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Thailand roundup

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[Newcomers to Corrente, check out MsExpat's commentary and reporting on Thailand. --lambert]

1. The Thai media must truly be a disaster area, since during the crisis the Thais relied on our media.

Anyhow, Bangkok Pundit was down for three days, and is now up again. With no explanation. Odd that. Or not.

2. A nationwide curfew has been extended for another week. So far, I'm not seeing a whole lot of Buddhist renunciation from the Bangkok oligarchy or the Red Shirt leadership. Which is what it would bring... Truth and reconciliation.

3. And from the Department of Learned Nothing and Forgotten Nothing, ISRIA in translation:

On the question of using ex-Prime Minister Thaksin Shinawatra’s assets confiscated for the healing process budget, Secretary General replied that it is different budget. Even if the government did not confiscate the assets, the government still has funds for the healing process. The budget for people is not the government’s money but it’s the tax payer’s money. All we do is just to pay back to the people.

Jeebus, who asked that question? That would be a great way to start the healing process! Given that Thaksin is, to say the least, well-regarded by the Red Shirts, and his removal from office was the precipitant, if not the cause, of the current crisis of legitimacy in Thailand.

NOTE As always, I defer to MsExPat on matters relating to Thailand.

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MsExPat's picture
Submitted by MsExPat on

Last week, CNN International broadcast an unbelievably ham-handed "analysis" of King Bhumibol's reluctance to help resolve the crisis, complete with hysterically pitched commentary.

It's pissed everyone off. The Thai Foreign Ministry has sent off a protest letter.

I have to say, the broadcast is mighty cringe-worthy, and it reminds me why I almost never tune in to CNN International, which used to be good, and has turned into a brain-dead, U.S.-centric outlet that's more or less at the same level as Fox. Seriously.

The class acts, in terms of Thailand coverage out here were (in order of my preference: France 24, Al Jazeera, and BBC World).

MsExPat's picture
Submitted by MsExPat on

This is the biggest news in Thailand today.

Bangkok Post:

Thai auteur stuns with Cannes win

CANNES : Film-maker Apichatpong Weerasethakul has made history by winning the Palme d'Or at the 63rd Cannes Film Festival with his film Loong Boonmee Raluek Chat (Uncle Boonmee Who Can Recall His Past Lives).

"This is surreal," Mr Apichatpong, 40, said in his acceptance speech. "I thank all the ghosts and spirits in Thailand that made this possible."

The news came at the end of a tumultuous week in Bangkok. The director said: "Thailand needs some kind of hope in other ways. We're very depressed about the confrontation of different ideologies.

"I hope, more or less, the news of the prize in the culture sector will help cool down the situation."

In an interview with the Bangkok Post, Mr Apichatpong said it was not clear if, or when, he would release the movie in Bangkok.

"To release a film, I need to go through many processes. But maybe I'll show it in one theatre."

Apichatpong is being politic here. Most of his films have been banned in Thailand by the censors, and he's the head of an anti-censorship organization.

Hopefully his international prize will shame the powers that be into relaxing their paranoia, although in this climate I kind of doubt it.

MsExPat's picture
Submitted by MsExPat on

The Thai government is budgeting 50 billion Baht for relief to victims of the Bangkok fires.

The money, at least according to the Bangkok Post report, is earmarked for small businesses that were destroyed by the protests.

The huge, glitzy Central World complex got all the media attention, but the worst damage--at least for average Thais--happened across the street, in the Siam Square area, which is a "people's mall" of little shoe-box sized mom-and-pop shops that's typical of an Asian city. The small businesses of Siam Square are densely layered--outside the fixed-site shops you have mobile vendors working the street, and food carts plying the foot traffic.

The government plans to give micro loans to the shop owners, and also to open up some land nearby so they can build a temporary mall.

I think this is smart policy, and shows good instincts. Many of the small shop owners and especially the street vendors are migrants from the Northeast who have worked hard and carved out a little niche for themselves in the city economy. The money they send back home to the Northeast is a major source of income for the farmers.

So by helping Bangkok's small shopholders, you also help their families up-country.