PPT didn’t give much attention to the cockamamie notion in the Washington Post about “a number of researchers work on forecasting where coup attempts are likely to occur.” The idea that “statistical models” can “predict” the chance of a coup in Thailand is 2017 is 11%. Humbug political science “learning” from quantitative economics.
But the mention of a possible coup in Thailand caught the “imagination” of media commentators in Thailand. Television news mentioned it again and again, having tired of cheap pictures stolen from a Kyoto hotel.
Then there was smoke. The military leaders and junta bosses came out to deny that a coup was possible in 2017. After all, the military is united.
Then there was fire. Suddenly there was talk of assassination threats against The Dictator and the Deputy Dictator. More remarkably, the Army chief has thrown gasoline on the fire. General Chalermchai Sitthisat declared saying “an assassination plot targeting Deputy Prime Minister and Defence [General] Prawit Wongsuwon,” to use his words, “could be real.”
His response was: “I am convinced that nothing will happen. Those who issued threats will be prosecuted,” referring to social media death threats against Prawit and General Prayuth Chan-ocha. (We can only guess that the culprits will turn out to be red shirts. At the same time, almost all such threats in the past have been military-linked.)
Not only that, Prawit suddenly sounded less sure about the no-coup line, saying:
… there will be no coup following the next general election as nobody wanted a coup unless the country was “unable to move on”.
… Gen Prawit said if there was reconciliation and if all Thais gave their full cooperation, there was no way a coup would be staged again, adding the military would also be under the next government’s administration.
The latter claim is a bit odd. “Under” seems to suggest he knows The Dictator’s group will be the next “administration.” The military is unlikely to be “under” and “administration” is does not select and have elected. He went on with the hypotheticals that sounded increasingly like threats:
There was a strong possibility that the military will not stage a coup again if all politicians can reconcile with each other and care for the people without conflicts, he insisted.
Gen Prawit stressed there will be no counter-coups given unity in the military. Also, the present government, the National Council for Peace and Order [the junta] and the army were as one as Prime Minister Prayut is doing his best in every way for the country’s benefit, he added.
Whenever there is an election, the plan is clear. However, where there’s smoke and fire, assassination threats do begin to sound like there is real dissension in the military.