Thailand: Democracy In Doubt


July 8, 2010: In the Moslem south, there has been a spike in the violence, with five attacks in the last two weeks, killing a dozen people. Meanwhile, an Islamic seminar in the south attracted  5,000, where the need for development, peace and tolerance of other religions was discussed. There are still political problems up north, and the government is planning new elections sometimes next year. To that end, the government hopes to either jail or discredit enough pro-red shirt politicians and financial supporters  to weaken the opposition, and keep the royalist yellow shirt minority in power. This is considered a long shot.

July 6, 2010:  The government extended the state of emergency, in the north, for another three months, because of fears that more red shirt demonstrations might occur. The north is where most Thais live, and where the populist red shirts have the most support. The government is torn between running elections soon, and probably losing, and trying to destroy the red shirt movement. The latter strategy is widely considered worse than running elections right away. That's because most Thais back the red shirts, and continued government crackdowns, in an attempt to arrest red shirt leaders and prevent more demonstrations, merely makes the red shirts angrier, and causes more Thais to oppose the government.

July 5, 2010:  Cambodia arrested and returned to Thailand a Thai couple suspected of involvement in a red shirt bomb plot last month. This is considered a big deal, not because of the red shirt connection, but because it may signal settlement of a border dispute that has kept troops from both nations threatening war for over a year.

June 24, 2010: Seven bombs were found in the capital and in the northern town of Udon Thani. All but one of them were found and defused before they could go off. The one that went off in the capital did not hurt anyone. All these were believed the work of red shirt groups.

June 23, 2010: Police checked a truck coming from Burma, and concealed within 1.2 million methamphetamine pills. Called yaba ("speed" in the U.S.), methamphetamine is a growing problem in Thailand, although most of the 2-3 million pills a month coming from Burma each month are shipped on to other markets.




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