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Asia Unbound

CFR experts give their take on the cutting-edge issues emerging in Asia today.

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Showing posts for "Thailand"

Thailand’s Junta Leader Threatens to Stay on “Forever”

by Joshua Kurlantzick
PM-prayuth Thailand's Prime Minister Prayuth Chan-ocha gestures after presiding over Thailand Corporate Excellence Award for Financial Management at the Government House in Bangkok, Thailand, on September 9, 2015. (Chaiwat Subprasom/Reuters)

As Thailand’s political situation continues to deteriorate, with civilian politicians beginning to push back against army rule, and the deadline for a new constitution and free election delayed again, Thai Prime Minister and junta leader Prayuth Chan-ocha seems increasingly frustrated with the debate, compromise, and public scrutiny common in a constitution-drafting process, and a democratic society. The prime minister has become known for his outbursts at the press and other critics, but in recent weeks his speeches have become more vitriolic. Read more »

China’s Charm Offensive Continues to Sputter in Southeast Asia

by Joshua Kurlantzick
malaysia-protests Riot police protect the entrance to Chinatown from "Red Shirt" demonstrators during a rally to celebrate Malaysia Day and to counter a massive protest held over two days last month that called for Prime Minister Najib Razak's resignation over a graft scandal, in Malaysia's capital city of Kuala Lumpur on September 16, 2015. (Olivia Harris/Reuters)

After a decade, in the 2000s, in which China aggressively pursued warmer relations with many Southeast Asian nations, using a combination of diplomacy, aid, and soft power to woo its neighbors, the past five years have seen a significant chill in China-Southeast Asia relations. First, Beijing’s more aggressive pursuit of its claims in the South China Sea led to heightened tensions between China and other claimants—most notably Vietnam and the Philippines, but also increasingly Indonesia, where the armed forces are trying to rapidly modernize Jakarta’s naval capacity in part out of fear of China’s actions in the South China Sea. Read more »

Thailand’s Bombing Case Twists and Turns

by Joshua Kurlantzick
Thailand-police-Erawan Shrine bombing Thai national police chief Somyot Pumpanmuang (C) attends a news conference about the Bangkok blast which killed 20 people, including foreigners, as screen shows suspects, at the Royal Thai Police headquarters in central Bangkok, Thailand, on September 28, 2015. (Athit Perawongmetha/Reuters)

More than a month after the deadly bombing at central Bangkok’s Erawan shrine, the Thai authorities have made two arrests in the case, and issued at least seventeen arrest warrants overall. On Monday, the Thai police announced that one of the men in custody was the person caught on closed circuit television on the day of the bombing in August—the man who appeared to be leaving a bomb at the shrine. But some Thai commentators remain doubtful that the government has gotten closer to actually solving the case. Read more »

Thailand Slashes Its Economic Growth Forecast

by Joshua Kurlantzick
Somkid Jatusripitak_Thailand_economy Thailand's Deputy Prime Minister Somkid Jatusripitak gestures during an interview with Reuters at Government House in Bangkok, Thailand, on September 21, 2015. (Athit Perawongmetha/Reuters)

On Friday, Thailand’s central bank slashed its growth forecast for the Thai economy for 2015, to 2.7 percent. As noted in a summary of the bank’s report in The Diplomat, this was the third time this year that the Bank of Thailand (BoT) has cut its growth forecast, and the BoT’s projected growth for 2015 is about half what it had expected for the Thai economy before the year started. A growth rate of 2.7 percent for the year would almost surely make Thailand the worst performing economy for 2015 in Southeast Asia. Read more »

Friday Asia Update: Top Five Stories for the Week of September 11, 2015

by Guest Blogger for Elizabeth C. Economy
singapore-elections-9-11-15 Singapore's Prime Minister and Secretary-General of the People's Action Party Lee Hsien Loong (C) celebrates with supporters after the general election results at a stadium in Singapore September 12, 2015. (Edgar Su/Reuters)

Ashlyn Anderson, Rachel Brown, Lincoln Davidson, Ariella Rotenberg, Ayumi Teraoka, and Gabriel Walker look at the top stories in Asia this week.

1. Singapore’s historic elections. Singaporeans took to the polls today in the first general parliamentary election in the country’s history in which every constituency is contested. The People’s Action Party (PAP), which has ruled the country since it was expelled from Malaysia in 1965 and held more than 90 percent of the seats in parliament prior to the election, won a majority of seats again. Read more »

Friday Asia Update: Top Five Stories for the Week of September 4, 2015

by Guest Blogger for Elizabeth C. Economy
Malaysia-protests-9-4-15 Supporters of pro-democracy group "Bersih" (Clean) shout slogans during a rally near Dataran Merdeka in Malaysia's capital city of Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia, August 30, 2015. Tens of thousands joined a peaceful protest in Kuala Lumpur on Saturday to demand the resignation of Prime Minister Najib Razak, bringing to the streets a political crisis over a multi-million-dollar payment made to an account under his name. (Athit Perawongmetha/Reuters)

Ashlyn Anderson, Rachel Brown, Lincoln Davidson, Lauren Dickey, Ariella Rotenberg, and Ayumi Teraoka look at the top stories in Asia this week.

1. Malaysian protestors call for prime minister to step down. Tens of thousands of protesters demonstrated in Kuala Lumpur last weekend, saying that Prime Minister Najib Razak is unfit to govern following allegations that he took $700 million from a government development fund. Read more »

Bangkok Bombing Investigation Becomes Even Murkier

by Joshua Kurlantzick
Thailand-Erawan Shrine Thai police stand guard at Erawan Shrine, the site of the recent bomb blast, in Bangkok on August 30, 2015. (Jorge Silva/Reuters)

Over the past five days, Thai police have both made arrests in Erawan Shrine bombing case and publicly identified other suspects still at large for whom the police are hunting. Although after the bombing there were many theories about the culprits, both the two men arrested and the suspects identified could have some link to Turkey or to the Uighurs. Read more »

One Week after the Bangkok Bombing, What do We Know?

by Joshua Kurlantzick
erawan-shrine A police officer stands in front of the Erawan shrine, the site of a deadly blast, in central Bangkok, Thailand, on August 18, 2015. (Athit Perawongmetha/Reuters)

A week after the bombing at central Bangkok’s Erawan Shrine that killed twenty people, wounded at least 125 more, and set off a massive manhunt for a suspect identified in CCTV video, a man who apparently left a backpack at the shrine shortly before the explosion, no one has been arrested. In fact, amidst a constant swirl of rumors about possible leads, the Thai authorities appear no closer to solving the case. Read more »

Friday Asia Update: Top Five Stories for the Week of August 21, 2015

by Guest Blogger for Elizabeth C. Economy
Bangkok-bombing People pray at the Erawan Shrine, the site of Monday's deadly blast, in central Bangkok, Thailand, August 20, 2015. (Athit Perawongmetha/Reuters)

Ashlyn Anderson, Rachel Brown, Lincoln Davidson, Ayumi Teraoka, and Gabriel Walker look at the top stories in Asia today.

1. Bombing in Bangkok. On Monday evening a bomb exploded within the popular Erawan Shrine in Bangkok, killing at least twenty people and injuring over 120 more. Thai authorities are investigating a suspect identified as a foreigner, who was caught on CCTV footage leaving a large backpack near the shrine, in connection with the blast. Read more »

Thailand’s Junta Pushes Back Election Date Again

by Joshua Kurlantzick
prayuth-elections-thailand Thailand's Prime Minister Prayuth Chan-ocha gestures in a traditional greeting to National Legislative Assembly members at the parliament in Bangkok, Thailand, on May 21, 2015. (Chaiwat Subprasom/Reuters)

News this week that Thailand’s ruling junta apparently has pushed back the date for a return to free elections should not have come as a great surprise. Since taking power in a coup in May 2014, the junta has repeatedly delayed planned elections, claiming that the country needs greater stability before a poll will be held or that the new constitution is not yet finished. After vowing elections in 2016, the deputy chairman of the junta-created legislature now reportedly has declared that elections will not be possible until 2017, since it will take so long to print the new charter and deliver written copies of it across Thailand. Read more »