March 18, 2019
Latest News

Military junta woos rural vote ahead of elections in Thailand

Gaspar Ruiz-Canela

Nongnamkhun, Thailand, Mar 15 (efe-epa).- Thailand's military junta has been wooing voters in rural areas of northeastern Thailand, a traditional opposition stronghold, with investments and promises ahead of the elections on Mar. 24.

Known as Isan, the region represents a third of the 51.4 million Thais who will be voting and whose support has secured victory for parties linked to former Prime Minister Thaksin Shinawatra and his sister Yingluck in every election held in the country since 2001.

Both Shinawatras have been charged and sentenced to corruption charges, and are currently living in exile.

Current prime minister and head of the military junta, Prayuth Chan-ocha, has undertaken millionaire investments to promote his candidacy.

During a visit to Nakhon Ratchasima, a province in Isan about 250 kilometers outside the capital city Bangkok, Prayuth was greeted by residents who called him "Uncle Tu" as he sang and smiled with them dressed in traditional attire.

As the head of the government, Chan-ocha, the sole candidate of the Palang Pracharat party, he is barred from participating in electoral acts, and so qualified the visit as an official government event.

According to a survey in February by Khon Kaen University, 44.8 percent of voters in Isan support the Shinawatra-backed Puea Thai, followed by the newly-formed Future Forward Party (21.2 percent), while the pro-military Palang Pracharat came in fourth with 7.4 percent.

This region is well aware of the Thai saying that governments are formed in provinces and dissolved in Bangkok by military coup or by the dissolution of the ruling party by the courts or the Election Commission.

Moreover, Chan-ocha this year is very likely to have the support of the 250 members of the Senate who are hand-picked by the military junta and who elect the future prime minister along with the 500 members of the House of Representatives.

"I think it went very well (with the military junta), we have been given a lot ", explained to EFE Thaweep Preephrom, a retired Thai farmer in the district of Pak Chong in Nakhon Ratchasima, also known as Korat.

While Preephrom did not say which party he would vote for, he expressed support for the conservative Democrat Party and criticized the Puea Thai.

Like many other northeastern Thais, he regretted the low price of agricultural and livestock products and the rising costs of living.

Samreung Klanklin, owner of an avocado plantation, rejected the military and underlined his support for the Puea Thai, which has fielded Perdarat Keyuraphan, Chatchart Sittipan and Chaikasem Nitisiri as prime ministerial candidates.

The landscape of Nakhon Ratchasima, the province in Isan closest to Bangkok, is dotted with rice paddies as well as corn, bananas and sugar cane plantations.

54.1 percent of the inhabitants of Isan's 20 provinces work in agriculture, which in turn represents only 20 percent of the regional GDP, according to the National Statistical Office.

As political scientist Andrew Walker explains in his book "Thailand's Political Peasants: Power in the Modern Rural Economy", Thai farmers are no longer mere peasants, as they have transitioned from poor to middle class over recent decades.

Despite the transition, Thailand still has one of the highest rates of wealth distribution and inequality in the world, and the average income in Isan is below minimum wage (about $284 per month).

Thaksin Shinawatra's enormous popularity is largely thanks to his approval of universal healthcare and soft loans for farmers in 2001 to alleviate inequality, which earned him massive support from rural areas and working classes.

Pitted against him were the wealthiest classes and the elites close to the monarchy and the army, who ousted him in a rebellion in 2006 and toppled the Yingluck government in 2014.

Both of these former prime ministers have been sentenced to prison imposed in absentia on corruption, charges which they say are trumped up as an act of political revenge by the Bangkok elites.

in 2013 and 2014, Thailand witnessed massive street protests by both anti-Thaksin and pro-royalist Yellow Shirts and the and pro-Thaksin supporters, dubbed the Red Shirts.

The issues close to those in Bangkok are far removed from those in Nakhon Ratchasima, who are more concerned with their dwindling purchasing power.

"If we have a full stomach, we can contribute something to society; otherwise, we will not be able to contribute anything," said Jipwipha Buteawdethiran next to a rice paddy in Nongnamkhun to EFE.

News history
Netherlands police name suspect in Utrecht tram shooting, several injured

Utrecht (Netherlands), Mar 18 (efe-epa).- Netherlands police have named a suspect wanted in connection to a shooting attack aboard a tram that injured...

Red Cross says Cyclone Idai wreaked havoc on Mozambique's Beira

Maputo, Mar 18 (efe-epa).- A powerful tropical cyclone that struck Mozambique recently has caused major damage to the country's central port city of Beira,...

Philippines will deport ICC prosecutors if they enter country

Manila, Mar 18 (efe-epa).- Philippines warned on Monday that it will deny visas to prosecutors of the International Criminal Court to prevent a possible...

UN: Israel's abuse of Palestinian resources is a human rights violation

Geneva, Mar 18 (efe-epa).- The United Nations denounced Israel's ongoing exploitation of Palestinian natural resources and its use of force during protests...

Death toll in Indonesia floods climbs to 79, 43 missing

Jakarta, Mar 18 (efe-epa).- Indonesian authorities Monday raised the death toll to 79 and the number of missing to 43 due to heavy flooding in the province...

3 teenagers dead in Northern Ireland Saint Patrick's Day party crush

London, Mar 18 (efe-epa).- Three teenagers have died in a suspected crush that took place at a Saint Patrick's Day event held at a hotel in Northern...

Trump Wants a Strong Yuan — He May Get It Regardless

Madrid, Mar 18 (efe-epa).- Generals, the saying goes, always fight the last war. Chinese exports held up well in 2018 partly thanks to a vertiginous drop in...

Seoul says Pyongyang not preparing any missile launch

Seoul, Mar 18 (efe-epa).- The Defense Minister of South Korea said Monday that he did not think the activities recently detected in North Korean missile...

New Zealand police believe Christchurch was a lone wolf attack

Christchurch, New Zealand, Mar 18 (efe-epa).- New Zealand's police chief confirmed Monday that they believe that the perpetrator of a deadly attack on two...

NZ court charges teen with distributing images of Christchurch shootings

Christchurch, New Zealand, Mar 18 (efe-epa).- A New Zealand judge on Monday charged a teenager in relation to footage of a terror attack on two mosques in...

New Zealand to reform gun law post Christchurch attack

Christchurch, New Zealand, Mar 18 (efe-epa).- The New Zealand government Monday said it will soon announce a reform to the arms law following the...

Suspect in mosque shootings bought weapons online but not the rifle used

Christchurch, New Zealand, Mar 18 (efe-epa).- The suspected perpetrator of the mosque attacks in New Zealand bought weapons and ammunition from an online...

Boeing says it's finalizing its 737 MAX 8 software update, FAA probed

New York, USA, Mar 17 (efe-epa).- The US Department of Transportation is investigating the approval of Boeing's 737 MAX aircraft by the Federal Aviation...

Police search homes in Australia after mosque attacks in New Zealand

Christchurch, New Zealand, Mar 18 (efe-epa).- Australia's counter-terrorism police on Monday searched two homes in New South Wales, on the east coast of the...

Journalists denounce attack on press freedom, Maduro asks Cabinet to resign

Caracas, Mar 17 (efe-epa).- The National Journalists Association (CNP) of Venezuela on Sunday denounced the attacks on freedom of expression it said have...

Journalists denounce attack on freedom of expression in Venezuela

Caracas, Mar 17 (efe-epa).- The National Journalists Association (CNP) of Venezuela on Sunday denounced the attacks on freedom of expression it said have...

Gillibrand officially announces Democratic presidential candidacy

New York, Mar 17 (efe-epa).- Democratic Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand of New York on Sunday officially announced her 2020 candidacy for her party's presidential...

Turkey's president displays video of Christchurch attack in election campaign

Istanbul, Mar 17 (efe-epa).- Turkey's president on Sunday displayed parts of the video grabbed and livestreamed on social media by the suspected shooter at...

Israeli soldier killed in attack near to West Bank settlement

Jerusalem, Mar 17 (efe-epa).- At least one Israeli soldier was killed and two people, including a member of the military, were wounded near a West Bank...

Tens of thousands protest in Serbia after group broke into public TV station

Belgrade, Mar 17 (efe-epa).- Tens of thousands of people gathered outside Serbia's presidency building in Belgrade to protest on Sunday against President...

Thousands mourn victims of Ethiopian Airlines crash with empty caskets

Addis Ababa, Mar 17 (efe-epa).- Thousands of mourners, including family members and friends, attended a funeral service held in Ethiopia on Sunday for the...

Male commanders kept female rebels out of FARC's top posts, journalist says

Bogota, Mar 17 (efe-epa).- While nearly one-third of Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (FARC) guerrillas were female, no women were ever given posts in...

Israeli killed, 2 wounded in attack near to West Bank settlement

Jerusalem, Mar 17 (efe-epa).- At least one Israeli was killed and two others wounded near a West Bank settlement on Sunday in an attack thought to have been...

Ex-IRA couple face jail in Spain, $1 million fine for smuggling, laundering

Madrid, Mar 17 (efe-epa).- A married couple who once belonged to the IRA, a paramilitary Irish republican organization, is set to go on trial at Spain's...

I agree Welcome to news4europe.eu. We use cookies to improve your online experience. Find out more.