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Asean Affairs  10 January 2011

Rallies start 2011  on a wary note in Thailand

By  David Swartzentruber

AseanAffairs     10 January 2011

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Saturday, January 8, was Childrens’ Day in Thailand, a day when children and their families officially celebrate, well, children. The following day, Sunday, was just another day but in downtown Bangkok became a Protest Day when an estimated 30,000 red shirt protesters turning out to hold a rally and hear fugitive prime minister Thaksin Shinawatra do a call-in.

The size of the crowd surprised government officials. The large size of the crowd comes only a few weeks after the lifting of the emergency decree that put a lid on such large gatherings. The next protest is scheduled for January 25 by the yellow shirts, who oppose the red shirts point of view.

It seems that the methods used by the Abhisit Vejjajivagovernment to calm the population since the end of violent protests May 19, have come up short, at least among those groups of Thai citizens who enjoy taking to the streets and staging protests.

The protests set the stage for an upcoming election, to be held later this year. The time of the election will be determined when the prime minister dissolves Parliament, which could occur at any point in 2011.

More protests will put pressure on the government to call an election. Expect political tensions to increase in Thailand until a new election is held.

Paul A. Ebeling, Jnr

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This year in Thailand-what next?

04 January 2011
By David Swartzentruber      

It is commonplace in journalism to write two types of articles at the transition point between the year that has passed and the New Year. As this writer qualifies as an “old hand” in observing Thailand with a track record dating back 14 years, it is time take a shot at what may unfold in Thailand in 2011.

The first issue that can’t be answered is the health of Thailand’s beloved King Bhumibol, who is now 83 years old. He is the world's longest reigning monarch, but elaborate birthday celebrations in December failed to mask concern over his health. More

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