Thursday, September 21, 2006

Now That's How You Pull Off a Coup

Disgruntled military officials in the Philippines should learn from their counterparts in Thailand on how to launch a successful coup 'd etat. For starters, you don't telegraph your intentions thru text messages or thru media days before your putsch. Most people in Thailand had completely no idea that a coup was brewing (they were preoccupied with their elections scheduled in October) and even their Prime Minister, Thaksin Shinawatra, was in New York when the coup happened. Second, your troops should only move in if: 1.) there has been a genuine political crisis and 2.) you have the backing of high-ranking generals. Third, you don't need a phalanx of civilian warm-bodies (or "people power'") for your coup to succeed. The coup in Thailand was a purely military operation without a civilian or "people power" component. We will know in succeeding days if it enjoys civilian support. But even now, reports coming out of Thailand say that people there can be seen happily posing with rebel soldiers who are guarding the Royal Thai Palace in Bangkok.

Of course, the Royal Armed Forces have had more experience (and more success) compared to our armed forces when it come to coups: various Thai military officers have succeeded in overthrowing their civilian superiors in 1932, 1948 and 1971. The Philippine Armed Forces, on the other hand, have a dismal record: out of 11 coup attempts (1 under Marcos, 8 under Cory, 2 under GMA) only one succeeded. And it succeeded only because the people "interceded" and not because of their impeccable military planning and preparation.

Wikipedia already has this entry describing the events that transpired only two days ago:

"The 2006 Thailand coup d'├ętat took place on 19 September 2006, when members of the Royal Thai Army staged a coup d' etat against the government of Prime Minister Thaksin Shinawatra. The coup, which is Thailand's first in fifteen years, followed a lenghty political crisis involving Thaksin and political opponents, and occurred less than a month before elections were scheduled to be held, on October 15, 2006. The military junta cancelled the upcoming elections, abrogated the Constitution, dissolved Parliament, banned political protests, declared martial law, and blacked out all local and international news broadcasts in Thailand."

Read the blow by blow account of the coup by Wikipedia. Read also this report by Thomas Fuller of the International Herald Tribune.

Long known as the Philippines's "twin sister" because our two nations are so alike in many respects, Thailand has long since overtaken us economically mainly because their leaders were able to control population growth and develop their SMEs (small and medium enterprises). Twenty years ago, Thailand and the Philippines had the same population. Today, Thailand only has 65 million while Filipinos now number 85 million. Thru their "One Tambong, One Product" program, they were able to "grow" their SMEs. Our local DTI is currently trying to duplicate this by having its own "One Town, One Project" (OTOP) program. Also, Thailand has been very successful in attracting foreign tourists - at present, there are 11 million tourists in that country compared to only 3 million visitors to the Philippines. Undoubtedly, Thailand has already overtaken us by several miles and now, the Philippines is in danger of being overtaken by Vietnam!

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

"Iloilo City Boy" , I would like to share you this one:

The following appeared in Bangkok Post website September 20,2006 - Thursday

The current government administration has caused conflicts and undermined the harmony of the people as never before in history. Each side is determined to win by any means and the discord has shown a tendency to escalate.

Many people have been suspicious about the actions of the national administration under a constitutional monarchy.

The nation has been governed in a corrupt manner. Independent agencies have been dominated by politics. The constitutional intention is unserved.

This has led to political activities becoming problem-plagued on many fronts and the situation had worsened to the point where violations against His Majesty the King are in danger of occurring. This is despite efforts by many sections of society to resolve the problem. The efforts have not pacified the growing tension, however. For this reason, the Democratic Reform Council with the monarch as its head, which comprises the armed forces leaders and chief of the Royal Thai Police Office, has found it imperative to seize the power of government from this point onward. The council is steadfast in its objective, which is not to take over the government permanently and it will return power to the people as soon as possible.

The council is committed to preserving peace and security and to upholding the monarchy.

First coup announcement

In reference to the council's announcement of its power seizure earlier, for the sake of peace and order to prevail in the country, the council has imposed nationwide martial law. The council has repealed the state of emergency declared on Sept 19 at 9.05pm. This announcement is made by Gen Sonthi Boonyaratkalin, head of the Democratic Reform Council.

Second coup announcement

The council has ordered that all mobilisation and movement of military logistics and manpower be prohibited. Military personnel are absolutely not to leave their units without permission from the council.

Third coup announcement

1. The current constitution, drafted in 1997, is now abrogated.

2. The House of Representatives, the Senate, the Cabinet and the Constitution Court are dissolved.

3. The privy councillors will remain in their duty.

4. The courts of justice, except the Constitution Court, will retain their full power.


8 pm - Negotiations were held between a pro-Thaksin group led by Supreme Commander Gen Ruengroj Mahasaranont and another group led by Army Chief Gen Sonthi Boonyaratkalin. Privy Council president Gen Prem Tinsulanonda was approached to mediate in the talks. Gen Sonthi's group wanted Mr Thaksin to wash his hands off politics.

8.30 pm - Gen Prem had an audience with the King.

9.30 pm - Gen Prem left the palace. A source close to Gen Prem quoted the privy council president as saying that there would be no problems as Thaksin would leave politics.

9.05 pm - Thaksin refused to bow to pressure. He declared a state of emergency with Gen Ruangroj being appointed to enforce the state emergency. He sacked Gen Sonthi as army chief. Mr Thaksin's statement came on air around 10 pm and was taken off the air by the military just minutes later.

10 pm - Gen Sonthi's troops wearing yellow and blue ribbons drove their tanks towards Government House.

11 pm - Gen Sonthi's troops sieged Government House without any resistance from the pro-Thaksin group.

11.10 pm - The Democratic Reform Council issued a statement that it had taken control of the country.

12.00 am -The council had an audience with the King at Chitrlada Palace.

12.30 am - The council scrapped the state of emergency decree.

12.35 am - The council issued an order banning the movement of troops from their bases.

12.47 am - The council issued a third announcement abolishing the 1997 constitution, the Upper House, the Lower House, the Cabinet and the Constitution Court. The privy council remains in office. All courts except the Constitution Court retain their authority.

* A source said Gen Sonthi earlier consulted Gen Prem about his plan to seize power from the government. The privy council president acknowledged his plan, but did not give his view. During the past three months, Gen Prem reminded troops from the three armed forces in his lectures that they "belong to His Majesty the King and the country, and not to the politicians. Their foremost loyalty should always lie with the country and the King".

* Gen Sonthi, Navy Chief Adm Sathiraphan Keyanont, Air Force chief ACM Chalit Phukphasuk and national police chief Pol Gen Kowit Watana, who sit on the Democratic Reform Council, were classmates and graduates of Class 6 at the Armed Forces Academies Preparatory School.