Though crowds storming a government seat of power are all too familiar to Thailand – it happened in Bangkok just before the last coup d’etat – this morning’s shocking scenes of violent insurrection at the U.S. capitol stunned many.
While members of the public reacted with dismay to a familiar scene unfolding in the nation that most epitomizes democracy, those who study politics credited the insurrection’s failure to the integrity of key figures and strength of its institutions.
“Trump’s attempted coup is a disgrace,” political scientist Prajak Kongkeerati tweeted. “Fortunately, unlike Thailand, the army, the courts, and the establishment are not on his side.”
Some likened the MAGA hordes who attempted to seize the capitol, where lawmakers were meeting to confirm Trump’s loss, to the same reactionary elements at home, extending the same disparaging moniker for ultraconservative Thais – salim.
“Salims are everywhere in the world,” Twitter user @Oedipusrex07 wrote.
Others felt Trump would benefit from some time in the Land of Smiles.
“If Trump came to learn from Thailand, he might continue his presidency for many, many terms,” Facebook user Pes Wutthichai wrote.
Heads spun when, in what felt like a major role reversal, Thai Foreign Affairs Ministry spokesperson Tanee Sangrat took to Twitter to condemn the assault on the rule of law.
“I am saddened by the violence and the fatality that took place on the Capitol Hill today,” he wrote. “I expect that law and order will prevail and the democratic transfer of power will proceed as expected. Thais stand with Americans in these unprecedented times.”
At least one woman was killed when thousands of Trump supporters heeded his call to march on the capitol building, following weeks of provocation by the president following his defeat at the polls two months ago.
I am saddened by the violence and the fatality that took place on the Capitol Hill today. I expect that law and order will prevail and the democratic transfer of power will proceed as expected. Thais stand with Americans in these unprecedented times.
— Tanee Sangrat (@SangratTanee) January 7, 2021
Writer and social critic Sarinee Achavanuntakul said Thais who backed the last coup and took validation in what happened this morning should note its failure and futility.
“[I] want to ask the former Thai whistle-blowing Yellowshirts to see if [America] solves this problem by carrying out a military coup, overthrowing the constitution and seizing power for seven years?” she wrote on social media.
James Buchanan, a prolific Twitter personality and critic of Thai authoritarianism, said the Americans who stormed the capitol building shared the same goals as those Thais who took to the streets seven years ago to push for a putsch.
“A lesson from coup-prone Thailand: [R]egimes deliberately create disorder – which can include the deliberate suspension of effective law enforcement – to create conditions in which a sizeable section of society reluctantly accept measures deemed necessary to ‘restore order.’”
A lesson from coup-prone Thailand: regimes deliberately create disorder – which can include the deliberate suspension of effective law enforcement – to create conditions in which a sizeable section of society reluctantly accept measures deemed necessary to “restore order”.
— James Buchanan จิมมี่ (@JBuchananBKK) January 6, 2021
While many debated the significance of this morning’s violence, others made sense of it in the timeworn tradition of meme-crafting.
นี่คือตัวอย่างของผู้นำเห็นแก่ตัวเองมากกว่าประเทศชาติ ปั่นหัวประชาชนด้วยข้อมูลที่บิดเบี้ยว ความเกลียดชัง และความเชื่อที่เกรี้ยวกราดไร้เหตุผล
— ซาแซงประชารัฐ (@PPRP_Unofficial) January 7, 2021
A Thai friend reacts to events overnight in Washington pic.twitter.com/EqyXL4UxhR
— John Reed จอห์น รีด (@JohnReedwrites) January 7, 2021