According to Thai MP Jatuporn Prompan, there could be another military coup in Thailand in April, 2012, and he’s asking his Red Shirt supporters to come out en masse on February 25th, and demonstrate against it. The next military coup, according to Jatuporn, will be staged in April with the goal of unseating the current Thai government of Yingluck Shinawatra. While some Thais are calling “foul”, is it possible Thailand could be heading for its 21st coup in the last 100 years?
In Thailand, you learn quickly, nothing is impossible.
According to Mr. Jatuporn, who is one of the leaders of the United Front for Democracy against Dictatorship (UDD), also known as the Red Shirt movement, as well as an MP in the current government, certain contacts with US intelligence have told his associates there could be a military coup attempt in April. So far, the United States has not responded to Jatuporn’s statement.
The last military coup in Thailand was in 2006, and that succeeded in unseating democratically-elected Prime Minister Thaksin Shinawatra, who is still living in exile outside Thailand today. His sister, Yingluck Shinawatra, is Thailand’s current prime minister but as the forces that unseated Thaksin don’t like her and her Pheu Thai party any better than they liked him, sure, a military coup could be used to unseat her. After all, five years after the last military coup and Thailand is back in the same place it was before the coup — run by the Shinawatra family.
With coups in Thailand too, thousands of people seem to know they’re going to happen before they do. A day before the last military coup, Thai friends called me telling me to be careful if going into downtown Bangkok. On the day of the coup, which took place in the early evening of Tuesday, 19th September, 2006, several Thai friends called me mid-afternoon asking me to make sure I didn’t go out that night as military tanks and armed soldiers would soon be in the city center. Not four hours later, the BBC was showing video of thousands of army tanks taking over Bangkok.
The 2006 military coup in Thailand was what they, at the time, called a “yellow ribbon coup”. Soldiers wore yellow ribbons, their guns were festooned with them, and so were the tanks. This was done as a way to show Thais it would be a “non-violent coup”, which was not usually the case with Thailand’s coups before. And, yes, it was non-violent.
A coup in 2012, though, would not likely be “non violent”. In fact, it could be very violent, indeed.
Millions of Thais are tired of the fighting between the last government of Abhisit Vejjajiva (the prime minister under whom more than 90 civilians were shot and killed by the Thai military in 2010), and the present government of Yingluck Shinawatra. They also want the prime minister ousted in the last military coup, Thaksin Shinawatra, brought home, and true democracy to happen in Thailand.
On the opposite side, there are the traditionalists. Many of the ultra-wealthy belong to this group, and it’s in their best interests for Thailand to be as undemocratic as possible. Thus, they will fight tooth and nail to make sure Thaksin Shinawatra is not allowed back into Thailand, and that true democratic principles like freedom of speech are not a true part of Thai society.
Of course, neither of the two sides are perfect. Both will fight to have their beliefs be the ones that win.
So, will their be a new military coup in Thailand in April, 2012? Honestly….it’s anyone’s guess.
Prime Minister Yingluck Shinawatra, meanwhile, came out on Thursday saying she had not been informed there would be a coup against her government and that, in fact, military officials had told her it would not happen.
As for Jatuporn, he likes to hear himself speak and he loves to create dissention. While some of the things he says are correct, some are not. Whether Thais believe him is currently down to what they themselves believe about the current political situation, the military and the government.
But, one final comment. The United States embassy in Bangkok has refused to remove the terrorist warning that has been on their website since early January. As the US government does not take these things lightly, some people are definitely still asking “What’s that all about?”
It’s not a huge stretch from terrorist attack to military coup. Or is it?