This should come as no surprise to anyone who is familiar with the recent political history of Thailand. Blood has flowed in Bangkok's streets several times in recent decades.
In this case massive demonstrations were taking place in Bangkok before the coup asking for Prime Minister Taksin to step down because of allegations of gross corruption, cronyism and abuse of power.
Armed pro-Taksin cohorts were heading to Bangkok to stop the anti-Taksin protesters. Thailand was on a collision course for civil war. The army stepped in to stop the impending bloodshed.
It should be noted that, to the army's credit, not one person was shot during the coup.
In fact, families and children came out of their homes to welcome the soldiers with flowers and food. The situation took on what was almost a carnival atmosphere.
My wife, Gloria, arrived back from a trip to the U.S.A. on the day after the coup took place. There was no indication to her that anything had happened.
Except for a few extra soldiers at the airport, she said that everything seemed normal.
Both the former prime minister, Mr. Taksin, and his wife, Potjaman, have been formally indicted for corruption and malfeasance over a major land purchase that allegedly involved abuse of power during Mr. Taksin's rule.
Several other high-profile indictments are pending alleging corruption, tax evasion and more abuse of power by Mr. Taksin, his family and close political aids.
His political party (the Thai Loves Thai Party), which held the vast majority of seats in parliament (which meant rubber-stamping of most of Mr. Taksin's orders), is banned. Mr. Taksin and his top political minions are also banned from politics for five years.
What about the fact that a "democratically" elected government was overthrown by undemocratic means?
My categorical opinion is that Mr. Taksin would not have lasted one year in an American form of democracy, but in Thailand's form he was able to accumulate more and more power.
He virtually controlled the executive branch, the national police force, various government regulatory agencies and the judiciary and was dangerously close to taking over the military.
What president of the United States would be allowed to continue his personal business interests (Mr. Taksin trebled his net worth during his time in power) or sell off his premier business and net a cool tax-free $1.9 billion or any of the myriad other shady deals the former prime minister was allegedly behind? Fat chance!
And what American form of democracy could survive in a nation that blatantly practices vote buying?
Thailand's democracy just does not have the legal and social-ethical balances the U.S. system of democracy has.
It is a common error on the part of Americans to think that every country in the world that claims to be a democracy has the American form of democracy.
A moderate and respected member of the king's privy council (advisory board to the king) was installed as interim prime minister, and national elections are to be held later this year.
At that time the people of Thailand can freely elect members of parliament who will decide who the new prime minister will be.
Checks and balances
Meanwhile, new checks and balances are being drafted into a new constitution to try to prevent the abuse of power that took place under the former regime.
I also am asked what the royal family's role in all this was.
Eighty-year-old King Bhumibol is a constitutional monarch and can play no political role. Neither can any other royal family member.
Some ask me what will happen to the country after the passing of King Bhumibol.
His son, Crown Prince Maha Vajiralongkorn, will ascend the throne.
The Chakri dynasty has a history of championing progressive and modern democratic ideals for at least the last century and a half.
There is no evidence that the crown prince will be any less progressive and democratic than his ancestors. Any implications to the contrary are unsubstantiated.
King Bhumibol's role is to moderate. He and his counselors work tirelessly to maintain peace and order in the kingdom.
This is all done through the reputation, influence and impeccable credibility the king has with all the people of Thailand.
As far as our Legacy project is concerned, we were in no danger and are not in any danger today.
As a matter of fact, things are better for us now.
In the old regime, officials had their hands tied for fear of getting into trouble for helping us.
I hope this article will inform and correct any possible misconceptions about what is going on in Thailand.
I am grateful as always for The Journal's support of Legacy Institute's projects in Asia.