Posts Tagged ‘society’

A Buddhist scholar and foreign correspondent both warn in recent books of the rising specter of Buddhist nationalism in Thailand.

Buddhist scholar Suraphot Thaweesak recently warned that a bid to enshrine Buddhism as the national religion would increase the kind of extremism that French journalist Arnaud Dubus writes about in his recently released book “Buddhism and Politics in Thailand.”

“They think the state must protect Buddhism. … It’s difficult to make them see other points. We have to invite them to think about the teachings of Buddhism, that the Buddha talks about cessation of suffering,” Suraphot said, adding that establishing a national religion would spark more conflict with Thais of other faiths.

Dubus’ evidence of growing Buddhist extremism includes calls to burn down mosques in the predominantly Muslim-Malay Deep South, where soldiers have ordained as monks, equipped with both alms bowl and heavy weapons.

Continue reading: Khaosod English


A challenging month, a hectic schedule. However I’m glad to have this opportunity to unwind and travel to rejuvenate. It is always good to leave the urban madness, even for a while.

Pattaya is not a tropical paradise but it does offer somewhat a change of scenery. It’s no longer a bustling spot like about five years ago. Communities are still struggling from poor income and low livelihood opportunities. Hopefully things improve. Maybe after the election next year. Maybe they will be able to enjoy a prosperous year then.


This Street Artist Is Trying to Loosen the Junta’s Iron Grip on Thailand With Humor.

It was a scandal too good to ignore. Prawit Wongsuwan, the deputy prime minister and close ally of Thai junta leader Prayuth Chan-o-cha, was photographed with a flashy Richard Mille wrist watch worth nearly $100,000 USD peeking out from beneath his white military uniform sleeve.

That photograph, and others like it showcasing a watch collection worth in excess of $1 million USD, snowballed into a scandal that, for many Thais, encapsulated their frustration with a military government that seized control in a 2014 coup and then refused to let go of power. And it was just too perfect a metaphor for political street artist Headache Stencil to pass up.

The artist, who asked us to keep his real name a secret, sketched up an image of Prawit’s face inside an alarm clock. The clock’s hands subtly formed an X across his face. But Headache Stencil wasn’t finished. He added a Rolex logo to the general’s forehead and then stenciled the image on a busy pedestrian overpass right in the middle of Bangkok. He wanted the piece to show the junta that the watch scandal was a wake up call for the people. He wanted the military government, and Prawit who had stubbornly ignored calls for his resignation, to know that time was running out.

“[The junta] will be lucky to last another two-to-three months,” the artist told me. “Pro-democracy protestors are getting bolder since the watch scandal. There was nothing special about that piece. It only became popular because a lot of people agreed with the message.”

Continue reading: VICE

Interesting and informative articles regarding Thailand:

  1. ‘Always a fight’ for Bangkok’s slum dwellers, says activist of 50 years
  2. Bank accounts for fishermen in Thailand can help end abuses, officials say
  3. Unfair Pay, Labor Abuse Persist in Thailand’s Fishing Industry, UN Says
  4. ‘Progress and persistent abuses’ in Thailand’s fishing industry, says U.N.
  5. Thai rubber farmers urged to cut down trees to drive up prices
  6. Thailand receives Fukushima’s first fish export since 2011 nuclear disaster
  7. Blind singers break through Bangkok’s sound barrier

A long-running insurgency in Thailand’s Deep South has inflicted a toll of immense suffering on women and fueled a cycle of domestic violence, according to local advocates for gender equality.

This week, the head of a leading NGO that promotes women’s rights in the predominantly Muslim region called on the warring sides to find a non-violent resolution to the separatist conflict as a way to shield women from further pain and abuse.

“All sides, please seek peaceful solutions by political ways. Avoid using weapons that impact women,” Patimoh Po-etae-daoh, president of the group that calls itself WE PEACE, told BenarNews in a phone interview from Bangkok, where she had traveled to collect a peace prize from the Thai government on the occasion of International Women’s Day.

Women may account for only 16 percent of the around 20,000 people who have been killed or injured since the conflict re-ignited in the Deep South 14 years ago, but the war has deeply affected many women by making widows of 3,000 of them and orphans of 9,000 children, she said.

“These losses lead to social troubles such as domestic violence, sexual violence, economic hardship, drugs and mistrust among neighbors,” Patimoh said.

Continue reading: Benar News

In Bangkok, young, middle-class Thais, have led a series of anti-junta protests, including one on Feb. 24 at Thammasat University – which Thai troops stormed in 1976, killing dozens of students in an earlier coup.

Than Rittiphan, a member of the New Democracy Movement, which has helped to organize the protests, said the movement is mainly aimed at holding a general election sooner.

The movement transcends the red-yellow divide in Thai politics and “has actually spread into a conflict between generations and values”, he said. The students say they are pushing for a Thai meritocracy to replace what they see as corruption and nepotism in the system.

The latest protests are too small to be a factor in any election timing, said Kan Yuenyong, a political analyst and executive director of the Siam Intelligence Unit think-tank told Reuters. “But they do increase public awareness about the vote.

“The underlying politics of Thailand is still about class – the upper, middle and the working class. People try to say that we’ve moved on from color politics but we haven’t,” Kan said.

Source: Reuters

Thai Prime Minister Prayuth Chan-ocha on Tuesday said a general election he had promised to hold in November would take place “no later” than February 2019, the latest delay to anger critics of the government.

The junta has promised and postponed elections several times since its 2014 coup overthrew a civilian government. The latest date was set for November but last month the military-appointed legislature changed the election law, pointing to further delay.

“Now I will answer clearly, an election will take place no later than February 2019,” Prayuth, who is under growing pressure both at home and abroad to return to civilian government, told reporters in Bangkok, the capital.

Hundreds of people have flocked to Bangkok in recent weeks to urge the military government not to delay the vote, some of the biggest anti-junta demonstrations seen since 2014.

The latest election delay has shattered people’s confidence in Prayuth’s timeframe, said Phongthep Thepkanjana, a former deputy prime minister and a senior member of the opposition Pheu Thai Party that represents the Shinawatra family.

Continue reading: Reuters