Opinion: Thai Society: A Perpetual Hostage to the Deep State

PM Srettha Thavisin paints an elephant ceramic figurine during a visit to a ceramic factory in Lamphun province on June 8, 2024.
PM Srettha Thavisin paints an elephant ceramic figurine during a visit to a ceramic factory in Lamphun province on June 8, 2024.

The Thai people are perpetually held hostage by the deep state which cannot accept the will of the people whenever the people’s will go against their conservative and self-serving ideology. Over the past few weeks, we hear of concerns, and rumors, expressed regarding both a possible military coup (again) as well as a judicial coup (again).

It reflects a sense of uncertainty and insecurity among many Thais who are convinced that the deep state, including the military, and part of the judiciary, are not willing to accept the will of the people when it goes against their interests. Their rules may be read like this: “Do not do what we don’t approve of as you are our perpetual hostage.”

The concerns and rumors are serious enough that co-leader of Progressive Movement Pannikar Wanich told Khaosod on Friday in an interview that these conservative groups seek to overthrow not just the Pheu Thai government, but also to dissolve Move Forward Party and nullify the indirect elections of the senate which is about to replace the junta-appointed senate.

She warns: “If that’s the case, they will go for broke, but the people won’t accept it any longer.”


It is sad to hear that not a year has passed since the new government came to power before we are already talking about a serious attempt by the deep state to “reset” Thai politics simply because they no longer feel in control.

I must admit it is not just saddening to have to write yet another column about Thailand being trapped in this vicious cycle of illegitimate political interference from unelected groups, but that I am sick of hearing about it too.

I also feel sorry for Thailand, for her posterity, for its future – as not enough people were willing to resist and oppose one military coup after another. Too many Thais who say they care about Thailand and politics were more than willing to be expedient, lie low, and swallow the blatant illegitimate seizure of power by the military repeatedly.

Some high-profile figures fled abroad in the immediate aftermath of the 2014 coup instead of doing what they can in the first few days in hope of defeating the rogue generals like Prayut Chan-o-cha, who ended up staying on in power for nine years in power and reinforcing a poisonous legacy of possible future military intervention and cementing the status of the military as a state within a state for another generation.

It will be even harder for some Thais to resist a judicial coup as it is not in your face like rolling tanks onto the streets of Bangkok. PM Srettha Thavisin is now facing a possible removal by the Constitutional Court for having appointed Pichit Chuenban, a former lawyer of Thaksin and Yingluck Shinawatra, as a Cabinet member during the Cabinet reshuffle because Pichit was charged, but not indicted, for attempted bribery of a judge.

Then you have the opposition Move Forward Party, hugely popular among the young and educated middle class, facing possible dissolution by the same court for pledging to amend the lese majeste law. (The royal defamation law is now regarded almost like a God’s commandment despite the fact that there is no god in Buddhism, the religion majority of Thais claim to adhere to.)


Then there is this convoluted indirect election of the new senate (rules written by junta-appointed people), in which stage one starts today, also facing the very same court’s possible ruling as to whether it’s “constitutional”.

I really hope the nine judges of the Charter Court, and the deep state, consider the big picture of Thailand – that the country needs to be able to proceed without an interference, and interruption, every now and then because there will be no stability or continuity otherwise and the people who suffer most are the mass, the ordinary folks, who are feeling the pressure from economic hardship, itself partly a result of political instability and uncertainty.

Perhaps it is time for the hostage to say, enough is enough like Pannikar. But am I expecting too much?