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Weekly NewsLetter
28 March 2011
    Vol.1 No.8

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The Editor's Corner


Pigeon comes home to roost
          In late 2008 an act of blatant civil disobedience occurred in Thailand that caused worldwide headlines, considerable inconvenience to travelers, a tarnished image and lost revenues to Thailand’s tourist industry.

The Don Mueang and Suvarabhumi airports were taken over for eight days (November 26-December 3, 2008) by the People’s Alliance for Democracy (PAD), also known as the yellow shirts. The group can generally be described as conservative, supportive of the monarchy and rather leery of the democratic system of government.

Prior to the airport fiasco, PAD had wide public support as it rallied against the Thaksin Shinawatra government. Many Thais felt that Mr. Thaksin was governing in a dictatorial style. The Thaksin government was deposed through a military coup.

The public view of the PAD has recently taking a beating this year as it has occupied roads around Government House blocking the annual Thai Red Cross Fair that opens later this month. Police have used various methods to clear the roads including negotiation and removal of portable toilets. The protest is motivated by disapproval over the government’s handling of border dispute with Cambodia.

Local writers suggest that PAD is led by aging leaders, who want to relive previous glories rather than ride off into the sunset.

On Friday, Thailand’s Civil Court ordered the 13 PAD leaders to pay 522 million baht (US$17.3 million) to the Airports of Thailand for the damages incurred. The court rejected suggestions that the yellow shirt demonstration could have constitutional protection, saying that the rally was not peaceful and some protesters were armed.

The named defendants in the lawsuit include Maj-Gen Chamlong Srimuang, Sondhi Limthongkul, Pibhop Dhongchai, Somsak Kosaisuk, Suriyasai Katasila, Somkiat Pongpaibul, Saranyu Wongkrajang, Sirichai Mai-ngam and Maleerat Kaewka.

Currently being debated in the Thai Parliament is a bill to govern public demonstrations to prevent the recent string of massive demonstrations that have sullied the reputation of the “Land of Smiles,” including the red shirt demonstration that resulted in 90 deaths on May 19, 2010.

Thailand certainly needs such a law.


Top News from Southeast Asia

March 27, 2011


These were the most significant stories published by Asean Affairs during the week of March 19-25

Thai prime minister passed no-confidence vote
Thailand's prime minister comfortably survived a no-confidence vote in parliament on Saturday following a heated debate that provided an introduction to what can be expected during elections planned for later this year.

Japanese tragedy unlikely to derail economic recovery 
The past week has been dominated by the tragedy in Japan, with problems at the Fukushima nuclear power station being the focus of attention and driving huge gyrations in investment markets.

Philippines hopes to create a million jobs  
The Aquino administration plans to create a million jobs a year and to triple per capita income through higher economic growth and infrastructure investment in the next six years.

Australian take on SGX merger  
Australian Treasurer Wayne Swan on Monday dismissed reports that a proposed A$8.4 billion (S$10.6 billion) merger between the Australian and Singaporean bourses is likely to be rejected.

World Bank concerned about Asian subsidies  
The World Bank is concerned about the fiscal burdens of Asia-Pacific and East Asian countries, urging their governments to cut, Vikram Nehru, the World Bank's chief economist for the Asia-Pacific region, said. Several countries including Thailand have subsidised their food and energy prices, which will clearly increase their governments' long-term fiscal burden.

Malaysia faces water crisis 
Not many would believe that there is an impending water shortage in Malaysia, especially if they are Kuala Lumpur folks who are often caught in traffic jams caused by downpours. But if climate change alters the favourable rainfall pattern, we will have to come to terms with water rationing or other drastic water conservation measures.

Vietnam develops ports to draw Chinese exports  
Vietnam is pouring $21 billion into building ports for the world’s largest container ships in a drive to draw export industries from China.

Work on solar cell plant starts in Vietnam  
Work started on Vietnam's largest solar cell plant in Ho Chi Minh City's Cu Chi district on March 22. The US$1 billion plant funded by the US-based First Solar Group will have four production lines turning out thin-film solar power panels and a recycling factory.

Activists join forces against Laos' Xayaburi Dam plan  
A group of 263 non-governmental organizations from 51 countries has called on Laos to cancel its proposed hydropower dam project on the Mekong River in Xayaburi province, representatives of the group said Tuesday.

Sanctions against Myanmar seen as highly counterproductive  
According to media sources in Yangon, European diplomats held talks with democracy icon Aung San Suu Kyi and other Myanmar activists on Tuesday about the possible lifting of Western sanctions, an opposition party leader said.

Delayed decisions on subsidies costs Indonesia 
Pushing back plans to reduce subsidized fuel usage because of worries about rising inflation is risking the country's fiscal health, analysts say.

Asean corporate governance launches in 2012 
A region-wide corporate governance ranking initiative will be launched next year as part of a broader plan aimed at developing the Asean capital market.

Indonesia has expertise for nuclear plant  
The Nuclear Energy Agency [Batan] says Indonesia has the expertise required to build and maintain a nuclear power plant in the country.

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