Thailand's continuing crisis
IN a new twist to its politics, Thailand finds itself under a new government, the third in as many months. There is surely nothing wrong with governments collapsing for lack of parliamentary strength or electoral support and being replaced by new ones. The problem, though, with Thailand in these past two years has been a growing propensity on the part of powerful quarters to weed out governments in a process that laid itself open to criticism as being arbitrary. In September 2006, the military ousted Thaksin Shinawatra's elected government and so started the process that has now led to the present crisis. Thaksin enjoyed the support of a majority of Thais, particularly in the rural regions and among the poor. Those who welcomed his overthrow were the urban elite and the royalists. Despite his removal, however, Thaksin saw two governments, both formed by his loyalists, come to office.
That did not help the country. The judiciary ruled the first of Thaksin's successors out of office on grounds that were questionable. The second was similarly thrown out, again by the judiciary. Amazingly, the court had little time or patience to remember that the governments it was ejecting from power had been elected by the people. All of this was bound to lead to some bizarre happenings, the latest being the appointment of opposition leader Abhisit Vejjajiva as the new prime minister. The new leader comes to office after weeks of drama that saw Bangkok's airports being commandeered by his supporters and the chief of the army giving every indication that he wanted Thaksin's followers out. King Bhumibol Adulyadej kept conspicuous silence, a hint of where his feelings lay. Abhisit supporters have been going about spreading innuendoes about the allegedly anti-royalist sentiments of Thaksin supporters. It all fell into a pattern.
The questionable and warped political process that has undermined Thailand's democracy is typical of the country. The fall of one government after another does not bode well for the country's future, particularly the economy which has carved a niche for itself. Those who have campaigned against Thailand's elected governments in these past two years have done grave disservice to democracy. Abhisit Vejjajiva's rise to power, in such dubious circumstances, is a sign that the crisis is not about to end soon, indeed can only get deeper.