Thursday, May 20, 2010

Crisis in Thailand Could Jeopardize Regional Stability

The latest political crisis in Thailand in these few days has plunged into a worse state since its eruption in April. The figure of casualties has reached 35 in the past four days of clashes and is expected to increase if the military is given the green light to attack the fortress of the pro-former Prime Minister Thaksin Shinawatra Red Shirts.

Abhisit Vejjajiva administration should give due attention and immediately resolve the bloodshed conflict. If the conflict prolongs, there will be a huge potential or tendency towards a more severe conflict.

Current Turbulent Situation
In fact, some predict that a civil war may erupt in Thailand if the crisis is not resolved immediately. We have seen traces toward that direction when the government spokeperson Panitan Watanayagorn said the authorities would continue to attack the Red Shirts' fortress because the military wanted to crush the 'armed terrorists' among the Red Shirts. Like the conflict took place about 1,000 km away, which involved the Malays in the provinces of southern Thailand since 2004, it is said that some 'third party' has taken advantage of the current turbulent situation in Bangkok as well.

If this happens, Thailand is certainly on the verge of a civil war as predicted by security and strategic experts lately. Therefore, Abhisit should utilize all the strengths and wisdom to immediately restore the situation and bring Bangkok back to order and economic activities as it used to be. If Abhisit fails to restore the situation, it will expose his administration to new opposition from the business community who have been badly affected for almost two months already.

Political Stability and Economic Strength
Bangkok is the center of administration, tourism and trade, as well as the main entrance and exit for Thailand to connect with the outside world. Thailand is also one of the main cities in Association of South East Asian Nations (ASEAN). The domestic conflict may also undermine the performance and image of the organization of Southeast Asian countries in the eyes of the international community. ASEAN has a bigger goal to create a developed and prosperous community, and in turn become an active economic player on the global stage.

All these will be influenced by political stability and economic strength of every member states. Assuming a civil war erupts in Thailand, it will increase the burden to the current government which has not managed to bring the conflict in the southern region of the country to an end yet. When this happens, it is worried that foreign countries or superpowers which have their interest in this region may have concrete reasons to interfere into the country. If this happens, Southeast Asia, a region declared as independent and neutral, may eventually be forced to accept interference of foreign powers which purportedly want to restore political stability and peace in this region.

Command of Foreign Power
The concern about 'third party' taking advantage of the situation in Bangkok is well-founded, especially if the group is linked with the label of 'Islamic extremists' or Al-Qa'ida. This will instantly beckon certain foreign power to 'help' eradicate the group and this will become the starting point when Southeast Asia will no longer be a peace, independent and neutral region.
It will instead become a region that is forced to follow the command of foreign power forever.

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