Expect more turmoil next week in Thailand’s dysfunctional political culture, writes international affairs columnist Jonathan Manthorpe. The big question in the expected fracas between the two main factions – identified by the yellow shirts worn by urbanites or the red garb of rural dwellers — is whether the military will intervene. Excerpt:
Thailand is awash with rumours of a looming military coup as opposition activists aim to shut down the capital, Bangkok, on Monday, in their campaign to oust the government of Prime Minister Yingluck Shinawatra. All the signs are, however, that the military is reluctant to intervene unless the police lose control of the streets.
The head of Thailand’s army, Gen. Prayuth Chan-ocha, was involved in the 2006 coup in which the government of Prime Minister Yingluck’s brother, Thaksin Shinawatra, was ousted. Thai politics have been in sometimes-violent disarray since, and people close to Prayuth say he is well aware that military coups solve nothing.
More difficult to envisage is what will solve Thailand’s increasingly dysfunctional political culture. The fissures in what was always a bumbling, corrupt and ineffectual democracy have been widening and deepening since the 2001 election of Thaksin Shinawatra.
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