Rice, friends, drugs and a coup – what else!?

This time it’s on Thailand and not another global edition but I stockpiled too many articles over the days and hence I “had” to deal with my beloved Thailand (always a pleasure anyway).

Rice subsidy – haven’t we seen that before!?

Thailand’s government under Yingluck announced a similar rice subsidy policy as under the Thaksin government, which could cost the country quite some money (estimations go from 1% of GDP up to 2.3%). Furthermore inflation is driven upwards which will hurt the poorer part of the society more than the wealthier one’s. Still, as a big part of the poorer people work in rice farming, the granted (higher) price could be beneficial to some. Furthermore, as Thailand is the world’s biggest rice exporter and the food prices are sky high already anyway, this step will not help to prevent any further food crisis nor will it be as beneficial as believed by the Thai government (the articles mention that India and Vietnam will benefit more as their exports will increase).

The policy is a good example how similar Ms. Yingluck’s approach of policies is to her brother’s. If you can read between the lines, it could also mean that not the current PM is running the show… think about it!

Opinion: http://asiancorrespondent.com/65491/fcct-event-what-are-the-pros-and-cons-of-the-thai-governments-rice-pledging-scheme/

Analysis: http://www.asiasentinel.com/index.php?option=com_content&task=view&id=3768&Itemid=437

Happy Anniversary, dear Coup d’etat 2006

It’s been 5 years since Thaksin was ousted in a coup. Some argue it was good, some say it was bad. I’m not too sure about any of those claims. Facts are: a rogue PM was ousted – maybe not the worst decision. BUT, since the coup Thailand has been in permanent political struggles, demonstrations and internal conflicts – definitely not good for the country. You may recall what happened in spring 2010 (91 people dead, buildings on fire, etc.); it’s sad to see that people with such a beautiful mind (at least the majority of the people and their general attitude) have to do this to themselves again and again. The hope is to break the cycle and move together towards a better future… but this scenario is on hold for quite a bit longer I’m afraid.

http://asiancorrespondent.com/65350/5-year-anniversary-of-the-good-thai-coup-and-silent-rural-reds/

Photo essay: http://asiancorrespondent.com/65273/red-shirts-remember-five-year-anniversary-of-thailands-military-coup-a-photo-essay/

If you wonder what happened back in 2005/2006 you might have a read here: http://www.eastasia.at/vol6_1/article01.pdf

This article is about the coup and who was behind it, what exactly happened, why and when – I read it on my way from Vienna back home and it was one of the best articles I’ve ever read on this topic.

Concerning the spring 2010 riots and killings, there seems to be a real intention by the current government to investigate the killings again and find answers (well, no wonder as the riots where handled under the opposition’s politicians). Reuters is also looking into the case and pushes the responsible department to further investigate as one of their reporters (Hiro Muramoto, Japanese nationality) was killed in the first incident at nearby the Democracy Monument.

http://www.nytimes.com/2011/09/17/world/asia/thailand-troops-may-have-shot-protesters-in-bangkok-unrest.html?_r=2&partner=rss&emc=rss

Reuters: http://www.reuters.com/article/2011/09/16/us-thailand-security-muramoto-idUSTRE78F29420110916?feedType=RSS&feedName=worldNews&utm_source=feedburner&utm_medium=feed&utm_campaign=Feed%3A+reuters%2FworldNews+%28News+%2F+US+%2F+International%29

http://www.asiasentinel.com/index.php?option=com_content&task=view&id=3754&Itemid=185

This is a documentary by the BBC about an Italian woman who tries to seek the truth about the death of her brother. He was killed in the spring 2010 riots. (The broadcaster was accused of it’s bias recently in several Thai media outlets – you can make your own picture about the bias in this video – accusations came mostly from Westerners living in the North, Northeast). I found it quite interesting to see how the DSI and military reacts to questions on this topic. There’s also some quite good “behind the scenes” of Thai politics material in there.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=QufwX0JsdXA

Good to see ya, pal!

Thaksin is on the move. First Japan, then Cambodia and then back to Dubai I guess before there isn’t any further decision on his pardon, which is handled by the courts now. I haven’t followed that too much as I think it’s just hot air so far. The interesting part will be when a decision was made – but this will be handled in later posts.

Anyway, Hun Sen (Cambodian PM) and his old friend Thaksin met up on Friday, just one day after Yingluck made her official visit to the neighbor. The official statement of both sides is that they won’t talk about oil and gas (big reserves offshore the Thai and Cambodian coast – not officially decided who owns the areas and therefore the rights to explore the resources); BUT I don’t believe them. As we all know, oil and gas can fill pockets with money. Combine this stockpile of money with two exactly correct politicians and yes, you get another story, where a country loses money to corrupt politicians/business men.

BUT, as Thaksin and Hun Sen are quite some good friends, there is hope that the disputed around the Preah Vihear temple and its surrounding areas can be resolved or at least an agreement on collaboration under the umbrella of ASEAN could be reached.

Analysis: http://www.nationmultimedia.com/2011/09/13/national/Thaksin-to-visit-Cambodia-on-Friday-Hun-Sen-30165134.html

http://www.businessweek.com/news/2011-09-14/thai-premier-yingluck-to-visit-cambodia-in-bid-to-mend-relations.html

http://blogs.wsj.com/searealtime/2011/09/14/yingluck-faces-diplomatic-hurdles-in-cambodia/?mod=WSJBlog

http://online.wsj.com/article/SB10001424053111903927204576575841055537996.html?mod=fox_australian

http://asiancorrespondent.com/65195/cambodian-leader-welcomes-thai-ex-pm-thaksin/

http://english.aljazeera.net/news/asia-pacific/2011/09/201191762851349108.html

Quite what I think as well: http://www.bangkokpost.com/opinion/opinion/256230/pm-trip-to-phnom-penh

Thaksinean economics – better or worse!?!? http://www.bangkokpost.com/opinion/opinion/257381/little-internal-growth-under-thaksin

The battle in the South and the War on Drugs

If you read and follow Thai news you maybe now about the insurgency in the Southern part of the country and also the ongoing war on drug trade; this movements have some bad influence on the reputation of Thailand as a tourist destination as seen in the latest bombing. One Malay tourist and 4 Thai citizens were killed and several more were injured.

Thaksin initiated the war on drugs. He was said to use inhuman means to deal with this issue and that’s why he had to answer questions on this matter by UN officials in NY in September 2006 (yes, this was the day he was ousted in the coup). Since then, several thousand people were killed and no real decrease in drug trafficking has been seen since then. So, the policy failed and Thaksin hasn’t been charged with violations of human rights so far.

Now, there seems to be a link with bombings in the South and drug gangs, which are said to fund those attacks.

Bombings & drug gangs: http://asiancorrespondent.com/65210/thai-police-drug-dealers-funded-southern-bombings/

http://english.aljazeera.net/news/asia/2011/09/2011916222315258243.html

Insurgency: http://asiancorrespondent.com/65085/5-soldiers-killed-in-thailands-violent-south/

The War on Drugs: http://www.bangkokpost.com/opinion/opinion/256910/let-start-a-war-on-the-war-on-drugs (very good op-ed)

http://asiancorrespondent.com/64884/thailand-launches-new-push-against-illegal-drugs/

Regional WoD development: “It all points to another way in which Southeast Asia is becoming more important to the rest of the world — just not in the way Southeast Asian leaders had hoped.”

http://blogs.wsj.com/searealtime/2011/09/13/meth-demand-grows-in-southeast-asia/?mod=WSJBlog

This is quite an interesting article on Thai culture and how to raise children in Thai society… the approach taken by the Ministry of Culture is quite controversial as it does emphasize Buddhist practices (I favor them but what about people from other religious background) and Thai culture, which is a very ancient culture and somehow is not attracting the youth anymore (or not as much).

http://asiancorrespondent.com/64995/how-to-raise-your-thai-child-culturally-correct/

And something on the educational system: legal bribes!!!

http://asiancorrespondent.com/64808/tongue-thai’ed-part-viii-money-left-to-learn/

Freedom of expression/opinion

Here you’ll find an update on the last Thailand post on the issue of freedom of expression and opinion in the country of smiles:

http://online.wsj.com/article/SB10001424053111903532804576568534267649452.html?mod=fox_australian

“Lèse-Majesté, indeed, has become a political weapon — perhaps the most potent political weapon in Thailand — even though the king himself has said that he is not above criticism and seems to dislike the law.”

http://www.theatlantic.com/international/archive/2011/09/why-is-thailand-jailing-more-people-for-insulting-the-king/244998/

What happens to Thailand’s elderly?

It is astonishing that when the government is willing to splash as much as Bt30 billion on the first-car scheme, which would only worsen the weather and health conditions with higher carbon emissions, there is no integrated plan to cope with the greying society.”

http://www.nationmultimedia.com/2011/09/19/opinion/The-lack-of-a-plan-for-10m-elderly-Thais-is-astoun-30165605.html

Some more issues the media dealt with lately…

Transsexuals are not mentally ill: http://asiancorrespondent.com/64870/court-to-thai-military-transsexuals-not-ill/

Higher minimum wage promise – sustainable??? http://asiancorrespondent.com/64711/can-the-thai-government-force-the-private-sector-to-pay-higher-minimum-wages/

http://www.bangkokpost.com/opinion/opinion/257217/daily-news-editorial

Some “important” news on Yingluck here: http://asiancorrespondent.com/64918/yingluck-has-an-urge-to-itch/

http://blogs.wsj.com/searealtime/2011/09/13/yingluck-a-beauty-premium/

Thai business: http://asiancorrespondent.com/65458/business-report-on-ensogo-and-thailands-group-buying-industry/

So, that’s it for today! Next one will be on Burma as the articles are as well piling up on my reading list already.

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