Wednesday, April 12, 2006


These are the comments of a nearly neutral observer. I can’t be completely neutral because, among other things, the exchange rate affects me. Political instability often leads to an inflationary spiral. Thus far the baht has gained in strength for some reason. That may be the best indication of who won the recent turmoil.

The dust is settling. Here are some obvious results and some neutral observations:

Today’s edition of The Nation, the English language newspaper which has been a persistent critic of Prime Minister Thaksin, had 4 pages of classified ads. The paper often had four times that and more. They have been complaining about losing advertisers.

During the election campaign the building housing The Nation was besieged by pro-government demonstrators, forcing them to move out for a while.

The decision of the opposition to boycott the election still bewilders. If they had used all the energy they expended demonstrating against Thaksin to campaign against him, there was a very good chance they could have won. There was as much as a 40% anti-Thaksin “no” vote. The opposition would have won that and more. I wonder if they understood how democracy works.

Sondhi Limthongkul, the leader of the opposition faces a charge of lese majeste. It was ‘reported’ that he had made a remark or remarks offensive to the Thai royal family in a speech to demonstrators. Just prior to the election he went (some say fled) to China. Mr. Sondhi has since returned to Thailand and faces charges.

A Thai language newspaper that reported his alleged remarks voluntarily ceased publication for 5 days after saying they had misreported the remarks.

As a result of the boycott by the opposition, Prime Minister Thaksin’s party won all 100 list-MP seats. They received 16.4 million votes. Next highest party got 675,662 and no seats.

The demonstrations caused Thaksin to resign as PM, but he is the undisputed head of a party that has a 100 to zero edge in the Thai parliament. Can you say “pyrrhic victory?”

I hope this is the last time I report or comment on Thai politics. All I want is peace and stability for Thailand.


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