Thailand politics

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Posted by: | Posted on: June 16, 2013

Thailand’s tenuous support of democracy questioned

Sam Rainsy

Phnom Penh Post
By Roger Mitton

18 Sam Rainsy

Opposition leader Sam Rainsy in Washington in May. The self-exiled Rainsy was denied entry into Thailand last week, and was reportedly told he would not be allowed back until after the Cambodian election. Photo by AFP

Sam Rainsy, Cambodia’s opposition leader and former finance minister, is not a man you would want your sister to marry.

Though still boyishly handsome and stylish, he is outspoken, arrogant and very smart. Such men tend to rise meteorically, then self-destruct before gaining real power.

That said, despite self-imposed exile in France to avoid an 11-year jail sentence he claims is politically motivated, it is still too early to write off Rainsy, 64, as a recent incident in Bangkok proved.

Last Wednesday, the Foreign Correspondents’ Club of Thailand planned to host an event at which Rainsy would discuss poverty, corruption and injustice in Cambodia.

Given past conflicts with media-suppressive Thai governments, the FCCT stressed that it was not sponsoring Rainsy’s visit and that “responsibility for program content was solely that of the event organiser”.

The organiser’s name, however, was not revealed, although it was stated that the event would feature the launch of Rainsy’s new autobiography, We Didn’t Start the Fire: My Struggle for Democracy in Cambodia.

The book recounts his early days in Phnom Penh, his family’s expulsion, the Khmer Rouge regime, the Vietnamese occupation, and Prime Minister Hun Sen’s control of the country since 1985.

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Posted by: | Posted on: December 10, 2008

A right royal mess

Thailand’s king and its crisis

A right royal mess

Dec 4th 2008 | BANGKOK
From The Economist print edition

Thailand’s interminable political conflict has much to do with the taboo subject of its monarchy. That is why the taboo must be broken


EVEN the most revered of kings, worshipped by his people as a demigod, is not immortal. Thais were reminded of this last month when six days of ornate cremation ceremonies, with gilded carriages and armies of extras in traditional costumes, were held for Princess Galyani, the elder sister of their beloved King Bhumibol Adulyadej (pictured above). There was talk in Bangkok of the princess’s funeral being a “dress rehearsal” for the end of Bhumibol’s reign, 62 years long so far. Making one of few public appearances this year, shortly before his 81st birthday on December 5th, the king did indeed look his age.

The funeral only briefly calmed a political conflict that has raged for three years between supporters of Thaksin Shinawatra, the prime minister ousted by royalist generals in the 2006 coup, and an opposition movement backed by much of Bangkok’s traditional elite, apparently including Queen Sirikit. But the day after the ceremonies ended a grenade exploded among anti-Thaksin protesters, killing one. The anti-government protesters, the People’s Alliance for Democracy (PAD), who had been occupying Government House since August, then seized Bangkok’s main airports, causing chaos. The siege was lifted only eight days later, after a court dissolved the main parties in the pro-Thaksin coalition government.

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