Thailand: Royalists Rampant


January 14, 2009: The royalist demonstrations that shut down the main airports in the capital recently cost the economy $11.5 billion, mostly in damage to the tourism industry (five percent of GDP, employing two million people, or seven percent of the workforce.) This was more damaging than major natural disasters like the SARS outbreak in 2003 or the tsunami of 2004. The royalist/elitist demonstrations caused a change in government last month, but now the populists threaten government activities in the capital with their own large demonstrations. Thus a major conference with foreign officials is being moved to a tourist resort in the rural south.

Royalists are particularly powerful in Thailand. There are laws against criticizing or mocking the king, and over 2,000 foreign web sites that have done so, are blocked to Thai web users. Thais and foreigners are arrested and prosecuted to speaking ill of the monarchy. The king himself is a wise and well-loved fellow. But the royalist movement that surrounds him takes a dim view of democracy and harkens back to the days of absolute monarchy and commoners who knew their place.

January 13, 2009: Two small bombs went off at a bridge on the Malaysian border. The 3-4 pound bombs caused no injuries. Islamic terrorists were believed responsible, although no group openly made the claim.

January 11, 2009: In the south, Islamic terrorists shot dead three farmers. The violence, however, continues to decline in the south. This is the result of over a year of intense police and military patrolling and investigating, to identify the leaders and key operators in the Islamic terrorist campaign.

January 9, 2009: A bomb went off at the main government complex in the capital. No one was injured (it was a small bomb) and police believe the explosive device was left behind by the royalist demonstrators that occupied much of the complex last Summer. It's believed that more of these small bombs are hidden in the complex.




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