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    China's way with a divided, inert Asean

    Oped, Thitinan Pongsudhirak, Published on 18/06/2021

    » The recent Asean-China foreign ministers' meeting early this month in Chongqing was crucial for its timing and circumstances. Co-chaired by Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi and Philippine Foreign Secretary Teodoro Locsin, it was the first "in-person" meeting among foreign ministers of both sides since the Covid-19 period began early last year.


    Thailand's irresponsible runaway debt

    Oped, Thitinan Pongsudhirak, Published on 11/06/2021

    » A major lasting damage Prime Minister Prayut Chan-o-cha will eventually leave behind is his government's co-optation and capture of autonomous agencies that used to safeguard and uphold Thailand's macroeconomic well-being and political level-playing field.


    PM shows he has political resilience

    Oped, Thitinan Pongsudhirak, Published on 04/06/2021

    » Half-way through his four-year term, Prime Minister Prayut Chan-o-cha has time and again shown his staying power in the face of popular discontent. Despite a subpar economic performance and persistent controversies from his cabinet's incomplete oath of office and a cabinet minister's past drug conviction and imprisonment in Australia to his own house on army premises after retirement, the former army chief, who led the military coup in May 2014 to take over as prime minister, has proved politically resilient.


    No duopoly in Thai jab procurement

    Oped, Thitinan Pongsudhirak, Published on 28/05/2021

    » Just as Thailand's murky vaccine plan has gone from bad to worse, the plot keeps thickening. The latest development centres on the May 25 publication in the Royal Gazette of the Chulabhorn Royal Academy's authority to procure Covid-19 vaccines within the country and from abroad as needed for public health benefits. As has been promptly noted elsewhere, this vaccine bombshell could be perceived as a snub to the government of Prime Minister Prayut Chan-o-cha, particularly Public Health Minister Anutin Charnvirakul. Thailand's effectively dual-track vaccine strategy is now likely to engender major repercussions.


    Prayut government seems bullet-proof

    Oped, Thitinan Pongsudhirak, Published on 21/05/2021

    » The passage of time shows the government's growing lack of accountability. In fact, the government of Prime Minister Prayut Chan-o-cha appears the most unaccountable on record because it has been the most incompetent. Myriad charges from policy mismanagement and blatant irregularities to outright constitutional violations have been levied against the government but none have stuck. Although some attribute this phenomenon to Gen Prayut's "Teflon" qualities, a more accurate understanding may well be that his cabinet is somehow bullet-proof. Charges can stick but they cannot penetrate.


    Regional vaccine approach is imperative

    Oped, Thitinan Pongsudhirak, Published on 14/05/2021

    » As vaccine diplomacy thrives and vaccine nationalism rears its head, it has become clear that the ideal global solution to the collective action problem of the coronavirus pandemic is for all countries to put their eggs in the same basket. If all countries are forced to rely on the global vaccine alliances' and the World Health Organization's Covid-19 Global Vaccines Access (Covax) plan, whereby any vaccine for one means an available antidote for all, the post-pandemic recovery would arrive faster and smoother with more promising prospects. But short of the ideal solution, the global health system is largely based on self-help, each country mapping its own plan for recovery with a mix of procurement strategies.


    Myanmar: From diplomacy to force

    Oped, Thitinan Pongsudhirak, Published on 30/04/2021

    » At its recent "special" summit in Jakarta on Myanmar's crisis, Asean reached its diplomatic maximum by coming up with a "five-point consensus" that will likely prove too little and too slow. Constrained by consensus and its non-interference principle where any of its 10 members has a virtual veto, Asean's overdue response to Myanmar's fast-escalating violence on the ground is likely to prove ineffective. As Asean's diplomacy faces limitations, more of Myanmar's outcomes are likely to be decided by the use of force in an intensifying civil war.


    Govt ducks Asean Myanmar challenge

    Oped, Thitinan Pongsudhirak, Published on 23/04/2021

    » Asean's highly anticipated "special" summit tomorrow in Jakarta on Myanmar's crisis can be declared moot on arrival. What goes into it is likely more telling that what will come out of it. Nearly three months and more than 730 civilian deaths after Myanmar's military coup on Feb 1, Asean is still unable to address its rogue member state's atrocities against its own people. The summit attendance foretells trends and dynamics of what might come next in Myanmar's fast-moving and deadly events on the ground and how they will shape regional responses and global concerns.


    Asean's Myanmar crisis out of control

    Oped, Thitinan Pongsudhirak, Published on 26/03/2021

    » Myanmar's spiralling post-coup violence and bloodshed has become Asean's existential crisis. It is customary to pin hopes on an Asean way of fudging and nudging the main protagonists into some workable, face-saving compromise to save the day but this time the situation is dire and dark. Unless the 10-member regional organisation can make a difference in halting Myanmar's descent into uncontrollable violence and potential civil war, Asean is at risk of undermining and perhaps ending its success story.


    The anatomy of waning youth protests

    Oped, Thitinan Pongsudhirak, Published on 19/03/2021

    » By all accounts, Thailand's youth protest movement over the past year has lost steam. Its key leaders have been charged on anti-monarchy grounds and jailed without bail, while the rank-and-file are demoralised, still on the move but in thin numbers. On the other side, the incumbent centres of power have reasserted control and put down what at its peak was the most vociferous and vigorous anti-establishment movement Thailand had seen in decades.

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