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Thailand's Political Crisis Deepens

Once defiant ‘Red Shirt’ anti-government protesters surrendered after Thai troops crushed a months-long street standoff that had paralyzed central Bangkok. Hundreds are under arrest, a night-time curfew has been declared along with a TV news blackout as the army tries to mop up small pockets of resistance. But will the tough action by the security forces restore a lasting peace to the capital of the so-called ‘Land of Smiles”? Or, is more violence, bloodshed and social unrest likely? Can the kingdom regain a sense of unity? And, who are the main players in this national tragedy? In this audio slideshow, Duncan McCargo, author of Tearing Apart the Land: Islam and Legitimacy in Southern Thailand, winner of Asia Society's Bernard Schwartz Book Award, discusses Thailand's political crisis.

 

Produced by Stephanie Valera, Asia Society Online

Hey, I'm reading and watch the media coverage of the events in Thailand and find while there is allot being written,aired, and posted that there seems to be darn little real information out there. Sure, They show use protesters and they show use troops but they fail to inform us. The media reports the protesters are anti Government but fails to say what the protesters views are. Are the red shirts socialist? Communist? Maybe the protesters are for a smaller less oppressive government? I'm not finding much real information out there in this age of information. HELP!
The reason that there is not much info is that Red Shirts don't really have any specific policy demands. The Red Shirt movement does consist of people (e.g., Weng, Jaran) that were involved in the Communist movement of decades past, but it also has included people (e.g., Seh Daeng, Chavalit) who have a distinctive anti-Communist and even anti-Democratic past. In general, politics in Thailand don't fit into the Left-Right divide that most people are familiar with in the west. Thai politics tend to be more about people than policy. Political parties tend not to have any policy platform at all. What the Red Shirt protesters want is: 1) Dissolution of the current parliament and new elections. (They are currently scheduled for Dec 2011 but the Red Shirt leaders rejected an offer by the Abhisit government of for elections to be held 14 Nov 2010.) 2) The reinstatement of politicians currently banned after corruption convictions. 3) Amnesty for everyone involved in the current protests. IMO it's more accurate to view the current situation as a power struggle among various factions that have different agendas, most of which are not ideoligocally driven.
The current crisis is a symptom of a very sick country that never been allowed to develop democracy to its maturity. I am sad to say this but I feel it is better to expose it to the eye of the outside world than trying to keep it under the carpet again and again and continue to pretend that Thailand is doing fine, Thai people are friendly ...etc. I am aware that the political crisis bears high economic costs, But for the sake of changes in to the right direction, we have to face and pay for it.
The current crisis is a symptom of a very sick country that never been allowed to develop democracy to its maturity. I am sad to say this but I feel it is better to expose it to the eye of the outside world than trying to keep it under the carpet again and again and continue to pretend that Thailand is doing fine, Thai people are friendly ...etc. I am aware that the political crisis bears high economic costs, But for the sake of changes in to the right direction, we have to face and pay for it.
The current crisis is a symptom of a very sick country that never been allowed to develop democracy to its maturity. I am sad to say this but I feel it is better to expose it to the eye of the outside world than trying to keep it under the carpet again and again and continue to pretend that Thailand is doing fine, Thai people are friendly ...etc. I am aware that the political crisis bears high economic costs, But for the sake of changes in to the right direction, we have to face and pay for it.
The current crisis is a symptom showing a very sick country. With previous 18 coup d'tas, this country has never been allowed to develop democracy to its maturity. I am sad to say this. But I feel it is better to expose the sickness to the eye of the outside world, for cure, than trying to keep it under the carpet again and again and continue to pretend that Thailand is doing fine, Thai people are friendly ...etc. I am aware that the political crisis bears high economic costs, but I believe it will subsequently lead to changes in to the right direction. We have to face it and pay for it. I admire and I am grateful to our red-shirt fighters who will not give up their fight for equality and democracy.
Great slideshow, and nice commentary from Mr. McCargo. It's really sad how polarized the country has become and the result of this polarization has been more bloodshed. I just wish there can be some sort of resolution to this impasse. I'm not sure what Thailand's politicians are doing to pave a path to peace, but I think ASEAN should be involved in promoting dialogue and reconciliation.

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