June 19, 2014. It’s now about a month ago the military took control in Thailand. I’ve been following developments closely because they remind me of my own experiences during the aftermath of the military coup in Suriname in February 1980.
In fact, military coup scenarios are remarkably similar everywhere. You could just simply write a recipe book for them. Something like: How to take over a country in 10-steps.
Anyway, the basics are: one takes control over the media, one suspends the constitution, locks down the former government, installs a nationwide curfew, shows abundant military presence, and doesn’t accept any resistance in whatever form.
After that, one immediately starts to give away nice little presents to the common people — better roads, better pensions, free cinema, free this and free that, tough exemplary anti-corruption trials, and so on.
It happened in Suriname, it happens in Thailand, it happened and happens everywhere.
Now, I’m not at all against a military coup. I’m not in favor of it either, just as I’m not for or against so-called democracy. Even democracy can become horrible. We all know that it isn’t about the tools we use, but it’s what we do with them which determines the outcome.
Today, the military junta in Thailand presented the road-map to elections: next month a preliminary constitution, July next year the final constitution (for a constitutional monarchy), and in October 2015 new democratic elections.
It’s exactly what the military in Suriname promised in 1980. They claimed wanting to reform the constitution, and organize democratic elections to be held in February 1982. But it didn’t happen, and Suriname ended up in a guerilla and civil war that lasted until 1992.
Nevertheless, I don’t think that scenario is very likely in Thailand. The Thai have had about 20 coups in the last 80 years (forgive me if I’m mistaken) and always managed to steer back into (their own special kind of) democracy, economic growth, calm, prosperity, and well-being. Besides that, the history of Thailand is very, very different compared to that of Suriname, or any other nation, for that matter.
One could object that every country has a unique history, which is of course true, but only mentioning the fact that Thailand is the single Asian country never occupied and colonized by the West gives you the basic idea of its extraordinary position.
Anyhow, Thailand really is unlike anything, and often goes way above any comparison. It’s a resilient, tough, and incredibly smart assembly of human beings, fearlessly designing their own future and destination. A nation boosting a stunning mix of modernity and tradition, showing the world that “It can be done — their way!”
And to make myself unambiguously clear — I’m not hoping, no, I’m convinced the Thai will come out stronger again. Soon. Like they always do.