Leading article: Thailand should remember Nepal

Share
Related Topics

The scenes of chaos in the Thai capital, Bangkok, where the government has declared a state of emergency after protests forced the cancellation of an Asian summit, will inevitably lead to comparisons being drawn with events in Nepal. There, an embattled royalist government was slowly engulfed by popular protests, culminating in a Maoist revolution and the scrapping of the monarchy.

In Thailand, the monarchy is more popular, while the popular revolt is more fragmented. Nevertheless, comparisons exist. One is that the exiled Thai leader overthrown in 2006 with the palace's blessing, Thaksin Shinawatra, though no Maoist, is certainly a populist who does not shrink from employing the language of class war. As for the object of Mr Thaksin's ire, the government of Abhisit Vejjajiva, its raison d'être is devotion to the royal family. But this has brought Thailand adverse publicity since it took power, as an increasing number of people have become caught up by the laws on lèse- majesté.

Mr Abhisit cannot claim the moral high ground when condemning the mobs whose protests have humiliated him. His democratic legitimacy looks dubious, having gained office on the back of street protests against the election victory in 2008 of a party seen as a front for Mr Thaksin.

Now he is threatened by the same instrument through which he took power. Meanwhile the country languishes, as valuable tourist income dries up. As for the monarchy, the institution that the regime intervened to protect, that is in danger of forfeiting its former popularity.

In hindsight, the palace, army and the urban elite would have been better off trying to cohabit with the crowd-pleasing Mr Thaksin. Now, they don't have that luxury. They can hardly welcome him back, for he would return in triumph as both martyr and dictator.

On the other hand, Mr Abhisit's chances of toughing it out look slimmer by the day. The only way out is new elections in which Thaksin sympathisers this time are allowed to win. The other alternative is the route that Nepal took, towards revolution. Hopefully, Thailand's rulers will reflect on the recent history of the Himalayan (former) kingdom, and compromise in time.

React Now

Latest stories from i100
iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Primary Teacher

£90 - £145 per day + travel expenses: Randstad Education Newcastle: Year 3 Tea...

HR Manager - London - £40,000 + bonus

£32000 - £40000 per annum + bonus: Ashdown Group: HR Manager (Generalist) -Old...

Network Security Engineer, CCNP

£200 - £300 per day + competitive: Orgtel: Network Security Engineer, CCNP Lon...

SEN Teacher

Negotiable: Randstad Education Cheshire: SEN Teacher required with Early Years...

Day In a Page

Read Next
High and mighty: Edinburgh Castle and city skyline  

i Editor's Letter: We're coming to Edinburgh

Oliver Duff Oliver Duff
Members of the community farming group at work in their community fields near the town of Masi Manimba, Bandundu Province, DRC.  

The five biggest myths surrounding overseas aid

Billy Hill
Israel-Gaza conflict: No victory for Israel despite weeks of death and devastation

Robert Fisk: No victory for Israel despite weeks of devastation

Palestinians have won: they are still in Gaza, and Hamas is still there
Mary Beard writes character reference for Twitter troll who called her a 'slut'

Unlikely friends: Mary Beard and the troll who called her a ‘filthy old slut’

The Cambridge University classicist even wrote the student a character reference
America’s new apartheid: Prosperous white districts are choosing to break away from black cities and go it alone

America’s new apartheid

Prosperous white districts are choosing to break away from black cities and go it alone
Amazon is buying Twitch for £600m - but why do people want to watch others playing Xbox?

What is the appeal of Twitch?

Amazon is buying the video-game-themed online streaming site for £600m - but why do people want to watch others playing Xbox?
Tip-tapping typewriters, ripe pongs and slides in the office: Bosses are inventing surprising ways of making us work harder

How bosses are making us work harder

As it is revealed that one newspaper office pumps out the sound of typewriters to increase productivity, Gillian Orr explores the other devices designed to motivate staff
Manufacturers are struggling to keep up with the resurgence in vinyl records

Hard pressed: Resurgence in vinyl records

As the resurgence in vinyl records continues, manufacturers and their outdated machinery are struggling to keep up with the demand
Tony Jordan: 'I turned down the chance to research Charles Dickens for a TV series nine times ... then I found a kindred spirit'

A tale of two writers

Offered the chance to research Charles Dickens for a TV series, Tony Jordan turned it down. Nine times. The man behind EastEnders and Life on Mars didn’t feel right for the job. Finally, he gave in - and found an unexpected kindred spirit
Could a later start to the school day be the most useful educational reform of all?

Should pupils get a lie in?

Doctors want a later start to the school day so that pupils can sleep later. Not because teenagers are lazy, explains Simon Usborne - it's all down to their circadian rhythms
Prepare for Jewish jokes – as Jewish comedians get their own festival

Prepare for Jewish jokes...

... as Jewish comedians get their own festival
SJ Watson: 'I still can't quite believe that Before I Go to Sleep started in my head'

A dream come true for SJ Watson

Watson was working part time in the NHS when his debut novel, Before I Go to Sleep, became a bestseller. Now it's a Hollywood movie, too. Here he recalls the whirlwind journey from children’s ward to A-list film set
10 best cycling bags for commuters

10 best cycling bags for commuters

Gear up for next week’s National Cycle to Work day with one of these practical backpacks and messenger bags
Paul Scholes: Three at the back isn’t working yet but given time I’m hopeful Louis van Gaal can rebuild Manchester United

Paul Scholes column

Three at the back isn’t working yet but given time I’m hopeful Louis van Gaal can rebuild Manchester United
Kate Bush, Hammersmith Apollo music review: A preamble, then a coup de théâtre - and suddenly the long wait felt worth it

Kate Bush shows a voice untroubled by time

A preamble, then a coup de théâtre - and suddenly the long wait felt worth it
Robot sheepdog technology could be used to save people from burning buildings

The science of herding is cracked

Mathematical model would allow robots to be programmed to control crowds and save people from burning buildings
Tyrant: Is the world ready for a Middle Eastern 'Dallas'?

This tyrant doesn’t rule

It’s billed as a Middle Eastern ‘Dallas’, so why does Fox’s new drama have a white British star?