Democracy Monument

The Democracy Monument on Thanon Ratchadamnoen Klang

Bangkok, Thailand

For the eleventh time since 1932, the military has seized power in Thailand. It's hard to say what the outcome will be. The most recent coup, in 1991, led to the installation of prime minister Anand Panyarachun who, despite being a military appointee, was quite a long way from being the worst ever Thai prime minister. Panyarachun is still a respected figure. Lately, he's been active in the National Reconciliation Commission which sought to address the violence in the south of Thailand, and he's an outspoken opponent of the current prime minister Thaksin Shinawatra. He could be an obvious choice for the head of an 'interim' administration.

There's some grounds for hoping that the present coup won't turn violent but even if it doesn't – and even allowing for the fact that widespread discontent with Thaksin had to find some outlet – this can't be good. It's disconcerting to be reminded that even in a modern democracy like Thailand, the military can still be waiting in the wings.