See More on Facebook

Opinion, Politics

What’s Thailand four-year-old coup given us anyway?

Four years after it toppled a democratically elected government, Thailand’s military government is fast losing support and has failed to live up to its promises.


Written by

Updated: May 30, 2018

There are children in Thailand who have never lived in a democratic country, young adults who have never voted in an election and old jaded journalists who worry about what “Thai-style democracy” might entail.

The military has promised to hold elections in early 2019, but it is just the latest declaration in a series of broken promises. After they took power in 2014, the junta promised to hold elections within a year but the goal posts kept moving and the generals kept ruling.

One must remember when assessing the military government, that the coup was ushered in by a significant sector of the populace – tired after ten years of political instability and spurred on by economic stagnation.

Yet here we are four years later and has anything changed for the better?

Promises of stability and reconciliation

When the military took power, it directly cited the massive street protests of 2013/14 and sporadic incidents of violence as reasons for its actions. The junta under General Prayuth Chan-ocha promised to stabilize the political situation and bring about reconciliation in Thai society.

Four years later and the Thai political situation is extremely stable, mostly because it is banned. Draconian and dictatorial laws have been enacted to ensure that protests and political meetings cannot be conducted without the military’s approval. It is not hard to ensure stability when in possession of all the guns.

The military has also cracked down on dissent, a cliched sentence I have typed numerous times, but one that is nevertheless true.

How has this powerful and authoritarian regime made sure that its rule is supreme and paramount?

By arresting the same 10 student protesters over and over again, arresting the student’s parents, declaring that it would go after foreign critics in exile and yelling at reporters who dare question the righteousness of the regime.

Regarding reconciliation, the military has done an excellent job as well but only in uniting the public against its rule. Indications are that the support that the junta originally enjoyed is on the wane and the public is growing restless with inept and incompetent governance.

In terms of reuniting the fractious political situation in Thailand, the results are unknown because politics is banned.

Economic goals

Another reason the military cited for its seizure of power was a stagnant economic situation, one hampered by years of political protest.

To its credit, the economy did pick up after the 2014 coup. But one feels that any sort of stability would have garnered in the same result.

That said, the plans that the military has implemented to carry the economy forward has fallen a bit flat.

Much was said about the junta’s Thailand 4.0 plan, a nebulous and vague command-style plan to kick start the economy by integrating interconnectivity and massive infrastructure development.

Did that last sentence seem a bit poorly worded and not making much sense?

Don’t worry, that’s because no one actually understands Thailand 4.0, not the economic Tsar that put it in place or his equally confused boss.

Asking Prayuth to explain Thailand 4.0 is like asking a military general to explain complex macroeconomic forces that shape a country.

So anything good happen then?

To be as fair to the junta as possible, the government has taken strong steps to combat corruption – luxury watches aside. The government has convicted several members of the previous government for corruption stemming from a rice subsidy program and has even forced a former premier to take flight over malfeasance charges.

That this government has been accused of corruption should come as no surprise given Thailand’s ranking on the corruption index – but the fact that it has tried to do something is laudable.

The military has also cracked down on migrant worker and forced labour issues after damaging reports from the Associated Press and the Guardian. These steps will likely form the backbone of Thailand’s migrant worker registration program going forward and its ability to fight human traffickers and smugglers.

Next Steps

Ultimately, the only solution for the military is to hold elections. It has taken steps to ensure that its rule is perpetuated even after polls. That is because of the constitution that it drafted – one where the military is able to appoint the entire upper house and has clauses in place for a general to step in and be an outsider prime minister when it is needed.

But even this seems like too much risk for the regime, indications are the 2019 election date will likely be pushed further.



Enjoyed this story? Share it.


Cod Satrusayang
About the Author: Cod Satrusayang is the Managing Editor at Asia News Network.

Eastern Briefings

All you need to know about Asia


Our Eastern Briefings Newsletter presents curated stories from 22 Asian newspapers from South, Southeast and Northeast Asia.

Sign up and stay updated with the latest news.



By providing us with your email address, you agree to our Privacy Policy and Terms of Service.

View Today's Newsletter Here

Opinion, Politics

Japan: Koizumi offers no concrete plan on coal

The new environment minister needs to offer better ways to tackle climate change.  During a ministerial meeting of the U.N. climate summit in Madrid on Wednesday, Shinjiro Koizumi, the Environment Minister did not express concrete steps for reducing coal-fired thermal power generation. Environment Minister Shinjiro Koizumi did not express concrete steps for reducing coal-fired thermal power generation, for which construction of new plants is currently underway in Japan, during a ministerial meeting of the U.N. climate summit in Madrid on Wednesday. “I am afraid I cannot share new development on our coal policy today,” Koizumi said at the ongoing 25th Conference of the Parties to the U.N. Framework Convention on Climate


By The Japan News
December 13, 2019

Opinion, Politics

Power transition after Apec summit

Mahathir open to stepping down after APEC summit. Dr Mahathir Mohamad, the world’s oldest prime minister, has promised to hand over power to anointed successor Datuk Seri Anwar Ibrahim in spite of new sexual assault allegations against him. Dr Mahathir, 94, said he would not hand over before a summit of Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (Apec) countries that Malaysia is to host in November 2020, but could be ready after that. “I made a promise to hand over and I will, accepting that I thought that a change immediately before the Apec summit would be disruptive. “As far as I’m concerned, I’m stepping down and I’m handing the baton to him (Anwar). If people don’t want him, that is their business, but I will do my part of the promise… irrespective of whatever allegation. I made my promise, I keep my promise, ” he said in an interview w


By The Star
December 11, 2019

Opinion, Politics

Communist Party of China calls for efforts to deepen reform and expand opening-up

Political Bureau stresses importance of winning three critical battles in 2020. The Political Bureau of the Communist Party of China Central Committee called on Friday for solid efforts to deepen reform and expand opening-up, amid tensions in the external environment, to ensure that the goal of building a moderately prosperous society in all respects will be attained next year. The general trend of China’s economy in maintaining stable and long-term positive operation remains unchanged, according to a statement released after the bureau’s meeting, presided over by Xi Jinping, general secretary of the CPC Central Committee. China will keep its economic growth within a reasonable range in 2020, with more “forwarding-looking, targeted and effective” policies, the statement said. The nation will pursue a policy framework that allows macro policies to be stable, micro policies


By China Daily
December 9, 2019

Opinion, Politics

No safe spaces for women in Pakistan

Rafia Zakaria writes for Dawn. THAT crime lurks in the streets and corners of Karachi is not news for anyone. Precariousness and predation are the mainstay in this southern corner of the land of the pure; if you have something you are hunted and if you have nothing, you hunt. Destiny damns both, the hunters and the hunted, enacting a dystopian version of The Walking Dead, every day and every night. Karachi is, after all, judged as one of the world’s cities that are least liveable. The scars of it all are visible everywhere, on the bodies and faces of its people, on the hospitals that do not care, and the police that do not protect. This time, the dark forces that breed within the city came for a young girl. According to news reports, 20-year-old Dua Nisar Mangi was ‘committing the crime’ of walking down a city street. This was over the weekend past, and with her was a friend named Haris. It was not suppo


By Dawn
December 5, 2019

Opinion, Politics

Najib to take the stand today

The former premier is accused of malfeasance. Today is the day that Malaysians will see, for the first in the country’s history, a former prime minister take the stand to answer charges against him in a court of law. Datuk Seri Najib Razak (pic), 66, will testify from the witness box as the first defence witness to rebut his seven charges of misappropriating RM42mil in SRC International Sdn Bhd funds before High Court Judge Mohd Nazlan Mohd Ghazali. According to his co-counsel Harvinderjit Singh, Najib will be called as the first witness on the opening day of the defence’s proceedings. Najib will be first questioned by his defence during examination-in-chief before being cross-examined by the prosecution. On Nov 11, Justice Mohd Nazlan ordered Najib to enter his defence on three counts of criminal breach of trust (CBT), three charges of money laundering and on


By The Star
December 3, 2019

Opinion, Politics

New parties face drubbing in by-elections as Nepalis continue to vote along party lines

“They failed to convince the voters as to what they would bring to the table if they were given a chance”. Nepalis once again displayed traditional voting patterns as they continued to choose the established parties—Nepal Communist Party and the Nepali Congress—while casting their ballots in Saturday’s by-election, as they snubbed newer parties like Sajha and Bibeksheel. Despite their untiring efforts, focussing primarily on Kaski Constituency-2 in a bid to get a seat in the federal Parliament, both Sajha and Bibeksheel, cut no ice with voters. Both parties have had to fight hard to even secure their deposits, as candidates must garner at least 10 percent of the total votes cast to get back their deposit; a failure to do so is considered humiliating. By-elections were held on Saturday for 52 positions, including a vacant seat in the House of Representatives, three provincial assembly seats


By The Kathmandu Post
December 2, 2019