World View: Ethnic Tensions Rise in Thailand as PM Is Forced to Resign

World View: Ethnic Tensions Rise in Thailand as PM Is Forced to Resign

This morning’s key headlines from

  • Ethnic tensions rise in Thailand as PM is forced to resign
  • Many young people in Kenya learning Mandarin
  • MERS virus spreads more rapidly in Saudi Arabia

Ethnic tensions rise in Thailand as PM is forced to resign

After a series of court rulings this week, Thailand’s prime ministerYingluck Shinawatra was impeached, and she and much of her cabinetwere forced to resign in what opponents are calling a “judicialcoup.” Yingluck in 2011began a rice-subsidy scheme that paid rice farmers well above marketrate for their crop. This pleased Yingluck’s biggest group ofsupporters, the mostly indigenous Thai rural population, but it costthe government $21 billion and infuriated the powerful eliteopposition in Bangkok, mostly Chinese descendants. 

The crisis was brought about by months of protests by theminority, vastly outnumbered by the “red shirt” dark-skinned Thai-Thaiwho do most of the menial labor and who continue to support Yingluck’s Pheu Thai political party. Because of the Thai-Thaimajority, the Pheu Thai have won the last five elections and cancontinue to do so. It’s almost comical that the minority eliterepeatedly used the courts to throw out a Pheu Thai prime minister. 

Now Thailand is in a ridiculous situation. Yingluck offered to resignand call new elections in January, but the yellow shirt eliteprotesters forced the new election to be called off because they knewthat the Pheu Thai candidate would win. Now Thailand has nogovernment at all, and the only constitutional way forward is anotherelection — which the Pheu Thai would win. 

The elites are backed by the King, the army, and the courts, noneof whom like all those rural workers who grow the food and do the jobsno one else wants to do. So they’re going to use the army and thecourts to prevent another Pheu Thai candidate from becoming PM.They’re going to use the army and courts to appoint a “people’scouncil” of their own sycophants to run the country, with no electionrequired. The only problem with that is that the majority ofThailand’s population is going to be infuriated. 

The rural “red shirts” are planning a march around Bangkok onSaturday. The red shirts held off as long as Yingluck remainedin office, but now they’re expected to become a lot more belligerent,and possibly violent. 

When Yingluck took office in 2011, she promises to use ‘femininity’ to resolve disputes. Itlooks like it didn’t work. Today Online (Singapore) and Time

Many young people in Kenya learning Mandarin

With China investing so many billions of dollars in transportation andenergy projects in Kenya, many young Kenyans see the best hope fortheir future job opportunities is with China. For that reason, manyyoung Kenyans are learning Mandarin. Al Jazeera

MERS virus spreads more rapidly in Saudi Arabia

During the last 24-hour period, there were 14 new confirmed cases ofMERS-CoV (the Middle Eastern Respiratory Syndrome coronavirus)diagnosed and 5 new deaths from the disease. At the same time, thefirst MERS patient was diagnosed in Lebanon, a man who had recentlyreturned from visiting a Persian Gulf country. The rising incidenceof new MERS cases in Saudi Arabia indicates that human-to-human MERStransmission is widespread in western Saudi Arabia, which raisesserious pandemic concerns. 

As happened last year, concerns are growing that a pandemic mightbegin during the Hajj, when millions of Muslims from around the worldarrive in Mecca, Saudi Arabia, for their once-in-a-lifetimepilgrimage. The Hajj in 2014 is scheduled for October 2-7. CIDRAP and Recombinomics

KEYS: Generational Dynamics, Thailand, Bangkok, Yingluck Shinawatra,Kenya, Mandarin, China,Middle Eastern Respiratory Syndrome coronavirus, MERS-CoVSaudi Arabia, Lebanon, Mecca, Hajj 

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