Blog Note: Pravit, a journalist at that awful newspaper the Nation, is like a gem that exists among the Nation’s crap. Thai Intel is really a big fan of Pravit and have followed her career from the start. Pravit writings gets to the heart of the matter-with a great deal of heart pounding passion.
- The following is from the Nation:
Army Colonel Teeranan Nandhakwang, deputy director of the Strategic Studies and Research Division, is one of the rare vocal soldiers who speak, ‘tweet’ and blog about the role of the military in politics and Thai society. The Nation’s Pravit Rojanaphruk talks to Teeranan about the military, politics and society. Excerpts:
First, because there’re still no peace and order. There exists a belief which is a remnant from the past [that a coup is the solution]. The previous coup moved the armed forces too close to politics, to the point that it was seen as a mechanism of politicians instead of a mechanism of the government.Why do you fear that there might soon be yet another military coup?
Nobody wants to see it happen again but it can’t be ruled out. Today, it has become difficult for the Army to withdraw itself.
Many feel that way but it won’t be like that because when changes took place in Burma [in 1988] communications technologies were not efficient. There may be an attempt to take [Thailand] to that point but it won’t be easy. Some contend that the current situation – with the continued imposition of the emergency decree in Bangkok, the continued existence of the Centre for the Resolution of the Emergency Situation (CRES) and suppression of red-shirt media – is tantamount to a silent coup being staged already.
I have told many people that the continued imposition of special [security] laws is not good for Thailand. But in this transitional period, those involved in the operations still believe it to be necessary.
In the short-term, it’s to carry the country through the conflicts. In the long term, I would like to see professional soldiers protecting the country [from external threat].
Why does there seem to be no end to military meddling in Thai politics?
It’s the Thai context of things. We evolve from there and it has become a continued tradition. The Army tried to become a professional force though. The May 1992 [uprising] saw a clash between the military and democratic forces and led to the military being stationed a very good distance [in relation to other institutions], until the 19 September  coup that is.
Do you think the military should be responsible for the 91 deaths which occurred between April and May this year?
Whenever the military are ordered [to deal with street protesters] we automatically become the accused in the eyes of society. Soldiers are trained to use force and whenever force is used it easily leads to loss of lives. All this must be the responsibility of the people who gave the orders.
Why do many people in Thai society still expect or depend on the Army to solve political problems?
We must blame Thai society, for people often yearn for a knight on a white horse and chose to solve problems by whatever means without considering the repercussions.
Does the Army need to have so many radio stations plus television stations under its control?
The birth of Army TV stations took place during the [cold war] conflicts and Field Marshal Sarit [Thanarat] initiated it. The future, however, ought to be about television as privately owned stations plus public television and local stations. Though we have [televisions and radios] if they are not utilised effectively it’s as if we do not have them.
Why is there no military coup in the US?
The US constitution was a result of war and participation. Civil war gave a crucial context to US armed forces. The way forces are mobilised and operate differs. If it is centred at one spot it creates absolute power. In Thailand, all operational command is up to the commander of the forces.
Why do you dare to criticise the Army? Are you not afraid of punishment?
I love the Army and my profession. And my views [about the military] are honest and academic.
What about what army girls have to say?
Do you not wonder what these military gals are thinking?
- Q+A : Are Thailand’s “red shirts” regrouping? (reuters.com)
- Thai military ready to send troops to Cambodian border (ctv.ca)
- Thai military ready to send more troops to border if land dispute with Cambodia heats up (foxnews.com)
- Thai army to reinforce Cambodian border if needed (seattletimes.nwsource.com)
- Thai army to reinforce Cambodian border if needed (sfgate.com)
- ‘Miracles do happen, even in a police state’: My childhood in Burma (guardian.co.uk)
- Robert Amsterdam: Thailand Must Unclench its Fist (huffingtonpost.com)
- Thailand plans to repatriate Burmese asylum seekers after election (guardian.co.uk)
- Thailand’s Emergency: Who Killed the King? (advocacy.globalvoicesonline.org)
- Sceptical stance (bbc.co.uk)
- You: Thai PM faces court as ban threat hangs over party (france24.com)
- Thai PM to face court as ban threat hangs over party (newsinfo.inquirer.net)
- Military shakeup could derail Thai peace moves (reuters.com)
- Thailand Beefs Up Security in Capital Ahead of Coup Anniversary (waronterrornews.typepad.com)
- How Trans Thai Kathoeys Escape Forced Military Service: Get Diagnosed With ‘Mental Disorder’ (queerty.com)
- Thai Red Shirts begin coup anniversary protests (sfgate.com)