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Last Updated: Thursday, 21 September 2006, 09:55 GMT 10:55 UK
Thai coup worries regional press
Thai soldiers guard an intersection in Bangkok
Thais have been returning to work

Papers across South East Asia condemn the military coup in Thailand, calling it unconstitutional and a "tragedy for democracy".

There is widespread hope that the coup's leader, Gen Sonthi Boonyaratglin, will keep his promise to restore democracy within twelve months.

Some papers believe the events in Bangkok reflect badly on the region, with one saying it demonstrates the "fragility of democratic life in Asia".

HONG KONG'S SOUTH CHINA MORNING POST

The Thai military's coup d'etat is unconstitutional and undemocratic, no matter how objectionable some of the policies of Prime Minister Thaksin Shinawatra may have been. Thailand's political evolution has been damaged, and repairs can only begin by restoring the rights and freedoms of the nation's people through a prompt return to democracy.

HONG KONG'S APPLE DAILY

The coup is a tragedy for democracy. This is especially so in this democratic wilderness of Asia. Any democratic crisis may turn into a pretext against democracy; and each step backwards for democracy will make the future in Asia gloomier.

INDONESIA'S KOMPAS

The coup in Thailand has further demonstrated the fragility of democratic life in Asia in general and in South East Asia in particular.

INDONESIA'S SUARA KARYA

Even though Indonesia and Thailand face similar problems, we can never accept the solution offered by the Thai military, no matter what the reason is. Perhaps the people of Thailand have become accustomed to such a model, but it is not for us Indonesians. We have agreed to adopt a democratic approach.

MALAYSIA'S NEW STRAITS TIMES

Whatever the motives of the coup leaders, this power grab needs to be condemned. What's happening in Thailand is a step backwards. It is bad for the image of Thailand, and it is bad too for the image of the countries of the region.

MALAYSIA'S NANYANG SIANG PAU

Thaksin no doubt made the domestic political situation unstable because of his alleged corrupt behaviour, but he is still a popularly elected national leader. If he is to be toppled, the force of democracy should be used to reject his leadership in a general election, otherwise, the rule of law should be used to punish him.

MALAYSIA'S BERITA HARIAN

Malaysia and ASEAN countries hope that political change in Thailand will not disrupt the political and trade cooperation between Bangkok and its neighbours. We are grateful that the coup has been bloodless, and it seems the military can fully control the situation, in particular the situation in Bangkok.

SINGAPORE'S THE BUSINESS TIMES

After 14 years of uninterrupted civilian rule, those who thought Thailand had finally matured politically beyond the point where military coups were needed to change governments will have to revise their view. Thailand's political clock has been turned back.

SINGAPORE'S THE STRAITS TIMES

It is an act of violence against the ideal of elective politics for an army to throw out an elected government. This is subverting the people's will. Thais must hope the generals make good their claim of a new start, by not arrogating to themselves an authority which Mr Thaksin had but fumbled with.

JOHN FUNSTON IN AUSTRALIA'S THE AGE

A popular axiom of Thai politics is that the countryside elects governments but Bangkok brings them down. Thaksin succeeded brilliantly in wooing the countryside. The coup thus appears both a pre-emptive move against changes to the military leadership and a way to break what many felt was a political logjam.

BBC Monitoring selects and translates news from radio, television, press, news agencies and the internet from 150 countries in more than 70 languages. It is based in Caversham, UK, and has several bureaux abroad.




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