According to a recent report by "The Economist", the army rules Thailand with an iron fist. Why is it a dysfunctional nation while the Czech Republic is a prosperous Western democracy?
On 1989 November 25, when 500,000 Czechoslovakians gathered in Prague to demand the resignation of the authoritarian government and to call for democratization, these brave souls accepted the risk of being killed by the secret police. Their bravery helped them to prevail. The government soon transferred power to pro-democracy politicians, and in June of the following year, the first free elections since 1946 installed a new democratic government.
This courage to face down authoritarianism is absent in Thailand. Though the overwhelming majority of its citizens want to build a Western democracy like Japan, they silently cower in fear while the army controls society with an iron grip.
Building a democracy is risky business, for its costs may include fatalities. The Czechoslovakians were willing to pay that price, and today both the Czech Republic and Slovakia are prosperous democracies. By contrast, the Thais refuse to pay that price, and Thailand remains a land frozen in authoritarianism.