Wednesday, February 15, 2006

Political Crises in Thailand and the Philippines

I am back in Manila from a weeklong visit to Thailand. Coming from the Philippines, I was impressed to find out that in that country too domestic politics are in a state of turmoil. According to my favorite English-language Thai daily (The Nation), the campaign to unseat Prime Minister Thaksin Shinawatra “seems to be dividing Thailand like never before.”

Such dramatization of the political divide reminds me of the publicized mood in the Philippines at the climax of the campaign to impeach President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo (GMA) last September. Compared to what is going on in Thailand today, the political climate in the Philippines has simmered down considerably.

I find it worthwhile to compare the political crises in the two South East Asian democracies:

In both countries, the political leaders are at the center of the political turmoil. While his opponents blame Thaksin of misusing his political power to amass material wealth, the opposition in the Philippines accuses GMA of rigging the elections in her favor. While the quality of the allegations is different, they are equally damaging to the stability of the respective governments.

In both countries, the political parties of the opposition play a minor role at best. They are not at the forefront of the political battles in Thailand and in the Philippines. In both countries, the opposing forces have chosen to politicize the alleged misdeeds of the political leaders. This indicates a lack of trust in the institutional processes.

And finally: In both countries, the opposition lacks unity, a clear strategy and a leader acceptable to everyone. Therefore, the opposition is weak. This becomes particularly obvious when compared with the strength of the leaders in power.


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Blogger elloi said...

i trained in Thailand for quite a while. The behavioral pattern and ethos is quite the same except that Thailand has a revered King who can hold the country together. The King has a very uncanny ability to speak the right thing at the right time and to the credit of their country they all follow unlike here in the Philippines everybody talks endlessly

11:02 AM  

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