PERSON OF THE WEEK - Sep. 17-23, 2006
There were a lot of surprises this week, most of them at the U.N. General Assembly. President Bush, Mahmoud Ahmadenijad, and Hugo Chavez all gave very memorable speeches, but none of them earned the Person of the Week award. Instead, it goes to a Thai general who I had never heard of until this Monday. Gen. Sonthi Boonyaratglin is the Commander in Chief of the Thai Army, and on Monday he staged a coup while Prime Minister Thaksin Shinawatra was in New York to give a speech to... you guessed it... the United Nations General Assembly.
Thaksin was involved in a massive corruption scandal, so many Thais were happy to see him bumped off. Grateful citizens gave flowers to Sonthi's troops, but the rest of the world (this blogger included) remains skeptical. Sonthi has pledged to appoint a new Prime Minister within two weeks and return democracy to Thailand, but he has also banned all political party meetings, censored the media, and cancelled next month's national election.
As always, I think that any interference in democracy is a bad thing; and while the Thaksin Government was corrupt, I don't think that installing an oppressive military dictatorship is going to make Thailand a better place. Unfortunately, Thailand is also right next to Burma (Myanmar), home of the world's most repressive military regime, so I worry greatly about how much the mew Thai regime will try to emulate their neighbors (Sonthi visited Burma on Sep. 11).
So, for bringing Thai democracy to a screeching halt, General Sonthi Boonyaratglin is ConservaGlobe's Person of the Week.
Tags: Sonthi Boonyaratglin, Thaksin Shinawatra, Thailand, Thailand Coup, Thai Coup, Siam, Democracy, Person of the Week