Tuesday, September 26, 2006

Wolff in NYT: "Sabaay Jai" in Thailand

The Silk Revolution - New York Times op ed by Ismail Wolff, a freelance journalist in Bangkok: "At the Parliament building, hundreds of people had surrounded the tanks, chatting and taking photos in the spattering rain. No one seemed dismayed to see armored vehicles rolling through the capital. “This is a good day for our country,” I heard repeatedly.

Many people had been drained by the months of a high-stakes political battle between Mr. Thaksin and his opponents, which had been characterized by huge street protests, random bombings and the posturing over who had the endorsement of the king.

Thais were becoming increasingly divided and weary, without a sitting Parliament since an election six months ago that had been boycotted by the opposition and voided by the courts. They just wanted it to end, even if that meant the military ousting their elected leader, imposing martial law and suspending the nine-year-old Constitution.

As the tanks and troops took up positions across Bangkok the next morning, people came out to show their support for the soldiers, giving them flowers and welcoming them to their neighborhoods. The king also gave his blessing to the new military governing council, which has promised to install a civilian prime minister next week.

The message that Thais kept trying to tell me was that Thai democracy should not be compared to any other country’s.

“Our country will be better for this,” a close friend said to me as we sat smoking cigarettes and staring at troops on the corner by his house. “Today is a better day than yesterday. You may not understand, and may never will, but we needed to create a fresh start, and that is what has happened.”"


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