Thailand & Philippines – Countries in turmoil

While our country is experiencing one of it’s peaceful eras, the same – sadly – could not be said for our neighbours up north, which is Thailand and across the sea higher up northwest, which is The Philippines.

Thailand’s Prime Minister Thaksin Sinawatra is feeling the heat emanating from almost daily protests against his grip of power over the country, till he had to call for snap polls which would be held the day after April Fool. However, I don’t think that will solve the problem since many of the Thais have already decided that they will boycott the polls unless Mr. Sinawatra steps down.

While I am not all that familiar with the politics of Thailand, I am aware, of course, of the troubles in the South of Thailand and of Mr. Sinawatra’s alleged corruption, both of which the prime minister did not handle very well, in my opinion.

The fighting in the South has so far not shown any signs of letting up and the Muslim insurgents seemed to have the upper hand over the authorities there. Their urban warfare tactics of going into the city, shoot their targets and flee the scene have left the Thai authorities stumped, it all happened so fast that they were all caught off guard.

That’s not all that’s giving the Thais, predominantly Buddhists, something to be angry and dissatistfied with. They are also not happy about the Sinawatras controlling one of the largest business empires for themselves and also the fact that Mr Sinawatra is also giving relatives and trusted business partners positions in the government. All this implies that Sinawatra wants to maintain a grip on the country by appointing only men who are in favour of his rule. However, even some of his partners have gone against him.

Mr Sinawatra, if he’s really interested in helping the country, really have only two options… cave in to the people’s demands and resign now or let the people decide in the polls (if he didn’t decide to rig it). Hopefully, whatever the solution is to pacify the people, I hope that he really make the right decision, for peace’s sake.

Over at The Philippines, the situation is just as tense… if not, worse. President Gloria Macapagal Arroyo’s 2nd term as president had a rocky start – beginning with the allegations of the rigged election result last year. Since then, she’s been fighting off her opponents who were trying to impeach her that will force her to resign and testify in court. Then, coupled with the people’s dissatisfaction over the still weak economy of the country, and the recent tragedies in the sports stadium during a concert and the landslide, her popularity could not have been any lower.

Former friends and “partners-in-crime” have also turned their backs on her, with many of her former Cabinet ministers resigning en masse after she was re-elected as president. Even former presidents like Corazon Aquino and Fidel Ramos have come out speaking against her and requesting that she “listen to the people and resign”. Since it was she that led the People’s Power 2 demonstration that overthrew her corrupted predecessor Joseph Estrada, i sincerely doubt that she would want to go out humiliated in the same way.

But then, just when she thought things had quieted down a little, news of a coup d’etat allegedly involving some millitary leaders broke and all hell broke loose. Manila is now under a state of emergency. And President Arroyo is now facing one of the most difficult and crucial moments in her entire reign as President of the Philippines.

Seeing the conditions of these two countries, and also Myanmar, Cambodia, Laos and even Indonesia, I could not thank my lucky stars enough that Malaysia is a land of peace, harmony and prosperity. No strife. No insurgents. No coups. No violent demonstrations. Yes, the country does have its flaws but the government, when you look at it another way, has certainly done much, much better than everyone else in the region, save Singapore.

My father used to tell me “When you’re older, don’t always compare with what the rich and famous people have. What use is there? Instead, compare yourself with the less fortunate people, and you will see that you’ll be thankful for everything that you have now.” This was one of his more “favourite” reminders to me whenever I moan about how I wish I was living in a good family and have a better life. And now, looking at these countries that are on the verge of tearing apart, what my father said couldn’t have been further from the truth. I am indeed, thankful for what I have now, for this peaceful land that I live in.

Thank you, Malaysia! Thank you to all our Prime Ministers who have striven so hard to make this country the best place to live in the region. I pray that this moment of peace that we are all enjoying now be safeguarded and protected.




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