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Masayuki Yuda
Nationality Japan
Ethnic Japanese
Job Nikkei Staff Writer
  Politics Journalist
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Media Nikkei


Expert Thai Politics

2018 12 26 Publish

Speaking to the Nikkei Asian Review, former Prime Minister Abhisit Vejjajiva also stressed that members of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations must negotiate as a bloc with China and multinational technology powerhouses to receive better deals

The election is expected to be a three-horse race, with the Democrats among the contenders. The others are the pro-junta Palang Pracharat Party, and the Pheu Thai Party and its allies, which are supporters of former prime ministers Thaksin and Yingluck Shinawatra. Given the Democrat Party’s potential role as kingmaker, Abhisit’s policy proposals are significant

Thailand will assume the rotating ASEAN chairmanship on Jan. 1. Abhisit, who has a master’s degree from the University of Oxford, insisted that both Thailand as the regional bloc need a better foreign policy. He said the Democrat Party is so far the only one that talks about how Thailand and the region can benefit from the country’s stint as ASEAN chair

Although ASEAN has its own plans for enhancing connectivity within the region, these are being overshadowed by China’s Belt and Road Initiative

Abhisit served as Thailand’s prime minister from 2008 to 2011. During his time in office, the security forces clamped down on pro-Thaksin protesters. A summit of leaders from ASEAN and East Asian nations in Pattaya in April 2009 was called off as hundreds of demonstrators pushed their way past security into the venue

If Abhisit is to see his foreign policy ideas put into practice, he must at least be part of a ruling coalition. But forming alliances with others may be difficult, given his past criticism of other leaders

Aiming to gain votes from the poor, the Pheu Thai government led by Yingluck before a 2014 coup offered pork-barrel measures for rice farmers and first-time car buyers

In the coming election, political parties must register up to three prime ministerial candidates. ‘Normally we propose the party leader,’ Abhisit said, acknowledging that he will be the Democrats’ main candidate. He said the party had not discussed whether it would list more than one choice for prime minister

2019 02 24 Publish

In January 2019, the junta led by Prime Minister Prayuth Chan-ocha pushed election day back to March 24 2019, from the original plan of February 24 2019. King Vajiralongkorn Bodindradebayavarangkun on New Year’s Day had announced that his coronation would be held on May 4-6, and asked that it be conducted in an orderly manner. The military junta took this as a command to ensure the military would still be serving as a caretaker by then. The delayed election day means the announcement of the final results – to come no later than 60 days after the vote – will not interfere with the coronation

Thai Raksa Chart is a new party founded last year by family members and friends of exiled former Prime Minister Thaksin Shinawatra. It is considered a close ally of the more established pro-Thaksin Pheu Thai Party, and the princess’s nomination was initially seen as a total game changer. Many expected the divided public would rally around her, delivering Thaksin’s camp a landslide victory. The king, Vajiralongkorn Bodindradebayavarangkun, however, threw cold water on that idea the very same day. He declared the move unconstitutional because the monarchy is supposed to remain politically neutral

Under the new thai constitution, the prime minister will be elected by the political camp that has a combined majority of the 500 lower house seats and 250 upper house seats. But because 244 members of the upper house are nominated by the junta, and the other six spots are filled by the military and police chiefs, anti-junta forces must win at least 376 seats in the lower house alone

The thai election system, implemented by the military junta, is designed to prevent large existing parties such as Pheu Thai or the Thai Democrat Party from winning big, since clashes between the two had kept the country mired in political unrest for two decades

A nationwide opinion poll by the Bangkok Post newspaper on Feb. 12-13 found that 66.2% of respondents were still undecided. Pheu Thai received the endorsement of 9.3%. Future Forward, a party led by 40-year-old billionaire Thanathorn Juangroongruangkit, earned 7.5% support. The pro-junta Palang Pracharat garnered 7.0%, while the urban establishment’s favored Democrat Party received 6.3% support

Pro-Thaksin parties still have a strong presence in the north and northeast Thailand, as many farmers in the area long for the ousted Thaksin Shinawatra’s populist policies. The Thai Democrats Party still have their southern support base

If the pro-junta camp secures 126 seats in the lower house, but a different coalition obtains a majority in the chamber, the prime minister would have no power to implement policy. This deadlock, if it persists, could trigger protests

2019 09 02 Publish

South Korean President Moon Jae-in and Thai Prime Minister Prayuth Chan-ocha on Monday signed a memorandum of understanding on military intelligence cooperation, a significant step for the South Korean leader who recently brought a trade spat with Japan into the security realm

Moon’s trip is the first official visit to Thailand by a South Korean president in seven years. The president arrived in Bangkok on Sunday as he began a weeklong tour of Southeast Asia

The memorandum is significant for South Korea, which recently lessened its intelligence network by deciding to retaliate against Japan by discontinuing a military intelligence sharing agreement with its neighbor. Japan had previously dropped South Korea from a list of trusted trade partners

Seoul’s escalation of its fracas with Tokyo further angered Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe and frustrated the U.S., a security ally of both nations

Moon and Prayuth clinched five other memorandums of understanding, including in the development of smart cities and so-called ‘Industry 4.0’. The other areas of agreement were common language education, water resource management, railway infrastructure development and military intelligence cooperation

South Korea has embarked on a drive to diversify its diplomatic and economic relationships with Southeast Asian countries as it seeks to rely less on major developed countries such as China, the U.S. and Japan. Moon will depart Thailand for Myanmar, where he will meet state councilor Aung San Suu Kyi and President Win Myint on Wednesday. On Thursday, he will make a first-ever official visit as South Korean president to Laos. ‘I will visit all 10 ASEAN member countries during my tenure,’ he said

Moon in November will host a summit with ASEAN leaders in the southeastern city of Busan. The president recently voiced his hope that North Korean leader Kim Jong Un would attend