Inside the coup

“Less than 24 hours after the coup, Matichon Online had an account of events leading up to what is probably the most publicly staged coup in history.”

My favorite part:

Mr Chaikasem [Nitisiri of the caretaker government] said:” We won’t resign”.

Gen Prayuth then declared: “If that’s the case, the Election Commission need not talk about the polls and the Senate need not talk about Section 7.”

He then stood up and spoke in a loud voice: “I’m sorry. I have to seize the ruling power.”

It was 4.32pm.

At that point some of the attendees still thought he was joking.

They changed their minds when the general walked to the exit and turned back to tell them in a stern voice: “You all stay here. Don’t go anywhere.”

10 thoughts on “Inside the coup

  1. How can we expect the politicians to play by the rules of game named ‘democracy’ if once every ten years someone outside the game hits ‘reset’?


    • Thailand has had 13 coups since the current king took the throne in 1944. ‘Resets’ are much more frequent than once a decade, indeed more than twice as frequent. It’s also worth noting that since the king gained control of the armed forces in the late 1950s all coups have been led by royal allies.


    • Yes, I think relatively few coups are simply surprises. Portugal’s 1974 coup stands out in my mind as one that was unusually hidden, and probably others that involve junior or dissident officers would be similar. But when the military moves as an institution, I believe it tends to do so after issuing various not-so-veiled warnings, and being “invited” by other political actors or mass protests.

      I suppose the authors of the quoted statement might have meant in Thai history, or simply were offering a throwaway line because they don’t know much about coups outside of the one they just witnessed.


  2. Why is Thai Democracy such a yo-yo going back and fourth between democracy and temporary military dictatorship? Is it because the politicians can’t agree on anything. Is the electoral system the cause of this problem?


    • I’d comment on the role of the palace-military complex and the Bangkok political elite, but that would breach Article 112 and I or MSS could face prosecution in Thailand under Article 112 so I won’t.


      • Right, Alan, let’s be careful!

        Obviously Thailand lacks the minimal degree of consent across its political divide that is needed to make democracy function. Given that Thai democracy has failed with both fragmented party system and a solid majority aided by an electoral system change, I doubt it is a case where a new electoral system would really resolve matters. That said, the system they have is probably not the country’s best fit.


      • Wilhelmine Germany had a lèse-majesté law like Article 112 although it was used very much less and only protected the kaiser himself. The most famous prosecution was in 1896 against the author of a play named Caligula. The prosecution opened with the fatal words: ‘Who were you thinking of when you wrote this play?’

        The defendant rather bravely answered: ‘Who were you thinking of when you read it?’

        Insult laws, a modern version of lèse-majesté laws, are in force in many contemporary republics and some democratic monarchies. Article 112 is unique for the 3-15 year penalty, protecting all members and associates of the royal family, extraterritorial application, and the frequency of prosecutions.

        The junta has suspended all of the constitution except Chapter 1 which deals with the monarchy and criminalises criticism of the ignition and its members.


  3. Pingback: Thailand political reforms (yes, again) | Fruits and Votes

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