Thailand is a country of opposites and extremes, and none more so than at this current time.
On the one hand, it seems as if confidence in the economy is at an all time high. I always stay on Sukhumvit Soi 11, and this trip I see a new possibly-hip hotel has opened (Le Fenix or something like that), construction going on in two long-vacant lots along the street, there are some new beer bars, and a huge space that was empty forever is being transformed into a disco to compete with Bed and the other attractions along this street.
Then again, this Sunday is the referendum on a new Constitution. The last Constitution went into effect 10 years ago and seemed fine. The new one was put together by the military junta that overthrew the democratically elected prime minister. Yes, it’s true that there were allegations of corruption and nepotism under Thaksin, but it seems almost trivial to note that generally military coups are not a good thing.
It’s a dichotomy in and of itself that people who seized power through force are now going through this in an attempt to legitimize what they have done.
They are hoping for a big turnout for the vote. And in what cannot be seen as accidental, this week they issued yet another warrant calling for Thaksin’s arrest.
There’s also upcoming elections for the parliament. The Bangkok Post today speculates that Thaksin’s old party may win up to 100 seats in the election. (No note in the article of what percentage of the total that might represent.)
At the same time, the NY Times mentions yesterday about the publication of a book of interviews with Thaksin written by a 32 year old Thai woman, ex-military, who supposedly camped outside of his London home until he’d grant the interviews. The book is said to be quite favorable to him. Officially it was pulled from publication after sales of a few thousand copies. Unofficially, who knows?
So what we are looking at here is some sort of possibility that the junta’s Constitution will not pass and that they also may not win in the upcoming general election. I suppose that the news papers do not feel free to speculate as to what could happen if these events come to pass. Will this junta bow to the will of the people and step aside in that case? Or will they then attempt to maintain their hold on power by any means possible? And should that come to pass, what will the king do?
This is really a make or break time for Thailand. I’ll be watching the news if only because, from a purely selfish perspective, I’ve been thinking about buying a place here but holding off because I simply don’t trust the people running the country for the past year.
On a different note, August 24th sees an updated publication of a book that the FCC of Thailand put out 20 years ago, the life of the king and the history of the country under his 60 year reign. Unfortunately I’m leaving here on the 18th but plan to buy this on a future visit.