News / Asia

SE Asia Worries Thailand's Unrest Could Spread

Thailand's neighbors are watching the political unrest in Bangkok with growing concern. The Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) has said the protests there could spread economic and political instability throughout the region.

ASEAN has called on the Thai government and the anti-government demonstrators to exercise restraint and to seek a settlement through dialogue and reconciliation. The foreign ministers of Singapore and Indonesia have made similar statements.

Since March, 26 people have been killed and almost 1,000 injured in bomb blasts and confrontations between police and anti-government protesters in Bangkok known as red shirts. The red shirts, made up mostly of rural and urban poor, demand new elections. The demonstrations have disrupted businesses and tourism in the country.

Protests Could Affect Investments

Indonesian Foreign Ministry spokesman Teuku Faizasyah says he is concerned that instability in Thailand could lead to a repeat of the 1997 Asian economic crisis. Then, the collapse of the Thai baht hurt investor confidence in the region.

"Well its rather too early to assess what would be the direct impact of the development in Thailand on the economy, but we did hope actually that it would not create similar situations [like] in the '90's when the contagion effect of the economic meltdown was felt in our region," said Faizasyah.  "But hopefully this is a very isolated case but we are also very hopeful that with our efforts together then we can resolve the situation in a peaceful way."

Michael Montesano with the Singapore Institute of International Affairs says right now most foreign investors see the crisis as specific to Thailand only. But, he says, as the protests continue investment in the region could be affected.

"The only effect that we need to be afraid of is those people on the outside of the region who see the region as a whole, and who have their antenna up to instability and political crisis in Southeast Asia, and who, when they see crisis in one country become skittish about how to deal with investment and the economy and other activities in the region as a whole," said Montesano.



Neighbors Offer Assistance

Thailand's political divisions have built steadily over the past several years, since a military coup ousted former Prime Minister Thaksin Shinawatra in 2006.

Although Thailand's urban middle class and elite consider him corrupt, he remains very popular among farmers and the poor, because of his anti-poverty programs. His supporters consider the current government to be illegitimate because it came to power in a parliamentary deal after courts ousted two pro-Thaksin elected governments in 2008.

Singapore and Indonesia have offered help to resolve the crisis in Thailand but Faizasyah says it would only be useful if both sides request it.

"We are not interfering in our neighboring issues actually," said Faizasyah.  "It must be very clear if there is anyway we can assist in the dialogue, at the request of the government or other parties in this situation then certainly we will be, we are there to provide any assistance available at our disposal."

Montesano says ASEAN's tradition of non-interference in members' affairs and the Thai government's unwillingness to ask for help, will stifle any regional mediation effort. What Thailand's neighbors can do to prevent similar protest movements from spreading, he says, is to address the concerns of the poor and disenfranchised in their own countries.

"I think that other countries in the region would do well to look at the deep roots of Thailand's crisis, and to ask themselves whether their economies and their societies aren't also subject to similar crises," said Montesano.

Apart from that, he says, Thailand's neighbors and the rest of the world can only watch to see how the crisis plays out.

You May Like

Multimedia Social Media Documenting, Not Driving, Hong Kong Protests

Unlike in Arab Spring uprisings, pro-democracy protesters in Hong Kong aren't relying on Twitter and Facebook to organize, but social media still plays a role More

Analysis: Occupy Central Not Exactly Hong Kong’s Tiananmen

VOA's former Hong Kong, Beijing correspondent compares and contrasts 1989 Tiananmen Square protest with what is now happening in Hong Kong More

Bambari Hospital a Lone Place of Help in Violence-Plagued CAR

Only establishment still functioning in CAR's second city is main hospital More

This forum has been closed.
Comments
     
There are no comments in this forum. Be first and add one

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
The Legacy of Jimmy Carter: The Preacher from Plainsi
X
October 01, 2014 10:45 AM
It is common in the United States to see tourists flock to sites associated with America's presidents. Some are privately owned and others are run by the National Park Service or the National Archives -- but most have helped draw business and people into the towns and cities where they are located. As VOA’s Kane Farabaugh reports, there is one particular presidential hometown that is unique in what it has to offer those who make the trip.
Video

Video The Legacy of Jimmy Carter: The Preacher from Plains

It is common in the United States to see tourists flock to sites associated with America's presidents. Some are privately owned and others are run by the National Park Service or the National Archives -- but most have helped draw business and people into the towns and cities where they are located. As VOA’s Kane Farabaugh reports, there is one particular presidential hometown that is unique in what it has to offer those who make the trip.
Video

Video Hong Kong Protests Draw New Supporters on National Holiday

On the 65th anniversary of the founding of Communist China, Hong Kong protesters are hoping to stage the largest pro-democracy demonstration since the 1989 Tiananmen protests. VOA's Brian Padden visited one of the protest sites mid-day, when the atmosphere was calm and where the supporters were enthusiastic about joining what they are calling the umbrella revolution.
Video

Video India's PM Continues First US Visit

India's prime minister is on his first visit to Washington, to strengthen political and economic ties between the world's oldest and the world biggest democracies. He came to the U.S. capital from New York, the first stop on his five-day visit to the country that denied him an entry visa in the past. From Washington, Zlatica Hoke reports Modi seemed most focused on attracting foreign investment and trade to increase job opportunities for his people.
Video

Video Malaysia Struggles to Stop People Joining Jihad

Malaysian authorities say militant groups like the so-called "Islamic State" have used social media to entice at least three dozen Malaysian Muslims to fight in what they call "jihad" in Syria and Iraq. As Mahi Ramkrishnan reports from Kuala Lumpur, counterterrorism police are deeply worried about what could happen when these militants return home.
Video

Video Could US Have Done More to Stop Rise of Islamic State?

President Obama says airstrikes against Islamic State militants in Syria will likely continue for some time because, in his words, "there is a cancer that has grown for too long." So what if President Obama had acted sooner in Syria to arm more-moderate opponents of both the Islamic State and the Syrian government? VOA State Department Correspondent Scott Stearns reports from the United Nations.
Video

Video Treasure Hunters Seek 'Hidden Treasure' in Central Kenya

Could a cave in a small village in central Kenya be the site of buried treasure? A rumor of riches, left behind by colonialists, has some residents dreaming of wealth, while others see it as a dangerous hoax. VOA's Gabe Joselow has the story.
Video

Video Ebola Patients Find No Treatment at Sierra Leone Holding Center

At a holding facility in Makeni, central Sierra Leone, dozens of sick people sit on the floor in an empty university building. They wait in filthy conditions. It's a 16-hour drive by ambulance to Kailahun Ebola treatment center. Adam Bailes was there and reports on what he says are some of the worst situations he has seen since the beginning of this Ebola outbreak. And he says it appears case numbers may already be far worse than authorities acknowledge.
Video

Video Identifying Bodies Found in Texas Border Region

Thousands of immigrants have died after crossing the border from Mexico into remote areas of the southwestern United States in recent years. Local officials in south Texas alone have found hundreds of unidentified bodies and buried them in mass graves in local cemeteries. Now an anthropologist and her students at Baylor University have been exhuming bodies and looking for clues to identify them. VOA’s Greg Flakus has more from Waco, Texas.
Colonel Steve ‘Spiros’ Pisanos left Greece and came to the U.S. to learn to fly. He flew fighters for the Allies in World War II, narrowly escaping death multiple times.Colonel Steve ‘Spiros’ Pisanos left Greece and came to the U.S. to learn to fly. He flew fighters for the Allies in World War II, narrowly escaping death multiple times.

AppleAndroid