These are the excerpts from today’s press about Thailand, copied exactly as it is.

The army commander Gen Sonthi Boonyarataglin staged a coup d’etat Tuesday evening (Thailand time) and ousted the government of Prime Minister Thaksin Shinawatra.

A so-called “Democratic Reform Council” declared itself in control and declared martial law nationwide. Terse announcements said the coup was necessary to correct “unprecedented division in the country.”

The Council said there seemed to be widespread corruption, and independent agencies were subverted by politicians. “The current administration has caused conflicts and undermined the harmony of the people as never before in history.”

Former Prime Minister and opposition leader told AP that Thaksin had forced the military to act. “As politicians, we do not support any kind of coup, but during the past five years, the government of Thaksin created several conditions that forced the military to stage the coup. Thaksin has caused the crisis in the country,” he told The AP.

Should the people of Bangladesh get alarmed at the developments in Thailand? This coup came at a time when observers around the world were getting comfortable in ruling out any possibility of military coup as an obsolete political culture.

Thailand resembles Bangladesh in many ways. The last military coup in Thailand, in 1991, was extremely unpopular and was overthrown by violent opposition in the streets. The country was recently locked in a fierce political battle between the prime minister’s party and the opposition party. The opposition has boycotted the previous election.

It is more worrisome for Bangladesh considering the following facts,

1. Armed forces in Bangladesh has gained significant popularity by their involvement in RAB. RAB experience also gave the military a much needed experience in crowd and protest control in the streets. Previous military rulers lacked this experience.
2. It has been made clear that in Bangladesh, there are only two ways you can get the job of ruling the country, either you are a family heir to an ex ruler or you are ex martial law ruler. There is no reason to believe that Bangladesh army lacks some ambitious generals vying for the top job.
3. Ershad, far from behind the bars, now a political power player, is no longer a deterrent to an ambitious general.

4. In the ground of political turmoil in Thailand, a muted world response to Thai coup and apparent acceptance of the military rulers may also encourage copycat events in Asia/ Africa including Bangladesh.

A more dangerous thought, if true, is that, both the mainstream political parties in Bangladesh will prefer army than the other party to rule Bangladesh.