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US Becomes Punching Bag For Pro-Coup Thais

Supporters of the military coup in Thailand are demanding the United States, the kingdom’s biggest western ally, stop meddling in Thai politics.

After the Thai army seized power on 22 May, the US cut military aid to Thailand to demonstrate its opposition to the coup.

Prominent American officials, such as US Secretary of State John Kerry and Secretary of Defence Chuck Hagel, have also called on the military junta to return to a civilian administration and organise elections as soon as possible.  US Ambassador to Thailand Kristie Kenney has echoed these calls.

These actions have outraged pro-coup supporters, many of whom belong to a conservative political class known for its ultra-nationalism and strong loyalty to the Thai monarchy.

‘Khun Ying’ Songsuda Yodmanee, chairwoman of Thailand’s American University Alumni Association (AUAA), said in a press conference on Sunday that the United States’ “meddling in Thai politics” will only lead to a loss of friendship between the two nations.

“It is time for the US Department of State to treat allies of the US in equal status, not as colonies of the US,” Ms. Songsuda said. “Thailand has never been colonised by anyone, and we will continue to maintain our independence and liberty.”

“All executive committee members of the AUAA have graduated from American universities. We know the US almost as much as we know our country,” explained Ms. Songsuda, who is the daughter of Field Marshal Thanorm Kittikachorn, the military dictator who was ousted in a student uprising in 1973.

Ms. Songsuda added that the AUAA plans to submit a formal letter to the US Embassy in Bangkok to inform them of the “true” situation in Thailand. She stressed that the AUAA’s action are not political.

“We do this as friends who wish well for the US,” Ms. Songsuda said. “This is not a political commentary, because the AUAA is not involved in politics.”

Her sentiment has been echoed by a number of pro-coup columnists in Thai media. The author of a recent column for the pro-establishment Naewna newspaper claimed to have received information from “Thais living in the United States” about an “evil plan” being plotted by Western superpowers to organise a resistance against the Thai military junta.

Another column, written by Somtow Sucharitkul for The Nation, urges the US to be more understanding of the situation in Thailand, warning that the American officials may come to regret their “knee-jerk” reaction toward the coup in the future.

“I believe that the General did the one thing that could allow the opposing camps to retreat without losing face,” Somtow wrote. “He chose between incurring the wrath of the international community and saving his country from a civil war.”

Yesterday, a private Thai badminton team announced it would withdraw from a tournament in the US to protest the country’s condemnation of the coup.

Similar attitudes have been expressed among supporters of the coup on social media, as reflected by the ongoing online campaign to have Ms. Kenney, the US ambassador to Thailand, removed from her position.

“The countless acts of unprofessionalism, well documented in her never-ending Twitter selfies, reflect negatively on her position and the American people as a whole,” reads an online petition submitted to the White House website. “The United States deserves professional representation to restore credibility to the American people in the region and provide an accurate assessment as the situation unfolds.”

The petition has garnered about 8,000 signatures so far and will likely fall short of the 100,000 signatures required for the White House to make a formal response.

Khaosod

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