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Asean Affairs    24  October  2011

Perhaps real populism may now come to Thailand

 By David Swartzentruber

 AseanAffairs     24  October 2011

Quite often  when disasters hit a country, they can bring about change by  forcing the established government, political , business and moneyed interests to rethink the issues.

For example the recent New Zealand earthquakes devastated Christchurch. The multi-story buildings are gone to be replaced by lower structures that are more resistant to earthquakes.

The same scenario may now apply to Thailand.

Watches can be set by the fact that Thailand, along with the rest of South and Southeast Asia get hit with monsoons every year. They go out with a flourish as October often is deluged and then at the end of the month, humidity usually drops and the “high season” for tourism begins with cooler and drier weather appearing.

Thailand has been receiving lots of water this monsoon season and quite obviously the existing water management was not up to the task of handling the deluge. Whether climate change is  or is not the causative agent is not the issue, but public safety is.
The Pheu Thai party won the July 3 election with a platform of so-called populist policies.  And no party in the election talked about meeting the challenges of global warming.

The people paying the price for Thailand’s water management policies are the everyday Thai people in central Thailand and Thailand’s northern suburbs, not the Bangkok elite, including the members of the Pheu Thai cabinet.

After the deluge is over in Thailand, perhaps change will come to develop an improved water management system. The political powers should also consider methods to prevent Bangkok from becoming inundated by ocean waters as well.

Public safety is an essential duty of any government and the current Thai government as well as those of the last 20 years may get a glimmer of what real populism is- making its citizens safe.

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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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