News / Asia

Survey Finds Support for Decentralization of Power in Thailand

Thai ''Red Shirts'' anti-government protesters gather in front of the gate of the Bangkok Remand prison, Bangkok. (File photo)
Thai ''Red Shirts'' anti-government protesters gather in front of the gate of the Bangkok Remand prison, Bangkok. (File photo)

A survey in Thailand by the United States-based Asia Foundation says greater decentralization of power is seen as a way to end the political polarization in the country.

The report also found that the degree of polarization was less extreme than has been reported by academics and the media.

The Asia Foundation survey, released Monday, found strong support for the decentralization of power as a way to easing the deep political tensions that have kept Thailand on a political rollercoaster for the past five years.

Decentralization, the survey reported, would improve governance and reduce political tensions,

Analysts say the Thai government administration has centered on the capital Bangkok, neglecting the political needs of rural communities where some 50 percent of the Thai population still lives.

In 2006 pro-nationalist so-called "Yellow Shirts" protests led to a coup and the ouster of former Prime Minister Thaksin Shinawatra from office. They again rallied once again in 2008 against the pro-Thaksin government that won at the polls in 2007.

Thaksin has won favor with the rural poor and urban working class with populist economic policies. But the middle class accused him of corruption and abuse of power.

Pro-Thaksin supporters responded by wearing the color red or "Red Shirts" and led counter-campaigns with street demonstrations in 2009 and again in 2010.

The military stepped in to end the protests last May after a political settlement collapsed and protests left more than 90 people dead.

The media and academics say the country is deeply divided between the two groups.

But the Asia Foundation's representative in Thailand, Kim McQuay, says the survey found 75 percent of those who responded were neutral with no support for either group.

"The dominant view has been that Thailand and the Thai polity is deeply divided. But what comes out from the survey that Thailand is not divided in quite the same way that there was a large, nearly three quarters of the respondent population expressed no color loyalty."

McQuay says instead, respondents showed strong support for political tolerance and democratic forms of government.

But Dr. Nongyao Nawarat from Chiang Mai University says both political groups support calls for a more democratic society.

"The political crisis between Red and Yellow [groups] is not as big as you could perceive from the media. So, we thought Red and Yellow - they are totally divided. But actually they’ve got some common ground. It iss so important for the Thai people to understand that both of them want the real democracy, want a better democracy, a better just society, " she says.

Phichai Rattanadulok na Phuket of the National Institute of Development Administration says the survey found that conflict generally lies between the core groups of the Yellow and Red Shirts.

But greater conflict could arise if the role of the Thai Monarchy is drawn into the debate. Thailand has had a constitutional monarchy since 1932.

The survey calls for the media to take a more active role in the political debate ahead of general elections likely in July. Analysts expect the vote to be hotly contested and unlikely to bring an end to the conflicts, as tensions re-emerge with parties vying to win political power.

You May Like

New England Bears Brunt of US Blizzard

Boston, surrounding region grapple with as much as 3 feet of snow, coastal flooding; leaders in New York, spared most severe weather, criticized for being overly cautious More

China Lifts Lid on Sale of Fake Goods Online

A recent survey found nearly 60 percent of a random sample of items bought from Taobao were fake More

Upward Aims to Create Old-girls Network in Silicon Valley

Lisa Lambert, an executive with Intel Corp.'s venture-capital unit, responds to the gender-disparity debate by creating a new social organization 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.
Obama Urges Closer Economic Ties During Historic India Visiti
X
Aru Pande
January 26, 2015 9:33 PM
U.S. President Barack Obama says the United States and India must do better to capitalize on untapped potential in their economic relationship - by removing some of the roadblocks to greater trade and investment. As VOA correspondent Aru Pande reports from New Delhi, Obama spoke after participating in India’s Republic Day celebration.
Video

Video Obama Urges Closer Economic Ties During Historic India Visit

U.S. President Barack Obama says the United States and India must do better to capitalize on untapped potential in their economic relationship - by removing some of the roadblocks to greater trade and investment. As VOA correspondent Aru Pande reports from New Delhi, Obama spoke after participating in India’s Republic Day celebration.
Video

Video US, EU Threaten New Russia Sanctions Over Ukraine

U.S. President Barack Obama has blamed Russia for an attack by Ukrainian separatists that left dozens dead in the port of Mariupol and cast further doubt on the viability of last year’s cease-fire with the Kyiv government. VOA’s Michael Bowman reports from Washington.
Video

Video White House Grapples With Yemen Counterterrorism Strategy

Reports say the U.S. has carried out a drone strike on suspected militants in Yemen, the first after President Barack Obama offered reassurances the U.S. is continuing its counterterrorism operations in the country. The future of those operations has been in question following the collapse last week of Yemen’s government. VOA White House correspondent Luis Ramirez reports.
Video

Video Kerry Warns Against Violence in Nigeria Election

US Secretary of State John Kerry visited Nigeria Sunday in a show of the level of concern within the U.S. and the international community over next month’s presidential election. Chris Stein reports.
Video

Video Zoo Animals Show Their Artistic Sides

The pursuit of happiness is so important, America's founding fathers put it in the Declaration of Independence. Any zookeeper will tell you animals need enrichment, just like humans do. So painting, and even music, are part of the Smithsonian National Zoo's program to keep the animals happy. VOA’s June Soh met some animal artists at the zoo in Washington. Faith Lapidus narrates.
Video

Video Worldwide Photo Workshops Empower Youth

Last September, 20 young adults from South Sudan took part in a National Geographic Photo Camp. They are among hundreds of students from around the world who have learned how to use a camera to tell the stories of the people in their communities through the powerful medium of photography. Three camp participants talked about their experiences recently on a visit to Washington. VOA’s Julie Taboh reports.
Video

Video Saudi, Yemen Developments Are Sudden Complications for Obama

The death of Saudi Arabia's King Abdullah and the collapse of Yemen’s government have cast further uncertainty on U.S. efforts to fight militants in the Middle East and also contain Iran’s influence in the region. VOA White House correspondent Luis Ramirez reports on the new complications facing the Obama administration and its Middle East policy.
Video

Video Progress, Some Areas of Disagreement in Cuba Talks

U.S. and Cuban officials are reporting progress from initial talks in Havana on re-establishing diplomatic ties. U.S. Assistant Secretary of State (for Western Hemisphere Affairs) Roberta Jacobson said while there was agreement on a broad range of issues, there also are some “profound disagreements” between Washington and Havana. VOA State Department correspondent Pam Dockins has the story.
Video

Video US, Japan Offer Lessons as Eurozone Launches Huge Stimulus

The Euro currency has fallen sharply after the European Central Bank announced a bigger-than-expected $67 billion-a-month quantitative easing program Thursday - commonly seen as a form of printing new money. Henry Ridgwell reports for VOA from London on whether the move might rescue the eurozone economy -- and what lessons have been learned from similar programs around the world.
Video

Video Nigerian Elections Pose Concern of Potential Conflict in 'Middle Belt'

Nigeria’s north-central state of Kaduna has long been the site of fighting between Muslims and Christians as well as between people of different ethnic groups. As the February elections approach, community and religious leaders are making plans they hope will keep the streets calm after results are announced. Chris Stein reports from the state capital, Kaduna.
Video

Video As Viewership Drops, Obama Puts His Message on YouTube

Ratings reports show President Obama’s State of the Union address this week drew the lowest number of viewers for this annual speech in 15 years. White House officials anticipated this, and the president has decided to take a non-traditional approach to getting his message out. VOA White House correspondent Luis Ramirez reports.
Video

Video S. Korean Businesses Want to End Trade Restrictions With North

Business leaders in South Korea are calling for President Park Geun-hye to ease trade restrictions with North Korea that were put in place in 2010 after the sinking of a South Korean warship.Pro-business groups argue that expanding trade and investment is not only good for business, it is also good for long-term regional peace and security. VOA’s Brian Padden reports.

Circumventing Censorship

An Internet Primer for Healthy Web Habits

As surveillance and censoring technologies advance, so, too, do new tools for your computer or mobile device that help protect your privacy and break through Internet censorship.
More

All About America

AppleAndroid