A former British Ambassador to Thailand, Derek Tonkin, has written to The Times expressing his support for the coup and the ruling military junta. His letter has been picked up by The Nation. For context, some of Tonkin’s other comments in the immediate aftermath of the coup are available from BBC Radio 4.

In his letter, Tonkin writes that Thaksin’s:

…wealth has become so immense and has been used so shamelessly to undermine political opponents and critics that his position has become virtually unassailable through the ballot box. As the declared purpose of the coup is to restore democratic rights and bring an end to corrupt domination of the rural vote, is action against tyranny and for democracy not fully justified?

This final question is one that will, no doubt, prompt much gentle musing, and many books, in the years to come.

Right now, we are, however, hearing much banter about Thaksin’s supposedly “corrupt domination of the rural vote”. The realities on the ground often defy such convenient generalisation.

If we were to just listen to voices like the former Ambassador we might feel comfortable that a military junta is now in command. But just how “unassailable” is their position? With no possibility of (peaceful) popular dissent, or for naysayers to even travel around, it seems they are brooking no opposition.

The former Ambassador has been around the block. As he knows all too well, military regimes, once established, can be difficult to change. They have a habit of making themselves comfortable.