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

    Turkey, US Splits Deepen Over Support for Kurdish Militants

    Ankara summons American ambassador to protest remarks by State Department spokesman who said Washington does not consider Syria's Kurdish Democracy Union Party (PYD) a terrorist organization

    Obama Seeking $19 Billion for National Cybersecurity

    Move, touted as attempt to build broad, cohesive federal response to cyberthreats, calls for increase in cybersecurity spending across all government agencies

    Video Foreign Policy Weighs Heavy for Some US Voters

    VOA talks to protesters in Manchester, New Hampshire, who sound off on foreign policy issues such as the Guantanamo Bay prison, the Israeli-Palestinian conflict and the wars in Iraq, Syria and Yemen

    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.
    Valentine's Day Stinks for Lebanese Clownsi
    X
    February 09, 2016 8:04 PM
    This weekend, on Valentine's Day in Lebanon, love is not the only thing in the air. More than half a year after the country's trash crisis began, the stink of uncollected garbage remains on the streets. Step forward "Clown Me In," a group of clowns who use their skills for activism. Before the most romantic day of the year the clowns have released their unusual take on love in Lebanon -- in a bid to keep the pressure up and get the trash off the streets. John Owens reports from Beirut.
    Video

    Video Valentine's Day Stinks for Lebanese Clowns

    This weekend, on Valentine's Day in Lebanon, love is not the only thing in the air. More than half a year after the country's trash crisis began, the stink of uncollected garbage remains on the streets. Step forward "Clown Me In," a group of clowns who use their skills for activism. Before the most romantic day of the year the clowns have released their unusual take on love in Lebanon -- in a bid to keep the pressure up and get the trash off the streets. John Owens reports from Beirut.
    Video

    Video Rocky Year Ahead for Nigeria Amid Oil Price Crash

    The global fall in the price of oil has rattled the economies of many petroleum exporters, and Africa’s oil king Nigeria is no exception. As Chris Stein reports from Lagos, analysts are predicting a rough year ahead for the continent’s top producer of crude.
    Video

    Video Foreign Policy Weighs Heavy for Some US Voters

    VOA talks to protesters in Manchester, New Hampshire who sound off on foreign policy issues such as the Guantanamo Bay Prison, the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, Middle East Affairs and national security.
    Video

    Video 'No Means No' Program Targets Sexual Violence in Kenya

    The organizers of an initiative to reduce and stop rape in the informal settlements around Kenya's capital say their program is having marked success. Girls are taking self-defense classes while the boys are learning how to protect the girls and respect them. Lenny Ruvaga reports from Nairobi.
    Video

    Video New Hampshire Voters Are Independent, Mindful of History

    Once every four years, the northeastern state of New Hampshire becomes the center of the U.S. political universe with its first-in-the-nation presidential primary. What's unusual about New Hampshire is how seriously the voters take their role and the responsibility of being among the first to weigh in on the candidates.
    Video

    Video Chocolate Lovers Get a Sweet History Lesson

    Observed in many countries around the world, Valentine’s Day is sometimes celebrated with chocolate festivals. But at a festival near Washington, the visitors experience a bit more than a sugar rush. They go on a sweet journey through history. VOA’s June Soh takes us to the festival.
    Video

    Video 'Smart' Bandages Could Heal Wounds More Quickly

    Simple bandages are usually seen as the first line of attack in healing small to moderate wounds and burns. But scientists say new synthetic materials with embedded microsensors could turn bandages into a much more valuable tool for emergency physicians. VOA’s George Putic reports.
    Video

    Video Bhutanese Refugees in New Hampshire Closely Watching Primary Election

    They fled their country and lived in refugee camps in neighboring Nepal for decades before being resettled in the northeastern U.S. state of New Hampshire -- now the focus of the U.S. presidential contest. VOA correspondent Aru Pande spoke with members of the Bhutanese community, including new American citizens, about the campaign and the strong anti-immigrant rhetoric of some of the candidates.
    Video

    Video Researchers Use 3-D Printer to Produce Transplantable Body Parts

    Human organ transplants have become fairly common around the world in the past few decades. Researchers at various universities are coordinating their efforts to find solutions -- including teams at the University of Pennsylvania and Rice University in Houston that are experimenting with a 3-D printer -- to make blood vessels and other structures for implant. As VOA’s Greg Flakus reports from Houston, they are also using these artificial body parts to seek ways of defeating cancerous tumors.
    Video

    Video Helping the Blind 'See' Great Art

    There are 285 million blind and visually impaired people in the world who are unable to enjoy visual art at a museum. One New York photographer is trying to fix this situation by making tangible copies of the world’s masterpieces. VOA correspondent Victoria Kupchinetsky was there as visually impaired people got a feel for great art. Joy Wagner narrates her report.
    Video

    Video German Artists to Memorialize Refugees With Life Jacket Exhibit

    Sold in every kind of shop in some Turkish port towns, life jackets have become a symbol of the refugee crisis that brought a million people to Europe in 2015.  On the shores of Lesbos, Greece, German artists collect discarded life jackets as they prepare an art installation they plan to display in Germany.  For VOA, Hamada Elrasam has this report from Lesbos, Greece.
    Video

    Video E-readers Help Ease Africa's Book Shortage

    Millions of people in Africa can't read, and there's a chronic shortage of books. A non-profit organization called Worldreader is trying to help change all that one e-reader at a time. VOA’s Deborah Block tells us about a girls' school in Nairobi, Kenya where Worldreader is making a difference.
    Video

    Video Genius Lets World Share Its Knowledge

    Inspired by crowdsourcing companies like Wikipedia, Genius allows anyone to edit anything on the web, using its web annotation tool
    Video

    Video In Philippines, Mixed Feelings About Greater US Military Presence

    In the Philippines, some who will be directly affected by a recent Supreme Court decision clearing the way for more United States troop visits are having mixed reactions.  The increased rotations come at a time when the Philippines is trying to build up its military in the face of growing maritime assertiveness from China.  From Bahile, Palawan on the coast of the South China Sea, Simone Orendain has this story.