Wednesday, September 20, 2006

Musharraf vs. Thaksin

UPDATE: Zachary Abuza's thoughts on the coup in Thailand are now available.

Something else from Monday's meeting ... President Musharraf said that if Pakistan were so dominated by extremists, then why would he have any confidence that he could leave the country? I guess Thai Prime Minister Thaksin should have asked that question instead ...

Thailand has been one of the long established and also modernizing states of Asia. Together with China, Japan, Russia, Iran, and Turkey, Thailand has been trying to reform and alter its government and polity to successfully deal with Western modernity and power over the last 150 years.

None of these states mentioned above are quite there yet (not even Japan with its restricted freedom of speech and its opaque politics) and there are lapses from time to time.

I am not going to include India in the category above because, in my judgement, the Indian polity - if not the state itself - is yet to even admit there is an issue of Western Modernity to be dealt with.
The king is popular and he has given his blessing. It is a salient reminder that legitimacy comes from a variety of sources not just from the ballot box.
Let's not overlook the corruption issue:

From Reuters: " A probe into whether deposed Thai Prime Minister Thaksin Shinawatra’s family legitimately paid no tax on the $1.9 billion sale of the firm he founded should be finished this month, the chief investigator said on Thursday.

"Auditor-General Jaruwan Maintaka, whom Thaksin tried unsuccessfully to unseat, said probes into other allegations of corruption in government projects under his rule would also be speeded up.

“We hope to conclude those probes and report them to the council by the end of this month,” Jaruwan told reporters, referring to the new military leadership."

Another point in that Lieven article you reference is that Lieven talks about the military in Pakistan understanding the need for putting some limits on corruption in contrast to the civilians.
I appreciated Thaksin's initial reaction to the coup: he asserted he remained in charge. There was somthing odd about 10 "tanks" (I bet they were mostly armored vehicles) moving to through the capitol, as it was portrayed originally by Reuters. A handful of vehicles can't take a town. Unless, of course, the army just wants a small vanguard followed by larger patrols.

Exactly what seems to have happened.

And the PM has no idea.
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