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Asean Affairs    27  October  2011

Political and flood currents both swirl in Thailand

 By David Swartzentruber

 AseanAffairs     27  October 2011

The newly elected Thai government has come under a good deal of scrutiny over its handling of Thailand’s monumental flood.

Winning a landslide election on July 3 and forming a government  in August,  the government of Prime Minister Yingluck Shinawatra has had little time to get its feet wet but with the floods swirling in Bangkok, that’s now not a problem.

However, the political division in the country is playing a negative role in the country’s flood response.

The latest news comes from Army chief General Prayuth Chan-ocha , who said on Thursday, that Prime Minister Yingluck Shinawatra may soon invite Democrat Party leader Abhisit Vejjajiva to work as a team for flood control in the capital.

"I expect the prime minister to work with Abhisit - this is better than each side going different ways," he said following a meeting with the PM.

Mr. Abhisit and the prime minister have appeared together previously in photographs looking at maps of the flooding and this gave hope to many that reconciliation could be accomplished sooner rather than later.

However another key figure in the drama is Bangkok Governor Sukhumbhand Paribatra , who along with Mr. Abhisit, is a member of the opposition Democrat party.

 The governor has been making his own independent way through the crisis often differing from the national government on what sluice gates should be opened to alleviate flooding conditions.

A major issue has also been the government’s communication with the citizens of the country and whether the truth about the severity of the flooding has been revealed.

An anonymous foreign expert said, "They want to say sweet things instead of the truth."

He was quoted by English-language press as saying Thailand is like a "dysfunctional family."

The bitter political divisions in Thailand still persist and more national unity is required at this critical time.

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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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