Filed under: army, bangkok, coup, expat, free press, politics, thailand, Uncategorized
Last year I moved to Bangkok and took up a job at a news magazine two weeks before the government was overthrown in a coup d’etat.
Needless to say, despite the inconvenience of having troops surround my office building, the declaration of martial law and a few deadly explosions in the city centre, the military takeover was kind of a kick.
Now the people are getting ready to elect the ousted PM’s replacement, possibly to result in mass demonstrations in Bangkok and more political fuckery. Add the fact that the country’s beloved king is ailing and his successor is widely detested and you’ve got a tough situation on the horizon.
People of Thailand, I wish you the best. Khaaw hai chohk dee gap thook sing thee ja thahm khaang naa!
Thailand holds first post-coup election
The Associated Press
December 22, 2007 at 10:58 PM EST
BANGKOK — Former Prime Minister Thaksin Shinawatra, deposed, exiled and allegedly corrupt, was poised for a comeback-by-proxy as his loyalists looked likely to win Thailand’s national election Sunday.
Mr. Thaksin, ousted from power by a bloodless military coup 15 months ago, may also come back in person early next year, sparking fears of political turbulence and sharp polarization which has already plagued Thailand for two years.
The election, which is supposed to restore democracy after the coup, comes after almost two years of intense political instability that began with popular demonstrations demanding that Mr. Thaksin step down because of alleged corruption and abuse of power. The protest culminated in the coup.
The Election Commission has been barraged by more than 700 complaints of election fraud, mostly related to vote-buying. The night before elections is popularly called the “night of the howling dogs,” as canvassers knock on doors to distribute last-minute cash for votes in rural areas.
Latest news can be found at The Nation…
Filed under: APEC, bush, Canada, News and politics, politics, Uncategorized, vietnam
OTTAWA — Anyone watching question period in the House of Commons today would be forgiven for thinking they’d tuned into fashion television.Prime Minister Stephen Harper and interim Liberal leader Bill Graham traded barbs over the recent Asia Pacific Summit and the best place to wear a silk gown.
It started by Graham kidding the prime minister about the blue gown he wore for a photo op in Vietnam, telling Harper he “looked spectacular.”
The prime minister shot back that wearing local garb is a tradition at the APEC summit and that unlike Graham, he was wears his “silk on the outside.”
Not to be outdone, Graham said he’s certain he has just as many embarassing pictures of himself as the ones of Harper in Hanoi.
The prime minister assured the Opposition leader that he’ll use his influence with the media to keep Graham’s pictures from being published.
Filed under: APEC, army, bush, Death Penalty, empires, expat, free press, freedom, Hanoi, ho chi minh city (saigon), News and politics, politics, Uncategorized, US, vietnam
US citizens on trial in Vietnam
Vietnamese prosecutors have accused the group of terrorism
Three US citizens and four Vietnamese have gone on trial in Vietnam charged with terrorism. They are accused of attempting to set up illegal transmitters to make anti-communist radio broadcasts inside the country.
Correspondents says the case may complicate ties with the US ahead of President George W Bush’s visit next week and a Congressional vote on trade. The trial in Ho Chi Minh City is expected to last no more than a day.
All of the seven defendants are of Vietnamese origin, but three – Nguyen Thuong Cuc, also known as Cuc Foshee, Huynh Bich Lien and Le Van Binh – also have US citizenship.
Local press reports have linked them to a California-based anti-communist organisation called the Government of Free Vietnam. They are alleged to have brought transmitters and other equipment into Vietnam from neighbouring Cambodia.
They were hoping to take over local radio stations and broadcast anti-government radio messages, according to the BBC correspondent in Hanoi, Bill Hayton.
The case is being heard exactly a week before President Bush arrives in Vietnam to attend the annual Asia-Pacific summit (Apec). It may also complicate scheduled votes in the US Congress intended to permanently normalise trade relations between America and Vietnam, our correspondent says.
Senator Mel Martinez from Florida, the home state of one of the accused, has threatened to block the bill because of the case. That would be an embarrassment to both governments, which have heralded the bill as symbolising their new partnership.
If found guilty of terrorism, the accused could face sentences ranging from 12 years in jail to the death penalty. The Vietnamese government is currently trying to extradite a man it calls the leader of the plot, Nguyen Huu Chanh, from South Korea.
An earlier attempt failed. Mr Chanh was one of the founders of the Government of Free Vietnam.
The Government of Free Vietnam is an anti-communist paramilitary and political organization that was established on April 30, 1995, by its founder Nguyen Hoang Dan. Its headquarters are in Garden Grove, California. The organization’s goal is to remove the government of the Socialist Republic of Vietnam, either politically or militarily.
The Government of Free Vietnam claims 6,000 members and 100,000 supporters who were trained in secret camp locations along the Vietnamese/Cambodian border. They also claim 75 chapters in Asia, Australia, and Europe. Although the GFVN prides itself on its widespread support, many argue that the GFVN never received a true mandate to represent the Vietnamese diaspora.
They have a base of operations in KC-702, a secret base along the border between Vietnam and Cambodia.
Filed under: APEC, bush, Death Penalty, expat, Guardian, Hanoi, media, News and politics, politics, protests, Uncategorized, US, vietnam
Speaking of the death penalty, here’s an article from, again, the Guardian, about 7 activists in Viet Nam who may just face the firing squad for agitating against the government. All this comes just ahead of a major APEC – Asia Pacific Economic Cooperation – Summit to be held in Hanoi later this month, to be attended by Senior Bush, as well as Viet Nam’s official entry into the WTO.
Vietnam Puts 3 U.S. Citizens on Trial
Tuesday November 7, 2006 3:01 AM
HANOI, Vietnam (AP) – Three U.S. citizens are among seven people who will go on trial in Vietnam this week over an alleged attempt to take over state radio stations to call for an uprising against the communist government, a court official said Tuesday.
The seven will stand trial Friday at the People’s Court in Ho Chi Minh City on charges of terrorism, an offense that carries possible sentences ranging from 12 years in prison to death by firing squad, the court’s chief judge Bui Hoang Danh said.
The defendants, who were arrested in September of last year, include three U.S. citizens of ethnic Vietnamese descent: Thuong Nguyen “Cuc” Foshee of Orlando, Fla.; Le Van Binh “Phu” of Tampa, Fla, and Huynh Bich Lien “Linda” of San Gabriel, Calif.
Three Vietnamese nationals from southern An Giang province and a Vietnamese national who is a resident of the U.S. will also be tried, Danh said.
He said the trial would last one day.
The trial comes just before Hanoi is set to host the 21-member Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation summit later this month. President Bush is scheduled to attend the Nov. 18-19 meeting.
A one-day trial, eh? Yeah, that’ll be fair. The kangaroo courts they operate here are hardwired for conviction. Just ask Gary Glitter!!
As for Viet Nam’s WTO accession… I can’t help but feel like the country is signing away its soul, perhaps without even really knowing what it’s getting into. With a population of 84 million people, 80% of whom are farmers, they just cannot handle influxes of cheap foreign foods and goods. China will swamp the market, and what then for the farmers? Off to the factories to be worked like dogs?
Here are some pics from Vietnamese executions. The government is considering doing away with the firing squad in favour of lethal injection, apparently because some of the soldiers doing the firing get nervous and miss their target.