The revolutions in Tunisia and Egypt and the political unrest that it has sparked in neighbouring countries throughout the Middle East has raised the question how these events influence popular uprisings and struggles for democracy in other parts of the
Thai politics have been somewhat baffling the past two weeks. So has Cambodian politics. And as always when the two Kingdoms clash and create irrational political atmospheres, people have suffered. In this case, several people have died. But let’s start with the beginning:
Preah Vihear is an unimaginably beautiful place. It is a
province, but it takes it’s name after an 11th Century Khmer
Temple, which towers over
the landscape on a 525-metre high mountain. The temple is stunningly
well-preserved – there are still carvings of dancing Apsaras, Buddha statues
and stone stair cases leading up to a perhaps even more breathtaking view over
That is utterly unimportant, though.
What just happened in Thailand? Was Thailand not supposed to
be a peaceful vacation paradise with perfect beaches and charming smiles?
Didn’t we just spend a couple of leisurely lazy days looking at stunning
temples and eating delicious street food from the stalls with not a care in the
world? (Yes, we did. In 2009, about 11 million foreigners visited Thailand.)
Defining democracy is, if not an impossible, then an
immensely difficult task. However, defining what it is not is easy, very
easy: Amongst other things, it is NOT democracy
to gather a mass rally and declare that the sitting government must dissolve
within 24 hours, or else…
Nevertheless, this explicit threat is exactly what was
brought to the political table in Thailand’s
this week. Under a rally. For democracy.
has been plagued by terrorists for decades, almost a century even.
The people of especially the three most southern provinces –
Yala, Pattani and Narathiwat – lives like this: Almost all news from their part
of the world involves bombs and someone dying. They attend funerals frequently.
There are bullet holes in their kids’ classrooms. And no one goes about
anywhere after dark. These people live in fear.
Sivarak Chutipong is a name everyone, who follows South East
Asian news, will recognize. From complete anonymousity just a few months ago,
Sivarak Chutipong became famous over night. Why? He is a spy.
Asia Program Manager
Olof Palme International Center
The past week’s occupation of Thailand’s two biggest airports is the result of a quite complicated crisis in Thai society that has remained unsolved for at least three years, but that does probably have its roots as far back
For more than 20 years, Southeast Asia has been a laboratory of military politics, democratization, and drastic political change. Stable but violent authoritarian military and civilian governments have had to step down abruptly (Suharto 1998; Marcos 1986, for example). The