Foreign media voice different opinions

national January 24, 2014 00:00

By Takayuki Kanaboshi
The Nation

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Since Bangkok and its outskirts were put under the state of emergency, the foreign media has been covering the issue widely, though their analyses have been quite different.

While The Economist reported that the emergency decree was “a long time coming”, Anthony Davis, Bangkok-based analyst for defence-and-security-intelligence firm IHS Jane’s, wondered if such measures were necessary.
“The government already has the necessary tools to crush the protests,” he told Time magazine, referring to the Internal Security Act in place since late November. “This is not a prelude to a crackdown, but they are trying to dispel the notion that they are losing control of the situation before the elections.”
While it is agreed among many foreign media outlets that the military is now the decisive factor, The Economist says: “The generals seem to have learned that it is the politicians who must somehow start the process of putting back together Thailand’s broken political system.”
On the other hand, The Wall Street Journal said it might be better to have the military stand by the government because “it would set a valuable precedent that elected leaders should serve out their term, even when they are unpopular with large portions of the population”. According to the newspaper, this would set a firm commitment to the voting system as “the only legitimate way to change governments”. Otherwise Thailand will continue to “lurch from one crisis to the next”.
Under such conditions, however, Bloomberg suggests that “a victory at the polls would leave a new Pheu Thai government with a dangerously weak mandate, increasing the likelihood of intervention by the Army or the King.”
According to The Economist: “Negotiations will have to take place at some point, if the political and legal limbo is ever to be broken.” Bloomberg, meanwhile, suggests that for the opposition to continue rejecting compromises implies what many are suspecting – “that its main goal is to regain power for the Thai elite, who have lost their electoral majority to poorer rural citizens from the populous North”.
The situation seems to be as The Wall Street Journal concludes: “The state of emergency in Bangkok could still go either way.”