Nation & World News

Thai Junta To Foreign Journalists: ‘Don’t Call It A Coup’

By Scott Neuman on June 12th, 2014

First it wasn’t a coup. Then, it was.

Now, Thailand’s ruling military junta tells foreign journalists that its May 22 toppling of an elected government was no coup after all.

“The military action this time is totally different from the previous successful coups since the 1932 takeover,” junta spokesman Werachon Sukondhapatipak said at the Foreign Correspondents Club of Thailand in Bangkok on Wednesday in a reference to the country’s more than dozen military takeovers since the end of the absolute monarchy more than 80 years ago.

Whatever you do, “Don’t call it a coup,” Werachon said, according to The Bangkok Post.

“Normally the civilian government sets up a civilian government, but now the military will restore peace and order, reconciliation, then elections and other systems to strengthen democracy,” he said.

“We think that we could wait until Thailand has a more mature democracy – a sustainable democracy. We know of the consequences and we weighed between having flawed democracy and well-being and safety of the people. We chose the latter,” Werachon said.

The remarks follow the arrest by authorities of as many some 350 anti-coup activists, including academics, and the Thai Foreign Ministry’s push to force the return of Thai nationals abroad who have openly opposed the May putsch.

The Wall Street Journal reports:

“The army is also threatening to try those opposed to the coup in a military court. Authorities said Friday they arrested one of the organizers of a series of flash-mob-style demonstrations, Sombat Boonngamanongong. About 300 people have been called in by the junta for questioning about their political views before being released. Isolated protests against the coup involving just a handful of people continued Sunday, with hundreds of soldiers and police fanning out to shopping malls and other commercial centers to ward off larger demonstrations.

“At the same time, Thailand’s army is also continuing its campaign to win over more Thais to its cause, with troops staging another in their occasional series of pop concerts. In the working class Bangkok district of Taling Chan, an army rock band Sunday belted out heavily ska-influenced versions of tunes from northeastern Thailand, where support for the populist leaders whom the military ousted is strongest, while a handful of local residents danced. Others underwent free health checks provided by the army.”

Last week, the generals banned the three-fingered salute from The Hunger Games that’s been appropriated by anti-coup protesters as a symbolic protest. And, the army has launched a “Happiness” campaign, “staging free festivals across Bangkok to ‘bring back happiness,'” The Guardian reports.

Since ousting the civilian government, the junta has also threatened to arrest online critics of the new regime and threatened to prevent Norway’s Telenor from bidding for 4G licenses in the country. The latter move is reportedly in retaliation for Telenor’s CEO acknowledging that his company was ordered to block Facebook in the immediate aftermath of the coup. Telenor’s Thai subsidiary, DTAC, is a major provider of cell phone and Internet service in Thailand.

The Local, a Norwegian English-language news service, says that Col. Settapong Malisuwan, the deputy head of the Thai Post and Telecommunications Authority, “lambasted Telenor’s openness as ‘inappropriate,’ saying that the company ‘showed no respect for the difficult situation in Thailand.'”

Copyright 2014 NPR. To see more, visit

This entry was posted in News from NPR. Bookmark the permalink.

Comments are closed.


More Stories in News from NPR

Oregon Shooter’s Death Was Suicide, Authorities Say

The local sheriff, speaking at an afternoon news conference, also said that authorities had recovered yet another gun from the shooter’s residence, bringing to 14 the number of weapons linked to him.

Monsignor Krzysztof Charamsa, left, and his partner Eduard, surname not given, leave a restaurant after a news conference in downtown Rome, on Saturday. The Vatican on Saturday fired Charamsa who came out as gay on the eve of a big meeting of the world's bishops to discuss church outreach to gays, divorcees and more traditional Catholic families.

Vatican Fires Priest After He Comes Out As Gay Ahead Of Bishops’ Meeting

Monsignor Krzysztof Charamsa appeared at a news conference with his partner. In an interview he called the Church’s stance on homosexuality “backwards.”

This undated photo from a MySpace page that appeared to belong to Chris Harper Mercer shows him holding a rifle. Authorities identified Mercer as the gunman who went on a deadly shooting rampage at Umpqua Community College in Roseburg, Ore., on Thursday.

What We Know About The Oregon Shooter

Authorities say they still don’t have a motive for the shooting rampage at Umpqua Community College that killed 9 people and wounded 9 others.

People watch the waves in a rainstorm at Atlantic Ocean at Carolina Beach, N.C., on Friday. Millions along the East Coast breathed a little easier after forecasters said Hurricane Joaquin would probably stay at sea instead of joining up with a drenching rainstorm that is bringing severe flooding to parts of the Atlantic Seaboard.

State Of Emergency Declared In South Carolina, As Joaquin Barrels Northeast

The storm looks likely to stay well offshore the U.S. East Coast, but it is still dumping historic levels of rainfall on cities like Charleston. Meanwhile, Bermuda could be in Joaquin’s crosshairs.

On May 21, an Afghan child is being treated at a Doctors Without Borders hospital in the northern city of Kunduz, after being injured in a fight between the Taliban and Afghan security forces.

Kunduz Airstrike Reportedly Kills 19 At Doctors Without Borders Hospital

A trauma center in northern Afghanistan run by the international aid group was badly damaged early Saturday at about the same time as a U.S. airstrike in the area.

Thank you for your support

WUFT depends on the support of our community — people like you — to help us continue to provide quality programming to North Central Florida.
Become a Sustainer
I want to support FM 89.1/NPR
I want to support Florida's 5/PBS
Donate a Vehicle
Underwriting Payments