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Posted by on Feb 7, 2010 in Asia, Thailand

Thai Politics – Not a Bore

so Thai politics. What a thing. Read a little and learn a little and don’t be surprised if bad things happen here in the next month….

Background on Thailand. All From Wikipedia so dont think I am plagiarizing – I am not. Simply copying and pasting 

The country is a kingdom, a constitutional monarchy with King Bhumibol Adulyadej, the ninth king of the House of Chakri, who has reigned since 1946, making him the world’s longest-serving current head of state and the longest-reigning monarch in Thai history.
Thaksin Shinawatra 2001-2006
Thaksin Shinawatra entered politics in 1994 and founded the Populist Thai Rak Thai (TRT) party in 1998. After a landslide election victory in 2001, he became Prime Minister, the country’s first to serve a full term. Thaksin introduced a range of partly effective and highly popular policies to alleviate rural poverty. He launched the country’s first universal healthcare program, the 30-baht (thats 1 dollar) scheme, as well as drastic social order and drug suppression campaigns. His re-election in 2005 had the highest voter turnout in Thai history. The Thaksin government also faced allegations of corruption, authoritarianism, treason, conflicts of interest, acting non-diplomatically, and muzzling of the press.
The People’s Alliance for Democracy, a large group of the middle class and a coalition of anti-Thaksin protestors, gathered in Bangkok, demanding that Thaksin resign as Prime Minister so that the King could directly appoint someone else. Thaksin refused and protests continued for weeks.
Thaksin dissolved parliament on February 24, 2006 and called a snap election for April 2, 2006. The election was boycotted by the opposition parties. As the Thai consitituion requires all seats to be filled from the beginning of parliament, and Thaksin could not fill it, a consitutional crisis was produced. After floating several suggestions, on April 4, 2006, Thaksin announced that he would step down as Primse Minister as soon as parliament had selected a successor.
As allegations of administratice abuse cases were brought against the Election Committee in October 15 2006, Thaksin still continued to work as caretaker Prime Minister.
2006 Coup:
Poor People from the rural areas were paid and encouraged to gather to form a big mob in bangkok. While Thaksin was in NYC to make a speech, there was a conspiracy to create a violent clash to brutally end the month-long protest. Just in time to prevent the alleged clash, the military seized power on 19 September 2006.
The Council for Democratic Reform under Constitutional Monarchy (CDRM) led by General Sonthi Boonyaratglin was formed. Political activites were banned by the junta after the coup and the 1997 Constitutionwas abrogated, although most of the institutions of government remained intat. A new constitution was drafted and promulgated in late 2007. One month after the coup, an interim civilian government was formed.
During 2006 and 2007, organized underground terrorist activities took place, burning numerous schools in rural areas of the North and Northeast of Thailand and bombs planted in ten locations in bangkok killed and Injured several people on New Years Eve 2006.
The constitutional court unanimously dissolved the populist Thai Rak Thai party (Thaksin’s party) following punishment according to the 1997 constitution. ON December 23 2007 national parliamentary election was held, based on the new constitution, and People Power Party led by Samek Sundaravej, began taking the reins of government. Thailsn new Parliament convened on January 21, 2008.
Political Crisis 2008-2009:The People’s Power Party (PPP), led by Samak Sundaravej formed a government with five smaller parties. Following several court rulings against him in a variety of scandals, and surviving a vote of no confidence, and protesters blockading government buildings and airports, in September 2008, Sundaravej was found guilty of conflict of interest by the Constitutional Court of Thailand (due to him being a host in a cooking TV program), and thus, ended his term in office.

Samek Sundaravej, in 1973 ran a prominent month-long propagansa campaign, accussing democratic students movements of being communist rebellions, traitors and spies. The event ended in massacre of hundreds of students at Thammasat University on October 14th 1973.

Sundaravej was replaced by PPP member Somchai Wongsawat. As of October 2008, Wongsawat was unable to gain access to his offices, which was occupied by protesters from the People’s Alliance for Democracy. On December 2, 2008, Thailand Constitutional Court found the ruling Peoples Power Party guilty of electoral fraud, which led to the dissolution of the party according to the law.

After defections from smaller parties, the opposition Democrats Party was able to form a government, a first for the party since 2001. The leader of the Democrat party, and former leader of the opposition, Abhisit Vejjajiva was appointed and sworn-in as the 27th Prime Minister, together with the new cabinet on 17 December 2008.

2009 Disturbances:

Since the rise of the new government of Abhisit, Thaksin’s loyalists vowed to oppose it. in April 2009, Thaksin’s supporters, known as ‘The Red Shirts’, began its huge anti-government demonstration in Bangkok aiming at the resignation of the Prime Minister. From April 8 2009, the demonstrators spread their activities to signifincat locations such as main intersections. The streets were also blocked and barricaded. The demonstration took place at the same time of the ASEAN summit in Pattaya. The demonstrators also moved to protest, aiming at barring the summit, but eventually a handful of protestors stormed the hotel causing its cancellation.

In Bangkok, the protest became fiercer because of the arrest of the leaders of the Pattaya protest and in the afternoon, the premier Abhisit, declared that State of Emergency. The protestors blocked the entrance of the Ministry, aiming at ‘seizing’ the premier and other ministrers however the premier could escape. IN the alte afternoon, the government briefed the situation. The government began to deploy anti-riot troops. Armor Vehicles were seen in Downtown bangkok without a clear reason. The anti-riot troops armed with shields, batons, and M-16 guns, said with paper bullets, started dispersing the protestors on the Bangkok streets. Clashes were seen in major streets, but only two men were found dead related to the riot. On the major avenues and streets in the metropolitan, burning buses were seen as well as wounded people were carried to the hospitals, no serious cases were reported however. The protestors of the People’s Alliance for Democracy took seige of Bangkok’s international airport in hopes of finding out information about the Prime Ministers flights, since they wanted him to step down from his position. Everything ended peacefully a few days later but with nothing resolved.

Current:

So a bunch of people are in Thai Politics Class right now. Apparently the Red Shirts are rising again, and the teacher said to watch in the coming weeks for riots around Thammasat and surrounding again. A major issue now is also that The King of Thailand has been sick for the last little while. The King is everything to the Thai People, They are extremely upset that he is in teh hospital right now – and it is VERY dangerous for foreigners to speak of the King and the royal family, since if anything negative is said about them, there is jail time associated to that! If your money blows in the wind and you go to step on it – you can go to jail for that since the Kings face is on the money. But Since the King has been sick, there is question of the Royal Successor. The King has a son and daughter. Nobody really likes the son here, but of course that cannot be said outloud, while the daughter is dearly loved by all, locally and internationally, she is a prominant figure in global thai politics, speaks many languages, and is a generally nice person. But typically, as most monarchys work, the son is the next in line. Thing to worry about though, and so I’ve been told, is that if the son becomes King, there is word of him being hurt, by others, to dethrone him (dont want to say the correct word), but I know nothing of it since Thai people will speak nothing of the sort negative about him, and of course it would be extremely dangerous for me to ask them. So this is what I have heard from other students in that professors class. But yes, I have to watch out apparently for Protests and Riots in the next few weeks around MY University. But I see the riots as meaning vacation time for me, but who knows.