Saturday, September 19, 2009

Red Shirts protest

The Kingdom of Thailand remains but one spark shy of mass civil disorder, still.

On the third anniversary of the forcible removal of former Thai prime minister Thaksin Shinawatra by the Royal Thai Armed Forces, masses of his supporters turned out for rallies even in appalling weather. Perhaps more appalling would be the fact that the man's populist support is entirely blind to the conviction (in absentia, as Thaksin is in self-exile) for massive corruption during his administration. The "Red Shirt" true believers of the United Front for Democracy against Dictatorship (UDD) simply ignore all that. They just want to bring down the current government and bring back Thaksin.

The other side came out for rallies as well, with "Yellow Shirt" demonstrators from the People's Alliance for Democracy (PAD) out in force as well. But in a case of ill-considered conflation of issues, a group of PAD activists attempted to force entry into the Preah Vihear temple site, claiming the Thai nationalist goal of forcing Cambodian authorities out of the area.

This isn't helping, fellows. Standing up to the "Red Shirts" is domestic politics... albeit argued in the street... and fair game. Dragging the border dispute with Cambodia into the disorder simply endangers any hope of a reasoned resolution to that matter.

The foreign investment community isn't pleased by all this disorder, either:
Export credit and risk insurance agency ONDD this week downgraded its medium and long-term political risk rating for Southeast Asia's second-biggest economy because of continued uncertainty and "the absence of a durable solution to the crisis".

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