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Thai PM survives no-confidence vote


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Thai PM survives no-confidence vote

By Ashley Hall


Updated 42 minutes ago




Thai PM Abhisit Vejjajiva survived a no-confidence vote today (REUTERS: Sukree Sukplang )


Thailand's prime minister Abhisit Vejjajiva faced a no-confidence motion today, but was successful in securing more than half the parliamentary vote after a two-day debate.


Opposition members were unlikely to win the vote, but have made the most of the opportunity to skewer Mr Abhisit over his handling of the Red Shirt protest and the ensuing violence.


But a leading political expert fears the death and violence has been swept under the carpet.


Dr Thitinan Pongsudhirak, the director of the Institute of Security and International Studies at Chulalongkorn University in Bangkok, says Thailand has never been so divided and polarised.


He says the no-confidence debate was a needed exercise to collectively internalise what had happened.


"I think the danger in Thailand now and Bangkok is that the week of May 19, that entire week of violence and confrontation has been swept under the carpet," he said.


Mr Pongsudhirak says he is not surprised Mr Abhisit held onto his job, but his handling of the protests will affect his image.


He says the prime minister has powerful backing from high-up.


"This is how political outcomes are ultimately determined in Thailand. I think he has lost a measure of legitimacy from the last two months, especially the crackdown," he said.


"Most importantly he has the army still behind him, he has the coalition party of government still intact, and above all he has a powerful backing from the establishment, from the powers that be that still stick with him because they have no one else."



Poll unlikely


The no-confidence vote will be damaging for the government even though it was not enough to bring it down.


Dr Pongsudhirak said he doubts the promised November election would go ahead.


"It would be surprising if it happens because the pressure to hold elections early no longer exists," he said.


"The Red Shirts have been disbanded and the Abhisit government has somehow survived this confrontation and crisis and the coalition partners [have stayed] with him so all the pressure points for an early election have dissipated."


In the peace roadmap he proposed in mid-May, Mr Abhisit offered efforts to tackle social inequality but withdrew the offer before troops moved in.


Dr Pongsudhirak says it is likely he will stick to a hard line with the Red Shirt movement.


"It's not likely to be implemented as pledged. This is as official as it has become, but the way he has tackled this, he does not recognise the Red Shirts have genuine grievances about the disenfranchisement of democratic rights," he said.


"But he sees this and the government sees this as about money and as about having more money, having more subsides and handouts and that's how they implemented it last year and this year.


"I don't think we'll see anything different than what we saw last year to try to reconcile by putting more money into it.


"It's about democratic rights. It's about their dignity and being heard."

"When the going gets weird... the weird turn pro" - Hunter S. Thompson


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