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Old 07-02-2009   #41
William F. Owen
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Originally Posted by Dayuhan View Post
This underscores a key problem in managing the security issues in south Thailand, a problem with analogues in the southern Philippines. In both cases a Muslim minority firmly believes that both the central government and the bulk of the populace (Buddhist in Thailand, Christian in the Philippines) hold a deeply rooted and fundamental prejudice against the Muslim minorities in their countries. Unfortunately, in both cases this perception is to a large degree accurate: the prejudice really is there, and is reflected in policies and actions. This is not a situation that any outside agency is likely to change.
Having lived in Thailand and spoken at length to the Thai Army about the "problem in the South" one of the major obstacles is the senior leadership of the Thai Army and how Thai culture views problem solving.

If there is one insurgency that could be ended with 24 months hard work, the one in the South of Thailand is it.
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Old 12-17-2009   #42
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ICG, 8 Dec 09: Southern Thailand: Moving Towards Political Solutions
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....the southern insurgency continues unabated, claiming more than 3,900 lives during the last six years. While sweep operations launched in mid-2007 temporarily curtailed violence, intensifying attacks in 2009 show the rebellion against Thai rule has not been extinguished. The June attack on Al-Furqan mosque was an alarming sign of deepening communal tension and steadily deteriorating relations between Muslims and Buddhists. The government has made little progress in addressing political grievances or alleviating the sense of injustice among Malay Muslims. Its inability to hold security forces accountable for human rights abuse feeds into the narrative of “unjust” Thai rule and provides more fuel for the ethno-religious struggle. The failure to arrest and prosecute perpetrators of the mosque attack has become another symbol of injustice and inevitably a rallying cry to attract new recruits.

Political solutions should be seriously pursued as a way to end this deadly insurgency. The government’s rhetoric of development and justice needs to be translated into policy and practice. Development projects should be implemented transparently and with grassroots participation to ensure they address real needs rather than going into unwanted projects or the pockets of those managing them. Investigation and prosecution of security forces accused of abuses should be expedited. The foundations of peaceful engagement are already in place, should the government wish to pursue dialogue with insurgent representatives. If it is committed to this route, there are plenty of ideas to bring to the negotiation table to encourage compromise from the insurgency. Hope rather than fear should be the spirit of engagement. Dialogue with insurgent movements elsewhere in the world has not often led to separate states splitting off but exploring a new governance structure for the South could help stem the mounting death toll.
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Old 12-18-2009   #43
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I suspect that the only solution to S. Thailand is a political one. The Thai government must make the same bold step that the American government did when it passed the civil rights act. It must concede that it treats this segment of the populace injustly, and make true steps to right that wrong.

To merely "enforce the rule of law" among a segment of the populace that percieves strongly that the law is unjust as applied to them, is to make the same mistake that King George made when he sent his Navy and Army to Boston. It is quite likely to push a subversive movement into full-blown insurgency, or push what is an insurgency among a radical fringe into the mainstream.

The security forces of S. Philippines and Thailand can shape conditions, but these matters can only be truly resolved in Manila and Bangkok.
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Old 04-16-2010   #44
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Lowy Institute, Apr 10: Confronting ghosts: Thailand’s shapeless southern insurgency
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This monograph analyses the changing nature of the insurgency in Thailand’s southern border provinces and the inability of the Thai Government to understand and deal with it. It analyses new dimensions of the conflict, and considers the extent to which the insurgency is a coherent movement. In addition, the monograph also critically examines the response of the Thai state to the insurgency. Taken together, these two analytical threads allow us to address the questions of why and how the insurgency morphed in the direction it did, and what this portends for both counterinsurgency efforts and the state of affairs in Thailand more generally. In brief, four arguments are made:

• First, despite the discernible religious hues in insurgent discourse and language today, today’s insurgency remains fundamentally based on earlier localist narratives, goals and motivations.

• Second, the nature of the insurgency itself has changed from the hierarchical and structured struggles of the past that were mostly led by an ethnic Malay political and religious elite to the fluid and shapeless organisational structure of a ‘new’ insurgency that as yet lacks clear, negotiable political goals.

• Third, although there may be agreement among groups involved in the insurgency as to what might be the broad objectives of the movement (in fact, there might even be disagreement on this count), each may have different opinions as to how to proceed to achieve them.

• Finally, tackling the insurgency on both military and political counts will pose an even greater challenge for the Thai Government because of its inability to make significant headway in its counterinsurgency effort with properly calibrated responses.
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Old 05-16-2010   #45
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Michael Yon is in Thailand right now, live tweeting his observations of lots of gunfire. A lot of shooting and probably hundreds killed in the past two hours. This sounds like the two sides are not longer messing around...

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Originally Posted by Selected tweets from Michael Yon's twitter feed
This report 30 dead 232 injured. I would tend to expect this number to skyrocket after the heavy fire tonight.... http://bit.ly/9aVko5 12 minutes ago via Facebook

...

Completey quiet. Maybe they are collecting dead and wounded. That was some heavy fire even by war standards.... http://bit.ly/brPRE7 30 minutes ago via Facebook

...

Now is quiet. Total silence. Must be many casualties. Thousands of rounds just fired. http://bit.ly/a2UrEl 38 minutes ago via Facebook

...

Heavy fire distant and close. Automatic fire. Machine guns now firing. http://bit.ly/925KVd about 1 hour ago via Facebook

...

Grenade. 2x grenade. small arms. 3x grenade. 4x. heavy 5x heavy small arms. very close cracking by my. very... http://bit.ly/dDvP1t about 1 hour ago via Facebook

...

Explosions 2x. 3x. Sounds like grenades. Guess is that Army/Police are being hit by M79. (Total guess.) 4x... http://bit.ly/dq5x6t about 1 hour ago via Facebook

...

I think a lot of people just died or are bleeding now. Prayers for Thai people tonight. It's on. http://bit.ly/9xeL4c about 1 hour ago via Facebook
See his twitter feed for more. About 40 or so similar tweets in just the past hour. Sounds like a donnybrook.

Last edited by Schmedlap; 05-16-2010 at 05:43 PM. Reason: Added link
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Old 10-27-2011   #46
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In the Libyan insurgecy involved many al Qaeda fighters and mercenaries from Afghanistan, Pakistan, Bangladesh and other Islamic countries. Can not exclude the participation of Malay separatists. In one of the posts Libyan spokesman Musa Ibrahim said about the arrest of 17 mercenaries, including several Europeans and a resident of the Asian countries (not name the country). Islamists have stolen a lot weapons from depots Libyan Army. Now this weapon can occur anywhere - in Egypt, Palestine, Somalia, Afghanistan, India and Sinkiang. Do you think it possible the emergence of "veterans" of the Libyan's war and Libya's weapons stolen in southern Thailand?
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Old 10-28-2011   #47
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Also the chief of Libyan islamic fight group (LIFG) and the commander of Tripoli Abd al Hakim Balhaj was arrested in 2002 in Malaysia and was transfered from malay special forces to CIA in Bangkok.
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Old 03-01-2013   #48
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Default CSM: "Thailand, insurgents sign first ever agreement to start peace talks"

Thailand, insurgents sign first ever agreement to start peace talks

Good luck.
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Old 05-13-2013   #49
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The Strange Thai Insurgents Who Like Sorcery and Get High on Cough Syrup

http://www.theatlantic.com/internati...-syrup/275614/

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The distance from local problem to universal nightmare can vanish without warning: In Boston, that interval was as brief as twelve seconds. Awareness of the Pattani insurgency in Western governments today is limited to a tiny number of intelligence analysts and Southeast Asia hands. Among those few, there is a shared attitude of wary unease: We don't have the resources to figure out what's really going on, and we don't think it's hooked up with a global terrorist group -- yet . But any morning we may turn on the news and suddenly find that all our assumptions were disastrously wrong.
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Analysts and intelligence officials of several nations scratch their heads at the inability of global extremist groups to lure the militants of the Thai south into their family. But the Pattani insurgency, in its very aloofness, may offer lessons to anyone seeking an elusive Unified Theory of Jihadism. For the Pattani rebels, as for so many others who use religion as a rallying cry, Islam is a symbol more than a set of beliefs. If that weren't the case, how could this uprising be permeated by such thoroughly un-Islamic practices as sorcery, narco-trafficking, butchery of innocents, and Coca-Cola cannibalism?
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Old 05-25-2014   #50
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Another coup in Thailand leave many shrugging their shoulders saying we have seen this before in Thailand's history, the next one will take us up to 20 coups. This is the norm there, so why should we even care?

First, the U.S. is attempting to increase its influence in the region to preserve its strategic economic and security interests and this event will challenge that effort while simultaneously creating an opportunity for China to increase its influence. Second, Thailand could be perceived as the enlightened democratic domino in Indochina that could help assert gentle pressure on Burma, Laos, and Cambodia to transform their repressive and corrupt regimes. While Malaysia remains a valued partner and has been moderate politically, their drift towards implementing Sharia Law will degrade the human rights for all those who are not Muslim in Malaysia, which indicates Indochina is drifting in a direction counter to our interests. Third, however slim the chance at the moment, the potential for civil war in Thailand exists which would not only be a humanitarian disaster, it would significantly threaten our interests in the region.

We need to think strategically and act in a way that manages the three concerns listed above along with many more to best protect our interests over time. Knee-jerk decisions based on our bureaucratic process to disengage will almost certainly disadvantage us in the long run. Sadly our bureaucratic system limits our strategic flexibility. Our foreign policy is both enabled (soft power) and severely restricted by our national values. The laws our Congress has enacted based on our values forces our diplomats and military to respond with little thought by imposing limitations on our military engagement with Thailand, and could result in coercive diplomacy as we push the military to rapidly reinstate what we believe lawful government to be. This creates an asymmetry between us with China and other competitors who are still willing to deal with the devil himself to pursue their interests. Over time this erodes China's influence with populace in the nation's their engaging, so it is in their interest to see a non-democratic government they can influence with investment.

China's approach could create an opportunity for us to leverage our soft power, but if the solution we push for is based our perception of legitimacy, which may not have much do with legitimacy in the eyes of all Thais we'll have lost an opportunity to assert leadership in the region that is respected. In 2006many Thais welcomed the military coup due to the serious rift in Thai society the government created through excessive corruption. Obviously that rift still exists, and the so called democratic government that followed only exasperated the problems creating a situation where the military either felt compelled to intervene to protect their national interests, or because they saw it as opportunity to seize power. Either way the government the military replaced had failed, and we had a hand in pushing for democracy before they were ready.

Today I suspect many Thais will both embrace and oppose the coup, just as many would oppose either of the two major political parties assuming political power again. Legitimacy for all is a pipe dream at this point, and this is why some analysts have gone as far as predicting a civil war within Thailand if the social-political rift isn't resolved soon. This is hard for those of us who been going there for decades, but the political divides are deep and the people are mobilized so it would be a mistake to assume it isn't in the realm of the possible. It also isn't unprecedented, since Thailand did have to deal with a communist insurgency at one point.

No one can predict how this will unfold over time, but important things to watch are: the Thai military’s plan to transition back to civilian rule (time span and methodology); the U.S. and China’s response to the situation; how the bordering nations respond over time (will they feel less pressure to reform); and most importantly how will the Thais resolve their political differences?
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Old 05-25-2014   #51
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Bill,

I suspect many of these countries are working through what one could call "phase II sovereignty." In other words, they are experiencing the natural growing pains of their hard-earned post-colonial sovereignty much like a young United States did not so very long ago. Hopefully they avoid pitfalls we fell into resulting in a horrific civil war. But I do believe we need to be very careful to appreciate that any solution they sort out for themselves will likely be superior to any solution approved by US policy makers and overly shaped by our interventions of any sort.

I hope we remember that what the US really stands for is not "democracy" but "self-determination." (and a Coup is not self-determination any more than the removed government was democracy).

I hope we can appreciate that influence in the region is much more important and valuable than control of political outcomes for the advancement US interests.

I suspect that the best approach is one that is not too judgmental, and that appreciates that the cultures of this region and their expectations of governance are far different than our own. I think we need to have the humility and flexibility to work with whoever is in power, regardless of how they got there; and then work with that government to help them get to a self-determined form of governance that works for as much of their population as possible, without leaving any of the population feeling like they have no legal means of redress.

China will, however, have growing influence in this region as well. The super power (regional or global) who balances the quest for influence over their urge for control will likely win that contest in the long run. In general I suspect these relationships will become much more balanced than the polarity driven by our Cold War strategy; with the US being the security partner of choice, while China offers more economic opportunities.
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Old 05-25-2014   #52
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Default Good luck Thailand

My knowledge of Thailand is minimal, but each time the BBC have reported on events in Bangkok there is a reference to the tensions between the city's middle classes, who support one side and the rural populace who support another. Is this a an urban -v- rural conflict, rather than one over ideology? Maybe not, just between politicians.

I'd forgotten there is a history the miltary doing this:
Quote:
Thailand's armed forces have staged at least 12 coups since the end of the absolute monarchy in 1932.

There has been a power struggle since Ms Yingluck's brother, Thaksin Shinawatra, was ousted by the military as PM in 2006. Mr Thaksin and Ms Yingluck have strong support in rural areas but are opposed by many in the middle class and urban elite.

The latest unrest began last year, when anti-government protesters embarked on a campaign to oust Ms Yingluck. An election was held in February but was disrupted and later annulled by the judiciary.
Link:http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/world-asia-27553029
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Old 05-26-2014   #53
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I expect that many ordinary Thais do support the coup, mainly because they are sick of the disruption and constant conflict. Whether that support lasts, of course, will depend on when and how civilian rule is returned. One difference from other recent Thai coups is the nature of the monarchy. The King has little structural power in Thailand, but enjoys enormous respect and power of persuasion, and he has played a key role in resolving other coups and domestic conflicts. King Bhumibol has been in place since the 1940s, meaning that for most Thais he has been a lifetime presence. He's now very old and in questionable health; he may or may not have the ability to force a resolution and it is not clear that the authority he enjoys will be passed on to a successor.

I do not think either the US or China has any meaningful role to play in the resolution: the Thais are and have always been extremely independent. They will trade with anyone, they will make security deals as it suits them, but they are not about to shape their own politics to suit anyone else.

I don't see the US being able to play the "China Threat" card to gain influence in Thailand, because the Thais don't see China as a threat. We saw a sharp division in the recent ASEAN Summit, a division that's been there for a long time but which becomes ever more evident. Vietnam and the Philippines see China as an immediate threat, Malaysia and Indonesia are on board with that to a lesser extent. Singapore stays neutral, while Thailand, Cambodia, Laos, and Myanmar heve no interest in an adversarial relationship with China. The closing communique from the recently concluded summit doesn't even mention China, despite prodigious effort from Vietnam and the Philippines.

One thing I've noticed is that unlike Latin America, where communist revolutions metamorphosed into left-of-center mainstream political parties, communist revolutions in the Philippines and Thailand were either completely suppressed (Thailand) or marginalized (Philippines). While the left-of-center parties in Latin America have a spotty record (as do their opponents), they do provide voters with a meaningful choice. In the Philippines and Thailand you have what might be called pseudo-democracy, with regular electoral exercises offering a non-choice between or among elite factions with little or no ideological or policy distinction. That of course yields a great deal of cynicism and frustration and opens the door for charismatic pseudo-populist demagogues with no agenda beyond their own power and prosperity.

A coup is not going to solve the problem posed by indistinguishable elite factions competing for personal advantage in a patronage-dominated system. I think it's likely that the factions will make a pretend peace and agree on a transition just to get the generals back in the barracks, at which point the game will begin all over again. Civil war seems less likely to me than a paralyzing routine of rallies and strikes leading to another military intervention. but many things are possible.

Long term, I don't know what the solution is, and I'm not sure anyone else does either. Clearly evolution is needed, but political evolution has been largely aborted by the dominance of elites that fight each other, but join together to protect the status quo that supports their privileges.

This article comes from a somewhat left perspective and is a bit chaotic, but makes some useful points about Thai domestic politics:

http://www.prachatai.com/english/node/2694
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Old 05-26-2014   #54
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Quote:
I do not think either the US or China has any meaningful role to play in the resolution: the Thais are and have always been extremely independent. They will trade with anyone, they will make security deals as it suits them, but they are not about to shape their own politics to suit anyone else.
This is true, but both China and U.S. will respond to the challenges and opportunities presented by this event to pursue their own interests.

Quote:
I don't see the US being able to play the "China Threat" card to gain influence in Thailand, because the Thais don't see China as a threat
.

I never said or came to close to implying that we could or should, that isn't the point of this discourse. The principle point is China will be more flexible in their response, while our options will be severely restricted by our laws, which could give China the ability to gain more influence with Thailand, while U.S. influence is reduced.

Quote:
In the Philippines and Thailand you have what might be called pseudo-democracy, with regular electoral exercises offering a non-choice between or among elite factions with little or no ideological or policy distinction. That of course yields a great deal of cynicism and frustration and opens the door for charismatic pseudo-populist demagogues with no agenda beyond their own power and prosperity.
I think the Thai military would agree with you, their leaders have on more than one occasion called the Thai government a false democracy. I suspect they're more than a little frustrated with us blindly embracing the concept of democracy while ignoring the realities of how it is playing out.
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Old 05-26-2014   #55
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Originally Posted by Bill Moore View Post
This is true, but both China and U.S. will respond to the challenges and opportunities presented by this event to pursue their own interests.
They will, but I don't see either gaining or losing much. The Thais will do business with both but will keep policy independent of both. I wouldn't expect them to be taking sides in any disputes, or to allow themselves to be pulled into anyone's camp, no matter how the current situation shakes out.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Bill Moore View Post
I never said or came to close to implying that we could or should, that isn't the point of this discourse. The principle point is China will be more flexible in their response, while our options will be severely restricted by our laws, which could give China the ability to gain more influence with Thailand, while U.S. influence is reduced.
Maybe I misinterpreted this comment:

Quote:
Originally Posted by Bill Moore View Post
China's approach could create an opportunity for us to leverage our soft power
As above, I don't think either the US or China really has much influence on Thailand, if we define influence as the ability to shape policy decisions to one's own advantage. I don't think the current situation will change that.

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Originally Posted by Bill Moore View Post
I think the Thai military would agree with you, their leaders have on more than one occasion called the Thai government a false democracy. I suspect they're more than a little frustrated with us blindly embracing the concept of democracy while ignoring the realities of how it is playing out.
Certainly they are frustrated, but I don't think they are really all that frustrated with "us"... in fact I don't think "we" are much of a factor at all. The frustration largely stems from the reality that while a long-term military government is not something they want or feel capable of managing, every time they send power back to civilians the same thing happens. US influence has not been a major factor in the timing of returns to civilian rule. In past coups the monarchy has played a greater role than the US in assuring a rapid return to civilian rule. That may be changing, if this article has it right:

http://www.theguardian.com/world/201...j-junta-senate

There's going to be a lot of watch and see going on, because many parties have interests and very few have meaningful influence. From the US I'd expect to see the usual boilerplate statements urging a rapid return to civilian rule, backed up by very little action, if any.
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Old 05-27-2014   #56
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http://www.reuters.com/article/2014/...A4P00M20140527

Thai army gets down to work on economy, stifles dissent

Quote:
"We are very firm on our strategy when it comes to anti-coup protesters," said deputy army spokesman Winthai Suvaree. "If they break the law, we have to detain them. If they don't go home by 10 p.m. curfew time, we must take them in."

He said the army had found a number of weapons in raids around the country in recent days.

"Most of these appear to belong to those linked to the 'red shirt' movement," Winthai said, referring to supporters of ousted Prime Minister Yingluck Shinawatra and her brother, former premier Thaksin Shinawatra, who is at the heart of the long-running crisis in Thailand and was also deposed by the military, in 2006.

An army ranger was killed on Monday in Trat province, southeast of Bangkok near the Cambodian border, in a clash during a raid on suspected pro-Thaksin activists. Authorities seized weapons and detained suspected activists late last week in the northeast, a Thaksin stronghold.
If they're caching weapons, they're at least considering an armed uprising of some sort. The military is moving aggressively to consolidate power and "supposedly" has endorsement from the King. If for some reason that proves to be a false claim I suspect all hell will break lose.

http://www.usatoday.com/story/news/w...-coup/9587641/

Thai coup leader: 'It's no use' to protest

Quote:
After the speech, the general took only two questions from reporters — about plans for a new administration.

Asked if he would appoint a new prime minister, Prayuth replied gruffly: "Don't ask about something that hasn't arrived. It's already in the plans. Take it easy. There will be one."

Asked when elections would be held, Prayuth said that could happen when the crisis ends. It "depends on the circumstances," he said. "I don't have a schedule … quickly as possible. That's enough."

Now the New York Times unhelpful melodramatic spin taking words out of context, which is the norm for the NYT.

http://www.nytimes.com/2014/05/27/wo...land.html?_r=0

After Coup, General Vows to Create A ‘Genuine Democracy’ in Thailand

Quote:
Thailand’s military junta said Monday that it would stay in power “indefinitely” and that its rule had been endorsed by King Bhumibol Adulyadej, the monarch for nearly seven decades who has semi-divine status in the country.
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Old 05-27-2014   #57
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http://www.irrawaddy.org/burma/burme...thai-coup.html

Burmese Politicians Comment on Thai Coup

Quote:
“In Thailand, once the country’s situation returns to normal, the army gives power back to the people. In Burma, it’s been different,” the NLD member said.

She urged the Burmese government, as chair of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (Asean), to respond quickly to the Thai military’s takeover last Thursday.

“They still have failed to do so. I think they have delayed their response because of the army representatives in Parliament,” she said. Twenty-five percent of seats in the Burmese legislature are filled by unelected military representatives.
http://theconversation.com/muted-res...-options-27100

This piece captures many key points succinctly.

Muted response to Thai coup hints at other nations' limited options

Quote:
Behind the scenes, however, things are rather more complex. States in southeast Asia are acutely aware of the ways in which developments in one of them can have sudden and dramatic knock-on consequences across the region. The seismic economic and political events of the 1997-98 Asian financial crisis are still etched firmly in the mind.

Within ASEAN, a division is growing between the more developed, globalised and liberally oriented ASEAN states and those that are underdeveloped and authoritarian. Indonesia and the Philippines have rather different perspectives on events in Bangkok than Vietnam and Myanmar.
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Old 06-07-2014   #58
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Default Now for the 'carrot & stick'

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On Thursday the military announced it would set up "reconciliation centres" across the country to organise entertainment for the public and encourage cooperation with the new government, the Wall Street Journal reported.

The conciliatory tone represents a partial U-turn on the new rulers' previous hardline approach, which included detaining former leaders to "give them time to think", and the introduction of a law barring gatherings of more than five people. The army also imposed a 10pm to 5am curfew, and warned Thais again using social media "to provoke", as "it's not good for anyone".
Now the 'carrot':
Quote:
Thailand's military is trying to win hearts and minds following its controversial military coup by dressing attractive young women in army outfits and asking them to sing, dance and salute to the public. Female Thai soldiers have also been spotted singing from the backs of military trucks on the capital's streets.
Link{:http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/worl...and-minds.html
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Old 06-08-2014   #59
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David,

Since its Thailand there is no guarantee those are actually women. Long time travelers to Thailand will understand.
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Old 06-08-2014   #60
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Originally Posted by Bill Moore View Post
David,

Since its Thailand there is no guarantee those are actually women. Long time travelers to Thailand will understand.
Yes, got look out for the Adam's apple... which those necklaces seem to cunningly hide.
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