LETTERS TO THE EDITOR
Was ousting Thaksin really a strong enough measure to end systemic corruption?
While ousted caretaker prime minister Thaksin Shinawatra undoubtedly had a negative influence on Thailand's political landscape during his time in office, the reactions of many commentators on the situation are nevertheless curious.
They talk about the corruption and nepotism that characterised the Thaksin administration, but apparently forget that these factors were also widespread in administrations prior to the coming of Thai Rak Thai. In fact, Thaksin's original appeal to many voters was his pledge to rid the country of the endemic corruption that has plagued it for generations. As with the anti-corruption promises of previous administrations, of course, nothing actually happened.
I will be very surprised if Thailand's next administration - democratically elected, or otherwise - is very different from those that went before. The national political arena is still inhabited by the same familiar faces, some of whom have also faced disgrace in the past before returning to the feeding trough.
Khunying Jaruvan tops the list of choices for interim PM
Re: "Search is on for a leader of honour", Editorial, September 22.
Khunying Jaruvan Maintaka is the perfect choice to serve as interim prime minister because:
Having a female prime minister would help ease both domestic and international criticism of the coup.
She would be able to use her excellent public image to help serve the coup's anti-corruption objectives.
She could set up a committee to investigate past cases of corruption.
A prime minister with a clean record could bring a lot of scholars and experts in to help as advisers. There are many, who normally do not want to get dirty by being involved in politics, who may come to help.
I would also like to see Privy Council president General Prem Tinsulanonda return. I know he is old, but since he would only be prime minister for a short period up until the next elections, he would be an excellent choice. Bringing back Chuan Leekpai would also not be a bad move.
Another possibility would be to choose a non-politician with a reputation for absolute incorruptibility. Someone like the current ambassador to Australia Bandhit Sotipalalit maybe, though I think he'd make a better foreign minister.
But these are all long shots, so I'm betting on MR Pridiyathorn Devakula.
Endorsing Surakiart flies in face of CDRM's stated goals
Re: "Surakiart distances himself from Thaksin", News, September 22.
It would be a grave mistake if the Council for Democratic Reform under Constitutional Monarchy extended its support to the candidacy of Surakiart Sathirathai [as the next UN secretary-general] as has been reported in your newspaper. Surakiart was the candidate put forward by the disgraced government against whom a coup d'etat has just been staged.
He was a key and integral part of the Thaksin order, which the CDRM has labelled as corrupt. The auditor-general is even now investigating charges of multi-billion baht corruption in the procurement of e-passports when Surakiart was foreign minister. If the coup is to be justified, a clean break must be made with the murky practices of the past. Otherwise, the international community will be totally confused, and it would be difficult for any new government to move on.
There should be no problem with Asean countries. They were forced to reluctantly accept Surakiart because of the pressures put on them by the Thaksin regime. The Asean countries would go along with any Thai decision.
Please do not compound the image problems for the country by keeping this tainted vestige of the Thaksin regime as our candidate for the top UM job.
Thais love democracy but were left with no choice
Re: "Coup evidence of a strong anti-democratic sentiment", Letters, September 21.
Thailand's democracy may be immature, but is waiting for an election really better than having the Army take charge? If we wait, how many years will it take? When Thaksin finally comes back, won't he cause more corruption as usual? The Army has made the right decision. In addition, the coup has been absolutely non-violent, unlike those of the past. This is a big change in Thailand, but it is definitely a change for the better.
It is true that Thais are behaving in a different way, but it is not true that Thais detest democracy. Thais do want democracy, but we want a fair one. We do not want a democracy controlled by a corrupt leader. I hope this explains why Thais are behaving differently. We are happy to see this revolution, because it is something we have long waited for: an answer to what finally happens in [an unfair] democracy.
Ouster prevented what could have been worst clash yet
Re: "Military ouster an inexcusable breach of democratic ideals", Letters, September 22.
I don't know whether the writer is familiar with recent Australian history but, in 1975 Australia staged its own coup d'etat. The only difference is, instead of military intervention, Malcolm Fraser used the royal powers of Governor General John Kerr. Like it or not, that act constituted a coup d'etat to remove a legally elected government. It's easy for those with only half the information and equipped with tunnel vision, to condemn the actions of General Sonthi Boonyaratglin. He was left no choice, his actions prevented probably what would have been the bloodiest page in Thai history since the days of the Burmese invasions.
Why do you think Thai Rak Thai's top legal advisers quit? Why have so many ministers made it known they no longer wish to be ministers? Answer: They don't want blood on their hands.
Why do you think that the day after the coup, most of the Thai people were in carnival mode? Democracy was taking its last gasp before life was strangled out of it completely. You and the rest should help Thailand finally get things right and breathe life into a real, living democracy.
Kudos to 'The Nation' for coverage of past week's events
Having lived in Thailand for over a decade and staying up with the latest developments here, I must give strong kudos to the efforts of the staff at The Nation to present up-to-date information concerning the coup.
From reviewing all media reports of the coup, including those of CNN, BBC and others, I must say that The Nation has provided the most extensive and up-to-date information. The Nation website has been continuously updated on a moment's notice and has been, at least for me, the only true source keeping me and other readers informed of recent developments. Keep up the excellent reporting work and thanks for a job well done from one of your readers.
If coup is accepted, why is free expression being restricted?
I have been living in Thailand for six years and love the country as if it is my own. It is my humble opinion that staging, supporting or approving of a coup is underestimating the intelligence of the Thai people and cheating them out of the right to have exercised a democratic vote in the following months.
It also seems they will be denied this right for another year. If the coup leaders have the support of most Thais, why the declaration of martial law, ban on media, ban on meetings, and soldiers everywhere? Why? None of my Thai friends feel "safe". They feel scared!
What happened to the media in Thailand? Is it being controlled? Over the last couple of months, the media has proved to be anything but impartial, giving huge space to anti-government issues.
Now, would somebody between the coup leaders and the impartial media please try to explain why all the bans are needed if they have so much support?
Deposed PM spent five years squandering public's goodwill
If we had given Thaksin 100 credits when he was re-elected in last year's landslide, the credits would have been spent in the following way:
About 20 wasted in a tragically misguided policy to handle the Muslim South.
About 20 in following crude tax-planning advice to avoid paying taxes in the sale of Shin Corp shares to the investment arm of a foreign government. We will definitely hear more about the tales of Ample Rich - his dummy corporation - and other "nominees".
About 20 in underestimating the ground swell ignited by Sondhi Limthongkul and later on by the People's Alliance for Democracy.
About 20 thrown away in a clumsy House dissolution and rushing the snap election to be managed by his cronies.
About 20 on public perceptions that he was on the take for himself, his family, his party or his network. He has more than quadrupled his net worth while in office, not counting that of his numerous siblings.
At least 100 points were spent trying directly or symbolically to show disrespect to the monarchy.
Add them all up, and it is evident Thaksin has overspent his credits. In the long run, politics is more than the ability to buy an election. Thaksin overstayed his welcome. If Thaksin's constituents in the North and Northeast understand him for what he really is, they will be in the front line of a mob wanting to get a piece of him.