News is just coming through that Thailand’s Constitutional Court has disbanded the ruling People Power Party for electoral fraud, and banned prime minister Somchai Wongsawat (สมชาย วงศ์สวัสดิ์) and 35 others on the party’s executive from politics for 5 years.
What happens next is up to the Red Shirts, the pro-Thaksin loyalists. As I explained in my backgrounder, the People’s Alliance for Democracy (พันธมิตรประชาชนเพื่อประชาธิปไตย) wanted the PM to resign, so their aim has been achieved. Will the Red Shirts accept the ruling, though? Or will they turn violent? Certainly the Red Shirts are the more violent of the two factions.
Breaking News says AP reports that the second and third parties in the coalition, Matchima and Chart Thai, have also been dissolved.
I’m guessing the army is ready to roll. We’ll find out any moment…
Thailand’s long-simmering political crisis finally made it onto Western TVs this week when protesters closed Bangkok’s international airport, disrupting [shock horror] Western tourists.
The essence is that the People’s Alliance for Democracy, the guys in the yellow shirts who’ve shut down the airport, want prime minister Somchai Wongsawat (สมชาย วงศ์สวัสดิ์) to resign. They reckon he’s the puppet of a former corrupt prime minister, Thaksin Shinawatra.
You could argue that Somchai’s election, while controversial, was constitutionally valid. But PAD has run out of patience with the string of corrupt and presumed-corrupt politicians. Even the army chief reckons it might be time to call fresh elections to clear the air. But Somchai won’t budge.
This isn’t a simple story of The People versus the Evil Politician though. The roots of conflict go deep into Thai history and culture.
Continue reading “Thailand’s political crisis: an introduction”
The Christmas decorations are in the shops, people are having Christmas parties, the current affairs programs are off TV, so the year has ended, right? What do you mean, your calendar has something called “December”? Bah! This is the 21st Century! One-twelfth of the year is just thrown away!
Back in January I made some Predictions for 2008. Since 2008 has already ended, let’s see how I went.
Continue reading “How were my predictions for 2008?”
Perhaps my Prediction number 6 for 2008 won’t come true. The wife of former Thai president Thaksin Shinawatra, returned to Bangkok yesterday and was immediately taken to the Supreme Court to face corruption charges. Pojaman Shinawatra, 51, was charged with using her husband’s influence to buy real estate at one-third its value. She was released on bail of 5 million baht ($171,400) and ordered not to leave the country.
OK, I’m meant to be clever, so here are my predictions for 2008. The Snarky Platypus didn’t help me with these, as we decided we had better things to do on New Year’s Eve (gin and tonic, for example). So blame me alone.
- The Joy of Chairman Rudd’s Iced VoVo Revolution will be dulled by the end of January when they take some stupid actions which demonstrate that they are, after all, politicians like all others. Actually, this has already happened with the announcement of mandatory Internet filtering by ISPs. I’ll write more about that soon.
- At least one member of the (former) Howard cabinet will be charged with a criminal offence over something they did in office. I’d like it to be Brendan Nelson, because that deal to buy $6 billion worth of Super Hornet fighter aircraft stinks — mostly because the air force doesn’t want them and the process was, erm, rushed to say the least. However I suspect it might be something to do with the AWB scandal.
- Channel 7 will continue to win the Australian TV ratings. Channel 9 will fail to reinvent itself now that its owned by an investment vehicle and not a media proprietor.
- Telstra will be forced to separate its wholesale and retail businesses. Meanwhile the Sol Trujillo-led management team will continue to play nasty with the government, causing them to be increasingly sidelined — especially over the Rudd government’s new broadband rollout.
- Barack Obama will win the US Presidential election. I know Hillary Clinton is currently the favourite, but I have the gut feeling that the Oprah factor will be important, and that Hillary’s dirty washing will be aired.
- When former Thai prime minister Thaksin Shinawatra returns from self-imposed exile on 14 February the new government, which is a coalition led by a Thaksin-supporting party, will somehow drop the corruption charges against him. Another military coup will follow.
- At least one Australian company will suffer a major leak of its customers’ private data, prompting new laws on dealing with such things (like they already have in California).
- We’ll finally figure out what the Storm Botnet, the world’s largest network of hacked computers, is for. My guess: whatever the hell the designer’s paying clients want it to be for.
You might also like to read the interesting predictions from The Australian (not really predictions, but obvious events following on from their news calendar), advertising agency JWT, Peter Black and Rachel Polanskis, and predictions about toy names for 2008.
What are your predictions for 2008? And how do you think mine rate?