The political situation in Thailand

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Thailand is the first country I've visited that has a fairly heightened level of political unrest (perhaps with the exception of South Africa). Almost exactly one year ago Thai protesters occupied their international airport for one week and had numerous violent protests in the streets of Bangkok, all for reasons that I had no clue about. Before arriving in the country I kept a close eye on the political climate but still didn't fully understand the situation. I tried to learn more about it while I was there both just for safety reasons and also because I found it really quite interesting.

Thailand is still a monarchy, with a political system similar to England having both the monarch and a democratically elected prime minister and government. The current king has reigned over Thailand more than 60 years and in that time the per capita income of thai people has increased almost 40 fold. The Thai people love their king (so much that he is often referred to as "the Great") and anyone who speaks against the monarch can be punished heavily (between 3 to 15 years in jail).

Though Thailand technically became a democracy in 1932, it was actually still under military rule until uprisings in the 70's. In 1980 Thailand had their first elected government. During the first few elections (among the numerous attempted coups on the government) the party that won was the richest as they could more or less "buy" the votes of the people. Over the next couple of elections the Thai people became more educated about democracy and could no longer be bought. In 2001, the first person who wasn't born into a rich family was elected (Thaksin Shinawatra). He was born into a working class family but became rich through his own telecom.

In 2005 he was reelected in a landslide victory. Shortly after this he was accused of illegally selling millions of dollars worth of shares in his company to a foreign investor among other favours to his political supporters. The parties who were previously in power saw this as a good opportunity to take it back. One person who owned another media firm started spreading and exposing other rumours of high-level corruption and conspiracy within the government. Thaksin failed to answer anything regarding the allegations and the support of people against his government grew.

Apparently he also ultimately wanted to make Thailand a true democracy and cut the monarch out of any decision making. After the coup, there was concern that Thaksin was still running a "puppet" government from outside of the country. The anti-thaksin party basically continued to fight to attempt to change the government to be one with more appointed officials and less elected. The continued to gain support from the middle and upper class and eventually led to the 2008/2009 crisis.

In the meantime, the King has become quite sick. Thailand has always had a troubled political system (with apparently 18 coups over the years). The Thai people view the king as someone who can step in and fix the situation when it gets too troubled. The country unanimously love him and would most likely agree with whatever h decided, even in times of turmoil. If the king dies, a new head will be appointed, however the Thai people do not like the prince who would be next in line for the throne. There are rumours that he would possibly appoint his daughter and not his son, but regardless there will most likely be a large struggle for power over the country when he does pass.

The political situation in the country right now is mostly stable, but the Kings death would likely end that. Ultimately, Thailand is a very safe place (IMO) and if something were to happen, either flee the country as soon as possible or just stay away from any protests and you'll probably be safe.

Peanut Gallery

Please do you research better

Anonymous

Please do you research better than this. Thaksin Shinawatra is not the first rich boy who become Thai Prime Minister. Please search "Chaun Likphai". He is born to a normal family.

Thaksin Shinawatra is born to at least to say an upper middle class family. His family owns one of the biggest silk store in Chiang Mai. If he is so sincere, how can you become more rich when you were Prime minister.

Previous political uprising in Thailand will always support by highly educated people such as university students. However, do you see any students at this time?

Please search the situation about how his daughter get into the university. Thailand has a standard one test for get into university and never have any rumor about disappearing exam until his daughter's exam year.

If he is so clean, why upon he becomes Prime minister, his company bought out the news channel and newspaper.

He had several great project which actually in place with a new name or have an underlying agenda.

His medical plan brings the country to a crisis of hospital bankruptcy. His 30 Baht cures every disease is failing. Before poor people get treat for free or pay something like 100 baht and get medicine for a whole month. This is just an example. Now they need to pay 30 Baht and get medicine for a week. Some people travel like 3 hours to go to hospital. Going 4 times a month cause people more money. These are people who get paid by days.

I said: "In 2001, the first

Scott Hadfield

I said: "In 2001, the first person who wasn't born into a rich family was elected (Thaksin Shinawatra)."

You said:

"Please do you research better than this. Thaksin Shinawatra is not the first rich boy who become Thai Prime Minister. Please search "Chaun Likphai". He is born to a normal family."

I never said he was the first rich boy... I said he was the first person who /wasn't/ born into a rich family. So I don't think we're disagreeing here...

In fact, I don't think anything you said here contradicts what I've written. You're just clearly someone who dislikes Thaksin and you have your reasons. I'm not Thai, nor have I ever lived in Thailand so I have no strong opinion one way or the other on the matter. What I do know, is that the corruption he was accused of sounds no different than what the leaders of any other democratic country do :).

Please note that this post was written on Dec 5, 2009, months before the current uprising began.

With regards to the current political crisis, as far as I can tell what the protesters want is an election, since the current government was not elected. I don't know a lot about the situation though, and this post merely provides a very high level overview and a little background information from the past few years.