Burma and neighboring Thailand are close to each other in terms of culture and customs. Military coups are often the same. Thailand is more resistant to the effects of the military coup, Myanmar had to decline on the other side. What are the differences between the two countries?
Myanmar has a longer history of military rule, dating back to at least 1962 when the Burmese army (Tatmadaw) assumed direct control. The military has been the ultimate power-holder in Myanmar since then, and the country has experienced several reassertions of military power over the last sixty years.
In comparison, Thailand’s history of military coups includes events in 2006 and 2014, where coup-plotters confronted populist civilian governments seeking more control over the military. The Thai military has also been a leading national political actor, similar to Myanmar’s military.
Myanmar experienced a military coup on February 1, 2021, when the Tatmadaw seized power, leading to the detention of elected civilian leaders, including Aung San Suu Kyi. This coup led to nationwide protests and a brutal crackdown by the military, resulting in thousands of deaths and a widening civil war.
On the other hand, Thailand’s most recent coup occurred in 2014 when General Prayuth Chan-o-cha staged a coup against the civilian government. Since then, the country has experienced a period of military-backed rule, but the 2023 election saw a dramatic rebuke of nine years of military rule, with the opposition Move Forward Party winning by a landslide and securing a mandate for change.
Thailand’s policy towards post-coup Myanmar seems to be different from that of the rest of ASEAN. Thai deputy prime minister and foreign minister Don Pramudwinai revealed that he had visited Myanmar and met coup leader Min Aung Hlaing. Thailand has held meetings with representatives from Myanmar’s military government, seemingly breaking with ASEAN’s common policy towards the military coup in Myanmar.
Impact on Democracy
The success of the progressive Move Forward Party in Thailand’s 2023 election could mark a decisive shift with far-reaching consequences for the role of the military in Thai politics and Thai democracy. This election outcome could also have implications for neighboring Myanmar, which has been under military rule since the 2021 coup.
While both Thailand and Myanmar have experienced military coups, the specific historical context, recent events, and regional policies have led to some differences in their experiences with military rule and its impact on their respective countries. It is essential to note that the political situations in both countries are complex, and the dynamics can change over time.