Return to Democracy Not Yet in Sight

Insights on Thailand
  is a weekly newsletter with commentary and selected updates on Thailand from Verapat Pariyawong, Visiting Scholar at SOAS, University of London.
Comments are welcomed via @NewVerapat or 
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27 November 2014 

Commentary by Verapat Pariyawong 

Thailand's return to democracy is not yet in sight as senior members of the military government signaled with the news that the elections initially promised in 2015 could be delayed until as late as 2016. This looks particularly grim when the comments came from two ministers, one in charge of security, and another in charge of economy.

Spreading anti-coup leaflets continues to be seen as a cause for arrest and the Thailand page of Human Rights Watch poses enough threat to be blocked by the junta. No real positive progress has been made six months after the coup as the junta are working to ensure that there remains a climate of fear, or as one blogger called it the perils of different thoughts.

On the economic front, the World Bank has predicted that Thailand would remain the slowest-growing economy in South-East Asia till 2016 (see pages 153-156 of this report). While there may be efforts by the junta for short term push, the long term negative effect on investment and economic growth will be felt. Morgan Stanley for instance noted that companies are now looking to expand elsewhere

Much uncertainly awaits in the coming weeks as the junta-appointed National Assembly is set to deliberate whether or not to engage in a bizarre retroactive impeachment of former Prime Minister Yingluck Shinawatra. Also full of speculation is the sensational cleaning up of a high-level corruption ring alleged to have falsely claimed links to the royal palace, and who knows where this story might lead us to next.

Selected News of the Week

Thailand's elections could be delayed until 2016
BBC, 27 Nov 2014

In an exclusive BBC interview, Thai Finance Minister Sommai Phasee says that democratic elections could be delayed by another 18 months.

Thai election pushed back to 2016 - deputy PM
The Nation, 27 Nov 2014

A Thai general election planned for next year will be delayed until 2016, Deputy Prime Minister Prawit Wongsuwan said Thursday.

Human Rights Watch Thailand web page blocked 
The Bangkok Post, 27 Nov 2014 

The Thai government has blocked direct access to the Thailand page of the Human Rights Watch (HRW) website after receiving harsh criticism from the organisation.

Thailand: Unending Repression 6 Months Post-Coup
Human Rights Watch, 25 Nov 2014

Thailand’s military government is severely repressing fundamental rights and freedoms six months after its May 22, 2014 coup. The ruling National Council for Peace and Order (NCPO) has shown no genuine signs of restoring democratic civilian rule.

Why Thailand's Junta Is Afraid of The Hunger Games
Bloomberg Businessweek, 24 Nov 2014

According to a report by Morgan Stanley, “private companies were focused more on expanding internationally either in neighboring countries or other ASEAN countries, rather than committing significantly to domestic growth in 2015.”

8 student activists arrested for distributing anti-coup leaflets
Prachatai English, 24 Nov 2014

Eight student activists, including a student who was arrested for giving the anti-coup three-fingered salute at the Hunger Games 3 premiere last week, were arrested after they distributed anti-coup leaflets at Thammasat University, Tha Prachan campus.