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Asean Affairs   21 June  2011

Thailand’s “fake goods” lead straight to the top

By  David Swartzemtruber

AseanAffairs     21 June 2011

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Thailand has long been a marketplace where locals and tourists alike can buy fake goods, knock-offs that carry a brand name but are not Chanel, Gucci or Coach bags, they are usually made in China, not in France.

Now it seems the syndrome of “fake goods” has reached the highest levels of national governance-the contest for the top elected post in Thai government-the prime minister’s office.

Shortly after the dissolution of parliament in early May, fugitive former prime minister Thaksin Shinawatra nominated his youngest sister, Yingluck Shinawatra, for the #1 spot on the Pheu Thai party list. Traditionally, the person occupying this position is slated to become prime minister if elected, but this election could change that.

Shortly after Ms. Yingluck received the unanimous approval of Pheu Thai , Mr. Thaksin demurred and said she might not actually become prime minister, that there was no law that stated the #1 candidate should become prime minister.

While this is true, it breaks a long-established tradition in Thai politics and to some degree is a fraud being run on Thai voters. The #1 candidate carries the “brand name” of Shinawatra but by her own brother’s comments, probably lacks the skills to be a prime minister.

Later this week, another deception is on tap for the political debates. On June 23, there will be nationally televised debates between the six candidates of the top six parties. On the next night, June 24,a debate between the two #1 candidates of the two major parties is planned. Mr. Abhisit for the Democrats and Ms.-wait a second, stop the presses-not Ms. Yingluck.

After missing the Election Commission deadline for submitting the name of their debater-the Pheu Thai party has put forth the “#2 guy” to carry the party banner in the debates. The “genuine goods” are apparently a Mr. Yongyuth replacing the “fake goods” of Ms. Yingluck, of brand name fame.

In many respects, it is sad to see such chicanery foisted upon the public. But the game in politics is “the voters get what they vote in” and only the results of the upcoming July 3 election will tell if Thai voters choose the “fake goods” over the real. Life can be an illusion, “don’t ya know.”

Paul A. Ebeling, Jnr

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This year in Thailand-what next?

AseanAffairs   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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