Monday, September 25, 2006

No problem, no problem...

"No problem, no problem" says Chat Chai, a Bangkok taxi driver. "Almost twenty years ago the same thing happened, and many people died. But not this time. In two weeks we get a new government." On Thursday evening, Chat Chai took me around the city to take pictures. Behind the wheel, Chat Chai held his camera-equiped mobile phone at-the-ready, prepared -- like me -- to snap pictures of any tanks or soldiers we might come across.

I find it just a little troubling, this continual reassurance I'm getting from people such as Chat Chai that everything will be back to normal in two weeks. Sure, Thais are not amateurs when it comes to coups -- they've had 18 of them since 1930. Maybe they know to pull these things off better than anyone else; maybe they are getting rather good at it. However, the last one didn't go off so well. Eventually people died and the King had to intervene.

As Orwell noted, revolution is always betrayed. I don't think anyone in Thailand anticipates that the coup will lead to a situation where the generals cling to power for 16 years following their coup, as they have in Burma.

However, now 80 years of age, King Bhumibol will not always and forever be here to intervene on behalf of the Thai people -- to restore democracy should it become neccessary -- should the generals of this coup, or some future coup decide to overstay their welcome.

With the good king getting older, why must Thailand continue to play with fire?

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