Thailand: does democracy work in Asia? Part 4 of 6

The history of Thailand since 1973 saw an unstable period of democracy, with military rule after a bloody coup in 1976. The previous military rulers had been removed due to a Revolution in 1973.

For most of the 1980s, Thailand was ruled by prime minister Prem Tinsulanonda, a democratically inclined strongman who restored parliamentary politics, and the country remained a democracy apart from a brief period of military rule from 1991 to 1992.

The populist Thai Rak Thai party, led by prime minister Thaksin Shinawatra, governed from 2001 until 2006. In 2006 mass protests against the Thai Rak Thai party’s alleged corruption, prompted the military to stage a coup in September.

However, a general election in December 2007 restored a civilian government.

The politics of Thailand after the 2006 coup still concerned the two fighting factions, supporters and opponents of the former premier Thaksin Shinawatra.

The anti-Thaksinists formed the People’s Alliance for Democracy (PAD), known as The Yellow Shirts, as they included the defense of the Crown as the symbol of the constitutional monarchy.

The pro-Thaksinists aimed at lessening the royal power; combined with anti-2006 coup activists, they formed UDD, known as The Red Shirts’, supporting the overthrow of the current constitution and an amnesty for Thaksin and his allies.

The country has been ruled by a succession of military leaders installed after several coups d’état, the most recent was May 2014, but along the way there have been a few democratic intervals. The 2007 Constitution (drafted by a military-appointed council, but approved by a referendum) was annulled by the 2014 coup-makers who currently rule the country as a military dictatorship.

Thailand has so far had seventeen Constitutions. Throughout, the basic structure of government has remained the same. A prolonged series of political protests occurred in Bangkok, Thailand in 2010 from March to May against the government. More than 80 civilians and 6 soldiers were killed and more than 2,100 injured. Why hasn’t the U.S. media reminded Americans repeatedly of these deaths and casualties caused during protests calling for democracy? After all, the U.S. media does it annually for the alleged 1989 massacre in China’s Tiananmen Square.

The United Nations Development Programme reported in 2006, that 13.6 percent of Thailand’s population lived in poverty, while the CIA reports the number of people living in poverty was 9.6 percent.

However, Stickman Bangkok.com says, “According to a United Nations report issued in 2000, Thailand has 9.8 million poor people, 5.8 million ultra-poor people and 3.4 million almost poor people. The total figure is 19 million, or 29.9% of the population, and is concentrated in provinces along the borders in the West, North, and Northeast regions.”

In addition, “Presently, according to Thailand Government Public Health Department, there are approximately 75,000 prostitutes in Thailand, but several well-informed non-governmental organization (NGO) groups estimate that the number of prostitutes at any given time is closer to 2 million. This figure represents 9% of female adult population and 3.15% of total population.”

Continued with India on January 23, 2016 in Part 5 or return to Part 3

______________________________

Lloyd Lofthouse is the award-winning author of My Splendid Concubine [3rd edition]. When you love a Chinese woman, you marry her family and culture too. This is the unique love story Sir Robert Hart did not want the world to discover.

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