The military coup on May 22 2014 overturned the elected government of Prime Minister Yingluck Shinawatra, said Pavin Chachavalpongpun, associate professor at Kyoto University, at an FCC lunch on May 27.
For decades, the traditional elites, of which the military is a part, have long dominated Thai politics. This changed with the arrival of the Shinawatras who set huge socioeconomic changes in motion as well as empowering themselves politically which shook the old political structure. This started a power struggle between the old and new political forces, which was now reaching its peak because the era of King Bhumibol Adulyadej is closing.
Haunted by anxiety over a future without the charismatic King, the traditional elites are vying to manage the royal succession and maintain their power position. Pavin looked at the motives behind the coup and the elite’s plot to ensure that the monarchy continues to be at the centre of power in the post-Bhumibol days. He said voters are becoming increasingly alienated by the military-led political process and expects large-scale violent protests.
Pavin was forced to seek refuge from the Japanese government after the Thai military junta issued a warrant for his arrest for speaking out about the coup fallout.