Dec 11, 2013

Summary of news on the anti-Yingluck administration protest in Thailand (update @ Dec 11)

Thailand still in trouble related to the 2013 amnesty bill. We summed up some news and comments from analyst. Please check:

Pic source: South China Morning Post

Update Dec 11, 2013

“What Suthep wants — of course it is absurd — is to kick the Shinawatras out of Thailand and then to uproot the Thaksin regime,” said former Thai diplomat Pavin Chachavalpongpun, an associate professor at the Center for Southeast Asian Studies at Kyoto University.
“Things will not be easy from now on,” he said, adding that the opposition Democrat Party doesn’t “even have any further plan apart from making the situation ungovernable.”

Why it is not surprising:

Thailand’s oligarchs are fighting | New Mandala

I want to believe that those who have taken to the street recently in Bangkok really do wish at heart to simply have a political system that is free from the influence of money. Or maybe we should say extreme amounts of wealth, like an ultra-extreme amount of wealth available only to the—not the top 1 percent—but the top .01 percent, top .001 percent, and, empirically speaking, really the top .0001 percent of Thailand’s 67 million people.

I have not heard others use “oligarch” or “oligarchy” with the Thai national case so much—not like I have heard it in reference for the Philippines or Indonesia. But I wonder if it is now time to begin using it with Thailand.

The problem with the idea of “Thaksinization” is that it is only tenable in the sense that it is really a kind of “oligarchization”, which is simply named after the one hapless oligarch who has been most visible in this variant of money politics. All of this emphasis on Thaksin has dulled our senses to the very real fact that he is not the only vain oligarch on the Thai national stage.

Know more about the protesters this time:

"There is a lot of what I call Thaksin-phobia among the people of Bangkok in particular," said Pavin Chachavalpongpun, a professor at the Center for Southeast Asian Studies at Kyoto University in Japan. "But it's being magnified by the uncertainty about what a royal succession would bring. The anxiety levels have really been heightened."

Update Dec 9, 2013

Asia Unbound » Demise of the Democrat Party in Thailand

the Democrats have become increasingly conservative, elitist, and anti-democratic. This strategy has not helped them win elections, and neither has their incoherent policy positions—they had denounced the populist parties of Thai Rak Thai/Puea Thai but, when running for Parliament in 2011, the Democrats essentially copied these policies.

Now, by resigning from Parliament en masse to join street protests designed to foment anarchy and topple the government, rather than trying to win power through elections, the Democrat Party has reached new lows... The party now seems to exist primarily to work against democratic institutions, and undermine democratic culture.

Thailand’s 2013 protests in comparison


Update Dec 8, 2013


Update Dec 6, 2013

When vote-buying did matter 30 years ago, the pattern was very different. What we see from the 2011 pattern is the results of voting on the basis of mass-shared sentiment. Recent false claims about vote-buying are a key part of the campaign to undermine electoral democracy. The real problem is that more people understand the value of the vote, and are using it in their own interest.

Vote-buying claims nothing but dangerous nonsense | Bangkok Post: opinion

In a public intervention in 2006, when Democrat politicians were urging him to replace Mr Thaksin, who was then prime minister, King Bhumibol said: “Asking for a royally appointed prime minister is undemocratic. It is, pardon me, a mess. It is irrational.” Wise words to remember on his birthday.

Thailand’s protests: Pressing the pause button | The Economist


Update Dec 5, 2013

Capital Economics analyst Krystal Tan said there’s anecdotal evidence of groups cancelling reservations.

“That’s bad news for Thailand because it’s peak tourism season now,” she said. “Things are not going well for Thailand on almost every front.”


“The focal point is the fact that the political upheaval is inconveniently observed in the fourth quarter of the year, a critical period for Thailand to shore up the seasonally-high exports to support economic growth for the year,” OCBC strategist Barnabas Gan wrote in a research note.

Bhavya Sehgal, head of Asia-Pacific research for the Frontier Strategy Group in Singapore, said the unrest could prompt multi-national corporations, or MNCs, to re-evaluate their plans for Thailand.

“The government’s focus will be on sorting out the crisis, so incremental investment may not increase rapidly,” he said. “That puts a lot of pressure on the export sector, which has been a big deal for the Thai economy over the past few years. It becomes a vicious circle, and MNCs will have to look at their game plans for 2014.”

In Thailand, Political Unrest Adds to Downward Economic Spiral - Southeast Asia Real Time – WSJ


Full Article:

Thailand's stark choice (by Prof Andrew Walker) - CAP – ANU

Update Dec 4, 2013

Update Dec 3, 2013

"Suthep is aligned with the establishment and with the anti-Thaksin sentiments strongly held by much of the Bangkok middle-classes. For all his talk of morality, he has a reputation as a political bruiser," said Duncan McCargo, a professor of Southeast Asian politics at the University of Leeds.  "The sentiments he is articulating are deeply anti-democratic: whatever the shortcomings of the Yingluck government, there is no legitimate basis for ousting it by force."
in The political bruiser exposing Thailand’s fragile fault lines - Asia - World - The Independent
Thitinan Pongsudhirak from Bangkok-based Chulalongkorn University:
"If Suthep succeeds, we will have a lot more trouble in Thailand; if Yingluck survives, we will also have problems but they can be managed with the return of the mandate to the people," the associate professor said.

As protests escalated over the past days, the alternative of a military coup has also come into the picture, but Thitinan called it "unsustainable."

…the best way under the circumstances for Thailand to find a way ahead is "to have alternative parties for people to go to."

"Now we have chance and space for third parties to emerge to break the deadlock," he said, adding without that, there will be no trust in Thailand's electoral system.

"It's very difficult work. But the alternative doesn't work. Because the electoral system, despite all its flaws, allows the majority of Thai people to have a voice, to choose their own representatives," Thitinan said.
in Interview: Expert predicts more turmoil in Thailand's political deadlock – Xinhua

Thitinan Pongsudhirak, director of Chulalongkorn's Institute of Security and International Studies, said the two sides "believe in different versions of democracy."
"It is a fight for the soul of the nation, for the future of the country," he said. One side wants "to be heard" while the protesters "want the kind of legitimacy that stems from moral authority. Their feeling is ... if the elected majority represents the will of the corrupt, it's not going to work."
in Long-running societal divide over right to power fuels unrest in Thailand @AP

November rain for democracy in Thailand @  New Mandala

A tale of two cities, again? @  New Mandala

Update Dec 2, 2013

In Thailand, It's Crippling Déjà vu All Over Again via @BW
Who is Suthep, the protest leader? SCMP has a piece about him and his tie with the anti-Thaksin force:

Thai protest leader Suthep a son of the elite with an axe to grind | South China Morning Post
The article also looked at one important issue, Who fund the whole thing:
"The people behind these protests are the same people behind the 2006 coup. It's impossible that Suthep is acting alone," said Kan Yuenyong, executive director of the Siam Intelligence Unit, a Bangkok think tank.
"They are spending around five million baht (HK$1.27 million) a day on sustaining the protesters, so he must have people behind him providing that money."
"The elite need someone to protect their interests, so Suthep is acting for them," said Kan. "But no one will admit that in public.
"Instead, they say they want to reform a corrupt system. But if Suthep really wants to reform the system, why isn't he doing it from within parliament?"

"The people who are doing this are looking for an uprising," said Pitch Pongsawat, a professor of political science at Bangkok's Chulalongkorn University.
"They think if they succeed they'll be pardoned, so it's worth the risk for them. If the government does talk to the protesters, they'll want an amnesty for their role in this."
But with the number of protesters dwindling and Puea Thai refusing to be provoked into cracking down on the demonstrations, Suthep's options are looking increasingly limited.
"I don't think he is a clever man," said Pitch. "He's like the guy who goes into a casino and bets on everything.
in Thai protest leader Suthep a son of the elite with an axe to grind | @SCMP_News

More on funding the protest in Asian Correspondent:

One vote-buying in Thailand:

Update: Nov 30, 2013
"The basic desire of the protesters and the protest leaders is to create chaos and destruction, presumably hoping that the military will have to intervene and take power from the government," said Thailand expert Andrew Walker, a professor at Australian National University.
in Thai protests target army, ruling party headquarters - Channel NewsAsia

Update: Nov 29, 2013
The above article is a Q&A section done by WSJ with Kyoto University’s Pavin Chachavalpongpun.
Here is some quote:
“Basically, there is no motive behind the demonstrations today; they’re just only to overthrow the democratically elected government of Yingluck Shinawatra.”
“if you look at the approach on the part of the government, Yingluck has been a little bit careful in her dealings with demonstrations and choosing steps that avoid adopting preventive measures, evoking the rule of law, issuing arrest warrants.”
Q&A: Protesters Enter Thai Army Headquarters - Southeast Asia Real Time – WSJ

Thailand's red-shirt heartland hides its strength | Reuters

Remark: when the Economist called for an end of the lèse-majesté in the leader section of the printed edition, the above tweet noted us an important thing.

Update: Nov 28, 2013

Protests in Thailand: Power grab | The Economist

Thailand: The exile and the kingdom | The Economist

Update: Nov 27, 2013

Prof. Hewison @asiasentinel saw the politicization of court in Thailand as a underlying factor to current situation.

Quote in above article:
Suthep’s action leaves one to wonder; “what does he really want?”
As far as I can understand, the blank rhetoric he threw out was not to propose any solution, he just wants to mobilise those who hate the government. Suthep does not want any solution to the situation; his use of ambiguity is in order to enjoy broad support. This is likely because what he actually wants more than anything is “chaos”.
Koyoto University’s Pavin Chachavalpongpun wrote a article about Suthep Thaugsuban in Asia Sentinel:


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