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NEWS UPDATES Asean Affairs        19  March 2011

Thai prime minister passed no-confidence vote

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

The vote came after a four-day censure debate in which the opposition Puea Thai Party accused the government of unjustified killings during last year's anti-government Red Shirt protests, which resulted in about 90 deaths.

The opposition also blamed the government for widespread mismanagement that led to rising consumer prices, a shortage of palm oil and corruption during a contentious debate that pundits called a laundry list of old complaints.

The Puea Thai Party is closely associated with the Red Shirt protest movement, which supports ousted ex-leader Thaksin Shinawatra and claims current Prime Minister Abhisit Vejjajiva took power illegitimately.

Abhisit's term ends in December, but he has said he will call early elections by mid-July.

Lawmakers voted 249 to 184 to keep Abhisit in power until upcoming polls. Nine other Cabinet ministers also survived no-confidence votes by comfortable margins.

In its Saturday editorial, the English-language Bangkok Post called it a ``lackluster debate with an absence of telling punches'' that featured ``the usual bluster and time-wasting, moments of pure farce and bad taste, barely suppressed yawns and occasional flurries of inflammatory rhetoric.''

The editorial called the debate ``a foretaste of the elections'' to come and urged candidates to focus on the future, not the past.

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This year in Thailand-what next?

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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