Tuesday, September 19, 2006

Thailand coup

Right now, there isn't much information available on the coup today in Thailand. What is known is that the military took control of the country and suspended the Constitution while imposing of martial law, citing problems with corruption in the government of Prime Minister Thaksin Shinawatra and "deep divisions" within the country caused by his autocratic style of rule. The military promised to restore democracy 'soon' but did not say when that would be. The Prime Minister was in New York at the time at a meeting of the U.N. general assembly and got on a plane for Bangkok. If the military is as in control as they claim then presumably he will be detained upon landing.

I feel troubled by all of this. I'm no fan of corruption, and there is no question that despite being elected, the Prime Minister has caused some very deep divisions within the country. However, none of this is a reason for a coup. Corruption is a part of having a government, and the answer is to create an effective and truly independent judiciary, and for the people to exercise their Constitutional duty and vote out the corrupt government and replace it with another. Once it is established that corruption is grounds to be voted out of office, future governments will then have an incentive to avoid it. Not coincidentally, elections are scheduled in Thailand for November, which makes the coup even more troubling-- regardless of what people may feel about the government, they would have the chance to vote it out within a few weeks anyway.

As to the fact that Prime Minister Thaksin has been divisive, again that is not grounds for a coup. Here in the United States, President Bush has been very divisive, and I for one am strongly opposed to him, but neither I nor nearly all of us who oppose him would support a coup or any other means of removing him that is not proscribed by the Constitution. I expect him to leave office on January 20, 2009 as scheduled, and with any luck at all we will have an opportunity in seven weeks from today to ensure that his last two years are spent in a relatively harmless manner. The only Constitutional means of removing a President from office before his term is impeachment. Coups and other decisions undertaken by a few people who are not elected are bad choices whenever they are made.

Again, the information from Thailand is very sketchy right now but I am certain that I don't support this coup.

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