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The Thai military declares a coup...

V. Arnold's picture

[On the martial law period: Part 1; part 2; part 3, and part 4; and the night before. --lambert]

"General Prayuth Chan-ocha has declared a coup to prevent further loss of life and prevent the conflict from further escalating." BKK Post

Now, the back story; it appears this has been done so the two sides do not lose face**.

The acting PM has refused to attend the meetings and Lambert's favorite Thai, Suthep, has refused to compromise. The meetings have been deadlocked from the beginning.

Because they have been meeting for 3 days with no progress, this may very well be a move by the military to save face for the opposing parties. It gives them a way forward, seemingly being forced by the military to arrive at a solution and go forward with an election.

I'm sure the noise will be immense, especially from the west and most especially the U.S.

Ignore the hyperbole and pay attention to what is seen/done, not what is said.

This is the 12th coup since 1932, so nothing especially unique here.

This happened about 10 minutes ago, so, very new and the next few hours will be interesting at the very least...

You might also interested in this editorial by a Thai university professor Ajarn Voranai;

This was written today before the coup was declared, but still very relevant to the situation on the ground. I agree with Ajarn (Thai for professor) Voranai's assessment and conclusions, even post coup.

**For those unfamiliar with Asian and specifically Thai culture; face is everything. Cause a loss of face and it will cost a friendship/relationship (forever) at best, and could well get one killed, at worst.

That's how serious this is in Thai culture. So, as a political expedient, this may well be a wise move.

NOTE Thailand is a monarchy, and the lèse-majesté laws are enforced, even against foreigners. Therefore, readers, discussion of the Thai monarchy or royal family is off-topic. This will be especially important of Thai websites are shut down, and any Thai people wander over here following the Google. We don't want to put them in any kind of jeopardy. Thank you!

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Submitted by lambert on

... was going to be the way to avoid loss of face. Given that "reform before election" and "elections first" are hard to reconcile logically, it will be interesting to see how and if that circle can be squared.

And in retrospect, that's quite a heads-up from BP, rather like the previous "no man, no problem" editorial.

We'll see if Prayuth over-reached. The internet is still going....

V. Arnold's picture
Submitted by V. Arnold on

It could have been; but the players are stubborn/stupid and need a firmer hand.
Prayuth didn't over-reach; he's a keen player.
As said before; watch what's done, not what's said.
The politicians are not adept chess players; the military most definitely are...

Submitted by lambert on

I would think normal for a coup!

Again, normal.

Barrow: Resident, "above the fray"

Submitted by lambert on

Less busy than usual, for sure. Pretty busy, if you live in a small town in Maine!


Backpacker territory. Mostly closed, but not entirely.

Downtown. It would be dead.

Submitted by lambert on

Again, normal, although when one considers that 2007 constitution was written by the military, again after a coup, you gottta wonder....


Streckfuss: AFAIK local.


So it's the democratic part of the Constitution that's "broken." The parts controlled by the yellows remain.

Prapapoom: Thai; Voice TV (red)


Two locals disagree on which Constitution is in place, at least in English. Can't find a translation of the '50 constitution, so don't know which branch of government is covered by Article 2.

V. Arnold's picture
Submitted by V. Arnold on

...and the Thai economy is not independent from the world at large.
So, just what do they think will happen if they implement a repressive regime?
Thais know the stakes; that's why I'm guardedly optimistic. I stress guardedly...

Submitted by lambert on

However, rich out-of-touch people can be very, very stupid indeed. If tanking "the economy" gets what they want -- say, eradicating Thaksinism -- maybe they'll take the hit, fire a few servants, give up an extra house, etc.


For me, I'm optimistic. It's clear how resilient Thais are (Teflon Thailand comes from real characteristics). I am the sort of person who has to figure out the worst, on order to see whether I can cope with it, before I can take comforted.

Submitted by lambert on

Turdsack, Bangkokpundit: Local Thais. Head: BBC.

I gotta say, three days seems like a pretty short time for a big meeting to work out anything, let alone the future of Thailand. So one wonders if there was a precipitating event of some sort.

* * *

The Egyptian generals and Turkey tried to cut of the Internet and cell phones, and it didn't work very well. However, in Egypt it was really the US insisting that the Internet go on -- doubtless because otherwise the NSA was blind!

Submitted by lambert on


Clark: Expat, Thai marriage.

V. Arnold's picture
Submitted by V. Arnold on

Yeah, that's a confusing call. No idea why that call...

Submitted by lambert on

It's hard to see how there could be school in BKK with the BTS shut down... I don't know why they shut the schools down nationwide, though.

Submitted by lambert on

SIU (Siam Intelligence Unit):


We already warned the ‘bad scenario’ in our previous analysis and now it happens.

It seems that from the conservatives’ viewpoint, the stake is too high so they can not lose this war at all cost. That’s why this coup happens. The martial law on 20th May is a testbed for today’s coup. We think the coup has been planned long before and the martial law is just a ‘lead signal’ for the eventual coup.

The big picture of this coup is ‘conservative forces consolidate their power’. The red shirts movement is too dangerous for the ‘sake of the Kingdom’ and needs to be gotten rid of. The ‘hard liner’ generals now run the show and we should expect the bad outcome.

What to Expect

This list is just our quick analysis from today’s information. We are very pessimistic right now for the situation.

  • We should see the new PM soon (within the next 3-4 days). The senate will act for the full parliament and nominate a new PM.
  • Possible PM candidates are General Prawit Wongsuwan, ex-Army chief and Palakorn Suwanrath, a Privy Councilor. Both are closed to the palace.
  • The new junta government will run the country for 1-2 years. Possibly longer than previous Surayud Chulanont government (2006-2007).
  • New Constitution will be drafted, we might call it 2015 Constitution. It will be more draconian than 2007 Constitution.
  • PDRC, Democrat Party, and all anti-Pheu Thai leaders will be released in the next few days. Pheu Thai and red leaders will be in custody longer.
  • The short term (1-3 months) outcome will be peaceful but it’s temporary peace.
  • The longer term (3-6 months and more) looks bad. Red Shirts will go underground. We might see some unrests.
  • The situation after that depends on the structure of the new Constitution and the call for ‘true democratic’ general election.
  • If the Constitution is undemocratic and the election is postponed indefinitely, the country (especially the junta government) will face the insurgency in North and Northeastern which is the red shirts’ bases.
  • The worst possible scenario is a chronic civil war. Same as Thailand’s ongoing Deep South Insurgency.

We will update our analysis frequently as the situation changes.

I'm hoping all sides can look to the Deep South and see something they want to avoid. OTOH, you'd think all sides would already have been looking to the Deep South to see something to avoid. One difference between North and South: Key infrastructure North of Bangkok, including dams in the far north. I've got a bad picture of guarded industrial estates and checkpoints. Again, something I'd think the owners would want to avoid.

V. Arnold's picture
Submitted by V. Arnold on

...ramifications would be devastating; even the dark ones know this.
So where is the upside?
This smacks of paranoia pure and simple...

Submitted by lambert on

This in Southeast Asia!

However,, if you believe some figures, $35 or $40 billion is high stakes indeed.

And our own elites in the US wrecked the economy in 2008 and never have fixed it, whether because they are stupid and/or evil I don't know.

I agree that there are a lot of factors that push for a rapid solution. Hopeful!

Submitted by lambert on

The worst case scenario would confirm a lot of expectations, but from what I can tell, the shooting rumor is unconfirmed.

Submitted by lambert on

My first time through, however.

Submitted by lambert on

Not that he would ever do that. I'm taking this cum grano salis, because (a) as VA points out, it's what's said and not done, (b) the Nation is stone yellow, and (c) this is in essence the Nation's "theory of the case." But herewith:

ormer prime minister Thaksin Shinawatra rejected the proposal by Army chief Gen Prayuth Chan-ocha that the Pheu Thai-led caretaker government resign, a Pheu Thai source said on Thursday.

The source said Prayuth came up with three proposals during the seven-partite meeting on Wednesday. First, he proposed that a caretaker Cabinet to resign, secondly that an interim government be formed and thirdly, that both the red-shirt movement and the People's Democratic Reform Committee end their rallies, according to the source.

The Pheu Thai representatives duly informed Thaksin of the proposals but he rejected them all and told Pheu Thai to fight to the full extent possible within the legal framework.

The source said Thaksin counter-proposed that the Army should instead arrange for blanket amnesty for all sides and the Shinawatra family would wash its hands of politics.

The source said Thaksin would also campaign to step up pressure on the Army to have the next election held as soon as possible.

So the deal, supposedly, from Thaksin was: blanket amnesty + Shins out of politics + early elections.

Shins out of politics was the central PRDC demand.

So it looks like for Prayuth the sticking point was either blanket amnesty OR early elections, or both. That's not a good sign. (I mean, "we'll have a later election so we can jigger the rules, again, so you never win" isn't really a negotiation.) FWIW, and from my great distance, splitting the Shins and the UDD would be great for the UDD.

Submitted by lambert on

Buzz buzz!

Catherine: Expat, brilliant Thai language site

Submitted by lambert on

Normal, both the shut down and the director's act of courage.

However, one shudders to think what would happen if TV were shut down during the World Cup!

Submitted by lambert on

I love "clear their stores." The street vendors with red shirt merch! And food, of course.

Submitted by lambert on

Inquiring minds want to know. Suffice to say that these concerns aren't at the top of the feeds. In a minute, I'll go look.

UPDATE On the government, we don't know.

But he's not at the US Embassy.

UPDATE Don't know where the Shinawatras are. Ex-PM Yingluck's last tweet was more than a week ago:

UPDATE Nothing on Twitter, nothing in the news. The Shinawatras have gone dark..I gotta say, getting an entire clan out of Thailand is a pretty disturbing precedent.

UPDATE Here's an "everything's fine, no story here" story from Bangkok Post. Even beore the coup, I would have thought elected governments and former Prime Ministers would be just a bit more visible in their movements.

Submitted by lambert on

(Above "nothing to see here" story was from Somchai.)

That's interesting because it makes the family/clan aspect of the conflict so evident.

Speculating freely, I wonder what the reveal will be. Will they be accused of, say, usurpation? What a story that would be!

Submitted by lambert on

Here is the story that Reuters tells:

After about an hour of talks between factions at Bangkok's Army Club, the general ran out of patience.

"As we cannot find a way to bring the country to peace and no one will back down, I would like to announce that I will take power," he calmly told those in the room, according to an electoral commissioner [yellow] who was at the talks.

"Everyone must sit still."

According to two sources who attended the meeting, but who declined to be identified [therefore one thinks red] remnants of the cabinet of ousted Prime Minister Yingluck Shinawatra told participants that they would not resign.

As we say on the twitter, "personal": This is a legitimacy crisis. If indeed being elected in a free and fair election is the test of legitimacy, then a government elected in that fashion should not resign. I think that the the govt should be commended for its courage, rather than blamed for its intransigence, for sticking up for their legitmacy, knowing the force the Army has on call, and surrounded and outnumbered by enemies who've hunted them down, literally.

Continued personal: We often hear it said: "It's up to the Thai people to decide." But the majority of the Thai people did decide, and have decided several times. In response, a minority won't accept their electoral victories as legitimate, even when that minority wrote the rules, and has consistently redefined the majority as not Thai, and not even human. In Rwanda, hate speech like that ended very, very badly. We can only hope, or pray if that's your thing, that all sides pull back from that brink. I like to think that the 90 people who got whacked in 2010 gave their lives so that 900 or 9000 people don't get whacked this time. (One might note that the ambulatory pustule, Suthep, countersigned the order that sent the troops in when the 90 got whacked. Its one of the main reasons I dislike him.)

Anti-government protest leaders, who have been camped out in downtown Bangkok, were led at the meeting by firebrand politician Suthep Thaugsuban. He said they refused to stop their demonstrations. ...

For their part, pro-government "red shirt" protesters led by Jatuporn Prompan, whose temporary base is on the outskirts of the Thai capital, vowed to maintain their campaign to save the crippled government. ...

They have also threatened to fight if the army seized power.

So now, if they are not going to lose face, what is going to happen?

"In short, nobody could agree to anything," said the electoral commissioner.

Just before 3 p.m. (0800 GMT), Suthep raised his hand and asked to speak to the general, and invited Jatuporn to join the discussion. Witnesses of the meeting were not privy to that smaller confab, but it proved the last straw for Prayuth.

"After that, things happened very quickly," a pro-government leader who attended the talks told Reuters.

Soldiers entered the room just as Prayuth left. He was whisked away by car to declare, on national television, that he had taken control of the country. ...

Back at the Army Club, electoral commissioners and senators were taken to a room on a floor below the venue of the talks.

Soldiers then surrounded Suthep and whisked him away in a white van, which first alerted media waiting outside the building that something was afoot.

Hundreds more troops arrived, using vehicles to block the entrances to the club and rounding up everyone left from the meeting. Like Suthep, they were taken away in vans.

They included representatives of the Puea Thai Party that was being deposed, the opposition Democrat Party and pro- and anti-government protest leaders.

It was not clear how long Prayuth had been contemplating a full military coup. But by bringing all sides together for talks at the Army Club, his forces were able to detain many of the country's most powerful political figures at the same time.

Makes me think of the Red Wedding. And it is true that by Westeros standards, this is pretty mild!

Soldiers had told attendees not to bring mobile phones into Thursday's meeting, because they did not want anybody taking pictures, the electoral commissioner said.

So, from here on in Thailand, I'm wondering if two rules apply:

1) Never get in the same room with the Army if you yourself are not armed and

2) Never go to a meeting where you can't communicate to the outside world.

These rule don't look like a recipe for future negotitiation to me. I could be too paranoid if:

1) This too is normal

2) It's all political theatre anyhow, and all parties knew this could or would happen

It's also very elegant. Prayuth's a master at the art of the coup, for sure. However that's not at all the same as being a master of governance, and we have 2006 and 2010 to show that if your criterion is a functioning democracy, as opposed to, say, making a shit ton of money if you're already extremely rich.

In any case, both sides taken away (as we saw above). The real question is, who gets out first? And my money is on the extremely unsavory Buddha Isaara. He is, after all, a monk!

Submitted by lambert on

There will be human rights violations, too.

Submitted by lambert on

Taxi driver: "How is this any good? Soldiers should be defending our borders not in the middle of the city. I can't accept it."

— Amy Sawitta Lefevre (@MimiSawitta) May 22, 2014

Submitted by lambert on

It seems like all the players on all sides are under indictment for something or other, but never go to court. Except for Chuvit, the massage parlor king, who would be my candidate for Prime Minister, as they only truly neutral player!

Submitted by lambert on

Getting paid from the rice-buying scheme.

mellon's picture
Submitted by mellon on

military or police or dissident activities? They are little $10 USB software defined radios.. that us RTL2832 chip and usually an R820T tuner I use mine all the time for FM radio..

you can receive from 24-1700 MHz - basically a 2-3 MHz slice of anything in that range

all sorts of strange electrinic stuff as well as police, fire ambulance, all sorts of cops, utilities. ham radio, data transmission of various linds.. weird digital devices and so o
For the money they are amazing deals.. The different radios all run in software, of course...

V. Arnold's picture
Submitted by V. Arnold on

I came in '03 during the SARS outbreak; the 747 I was in looked like that.