Land of smiles and bans | india | Hindustan Times
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Land of smiles and bans

india Updated: Sep 22, 2006 15:39 IST

ON THE surface, Tuesday's military coup in Thailand seems to have had no fallout. At Government House, four-month-old Tuner's parents bundled him into a soldier's arms, for a photograph in front of a tank that had yellow ribbons and drying roses in its turret.

The family from Suwannaphum, like the groups of giggling schoolgirls posing with soldiers, was unfazed by the end of democracy. As were Thai bourses, which reopened on Thursday to an initial 4.2 per cent plunge but recovered by the day's end to register a drop of just 1.6 per cent.

At the same time, however, the Council for Democratic Reform, headed by army chief General Sonthi Boonyaratkalin, banned political parties from holding meetings, barred the creation of new parties, and placed restrictions on the media,.in the name of maintaining stability.

And deposed Prime Minister Thaksin Shinawatra, according to a statement issued in London where he is now based, said he would work towards national reconciliation and would be taking a break from politics. Since the statement did not mention when Thaksin would return to Thailand, there was no indication of how the coup will play out in the medium-to-long term, if Thaksin decided to fight back against his opponents.

At the moment, there is a mix of apathy and euphoria, which gives the appearance of business as usual. "It is typically Thai," said Indian ambassador Vivek Katju. "After every coup, they have returned immediately to normalcy."