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NEWS UPDATES Asean Affairs           31   August  2011

Red shirts receive political appointments

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In a move that could be risky, the new Pheu Thai government has appointed a number of persons from the red shirt group to political roles. Following a failure to disperse on May 19 last year, the red shirts staged an arson attack on private and government buildings that cost the Thai economy millions of dollars. More than 90 lives were also lost when the red shirts and Thai soldiers engaged in a cross-fire after the red shirts failed to disperse.

The Thai cabinet has appointed more core red shirt members to political positions, saying it is the best way to assimilate them into the conventional political system and to ensure they will act as a conduit for information from the grassroots.

The cabinet yesterday assigned several United Front for Democracy against Dictatorship (UDD) co-leaders as assistants, advisers, secretaries and assistant secretaries to several ministers. The appointments were seen as an effort to appease the red shirt camp, as none of its members were given ministerial positions.

Government spokeswoman Thitima Chaisaeng said the postings would benefit the country. "From now on, there is no need to worry that these people will take to the streets in protest," she said.

Deputy government spokesman Anusorn Iamsa-ad said the red shirts who were given political posts had contributed to the Pheu Thai Party.

Mr Anusorn said the appointments will prove to be a strength for the government in that the appointees will act as a link relaying information from the grassroots and help the government better respond to people's needs.

They join about 10 other key red shirts who have already been appointed to political positions.

Mr Anusorn said the cabinet had also appointed 20 assistants to ministers. Prominent figures taking up positions include Prapas Chongsanguan, Wisa Khanthap and Pittaya Pukkaman.

He also predicted that colour-coded political divisions would gradually vanish over the next four to five years.

Meanwhile, a source at Government House yesterday said Deputy Prime Minister Chalerm told the cabinet that giving political posts to red shirts could leave the government vulnerable to criticism.

Mr. Chalerm told a team of government representatives to explain to the public that the red shirts had helped Pheu Thai's election campaign and should be given a chance to work for the government, the source said.


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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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