John Funston, Executive Director of the National Thai studies Centre at The Australian National University, writes in Asian Analysis about the state of the “transition” to democracy in Thailand. His article – “Whither Democracy” (not “Wither Democracy”) – maintains a favourable leaning towards the democratic credentials of the coup but argues that it is “imperative that the CNS move soon to shore up its commitment to democracy, or risk uniting opposition against it.” Yes, that’s right – the coup leaders are committed to democracy. In a nice slip, the article mentions the readiness of many in Thailand to give the “coup leaders the benefit or the doubt.” I’ll stick with the doubt.
But perhaps a bit less doubt for Sydney Morning Herald journalist Connie Levett, who seems very taken with junta-appointed PM, Surayud, after his address to the Foreign Correspondents’ Club gala dinner:
The man so well equipped to lead Thailand back to democracy and greater unity is an old soldier, albeit one always opposed to military interference in politics. He says he twice turned down the request of the coup leader, General Sonthi Boonyaratglin, that, he, Mr Surayud, lead the nation. The challenge for Thailand, when Mr Surayud’s year is up, may be to find a politician with as much integrity and as little ego to carry on the job.