Abdullah Shocked By Coup In Thailand

From Bernama of September 20, 2006

NEW YORK, Sept 20 (Bernama) -- Datuk Seri Abdullah Ahmad Badawi has expressed shock over the military coup in Thailand, and hoped the country would soon be ruled by a democratically-elected government.
"I am really shocked, I didn't expect a coup would have taken place in Thailand," was the Malaysian prime minister's reaction when asked about the coup at a press conference Tuesday attended by Malaysian journalists covering his working visit to New York for the 61st United Nations General Assembly here.
Noting that resorting to such a means to change any government would not go down well with many people, he said that an election would be a better proposition.
Nevertheless, Abdullah pointed out that those responsible in the Thai coup had mentioned that democracy would return as soon as possible.
"That is an acknowledgement that we hope can be implemented as soon as possible, and if possible, an election that has been planned can be carried out at an appropriate time," he said.
Thailand's Army Commander-in-Chief Gen Sonthi Boonyaratglin staged a coup d'etat in the Thai capital, with Prime Minister Thaksin Shinawatra away in New York to attend the General Assembly.
Sonthi declared over army radio that Thaksin had been overthrown by the "Democratic Reform Council" because there was a need to control the political crisis for the benefit of the country.
"We want this to happen peacefully and we will return democracy as soon as possible," the announcement said.
Abdullah said he had intended to meet Thaksin to find out more about what had happened, but this did not materialise as he (Abdullah) was too busy with his programme in New York.
The prime minister said currently there was no advisory asking Malaysians not to visit Thailand.
"We will monitor the situation in Thailand," he said, advising Malaysians to closely monitor the latest situation in the neighbouring country in the print and electronic media.
Nevertheless, he said Malaysians should consider deferring their visit to Thailand if martial law or curfew was declared in that country.
"If there is chaos, then don't go. But if the situation is under control and if the authorities have assured businessmen, for example, or anyone at all that they can go, then it should not be a problem."

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