Shareware Beach

Thursday, 21 September 2006

All Calm

Filed under: Thailand — Jan @ 8:46

Everything’s calm here. The military seem very keen to return the country to normalcy as soon as possible. All TV stations were back in the air by noon yesterday.

The reaction from foreign leaders I see on the international news channels is quite different from the reaction here. While the international community is quick to condemn the coup and warn their citizens to stay home, most people here are glad that the political impasse of the past nine months is over. Nobody likes a coup, but the feeling is that it’s a necessary step backwards in order to take two steps forward.

A poll by a reputable newspaper shows that over 80% approve the coup, at least thus far. What’s surprising is that the approval rate is just as high in the countryside as in Bangkok. Most of the ousted prime minister’s supporters were from rural areas due to his populist policies.

While abrogating the constitution isn’t a nice thing to do, fact is that constitutional reform is highly needed. The checks-and-balances system provided for in the 1997 constitution hasn’t been working as well as intended nine years ago. New elections without constitutional reform wouldn’t solve anything in the long term. Yet that’s exactly what the ousted prime minister was pushing for.

If you’ve been making plans to travel to Thailand, there’s no need to throw out your plans for a nice holiday. I would only recommend to stay away from government buildings (particularly those guarded with tanks) and avoid large gatherings. If your final destination is one of the tourist resorts like Pattaya or Phuket, there’s nothing to worry about. Political power in Thailand is entirely centralized in Bangkok. Even here in Nonthaburi, a suburb of Bangkok, I wouldn’t have known that anything had happened if it weren’t for the newspaper and TV.

As far as international travel goes, I think the move to the new airport on September 28th is more likely to cause (minor) disruptions than the political situation.

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