Thailand: The Generals Order Correct Thinking Or Else

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July 13, 2014: A recent poll showed 82 percent of Thais believe the chronic political problems (as with the recent coup and the months of urban unrest that preceded that) are the main reason the economy does not flourish as much as many Thai’s believe it should. GDP is down over two percent this year (so far) compared to 2013 and most Thais blame all the political chaos. A lot of Thais don’t expect things to get better because this coup is characterized by energetic efforts to stamp out any visible opposition. The generals are offering cash rewards for tips on those visibly protesting the coup. Those people are arrested, questioned and sometimes prosecuted. Nearly a thousand people have been arrested so far, mostly in the capital. In the rest of the country, as usual, there is less protest and less military and police effort to crack down. The pro-democracy government (that was elected by a majority of Thais) the generals overthrew in May is having all its supporters in the government dismissed. But the political sentiments of most Thais have not changed.

The generals have announced new elections in October 2015. Meanwhile the military is writing a new, temporary, constitution that will go into effect in August. By July 2015 there will be a permanent new constitution that will probably be very pro-military, pro-monarchy and hostile to populists who get elected in large numbers. The problem is that the majority of Thais oppose military rule and the elitist ideas of the political minority that has been demonstrating against elected governments they don’t agree with and depending on the military to depose elected governments that are seen as intolerable. The military temporarily cures the symptoms, not the disease.

The war in the south is now a decade old. This conflict by criminal gangs and Islamic terrorists seeking autonomy for the three Moslem provinces has killed over 5,400 so far and wounded about 10,000. The new military government announced that the peace talks with the Moslem separatists in the south would continue and would remain a high priority item for the new government.  These talks have been stalled for over a year because of disputes within the Moslem community down there.

July 12, 2014: In the south (Narathiwat province) a roadside bomb wounded a soldier on patrol.

July 10, 2014: In the south (Yala province) three Moslem policemen were ambushed and killed as they were leaving a mosque. An Islamic cleric was also wounded.

July 7, 2014: The navy opened a newly built (for $15 million) naval facility for the navy submarine squadron. The navy does not have any subs, and has not had any since 1951. The problem is there has never been enough money in the defense budget for subs. In the last decade the navy came close to buying some second hand subs for a few hundred million dollars or some new ones for nearly a billion but both times the government simply did not have the money. However every time there is a military coup the defense budget tends to go up a bit so this time around the navy hopes to get some subs. Building the new submarine headquarters facility was part of this plan.

June 30, 2014: In the south (Pattani province) several gunmen opened fire on a mosque, killing one man and wounding another.

The military government revoked the passports of six anti-coup activists who are outside the country.

June 29, 2014:  In the south (Narathiwat province) a bomb was used in an unsuccessful attempt bring down an electricity distribution system. Elsewhere in the south (Yala province) Islamic terrorists wounded civilian with gunfire. A similar incident took place in nearly Pattani province. All this violence was in order to honor the start of the Moslem holy month of Ramadan.

June 28, 2014:  In the south (Narathiwat province) a late night ambush by Islamic terrorists two policemen were killed in a 20 minute long gun battle.

June 27, 2014: In the south (Narathiwat province) Islamic terrorists ambushed a group of soldiers returning to their base. Two soldiers were killed and five wounded in the five minute gun battle.

June 20, 2014: Thailand and Malaysia have been added to an American blacklist for refusing to do more to halt illegal migration and abusive employment conditions. This blacklist makes it easier for the U.S. government to impose economic or other sanctions on blacklisted countries.

June 16, 2014: Nearly 200,000 Cambodians have fled Thailand since the coup last month. The generals made it clear that they intended to end years of tolerance of foreigners coming to Thailand looking for work, and often willing to work illegally for less pay and more dangerous (and illegal) working conditions. 

 

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