QUOTE(Barrett @ Sep 19 2006, 11:10 PM)
CNN is saying there is a coup attempt right now in Bangkok, showing the army and police all over the city. Can anyone on the ground give an update of what is going on?
I was here during the military take over of the government in 1990, the
riots following in 1992. Then the King stepped in, the riots stopped, a
new constitution, elections and democratic government was formed within 6 months.
The latest demonstrations started against PM Taksin just last year. He
sold his huge telecom business and didn't pay any tax (he is the richest
man in southeast asia). This got people angry and they demonstrated for
him to resign. Tens of thousands showed up at Sanam Luang park and stayed there for weeks. This caused the Taksin Govenment to hold new elections 8 months ago and 50% of the people did not vote in protest as there was no one to run against Taksin's Thai Rak Thai Party. Takin's party won but it was declared unconstitutional as not enough people voted. PM Taksin then went to the King and told him he would resign and the King agreed it would be best for the country so he left office, went to Europe for 3 months then came back and took over again. New elections were to be held the 15th of Oct. But the Taksin Government just this week changed it to November.
The coup makers called themselves the Democratic Reform Council, led by Gen Sonthi. The council cited unprecedented division in the country,
widespread suspicion of abuse of power, and activities bordering on lese
majeste for taking power for a period they promised would be temporary.
All of this is going to play out at Sanam Luang Park in Bangkok where all
the demonstrations are held. You will be far from this area no worries.
I knew this was going to happen sooner or later.
The Thai people are pretty used to this. Chuan Leekpai, who was the last
PM before Taksin, was the only one to ever hold a full term in office.
This is all normal for Thailand.
The people are now waiting for a speach from the King who after all is the
real leader in this country. Talking with the Thai people this morning in our neighborhood everyone seems to like Gen. Sonthi. They believe he is the only person who has strong contacts with the King.
Everything will continue to run fine just as it has during all the other
take overs. It just makes life more interesting here, this is Thailand.
I wouldn't be worried. The problem may come in 6 months or longer if there is no election for a new PM or constitution. Thais don't like to have the same government for very long. They have learned in the past that corruption in the government grows the longer a party stays in office. The Thai people love the democratic system and will make sure it continues. I am sure the King is now meeting with the military General and others to make sure new elections are held very soon.
My wifes friends in Bangkok went out last night and had pictures taken with the troops in armored personal carriers. This is not a bloody coup with riots etc. and I don't expect it will be.
You have a bigger change of getting injured or killed slipping in your bathroom or being hit by a car crossing the street than visiting Thailand.
Randy and Ning