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

Video Iran Nuclear Deal Becomes US Campaign Issue

Voters in three crucial battleground states - Florida, Ohio and Pennsylvania - overwhelmingly oppose nuclear deal with Iran More

With IS in Coalition Cross-Hairs, al-Qaida's Syria Affiliate Reemerges

Jabhat al-Nusra has rebounded, increasingly casting itself as a critical player in battle for Syria’s future More

Lessons Learned From Katrina, 10 Years Later

FEMA chief Craig Fugate says key changes include better preparation, improved coordination among state, federal assistance agencies 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.
Colombians Flee Venezuela as Border Crisis Escalatesi
X
August 27, 2015 2:08 AM
Hundreds of Colombians have fled Venezuela since last week, amid an escalating border crisis between the two countries. Last week, Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro ordered the closure of a key border crossing after smugglers injured three Venezuelan soldiers and a civilian. The president also ordered the deportation of Colombians who are in Venezuela illegally. Zlatica Hoke reports.
Video

Video Colombians Flee Venezuela as Border Crisis Escalates

Hundreds of Colombians have fled Venezuela since last week, amid an escalating border crisis between the two countries. Last week, Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro ordered the closure of a key border crossing after smugglers injured three Venezuelan soldiers and a civilian. The president also ordered the deportation of Colombians who are in Venezuela illegally. Zlatica Hoke reports.
Video

Video Is China's Economic Data Accurate?

Some investors say China's wild stock market gyrations have been made worse by worries about the reliability of that nation's economic data. And some critics say the reports can mislead investors by painting an unrealistically-strong picture of the economy. A key China scholar says Beijing is not fudging ((manipulating)) the numbers, but that the economy is evolving quickly from smoke-stack industries to services, and the ways of tracking new economic activity are falling behind the change. V
Video

Video Next to Iran, Climate at Forefront of Obama Agenda

President Barack Obama this week announced new initiatives aimed at making it easier for Americans to access renewable energy sources such as solar and wind. Obama is not slowing down when it comes to pushing through climate change measures, an issue he says is the greatest threat to the country’s national security. VOA correspondent Aru Pande has more from the White House.
Video

Video Shipping Containers Provide Experimental Housing

Housing prices around the San Francisco Bay area are out of reach for many people, so some young entrepreneurs, artists and tech industry workers are creating their own houses using converted shipping containers. But as VOA's Mike O’Sullivan reports from Oakland, the effort requires ingenuity and dealing with restrictive local laws.
Video

Video Arctic Draws International Competition for Oil

A new geopolitical “Great Game” is underway in earth’s northernmost region, the Arctic, where Russia has claimed a large area for resource development and President Barack Obama recently approved Shell Oil Company’s test-drilling project in an area under U.S. control. Greg Flakus reports.
Video

Video Philippine Maritime Police: Chinese Fishermen a Threat to Country’s Security

China and the Philippines both claim maritime rights in the South China Sea.  That includes the right to fish in those waters. Jason Strother reports on how the Philippines is catching Chinese nationals it says are illegal poachers. He has the story from Palawan province.
Video

Video Technique May Eliminate Drill-and-Fill Dental Care

Many people dread visiting dentists because they're afraid of drills. Now, however, a technology developed by a British firm promises to eliminate the need for mechanical cleaning of dental cavities by speeding a natural process of tooth repair. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video China's Spratly Island Building Said to Light Up the Night 'Like A City'

Southeast Asian countries claim China has illegally seized territory in the Spratly islands. It is especially a concern for a Philippine mayor who says Beijing is occupying parts of his municipality. Jason Strother reports from the capital of Palawan province, Puerto Princesa.
Video

Video Ages-old Ice Reveals Secrets of Climate Change

Ice caps don't just exist at the world's poles. There are also tropical ice caps, and the largest sits atop the Peruvian Andes - but it is melting, quickly, and may be gone within the next 20 years. George Putic reports scientists are now rushing to take samples to get at the valuable information about climate change locked in the ice.
Video

Video French Experiment in Integrating Roma Under Threat

Plans to destroy France’s oldest slum have sparked an outcry on the part of its Roma residents. As Lisa Bryant reports from the Paris suburb of La Courneuve, rights groups argue the community is a fledgling experiment on integrating Roma who are often outcasts in many parts of Europe.
Video

Video Kenyans Turn to Agriculture for Business

Each year Kenyan universities continue to churn out graduates for the job market despite the already existing high rate of unemployment among youth in the country. Some of these young men and women have realized that agriculture can be as rewarding as any other business or job, and they are resorting to agribusiness in large numbers as a way of tackling unemployment. Rael Ombuor reports for VOA.
Video

Video First Women Graduate Elite Army Ranger School

Two women are making history for the U.S. Army by proving they are among the toughest of the tough. VOA's Carla Babb reports from Fort Benning, Georgia as 94 men and those two women rise as graduates of the difficult Ranger school.

VOA Blogs