Saturday, December 20, 2008

Planning a coup? Here’s how

Thai Takes

PSST, do you want to bring down a democratically-elected government? Here’s a blueprint on how to install a squeaky clean politician whose party does not have an overall majority in parliament as prime minister.

While the targeted prime minister is out of the country – say, in New York to address the United Nations general assembly – get the military to launch a coup.

Call it “Happy Coup”. Impose martial law and install a former general as prime minister.

But that’s not quite enough. A military junta can’t rule forever; the civilised world demands an elected leader.

Before the election, get the court to dissolve the most powerful party (the only party to have won an outright majority in your country’s political history) and – for good measure – ban its 111 executives, including the ousted prime minister, from politics for five years.

Oops! Your party failed to win the election although it outspent the reincarnated party of the disbanded party by three to one.

Mai pen rai (Thai for “don’t worry”). It’s not your fault. Voters – especially the poor from the north and north-east – don’t understand democracy.

Although your party has only 166 MPs (in the 480-MP parliament) propose the squeaky clean politician as prime minister. Don’t be too disappointed, however, when MPs from the reincarnated party and its five coalition partners vote in for a loud-mouthed prime minister.

Four months later, unleash a movement (give it a name with democratic sounding words like “People”, “Alliance” and “Demo­cracy”) to attack the government for being the puppet of the deposed prime minister.

Don’t forget to storm Government House (the prime minister’s office).

Don’t worry when the prime minister declares a state of emergency as the military will refuse to enforce the rule of law. Plus you have sen (Thai for “connection”) to a powerful invisible hand.

Despite losing his office, the premier still clings to power. It’s time for a judicial coup. Get the court to remove him from office for moonlighting as a chef in a television cooking show.

For the second time, propose the squeaky clean politician as prime minister. He loses again? Ah, the ruling party has the numbers.

But, mai pen rai, as the newly elected premier is a brother-in-law of the deposed prime minister, this will legitimise the anti-government movement’s claim that a puppet government is running the country.

Now for a TV coup. Get the army chief – flanked by the navy chief, the air force chief and the police chief – to appear on television, demanding that the prime minister resign, as surely somebody must take responsibility for the bloody clash between the police and the movement with the democratic-sounding name.

The army chief’s demand is ignored? It’s time to close an airport or two.

Mai pen rai. When the government declares emergency rule at the besieged airports the invisible hand will order the soldiers to refuse to enforce the rule of law.

The stubborn government is still clinging to power? Well, it’s time for another judicial coup.

Dissolve the ruling party and its two coalition partners for electoral fraud and ban 109 of the executives – including the prime minister and 29 MPs – from politics for five years.

Let’s look at the latest numbers now. The disbanded ruling party has 219 MPs and its five coalition allies 65, compared with your party’s 165. Mai pen rai. For the sake of national unity or a lucrative Cabinet portfolio or 40 million baht (RM4mil), there are parliamentarians who can be persuaded to support your coalition government.

If the politicians still need persuasion, arrange for the army chief to “advise” them in his home. But make sure they know the location of the general’s house. If not, a military escort will have to fetch them at a nearby petrol station; and those pesky reporters will find out about this super secret deal.

On the eve of the parliament vote, lock the parliamentarians whose loyalty you’ve secured in a safe hotel. And don’t forget to confiscate their handphones so they do not receive any calls topping up the price of loyalty.

Congratulations, your coalition has won a slender parliamentary majority (235 votes to 198). Now your squeaky clean and very handsome politician is a prime minister.

(Published in The Star on December 20, 2008)


Anonymous said...

Now, the Democrats can get their greedy paws on Thaksin's confiscated 76 billion baht.
Why did they take 76 billion when Thaksin only owed 500 million?
Somethings wrong.

ThaiCrisis said...

Very good ! We should have done it before... I mean a short story to summarize the events since september 2006.

It's striking and highly instructive.

People have such short memory...

Just one little regret : you should say that the story... is likely to continue. For a long time. ;-)

Anonymous said...

I don't think Abhisit can stay long and as a correspondent who knows Thailand very well like Philip will agree with me. The political division in this country is between the poor and the rich and with the global economic crisis plus the week-long closure of the airport (ironically condoned by the new foreign minister who is a PAD man), the growing number of poor people will certainly not support Abhisit (who they said cannot even properly handle a broom due to his privileged background). Try to find a photo of Abhisit and the broom.

Anonymous said...

Democrats will fail during the upcoming financial crisis.
The red shirts will rally.
Thaksins wife will be the next PM.

Anonymous said...

for a journalist you sure wrote a biased article, no balance, lots of relevant information left out. a real hatchet job. you took a lot of truth and mixed it with a fair amount of distortion. one can stack 'facts' lots of ways you sure did. as a journalist you are surely aware this whole thing cant and shouldnt be reduced to such simplistic assumptions.

Ty said...

To complete the victory, you need to send a military-run education corps all over the country to co-opt, convert or otherwise neutralize the redshirts in their provincial strongholds. Once that is done, it's time to dissolve Parliament and call fresh elections to prove that you do have the support of the majority.

Billy Bangkok said...

I have to agree that while factually correct the post is very biased. I'm not a red or yellow shirt (in fact, I'm wearing a black shirt at the moment) but even I wouldn't call this a fair tale of what's happened.

First off, this post proposes that the Democratic Party and the PAD are related. While the Democrats benefited from the actions of the PAD I don't think I've ever seen anyone propose that the PAD is an arm of the Dem's party. Perhaps I'm not well enough read on the subject but this does seem to be the first time I've seen such an implication.

Secondly, the post makes it sound like Thaksin is some squeaky clean guy. Of particular note is that you fail to mention that he and his wife have both been found guilty of illegal dealings. Oh, and then there's that whole pastry box full of cash thing that wasn't mentioned either.

And again, not read up enough on this but when they banned the 111 executives weren't they actually guilty of crimes? I can see if you're making the argument that the courts targeted them in order to accomplish an alternative goal but to make it sound like they were banned for no particular reason doesn't strike me as being accurate.

Like I said before, I'm no fan of either the Dems or Thaksin and I think this whole things illustrates how nobody in government cares about the people of Thailand but let's not dumb down the debate to the point where we leave out important contributing factors on how things got to where they are.