Tag Archives: Democrat Party

The ties that bind Thailand’s Burma policy

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When Abhisit Vejjajiva slipped through the back door and into the prime minister’s seat in Thailand late last year, exiled democracy advocates from Burma welcomed him. Over a week after reports broke of the Thai navy forcing boatloads of people from Burma back into the ocean to die, they should be thinking again.

Abhisit’s maneuvering into the leadership spot – made possible only after military and royalist intrigues and the three-month illegal takeover of the offices that he now occupies – prompted lots of excited talk about nascent change in Thailand’s policies on Burma.

That was never going to happen. At no point in the last two decades has there been a meaningful shift in Bangkok’s approach to dealing with the generals to the west, neither under Abhisit’s Democrat Party or any other. There have been a few changes in style, but none in substance.

This is because the strongest ties binding Thailand’s policies on its neighbor are not from ministerial offices, but from military bases. And as the prime minister owes his job to the people that decide those policies, rather than the electorate, there is no advantage to him if he tries to do things differently.

The strength of these ties could not have been more apparent than in the handling of news that perhaps thousands of people from western Burma travelling to southern Thailand in boats have been repeatedly forced back out to sea since last December. Continue reading

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Thailand imperilled by masculinity, not pregnancy

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Thailand’s coup leader has uncovered a new and serious threat to national security. No, it’s not imminent bloodshed of the sort that was supposedly about to tear the country asunder last year, obliging him to play the part of reluctant gentleman usurper.

Nor is it yet another clique of the former prime minister’s tricky supporters, hoping to sneak back into government via the forthcoming general election. This time the threat has come not from within but from abroad.

Is it the military regime in neighboring Burma? Unlikely, given that the army general felt that it used “correct procedure” in handling recent mass protests, and he didn’t believe the photos anyhow.

How about religious zealots hoping to stoke the flames of unrest in the south? Uh-uh, too difficult, not them either. No, the latest astonishing problem that General Sonthi Boonyaratglin has uncovered is childbirth.

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