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DEMOCRACY TRIUMPHS IN THAILAND
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AseanAffairs Magazine May - June 2011
CONTENT • ASEAN TECH
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DEMOCRACY TRIUMPHS IN THAILAND
The election of Yingluck Shinawatra through a peaceful and democratic election may usher in a new period of political stability in Thailand.


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Asean had numerous issues on its plate at the recent Asean Summit, no solutions were finalized, but progress was made on several fronts.

The 18th Asean Summit opened in Jakarta May 7-8 with Indonesian President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono serving as chair.

When addressing the opening ceremony, the president said that “Asean can’t be silent and do nothing” in the face of challenges of energy and food security, disaster management and people trafficking.

Among other issues confronting the summit were Myanmar’s Asean chairmanship in 2014, East Timor’s joining Asean as its 11th member, a dam dispute in the Greater Mekong Subregion, the escalating conflict over the South China Sea, the border dispute between Thailand and Cambodia, inflation and rising food prices and energy cooperation. None of these were resolved but positive steps were made toward a resolution.

>> ASEAN CAN’T BE SILENT AND DO NOTHING, IN THE FACE OF CHALLENGES OF ENERGY AND FOOD SECURITY, DISASTER MANAGEMENT AND PEOPLE TRAFFICKING.<<

Before the Asean Summit opened, Myanmar requested that it be given the position as chair of Asean in 2014, taking the place of Laos which was scheduled to chair that year. Myanmar had been passed over for chairmanship in 2005, with the promise that if it conducted democratic elections it would be given the position. Pointing to the elections held in 2010 and the release of human rights advocate Aung San Suu Kyi from house arrest, the Burmese government argued that it should be given the role. Laos consented to giving up its year as chair for Myanmar and an early draft communiqué expressed agreement to the change.

However, a published report said that the United States warned that it would no longer work with Asean if Myanmar were given the 2014 chair, citing the country’s abysmal human rights record. Asean looked at the Myanmar human rights record, and did not reach a resolution on who would chair the organization in 2014.

East Timor was set to become the 11th member of Asean, but its members failed to agree on the issue. An article in the Bangkok daily, the Nation, on May 10 said that the division reflected concerns that China’s growing role in Timor would turn the country into a Chinese proxy in Asean. The building of the Xayaburi Dam on the Mekong River was another contested topic not on the formal agenda. At the summit, Vietnam and Cambodia pressured

Laos into abandoning its plans to build the Xayaburi dam, which would have reduced water access in Vietnam, Cambodia and Thailand. This also had the potential of destroying the great fishery in the region that supplies significant protein for river residents particularly Cambodia........

Asean leaders attend a retreat at the 18th Asean Summit in Jakarta, Indonesia, May 8, 2011.

 

 

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