Thailand’s push for democracy falters as junta tightens up on civil freedoms

Thailand’s push for democracy falters as junta tightens up on civil freedoms – thenational.ae, May 7, 2015
…Today, South East Asia – and Thailand particularly – looks far different. Only Indonesia and the Philippines are still ranked as “partly free” by Freedom House, in its latest annual analysis. Thailand has regressed into a decade of political turmoil that has resulted in elected governments abusing their power and two military coups, the latest in May last year. A year on, Thailand’s regression – and dismal hope for the future – exemplifies many of the challenges that democracy faces throughout the world.
…Thaksin emptied the civil service of anyone who questioned his policies, and oversaw what he called a battle against drug trafficking in which security forces killed more than 2,500 people. It emerged that many of these suspects were executed by police with no trial and that the number of dead included opponents of the government. Meanwhile, Thaksin intimidated many Thai media outlets into running only flattering coverage, according to reporters with the Bangkok Post and The Nation, another leading Bangkok newspaper.
…As the junta gradually releases some of its hold on power, and Thailand hovers between real democracy and authoritarian rule, many Thais expect a repeat of 2010 – or worse.

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