The Sydney Morning Herald‘s Peter Hartcher has an interesting piece today. He asks how, in political terms, Thailand has turned into Indonesia – and vice versa. Here is an extract of his analysis of the Thai situation.

Thailand’s trajectory changed with the decision to mount an unconstitutional coup against the prime minister Thaksin Shinawatra, first elected in 2001 and resoundingly re-elected in 2005. The billionaire businessman was a polarising leader. He was wildly popular with the rural poor and the working class, but bitterly opposed by the urban elites and the army.

The decision to send the army to remove him came from the royal palace. The last time the king had intervened decisively in politics was to end a violent constitutional crisis. This time he provoked one.

The army and the palace imposed an unelected regime on the country, promising future elections. But Thaksin’s supporters wage an unending war of civil disobedience. Thaksin himself, running from a corruption charge, continues to foment protest from abroad. Thai analysts say it is hard to see any resolution. The two sets of opposing forces are roughly equal, and an election would be unlikely to solve the stand-off, they say.

For the benefit of the Thai Embassy in Canberra here is the Sydney Morning Herald‘s advice on getting a letter to the editor published:

The Sydney Morning Herald receives over 400 emails each day as well as faxes and snail mail for Letters to the Editor. This makes it impossible to reply to all correspondence. The Letters Editor can only publish 35 – 40 letters on the page. All letters and email (no attachments) to the Herald must carry the sender’s home address and day and evening telephone numbers for verification. Ideally, letters will be a maximum of 200 words. By submitting your letter for publication, you agree that we may edit the letter for legal or space reasons and may, after publication in the newspaper, republish it on the internet or other media.