Monday, April 03, 2006

Thailand's Constitutional Crisis

al Jazeera reported that there were 2 bomb explosions in South Thailand just after the polls closed for the country’s general election. The explosions occurred at 2 polling stations when the soldiers and policemen removed the polling boxes. 4 people were injured.

The first bomb exploded at the entrance of a school used as a polling station in the largely Malay-speaking district of Joh Airong. At this location, 2 soldiers carrying ballot boxes to a car suffered injuries. The second bomb exploded at another polling station 2 km away and wounded two policemen.

As we are aware, Thaksin Shinawatra has called for the poll as a referendum on his leadership after he was criticised for selling his family telecommunication business to a foreign company from Singapore. Additionally the sale was exempt from taxes. While the sale was done legally, opposition leaders seized on the no-tax deal to blacken his reputation, and add on that by jingoistic accusations of selling out to a foreign company.

Thaksin has vowed to resign if his Thai Rak Thai (Thais Love Thais) party wins less than 50% of the ballots cast. But that’s hardly likely to happen because he has enormous backing from rural Thais, especially those from the northeast, who have benefited from subsidies to villages and cheap healthcare during his five years in office. Thaksin is expected to obtain another large majority.

But the opposition, knowing it can’t beat his popularity, has capitalised on a Thai election law where a constitutional requirement states that all 500 parliamentary seats must be filled before a new government can be formed. They have resorted to total boycott of the elections, which would mean that the result is almost sure to fall short of the constitutional requirement.

The constitutional crisis is already taking its toll on Thailand’s economy, paralysing decision-making in business and sapping the Thai stock market.

But what is interesting to us Malaysians is that al Jazeera stated that because of this economic paralysis, Thailand has become Southeast Asia's second-worst performing bourse (stock exchange).

Guess which SE Asian country is the worst?

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