitimacy, General Prayuth needs to call a halt to highhanded measures to curb dissent, and to create broad, inclusive platforms for a reasoned debate about Thailand’s future direction. Otherwise, the regime’s positive goals of ensuring national peace are bound to fall flat.
So far, the junta seems to have drawn the wrong lessons from the 2006 coup, which failed because it was an ill-conceived attempt to change Thailand’s political landscape: The goal was beyond the capacity of the coup makers. Democracy can always be improved, but in a society with Thailand’s traditions of openness and popular participation, it cannot be reversed.
The 2006 coup did not fail because the generals were not tough enough. Acting aggressively is always a poor way to win people over, not least in Thailand; it will not work now.
BP: Actions speak louder than words on inclusive reform. We are yet to be given specifics on how the reform will be implemented and how it would be inclusive. Would asking about the reform process be deemed an appropriate question at this time?
Btw, it took around six days in 1991 and 12 days in 2006 respectively to get coup-installed PMs….
*Functional constituencies (see also this explanation of its usage in Hong Kong and give some thought to how it will be implemented in Thailand) for between 30-50% of constituency seats together with restrictions on what policies can be implemented…