Political Temperature Cools in Bangkok

Political Temperature Cools in BangkokWith Bangkok having calmed down in the run-up to the 86th birthday of Thailand’s ailing King Bhumibol Adulyadej, the antagonists are catching their breath before the tear gas, rocks and rubber bullets may again begin to fly. It could be time to count the winners and losers, at least while a temporary truce reigns between…

Thaksin’s Enduring Appeal

Thaksin’s Enduring AppealIt would be hard to imagine another country anywhere that would see thousands of well-educated and seemingly middle-class people march to the streets demanding not more but less democracy. But the current protests in Thailand have that curious upside-down feel to them, as if the natural constituents of democracy in most countries  -- the…

The Man Who Leads Bangkok’s Mobs

The Man Who Leads Bangkok’s MobsSuthep Thaugsuban, Thailand’s current mob leader, has reinvented himself from villain to national hero, at least in the eyes of his supporters, because he has dared to challenge what is characterized as the evil regime of the Yingluck government, backed by the long-ousted former premier Thaksin Shinawatra. The entire planet must know who Thaksin is:…

Thailand’s Politicized Courts Fuel Protests

Thailand’s Politicized Courts Fuel ProtestsLast Wednesday, Thailand’s Constitutional Court declared that Prime Minister Yingluck Shinawatra’s ruling Pheu Thai Party government had, by seeking to make the upper house Senate a fully-elected body, engaged in unconstitutional acts. Remarkably, the verdict was based on complaints that referred to Section 68 of the 2007 constitution, which implies that the government sought to…

Thailand’s Opposition Democrats Go Rogue

Thailand’s Opposition Democrats Go RogueThailand’s opposition Democrat Party, having tasted success in stopping a blanket amnesty that would have allowed fugitive former Prime Minister Thaksin Shinawatra to return from exile, are turning to the violent tactics of the Yellow Shirt movement that brought the country to a standstill in 2007 and 2008. A Thai banker told Asia Sentinel the…

The Cresting of Thaksinism?

The Cresting of Thaksinism?The Thai Senate’s decisive 141-0 vote Monday killing the Pheu Thai Party’s blanket amnesty bill, which would have absolved everybody of political guilt going back to 2004 and cleared the way for the return of Thaksin Shinawatra from exile, is an indication of how badly the former prime minister has misjudged Thailand’s political temperature. Thailand…

Thaksin Forces Give Up

Thaksin Forces Give UpIt appears that the Pheu Thai Party’s attempt to bring its outlawed and exiled former chief Thaksin Shinawatra back to Thailand has failed in the face of thousands of angry protesters in Bangkok’s streets. Recognizing the possibility for chaos, the upper house of the Thai parliament refused to pass the contentious amnesty plan that would…

Thai Parliament Passes Amnesty Bill

Thai Parliament Passes Amnesty BillAfter more than two years of ducking and weaving, Thailand’s ruling Pheu Thai Party has defied public outrage to push through a controversial bill granting blanket amnesty to participants on both sides of the barricades in bloody riots that took place in Bangkok in 2010 – and possibly to exiled former Prime Minister Thaksin Shinawatra…

Thaksin finally bows out

Deposed Prime Minister Thaksin Shinawatra resigned from his Thai Rak Thai party Tuesday, effectively terminating what was the most popular party in Thai history before the military and palace joined forces to oust it in a coup two weeks ago. The billionaire politician had resisted months of calls from his opponents to step aside, but…