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Thai election likely in first half of 2011

Thai Prime Minister Abhisit Vejjajiva on Wednesday said he would not complete his term at the end of 2011 but would dissolve Parliament and call for a fresh election by the first half of this year provided that there is no fresh violence.

Aishwarya Gupta

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Thai Prime Minister Abhisit Vejjajiva on Wednesday said he would not complete his term at the end of 2011 but would dissolve Parliament and call for a fresh election by the first half of this year provided that there is no fresh violence.

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Domestic Thai politics remain dangerously polarized after antigovernment protests shook Bangkok last spring, and nobody wants to be accused of ceding Thai sovereignty. National elections will likely be held in the next six months, making the situation especially volatile.

The current crisis was sparked by seven Thai activists, including one parliamentarian from the ruling Democrat Party, who crossed illegally into the contested Cambodian-controlled territory on Dec. 29. Cambodian border guards arrested them, and they were locked up in a Phnom Penh jail. Three weeks later, a Cambodian court released five of them on suspended sentences and fined them one million riel ($250) each. The remaining two, still in detention, are charged with trespassing and espionage.

Thai nationalist groups such as the Thai Patriots Networks—a splinter group of the royalist yellow-shirt movement, the People’s Alliance for Democracy—and the Santi Asoke Buddhist sect have seized upon the theme of “lost territories” to legitimize their nationalist hostility toward Cambodia. Some of the Thais who were arrested in December are members of the TPN; Veera Somkwamkid, one of the group’s leaders, is one of the two who remain imprisoned across the border.

At a deeper level, however, the conflict reveals a power struggle between the government and the PAD, the two main bastions of royalism in domestic Thai politics. The PAD is apparently manipulating the border dispute between Thailand and Cambodia to undermine the Democrat-led government of Prime Minister Abhisit Vejjajiva.

says Pavin Chachavalpongpun, a fellow at Singapore’s Institute of Southeast Asian Studies.

Politics

Thailand falls to 73rd position in Economist’s Democracy Index

Within Southeast Asia, Thailand’s score regressed in 2020, falling to 73rd from 68th, including those related to the treatment of the opposition and to curbs on freedom of expression.

Olivier Languepin

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Democracy in sickness and in health? is the title of The Economist Intelligence Unit’s latest Democracy Index report, which looks at the impact of the coronavirus (Covid-19) pandemic on freedom and democracy around the world.

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Myanmar

Military coup in Myanmar threatens economic recovery

The coup follows rising tension between the government and the military over claims by the military that the NDL’s landslide win during the November election was marred by fraud.

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After a decade of democracy, the Myanmar military has staged a coup ousting the newly re-elected NDL party. So far, the coup has been peaceful and we do not expect it to lead to any major social unrest or large protests amid public concerns about Covid-19.

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Politics

Thai generals want more control on foreign businesses

Thailand’s military government is planning to amend the FBA (Foreign Business Act) to prevent foreign directors from controlling joint venture firms that are majority-owned by Thai shareholders.

Olivier Languepin

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Thailand’s military government is planning to amend the FBA (Foreign Business Act)  to prevent foreign directors from controlling joint venture firms that are majority-owned by Thai shareholders. (more…)

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