Tuesday, February 9, 2010

To Coup or not to Coup . . . .

The last couple of months here in Thailand have been rife with coup rumors. Every week comes a new prediction that the army will overthrow the government. Last month a bunch of armored personnel carriers were seen rumbling through a suburb of Bangkok in the middle of the night. The immediate assumption was that the long awaited moment was at hand. The next day the SET (Stock Exchange of Thailand) took a dive and the Army chief assured reporters that the APCs were merely being transported from Southern Thailand to a refurbishing center in Pathom Thani. Of course every time the head of the Army assures people that there will not be a coup confidence in the current government falls even further. However the general did not categorically dismiss the idea of coup at a another time.

Somehow I just don't ever remember the Head of the Joint Chiefs of Staff ever assuring reporters that no coup by the Armed Forces of the United States of America was imminent. Well, maybe my memory isn't that good, or maybe they just do things differently here in Thailand.

So will there be a coup or won't there? My personal money is on there not being a coup in the next six months or so. The last coup did not go as the the military wished. They got rid of a Prime Minister they hated, but certainly not his supporters. Thaksin continues to devil the country from self-imposed exile and his red-shirt partisans continue to rally throughout the country. The country is more divided than ever, and the stock of the military with the public has fallen to its lowest level since the Black May massacre in Bangkok in 1992.

So currently the military does not want to stage a coup, but if it feels its interests are in danger, they will stage a coup. I personally don't believe that will happen unless the current coalition government falls. In that case the Army may indeed stage a coup in order to prevent elections that would probably return the opposition Phua Thai party to power. The government coalition has frequently wobbled, but has proven to be remarkably resilient.

So, stay tune for upcoming developments.