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Pattaya Daily News

13 December 2009 :: 21:12:36 pm 1315

Thailand ’09; Politically & Economically Unstable

The continued protests and counter-demonstrations levelled at the legitimacy of the Thai government, the lingering political unrest with Cambodia and the instability of the Thai economy is set to define Thailand for 2009. With no clear solution to the turmoil, 2010 looks to be heading the same way according to leading analysts and various political advisors.
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Thailand, the 13th of December 2009 [Pattaya Daily News]: Thaksin Shinawatra’s continuing influence on the Thai population once again saw a mass protest form on the streets of Bangkok. The National United Front for Democracy Against Dictatorship (UDD) convened at Bangkok’s Democracy Monument on Thursday to witness a video linked message from their figurehead ex-prime minster Shinawatra. Later, approximately 15-20,000 members of the UDD protested for the dissolution of the current parliament, calling for a reinstatement of the 1997 constitution which saw Thaksin Shinawatra win 2 elections (2001 & 2005) in landslide victories.

Thaksin was controversially deposed following a military coup in 2007 stemming from allegations of corruption. Thaksin subsequently fled the country before returning to face the charges levelled against him by the new government. Before the verdict was handed down Thaksin once again fled the country, remaining in exile due to the threat of imprisonment if he is to return. In recent times his acceptance of the position of Economic Adviser to Cambodian Prime Minister Hun Sen has caused a political spat to emerge between the two nations. Thaksin’s exclusive interview with UK newspaper The Times is also a cause for dispute within the Thai government who believe his remarks undermined the revered Thai monarchy.

The night before the recent UDD demonstrations in Bangkok, a fund-raising dinner was held for the political website www.prachatai.com, the Website started in 2004 to attract readers disillusioned with the mainstream Thai media. Website founder Mr. Jon Ungpakorn opened the dinner with a speech in which he mention that the current Thai media environment was stifling, and that the level of self-censorship among Thai journalists meant that crucial issues were going unreported or neglected completely. “The media does not discuss extrajudicial killings, torture, the level of the military budget,” he said. “Thailand in Transition: A Historic Challenge, and What’s Next?” This was the theme behind the dinner in which the current Bangkok City Governor Mr Sukhumbhand Paribatra informed the gathered media and Bangkok’s high society that the current “political uncertainty in Thailand is likely to continue,” also going on to question his own parties ability to deal with the increasing Muslim rebellion in Thailand’s Deep South as well as the continuing political disputes with Cambodia and Burma.
Professor Thongchai Winichakul, based at the University of Wisconsin-Madison in the US believes that most of the political issues besetting Thailand at present directly relate to the subject of royal succession, a topic that is becoming increasingly thought about over the last few months with the 82 year old King Bhumibol Adulyadej approaching his third month in hospital following a lung infection. Mr. Winichakul suggested that a similar problem was faced after Thailand’s great modernising monarch King Chulalongkorn was succeeded, one of the main reasons behind Thailand’s 1932 revolution which ended the absolute monarchy. “The more superhuman the father was made to look, the steeper the mountain the Crown Prince had to climb,” he said. Despite the archaic laws surrounding the criticising of the Thai monarchy, the next generation of Thai people have started to look outside of Thailand, posing questions, and asking why countries around them continue to develop their economies whilst Thailand has remained relatively unchanged for the last 25 years.

Further to the current political situation within the Kingdom, Pansak Vinyarat a former advisor and journalist of the Thaksin government recently stated in a presentation that, foreign investors had been advised against investing in Thailand due to the current political turmoil and the global economic crisis. Further to this he informed the gathered audience that investors wanted to be assured that there would be no more coups, and that election results are adhered to. Until these issues have been corrected Thailand’s political and economic situation looks set to continue deep into 2010 and possibly beyond.

Reporter : John Weston   Photo : Internet   Category : Politics News

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