Thursday, March 12, 2015

Thai court sentenced the former parents-in-law of Crown Prince to two-and-a-half years in prison for defaming the ailing King


The prince has also divorced their daughter Srirasmi.

The family drama is a part of much deeper problem in Thailand — the royal-succession issue and the country’s decision to backtrack from democracy and return to a military regime.The 87-year-old king had played a pivotal role in the country’s achievements in economic prosperity and political stability. Thailand was once ASEAN’s poster boy for its ability to develop from an economy based on agriculture to one built on modern industry. However, the beloved king is getting old er and many people are doubtful about the capabilities of the crown prince.

Thailand, it seems, is apparently still searching for the right formula to anticipate the post-Bhumibol era. Thailand was once also hailed as a model of democracy, where the military remained strong but with an elected government. The nation played an important role in pushing its neighbors, such as Myanmar, Laos, Cambodia and also Indonesia, to be more adoptive to modern democracy. But later developments have been worrying as the military has returned to power.

Last May the military launched a coup against prime minister Yingluck Shinawatra, who had won a democratic election in 2011. Three months later coup leader Gen. Prayuth Chan-ocha was named prime minister. He was elected by a parliament with his own handpicked members and declared Thailand was in an “indefinite” state of emergency.

Yingluck is the younger sister of Thaksin Shinawatra, also ousted by the military in September 2006. One year later the pro-Thaksin party won the election. Thaksin is hugely popular among the rural poor and the grass roots, but became public enemy No. 1 to Thailand’s political and military elites and Bangkok’s middle class.The Thai press is often confusing to outsiders, often displaying an anti-Thaksin position while being supportive of the military coup, a source of past ills.

Thaksin may indeed have been disliked, but he or his people won democratic elections.It is regrettable that Thailand has adopted military rule again, a much less popular prospect elsewhere. Did Thailand decide to abandon democracy just to avoid a return to power and influence by Thaksin?

Only the Thai people have the right to determine their future. But as a friendly neighbor we feel impelled to ask, why should they allow the military to control their lives. – Jakarta Post


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