One year after coup, Thailand stable but uncertain of future

One year after Thailand's coup, business people contend with stability but uncertainty of junta's democracy plans grows

Photo by: Reuters
Photo by: Reuters

Updated Jul 28, 2015

As a small group of activists are planning to hold rallies against Thailand's latest military coup during their first anniversary, many others, especially business people, seem to enjoy calm and stability that the army provides.

On May 22, after more than seven months of political protests against the democratically elected government, Thailand's army chief, General Prayuth Chan-ocha, declared the military had seized power in a coup and later declared himself as prime minister.

Thailand’s military government recently delayed the general election, which was planned to take place in August 2016, for more than six months which made many worry that going back to democracy will take a long time.

The timeline to return to democratic elections has been pushed back repeatedly. It is not  likely for democratic elections to take place before 2017, if the country approves the draft constitution in a referendum planned for January.

However streets without protesters, tear gas and chaos are good for commerce for the business world of Southeast Asia’s second-largest economy.

They also quietly supported the military coup as opposed to mainly poor Thais who voted for Prime Minister Yingluck Shinawatra, and his brother, who was also ousted by the military in 2006. Despite the election results, the well off royalists elite never accepted their rule.

After the coup, hundreds of politicians and activists were detained, mass gatherings were banned, the media was censored.

Human Rights Watch said in a statement on Friday "one year since the military coup, Thailand is a political dictatorship with all power in the hands of one man. The date for elections continues to slide, with no certainty when they will happen."

Despite the ongoing repression on political activities, some anti-junta activists are planning to protest the military coup on its one year anniversary, defying the ban.

Nothing big is expected but activists say they will march to a court in the capital Bangkok to file treason charges against the junta chief, and will read George Orwell's anti-authoritarian novel "1984" publicly.

Thai army has already detained 20 students who staged an anti coup protests in the northeastern city of Khon Khaen and 13 others in Bangkok.

No reconciliation or justice has yet been found for those who lost loved ones during the coup.

“If you bring justice, there will be reconciliation automatically. The military, they have to recognize their faults first," Phayao Akahad, whose 24-year-old daughter was killed during a military crackdown in 2010, told the Anadolu Agency.

Her daughter was a nurse and was helping wounded protesters when she was shot dead by soldiers. Akahad's search for justice remains inconclusive as the military junta refuses to "be defendant" in any case.

“They and the government at the time have to apologize for what they have done. They have to take responsibility,” she said.

TRTWorld and agencies