Politics of Thailand


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  • Thai
  • Politics of Thailand

    1. 1. POLITICS OF THAILAND Benedict (Viktor) Gombocz
    2. 2. THAILAND: GEOGRAPHY  Location: Southeastern Asia, bordering the Andaman Sea and the Gulf of Thailand, southeast of Burma  Area:  Total: 513,120 sq km  Country comparison to the world: 51  Land: 510,890 sq km  Water: 2,230 sq km  Area – comparative: Slightly more than twice the size of Wyoming  Land boundaries:  Total: 4,863 km  Border countries: Cambodia 803 km, Laos 1,754 km, Malaysia 506 km, Myanmar 1,800 km  Coastline: 3,219 km
    4. 4. RELIGION IN THAILAND  There is no formal state religion in the Thai constitution, which assures religious liberty for all Thai citizens, even though the King is required under law to be Buddhist, the dominant faith among Thais.  According to the last census (2000), 94.6% of Thais are Buddhists of the Theravada tradition.  Muslims are the second biggest religious group in Thailand, at 4.6%.  Thailand‟s southernmost provinces – Pattani, Yala, Narathiwat, and part of Songkhla Chumphon have majority Muslim populations, composing both ethnic Thai and Malay; ethnic Malays make up most of the southern tip of Thailand.  Christians, primarily Catholics, represent 0.7% of the population; a tiny, yet prominent population of Sikhs in Thailand and some Hindus also live in the nation‟s cities; they are greatly engaged in retail commerce.  There is also a tiny Jewish community in Thailand, going back as far as the 17th century.  Since 2001, Muslim activists, normally described by the Thai government as terrorists or separatists, have rallied in opposition to the central government because of claimed corruption and ethnic prejudice on the part of officials.  Thailand‟s Department of Religion, presently under the Ministry of Culture, is officially liable for the registration of religious groups in Thailand which claim properties through lawfully established foundations; it has supervision, together with the Immigration Police, over the work permits of messengers who are “expatriate religious workers” of all religions.
    5. 5. RELIGION IN THAILAND: STATISTICS (2000 CENSUS)  Buddhist (official) 94.6%  Muslim 4.6%  Christian 0.7%  Other 0.1%
    6. 6. POLITICS OF THAILAND: OVERVIEW  The political system of Thailand at present functions within the structure of a constitutional monarchy, with the PM as the head of government and a hereditary monarch as head of state.  The judiciary is independent of both the executive and the legislative branches.  Thai kingdoms and the Kingdom of Siam were under absolute rule of the kings.  In contrast, after the „democratic revolution‟ in 1932, led by westernized officials and customary-oriented military, the nation formally became a constitutional monarchy with a PM as the head of government, and the first written constitution was written.  Yet the politics became the center of arguing factions among both old and new elites, bureaucrats, and generals; coups occurred frequently, repeatedly bringing the nation under the reign of yet another junta.  Thailand has, to date, had seventeen contracts and constitutions, mirroring a high extent of political instability.  After triumphant coups, military régimes have abrogated existing constitutions and spread interim contracts.  The leading cause of return to political firmness is cooperation among politicians, men of influence, and generals.
    7. 7. POLITICS OF THAILAND: GOVERNMENT OF THAILAND  Capital (and largest city): Bangkok  Official languages: Thai  Official script: Thai alphabet  Demonym: Thai  Government: Unitary parliamentary constitutional monarchy  King: Bhumibol Adulyadej (Rama IX)  Prime Minister: Yingluck Shinawatra (PT)  Legislature: National Assembly  Upper house: Senate  Lower house: House of Representatives
    8. 8. POLITICS OF THAILAND: GOVERNMENT OF THAILAND (CONTINUED)  According to the constitution, the three key authorities holding the balance of power are executive, legislative, and judicial.  Even though the King exercises little direct authority under the constitution and Thailand classifies itself as a constitutional monarchy, the King is more than an icon of national identity and harmony.  The current monarch has an immense deal of admired respect and moral power, which has been used to interfere in political catastrophes and influence the government‟s course.  The PM, who must be an MP in accordance with the current constitution, is the head of government.  Cabinet members, in contrast, are not required to be MPs.  If the legislature has enough votes, it can hold a vote of no-confidence against the Premier and members of his cabinet; if the votes pass, the King keeps the government as it is and if the votes do not pass, everything changes.
    9. 9. GOVERNMENT OF THAILAND: CORRUPTION  Thailand has had a lengthy history of corruption, and the kinds normally seen vary from extortion and bribery to use of insider information to purchase land.  These forms of corruption are severely entrenched in Thai society for many reasons; for one, officials were usually not paid in wages, rather permitted 10-30% of expenses for providing their services.  Customs of giving gifts to superior officials are also prevalent; while these practices are not openly corrupting, their persistence is a significant foundation of corruption and how it is recognized as otherwise when officials in fact do earn incomes.  The energy sector is one huge part of corruption in today‟s developing nations, including Thailand; millions and billions of dollars are spent all over the world to extend “Clean Energy.”  Thailand‟s power development planning procedure is based on perpetuating plans for vested interests and intended to carry on providing perverse incentives to extractive and nuclear businesses.  In addition to false share of finances, large bribes are offered to and received by officials (or their families) responsible for the jobs, like in the recent Suvarnabhumi Airport project, where a car park contractor supposedly gave $250 million USD to the PM‟s sister in order to gain acquirement of that job.
    10. 10. BHUMIBOL ADULYADEJ  Born 5 December 1927 in Cambridge, Massachusetts.  Reigning King of Thailand since 9 June 1946; known as Rama IX.  The world‟s longest-serving current head of state; also the longest- reigning monarch in Thai history.  Admired and venerated by many Thais.  Lawfully regarded “inviolable” and lèse majesté, i.e., wrongdoing against the self-esteem of monarch may be penalized; claims of lèse majesté defended the toppling of the government in 1957.  Invited public criticism in a 2005 speech; thousands of arrests resulted.  Credited with a social-economic theory of self-sufficiency.  Forbes guesstimated his personal fortune, which includes property supervised by the Crown Property Bureau which is regarded national property, to be US$30 billion in 2010; has frequently been ranked number one of the magazine‟s list of “The World‟s Richest Royals”; this estimation includes land ownership which the royal family claims it does not actually own.  The Crown Property Bureau spends money on public welfare, including youth development, though it does not pay taxes and its funds are reported only to Bhumibol.  Has himself contributed donations to various development projects in Thailand, in areas such as agriculture, environment, public health, occupational promotion, communications, and public welfare; tributes to these donations are everywhere in Thailand‟s media.
    11. 11. YINGLUCK SHINAWATRA  Born 21 June 1967 in San Kamphaeng, Chiang Mai.  Thai businesswoman and politican, member of the Pheu Thai Party, and the 28th and current PM of Thailand, having been elected in the 2011 general election.  Is the first female PM of Thailand and at age 44, became the youngest PM of Thailand in over 60 years.  Born in Chiang Mai Province into a rich family of Chinese ancestry; obtained a bachelor‟s degree from Chiang Mai University and a master‟s degree from Kentucky State University; both degrees were in public administration.  Became a manager in the businesses founded by her older brother, Thaksin Shinawatra, and subsequently became the president of property developer SC Asset and managing director of Advanced Info Service; in the meantime, Thaksin became PM, only to be deposed in a military coup; he went into voluntary exile after a court found him guilty of misuse of power and corruption.  In May 2011, the Pheu Thai Party, which retains close ties to Thaksin, nominated Yingluck as their candidate for PM in the 2011 general election; Pheu Thai campaigned with a motto of “Thaksin Thinks, Pheu Thai Does”.  Campaigned on a platform of national reconciliation, poverty eradication, and corporate income tax reduction, despite the governing Democrat Party‟s allegation that she would act in the interests of her long exiled brother.  Pheu Thai won a landslide victory, taking 265/500 seats in the 500- seat House of Representatives of Thailand; it was only the second time in Thailand‟s political history that one party gained a parliamentary majority, the first party being her brother‟s party, the Thai Rak Thai Party.
    12. 12. PHEU THAI PARTY  Third incarnation of a Thai political party initially founded by ex-PM Thaksin Shinawatra.  Founded on 20 September 2008 as an expected replacement for the People‟s Power Party (PPP), which was dissolved by the Constitutional Court of Thailand less than three months later after party members were found accountable for electoral deception.  The People‟s Power Party itself was a replacement for Thaksin‟s initial Thai Rak Thai (TRT) party, which the Constitutional Court dissolved in May 2007 for breaking electoral laws.
    13. 13. BANGKOK
    14. 14. THE END ( )