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Asean Affairs   29 June  2011

Thai election has implications for Asean

By  David Swartzemtruber

AseanAffairs     29 June 2011

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The upcoming Thai election is July 3. The Pheu Thai party with Yingluck Shinawatra, the youngest sister of former prime minister Thaksin Shinawatra is ahead in the polls over the Democrat Party.

The implications of the recurrence of a coup following the election would not only affect Thailand, which has the second largest economy in the region, but the Asean region as a whole.

Thailand used to be one of the most progressive members and sources of initiative to develop human security, stability, prosperity and democracy in the region, recently the country has been increasingly hesitant in choosing democratic ways.

The three most democratic nations in the Asean region are usually considered to be Thailand, the Philippines, and Indonesia. However, currently the Philippines is focused domestic policy on the South China Sea and Thailand appears to have domestic democracy issues, leaving Indonesia by itself.

With a less than impressive record of 18 attempted military coups since 1932, there is no question the world will be watching the Thailand election and the aftermath of the results following the July 3 election. Asean, of course, will be especially interested in the developments of one of its members.

If unfortunate circumstances should occur, however, there is very little that may be done by other Asean members in response, other than sit calmly and closely watch events as they unfold, he said.

The policy of noninterference in domestic issues is one of the cornerstones of the “Asean-way.” This approach, however, is considered by some to be a weakness as Asean moves toward the Asean Economic Community in 2015.

Asean 2015 goals include a community based on the pillars of the economy, security, and sociocultural priorities that eclipse the traditional preventive diplomacy to help the region retain relevance at the international level.

If the election in Thailand results in yet another coup, it could derail the commitment to reaching these goals by 2015 because of a lack of focus from one of the largest members of the Asean community.

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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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