Monday, 18 October 2010

The Thai Army Stands Up

Thais have backed strong military action before. In 2003, the Thaksin administration launched a "war on drugs" that saw the security forces kill more than 2,000 people, many in extrajudicial police shootings. The international media, the United Nations and foreign governments severely criticized the campaign. However, polls showed that 90% of Thais, weary of a tsunami of illegal drugs from Burma, were heartily supportive. The crackdown worked: Thailand saw an unprecedented drop in narcotics trafficking for a considerable period of time and permanently dismantled several longstanding narcotics trafficking networks.
That may be the kind of leadership that General Prayuth aims to provide, although his personal political views are unclear. He has not discussed elections or the government's plans for political "reconciliation" with disaffected pro-democracy supporters. But if Thai history teaches one thing, it's that Thais should be wary of anyone who promises to restore order. Democratic reform, governance transparency and public accountability could be the casualties.

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