Democracy is not a prerequisite for capitalism. Rather, successful capitalism creates a hunger for free speech and democratic participation. This has been shown to be true all over Asia: in South Korea, mainland China, Taiwan, Indonesia and -- now, above all -- Thailand.
Of the famous Four Tigers of East Asian economic development, Thailand is the celebrated fifth. Japanese capital has poured in. It has one of the lustiest-growing economies in the world. There are just two things wrong. One is that the rural infrastructure is inadequate and too much of the development surrounds the swollen capital of Bangkok. The other is that people crave the freedom in the intellectual and political spheres they enjoy in professional life or entrepreneurship.
Thailand was once the kind of country that would tolerate the military coup of February 1991, the musical chairs political power for generals and the manipulation by which the armed forces supreme commander, Suchinda Kraprayoon, pushed an unsuitable candidate for prime minister and then removed his own general's uniform and took over himself. But Thailand is no longer that kind of country. It is too industrious, too successful, too big, too sophisticated.