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By Andrew Alan Johnson, For The Straits Times

Unity through disunity

Thailand's military government needs to recognise that Thais are increasingly seeing themselves as citizens rather than subjects.

Published on Jun 20, 2014 12:40 PM

When Thailand's military seized power in a coup in May, few were surprised.

The daily drumbeat of street protests, the closure of public offices, and sporadic violence had deadened economic growth, frightened tourists, and cast doubt on the country's stability. Here in Singapore, many with whom I spoke about the coup shrugged: Stability might lead to better economic growth. Besides, aren't these things always happening in Thailand?

Such an attitude parallels that of the military junta, led by General Prayuth Chan-ocha. Democracy was suspended, according to the junta, for the sake of national unity.

Supporters praised the coup as being particularly "Thai", invoking an idea of the Thai political process that involves a force - the military - above the political fray, ready to intervene if things get out of hand.

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