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All eyes are on India in the wake of U.S. President Barack Obama’s recent visit there, where he identified India as a key actor on the world stage. Obama said, “I don’t think India is emerging, I think it has emerged.” More

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SOP for Schools:
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Friday, March 18, 2011,
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Weekly NewsLetter
29  August  2011
    Vol.1 No.29

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The Editor's Corner


Strange events in Thai politics
          On Wednesday evening in the Thai parliament something unusual happened-a quorum could not be obtained two times to continue debate on the new Pheu Thai government’s policies.

What makes this strange is that the Pheu Thai party under Prime Minister Yingluck Shinawatra supposedly controls 300 or 60 percent out of a total of 500 MPs in the lower house, yet they could not be directed to take a seat in the chamber to make the quorum. The debate was continued and concluded on Thursday.

In other events, three Thai journalists’ associations are complaining about pressure from the new government to report news about the new government and its policies in a favorable light.

This complaint brings back memories of a previous Shinawatra administration, the one headed by Yingluck’s older brother, Thaksin, who pressured newspapers to write favorable stories by threats and/or the actual pulling of advertisements from newspapers.

In addition, there are reports that red shirts, who are allied with the Pheu Thai government, are intimidating and threatening journalists. Apparently, a female news reporter for TV channel 7 has been a target of threats.

The Bangkok Post editorialized on Saturday, August 27: “An ugly culture of violence and intolerance dominated by a mob mentality seems to be taking over from the compassionate society of peace-loving Buddhists that we once took great pride in. Nowadays there are thugs and mafia figures everywhere. Some intimidate journalists while others attack buses or burn buildings.”

One observation is that Thailand’s capital is not Pheu Thai territory. The majority of MPs from one of the world’s most fascinating cities are members of the opposition Democrat party and they are quite skilled in parliamentary politics, the Wednesday night episode serving as a good example.

Another is that Ms. Yingluck’s governance path down the proverbial “yellow brick road” is already shaping up to be filled with potholes and perhaps, IEDs. The risks will be increased if the new government pushes through reconciliation legislation that seems to favor her brother, Mr. Thaksin, currently a fugitive from justice.

Given the political developments during the new government’s first week, the prospects of the Pheu Thai government serving out its full five-year term seem greatly diminished.


Top News from Southeast Asia

August  28 , 2011


These were the most important news stories filed by Asean Affairs during the week of August 20-26.

Manufacturing investments up in Malaysia
Total approved manufacturing investments expanded by almost 120 percent year-on-year to RM16.4bil in the second quarter this year, the fastest pace since the first quarter of 2008, bringing the total approvals to RM28.6bil in the first half this year, according to the Malaysian Industrial Development Authority (Mida).

Who’s in charge in Myanmar?
Five months after a nominally civilian government took power in Myanmar, the country is awash in uncertainty about who is really in charge.

Chaos reigns in Thai parliament
A Thai parliamentary session to debate the policy statement delivered by the new Pheu Thai government was thrown into chaos on Wednesday night before it was cancelled for a lack of a quorum.

Indonesia should receive more capital
Economist A. Prasetyantoko says foreign capital inflows to Indonesia will increase after Moody’s ratings agency downgraded Japan's debt rating on Wednesday.

Suu Kyi sees hope of “real change”
Myanmar's democracy icon Aung San Suu Kyi said Wednesday she believes the country's army-backed president wants "real positive change" amid warmer relations between the regime and its most famous critic.

Vietnam to raise minimum wage
Vietnam will increase minimum wages by up to almost half in its major cities from October 1 in a bid to help workers cope with one of the world’s highest levels of inflation.

Petronas to pull gas from marginal fields
Petroliam Nasional Bhd (Petronas) and its production sharing contract (PSC) partners are embarking on a RM15bil upstream project to extract gas from fields off Peninsular Malaysia, which also includes a new 200km pipeline. The company describes the fields as “marginal and challenging”.

Aquino pledges stronger defense of sea claims
Philippine President Benigno Aquino on Tuesday vowed a stronger military defense of the country’s West Philippine Sea claims as the Philippine Navy’s newest warship sailed into Manila Bay from the United States.

Cambodia signs deals with China
Cambodia has agreed to acquire Chinese-made Z-9 helicopters for US$195 million in one of 26 memorandums of understanding agreed to by the countries.

Thailand growth rate revised downward
Economic growth this year has been revised down to a range of 3.5 percent to 4 percent from the previous projection of 3.5 percent to 4.5 percent due to the slow global economy.

Laos inflation drops below GDP
The inflation rate in July was 7.13 percent, the first time in three months it has being below target gross domestic product (GDP) growth.

Major solar investment in Thailand
SunEdison, North America's largest solar energy services provider, plans to invest more than US$100 million next year in solar power plants in Thailand through a local partnership.

Thai auto exports to recover
Exports of Thai-built automobiles continued falling last month on lower production in the aftermath of the earthquake and tsunami in Japan six months ago, according to Surapong Phaisitpattanapong, spokesman for the automobile industry club at the Federation of Thai Industries.

Villagers detained after protest
More than 100 villagers from four provinces were detained and questioned by Phnom Penh officials yesterday morning after they tried to distribute flyers urging the government to protect Prey Lang forest.

Philippines FX surplus surges
The Philippines’ foreign exchange surplus surged by sevenfold last month amid inflows from the central bank’s investments, coupled with strong remittances from overseas Filipino workers. READ MORE:

Income gap-Thai government priority
The new Thai government is determined to promote change, establish a balance in Thai society and narrow the income gap between rich and poor, says Deputy Prime Minister Kittiratt Na-Ranong.

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